Last night, The American Film Institute did a thing on TV about the best 100 movies of all time. They do this every decade, updating the list, and I'm surprised to say, I'm enough of a movie geek I remember watching the last time they did this, and I remember the time before THAT, a friend had cut the list out of a magazine and we all read through it and argued over the chocies.
Apparently I'm something of a movie buff. This is kind of news to me; I'm more about books, I thought.
The American Film Institute exists, I was told last night, to forward the idea of movies as art. After more than a hundred years of moviemaking, I'd thought that question had been settled in the affirmative and the discussion was over. But then I'm the person who thinks the Chrysler Building is art, too, so what do I know? At any rate, it's a group of artistes, often with their noses in the air, discussing Great Movies while you roll your eyes.
I recorded the entire three hour show on the DVR, but switched over and watched the top ten live as they unveiled them. (This was not an edge-of-my-seat thing, more an eye-rolling thing while I was knitting.) Without further ado, here is AFI's top ten greatest movies of all time.
1. Citizen Kane, 1941 (unchanged for the three decades I've been paying attention)
2. The Godfather, 1972 (sure, it's a good movie, but SECOND?? OF ALL TIME???)
3. Casablanca, 1942 ('the greatest movie romance of all time' they said; 'quit smoking crack', I said)
4. Raging Bull, 1980
5. Singing in the Rain, 1952 (Gene Kelly dancing probably belongs in the top 10)
6. Gone With the Wind, 1939 (Scarlett, you bitch)
7. Lawrence of Arabia, 1962 (LawRENCE, LawRECNE, LawRENCE)
8. Schindler's List, 1993 (good choice on this one, should be higher)
9. Vertigo, 1958 (Hitchcock should be on the top 10 for sure, not positive this is the one, though, what about North by Northwest?)
10. Wizard of Oz, 1939
See something missing? Me too. No comedies. NONE. You telling me a good comedy hasn't been made in the last HUNDRED YEARS that can hold up against that group? No Abbot and Costello, no Bing and Bob, no screwball comedies, no Monty Python, nobody? Nothing? No laughs? Two musicals, a lameass romance, or three, but no comedy?
I hadn't realized art was such serious business.
In fact, now that I've gone through all kinds of horrors with AFI (setting up an account, logging in to the web site, and then having their idiotic .pdf file crash my computer - they can't list a hundred fuckin' movies on a regular old web page?) I've now looked at the list of all 100 movies, and there are only seven comedies on the entire list. Three of those are social commentaries disguised as comedy (Dr. Strangelove, MASH, and Tootsie), and two of them are Marx Brothers. While I am a HUGE fan of the Marx Brothers, I don't see why two of their movies were included at the loss of all the other classic comedy teams that crossed over from vaudeville. Can you say Abbot and Costello Meet the Mummy?
Here's the full list of comedies in the top 100 - I've actually seen them all, which also makes me suspicious. I'm not the Great Movies type, and I'm positive there's a lot of great stuff out there I've never seen, particularly if it was made before 1985.
22. Some Like it Hot - Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis. This is the one where the guys go in drag for most of the movie.
35. Annie Hall. A Woody Allen production. Way too neurotic for me. And I didn't think it was that funny. But other people say it's a comedy, so whatever.
39. Dr. Strangelove. I don't care how fucked up and funny this movie is, it's not a comedy, it's a satire and social commentary. And it was good. But it ain't comedy.
54. MASH. Ditto from above. This is a movie about the horrors of war, even if it is funny and listed as a comedy.
60. Duck Soup. The Marx Brothers. Grouch Marx is declared dictator or king or whatever of a small, bankrupt nation. People have been mining this movie for ideas for 80 years.
69. Tootsie. Funny as hell in some places, but it's still social commentary, I don't care how funny the scene is where he declares he's a man, on camera.
85. A Night at the Opera. More Marx brothers. I've always wondered if this movie is where The Producers got the idea from (using the theater biz to fleece people), and now that I've looked at the dates, I think it's highly likely. (Opera was made in 1939, Producers in 1968. Entirely possible.)
That's it. No more comedy. So remember, if you're creating art, you better be serious. (Oh, geez.) No laughs, no fun, no approachability, and we're back to hanging art on church walls and playing it on pipe organs. Those idiots.
Oh, and Lord of the Rings? Fellowship of the Ring came in at #50. The other two aren't listed at all. There are almost no post-1977 blockbusters listed. Fellowship, Star Wars (number 13, I think), and Raiders of the Lost Ark (in the eighties?) were the only three I remember seeing. So if you're making art, it better not be popular, either.
Lists like this give art a bad name. I'm thinking I should get the baby's Nerf balls and have them on hand for the hubby to throw at the TV, when we watch this show.
All night, I knit away on my pinwheel jacket. The yarn is (I think) six strands of mercerized cotton and the twist hasn't been set hardly at all, not with sizing or with steam or anything else. So it's going slower than it could, and when I get tired, the yarn splits horribly. I love the finished fabric enough to persevere, but for those of you who hate that kind of thing, you might wanna stay away from this yarn (Lara, from Elann). This is how much I had done when I gave up and went to bed last night:
I'm doing the provisional cast-on thing, then going back and finishing the center like the top of a hat. And since this is the state fair entry, the yarn joins have to be invisible, which means going through my technique books to remind myself how to splice yarn. (At least the splittiness will work in my favor, then.) I hate splicing yarn. Wah.