5 Films I Absolutely Adore

Now that the nights are drawing in (which begins, according to my dad, on the day after Midsummer’s eve), and since the chances of getting a babysitter on the night they’re actually needed is remote, the Husband and I will be snuggled up watching our favourite films on DVD.

It makes a nice change, I have to say, to watch something that does not involve a superhero, a Disney princess or ghoulish school pupils.  This is, of course, the lull before the storm since Frozen 2 is rumored to be in production and Ieuan has been promised “Marvel Avengers: Age of Ultron” for Christmas.

No.  It’s TV on, wine decanted and a bowl of crisps. We’re saving our pennies for a decent TV, such as the Panasonic Viera  which has the new 4K definition.  These TVs have four times the resolution of a standard HD TV with 8 million pixels on screen as opposed to the usual 2 million.

Most of our 2 million pixels are generally secreted between a variety of sticky hand-prints and dust so I imagine that much could be done to improve our viewing experience!

Don’t you find, though, that you end up watching the same films over and over again?  These are my all time top 5 and I heartily recommend you check them out.

Woody Allen: Love & Death (1975)
(Woody Allen, Diane Keaton)

Woody Allen’s Love & Death

Boris: “Isn’t all mankind ultimately executed for a crime it never committed? The difference is that all men go eventually, but I go six o’clock tomorrow morning. I was supposed to go at five o’clock, but I have a smart lawyer. Got leniency.”

In the film, which is set in 19th-century Russia, Boris (Woody Allen) is a simple Russian villager who is in love with his beautiful cousin Sonja (Diane Keaton). Forced against his will into joining the Russian army during the Napoleonic Wars, the cowardly Boris accidentally becomes a military hero. But when his beloved Sonja comes to him with a dangerous patriotic scheme, the resulting action leads Boris to question his desires and beliefs.

This is my all time favourite Allen movie.  It’s considered to be a spoof of the Russian Novel, particularly those by Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.  As usual Allen’s wit never lets up and you watch with either a wry smile or laughing out loud.

Mel Brooks: Young Frankenstein (1974)
(Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder)

Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder): “You know, I’m a rather brilliant surgeon. Perhaps I can help you with that hump.”

Igor (Marty Feldman): “What hump?”

When respected medical lecturer Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) discovers he has inherited his infamous grandfather’s estate in Transylvania, he goes to take possession of the castle. There, he begins to recreate his grandfather’s experiments with the help of servants Igor (Marty Feldman), Inga (Teri Garr) and the terrifying Frau Blücher (Cloris Leachman). Dr. Frankenstein creates his own monster and things get complicated when the monster falls in love with the doctor’s fiancée, Elizabeth (Madeline Kahn).

Much as I love Blazing Saddles, I love Young Frankenstein for its complete lunacy and sense of the ridiculous.  It’s a wonderful mickey-take of the old Hammer Horror films with a Dr Frankenstein who loves himself far too much, an Igor who isn’t the full shilling and a monster whose dance routines leave a lot to be desired.

Agatha Christie’s Death On The Nile (1978)
(Peter Ustinov, David Niven)

Agatha Christie’s Death On The Nile

Jacqueline De Bellefort (Mia Farrow): “…sometimes, I just want to put this gun right against her head, and ever so gently, pull the trigger. When I hear that sound more and more… “

Hercule Poirot (Peter Ustinov): “I know how you feel. We all feel like that at times. However, I must warn you, mademoiselle: Do not allow evil into your heart, it will make a home there.”

This is the story of a wealthy heiress, Linnet Ridgeway (Lois Chiles) who steals her best friend’s fiance (Mia Farrow and Simon MacCorkindale) and marries him after a whirlwind romance.  On a luxurious honeymoon cruise on the Nile River, Linnet is murdered and it is up to Poirot (David Niven) to solve the mystery, along with his trusted companion, Colonel Race (David Niven). But just as Poirot identifies several would-be murderers, the suspects also start to meet their demise.

This is an adaptation of one of the best known Agatha Christie novels and I actually saw this film in the cinema when it first came out. I remember the stellar cast which includes Bette Davis, Maggie Smith, Angela Lansbury and Jane Birkin, among others, and I love the sweeping musical score which adds to the beauty of the Egyptian scenery.

I am a huge fan of David Suchet as Poirot but, for me, this version of “Death On The Nile” is still the best.

Monty Python & The Holy Grail (1975)

Monty Python & The Holy Grail

French Soldier: “I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough wiper! I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!”

This film is a hilarious send-up of the grim Middle Ages told through the story of King Arthur and framed by a modern-day murder investigation. When Arthur goes on a quest to find the Holy Grail, he and his knights face a number of horrors, including the persistent Black Knight, a three-headed giant, some shrubbery-challenged knights, the dangerous Castle Anthrax, a killer rabbit, a house of virgins, and a handful of rude Frenchmen.

This is another film I saw in the cinema on its release – at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff in the days when it was a newly renovated school and not the great art space it is today!  I guess you either ‘get’ Monty Python or you don’t and I laughed like a drain from start to finish.  Anybody who can substitute a horse for somebody banging two coconut shells together to make a clip clop sound and get away with it is pretty smart I think.

Again, although “Life of Brian” is equally loved, “Holy Grail” has the extra touch of madcap Python lunacy and feels more raw and experimental than the team’s later films.

Babette’s Feast (1987)

Babette’s Feast

Adapted from the novel by Karen Blixen (whose memoirs formed the basis of the film “Out of Africa”, Babette’s Feast is the story of two sisters who live in a remote 19th Danish century village. Their life centres around their father, the local minister, and their church. When their father dies, they take in a French refugee, Babette, who works for them as their servant.  When Babette wins the lottery she decides to pay the sisters back for their kindness and cooks a French meal for them and their friends to mark the 100th anniversary of their father’s death.  After Babette’s feast, everything and everyone changes in ways they would never have expected.

This film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1988 and was another one I saw in the Chapter Arts Centre when it came out.  It is a really touching tale, despite being subtitled and you are left feeling uplifted and reminded how powerful kindness can be.

So those are my favourite 5.  Are any of them on your list?

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