Another story involving privates and death: the unfortunate demise of Kung Fu

It’s a cliché.  Mothers encourage their children to make sure they have clean underwear on.  Why?  Because, you don’t want someone to see your dirty underwear if you get into an accident. 

Of course, mothers do not say this because they want to keep you from being embarrassed.  If you are in a car accident the force of which rips your pants right off of you, exposing your dirty underwear, you are probably not in a position to worry about how bright and white they are at that point.  In fact, if you see it coming, you’ll probably carpet bomb your boxers anyway.

The point is: your mom’s not worried about how this stuff will affect you, she’s worried about what other people will think about her.  But, in the end she’s right.  You should not embarrass your mother or anyone else who knows you by having the world exposed to your dirty underwear.

I guess it’s pretty obvious at this point that David Carradine’s mother never had this conversation with him.

Yesterday, it was reported that Carradine was found hanged in a hotel room in Bangkok.   This in itself immediately throws up a red flag.  At one point, it was reported that it was a homicide.  Then, later it was reported as a suicide.  At the end of the day, I saw a report that he was also found nude.  Nude…, hanging…, Thailand….  You knew at that point it was going to be sordid.

So, today we awoke with a start to find out that he was found nude in a closet with shoelaces tied around the closet rod, his neck, and his penis…alone.  [shudder]  This is never good.

The world will never be able to hear the phrase, “Snatch the pebble from my hand” without giggling again.

The Foxnews story doesn’t get any better.  Several things in it caught me as interesting.  First, the name of police spokesman who commented on the case was Lt. Gen. Worapong Chewprecha.  Greatest name ever.

The second odd thing was the options given as a cause of death.  “The two ropes were tied together,” he said. “It is unclear whether he committed suicide or not or he died of suffocation or heart failure due to an orgasm.”  I’ll bet Carradine’s mother would not choose the oragasm option.

I found the following quote interesting.  “All we can say is, we know David would never have committed suicide,” said Tiffany Smith, of Binder & Associates, his management company. “We’re just waiting for them to finish the investigation and find out what really happened. He really appreciated everything life has to give … and that’s not something David would ever do to himself.”  I think the obvious question at this point is; Is anyone in a position claim to know what motivated Carradine and what he was capable of ‘doing to himself’ at this point?

Finally, he was 72.  I guess if people are going to continue to prove that they are incapable of knowing when its time to leave their privates alone, we will have to legislate the point at which the privates are no longer allowed to be used for sexual functions.

In a related story, residents of Conisbrough, South Yorkshire, England in a failed attempt to balance to karmic implications of the Carradine imbroglio have changed the name of Butt Hole Road to Archers Way.

American Idol Results Show Top Seven Wednesday, April 15, 2009 Season 8

Find my latest American Idol article here.

The group song tonight was Maniac, and it was obvious that they were lip-synching again.  It even sounded like they had enhanced the sound by adding extra vocal tracks.  With the justification that the Idol producers have used for this so far, I wonder if they will keep doing it when they go on tour.  It’s the same thing.

I try to ignore all of the product placement and cross-promotion on the show, but they waste an incredible amount of my time doing it.

Jennifer Hudson was the first musical guest this evening.  Compared with some of the other tripe they have been rolling out on the Idol stage in recent weeks, she was great.  It was not my favorite style of music, but I would not turn it off if it was playing on the radio.  I cannot say as much for Lady Gaga or Flo Rida.

Miley Cyrus was the next musical guest.  It started better than any of the non-idol related guests that they have had in weeks.  It sounded very country which was good, but she had some big diction issues and sounded pretty nasally on the chorus.  I will take this over most of the other guests that they have foisted on us lately.

I was surprised to see that Allison was not in the bottom three, not because she did badly, but because her song was a little boring, and there were so many other contestants that did well last night.  I was even more surprised to see Anoop in the bottom three.  He was very good last night.  No one was surprised to see Lil in the bottom three.  Finally, I was expecting Matt to be in the bottom three, but at this point it was just a numbers thing.  Anoop got to sit down first, as it should have been.  I was surprised and saddened to see Lil stay and see Matt told that he had the least votes.

However, I did not think that they should have used the save on him.  The save, as I understand it was intended to right a wrong, and save a contestant that had a chance of winning the competition.  Matt was not this.  Simon said so, but the hens (Paula and Kara) were cackling and soon it was clear that they would be using the save.

I told a friend earlier this week that I believed that judges would use their save no matter what happened just because they had one regardless of the viewer’s vote even if the contestants were voted off the show in the order that they should have been.  Nothing good will come of this, mark my words.  Now there is almost a thirty percent chance that one of the really good contestants will go home next week, and next week is disco week.  Pathetic.

Top 100 Movie Characters of all Time

I have a friend who recently posted a list from a website calling itself ‘Premier’ that named ‘The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.’  He was shocked and appalled that Darth Vader was languishing at #84 on the list below such spares as Private Benjamin, Doctor Evil, The Dude, and a host of others.  While I agreed that this was a travesty, I quickly noticed a few notable absences from the list, and the more I looked the more great characters were simply missing from the list, while others, such as Gollum were inexplicably placed near the top of the list.

This is where the obsessive compulsive part of my personality kicked in.  I began to look at their list with a more critical eye.  The fist thing I noticed was that some of the characters seemed to be shoe-horned into the list, and often these characters were female.  I’m not trying to say that there are no great female characters in movie history, but it may be a fair indictment to accuse the industry for not writing strong female roles, especially in the early years of cinema, and perhaps just as much today.  This may well be the case, but I don’t think the cure for it is to falsely elevate existing female roles above their actual station as ir appears that Premier did (Bonnie from Bonnie and Clyde and Private Benjamin a two good examples).

I further fed my obsession by attempting to think if all the good characters that they left off their list.  I came up with another 109 examples, some more strong than others and quite a few whose omissions were simply egregious.  Then, I sat down with all 209 names and made my own Top 100 Movie Characters of all Time list.  The biggest deficiency of my list is the fact that I have not seen all of the old classics (though I am currently on a classic movie binge).  Characters like Fred C. Dobbs of Treasure of the Sierra Madre and a few others may suffer unfairly because of this, but I have no regrets about leaving a character like Ninotchka off the list because I, my family and my friends have never heard of her (shoe-horned). 

I tried to take several things into account.  How well the character endures, how much effect the character has had on popular culture, the importance of the character and whether that role or the movie it was associated with received awards while it was out.  Accepting the possible shortcomings and the obvious advantages of my list, I am putting it out, and still argue that it is much better than the list provided by Premier.  Enjoy.

1. Don Michael Corleone of The Godfather: Part II

2. Charles Foster Kane of Citizen Kane

3. Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird

4. Scarlett O’Hara of Gone With the Wind

5. Indiana Jones of Raiders of the Lost Ark

6. William Wallace of Braveheart

7. Darth Vader of Star Wars

8. Hannibal Lecter of The Silence of the Lambs

9. Robin Hood of The Adventures of Robin Hood

10. Dorothy Gale of The Wizard of Oz

11. Rick Blaine of Casablanca

12. Oskar Schindler of Schindler’s List

13. General George S. Patton of Patton

14. Captain William Bligh of Mutiny on the Bounty

15. Maximus Decimus Meridius of Gladiator

16. Cool Hand Luke of Cool Hand Luke

17. Shane of Shane

18. Marshall Will Kane of High Noon

19. George Bailey of It’s a Wonderful Life

20. Vito Corleone of The Godfather

21. Tom Joad of The Grapes of Wrath

22. Moses of the Ten Commandments

23. James Bond of Dr. No

24. Andy Dufresne of The Shawshank Redemption

25. Jake La Motta of Raging Bull

26. Forrest Gump of Forrest Gump

27. Sparticus of Sparticus

28. Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

29. Doc Holiday of Tombstone

30. Jefferson Smith of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

31. T.E. Lawrence of Lawrence of Arabia

32. Ben Hur of Ben Hur

33. Jim Stark of Rebel Without a Cause

34. Rooster Cogburn of True Grit

35. E.T. of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

36. Batman of Batman

37. Randle McMurphy of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

38. Frankenstein of Frankenstein

39. Spock of Star Trek

40. Spiderman of Spiderman

41. Dracula of Dracula

42. Superman of Superman

43. Harry Potter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

44. Gordon Gekko of Wall Street

45. Navin Johnson of The Jerk

46. Norman Bates of Psycho

47. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman of Full Metal Jacket

48. Karl Childers of Sling Blade

49. Butch Cassidy of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

50. Dirty Harry Callahan of Dirty Harry

51. Ferris Bueller of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

52. George Taylor of Planet of the Apes

53. Daniel E. ‘Rudy’ Ruettiger of Rudy

54. Jeff Spicoli of Fast Times at Ridgemont High

55. Tarzan of Tarzan the Ape Man

56. Jake Blues of The Blues Brothers

57. John Rambo of First Blood

58. Captain Quint of Jaws

59. King Kong of King Kong

60. Willy Wonka of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

61. Mary Poppins of Mary Poppins

62. The Terminator of The Terminator

63. Jules Winnfield of Pulp Fiction

64. Mrs. Robinson of The Graduate

65. Rocky Balboa of Rocky

66. Tommy DeVito of GoodFellas

67. Raymond Babbitt of Rain Man

68. King Arthur of Camelot/Excalibur

69. Annie Wilkes of Misery

70. John McClane of Die Hard

71. Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley of An Officer and a Gentleman

72. Lt. Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell of Top Gun

73. Mad Max Rockatansky of Mad Max

74. Sandy Olsson of Grease

75. John “Bluto” Blutarsky of Animal House

76. Jack Torrance of The Shining

77. Baronin Maria von Trapp of The Sound of Music

78. Hedley Lamar of Blazing Saddles

79. William Cutting of Gangs of New York

80. Freddy Krueger of A Nightmare on Elm Street

81. Ralphie Parker of A Christmas Story

82. Max Cady of Cape Fear

83. Regan MacNeil of The Exorcist

84. Jason of Friday the 13th

85. Mrs. Doubtfire of Mrs Doubtfire

86. Carrie White of Carrie

87. Carl Spackler of Caddyshack

88. Captain Marko Ramius of The Hunt for Red October

89. Captain Hook of Peter Pan

90. Norma Rae of Norma Rae

91. Mona Lisa Vito of My Cousin Vinny

92. Sally Albright of When Harry Met Sally

93. Marge Gunderson of Fargo

94. Sergeant Martin Riggs of Lethal Weapon

95. Crash Davis of Bull Durham

96. Marty McFly of Back to the Future

97. Inigo Montoya of The Princess Bride

98. Bo ‘Bandit’ Darville of Smokey and the Bandit

99. Lane Meyer of Better Off Dead

100. Curly Washburn of City Slickers

 

Just to prove that I did my homework, here are the other 109 that were considered, but did not make the list in alphabetical order (my friend hates it when I do this):

 

Frank Abignale Jr. of Catch Me If You Can

Gust Avrakotos of Charlie Wilson’s War

Arthur Bach of Arthur

Howard Beale of Network

Hans Beckert of M

Judy Benjamin of Private Benjamin

Travis Bickle of Taxi Driver

Blondie of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Frank Booth of Blue Velvet

Borat of Borat

Erin Brockovich of Erin Brockovich

Oda Mae Brown of Ghost

Truman Burbank of The Truman Show

Truman Capote of Capote

Chance the Gardener of Being There

Margo Channing of All About Eve

Inspector Clouseau of The Pink Panther

Conan of Conan the Barbarian

Frank Costello of The Departed

Jane Craig of Broadcast News

Paul Crewe of The Longest Yard

David Crockett of The Alamo

Melanie Daniels of The Birds

Daphne/Jerry of Some Like it Hot

Donnie Darko of Donnie Darko

Rick Deckard of Blade Runner

Alex DeLarge of A Clockwork Orange

Norma Desmond of Sunset Boulevard

Phyliss Dietrichson of Double Indemnity

Dil of The Crying Game

Fred C. Dobbs of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Lloyd Dobler of Say Anything

Antoine Doinel of The 400 Blow

Michael Dorsey/Dorthy Michaels of Tootsie

The Dude of The Big Lebowski

Lt. John J. Dunbar of Dances With Wolves

Napoleon Dynamite of Napoleon Dynamite

Wyatt Earp of Gunfight at the OK Corral

Eathan Edwards of The Searchers

Sergeant Elias of Platoon

Dr. Evil of Austin Powers

Irwin ‘Fletch’ Fletcher of Fletch

Gaylord ‘Greg’ Focker of Meet the Parents

Fogell or ‘McLovin’ of Superbad

Axel Foley of Beverly Hills Cop

Alex Forrest of Fatal Attraction

Gandalf Of The Lord of The Rings The Fellowship of the Rings

Ghandi of Ghandi

Happy Gilmore of Happy Gilmore

Jake Gittes of Chinatown

Godzilla of Godzilla

Holly Golightly of Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Gollum of Lord of the Rings

Joel Goodson of Risky Business

Aurora Greenway of Terms of Endearment

Clark Griswold of Vacation

Annie Hall of Annie Hall

Hawkeye (Nathaniel Poe) of The Last of the Mohicans

Pee Wee Herman of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

Sherlock Holmes of The Hound of the Baskervilles

J.J. Hunsecker of Sweet Smell of Success

Mrs. Iselin of The Manchurian Candidate

Paul Kersey of Deathwish

Lt. Kilgore of Apocalypse Now

Ray Kinsella of Field of Dreams

Roger “Verbal” Kint of The Usual Suspects

Stanley Kowalski of A Streetcar Named Desire

Eric Liddell of Chariots of Fire

Harry Lime of The Third Man

The Little Tramp of Mabel’s Strange Predicament

Logan 5 of Logan’s Run

Jerry Maguire of Jerry Maguire

John Malkovich of Being John Malkovich

Terry Malloy of On the Waterfront

Jim Malone of The Untouchables

Tony Manero of Saturday Night Fever

Kevin McCallister of Home Alone

Tony Montana of Scarface

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart of Amadeus

John Nash of A Beautiful Mind

Captain Marc Nemo of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Ninotchka of Ninotchka

Danny Ocean of Ocean’s Eleven

Henri ‘Papillon’ Charriere of Papillon

Bonnie Parker of Bonnie and Clyde

Rev. Harry Powell of The Night of the Hunter

Tom Powers of The Public Enemy

Miranda Priestly of The Devil Wears Prada

Buford Pusser of Walking Tall

Matthew Quigley of Quigley Down Under

Jessica Rabbit of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Ellen Ripley of Alien

Ratso Rizzo of Midnight Cowboy

Rose Sayer of The African Queen

Ebenezer Scrooge of A Christmas Carol

Edward Scissorhands of Edward Scissorhands

John Shaft of Shaft

Han Solo of Star Wars

Sam Spade of The Maltese Falcon

Steve Stiffler of American Pie

Willard Stiles of Willard

Dr. Strangelove of Dr. Strangelove

Alan Swann of My Favorite Year

Catherine Tramell of Basic Instinct

Virgil Tibbs of In the Heat of the Night

Susan Vance of Bringing up Baby

Dr. Peter Venkman of Ghostbusters

Ace Ventura of Ace Ventura,: Pet Detective

Vivian Ward of Pretty Woman

A tribute to Ricardo Montallban

Khan!

 

 

Dating Disasters

Analytical guys, like me, often do not have a lot of luck in the dating scene while they are growing up.  Females are a mystery, the ultimate ‘x’ in any equation.  The more you evaluate the possibilities, the more frightening they become.  Most of the time, I would simply procrastinate in asking-out a girl that I liked until she was no longer available.

That being said, I did actually get up the courage to ask several girls out while I was in high school, and surprisingly some of the young ladies actually said yes, even though I am sure I was visibly shaking when I asked, and made a hasty retreat once they said, “Yes” because I had not planned for what to do if they actually responded positively.  Once these girls had accepted my offer, there was the obvious panic of what to actually do on the date.  This required extensive planning, but was usually curtailed by my financial realities.

There are four particular dating disasters that occurred before I finally was able to get married and free myself from this continual torture.  The first was my first real date.  I had met a shy and very pretty girl at church.  She was blond and had a nice body also.  I decided that the best way to trick her into going out with me was to incorporate her love for her God into a date with myself (genius).  So, I asked her out to a Christian concert (obviously, I had no thoughts of ‘making a move’ on this date).

I picked her up in plenty of time to go see the ‘Carry the Light’ tour at Reunion Arena in Dallas.  I was driving a 1977 Cougar, and it was a ‘boat.’  I picked her up, and she looked nice.  We went to eat dinner, and then got onto I-35 heading south.  Almost immediately, I realized that I had made a tactical error.  I-35 was going through a makeover where there were machines eating about a foot of back-top off of the road in order to get to the old concrete.  Eventually, the highway department put a nice new concrete road in, but on this day, the project was still a work in progress.  Even though I was traveling against the flow of traffic, it was awful.  I was literally inching along and the 90 degree plus weather quickly took a toll on my ten year old car.  Soon, the gauges on my dash were informing me that my engine was overheating.  So, after apologizing, I turned the air conditioner off, and asked her to roll down her window.  Later, I actually turned the heater on for a minute in the hope that this would help dissipate the hot air from the engine compartment.  I’m sure she was loving all of this, but the car was making it.

We made it all the way to the point where cars were attempting to get into the parking lot.  It was stop-and-go once again, only this time there were three lanes of traffic trying to get up a hill into the parking lot.  This was simply too much for the Cougar, and it died.  As I sat there in the center lane wondering what to do, a bus hit the back of my car (no kidding) while trying to get around me.  Defeat.

Eventually, the nice policeman who was directing traffic into the parking lot decided something had to be done.  He stopped traffic and allowed me to push my car backward across the intersection, and up against a curb (facing the wrong way on a one-way street).

I, however, would not admit defeat so easily.  We walked the rest of the way to the arena, and I was sure that I would never see my car again.  I called my dad collect on the way into the venue, and told him of my dilemma.  He told me to enjoy the show, and meet him near the end so that he could help me with my car.

I do not remember a lot about the show other than a guy playing classical guitar with his feet (amazing).  I do not remember that we said two words to one another, and before the end of the show, we left to find my dad who had already shown-up and put water in my radiator for me.

This is when the one good thing in the whole evening occurred.  The nice policeman who had helped me park my car, had come back after I left and had written a personal note on the back of his card asking other officers who might happen by not to give me a ticket of have my car towed.

After getting my car restarted, I drove her home in complete defeat.  I never asked her out again, and I really don’t remember talking to her much after that.  She did not seem to mind.

Another dating disaster occurred about a year later.  I had gone out with a girl to help her to feel better after she had had a bad breakup…, big mistake!  She formed some sort of quick attachment to me, but the truth was that I was infatuated with her best friend.  I really liked her friend a lot, and she was probably my first real crush.  She was a short, cute brunette who had a very nice body.  She did have a glass eye (hardly noticeable), but that did not bother me at all.

I finally got the nerve to ask her out, and she agreed to go to dinner and a movie with me.  We went to a decent restaurant and then set off for the theatre.  I chose a terrible John Candy movie called Summer Rental.  Oh, if he’d only died before he made this abomination.  The movie was bad enough, but I once again made a tactical error.  I had planned to ‘make a move,’ and put my arm around her during the movie, but as we went to sit down, I realized that I had entered the row on her left, The Side With Her Bad Eye!  This froze me.  I kept wanting to put my arm around her, but in my mind, I kept seeing her jump or even scream as she wondered if a rat or something worse were crawling across her shoulder.  For the most part, I sat in paralyzed frustration for the rest of the movie.

After the movie, I took her home, and actually worked up the courage to go for the ‘good night kiss.’  This worked out for me, and she later said that she would go to the Homecoming Dance with me.  However, her friend felt some sort of a betrayal in the fact that the two of us had gone out, and began to treat us both badly.  A couple of weeks later, I got a note from her explaining that she wanted to be the other girl’s friend more than she wanted to be my boyfriend.  Defeat.

Later, in college, I had determined to get more dates.  I asked out the girl that eventually became my wife.  I remember meeting her that week because there was about a foot of snow on the ground, and this was very unusual for Shawnee, OK where I went to school.  I asked her to go see Rain Man which was big at the theatre, and it turned out to be a good date movie, for once.  The main problem I had with this particular date occurred early in the day, as I went out to my car (the Nova, pronounced ‘No-Vah”- Spanish for ‘it does not go’).  I walked up to the car, and saw that my right front tire was completely on the ground beneath the snow, so I decided to change the tire in a foot of snow.  I was wearing jeans which were by no means waterproof, but they were the best thing that I had for the job.  I lay down and scooped out the snow from behind the tire and up under it so that the jack would fit under the axel.  I got the car jacked up, and then realized to my horror that the wheel was frozen to the axel.  Oh…F…u…d…g…e!  But, I didn’t say ‘fudge.’  I then found a hammer in my trunk and actually tried to beat the tire off of the axel for several minutes with no luck (this seemed kind of dangerous).  I finally lowered the jack, put the car in gear, and felt the wheel break free of the axel.  I was then able to change the tire after jacking the car back up.  When I was finished, I swear that I could have stood my frozen jeans up against the wall.  The date that night, however, went well.  The same could not be said for our next movie date.  It should be noted that my wife (who I was dating at the time) had led a somewhat sheltered life up to that point in a small town in Western Oklahoma.  Her family never really went to the movies, and most of their television watching involved The Waltons or Little House on the Prairie.  I, on the other hand, considered myself to be a man of the world.  I saw most of the big movies every year, and tried to see most movies that were nominated for Academy Awards.  That year, there was a movie that was getting a lot of Oscar buzz, and so we decided upon my recommendation to go see… The Accused.  I remember feeling sort of dizzy the first time they went through the rape scene, and then looking over to see the horror on my date’s face.  You would think that showing the same violent rape five or six times from different points of view in a movie would desensitize the viewer to some degree.  This, however, was very much not the case.  I probably should have just left, but a familiar paralyzing fear had me in its icy grip.

The only good move that I made that night was when I reached over and hugged my future wife to me, burying her head to protect her from having to see the violence one more time.  Suffice it to say. The Accused IS NOT A GOOD DATE MOVIE!  In the end, I guess it all worked out for me because she said, “Yes” when I asked her to marry me later (no, not that night).  I guess at that point she was just too frightened to say, “No.”

 

Top 20 Animated Christmas Features

Some of my earliest memories involve watching that great animated Christmas specials year after year.  Somehow, it just would not seem like Christmas without Rudolph, Frosty, Santa Claus and the Grinch.  So, I decided to put together a list of the great holiday animated specials.  I came up with 19, so that will have to suffice.

 

19. Rudolph’s Shiny New Year- This one, of course, is not about Christmas, but it has Rudolph in it.

18. Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol- This is a decent retelling of the old Dickens classic with Mr. Magoo in the role of the Scrooge.

17. Garfield Christmas- Time Waste. 

16. Olive, the other Reindeer- Nice effort.

15. A Wish for Wings That Work- I’m a big Bloom County fan, and you will find a lot of Bill and Opus in this.

14. Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas- very cute.

13. Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey- Not terrible.

12. Bugs Bunny’s Christmas Carol- Another decent retelling of the Dickens classic.

11. Mickey’s Christmas Carol- Yet another decent retelling of the Dickens classic.

10. Frosty Returns- The second of the Frosty series, and not nearly as good as the first.

9. The Polar Express- A very good movie, but it is still a little new to place too high on the list.

8. The Year Without a Santa Claus- A classic story about a year when Santa was did not come to town.

7. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas- Cute rendition of the classic story.

6. Santa Claus is Coming to Town- Classic that explores the Origins of Santa Claus.

5. A Charlie Brown Christmas- The Peanuts classic about a group of kids that try put on a Christmas program with a tiny little tree.

4. Frosty the Snowman- Classic story of a snowman that comes to life by magic.

3. The Little Drummer Boy- One of the greatest Christmas tales ever told that is centered on the birth of Christ.  This story gives all parents the opportunity to explain to their children where the little drummer boy is when they see a nativity.

2. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer- It is a close call between #1 and #2.  It does not get much better than Rudolph.

1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas- A truly great Christmas tale in which a grumpy guy finds redemption through the Christmas spirit of others.

 

Here is an amazing site that has a lot of links to these specials and others.

Top 10 Live-Action Christmas Movies

I decided that I would put together a list of great Christmas movies, but I quickly realized that I have some serious deficiencies in my knowledge of Christmas movies.  So, I decided to make a list of my top 10 favorite Christmas movies.  I did not include animated films or specials except for The Polar Express (which did not make my top 10 anyway).  After the top ten, I included a list of other Christmas movies that I have seen (most of which I actually like), and finally I included a list of Christmas movies that I have not seen, but probably should see.  This Christmas season, I will make an effort to see several of the movies that I have somehow missed in my life, and see if they deserve to crack the top 10.

10. Muppet Family Christmas- The Muppets just seem to go with Christmas.

9. The Nativity Story- This movie makes it because it is important to remember the reason for the season, and it was not a bad attempt to tell the story.

8. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation- Perhaps the most underrated of the live action Christmas movies with the most enjoyable appearance by the Griswold family since the original.  I really enjoyed it.

7. Elf- Underrated as a Christmas movie and a Wil Farrell film, this is a very enjoyable Christmas tale.

6. The Grinch- This film could easily have been a disappointment.  It would have been hard to improve upon the original animated version of the Dr. Suess classic.  However, Jim Carey is great as the Grinch, and he carries the film very well.

5. White Christmas- This deserves to be in the top 10 if only for the title song which is the best Christmas song of all time even though it is not the first time it was sung on film.

4. Miracle on 34th Street- A nice Christmas classic about believing in Santa Claus.  Greatness.

3. A Christmas Carol- There are a host of versions of the great Dickens tale out there, and most of them are very good.  The story keeps it at the top of my list.

2. A Christmas Story- Honestly, I enjoy watching this film more than any on the list.  I watch it every year a couple of times on TNT, and it is one of my favorite comedies regardless of the fact that it is a Holiday movie.  I have most of the dialogue memorized.

1. It’s a Wonderful Life- To have put A Christmas Story above this movie would have just been wrong.  This movie has become an American icon of the Christmas season, and it deserves to hold the top spot.

 

The movies below are other Christmas films that I have seen, and may have enjoyed.  The ones toward the bottom I liked less.

The Polar Express

Scrooge

Scrooged

The Muppet Christmas Carol

The Sound of Music

Ernest Saves Christmas

Bad Santa

The Santa Claus

Santa Clause 2

Babes in Toyland

The Christmas Shoes

Home Alone

Jingle All the Way

The Ref

Very Brady Christmas 

Christmas with the Kranks

Jack Frost

 

The following is a list of films that I have not seen but probably need to see (except for Black Christmas).

Holiday Inn

Preacher’s Wife

The Man Who Came to Dinner

Christmas in Connecticut

Black Christmas

Mary Christmas

Christmas Comes to Willow Creek

Home for the Holidays

A Holiday to Remember

The Bells of St. Mary’s

I’ll Be Home for Christmas

The Bishop’s Wife

The Christmas Box

Meet Me in St. Louis

Surviving Christmas

The Man Who Saved Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

Top 50 War Movies (criteria)

When I decided recently to rank my favorite war movies, I went on the internet to see what was out there.  I found lots of lists of movies, but most of them were bad.  They were either done by an outfit looking to get people to purchase the movies from them, or they were done by people who do not know what a war movie is.

Almost every list I looked at included many movies that simply are not war movies.  Gone With the Wind, Schindler’s List, Hotel Rawanda, The African Queen, Forrest Gump, and Casablanca may be movies that took place in a time of war, and whose plots were heavily influenced by war, but they are simply not war movies.  And, I am not intending to take anything away from the greatness of these movies.  I also realize that I am splitting hairs including some movies and not including others, but I have to draw the line somewhere. 

Note: Even though they are some of my favorite movies, Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings are not war movies, and any list of war movies that includes them should be disregarded.  I also did not include Ken Burn’s two masterpieces The Civil War and The War because they are simply not movies in the same sense that the other films included in this list are.

One regret that I discovered as I compiled this list is the amount of history changing wars and events that have never been addresses in film.  I loved Gladiator, but it is sad when this movie is the best historical depiction of a Roman Legion on film.  Where is a great film that deals with the Indian Wars?  And the amount of material covering Napoleon and the American Revolution is shamefully light.

I have to make an admission.  I have not seen every war movie ever made, and I do not intend to do so.  There are also several war movies that I have seen, but cannot remember well enough to comment upon.  In both cases, these movies were not included in my list.

That all being said, I took it upon myself to come up with my list of great war movies.  I tried to make it a top 50 list, but only came up with 45.  You can supply you own additional five to the list if you would like as long as it does not include Pearl Harbor, 300 or Alexander (I just threw up in my mouth).

I attempted to be objective as I compiled the list and came up with a grading system which I found useful.  The ten criteria that I used to judge these films were:

1) Acting and Script– A good movie of any genre has a good script and good acting.

2) Effects and battle scenes– I was forgiving when it came to this category due to the time in which the film was made.  There was a point where the best effect available was a toy boat in a pool of water.  I understand that, but I do expect the maker of the film to at least attempt to recreate the battle scenes.  Movies with large battle sequences and graphically accurate depictions of warfare tended to score high in this category.  I thought that POW camps could be considered an essential part of war, so I included these movies in this list, but movies like Stalag 17 and The Great Escape suffered in the effects/battle scenes category.

3) Importance– In this category, the film was judged on the importance of the subject matter.  Patton, for instance scored very high because he was a seminal figure in the European theatre.  Tora! Tora! Tora! also scored well because it told the story of one of the most important battles in World War II

4) Message– I find that many good war movies have a message in them.  The Bridge on the Rivier Kwai, Gallipoli, and Braveheart are good examples of this.

5) Accuracy– Accuracy is a must in a good war movie.  Nothing hurts my brain more than a director who sacrifices accuracy in order to tell the story the way they want to. Saving Private Ryan lost a couple of points here simply because it is a fiction.  It, however, still scored well because it depicted the war well in general and the battles that the central figures were supposed to be in so accurately.  The Last of the Mohicans, however, did not do as well because even though the battle scenes were done well, the director unnecessarily changed the story up so much from the book, that it was hardly even recognizable any more even though in the end it was a compelling film.  Anachronisms are always a problem.  Fortunately, most of these films do not suffer greatly from this.

6) Epic Quality– I love a good epic, and no genre lends itself more to the epic than war movies.

7) Score– One of the most unobserved but pleasingly essential aspects of a great war movie is a great score.  I’ll have to be honest, I could not remember the scores of some of these movies.  If I could not, I gave them a five in order to be fair, but I thought the fact that I could not remember it, said something.  I definitely remember great scores such as those in Gettysburg, Glory, Braveheart, The Great Escape and Master and Commander among others.

8 ) Scope– Was the subject covered well enough?  Being a complete work of fiction, including the battle itself hurt a movie like the Guns of Navarone in this category.  The Longest Day, on the other hand, covered the subject of D-Day so well, that it would be hard to outdo it.

9) Star Quality– A good war movie usually has great actors in it.  Some movies did well because they had a superstar in the lead role.  Others did well because of the ensemble in the film.

10) Patriotism– I think a good war movie usually leaves the viewer with patriotic feelings.  Movies that depict the military as evil, stupid or apathetic to the plight of soldiers suffered in this category.  These included Gallipoli, Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and Full Metal Jacket.

I hope you enjoy the list, and feel free to comment and disagree (tastefully) with anything I say.  Also, if there are any egregious omissions, please feel free to remind me.  Enjoy.

I also want to say that I like almost all of these movies, and am somewhat splitting hairs with this list.  If there was no redeeming quality in the movie (Pearl Harbor, for example), it would not be in the list in the first place.  I think it is fair to say that every movie in the top 25 of this list is a great movie.

Top 50 War Movies Criteria

Top 50 War Movies 10-1

Top 50 War Movies 20-11

Top 50 War Movies 30-21

Top 50 War Movies 40-31

Top 50 War Movies 45-41

Lists

Top 50 War Movies #45-41

45) The Guns Of Navarone– (Score 46/100)-  I like the movie, as a movie, but there are no real ‘battle’ scenes in it.  It is also a complete work of fiction, and the effects are poor even for the time that it was made.

44) Kelly’s Heroes– (49/100)- I almost left 44 and 45 off the list because they are fictions and contain so little historical truths.  The Dirty Dozen was not included in the list, but it belongs right here with 44 and 45 for the same reasons.  There are also several anachronisms in this particular film.

43) Letters From Iwo Jima (57/100)-  The main problem with this movie as a war movie is its main point.  I know that Eastwood was showing the Japanese point of view with the movie, but that is really the problem that I have with it.  It is simply too different from what I expect in a war movie.

42) The Wild Geese– (57/100)-  This film is generally underrated as a war film.  Its unique depiction of 20th century European imperialism and mercenary attitudes in post WWII Africa is good, and the battle depictions and acting are not terrible.

41) The Battle of the River Plate – (58/100)-  This movie recounts the events that led to the scuttling of the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee.  This is one instance in which the actual historical events surrounding the plot help propel a movie that does not have great effects or acting to the point where it is at least watchable.

Top 50 War Movies Criteria

Top 50 War Movies 10-1

Top 50 War Movies 20-11

Top 50 War Movies 30-21

Top 50 War Movies 40-31

Top 50 War Movies 45-41

Lists

 

Top 50 War Movies #40-31

40) Full Metal Jacket– (58/100)- This is not one of my favorite war movies, but on most of the lists I saw, it scored consistently in the top 10.  I honestly thought that I would have it higher, but here it is at number 40.  The movie suffers from what I call “Stripes Syndrome.”  It is almost as if it is two complete movies: one about basic training, and another about Vietnam.  The first part of the movie is gold, but this is not a list about great basic training movies, or An Office and a Gentleman would be on it.  By the time you get to the second half of the movie, all of the compelling stuff has already happened, and you just want it to end.

39) Stalag 17– (59/100)- This is a good movie with a compelling plot and some good acting, but it takes place in a POW camp, and therefore suffers from a lack of battles in the ‘war movie’ department.

38) Where Eagles Dare– (60/100)-  This is another good movie with good acting, but it suffers from the fact that it is a complete work of fiction.  It is, however, considered to be the one of the best of the fictional war movies.

37) Andersonville– (62/100)-  This was a made for TNT depiction of life at the most brutal prison camp in the South during the civil war.  It suffers from many of the same problems that Stalag 17 does, but it is shows a little more of the actual brutality that often accompanied prisoner of war camps.

36) The Bridge on the River Kwai– (63/100)-  This is really more of a character study than an actual depiction of life in a POW camp run by the Japanese during WWII.  It suffers on this list from the same things that hurt Stalag 17 and Andersonville.  Though it has a great cast, there is some pretty bad acting at times in the film.  It is also a fictional work.  It however deserves some respect because of the mold that it broke when it was made and the fact that it won seven Academy Awards.

35)  The Green Berets– (65/100)- I’m not saying that it is a great movie, but what kind of war movie list would this be if it did not have a few John Wayne movies on it.  At least there are a few good battle scenes in it.

34)  Memphis Belle– (65/100)- It is hard to think of Sean Astin as a war hero, but this is really not a bad movie.  It attempts to encapsulate the trials and tribulations of the average bomber crew in the European theatre during WWII.

33) Sink the Bismarck (67-100)- This movie is on par with The Battle of the River Plate as far as the way it was made.  The ships still have that ‘toy’ quality about them.  The reason it scores higher, it the Bismarck was simply an icon and the Graf Spee was not.

32) The Desert Fox– (70/100)- This biography of Rommell is a very good.  It is not big on battles, and suffers here for it.

31) The Charge of the Light Brigade– (70/100)- The subject is one of the greatest military debacles in history.  The cavalry charges are some of the best to be found on film, but the plot, complete with social commentary tend to make the film tiresome.

Top 50 War Movies Criteria

Top 50 War Movies 10-1

Top 50 War Movies 20-11

Top 50 War Movies 30-21

Top 50 War Movies 40-31

Top 50 War Movies 45-41

Lists