A month ago I was “tagged” by retired Columbia College film professor Judd Chesler, an Evanston resident, to take “The Facebook Movie Challenge.” The “rules” are simple: just post an image from each of your 10 favorite movies on successive days. No title, no commentary—just a photo.
But wait, I thought: how can anyone identify a movie from a single shot? OK, some scenes are so famous you don’t need to name them: the crop-duster shooting at Cary Grant in “North by Northwest,” the chariot race in “Ben-Hur,” ET sailing across a moonlit sky.
But in general, if the average movie has 50 scenes, what’s the likelihood of recognizing all of them?
So, rule-breaker that I am, I listed my favorites and explained what I loved about them. That was the easy part. Getting the list down to 10 was hard. I wound up with 12.
I’ve been an avid moviegoer since I was a kid. I have wonderful memories of going downtown to see big-screen epics like “Ben-Hur” and “Bridge on the River Kwai.” When I was in college, I joined a film club, and every week we’d watch a classic, directed by such masters as John Huston, Ingmar Bergman and Billy Wilder.
One year I reviewed movies for the RoundTable. The challenge was deciding – on the spot – why I liked or didn’t like the movie. The effort of being a “critic” drained the enjoyment from watching.
But I loved the Movie Challenge. What fun to think about my favorites.
Here’s what I wrote about my # 6 favorite: “Can’t assemble a best-movie list without a Bogie movie. There are so many great ones: “Casablanca” and “African Queen” and “Maltese Falcon” to name a few. But my favorite is “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948) written and directed by John Huston and starring his father, Walter Huston, Tim Holt and Bogart as three grizzled prospectors digging for gold in Mexico. Memorable performances and a great story about greed and madness.”
Also on my list: “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Bridge on the River Kwai,” “The Gold Rush,” “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” “Hobson’s Choice,” “The Third Man,” “Groundhog Day,” “Dr. Strangelove,” “Hugo” and “North by Northwest.”
It’s a varied if somewhat conventional list: a documentary, a comedy, a silent movie, a Hitchcock thriller, a foreign movie, a Scorsese movie, two anti-war movies,featuring such great actors as Charles Laughton, Jimmy Stewart, Peter Sellers and Orson Welles.
I was reminded again how wonderful and transformative two hours in the dark staring at a big screen can be. Movies are the most important artistic medium of the last century, where we learn how to love, fight, live and die.
So now it’s your turn. I “tag” you, dear reader, to take the Challenge. Have fun.