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Rusty Saber

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by Joe McAdoo

I'm getting into the naming of the "best of the 20th century." Having just finished a two-part comparison of the Rusty Saber's most influential artists and entertainers of the century with those named by Time magazine, I'm turning to the American Film Institute's 100 greatest movies of the century, which stirred up some controversy.

Apparently, some, including me, take their favorite movies seriously. Later you readers will get to vote for your all-time favorite movies. Stay tuned. But first, some observations about the AFI top 100. Since it was compiled in 1998, I guess the AFI presumes no movies will be made between now and 2001 (when the 21st century actually begins) that are better than those already named best of the century.

The AFI apparently isn't fond of recent movies: Eight of the 100 were made in the 1990s, five in the 1980s. "Schindler's List" is the only '90s movie in the top 10; another '90s movie doesn't appear until "Silence of the Lambs," 65th. "Raging Bull," 24th, was the top-ranked '80s movie; the next, "Amadeus," at 53rd. It may be true that they don't make them like they used to.

"Star Wars," 15th, was the highest ranked movie using extensive high-tech visual effects. No visual-effects-dominated disaster movie made the top 100, unless you consider "King Kong" made in 1933, ranked 43rd to be such a movie. Sorry, "Titanic" didn't make the cut.

According to my research, only 32 of the top 100 won best picture Academy Awards. "Citizen Kane," the AFI choice for best movie of the century, didn't win one; "How Green Was My Valley" won that year. It didn't make the top 100. The second-ranked movie, "Casablanca," did win one, however. In all, only seven of the top 15 were Academy Award winners.

Listen up, readers. Forget AFI's top 100. Send me a list of your 10 all-time favorite movies in rank order.

Nominees will be weighted in descending order. Assuming I can still add a column of numbers, the results will become, (drum roll) the Rusty Saber Readers Choice of the 10 Best Movies of the Century. Later, instructions will be given for submitting your choices.

To prime the pump, here are my 10 favorite movies. The chief criteria are that I never tire of watching them.

1. My favorite movie: "From Here To Eternity" 52nd on the AFI list, an injustice if you ask me.

2. Not on the AFI list, "Picnic," starring William Holden and Kim Novak, adapted from the William Inge play. I watch it every time it shows up on cable TV; I would watch it tonight if it were on.

3. Also not on the AFI list is "Laura," a masterpiece of a murder mystery starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews. The haunting background melody from the movie, with words added later, is my all-time favorite song, "Laura."

4. "Shane," 69th on the AFI list. AFI picked "High Noon" as its highest rated western (33rd); it's a great film, but in my book, "Shane" is tops.

5. I could put all of Alfred Hitchcock's films on my list. It came down to a choice between "Psycho" and "Vertigo." In the end, fifth place goes to "Vertigo."

6. "Doctor Zhivago," 39th. This movie could easily be my No. 1 choice. The "Ice Palace" scenes alone make it a truly great movie.

7. "An American in Paris," 68th. If ever I were to tire of seeing the movie, I'd never tire of the music.

8. "The Spiral Staircase" isn't on the AFI list. Starring Dorothy McGuire, this psychological thriller years ago scared the pants off of me; it still does. If you hear about me being seen pantless, you'll know why.

9. Also not on the list, "Showboat," the movie version of the Broadway musical, with Ava Gardner, Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson. Not surprisingly, "Showboat" is my favorite Broadway musical, too.

10. "Psycho" (18th on the AFI list) goes here regretfully leaving no spot for "Gone With the Wind."

Readers, I really want to hear from you. Send your 10 all-time favorite movies to: Rusty Saber Movie Poll, Springfield Business Journal, PO Box 1365, Springfield 65801. Fax at 831-5478 or e-mail to If you have an especially reliable carrier pigeon, use it.

However you do it, send me your entries today.

(Joe McAdoo is former chairman of the communication department at Drury College and a Springfield public relations consultant.)

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