Ben Hur (100), Toy Story (99) and Yankee Doodle Dandy (98)

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: AFI's Top 100 Movies, Chooch, Movies

As I mentioned in a previous post, Chooch and I are following behind Christiana Ellis and Mike Meitin in their quest to watch all 100 of the AFI Top 100 Movies.

We use Netflix, with Chooch and I each having our own queue. It’s worked beautifully, and we always have something wonderful waiting for us. It’s very rare that something comes for one that the other doesn’t want to watch, but it does happen.

Since I was inspired to finally watch these by Christiana and Mike’s new podcast series, I decided to take the hit on my Netflix queue for whatever we don’t already own, and while updating my Netflix queue I made the following discoveries:

  • I’ve already seen 47 of the top 100. We’ve decided to re-watch them, to decide if we agree with the ranking.
  • The Color Purple is not on the list. I’m sure people will disagree, but I’m extremely disappointed.
  • Little Big Man is another shocking admission from the list.
  • The Godfather, Parts I (#2) and II (#32) are both on the list. I completely agree with Part I, but I have to wonder about Part II. Especially with the two movies I listed above being absent. It’s not that it wasn’t good, I just don’t remember it being SO good that it merits being on the list. I’ll revisit this item when I view it again.
  • I’m very excited to finally see some of the movies that Hollywood legends starred in. I’ve never seen a Buster Keaton movie, nor an entire Charlie Chaplin or Marx Brothers’ film. Many of the movies caused me to squee as I added them, because I’m excited to finally have an excuse to watch them.

On to my thoughts on the first three that we’ve viewed.

#100 – Ben Hur
This was my first viewing, and the first thing I’ll admit is that I had no clue how entrenched it is in the story of Christ. The lives of Jesus Christ and Judah Ben Hur intersect at a few points, and many events in Judah’s life are put into motion because of Christ. At one of their meetings, I began to wonder if the tiny seedling of inspiration for the Forrest Gump concept started here. This is a very long 212 minute movie. By that I mean it seemed like it took a lot longer than 212 minutes to watch. I loved the grandness of the film and some elements of the story truly moved me. While I can see how this was a ground-breaking movie in 1959, it is not a movie I plan on ever watching again.

#99 – Toy Story
No big surprise, but I’ve viewed this movie dozens of times. I saw it in the theater when it was released, and have watched it when my kids played it at home. I really do love this movie, and like many of my generation and younger, I can recite whole sections of dialog. I did learn one new thing, which was that Joss Whedon was one of the folks that wrote the screenplay.

#98 – Yankee Doodle Dandy
I hadn’t seen and knew nothing about this movie, other than that my friend Leslie LOVES it. While there were some very touching points in the movie, in general I was underwhelmed. I even questioned why it was on the list since I could think of a few musicals that are better (in my opinion) that are NOT on the list.

I was pretty annoyed, so hit up Wikipedia for some background and discovered that it is based on a real person, George M. Cohan. I had assumed that the famous songs were born in this musical, but learned that he wrote them, including  “Over There”, “Give My Regards to Broadway,” and “The Yankee Doodle Boy.” The same article states “he is considered the father of American musical comedy”. Those things, coupled with what must have been a grand production in 1942 made me understand why this film was so important. While I don’t plan any additional viewings (Sorry, Leslie), I certainly understand it’s existence on the list.

My favorite line from the movie occurs upon the birth of George M. Cohan when his Irish father announces “He’s crying with a brogue!”.

I apologize if I’m re-hashing anything Christiana and Mike already mentioned. I’m still on the fence as to whether or not I want to post my thoughts before or after listening to their coverage, so have not listened yet.

Next up, Bladerunner!

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2 Responses to “Ben Hur (100), Toy Story (99) and Yankee Doodle Dandy (98)”

  1. Chooch Says:

    I pretty much agree with all of the points that Viv made. I’ve never been one for “old” movies. There are some that I enjoy because of certain actor/actresses (Audrey Hepburn comes to mind), but I haven’t watched very many movies older than the mid 60’s or 70’s.

    Ben Hur pretty much clinched why.. So melodramatic! I know there’s lots of reasons for it, but lots of the drama makes me laugh because it’s so corny. I did appreciate the story and the scope.

    I actually do like musicals. My mother took me to several live productions as a kid and I look back on them fondly. Some favorites include GiGi, Kismet, My Fair Lady, and Fiddler on the Roof. Like Viv, I never saw Yankee Doodle Dandy. Many of the songs I knew because they are so ingrained in our culture, but I didn’t know the story at all and I believe this is the first movie I’ve ever seen with James Cagney. I had no idea he was such a dancer. The acting was OK. Less cheese than Ben Hur, but it had its share.

    One thing I hated was the moments where he would speak the lyrics rather than sing them. Apparently (from Wikipedia) this was something that the real Mr. Cohan did, so it was appropriate, but for some reason it set me on edge.

    Overall I think it’s a pretty good start to our AFI adventure. And hey, the movies should just keep getting better and better, right?

  2. vividmuse Says:

    Thank you for commenting, and for taking this journey with me!

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