Movies: Frank's top picks - Fiberglass RV

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Old 06-09-2007, 05:34 PM   #1
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Years ago back in college I started the Albright College film club. I'd recently put together a substantial film catalogue for myself and friends for use with online DVD rentals. I felt most existing film catalogues weren't very helpful because they try to impress with number of titles, rather than quality, and also tend to be biased toward one critic's opinion. How many folks are interested in all those one or two-star titles anyway?

Using reader feedback sites (especially IMD and Rotten Tomatoes (nation's top film critics) I spent months putting together a personal catalogue of things I'd like to see based on that feedback (though I did eliminate some well-reviewed titles either because they were so-weel known, or because they didn't have much appeal to me or my wife either because of age (children's films) or personal taste (most US sitcoms). Overall, I wound up with maybe 2500 titles I either hadn't seen or saw so long ago that I felt any fair judgement would require a rewatching.

Obviously, I wouldn't try to offer the entire list here. What I would like to make avaialable are my three favorites list, especially since they include some "sleepers" (films folks either never heard of because they didn't get much distribution or films that don't really fit the usual definition of sleepers because they were well known at one time but haven't been seen by most folks for years.

Iíve placed ** before the title of pure sleepers and * next to the second sort of sleeper. Because of sheer unavailabity for most folks, virtually all foreign language films are regarded automatically as fitting the second category. The only mark I use here is the ** to indicate a foreign language film that few have heard of (Líete meurtrier, for example).

Some great films (ďJawsĒ for example) failed to qualify not because I wouldnít rate them highly but because they didnít fit my central purpose: To draw attention to good films I (and others) I forgot about, never heard of or missed.

No matter what anyone else thought, no title appears on this film unless it appealed strong to me.

I've broken these favorites down into three categories:

Category #1: My Rating 95 to 100.

Requirements: A degree of rewatchabiity. Each film had to contain one or more unforgettable scenes or something remarkable. Action films had to be exciting not formulaic, comedies had to make me laugh and drama had to powerful and riveting.

These films deserve to be watched ďsolo.Ē I also wouldnít recommend watching one film after another from the favorites list on successive days. Switching genres occasionally is a nice idea too.

Category #2: My rating 80 to 94

These films are worth watching at least once. Each had something that stood out. These films vary in impact and rewatchability. Youíll probably rate some higher and others lower.

Category #3: Foreign Language Films

For most folks living outside big cities, such films aren't available at all unless theyappear on cable.

Category #3: Foreign Language Films.

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Old 06-09-2007, 06:30 PM   #2
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(TO Save space I've cut out most descriptions except for sleepers. However I often include ratins.)


AFRICAN QUEEN (1951) 8.1 IMBd / nationís top film critics: 100 Humphrey Bogart/ Katherine Hepburn Frankís score: 95 ACTION/DRAMA

ALIENónationís top film critics: 98. Frank says: Itís hard to forget how scary this film was when it first appeared since some things have been so oft imitated since. It's still scary and I think the best of the three. Frankís score: 99 SCI-FI

*THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY (1964) 7.3 IMDb / nationís top critics: 100. essential video Screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky (Marty) sinks his satirical fangs into this story of an American naval officer (James Garner) selected to be the first victim at the invasion of Normandy. Julie Andrews plays a prim, British war widow who falls for him. Frankís score: 97 WAR/DRAMA

APOLLO 13 (1995) 7.5 IMDb / Ebert: 4-star classic / nationís top film critics: 97 NASA's worst nightmare turned into one of the space agency's most heroic moments in 1970, when the Apollo 13 crew was forced to hobble home in a disabled capsule after an explosion seriously damaged the moon-bound spacecraft. Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton play astronauts. Folks say the documentary stuff available with this title is exceptional. Frankís score: 100 SCI FI/ DRAMA

**THE BEAST (1988) 4 Ĺ stars (68 reviews) A great war movie that went virtually unreleased in theaters. During the war in Afghanistan a Soviet tank crew commanded by a tyrannical officer find themselves lost and in a struggle against a band of Mujahadeen guerrillas in the mountains. A unique look at the Soviet 'Vietnam' experience sympathetically told for both sides. Directed by Kevin Reynolds. Frankís score: 97 WAR

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951 B &W) ) 8.1 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 93 A hallmark of the science fiction genre as well as a wry commentary on the political climate of the 1950s. A spacecraft lands in Washington, D.C., carrying a humanoid messenger from another world (Michael Rennie) imparting a warning to the people of Earth to cease their violent behavior. Frankís score: 95 SCI-FI

**FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) nationís top film critics: 96. Frank: I think the title cost this one at the box office. Itís no slasher but a vampire film done with some pretty clever humor. Roddy McDowell is terrific. Frankísís score: 96 SCI-FI

HIGH NOON (1952) 8.3 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 94 One of the greatest Westerns ever made. Directed by Fred Zinnemann, this 1952 classic stars Gary Cooper as just-married lawman forced to face down gunmen on his wedding day. Frankís score: 100 WESTERN

INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956 B &W) 8.0 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 Something's wrong in the town of Santa Mira, California. At first, Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) is unconcerned when the townsfolk accuse their loved ones of acting like emotionless imposters. Directed by Don Siegel (director of so many Eastwood films) . The color remake isn't bad but not quite as good. Frankís score: 98 SCI-FI

KILL BILL, Volume 1 (2003) 8.2 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 84 In this film noir tale written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, an assassin called the Bride (Uma Thurman) is shot at her wedding by her employer, Bill (David Carradine), and other members of their assassin circle. Five years later she starts a quest for revenge. Frankís score = 95 ACTION (Iíd rate the sequel about 85)

LITTLE BIG MAN (1970) 4 Ĺ stars (179 reviews) / Ebert: 4 stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 94 essential video If you missed it originally, see it now, especially if you plan to visit Custer State Park. Dustin Hoffman plays Jack from teen years into old age in a bravura performance....a solid blend of comedy and tragedy, with a strong statement to make about America's treatment of Native Americans without sermonizing. A terrific cast includes Faye Dunaway, Martin Balsam, and Richard Mulligan. --Marshall Fine Frankís score = 95. WESTERN

**LONELY ARE THE BRAVE (1962) 7.7 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 A simple story of the modern-day loner cowboy Jack Burns, brilliantly played by Kirk Douglas. jail. Not yet released on DVD. Frankís score: 97 WESTERN/ DRAMA

*The Lost Patrol (1934) 7.2 IMDb Early John Ford Classic about a 10 man platoon on patrol in the desert of what is now Iraq during World War I. The patrol loses it's officer early and command falls to the uninformed Victor McLaglen,an admired leader with human frailties. Boris Karloff plays a christian zealot who drives fellow patrol members nuts. Frankís score: 95 WAR/DRAMA

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (Millennium Edition) (1968 B&W) 7.8 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 We can hardly imagine how shocking this film was when it first broke into the film scene in 1968. Shot in raw and unadorned fashion, it feels like a home movie, and all the more authentic. Marked by fatality and a grim humor, the film gnaws through to the bone, then proceeds on to the marrow. --Jim Gay Directed by George Romero Frankís score: 95 HORROR

THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES (1976) 7.7 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 essential video One of Clint Eastwood's best westerns. He fired director, Philip Kaufman, and took over the reins of this project himself.Frankís score: 98 WESTERN

PATHS OF GLORY (1957) 8.5 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 93 Kirk Douglas chose the young Stanley Kubrick to direct what would become one of the most powerful films about the wasteful insanity of warfare. Douglas plays Colonel Dax, commander of a battle-worn regiment of the French army along the western front during World War I. Also starring Adolph Menjou and George McCready. If you haven't seen it what are you waiting for? Frankís score: 99 WAR

*REPULSION (1965 B&W) 4 stars (84 reviews) / 8.0 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 essential video Roman Polanskiís exercise in skin-crawling terror. Much of the movie is as wordless (and as weird) as the silent Nosferatu. The young Catherine Deneuve plays a Belgian girl stranded in '60s London who goes gradually, quietly, completely mad. Frankís score: 96 HORROR

THE ROAD WARRIOR (1982) 7.5 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 The second and best in the Max Max Trilogy about survival in a post-nuclear world. Mel Gibson plays Max Max.
Frankís score: 97 SCI FI

SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998) 8.4 IMD / nationís top critics: 96 essential video Steven Spielberg has been able to create a stunning, unparalleled view of war as hell. We are at Omaha Beach as troops are slaughtered by Germans yet overcome the almost insurmountable odds. Frankís score: 98 WAR

STAGECOACH (1939) 7.8 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 essential video This landmark 1939 Western began the legendary relationship between John Ford and John Wayne. Seen today, Stagecoach still impresses as the first mature instance of a Western that is both mythic and poetic. Orson Welles watched Stagecoach over and over while preparing for Citizen Kane. --Bill Desowitz Frankís score: 95 WESTERN

STALAG 17 (1953) 8.1 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 94 essential video Black comedy and suspenseful action inside a German POW camp during World War II. William Holden plays an antisocial grouse amid a gang of wisecracking though indomitable American prisoners. Frankís score: 95 WAR/DRAMA

STARMAN (1984) 6.7 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 93 The only John Carpenter film to earn an Oscar nomination. Best Actor went to Jeff Bridges for his performance as an alien visitor to Earth who is knocked off course and must take an interstate road trip to rendezvous with a mothership from his home planet. Frankís rating: 95 SCI-FI

THE TERMINATOR and two sequels / nationís top film critics: 100, 96 and 71 respectively. Great blend of action and humor. Arnold Schwarzenegger is chilling as a futuristic cyborg who kills without fear, without love, without mercy. Frankís rating: 95 SCI-FI

*THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951) 4 Ĺ stars (151 reviews) / 7.4 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 90 essential video. This 1951 thriller remains a sturdy blueprint for fusing horror and science fiction. Remade later in a very different version by John Carpenter, as ďThe Thing.Ē See the debate on ďWhich is better?Ē at the relevant IMDb page) Frankís rating: 95 SCI/FI

THE UNFORGIVEN (1992) 8.2 IMDb / Ebert: 4-star classic / nationís top film critics: 98 Winner of four Academy Awards, Clint Eastwood's 1992 masterpiece stands as one of the greatest and most thematically compelling Westerns ever made. Frankís score: 99

THE WESTERNER (1940) 7.8 IMDb essential video This classic Western from 1940 rightly earned Walter Brennan his record-setting third Academy Award. Gary Cooper reportedly hesitated to take his role, knowing that Brennan would likely steal the show with his splendid portrayal of "hanging" lawman Judge Roy Bean, but Wyler persisted and Cooper signed on as the drifter who faces Judge Bean under the false accusation of stealing a horse. A good one for RVers. FRANKíS SCORE: 99

**THE WARRIORS - The Ultimate Director's Cut (1979) 7.3 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 92 Pure pulp storytelling, humor, action and surprisingly poetic images merge for an enjoyable cult classic inspired by Greek history (The Anabanasis). have to fight all the way back to their own turf--which means an escalating series of battles Directed by Walter Hill. FRANKíS NOTE AND SCORE: 95 ACTION/COMEDY

THE WILD BUNCH - (1969) 8.0 IMDb / Rogert Ebert: 4-star classic / nationís top film critics: 97 essential video The year is 1913 and the fading band of thieves known as the Wild Bunch (led by William Holden as Pike) decide to pull one last job before retirement. Peckinpah's film becomes an epic yet intimate tale of betrayed loyalties, tenacious rivalry, and the bunch's dogged determination to maintain their fading code of honor among thieves. The 144-minute director's cut restores deleted scenes to deepen the viewer's understanding of the friendship turned rivalry between Pike and his former friend Deke Thornton (Robert Ryan), who now leads a posse in pursuit of the bunch. Frankís score: 99 WESTERN

ZULU (Michael Caine) (1964) 7.9 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 essential video One of the best pure action movies ever made recounts the story of a small regiment of British troops (including a very blue-blooded turn by a young Michael Caine) endlessly besieged by an seemingly unceasing number of fierce attackers. Frankís score: 96 ACTION/WAR


ARE YOU BEING SERVED? The Complete Collection (Series 1-10, 14 Volumes) 7.4 IMDb depicts the squabbles, misadventures, and flirtations of the staff of Grace Brothers department store. It will take you 2070 minutes or 34 Ĺ hours to get through the whole BBC series. Frankís score: 95

THE BANK DICK - Criterion Collection (1940) 7.6 IMDb / Ebert: ď4-star classicĒ/ nationís top film critics: 100 : WC Field's funiest comedy. I strongy recommend you go to Robert Ebert's site and read his comments on this one. Frankís score: 95

**BRASSED OFF! (1997) 5 stars/59 reviews/ 7.1 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 81 Peter Postlewaite, Tara Fitzgerald, Ewan McGregor. A superb film based very closely on a true story. The band members you see actually playing the music are the real life Grimethorpe Colliery Band. Frankís score: 95 SLEEPER

BULL DURHAM (1988) 7.0 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 video Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins and Keven Costner in a movie about a minor league baseball team. Frankís score: 95

**FATHER TED 9.0 IMDb BBC comedy series. about three offbeat priests set in Ireland. Dermot Morgan, who plays the title role, died a day after the last episode was filmed or the series would surely have had many more episodes. The best one, I think, is the episode with three visiting bishops. Netflix has Series 1-2 (on one collection) and Series 3 (second collection). Frankís score: 97

*HAIRSPRAY (1988) 6.6 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 96 essential video John Waters made his bid for PG respectability with this enjoyably trashy comedy about the racial integration of a teen dance show on Baltimore television in the early '60s. Waters, as always, makes a virtue of junk culture and the powerful emotional forces it can represent as kids vie to get on the show. Meanwhile, a parade of former stars (Pia Zadora, Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono) and pseudostars (Divine, Ricki Lake) cross the screen, playing freakish characters absorbed by thoughts of fame. (Waters himself turns up as a weirdo psychiatrist.) --Tom Keogh Frankís score: 97

**HOBSON'S CHOICE (1952) 6.9 IMDb Three daughters attempt to turn the tables on their tyranical father, Henry Hobson (Charles Laughton) runs a successful bootmaker's shop in nineteenth-century Salford. Frankís score: 98 (Not available on DVD yet last time I checked)

LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (2006) 8.2 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 93 Olive is a little girl with a dream: winning the Little Miss Sunshine contest. Her family wants her dream to come true, but they are so burdened with their own quirks, neuroses, and problems that they can barely make it through a day without some disaster befalling them. Circumstances conspire to put the entire family on the road together with the goal of getting Olive to the Little Miss Sunshine contest in far off California. Frankís score: 97

THE LONGEST YARD (1974) 7.1 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 80 Director Robert Aldrichís directed the original version about a group of prisoners who decide to take on the guards in a game of football. Frankís score: 96

MY COUSIN VINNY (1992) 7.2 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 91 When two Italian-American boys from New York are falsely accused of murder in a small Alabama town, they call for a lawyer--but the only lawyer they know is their cousin Vinny (Joe Pesci), who made six attempts before he passed his bar exam. Marisa Tomei, playing Vinny's big-haired and black-leather-wearing fiancťe, is terrific. Frankís score: 96

MY FAVORITE YEAR (1982) 7.2 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 The story, set in 1954, focuses on one of the writers for the show (Mark Linn-Baker), who is given the task of chaperoning that week's TV guest star, a famously ill-behaved movie star named Alan Swann. He's based on Errol Flynn and played with Oscar-nominated glee by Peter O'Toole. -Marshall Fine Frankís score: 95

THE NAKED GUN (1988) 5 stars /21 reviews at amazon. As one critic said about the first movie, ďItís always hysterical no matter how much you watch it.Ē Leslie Nielson is
a perfect choice as Lt. Frank Dreben, a bumbling police detective who works for a special division of the police force known as "Police Squad. Check out Roger Ebert's comments on the series.

**PINK FLAMINGOS (1972) 5.7 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 84 The 20-minute film that made John Waters famous is NOT for folks with conservative tastes though his "Hairspray willl appeal to almost anyone. As one IMDb moviegoer put it, ďEven if you -- the reader, wanted to make the most disgusting movie in the world and even if you had the money and the skills that John Waters lacked in 1972, you couldn't make a film as good as he did. Frankís score: 98

Roger Ebert--who unlike many other critics was offended--describes the film : ďThe plot involves a rivalry between two competing factions for the title of Filthiest People Alive. In one corner: a transvestite named Divine (who dresses like a combination of a showgirl, a dominatrix, and Bozo); her mentally-ill mother (sits in a crib eating eggs and making messes); her son (likes to involve chickens in his sex life with strange women); and her lover (likes to watch son with strange women and chickens). In the other corner: Mr. and Mrs. Marble, who kidnap hippies, chain them in a dungeon, and force their butler to impregnate them so that after they die in childbirth their babies can be sold to lesbian couples."

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (1999) 7.4 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 94 Te film tracks young Will Shakespeare's overwrought battle with writer's block and the efforts of theater owner Philip Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush, in rare form) to stage Will's latest comedy, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter. i

SIXTEEN CANDLES (1984) 6.9 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 90 essential The best of John Hughes teenaged comedies. Frankís score: 95

*WHERE'S POPPA? (1970) 6.6 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 Carl Reiner directed this wild exercise in bad taste, an explosion of dark comedy starring George Segal and Ruth Gordon. Segal is a beleaguered New York lawyer and mama's boy who still lives with his senile mother because he promised his late father he'd never put her in a home. Frankís score: 96

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Old 06-09-2007, 07:33 PM   #3
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*THE ASPHAULT JUNGLE (1950) 7.8 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 95 Sterling Hayden as a tough guy John Huston's superbly calibrated crime classic about a jewel robbery, which can't possibly work out as well as planned. A great cast. Frank's score: 100

*BLOOD SIMPLE (1985) 7.7 IMDb / Ebert: 4 stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 100 The story concerns a Texas bar owner (Dan Hedaya) who hires a seedy private detective (M. Emmett Walsh) to follow his cheating wife (Frances McDormand in her first film appearance), and then kill her and her lover (John Getz). Frankís rating: 95

BOOMTOWN - Season One (2002) 5 stars (60 reviews) / 7.8 IMDb / NBC crime Each episode of this series, set in present day Los Angeles, examines one crime from many different viewpoints . The show got hurt by a terrible time slot. Frankís rating: 95

A BRONX TALE (1993) 4 Ĺ star (111 reviews) / 7.5 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 Chazz Palminteri wrote the script for this excellent story of an Italian American boy (Lillo Brancato) who grows up in the 1960s caught between the strong influences of his blue-collar, straight- arrow father (Robert De Niro) and a Mafia chieftain (Palminteri) who is his all-purpose mentor. --Tom Keogh Frankís rating: 95

CHINATOWN (1974) 8.5 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 essential video Roman Polanski's brooding film noir exposes the darkest side of the land of sunshine, the Los Angeles of the 1930s, where power is the only currency. Jack Nicholson is J.J. Gittes, a private eye in the Chandler mold. Frankís rating: 98

THE CONVERSATION (1974) 8.1 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 97 essential video Francis Ford Coppola's taut masterpiece about responsibility, privacy, alienation, and paranoia is part Hitchcockian thriller, part grim character study. Gene Hackman plays Harry Caul, a guarded wreck of a human being whose profession as the world's greatest surveillance expert has detached him from everyday reality. Frankís rating: 98

**A DARK ADAPTED EYE (1995) 7.6 IMDb This psychological gem, adapted from Ruth Rendell's novel depicts a family on the edge. Two sisters, the elder obsessive Vera, and the younger, manipulative Eden, cut a path of jealousy, murder and revenge that leads to the destruction of their entire family. PBS Not on DVD yet but keep your eye out ! ($2 VHS at amazon on 1/2/07) Frankís rating: 98

DIRTY HARRY SERIES starring Clint Eastwood as San Franciscoís Inspector Callaghan. Look the series up via online. Frankís rating: 95

FARGO (Special Edition) (1996) 8.2 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 93 The Coen brothers concoct a fiendishly clever kidnap caper that's simultaneously a comedy of errors, a Midwestern satire, a taut suspense thriller, and a violent tale of criminal misfortune. It begins when a hapless car salesman (William H. Macy) ineptly orchestrates the kidnapping of his own wife. Frankís ratings: 97

*GILDA (1946) 7.7 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 93 Rita Hayworth shimmers in the 1946 classic, which spins on a tortured plot involving the title character (Hayworth); her imperious husband (George Macready--see Paths of Glory), a ruthless casino owner and head of an Argentine tungsten cartel (!); and Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford), Gilda's ex-lover and now her husband's go-fer. Frankís rating: 98

*JOHNNY APOLLO (1940) 5 stars (9 reviews) / 6.6 IMDb A dazzling proto-noir gangster film, featuring Tyrone Power in one of his best roles, as "Johnny Apollo," a wealthy man's son who changes his name and turns to a life of crime after his father is exposed as an embezzler and sent to prison. VHS only last I checked Frankís rating: 95

LAW AND ORDER 8.1 IMDb NBC Crime series. No description needed. Frankís rating: 97

*THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY - Criterion Collection (1982) 7.7 IMDb / Ebert: 4 stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 93 essential video Intricately plotted and smartly paced, this gangster saga clicks as whodunit, social satire, and explosive thriller. The piece is crowned by Bob Hoskins's career-making turn as a London mobster courting respectability and Helen Mirren's subtly detailed performance as his upper-crust mistress. Use the subtites if the cockney accent bothers you. Frankís rating: 97

*THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955) 8.2 IMDB / nationís top film critics: 100 essential video This masterpieceóthe only movie directed by Charles Laughtonówas based on a solo screenplay by legendary critic James Agee who also cowrote The African Queen. Nobody has ever made anything approaching its phantasmagoric, overheated style in which German expressionism, religious hysteria, fairy-tale fantasy and stalker movie blend in a furious boil. Itís the suspenseful tale of a demented preacher (Robert Mitchum) who torments a boy and his little sister--even marries their mixed-up mother (Shelley Winters)--because he's certain the kids know where their late bank-robber father hid a stash of stolen money. Some of itís images are so damatic they still haunt audiences (and filmmakers) today. --Jim Emerson Frankís rating: 97

*PRIMIE SUSPECT SERIES (1 to 7) IMD rating 8.0 to 8.7 Jane Mirren is outstanding as Inspector Jane Tennyson. PBS Mysteries Frankís rating: 97

*PRINCE OF THE CITY (1981) 7.3 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 Starts well and gets totally riveting as it progresses. Far better than Serpico). Treat Williams plays a corrupt New York narcotics detective who tries to redeem himself by volunteering to go undercover on the force to weed out other corrupt policeman only to find himself facing an increasingly difficult series of moral dilemmas involving his former partners. Possibly the best cop film ever made. Not yet on DVD last I checked. Frankís rating: 100

*THE SET-UP (1949) 8.1 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 83 An over-the-hill pug (Robert Ryan) as he arrives at an arena for a match against a younger opponent. What he doesn't know yet is that his crooked manager has agreed to throw the fight for some gangsters. Ryan was a boxer himself before becoming an actor. --Robert Horton Director Robert Wise Frankís rating: 96

THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS - Criterion Collection (1991) 8.6 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 97 This terrifying film by Jonathan Demme featrues Anthony Hopkins is extraordinary as the cannibalistic psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter pitting wits with FBI agent-in-training Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) Frankís rating: 96

SLEUTH (1972) 8.2 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 88 essential video Wicked, nasty, delicious fun. Laurence Olivier is a wealthy, veddy English mystery writer. He invites Michael Caine to his elaborate country house, in order to settle some rather unpleasant business between them. Frankís rating: 100

THE SOPRANOS- The Complete First Season (1999) 4 Ĺ stars / 258 reviews / nationís top film critics: 100 The Sopranos, writer-producer-director David Chase's extraordinary television series chronicles a dysfunctional, suburban American family in bold relief. And for protagonist Tony Soprano, there's the added complexity posed by heading twin families, his collegial mob clan and his own, nouveau riche brood. Frankís rating: 98

**THE THREE BURIALS OF MELCHIADES ESTRADES (2006) 7.8 IMDb / Ebert: 4 stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 83 One of the most acclaimed films of 2005 stars Tommy Lee Jones, Barry Pepper (of Saving Private Ryan) and a good supporting cast. Jones directs for the first time. Frankís score: 95

THE TREASURE OF SIERRE MADRE (1948) 8.2 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 essential video Ironically, it was a box-office failure when released in 1948. At that time audiences didn't accept Humphrey Bogart in a role that was intentionally unappealing, but time has proven this to be one of Bogart's very best performances. It's a grand adventure and a superior character study built around the timeless themes of greed and moral corruption. As adapted by writer-director John Huston (from a novel by enigmatic author B. Traven) it became a definitive treatment of fate and futility in the obsessive pursuit of wealth. Bogart plays Fred C. Dobbs, a down-and-out wage-worker in Mexico who stakes his meager earnings on a gold-prospecting expedition to the Sierra mountains. Frankís ratings: 100

24 (FOX THRILLER) 8.4 IMDb Kiefer Sutherland as an FBI agent battles terrorists and other criminals. Each ďshowĒ represents one hour in real time so an entire series always consists of 24 episodes. FRANK SAYS: I watched the first season (4 disks). THE GOOD: When it comes to building suspense, the show meets its primary requirement. Itís almost as successful as Spielberg in his famous little trucker/ road thriller. Sutherland is excellent. THE BAD: Some plot developments were predictable or manipulative. At one point the writer keeps the suspense going by having a character come up with a hard-to-credit case of amnesia. I also get annoyed when a thriler includes a driver who keeps turning his or her eyes off the road to look back at some threat he is fleeing. What are mirrors for? It's like those old SF movies in which you can bet your house that the woman fleeting the monster will trip. Frankís rating: 95

THE UNTOUCHABLES (1987) 7.9 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 83 essential video A rousing potboiler directed by Brian De Palma from a script by David Mamet pits four underdog heroes against a singular villain in Al Capone, played by Robert De Niro as a dapper caesar holding court. Frankís rating: 95

WITNESS (Special Collector's Edition) (1985) 7.5 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 essential video When Samuel (Lukas Haas), a young Amish boy traveling with his mother Rachel (Kelly McGillis), witnesses the murder of a police officer in a public restroom, he and his mother become the temporary wards of John Book (Harrison Ford), a detective who's been assigned to solve the crime. Frankís rating: 97

WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION (1958) 8.1 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 This is one of those movies with enough double-crossing twists to keep the viewer guessing right up to the very end, when yet another surprise is deftly essential video Billy Wilder cowrote and directed this brilliant 1957 mystery based on Agatha Christie's celebrated play about an aging London barrister (Charles Laughton) who's preparing to retire when he takes the defense in the most vexing murder case of his distinguished career. Frankís rating: 99

**WIRE IN THE BLOOD - 8.6 IMDb PBS Mysteries Brilliant, passionate and eccentric, clinical psychologist Dr. Tony Hill (Robson Green) has an extraordinary understanding of the criminal mind. It enables him to empathize with both victim and murderer Ė and even to visualize the crimes. Dr. Hill helps the police profile and track down vicious killers in northern England. There have been four seasons to date. Frank says: Iíve seen the four episodes in Set Two. They were excellent. I believe the length of each in this case was about 90 minutes. Frankís score = 95.


**BLEAK HOUSE (2005) 9.1 IMDb A remake of a fine old Masterpiece Theatre offering that featured Diana Rigg. The remake has Gillian Anderson ("X-Files") as Lady Dedlock, and a cast of 80 speaking roles, many of which are played by actors that will send you searching the cast listings that go by too quickly at the end of each episode. (15 episodes on 3 disks. Eight hours) Frankís score: 99 MASTERPIECE THEATER

CINDERELLA MAN (2005) nationís top film critics: 82 In dramatizing the legendary Depression-era comeback of impoverished boxer Jim Braddock, director Ron Howard benefits from another superb collaboration with Russell Crowe. Frankís score: 95 USA

A CRY IN THE DARK (1988) 5 stars (20 reviews) / 6.8 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 90 essential video A harrowing film by director Fred Schepisi, based on a true story. Meryl Streep and Sam Neill play a married couple on a camping trip whose baby disappears. This one shreads media bloodhounds Frankís rating: 96 AUSTRALIA

**DANCER IN THE DARK 7.8 IMDb / Ebert: 3 Ĺ stars out of 4 / nationís top fim critics: 67 Lars von Trier's digicam musical split the critics in two when it debuted at Cannes in 2000. Some saw it as a cynical shock-opera from a manipulative charlatan, others wept openly at its scenes of raw emotion and heart-rending intensity. VonTrier is a genius whose inventiveness takes getting used to. Youíll have a hard time turning away in the last hour of this film. Donít make the mistake of critizing the musical segments for being slightly off. Itís intentional and fits the film as would never be so if the music and dancing treated ďnormally.Ē As a moviegoer at amazon. observes: ďWhat is wrong with occasionally being manipulated by a filmmaker Ė especially when it is done so masterfully?Ē Frankís rating = 98 USA/ DENMARK

*THE DUTCHESS OF MALFI (1972) 7.6 IMDb John Webster's bloodthirsty tragedy of revenge with Eileen Atkins. Not available on DVD yet. PBS

*ELIZABETH R (1972) 9.0 IMDb Glenda Jackson is majestic in the six-video miniseries from the BBC. Frankís score: 96 but some segments get a l00. MASTERPIECE THEATER

*A FACE IN THE CROWD (1957) 8.1 IMDb nationís top critics: 100 Director Elia Kazan's explores the dangerous manipulative power of pop culture. In Kazan's account, scripted by Budd Schulberg, a country singer is promoted to national fame as a folksy TV idol by radio producer Patricia Neal, Griffith's Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes turns out to be a megalomaniacal rat bastard. An extraordinary supporting cast includes Walter Matthau and Lee Remick. Frankís score: 97. (See if you can guess which early TV celetrity this film was based on.) USA

**A HANDFUL OF DUST (1988) 4 stars (8 reviews) / 6.9 IMDb (Ebert: 3 stars out of 4) Adapted from Evelyn Waugh's Jazz Age satire, A Handful of Dust is a brutal story of a failed marriage with shattering consquences. James Wilby stars as a country gentleman, Tony Last, who loves rattling around his expansive estate, Hetton Abbey. Tony's wife, Brenda (Kristin Scott Thomas), however, pines for London's excitement and commences an affair in the city with penniless aristocrat John Beaver (Rupert Graves). Frankís score: 95 GREAT BRITAIN

*HENRY IV, PART I (1979) David Gwilliam-Smith in the lead role with Anthony Quayle as Falstaff. Not yet on DVD. Frankís score: 95 PBS/ GREAT BRITAIN

HORATION HORNBLOWER SERIES - IMD ratings for eight episodes range from 7.7 to 8.1 These are adaptations of C.S. Forrester's series on the adventures of Horatio Hornblower in he British navy during the Napoleonic Wars. Frankís score: 96 MASTERPIECE THEATER

HOTEL RWANDA (2005) 8.5 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 91 Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle) plays the Rwandan manager of the four-star HŰtel des Mille Collines which becomes an oasis for Europeans and for African ťlites. When the Hutu massacres of the Tutsi minority begin, in the spring of 1994. Frankís score: 96

HUD (1963) 7.9 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 88 Martin Ritt directs young Paul Newman, the never-do-well son of rancher Melvyn Douglas. Fine performances by Douglas and Patricia Neal. --Marshall Fine Frankís score: 95 USA

I, CLAUDIUS (1977) 9.4 IMDb Derek Jacobi plays Roman Emperor Claudius, who reflects in old age on his life and his remarkable family, giving us a nasty history lesson that's unlike anything you learned in school. The first episode is a bit slow but after that the series really takes off. Frankís score: 99 MASTERPIECE THEATER

**INTERMISSION (2003) 6.6 IMDb Roger Ebert: 3 Ĺ stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 73 A deliriously ambitious black comedy in which 54 characters and 11 plotlines compete for consistently impressive screen-time. In a dazzling display of audacity, screenwriter Mark O'Rowe and first-time director John Crowley jump from one plot to another, tangling their characters in an infectious series of intersecting events, shifting from scenes of brutal violence, poignant compassion, and richly dark humor, and somehow managing to make it all fit together. Colin Farrell and Colm Meaney are in peak form on native soil, but the entire cast shines in equal measure. This one is so full of surprises you'll want to see it twice, just to marvel at the way its puzzle fits together. Click for English subtitles because the accents are strong. Frankís rating and notes: 96 (Donít be put off by that first brutal scene. Within 15 minutes youíll notice how the plots start to interrelate. Not for those who insist on linear plots). IRELAND

IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER (1994) nationís top fim critics: 93 Based on a true story, this rousing and tough-minded film details British overzealousness in prosecuting an IRA bombing in the 1970s. Grabbing up a pair of small-time thieves (Daniel Day-Lewis and John Lynch) and their families, the government concocts a conspiracy case against them and tosses them all in jail. Great acting by Pete Postlethwaite as the father and by Emma Thompson, as the lawyer who finally cracks through the British obstructions to the truth. --Marshall Fine Frankís rating: 97 IRELAND

**INSIDE MOVES 7.4 IMDb This highly entertaining film has it all: humor, romance, action and very good acting. After a failed suicide attempt leaves him partially crippled, Rory (John Savage) begins spending a lot of time at a neighborhood bar full of interesting misfits. When Jerry the bartender suddenly finds himself playing basketball for the Golden State Warriors, Rory and the rest of the bar regulars hope his success will provide a lift to their sagging spirits. Will Jerry forget his friends? (VHS only for now) Frankís score: 96 USA

THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (1971) 7.9 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 essential video Based on the novel by Larry McMurtry and lovingly directed by Peter Bogdanovich this is a eulogy for lost innocence and small-town life set in the tiny, dying town of Anarene, Texas. Frankís score: 95 USA

*MATEWAN (1987) 7.7 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 essential video A fictional story about labor wars among West Virginia coal miners during the 1920's combines moral complexity combined with gut-wrenching tragedy. Every detail is so right the film has the unmistakable ring of truth. Chris Cooper plays a United Mine Workers representative. A milestone of independent filmmaking by writer-director John Sayles.óamazon review Frankís score: 95 USA

**NORTH COUNTRY (2005) 7.3 IMDb / Ebert: 4 stars out of 4 Based on an inspiring real-life event that took place in the 1970s, North Country stars Charlize Theron in another low-glamour but high-impact role as Josey Aimes, one of only a handful of women working in the Minnesota iron mines. Forced to labor under sexist conditions, she and her female colleagues decide to stand up against the unrelenting harassment from their male counterparts. Frances McDormand, Sissy Spacek and Woody Harrelson co-star. Ėnetflix Frankís notes and score = 95

ON THE WATERFRONT (1954) 8.3 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 Elia Kazan's On the film is one of the most gripping melodramas of political corruption and individual heroism ever made in the United States, a five-star gut-grabber. Shot around the docks of Hoboken, New Jersey, in the mid-1950s, it tells the fact-based story of a longshoreman (Marlon Brando's Terry Malloy) who is blackballed and savagely beaten for informing against the mobsters who have taken over his union and sold it out to the bosses. Also starring Karl Malden and Lee J. Cobb --David Chute Frankís score: 96 USA

**Once Were Warriors (1995) 4 Ĺ stars (127 reviews) / 7.8 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 93 This powerful little gemóMY FAVORITE FILM OF ALL TIMEóis highly rewatchable. Itís not plot thatís important but the behavior of the characters and the superb acting performance of both leads which becomes even more apparent when rewatching. For the first half hour or so youíll be puzzled by my raves. Like a skeptical friend did (an urban high school teacher), you may well say, ďSo what? I see people like this every day.Ē The sledge hammer descends on audiences just after the party scene. This film mixes elements of Streetcar Name Desire with Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf. though cleverly interspersed with occasional light scenes. Frank's score:100 NEW ZEALAND

**PHAR LAP (1984) 5 stars (62 reviews) / 6.9 IMDb Another gem from down under is among the top ten on my all time favorites list. Like ďOnce Were WarriorsĒ it shows that you can make a great film without big name stars and a monster budget,. All you need know is that itís based on a true story about an Australian race horse in the thirties (and far superior to the American ďSeabiscuit. Frankís score: 99 AUSTRALIA

REVERSAL OF FORTUNE (1990) 7.2 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 95 essential video One of the most intriguing criminal trials of the 1980s involved Claus von BŁlow, who was accused of sending his rich wife Sunny into a permanent coma with an overdose of insulin. Director Barbet Schroeder, working from Nicholas Kazan's evocative, darkly humorous script, turns the story into both a look at the lives of rich folks with too much time on their hands and a whodunit, as lawyer Alan Dershowitz (Ron Silver) prepares to defend von BŁlow (Jeremy Irons) in court. Irons won an Oscar for his spooky, knowing performance. Frankís score: 98 USA

ROMEO AND JULIET (1968) 7.7 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 96 Franco Zeffirelli's adaptation was unique in its day for casting kids in the play's pivotal roles of, well, kids. Seventeen-year-old Leonard Whiting and 15-year-old Olivia Hussey play the titular pair, the Bard's star-crossed lovers who defy a running feud between their families in order to be together in love. This Romeo and Juliet brought a different tone and dimension to a story that had become stale. Frankís score: 95. GREAT BRITAIN

**SHATTERED GLASS (2003) 4 Ĺ stars (103 reviews) / 7.5 IMDb / nationís top film crtics: 90 In telling the true story of fallen journalist and pathological liar Stephen Glass, writer-director Billy Ray had to thoroughly and believably demonstrate how Glass (Hayden Christensen) could single-handedly betray the trust of vigilant editors, writers, fact-checkers, and copyeditors while he falsified numerous highly praised articles as a hot, seemingly gifted reporter for The New Republic magazine in the late 1990s--Jeff Shannon Frankís score: 95 USA

SPARTACUS - Criterion Collection (1960) 8.0 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 96 Stanley Kubrick directed this epic saga based on ancient historical events when a vagabond slave-army led by an ex-gladiator, Spartacus (Kirk Douglas), threatened the very sovereignty of Rome. This film has everything, including a wonderfully funny (and Oscar-winning) performance from Peter Ustinov as the cowardly owner of a gladiator school. Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton, Jean Simmons and Tony Curtis round out a superb cast. Screenplay by previously blacklisted Dalton Trumbo Frankís score: 95 USA

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (1951) 8.0 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 essential video Marlon Brando spellbinds as the brutish Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams' classic rumination on carnal attraction and faded gentility.Frankís score: 96 USA

***WHO AM I THIS TIME? (1982) 4 Ĺ stars (12 reviews) / 7.5 IMDb If you are familiar with Streetcar Named Desire you'll get a special kick out of this 50-minute Jonathem Demme film based on a Kurt Vonnegut story. Christopher Walken, Susan Sarandon. Frankís score: 97

WHOSE AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1966) / 7.9 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 An undisputed classic that chronicles every appalling moment of a drunken night in hell as middle-aged academic couple George and Martha (Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor tear each other, and their guests (George Segal and Sandy Dennis, to pieces.with some of the most biting dialogue every written. Frankís score: 98 USA

(Frank's notes: If folks are interested, I'll provide my other two favorites list. I've held off because I didn't want to take up too much space here).
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Old 06-11-2007, 06:37 PM   #4
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I felt these films are worth seeing at least once. My rating is a bit lower here (80 to 94). Some fine B films are included. Again ** means a sleeper and * refers to a semi-sleeper. Many of the latter did get some publicity but long ago and you may have missed them. If a film is fairly well known (but not a blockbuster) I may give only the title.


AIR FORCE ONE (1997) 6.2 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 77 Frankís score: 84

*ATTACK (1956) 7.6 IMDb Director Robert Aldrich. The story, set in "Europe: 1944", concerns Fox Company which is "led" by the incompetent Captain Cooney (Eddie Albert) under the protection of Lee Marvin, who is fully aware of his incompetence. Lt. Costa (Jack Palance) has lost men and has been sent carelessly into deadly situations by Cooney. Frankís score: 90 WAR

BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK (1955) 7.9 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 This modern wester directed by John Sturges stars Spencer Tracey, Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin. Frankís score: 93 WESTERN

THE BIG COUNRY (1958) 7.7 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, Burl Ives and Chuck Conners in a western by WIlliam Wyler. Frank's score = 87 WESTERN

THE BIG RED ONE - The Reconstruction (Two-Disc Special Edition) (2004) 7.2 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 90 The version released to theaters ran barely half as long as the director's cut by Sam Fuller. The original was 270 minutes but cut to 113 minutes. Roger Ebert notes: Film critic Richard Schickel has overseen a reconstruction that brings the film up to 158 minutes, and it reveals a richness and pacing missing in the earlier version; one suspects that the 270-minute version was a rough cut even Fuller would have trimmed. Frankís score: 87 (score could change with reconstructed edition)

BLACK HAWK DOWN (2002) 5 stars (4 reviews) / 7.6 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 76 Action/war drama based on the best-selling book detailing a near-disastrous mission in Somalia on October 3, 1993 Frankís score: 83 WAR

BLADE RUNNER - The Director's Cut (Remastered Limited Edition) (1982) 4 stars (20 reviews) / 8.3 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 The DVD isnít what you saw in the theaters but director Ridley Scott's own vision of his sci-fi classic. It removes the "uplifting" finale and adds emotional impact. Supposedly a great film is made greater. My Score: 80 (but could be higher after a rewatch because of restorations).

*BREAKHEART PASS (1976) 6.3 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 80 Charles Bronson in an Alistair MacLean thriller set on a train passing through the Rocky Mountains toward a fort on the coast. It features a cast of solid character actors, ranging from Charles Durning, Richard Crenna, and Ben Johnson to guys whose faces you'll recognize.óamazon review Frankís score: 88 ACTION/WESTERN

**CLASS OF 1984 (1982) Ebert: 3 Ĺ stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 54 Andy is a new teacher and a rough inner city high school where everything is basically run by a tough kid named Peter Stegman. Roddy McDowell is outstanding. (Frankís note: I agree with Ebert on this one which many critics panned. A good B film). Frankís score: 88

COLD MOUNTAIN (2003) 7.3 IMDb (24,000+ votes) / nationís top film critics: 71 Anthony Minghella directs this tale based on the best-selling book about wounded Civil War soldier Inman (Jude Law) making the long, treacherous journey to his home in Cold Mountain, N.C. Frankís score: 92

DAS BOOT - The Director's Cut (1982) 8.5 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 This is the restored, 209-minute director's cut of Wolfgang Petersen's harrowing and claustrophobic U-boat thriller. Frankís score = 90 (could go higher with restored cuts added).

DEAD CALM (1989) nationís top critics: 95 Rousing Australian thriller from 1987 that catapulted Nicole Kidman to international stardom. She plays a young wife who's joined her husband (Sam Neill) on a yachting trip. They encounter a sinking ship with one survivor (Billy Zane, ten years before Titanic), but inviting him aboard turns out to be a very bad idea. Frankís rating: 90

DELIVERANCE (1972) 7.9 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 97 John Boorman's nightmarish adaptation of poet-novelist James Dickey's story about four Atlanta businessmen who run into big trouble on a camping trip-- Jon Voight. Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox. Frankís score: 92 ACTION

*THE EDGE (1997) Amazon 4 Ĺ stars (108 reviews) 6.5 IMDb / Ebert: 3 stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 57 Writer David Mamet created two engrossing and memorable characters, played by Alec Baldwin as the urbane fashion photographer and Anthony Hopkins as a reserved and intellectual billionaire. They find themselves teamed up against a giant Kodiak bear, and their own inner demons, when lost together in the Alaskan wilderness. Hereís an example of a film with a so-so rating that I enjoyed. Iím voting with the minority of critics here. Frankís score: 90

THE EMERALD FOREST (1985) 6.8 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 87 Powers Boothe plays an American engineer working on a dam project in Brazil whose son disappears one day. He spends ten years searching for the youngster, played by the son of director John Boorman. Frankís score: 92 ACTION

ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ (1979) 7.4 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 92 Don Siegel directs Clint Eastwood. Frankís score: 90 ACTION

FACE/OFF (1997) 7.1 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 92 John Woo's first American film about a hero and villain who exchange identities by literally swapping faces in science-fiction plastic surgery. Frank's Score: 86 SCI-FI

**FEAR IS THE KEY (1972) 6.2 IMDb WOW! One real gem of a B-movie. Watch for this one when it comes out on DVD though it is on VHS. The plot from a thriller by AListair MacLean is packed with twists from beginning to end, and the characters are not always what they seem. Good performances from everyone involved, though no big stars. Clint Eastwood's best and favorite nemesis, John Vernon appears here as the archvillain, supported by an early hairy Ben Kingsley. This film is no less than a little masterpiece, with a strong though unpredictable story, and an energetic soundtrack, as an IMDb moveigoer notes. Frankís score: 88 ACTION

THE FISHER KING (1991) 7.4 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 87 Arthurian mythology and modern day decay complement each other in this Terry Gilliam drama/comedy/fantasy. Shock jock Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges) makes an off-handed radio remark that causes a man to go on a killing spree, leaving Lucas unhinged with guilt. Frankís note: I almost gave up on this offbeat filmóthe sort that takes off later, growing stronger in the second the sort of film that grows stronger as it goes along). My score: 84 FANTASY

THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX (1965) 7.6 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 87 Robert Aldrich's tense, 1965 drama about a plane crash in the Sahara is a unique psychological study of men in desperate circumstances. Superb performances by James Stewart, Richard Attenborough, Hardy KrŁger, Peter Finch. Superior to the later remake. Frankís score: 91 WAR

FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956) 7.7 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 This pop adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest is one of the most influential science fiction movies ever made. My score: 87 FANTASY

**FORTRESS (1985) 6.8 IMDb A teacher and her class are kidnapped by gunmen in the Australian outback. Frankís rating: 85 ACTION/THRILLER

GALLIPOLI (Special Edition) (1981) 4 Ĺ stars (104 reviews) / nationís top film critics: 93 essential video Director Peter Weir's film about two Australian youngsters who get caught up in the Gallipoli campaign during World War I. Mel Gibson. The DVD includes a documentary sets up the context of the battle including historical pictures and footage of the current battleground. Frankís rating: 91 WAR

GLADIATOR (2000) 8.1 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 78 Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe. Frankís score: 86

THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY (1967) 8.9 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef in the Sergio Leonís famous western. Frankís score: 94

THE GREAT ESCAPEówell known & frequenly available. Frankís score: 94. WAR

**GROUND ZERO (1987) 6.5 IMDb An IMDb moviegoer wrote: ďMy husband and I agreed it was one of the best that we'd ever seen and we've watched it many times since. The film is set in Australia. A plane is found, still highly radioactive, buried in the desert; no one knows why but it's been there for over 30 years. There's a skeleton inside, also unknownÖ.IMDb moviegoer VHS only for now. Frank says: Like quite a few Aussie films listed here, itís a good ďBĒ thriller.Ē Frankís rating: 84

THE GUNS OF NAVARONE (1961) 7.5 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 95 This well-known WWII film is the third on my list to come from an Alistair McLean thriller. Gregory Peck stars. Frankís score: 94 WAR

HANG 'EM HIGH (1968) 6.8 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 80 Clint Eastwood plays an innocent rancher who is mistaken for a cattle rustler and sentenced to hang by an angry mob. Frankís score: 90 WESTERN

HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER (1973) 7.5 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 Clint Eastwood's second film as a director is a variation on the "man with no name" theme, starring Eastwood as the drifter known only as "the Stranger." This is both a serious and tongue-in-cheek tribute to the Westerns that made Eastwood a household name. Frankís score: 90.

THE KILLING FIELDS (1984) 8.0 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 This harrowing but rewarding 1984 drama concerns the real-life relationship between New York Times reporter Sidney Schanberg (Sam Waterson) and his Cambodian assistant Dith Pran (Haing S. Ngor), the latter left at the mercy of the Khmer Rouge after Schanberg--who chose to stay after American evacuation but was booted out--failed to get him safe passage. Frankís score = 87 WAR

THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (1992) 7.6 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 97 Michael Mann's film of James Fenimore Cooper's novel. Daniel Day-Lewis plays Hawkeye., an American settler raised by the Mohicans who is forced to serve as a guide for British adventurism in upstate New York. Frank says: This one has a great film score. Frankís rating = 90

LIFEBOAT (Special Edition) (1944) 7.8 IMDb nationís top film critics: 94 Part mystery, part wartime polemic from director Alfred Hitchcock. Frankís score: 89 WAR

THE LONG RIDERS (1980) 7.1 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 90 This terrific Walter Hill Western follows the careers of the James and Younger brothers--and uses the nifty idea of casting siblings in the roles. Great soundtrack from Ry Cooder Frankís score = 85

THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING (1975) 8.0 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 A grandly entertaining, old-fashioned adventure based on the Rudyard Kipling story. John Huston directs Sean Connery and Michael Caine. Frankís score: 92

MISERY (1990) 4 Ĺ stars (147 reviews) / 7.6 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 92 Based on a Stephen King tale about a writer (James Caan) terrorized by an obcessive fan, Kathy Bates. Frank's score: 85

PALE RIDER (1985) 6.9 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 93 Eastwood directs and stars as the nameless stranger known only as "Preacher," because he rides into a beleaguered mining town wearing a clerical collar. Frankís score: 88 WESTERN

PATRIOT GAMES (Special Edition) (1992) 6.8 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 76 Harrison Ford as Tom Clancy's CIA analyst Jack Ryan in a film directed by Phillip Noyce. Ryan and his family are on vacation when Ryan saves a member of the British royal family from attack by Irish terrorists led by Sean Bean. Frankís score: 89 ACTION

PATTON (1970) 8.1 IMDb / Ebert ď4-star classicĒ/ nationís top film critics: 100 George C. Scott in the greatest role of his career portrays Gen. George S. Patton as a crazy-brave genius of World War II. Frankís score: 93 WAR

PLATOON (1986) 8.1 IMDb nationís top film critic: 89 This Vietnam Era film is the only one by Oliver Stone that I liked. Frankís score: 93

THE POSEIDEN ADVENTURE (1972) 7.0 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 77 essential video This is the best of the seemingly endless cycle of disaster movies that dominated box offices during the 1970s. It stars Gene Hackman. Frankís score: 84

**ROAD GAMES (1981) 6.4 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 80 Stacy Keach plays an american truck driver working in Australia. He is driving to a meatpacking facility to drop off his load of slaughtered hogs. Along the way, he notices a van that appears to be suspicious to him. It has apparently picked up a hitch-hiker, and Pat suspects the driver of being a suspected serial killer. Also stars Jamie Lee Curtis. Frankís rating: 86

*SANDS OF THE KALIHARI (1961) 7.2 IMDb A small plane crashes in the sweltering deserts of South Africa hundreds of miles from civilization. As parallels are drawn between the group of humans and a nearby pack of savage baboons, one of the men's survivalist nature gets the better of him, as he decides his chances of survival would be better if the others were eliminated one-by-one. Stuart Whitman, Stanley Baker, Susannah York. VHS only? Frankís score: 88 ACTION

SCREAM (1996) 7.0 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 86 Directed by Wes Craven and darn clever. This one looks like a slasher but is it. Thatís why I almost turned it off after the first ten minutes. Iím glad I didnít. Itís quite clever. The first sequel, which I havenít seen, scored 81 from the nationís top critics. My score: 93 HORROR/COMEDY

THE SHOOTIST (1976) 7.6 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 92 The last film of John Wayne could not have been more fitting, full of details that can't help but make one reflect upon his legacy in the movies and his life as a star. Wayne plays a career gunfighter in the autumn of his life, trying to hang up his pistols after he discovers he's dying of cancer. Lauren Bacall, Ron Howard. Another gem from director Don Siegel. Frankís score: 90

SOUTHERN COMFORT (1981) 6.9 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 92 Walter Hill's taut little tale of weekend-warrior National Guardsmen on swamp exercises in Louisiana during the Vietnam period. A nifty survival thriller starring Powers Booth, Keith Carradine and Peter Cayote. Frankís score: 90

SPEED (1994) 7.1 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 93 I usually donít like chase films but this one is exceptional. Frankís score: 93

STAR TREKóNo need to explain the title. You can get all the movies and all the TV series if you want (though I only cared for the first series. My scores would vary.

*THEY LIVE (1988) 6.6 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 96 An economic crisis brings unemployed Nada (Roddy Piper) to L.A. in search of work. What he finds instead is that the ruling elite of the world are aliens in disguise, their aim being to keep humans in a state of mindless consumerism. His discovery comes when he dons a pair of special sunglasses made by a resistance group and sees for the first time reality unadorned. Billboards, store signs, magazine covers--all bear subliminal messages to OBEY, to CONSUME, to have NO INDEPENDENT THOUGHT. Money itself says THIS IS YOUR GOD. But worst of all, with these glasses you see which of us are really hideous, bug-eyed aliens. --Jim Gay Directed by John Carpenter Frankís score: 88 HORROR

THREE KINGS (1999) 4 stars (391 reviews) / 7.4 IMDb / Ebert: 4 stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 93 George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, and Spike Jonze play a quartet of U.S. soldiers who, disillusioned by Operation Desert Storm, decide to steal $23 million in gold hijacked from Kuwait by Saddam Hussein's army. Frankís score: 88 WAR

*TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING (1977) 6.6. IMDb / nationís top film critics: 83 A renegade USAF general, Lawrence Dell (Burt Lancaster), escapes from a military prison and takes over an ICBM silo near Montana and threatens to provoke World War 3 unless the President (Charles Durning) meets his demands. Directed by Robert Aldrich. Frankís score: 85

VON RYAN'S EXPRESS (1965) 7.1 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 91 Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard in an action-packed WWII thriler. Frankís score: 89

WESTWORLD (1973) 7.0 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 85 SF movie about a robot gunslinger (Yul Brenner) who goes amok in a western[-style theme park, hunting down tourists incuding two vacationing buddies (James Brolin, Richard Benjamin). Frankís rating: 87 SCI-FI

**THE WILBY CONSPIRACY (1975) 6.2 IMDb This is a good little movie about Sidney Poitier and Michael Caine fleeing South African police while being tailed by Nicole Williamson of South African State Security. Frankís note: What makes this film interesting is Nicolsonís performance as the villain and the interplayóoften funnyóbetween Caine and Poitier. Frankís score: 86 ACTION


BEING JOHN MALCOVICH (1999) 7.8 IMDb Ebert: 4 stars of 4 /nationís top film critics: 92 An original film about a forlorn puppeteer (John Cusack) who discovers a metaphysical portal into the brain of actor John Malkovich.--amazon reviewer Frankís score: 83

**DON'S PARTY (1976) 7.0 IMDb Bruce Beresford directed this 1976 black comedy that takes place at a party hosted by John Hargreaves) to watch the televised returns of an Australia's general election. As the evening wears on and the guests' alcohol consumption increases, their verbal barbs become more and more vicious. (Frank warns: Half of you will hate this film and half will find it fascinating. If "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" appealed to you, so might this. Frankís rating: 84

**11:14 (2003) 7.3 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 A cleverly twisted movie about cruel twists of fate went virtually unreleased in theaters. A fatal traffic accident is examined and re-examined from multiple perspectives. Patrick Swayze and Barbara Hershey as worried parents; Hilary Swank and Shawn Hatosy as would-be criminals with a dimwit plan; Henry Thomas as a drunk driver whose involvement is deeper than we realize; and Colin Hanks as one of three teenage vandals on a fast track to trouble. Frankís score = 85.

48 HRS (1982) 6.8 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 96 Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte in Walter Hill's crime/comedy film. Frankís score: 92

THE FRESHMAN (1990) 6.4 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 97 Matthew Broderick had no idea film school would drop him into the hands of a real-life Godfather, played by Marlon Brando. Frankís score: 88

GROUNDHOG DAY (1993) 8.0 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 94 Bill Murray plays a wacky weatherman forced to relive one strange day over and over again. Frank's score: 93

**HEAR MY SONG (1992) 4 Ĺ stars (21 reviews) / 7.1 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 91 Micky O'Neill (Adrian Dunbar) is a born salesman. As the booker of the local theater/dance hall, he is famous for hiring almost-celebrities like Franc Cinatra. This may have been released on DVD since my list was compiled Frankís score: 88

**THE LAST OF THE BLOND BOMBSHELLS (2000) 4 Ĺ stars / 25 reviews/ 7.3 IMDb Judi Dench plays a sassy widow looking to recapture a little of the excitement of her youth: she was the star saxophone player of a World War II-era all-girl dance band. Yanking her instrument from mothballs, she starts blowing the old standards as a street musician, much to the horror of her cultured children (they prefer symphonies), and then hatches a plan to track down her band mates for a gala reunion at her granddaughter's school dance. Ian Holm costars as the band's womanizing drummer (in a dress and a platinum blonde wig), a rascally old rogue who seduced almost every member during their brief wartime run and married half of them in the intervening years. Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck) is their trombonist, a hard-drinking American widow living it up in a Scottish castle; jazz great Cleo Laine is a trumpeter turned torch singer; and Leslie Caron cameos as their brassy bass player. HBO Frankís score: 87

MELVIN AND HOWARD (1980) 7.0 IMDb / nations top film critics: 100 essential review Esteemed critic Pauline Kael called this film"an almost flawless act of sympathetic imagination." Itís Jonathan Demmeís semifictional treatment of the true story of Melvin Dummar (Paul LeMat), an average guy whose life was turned upside down when he was made beneficiary of a $156 million will allegedly signed by millionaire Howard Hughes. Fine performances by Jason Robards and Mary Steenbergen.--Jeff Shannon Frankís score: 92 SLEEPER?

O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU? (2000) 7.8 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 79 Joel and Ethan Coen created this comic picaresque saga about three cons on the run in 1930s Mississippi. Great sound track Frankís score: 88

OVERBOARD (1987) 4 Ĺ stars / 66 reviews / 6.1 IMDb / Ebert: 3 stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 55 Real-life couple Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn star in this enjoyable 1987 comedy by Garry Marshall about an imperious heiress (Hawn) who loses her memory after a boating accident and is identified as the wife of a handyman (Russell). Frank says: Enjoyable, despite the criticsí rating above) Frankís score: 82

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVEóLast I looked there were 33 DVD titles from the comedy series. Obviously ratings vary.

SIDEWAYS (2005) 7.8 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 96 Struggling novelist and wine connoisseur Miles (Paul Giamatti) takes his best friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church) on a wine-tasting tour of California vineyards for a kind of extended bachelor party. Frankís rating: 86

SPLASH (20th Anniversary Edition) (1984) 4 Ĺ stars (46 reviews) / 6.2 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 83 Tom Hanks and Darryl Hannah, directed by Ron Howard. Hannah is a mermaid who comes to Manhattan in search of Hanks, the guy she has twice saved from drowning. Frankís score: 86

THE TRUMAN SHOW (1998) 7.8 IMDb / nationís top fim critics: 96 The whole world is watching--literally--every time Truman Burbank makes the slightest move. Unbeknownst to him, in this hauntingly funny film by Peter Weir, his entire life has been an unending soap opera for consumption by the rest of the world. And everyone he knows--including his mother, his wife, and his best friend--is really an actor, paid to be part of his life. Frankís score: 84

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Old 06-11-2007, 07:43 PM   #5
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CRIME & FILM NOIR (includes TV)

**BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT (1983) 6.5 IMDb For 10 years the New Zealand public lived with the murder mystery surrounding the deaths of Jeanette and Harvey Crewe. After an unprecendented two trials, Arthur Thomas was found guilty. He was pardoned late in 1979. The story had enough false trials and contradictions to interest Britain's investigative writer David Yallop, and his book, Beyond Reasonable Doubt, is credited with much of the final boost that led to Thomas' pardon. David Hemmings, John Hargreaves. VHS only for now? Frankís rating: 82

THE BIG EASY (1987) 6.5 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 New Orleans mystery-romance features Dennis Quaid and costar Ellen Barkin as sexy adversaries on opposite sides of a police scandal. Frankís rating: 84

BLACKBOARD JUNGLE (1955) 7.4 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 85 An inner-city school terrorized by switchblade-wielding juvenile delinquents. Fine cast headed by Glenn Ford, Vic Morrow and Sidney Poitier. Paul Mazursky, later a director, was one of the gang members. The film was nominated for four Oscars. Frankís rating: 86

BONES 8.7 IMDb / FOX CRIME David Boreanaz stars as F.B.I. Agent Seeley Booth, who teams up with forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan (Emily Deschanel) to solve some of the most baffling and bizarre crimes ever. Frankís score: 87

BREAKDOWN (1997) 6.6 IMDb / Ebert: 3 stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 78 Kurt Russell plays a stressed-out husband whose wife (Kathleen Quinlan) disappears after their car breaks down in the desert. Frankís rating: 82

COP LAND (Exclusive Director's Cut) (1997) 6.7 IMDb / nationís top critics: 77 Sylvester Stallone's long-awaited return to a serious dramatic role as Freddy Heflin, the ineffectual sheriff of a New Jersey suburb that a group of corrupt New York cops have turned into their own off-duty criminal empire. The stellar cast (Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, and Ray Liotta) can't be beat, and Stallone is quite good as the overweight cop whose pride is on the line. Writer-director James Mangold Frankís rating: 80

CRIMINAL MINDS 7.5 IMDb CBS Crime Mandy Patinkin makes a welcome return to the small screen as James Gideon, head of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit, in this excellent TV series. Frankís rating: 90 (US Television)

FAMILY PLOT (1976) 6. 6. IMDb / nationís top film critics: 94 Alfred Hitchcock's final film is understated comic fun that mixes suspense with deft humor, thanks to a solid cast that includes Karen Black, William Devane. Barbara Harris and Bruce Dern. Frankís rating: 90

*FOYLE'S WAR Series 1 8.5 IMDb PBS crime series set in England during WW II. My wife and I saw three episodes so faróeach movie length. Frankís rating: 90.

GORKY PARK (1983) 6.5 IMDb / Ebert: 3 Ĺ stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 73 Martin Cruz Smith's bestselling mystery about a murder investigation during the Soviet Era. William Hurt, Lee Marvin, Brian Dennehy. Frankís rating: 83

A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (2005) 7.6 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 86 Director David Cronenberg's story of mild-mannered small-town diner proprietor Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) begins when Tom's skillful killing of two would-be robbers draws unwanted attention to his idyllic family life in rural Indiana. The cast includes Ed Harris and William Hurt. Frankís rating: 88

KISS OF DEATH (1947) 7.7 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 91 Richard Widmark's bravura debut as snickering gangster Tommy Udo, includes his infamous encounter with an old woman in a wheelchair. Forget the 1971 remake but the 1995 version by Barbet Schroeder is also good. Frankís rating: 87

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (1997) 8.4 IMDB / nationís top film critics: 98 A real film noir--a gritty, sordid tale of sex, scandal, betrayal, and corruption of all sorts in 1940s Hollywood. Based on James Ellroy's series and starring Kim Basinger, Russell Crowe and Kevin Spacey. Frankís rating: 93

MONK--4 Ĺ stars / 91 reviews Crime/Comedy Obcessive compulsive gumshoe and former San Francisco detective Adrian Monk, played by Tony Shalhoub) in this TV series. Frankís rating: 82

NUMBES (4 Ĺ stars) CBS Crime executive-produced by brothers/film directors Ridley Scott and Tony Scott , the series is like CSI with algorithms and probabilities instead of blood spatter and DNA swabs. Frankís rating: 91

PANIC ROOM (2002) 6.9 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 77 This story centers around a divorced woman (Jodie Foster) in her 30's and her daughter, who are caught up in a cat-and-mouse game inside their new New York brownstone when three burglars come looking for a hidden cache of cash. Frankís score: 88

PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET - Criterion Collection (1953) 7.9 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 94 Candy (Jean Peters) has her purse picked on the subway by small-time thief and ex-con Skip (Richard Widmark), neither of them realizing that the purse contains microfilm bound for Communist spies and that they are being watched the whole time by Federal agents. A dazzling cast, hardboiled repartee and director Samuel Fuller's signature raw energy combine to create a true film noir classic. Frankís score: 90

**THE SPANISH PRISONER (1998) 7.3 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 89 Campbell Scott plays a green young technocrat who invents a secret and highly successful high-tech process that, it appears, most of the free world would like to get their hands on. Script by David Mamet. Frankís score: 89

GOSFORD PARK (2001) 7.2 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 87 Multiple storylined drama set in 1932 is more Masterpiece Theater-style costume drama than PBS-style mystery though it features elements of both. Directed by Robert Altman based on a story by Julian Felllowes, it shows the lives of upstairs guest and downstairs servants at a party in a country house in England. The cast can hardly be more star-studded: Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren, Derek Jacobi, Charles Dance, Kristen-Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith, Clive Owen, James Wilby. Accents are a bit strong at time but manageable (use subtitles if need be). I suspect that because of the number of characters, the complexity of the relationships between them and the quality of the actors, this one might gain via rewatching). Frankís score: 88


APOSTLE (1998) 7.1 IMDb / nationís top critics: 90. Produced, written, and directed by its star, Robert Duvall, this film addresses without condescension or glibness a subject-religious conviction-that Hollywood generally caricatures. Duvall plays Sonny, a charismatic Pentecostal preacher Supporting players include John Beasley, June Carter Cash, Miranda Richardson and Billy Bob Thornton. -Daphne Merkin Frankís score: 88

BREAKER MORANT (1980) 8.1 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 Australian director Bruce Beresford made a lasting impression with this compelling courtroom drama about three soldiers in the Boer War who are served up as political scapegoats of the British Empire. Frankís rating: 85

CAREFUL, HE MIGHT HEAR YOU (1983) 7.2 IMDb Two sisters in a custody battle over their 7-year-old nephew ( Nicholas Gledhill) in 1930's Australia. The mother has died from the birth, but not before pegging the poor little bugger with the name "PS", e.g., "a postscript to a ridiculous life". Robyn Nevin is the lower-middle-class auntie whom PS would prefer to live with; Wendy Hughes is the very wealthy auntie who suddenly takes an interest in the boy. Frankís rating: 92

*CHOICES OF THE HEART (1995) 6.9 IMDb Dana Delany plays Margaret Sanger the founder of Planned Parenthood in this excellent made-for-TV production. The drama comes from her clash with Anthony Comstock, powerful guardian of ďmoralityĒ at the time. Frank: Rod Steiger is excellent as Comstock) Frankís score: 90

THE CIDER HOUSE RULES (1999) 7.4 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 70 Central to the story (set during World War II) is Homer (Tobey Maguire), a young man raised in a Maine orphanage, where the ether-sniffing Dr. Larch (Michael Caine) rules with benevolent grace while performing safe but illegal abortions. One of Caine's finest performances. --Jeff Shannon Frankís score: 83

THE CONSTANT GARDENER 2005) 7.7 IMDb / Ebert: 4 stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 83 Mild diplomat Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes) has a loose cannon of a wife named Tessa (Rachel Weisz, who's digging into the dirty doings of a major pharmaceutical company in Kenya. Her brutal murder forces Justin to continue her investigation down some deadly avenues. Superbly directed by Fernando Meirelles. Featuring an all-around excellent cast, including Bill Nighy, Pete Postlethwaite and Danny Huston. --Bret Fetzer Frank says: Youíll need to be patient because this one takes awhile before momentum starts to build. Frankís score: 80.

**COUNTRY LIFE (1995) 6.5 IMDb / Ebert: 3 Ĺ stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 67 Adaptation of Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" featuring Sam Neill and set in rural Australia in the 1920's. Jack Dickens and his niece Sally run the family farm to support brother-in-law Alexander as a literary critic in London. Action begins when Alexander returns with his beautiful young wife Deborah and revelations follow. Frankís rating: 80

CRASH (2005) 8.2 IMDb / Ebert: 4 stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 75. ďCrashĒ tells interlocking stories of whites, blacks, Latinos, Koreans, Iranians, cops and criminals, the rich and the poor, the powerful and powerless, all defined in one way or another by racism. Frank says: If you enjoy movies with non-linear plots coming together, such as 21 Grams, Irelandís Intermission, etc. (I do) you may like this. This film strongly divided viewers. I felt itís certainly a good film (though not deserving of the ďBest FilmĒ Oscar it received. I think its harshest critics are equally far off. My score: 90

THE CRUCIBLE (1996) nationís top fim critics: 81 The Salem witch hunts are given a new and nasty perspective when a vengeful teenage girl uses superstition and repression to her advantage. A good job by director Nicholas Hytner, and costars Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder. Frankís score: 87

**DANGEROUS BEAUTY (1998) 7.0 IMDb / Ebert: 3 Ĺ stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 72 When Veronica Franco (Catherine McCormack) comes of age in 16th century Venice, the parents of the man she loves refuse to allow a marriage because she's penniless. After her mother (Jacqueline Bisset) advises her to become a skilled courtesan, Veronica pursues a dashing Venetian senator (Rufus Sewell) and convinces France to join forces with Venice in a war against Turkey. When a plague overtakes the land, the church charges her with witchcraft. ĖNetflix Frankís score: 85

THE DEVILS (1971) nationís top film critics: 88 Cardinal Richelieu and his power-hungry entourage seek to take control of pre-rennaisance France, but need to destroy Father Grandier (Oliver Reed)- the priest who runs the fortified town that prevents them from exerting total control. So they seek to destroy him by setting him up as a warlock in control of a devil-possessed nunnery, the mother superior of which is sexually obsessed by him. A mad witch-hunter is brought in to gather evidence against the priest, ready for the big trial. VHS only last I checked. Directed by Ken Russell Frankís score: 85

DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE (1970) 6.6 IMDb /Ebert: 3 stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 63 "Diary of a Mad Housewife" seems, on its surface, to be a character study of stereotypes. Richard Benjamin completely over the top as social climbing, acquisitive lawyer Jonathan Balser, who mercilessly criticizes and belittles his wife. Carrie Snodgress. Since the story is told from her viewpoint as his desperately unhappy wife, she would naturally portray him as almost a caricature, his faults magnified to an epic degree. Viewed from that perspective, his performance is funny, sad, pathetic, and outstanding.óamazon review (Frankís note: The scene where Benjamin gives a snotty wine-tasting lesson to his two kids is a gem). VHS only last I checked. Frankís score: 86

**THE DUELLISTS (1977) 7.4 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 First film by director Ridley Scott stands up well. Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine are playing a pair of ever feuding officers in Napoleon's army. From a story by Joseph Conrad. Frankís score: 88

**THE EFFECT OF GAMMA RAYS ON MAN-IN-THE-MOON MARIGOLDS (1972) 7.2 IMDb An adaptation of Paul Zindel's wonderful but tormented play which has a Tennessee Williams flavor. Joanne Woodward starred as Beatrice Hunsdorfer ("Betty the Loon"), a loud, vulgar, gum-chewing, beer-drinking, unattractive middle-aged womanÖ Living in a dilapidated house in a rundown town, abandoned by her husband, unable to face the responsibility of raising her two teenaged daughters' she is disgusted with lifeÖ Directed by Paul Newman Is it on DVD yet? Frankís score: 91 SLEEPER?

ELMER GANTRY (1960) 7.8 IMDb / nationís top critics: 100 Burt Lancaster earned his only Oscar as the soul-saving charlatan Elmer Gantry, a salesman who turns his gift for preaching into a career at the pulpit. Climbing on board the barnstorming evangelical tour of revivalist Sister Sharon Falconer (Jean Simmons), a true believer in the Aimee Semple McPherson mold, Gantry declaims, invokes, and sermonizes his way to the top, Frankís score: 90

THE ENGLISH PATIENT (1996) 7.1 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 90 Winner of nine Academy Awards. Hana, a nurse, (Juliette Binoche) tends to an archaeologist (Ralph Fiennes) who has been burnt to a crisp in a plane crash. As their relationship intensifies, he flashes back to his overwhelming passion for a married woman (Kristin Scott Thomas). Frankís score: 87

**EVELYN (2002) 7.1 IMDb Ebert: 3 stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 67 This labor of love tells the true story of an imperfect father whose devotion brought much-needed change to rigid Irish law. Star and coproducer Pierce Brosnan brings just the right touch to his role as Desmond Doyle, a struggling Dublin tradesman, father of three, and chronic pub-crawler whose wife abandons their family the day after Christmas, 1953. Desmond's a loving father who's boyishly irresponsible; Irish law dictates the removal of his children to stern Catholic orphanages, and his battle for custody is aided by two lawyers (Stephen Rea, Aidan Quinn) who seize this opportunity to revolutionize the courts. Director Bruce Frankís rating: 93

GIANT (1956) 7.6 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 96 essential video Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean in his final performance as poor former ranch hand Jett Rink, who strikes oil and transforms himself into a flamboyant millionaire Texasnplayboy. Directed by George Stevens. Frankís score: 94

GUILTY BY SUSPICION (1991) 6.3 IMDb / Ebert: 3 Ĺ stars out of 4 Set during the 1951 Hollywood hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), the film stars Robert De Niro as a prominent director who is urged to "name names" to appease the committee. Frankís score: 86

HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG (2003) 7.7 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 76 Kathy (Jennifer Connelly) gets evicted from her house for failing to pay a tax she never should have been charged in the first place. The house is swiftly put up for auction and bought by a former military officer from Iran named Behrani (Ben Kingsley). When legal efforts fail her, Kathy turns to a sympathetic cop (Ron Eldard), who wants out of a loveless marriage and who's willing to step over legal boundaries if it might give him a fresh start. --Frankís score: 80

The Insider (1999) 7.9 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 96. Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe) is a former tobacco scientist who violated contractual agreements to expose addictive ingredients in cigarettes. 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) struggles to report Wigand's story. Frankís score: 92

**KING OF THE HILL (1993) 7.5 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 95 Jesse Bradford stars as Aaron Kurlander, a bright youngster in 1933 St. Louis. His family is impoverished, although his salesman father (Jeroen Krabbe) manages (barely) to keep them fed and housed. However, when the family's fortunes take a down-turn, Aaron finds himself alone in their apartment trying to fend for himself. Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Not on DVD Frankís score: 88

KRAMER VS. KRAMER (1979) 4 stars (46 reviews) / 7.6 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 95 Winner of five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Actor, and Screenplay. It stars Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman as a divorcing couple. Frankís score: 90

**LAST ORDERS (2001) 7.1 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 79 A gang of three Englishmen, in various states of decline, gather to mourn a fourth, an East London butcher and veteran of the Second World War. Directed by Fred Schepisi's and starring David Hemmings, Tom Courtenay, Bob Hoskins, Michael Caine and Helen Mirren. Use the subtitles. Frankís score: 85

**THE LAST WAVE - Criterion Collection (1979) 7.0 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 87 When a young aborigine is murdered, a Sydney lawyer (Richard Chamberlain) defends the accused men to save them from tribal retribution. But once the attorney begins investigating the case, he starts having disturbing dreams and strange encounters. ĖNetflix Directed by Peter Weir who violates most the conventions of suspense. Frankís rating: 84

**A MAN OF FLOWERS (1983) 7.4 IMDb A unique and strangely understated psychological comic drama from the always interesting Paul Cox. The story revolves around suburban living art collector Charles Bremer (Norman Kaye), who pays $100 dollars to an attractive young artist's model Lisa (Alyson Best) to come over every Wednesday to strip for him while in the background there is playing an aria from Donizetti's. Bremer uses his artistic skills as a means of channeling his repressed sexual desires. This was the favorite of David Grossman, the guy who ran Templeís ďCinematiqueĒ for years. Frankís score: 87

MIDNIGHT EXPRESS (1978) 7.5 IMD / nationís top film critics: 93
The true story of Billy Hayes (Brad Davis) is brought to life by Oliver Stone's Academy Award-winning screenplay recounting the young American's experience in a Turkish prison. Co-stars Randy Quaid and John Hurt. Frankís score: 87

MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2005) 8.3 IMDb / Ebert: 4 stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 92 Clint Eastwood's directs and stars as manager of aspiring boxer Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) Frankís score: 90

MIRACLE (Widescreen Edition) (2004) 4 Ĺ stars (188 reviews) / 7.6 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 80 This film gets so many details right in telling its 24-year-old story about the historic victory of the U.S. hockey team at the 1980 Olympic Games. Frankís score: 86

MY LEFT FOOT (1989) 7.6 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 Daniel Day-Lewis won an Oscar for his wily, passionate performance as Irish artist and writer Christy Brown, whose cerebral palsy kept him confined to a wheelchair. Directed by Jim Sheridan. Frankís rating: 90

NOTES ON A SCANDAL (2006) 7.6 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 84 Sheba Hart, a pottery teacher played by Cate Blanchett, enters into an affair with one of her students, causing upheaval in her personal and professional lives. Narrator Barbara Covett (Judi Dench) is a frumpy, disliked, feared, old battleaxe of a history teacher, who despises her students and has, at first, only a condescending contempt for Sheba. Frank says: If you are familiar with Shakespeareís Othello, youíll understand completely when I say Denchís role is that of a female Iago. Frankís score: 86

OCTOBER SKY (1999) 7.6 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 93 Based on the memoir Rocket Boys by Homer H. Hickam Jr. The true story begins in 1957 with Russia's historic launch of the Sputnik satellite, and while Homer (played with smart idealism by Jake Gyllenhaal) sees Sputnik as his cue to pursue a fascination with rocketry, though his coal miner father (Chris Cooper) is skeptical. Frankís score: 88

AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN (1982) 6.7 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 94 Richard Gere plays an enrollee at a Naval officers candidate school, and Debra Winger is the woman who wants him. Frank says: soap opera but well done. Frankís score: 91

**PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK- Criterion Collection (1979) 4 stars (117 reviews) / 7.6 IMDb / Ebert 4-star classic / nationís top film critics: 94. On a drowsy St. Valentine's Day in 1900, a party of girls from a strict boarding school in Australia goes on a day's outing to Hanging Rock, a geological outcropping not far from their school. Three of the girls and one of their teachers disappear into thin air. One of them is found a week or so later, but can remember almost nothing. The others are never found. Director Peter Weir gives the film a haunting quality. Frankís rating: 93

PLACES IN THE HEART (1984) 4 Ĺ stars (17 reviews) / 7.4 IMDb nationís top critics: 100. Sally Field, as a sheriff's widow, learns from the banker that times are hard and she should sell her farm and maybe board her kids with somebody else. She refuses. Frankís score: 94

THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES (1943) 7.6 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 93 essential video Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig Walter Brennan and Dan Duryea costar as a Greek chorus of sportswriters, and real-life Yankees Bill Dickey, Mark Koenig, Bob Meusel, and Babe Ruth appear as themselves. Frankís score: 93

THE QUEEN (NEW 2006) nationís top critics: 99 Helen Mirrenís portrayal of Queen Elizabeth. Frankís score: 83

REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955) 7.9 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 94 Director Nicholas Ray takes a strikingly sympathetic look at the teenagers standing outside the white-picket-fence '50s dream of America. James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo. Frankís score: 92

SHINE (1996) 7.5 IMDb / Ebert: 4 stars out of 4 nationís top critics: 93 essential video This tearjerker by Australian filmmaker Scott Hicks is about real-life classical pianist David Helfgott, an Australian who rose to international prominence at a very young age in the 1950s and '60s, and suffered a psychological collapse after enduring years of abuse from his father (Armin Mueller-Stahl). Geoffrey Rush gives a great performance playing the musician as a schizophrenic adult. Sir John Gielgud, in golden form, plays Helfgott's teacher. Frankís rating: 91

SID & NANCY - Criterion Collection (1986) 7.0 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 87 A lacerating love story, Sid & Nancy chronicles the brief, intense attachment of two of punk's most notorious poster children, Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. Directed by Alex Cox with brilliant performances by Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb. The film's haunting imagery and black comedy resonate long after the final frames. Frankís score: 83

SILKWOOD (1983) 7.0 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 88 The true story of the woman who disappeared under mysterious circumstances while trying to find the truth about a nuclear plant is a well-told, challenging, and emotionally complex tale. Meryl Streep plays the lead role. Frankís score: 88

SLING BLADE - Director's Cut (Miramax Collector's Series) (1996) 8.0 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 95 Billy Bob Thornton wrote, directed, and starred in this mesmerizing drama. Thornton plays a mentally retarded man who has spent 20 years in a psychiatric hospital for killing his mother and her lover. Released into the community from which he came, he befriends and protects a lonely boy regularly harassed and abused by his mom's boyfriend (a terrific performance by Dwight Yoakam). Frankís score: 92

**TELL ME A RIDDLE (1980) 6.5 IMDb Youíll find very few reviews of this little film online. We saw this one at the Taormina Film Festival where we met actress Lila Kerdrova in a small cafť afterwards. The second time we saw it was at Templeís cinematique. Iíd say it produced more hankie-honking and tissue blowing than any film other than the Titantic. Touching story of elderly couple David and Eva who go on one last journey across the USA when they discover Eva is dying, ending up with their granddaughter Jeannie in San Francisco. (VHS only for now so Netflix doesnít have it) Frankís score: 90

**THIS IS MY FATHER (1999) IMDb 6.8 / Ebert: 3 stars out of 4 nationís top film critics: 73 A man (James Caan) takes a trip to Ireland to uncover secrets about his father's past. Aidan Quinn and Moya Farrelly bring considerable warmth and intelligence to their roles as star-crossed lovers, and the film's bittersweet conclusion is sharply observed and well earned. Frankís rating: 85.

*TITUS (2000) 7.1 IMDb / Ebert: 3 Ĺ stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 64 Titus Andronicus, long considered Shakespeareís worst play, is a bloodthirsty tragedy full of villainous heroes and bottomless revenge--hardly the stuff of big-screen directorial debuts. Yet Julie Taymor dives headfirst into moviemaking with a spectacular adaptation that manages to find beauty and humor in the piles of carnage. Stars Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange. Frankís rating: 88

**TICKET TO HEAVEN (1981) 4 Ĺ stars (8 reviews) / 6.7 IMDb Nick Manusco gives an excellent performance as David, the young man who gets caught up in a religious cult. We also saw this at the Taormina Film Festival. Frankís score: 84

TITANIC (1997) 7.0 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 86 From my experience at least, Titanic loses a lot on second viewing, though others obviously differ. At home I recommend widescreen and a good surround system Frankís score: 90

**VERA DRAKE (2004) 7.9 IMDb / Ebert: 4 stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 91 Writer-director Mike Leigh crafts an utterly compelling movie about an irrepressibly hopeful housecleaner in 1950s London named Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton) mothers everyone around her, from her own family to helpless shut-ins and lonely men living in tiny, isolated apartments. None of these people know that Vera also helps young women get rid of unwanted pregnancies, until the police appear and tear her world apart. Frank says: Always use your subtitles wherever a Brit or Aussie film features strong accents at times. Very helpful! Frankís score = 91

**WHALE RIDER (2003) 7.8 IMDb / Ebert: 4 stars of 4 / nationís top critics: 90. This great audience-grabbers played to standing ovations at the Toronto and Sundance film festivals and left audiences in tears. A 12-year-old Maori girl who dreams of becoming the chief of her people. The movie sidesteps all of the obvious cliches of the underlying story and makes itself fresh, observant, tough and genuinely moving. Director Lee Tamori created "Once Were Warriors," my favorite film. Frankís rating: 90

THE WILD ONE (1954) 6.9 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 87 This is the original motorcycle movie, starring Marlon Brando as the brooding leader of a biker gang that invades a small town. Frankís score: 87
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Old 06-12-2007, 12:14 PM   #6
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NOTE: I consider all of these "sleepers" in the sense that such films are often unavailable in small towns and cities. However, I've included the ** for those which most folks may have never heard of or probably didn't see on cable either. The percentage of these films you can actually find on DVDs is probably closer to 2 in 3 compared to as much as 9 in 10 otherwise.

DON'T BE AFRAID: Most of the films on this list are not the sort of "snotty," difficult art house films too many folks think of when they hear "foreign language." Many are both dubbed and subtitled. There's a good reason why subtitled is preferable. An actor's voice is part of his skills. Turn the picture around and imagine Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne or Clint Eastwood dubbed into Italian and you'll see what I mean. It's equally silly to fear black and white. If you ever check film reviews of critics and moviegoers alike, you'll see how often the original in black and white beats a color remake.

BABETTE'S FEAST (1988) 7.7 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 In Babette's Feast, a woman flees the French civil war and lands in a small seacoast village in Denmark, where she comes to work for two spinsters, devout daughters of a puritan minister. After many years, Babette unexpectedly wins a lottery, and decides to create a real French dinner--which leads the sisters to fear for their souls. Frank says: This isnít the kind of foreign film that scares off people, if you like good drama. If the only kind of films you like have lot of car chases, special effects and psychos running around in hockey masks stay away! Frankís score = 97 FRANCE/DENMARK

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (La Belle et La Bete)- Criterion Collection (Restored Edition) (1947) 5 stars (104 reviews) / 8.4 IMDb / Ebert: ď4-star classicĒ/ nationís top film critics: 95 One of the all-time great movie fantasies, and one of the most gorgeous pictures ever made. It was the first feature film by French director Jean Cocteau, a writer, poet, and painter with ties to the surrealists. A sensitive performance by Jean Marais as the Beast imbue the film with an indelible, mythical power. Frankís score = 95. Terrific! FRANCE

THE BLUE ANGEL (1931) 7.8 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 92 essential video Director Josef von Sternberg combines with Marlene Dietrich in one of the masterpieces of Germany's Weimar cinema. Dietrich plays the prototypical role of Lola, the singer who tempts repressed professor Emil Jannings (the king of expressionist actors) into complete submission night after night at the Blue Angel nightclub. The film perfectly captures the masochism and degradation of the Weimar Republic, just before the rise of Adolf Hitler. This is the original German version, newly remastered and subtitled. --Bill Desowitz Frankís score = 96 GERMANY

**BUFFET FROID (1983) 7.6 IMDb Bertrand Blierís hilarious black comedy about an unemployed who finds himself in a nightmare: he falls in with shady characters like his wife's killer, a corrupt police chief, and a young beauty who is definitely not what she seems. Gerald Depardieu stars. Frankís score = 97 FRANCE

CYRANO DE BERGERAC (1990) 5 stars (68 reviews) / 7.4 IMDb / Ebert: 3 Ĺ stars out of 4 / nationís top film critics: 100 Director Jean-Paul Rappeneau and cowriter Jean-Claude Carriere had the brilliant idea of casting France's most lovably vulnerable hunk, the massive Gerard Depardieu, in one of French literature's meatiest roles: the sword-wielding poet Cyrano. Great score. You gotta turn on the surrouond sound system for this one if you have it. Frankís score = 98 FRANCE

DOWNFALL (2004) 8.5 IMDb / nationís top fillm critics: 91 This German historical drama stars Bruno Ganz as Hitler, whose psychic meltdown is depicted in sobering detail, suggesting a fallen, pathetic dictator on the verge on insanity, as his Nazi empire burns amidst chaos in mid-1945. FRANKíS NOTES AND SCORE: 95 Vastly superior to all earlier films about the bunker except for the Papst version below with which it shares two elements. Goebbels and his wife are especially chilling. GERMANY

**ETE MEURTRIER, L' (One Deadly Summer) (1983) 7.6 IMDb Isabelle Adjani was 28 and already a star when she played Eliane, the scheming minx who dominates the film. Eliane is a wild child, disturbed, bitchy and alluring by turns. She has in mind a grand scheme of her own, as viewers will discover. VHS only last I looked. The high current price for a VHS ($58) suggests a darn good film. FRANKíS NOTES AND SCORE = 99 Like A Face in the Crowd this is one of those interesting films that shifts from comedy to serious about halfway through. FRANCE

EUROPA, EUROPA (1990) 7.9 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 This wonderful film by Polish director Agnieszka Holland based on an autobiography by Solomon Perel, concerns a Jewish-German boy who manages to conceal his identity from the Nazis and ends up a member of their Youth Party. Frankís score = 98 GERMANY

ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS (2000) 7.5 IMDb/ nationís top film critics: 85 A belligerent restaurant manager, a repressed hotelier, a lonely hairdresser, and a clumsy, childlike bakery clerk are among the lonely thirtysomethings who escape the social disasters and comic chaos of their unfulfilled lives in an Italian-language evening course. FRANKíS NOTES: If you arenít used to Dogma 95ís austere anti-Hollywood style, it will you 15 minutes to adjust (look up Dogma 95 rules online) Hang on because this one starts ďin media resĒ or "in the middle of things" and looks at first like a TV soaper. It isn't. Before itís over, this gem will have most viewers smiling. It also seems to have high ďrewatchabityĒ thanks to some fine acting. I saw it one night and found I enjoyed it in a different way the next day as I showed it to my wife. Frankís rating: 95. DENMARK

JEAN DE FLORETTE (1987) 7.8 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 A modern masterpiece that everyone seems to like. Two 1920s farmers engage in a bitter rivalry as one tries to tend to a plot of land and the other deviously undermines his efforts in order to conceal a valuable spring. The peasant farmer (Gťrard Depardieu) who comes to the countryside to tend the land he has inherited is a naive and trusting soul seeking only to provide for his wife and daughter, while his neighbor (Yves Montand) is intent on doing whatever he can to discourage and demoralize the farmer so that he can take the land for himself. This simple tale unfolds in a wrenching fashion to a tragic conclusion. FRANK SAYS: Both films are based on a novel by earlier director Marcel Pagnol who grew up in Provence. Directed by Claude Berri Frankís score = 100 FRANCE

**LETZTE AKT, DER (aka: ďThe Last Ten DaysĒ) 1946 / 7.4 IMDb Frankís comment: An unforgettable gem about Hitler in his bunker from great Germany director G.W. Papst. It clearly influenced "Downfall." This one is told from the point of view of a fictional Werhmacht captain, played superbly by Oscar Werner. I saw it back in the sixties on an independent TV channel then later showed it at the Albright College film club which I founded. The audience loved it. This film will be hard to findónot on VHS let alone DVD at present. Of couse, Netflix doesnít have it. I plan to contact Criterion to see whatís up and whether they can do something. Frankís score = 100 GERMANY

M - Criterion Collection (Special Edition) (1933) 8.5 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 97 essential video Director Fritz Lang presents his first "talkie" -- and cinema's first serial killer -- in this 1931 classic. Plump pedophile Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre), propelled by a compulsion he can't control, escapes the eye of the law -- but not the wrath of the Berlin underworld being blamed for his crimes. The character of Beckert was later used in Nazi propaganda films to illustrate the evils of sexual deviance. Frankís score = 95 GERMANY

MANON OF THE SPRING (1987) 8.0 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 Less a sequel than a seamless continuation of its predecessor, Jean de Florette, Manon brings with it a more epic scope as it depicts the growth to womanhood of the daughter (Emmanuelle Bťart) of the doomed farmer of the first film. rankís score = 100 FRANCE

NOSFERATU: PHANTOM DER NACHT (1979) 4 Ĺ stars (105 reviews) / 7.3 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 Werner Herzog's remake of F.W. Murnau's vampire classic. Longtime Herzog star Klaus Kinski is both hideous and melancholy as Nosferatu (renamed Count Dracula in the English language version). --Sean Axmaker Frankís score = 95 GERMANY

ORPHIC TRILOGY - Criterion Collection (1950) nationís top film critics: 100 These three films by Jean Cocteau arenít really a trilogy. Blood of a Poet is a surreal film which is about a painter who ends up having a set of lips growing on his hand. Orpheus is based on the famous myth depicted in then-modern times. It has some great scenes and was very popular. Testament of Orpheus is about a poet whotravels through time and visits a post apoctalyptic wasteland. FRANK SAYS: If you have a phobia about foreign films I wouldnít begin here. However, Orpheus can be entertaining and itís the place to start when you are ready. The bonus features incorporated with the Criterion DVD will add a great deal to your enjoyment and appreciation. Frankís score: for Orpheus 97 (I havenít seen the others). FRANCE

OSMANA (2003) 7.5 IMDb / Ebert: 3 Ĺ stars out of 4 / nationís tofilm critics: 96 The first movie produced by Afghanistan filmmakers after the fall of the Taliban, Osama is a searing portrait of life under the oppressive fundamentalist regime. Because women are not allowed to work, a widow disguises her young daughter (Marina Golbahari) as a boy so they won't starve to death. Simply walking the streets is frightening enough, but when the disguised girl is rounded up with all the boys in the town for religious training, her peril becomes absolutely harrowing. Frank says: This one is tense and scary. Frankís score = 97 AFGHANISTAN

PAN'S LABRYNTH 8.3 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 99 A masterpiece that with New Zealandís ďOnce Were WarriorsĒ as my favorite film of all time. Mexican director Guillermo del Toro successfully interweaves a vicious story about the Spanish Civil War with an adult fairy tale. Itís NOT for young kids. Panís Labrynth made at least 130 top ten lists. The National Society of Film Critics picked it as the best film of 2006. It won at least three ďBest Foreign FilmĒ Awards though not the Oscar. At Cannes audiences gave it a 22-minute standing ovation. At rotten, every critic except one (from a source I never heard of) gave it a positive review. Thatís rare.

The tiny minority of viewers who didnít like this film had some daft objections. Violence is not ďout of placeĒ in a film set during the vicious blend of Civil War and ideological conflict in Spain. If Del Toro were interested in excess, heíd show torturen rather than leaving it to our imagination. Then his critics would have a point. Requiring films to behave according to silly rules makes no sense. That goes for certain complaint that Captain Vidal is a one-sided villain simply because De Toro made no attempt to show his ďgood side.Ē Any half-competent actor can handle the latter. Aside from the fact that fascism did produce a number of thorough villains, imagine the challenge to an actor in making such a man deeply interesting. Thatís exactly what Sergei Lopez did. As Captain Vidal, he has a commanding presence from the moment we first see him on the screen.Roeper and A.O. Smith from the NY Times got things right in their PBS review: Lopezís performance was critical. Had the director listened to the ďFollow My FormulaĒ-style critics, Panís Labrynth would have been nowhere near as memorable. FRANKíS NOTE AND SCORE: 100 Panís Labrynth ranks second only to Once Were Warriors among my favorites. SPAIN

THE RETURN OF MARTIN GUERRE (1983) 4 Ĺ stars (26 reviews) / 7.4 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 Gerard Depardieuís art-house reputation as a legitimate, conscientious actor is no mere hype. The solid Return of Martin Guerre (Le Retour de Martin Guerre) stands as his personal high-water mark. The narrative, set in medieval France during the Hundred Years' War, follows the alleged homecoming of a soldier after many years of absence. His wife (Nathalie Baye) finds him such an improvement--both in the sack and otherwise--from the husband who left for the front that she ignores the villagers' suspicions that he is an impostor. Director: Daniel Vigne. FRANK SAYS: The American ďcopyĒ entitled ďSommersbyĒ is reset during the American Civil war and stars Richard Gere. It isnít quite on the same level as the original. Frankís score: 98 FRANCE

SEVEN BEAUTIES (1976) 7.9 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 90 Lina WertmŁller's harrowing yet hilarious film stars Giancarlo Giannini as a petty crook with seven unattractive sisters to support, and it features a picaresque, World War II-era journey through a prison asylum, army service, and a Nazi concentration camp. --Tom Keogh Frankís score = 98. ITALY

SEVEN SAMURAI - Criterion Collection - 3-Disc HD Remastered Edition (1954) 8.8 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 essential video Hailed as the greatest film in the history of Japanese cinema, Seven Samurai is director Akira Kurosawa's undisputed masterpiece. The story is set during the civil unrest of 16th-century Japan, as the cowering residents of a small farming village are seeking protection against seasonal attacks by a band of marauding bandits. Offering mere handfuls of rice as payment, they hire seven unemployed "ronin" (masterless samurai), including a boastful swordsman (Toshiro Mifune) who is actually a peasant farmer's son, to defend them (157 minutes). --Jeff Shannon Frankís score = 95 / Frankís note: The regular DVD by Criterion is, as usual, very good. The high-def version, which features three discs is supposedly awesome. However, before you get into that, see my section on ďBuying equipmentĒ to see what is required to get the impact. JAPAN

**STROSZEK (1977) 8.1 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 essential video Werner Herzog clever use of kitschy folk music is just one perfect element in this mesmerizing, seriocomic "ballad" of America, in which a trio of unlikely friends leave their dreary lives in Berlin, certain that wealth and comfort await in America. Their naive American dream turns sour in rural Wisconsin, and the title character (played by Bruno S., the fascinating nonactor from Herzog's The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser) becomes an insanely tragic figure, celebrating a bitterly absurd Thanksgiving in the film's unforgettable closing scenes. Stroszek presents an American nightmare that's funny, bizarre, and deeply, magnificently human. Perfect for well-traveled RVers. Frankís score = 96. GERMANY

**THRONE OF BLOOD - Criterion Collection (1961) 8.1 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 96 One of the most celebrated screen adaptations of Shakespeare into film, Akira Kurosawaís Throne of Blood re-imagines Macbeth in feudal Japan. Starring Kurosawaís longtime collaborator Toshiro Mifune. Frankís score = 95. JAPAN

TWO WOMEN (1960) 7.9 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 83 Cesira (Sophia Loren) and her 13-year-old daughter, Rosetta, flee from the allied bombs in Rome during WW II. During their journey and in the village, the mother does everything to protect Rosetta (Frankís Note: If this is the Alpha video, the DVD quality is quite low. You may be better off waiting for Criterion or some one else to release a DVD. Frankís score = 96 ITALY

**WESTFRONT 1918 (1930) 7.6 IMDb A group of German infantrymen of the First World War find brief entertainment and relief in a village behind the lines, but primarily terror fills their lives as the attacks on and from the French army ebb and flow. One of the men, Karl, goes home on leave only to discover the degradation forced on his family by wartime poverty. He returns to the lines in time to face an enormous attack by French tanks. Directed by G.W. Pabst, this film featured many actual World War I vets in the uniforms they actually wore. (Frank:I agree with others who said that ďAll Quiet on the Western FrontĒ was a good film but this one was better. As I write, only a VHS copy is available and is selling at $42. Frankís score = 97 GERMANY

Z (1969) 4 Ĺ stars (27 reviews) / 8.2 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 92 Costa-Gavras's Z, winner of the 1970 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, is a classic political thriller, combining intrigue with raw emotional power. The story turns on the investigation of the assassination of a left-wing Greek politician (Yves Montand), and his government's attempts to cover up the murky circumstances. Jean-Louis Trintignant plays the judge assigned to the investigation, who gradually discovers how far the state will go to rid itself of political opposition. --Robert Lane Frankís score: 95 FRANCE / GREECE


ALIAS BETTY (2002) 7.1 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 92 Based on a Ruth Rendell novel, the movie tells the story of an emotionally unstable grandmother (Nicole Garcia) who, after her young grandson's death, decides to kidnap a battered child and, with the help of her daughter (Sandrine Kiberlain), bring him up as their own. Kiberlain gives a riveting performance, while the story is presented from many points of view. A provocative nightmare of motherhood. Frankís rating: 92 FRANCE

ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER (1999) 7.8 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 97 Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 2000. After her son is killed in an accident, Manuela (Cecilia Roth) leaves Madrid for her old haunts in Barcelona. She visits an old friend, a pre-op transsexual prostitute named La Agrado (Antonia San Juan), who introduces her to Rosa (Penťlope Cruz), a young nun who turns out to be pregnant. Directed by Pedro Almodovar
Frankís score = 81 SPAIN

THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE (2001) 7.4 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 91 Seething passions, wandering ghosts, and an unexploded bomb fill this beautifully filmed tale of war and suspense. Though The Devil's Backbone was advertised as a horror movie in the States, it's really more of a drama that happens to have ghosts in it. During the Spanish Civil War, young Carlos is abandoned at a completely isolated orphanage. Directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pamís Labrynth) Frankís rating: 92 SPAIN

GET OUT YOUR HANDKERCHIEFS (1978) 7.5 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 89 essential video Raoul (Gerard Depardieu) has a depressed wife who never smiles. Thinking that an affair might be the answer, he talks a total stranger (Patrick Dewaere) into becoming her lover. But when neither man can make her happy, they later get a surprise. Michel Serrault co-stars in this unconventional comedy written and directed by Bertrand Blier. Frankís score = 90 FRANCE

**GOING PLACES (1974) 7.2 IMD / nationís top film critics: 80. Gerard Depardieu (in the role that made him an overnight star) and Patrick Dewaere are two crude drifters who travel the French countryside in pursuit of petty crimes and wanton sex. Miou-Miou and Isabelle Huppert co-stars in this groundbreaking and controversial comedy from writer/director Bertand Blier Frankís score = 85. FRANCE

RUN LOLA RUN (1999) 8.1 IMDb / Roger Ebert: 3 stars out of 4 / nationís top fim critics: 92 Lola (Franka Potente), a ferociously willful punk girl with orange hair, has twenty minutes to come up with a hundred thousand marks and save her hapless boyfriend, Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu), from the wrath of a big-time gangster. The writer-director, Tom Tykwer, shows us one version of what happens, and then he gives us two others, each of which takes off from the initial circumstances but has the characters make different decisions along the way, producing different climaxes. Frank says: This one is certainly offbeat and innovative. Frankís score: 86 GERMAN

THE SEDUCTION OF MIMI (1972) 4 Ĺ stars (3 reviews) / 7.4 IMDb In this wild farce ďseductionĒ refers to political seduction. Mimi (Giancarlo Giannini) is forced to leave his hometown when he can no longer get work as a result of voting the wrong way in a "secret" ballot. In the big city he finds work, but also finds that life there is very much as corrupt as it was at home. He falls in love and has a child by his lover eventually setting off a chain of events that ultimately lead to a public revenge scene that possibly has no rival. The film manages to portray a complex protagonist in a searing comedy. James McGrath Frankís score = 87 ITALY Director: Lila Wertmuller.

SWEPT AWAY (1975) 7.2 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 64 Comedy/drama from Lina WertmŁller. Mariangela Melato plays a rich woman marooned on an island with a crude sailor (Giancarlo Giannini). The two initially assume their accustomed class relationship with one another--she expects service, he grumbles about it--but then a revolution takes place and the subjugation is reversed. --Tom Keogh Frankís score = 83 ITALY

**PATHFINDER (1988) 7.7 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 83 Around the year 1000 AD warlike people, the so-called "tjuder", roam in northern Scandinavia. As they brutally kill a family in a remote area, including the parents and their little daughter, the families teenage son, Aigin, observes the slaughter. He flees the killers and reaches a camp with other Lapps whose inhabitants are worried if he has been able to hide his track. VHS so netflix doesnít have it yet Frankís score = 86 FINLAND

THE VANISHING - Criterion Collection (1988) 8.1 IMDb / nationís top film critics: 100 A young man and women are on a holiday trip. When he goes to the bathroom, she disappears. He spends three years looking for her. The missing woman's whereabouts remain a mystery, but the film provides an early introduction to her abductor, a seemingly normal family man whose domestic tranquility hides a meticulous, methodical madness. It leads to an unforgettable conclusion that's sure to send chills down your spine. Ironically, this film's director, George Sluizer, also made the inferior American remake starring Kiefer Sutherland and Jeff Bridges which lacks the haunting quality because of the tacked-on Hollywood ending. To watch both back to back could be instructive. The nationís top critics only gave the remake a 50. This was the most popular film in Dutch history. Frankís score = 92 DUTCH

YOL (2000) 8.2 IMDb Yol tells the story of several prisoners on leave in Turkey. Seyit Ali (Tariq Akan) finds that his wife (Serif Sezer) has cheated on him, but when her family insists on an honor killing, he cannot make himself kill her. Mehmet Salih (Halil Ergun) was arrested after trying to pull of a heist with his brother-in-law, whom he abandoned as he was being shot by the police. His in laws want nothing to do with him, and he is forced to finally tell his wife Emine (Meral Orhonsay) the truth. Omar (Nedgmettin Chobanoglu) returns to his village to find that it has been caught up in Turkey's civil war, and is in ruins. They all must deal with how their worlds have changed since being behind bars.
Frankís score = 85 TURKEY

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