Dusty's 25 Favorite Movies

Some of these are really great films - others, not so much. But they're my favorites. Friendly comments and lively discussion are welcome.

There aren't a lot of comedies on my list, nor very many recent "action" flicks, but that's just me. I tend to favor classic movies over newer ones, and movies with great characters and interesting relationships over explosions and bombastic SPFX. I also especially appreciate great dialogue.

Here's looking at you, kid.
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Casablanca (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
In Casablanca, Morocco in December 1941, a cynical American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications. (102 mins.)
Director: Michael Curtiz
“ So many wonderful moments and quotes from this movie, but my favorite scene is when Rick gives the okay for the band to play "La Marseillaise," the French national anthem. Gets me every time. And this exchange -
Renault: What brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came for the waters.
Renault: Waters? What waters? We're in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed. ” - dusty56
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Two Western bank/train robbers flee to Bolivia when the law gets too close. (110 mins.)
Director: George Roy Hill
“ I love this movie for several reasons, not the least of which is that it was what Kathy & I went to see on our first date. For those of you who aren't old enough to remember, that was back in pre-home video days, when studios used to re-release old movies back to the theaters. ” - dusty56
The Quiet Man (1952)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A retired American boxer returns to the village of his birth in Ireland, where he finds love. (129 mins.)
Director: John Ford
“ Would still love to know exactly what Mary Kate says to Sean at the end of the film, although the message is obvious enough. Miss O'Hara says she will never tell. Must have been something to get that look on the Duke's face. ” - dusty56
Tender Mercies (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A broken-down, middle-aged country singer gets a new wife, reaches out to his long-lost daughter, and tries to put his troubled life back together. (92 mins.)
Director: Bruce Beresford
“ Robert Duvall is the best actor of his generation, IMHO, and here is his Oscar-winning performance. Every moment is an absolute gem that resonates with truth, down to the Cowboys team poster on the wall in Sonny's bedroom. ” - dusty56
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.3/10 X  
Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency. (142 mins.)
Director: Frank Darabont
“ Thanks to my brother David for introducing me to this movie, and to my daughter Brittany for giving me a copy of it. Watching the relationship of Andy and Red is an absolute joy, thanks to the performances of two great actors at the top of their game. ” - dusty56
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
A meek Hobbit from the Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to destroy the powerful One Ring and save Middle Earth from the Dark Lord Sauron. (178 mins.)
Director: Peter Jackson
“ This really is for all three movies. I love the whole allegory of this story as well as the relationships between and among the various members of the characters. Tolkien was a master storyteller. ” - dusty56
The Big Chill (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A group of seven former college friends gather for a weekend reunion at a South Carolina winter house after the funeral of one of their friends. (105 mins.)
Director: Lawrence Kasdan
“ What's not to love? An amazing cast, a brilliant script, and thoughtful people exploring the meaning of life. Oh, all of that, plus what may the finest soundtrack since "American Graffiti." At the final scene, around the breakfast table, when Jeff Goldblum says, "We're not leaving; we're never leaving," he's speaking for us all. ” - dusty56
The Godfather (1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.2/10 X  
The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son. (175 mins.)
“ The perfect telling of the dark side of the American Dream. The scene at the end, where Clemenza kisses Michael's hand and says, "Don Corleone," while Neri is closing the door in Kay's face, is visual storytelling at its very finest. Honorable mention for this list: Godfather II. ” - dusty56
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his children against prejudice. (129 mins.)
Director: Robert Mulligan
“ Not many actors have the moral authority to pull off a character like Atticus Finch, without coming across as phony or preachy or self-righteous. Gregory Peck makes it look easy. "Stand up, Scout - your father is passing by." ” - dusty56
Silver Streak (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
On a long-distance train trip, a man finds romance but also finds himself in danger of being killed, or at least pushed off the train. (114 mins.)
Director: Arthur Hiller
“ I am well aware that this may not be a "great" movie, but it's just fun. It's also my favorite train movie - see that list for more, if you're interested. Wilder and Pryor are hilarious, and Jill Clayburgh is stunningly beautiful, I think. And then there's the train... ” - dusty56
Mr. Holland's Opus (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A frustrated composer finds fulfillment as a high school music teacher. (143 mins.)
Director: Stephen Herek
“ A very gentle movie about the difference one man can make in the lives of so many others - kind of like "It's a Wonderful Life" in that regard. Don't miss the wonderful scene where Mrs. Jacobs gives Mr. Holland the compass, and watch the unexpressed emotions pass over Richard Dreyfuss' face. Another gem: Jean Louisa Kelly singing "Someone to Watch Over Me." ” - dusty56
Fort Apache (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
At Fort Apache, an honorable and veteran war captain finds conflict when his regime is placed under the command of a young, glory hungry lieutenant colonel with no respect for the local Indian tribe. (125 mins.)
Director: John Ford
“ I know a lot of people prefer "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" (Don't apologize, mister, it's a sign of weakness.), but this is my favorite of the John Wayne-John Ford Cavalry trilogy. Lots of great moments, but I love it when Henry Fonda says to Victor McLaglen, "Sergeant, pour me some scripture." ” - dusty56
Union Pacific (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
In 1862, Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads compete westward across the wilderness toward California. (135 mins.)
“ Some critics think 1939 was the best year for movies, ever. I tend to agree. Here's my favorite from that year. Another great train movie, about the building of the transcontinental railroad. They may take a few liberties with the history, but the visuals are stunning. As is Barbara Stanwyck. ” - dusty56
Twelve O'Clock High (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A hard-as-nails general takes over a bomber unit suffering from low morale and whips them into fighting shape. (132 mins.)
Director: Henry King
“ I remember watching this in Dr. Paul Lakey's class in organizational communication at ACU, as a case study in leadership. A war film that is decidedly anti-war. Gregory Peck is brilliant, of course, and Dean Jagger won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor as Maj. Stovall. ” - dusty56
Blazing Saddles (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
In order to ruin a western town, a corrupt politician appoints a black sheriff, who promptly becomes his most formidable adversary. (93 mins.)
Director: Mel Brooks
“ Laugh-till-your-sides-hurt funny. As has often been stated, this movie couldn't be made today, as it's WAYYY too politically incorrect - it makes fun of blacks, of gays, of Jews, of practically every ethnic group. But not a mean bone in its body. I can quote nearly the whole movie, much to the annoyance of anyone watching it with me. How 'bout some more beans, Mr. Taggart? ” - dusty56
To Have and Have Not (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
During World War II, American expatriate Harry Morgan helps transport a French Resistance leader and his beautiful wife to Martinique while romancing a sensuous lounge singer. (100 mins.)
Director: Howard Hawks
“ Bogie is my all-time favorite movie star, the very definition of cool, whether it's this movie, or "The Big Sleep," or "Key Largo" or "The Maltese Falcon" or "The African Queen." He and Bacall shine in this one. "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and ... blow." ” - dusty56
Field of Dreams (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
An Iowa corn farmer, hearing voices, interprets them as a command to build a baseball diamond in his fields; he does, and the Chicago White Sox come. (107 mins.)
“ Here's a baseball movie that's really about fathers and sons, and unfulfilled dreams, and being willing to follow your passion, even if others think you're crazy. Keven Costner, Ray Liotta, and Amy Madigan are all great, but it's James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster who really make this movie. When Archie steps across the boundary and becomes Doc, *sigh* - well, it's a magical moment. ” - dusty56
The Guns of Navarone (1961)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A British team is sent to cross occupied Greek territory and destroy the massive German gun emplacement that commands a key sea channel. (158 mins.)
Director: J. Lee Thompson
“ One of my very favorite war movies, with great performances by Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quayle, among others. "To tell you the truth, sir, I didn't think we could do it." "To tell you the truth, neither did I." Whoever thought it would be a good idea to make a sequel of this should be stood up against a wall and shot (even if Barbara Bach was beautiful in it). ” - dusty56
Jaws (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A giant great white shark arrives on the shores of a New England beach resort and wreaks havoc with bloody attacks on swimmers, until a part-time sheriff teams up with a marine biologist and an old seafarer to hunt the monster down. (124 mins.)
“ This is the movie that created the summer blockbuster, launched Spielberg's career, and made an entire afraid to go into the water - and we STILL shudder with just two notes of John Williams' soundtrack: daaaah dum. Even though they got some of the details of the history wrong, when Quint tells the story of the Indianapolis, it's an absolutely mesmerizing moment. ” - dusty56
Steel Magnolias (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A young beautician, newly arrived in a small Louisiana town, finds work at the local salon, where a small group of women share a close bond of friendship and welcome her into the fold. (117 mins.)
Director: Herbert Ross
“ Easily my favorite "chick flick." I love the relationships between these women and the way they support each other through the ups and downs of their lives. Life goes on. ” - dusty56
The Glenn Miller Story (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Biography of bandleader Glenn Miller from his beginnings to his death over the English Channel in December 1944. (115 mins.)
Director: Anthony Mann
“ Jimmy Stewart made a LOT of bio-pics in his day, and I've always thought this was one of the best. There's no telling how many people have discovered the music of Glenn Miller by watching this movie. I know I did. ” - dusty56
Die Hard (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save his wife Holly Gennaro and several others that were taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles. (131 mins.)
Director: John McTiernan
“ I was already a Bruce Willis fan from "Moonlighting," but this movie really cemented his stardom. This is that rarest of movies - a breathless, action-filled adrenaline rush of a flick that actually does a good job of character development. And what an amazing cast - especially Alan Rickman as the "exceptional thief," Hans Gruber. ” - dusty56
The King's Speech (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The story of King George VI of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it. (118 mins.)
Director: Tom Hooper
“ I think this is the best movie made in the last 10 years. Once again, a movie about a relationship makes the list - in this, the relationship between the reluctant king and the commoner who helped him find his voice. ” - dusty56
The Electric Horseman (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
Sonny Steele used to be a rodeo star, but his next appearance is to be on a Las Vegas stage, wearing a suit covered in lights... (121 mins.)
Director: Sydney Pollack
“ It probably annoys some of my friends that I have a Jane Fonda flick on this list, but I love this movie. A very nice telling of rebellion against corporate America. Willie Nelson is great in a supporting role, and his music is used well in the soundtrack, especially when Sonny releases Rising Star and "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys" is playing. Due to legal issues involving Willie's music, some video versions of this movie use generic instrumental music in that scene - very annoying. ” - dusty56
Gettysburg (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
In 1863, the Northern and Southern forces fight at Gettysburg in the decisive battle of the American Civil War. (271 mins.)
“ A great study of how personalities shape battles, and battles shape history. Lots of really nice performances by a really strong cast, but none better than Sam Elliott as the historically under-appreciated Union Cavalry General John Buford. ” - dusty56