The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Monday, December 22, 2003
IT WAS THIRTY YEARS AGO TODAY: In which we continue the practice of listing the top ten movies, not of this year, but of other years ending with the numeral "3." We've already done
1993 and 1983; today brings 1973.

I don't plan to post any more before next week, so fill up now:

1. F for Fake
Directed by Orson Welles
Written by Welles and Oja Kodar

A deliberately deceitful documentary about storytelling, filmmaking, forgery, and other forms of fakery. It's one of Welles' best movies -- better than both Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons -- but hardly anyone's seen it. Rent it today!

2. The Long Goodbye
Directed by Robert Altman
Written by Leigh Brackett, from the novel by Raymond Chandler

I have friends who hate this anti-noir on the grounds that no one is less suited to play Philip Marlowe than Elliott Gould. I say that's part of the point.

3. Badlands
Written and Directed by Terrence Malick

" is strange."

4. The Last Detail
Directed by Hal Ashby
Written by Robert Towne, from the novel by Darryl Ponicsan

Part of that amazing streak Jack Nicholson had in the early to mid 1970s, when it must have seemed like he was incapable of starring in a bad movie. Times, they sure do change.

5. Charley Varrick
Directed by Don Siegel
Written by Dean Riesner and Howard Rodman, from the novel by John Reese

One of Hollywood's most individualistic directors composes an elegy for individualism.

6. Mean Streets
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by Scorsese and Mardik Martin

An ur-movie whose influence echoes from The Bad Lieutenant to The Wire.

7. Paper Moon
Directed by Peter Bogdanovich
Written by Alvin Sargent, from the novel by Joe David Brown

If Bogdanovich's career had ended here, he'd be a legend.

8. Day for Night
Directed by François Truffaut
Written by Truffaut, Jean-Louis Richard, and Suzanne Schiffman

There's a whole genre of movies about making movies, from The Cameraman to 8 1/2 to Ed Wood to, um, Hardbodies 2, which isn't any good but it's the first specimen of the genre I ever saw, watching cable one night in my teens, so I'll mention it too. Day for Night isn't the best of these, but it just might be the most fun.

9. Sleeper
Directed by Woody Allen
Written by Allen and Marshall Brickman

They could've called it They Saved Hitler's Nose.

10. O Lucky Man!
Directed by Lindsay Anderson
Written by David Sherwin

This shaggy-dog science-fiction satire is a bit of a mess, but the best parts are good enough to nudge it onto this list.

posted by Jesse 5:00 PM
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