What Makes a Movie Truly Great?

I have company in town today and part of our plan is to take in a movie but the question is, do we pay $12 to see garbage or stay home and gab?

There’s almost NOTHING that’s currently playing that is remotely worthy of my money, and I love to go to the movies. 

Look at this crap Hollywood is putting out today. Nothing deep or provocative. Nothing even remotely truly funny. It’s like there’s one template for movie producers today – find a bland non-descript cast, men who all look alike, and women who can’t be distinguished one from another (even Meryl Streep’s latest movies are awful), add a script that I could have written in fourth grade, and pray you make a buck or two. Maybe, the only savior for movies is the upcoming new Star Wars and I’m not even a Star Wars genre fan but I’ll see just for the history of the film.

I adore Bill Murray but his latest film, Rock the Kasbah has gotten such horrible Rotten Tomato reviews that I bet Murray doesn’t do much publicity promoting the film.

My sister saw The Walk and said it was fabulous so that is a contender today but the others? Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs? Um, no thanks. That leaves Bridge of Spies starring Tom Hanks. Decent reviews so this too is a possibility.



But I want to sit back and be mesmerized, be transported by the actors into the scenes they play so well. I mean, has there ever been a better actress than Bette Davis? No. And never will be. She became her character in a way few actresses today know how to do. Look at this scene from one of my favorite movies, Now Voyager. You feel like you’ve just smoked the cigarette Paul Henreid lit.

Or take another Bette David classic, Dark Victory where she’s going blind and falls in love with her doctor, played by George Brent (swoon).

Or, oh my, the amazing movie The Heiress with Olivia deHavilland and Montgomery Clift. The trailer for this movies asks the very question posed in my title. What makes a great movie?

I’d say the answer is two real stars, not lightweight clones. A script with meat on it. A director who demands the most out of the actors.

A couple of years ago, my friends at FWIW had nothing to do one long winter day and we compiled what we thought were our all-time favorite movies. Here’s the list, in PDF form. Any new additions? And are you heading to the movies this weekend? I think we’ll take a long walk instead. It’s another gorgeous day in my neighborhood.

6 thoughts on “What Makes a Movie Truly Great?

  1. EOSr:

    I happen to know that the list you compiled from FWIW is incomplete. Someone I know submitted a few CLASSICS from the skin flick genre, which you left off your list, namely “Debbie Does Dallas”, “Behind the Green Door”, and of course “Deep Throat”. All classics from the Golden Age of Porn. TIMELESS!! And all with a strong plot, very well acted, and great cinematography. A real conversation starter for a group get together. You can’t go wrong with any of these.

    Some Hollywood classics? How about “The Quiet Man”? Directed by John Houston, and it stars MAUREEN!! Can’t go wrong with that one.

    Comedy? All Mel Brooks stuff is great. “Blazing Saddles”!! It couldn’t get made today because of political correctness. So sad. “The Russians are Coming!! The Russians are Coming!!” is really good. It’s a comedy, not a porn flick. Really. Carl Reiner, and worth a watch. “It’s a Mad, Mad Mad World” is also excellent.

    “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” is a great scary flick, especially if you like Bettie Davis. She can also frighten you in this Johnny Carson clip:

    She looks like a marionette.

    “It’s a Wonderful Life”!! One of my all time faves, although it makes me cry like a little bitch. “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly”!! GREAT MOVIE!! And a lot on the FWIW list are really good.

    But “Star Wars”? REALLY?? Yoda was the only decent character, and the movies SUCKED!! So to answer your question, “What makes a movie great?”. Yoda quote!! “Special effects matter not, my friend. Scripts great movie makes. Live long and prosper!!”.

    Your Pal,

    1. Seems to me you had a voice in compiling the original movie list and at that time voiced objection over porn flicks being denied a rightful place on the list. Motion overruled. Case closed.

      But truthfully, the list is woefully incomplete but it was done on one or two of FWIW blog posts when there was no real estate news. I’m NOT a Star Wars fan and I don’t think there was any good acting, so I guess for me, what makes a good movie is the acting, and not the genre.

      I just saw Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks. He was really good. Not as good as in Money Pit or in his classic TV role Bosom Buddies. I think YOU should have been cast in that role Pal”, so maybe you can do a remake?

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