March 24, 2008
Recently I viewed a recording of AFI (American Film Institutes) top 100 films of all time. Now I agreed with most of the picks. Most were just great films, and some were controversial at the time, but all were darn good. I'm not belaboring any of the picks, but I would like to add a few more rather elderly films which I think are as good now many years after their premiers as they were new.
The oldest film is METROPOLIS 1926. A really great silent film that has moments that are memorable. The picture is a look at the future where the rich live above ground and enjoy life in the sun; and the workers live below ground in their own world. One of the scenes I remember vividly is the shift change when the workers line up not unlike robots in formation and enter and exit elevators that take them to their homes and/or workplace. It is dramatic and unforgettable.
ON BORROWED TIME 1939, a film with the great actor Lionel Barrymore and a kid actor with the great name Bobs Watson who lives with his grandparents because his parents were killed in an accident. Sir Cedrick Hardwick who plays Mr. Death comes to take grandpa Lionel to heaven which would devistate Bobs the grandchild so they devise a plan to trap Mr. Death in a tree so his beloved grandpa will not have to go without him. I won't tell you anymore, but I loved the film and now have it on disk for another viewing when I'm in the mood.
THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER 1940, another film that I think is absolutely great, stars James Stewart, Margaret Sullivan, Frank Morgan and an actor with an amusing voice William Tracy.
It takes place in a notions shop in Budapest and the main plot is about two people, Jimmy and Margaret who are lonely and are corresponding with people they have never seen. Of course they end up with each other, but it takes a while to get to that ending, and getting there is sheer joy, at least for me. The actors are great, the story is gentle, almost a fairy tale rendering. Of course Jimmy Stewart never did put on a bad performance that I can remember.