Here is a snapshot of my favourite films.
Some Like It Hot (1959) dir. Billy Wilder
The perfect ensemble film. It never fails to make me laugh, particularly the first shot of the Curtis and Lemmon's newly shaved legs scuttling along in heels. Jack Lemmon steals almost every scene he is in with his energetic performance. Tony Curtis is handsome as a man, and ridiculous as a woman. Marilyn Monroe is funny and lovely. My sister and I constantly quote this film to each other. ('Nobody talks like that!')
The Lady Eve (1941) dir. Preston Sturges
Barbara Stanwyck is highly underrated. She never stuck to one film genre, and in my opinion deserves to be as well-remembered as Bette Davis and Katherine Hepburn for her acting abilities. Here she is gorgeous as Jean Harrington who seduces and bamboozles Henry Fonda's Charles 'Hopsy' Pike. Their chemistry is perfect; and that scene on the couch (or at least one of them is on the couch) is one of the best scenes I have ever seen, and it is all done in one take! (Why Hopsy!)
I have realised that these two films have several things in common. They have great scripts full of quotable dialogue, and casts with natural chemistry. Both also explore (not too seriously) ideas around sex and deception. Joe fools Sugar into thinking that he is Shell Oil, Jr. Gerry as Daphne attracts Osgood Fielding, III (despite being a man in drag). Even Sugar pretends with Shell Oil, saying she is really a society girl, just doing the band gig as a laugh.
Hopsy engages himself to Jean thinking that she is the daughter of a wealthy oil man (hey I'm sensing a pattern). She then wins his hand as Lady Eve, and in a wonderful act or revenge teaches him that good girls aren't always as good as they appear (and the bad not nearly as bad as you think).
None of these people may be perfect, but darn me if these two films aren't! Expect me to come back to them often.
After these two my list of favourite films is a jumble. Most of them are funny and romantic, like When Harry Met Sally, The Thin Man. If I ever decide to write a list of my favourite films I would have two separate lists: one of feel-good movies that make me laugh and have happy endings; and other of more serious fare, like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stalker, Shame. I love these films, but in a different way to the other list. They are beautiful, thought-provoking but not for everyday consumption.
Neither list is superior to the other. Sometimes one needs a good comedy, others time I want to be challenged and inspired. Here are a few from both lists, in no order:
When Harry Met Sally, It Happened One Night, The Princess Bride, Annie Hall, La Belle et la Bete, Aladdin, Lady Chatterley, The Thin Man, Volver, The Apartment, Trois Coleurs: Bleu, Singin' in the Rain, Amelie, Stalker, Notorious, Rosemary's Baby
Are you similarly two-minded when it comes to films? What are some of your favourites?