Dusty's 25 Favorite Movies

by dusty56 | created - 04 Jul 2011 | updated - 10 Apr 2014 | Public

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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1. Casablanca (1942)

PG | 102 min | Drama, Romance, War

100 Metascore

A cynical nightclub owner protects an old flame and her husband from Nazis in Morocco.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains

Votes: 459,388 | Gross: $1.02M

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.

2. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

PG | 110 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

66 Metascore

Wyoming, early 1900s. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid are the leaders of a band of outlaws. After a train robbery goes wrong they find themselves on the run with a posse hard on their heals. Their solution - escape to Bolivia.

Director: George Roy Hill | Stars: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross, Strother Martin

Votes: 181,550 | Gross: $102.31M

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.

3. The Quiet Man (1952)

Passed | 129 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A retired American boxer returns to the village of his birth in Ireland, where he finds love.

Director: John Ford | Stars: John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond

Votes: 30,696 | Gross: $10.55M

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.

4. Tender Mercies (1983)

PG | 92 min | Drama, Music

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.

Director: Bruce Beresford | Stars: Robert Duvall, Tess Harper, Betty Buckley, Wilford Brimley

Votes: 8,206 | Gross: $8.44M

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.

5. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

R | 142 min | Drama

80 Metascore

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

Director: Frank Darabont | Stars: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler

Votes: 2,016,316 | Gross: $28.34M

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.

6. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

PG-13 | 178 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

92 Metascore

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.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean

Votes: 1,451,708 | Gross: $315.54M

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.

7. The Big Chill (1983)

R | 105 min | Comedy, Drama

61 Metascore

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.

Director: Lawrence Kasdan | Stars: Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt

Votes: 29,158 | Gross: $56.20M

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.

8. The Godfather (1972)

R | 175 min | Crime, Drama

100 Metascore

The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola | Stars: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton

Votes: 1,381,543 | Gross: $134.97M

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.

9. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Not Rated | 129 min | Crime, Drama

87 Metascore

Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his children against prejudice.

Director: Robert Mulligan | Stars: Gregory Peck, John Megna, Frank Overton, Rosemary Murphy

Votes: 262,511

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."

10. Silver Streak (1976)

PG | 114 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

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.

Director: Arthur Hiller | Stars: Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, Jill Clayburgh, Patrick McGoohan

Votes: 15,992

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...

11. Mr. Holland's Opus (1995)

PG | 143 min | Drama, Music

59 Metascore

A frustrated composer finds fulfillment as a high school music teacher.

Director: Stephen Herek | Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, Glenne Headly, Jay Thomas, Olympia Dukakis

Votes: 32,792 | Gross: $82.57M

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."

12. Fort Apache (1948)

Not Rated | 128 min | Action, Adventure, Western

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.

Director: John Ford | Stars: John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Shirley Temple, Pedro Armendáriz

Votes: 14,386

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."

13. Union Pacific (1939)

Passed | 135 min | Drama, Western

In 1862, Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads compete westward across the wilderness toward California.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille | Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea, Akim Tamiroff, Robert Preston

Votes: 2,144

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.

14. Twelve O'Clock High (1949)

Not Rated | 132 min | Drama, War

A hard-as-nails general takes over a bomber unit suffering from low morale and whips them into fighting shape.

Director: Henry King | Stars: Gregory Peck, Hugh Marlowe, Gary Merrill, Millard Mitchell

Votes: 11,226

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.

15. Blazing Saddles (1974)

R | 93 min | Comedy, Western

73 Metascore

In order to ruin a western town, a corrupt politician appoints a black Sheriff, who promptly becomes his most formidable adversary.

Director: Mel Brooks | Stars: Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, Harvey Korman

Votes: 112,287 | Gross: $119.50M

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?

16. To Have and Have Not (1944)

Not Rated | 100 min | Adventure, Comedy, Romance

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.

Director: Howard Hawks | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Walter Brennan, Dolores Moran

Votes: 27,063

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."

17. Field of Dreams (1989)

PG | 107 min | Drama, Family, Fantasy

57 Metascore

An Iowa corn farmer, hearing voices, interprets them as a command to build a baseball diamond in his fields; he does, and the 1919 Chicago White Sox come.

Director: Phil Alden Robinson | Stars: Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta, Amy Madigan

Votes: 97,154 | Gross: $64.43M

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.

18. The Guns of Navarone (1961)

TV-PG | 158 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

A British team is sent to cross occupied Greek territory and destroy the massive German gun emplacement that commands a key sea channel.

Director: J. Lee Thompson | Stars: David Niven, Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, Anthony Quayle

Votes: 40,873 | Gross: $28.90M

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).

19. Jaws (1975)

PG | 124 min | Adventure, Drama, Thriller

87 Metascore

When a killer shark unleashes chaos on a beach resort, it's up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary

Votes: 493,920 | Gross: $260.00M

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.

20. Steel Magnolias (1989)

PG | 117 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

56 Metascore

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.

Director: Herbert Ross | Stars: Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Sally Field, Julia Roberts

Votes: 40,393 | Gross: $83.76M

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.

21. The Glenn Miller Story (1954)

Approved | 115 min | Biography, Drama, Music

Biography of bandleader Glenn Miller from his beginnings to his death over the English Channel in December 1944.

Director: Anthony Mann | Stars: James Stewart, June Allyson, Harry Morgan, Charles Drake

Votes: 7,100

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.

22. Die Hard (1988)

R | 132 min | Action, Thriller

70 Metascore

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.

Director: John McTiernan | Stars: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson

Votes: 694,796 | Gross: $83.01M

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.

23. The King's Speech (2010)

R | 118 min | Biography, Drama, History

88 Metascore

The story of King George VI, his impromptu ascension to the throne of the British Empire in 1936, and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch overcome his stammer.

Director: Tom Hooper | Stars: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi

Votes: 576,149 | Gross: $138.80M

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.

24. The Electric Horseman (1979)

PG | 121 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

64 Metascore

A rodeo star past his prime steals his company's horse and rides into the desert, with a feisty reporter accompanying him.

Director: Sydney Pollack | Stars: Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Valerie Perrine, Willie Nelson

Votes: 6,621 | Gross: $61.80M

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.

25. Gettysburg (1993)

PG | 271 min | Drama, History, War

In 1863, the Northern and Southern forces fight at Gettysburg in the decisive battle of the American Civil War.

Director: Ron Maxwell | Stars: Tom Berenger, Martin Sheen, Stephen Lang, Richard Jordan

Votes: 23,868 | Gross: $10.77M

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.



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