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There Are Things Swimming In Us That We Love. The AFI Top 100, Part II.

Here are the next five in chronological order. You can read the original post here.

Five More of My Favorite 20 of AFI’s Top 100+

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Stagecoach (1939)
Though there are moments of visual sublimity in The Searchers (1956), I’ll have to go with Stagecoach here as a personal favorite. I’ve never been much of a western fan, though I do enjoy the Italian vision of the Untamed West a great deal. I had no expectations going in, and I just remember being immersed in this film and enjoying it. It’s one I need to see again.


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The Wizard of Oz (1939)
I’ve had a special edition of the music to this since I was in college. When I was a kid, my fondest memories of watching this were at my grandparents’ house with my aunt. She was like a sister to me because she was six months younger. Long story. It seems like this only came on once, maybe twice, a year. My aunt unabashedly loved the movie. I remember I would try to act too old to really like it, but make excuses to walk back in the room, especially to see the flying monkeys that scared the hell out of me.

Years after that I could at least admit how much I loved the music and I feel like I enjoy the movie more every year, and I feel like I interpret the symbolism in more refined ways. Hopefully I’ll get a few more years of watching this with the kids before they’re too cool to watch it with me. We’re also going to read the novels together soon.


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Fantasia (1940)
When I had a VCR, this was the movie that I watched every Christmas and sometimes a few other times throughout the year. Now that I think about it, considering how uneven, if not downright bad, most anthology films are, this is one of the best. And while there’s plenty of sweetness and light, Fantasia has some fantastic imagery of darkness and the monstrous. Of course, one of the greatest film scores, but they stacked the deck on that one, using masterpieces. I would love to see this in the theater. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), also on AFI’s list, is one of my favorite theater experiences.


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Double Indemnity (1944)
Considered the template for many a film noir and features a cheat and a dame in a bid to nefariously gain some insurance money. Smoking guns and lots of smoking. Claustrophobic fun. The lighting is one of the stars and much of the lighting design here became popular for film noir in general.


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Sunset Blvd. (1950)
A couple of films after Double Indemnity, Billy Wilder made this dream noir about Hollywood. David Lynch screened the film for everyone working on Eraserhead (1977). In an interview when asked why he screened it, he states, “Sunset Boulevard is in my top five movies, for sure. But there wasn’t anything in particular about it that related to Eraserhead. It was just a black and white experience of a certain mood.” In another interview (both available in the book Lynch on Lynch), when asked if he had thought about Sunset Boulevard while he wrote and directed Mulholland Dr. (2001), he says, “No. I’m sure there are things swimming in us that we love. We might love them because our machine is a certain way to begin with and so it’s hard to say which comes first.”

You could do worse than a Friday night double feature of Sunset Blvd. and Mulholland Dr. It might be nice to screen Kenneth Anger’s short film “Rabbit’s Moon” (the 1972 version) between them.

Below is the list so far. I’ll add five more soon.

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
All Quiet on the Western Front
City Lights
Frankenstein (1931)
King Kong (1933)
Stagecoach (1939)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Fantasia (1940)
Double Indemnity (1944)
Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Categories: Inspiration Lists Movies

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Stephen McClurg

I like red peppers and Jan Švankmajer movies.

1. Current Listening: Lots of soul from Muscle Shoals

2. Current Viewing: A Hard Day's Night (1964).

3. Current Reading: H.G. Wells: In the Days of the Comet

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