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

Tuesday, January 04, 2005
WE NOW RETURN TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED ROB GORDON IMPRESSION: Having published top-ten lists for the films of
1994, of 1984, and of 1974, this blog arrives inevitably at 1964:

1. Dr. Strangelove
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Written by Kubrick, Peter George, and Terry Southern, from a novel by George

Hollywood's most clear-eyed vision of the arms race.

2. Woman in the Dunes
Directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara
Written by Kobo Abe, from his novel

Beautiful and spooky. Even better than the book.

3. Diary of a Chambermaid
Directed by Luis Bunuel
Written by Bunuel and Jean-Claude Carriere, from a novel by Octave Mirbeau

Sex, crime, fascism -- the story is much older than Bunuel's version, but he makes it his own.

4. Kwaidan
Directed by Masaki Kobayashi
Written by Yoko Mizuki, from a book by Lafcadio Hearn

Four Japanese ghost stories. The first is mediocre, but the rest are riveting -- especially "Hoichi the Earless," which feels like an epic medieval poem but bears no resemblance to Hollywood's "epics" at all.

5. The World of Henry Orient
Directed by George Roy Hill
Written by Nora and Nunnally Johnson, from Nora's novel

Two children make a magical dérive through New York, then are initiated into adulthood. Angela Lansbury plays the bitchiest mom this side of The Manchurian Candidate.

6. Onibaba
Written and Directed by Kaneto Shindo

One of the great horror movies.

7. A Shot in the Dark
Directed by Blake Edwards
Written by Edwards and William Peter Blatty, from plays by Marcel Achard and Harry Kurnitz

The best of the Pink Panther series.

8. The Americanization of Emily
Directed by Arthur Hiller
Written by Paddy Chayefsky, from a novel by William Bradford Huie

Reminds me a bit of Stalag 17, except it has the courage of its convictions. Relentlessly funny, relentlessly anti-heroic.

9. A Fistful of Dollars
Directed by Sergio Leone
Written by Leone, Víctor Andrés Catena, and Jaime Comas, from a story by Dashiell Hammett

Hammett told this tale first, in his great novel Red Harvest. Then Akira Kurosawa made a superior samurai film of it, and then Leone and Clint Eastwood moved it to the Old West. Each time, there's something almost anarchist about the way the protagonist plays two powerful forces against each other -- someday someone should remake it with Bugs Bunny in the lead.

10. Kiss Me, Stupid
Directed by Billy Wilder
Written by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, from a play by Anna Bonacci

Wilder's most underrated movie has a lot of things going for it, but the best is Dean Martin's self-lacerating performance as "Dino," the oversexed and amoral crooner.


posted by Jesse 7:00 PM
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