Ok, I admit that I don’t really get around to watching movies very often (up until recently when we seem to have been watching an enormous slew of them!). I was really curious to see what the latest edition (published by Thunder Bay Books and due to be released in March 2010) of 501 Must-See Movies (501 Musts) would include in the “must-see” list.
The introduction to the book acknowledges that you might take issue with some of their choices and any cinephiles might question the editors’ judgment calls. (Indeed, my favorite movie, Anne of Green Gables, is suspiciously absent. I suppose it is technically a television mini series, but still.) This book was put together for people who like to watch movies, enjoy some of the history behind them, and would like to walk into the video store (or browse Netflix?) with some education as to what is out there in order to be able to select a movie that they have a good chance at enjoying. Hence there would seem to be a purpose for 501 Must-See Movies, as it gets you moving towards movies of interest.
This book is divided into ten categories: Action/Adventure & Epic, Comedy, Drama, Horror (why? why? why?), Musical, Romance, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Thriller, War and Western. Within each category they offer at least one page of information about each movie listed. For example, in the Science Fiction section I was delighted to see that they not only included a Star Trek film, but my all-time favorite, The Wrath of Khan. (Who can RESIST it!? “I spiiiit at yooou…I HHHAaaatee YOOOOuuuu!“) They list all the pertinent information that a cinephile might like to know such as the year the movie was made, who directed it, the lead actors/actresses, who wrote the screen play, who produced it, etc., etc. There is a brief synopsis about the plot and a simple explanation as to why it was selected to make the 501 cut. The movies are also laid out in the proper timeline so you can select a classic or something more modern. For example, in the Romance section they begin with Sunrise (1927) and end with In the Mood for Love (2000). Jane Austen fans can stand down because none of the movies based on her books are included in the Romance section – (although they did include The Shop Around the Corner which is an old classic favorite of mine, so I’m inclined to forgive them) – or any other for that matter. Obviously this book was not written to appeal just to female viewers!
If you or someone you know likes and enjoys watching movies, this can be a handy took to have around. At the very least it was interesting to flip through and learn about films from bygone days. Or, in my case, I actually learned more about films produced after 1975 and was fairly familiar with the classic selections. I’m not sure what that says about me but I was glad to see things like His Girl Friday (which has to be one of the most clever movies ever in terms of dialogue!) and Adam’s Rib holding their own against the likes of As Good As It Gets which, if that were the case, would truly be pathetic!