Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Jim Watson's Top Nine Favorite Movies

Why nine? Cuz he couldn't think of a tenth...

1. “Mr. Lucky,” with Cary Grant. It’s not one of his most famous, but I’ve always loved it. He’s a rouge who owns a gambling boat. It’s set around WWII. There was a TV show based on it. It’s comedy and drama combined. It features the most interesting Australian slang.

2. “Casablanca” with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. I didn’t see this till I was in my 30s. I don’t know how it snuck past the Late Show on Channel 3 that I used to stay up and watch with my parents in summertime when I could stay up late. I think it’s the best movie ever made, I just happen to like Mr. Lucky better. I probably watch it once a year. My son doesn’t like it, not because it’s black and white. He loves the Marx Brothers movies. The American Film Institute (AFI) ranked it #2, with Citizen Kane as #1. But AFI came out with the 100 most memorable lines from movies and Casablanca led with 6: “Here’s looking at you kid;” “I’m shocked, shocked that there’s gambling going on in this club” (as the corrupt French official puts his gambling winnings in his pocket). It’s a war story, a love story, comedic and yet drama. Love it.

3. (numbers 3 through 8 are in no particular order) “Random Harvest” -1942--with Greer Garson and Ronald Colman. It’s a tearjerker, the only one on my list. Generally I avoid tear jerkers, especially after dad died and going through 3 years of cancer. Anyway, it’s a love story, set in post WWI England. Greer Garson is an incredible actress. She’s also great in Mrs. Miniver, which both my parents loved.

4. “His Girl Friday,” another Cary Grant movie. He’s a newspaper editor and Rosaland Russell was his star reporter and also his ex-wife. It’s a classic screwball comedy. I love newspaper movies, having been in the business for a short time. It’s fast moving, ridiculous, fun.

5. “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” the original 1951 version with Michael Rennie, Patricia O’Neil and Sam Jaffe. It’s my favorite science fiction movie. I love the theme. Not very high tech, but it has a great script.

6. “Monty Python: In Search of the Holy Grail.” I showed Tommy this one when he was 4 or 5. I thought he’d love the castles. It is one skit after the other. A young campaign worker who I befriended when Polly and I ran the Gary Hart for president campaign in Jefferson County (I nominated him at the county caucus) knew several of the bits: the bridge of eternal peril; the tale of Sir Galahad where he goes to the castle full of young girls and he’s “rescued”; the knights that say “Neeee”; the killer rabbit; etc. I like British humor. “What is your name? What is your quest? What is the air speed velocity of an unladen sparrow?"

7. “Pulp Fiction” I love the way Tarantino plays around with time. I especially like Samuel L. Jackson’s character in the movie. John Travolta can dance! Uma Thurman is spunky and sexy.

8. “The Departed” What a cast. Nicholson is great. I spent a summer in Boston so I like movies about Boston, like “Good Will Hunting.” It has an intricate plot. Funny. Violent. Suspenseful.

9. “It’s a Wonderful Life” the Christmas Classic. I can do an imitation of Jimmy Stewart when the townspeople go to the bank in a bank run, and he tries to talk them out of taking all their money out. I do the impression when talking about banks in Macroeconomics classes. Funny and touching. Christmas spirit. If I start to watch any of these movies, I end up watching the whole movie.


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