The Golden Age of Hollywood

What are your TOP five movies of all time?

Hoping someone has a movie or movies in their top 5 I have not watched, so I can watch them too.

Here are mine. My criteria is being able to watch it over and over again until I know many of the lines spoken in the movie.

#1 Casablanca since 1976 when I was 19. Saw it on late night TV after I got off my summer job where I was working 2nd shift. Love at first viewing. A love story focused on a man, Mr. Bogart and Ms Bergman were legendary.

#2 Lawrence of Arabia. Peter O'Toole was never better, but David Lean's cinematography of the beauty of the desert is unmatched! Took a while but in the last 10 years it finally overtook my third favorite movie to move into the second position.

#3 Maltese Falcon. Obviously, I became big Humphrey Bogart fan after Casablanca, and in my opinion the dialog in Maltese Falcon, is the best of the Bogart tough guy movies. Outpacing "The Big Sleep," great movie but climax, left me puzzled for years until I saw Robert Mitchum's version of the "The Big Sleep." I needed to watch Mitchum's step by step version.

#4 Platoon, I know this is not classic movie, but it has finally reached this level, because I have watched it around 40 times. I think it is because Oliver Stone gave all the actors important lines in the movie. Guys like Junior who I never saw in another movie has significant lines in this movie. Forrest Whittaker, who has won an Oscar is in the movie, even Johnny Depp is in the movie. Although, a war movie, if you can handle the violence and bloodshed, the dialogue is as good as the Big Sleep's. Stone did a great job developing the characters of the soldiers in the "Platoon."

#5 I love "To Have and Have Not," so a picture has to be special to make me leave out a movie where Lauren Bacall tells Humphrey Bogart, "you know how to whistle don't you Steve you just put your lips together and blow!" Humphrey Bogart then whistles twice. But it is not #5, neither is "Gone with the Wind." Which for the longest time sat at number 4 on my all time list. Clark Cable was a cool rascal, but Vivian Leigh's, Scarlett O'Hara, might be the the most complicated character any actress or actor has portrayed on film, she was remarkable. But alas this movie no longer makes my top five.

I am about to disappoint many of you Golden Age fans, but Lord of the Rings(LOTR), the trilogy, rounds out my top 5. Maybe it is because it is my youngest son's favorite movie, and we went to see each one at the the theatre together. Maybe it is because he can quote Eragon's speech before the last big battle word for word. Maybe it is because I have no problem carving out the 10+ hours required to watch the extended versions of all three back to back to back. Probably it is because they made an animated version of LOTR when I was 20, in 1977 and they only completed half the movie in the animation and I wanted over 20 years to see what happened Frodo. Forget the cinematography, which was great, or the epic story of good versus evil, making me wait that long to find out how it ended had to make my appreciation for this film reach Everest like heights.

That' s my long winded way of telling you my list hope you can share yours.

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Comment by Anthony Beyle on July 13, 2017 at 1:42pm

I knew trying to break it down like this would get me in trouble... there are so many films from the golden age that I consider to be 5/5 and all for different reasons and I have no idea where art (for art's sake) begins or ends, really. Maybe it's a transcendent quality but what really interested me with trying to list one's favorites was the question of silents vs talkies. Same art form or not really? Art forms to begin with... in any case, regarding the allure of Sunrise I believe it's mostly down to the technical aspects, the achievement of Murnau coming to Hollywood. As to The Passion of Joan of Arc it's probably a mixture of that and the allegorical elements... either way, a very interesting discussion!  

Comment by Gem Data on July 13, 2017 at 12:25pm

Part 2 How my theory applied to Casablanca

In my top five each film possessed a quality that impacted me emotionally the first time I saw the picture, and then over time after watching each one over and over and over, the quality that made it stand out became obvious. Let's take Casablanca as an example I was very young when I first saw it and had not experienced any of life's "disappointments." I just knew that what I had scene was different, special somehow. As I watched more and more films and experienced some of life's disappointments , the qualities that made Casablanca stand out became easier to identify.

The ACTING was great not just Bogart, Bergman, and Claude Rains, but the character actors who worked at Rick's . I almost overlooked Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet. I did overlook Paul Henreid, I never liked his character or his acting, probably because he got Bogey's girl!!

The DIALOG maybe the best of all time in my opinion. When Captain Reno asks Rick "Why did you come to Casablanca....." Rick says "for the waters," Reno replies "but we're in the desert," and Rick replies in a deadpanned manner "I was misinformed." Wow, much better than saying I'd rather not talk about it. This small back and forth banter is never even remembered among the many memorable lines, "like round up the usual suspects," which became a title of a movie.

Plot/Storyline is simply a love story about a someone who has lost and found their one true love and how that situation is resolved. What makes this movie unique is that it is a love story from a man's perspective. You feel Ilsa's indecision and some of her pain. but you KNOW how distraught, tormented, and brokenhearted Rick feels over and over throughout the picture:

1) At the train platform when he get's her letter saying she will not come with him.
2) In Rick's Cafe when he tells Sam " you played it for her you can play it for me," while he is in a heart broken drunken stupor.
3) Finally in his apartment above the Cafe after Ilsa has pulled on gun on him demanding the letter of transit, when he tells Ilsa to move closer and shoot him in the heart because "you would be doing me a favor!"

This is what made Casablanca special for me. 

Comment by Gem Data on July 13, 2017 at 11:57am

Part 1 The theory

Stephen, the question you pose, "the artistic constituents of either or any film" is difficult to answer. Rosie made the observation linking "Portrait of Jennie" and "Random Harvest." Her thoughts probably would be more valuable than mine, but here is my opinion. Most films have four attributes:


Dialogue/What is Said

Acting/How it is Said

Cinematography/Where a scene is shot/Where it is Said

****Special Effects/ Really a part of Cinematography

Comment by Stephen Butler on July 13, 2017 at 6:25am

It's an extraordinary thing, isn't it, film appreciation, and the different reasons why we love a certain title.  I know both Sunrise and The Passion of Joan of Arc, indeed I know all the titles you mention but I am not very good at spotting what others consider 'art.'  It simply doesn't enter my head.  I would be interested to know your thoughts on the artistic constituents of either or any film that you consider has a high level of same, and I can look at these films and try to spot them myself.  It seems I have missed out on an awful lot of stuff. I can appreciate the story a film is trying to tell, and, as I mentioned in my Robin Hood review, I can also appreciate where a film will use allegory to make a statement about something which may or may not be contemporary to its audience.  But I suspect you are heading in a different direction - the framing, lighting and composition of scenes, perhaps?  What do they suggest to you?  Very interesting topic.x

Comment by Anthony Beyle on July 12, 2017 at 9:43am

Yes Gem Data, Sunrise and The Passion are silents but I don't know, somehow some of the masterpieces of that era seem to belong in a category of their own. So I'm not sure if I should've included them... then again it was fun to have something as hilarious as The Awful Truth as a counterpart. In fact I probably have to watch it real soon again now! Same goes for Laura but I'm waiting to get that on blu-ray. it'd be a nice upgrade. And by the way, Portrait of Jennie is one of my favorites as well.

The wind blows, The sea flows... And nobody knows...  Unforgettable 

Comment by Gem Data on July 11, 2017 at 4:51pm
I have not seen Berkeley Square, let me try that too.

You put you finger on the similarities between all three movies to quote you, "they both show a progression in the lives of the characters, and large jumps across time,...(but) you aren't shown most of the basic life events, but you are shown the development of the relationship. "

I will watch Berkeley Square too thanks, I like these types of movies.
Comment by Rosie Sayer on July 11, 2017 at 4:15pm

Gem Data, I haven't seen The Constant Nymph, but I have seen Random Harvest and Portrait of Jennie. They're very different, as you said, and "hopeful" isn't the word I would use, but I know that sometimes movies have a feeling that's hard to define. Both movies are extremely romantic. One ends in the couple being reunited, the other ends in separation. But they both show a progression in the lives of the characters, and large jumps across time, which to me gives a dreamy quality to both films. You aren't shown most of the basic life events, but you are shown the development of the relationship. Would you say that Berkeley Square has the same quality? It shares a supernatural plot element with Portrait of Jennie, and also large leaps across time.

Comment by Gem Data on July 11, 2017 at 9:18am

Anthony, l will get the Awful Truth. Were the other movies from the 1920s silent movies?

Loved Laura, Dana Andrews , Vincent Price, Alexis Smith and I believe Agnes Moorehead were all great in the movie. But Clifton Webb gave an all time performance as Waldo.

Comment by Gem Data on July 11, 2017 at 9:10am

Midge I really liked Random Harvest, I have always liked Greer Garson, because of Goodbye Mr. Chips. Ronald Coleman is a very good actor, loved him in Prisoner of Zendar (I may have spelled that wrong). 

It made me wonder if "Portrait of Jennie," starring Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten, tried to take some of the themes from Random Harvest. Both movies made me feel very hopeful for the main characters. "Uncle Charles," could have been lifted from Random Harvest and dropped right into "Portrait of Jennie." trust me this is far from a spoiler alert as the two movies are very different, only the feeling I got watching Random Harvest reminded me about "portrait of Jennie."

I believe the french actor, Charles Boyer, also played in a lmovie where he was a composer (The Constant Nymph), but it also left me with this hopeful feeling. It is interesting that all three movies share a common theme, although the importance of that theme 

Comment by Anthony Beyle on July 10, 2017 at 4:56pm

It's almost impossible but I would have to say... 

The Passion of Joan of Arc... (1928). Just a stunning masterpiece and I feel the same way about

Sunrise... (1927). The level of art in these two films... can only be matched by the level of screwball comedy in 

The Awful Truth... (1937). Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. I can always come back to this one much in the same way as to

Laura... (1944) for my dose of brilliant film noir and then we would have to talk about the musicals. Sigh.. the early Warner ones or RKO's finest, MGM's grandest? Very hard to pick one and I think I'll just take the summer to figure it out. To be continued!  

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