Flick Picks from a Non-Critic

This is actually in New Mexico, but it could be from "Lawrence of Arabia."

This is actually in New Mexico, but it could be from “Lawrence of Arabia.”

[cb_profit_poster Acting]Clinton, S.C., Monday, November 25, 2013, 1:31 p.m.

Monte Dutton Who else would it be?

Monte Dutton
Who else would it be?

I’m slogging through a biography of T.E. Lawrence by Michael Asher. I bought it several years ago because “Lawrence of Arabia” is my favorite movie.

The bio is entitled Lawrence: The Uncrowned King of Arabia. It’s going to take me a while to get through it, but I’m impressed by it. Lawrence was a fascinating, complex man, and I think David Lean’s film is the best ever made.

I love movies, particularly old ones. If you don’t like “Lawrence of Arabia,” watch it on a big screen, preferably in a theater. It’s an incredible cinematic accomplishment.

I used to have a Top 10 of favorite movies, but they add up over the years and get shuffled about. I really need to put more thought into this, but since I’ve got to get this blog done so that attend to more of the day’s duties, here goes:

(1.)             Lawrence of Arabia. I doubt I’ve ever seen any actor in any movie as impressive as Peter O’Toole in this one.

(2.)            Giant. My father loved it. Elizabeth Taylor was never more beautiful. The fight scene in the diner is one of my favorites.

(3.)            Patton. Most movie dialogue that I can quote is from comedies. George C. Scott is overpowering. “I can assure you, Padre, because of my intimate relationship with the Almighty, that if you write a good prayer, we’ll have good weather!”

(4.)            Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. The worst observation on our times that I can possibly make is that when this great Frank Capra film was remade, it starred Adam Sandler in the role made famous by Gary Cooper.

(5.)            Little Big Man. Dustin Hoffman has never been better. This is sort of a Coen Brothers film that predated the Coen Brothers.

(6.)            Pulp Fiction. Maybe the all-time ensemble cast.

(7.)            Blazing Saddles. It’s hard to judge an outlandish comedy by the same standards of a Lean epic, but Mel Brooks deserves a place.

(8.)           Crazy Heart. The movie wasn’t made until about 20 years after I read Thomas Cobb’s novel. When it was over, I wept a little because Bad Blake reminded me of my old man, who never picked up a guitar in his life.

(9.)            The Grapes of Wrath. How we’ve lost as a society the sympathy for the downtrodden expressed in Steinbeck’s great novel. The cream of Henry Fonda’s impressive crop.

(10.)        True Grit. The original, by a nose. The remake is really the better movie, but I love the first better because Glen Campbell is so bad, and it amuses me. The only flaw is what I liked best. Maybe my favorite movie line is John Wayne’s: “By God, she reminds me of me.”

By the way, yes, I love “Citizen Kane,” not to mention “Casablanca,” “Bridge on the River Kwai,” “Red River,” “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “No Country for Old Men,” “Goodfellas,” “Tender Mercies,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “Stripes,” “Animal House,” “North by Northwest,” “Hoosiers,” “Pleasantville,” “Seabiscuit,” “American Beauty,” and dozens of others.

We all have our little preferences. “Fever Pitch” was just a harmless baseball movie, but the story, revolving around the 2004 Boston Red Sox, is so resonant that I could watch it once a week.

Some movies I thought were great but have little desire to watch them more than once. “Million Dollar Baby” and “Platoon” are examples.

My favorite actor may be Robert Duvall. My favorite actress was probably Katharine Hepburn. That’s a tough call, though, as I’m torn between Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, James Stewart, Fonda, Robert DeNiro and Jeff Bridges on the male side. My preference for Hepburn is clearer among women.

Occasionally, I even watch a silent movie because it’s fascinating to watch how skillful filmmakers had to be telling a story without dialogue. Mostly I like the comedies.

I think I tilt toward old movies because I admire the craftsmanship of Lean, Capra, John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock and others. Nowadays it’s possible for a bad movie to be successful because its special effects are so incredible. I marvel at the way Ford’s films were shot.

My favorite sports film is “Bang the Drum Slowly.” My favorite racing movie is “The Last American Hero.” My favorite animated (okay, semi-animated) is “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” I don’t care for horror much.

Sometimes I fantasize about having one of my novels turned into a movie, but I’ve little writing in writing screenplays. I’m still trying to master novels.

[cb_profit_poster Storytelling]

About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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8 Responses to Flick Picks from a Non-Critic

  1. Andy DeNardi says:

    I can’t remember any black & white movies as favorites. I’ve probably seen all of the major ones but it’s been so long that I don’t remember the best of them. I won’t pay for TV and stations don’t spend afternoons and weekends showing movies like they did before cable. Now it’s sitcom re-runs.

    Off the top of my head, favorites are:
    Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas – I loved that book and the movie captured it perfectly. A rare thing.

    Tidelands – A Terry Gilliam film. Very surreal and spooky but not a horror film. The type of unsettling film they used to make before slasher films became popular. Jeff Bridges is in it for a short time as well.

    American Grafitti – I love cars and my teenage years were all about cruising the main road looking for excitement. When it came out, it could have been my biography.

    Thunderball – No computer-enhanced action film will ever be as memorable to me. Of course, I’m not ten years old anymore so it would be harder to impress me anyway.

    Grand Prix – My favorite racing movie. Race cars were as beautiful and dangerous as women then. The plot was a soap opera but the cinematography was sensational. Ron Howard’s Rush is a better movie but the racing action isn’t as well done.

    No wait. I thought of something in black & white. I loved the Little Rascals and still do. And nearly everything I know about life before I was born came from Warner Brothers cartoons. They might not have all been black & white but my TV was.

  2. Bobi says:

    Sergeant York and The Unsinkable Molly Brown are my faves.

  3. Tim Peeler says:

    As good as George C. was as Patton, I believe his greatest acting performance was in my all-time favorite movie: “Dr. Strangelove.” Peter Sellers is brilliant in three different roles. And Sterling Hayden is frighteningly good. This movie is both outrageously funny, but also scary because it could happen just this way. Hope its omission from your list is just an oversight.


  4. Al Torney says:

    My favorite scene in a movie appears in Bullitt. The camera is focusing on the rear view mirror inside the Dodge Charger and the Mustang appears in the mirror. Neat.

  5. Monte says:

    It was an omission. It’s a brilliant movie. While on the NASCAR beat, I’ve often used my favorite “Dr. Strangelove” line: “There’s no fighting in the war room!”

  6. Monte says:

    I watched “Bullitt” about a month ago. I know the scene.

  7. Monte says:

    As racing movies go, I’ve always been fascinated by “Grand Prix.” “Le Mans” was the most authentic. “Winning” was the most underrated.

  8. Tim Peeler says:

    And kudos for the courage to admit that “Blazing Saddles” is a great movie. It could never be made today, in a different world of political correctness, but I think Mel Brooks was brilliant in how he tackled race in that movie. And my all-time favorite line in a movie is “Somebody better go back and get a shitload of dimes.”

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