1. 4 Weddings and a Funeral: 1994
Written by Richard Curtis who also wrote Love Actually and Notting Hill among others. Directed by Mike Newell whose movies crossed all genres, including Donnie Brasco, Love in the Time of Cholera, Great Expectations, and Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire.
The moment for me in this movie involves Rowan Atkinson who plays a clergyman. At one of the weddings the character played by Kristin Scott Thomas tells him that his first wedding is like the first time one has sex. Rowan Atkinson’s face is good enough on its own but he gives this small embarrassed laugh, more of a snigger, a small sound which he repeats while turning his face away. How does he do that? It seems so creative to me. I’m laughing here as I’m writing . . .
2. The Beast with Five Fingers: 1946
This horror movie was a short story in the first place, written by W. F. Harvey and then became a screenplay writtend by Curt Siodmak. Rober Florey directed the movie. He directed other horror films as well as the first Marx Brothers feature, The Cocoanuts.
The story revolves around a death, relations and a will. The left hand of the corpse is cut off and begins to creep around at night and to play the piano. The film is in black and white and the hand glows as it moves. I saw this movie when I was about ten and it haunted me all my youth and gave me many nightmares. The moment that stands out is when a friend, played by Peter Lorre, catches the hand and tries to throw it into the fire but it leaps out and strangles him. I can just about stand to think about it now!
3. Schlinder’s List: 1993
Such a wonderful movie altogether, and my favourite moment is when we first see Oscar Schlinder (Liam Neeson) as he enters a room full of people. The camera is behind him at head level so we can appreciate how tall and imposing a figure he was. I loved that. The film was directed by Spielberg, and adapted for the screen by Steven Zaillian. The original book was called Schlinder’s Ark and was written by Australian writer, Thomas Keneally.
4. Babette’s Feast: 1987
This Danish movie was directed and written by Gabriel Axel who based the screenplay on the short story written by Karen Blixen (with whom I share a birthday!). In Danish – Babettes Gaestebud. It is set in the 19th century and tells the story of two sisters living in a village in Jutland in West Denmark. They are members of a very strict Protestant sect begun by their father, and we get their sad back stories as the movie goes along. Babette arrives at their door in the middle of a storm. She has escaped from the war in Paris and has a letter of introduction from Philippas’s old suiter, Papin. Babette keeps house for them. When she wins the French lottery she offers to cook a real French meal for the sisters and all the villagers, who live sober, controlled lives without much laughter. The moment I enjoyed the most is the kitchen scene while Babette is cooking; the heat; the smells; the tastes; it’s a magical scene. This movie is in my top ten list and won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
5. There Will Be Blood: 2007
This movie, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, is based on a 1927 novel “Oil!” by Upton Sinclair. It stars Daniel Day Lewis as Daniel Plainview, the oil man trying to convince the locals, in a pit mine hole in New Mexico, that this search for oil will benefit them. However he is opposed by Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) a local preacher. The film is magnificent on every front; it is a huge film. The stand-out moment in my memory is when Eli Sunday forces Daniel Plainview to his knees – the faces of those men, the acting, is amazing. It’s the kind of movie that makes me very quiet when I leave the cinema thinking – less than ten euro for all THAT!
6. Gone With The Wind: 1939
I won’t say much about this movie; everyone knows everything about it! It was produced by David O Selznick. The screenplay was written by Sydney Howard, adapted from the 1936 novel by Margaret Mitchell. And I’m sure no one will be surprised when I say the moment in this movie is when Scarlett, in a red, red dress appears in the doorway at Melanie’s party, when she is suspected of having an affair with Melanie’s husband, Ashley. Head up, shoulders back, brazening out the stares.
7. Strictly Ballroom: 1992
This Australian rom com was written and directed by the wonderful Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliette). It was based on a play written by himself and fellow students while they were studying drama in Sydney. It is much more than a rom com of course. For anyone who loves dance movies this one is a must. It follows the lives of two young dancers – Scott (Paul Mercurio) and Fran (Tara Morice) as they struggle to remain partners and to try some innovative moves. For me, the magic happens when the Paso Doble is danced, not by the young ones, but by Fran’s father and grandmother. You’d have to stand up and clap!
8. The Apartment: 1960
Staring Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray, this movie is a total delight from start to finish. Produced by Billy Wilder, and written by him with I. A. L. Diamond. “Bud” Baxter works for an Insurance Company and in the interests of getting promotion he lends his flat out to his boss for illicit meetings with his mistress. Soon, others want to use the flat as well and Bud’s life gets very complicated. He’s in love with the lift girl (MacLaine) and it all ends well eventually. I’m sure everyone knows what scene I’m going to mention. Of course it’s Bud straining spaghetti through a tennis racket. Jack Lemmon is one of my favourite actors; he can play anything. Look at him in in Glengarry Glen Ross or Days of Wine and Roses.
9. La Belle et La Bete: 1946
I fell in love with this film the first time I saw it many years ago. If you like fantasy and magical scenes you might want to look it up. It is truly beautiful, gorgeous, sumptuous, fantastic, dazzling, and dreamlike. The film was directed by Jean Cocteau, poet and film maker, adapted from a story written in 1757 by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. It stars Josette Day as Beauty, and Jean Marais as the Beast. One of the stand-out moments (and there are many) is this; Beauty is floating along a corridor in the castle and as she passes, hands holding blazing torches reach out from the wall to light her way. I’m going to have to watch this again now!
10. Some Like it Hot: 1959
In a movie where every scene is one to remember, all I can say is, “Nobody’s perfect!”
I hope any movie lovers who read this have enjoyed the list. I’ll have to do a final one with modern movies this time.