Working Through Lists


As you probably know from my Best of the Year posts, I love making lists. I also love trying to work through them, especially movie lists. I’m currently working on two long-term movie-watching projects based on lists: Roger Ebert’s Great Movies and Michael F. Keaney’s Film Noir Guide: 745 Films of the Classic Era, 1940-1959. I’m working through other lists as well, titles I’ve picked up here and there from other books and websites, but these are the main two lists I’m targeting right now.

Ebert’s list – which can be found online and in four printed volumes (all of which I own, of course) – totals 383 films. There are 130 of them I have not seen. If I watch at least two per week, I can finish Ebert’s list in a little over a year. Some of the glaring oversights from this list of films I have yet to see? How about City Lights (1931), The 400 Blows (1959) and Nashville (1975). I know, I’m working on it.


Keaney’s Film Noir Guide is a different story. While I have some problems with this book (mainly its lack of cinematographer credits and an abundance of television show references), it’s a valuable reference for film noir fans. Many of these films are bonafide classics, clearly examples of greatness in film noir, while others scrape the bottom of the barrel of quality. Yet they are all mostly film noir. (I quibble with some of Keaney’s choices, but overall he’s done a fine job.) Of the 745 films listed, I have yet to see 376 of them. Some of my glaring omissions include The Glass Key (1942), I Want to Live! (1958), Journey into Fear (1942) and The Letter (1940), all of which I either own or have easy access to. One of my problems is that I know all these films are good and part of me wants to “save” them for a time after I’ve seen a lot of the not-so-good ones.

If I averaged three (or more) movies a week, I could complete Keaney’s list in two years. Many of these films are under 75 minutes, so that’s quite doable. Yet if I take a more leisurely approach, I can be finished with both Keaney’s and Ebert’s lists in three years.


And then move on to other lists, such as the 350 films in John DiLeo’s recent book, Ten Movies at a Time: A 350-Film Journey Through Hollywood and America 1930-1970. And then we have the Dave Kehr books, and so much more.

I know I can’t be the only one watching movies from lists, so I’d love to hear about yours. Please share!

8 thoughts on “Working Through Lists

  1. Pingback: Movies Watched in May 2018 | Journeys in Darkness and Light

  2. Pingback: Movies Watched in April 2018 | Journeys in Darkness and Light

  3. The fourth volume is much slimmer than the first three, but I really enjoy having all of them, even thought the entire contents are available online.

    That’s funny, because although I *love* blogathons, I rarely participate these days. Not sure why!

    Thank you for your kind words! I certainly don’t feel like an expert, but I love the journey of discovering new movies. I never get tired of it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I didn’t realize there were 4 volumes to Roger Ebert’s “Great Volume” sets. I have the first volume, which I have yet to crack open…

    I’m another one who doesn’t work from lists. I think it’s because I join so many blogathons that they become my list, in a way. I’m not very goal-oriented when it comes to my movie education, I suppose.

    But you! You’re going to be a bona fide expert in no time – even more of an expert than you are now. 🙂


  5. Thanks, Erin! I think in some cases this will force me to watch movies I *think* I probably won’t like – and maybe I’m wrong about those! As you mentioned, those might just become favorites. Even with a list of movies I might not totally enjoy, I usually learn something (mostly about myself!). Thanks for stopping by!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Consider that I also watch a lot of movies off the cuff! If a friend or co-worker tells me about a movie, I often have to watch it right then. I have little will power, but lists help!


  7. I always enjoy seeing how many films I’ve watched on any given list, but I’ve never committed myself to finishing one (unless you count the filmographies of specific actors or directors, but I haven’t finished many of those either). I admire your dedication! This seems like a great way to discover movies you might not ordinarily watch (either because you’re unaware of them or because they don’t particularly interest you) that end up becoming favorites; at the very least, it helps you expand your horizons and your film knowledge.


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