Feature by: David Carter
Posted on: 17 July 2004
Everyone has a favorite movie. Actually, scratch that. Everyone has two favorite movies. First, there is your real favorite movie: the one you’ve seen millions of times and know ever word of dialogue to. Then everyone also has the movie that the say is their favorite movie when people ask you what your favorite movie is. This is particularly true for those of us who are hardcore cinephiles. The main reason for having a backup favorite is because 9 times out of 10 unless your talking to another film geek, the person who asked the question will have never have heard of your favorite movie. For example, my real favorite movie is probably El Topo, but when I get asked this question at work, I have to say that it is American Beauty. The second reason that you would need a backup is a touchier subject. Just as everyone has some CD’s in their collection that they are ashamed of, sometimes your favorite movie is just plain too embarrassing to admit to other people. I for one have had enough of being ashamed of my cinematic transgressions. Today it is time to own up to the fact that some of the movies I like are embarrassing even by the standards of not coming to a theater near you. A lot of the films we feature on this site are "guilty pleasures," but a lot of the movies I love make me feel guiltier than others. Here’s a quick and dirty guide to some of the movies that I love and now you need to start loving them too:
The best movie based on a song…EVER. Based on Bobby Gentry’s tearjerker about teen suicide (?) in a small country town. Robby Benson is great as Billy Joe McAllister and its directed by TV’s Jethro from the Beverly Hillbillies, Max Baer Jr. I love this film and think that it is probably a lot better than it has any business being given what its based. I’ve tried to make people watch this with me on several occasions with little or no luck. It’s almost impossible to find to buy or rent, but it comes on cable TV about once every two years, most recently on CMT.
When I was in kindergarten, our teacher would show us this film at least once a week. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best idea in the world because this film has some very disturbing imagery for a children’s film. Based on the French story by Antoine de Saint Exupery that everyone knows, and is truer to the story than the many cartoon versions. With Gene Wilder and Bob Fosse turn in great performances, and Stephen Warner’s Prince is an amazing example of good child acting. I had nightmares about this film for weeks after I originally saw it, and I’m man enough to admit that it still makes me cry when I watch it, but for completely different reasons.
Another childhood favorite. A modern update of the comic strips and black and white serials of the 1940’s. Watching it today makes me realize that its pretty bad, but I still love it. It’s still highly entertaining for many of the same reasons that it would be considered a bad movie. Queen’s soundtrack and Max Von Sydow’s Ming the Merciless are in themselves worth the price of renting it. If you’ve never seen it, do yourself a favorite and go pick it up tomorrow. I still think it’s vastly superior to the much over-hyped Superman film of two years prior.
I’ll let the script speak for itself:
Man – “What is best in life?”
Conan – “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to here the lamentations of the women.”
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is one of my favorite writers so its only fitting that one of my favorite films is the best screen adaptation of his books. A surprisingly faithful interpretation of an amazing book that at first seems difficult to film. Worth checking out if you don’t like Vonnegut’s books and infinitely better than the repugnant adaptation of Breakfast of Champions.
Another forgotten great that is, fittingly, forgotten even in discussions of the "forgotten greats." The relationship of an 80 year old woman and a teenage boy may disturb some, but this is one of the best black comedies in the history of American film. I was first exposed to the film in my high school drama class, when my teacher, Mrs. Anchors, decided we should learn how to direct films, so we watched the movie in sections everyday for an entire 9 weeks, analyzing the script and how the scenes were shot. A touching film with a great soundtrack by Cat Stevens.
Well, that’s all you guys are getting for now. I’ll be coming back and adding some more films to this list in the near future, as well as other members of the site throwing in their two cents. This is going to be the first truly interactive feature here at not coming to a theater near you. Send any of your forgotten favorites to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Rumsey and we’ll throw them up here too. Once again, one of our main goals is to expose our readers to as many films they’ve never heard of as humanly possible, and hopefully this list will be a good place to check out before your next trip to the video store.