February 2011

the 2nd Edition of the Norton Critical Edition of McTeague (1899)


  • Author:  Frank Norris  (1870  –  1902)
  • Rank:  #50
  • Published:  1899
  • Publisher:  Doubleday & McClure
  • Pages:  340
  • First Line:  “It was Sunday, and according to his custom on that day, McTeague took his dinner at two in the afternoon in the car conductors’ coffee joint on Polk Street.”
  • Last Line:  “McTeague remained stupidly looking around him, now at the distant horizon, now at the ground, now at the half-dead canary chittering feebly in its little gilt prison.”
  • ML Edition:  #60  (1918-1923); 1996 gold hardcover
  • Film Version:  1924  (****  –  dir. Erich von Stroheim)
  • First Read:  Spring, 1994 (more…)

The rabbits prepare to defend their warren in Watership Down (1978) - the best animated film since the 50's

1970  –  1979

Total Films I’ve Seen:  755

Films That Make the Top 5 in Any Category:  38

Best Film Not to Make the Top 5 in Any Category:  Mean Streets

Film of the Decade:  The Godfather

Worst Film of the Decade:  Caligula

Worst Best Picture Nominee of the Decade:  Love Story

Worst Film of the Decade Made by a Top 100 Director:  The Brood (more…)

A touching moment for father and son in Kramer vs. Kramer.

The 52nd annual Academy Awards, for the film year 1979.  The nominations were announced on February 24, 1980 and the awards were held on April 14, 1980.

Best Picture:  Kramer vs. Kramer

  • Apocalypse Now
  • All That Jazz
  • Breaking Away
  • Norma Rae

Most Surprising Omission: Manhattan

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  Alien

Rank (out of 82) Among Best Picture Years:  #19


Sigourney Weaver wants some answers out of Ian Holm in Alien (1979)

My Top 20:

  1. Alien
  2. Apocalypse Now
  3. Manhattan
  4. Picnic at Hanging Rock
  5. All That Jazz
  6. Being There
  7. Kramer vs. Kramer
  8. Breaking Away
  9. Love on the Run
  10. L’Age d’or
  11. The Muppet Movie
  12. Monty Python’s Life of Brian
  13. And Justice for All
  14. The Marriage of Maria Braun
  15. Nosferatu
  16. Staring Over
  17. Soldier of Orange
  18. A Quiet Duel
  19. Wise Blood
  20. Woyzeck (more…)

Rather than repost a whole article, I’ll just let you know I have a new film article on CC2K for their Sex Week.  I try to write articles like that for them rather than have them post here on what is nominally a family blog.  You can find the article here and if you go here, and click on Articles, you can see a link to other articles I’ve written for them over the past several years, except my Sexiest Performances of All-Time, which is here.  There is no link because there were other writers involved in the list and it didn’t get formatted correctly.

the Modern Library version of Camus' The Plague (1947)

The Plague (La Peste)

  • Author:  Albert Camus  (1913  –  1960)
  • Rank:  #51
  • Published:  1947  (tr. 1948)
  • Publisher:  Librairie Gallimard
  • Pages:  278
  • First Line:  “The unusual events described in this chronicle occured in 194- at Oran.”
  • Last Line:  “He knew what those jubilant crowds did not know but could have learned from books: that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linin-chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.”
  • ML Edition:  #109  (1962); College Edition paperback
  • Film Version:  1992
  • First Read:  Spring, 1995 (more…)

One of the quieter moments between Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro in The Deer Hunter (1978)

The 51st annual Academy Awards, for the film year 1978.  The nominations were announced on February 20, 1979 and the awards were held on April 9, 1979.

Best Picture:  The Deer Hunter

  • Midnight Express
  • Heaven Can Wait
  • Coming Home
  • An Unmarried Woman

Most Surprising Omission:  Interiors

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  Autumn Sonata

Best Eligible English-Language Film Not Nominated:  Interiors

Rank (out of 82) Among Best Picture Years:  #41 (more…)

The closing "God Bless America" scene in The Deer Hunter

My Top 20:

  1. The Deer Hunter
  2. Midnight Express
  3. Autumn Sonata
  4. Interiors
  5. Watership Down
  6. The Ascent
  7. Heaven Can Wait
  8. The Chess Players
  9. Superman
  10. Coming Home
  11. Halloween
  12. Pretty Baby
  13. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
  14. California Suite
  15. Get Out Your Handkerchiefs
  16. Bread and Chocolate
  17. Animal House
  18. The Buddy Holly Story
  19. Days of Heaven
  20. The Last Wave (more…)

White Teeth by Zadie Smith: the best novel ever written by someone who is younger than I am

White Teeth

  • Author:  Zadie Smith  (b. 1975)
  • Rank:  #52
  • Published:  2000
  • Publisher:  Hamish Hamilton (U.K.) / Random House (U.S.)
  • Pages:  448
  • First Lines:  “Early in the morning, late in the century, Cricklewood Broadway.  At 0627 hours on January 1, 1975, Alfred Archibald Jones was dressed in corduroy and sat in a fume-filled Cavalier Musketeer Estate facedown on the steering wheel, hoping the judgment would not be too heavy upon him.”
  • Last Lines:  “He watched it dash along the table, and through the hands of those who wished to pin it down.  He watched it leap off the end and disappear through an air vent.  Go on my son! thought Archie.”
  • Acclaim:  All-TIME Top 100, Jaimes Tait Black Memorial Prize, Whitbread Book Award
  • Film Version:  2002 BBC mini-series
  • First Read:  January, 2003 (more…)

Marshall McLuhan flubs his line but gets immortality in his appearance in Annie Hall

The 50th annual Academy Awards, for the film year 1977.  The nominations were announced on February 21, 1978 and the awards were held on April 3, 1978

Best Picture:  Annie Hall

  • Star Wars
  • The Goodbye Girl
  • Julia
  • The Turning Point

Most Surprising Omission:  Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Best Eligible Film That Wasn’t Nominated:  Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Rank (out of 82) Among Best Picture Years:  #37 (more…)

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