Jonathan Rosenbaum's Alternate AFI Top 100 American films list

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Gary Tooze, Jul 25, 2002.

  1. Gary Tooze

    Gary Tooze Producer

    Jul 3, 2000
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    The critic that I am tending to read most on the web is Jonathan Rosenbaum of The Chicago Reader.
    His reviews are so passionate at times, and his expression of being a pure film fan always shines through. Anyway, moderately disgusted at the American Film Institute listing of top 100 films, he has created an Alternate list. I would love to discuss some of these films as I have seen so few (just over 30). I am also curious as to how many others have seen (Crawdaddy! for one) but I don't want to make this an official "challenge" thread. I think Rosenbaum's list is pretty balanced, with many older films and silent as well as lots of westerns. To make it easier to research these films I have created a graphic list on my website: CLICK HERE inwhich the films are linked to the IMdb. How many have you seen? and what do you think of Rosenbaum's list?
    (obviously in alphabetical order)
    Ace in the Hole/The Big Carnival (1951)
    An Affair to Remember (1957)
    Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
    Avanti! (1972)
    The Barefoot Contessa (1954)
    The Big Sky (1952)
    Bigger Than Life (1956)
    The Black Cat (1934)
    Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
    Broken Blossoms (1919)
    Cat People (1942)
    Christmas in July (1940)
    Confessions of an Opium Eater (1962)
    The Crowd (1928)
    Dead Man (1995)
    Do the Right Thing (1989)
    The Docks of New York (1928)
    Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer (1974)
    11 x 14 (1976)
    Eraserhead (1978)
    Foolish Wives (1922)
    Force of Evil (1948)
    Freaks (1932)
    The General (1927)
    Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
    Gilda (1946)
    The Great Garrick (1937)
    Greed (1925)
    Hallelujah, I'm a Bum (1933)
    The Heartbreak Kid (1972)
    Housekeeping (1987)
    The Hustler (1961)
    Intolerance (1916)
    Johnny Guitar (1954)
    Judge Priest (1934)
    Killer of Sheep (1978)
    The Killing (1956)
    The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976)
    Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
    The Ladies' Man (1961)
    The Lady From Shanghai (1948)
    Last Chants for a Slow Dance (1977)
    Laughter (1930)
    Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948)
    Lonesome (1929)
    Love Me Tonight (1932)
    Love Streams (1984)
    The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
    Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)
    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
    Man's Castle (1933)
    McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
    Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
    Mikey and Nicky (1976)
    Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
    My Son John (1952)
    The Naked Spur (1953)
    Nanook of the North (1922)
    The Night of the Hunter (1955)
    The Nutty Professor (1963)
    The Palm Beach Story (1942)
    Panic in the Streets (1950)
    Park Row (1952)
    The Phenix City Story (1955)
    Point Blank (1967)
    Real Life (1979)
    Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (1971)
    Rio Bravo (1959)
    Scarface (1932)
    The Scarlet Empress (1934)
    Scarlet Street (1945)
    Scenes From Under Childhood (1970)
    The Scenic Route (1978)
    The Seventh Victim (1943)
    Shadows (1960)
    Sherlock Jr. (1924)
    The Shooting (1967)
    The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
    The Sound of Fury/Try and Get Me! (1950)
    Stars in My Crown (1950)
    The Steel Helmet (1951)
    Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
    The Strawberry Blonde (1941)
    Sunrise (1927)
    Sylvia Scarlett (1935)
    The Tarnished Angels (1958)
    That's Entertainment! III (1994)
    This Land Is Mine (1943)
    Thunderbolt (1929)
    To Sleep With Anger (1990)
    Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son (1969)
    Track of the Cat (1954)
    Trouble in Paradise (1932)
    Vinyl (1965)
    Wanda (1971)
    While the City Sleeps (1956)
    Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957)
    Woodstock (1970)
    The Wrong Man (1957)
    Zabriskie Point (1970)
  2. Fred Bang

    Fred Bang Stunt Coordinator

    May 7, 2000
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    No Godfather?
    No Lawrence of Arabia?
    No Kubrick?
    No Hitchcock?

    I really disagree with this list.
  3. Gary Tooze

    Gary Tooze Producer

    Jul 3, 2000
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    I suppose I should have stated. Rosenbaum did not want to include films that are ALREADY on the AFI list...

    Sorry, my fault.
  4. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

    Jun 3, 1999
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    Fred: Stanley Kubrick's The Killing is on the list. I would have included also his Paths of Glory. JB
  5. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

    Jun 18, 2001
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    There's always room for another list, especially from a thoughtful critic such as J. Rosenbaum. Also, there are just too many outstanding and watershed films to be contained by a 100-pick list. I'm not sure how the AFI 100 works, but if it is some kind of amalgam of the members' lists, then wouldn't each member would have their own distinct list?

    I've seen 19 of the films on this list, those that I can recall. If nothing else, these lists only further fuel my film appreciation hobby.
  6. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

    Jul 11, 1999
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    I think it's a great list. Not an easy task and Mr. Rosenbaum didn't go for easy choices. Can't say I agree with Eraserhead making the list (when Lynch steers into this sort of universe, I get hopelessly lost) but that is more than made up for by including Nanook of the North-one of the great American film treasures.
  7. Fred Bang

    Fred Bang Stunt Coordinator

    May 7, 2000
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  8. Guy Martin

    Guy Martin Second Unit

    Nov 29, 1998
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    I've been a big fan of Rosenbaum's writing for a couple of years now. I love how long and thorough his reviews are and how he goes beyond just saying whether he likes or dislikes the movie and actually tries to analyze the film's meaning. And although we really can't discuss it here, he's one of the few critics who also deals with the political meanings of the films he covers. And he goes out of his way to talk about non-mainstream and foreign films.
    I tend to like his list more than the AFIs. He did limit himself to American films, like the AFi list, even to the point of eliminating some of his favorites, like Blade Runner when he couldn't determine how American it was (British director, foreign money). He also limited himself to only features, as did the AFI, which meant leaving out Maya Derren and Tex Avery, despite his great admiration for both. In his book Movie Wars in which he expands on this list he notes a few substitutions he would have made in the AFI list:
    'Rightly or wrongly, I've also refrained from including some of my favorite films by high-profile directors who are well represented on the AFI list, even if their best films aren't. For the record, I prefer The King of Comedy and Kundun to Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, The Conversation to either of The Godfathers and Dumbo to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Fantasia; But even though I had some regrets about excluding these favorites, I have no doubt that readers can find them without my prodding."
    Much as I like Rosenbaum's list, n the end I think my own list is probably the best [​IMG]
    - Guy
  9. RayG

    RayG Stunt Coordinator

    May 11, 2001
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    I've seen about 24 films from his list. Its to bad a group of people as knowledgable and caring for film as he is didn't make the AFI list. How the AFI could leave off the work of von Stroheim, Keaton, von Sternberg and others I'll never understand.
  10. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

    Feb 22, 2000
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    Can't really comment on the value of the list since it contains a number of films I've never heard of and I've seen only 22.

    I would question some of his choices, Gentleman Prefer Blondes?, this is also on the S&S list. Is he being intentionally obscure? Christmas in July and The Palm Beach Story are excellent, hilarious films, but I don't think one could successfully argue that they are superior to Sullivan's Travels and The Lady Eve. Faces and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie over A Woman Under The Influence? That's Entertainment III, a clip movie??
  11. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

    Oct 31, 1997
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    Damn, a quick perusal of the list and it could be titled "100 Films I Have Not Seen" [​IMG]
  12. Gary Tooze

    Gary Tooze Producer

    Jul 3, 2000
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  13. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

    May 30, 2000
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    Interesting list, I own 41 of these films on DVD or laser and I've seen 68.

    I really don't see this as an alternate list to AFI's, there are just too many great films not on the AFI list that should be on his list to make it a true "alternate" list. A lot of these films are somewhat obscure, so I'm guessing that a large part of Rosenbaum's intent was to call notice to these titles. I think Rosenbaum could make about 10 more of these lists with the same quality.
  14. Gary Tooze

    Gary Tooze Producer

    Jul 3, 2000
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  15. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

    Mar 14, 2001
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    I've only seen 40 of those, so I don't feel qualified to really comment on his list. However, based on what I have seen, I disagree with it a lot. The original AFI (with all it's flaws) was a much better list IMO.
    Some on here that I think are deserving:
    Anatomy of a Murder
    Christmas in July
    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
    Meet Me in St. Louis
    The Palm Beach Story
    The Shop Around the Corner
    Some I absolutely think do not deserve to be on a top 100 list:
    Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?
    Rio Bravo
    Kiss Me Deadly
    Johnny Guitar
    Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
    Do the Right Thing
    The Barefoot Contessa
    Some I like to watch, but don't think are strong enough for a top 100 list:
    An Affair To Remember
    Bride of Frankenstein
    The Nutty Professor
    Some that I can understand being on a top 100 list, even though they're nowhere near that on mine:
    Sherlock, Jr.
    The Night of the Hunter
    Nanook of the North
    The Naked Spur
    Monsieur Verdoux
    McCabe & Mrs. Miller
    The Magnificent Ambersons
    The General
    The Crowd
    Ace in the Hole
    Well, The Wrong Man is probably the Hitchcock film (should be 1956, not 1957). Of course, even leaving out the AFI Hitch, The Wrong Man is NOT the Hitchcock film I'd put on a list like this.
    I'm very tempted to come up with my own list. It'd be hard for it to be any worse than this one. [​IMG]
  16. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

    May 30, 2000
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  17. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

    Aug 17, 2000
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    I certainly wouldn't judge the anything I haven't seen, but Zabriskie Point isn't in the top 100 anything, unless it is top 100 films with a Pink Floyd soundtrack, or top 100 films where a cute babe who can't act shows skin.
    I mean really, I enjoyed Zabriskie Point, but I hesitate to put guilty pleasures in top anything lists, no matter who directed them.
    I'm glad to see Housekeeping & Monsieur Verdoux two very under-appreciated films.
  18. Bill McA

    Bill McA Producer

    Oct 18, 2000
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    I've seen 66, but only own 6 (VHS, LD, DVD)
    An interesting list of less obvious film 'greats', although I don't personally think all of those that are listed are 'great'...but I am thrilled to see Eraserhead listed. [​IMG]
    I enjoy more personal lists like this one more than the AFI one, which tend to be too obvious and predictable for my liking.
    And I've never heard of Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer either! [​IMG]
  19. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

    Nov 5, 1998
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    Gentlemen Prefer Blondes has no business on that list. Cute but it's more typical of Monroe's average films than of excellence.
    No Sea Hawk, no Adventures of Robin Hood, no Barton Fink (if we are going for off-beat stuff like Eraserhead then come on), no Touch of Evil (holy moly)
    Speaking of Eraserhead...over Elephant Man. Hey, I've seen both and I just can't even agree to disagree on that choice. [​IMG]
    Having just spent the summer in a Kubrick class I feel semi-qualified to say that while the Killing is a darn good underappreciated film, it is FAR lacking in comparison to Paths of Glory, which was left off.
    The Wrong Man over Notorious...please.
    Day the Earth Stood Still, The Sting, Sullivan's Travels
    Exorcist, Arsenic and Old Lace, His Girl Friday
    There are a LOT of pretty popular AND groundbreaking films not on his "2nd 100" list. I can see stuff that missed the first list, but there seem to be too many attempts to be clever or obscure for this list.
    Again, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes over His Girl Friday or Sullivan's Travels...sure. [​IMG]
    He's entitled to HIS opinion but if we are talking about great American cinema then shouldn't the films have a bit broader appeal to other Americans? That was the whole point with the original list, to represent film to a cross section of Americans across eras of time and genre boundries. Not just to say "here's MY favorite 100 films".
    Or maybe I should do my list and put Krull and 68 and Xanadu at 95.
    I much prefer the approach many of us took with our revote effort (which was open to anyone who wished to make their complaints heard in a valid response, meaning by voting with another group of people with the same criteria and same eligibilities). I like the results so far, even the stuff I don't 100% agree with I can at least understand why.
    Just like George can understand how Sunrise made this list. There are many films on his list that are reasonable, but too many that aren't. Heck, I could barely concede Cat People just for artistic breakthrough. As a film it's only slightly above average to me.
  20. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

    Dec 28, 1998
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    Well, I'll give him props for recognizing film noir to a much larger degree than the original AFI 100 list, where it was woefully lacking, with titles such as:
    Force of Evil
    The Killing
    Kiss Me Deadly
    The Lady From Shanghai
    Panic In The Streets
    The Phenix City Story
    Point Blank - well, sorta
    Scarlet Street
    The Sound of Fury/Try and Get Me
    While The City Sleeps
    In addition, he had the sense to include films by Keaton, Sturges, and Lubitsch - another area that the original list really missed the mark, IMHO. I agree that Rosenbaum appears to be striving for obscurity, to some degree. However, if one uses the list to augment, as opposed to supplanting, other AFI lists then it serves a useful purpose. ( We are talking about some of these titles, and that's a good thing. )
    The one film that I wish Rosenbaum had included on the list is Nicholas Ray's In A Lonely Place.
    - Walter.

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