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The Fancy Plans Guide to AFI’s Top 100 Films: Volume 6

December 5, 2010

Holy hell! Does this thing still exist? And for why?

It does, exceptionally bad grammar notwithstanding. Catch up via the way-way-wayback machine with the following links:

Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4
Volume 5


Starring Katherine Hepburn as perhaps the most masculine "gangbangee" ever.

51. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
An anomaly on this list, The Philadelphia Story is the biopic of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania which traces the history of the “City of Brotherly Love” from its humble beginnings as one of several “birthplaces of Democracy” to the battery-throwing thug it is today.

Other highlights include a montage of Dr. J dunks, an exploration of Lenny Dykstra’s financial empire and a football stadium full of fans booing Santa Claus. Also includes a few shots of the Liberty Bell and its famous crack, showing yet again that the citizens of Philadelphia “just can’t have nice things.”

US censors indicate that some shady Orientals are to blame for widespread beach makeout sessions.

52. From Here to Eternity (1953)
Director Fred Zinnemann makes the most of a pre-World War II Hawaiian backdrop to set the stage for two hours of Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr making out on the beach. Occasionally bits of storyline pop up to keep the guys’ attention and avoid being shut down by the ratings board.

Winner of 8 Academy Awards, including "Best Poster Not Having a Goddamn Thing to Do with the Movie"

53. Amadeus (1984)
Biopic of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s severely truncated life as filtered through one of his bitterest rivals. A child prodigy who was composing etudes by six weeks of age, Mozart (or Amadeus) died at the tender age of 35, proving the old adage that “the candle which burns twice as bright giggles twice as psychotically.”

Traces Amadeus’ (or Wolfgang’s) story arc (which follows his “life arc” quite closely) as he plays for idiot royalty, tangles with surly rivals and giggles psychotically. Tom Hulce shines in the title role, before vanishing completely from the public radar.*

*What about Dominick and Eugene? Are you seriously asking that? Then let me clarify: by “public radar” I meant other high-profile starring roles, not award-baiting portrayals of retarded trashmen.

AKA, "All Noisy as Hell on the Overcrowded Poster."

54. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
The “War Movie to End All War Movies,” All Quiet on the Western Front‘s detailed take on World War I was, like the war slogan itself, a bit too optimistic about its place in history. Much like the idea of “no more wars after this one” keeps getting its ass handed to it by each successive war, this war movie has been on the receiving end of its own ass several times since its original release.

The most notable of these ass-handings is Saving Private Ryan, whose depiction of the Normandy Beach landing will not soon be topped, thanks to Spielberg’s insistence on using live ammunition and anti-personnel mines.

Members of the Von Trapp cult gaily follow their multi-colored leader to the compound where new Nikes and Kool-Aid await.

55. The Sound of Music (1965)
One of the very few musicals with Nazis as central characters (see also: The Producers; Inglorious Basterds), The Sound of Music is the supposedly true story of the singing Von Trapp family, whose blonde-haired, blue-eyed good looks would not be tolerated by an incoming Nazi regime, hence the escape during the final reel.

As is the case with most musicals, there’s a hell of a lot of singing , which adequately handles some of the exposition as the movie itself seems unconcerned with propelling the love story of a glorified nanny and her patrician lover. The children have plenty to say/sing as well, which they handle by running through fields or wandering around the gazebo area. Anywhere but inside the house, goddammit, unless you’re taking your adorably blonde asses right to bed.

If the story isn’t enough, there’s also some beautiful scenery which you may be able to glimpse briefly through the swelling strings and freshly-scrubbed, aggressively blonde faces. Directly responsible for some of the most disturbing images on the internet.

 

Another M*A*S*H* surgery success story proudly shows off its new hat (and heels).

56. M*A*S*H* (1970)
While America was busy dealing with the Pyrrhic losses of Vietnam, iconoclastic director Robert Altman was attempting to distract viewers from the “war at home” (“home” being a southern Asian nation) with a war story about Korea, which had absolutely no parallels with the current situation.

Filled with dark humor, drinking and classic Altman touches like letting every character talk at the same time, M*A*S*H* is one of the finest war films ever made, beating out John Wayne’s The Green Berets, which attempted to rewrite history while it was still being written.

Led to a successful TV show that lasted 15-20 times as long as the Korean War itself while dipping heavily into mawkish sentimentality and providing baby boomers with a collective set of false memories. It also served notice to Americans that their doctors drank and smoked more than they did and that crossdressing = crazy.

Orson Welles awkwardly (and somewhat frighteningly) tells his Jesus joke.

57. The Third Man (1949)
Orson Welles’ other film on AFI’s list, a post-war drama hailed universally as “not Citizen Kane” and “#57 on AFI’s List.” Despite the dubious accolades and faint damning praise, The Third Man is still worth a look for its tense set pieces and continuous mockery of the Swiss people and their customs.

In addition to Welles’ ad libbed quote about years of Swiss neutrality resulting in only the cuckoo clock, Welle’s also riffs on their cheese (“It’s more what’s between the holes, eh comrades?”) and peculiar outerwear (“Neutrality means never owning a complete set of pants.”) He goes on to say “At least you can be sure the Swiss Miss is a “miss,” unlike Sweden where everyone changes sexes as often as conversation topics,” concluding, “Bah. I’m old, fat and bitter.”

With a sweeping gesture, Mickey Mouse swiftly copyrights the universe.

58. Fantasia (1940)
An outgrowth of America’s burgeoning Drug War, in which hallucinogenics were never taken but rather forced on American soldiers and, in this case, undersexed American animators toiling under the thumb of a somewhat benevolent plutocrat.

And toil they did, animating a collection of disjointed vignettes in a futile attempt to “sketch the crazy out.” Hippos dance with alligators. Volcanoes erupt. Furious gods make appearances. Mickey Mouse himself battles armies of reproducing brooms in a none-too-subtle indictment of our current immigration problem. One of only a handful of films considered “umfilmable,” easily on par with anything Kubrick, Gilliam or Lynch have produced.

[A side note: The Disney Corporation briefly considered turning this movie into a ride (and then into a movie again) but harsh daylight and strychnine cramps derailed this idea before it could become anything more than a coloring-outside-the-lines wet dream.]

[Another side note: Disney animators are encouraged to “spill their ink” on company time as this periodic release reduces the number of penis drawings appearing in children’s movies.]

A rare shot of James Dean's early ad work for Lee Riders.

59. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
This proto-teen flick, full of raw adolescent emotion and disjointed mumbling, is still an influence on teens today who, like their hero, Will Smith, are sure their parents “just don’t understand.”

Featuring the eyes-down acting of James Dean, whose insouciant good looks and fast living saw him leave behind a good-looking corpses (and red jacket) after only three films. Despite this truncated resume (or “C.V.” everywhere else in the world), his influence is still echoes, mainly through the acting style of Luke Perry who, like James Dean, had a severely truncated career. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the decency to die but would apparently rather live on through a series of straight-to-DVD movies.

This tale of teen angst and the damage done culminates in a shocking act of violence, in which Sal Mineo is killed in the observatory with a gun, most likely at the hand of Professor Plum.

Those expecting nothing but "man nipples and bullwhippings" will find "Raiders" incredibly fulfilling.

60. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
A throwback to the days of classic cinema, a fondly remembered time that is often referred to when disparaging current films, often using the phrase, “They don’t make them like they used to.” Of course, they don’t make paint with lead anymore and most schools are free from asbestos and cyanide-laced Tylenol, but still, things were much “better” back in the day.

In this modern reimagination of the old Hollywood serials, Harrison Ford takes on the role of Dr. Indiana Jones, swashbuckling archaeologist and bullwhip enthusiast. Taking a tongue-in-cheek approach, Ford coasts through the adventure with a look of perpetual bemusement, building on earlier roles in films such as Star Wars (perpetual cocky disbelief), Apocalypse Now (perpetual clean-shaven officiousness) and Bladerunner (perpetual indigestion).

This formative role would lay the groundwork for Ford’s later emotional expansiveness in The Mosquito Coast (perpetual sweatiness), Presumed Innocent (perpetual Ceaeser), Regarding Henry (perpetual glower followed by perpetual idiotic wonder) and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (perpetual refrigerated bemusement).

-CLT

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19 comments

  1. I can’t believe you talk about Jesus Harrison Christ that way. His acting is superb and not at all one-dimensional.

    Tangentially, Keanu Reeves should fire his agent. Ford scores the good Star Wars and Reeves gets Point Break.


    • Hey, J.H.C. Ford can defend himself. After all he has God on his side. And I did point out the rare movie where he displays “Expression B” — “Regarding Henry.”

      Oh, just imagine what could have been if Reeves had secured a competent agent. Why, he could have been tapped to play a leading role in a Coppola film or gone toe-to-toe with Al Pacino. If only…


    • Touche. Or, imagine if Pacino had a competent agent


  2. I am surprised you failed to mention Harrison Ford’s stunning performance (perpetual dementia) in Six Days Seven Nights.

    Interesting side note: The Philadelphia Story was actually filmed in Pittsburg.


    • I’m as surprised as you are, Robert X. I honestly thought I had covered his very much singular 30+ year career.

      Are you sure about the Philly/Pittsburg thing? I thought it was all shot in Montreal. (Although, now that you mention it, I thought I did catch a glimpse of Heinz Field masquerading as “Le Futbol Areneaux.”)


  3. You reviewing movies is taking two of my favorite things and mixing them up to make one, most favorite thing, Ever! –With apologies to B and Oprah for stealing the phrase. It’s like if chocolate ever mixed with peanut butter or if rock ever mixed with rap and it turned out ok, or if cocaine ever mixed with baking soda and a little bit of water. It’s that good. You are like literary crack now, just so you know.

    I’ve learned a lot as well. I had been under the mistaken assumption that The Philadelphia story was about homosexuals and AIDS and I was always afraid to watch it because I have a tendency to get weepy during sad movies and I was afraid that all my friends would call me a gaybo.

    I’ve seen (at least parts) of all the rest except for The Sound of Music. I’m too afraid of Maria and her fucking problems.

    “…Mickey Mouse himself battles armies of reproducing brooms in a none-too-subtle indictment of our current immigration problem.” It’s these iconic lines that keep me coming back in a crack-like way.

    Outstanding as always CLT!!


    • Many, many thanks on the kind words, Scott. Truth be told, I’m still waiting for rap to mix with chocolate or rock with peanut butter. (I think rap mixed with peanut butter at some point, with underwhelming results.)

      I’m glad I could clear up your misconceptions on what AFI assures me are “popular” films. The only tears being shed in The Philadelphia Story are the normal post-gangbang hole-in-your-soul type tears.
      I can understand your reluctance to field a problem like Maria. She’s best left in the gentle hands of someone like soulful singer-songwriter James Taylor.


    • Scott is on to something. I’m tamping down the chore boy as I read this.


  4. First off, I’d like to congratulate you on your TFCO award. What? You didn’t know? Well, you won! Now all you have to do is go to my blog and grab the award I made for you, put it on your blog, then go back to my blog and leave me a comment letting me know you got it, then go back to your blog and write a post linking back to my blog! So easy!!!

    Second, I’d like to share my thoughts on each of these brilliant synopsis.

    51. The word gangbangee makes me laugh.

    52. cool

    53. I don’t know

    54. funny

    55. disturbing

    56. still don’t know

    57. Lol

    58. Mickey is wearing a hat

    59. my uncle’s name is Dean

    60. probably


    • Fantastic! My first non-imagined award! I’d like to pass on all the copying and pasting and get straight to my accolades and TFCO acceptance speech which is published below in its entirety:

      “I’m sorry. I don’t have anything prepared.”

      Thanks so much for the award and appropriately truncated comment, bschooled. It’s exactly this sort of thing that makes all the non-effort worthwhile.


  5. CLT,

    Duncan Shepherd, critic for the free weekly San Diego Reader and who I referred you to some months ago, retired last month. He wrote for the Reader for 38 years, leaving a trail of (mostly deserving) wounded.

    An example: “Glistening vein of ore uncovered in sports history: the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, formed when the boys were away for World War II, and continuing for ten years after the inaugural year chronicled here. Unhappily, the pickaxe is in the hands of Penny Marshall, with her penchant for forced comedy (“Let’s make like a bread truck and haul buns”) swamped by gushing sentiment — much of it off-the-rack feminism” (Review of League of their own).

    As far as I know, he’s not dead, but he’ll still be missed.

    O/O


    • I’ve got his archives bookmarked which I’ve dipped into now and again. I really need to shoot that link to my phone as I see nearly as much Internet on it as at home.

      “Bread truck” + “haul buns” = “self-lobotomy.”


  6. Sleek and slick with the style CLT! Great read

    And informative to boot. I’m also taking inspiration from the fact that acting success comes from perfecting a perceptual ‘look’. Stay tuned for my masterpiece ‘Girl with the Scowl on her Face’.

    PS – it took Wolfgang six long weeks to reveal his genius?! My boy was performing dramatic and moving screaming soliloquies from day dot….


    • Thanks, Ruby. I’m looking forward to your upcoming “look” and eventual “multi-million dollar career.” Granted, you’ll have to step outside the venue of “self-published blogger,” but not having to change expression should make this transition easier.

      As to Wolfgang… I think I pulled some of that info from the unpublished bio of Eddie Van Halen’s overgrown son.


  7. that would be ‘perpetual’…..


    • I like “perceptual.” It’s like conceptual art with the meaning solely defined by the observers. (Cue Wolfgang’s artistic input…)


  8. I’m really torn on The Philadelphia Story

    The Dr J dunks were fantastic works of art. The afro, the short shorts and the clean, ad-free, canvas on which he worked were reminders of what drew us to the medium in the first place. Unadulterated artistry.

    The Dykstra storyline was a poignant reminder athletes are nothing like the delusional image people have of them. Most athletes are tragic Forest Gump-like figures with no useful skills. They’re completely undeserving of the mountains of money we throw at them and incapable of handling it. (Your link linked to a story on 18 yr NFL vet, Mark Brunell who made $52 million in his last 10 years, yet inexplicably went bankrupt.)

    While these elements of The Philadelphia Story were great, the one totally inexcusable shortcoming of the film was the complete lack of Flyers!

    Despite the players hailing from Canada and having loads of competition for the eyes of Philadelphians, even within ice-hockey (See: Philadelphia Blazers), the Broad Street Bullies of the 1970’s WERE Philadelphia. Heard of Disney On Ice? They were Rocky On Ice . (But, if you look real closely in Rocky‘s skating scene, you’ll see a Blazers banner.)

    Clips from this playoff game show sportsmanship, Philly-style. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRXxlUwEKuU Here the City of Brotherly Love shares the love with their NY brothers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rhi5v0l8-cg
    But it wasn’t all seriousness. Here’s a home movie from the time they went to LA to relax on the beach. Just dig the groovy music as the boys show off their dance moves! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDShbRzYCIE

    Now that’s old-time hockey!!! There was The Rat, The Count, The Rifle, Hound Dog, Moose, Thunder Mouth and of course, who could ever forget The Hammer that put the crack in the Liberty Bell? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iI2mGQp83DA

    Everybody knew the 70’s Flyers were the most terrifying team in any sport. What is less known is that the Broad Street Bullies also moonlighted as an Ultra-Top-Secret national security force. Here is some recently declassified footage of the Flyers defeating an elite Soviet Red Army unit sent to test North American defences. This was the only skirmish the Red Army lost that year. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxzimDYlTCs And here’s some footage of the Flyers “negotiating” an end to a 1974 Southern insurrection. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJRkwpMVOUs They laid waste to Atlanta and left it in Flames just like in another movie classic, Gone With The Wind.

    Jesus, all this nostalgia is starting to moisten my eyes. You’ll have to excuse me.


    • I can explain. I feel asleep during the last half of the movie, occasionally troubled by some raucous shouting or the loss of a canine or two. This explains why the Blu-ray version comes with a mouthguard and a roll of gauze.


    • I’m Sorry. I should have been clearer. You’re NOT to blame here. It was the movie itself. For some bizarre reason, the director completely left out any reference to the Broad Street Bullies.

      And that omission is probably why you fell asleep halfway through the movie. While many players got the “Philly Flu” just before the game, nobody ever fell asleep when the Broad Street Bullies were around. Well, except for the guys they knocked out cold which, by the way, included some of the toughest sons of bitches to ever see water freeze. (You could seriously punch Terry O’Reilly 30 times in the face before he’d even feel it!)

      Maybe they thought the documentary on the WHA, Slap Shot, had the hockey related movie market covered. However, I still have half a mind to call coach Freddie “The Fog” Shero and ask him to round up the boys to ensure a new “Directors Cut” gets made.



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