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Quid pro form letter

Let's blow the dust off the Gordon Brown kerfuffle and have some fun this evening. We've all heard about the pen holder made out of wood taken from the anti-slave ship HMS Gannet presented by Prime Minister Brown to Obama as a gift when he came to Washington. Just the sort of well-thought-out, meaningful gift you'd expect from a cultured English leader to the historic first black President of the UK's most steadfast ally. In return Obama gave him a box set of 25 American films on DVD.

It's the thought that counts. Apparently nobody gave it much thought. The 25 films are lifted straight from the American Film Institute's Top 100 films list of 2007. Of course you could never predict someone is going to present you with such a heartfelt, unique gift. Still, the least he could have done is select some films based on his own viewing experience. It can't be a coincidence because two of his five favorite films cribbed from his Facebook page are missing.

Then there's the whole US DVD in a European DVD player conundrum if you really want to get snarky.

Anyway, let's make with the fun. Below the fold - so I'm not bumping stuff off the front page - are the 25 films AFI/Obama selected for Gordon Brown. And just for shots and giggles I put together a list of 25 films suitable for foreign dignitaries visiting the Von Ottomatic White House...

Update: As noted in the comments Gordo was - like Tony Blair - born in Scotland, not England. So he's not a cultured English leader at all, but a filthy, kilt-wearing Scot. Let him rot with his DVD's.

First up is the AFI:

* Citizen Kane
* The Godfather
* Casablanca
* Raging Bull
* Singin' in the Rain
* Gone with the Wind
* Lawrence of Arabia
* Schindler's List
* Vertigo
* The Wizard of Oz
* City Lights
* The Searchers
* Star Wars: Episode IV
* Psycho
* 2001: A Space Odyssey
* Sunset Boulevard
* The Graduate
* The General
* On the Waterfront
* It's a Wonderful Life
* Chinatown
* Some Like It Hot
* The Grapes of Wrath
* ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
* To Kill a Mockingbird
Meh, not a bad list...but not a great or particularly insightful list. I suppose if you were teaching a class on American films it would make a decent "reading" list. Then again, I wouldn't pass up a Married with Children mini-marathon for half of them.

With a minimum of effort I cooked up 25 films suitable for presentation to a foreign dignitary. Which means no Porky's, no Russ Meyer, no Up in Smoke, no Texas Chainsaw Massacre, no Fast Times at Ridgemont High, no blaxploitation, very little gratuitous nudity and silliness. Although naturally, the aforementioned Married with Children and a Three Stooges box set would be included. I did poach three classics off the AFI list, but otherwise and without further ado:

* Gone With the Wind
* The Wizard of Oz
* Casablanca
* The Ten Commandments
* Arsenic and Old Lace
* Groundhog Day
* Easy Rider
* Patton
* The Blues Brothers
* It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World
* The Alamo
* The Manchurian Candidate
* Airplane!
* The Longest Yard
* The Thin Man
* The Great Escape
* Trading Places
* Raiders of the Lost Ark
* Jaws
* L.A. Confidential
* Young Frankenstein
* McClintock!
* The Wind and the Lion
* Cool Hand Luke
* Dr. Strangelove
I want to be entertained by movies and don't really view them as high art. If nothing else that list might give old Gordo something to think about. Nothing special, but they always keep me tuned in and turned on.

Not that the Von Ottomatic White House would be handing out DVD's. If I'm going to bequeath a gift upon the Prime Minster of England that he can't even use once he gets back home it'll be a custom engraved M1911.


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Comments (31)

I can't believe that "Air F... (Below threshold)
Burt:

I can't believe that "Air Force One" didn't make either list. It would seem to be a natural in light of the gifts given to Brown's sons.

Attack of the Killer Tomato... (Below threshold)
RScott:

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes?!

With all apologies to those... (Below threshold)
MunDane68:

With all apologies to those who may think it too early to ever make fun Hope N. McChangey
The true movie list:
1)Zulu Dawn
2)Michael Collins
3)Rob Roy
4) The Sea Hawk
5)1776
6) The Patriot
7) Braveheart
8) The Messenger
9) Culloden
10) Richard II

How could "Blazing Saddles"... (Below threshold)
Tommy Owens:

How could "Blazing Saddles" not be on the list?

Paint Your WagonMidn... (Below threshold)
twolaneflash:

Paint Your Wagon
Midnight Cowboy
The Cowboys
Doctor Zhivago
2001 Space Odyssey
Wizard of Oz
Walk On The Wild Side
Animal House
Driving Miss Daisy
Fried Green Tomatoes
The Great Escape
Modern Times
Bright Eyes
Ben-Hur

This administration has not... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

This administration has not only proven it has no brains, neither has it any CLASS.

I wonder just how 'accident... (Below threshold)
Edward Sisson Author Profile Page:

I wonder just how 'accidental' this snub really is -- there is a deep suspicion of Britain in the Arab/Muslim world, stemming from Britain and France carving-up the Ottoman Empire after World War I. Lots of conspiracy theories about Britain controlling events, theories that strike Americans as pretty unlikely (unless you are an American Larouche-type who sees the Queen behind everything nefarious). Snubbing Britain may be part of an effort to make the US appear more friendly to the Arabs/Muslims, at least in the eyes of the "Arab street.".

I'm surprised Obama didn't ... (Below threshold)

I'm surprised Obama didn't employ his notion of "smart diplomacy" and give the Prime Minister a torn-up Declaration of Independence, signing an unconditional surrender, and offering to track down John Hancock and all those other disloyal jackanapes for an appointment with the King's gallows.

Well, either that, or a $25 iTunes gift card.

Hey, where's "Mars Attacks!... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:

Hey, where's "Mars Attacks!"?

Saint Obamas fire... (Below threshold)
914:

Saint Obamas fire

You have decent taste in mo... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

You have decent taste in movies, Baron.

My Top 25 (Time-tested movies I could watch any time, anywhere)

Treasure of the Sierra Madre
The Gold Rush
Modern Times
King Kong (1933)
North by Northwest
Psycho
The Wizard of Oz
It's a Wonderful Life
The Bank Dick
Seven Samurai
Yojimbo
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
All Quiet On the Western Front
The Gay Divorcee
M
Ponette
The Maltese Falcon
A Christmas Carol (1950)
Casino
In Cold Blood (1967)
Last of the Mohicans (1993)
The Gospel According to St. Matthew (Pasolini)
Rules of the Game
Singing In the Rain
Five Easy Pieces


Hey, where's "Mars Attacks!... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Hey, where's "Mars Attacks!"?
9. Posted by LaMedusa

That's a good damn movie!
I have that in my Abbott and Costello comedy-porn drawer along with Laurel and Hardy's "Oliver the Eighth".

Haven't Kenyans been snubbi... (Below threshold)
Sophie:

Haven't Kenyans been snubbing the British since the Mau Mau conflict?

Red Dawn should have been i... (Below threshold)
STaylor:

Red Dawn should have been in their somewhere. Then again, that would probably be better for Putin's DVD box set.

Uh, MunDane68 (and Baron Vo... (Below threshold)
Alfonso Paulista:

Uh, MunDane68 (and Baron Von Ottomatic, for that matter) - you really ought to be aware that Gordon Brown isn't actually English, so I think the joke's somewhat on you.

Seems, re GarandFan's comment, that it's not just the administration that has no brains...

Glad you included The Wi... (Below threshold)

Glad you included The Wind and the Lion. Oh for the days of real campaign messages:


Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead!

Ummm...Not English?<p... (Below threshold)
MunDane68:

Ummm...Not English?

Funny...I would think that the PRIME MINISTER of GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND would consider himself, you know, British...(and his Scots ancestors would really just be LOVING "Culloden")

But wow, Carry On, Alphonso!

MunDane68English a... (Below threshold)
Alfonso Paulista:

MunDane68

English and British are not the same thing. England is a part of the island of Great Britain, along with Scotland and Wales. Various smaller islands (the Orkneys and Shetlands, the Inner and Outer Hebrides, Anglesey, etc.) make up the British Isles and with the addition of Northern Ireland, you get the United Kingdom.

Gordon Brown is British, for sure, but he's also Scottish, not English. Please have the dignity and manners to admit when you've made a mistake.

Fantastic lists, but alas, ... (Below threshold)

Fantastic lists, but alas, a bit short on Westerns:

"The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly"
"Shane"
"The Magnificent Seven"
"Once Upon A Time In the West"

... and bryanD, nice to see you mention Pasolini's "Gospel According To Saint Matthew." I discovered this beautiful little gem about three years ago. Absolutely the most spot-on Bible adaptation ever, in my opinion.

I just recently saw the mov... (Below threshold)
abc:

I just recently saw the movie "Idiocracy", and while I wouldn't place it in the same category as the classics listed above, I think it should be shown in schools as a training film; ya know, so the kids know what to expect from the future.

It's nothing short of prophetic. It explains why no one seems able to do their jobs competently any more. It really is truly amazing what is going on in the US - and as the jobs get less demanding, the workers become even more incompetent (just like the schools).

About one in three bank transactions I make are botched up, and require numerous phone calls before they see the error (and probably a few more before they correct it). I stopped going to a Dunkin Donuts near my work because, for more than a dozen visits in a row, they never got an order right (and I'm not making special orders, it's all there on the menu - they just give me the wrong bag, don't bother clarifying when they don't hear and just take a stab at it, etc). Don't get me started on the Nobel Laureates working at my post office.

I thought it was just lazy-ass people who think they are too good for the only jobs they could manage to secure. But now that I've seen this "documentary", I understand that they're just morons. Really, how far does Dancing with the Stars have to slide before it looks pretty much like the highest-rated reality show in the future, "Oww My Balls", or the top movie of the year 3000, "Ass" - 3 hours of a camera focused on some guy's hairy naked butt?

I'm just afraid that the film's take on the rate of mental decline is optimistic, and it isn't going to take 1000 years to make Luke Wilson the smartest man in the world.

American Gangster... (Below threshold)
davidt:

American Gangster

Hmmm, where was it I read t... (Below threshold)
Bill Johnson:

Hmmm, where was it I read that Gordon Brown is blind in one eye, and can hardly see out of the other?

Oh yeh, here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/labour/3178318/Gordon-Browns-eyesight-is-causing-concern-among-aides.html

Yeah, we'll get him some movies. And plastic helicopters for the boys.

Epic FAIL, once again - and they've only been practicing less than 2 months!

You're all also forgetting ... (Below threshold)
Tim in TX:

You're all also forgetting that for most intents and purposes, Mr. Brown is essentially BLIND.

"Fantastic lists, but alas,... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

"Fantastic lists, but alas, a bit short on Westerns..."-ml

I picked 3 westerns (with an asterisk):

"Last of the Mohicans" takes place in western...New York.
Kurasawa's "Seven Samurai" and "Yojimbo" were his takes on the slightly corny American horse operas of the 1950s and *twisted*, creating the "anti-hero" genre picked up first by the spaghetti westerns and then everywhere across all movie genres.
Both have the classic western template applied to Japanese samurai culture without the sentimental BS.
"The Magnificent 7" is an inferior remake of "SS" and "A Fist Full of Dollars" is a HORRIBLE remake of "Yojimbo".
And Clint Eastwood could only WISH he had the acting chops and timing of Toshiro Mifune.
Yojimbo is so "western" it will ruin most American westerns you'll ever see again. I recommend it first because it's only 90 minutes long, plus it's a "black comedy", something that was totally lost on the Italian remake.
Plus you have to love a hero that determines that "everyone in this town deserves to die".

I could have easily included the few westerns that cut the mustard for me, such as:

Jeremiah Johnson
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Red River

"... and bryanD, nice to see you mention Pasolini's "Gospel According To Saint Matthew." I discovered this beautiful little gem about three years ago. Absolutely the most spot-on Bible adaptation ever, in my opinion."-ml

Definitely! Mary revealed pregnant framed in a nimbus of stone, the montage of the temptation by Satan, the first 2 miracles (the tower and the leper), the neo-realist use of faces and the documentary story development, the best angel ever (who is all business, definitely a "messenger"), artful music direction.
The only (short)segment that breaks the spell (temporarily) is the scenes depicting Salome. On the plus side, the casting of such a little hottie makes Herod Antipas' idiocy entirely believable. And Hollywood would have cast a worn-out skank in the role, so my quibble is minor there. GREAT movie.

BTW, directed by a Marxist and avowed atheist who believed NOT ONE WORD of it. Yet his is the most unabashedly literal production of Biblical material ever made, bar none.
The Lord doth work in mysterious ways!


"I just recently saw the mo... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

"I just recently saw the movie "Idiocracy""-abc

That's in my comedy-porn drawer, too!

I like the part where the arena announcer "announces", "He's over THERE, STUUUPID!!"

...over the intercom! LOL!!!

"Comin' up next on The Viol... (Below threshold)
max:

"Comin' up next on The Violence Channel: An all-new "Ow, My Balls!"

Brilliant choices! May I a... (Below threshold)
DSL:

Brilliant choices! May I add to the list:

Shawshank Redemption
Independence Day
Goodfellas
The Departed
The Sound of Music
Forrest Gump
The Color Purple
Cast Away
The Deer Hunter
The Notebook - I know, but its a truly a great love story!

I'll definately put Doctor Zhivago on my short list of must see movies.

"I'll definately put Doctor... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

"I'll definately put Doctor Zhivago on my short list of must see movies."
27. Posted by DSL

One of the best-looking movies ever made, but very, very existential. You've been forwarned.

*note* I forgot "Forbidden Games"(1952) for my list, dammit!

It's about a war orphan "adopted" by a peasant family, who, with her new playmate, finds catharsis in burying found dead animals in lieu of her parents who were killed and left on the road from Paris. They steal religious articles from the parish churchyard to use as headstones: that's the "forbidden" part. Believe me, I have not "spoiled* the film for you. Plus there is a symbolic dog angle that ties the movie together in a heart-rending way.

As a *non-cheap* tearjerker, it's second only to the exquisite "Ponette"(1995).
P.S. They're both French, a.k.a. Republic of Film!

So many good movies makes p... (Below threshold)
Baron Von Ottomatic:

So many good movies makes paring it down to twenty-five films almost impossible.

Any top 25 list of mine will be laugh-heavy since truly great films weave in an element of comedy. You laugh with the quick witted and at the dim-witted.

Blazing Saddles is great, but Young Frankenstein is Mel Brook's finest work.

The Outlaw Josey Wales is one I grappled with including. Another of my favorite westerns is Little Big Man. If you haven't seen Little Big Man, it's long but an absolute classic. I always liked Support Your Local Sheriff too.

Army of Darkness just missed the cut. And Dolemite.

Click the link, it's the best three minutes you'll spend on the Internet today.

Baron, you shoulda linked t... (Below threshold)
epador:

Baron, you shoulda linked the BadAss Barack-Dolomite You Tube clip.

"Young Frankenstein is Mel ... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

"Young Frankenstein is Mel Brook's finest work."-bvo

Excellent movie! And "yep!"

"If you haven't seen Little Big Man, it's long but an absolute classic."-bvo

A very good movie which goes down like Coca-Cola until you see the cigarette butt at the bottom of the glass. But it works in the end because when the flashback flashes back to Present, the narrator (Little Big Man) is royally pissed, so the bad ending feels like participatory art.

Pretty unique for an American film, but (warning!:)of the "Dr. Zhivago"/existential school. I.E. One does not want to immediately "see it again".

The main flaw of the film is the SAME canned military (bugle-y) music that plays whenever the US cavalry appears. Movie music, in itself, isn't bad, but the chintzy Patton/Vietnam milieu the soundtrack seeks to evoke, is a flaw, and prevents the movie from being "timeless" (classic).

"I always liked Support Your Local Sheriff too."-BVO

Sure, it has the cinematography of a damn TV show, but that movie EXCELS at everything it sets out to be. I give it a rock solid "A".

"Click the link, it's the best three minutes you'll spend on the Internet today."-bvo

Good link!
Much more realistic chop-socky than a Bruce Lee film thanks to absence of "Foley Artists".

I'll have to rent that for Drunk Night.




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