Judging a Book by its Cover, eh…I mean, Judging a movie by its title.
As you know by now (or at least I hope you do) I have challenged myself to watch all 100 movies remarked as being the greatest by AFI, the American Film Institute. (challenge announcement HERE) I started with # 100 Ben-Hur and have been working my way down the list to # 1. Citizen Kane.
Before embarking on this journey, I took AFI’s quiz (take it HERE), to see how many of these “great” films I have already seen. 22. A failing grade by any institution’s standards. After assessing the list of 88 movies I haven’t seen, I realized that I had a general idea of what some of them are about, but for most, I have never even heard of them.
So, before I sat down to watch # 100, Ben-Hur, I jotted down what I thought each movie was going to be about, only going off their name and the year they were released. (disclaimer, I may even get the ones I’ve seen wrong, should be interesting) So, without further ado, let’s get to passing judgements on some classic cinematic hits.
Citizen Kane 1941– B&W murder mystery, a mansion is burned to the ground and Mr. Kane never gets over his loss.
The Godfather 1972– A mob story surrounding a family and associates. What image I have of this movie is painted by Tom Hanks in “You’ve Got Mail”-“go to the mattresses, leave the gun, take the cannoli…” and there is a horse head in a bed in one of the Godfather movies, not sure if it is this one.
Casablanca 1942– B&W film about WWII I’m picturing an old plane in the rain. Is this the “here’s looking at you, kid” movie? Also, casa means house and doesn’t blanca mean white? Political?
Raging Bull 1980- A rodeo enthusiast wants to be a rodeo star? The main character dies in the end and his ‘old lady’ is sad, but not surprised.
Singin’ in the Rain 1952-A movie company goes from silent films to “talkies”, the main film star can’t sing. So, they struggle to get around this. Also, one of my favorite movie lines is from this movie. Moses supposes his toes are roses, but Moses supposes erroneously, Moses he knows his toses aren’t roses as Moses supposes his toses to be!
Gone with the Wind 1939- Girl likes guy, he isn’t interested, so she marries someone else, he dies in civil war, she goes into mourning but then finally gets guy she likes, they have a daughter, daughter dies, mansion burns, “frankly my dear I don’t give a damn” & “I don’t know nothing about birthin no babies”
Lawrence of Arabia 1962- I have an image of a man ridding across the desert on a camel. Let’s call the camel Hank. He is oppressed, and he is trying to find a new home. Lawrence is oppressed, not the camel, although I guess Hank could be too. Lawrence helps others but dies before his goal is realized.
Schindler’s List 1993-This was assigned in High school some 12/13 years ago. The movie is B&W except for a little girl with a red balloon. This film is about the Holocaust. I think someone risks their life/status to try to save people from the Nazi’s.
Vertigo 1958-A group of people are trapped in a tall building, building catches on fire somehow and they spend the rest of the moving trying to escape. Only 2 people make it. We will call them Bob and JoAnne.
The Wizard of Oz 1939- Teenage storm chaser gets too close to tornado, spends rest of movie on an acid trip of sorts chasing around friends trying to figure out how to get home.
City Lights 1931- Young country girl follows her dreams to be an actress in the city. Finds that acting jobs are competitive, takes job with local electric company to pay the bills.
The Searchers 1956- Lonely detective, we will call him Albert, spends his life solving cold cases. Falls in love with client, solves her case but is killed before they can start their life together.
Star Wars 1977- I will be honest, no idea which plot of Star Wars this one is. I’m going to with the one where we meet Luke and Obi-Wan. “Help me Obi-Wan, you are my only hope” & These are not the droids you are looking for”
Psycho 1960- A case study on Freudian Theory with a hint of the Oedipus complex with just a splash of taxidermy
2001: A Space Odyssey1968- A movie that is written to depict what we think space travel would be like in the future. Several astronauts find themselves stranded without Tang or Dipping dots.
Sunset Boulevard 1950- Man moves to LA in search of a life outside of mobs and crime. Finds love but can’t escape his past. Saves girl, loses his life.
The Graduate 1967- Great Soundtrack! Dustin H. graduates high school, is at a party and an older friend or co-worker of his dad, Mrs. Robinson, tries to seduce him. I’m going to guess he goes with it, (men..) but breaks things off to go to college. Man, later becomes a cross dresser..(oh wait. That’s another movie on this list 😉 )
The General1927- The life and times of a feared but successful WWI general as he struggles with life after the war.
On the Waterfront1954- A soldier’s vivid recount of his experience on the beaches of Normandy during WWII
It’s a Wonderful Life1956– “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings, That a boy Clarence!” Half deaf banker with a mesmerizing stutter makes bad business decision, gets to see what life would be like if had mad some different decisions in life. Spends a considerable amount of time confused, but then learns the error of his ways, goes home and makes up with wife and family, fixes bad business decision. Spends the next 100 years on TV at Christmas time.
Chinatown1974- Story follows Jerry, a corrupt businessman as he works the black markets in Chinatown narrowly escaping the cops on numerous occasions, until his luck finally catches up to him.
Some Like It Hot1959- I think this stars Marilyn Monroe, so It’s a safe bet that pretty girl isn’t taken seriously, gets fed up with the system, tries to trick someone but ends up falling for the instigator in the end.
The Grapes of Wrath1940- A once wealthy family suffers at the hand of the depression and the dustbowl. They are hungry for grapes, find said grapes, eat said grapes, grapes are bad, family dies of dysentery.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial1982- Boy finds alien who is too good for M&M, eats Reese’s instead. Alien insists on calling home, but doesn’t have a calling card mom won’t let kid make long distances calls so they run away from mom, phone company and FBI on kid’s bike. Alien escapes kid is grounded.
To Kill a Mockingbird1962- Was supposed to read the book for this in high school, cheated and watched movie instead…13 years ago. I think a Man is wrongfully accused of a crime. Lawyer takes the un-popular opinion and with help of daughter defends man in court. Items are hidden in trees.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington1939- Mr. Smith is unsatisfied with a particular law. When no one will hear is pleas on a local level, he takes off for Washington DC to lobby his agenda to the senate and congress. No one will listen to him but 1 man. Man is finally convinced and fights for reform.
High Noon1952- Gun slingers keep to themselves out west until a new gang rolls into town upsetting the flow of the city. A duel is challenged, and they vow to meet in the city center for a winner takes all battle.
All About Eve1950- A girl’s parents are insistent that their daughter, Eve, settles down, Marries and starts a family. Eve has other plans in mind. She wants to travel the world, make her own decisions and find her elf along the way. The parents don’t understand but finally let eve live her life.
Double Indemnity1944- A lawyer is brought onto an impossible case regarding a young small business owner and a large cooperation. All hope seems lost until the lawyer finds a loop hole, the double indemnity loop hole. Cooperation loses its battle and small business owner carries on, business as usual. Lawyer renames loop hole something easier to pronounce.
Apocalypse Now1979- Soldiers find themselves drafted in the Vietnam war, and in the middle of nowhere fighting for their lives with no end in sight. It seems like it might be the end of the world.
The Maltese Falcon1941- Pioneer man, Gary, lives in the wilderness, feeding off the land and being one with nature. Takes every precaution to avoid outsiders, his only friend, his pet falcon named Maltese, Malty for short. Malty is wounded when land poachers attempt to settle the area. Gary fights back but not before losing his faithful companion Malty.
The Godfather Part II1974- Who ever the family tried to kill in the first movie comes back to seek vengeance on this mob family. More people get married, even more people die. The rest of them eat cannoli’s.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest1975- Man is convicted of a crime but convinces the courts to let him serve out his sentence in a state hospital. He thinks it will be an easy ride, but the padded walls are not as comforting as thought they would be.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs1937- Witch is jealous of young girl’s beauty, tricks her into eating poisoned apple which causes her to sleep in a forest. Prince comes along sees her, thinks it is ok to kiss her, she wakes up and is so traumatized that she decides to live with seven jewel minors all with personality disorders. She befriends them and all the animals of the forest. Movie somehow has happy ending because this is a Disney movie and that’s their MO. Movie becomes awesome ride at Florida Theme Park.
Annie Hall1977- Diane Keaton plays a confused love interest (once again) for the as equally confused Woody Allen. They go back and forth on whether they should date until they awkwardly part ways.
The Bridge on the River Kwai1957- Battle buddies recount how they survived the Korean war.
The Best Years of Our Lives1946- An older couple, Janis and Fred, prepare to celebrate their 50thwedding anniversary. The good times and the bad times are recounted as they look back on what could have been.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre1948- 2 friends set out on an expedition that will forever change their lives. But not everything is as it seems, and one friend turns on the other in a greedy turn of events.
Dr. Strangelove1964- A New York Dr. works hard saving the lives of others, never has time for a personal life, until he meets the Dr. of a sick patient. Together they begin a whirl wind romance that ends in tragedy.
The Sound of Music1965- Nun turned nanny helps out family of strict military man and his bratty children. Nanny plays hard to get, runs away ultimately winning the hearts of their children and their sometimes-angry father. Not wanting to participate in a war they have no business being in, family escapes from brain washed Nazi sympathizers, hides in cemetery with the aid of cheeky nuns before climbing over the mountains to safety. Story becomes a movie that is adored by the writer of this blog and hated by writer’s husband.
King Kong1933- Large monkey lives in Zoo and is abused and treated as a cash cow. Woman visits monkey at the zoo and expresses anger that monkey is locked up. Monkey is touched by woman’s’ feelings of outrage, escapes zoo, finds woman in skyscraper and vows to make her his best friend. Woman no longer feels the same way about monkey is terrified and her screams alert the police and military to save her. Monkey tries to escape but is shot down as he hangs from the side of her building. Woman is safe, but because of damage, her HOA fees skyrocket.
Bonnie and Clyde1967- The crazy story of the life of crime, shoot out and death of Bonnie and Clyde. Spoiler alert, they don’t make it.
Midnight Cowboy1969- Bar keep and mechanical bool rider has dreams of being in the rodeo one day. Girlfriend is holding him back because she doesn’t want to see him get hurt. He doesn’t listen, loses the girl, gets hurt, she comes back and says “I told you so”
The Philadelphia Story1940-A retelling of our nations birth from the perspective of the towns people in the city of Philadelphia during 1776.
Shane1953- The story of a little boy as he grows up in the depression era all the way through to his adult hood as he navigates the troubles of WW2.
It Happened One Night1934-Two lovers cross paths over the course of several years. Their timing never seemed to be right. He would like her, but she was taken, she would finally see him for his true self only to find he was engaged. Then, finally, they get their act together and they are able to be together but just for one night. Tragedy would strike soon after and neither of them would ever know what could have been.
A Streetcar Named Desire1951- A rail way worker in San Francisco in the 40’s sees a girl, Stella, repeatedly on his street car on her daily commute to work. He spends several years trying to work up the nerve to talk to her but when he finally summons the courage he is distracted and runs her over with said street car. He is distraught, as he should be, he not only lost the love of his life, but now his job and probably his pension. I’d be mad too.
Rear Window1954- Family leaves back window of house unlocked, gang of thieves break in and steal family jewels and what money they have hidden away. Family is distraught. Little boy of family vows to find the gang that brought such devastation to his family. Years later, on accident the now adult boy comes face to face to the man who broke into his house through the rear window.
Intolerance1916- Silent movie, a horror/thriller about one man’s intolerance for milk and other dairy products.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring2001- sigh. I really don’t want to watch this one. A guy who looks like Dumbledore, but isn’t Dumbledore convinces two elves like beings to travel through middle earth and other equally scary areas of real life New Zealand. Even tinier elf with bad posture, poor skin care and lisp harasses always hungry elves into giving him a ring (and not on the phone). Elves continually try to ditch the angry elf resorting to throwing said ring into a volcano. Series continues for at least 3 more equally boring sequels.
West Side Story1961- Modern day Romeo and Juliet. 2 star crossed lovers come from different sides of the track. Families don’t get along, but true love is true love. And in the end. Someone dies.
Taxi Driver1976- An angry man uses his taxi business as a front for his crime business. Eventually the police catch on and go undercover to arrest the taxi driver.
The Deer Hunter1978- Tim reminisces about the first time his father took him out hunting as he prepares to do the same thing with his son. Tim and his father Dan, didn’t always get along, at times their relationship was strained. But it was when they were in the woods, hunting deer that they could be themselves and understand each other.
MASH1970- Surgeons and nurses try to live their life during the Korean war at a mobile medical unit. They are forced to treat not only their own, but the native people to the area who are either caught in a war they want nothing to do with or are the enemy. When they are not being serious in the operating room they are laughing and playing tricks on each other.
North by Northwest1959- Man famously runs away from plan, narrowly escaping. Sure, there is a plot to this movie, but everyone knows and waits for the plane scene. That’s all that matters.
Jaws1975-Large ocean creature decides he has had enough with his diet and decided to feast on the people and boats of his community. He doesn’t get the hint and comes back for too many more sequels.
Rocky1976- Man trains to fight when he should be training to annunciate better. Falls in love with a girl who is afraid that he might get killed if he doesn’t stop fighting. He fights anyway, wins, fights again in 3 or 4 other movies. He does not win every match, but people don’t seem to care as they continue to make these movies 40 years later.
The Gold Rush1925- Movie depicts the life of gold miners as they travel from site to site hoping to strike it big.
Nashville1975- Jason a country singer from Ohio is tired of playing in no name bars and scrapes up enough money to go to Nashville where he hopes to become a big star. But it isn’t as easy as it seems, it takes a special girl who swore off musicians, to remind him what music is really about.
Duck Soup1933- The story of a boy and his goal of one day becoming the finest chef in New York. All he has is ambition and his grandma’s secret recipe for duck soup to guide him.
Sullivan’s Travels1941- Sullivan grew up without a family going from one group home to another. Sullivan finally decides he has had enough with the system and runs away. This story follows Sullivan’s journey as he travels from city to city, meeting new people all who teach him something new and important along the way.
American Graffiti1973- American artist Zach is tired of his artwork not selling at his gallery showings. His type of art isn’t considered edgy anymore, so he explores other mediums and begins anonymously tagging buildings as a form of new art. At first the community is outraged but eventually they can’t get enough of it. Zach decides to keep his work anonymous as the silent praise of the people is enough.
Cabaret1972- Night time show singer wishes to be more main stream Hollywood, but instead is stuck working in the dark and dingy night clubs. Works hard to overcome her obstacles and becomes film star she always wanted to be.
Network1976- A group of friends graduate from college and enter the work force. Movie follows each of the men as they work their way up the cooperate ladder using every way they know how.
The African Queen1951- King of African country is killed during a war and his young daughter inherits the kingdom. The country has never been ruled by a woman before, and she was not prepared to rule. Together the queen and her people navigate unfamiliar situations.
Raiders of the Lost Ark1981- Archeologist , who is named after one of the greatest states in America, is never quite satisfied with the relics he has and continues to put himself and others at risk to find the treasures he seeks. He hates snakes, and for good reason. Snakes suck.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?1966- Everyone. Everyone is afraid of Virginia Woolf. Virginia spends the whole movie trying to find ways to prove to her peers that just because she made some questionable decisions in her life, she is human just like they are.
Unforgiven1992- A group of ex-prisoners who were recently acquitted of their crimes must attempt to re-enter the real world, where they find that even though the state has found them not guilty the people have not and have yet to forgive them for the crimes they DIDN’T commit.
Tootsie1982-Actor finds that all the good parts are going to women, so he dresses up as a sassy girl and gets a steady job. But nothing is ever easy, and he spends the whole movie in love with a girl who things he is also a girl therefore not interested in him.
A Clockwork Orange1971- A mad man tortures his friends and peers as he works tirelessly around the clock trying to build a time machine.
Saving Private Ryan1998- A group of soldiers are on a quest to find a soldier who is now the last remaining boy in his family during WW2. They navigate the war and get him home safely, but not before some of them loose their life first.
The Shawshank Redemption1994- A man by the name of Shaw is wrongfully accused of a crime, but no one will believe him. Finally, an officer believes him and works tireless to redeem his name, even after its’ too late.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid1969- Western outlaw takes new cocky gunslinger under his wing and shows him the ropes. Kid thinks he knows everything and that gets him and butch in trouble. In the end, Butch gives his life so that the kid can carry on.
The Silence of the Lambs1991-Hannibal lector is a notorious criminal known for cannibalism. A new criminal is on the loose and new FBI agent Clarisse works day and night trying to locate the new murderer before he can kill his latest victim. Starling enlists the help of lector who she thinks she has befriended. He entertains her but ultimately wastes her time. Justice prevails as Clarisse is able to find the creep before he can strike again. Hannibal on the other hand, cuts a man’s face off in an ambulance and escapes.
In the Heat of the Night1967- A police precinct is shown dealing with their community during what is considered to be the hottest heat waves in hears. Tempers begin to flair inside the station and out.
Forrest Gump1994- Boy naively finds himself in the middle of several historical events of the last 40 years and recounts the events to whoever will listen while sitting on a bus stop bench. Falls in love at an early age to a girl named JEEENAYYYY, officially making the name Jennifer a constant annoyance for a good 10 years. Sigh.
All the President’s Men1976- Another dramatic retelling our nations birth, but this time from all the founding fathers, not just the ones who would become president.
Modern Times1936- A family struggles to keep up with the new and changing pace of the world. Life isn’t always as simple as it was on the farm.
The Wild Bunch1969- A group of four friends as they go from grade school, to high school and later onto college and the real life. They always said they would be friends forever, but at what cost?
The Apartment1960-This story shows the life of apartment and how it changes character with every tenant that is in it. We start from the very first renters all the way until the building is torn down. So much has happened with in those walls and each tenant has a different story.
Spartacus1960- Spartacus, a roman commoner battles back against the roman soldiers in an effort to reclaim what is really his. (ps. This just proves that I paid absolutely no attention in my early civilizations history class. I am so sorry Ms. Lester and Mr. Meece.
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans1927- A love story told from both sides. Their journey together wasn’t easy, but was always meant to be.
Titanic1997- Young boy has worst luck ever and wins tickets to ride on a doomed ocean liner. Meets the girl of his dreams. Boy dies of hypothermia when they can’t figure out how to lay on a wood board together. Spoiler Alert, don’t challenge mother nature. She will find a way to sink your unsinkable ship.
Easy Rider1969- Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper are manly men in love with their motorcycles, they choose hogs across the country beating up any one that calls their bikes “hogs” instead of motorcycles.
A Night at the Opera1935 A boy spends his whole life dreaming of performing at the opera, after many failed attempts, he finally gets his chance at the age of 80. It was a once in a life time opportunity, but it is an experience he will never forget.
Platoon1986-Yet another war movie that follows a platoon of men around during the Vietnam war. Stress and danger get the better of them as they begin to lash out at each other and innocent lives that surround them.
12 Angry Men1957- 12 jurors on a murder case fight into the night on whether a young man is guilty of a crime. All seem to agree but one man. Slowly he pecks away at their reasoning in an effort to switch their mind. In the end the all agree, and they were wrong.
Bringing Up Baby1938- little girl loses her parents at a very young age. Young inexperience couple is tasked with taking care of the little girl. Little girl finds out later in life that the parents she grew up with were in fact not her birth parents. Is angry but realizes they love her all the same.
The Sixth Sense1999- Little Boy see’s dead people, Bruce Willis hangs out with kid. In the end we find out that kid does in fact see dead people and Bruce Willis is in fact dead, he was shot by an intruder at the beginning of the movie.
Swing Time1936- A group of friends navigate post WWI days. Find comfort in music and swing dancing. Parents don’t understand.
Sophie’s Choice1982- Meryl Streep escapes German Nazi camps, dates manic man who leaves but always comes back. The couple befriend a writer who learns of her true past and of the choice Sophie has to make. Writer falls in love with Sophie, but she ends her life as she cannot live with the pain of having to choose which of her children would live and which one would die at the hands of the Nazis in the internment camps.
Goodfellas1990-Chronicles the life a boy growing up in the Burroughs of New York. He starts out on a good path, but winds up tied in with the mob. Spends the rest of the movie walking a fine line between good guy and mob boss.
The French Connection1971- A man falls for a French girl while in Paris for travel. She likes him, but he is below her class level. She entertains the idea, but the two never get together, but they will always have their one time “French connection”
Pulp Fiction1994- Several stories being told at once, but all connected somehow. Samuel L. Jackson wants a Royale With Cheese and is angered easily. John Travolta falls for his boss’s girl, they dance in a diner and in her living room. Girl OD’s on drugs be is violently revived. Weirdness ensues during the whole movie.
The Last Picture Show1971- A washed up movie star begs for a role to prove she still has “it” gets the role, but to critical reviews. Takes her life but not before she reflects on her illustrious career and dreams about what it “could” have been.
Do the Right Thing1989- A group of kids spend the whole movie trying to get ahold of the answers to a hard mid-term. They are successful in their quest, but decide at the last minute to “do the right thing” and take the test. Some pass, some fail, but they all learn a valuable lesson.
Blade Runner1982- Space age super hero, Harrison Ford? Stops bad guys while wearing roller blades.
Yankee Doodle Dandy1942- A film chronicling the great Babe Ruth and his time with the New York Yankees.
Toy Story1995- Toys live their daily life in constant anxiety worrying when their owner is going to replace them. Cowboy forgets to take his Xanax and has full blown panic attack and gets lost with his laid-back space friend. Spend the whole movie trying to get home. (otherwise known as every night mare I ever have)
Ben-Hur 1959-A slave tries to win his freedom from Romans and gladiators by racing chariots.