Weekend Cinema Listomania (Special Memorial Day: Symptom or Disease? Edition)

on May 28, 2010 by Steve Simels

virginian.jpgVideo Event of the Week: Might we be talking about Sony's DVD of Dear John, the lamentable Amanda Seyfried/Channing Tatum post-9/11 teen romance directed by the usually admirable Lasse Hallstrom? Could HBO's Blu-ray of True Blood: The Complete Second Season, the vampire story that's even more of a metaphor for just about everything than Zelig, by any chance make the grade? Or, and boy is this one an outside chance, might Timeless Media Group's massive ten disc box of the complete first season (1962) of TV' s The Virginian conceivably be The One?

All worthy to be sure, and given that The Virginian set includes guest star turns by George C. Scott, Bette Davis and Lee Marvin, I'm gonna try to write about that as soon as I can snag a copy.

But to be honest, a long holiday weekend is upon us and I feel like relaxing. So let's go directly to the Listomania, secure in the knowledge that The Event will return next week -- tanned, rested and ready

That said, and since it's no doubt going to be quite as the tomb around here for the next few days, here's a fun and totally relevant little project to tide us over:

Best or Worst World War II-Themed Film, American or Otherwise!!!

And my totally top of my head Top Five is:

5. The Americanization of Emily (Arthur Hiller, 1964)

Paddy Chayevsky's savagely funny valentine to anti-heroism. James Garner more or less made a career out of playing silver-tongued cowards, but this is probably the best thing he ever did.

4. Life is Beautiful (Robert Benigni, 1997)

I've mentioned this here on numerous occasions, but I lack the words to express how deeply offensive I think this film is. Seriously -- there may, someday, be a movie comedy that can do justice to the Holocaust, although I doubt it. In any case, it wasn't made by this schmuck.

3. The Train (John Frankenheimer, 1964)

Riveting suspense as the French resistance, personified by Burt Lancaster, tries to stop the Nazis, as personified by Paul Scofield, from smuggling a load of art treasures out of the country as the Allies close in. As director Frankenheimer observed, this is probably the last great action flick made in black-and-white.

2. Catch-22 (Mike Nichols, 1970)

WWII, or war generally, as something between absurdist farce and giant con job, from Joseph Heller's supposedly unfilmable novel. I think it's brilliant myself, if only for the scene of the guy literally beating a dead horse.

And the Numero Uno World War II war is hello there! flick absolutely positively has to be --

1. The Keep (Michael Mann, 1983)

My people have a word for this, and I think it's mishegass. No kidding, I've seen The Keep a couple of times and as best as I can make out it has something to do with Nazi troops unwittingly releasing a demon in occupied Rumania. Or maybe not. I doubt even director Mann knows what the hell is going on here.

Alrighty then -- what would your choices be?

Tags: The Virginian, Burt Lancaster, Roberto Benigni

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