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Top 25 All Time Movies

My Top 25 Favorite Movies (Updated – December 2012)

Anyone who knows me knows that I love movies – a lot.  With so many movies out there, I thought it would be interesting to document some of my favorites and why they have attained that status.  I was originally going to do my Top 10 movies, but that was just too tough.  Even cutting down to 25 is a challenge for someone who likes movies as much as I do.  That’s why this project expanded for top 25 to top 25 plus 75 just miss movies as well as some honorable mention movies that can't crack the top 100 but are worthy of note.  Let’s face it; there are literally thousands of movies out there and even getting down to 100 favorites is a difficult chore.  Finally I have a third list of movies that while they are worth of mention, they just don’t make the cut into the top 100.

There are plenty of recent movies that I really like, but typically a movie has to be at least five years old to make the Top 100 (but that's more of a guideline than a rule) and 10 years to make the Top 25.  There’s a reason that comedies dominate the list – I like to laugh at the movies, not be “challenged”.  Readers might question why some very good movies aren’t on the list.  The answer is simple – this is my list, not yours!

One thing the reader will note is that there aren't a lot of what you'd call "classics" on my list.  I certainly enjoy classic movies but there is a difference between "classic" and "favorite" that I hope you understand.

Note – I reserve the right to revise the list at any time, particularly as newer movies become “eligible” for inclusion in the Top 25 and Top 100 and as I add movies to the “just missed” list.  I have a "waiting list" with a couple movies that will most likely displace one currently if I still consider them favorites when they reach that magic 10 year mark.

With all that in mind, here they are listed in alphabetical order.

Airplane (1980)

“I sure picked a bad week to quit (smoking, drinking, amphetamines and sniffing glue).”  This classic parodies so many movies of the day that you can’t help but bust a gut while watching.  Although I have plenty of favorite scenes in the movie, the interactions between the young boy Joey and the Captain Oveur (Peter Graves) in the cockpit of the airliner as well as Lloyd Bridges in the control tower are absolute gems.  Toss in some absolute class Leslie Nielsen and the gut busting never stops.

Animal House (1978)

Who wouldn’t have wanted to been a member of Delta House?  Remember, I graduated from high school in 1978.  It might surprise people today how many college students around that time used this movie as a blueprint for college.  Every time I visit Universal Studios in Orlando I have to wonder why there isn’t an “Animal House” attraction.  Of course, upon some reflection I realize there is no way you could capture the spirit of this movie in an attraction suitable for all ages. 

An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)

To this day, the thought of Gunnery Sergeant Foley (Louis Gossett, Jr.) barking orders at me still scares me.  Louis Gossett proved in this film that you can win an Academy Award even for acting in a so-so overall film.  I have had people ask me if this movie had any influence on my decision to join the Coast Guard in 1983.  Quite frankly the answer is no.  I had long considered the Coast Guard prior to the release of the movie.  When I finally saw the movie the first time I had already been through the application process and was waiting to hear if I would get accepted.  After seeing it, I was smart enough to know that well, it was a just a movie.  When I did join the Coast Guard I quickly realized that I was right.  In spite of a good deal “artistic license” that the filmmakers took, I still enjoy this movie a great deal.  The casting is excellent and the acting very good and the story somewhat plausible.

Back to the Future (1985)

A DeLorean converted into a time machine?  The whole story is well done and I could watch it over and over.  The second and third installments of this trilogy are alright movies and while they don’t quite make the cut for the top 25, they both get honorable mention and make the top 100.

Boatniks (1970)

If I wasn’t a Coast Guard veteran, I might not enjoy this movie so much.  Sure, the story is a little far-fetched, but I have known many of the characters throughout my 26 year Coast Guard career.  Either the producers of this movie spent some time around the Coast Guard or they just got plain old lucky in casting many of the characters.  Yes, the movie is full of holes (any Commanding Officer of a ship involved in a collision will generally be relieved of command quite quickly) but it’s a movie! Even if you don’t like the story, you can still enjoy Stephanie Powers at her absolute peak of hotness. 

Caddyshack (1980) (Top 5 – Number 2)

It’s hard to believe watching this movie that it is over 30 years old.  The movie is as fresh as the day it was released.  I’d like a dollar for every time someone quotes this movie on a golf course.  Best line in the movie; when Rodney Dangerfield is losing in a golf match and tells his partner “I should have stayed home and played with myself.”  Sadly, Caddyshack 2 doesn’t even make my top 100 and wouldn’t make my top 1000 if I did such a list.

Clockwork Orange (1971)

If Malcolm McDowell beating a man senseless while singing “Singing in the Rain” doesn’t give you a chill, check your pulse.  This is not a movie for the faint of heart; and not just because of the “ultra-violence”.  The thing is, as you’d expect from Stanley Kubrick, there is a little more here than a casual watcher may actually pick up.  This is a movie that requires you watch it several times to actually “get it” and I know some people may have trouble getting through it once.  Like I said, this is not a movie for the faint of heart. 

Flashdance (1983)

What a feeling!  This was the one that started it all.  If you had a fast paced movie with a good sound track, did the story really matter that much?  The story here is disjointed and the acting in a lot of ways is not particularly good.  Still for some reason I am drawn to this film.  This movie qualifies a little bit as a guilty pleasure.

Goldfinger (1964) (Top 5 – Number 3)

“Bond, James Bond” – Not the first, but in my opinion, still the best ever James Bond movie (update - with the release of Skyfall there is some competition for this spot amoung Bond movies); great action, super villain and plenty of high tech gadgets (for 1964!). Bond’s Aston-Martin DB7 “spy car” remains the absolute classic.  To me, this movie represents the “Gold Standard” for James Bond movies – or any film of this genre for that matter.

Jaws (1975) (Top 5 – Number 4)

“We’re going to need a bigger boat.”  When Jaws came out in 1975, there was no CGI; still, this movie managed to scare millions.  The back stories on the movie are great.  More than 35 years after its release you still have to ask if it’s safe to go back in the water.  This is an absolute classic.

Lone Wolf McQuade (1983)

Before he became Walker, he really could kick some butt.  Chuck Norris is extremely convincing as J. J. McQuade, Texas Ranger.  Toss in an excellent supporting cast and a lot of gratuitous violence and you have a winner.  Best line in the movie:  McQuade's partner, Kayo (very well played by a young Robert Beltran) is on the ground threatened by a guy who earlier beat him up as part of a gang.  He asks "remember me, greaser?" to which right before dispatching him Kayo replies "yeah, I never forget and ass hole."

The Matrix (1999)

How do you know what’s real?  I generally don’t think that much of Keanu Reeves, but he shines in this one.  Throw in a kick ass (literally) performance by Carrie Ann Moss (who is pretty decent in the 2012 CBS Show "Vegas"), a great performance by Laurence Fishburne and a great supporting cast as well as great effects and you have a real winner. This movie spawned a couple sequels that were not even close to the original.

McLintock! (1963) (Top 5 – Number 5

John Wayne made a lot of awfully good movies during his life, but this little gem never gets old.  The movie is basically about nothing but a week in the life of “cattle baron” George Washington McLintock.  You can pretty much expect to see many of Wayne’s “regulars” in various roles.  This movie looks like it was fun to make and almost 50 years later is still a pleasure to watch.

Monsters Inc. (2001)

One of three animated movies to make my list; Monsters, Inc is great for all ages, not just the kids.  Frankly I have never really cared that much for Billy Crystal, but he gives an absolute gem of a performance in this movie.  It took Disney/Pixar a long time to get this movie out and it was certainly worth the wait.

North Dallas Forty (1979)

A somewhat dark look at professional football that probably wasn’t (isn’t?) too far from how it really is.  If you can get over that Nick Nolte and Mac Davis do not really look like professional athletes (yet the cast is full of pro ball players), you can really enjoy this one.

101 Dalmatians (1961)

The second animated movie to make the list; this is a timeless classic that has spawned a number of sequels as well as video games for kids that may have never even seen the original.  When this was released in 1961, it was cutting edge technology.  While not as glitzy as today’s CGI enhanced films, it’s a good story and a great movie.  Cruella De Vil should pretty much make any top 5 all time list of movie super villains (and frankly challenge for number one!).  In my opinion, she makes the wicked queen in Snow White look like the girl next door.

Slap Shot (1977)

If you can get past the extremely high number of F-Bombs, this is a pretty decent movie.  If you were raised in a minor league town like I was, you can understand the notion that even minor league professional athletes can somehow achieve local celebrity status.  Of course the story is ridiculous – it is a movie after all.

Smokey and the Bandit (1977) (Top 5 – Number 1)

This is absolutely my favorite all time movie.  I have probably watched this movie over 100 times and never get tired of it.  Sadly the sequels were nowhere near as good as the original.  I thought for sure that a Bandit II would pick up with the gang heading up to Boston.  There are so many classic scenes and lines that I would need a separate article to include them all (and I just might work on that!).

Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home (1986)

Although I liked the Star Trek movie series (and the original show for that matter), this is really the only movie that I feel captured the true Wild West spirit of Captain James T. Kirk.  Winging back through time and rescuing the entire population of earth is pretty much all in a day’s work for Kirk and his crew.  Naturally, Kirk is in trouble with his superiors, but when you save several billion people from certain death you can get over on them.

The Sting (1973)

Paul Newman and Robert Redford were perfect in this 70’s classic.  I actually think they had better chemistry in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, but the additional cast in “The Sting” - especially a great performance by Robert Shaw - gets it into the top 25. 

Stripes (1981)

“That’s the fact jack”.  Bill Murray was at his peak of funniness and this very well cast movie will keep you rolling.  The story is clearly far-fetched but so what.  The Army was very cooperative with the filming allowing the producers to shoot at Fort Knox; and why not?  No one in their right mind takes this movie seriously.  There are several scenes shot in Louisville, KY (the Clark Memorial Bridge over the Ohio River is the location for the scene where Murray’s character “quits” his cabbie job by tossing the keys into the (Ohio) river and an abandoned distillery makes a great Czech army camp.)  If this movie doesn’t crack you up I’m not sure what will.   This movie was an early effort for several actors who went on the much bigger things including Judge Reinhold and Bill Paxton.  If you liked Sean Young in “Blade Runner” her character in this one will completely take you aback.

Toy Story (1995)

The third animated picture to make the top 25.  This movie was the first Disney/PIXAR effort.  Tom Hanks and Tim Allen were absolutely perfect as Woody and Buzz.  Of course I have a hard time believing Tom Hanks could be bad at anything and Tim Allen never ceases to crack me up.  After watching this movie you want to real quickly open the door to see if the toys really do talk.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

When this movie came out I was very young.  I remember seeing it in a theatre when I was a little older and absolutely fell in love with everything about it.

Used Cars (1980)

“Trust Me” – this is a good movie!  I know some people who at one time sold used cars and this film isn’t all that far from the truth in a lot of ways.  Sadly there are a few scenes that really don't add much to the movie that some people may find objectionable, but it you can get by that, the movie is a hoot.  The final scene through the desert should make any list of great car chases although it will most likely be overlooked.


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