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In addition to the 100 Greatest Movies, TIME critics Richard Schickel and Richard Corliss named off ten of their guilty pleasures. They were not ranked, and each critic was given five choices.
Like with the 100 Greatest Movies, I have included the original abstracts.
Like with the 100 Greatest Movies, I have included the original abstracts.
"Here's why this is not on our All-Time 100 Movies List: It is indefensible as social history; it lags in its second half; it lacks a strong directorial signature. All that leaves is the film's epic ambition, its steam train of story propulsion, a ravishing visual design and performances of glamour and power. Which makes this super-production of the Margaret Mitchell best-seller the ultimate Hollywood movie. No question that this is a producer's, not a director's project; David O. Selznick's grand and niggling obsession stamps the movie like Kong's footprint. So what? In its first two hours, which moves with whirring assurance, the film establishes two pairs of potent contradictions: the mercantile North vs. the slave-owning South, and the rakish male (Clark Gable) vs. the ferocious female (Vivien Leigh, in a performance of spectacular drive, complexity and star quality). In 1939 GWTW was the longest and most expensive film made to that time. Today it retains another distinction: in terms of tickets sold, it is the most popular movie ever."
Tenth Avenue Angel (1948)
"A word for the child actor. From Jackie Coogan in Chaplin's The Kid to Edmund Moeschke in Germany, Year Zero to Patty Duke in The Miracle Worker to Mary Badham in To Kill a Mockingbird to Tatum O'Neal in Paper Moon to Mohsen Ramezani in The Color of Paradise to Alex Edel in Millions (to pick just seven of hundreds), children have shown an eerie affinity for the camera, and vice versa. What's that magic? Are stars really born, not made? Or is it the serendipity of the right kid in the right role under the right director? No idea. But of all the movie moppets, Margaret O'Brien had the earliest and most acute understanding of the screen's demand for charm and craft. It's said that when as director asked her to cry, she said, "Right eye or left?" She was terrif in Meet Me in St. Louis and Journey for Margaret, but I'm picking the 1948 Tenth Avenue Angel because this soapy Christmas drama has no reason for being other than to get its little star to cry. More than that: to doubt the goodness of her family and the existence of God. (This was way before Bresson and Bergman did their God movies.) Margaret, then 11, did it with her usual winsome brilliance. And I cried too. Right eye and left."
"The 50s top tandem in movies, TV and night clubs (and Dino had some hit records too), Martin and Lewis aren't ranked up there with the Marx Brothers—for some, not with the Ritz Brothers. To me, though, they had the best mixture of foolery and character of all movie comedy teams: Dean, the happy-go-hunky paisan, and Jer, the goony kid ("Mel-vin!") with a vast repertoire of gags, working in fabulous synch. Watch them in this service comedy, which has a couple of spiffy song-and-dance routines and lots of artful badinage—like the bit where Jer has been badgered into boxing a much bigger guy. Dean, the kid's trainer, dispenses pre-fight advice (with many sly slaps to the gut and face) while Jer does such an acute impersonation of a punch-drunk veteran that the tough guy and his team (including James Dean in his first film role) are scared away. Here or on their TV shows, the team was slick, rowdy and funny funny funny."
"At a seedy French boarding school, the unsatisfied wife (Vera Clouzot) and restless mistress (Simone Signoret) of the slimy headmaster (Paul Meurisse) drown the creep in the bathtub and dispose of his body. Brutal, efficient and final—until evidence starts to mount that the dead man is haunting the school. As a kid, I was avid to see Diabolique after reading a Newsweek review that gave the movie's moral as "You can lead a corpse to water but you can't make it sink." I think I found the school's fetid atmosphere, the long, underlighted hallways, the main characters' sourness and cynicism nearly as scary as the film's famous climax, in the bathtub where it all began. The movie asked its audience, "Can you be scared to death?" For one impressionable child, this, one, the answer was almost literally yes. To beg my parents to take me to a French film, and then, coming home, to beg them to leave my bedroom door open and the hall light on, just shows you how pretentious and naive an 11-year-old could be."
School Girl (1971)
"This is, be warned, a Really Guilty one. But what's the point of Guilty Pleasures if there's no guilt involved? Listen, folks: one reason that a critic, like anybody else, goes to movies is to see beautiful people doing naughty things. In a word: sex! So flash back to the early 70s, when porn was briefly chic, and its makers fearlessly tested the bounds of legal behavior. Back then, hardcore had a naive vitality. It also produced a mini-masterpiece, School Girl, directed (pseudonymously) by San Francisco's Paul Gerber and starring the sweetly enthusiastic Debra Allen as a college student researching a paper on local subcultures. She chooses the swinger scene, which leads to a half-dozen specialty numbers: boy-girl, girl-girl, group grope. In the most intriguing scene, a lithe young woman "directs" an erotic encounter with her husband and Debra. As firm and bossy as any auteur, the woman finally joins the deux to make a ménage à trois. It's a funny, telling comment on how directors bring an audience's gamiest desires to life, and on how power helps define any human relationship. But School Girl is also, ho-boy, sexy—or it wouldn't be a guilty pleasure, would it?"
"Difficult as it may be to believe, movie critics are human, too. They share everyone's secret, primal need for jokes about bodily functions and cruel pet tricks, especially when they are as well-orchestrated as they were by the Farrelly brothers in their 1998 hit. Their outrages against common decency were balanced by their fundamental good nature. Maybe their people were doofuses, but they were also the always likable victims of their own klutziness."
"Or, for that matter almost any other Preminger movie you'd care to name. His style was claustrophobic—lots of people jammed into tight spaces—and he had a sour view of people's infinite capacity for duplicitous behavior. But he was a master of dank melodramatics (see also Advise and Consent, Whirlpool, Where the Sidewalk Ends) and most of his pictures ended on a forgiving note. Perhaps he was obliging the studio's demand for happy endings. Or maybe that touch of Austrian sentimentality that he never quite eradicated from his haughty, cultivated personality. Whatever. In any case, this is a brilliantly cast, bitingly cynical courtroom drama."
"A handsome young couple (John Dall and Peggy Ann Cummins) meet at a carnival, where they engage in a sharp-shooting contest. It's love at first (gun) sight. And soon they're off on a crime spree, which ends tragically. Written under a pseudonym by the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo and well-directed by the expert B picture craftsman, Joseph E. Lewis, this is, to be sure, a Bonnie and Clyde precursor. But it is as crisp, no nonsense melodrama, and as a pioneering study of America's curious passion for the sleek, shiny beauty of death-dealing objects, that it retains its hold on us, 56 years after it slipped on to the bottom of the bills in our long-lost (and sorely missed) neighborhood theaters."
"Out on his boat one day, a man gets dusted by atomic particles and starts—well, yes—shrinking. To infinitesimal size. Eventually he's fighting for his life against the family cat and a passing spider. Most '50s Sci-Fi movies were about common creatures attaining enormous proportions thanks to atomic misadventures, but this radical variation on that theme was (especially if you are a kid, eager to grow up, not down) scarier and more profound than the competitors. It is long past time for a cult to form around its director, Jack Arnold, an efficient maker of B Pictures (mainly Sci-Fi and westerns) whose imagination was always A plus."
"There are people who think this film, written and directed by the fine playwright John Patrick Shanley, may be the worst big budget film of modern times. We beg to disagree. True, you don't expect to see Tom Hanks to appear in an expressionistically shot movie about premature death. Or volunteering to leap into a volcano to prevent its eruption. But and if you set aside the routine comic expectations its marketing encouraged, you may find yourself entranced by a movie that is utterly sui generis."
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