Top 50 - 36 through 40

36. The Best Years of Our Lives (Wyler, 1946)

I won't say much about this one, as there is a William Wyler blogathon coming up, and I plan to devote my entry to this movie. I don't like war movies, but this post-war movie I adore. It's very unassuming, doesn't aspire to tell a grand story or convey an important message, but by the simple tales of these three returning soldiers, it's much more moving than it has any right to be, and it makes you understand just how much war can destroy.

37. Sherlock Jr. (Keaton, 1924)

In The Dreamers, a movie which ended up just outside my top 50, there is a discussion about Chaplin vs. Keaton. To this question, I often feel like answering "Harold Lloyd" just for the sake fof being contrarion, but truth be told, For me, there's no question about it: the sad faced acrobat wins from the tramp hands down. Oh, I like Chaplin, The Kid, for instance, is wonderful, but there's something about Keaton that makes this more than just slapstick. Sherlock Jr., furthermore, is wonderfully self-referential, one of the first films explicitly also about film, as Keaton jumps from one frame to another. It's one of those films that make me wonder why people think black and white films are dull and slow: comedians nowadays wish they could make something as playful and light as this.

38. It happened one night (Capra, 1934)

There are so many screwball comedies I still have to see. I haven't seen the Lady Eve, nor the Philadelphia story, not even Bringing up Baby, although according to Adam and Sam, I'm not missing much. I did see It Happened One Night, and rewatched it only a week after the first time because I loved it so much. Cary Grant's rakish reporter Peter Warne seems to have inspired just about every George Clooney performance, but only very rarely has he approached this level: you can feel all the failed ambitions and missed chances here, and if not for his optimism, this could have been an almost tragic picture. And Claudette Colbert, ah, who would not fall in love with her? She seems so spoiled, slightly useless even, but she has more talents than you would suspect. The bon mots fly so fast you can barely catch them, and the scene where they pretend to be a married couple, well, the fourth time I saw it, I still laughed.

39. Singin' in the Rain (Donen&Kelly, 1952)

Sometimes associations go the wrong way. I saw Kill Bill II before I saw the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and so the music had strange connotations for me when I heard it in its original context. Likewise, I saw A Clockwork Orange long before I finally saw this classic musical - one of the few films I saw on the big screen twice, thanks to circumstance - so for the longest time I found it an extremely unpleasant song. No more, though, because it's impossible not to feel giddy watching Gene Kelly dancing with his umbrella. Besides being a great musical, one of the greatest, this film also gives quite a bit of background info on the transition from silents to sound film, and is all the more priceless for it.

40. Fargo (Coen bros, 1996)

The first (or actually last, but we're counting down) of three Coen brothers entries on this list. Which isn't revealing much: they made so many great movies, anything could still be above, and any one of three other Coen brothers could have taken this spot. My affection for Fargo in particular is rooted in one thing, or rather one caracter: Marge Gunderson. 8 months or so pregnant, pragmatic, and just so essentially good, she's not just the center of this movie, she's its heart. The Coens have been criticized for their perceived contempt of these characters, but I think it's rather envy, and the relationship between Marge and her husband is the most loving one they've ever put on screen. Not their best (I have two of their films ranked higher, after all), but a great, great film.

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