I’m not really a big fan of movies. That said, there are twenty movies I always watch. Here they are in alphabetical order.
Bubba Ho-Tep (Comedy, Horror)
Elvis (played perfectly by Bruce Campbell) didn’t die- he switched places with an Elvis impersonator and now lives in a nursing home in Texas. His best friend is JFK, played by Ossie Davis. After that, it gets weird. Don’t bother renting the DVD. Just buy it.
What can I say that hasn’t already been said? This is the best fucking movie ever made. Humphrey Bogart, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, and Ingrid Bergman.
The Changeling (Horror)
George C. Scott is a widowed pianist who moves into a historical mansion in Seattle that turns out to be haunted. No blood, no boogeymen with axes, just the scariest film I have ever seen. The rubber ball scene and the playing of the seance tapes send chills down my spine just thinking about them.
El Dorado (Western)
John Wayne, a very young James Caan, and Robert Mitchum team up against bad guys during a range war. Very little I could say will do the film justice. Lots of humor and lots of action. Well worth watching.
The Enemy Below (Action, War)
I used to be a sailor, and I’ve served on both submarines and destroyers. This WWII tale of a US Destroyer hunting a German U-Boat is very true to both worlds. Awesome movie.
Fierce Creatures (Comedy)
The lunatics who brought us A Fish Called Wanda do it again, with the same cast and a much funnier script. This is one of the funniest movies ever, but few people have heard of it.
Forbidden Planet (Science Fiction)
Even after fifty years, this is still the best science-fiction movie ever made. Even the 1950s special effects are good. Leslie Nielsen plays the romantic lead, with Walter Pidgeon as the deranged scientist and Anne Francis as the love interest. But the story is the real star of this film.
Grosse Pointe Blank (Action, Comedy)
Professional Assassins are funny. Who knew? John Cusack is an independent hit man having an existential crisis who goes to his ten-year high-school reunion. Dan Akroyd is a rival hit man who’s starting an international Assassin’s Union. Add in some federal agents and a Basque assassin out to avenge a murdered dog, and it gets really weird. But funny. Very fucking funny.
The Incredibles (Animation, Comedy)
This movie is what comic books want to be when they grow up. It’s very funny, full of action, and a hell of a good story. For those unfortunate enough to have missed this one, here are the highlights: Mr Incredible gets sued by people he saved and is forced to retire. All the other superheroes are also forced to retire. But he can’t get rid of the “gotta save people” itch. Chickens come home to roost, hilarity ensues, and a wonderful time is had by all- especially the viewers.
Kelly’s Heroes (Action, War, Comedy)
The anti-war war movie that sets the standard for all other anti-war war movies (M*A*S*H, Three Kings, etc). Clint Eastwood finds out that the Germans have millions in gold hidden in a bank not too far behind enemy lines. He convinces the rest of his unit (led by Telly Savalas) to make a quick run through the German lines to grab the gold and head for Switzerland. Add in Donald Sutherland as a beatnik tank commander, Gavin MacLeod as his grumpy sidekick, Don Rickles as a greedy supply Sergeant, and Carroll O’Conner as “the General”. More than the sum of its parts.
Leon/The Professional (Action)
Jean Reno plays Leon, a shy, simple-minded, but exceedingly competent hit man for the Mob who drinks milk and loves Gene Kelly musicals. Natalie Portman plays the jail-bait little girl who falls in love with him. There’s plenty of humor, tons of action, and Gary Oldman plays the Bad Guy.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Comedy)
Simply the funniest fucking movie ever made. Buy it.
The Outlaw Josie Wales (Western)
Clint Eastwood is the star, but the film is stolen by Chief Dan George (who gets all the best lines). Josie Wales is a Confederate raider who refuses to give up after the Civil War is over, and gets hunted from Missouri to Texas. All other westerns wish they could be this good.
The Quiet Man (Comedy, Drama)
John Wayne gives up his career as a prizefighter in the states and tries to go home to the village in Ireland he left as a toddler. Victor MacLaughlin is the sneering villain and Maureen O’Hara is the love interest, but the real stars of the show are the Irish people. Hilarity ensues.
WOOT! Robert DeNiro and Jean Reno are black-ops mercenaries hired to retrieve a mysterious silver case from some unnamed Bad Guys. Outstanding story, great acting, and the best car chase ever filmed. Plus lots and lots of action.
Seven Samurai/Shichinin no Samurai (Action, Historical)
Never mind that it’s in black-and-white. Never mind the fact that it was filmed in Japanese with English sub-titles. This is what all other action movies aspire to. In fact, this movie inspired many others. Akira Kurosawa’s epic tale of dispossessed samurai defending a village from a band of murderous bandits. Awesome.
Snatch (Action, Comedy)
A stolen diamond sends Dennis Farina to London, where he ends up trolling through the criminal underworld for the missing stone. Jason Statham (as the sort-of good guy) and Brad Pitt (as a completely unintelligible “pikey”) are also wading through the muck on their own separate missions. Some of the best quotes in movie history come from this film.
The Three Musketeers-1973 version (Action, Comedy)
Hoo boy! Raquel Welch, Fate Dunaway, Charlton Heston, Christopher Lee, Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, Michael York. This is the good version of the Dumas classic. Did I mention Raquel Welch? Lots of laughs, lots of action, and lots of Raquel Welch. Forget the other versions.
Young Frankenstein (Horror, Comedy)
Despite the fact that it was written and directed by Mel Brooks, this send-up of the Frankenstein mythos is nonetheless truer to the source material than most “serious” versions. Gene Wilder plays Frederick, the grandson of Baron Victor Frankenstein. He’s a doctor at a teaching hospital in the US and learns that he’s inherited the castle and title. Marty Feldman steals the show as Igor, the hunchbacked minion. Madeline Kahn is Frederick’s betrothed. Teri Garr is Frederick’s secretary and girlfriend. Peter Boyle plays the creature. Gene Hackman is a blind, probably gay hermit. Cloris Leachman plays Frau Blucher (cue sound of horses screaming). Oh, yeah. Another one for the “buy, not rent” pile.
The film sticks fairly close to the historical facts of the Battle of Roarke’s Drift, but the stunning action and acting make this movie absolutely unforgettable. Starring a very young Michael Caine and several thousand actual Zulu warriors.