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!