Tuesday, 15 April 2014

67 films I would happily watch time and time again - and again

I was reading an article by Timothy Gordon on The Imaginative Conservative website last night entitled “The Greatest Moral Film of All Time” (the remake of 3:10 to Yuma, apparently) which ends with a list of his 25 favourite films, i.e. movies that are not necessarily great, but which have no boring scenes in them and which are “relentlessly entertaining… and nothing more.” (You can find his lengthy article here: his list of favourites is right at the end.)

This set me thinking, and I immediately began compiling my own list of relentlessly entertaining films with no boring scenes, with the added criterion that, while I might not deliberately seek them out on the Sky EPG, if I happen to watch any of them for longer than 30 seconds while channel-hopping, I literally cannot prevent myself from staying until the very end, no matter how many times I’ve seen them before.

From the fact that the 25th film on Timothy Morgan’s list is The Karate Kid, you can tell he means it when he says this isn’t a list of “great” films. I’ve tried to be similarly  honest. Because I’m in my seventh decade and have seen an awful lot of films, I couldn’t keep the list down to a mere 25. So here is a list of 67 films (including some pretty dodgy ones) which I find irresistible:

The 39 Steps (the 1935 version, obviously - the most insanely watchable film ever made)

Field of Dreams (because it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, like I did when I watched films as a child)

The Bourne Legacy (well, okay – all four Bourne films: this is an actual, full-blown addiction)

This Happy Breed (which I’ve already banged on about endlessly on this blog)


Withnail & I ("Monty, you terrible c*nt!!”)

Sunset Boulevard (like many Billy Wilder films, it’s actually seriously unpleasant, but utterly compelling)

Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, Toy Story 3 (only mild embarrassment prevents me from listing more Pixar films – God bless this studio!)

Day of the Jackal

I’m All Right, Jack

Ice Cold in Alex (the only war film on my list)

Goldfinger (oh, okay - and From Russia With Love)

I Know Where I’m Going (I must have seen this Powell & Pressburger romantic classic 20 times – the last viewing was less than a fortnight ago, and I enjoyed it as much as the first time I saw it about 50 years' ago)

The Ladykillers

Pygmalion ("Not bloody likely!")

Skyfall (already watched it at least five times)

Invasion of the Bodysnatchers ("It started — for me, it started — last Thursday, in response to an urgent message from my nurse, I hurried home from a medical convention I'd been attending. At first glance, everything looked the same. It wasn't. Something evil had taken possession of the town.")

Dirty Harry (“I want a lawyer!”)

Airplane 1 & 2

Naked Gun 1 & 3

Cabaret (one of only two musicals on the list)

The Long Kiss Goodnight (Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson – a very silly thriller, and I adore it!)

The Last Boy Scout (“You have friends? When did this happen?”)

Midnight Run (“You and that other dummy better start getting more personally involved in your work, or I'm gonna stab you through the heart with a fuckin' pencil. Do you understand me?”)

Wuthering Heights (Olivier version)

The Graduate

It Happened One Night

All the President’s Men (Lord, I love this film!)

John Carpenter’s The Thing (You could hold a gun to my head and I'd still keep on watching it )

The Lady Vanishes (Hitchcock's original version, obviously)

Groundhog Day (Ned: "Phil?" Phil: "Ned?" [Phil punches Ned in the face])

First Blood


To Kill a Mockingbird (I always have to watch until Boo Radley appears right at the end)

A Canterbury Tale 

True Lies (yes, I know – Schwarzenegger!)

Red Heat (and again)

Eraser (and once more, the tree trunk)

Predator (Oh God – help me!)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (I’m afraid there’s nothing more we can do for him, Mrs. Grønmark)

The Princess Bride (cinematic champagne)

An American Werewolf in London (“Queen Elizabeth is a man! Prince Charles is a faggot! Winston Churchill was full of shit! Shakespeare's French!”)

The Night of the Hunter (“It’s a hard world for little things” – now, why would that line make a grown man cry? Every damn time!)

This is Spinal Tap ("We've got Armadillos in our trousers. It's really quite frightening.")

Alien (“This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off.”)

Ben Hur (the only epic on the list - Messala: “It goes on. It goes on, Judah. The race... the race... is not... over!” [he dies])

For a Few Dollars More (El Indio: "They don't like strangers, huh?"  Groggy: "No. They don't like anybody!")

The Third Man (The greatest opening narration in film history, voiced by director Carol Reed: “Oh, I was going to tell you, wait, I was going to tell you about Holly Martins, an American. Came all the way here to visit a friend of his. The name was Lime, Harry Lime. Now Martins was broke and Lime had offered him, some sort, I don't know, some sort of job. Anyway, there he was, poor chap. Happy as a lark and without a cent…)

The Usual Suspects (“Who is Keyser Soze? He is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Soze. You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. And like that, poof. He's gone.”)

Kiss Me Deadly (a truly horrible, ugly film, and yet…)

No Way to Treat a Lady (“It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person!”)

Double Indemnity (“Yes, I killed him. I killed him for money - and a woman - and I didn't get the money and I didn't get the woman. Pretty, isn't it?)

Sweet Smell of Success (“Match me, Sidney.”)

Farewell My Lovely

O Brother, Where Art Thou

Signs (No, I really have no idea why.)

White Heat (“Oh, stuffy, huh? I'll give ya a little air.” [pulls a gun from his trousers and shoots four times into the trunk])

The Godfather I & II (well, obviously!)


  1. I'll go with Signs, but also The Flight of the Phoenix, Burn After Reading, Matador, District 9 and some girly stuff - The Go Between, The Young Victoria, Easy Virtue and (whisper it) Firelight starring Stephan Dilane.

  2. Actually, I'm quite a fan of Young Victoria myself.

    I forgot to include Three Days of the Condor and Beetlejuice.

  3. I am afraid your list immediately had me checking nervously that my DVD versions of 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes and The Third Man were still there. Now I'll have to watch at least one of them over this long weekend. I have box sets of Band of Brothers, The Sopranos and Pride and Prejudice yet still find myself staying up to watch random episodes whenever I chance upon them on TV. As for the rest of your list, I intend to check out the ones I haven't seen yet because most of those that I know are on mine too.

    You're a bit stingy on musicals. I would add On The Town and Anchors Aweigh, the latter largely for 1.34 of Frank Sinatra singing I Fall in Love Too Easily. Then there are a number of films that I have to watch because of the family memories they evoke - Steve Martin in Bowfinger, The Man Who Knew Too Little with Bill Murray whose dialogue my children know by heart, Emma (Channel 4 version with Mark Strong as Mr Nighty). No room for The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp? Perhaps you're right. I love the first part in which he fights the duel with his German friend and will watch the rest on the infrequent occasions it appears on TV, while grumping at the 'war is pointless' messaging. The guilty pleasure of which I am thoroughly ashamed is The Spy Next Door with Jackie Chan. I can offer no defence. OK, I confess to Miracle on 42nd Street (original version) too.

    Is it a bloke thing to derive pleasure out of making lists of have to watch films, composers, records etc? Sadly, I have yet to meet any woman who shares this enthusiasm. Or is it that we were brought up at a time when discovering anything on TV or in the cinema that was worth watching made us note them down and seek them out again?

  4. Yes - It's a bloke thing!