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This one's for the masochists ...
The idea comes from a February 9 post on Andy Horbal's film blog in which Horbal decided to list the "50 best films" he'd never seen in his life, according to their rankings on 1,000 greatest movies of all time list at They Shoot Pictures, Don' They? (For a nuts-and-bolts appreciation of this strenuous compilation, see Jonathan Rosenbaum's More List-o-Mania post of January 22.) In confessing his desire to "excavate every aspect of my relationship with film and display it," Horbal adverted to the dubious advice grammar school teachers conventionally give their unbelieving charges: "There are no stupid questions. If you're not sure about something, then raise your hand and ask."
Guess this is the equivalent of raising my hand, since if a smart guy like Horbal can display his canonical ignorance in public, then why not somebody considerably less smart like yours truly? Plus a little embarrassment's never killed anyone—at least not yet—and how embarrassing can it be? Just a parlor game for film fans, to find out who hasn't seen what, who's the great pretender and who's really really up on his/her stuff . . .
But my own personal wrinkle's gonna be this: I haven't even scanned the They Shoot Pictures list yet! Not with full advertence anyway—like, Citizen Kane comes first, right?—so who knows what surprises are in store, for me or anyone curious (or cynical) enough to look and laugh and point the ridiculing finger? But confidence, Pat, confidence—since obviously I must think I've seen enough "great" movies to try this stunt in the first place. On the other hand, could be I'm simply delusional. But if Horbal can cheerfully admit to not having seen L'Eclisse or The Travelling Players (both in my own top ten, fercrissake!), then how much worse can it get for me?
So here goes—probably not to the full monty 50, since I'd simply run out of blog space . . . but at least till I'm exhausted enough to quit. (NB: numbers before titles indicate film's rank on TSPDT list as of late afternoon February 23.)
62. Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1982; Sweden)
66. Sherlock, Jr. (Buster Keaton, 1924; US)
82. The Man With a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929; USSR)
94. Dekalog/Decalogue (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1988; Poland)—skipped the last four commandments
108. Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944; US)
115. Vivre Sa Vie/My Life to Live (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963; France)—only the tail end of it . . .
121. Ashes and Diamonds (Andrzej Wajda, 1958; Poland)
122. Umberto D. (Vittorio De Sica, 1952; Italy)
127. Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948; US)—unendurable, lord knows I tried . . .
134. The Grapes of Wrath (John Ford, 1940; US)
135. Celine and Julie Go Boating (Jacques Rivette, 1974; France)
137. Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1945; UK)
141. Paisan/Paisa (Roberto Rossellini, 1946; Italy)
154. 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (Jean-Luc Godard, 1966; France)—yeah, figures . . .
158. The Maltese Falcon (Huston, John; 1941; US)—the skeleton in the closet . . .
168. The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor, 1940; US)
171. The Music Room (Satyajit Ray, 1958; India)
180. The Conversation (Francis Coppola, 1974; US)
194. The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973; US)
198. Pandora's Box (G.W. Pabst, 1928; Germany)
208. The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940; US)
220. Berlin Alexanderplatz (R.W. Fassbinder, 1980; Germany)
222. Masculin Feminin (Jean-Luc Godard, 1966; France-Sweden)
224. Germany, Year Zero (Roberto Rossellini, 1947; Italy-West Germany)
235. Shoot the Piano Player/Tirez sur le Pianiste (Francois Truffaut, 1960; France)
237. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974; US)
240. Strike/Stachka (Sergie Eisenstein, 1924; USSR)
255. West Side Story (Robert Wise/Jerome Robbins; 1961; US)
257. The Deer Hunter (Michael Cimino, 1978; US)
263. High Noon (Fred Zinnemann, 1952; US)
270. Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976; US)
271. Shadows (John Cassavetes, 1959; US)
275. Charulata/The Lonely Wife (Satyajit Ray, 1964; India)
291. The Kid (Charles Chaplin, 1921; US)
294. The Asphalt Jungle (John Huston, 1950; US)
297. Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943; US)
Time to cry uncle—plus I'm getting bored with this—so aloha and good night.