Thursday, December 21, 2023

Top 103 Favorite Movies: #59 - 50.

Once again into the breach. We're counting down my favorite 103 movies. Why 103? Because there were just some movies I couldn't leave off the list.

The first post is here, the next one here, the next one here, and the last one here.

So here we go, with #59 through 50:

59: Aladdin (1993)

Before Disney went all woke on us, it made great cartoons such as Aladdin. The hand-drawn animation is amazing and the story is one of redemption. Aladdin goes from being a "street rat" to having the princess fall in love with him with the help of a genie voiced by Robin Williams. There are enough jokes to keep adults entertained, too. Available on Disney+

58: The Lion King (1994) 

First of all, the hand-drawn animation is beautiful, especially during the opening. And Simba's story arc is amazing, from "no worries" (hakuna matata) to facing up to his past and taking responsibility. Jeremy Irons is perfect as the villain, Scar. You can hear the evil in his voice. Even the music is wonderful. A real treat to watch. Available on Disney+

57: Dumbo (1941)

Old, classic Disney, with lovable characters and beautiful hand-drawn animation. Catchy songs, too. The title character, Dumbo, never says a word. He doesn't have to, his facial expressions do it all. The story of someone who took their biggest problem and turned it an asset. This short film (only about an hour), is one of Disney's best animated movies. Available on Disney+

56: Twelve O'clock High (1949)

One of the first movies to portray the horrors of aerial combat in World War II. Gregory Peck takes over a "hard luck" B-17 bomber group and through discipline and psychology, gets them into fighting shape. Includes actual combat footage in the final, climactic battle. Available on YouTube (free) and Amazon Prime Video (paid).

55: The Untouchables (1987) 

Written by David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross), this is a nearly perfect law-and-order movie. Elliot Ness is moving in on Al Capon in Chicago during Prohibition. Not very historically accurate, it's still not only fun but a good action film. The final scene in the train station on the stairs is a classic (parts of it stolen from Sergei Eisenstein). Who doesn't love a good gangsters vs. cops movie? Available on Showtime, YouTube (paid), and Hulu.

54: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

My favorite Star Trek film. There's so much that's good here, you ignore some plot holes. Introduced Lt. Saavik (played by a young Kirstie Alley) and brought back Khan from the series. The tension of the first space battle is thick. We get a little back story on Kirk who, at age 50, is starting to feel old. Sit back and enjoy this space ride. Available on Paramount+

53: Young Frankenstein (1974)

Another Mel Brooks film on my list, and the best. With laugh-out-loud humor and silly setups, it's just a fun movie to watch. Shot in black and white, it also is a tribute to old horror movies of the 1930s. Watch out for those "Abby Normal" brains. Available on Max, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

52: Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

Another Billy Wilder movie! This murder mystery is set in London and stars Marlene Dietrich as the wife of a man (played by Tyrone Power) on trial for murder his mistress. Charles Laughton plays the lawyer (solicitor) hired to defend the man. With great acting and twists, this is a wonderful movie. Available on YouTube, Pluto TV (both free), and Amazon Prime Video (with subscription)

51: Forrest Gump (1994)

"Stupid is as stupid does." I'm not sure why I like this movie so much. Tom Hanks plays Forrest Gump, a low-IQ man who is dragged along by the events of the 1960s and '70s and has an influence on history. The Vietnam battle scene is scary and realistic (except when Forrest outruns a napalm bombing). There's no quest and not much of a plot. And through it all he loves Jenny. Poor Jenny, who is always trying to find herself and nearly does. Available on Paramount+ and Amazon Prime Video.

50: Jaws (1975)

There are a lot of Steven Spielberg on this list and the is the first one. It was Spielberg's second feature film after The Sugarland Express. Here Spielberg honed his craft to give us thrills and chills and characters we want to like (or not). No CGI (too early) and yes, sometimes the shark looks fake. But that doesn't take away from the taut direction and frightening scenarios. And that John Williams score is amazing. On Tubi (free).

What do you think of my list? Let me know in the comments below.

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