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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Tuesday, November 1

Great Movies Redux

I seem to be running out of blog topics. I can say only so much about the Donald and nothing else in recent news strikes my fancy. So I’m pulling up some film commentary I made nearly four years ago, about which films and actors I consider to be the best. Most of my lists of bests are from over thirty years ago, which means I’m leaving out a bunch of good films and actors in the last three decades.

Lots of critics think Citizen Kane is the best ever, but I have to confess I’ve never seen it, so I can’t really rank it. Others say Casablanca, and again I must confess I’ve never seen it. How can that be for a rabid film viewer to have never seen either of these films? I don’t know. Maybe I’d better Netflix them. Aside from those two, here’s my list for straight drama in descending order: On the Waterfront, Gone with the Wind, From Here to Eternity, The African Queen, Picnic, and The Graduate. You’ll notice that none of them are from the last thirty years. I know there have been some great movies in that period, but they’re still too close to me. Best musicals? An American in Paris and Singin’ in the Rain. That’s it, no more. Best horror—what else but Psycho, followed by The Innocents and The Uninvited. The many many horror flicks in the last thirty or forty years are based too much on buckets and buckets of gore. That much blood and too many masked villains leaping out of closets don’t make for great films, sometimes not even very good films. War movies—Saving Private Ryan, The Bridge over the River Kwai, The Great Escape, Schindler’s List, Mash, and Stalag 17. Again, All Quiet on the Western Front is always mentioned, but again, I’ve never seen it. Science fiction—2001, a Space Odyssey and Star Wars. What about a genre that’s almost forgotten, the western? Okay, Shane, Stagecoach, Red River, and The Searchers. You’ll notice I’m leaving out High Noon. That’s because when I saw it a year or so ago, I realized just how hokie it was, despite Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. The best of the prison flicks have to be The Shawshank Redemption, The Bird Man of Alcatraz, and The Green Mile. Comedies and romantic comedies? It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World has to be at the top of the comedies, followed by Young Frankenstein; with Pretty Woman at the top of the romantic comedies, followed by Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally.

Now, what about actors and actresses? In the past, there were so many men and women who had pure star power, but they weren’t necessarily good actors. Look at this list of male stars—Paul Newman, Cary Grant, Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, William Holden, John Wayne, Clark Gable. Of this list of super stars, only Paul Newman stands out as a great actor. The best of American and British actors has to be Marlon Brando and Laurence Olivier with Orson Wells a close second to Brando. Modern screen stars are Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, and Tom Cruise, but no one would say any of them is a great actor. So, after Brando and Olivier, the rest of the good ones, past and present, are Spencer Tracy, Henry Fonda, Gregory Peck, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Sidney Poitier, George C. Scott, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, and George Clooney.

The women stars of the past are Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner, Greta Garbo, Liz Taylor, Grace Kelly, Vivien Leigh, Marilyn Monroe, Catherine Hepburn, Betty Davis, and Joanne Woodward, with the last three the best actresses, Joanne Woodward the best of the best. Of the modern stars, the best are, in descending order, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman, Frances McDormand, and Charlize Theron. I’m sure I must have overlooked some great ones, but I can’t think of any. For example, Holly Hunter is a sleeper that most of us don’t think of because she’s been out of the spotlight for so long, but she’s been very good in everything she’s been in.

I love movies and the people who star in them. What would I do in my old age if I didn’t have darkened theaters to go to, places to watch beautiful men and women create other people and other places on the big screen?
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