I wanted to close out the year by talking about some of my favorite films. Favorite, of course, is a relative term. Ask anyone about their favorite movie and you might hear anything from “Star Wars” to “Pulp Fiction” to “Gremlins” to “Titanic.” I define favorite movie as one you can watch anytime, again and again, and still enjoy it and get something new from it. My favorite movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” fits those criteria. It has a great score, wonderful actors, a terrific story, fine performances and cutting edge special effects for its time.
For years as a kid, I watched The Wizard of Oz on a black and white television set, and I didn’t know about the Technicolor part. The television in my house growing up took about 15 minutes to fully turn on (and about the same amount of time for the white dot to vanish when you turned it off). The following exchange from the movie didn’t make sense to me: Dorothy: “What kind of a horse is that? I’ve never seen a horse like that before!” Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: “And never will again, I fancy. There’s only one of him and he’s it. He’s the Horse of a Different Color, you’ve heard tell about.” Imagine my surprise to finally see this movie in color years later and see that the horse sported a purple coat with yellow polka dots. I believe it continuously changes color as well.
Other favorite films of mine include “Back to the Future,” “The Lady Eve,” “Nights of Cabiria,” “School of Rock,” “The Apartment,” “Apocalypse Now,” “Dark City,” Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist,” “The Last Picture Show,” “Pather Panchali,” “Singing in the Rain,” Sam Fuller’s “Pickup on South Street,” and Michael Powell’s “I Know Where I’m Going!”
Generally, I want to like the characters in a movie, so movies with lots of rotten characters don’t appeal to me. I like interesting dialogue, but not too much of it. The visuals should dominate, as in I Know Where I’m Going! Paramount liked I Know Where I’m Going! – produced in Scotland by The Archers company – so much that it made the script required reading in Paramount’s screenwriting department. Michael Powell said Paramount used it as an example of how a perfect screenplay should be constructed.