Saturday, September 21, 2019


Here is Part 2 of my Second Top Ten + 2, my list of top films based on the criteria of “films that I like, that I find entertaining and that I like to rewatch”. I refer to that as “watchability”. Why + 2? Because in my first list I couldn’t narrow it down to 10.

The first list, not in any order of priority: 
Groundhog Day 
12 Angry Men 
Rat Race 
Sin City 
Runaway Train 
Blues Brothers 
Blade Runner 
Full Metal Jacket 

The second list, also not in any particular order: 
42nd Street 
The Castle 
Captains Courageous 
Goodbye Mr Chips 
Love Actually 
Life of Brian 
Judgment at Nuremberg 
Down Periscope 
O Brother, Where Art Thou? 
Jeremiah Johnson 

Here is Part 2 of List 2. . . 

Rollerball (1975) 

I said earlier that my Top Ten + 2 was based on what I liked and included a factor of “rewatchability”, a word I have coined. This one I have watched quite a number of times and will keep watching, it is that entertaining. Some may object to the violence and to the depiction of the role of women but that is integral to the story. What hasn’t aged so well are the fashions shown but I will turn a blind eye to that. 

Ignore the remake, this is the one. What is it about? Think gladiators and the Coliseum on wheels. I could talk about the solving of the world’s problems but at the expense of personal freedom, about it being a comment on the modern preoccupation with televised sports, of surrogate violence, loss of individuality and of loveless corporate futures, but that is not the appeal for me. The games and the final battle to the death on skates are like nothing else. 

Btw, director Norman Jewison intended this movie to be anti-violence, but audiences so loved the action of the game, that there was actually talk about forming rollerball leagues in the wake of this movie, which horrified him. 

Jonathon . . . Jonathon . . . Jonathon . . . Jonathon . . . . Jonathon . . . 

Life of Brian (1979): 

So many funny scenes, so many classic lines that it is impossible to select just a few. Sometimes acclaimed as the greatest comedy of all time, it is hard to believe today that on first release in 1979 it was picketed, denounced and banned by various countries, councils and organisations as being blasphemous, notwithstanding that those picketing, denouncing and banning had not actually seen the film. That in itself is a Monty Python moment. John Cleese has said that because of the massive protests against the movie from all denominations of Christianity, he would joke with Michael Palin, "We've brought them all together for the first time in two thousand years!" 

My opinion: ★★★★

BTW moments: 

When Michael Palin as Pontius Pilate addressed the soldiers daring them to laugh, he was truly daring them. The soldier extras were ordered to stand there and not laugh, but not told what Palin was going to do. Palin, in fact, can barely stifle his own laughter when saying "Biggus Dickus" in front of the soldier asked if he finds the name "risible." 

See the scene by clicking on: 

 George Harrison has a cameo in the film, as Mr Papadopoulos (above, centre)

That’s only fair, he funded the making of it. Originally to be financed by EMI, they backed out because they considered the script blasphemous. The Pythons sued EMI and settled out of court. George Harrison, a huge Monty Python fan, thought it was the last chance to have another Python film. He created Handmade Films, and "pawned" (his words) his home in London and his office building to raise the $4 million needed. When asked why, he said "because I want to go see it." Eric Idle joked that it was the highest price ever paid for a cinema ticket. 


Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) 

What do you say about a film that includes in its cast Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Maximilian Schell (best actor Oscar for this performance), Judy Garland, William Shatner and Werner Klemperer (Col Klink, Hogan’s Heroes) and depicts the trial of German judges accused of crimes against humanity for their involvement in atrocities committed under the Nazi regime. The film is based on the Nuremburg Judges Trial (being one of the American Tribunal trials, not the International Tribunal trials, and which prosecuted 16, not 4, judges as in the film) and looks at such issues as: 
What happens when those sworn to uphold the law become breakers of the law? 
What if the laws to be upheld are evil laws? 
Is there such a thing as collective guilt for a country? 
What of similar acts and views in the history of the prosecutors? 
What of complicity of other countries? 

The film also contrasts the political expediency of the German judges under the Third Reich with the pressure on the prosecuting judges to deliver lenient sentences to curry German favour during the Berlin blockade and the beginning of the Cold War. Powerful performances by Schell and Tracy. A must see. 

West Side Story received the Best Film Oscar. 

With the passing of Maximilian Schell in February 2014, William Shatner (now aged 89) is the last living member of the cast. 

Down Periscope (1996) 

If you’re a Kelsey Grammer fan, you’ll love this. If you’re not a Kelsey Grammer fan, you’ll still love this. It is the story of Lieutenant Commander Thomas Dodge, who is saddled with a group of misfit seamen brought together as the crew of his first command, USS Stingray, a rusty, obsolete World War II-era diesel submarine recommissioned to participate in a special naval war game. This is one of my Second Top Ten + Two notwithstanding that critical reception for the film was negative on release and that Rotten Tomatoes has an approval rating of 12% from 33 reviews, with an average rating 3.8. 


Dodge objects to Lt. Lake's assignment to the Stingray, citing the U.S. Navy's rule against women on board submarines. The film was released in 1996, one year after Norway became the first naval power to promote a female officer to command of a submarine. 

Rear Admiral Yancy Graham: You watch yourself, Dodge! You are addressing a superior officer. 
Lt. Comd. Dodge: No... Merely a higher ranking one! 


O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) 

Set in 1937 in rural Mississippi during the Great Depression, the story of O Brother, Where Art Thou? is based on Homer's epic poem The Odyssey. The title of the film is a reference to the 1941 film Sullivan's Travels, in which the main character is a director who wants to film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, a fictional book about the Great Depression. Much of the music in the film is American folk, bluegrass, country and more from musos such as John Hartford, Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Chris Sharp, Ralph Stanley and Dan Tyminski. The film's soundtrack became an unlikely blockbuster, even surpassing the success of the film. George Clooney is the lead in what I regard as his best role. Likewise Charles Durning as Pappy O’Daniel. Put watching this film as an item on your bucket list. 


The prisoner's musical chant from the beginning of the movie (and soundtrack) was actually an old recording of a real chain-gang. 

The name of the musical group in the film, Soggy Bottom Boys, is a play on the well known, real Foggy Mountain Boys. 

Jeremiah Johnson (1972) 

“Jeremiah Johnson made his way into the mountains 
Bettin’ on forgettin’ all the troubles that he knew . . . “ 

Made in 1972, the movie stars Robert Redford in a somewhat different role to those he usually plays. Redford portrays Jeremiah Johnson, a man who leaves his past life behind to live in the Rocky Mountains. The story is in turn based in part on the life of John Johnston, aka “Crow Killer” and “Liver-Eatin’ Johnston”. After Crow Indians murdered his wife, Johnston swore vengeance against the entire tribe, eating the livers of the Crow he killed. After 25 years of killing Crow, Johnston made peace with them and became “brothers” with them. Will Geer plays Chris Lapp, also known as “Bear Claws” by reason of his hunting “grizz” and keeping their claws in a necklace around his neck. 

"The way that you wander is the way that you choose 
The day that you tarry is the day that you lose...." 

Those interested in the back story can click on the following link to a 2010 Bytes post: 

Don’t be turned off by the bloodthirsty descriptions, the movie is a watch-again-and-again, as far as I am concerned (and I have done). 

"It ought to have been different, but oftimes you will find,
That the story doesn’t always go that way you had in mind.
Jeremiah’s story was that kind. . ."


The part about the warriors sent to kill him and told not to return without his scalp was true about the original Liver-Eatin’ Johnston. 

“But don't get me wrong; I loves the womens, I surely do. But I swear, a woman's breast is the hardest rock that the Almighty ever made on this earth, and I can find no sign on it.” - Bear Claws Chris Lapp. 

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