I’m all about lists. Movie lists mainly. What some get out of fifteen minutes of yoga, I can achieve toting up my 25 favorite Euro-Peplum titles. Sleep may knit up the ravel’d sleeve of care - but so can compiling a list of my 15 favorite Japanese films – or my 25 most cherished B-westerns. Or silents. Or Bollywood musicals.
I was born in a Northern Ontario town. And not too long after, my mom started to take me to the movies – a babe in arms. My earliest memory is probably of Gene Kelly dancing around a flower stall. Saturday matinees in our town tended to bring back the same kid/crowd-pleasing titles again and again. So “Calamity Jane”, “Treasure Island”, “Scared Stiff”, Peter Pan” and “Desert Legion” all loomed large on my pre-teen landscape. So did some stars. Forget Brando. He was someone else’s idea of a movie idol. For me, Rossana Podesta and Jacques Sernas were the real deal. My love affair with movies certainly never stopped. Nor did the list-making.
What follows is a chronological rundown of my 500 favorite movies. As has often been said in preface to similar lists, these are not necessarily what I’d choose as the greatest or most important movies ever made. I was mightily impressed by “Battleship Potemkin”, “La Terra Trema” and “Raging Bull”. But I may never watch them again. The titles on my list are the ones I’m fondest of. I’d revisit any of them at the drop of a hat – and often have. The list evolves, of course. I made a similar one seven years ago. And 30% of those titles have dropped off to make room for others. I haven’t stopped loving the drop-outs. They’ve just moved on to a sunny well-deserved retirement. And some of them, no doubt, will boomerang back onto a future list.
Turner Classics has just made its long overdue arrival in Canada. So the movie mania is going to get hot and heavy now. But, in the meantime, here’s my list – as of early 2007. I offer it in lieu of an autobiography – or maybe it IS my autobiography, ghost-written by a million writers, directors, craftsmen and performers.