Tag Archives: The Simpsons

And when it’s time to do the dishes, where’s Ray Bolger? I’ll tell ya, Ray Bolger is looking out for Ray Bolger!

61. The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)

The poster is kind of meh. I do appreciate that The Munchkins get a credit though.

Until last week, I hadn’t seen this movie since I was 9 I think, when my best friend convinced me to watch on a sleepover. I don’t remember what my response was, but I don’t think it left much of a mark. Actually most of what I knew about the film was due to it’s iconic nature. So I was familiar with the songs, and the flying monkeys, and the “I’m melting” bit, and the ruby-red slippers, and Toto, and Kansas, and “There’s no place like home“, and the urban legends about the original Tin Man dying due to the make-up, and the munchkin hanging himself, and how Dark Side of the Moon matches up perfectly, even though the film is twice as long. Stupid stoners.

So I felt like I knew the film intrinsically due to it’s pervasiveness in popular culture, yet I didn’t remember if I liked it.

So I remedied that by actually watching the film, and I was pleased. Judy Garland singing the shit out of things, munchkins, bright colors, monkeys, happy songs, Ray fucking Bolger, tornadoes, Frank Morgan at his cracked out best, and people melting. Can’t go wrong with that.

Do not ride the bomb.

39. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)

3 Things:

  1. “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!” is a fantastic line.
  2. Seeing James Earl Jones as a young man is somehow quite bizarre.
  3. Slim Pickens is the best combination of a nickname and a last name this side of Dusty Rhodes.

On filmaffinity.com I gave the film 8/10. It’s funny, smart, well-shot, but upon first viewing somewhat underwhelming. At some point I am sure I will get it.

Mrs. Bouvier! Mrs. Bouvier!

34. The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925)

Pretty much most famous for the roll dance(depicted above) and Charlie Chaplin eating of his boot. Also a direct influence on this Simpsons episode.

I liked the movie, but it was bit underwhelming when I first saw it. With some of the films especially the top 100 on the list, there is a disconnect between my expectation due to their ranking, and what my response actually is.

Having now seen almost every Chaplin feature length film, I am starting to understand how good he was, and how intricate his films are, and how rich his comedy is. All these gags that have been redone endlessly are really well thought out and well executed, and I think my being underwhelmed by “The Gold Rush” is more due to 83 years worth of comedy having followed it, and seeing all his techniques and ideas used over and over again to the point that the revolutionary aspects of Chaplin’s work seem commonplace.

On filmaffinity.com I gave the film an 8/10, but the more I think about it, I would probably give in a 9/10. It’s the best of his big 3 films: “The Gold Rush“, “City Lights“, and “Modern Times“.

I AM big. It’s the PICTURES that got small.

31. Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)

I chose this poster cos it’s all po-mo, and if you don’t know what that means then it’s T.S.(tethered swimming) for you (2 Simpsons references in one sentence).

Gloria Swanson gives one of the greatest performances ever in terms of watching someone deconstruct their public persona, and leaving themselves exposed.

A bit of backstory on Gloria Swanson: she was a massive star(she was big…Gabby Hayes big, Simpsons reference #3) during the silent era of the 1920’s. Her stardom faded with advent of the talkie. From 1934-1950 she appeared in 1 film. “Sunset Boulevard” would mark her comeback and her first film in 9 years.

So the premise of the story is this: a hack screenwriter named Joe Gillis(played awesomely by William Holden), shacks up with a delusional ex-movie queen named Norma Desmond(played by Swanson) and mayhem ensues(well not mayhem, more like well-supervised craziness: Simpsons reference #4). Desmond has visions of a big-screen comeback, and Gillis is helping her write a script.

The film also stars ex-director turned character actor Eric von Stroheim as Max, Norma’s chaffeur/butler and one time director. This is where art even further imitates life. One of Swanson’s last starring roles was in the Eric von Stroheim directed “Queen Kelly” which ran way over budget, was never officially completed, and bombed when released. It’s actually pretty awesome, but that film’s failure killed von Stroheim’s directorial career, as well helping to kill Swanson’s film career. So what you have in this film is von Stroheim, and Swanson playing versions of themselves.

It’s common nowadays for stars to parody themselves and poke fun at their celebrity, but in 1950 it wasn’t especially common, and what makes Swanson’s portrayal so incredible is that it’s not played for laughs. It’s actually pretty fucking uncomfortable. There is one scene that is as awkward as anything ever shown on “Curb Your Enthusiam“, where Norma, Max, and Joe show up to the set of Cecil B. DeMille‘s latest film. DeMille was one of Hollywood’s biggest directors from the 10’s to the 60’s. Norma thinks DeMille wants her to star in a film(he actually just wants to use her old-timey limousine for a scene) and shows up demanding the full star treatment. Everyone kind of humors her, but no one has the heart to tell her what’s going on. It’s depressing man. It’s the kind of thing you could imagine someone doing in real life.

Swanson’s willingness to completely embrace the role is what makes it so great. It takes a a hell of a lot of guts to look so pathetic on screen.

On filmaffinity.com I gave the film a 9/10, but that could easily turn in to a 10(I try and be judicious and not give 10’s until I have watched a film more than once). Just a great film in every facet. I recommend the shit out of this film.

Seymour, do you want me to tell you when it’s 7:30?

30. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

Probably along with “Citizen Kane” the film that’s referenced the most on “The Simpsons“.

Here is the proof (thanks to the Alfred Hitchcock Wiki, which did all the work for me):

From The Black Widower

From Brother From The Same Planet

From Cape Feare

From Itchy and Scratchy and Marge

From Marge in Chains

From Treehouse of Horror IV

Plus you have Seymour Skinner being modeled after Norman Bates.

There are two things I love about trying to finish “The List“:

1. Watching films I never would have watched in a million years and enjoying them.

2. Getting all the Simpsons references.

On filmaffinity.com I gave the film an 8/10. It’s quite good, but I don’t like it as much as some other Hitchcock movies, of which the highest is a 9/10, so I gave this an 8 to make a distinction. And the poster is disappointing compared to other Hitchcock films.

It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Hurrancarana to Cry.

11. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952)

There is so much I want to write about this film. I could write about how I really like musicals, how I think Gene Kelly is pimp, how this was another movie I watched in film class at Mount Royal, or how I love movies about making movies. I could write about how this movie depicts the struggles some silent stars faced in transitioning to sound, and then I could write about silent star “Marie Prevost“, drank herself to death in 1937, and was found dead in her apartment with dog bites all over her. Then I could drop a Nick Lowe reference from his song Mary Provost: “she was a winner who became the doggie’s dinner”. But instead I will narrow my focus to the ridiculously awesome “Make ‘Em Laugh” sequence starring Donald O’Connor.

The whole sequence has an anarchic quality, where rules of physical movement are ignored, and the effect is for me pretty mind blowing. Just to sound pretentious, I will call it “audacity of movement”, basically meaning the O’Connor in this sequence is audacious enough to try physical things that seem impossible, and yet he does them beautifully. From flipping off walls to being tossed around by a dummy, anything seems possible. Hell, he even does this, I didn’t even know it was possible. The only thing I can compare it to is watching Rey Mysterio Jr. wrestle, and just being in awe of what is happening. The amazing thing isn’t simply that a man can move like that, but rather that a man can even think up moving like that. It’s the kind of thing that can bring tears to my eyes, just the sheer imagination of it.

The rest of the film has a ton great sequences and great music, but nothing really tops the “Make Em Laugh” sequence. The greatness of the film is that the sequences are equally matched by a great screenplay which is both enjoyable but also pretty interesting from a historical perspective. Just seeing a little bit about how films were made in 1927(even if it’s not meant to be accurate) is for me pretty thrilling. This film combine history, music and mayhem into a tight 100 minute package.

On filmaffinity.com I gave this film 9/10, but it’s a really strong 9 which could easily be a 10 with some more thought. I recommend the shit out this film.

Here she comes, you better watch your step.

10. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (F.W. Murnau, 1927)

For those who don’t know, Murnau is the same guy who directed “Nosferatu“. This was one of two films to win best picture at the first ever Oscars(technically it won for “Best Unique and Artistic Production, while the lesser “Wings” won for “Best Picture”).

The premise for the movie is simple: small-town husband wants to leave his wife and run off with a big-city woman. They conspire to kill the wife, but the husband gets cold feet after spending an eventful night in the city with his wife. He realizes he loves her and all is well.

It should be stated that I am a sucker for an evil woman. In this film the big city woman(played by Margaret Livingston, pretty decent by 1920’s standards) is the one who wants him to kill his wife. What I as a viewer am supposed to find abhorrent, somehow becomes attractive. I think it is connected to both my status as a “good-natured doormat“, and the fact that I like strong women. Something about submission and degradation has always interested me, and I guess evil women and femme fatales as they appear in film and other media allows me to explore that without having to do something I might regret.

On filmaffinity.com I rated the film a 9/10, because it’s an engaging melodrama, which is beautifully shot, and technically very innovative. Films shot in 1927 aren’t supposed to look this good.