Don’t keel over — I am following one of those memes, and you know how I usually am about that. I prefer to say that I am participating in a collaborative project. I mean, there’s a difference between answering a long questionnaire with “yes” and “no,” and contributing to a specific person’s blog project (like Holidailies, which yes, we are doing this year, just hang in there). I wasn’t even tagged, I am doing this entirely voluntarily.
I found Blog Cabins’ alphabet meme on the cinetrix’s website at a time when I was feeling out of sorts and wanted a distraction. Could I pick one movie that I enjoyed for each letter of the alphabet? I started making a list, and then I walked over to our DVD bookcase to fill in some of the trickier letters, and then I finally fudged a listing for the letter X because I’m not a big fan of the X-Men or of Xanadu. I remembered ruefully The ABC Project that I started a year or so ago, in which I decided to go through my Netflix queue and pick one movie for each letter of the alphabet. I made it through the letter D. Somehow I never seem to make time to watch Netflix movies unless my husband rents the movie and puts it on the TV and I happen to be around.
I decided that if I wanted to do the Alphabet Meme, though, I had to do more than just give you a list, because that doesn’t tell you much. In order to raise the level from a one-word-answer meme to an actual informative bit of writing, I decided to include a sentence about why I picked that particular movie. Because, let me tell you, I had to select from about 10 possibilities for the letter B, and T wasn’t easy either. Some of the sentences turned into full-blown paragraphs. See, this is why I post so rarely … an entry that should take 10 minutes is taking me an hour.
Here we go:
A is for Army of Darkness — I originally had All About Eve in here and realized, no, I should go with the even more quotable film. What can I say, I’m a sucker for Bruce Campbell.
B is for Brazil — Possibly my favorite movie of all time, beating out other serious “B” contenders Bringing Up Baby and Breaking Away by a hair. (Not to mention The Big Lebowski.) I have the DVD and I have watched it maybe once — somehow this movie seems made for a theater. My most memorable viewing of Brazil was bittersweet. A month after I started grad school at UT, my then-boyfriend broke up with me. I cried all weekend, and on Sunday night went to Hogg Auditorium and saw Brazil in that big empty classroom-theater hybrid with the bats that flew behind the screen periodically. I felt like Mia Farrow in Purple Rose of Cairo and I didn’t care. I felt so much better afterwards.
C is for Clerks 2 — It’s the only Kevin Smith movie we currently own on DVD, and for some reason it is the perfect movie to watch on an airplane. Maybe because I wonder if the guy sitting next to me can see the screen during the donkey scene. Maybe because it’s just so damned entertaining. It’s sweet and filthy, an irresistable combination. I’m not half as fond of Clerks, but then you know I think the sequel is a stealth remake of The Front Page.
D is for Dick — Other contenders were Dog Day Afternoon and Dear Zachary but I adore this little comedy about two teenagers who stumble into the Watergate scandal. Best portrayal ever of Woodward and Bernstein.
E is for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind — I’ve only seen this movie once, and it’s the first movie on this list that we don’t own on DVD. I’d like to see it again, as it stuck with me pretty strongly. Beautiful.
F is for A Foreign Affair — Why isn’t this movie on DVD, is what I’d like to know. Marlene Dietrich is fabulous, Jean Arthur is fabulous, the dialogue is amazing, the storyline is edgy even today.
G is for Ghostbusters — I like this movie even more than when I first saw it in 1982, back when I disliked Bill Murray and thought he was hogging the screen. I liked Harold Ramis a lot better. Hmmm. Maybe G should be for Groundhog Day, too.
H is for Holiday — Another one of my all-time favorites. I’ve got an essay kicking around somewhere about this movie and the Philip Barry play. One of my dreams in life is to get to see the 1930 film, which isn’t available on DVD and supposedly there’s only one print left in the world, at the Library of Congress.
I is for Iron Giant — I don’t usually cry during movies but Iron Giant gets me every time. One afternoon, I walked through the living room and into the kitchen while my husband was watching this movie, got a snack, and walked back to my office. And in that period of time the movie had already made me cry.
J is for Junior Bonner — This is the first Sam Peckinpah movie I ever saw. I caught it at Alamo Downtown during an AFS series. I was sure someone was going to die at the end — maybe everyone — and I watched the last half of the movie feeling completely tense and uptight about it. Don’t all 1970s movies end tragically, especially if directed by Peckinpah? There is a death in this movie but it’s not the one I would have guessed.
K is for Kiss Me Stupid — K was actually for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang until I typed out the first word and said to myself, “How could you, of all people, forget Kiss Me Stupid?” Lots of people dislike this Billy Wilder film, which goes for the cheap crude sex gag whenever possible. And we could argue endlessly about how different the movie might have been with its original lead, Peter Sellers, instead of Ray Walston, who replaced him and perhaps looks and acts a little too average-schlub for this movie. I better stop before I rehash the whole essay I wrote about this movie, which I should probably post here at some point so it’ll see the light of day.
L is for The Lady Eve — I actually like Ball of Fire a little better, but the B’s were a heated competition. I had to get Barbara Stanwyck and Preston Sturges in here somewhere. I once saw this movie at the Texas Union Theatre with Anthony Lane introducing it and talking about how much he loved it. Normally the Anthony Lane columns I read are about movies he’s eviscerating, and it was charming to hear him go on about a movie he plainly adores.
M is for MASH — The first time I saw this movie, I was in high school (barely), I was a naive kid who hadn’t seen many R-rated movies, and I loved the TV series. So I kind of hated the film. But it stuck in my mind, and I gave it another chance, and now it’s a favorite.
N is for Nothing Sacred — I saw this movie on Election Night while most of the world was parked in front of TVs and computers watching Presidential election results. Fredric March’s hard-boiled, cynical reporter was quite appropriate for the situation. I regret nothing … besides, I got home in time to watch the best bits of Election Night, anyway.
O is for Office Space — I almost switched to Ocean’s Eleven (the Soderbergh one) but we watch Office Space so often, and it has become such a part of office culture at least in Austin, that including this movie was a no-brainer.
P is for The Producers — Obviously I am talking about the 1968 film. Definitely on the short list of favorites, if not at the top. Just writing about it makes me want to go watch it again. Did I tell you how sad I was when I went to see the fountain from this film in New York in April and it was gone? Damn.
Q is for Quiet City — Lovely movie. If you haven’t heard of it, go find it and watch it now. I reviewed the DVD for Cinematical earlier this year.
R is for Raising Arizona — Again, any movie that we pull out once a year and watch, that you can watch with damn near anyone and they will enjoy, and that is so amazingly quotable has to be included on this list. I can do a pretty good Holly Hunter imitation too: “I need a baby, Hi. They got more than they can handle!”
S is for Some Like It Hot — Okay, this is a toss-up with Brazil for all-time best-beloved movies. I can practically recite the film by heart. “Look at the way she moves, it’s like Jello on springs.” “We have the same type blood. Type O.” “But why would a guy marry a guy?” “Security!” Oh, my.
T is for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? — I saw this movie for the first time earlier this year (see note above on the only way I ever end up watching Netflix rentals) and it completely bowled me over. I ended up watching the first part of it twice to see exactly how the “flashbacks” worked and when they started.
U is for Unfaithfully Yours — Not one of my favorite Preston Sturges movies, but you don’t get a lot of choice with the letter U. I could have gone with Unforgiven instead, I suppose.
V is for Victor/Victoria — I dated a guy in college who loved this film, and during that time I must have seen it a dozen times. At least. I’ve been known to quote lines from this movie at odd moments (no one ever gets the quotes, either), and I can still do a fair imitation of Lesley Ann Warren singing “Chicago, Illinois,” although it’s not something I’m usually called upon to perform.
W is for The Wild Bunch — I saw this movie on Thanksgiving Day, 2003, and have loved it ever since. If it’s playing locally in a theater, I do my best to be there. Funny story: first time I saw it was on DVD, and it was a double-sided DVD that wasn’t properly labeled. I ended up watching about five minutes from the middle of the movie before I paused the film, called up my brother, and asked him if I was watching the beginning or not. He set me straight, I flipped over the DVD, and all was well.
X is for The Great Escape — Get it? The Great X-scape? Look, I had no choice in the matter. Besides, anything for more Steve McQueen. Even James Coburn’s horrible Australian accent doesn’t keep me from liking the movie. And one reason that A Streetcar Named Marge is probably my favorite Simpsons episode is because of the Great Escape references.
Y is for Young Frankenstein — Why didn’t I just give you a list instead of typing all these damn explanations? Do I really need to tell you why Young Frankenstein is on this list?
Z is for Zelig — There aren’t a lot of Z titles out there, and I remember liking this little Woody Allen film, although I haven’t seen it in ages and ages. Wonder if I should give it another look.
So the final tally includes two Preston Sturges films, three Billy Wilder, two Mel Brooks, two Sam Peckinpah, two starring Steve McQueen, two about cross-dressing. And hey, Jette, how many of those films were directed by women? Okay, how many were written by women? Any fit the Bechdel rule, even? Maybe I should try a separate alphabet of feminist film.