Top Ten List for My Birthday # 9

 I have been writing this blog for over ten years now, and I have resisted putting up a list of my favorite films for that whole time. As the Borg say “Resistance is Futile!” 

This year I am marking another year in my sixth decade of life. I did several birthday posts in the past and enjoyed them immensely. The last two years my heart has just not been into it. This year however, I am trying to push my way back into normalcy, but I don’t have the energy to generate 63 things for a list. So what I am going to do is a ten day countdown of my favorite films.

Every year when I have posted a top ten list, I always point out that it is a combination of quality and subjective enjoyment that creates that list. Those are the guiding principles here as well. I will not claim that these are the ten greatest movies ever made, although I know several of them would be deserving of a spot on such a list. Instead, these are my ten favorite films as it stands at the moment. In a month, I could reconsider or remember something that I have tragically left off the list, but for this moment here is how they rank.

#9  Once Upon a Time in the West

I love John Wayne and Clint Eastwood and Gary Cooper and a dozen other stars of the Western Genre. It just so happens however that my favorite western isn’t directed by John Ford, Don Siegal or even the accomplished western director Eastwood . It comes from Clint’s collaborator and directing mentor Sergio Leone, but it does not star Eastwood. Instead, it features another tough guy actor who has a face as iconic as Wayne’s voice or Clint’s stare, Charles Bronson. It is also a western of the Italian variety, though populated with American actors, and it is directed by Leone himself. 

To some degree Leone follows the template he set up in “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”. We have three primary characters that we are following. Two anti-heroes and one very bad man. The most unique thing about the film cast is that this bad man is played by an actor who is famous for portraying decent men on screen, Hollywood Legend Henry Fonda. The character of Frank is an irredeemable murderer who shows a sadistic side as he kills most of his victims in this story. Jason Robards is Cheyenne, a desperado, known to lead a gang of robbers, who turns out to have some interesting and maybe noble characteristics. Bronson is the mysterious stranger known only as “Harmonica”, who is set on a path of vengeance that crosses with the other two. 

With a music score by maestro Morricone, it is amazing that the most impressive scene in the film is the opening lead up to a shootout, that features no music but rather just ambient noise to build the tension. In this ten to fifteen minute segment, film students will learn all of Leone’s tricks of the trade. There are sweaty close ups, silent stares, long pauses and lighting that makes the environment in which the scene takes place, into another character. 

Leone is widely loved for the “man with No Name” trilogy, but this is a movie that is art. It is richer in character and setting than Good,Bad,Ugly , and it is more morally ambiguous and splendidly detailed than any other film he made. 

Previous Posts on Once Upon A Time in the West
Once Upon A Time in the West

Top Ten List for My Birthday #10

 I have been writing this blog for over ten years now, and I have resisted putting up a list of my favorite films for that whole time. As the Borg say “Resistance is Futile!” 

This year I am marking another year in my sixth decade of life. I did several birthday posts in the past and enjoyed them immensely. The last two years my heart has just not been into it. This year however, I am trying to push my way back into normalcy, but I don’t have the energy to generate 63 things for a list. So what I am going to do is a ten day countdown of my favorite films.

Every year when I have posted a top ten list, I always point out that it is a combination of quality and subjective enjoyment that creates that list. Those are the guiding principles here as well. I will not claim that these are the ten greatest movies ever made, although I know several of them would be deserving of a spot on such a list. Instead, these are my ten favorite films as it stands at the moment. In a month, I could reconsider or remember something that I have tragically left off the list, but for this moment here is how they rank.

#10  Goldfinger (1964)

There may be bigger James Bond Fans out there than me, but I have yet to meet one in the flesh. Since I was six years old, the idea of 007 has been in my head. The first Bond films I saw were the first four that were made, and that was enough to imprint on me for a lifetime. 

Other Bond films may have more spectacular stunts, or complex plots, or may be speaking to our times in some way that is important, but no 007 film has had the power that Goldfinger has had, both on me and the world we live in. 

The plot of the movie is pretty simple, James Bond must stop a raid on Fort Knox. The process of discovering the plot and meeting the antagonist tales up the first third of the movie, and it introduces us to some of the most iconic elements of all the James Bond Films. The AstonMartin DB 5 is introduced in this film. The dangerous henchman became a trope as a result of Odd Job as seen in this movie. After the famous line where Bond introduces himself, the one quote that most people can recall from a Bond film is Goldfinger’s retort to Bond when asked if he expected 007 to talk, “No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.”

Shirley Eaton sprawled on the bed in gold paint, Shirley Bassey belting out the theme song and Sean Connery at the apex of his time as 007, complete the significance of this film on my list. It is the Bond film I have seen the most, and I think you will discover that most 007 fans see it as the best of the franchise. Who am I to deny this type of acclaim? Why would I want to? Goldfinger is cinematic perfection. 

Previous Posts on Goldfinger

A Double O Blast from the Past  

007 Double Feature at the Egyptian Theater  

007 Countdown: Goldfinger  

Countdown to Skyfall Part Six