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RIP www.moviejustice.com 2002-2010
Damn the torpedoes. I may get through this, I may not, but I'm going to attempt it.

I have issues with making lists. I really do, it's painstakingly difficult for me, because I'm a bit bipolar and my mood changes, I change, and so do my tastes in films from time to time.

However I'm going to try to narrow it down to a top 100 films of all time, but I'm not going to rank them.

The reason why is because I really wonder if a person can say with any objectivity the difference between their 58th favorite film and their 70th favorite film.

Also I wonder if a person didn't have their list with them or moFo handy, could you walk up to them on the street and ask, "Hey what's your 61st favorite film?" and have them give you a direct answer why with the reasons why it's below 60 and slightly ahead of 62?

Likely not.

This is why I haven't really made a list in about 10 years. But I'm going to try again not ranking them, but just giving you 100 of my favorite films and reasons I like them. Some I have watched recently and some I haven't watched in years for whatever reasons.

Here it goes and pray I get throught it.

-----

Blue Velvet
Le Boucher
Do the Right Thing
Little Big Man
It's a Gift
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
City Slickers
Steamboat Bill Jr.
The Maltese Falcon
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Top 100 Films, clicky below

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RIP www.moviejustice.com 2002-2010
Top 100 films
First movie...



Blue Velvet (1986, David Lynch)

Thoughts: I last watched this David Lynch film about a year ago, so it's time for another viewing. The first time I watched it I was perplexed and mesmerized. It's a film that grows on the viewer and it is oddball director David Lynch’s most definitive film. It lacks the accessibility of The Straight Story or The Elephant Man, but is more coherent and less of a mind **** than Mulholland Dr. or the elusive Inland Empire (still have not got through that one). Blue Velvet seems to be a perfect blend of Lynch’s story-telling and his surreal mood evoking bizarreness.

I like the Lynch trademarks of random images and sounds that are irrelevant to the plot, but push the atmosphere. For example - a candle burning, a white picket fence contrasting against a perfectly blue sky, a close up of lipstick, a flickering shadow, and so on. Blue Velvet is a mystery and something of a detective novel for protagonist Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) as he investigates a missing ear (yes, you read correctly) and turns up a web of kidnapping, ransom, and murder. Dennis Hopper plays the villain Frank Booth and Isabella Rossellini is the mistreated woman who’s husband is murdered and child kidnapped. Their scenes together are disturbing and extremely odd. Everybody has a fetish, but Frank Booth as played brilliantly over-the-top in full expletive laced glory by Hopper takes this to new heights and is perhaps one of the screen’s most disgusting, unpredictable, and odd bad guys.

The 50’s vibe going through the film – whether it be the nice tree lined avenues, the oldies music, and the nice neat trim fashions provide a satire of a small town America that never existed except in our own minds. It’s all wonderful, creepy, and hilarious. Watching Beaumont voyeuristically investigate a crime and slowly learn of the evil nature lurking beneath smiling faces is a pure joy. Lynch puts the viewer in his position so we almost become the character who is in over his head. Never is this more apparent when he views a rape from hiding and peeking through a living room closet. During these tense moments Lynch almost out-Hitchcock's, Hitchcock.



Best scene: For me the best moment in the film is more of a sequence than a single scene. Beaumont is discovered by Booth and taken on as a “guest” through his labyrinth of road rage, beer critique, shady criminals, and a semi-cross dressing Liberace-summoning Roy Orbison lip singing Dean Stockwell. What tops it off is Hopper mouthing along almost orgasmically... why? Just why? But lord help me I love it. Like most of Lynch’s material it’s just strange, yet so damn funny and watchable. It’s almost a parody of Bogart’s journey through the hellish nights in The Big Sleep with characters in situations only the imagination could come up with.

&feature=related



I have issues with making lists. I really do, it's painstakingly difficult for me, because I'm a bit bipolar and my mood changes, I change, and so do my tastes in films from time to time.
Lord, do I understand. And then sometimes I feel like not everything changes, but maybe the order does, or you just wanna remake it anyways.

Originally Posted by viddy
The reason why is because I really wonder if a person can say with any objectivity the difference between their 58th favorite film and their 70th favorite film.
Yes, yes.

Originally Posted by viddy
Also I wonder if a person didn't have their list with them or moFo handy, could you walk up to them on the street and ask, "Hey what's your 61st favorite film?" and have them give you a direct answer why with the reasons why it's below 60 and slightly ahead of 62?
Yes. Finally - someone else on here with thought processes similar to mine in regards to lists/movies. And to think I never knew.



Chappie doesn't like the real world
Yes. Finally - someone else on here with thought processes similar to mine in regards to lists/movies. And to think I never knew.
Make that three. I've wanted to do a top 100 for awhile, but I know it would make me nuts.

Really looking forward to this list, Viddy.



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
I don't believe that anyone at this site actually believes their order is correct or isn't fluid. They just bite the bullet and put something out there. The format is really irrelevant. So no, I don't think this is an "Us Vs. Them" scenario.
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I don't believe that anyone at this site actually believes their order is correct or isn't fluid. They just bite the bullet and put something out there.
Yeah. I know for certain if I did a top 100 I wouldn't be able to tell you why I liked #50 better than #51, or whatever. It's just for the sake of the format, right? I do know, though, that I would be able to tell you why #1 is better than #10 why #10 is better than #20, and so on. But the specific order of those 10 in between would be just a very rough estimate based on how I felt at the time of making the list, and how I remember feeling at the end of each of the films.

Anyway, good luck with the list, viddy.



RIP www.moviejustice.com 2002-2010
I don't believe that anyone at this site actually believes their order is correct or isn't fluid. They just bite the bullet and put something out there. The format is really irrelevant. So no, I don't think this is an "Us Vs. Them" scenario.
True. I enjoy lists because they are a good film reference and before compiling mine I looked at a lot of the lists already posted on here, including yours, and was reminded of some films I forgot to include on my list.

That's another problem I have. I simply may have overlooked something, but then that begs the question if I love the movie so much, why did I overlook it? Anyway. It's easy for us humans be to absent minded at times. For example The Innocents, which I have loved for years, I was reminded by your list to put on mine.



RIP www.moviejustice.com 2002-2010
Top 100 films
Second movie...



Le Boucher (1970, Claude Chabrol)



Thoughts: Here is a film that seems to cross genres, as it couldn’t exactly be described as a murder mystery – the viewer knows exactly who commits the murders half way through, and it’s not really a love story, nor would I call it a drama. It works on many levels, and certainly each of those genres mentioned, the film could be categorized in, but it’s as much a study on human nature and what drives people to do reproachable things, as it is anything else. The Butcher is a great film because it refuses to fall for genre traps and like all great movies, really caters little to the audience in explaining plot. The lighter is evidence and symbolic of who the murderer is. No flashbacks are implemented. Also character’s tend to react as they might in real life – with horrible, horrible indecision and complication.

The main drive of the film is the lead actress, a stunningly beautiful Stephane Audran, who plays a school teacher, Helen, involved in a platonic relationship with the local butcher, Paul (Jean Yanne). While Helen is not apparently sexually interested in Paul, it is interesting that she initiates in all of their “dates.” The film opens with a lengthy wedding sequence (though it doesn’t even reach Deer Hunter territory thank God!) in which the two are conversing. We get the sense they’ve known of each other for years, but have no really engaged in much dialogue. Their relationship is studied through the film and it’s painful to watch one soul want more than what another soul is willing to give and the vacuum that ensues. Paul, in dealing with his rejection, could very well be second cousin to Travis Bickle.

From the eerie opening credits with the haunting harp, piano, and xylophone minimalistic music and vulgar lettering placed over images of stalagmites and caverns – a latter setting in the movie – this film is entirely unique. It could have easily gone into cliché’ thriller territory, but instead it shows a person’s curiosity not just fear guiding their actions, once they realize they are in the presence of a murderer. The remarkable thing is Helen continues to see and be acquainted with Paul once she is sure he has done the killings. It is intelligent writing and plotting, as the film is about their interactions with one another. The Butcher tends to focus more on Helen’s response to Paul and both actors are fantastic in a movie that is carried on their shoulders. One thing I realized is how the writing didn’t skim over the character’s careers and lives, but rather implemented them. So many films fall trap to the concept that characters never have to go to work in the movies they inhabit as it detracts from the plot. Here their jobs are beautifully worked into the plot and character development. The subtle music, and pastel like photography, great shots and subdued style make this a piece of cinematic art if there ever was one. The finale when Helen kisses Paul is a great moment in film, and one most American audiences would probably be aghast at. The Butcher shows a humanistic side to a murderer and gives a bruised, haunted, and lovesick soul as motive.



Best scene: Paul and Helen are out exploring the forest while mushroom hunting with the students. While getting a chance to be alone Paul questions Helen further in which she says she’s not interested in a sexual relationship. The dialogue is spoken more through implication and discreet questioning rather than direct question answer style and the viewer sees Paul squirm awaiting her cold response like a firing squad. It’s a painful and clever scene and at one point the camera slowly starts to move and slides behind a tree before allowing itself to witness heart-breaking rejection again.

&feature=related

Check about 7 minutes into the video link.



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
Chabrol is a master of mood and image. One recurring visual his films incorporate is of a car driving at night. I don't know how he does it exactly, but he infuses the headlights projecting onto an open road, usually with some trees on both sides, with some kind of sinister meaning. It may be something which eludes most viewers, but I love the way he films these scenes, and there's a particularly great one in Le Boucher. It's my fave Chabrol, but I also highly recommend This Man Must Die to first-time viewers. Yanne plays a real scumbag in that one. Audran was married to Chabrol and appears in many of his better films too.

For the record, I think that in general Chabrol is a much-better director than Lynch, but I've mellowed a bit concerning some of Lynch's "uniqueness" as I've become more of an old fart.



RIP www.moviejustice.com 2002-2010
top 100 films
Third movie.

Do The Right Thing (1989, Spike Lee)



Thoughts: I enjoy the style and flair of this early Spike Lee joint, all set within a single sweltering Brooklyn day as the neighborhood goes about its business battling the heat, their lives, racism, and of course each other. Lee seems to follow Aristotle’s unity of time which says great drama must take place within a day, and while I don’t always agree, I think the time frame is the only way to set this film. The lighting, hues of yellow, orange, and brown – shadows on the buildings and streets – activities of shop owners and patrons all serve to give the film a sense of time of day. The beginning of the film is morning and the end of the film is that night – appropriately so.

Getting beyond some of the flamboyant 80’s styles and a slight over use of Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) playing Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” may be difficult at first for some viewers, but this is a period piece - a slice of life out of Spike Lee’s book and late 80’s Brooklyn as he knew it, so I can’t really fault the film. Few films deal with racism as candidly. The derogatory slurs machine gun their way to the viewer, as the Italians, Koreans, and Blacks are all dealing with their racial prejudice and preconceptions. I greatly admire how the movie never tends to take sides or let any of the groups off the hook. Racism can be inflicted on and inflicted by any group. This is well handled in a point of view sequence with various characters dropping slurs left and right into the camera, putting the viewer in the shoes of the recipients.

Danny Aiello shines as Sal the Italian pizzeria owner, and John Turturro plays his disgusted and hate filled son. Both parts headline a cast which also includes smaller roles for wonderful actors Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Rosie Perez, Samuel Jackson, and John Savage. Spike Lee probably gets the most screen time as he acts within his own film and the title could refer to many things, but most likely it’s the action Lee’s character Mookie takes at the film’s climax. Does Mookie do the right thing? I say no, he does not, but after listening to interviews and commentary with Spike Lee, I’m not so sure the director would agree with me. But that’s the beauty of the film in that Lee is restrained and non-manipulative and despite having his own opinion, he is able to tell the story marvelously and let the viewer decide. The film moves slow and is not burdened down with plot, but rather it shows characters and ideas. Interactions. I showed this movie to one of my classes and they ask, “What’s this movie about? What’s the story?” I reply it’s not about that. Do the Right Thing concludes with Lee offering two opposing points of view – a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. and another from Malcom X. We know which view Lee agrees with. He never made a movie about Martin Luther King Jr.



Best scene: Sal and Pino are alone sitting inside their pizzeria during the afternoon – hottest part of the day, and open up with each other . Pino desperately wants out of the neighborhood away from the blacks, while Sal explains how they’re a part of the neighborhood, business, and their livelihood. The conversation starts smoothly enough and a low tempo smooth jazz plays in the background, but tensions soon rise. Pino is not listening to reason, despite his father’s best attempts, and Sal as played by Danny Aiello is at his pleading best, “Why you got so much anger in you.” This simple quote can really represent the entire film and the social message. Hate and racism comes from anger and redirected hate, not reason and logic. Sal goes on to say, “They grew up on my food, and I’m proud of that.” Another great line showing how the character understands what is important, if only he can hold on to his ideology above his anger. Technically it’s a great cinematic moment. The camera slowly dollies in toward them as the scene progresses and the jazz music speeds up and becomes a frantic bebop style with the sax filling for flared emotions.




RIP www.moviejustice.com 2002-2010
top 100 films
fourth movie

Little Big Man (1970, Arthur Penn)



Thoughts: I don’t know if I would be wrong to say this is the most flawed film of my top 100, and a movie that barely made my list. The problem is, when this movie works, it really works. When it doesn’t work, it’s too bad because Little Big Man has some of the best writing and some of the best scenes ever filmed. Many of Arthur Penn’s films tend to feel a bit unbalanced – striking an uneasy chord between drama and comedy, which is difficult to do. Before I get ahead of myself, I’ll give a brief synopsis.

Little Big Man is the “Forrest Gump” of the American western. It’s based on a book I’ve not read, but would like to when laziness subsides. The story deals with the fictional sole survivor of the Battle of Little Big Horn, Jack Crabb (Dustin Hoffman) and is a frame story with Crabb telling his story to an interviewer in the present at the ripe old age of 121. Sure, this requires a bit of dropping suspension of disbelief, but that’s alright. The film is a beautiful adventure/comedy/drama sort of affair with Crabb going through a who’s who and what’s what of the Old West. He meets buffalo hunters, Wild Bill, General Custer, Cheyenne chiefs, snake oil salesmen and on and on.

The film’s treatment of Native Americans is what shines. It’s not preachy or forceful like a Dances With Wolves, nor does it come across as disrespectful, despite showing Native Americans to be every bit as flawed and human as the whites – cleverly side-stepping the “noble savage” stereotype. In its truthful treatment of the Great Plains Indian tribes the film transcends a lot of other message and Vietnam allegory films, by having a heart and soul. I appreciate Little Big Man’s historical accuracy in presenting cultural elements such as the Native American’s views on homosexuality, taking coup, roles of men and women, and of course being a contrary. These are points in the film that somehow, despite being played for comedy, are not derogatory.

Actor Chief Dan George (The Outlaw Josey Wales) is the heart of the film and he is what makes it what it is. Without his character Old Lodge Skins, and his performance, the movie would not be the great feature it is. When a person talks about great supporting performances in cinematic history, his name in this film is bound to appear. His soft spoken, to the point demeanor is a joy to watch. Seeing the world through his eyes as spoken to Crabb (his adoptive grandson) is unique and funny. When he speaks of “The white black man” and “My eyes still see, my heart no longer receives it” even the “I’m invisible!” bit, the viewer can’t help but smile. This is the most sensitive treatment in presenting the most human portrait of an American Indian the screen has ever seen.

I could talk about the flaws of the film, but I won’t waste much time. The great bits are so brilliant and well done that I can forget the dismal attempt at comedy with Crabb marrying a non-English speaking Swedish woman, Olga. I can forget the horrible cliché’ acting from Carole Androsky (who? Yeah I know) as Crabb’s manly sister. I can even overlook a couple of the mishandled scenes with Bartin Balsam. If the movie was perfect it would be top 10 material for me. As it is, it ranks slightly below The Wild Bunch, Once Upon a Time Upon in the West, and McCabe & Mrs. Miller in ranking of the great revisionist westerns. Yet I think about this movie very often, and in my American Literature I class I culminate the Native American literature unit with this film, so it has a place in my top 100, regardless of the flaws.

I haven’t even touched on everything I want to, but I’ve already written more than what I planned. I do have to mention the other great supporting actor alongside Chief Dan George, that really makes this movie what it is; the homicidal portrayal of General Custer as played to aloof psychotic perfection by Richard Mulligan.



Best scene: Little Big Man arrives back in the Cheyenne camp after a murderous US Cavalry raid to find his Grandfather has lost his vision, and many of the braves have been “wiped out.” Old Lodge Skins proceeds to give his explanation of the difference between the Human Beings and White Man, in some of the most simplistic and emotional dialogue ever spoken on screen.



sorry, the sound and image are not in-sync but it's the only place I found the scene.



I saw Little Big Man recently thanks to Mark F, and you're right, the Grandfather, Old Lodge Skins, steals the show.



RIP www.moviejustice.com 2002-2010

For the record, I think that in general Chabrol is a much-better director than Lynch, but I've mellowed a bit concerning some of Lynch's "uniqueness" as I've become more of an old fart.
To be honest, I've only seen several of his films. This and a couple of Jean Seberg staring films he directed, Who's Got the Black Box? I think it was called - going on memory now. It didn't really impress me much, but even Hitchcock had his Torn Curtains.

What are a couple of his other best films in the vein of The Butcher that you would recommend.

As for Lynch, I'm a fan and I agree that Inland Empire was too indulgent and I've yet to sit through the whole thing. Lost Highway was really good, and 10 years ago it made my top 100, but not today after it's not held up as well as Blue Velvet or even Mulhulland Dr. Lynch can make straight forward and strong narrative stories as evidenced in The Straight Story, it just seems he doesn't enjoy that as much. But I'm just assuming based on his work.



The reason why is because I really wonder if a person can say with any objectivity the difference between their 58th favorite film and their 70th favorite film.
I completely agree... It seems highly illogical to assume that there would be any difference at that point in someone's list. In order to truly accomplish this (and this is probably just my hyper analytic nature) one would need to list out a series of criteria to fully judge a movie with such exactness.

I like how you are taking this approach. Excited to see where it ends up!



RIP www.moviejustice.com 2002-2010
Ok, so I've listed two films from the 70s and two from the 80s, so now I'll rewind a bit and write about a couple of older films from my top 100.

next...



top 100 films
Fifth film



It’s a Gift (1934, Norman Z. McLeod)



Thoughts: W.C. Fields is at his most domestic and hen-pecked best (Rip Van Winkle may consider himself lucky when compared) in this film, which takes place and was made during the Great Depression. In its own charming way it’s the short madcap comedy version of The Grapes of Wrath, only – dare I say, more enjoyable to watch. It’s as they say, when you want to cry – laugh and by turning the plight of Americans during this contemporary crises and their trek to the promised land of California into light hilarity, W.C. Fields connects to the viewer and leaves us with his most substantial film. It’s less surreal than Million Dollar Legs, less extravagant than International House, and not as well known as The Bank Dick, but for my money it’s his best film.

Quite a few of the routines – like most slapstick comedies of this brand, run their full length, but W.C. Fields’ charm holds the sequence together. For example there’s an overly long bit where Fields is trying to get a bit of shut-eye on the porch, but gets interrupted by children, salesmen, neighbors, and poor carpentry. The scene goes on longer than it really should, but Fields makes it so incredibly watchable it doesn’t matter. Anyone who’s ever tried to get sleep only to be interrupted – all of us – can appreciate the scene. Of the great comedians of the early talkie/Depression era – Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, Abbot and Costello, etc, I’ve always preferred Fields. I, in my cynical viewpoints, identify more with his irritable sarcasm and sly muttering wit than I do with the other comedians mentioned. Who else but Fields could make a dislike of dogs, kicking babies, and alcoholism funny and charming?

It’s a Gift contains many of his staples. Fields smokes cigars, tips the bottle, sleeps on his right side – naturally, and agrees with you in the open, while uttering scathing insults below his breath, “I’ll tell ya where you can go.” The movie begins with a typical day in his character’s life as a unsuccessful and strung out grocery shop owner and husband to a nagging wife, and father to ungrateful children. It quickly turns into a road movie, of which The Grapes of Wrath seems indebted to with the campground scenes, overloaded truck, and orange groves. Fields may not be as well known or even appreciated as his contemporaries, but he does have a very strong following and this movie is a great showcase for him.



Best scene: Fields battles it out with a blind man who's hard of hearing wanting some chewing gum in which he sells about a nickel worth of merchandise for God knows how much worth of damage to his store. All the while he puts up with a demanding customer wanting cumquats (sp? - get the joke?) anyway. The blind man proceeds to leave the store dodging traffic, much to Fields’ relief.




RIP www.moviejustice.com 2002-2010
top 100
sixth film


Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927, F.W. Murnau)

Thoughts:The Birth of a Nation is probably the greatest silent film ever made in terms of being a technical powerhouse and pioneering techniques of film as storytelling in the art’s infancy. F.W. Murnau's of Nosferatu fames Sunrise is – for me – the more passionate and involving movie. It’s better. Sunrise came out toward the end of the silent flims, 12 years after D.W. Griffith’s movie, but it seems far more modern. Some of the stuff in Sunrise simply amazes and while watching the film, I feel as if color were added (no, don’t call me Ted Turner) and dialogue were put in, it could almost be released today – every beautiful shot included, as a contemporary film and earn money. I think it’s the second most aesthetically beautiful silent film and has some of the most impressive set designs - ever. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is the only silent movie it bows to. Fritz Lang’s film, Metropolis, tends to get a lot of praise, but in my mind Sunrise has the edge on Metropolis with the city sets. While Lang’s film is marvelous to look at and probably more imaginative, Sunrise hides the fact that it was filmed on a movie set. Murnau had me fooled as I went to look up what city it was filmed in, to discover all the city scenes were done on a Hollywood set. That the film can make its backdrops disappear as reality is impressive. I specifically enjoy the diner scene, with city’s bustle being viewed through the windows. Perfect mise en scene.

The story is big, in that it is symbolic of the rural flight going on in America during the 20’s as the population gradually shifted toward the city, but it’s an intimate tale of two people, a man (George O’ Brien) and his suffering wife (Janet Gaynor), as they fight infidelity and the traps of marriage. The characters, don’t even have formal names. Any name you can give the characters; Smiths, Does, or Jones is irrelevant. After the movie opens in something of a “Go to the big city!” travelogue it introduces us to a mistress that will be the temptation for the husband to cheat on his wife. It deals with this material very matter of fact. The scenes where the wife is at home with the baby, knowing her husband is stepping out on her with a mistress, are devastating. It’s melodrama of the highest order and close ups of tear drenched faces are used spectacularly.

Sunrise moves on and the story goes the route of “will the husband kill the wife to be with the mistress” and another of my top 100 films, A Place in the Sun, borrows heavily from the lake scene. The middle of the film sees the man and woman reconcile after a near murder and it becomes something of a slapstick comedy with a drunk pig and a woman who can’t keep her top on, but it’s all good. The movie never dwells and is as well paced as anything today. One shot that surprised me a bit was when the couple are walking out of a dance hall and the camera pans up and then moves to the left of the screen as the couple walk out the right of the screen. In a continuous shot the camera moves right, floating behind a fountain only to find the couple again. I wonder if Scorsese drew from this for his shot early in Taxi Driver.



Best scene: A dolly shot early on in the film shows the man going out into the moon-lit swamps to meet his mistress. The screen shows his silhouetted back, the night sky, the fog, and the moon in a perfectly balanced shot. The camera dollies along until it loses the man in the thicket, fighting through brush and branches. The camera keeps moving until at last – not reunited with the man, but finding the mistress instead, waiting like a spider for her prey. This sequence is one of the best in silent film, right up there with the Odessa Steps from Battleship Potemkin.




Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
I'm finding this list quite interesting, mostly because I've hardly seen any of your picks so far!!! I do love Little Big Man though



RIP www.moviejustice.com 2002-2010
Top 100 films
seventh film

City Slickers (1991, Ron Underwood)

Thoughts: Here’s a comedy that I’ve loved from the age of 10, and I probably have watched it close to 50 times or more through my life. It’s probably right behind The Empire Strikes Back as the movie I’ve had the most viewings of. It’s not remembered among the great films, and it might not even be as funny as mid-top tier Woody Allen or Albert Brooks movie, but that’s OK. The writing team of Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (Parenthood, Night Shift) script some great dialogue and update two of my other favorite films, Red River and The Cowboys. When on a cattle drive what else is there to do, but talk, and this movie has quite a bit of witty rapport between the characters. City Slickers is really my introduction to westerns, John Wayne, and other stuff I enjoy about movies. The movie isn’t really a western and even calling it a modern western might be a stretch.

I think with a lot of these buddy movies the casting has to be right. Here is it. The story is about three amigos from the Big Apple who are bored with their monotonous middle class lifestyles. They are all nearing 40 and stuck in a rut with jobs they don’t see much advancement in, and they need a life-affirming event to jump their engines. Where else to go but the West, to drive cattle, the place of their childhood icon cowboy heroes? As I said, the casting must be right and Billy Crystal plays ring leader to Bruno Kirby and Daniel Stern, and while Crystal is the only one of the three actors to enjoy a lot of mainstream success, they play off each other very well. Crystal is the cynical smartass negotiator, Kirby plays the man with something to prove – headstrong and eager, and Stern in his second greatest role (behind the “Wonder Years”) is the neurotic and depressed hen pecked husband.

I should also mention Jack Palance who won a supporting actor Oscar for the part of Curly. Curly is what makes the movie because he’s the perfect foil to the green, soft handed “city folk.” Without his character and authenticity, the movie may well be just above average. He bridges the gap between yesterday and the contemporary. Palance made his mark as the sinister Wilson in Shane and is no less stoic and towering as the mysterious badass in this movie. Some of the best scenes have the three New Yorkers share rumors about him, stories of men he may or may not have killed, and his shaving habbits. It’s a very good role and performance for the –at that time - 70 year old Palance and a beautiful sunset for his film career. In fact he went on to reprise the role in part with the sequel several years later. The sequel is not as original or singular, but it’s still humorous and enjoyable.

Well I’m going to wrap it up about this movie with just one last thought. Sometimes films have a way of being therapeutic, and City Slickers is that for me. No other film can put me in a good mood the way this one can. Watching it brings a smile to my face and is like a warm cat curling up next to me. Typically I don’t rate movies on sentimental or “feel good” value, but this one manages to transcend all of that, as I watch the bumbling characters on their journey from despair to happiness through the great American West on a cattle drive.



Best scene: Easy for me. The moments when Crystal and Palance leave the other drivers and the herd to pick up some strays. During these tense moments the two actors shine their brightest in the film. Real tension is thick with Palance and Crystal’s characters having absolutely nothing in common or to talk about until Crystal finally man ups to the leathery old cowboy in a culminating camp fire scene among the best camp fire scenes and Palance breaks out into song.