Media

WB Top 100: Best & Worst So Far

Diane and I had a little bit of time while awaiting Hurricane Michael to discuss the first 25 movies of the WB Top 100. We decided to each pick our top five and our worse five, along with a lovely soundbite as to why.

My Top 5

#5: Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – “I really dug the music and Cagney was charming. He did dance like an idiot but better than I could ever do.”

#4: Citizen Kane (1941) – “Still good a second time.”

#3: Best Years of Our Lives (1946) – “I found the movie’s ‘Hail Hydra’ moment to be deeply unnerving, especially given its proximity to the end of World War II.”

#2: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) – “Incredibly fun and easily one of my favorite versions of the character. I don’t know why Hollywood keeps trying.”

#1: Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) – “That captain was the smuggest bastard ever put to film and I absolutely loved him for it.”

Mutiny - 3

Diane’s Top 5

#5: Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) – “Was not sure who to root for by the end – a real testament to the actors.”

#4: Cimarron (1931) – “Fooled me into thinking this movie was about a man when it was really about a racist woman becoming less racist. Also, that opening scene.”

#3:   Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – “Fun and a far cry from the previous role we saw Cagney in [Public Enemy]. No grapefruits were harmed in the making of this film.

#2: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) – “Incredibly influential and stands the test of time. Pretty much anyone can enjoy this movie.

#1: Best Years of Our Lives (1946) – “Calling out able-ists since 1946.”

Best Years - 2

Our Worst 5 (Combined)

For the most part, we agreed on our least favorite films. Since we had such an easy back-and-forth about our particularly strong feelings, I am combining the two lists for emphasis. Also, I am reversing the order (starting with the worst) since that is where our conversation began.

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#1 – Me: Broadway Melody of 1929 (1929) – “Fuck this movie.”

#1 – Diane: Broadway Melody of 1929 (1929) – “Yeah, fuck that movie.”

#2 – Me: A Night at the Opera (1935) – “Fuck this one too.”

#2 – Diane: The Philadelphia Story (1940) – “No, fuck this one first. A Night at the Opera had that one scene.”

#3 – Me:  The Philadelphia Story (1940) – “It was pretty irredeemable …”

#3 – Diane: A Night at the Opera (1935) – “But also fuck this movie.”

#4 – Me: Wizard of Oz (1939) – “No, I still hate it. I will always hate it. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” can be listened to without watching this terrible movie.”

#4 – Diane: Wizard of Oz (1939) – “Fuck Glenda for withholding information. I never get over that fact.”

#5 – Me: The Maltese Falcon (1941) – “Film noir movies are sports movies for /r/niceguys candidates: The male protagonist is always the nicest, smartest man in the room. Every woman wants to fuck him. Chads all want to be him. Oh and everyone wears a fedora.”

#5 – Diane: The Life of Emile Zola (1937) – “The most that movie did for me was help me answer a crossword puzzle. Just plain boring.”

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3 replies »

  1. IIRC you only barely escaped becoming a Fedora-wearer yourself!

    In the 40s it would have been ok, in fact normal. Although not with your beard,

    I can see why we differ entirely about film noir. I have no problems with people in movies being smarter, wittier, handsomer than people in reality. Much like I don’t have any problems with people in movies having superpowers,

    Indeed that’s why I watch those types of movies, to enjoy the witty repartee etc.

    It might be interesting for you to ask yourself why you don’t have the same problems with a lot of modern superhero / sci-fi stuff…. almost every one in them is incredibly good looking, many of them are genius-level intelligent, a lot are fantastically wealthy….etc etc. Why do you just enjoy those movies rather than critique them as being escapist fantasies where an ordinary schmuck can for a few hours immersive themselves in identifying with someone that has an amazing life, and gets to save the entire world while reeling off a series on one-liners?

    Maybe the main difference is just that you know what to expect from a superhero movie and know what you’re supposed to get out of it or not.

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    • I don’t see film noir movies as being escapist in the same way as modern superhero films. These are not characters or lives I would want to live, lead, or emulate. I feel like they were, at the time, the best you could get in terms of grit, realism, violence, and focusing on less than heroic characters. At the same time, I found both “The Big Sleep” and “Maltese Falcon” to be very one note and dull. Grit, realism, violence, and less savory characters are all done better in movies after the code and even pre-code (“Public Enemy” as an example).

      Weak crime dramas/mysteries with a tacked on romance plot doesn’t excite me. Sorry to have that opinion. And, in truth, I expected to love these kinds of movies because of personal hype and preconceived notions. The fact that I didn’t like them at all is likely manifesting itself in an especially negative way.

      That said, Bogart is completely redeemed for me in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” which is up next. And I still love the modern movie “Brick” because it takes the trappings of film noir and makes something really absurd/fun/self-serious with it. I am sure there are better examples of the genre and of the neo noir genre that I’ve missed and would enjoy too.

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  2. Ah, I don’t see them as being gritty, realistic or esp violent, so if you were looking for those things as what you wanted to get out of the movies you’d certainly find that better done elsewhere.

    Having said that I believe Dashiell Hammett did know what he was he talking about, having worked for Pinkerton. According to Wikipedia (just refreshing my vague memories about the guy) he claimed to have based all his characters on people he knew.

    Btw you are well within your rights to simply dislike a genre, for whatever reason. I’m just surprised by your stated reasons. To my mind those reasons would apply equally to Robin Hood, which you really liked (and I also really liked).

    It does seem that maybe the difference is more in the expectations that you brought to the movies. Presumably you weren’t expecting Robin Hood to be a gritty and realistic slice of Anglo-Saxon life, or to get meaningful insights into humanity from it. On the other hand you did have preconceived notions re film noir that it didn’t match up to.

    I can relate to that as there are plenty of shows that people rave about which don’t do much for me. (Sopranos, Mad Men & West Wing to name three biggies.) And those things often feel much more of a let down when I finally get around to watching them than otherwise comparable shows that I came to innocent of any hype. “This is supposed to be the best TV drama ever made?!?”

    Re escapism…. I think pretty much anything can be a kind of escapism. When I was watching The Wire (now there’s a runner for best drama ever) I was aware that in part it was a kind of escapism for me. For a while I was immersed into a world that is not my world, and stories that are more dramatic and engrossing than my actual life. The fact that it might be some other person’s actual life doesn’t really prevent it from being a kind of escape from simply being me.

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