I originally posted ‘Patrick’s 100 Movies’ back in 2008, but I decided to update the post and actually finish the big list of my favorite films.
A blog post elsewhere served as the inspiration for the “Patrick’s 100 Movies” posts. But I haven’t been able to find that blog, Aurora Walking Vacation, since then.
I made my own list of 100 favorite films, and here’s how I started. Because of the length, I split my list into 10 parts.
You won’t agree with all of my selections, and that’s okay. You may be shocked that some of your favorite movies aren’t on my list.
I don’t list these films in any particular order at all. I’d never try to rank 100 films in any kind of order. It would be far too daunting a task. I battled enough coming up with only 100 movies! There are probably a good 20 or so that should be here that are hanging out in the wings.
These first ten are not necessarily my 10 favorites…they’re just 10 of my 100 favorites.
1. ‘Foul Play’ (1978)
I’ve probably seen this movie more than most of the others on the list. For some reason, it fascinated me when it made its way to HBO. I remember it being one of the first movies featured on that channel when my parents first got cable. Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase made a great team. The film borrows several plot points from Hitchcock movies. You recognize them as you see them, making it fun and funny.
2. ‘On Golden Pond’ (1981)
If Foul Play is the picture I’ve seen the most times out of the 100, this one probably comes in a close second. Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda were a great pair as the aging Thayers. The conflict between father and daughter is especially poignant knowing it mirrors the lives of the actors. This will sound strange coming from someone who was about 12 the first time he saw the picture, but I felt that I could identify with some aspects of Norman Thayer, Jr. And the older I get, the more I seem to feel that way.
3. ‘Fail-Safe’ (1964)
If Henry Fonda had ever chosen to run for president in the 1960s, his performance in this movie might have helped him win. Fail-Safe, based on the novel of the same name, tells the terrifying story of a country’s machines getting out of control and launching what could be the start of World War III.
The stark black and white photography and tight shots add to the tension as the president makes a stunning decision to save the world. If you’ve never seen this one, do yourself a favor and rent it.
4. ’12 Angry Men’ (1957)
The third Henry Fonda title on my list is this fascinating look inside a jury room. A tough kid from the slums is on trial for murder, and what looks like an open-and-shut case becomes a case study in prejudice and discrimination.
As the lone juror who votes “not guilty,” Fonda is brilliant. Lee J. Cobb gives a masterful performance as the last holdout driven to the breaking point.
5. ‘Anatomy of a Murder’ (1959)
This courtroom drama tells the story of an Army lieutenant accused of murdering a man who raped his wife. Jimmy Stewart plays the attorney who faces the challenge of proving the killing was justified through “irresistible impulse.”
The story featured plenty of light moments interspersed in the drama.
6. ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ (1986)
This film debuted during my sophomore in high school. I have a hard time believing it was that long ago. Of course, I have a harder time imagining getting away with half of what Ferris got away with.
Matthew Broderick is the kid all of us wanted to be in school: the guy who could get away with anything. The fact that none of the rest of us could have begun to pull the stunts he did makes his character so easy to root for. That, and the fact that the vice principal, played by Jeffrey Jones, is exactly the kind of guy you want Bueler to beat at all costs.
It was fairly mindless, but it’s the kind of mindlessness that still manages to entertain without making you feel like you’ve given an hour and a half of your life you’ll never get back.
7. ‘WarGames’ (1983)
People began realizing in the early 1980s that home computers were a practical idea. This movie surely put the fear of God into parents who were convinced that their kid might go online and somehow start World War III. Thank goodness the Cold War lasted long enough for this one to get made.
There’s just one problem that I’ll complain about as long as I live: when David and Jennifer made the reservation for two airline tickets to Paris, they did so in her name. Later, after David is arrested, McKittrick asks him who he (David) is going to Paris with. If the reservation had been in Jennifer’s name, McKittrick wouldn’t have known that David was even going to Paris.
8. ‘Desk Set’ (1957)
Most people don’t choose this one when asked to name their favorite Spencer Tracy-Katherine Hepburn picture. But maybe the appeal of this one is that it is set at the headquarters of a television network. It focuses on the battle of man (actually woman) vs. machine also makes it appealing. Of course, this was the late 1950s, which meant that the computers were of the giant, mainframe variety. Bet you’ll never guess who wins the war!
9. ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’ (1967)
In this Tracy-Hepburn picture, the happy couple is married with a grown daughter who decides to get engaged. Trouble is, her intended happens to have, as Tracy’s character says in the famous closing speech, “a pigmentation problem.”
Through lots of laughter and even some tears by the picture’s close, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner tackles interracial relationships in a way that really makes you think.
Tracy’s real-life struggles serve as the drama within a drama. Insurance companies refused to cover the picture because of Tracy’s failing health. Hepburn and director Stanley Kramer put their own salaries in escrow so that they could make the picture. Tracy made it through to the end during which he delivered a touching speech about the love he felt for his wife. The emotion clearly borrows from the real-life feelings the two legendary actors felt for each other. Tracy died just 17 days after filming ended.
10. ‘Titanic’ (1997)
Critics expected the film to sink two major studios, Paramount and 20th Century Fox. News the movie would be released six months late fueled the fire.
But the film quickly proved those naysayers wrong!
Titanic frames the disaster around a love story. Rose Dawson humanizes the story, forcing us to consider the human toll over the ship. There’s humor, there’s a love triangle, there’s the chase of the young lovers as they try to escape her destiny, and the ultimate suspense of the iceberg looming somewhere out there.
By the time the berg is finally in sight, you’ve managed to convince yourself that somehow, they’ll miss it, after all. The real question is whether or not Rose actually dies in the last scene. I’m still not sure, although I tend to think she did. It doesn’t really matter, though, because either in reality or in spirit, her gesture of dropping the Heart of the Ocean over the wreckage has joined Rose and Jack together in spirit after all those eighty-plus years.
So there are the first ten of 100 movies on my favorites list.
Check out Part 2 of my list here.