In part I of my “50 Greatest Films of All Time,” I discussed great films such as “Oklahoma,” “Twelve Angry Men,” and “Tootsie.” I also discussed the Oscars, and some of my feelings about them. I hope my readers enjoyed that first part as much as I did writing it. I have loved movies since I was a child. I got my deep affection for movies from my mother, may God rest her soul.
That being said, are you ready for more great films? Well, here we go.
40. Dog Day Afternoon (1975) directed by Sidney Lumet
Synopsis: A first time offender (Al Pacino) and his two accomplices (John Cazale, and Chris Sarandon) attempt a bank robbery that should have taken a few minutes, but due to one accomplice (Sarandon) backing out, and the lead robber (Pacino) burning ledgers causing a small fire alerting local businesses, the situation turns into a hostage situation lasting 9 hours. Based on a true story.
My Analysis: This film is an all time classic. This is one of Pacino’s best performances. Instead of being the “bad guy,” his character, Sonny, becomes a hero of sorts. Crowds of people are watching the whole situation unfold, and cheer on Sonny as Sonny has his feud with the cops, and the FBI. The movie is great at showing a lot of the problems that were brewing at the time. There was a lot of distrust of the cops, at that time, especially since the actual incident happened right after the Attica prison riots, hence the great “Attica” scene. The film also touched on gay and trans gender issues, as Sonny (Pacino) is divorced from his wife, Angie, but he is somehow “married” to Leon (Sarandon), and was committing the robbery to get money for Leon’s sex change operation. The film was nominated for several Oscars and got one (Original Screenplay)
The Attica Scene:
Synopsis: Film adaptation of the play of the same name about the Monkey Trial where Henry Drummond (Spencer Tracy) defends Bertram Cates (Dick York) , a teacher , who is on trial for teaching Darwin’s theory of Evolution. They go up against special prosecutor, Matthew Harrison Brady(Fredric March), a Bible Scholar, and fervent opponent of Darwin. The movie (and play) was a fictionalized version of the 1925 Scopes Trial, and a commentary on McCarthyism.
My Analysis: The film is a spectacle. Great acting by both March and Tracy. Gene Kelly does a great job as a reporter who hires Drummond for the teacher. The courtroom scenes are fantastic. When Drummond puts Brady on the stand, it is acting magic. The film holds up as does the message of the film: Everyone has a right, and a duty to think for themselves. This is one of the first movies that has been an influence on my life, and is one of the main reasons I don’t “jump on (insert whatever) bandwagons.” I may take heat for not joining in, but I like to make up my own mind. Highly recommended film.
Drummond cross examinating Brady:
38. All About Eve (1950) directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Synopsis: A theater fan, and aspiring actress, Eve Harrington (Ann Baxter) becomes a devoted helper of fading theater star, Margo Channing (Bette Davis), but then eventually threatens to take Harrington’s career and her men. It was nominated for a record 14 Oscars, a feat that would not be duplicated until 1997’s “Titanic.” It won 8.
My Analysis: This film is greater than any soap opera. It is still a great film Marylin Monroe is featured in this film in one of her first important roles. George Sanders (winner Best Supporting Actor) is splendid as the society columnist, who is onto Eve’s game. It still is a great film. I still love the cattiness from the women in the film. The backstage politics would put WWE to shame.
37. The King and I (1956) directed by Walter Lang
Synopsis: A film adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein smash musical about a Welsh school teacher, Anna, (Deborah Kerr) who teaches the children of the King of Siam (Yul Brynner), and also teaches the King himself about manners.
My Analysis: This film is a true classic. I love it. The songs, “Getting to Know You,” and “Shall We Dance,” still resonate. The scene where the King and Anna are dancing together is still awesome. Her awkward look on her face when Siam puts his arms around her waist is priceless. Even though during the film, they have a rough patch, it is at the end where it is discovered that they have a mutual admiration, and even love (which could not be expressed) for one another.
The King and Anna dancing together:
36. The Judgment at Nuremberg (1960) directed by Stanley Kramer
Synopsis: A courtroom drama of four judges, including a top judge, Ernest Janning (Burt Lancaster) who served during the Nazi reign.
My Analysis: This is one hell of a film. One of , if not THE best courtroom dramas ever. Spencer Tracy is amazing as the lead judge listening to all the evidence. Richard Widmark, and Maximilian Schell are fantastic as prosecutor and defense attorney respectively. Schell received a Best Actor Oscar for his role. Great supporting performances by Montgomery Clift, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, and Burt Lancaster. Lancaster’s character, Ernest Janning is just sad. The character was the Justice Minister prior to the Nazi Regime, and really should have known better. The film examines personal accountability, conscience, and people’s individual behavior during a total societal collapse.
This film also touched me in that as I read about trials of legitimate Nazis, as this is just a film, but the film does bring home the fact that I never bought the line of “I was just following orders.” What? Don’t you (meaning the operator of the concentration camps , and firing squads, etc) have a mind of your own? What was Hitler going to do if NO ONE SIGNED the “loyalty oaths?” What also makes me nuts was how people in the country after the war said they “didn’t know about the camps.” Again, really? Those camps were all over the place in Germany, Poland, etc. I have a hard time believing that NO ONE who worked at those camps did not come home and just sit down to eat dinner , and say “How is everyone today.” I mean, really. What I got out of the film which holds true is: Take responsibility for your actions. Take responsibility for the politicians you elect and support.
Burt Lancaster’s great testimony on the stand:
35. Bringing Up Baby (1938) directed by Howard Hawks
Synopsis: A screwball comedy about a paleontologist (Cary Grant) who gets involved with a goofy heiress (Katherine Hepburn), and a leopard named “Baby.”
My Analysis: This is one of the most funniest films I have EVER seen. Hepburn is magnificent as this heiress who is a thorn in the side of this straitlaced paleontologist brilliantly played by Cary Grant. David Huxley (Grant) who is about to get married to this stuck up chick has to make an impression on this rich lady Mrs. Random (May Robson), and Susan Vance (Hepburn) who unbeknownst to Huxley is Random’s niece, runs into Grant on a golf course, and the two are inseparable, much to Huxley’s dismay as Huxley needs Mrs. Random to donate a million dollars to his museum. Everyone , including May Robson, and Charles Ruggins are terrific. Very funny film. It still holds up as it is funny without needing constant cursing, or sex jokes,or toilet humor. Great clean fun.
The film’s trailer:
34. All This and Heaven Too (1940) directed by Anatole Litvak
Synopsis: A costume drama based on the Rachel Field novel (based on actual events) of the same name. Henriette DeLuzy Desportes (Bette Davis) who lives in the United States, after being goaded by her students about her scandalous past, tells her story about her experience being the governess for the Duc and Duchess Du Praslin (Charles Boyer and Barbara O’Neill respectively).
My Analysis: This is an incredible film. Great performances by Boyer as the Duc De Praslin, and Davis as Henriette.The love that both have for each other is very palpable. Barbara O’Neill is fantastic as Boyer’s estranged wife. Of course, her passionate hatred and jealousy towards Davis is raging. O’Neill is just out of her mind with vengeance. Even right till near the end of the movie, O’Neill’s hate has no bounds, and it turns into disaster for all three main characters. The movie itself still holds up. There is great sexual tension between Boyer and Davis, and neither have to remove any clothes. Great stuff
Henriette DeLuzy taking care of Renaud, the Duc of Praslin’s son:
33. It Happened One Night (1934) directed by Frank Capra
Synopsis: Romantic comedy involving an heiress (Claudette Colbert) wanting to get out from under her overbearing father, and an out of work newspaper reporter (Clark Gable)
Analysis: Great film then, and great film now. It is one of three films to win the “Big Five.” The film won Best Picture, Actor, Director, Script, and Actress. The film is a very funny film, and opened doors for a lot of other romantic comedies, and even had a bit of screwball comedy aspects in it.
32. Star Wars (1977) directed by George Lucas
Synopsis: Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamil ) gets a bunch of rebels together and has to rescue Princess Leila (Carrie Fisher) from the clutches of Darth Vader (voice by James Earl Jones).
My Analysis: Much like “Rocky,” this film spawned an industry. I loved this film when I saw it in the movies as a child, and as an adult, it still holds up after thirty five years. Great movie, and Jones’ voice as Dark Vader still rules. The story is still great. I am not into the whole industry, including going to see the sequels, and such. I did see “The Empire Strikes Back,” but that was about it. I usually don’t like to go to sequels. There is an exception which will be discussed later in the list, but I am not into seeing sequels, and prequels, as sometimes the original story can get lost. Nonetheless, Lucas does a great job with this series.
Movie Trailer for “Star Wars”
31. Chinatown (1974) directed by Roman Polanski
My Analysis: Jack Nicholson is superb as Gittes looking around and trying to figure out what is going on in this “neo noir” film, brilliantly directed by Roman Polanski who plays a small cameo as a guy who comes over to Nicholson and slices Nicholson’s nose. John Huston, and Faye Dunaway were fantastic in the movie as well. The film is still pretty tense with a ton of suspense and very dramatic. It is one of my favorite Polanski films.
Jake and Evelyn (Dunaway) clash:
Well, that was my ten for today. I hope you enjoy my next ten (30-21).
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