My Favorite Movies

“[He’s] one of what we all are, Pelly,
less than a drop in the great blue motion
of the sunlit sea.
But it seems some of the drops sparkle,
Pelly, some of them do sparkle!”
— King Arthur (Camelot)

It’s quality work, and there
are simply too many notes, that’s all.
Just cut a few and it will be perfect.”

— Emperor Joseph (Amadeus) 

Click for a PDF of this post:
Where did this come from?
Six weeks ago, I published a piece on ConVivio called “Greatest Songs of All Time” (  It was inspired by a regular customer at The Flying Pig named Carl.  We were talking about songs from “my era” (the 60s and 70s) and he asked me, “What songs are important to you?”  So, I mentioned a few off the top of my head and … well, it caused me to rethink a list of The Greatest Songs of All Time that I had posted a few years before.  So, when I made a new list and invited others to make their lists, I discovered that there are some talented list-makers among ConVivio readers.  Fast-forward to this week and I was talking about those lists of songs with my son Will (one of the proprietors of The Flying Pig), observing how much attention that list-making exercise had attracted.  The conversation turned to a favorite movie of mine, which Will’s brother Ben (the other Flying Pig proprietor) recently reminded me of.  The movie, “2001 — A Space Odyssey” featured some music that I had accidentally omitted from my “Greatest Songs” list.  The movie was a huge favorite during my senior year in high school and is currently getting some attention on its 50th anniversary.  Will suggested, “What about a list of ‘Greatest Movies?” I mentioned a particularly dramatic pair of lines from a climactic moment of the movie
—  So, this is the result  …

PapaDan’s List
Below is my list of my favorite movies.  Unlike my “Greatest Songs” list, I did not feel qualified to identify the “Greatest Movies of All Time.”  Turns out that “All Time” is beyond the scope of my expertise.  SO, my list consists of just the movies I liked best (at least as of today). As a bonus, I include a quote I remember from each one.  I invite you to reply, if you like, with:
1. Your own list, as short or as long as you wish, of your favorite movies.
2. You are also invited — though not required — to include a quote that you find memorable from one or more of them (or not).
3. You are welcome to send comments like “How could you possibly leave out  ________  from your list?” or “How could you include a dumb movie like  _________ ?”  All are welcome.

—> A few words of caution — I intended to make a list of ten movies.  BUT, that turned out to be impossible.  A struggle with painful cutting brought it down from 25 to 17.  So, if you decide to make your own list, all of your good intentions to keep it short may be futile.  I also could not list them in order of “favoriteness.”  Just couldn’t.  So, they are in alphabetical order.  I also ignored the winners of the most recent Academy Awards, since I wasn’t familiar with many of them anyway.  I also did not consider whether “my” movies received any awards in their day.

I hope you, at least, find this exercise interesting.

Here is my list:

My Favorite Movies — August 2, 2018
1. 2001 — A Space Odyssey

• Dave: “Open the pod bay doors, HAL.” HAL 9000:  “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
• HAL 9000:  “This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.”
2. Amadeus
• Emperor Joseph, to Mozart: “My dear young man, don’t take it too hard. Your work is ingenious. It’s quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that’s all. Just cut a few and it will be perfect.”
• Salieri: “This was a music I’d never heard.  Filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing, it had me trembling.  It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God.”
3. American Graffiti
• “I don’t like that surfin’ shit. Rock and roll’s been going downhill ever since Buddy Holly died.”
4. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
• Butch: “If he’d just pay me what he’s spending to make me stop robbing him, I’d stop robbing him.”
• Etta: “I’ll do anything you ask of me except one thing. I won’t watch you die.”
5. Camelot
• Arthur (speaking to Pellinore of the newly knighted Tom of Warwick): [He’s] one of what we all are, Pelly, less than a drop in the great blue motion of the sunlit sea. But it seems some of the drops sparkle, Pelly, some of them do sparkle!”
6. Chicago
• Roxie: “I’m a star, and the audience loves me, and I love them, they love me for loving them, and I love them for loving me. And we love each other. And that’s ’cause none of us got enough love in our childhoods. And that’s showbiz, kid.”
7. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
• “I’ll be right here.”
8. Field of Dreams
• “If you build it, he will come.”
• John & Ray Kinsella: “Is this heaven?”  “It’s Iowa.”  “I could’ve sworn it was heaven.  Oh yeah, it’s the place where dreams come true. [Looks around and sees his wife playing with their daughter]  “Maybe this is heaven.
9. Forrest Gump
• “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” “Stupid is as stupid does.”
• “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.”
10. Funny Girl
• “You think beautiful girls are going to stay in style forever?  I should say not!  Any minute now they’re going to be out!  Finished!  Then it’ll be my turn!”
11. The Graduate
• “I want to say just one word to you, just one word.” “Yes, sir.”   “Are you listening?”   “Yes, I am.”   “Plastics.”
12. Moonstruck
• Ronnie Cammareri: “Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is … but love don’t make things nice, it ruins everything. It breaks your heart.  It makes things a mess.  We aren’t here to make things perfect.  Snowflakes are perfect. Stars are perfect. Not us.”
13. Planet of the Apes
• “Don’t look for it Taylor, you may not like what you find.”
14. Saving Private Ryan
• “Earn this.” At the very end of the movie, Tom Hanks says it twice — once to Private Ryan and once to all of us in the audience who have benefitted from the sacrifices of soldiers in World War II.
15. The Sound of Music (and let’s not forget My Fair Lady)
• Maria: “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.”
16. Star Wars I – V
• Yoda: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”   Riyo Chuchi: “To die for one’s people is a great sacrifice. To live for one’s people, an even greater sacrifice. I choose to live for my people.”
17. Wizard of Oz
• “True courage is in facing danger when you are afraid.”
18. Midnight In Paris
• Hemingway: “The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair, but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.”
19. Same Time Next Year
• Doris: “Doris”; George: “What?”; Doris: “My name is Doris.”; George: “Your name is Doris?”; “Yes.”; George: “But I’ve been calling you Dorothy all night.”; Doris: “Yes, I know.”
20. The Princess Bride (The Greatest Movie Ever Made — according to me)
• Inigo Montoya (to the Six-Fingered Man): “My name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

What’s missing from my list?
I omitted a category of “ancient” movies (like Casablanca and those starring Marlon Brando-types), movies by Alfred Hitchcock (although I enjoyed several of them, notably The Birds and Rear Window), and most “war” movies (notably Patton).  I also left out The Ten Commandments (I was ten years old when my parents took me to the drive-in to see it), and Ben-Hur (I was nine when my parents took me to its Premier in Oakland), Raiders of the Lost Ark (not sure why), Schindler’s List (because I don’t like remembering it), and Blazing Saddles (because all the memorable quotes are racist and disgusting).

It’s funny about movies.  Looking back, some of the choices of “favorites” can feel quite personal and can represent who we were back when we saw them.  But, they’re just movies, right?

I look forward to your comments, maybe even a few lists.

Below is Cary Sapone’s list of favorite movies
— In no particular order (another excellent list!).
Shawshank Redemption
Pretty in Pink
Mrs Doubtfire
Pretty Woman
When Harry Met Sally
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The Pursuit of Happiness
Back to the Future
Sixth Sense
The Polar Express

10 Responses “My Favorite Movies”

  1. Jeannette says:

    My favorite movie of all time is a sleeper called Country Featuring Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard.
    Another sleeper: Wrestling Ernest Hemingway
    Next: Life is beautiful
    Then there is: The fiddler on the roof
    Don’t forget: the great Santini
    Then there was: Emma
    Next: Wit Starring Emma Thompson
    Then there was: saving Private Ryan
    I loved the quirky movie: Juno
    How about: on Golden Pond
    The last movie that I saw was: won’t you be my neighbor – – a documentary about Fred Rogers. I never understood what he was trying to do all those years ago, but in view of what is going on in our culture today, His goal was to make sure that children felt protected. Today this is a lost art, And he clearly recognized the path that we were headed on

  2. Lauren de Vore says:

    Top of my list are (1) King of Hearts and (2) Hardware Wars. (I thought about adding Bambi Meets Godzilla but…) This list is notable in that I saw all three movies the same night in a triple feature!

  3. Daniel says:

    Jeannette, thanks for your excellent list. As usual, you have reminded me of a “favorite” of mine that I left out of my list: “Fiddler On the Roof” thank you.

  4. Daniel says:

    Lauren, You’ve identified a gap in my education. I haven’t see any of the three you mention. Also I don’t think I’ve ever seen a triple feature before. Where’ve I been?
    — Dan

  5. Steven Rubio says:

    A few years ago on Facebook, three of us did our 50 favorite films. I’ll borrow from that list, and add a recent movie that I’d include if we did it all over again.

    1 – The Godfather / The Godfather: Part II. “I know it was you, Fredo.”

    2 – The Sorrow and the Pity. “France is the only government in all Europe whose government collaborated.”

    3 – Bonnie and Clyde. “We rob banks.”

    4 – Rio Bravo. “That’s what I’d do if I were the kind of girl that you think I am.”

    5 – The Third Man. “In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

    6 – The Rules of the Game. “The awful thing about life is this: Everybody has their reasons.”

    7 – Citizen Kane. “I think it would be fun to run a newspaper.”

    8 – The Wild Bunch. “If they move, kill ’em!”

    9 – A Streetcar Named Desire. “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

    10 – Performance. “Nothing is true, everything is permitted.”

    11 – Mad Max: Fury Road. “My name is Max. My world is fire and blood.”

  6. Dan Faletti says:

    Here are some favorites I could watch any day:
    1. Defending Your Life
    2. Wait Until Darkn
    3. Con Air (“Why couldn’t you put the bunny back in the box?”)
    4. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    5. The Negotiator
    6. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
    7. Heaven Can Wait

  7. Daniel says:

    Dan, Yes, I forgot about “Wait Until Dark.” Another great one.

  8. Daniel says:

    Oh, yes, I forgot about “The Wild Bunch.” Thanks for your list.

  9. Janet Crampton Pipes says:

    Here is my list of favorite movies, in no particular order. It would be easy to keep going, but I stopped at a dozen.

    Pretty Woman
    One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
    Forrest Gump
    Rain Man
    12 Years a Slave

    Fried Green Tomatoes
    “Face it girls, I am older and have more insurance!”

    Midnight Cowboy
    “I only get carsick on boats.”

    My Left Foot
    “If you work with me, I’ll help you say f*** off more clearly.”

    To Sir with Love
    “Marriage is not for the weak, the selfish, the insecure.”

    A Christmas Story
    “My father worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium, a master.”

    It’s a Wonderful Life
    Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

  10. Daniel says:

    Janet, Thanks for your list. Once again, your list reminds me of another favorite of mine — how could I have left out A Christmas Story?!