The Fancy Plans Guide to AFI’s Top 100 Films – Volume 5July 22, 2010
Remember this old thing?
31. Annie Hall (1977)
Local hero Woody Allen makes good, abandoning his earlier wackiness in favor of subtle comedy, a style more likely to pair him with women out of his league. In this case, his comedic foil and unbelievable girlfriend is played by Diane Keaton, who continues to acquit herself well in lightweight comedies, all the while looking like she hasn’t aged a day since Annie Hall, in which she looked to be about 50.
One of many Oscar-winning films directed by Allen, who has yet to actually pick up a single statuette as he is otherwise occupied every single Tuesday (in perpetuity) playing his clarinet (in a not pretentious at all sort of way) in some boho New York club. This shows that he is a real artist who creates out of love for the medium, rather than for the acclaim and access to women he wouldn’t otherwise be dating.
(Note: in his latter years, Allen leapt from women he “wouldn’t” be dating to women he “shouldn’t” be dating. Although there was some fallout from this unfortunate turn of events, he still continues to faithfully blow his own horn every Tuesday night for the rest of whatever.)
32. The Godfather Part II (1974)
Easily twice the film the first one was, but somehow well more than twice as far down the list. The only explanation for the 29-spot difference is the notable lack of noted AFI pre-req Marlon Brando.
Followed by a prequel (1972) and a sequel (1990). The standard against which all other gangster flicks are judged, including The Godfather Part III, which by comparison is Uwe Boll’s cutting room floor.
33. High Noon (1952)
Laconic and square-jawed Gary Cooper plays a put-upon marshal faced with the task of taking on a gang of local baddies. To make matters worse, he is forced to drum up support for a this suicide mission in real-time, without the aid of useful montages or fades.
Finding the townspeople reluctant to serve as bullet-catchers, Cooper laconically decides to face them on his own, aided only by his square jaw and some guns. The tension becomes nearly unbearable as the projectionist has problems switching reels, delaying the solid black and white action for nearly two “real-time” minutes, giving Cooper’s character 120 seconds of darkness with which to escape town and star in a livelier picture.
34. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Based on Harper Lee’s bestselling book, To Kill a Mockingbird is a treatise on racism thinly disguised as a courtroom drama. Gregory Peck plays attorney Atticus Finch, who uncovers the town’s unsightly attitude and generally plays himself, only nobler.
A young Robert Duvall plays local introvert Boo Radley, who finally blossoms into a 4-piece Britpop group thanks to the ceaseless intrusion of Finch’s children. Has done more to improve race relations in this country than any film since Roger Corman’s groundbreaking action flick, Malcom X-Men: Last Stand.
35. It Happened One Night (1934)
As the Great Depression wore on, filmmakers (in conjunction with “New Deal” legislation) sought to distract viewers from the epic grimness of their lives, utilizing a series of “screwball” comedies. This film, along with other classics of the genre (Bringing Up Baby [#97], Meatballs Pt. 2 [#51]) delighted moviegoers nationwide while relieving them of their last few nickels.
Remade several times, the most recent being Abel Ferrara’s nun-killing reimagination, Bad Night and David Mamet’s tense but stagey drama, It Happened One Fucking Night.
36. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Much has been made of Midnight Cowboy’s status as the only X-rated film to win an Oscar. Tame by today’s standards, the most offensive element of this film is its crass portrayal of New York City as a cruel, heartless metropolis populated by rude, self-centered citizens.
Much has also been made of Dustin Hoffman’s “method” portrayal of Ratso Rizzo, in particular his ad-libbed “Hey! I’m walking here!” Widely considered to be one of several small touches that “made” the role, the larger-than-life legend overshadows the fact that this heavily quoted line is actually a studio overdub, done in post-production. Hoffman’s original ad lib was, in fact, “Hey! I’m acting here!”
Of course, Jon Voight’s baby face and intensely blonde looks aided Hoffman in their own way, as the contrast between the two leads gave credence to the idea that Rizzo/Hoffman was as ugly on the inside as he was on the outside.
37. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Nostalgia-thon in the mold of The Big Chill and Dazed and Confused, The Best Years of Our Lives follows the wistful reminiscing of its protagonists as they wax semi-poetic about their younger days, when they were big fish in an easily impressed small pond.
Powerful performances aid the viewer in living vicariously through these human time capsules. Thrill along as they still listen to the same music, sport the same hairdos and drag out the same bitchin’ Camaro periodically. Superbly cautionary and infinitely sad.
Yeah, bro. We’ll keep using “rad” if you want us to.
[Ed. – Wow. Just wow. Not only have you clearly never seen the flick, but this is like a the review of Smells Like Teen Spirit that no one was asking for.]
38. Double Indemnity (1946)
The harrowing tale of actuarial tables and the damage done, Double Indemnity is a spare noir masterpiece filled with hard-boiled women and easily duped men. Shot in black and white for maximum impact and film availability, Billy Wilder’s film takes viewers on a twist-filled ride through the greed damaged psyches of a claims adjuster and the two protagonists who wish to “game” the “system” through a reckless combination of murder and quotation marks.
Hailed as “not even the best film of 1946.”
39. Dr. Zhivago (1965)
As is the case with most long-winded epics, this classic film is dense, Russian and exceedingly long. Packed wall-to-wall with pathos, snow and moustaches, Dr. Zhivago is easily the 39th best film on this list. Exceedingly long.
40. North by Northwest (1959)
The second of over 50 Hitchcock films on this list, North by Northwest is an unparalleled thriller dealing with a case of mistaken identity. Everyman stand-in (as if) Cary Grant plays Richard Thornhill, an ad executive mistaken for another devastatingly attractive clotheshorse who has apparently found time in his busy schedule of being adored and aging immaculately to attempt to smuggle some state secrets out of the country.
The film follows Grant’s handsome escape from his comparatively unattractive pursuers, which takes him everywhere from the Heart of America (an airplane-ravaged cornfield) to the Nose and Upper Lip of America (Mt. Rushmore). Contains approximately one (1) thrill per minute (TPM).