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Film Fanatic End of 2022 Greetings

Film Fanatic End of 2022 Greetings

Hello, fellow Film Fanatics!

I hope this has been an enjoyable year of movie watching for all of you. My family and I (kids now ages 10, 12, and 14) watched Home Alone (1990) yesterday, and it was a fun harbinger of what’s to come: once I’m done with this project, I’ll be moving on to covering more modern classics.

Unfortunately, 2022 has been a rough year for our family, with loss on numerous levels; with that said, I’m always grateful to movies for providing a safe haven in the midst of personal challenges.

Midway through the year I wrote a reflection on my milestone of having watched all the films in GFTFF up through the 1950s — so, all titles I’ve been reviewing since then were made between 1960-1987. There have been some definite gems, though I’ll admit to missing flicks from earlier decades.

Here are a few of my highlights from this past year of (re)viewing movies:

  • For the number geeks among you, I’ve reviewed an additional 287 films in 2022 (so far!). That brings me up to 3,483 or 81% of the titles in Peary’s Guide for the Film Fanatic — just 887 more to go!
  • I’ve continued to work my way through titles from Peary’s three Cult Movies books (just seven left). I can’t say many are personal favorites, but I was pleasantly surprised by at least a few: The Terminator (1984) has held up remarkably well as a dystopian sci-fi time travel flick (Schwarzenegger’s performance is fun!); Liquid Sky (1982) remains a darkly acerbic cultural commentary with truly far-out visuals; and of course Blade Runner (1982) maintains its status as a haunting masterpiece on so many levels.
  • My favorite auteur viewing this year was catching up with more of Sam Fuller’s unique output. While his Steel Helmet (1950) is a justifiable indie classic, lesser-known but equally worthy Fuller titles to check out include Fixed Bayonets (1951) (also taking place during the Korean War), the colorful House of Bamboo (1955), and the flawed but boldly unique Crimson Kimono (1959).
  • I was pleasantly surprised by how compelling Sidney Lumet’s screen adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1962) remains: it’s powerfully acted, masterfully filmed, and never drags despite the undeniably challenging subject matter.
  • Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979) continues to merit multiple viewings as a “surreal immersion piece.” As I noted in my review, “Coppola and his team set out to tell a tale of the Vietnam War that would highlight its deep absurdity and lasting impact on everyone involved — and in this, he succeeds.”
  • Finally, John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) is a seriously creepy “remake” that offers an entirely different viewing experience from the 1951 classic; indeed, “Carpenter’s film succeeds on its own terms, presenting a wintery hellscape of justifiable paranoia in which these men… can no longer rely on one another for support and survival.” And the special effects are truly impressive.

Here’s to another year of watching and reviewing classic films!
— Film

Reflection: Reviews Through the 1950s

Reflection: Reviews Through the 1950s

Hello, fellow film fanatics!

I’m getting close enough to the completion of this massive reviewing project that I’ve headed into a kind of chronological finish-line: as of today, I’ve reviewed every title listed in Guide For the Film Fanatic released before 1960. Click here and you’ll see.

(For those keeping track, I’ve reviewed 3,306 titles in total from the book, with only 994 left to go. Wow – less than 1,000! Another significant milestone.)

It seems fitting to write a brief note saying goodbye (for now) to the cinema of the first half+ of the 20th century — though of course, it bears emphasizing that as comprehensive as Peary’s book is, it’s far from complete in terms of listing EVERY noteworthy or must-see film. That is, there are gaps. Over the years, I’ve occasionally published reviews of what I perceive to be “Missing Titles” but more recently have once again focused on titles in GFTFF simply to keep making progress.

With that caveat in mind, what are my thoughts on “must see” cinema from the 1910s to the 1950s, now that I’ve reviewed all those titles from Peary’s book? I’ll focus this post on the 1950s, and save my thoughts on silent cinema (as well as movies from the 1930s and 1940s) for another time.

Note: Some of my insights below might seem fairly obvious to anyone interested in the history of cinema, but I’ll share them anyway just to document what’s stood out to me in my most recent months of watching, reviewing, and finishing up The List.

Takeaway One: Expansion of World Cinema
As filmmaking progressed over the decades, particularly into the 1950s, an increasing number of movies from across the globe were released (and now, of course, we have access to even more titles through digital platforms). By looking at my list of the “Foreign Films” listed in GFTFF, we can see that some countries and continents — i.e., Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and South America, to name just a few — seem to have had their filmic renaissance in later years, while others (i.e., China and most African nations) remain severely under-represented overall (at least in Peary’s book). (Of course, there are complex socio-political reasons behind this, which I won’t get into here — I’m just pointing out the obvious.)

Highlights and/or notable trends from foreign films in the 1950s include the beginning of significant works from Ingmar Bergman; just a few titles from the Eastern bloc (albeit lovely and provocative ones); many beautifully shot films from Japan (including several solid classics from Akira Kurosawa); a distinct lack of post-WWII German titles; plenty of diverse and engaging French films; the rise of Fellini in Italy; and Satyajit Ray’s incomparable “Apu Trilogy” from India.

Takeaway Two: Visual Innovations
As we all know, screens got bigger — much bigger — during the 1950s (for a variety of reasons). While I was finishing up my reviews of ’50s titles in GFTFF, I was struck by the difference this format made for so many (though not all) movies. VistaVision had its heyday, CinemaScope came and (mostly) went, and other technologies were experimented with. My understanding of the “how” behind the glorious images we see on the screen is limited to what I learn by reading and watching “extras” (I’m an art lover, not a techie); but I do take note when it’s obvious that a wider screen is impacting our ability to appreciate what we’re seeing, either more or differently.

For instance, I was disappointed by what seemed to be a lack of widescreen innovation in Otto Preminger’s hard-to-find Porgy and Bess (1959) (though we’ll have to wait until a restoration is finally completed to see for sure). However, I’ve been blown away by so many other recently restored widescreen titles, in which it’s obvious how well-planned and well-utilized the massive screen space was. Even films I’m not particularly enamored with — i.e., King Vidor’s epic War and Peace (1956) — remain a vision to behold.

As a side note, this is a fabulous time to be a film fanatic. When I started this project 16 years ago, I was watching some utterly crappy bootleg copies of titles which have since been completely revitalized… I’ve become wonderfully spoiled, and am still in the process of replacing older stills in my earlier reviews with newer, better ones.

Takeaway Three: Sadly, History Repeats Itself
It’s been particularly distressing in recent months to revisit films made during or just after World War II, and see how much of what we thought was simply hideous history once again haunting our daily lives.

Fascism is back in full force, Cold War tensions remain ever-present, and… people treat each other in atrocious ways. War abides. Will that ever go away? It doesn’t seem likely. I’m obviously deeply disappointed that cinematic representation doesn’t cure all ills, but at least — at least — we can (and should) maintain some historically grounded humility in what we’re dealing with, with help from movies.

Final Thoughts
If you’re itching to read more about films from the 1950s, click here for a list of 100 “must see” titles from this decade (most are covered in Peary’s book) — and also be sure to check out Tim Dirks’ comprehensive overview of cinematic trends and influences during the 1950s. He covers teen heart-throbs (Marlon Brando, James, Dean, Elvis Presley) and teen exploitation films; the impact of television on studio production (including epics, 3D, and other widescreen films); big-budget musicals; “intelligent” westerns:

… larger-than-life ’50s icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Doris Day, Audrey Hepburn, and Elizabeth Taylor; Method acting; British influence; anti-Communist sentiment (including Cold-War inspired sci-fi); censorship and social conscience flicks; Godzilla; Jimmy Stewart; auteurs like Alfred Hitchcock, Nicholas Ray, and Douglas Sirk; and more.

That’s it for now. Back to viewing and reviewing! I’m heading forth into the 1960s and beyond Year-End Reflection 2021 Year-End Reflection 2021

Greetings, fellow film fanatics! It’s been another busy year of movie watching and reviewing.

In keeping with the spirit of my check-in at the end of last year, I thought I would share that I’ve now reviewed 3,165, or ~73.6% of the titles in Peary’s Guide for the Film Fanatic — just 1,135 more to go. (Whew!)

(As much as I adore this extensive and ongoing project, I’m also looking forward to eventually turning my attention to post-1987 titles…)

With that said, here are a few recommendations and thoughts from my past year of viewing and posting on this site:

  • I spent much of February and March this year working my way through the many (many) horror films listed in GFTFF. My personal favorites are those which use tropes of the genre to comment on social ills — i.e., Bob Clark’s Deathdream (1974), which incorporates concepts of ghosts, vampires, and zombies to explore how PTSD manifests not only for soldiers but for their loved ones back home; and George Romero’s unusual vampire flick Martin (1977), which still haunts me months after watching it.
  • While many of the films discussed in Peary’s three Cult Movie books don’t resonate with me personally, I was pleasantly surprised to revisit Walter Hill’s cult classic The Warriors (1979); it remains a stylized gem of fantasy vengeance, with nifty comic captions added to the 2005 director’s cut. It’s well worth a look if you haven’t seen it in awhile.
  • It turns out that quite a few excellent films about World War II were made in the 1940s. Just a few recommendations from those I watched this year are: Zoltan Korda’s Sahara (1943), set in the North African desert and revolving around the need for water to survive; John Ford’s They Were Expendable (1945), about PT boat sailors in the Philippines; and William Wellman’s sobering, beautifully shot Battleground (1949).
  • Some French titles to highlight from this past year’s viewing include the provocative and sensitively handled Sundays and Cybele (1962) by director Serge Bourguignon, about a disturbed veteran’s friendship with a young girl; Alain Resnais’s still-intriguing New Wave classic Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), in which “sensual connection is shown as a form of visceral engagement with uncomfortable truths”; and Maurice Cloche’s Monsieur Vincent (1947), about the life and spiritual growth of St. Vincent de Paul.
  • Many excellent movies are too harsh to bear watching more than once or twice. Among the classics I’m glad I revisited this year but can’t imagine seeing again any time soon include Robert Rossen’s The Hustler (1961), featuring a stand-out performance by young Paul Newman as pool hustler ‘Fast’ Eddie Felson; Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull (1980), an expressive biopic about abusive, paranoid, self-loathing boxer Jake La Motta; and Claude Lanzmann’s massive, essential, relentlessly sobering Holocaust documentary Shoah (1985).
  • Finally, a few underrated gems I (re)discovered from the late ’40s and early ’50s include Carol Reed’s The Fallen Idol (1948), about a lonely young boy caught in a web of confusing secrets; George Stevens’ I Remember Mama (1948), with a powerful lead performance and convincing Norwegian accent by Irene Dunne; Anthony Mann’s The Tall Target (1951), about an attempted assassination of Abraham Lincoln; John Huston’s editorially butchered but haunting The Red Badge of Courage (1951); and Henry Koster’s No Highway in the Sky (1951), about a brilliant scientist (Jimmy Stewart) who no one will believe (ahem) during a time of imminent crisis.

Happy 2022 (almost) to everyone! (I’ll keep posting over the next few days.)
-FilmFanatic (Sylvia) Year-End Reflection 2020 Year-End Reflection 2020 has been going strong for over 14 years!

It’s remarkable how access to older movies has shifted in recent years, from the days when I could only find obscure titles at a local corner video store to an era when restored copies are available to stream online. (Not everything, of course — but plenty!)

In addition to switching over to a new WordPress theme this year, I’ve been spending many hours cleaning up older reviews, removing or replacing outdated links, and adding new — bigger, clearer — stills, including incorporating images directly into the review narratives themselves.

I’ve also (hopefully) made it easier to find Peary’s recommended movies according to actors (A-J, K-Z), directors, countries-of-origin, genres, and more. It’s not perfect, but it feels like I’m getting closer to the more streamlined and organized site I’ve imagined all along.

For those interested in stats, here are the latest numbers on how many of Peary’s Guide for the Film Fanatic films have been covered on this site so far:

  • 1,118 reviews of titles in the front section of Peary’s book
  • 1,706 reviews of titles from the back section of Peary’s book
  • 41 additional reviews of titles considered “missing” from Peary’s book

That’s a total of 2,842 out of 4,300 Peary-listed titles covered, which is 65.67%.

There is still no rhyme or reason to how or why I choose to cover certain titles, other than occasionally feeling motivated to work my way through all recommended movies with a certain actor, by a certain director, on a certain topic, etc. For instance, I finally finished (re)watching and reviewing all the James Bond movies listed in Peary’s GFTFF. (Go here and search for “James Bond Films” and you’ll see them listed and hyper-linked.) And I watched NEARLY all the Tarzan flicks Peary recommends (just one more left).

My goals for in this next year include the following:

  • Keep plugging away at reviews (of course!) and get closer to the finish line. (This is a marathon, not a sprint — and an enjoyable one at that!)
  • Make more real-life connections with my fellow bloggers at CMBA (the Classic Movie Blog Association).
  • Continue to think about how to introduce newer, younger film fanatics to the wealth of amazing classic and cult movies out there, both must-sees and personal favorites. What’s the best format for this???
  • Dream about maybe (maybe) trying out some video reviews to post on YouTube.

Meanwhile, here are some highlights of favorite movies I’ve watched and reviewed in 2020:

  • To get your Pre-Code fix, check out the fabulous Edward G. in The Little Giant (1933), which “builds to an enormously satisfying conclusion”.
  • For an unexpected treat on New Year’s, watch Angels Over Broadway (1940), a “compact, humanistic thriller about a quartet of down-and-out individuals finding each other one evening and conspiring to pull a fast one on fate”.
  • James Mason is one of my favorite actors; this year I watched him in Carol Reed’s Odd Man Out (1947), which I found “consistently engaging, innovative, and touching”, and in the tense spy flick Five Fingers (1952) (one of the few Hollywood films Mason purportedly enjoyed watching himself in).
  • If you’re curious to see Humphrey Bogart in his only horror film role, check out The Return of Doctor X (1939) — an “atmospherically shot B-flick” which offers “a pseudo-comedic mad-doctor amateur-sleuth genre-mash”.
  • Robert Montgomery is “enigmatic and charming” in Night Must Fall (1937), a “unique and well-acted thriller” which it’s best to watch cold (no spoilers here).
  • Seven Days to Noon (1950), about a distressed British scientist who takes lethal matters into his own hands, was an unexpected treat to stumble upon. As I write in my review, “From its opening moments until its almost unspeakably tension-filled finale, we’re held on the edge of our seats during this film.”
  • Though I’m not a huge fan of biopics, I was pleasantly surprised to revisit Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon in Madame Curie (1943), finding it “both atmospheric and highly engaging”. It remains “a meticulously told tale of scientific inquiry, rigor, and suspense”.
  • Peter Brook’s adaptation of William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies (1963) is creepy and oh-so unique. It’s tough viewing, but cult-worthy cinema.
  • The Wicker Man (1973), Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), and Being There (1979) all remain justifiable cult favorites from the 1970s — very much worth a revisit if you haven’t seen them in awhile.
  • While helping my son with a project-based assignment on the sinking of the Titanic, I watched Roy Ward Baker’s excellent A Night to Remember (1958) and was duly impressed. It’s “notable for its fidelity to historical detail, and for portraying this well-known tragedy in an effectively gripping fashion.”
  • Budd Boetticher’s The Tall T (1957), starring Randolph Scott, is a winner: “At just 78 minutes, this nifty western moves swiftly and tells a taut, tense tale from beginning to end.”
  • Perhaps you’ll agree with me that there are few better ways to spend your film-viewing hours than watching gorgeous Montgomery Clift on-screen. I revisited several of his titles this year — including Indiscretion of an American Wife (1953) (flawed) and From Here to Eternity (1954) (solid) — but my recommendations are two of his earliest titles: The Search (1948) and Howard Hawks’ Red River (1948).
  • Jules Dassin’s Thieves Highway (1949) — co-starring Richard Conte and Lee J. Cobb — offers “an elaborate revenge flick within a landscape of omni-present corruption and hustling.” You’ll never casually eat an apple again without thinking of this film.
  • A nearly perfect cult classic to revisit at any time is Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). You won’t be sorry!
  • To get your Elvis fix, definitely check out the engaging documentary Elvis: That’s the Way It Is (1970), with lovely cinematography by Lucien Ballard. Elvis is at his peak here.
  • Finally, the perfect COVID-era flicks this year have included Vincent Price in Roger Corman’s Poe-inspired The Masque of the Red Death (1964) (“Famine, pestilence, war, disease, and death — they rule this world!”) and Ingmar Bergman’s timeless classic The Seventh Seal (1957).

Happy 2021 to everyone!
-FilmFanatic (Sylvia)

Woody Allen Round-Up

Woody Allen Round-Up

I’ve now posted on all 18 of the Woody Allen titles listed in Peary’s GFTFF — which happens to cover every single feature he directed (and/or starred in) up to the time of the book’s release. Interestingly, I’m voting all but one as “Must See” — providing evidence either of Allen’s indisputable genius during the first half of his lengthy career, and/or my personal fondness for his work:

For Allen fans, it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite title from the above list, or even a few favorites, given that so many of his earlier movies delight on a variety of different levels. Like many others, I have a personal fondness for Annie Hall (it’s probably the Allen title I find most consistently clever, enjoyable, and romantic) — but I also wouldn’t want to live without repeat visits of Sleeper or Zelig (close runners-up). Manhattan earns my dubious vote as the most highly regarded Allen film which I find least personally satisfying, though (naturally) there’s much about it to appreciate — and I’ll try it again in later years to see if my opinion has changed.

Having recently rewatched so many of Allen’s films during a short period of time, I’m once again enormously impressed by the trajectory of his creative vision — shifting from his “early, funny” films (each an enjoyably gonzo comedic treat), to the heartbreaking yet life-affirming insight of Annie Hall, to the devastating emotional rigor of Interiors, to the complexity and joy of Hannah and Her Sisters. Meanwhile, those interested in tracing thematic trends across an auteur’s lifelong vision will surely have a field day with Allen’s work, given how much of it is based so closely on elements of his own life — carefully crafted as fictional narrative, yet oh-so-clearly a manifestation of his own idiosyncrasies and interests. Some parallels are obvious — i.e., the close overlap between the three grown sisters in Interiors and those in Hannah and Her Sisters. Others are subtler — i.e., as Peary astutely points out in Cult Movies 3, the connection between Alvy Singer’s initially liberating yet ultimately claustrophobic “mentoring” of “naive” Annie Hall, and the “imposing, Nosferatu-like” role played by “Max von Sydow as Barbara Hershey’s possessive, soon-to-be-dumped mentor” in Hannah and Her Sisters.

Any discussion of Allen’s career would, of course, be incomplete without mentioning what he’s produced since 1987 — which amounts to an astonishing film-a-year, much of it (unfortunately) not worthy of a film fanatic’s attention. Below is a chronological list of his theatrically-released full-length features as of 2012:

  • September (1987)
  • Another Woman (1988) (not must see, but recommended)
  • Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) — MUST SEE
  • Alice (1990) (not must see, but recommended for Allen fans)
  • Shadows and Fog (1991)
  • Husbands and Wives (1992) (not must see, but recommended)
  • Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) — MUST SEE
  • Bullets Over Broadway (1994)
  • Mighty Aphrodite (1995) (not must see, but recommended simply for Sorvino’s performance)
  • Everyone Says I Love You (1996)
  • Deconstructing Harry (1997) (not must see, but recommended once for diehard Allen fans)
  • Celebrity (1998)
  • Sweet and Lowdown (1999)
  • Small Time Crooks (2000) — MUST SEE
  • The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001) (not must see, but recommended for Allen fans)
  • Hollywood Ending (2002)
  • Anything Else (2003) (not must see; skip this one)
  • Melinda and Melinda (2004)
  • Match Point (2005)
  • Scoop (2006) (not must see, but recommended)
  • Cassandra’s Dream (2007) (not must see, but recommended)
  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) (not must see)
  • Whatever Works (2009) (not must see)
  • You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010) (not must see, but mildly recommended)
  • Midnight in Paris (2011) (not must see, but recommended)
  • To Rome with Love (2012)

It’s been too long since I’ve seen many of these films to say definitively whether I’d vote them as “modern must-see” titles or not — but the ratio of essential to non-essential titles in this list will certainly be much, much lower. I’ll check back in later, as I rewatch the second half of Allen’s oeuvre and carefully select the wheat from the chaff. [ADDENDUM: I’m casting my votes now, as I rewatch these later titles; as predicted, very few are “must see”, though a surprising number are recommended — at least for Allen fans.]

P.S. (8/9/12): I recently stumbled upon this indispensable website/blog for Allen fans:

It’s dedicated to much the same project I’ve been engaged in myself recently, albeit on a grander, much more detailed scale. You’ll find yourself unable to stop clicking from title to title, reading Trevor’s insights into each Allen film as he watches them in chronological order and makes extensive thematic connections. What’s most interesting to me is how strongly we differ in our critical opinions of many of Allen’s later titles, demonstrating once again how fickle and subjective Allen-allegiance can be; I think it ultimately comes down to each viewer needing to decide for him/herself whether any given (post-1987) title is worth watching or not. At any rate, definitely check his site out!

P.S.S. (1/8/21): Well, life keeps evolving, as does the internet. It appears that is no longer, and I can’t find traces of it anywhere — however, for diehard fans, there are other sites devoted to covering Allen’s oeuvre and ongoing projects, including and Allen has remained as prolific as ever, continuing to churn out roughly a movie a year since 2012 for a total of 7 additional feature-length films and a T.V. mini-series — none of which, sadly, I have any interest in checking out.

Animated Disney Round-Up

Animated Disney Round-Up

Now that I’ve finished watching all the pre-1986 Disney animated features listed or reviewed in Peary’s GFTFF, it seemed like a good time to provide a summative rundown of which ones are must-see:

That’s nine out of thirteen titles — plenty of must-see viewing for film fanatics to enjoy! Feel free to disagree with my choices by posting your own opinion.

Just for the record, the following are all the pre-1986 Disney animated features NOT included in Peary’s GFTFF; as far as I know, none should be considered “Missing Titles”, though all are likely of interest to true Disney fans:

  • Saludos Amigos (1942)
  • Make Mine Music (1946)
  • Fun and Fancy Free (1947)
  • Melody Time (1948)
  • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
  • Alice in Wonderland (1951)
  • The Sword in the Stone (1963)
  • The Jungle Book (1967)
  • The Aristocats (1970)
  • Robin Hood (1973)
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
  • The Rescuers (1977)
  • The Fox and the Hound (1981)
  • The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

Finally, the following is a list of post-1986 Disney animated features, along with my tentative recommendations about which should be considered “Must See” (though I really need to go back and rewatch them to verify, and many I’ve never seen):

  • Oliver & Company (1988)
  • The Little Mermaid (1989) — MUST SEE
  • The Rescuers Down Under (1990)
  • Beauty and the Beast (1991) — MUST SEE
  • Aladdin (1992) — MUST SEE
  • The Lion King (1994) — MUST SEE
  • Pocahontas (1995)
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
  • Hercules (1997)
  • Mulan (1998)
  • Tarzan (1999)
  • Fantasia 2000 (2000) — MUST SEE
  • Dinosaur (2000)
  • The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
  • Lilo & Stitch (2002) — MUST SEE
  • Treasure Planet (2002)
  • Brother Bear (2003)
  • Home on the Range (2004)
  • Chicken Little (2005)
  • Meet the Robinsons (2007)
  • Bolt (2008)
  • The Princess and the Frog (2009)
  • Tangled (2010)
  • Winnie the Pooh (2011)
  • Frozen (2013) — MUST SEE
Reflections on Website — July 15, 2011

Reflections on Website — July 15, 2011

Greetings to my fellow Film Fanatics,

I’ve never used to blog about my ongoing progress with the site, or to share my thoughts in general on watching and writing about the unique niche of “pre-1986 must-see films”, but I’ve thought about doing so for quite a while — so, here I finally am.

Since posting my first brief review on March 4, 2006 (of Jean-Jacques Beineix’s Moon in the Gutter), I’ve added 1,405 reviews to the site — which is roughly one-third of the 4300 titles included in GFTFF (for those who care to keep track). At this rate, it should only take me another 10 years or so to complete this project! Not that completion is the goal per se… By the time I finish (re)watching and writing about all the titles in Peary’s book, I’ll probably be ready to visit and/or comment on many of them again. Or I may finally get serious about diving into my site, which I’ve had to put on hold for now… In addition to maintaining this site, I’m married with two little kids and a full-time job, so time and energy are severely limited!

(I’ll post more on this topic another time, but I actually find that having a really busy life with limited time for movies helps me appreciate them all the more. I may complain quietly to myself on a daily basis that I wish I had more time to devote to the site, but ultimately, a diet of pure cinema has never been a healthy choice for me; hence, my decision to enter into a non-film-related career. Peary himself admits to burning out after writing GFTFF, which should be taken as a cautionary warning of some kind.)

At any rate, recently I’ve found myself watching and posting on movies in thematic “clusters” — I’ll suddenly notice I’ve been watching a bunch of a particular actor or director or producer’s films, for instance, and decide I might as well finish watching all of them to really get a sense of the gestalt of that particular person’s work (as selected by Peary, and only up until his 1986 publishing deadline, of course). My most recent attempt has been to finally finish up rewatching and posting on all of the 41 Hitchcock films included in GFTFF (I only have 7 left at this point). He’s probably my favorite director (if I had to choose), and it’s been a true pleasure to revisit the majority of them. 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die (a well-meaning but horribly pretentious and flawed book, btw, yet nonetheless the one used by most modern film fanatics as their go-to checklist, so I continue to reference it) lists no less than 18 of his titles, which is impressive, and speaks (I believe) to their enduring power.

In contrast, I also recently watched nearly the entire Universal Studios Frankenstein series — a project it made sense to attempt in one go, given that serialized films like this really are best reviewed in comparison with one another, and at least relatively in order (to get a sense of their chronological progression). However, while there are very few GFTFF-Hitchcock titles I’ve voted “no” on (and even those “no” votes are, I believe, worth a one-time look by serious film fanatics), Peary’s inclusion of ALL the Universal Frankenstein titles in his book is an example of what I refer to repeatedly as his sense of “completism” — a symptom either of his inability to decide which of the many titles are must see (so why not include them all??), or his genuine belief that any true film fanatic will WANT to have seen all the titles in a particular “series” or franchise (no longer really a sustainable choice, given the wealth of new titles produced all the time — a film fanatic only has so much viewing time to spread around!). Since beginning the site, I’ve been working hard to sift through all such titles and make critical decisions on behalf of my fellow film fanatics — which, of course, you can and should feel free to disagree on.

Just as mysterious to me is Peary’s random inclusion of certain titles by a particular performer and/or director — say, Danny Kaye or Jerry Lewis — to the exclusion of others. While he nearly always includes all the “big name” titles of a star (for obvious reasons), I’m puzzled why, for instance, Peary includes Lewis’s lame The Sad Sack in his book when there are other “bigger name” titles he could have chosen to include instead, if he really wanted to beef up the number of Lewis offerings (which he DIDN’T need to do!). At any rate, ultimately this kind of thing comes down to personal taste — and I’ll admit that a tiny part of me is secretly tickled by Peary’s blatant favoritism. He’s not afraid to call a personal favorite a Must See title — and while I may fervently disagree with his choices, he’s at least (covertly) admitting that subjectivity is an inherent element in any such daunting undertaking.

I’ll continue to post occasional “check-in” blog entries in future weeks and months, on various topics that have occurred to me — including:

* how I decide which film to watch and review next (partially touched upon here)
* how my thinking about which films are must see or not has evolved over the years (and continues to evolve)
* my summative thinking on the oeuvres of various actors or directors whose Peary-listed work I’ve finished reviewing (including Jerry Lewis, Danny Kaye, Abbott and Costello, and others)

Back to viewing and reviewing! Thanks for reading.

–Film Fanatic