Well, my readers, we are almost there, but not quite. In the last segment, I discussed great films such as “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, ” “All the President’s Men,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” and others. Looking at that section, many of those films had political themes. Nonetheless, all ten are great films, and I hope my readers check them out.
Here are the ten greatest films of all time (20-11).
20. Taxi Driver (1976) directed by Martin Scorsese
Synopsis: A mentally unstable Vietnam veteran (Robert DeNiro) takes a job as a night time taxi driver, and is driven to violence by the perceived decadence, in an attempt to rescue a teen prostitute (Jodie Foster).
My Analysis: DeNiro is awesome as Travis Bickle. The film is incredible in its depiction of Bickle’s psyche, and the film is also pretty violent. What is awesome about the film is that there is a theme of redemption when he rescues Iris (Foster), the teenage prostitute from her pimp (Harvey Keitel), despite a lot of his evil doings such as his poor treatment of his love interest, Betsy (Cybil Shepherd). This is one of director Martin Scorsese’s best films, and it was nominated for four Oscars, and contains the famous line, “You talking to me?”
Travis is buying guns from Andy (Warning: Language, violence):
19. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) directed by Milos Forman
My Analysis: This is a classic. Nicholson shines as Randle McMurphy, the criminal in the ward who is there for evaluation. Louise Fletcher is awesome as the evil and cruel Nurse Ratchet. If there is one movie character that is memorable, it would be Nurse Ratchet. I couldn’t stand her. What a meanie. The film is the second film in history (along with 1934’s “It Happened One Night,” and 1991’s “The Silence of the Lambs”) to win the “Big Five:” Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay (from a source). The film has aspects of drama, and comedy, but its poignant and rather sad ending really makes this film a classic. The themes of camaraderie, friendship, and rebellion come through in this film.
Chief (believed to be a deaf mute) speaks:
18. Elmer Gantry (1960) directed by Richard Brooks
Synopsis: A con man, Elmer Gantry (Burt Lancaster) joins ranks with a female Evangelical leader (Jean Simmons) and they go on a Christian Revival tour selling religion. The film is based on the Sinclair Lewis novel of the same name.
My Analysis: This film features one of the greatest performances by an actor that I have ever seen. Burt Lancaster’s Oscar winning performance is EPIC as Elmer Gantry, the hustling, dishonest , hypocritical con man who weasels himself onto a traveling Evangelical Revival Tour lead by Sister Sharon Falconer (Jean Simmons). Unlike Gantry, Falconer’s Christian beliefs are genuine, and while Gantry is condemning everyone to hell, and telling the audience that they are sinners (while hiding HIS women, and booze), Falconer is telling the audience of a beautiful Heaven. The entire movie is fantastic, and is very relevant today. Shirley Jones won a Supporting Actress Oscar as LuLu Baines, a prostitute, who also happens to be an old girlfriend of Gantry. Baines plays a pivotal role in the movie. This is a highly recommended film.
17. Richard III (1955) directed by Lord Laurence Olivier
Synopsis: A film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play of the same name about Richard, Duke of Gloucester (Lord Laurence Olivier), and his treacherous, and destructive plots to become King Richard III.
My Analysis: This work is, in my opinion, the best interpretation of this play ever. Olivier is absolutely lights out as Richard. I recommend this version over any other version, because it is the most authentic. Olivier does extrapolate the play, and he does trim the play down some for time constraints, but this is a marvelous production. The supporting cast is top notch. Sir John Guilgud is great as George, Duke of Clarence. Ralph Richardson is amazing as Richard’s cousin, the Duke of Buckingham. The sets, and the costumes add to the charm. Olivier is so awesome as the evil, deformed Duke of Gloucester who is so hungry for the Crown of England, he will do anything, and kill anyone who gets in his way. Olivier is, in my opinion, the best British actors ever, and one of the best actors ever. This film just backs up my belief. I recommend my readers to check out this film.
Now is the Winter of Our Discontent Soliloquy (best one I can find):
16. The Graduate (1967) directed by Mike Nichols
Synopsis: A college graduate, Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) with no aim in life gets seduced by a married woman, Mrs. Robinson ( Anne Bancroft), but finds himself in love with Robinson’s daughter, Elaine (Katherine Ross). The film is based on the Charles Webb novel of the same name.
My Analysis: Great treasure of a film. Hoffman is awesome. Bancroft is the one that I think steals the movie. The seduction scene between her character and Hoffman’s character is still one of the most hilarious scenes in movie history. “Mrs. Robinson, I think you’re trying to seduce me.” That line uttered by a very nervous and confused Braddock (Hoffman) is classic. The issue of the mother and the daughter unknowingly (at first) being with the same man was so interesting. Of course, today on those talk shows like “Maury” or “The Steve Wilkos Show,” one can see the same issue, so that issue has never changed. The seduction , at least to me, leads Braddock to realize what he wants: a life with Mrs Robinson’s daughter, which is what he gets. The music by Simon and Garfunkfel also add to the film’s charm. The film was nominated for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, amongst others. On a personal note, I would have given the Actress award to Bancroft over the actual winner, Katherine Hepburn for “Guess Who’s Coming For Dinner.” Don’t get me wrong, Hepburn’s one of my all time favorites, but I don’t think she deserved that Oscar. That particular film while a good film, isn’t a great one. I think either Bancroft or Faye Dunaway (Bonnie and Clyde) should have won Best Actress for 1967, but that’s Oscar for you.
The famous “You’re Trying to Seduce Me” Scene:
15. High Noon (1952) directed by Fred Zinnemann
Synopsis: A dramatic western told in real time where a marshal (Gary Cooper) is forced to take on a group of intruding gang of killers alone.
My Analysis: Great Oscar winning performance by Gary Cooper as Marshal Will Kane who has turned in his badge thanks to his Quaker wife Amy (Grace Kelly) who has to confront a bunch of killers, one of which is out to get him. No one in the town will help him, and he goes at it alone. Eventually. Amy (Kelly) abandons her faith during the showdown to help her husband as no one will help out. The film is awesome not only as a film, but an allegory, as the film came out during the McCarthy Era Red Scare. The film has a similar theme. The film basically is an anti-blacklisting film, and sends a message (also relevant today) that people need to stand up for what is right.
The Train sequence:
14. Gandhi (1982) directed by Richard Attenborough
Synopsis: This is a biographical film about peace activist Mohandas Gandhi (Ben Kingsley).
My Analysis: What a film this is. Great performance by Ben Kingsley in the title role. Great direction by Attenborough. The film won 8 Oscars including Best Picture, Actor and director. The film starts with Gandhi’s assassination, and then flashbacks to him as an adult, and then goes into his life. The man’s views on peace still resonate today. It still is a great film 30 years later.
Gandhi’s Non Violence Speech:
13.The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) directed by David Lean
Synopsis: Captured British Soldiers in a Japanese War camp eventually agree to build a bridge over the River Kwai for the Japanese.
My Analysis: This is a gem of a war film. Sir Alec Guinness is awesome as Lieutenant Cololnel Nicholson who agrees to help the Japanese captors build the bridge. Great performances by William Holden , and Jack Hawkins as well. The film won 7 Oscars, including Best Picture, Director, and Actor (Guinness).
The Japanese leader (Sessue Hayakawa) in negotiations with a British Officer after some attempt to escape:
12. Raging Bull (1980) directed by Martin Scorsese
Synopsis: Based on the autobiography of the same name by Jake LaMotta, this film is a biographical film based on the life and times of boxing great, Jake LaMotta (Robert DeNiro).
Scene where Jake gets his brother Joey to hit him:
11. Jaws (1975) directed by Stephen Spielberg
Synopsis: Based on teh Peter Benchley novel of the same name, Jaws is about a Great White Shark who terrorizes a resort town, and a police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), an oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), and a shark hunter,Quint (Robert Shaw) get together to hunt it down.
My analysis: Jaws is one of the most frightening films ever. The genius of the film is that you don’t see the actual shark till about 80 minutes in, thanks to the fact that during the shooting of the film, the shark would not work, and also you knew the shark was around thanks to John Williams’ Oscar winning score. The film has it all. It has the aspects of terror, suspense, and even has issues of political cover ups, especially with that Mayor (Murray Hamilton) who wanted to keep the beaches open no matter what. Great jobs by Shaw, Scheider, and Dreyfuss.
Quint’s Death Scene:
Well, that is that for this part of the countdown. The next and last segment will be the top ten of my top 50 movies of all time. I hope you are enjoying this.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/missedgehead