Great films create memorable characters and interesting worlds of their own. I chose the twenty films ‘worlds’ that I enjoy visiting again and again. The order is somewhat haphazard, but I included twenty films worth exploring. There are many more. These films have made an impact on me, on the movies and the people who watch them. That’s My Entertainment? What’s yours?
1. The Godfather 1972
The original is one of the finest films I’ve ever seen. The sequel is almost as good. It has left a lasting impression on me, and helped me admire the power of film. A compelling story with beautiful cinematography, the Godfather takes us to a world that is as much about family as it is about crime. A young man who wanted nothing to do with the family business, and loses his soul in the process.
2. Marty 1955
Ernest Borgnine stars in this black and white study of a lonely butcher in search of love. Borgnine gives the performance of a lifetime in this classic. You may not know this film, you may never see it on a 10 greatest list, but it is very, very, good.
3. E.T. 1982
Spielberg bares his a little of himself as he tells a story of the Extra Terrestrial that just wants to go home. Deep, spiritual themes run throughout the film.
4. Psycho 1960
There are a lot of scary movies, but very few can touch the madness of Psycho. The shower scene still makes people prefer the bathtub!
5. The Wizard of Oz 1939
This color masterpiece didn’t become a true classic until it was released on TV. Judy Garland will always be remembered for Oz, a place “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
6. Goodfellas 1990
Everyone at the top of their game when this was made. Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Ray Liotta’s performances made this one of Scorsese’s greatest films.
7. The Great Dictator 1941
Probably Charlie Chaplin’s most personal film. Timely today as it was in 1941. His marvelous speech rejecting power and violence still resonates with audiences today.
8. The Shawshank Redemption 1994
This sleeper film hit audiences where they live: justice and freedom. Two great actors, Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, carry this story from the prison depths to the hope of redemption and freedom. It also made Morgan Freeman the go-to-guy for movie narration.
9. A River Runs Through It 1992
Every film and story asks, ‘What is the world like?’ In River, the world is both incredibly beautiful and sadly disappointing. A young Brad Pitt is tremendous as the brother who could have it all, but he just can’t hold on to it. A supporting cast includes Tom Skerritt and Craig Sheffer.
10. Schindler’s List 1993
Some movies remind us of the power of film, and Schindler’s List is one of them. In this story, based on World War II and the Holocaust, Oskar Schindler tries to find some meaning and redemption with the lives he holds in his hands. Spielberg and the film became symbols of Shoah, and the reason to keep these stories alive.
11. Casablanca 1944
Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in what was considered a B film at best. Still, the crisp writing, directing and acting makes it one of the most beloved films of all time.
12. Lawrence of Arabia 1962
Yes, it’s a very long film, but it is one of the most beautifully photographed films of all time. It’s hard to take your eyes off the performance of Peter O’Toole as Lawrence. Omar Sharif is equally magnificent. Greatness or madness? Yes.
13. West Side Story 1961
What can I say? It’s one of my favorite musicals, and I could watch it any time. Yes, I know, Natalie Wood is not Puerto Rican, but she is Maria.
14. The Bridge on the River Kwai 1956
This is the movie that Alec Guinness should be remembered for. Yes, another prison movie, but also a film of triumph and failure, dignity and humiliation. Best line: “Oh my God, what have I done?” What indeed.
15. Titanic 1997
James Cameron’s enormous film tells a compelling story, even if we know the ending. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are perfectly cast.
16. Patton 1970
The opening scene with the giant American flag is priceless. George C. Scott is Patton. World War II was his destiny. Karl Malden his conscience.
17. Jaws 1975
The shark didn’t work when they wanted it to, and so they went on to create one of the first true blockbusters. Spielberg again, I know, and someday I’ll create a list of greatest films, just his.
18. The Apartment 1955
This Billy Wilder film was billed as a comedy, but the laugh is on the studio. Jack Lemon and Shirley MacLaine battle for right and wrong and every where in between when it comes to men and women. Fred MacMurray was an inspired choice for the womanizing boss.
19. Fargo 1996
I loved Fargo and I love it still because it is so quirky, thanks to William H. Macey and Frances McDormand. I think it gave other filmmakers permission to try new things.
20. Pulp Fiction 1994
Quentin Tarantino takes us on quite a ride with Pulp Fiction. John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis all give strong performances. You may get to the end of the film and say, “Huh?” But, you might just say, “Let’s watch it again.
And that’s what all great films make you want to do!