MOVIES WE LOVE 100 favorites, with a Baltimore twist

THE BALTIMORE SUN

After the American Film Institute asked a blue-ribbon panel to pick the top 100 films, we asked Sun readers to do the same. More than 1,200 of you responded. Here are the top 10 picks from both groups. See page 4F for the lists.

Take that, AFI. Baltimore film fans have voted, and even added their two cents' worth on what you could have done better.

Last night during a three-hour TV special, the American Film Institute announced the films that its jury of 1,500 filmmakers, critics, exhibitors and scholars (not to mention President Clinton and Vice President Gore) deemed the 100 greatest American movies of all time.

There weren't too many surprises: "Citizen Kane" came in first, followed by usual suspects "Casablanca," "The Godfather," "Gone With the Wind" and "Lawrence of Arabia." The remaining 95 films were largely safe, mainstream American movies, with a few oddballs thrown in for subversion's sake. (It speaks volumes that "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb," No. 26 on the AFI's list, is squeezed in between "E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial" and "Bonnie & Clyde.")

Few could quibble with the AFI, aside from the chauvinistic premise of limiting its nominees to American-made movies. Still, "The Graduate" (No. 7) seems awfully high up for what is essentially a canny but insubstantial period piece, and -- to give a dead horse yet another half-hearted lash -- "Forrest Gump" should be so lucky to be at the table, let alone seated between "The French Connection" and "Ben-Hur."

Far more interesting are the results of The Sun's own poll. Last month, we published the AFI's ballot of 400 movie titles and asked readers to choose their own top 100. The response was overwhelming: 1,280 of you wrote or e-mailed, having painstakingly checked off 100 tiny boxes.

Many of you included notes chiding the AFI, bemoaning the exclusion of foreign films and adding your own favorites. Best of all, you wrote in with the memories those films inspired.

Although Baltimore agreed with the AFI (the institute would not disclose how many ballots it received) around two-thirds of the time, there were some glaring differences. The AFI picked such classics as "Sunset Boulevard," "The Best Years of Our Lives," "The Birth of a Nation" and three Charlie Chaplin films, which Baltimore ignored in favor of such sentimental favorites as "Miracle on 34th Street," "Driving Miss Daisy" and "Mary Poppins."

And Baltimoreans had the wisdom to include "The Caine Mutiny," "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "The Thin Man," "Laura" and "Rebecca."

Sure, Baltimore's Top 10 is top-heavy with safe bets: "Casablanca," "Gone With the Wind" and "The Wizard of Oz." But isn't it just like Baltimoreans to add "To Kill a Mockingbird" -- and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?" Better yet, "The Sound of Music" and "Psycho?"

Local voters also have another thing over the AFI's impressively credentialed jury. Whereas Steve Spielberg is represented five times on the AFI's list, Baltimore reserved that honor for Alfred Hitchcock. And respect was paid to homegrown director Barry Levinson with the inclusion of "Rain Man." (None of John Waters' films were nominated, which points up both the AFI's centrism and Waters' convention-flouting integrity.)

Still, we didn't get everything right. Do we really want to rank "Dances With Wolves" ahead of "The Grapes of Wrath," "Lawrence of Arabia" and "All Quiet on the Western Front"? Did we actually mean to include "Field of Dreams" and "Pretty Woman," but not "The Best Years of Our Lives" or "Chinatown"? "The Color Purple" over "Fantasia" (which didn't even make Baltimore's top 100)?

The best-represented decade on both Baltimore's and the AFI's lists is the 1950s, with 22 and 20 entries, respectively. And, not surprisingly, the best represented year on both lists is 1939: It was probably the most extraordinary year for movies ever, when "Gone With the Wind," "The Wizard of Oz," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "Wuthering Heights" and "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" graced theater screens, as well as "Stagecoach," "Beau Geste," "Ninotchka," "Young Mr. Lincoln," "Destry Rides Again," "Only Angels Have Wings," "Midnight," "Golden Boy" and "Son of Frankenstein."

Many readers took issue with the AFI's American bias.

Edward J. Cunningham, of Silver Spring, wrote, "Had this poll included non-American films, I would have included such films as 'Children of Paradise,' 'The Third Man,' 'Seven Samurai,' 'Once Upon a Time in the West' and 'Les Miserables,' " he wrote. (In fact, "The Third Man" was a nominee, and came in at No. 57 on AFI's list.) "I also would have included James Cameron's 'Titanic' had it not been clear [that] the cut-off for films was 1996."

Cunningham also noted that every film that won an Academy Award for best picture -- with the exception of Laurence Olivier's British production of "Hamlet" -- was nominated. "AFI probably could have come up with a better list of nominees had they not slavishly adhered to this rule," he wrote. Even better than the movies people wrote in -- from "Orfeu Negro" to "The Bad and the Beautiful" -- were the memories conjured by the voting process. Thirza M. Brandt of Upper Falls recalled seeing silent films starring Buck Jones, Tom Mix, Ken Maynard and Clara Bow in the 1920s.

And Irene Morganstein of Baltimore, checked off 140 movies instead of the sanctioned 100. "The very first movie I remember seeing was with Al Jolson at the Metropolitan Theatre at North and Pennsylvania Avenues," she wrote. "A talkie!" Morganstein recalled living around the corner from the Avalon Theater on Park Heights Avenue, where "they changed films at least three times a week, maybe more."

Finally, Kathy Raymond of Baltimore offered a sensible approach to ascertaining whether a movie succeeds or fails. "A film should entertain, educate, enlighten and do it without being insulting to the senses," she wrote. And, of course, she's right.

Let's agree to disagree ...

Baltimore and the AFI voters agreed on 65 of the 100 top American movies. As for the other 35, here's how the two groups split:

I;

Movies on Baltimore's list that didn't make the AFI's:

Miracle on 34th Street

Rain Man

On Golden Pond

Driving Miss Daisy

The Color Purple

Mary Poppins

The Sting

Mrs. Miniver

Mister Roberts

The Ten Commandments

Field of Dreams

Fiddler on the Roof

Terms of Endearment

The Caine Mutiny

Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Kramer vs. Kramer

The Birds

How Green Was My Valley

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Chariots of Fire

Dead Poets Society

The Thin Man

Stalag 17

Laura

Moonstruck

Gandhi

Pretty Woman

The Diary of Anne Frank

Rebecca

Return of the Jedi

The Shawshank Redemption

Witness

An Affair to Remember

J

Movies on the AFI's list that didn't make Baltimore's:

Sunset Boulevard

Chinatown

Raging Bull

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Apocalypse Now

Annie Hall

The Best Years of Our Lives

Double Indemnity

The Birth of A Nation

A Clockwork Orange

Taxi Driver

The Third Man

Fantasia

Stagecoach

Network

The French Connection

The Gold Rush

City Lights

American Graffiti

Rocky

The Deer Hunter

The Wild Bunch

Modern Times

Giant

Fargo

Duck Soup

Easy Rider

The Jazz Singer

A Place in the Sun

The Apartment

Goodfellas

Pulp Fiction

The Searchers

Bringing Up Baby

Unforgiven

The Sun's Top 100

1 Casablanca 1942

2 Gone With the Wind 1939

3 The Wizard of Oz 1939

4 To Kill a Mockingbird 1962

5 The African Queen 1951

6 The Godfather 1972

7 The Sound of Music 1965

8 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 1975

9 Citizen Kane 1941

10 Psycho 1960

11 It's a Wonderful Life 1946

12 Schindler's List 1993

13 The Graduate 1967

14 Miracle on 34th Street 1947

15 Doctor Zhivago 1965

16 Singin' in the Rain 1952

17 Forrest Gump 1994

18 The Bridge on the River Kwai 1957

19 From Here to Eternity 1953

20 The Maltese Falcon 1941

21 Dances With Wolves 1990

22 Star Wars 1977

23 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 1937

24 Rain Man 1988

25 A Streetcar Named Desire 1951

26 The Grapes of Wrath 1940

27 On Golden Pond 1981

28 Driving Miss Daisy 1989

29 West Side Story 1961

30 Rear Window 1954

31 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington 1939

32 My Fair Lady 1964

33 The Silence of the Lambs 1991

34 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 1982

35 The Color Purple 1985

36 Ben-Hur 1959

37 M*A*S*H 1970

38 Mary Poppins 1964

39 The Philadelphia Story 1940

40 It Happened One Night 1934

41 The Sting 1973

42 Mrs. Miniver 1942

43 Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981

44 Tootsie 1982

45 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 1969

46 High Noon 1952

47 Amadeus 1984

48 Mister Roberts 1955

49 Lawrence of Arabia 1962

50 Jaws 1975

51 Close Encounters of the Third Kind 1977

52 King Kong 1933

53 The Ten Commandments 1956

54 All Quiet on the Western Front 1930

55 All About Eve 1950

56 Field of Dreams 1989

57 Mutiny on the Bounty 1935

58 Fiddler on the Roof 1971

59 Vertigo 1958

60 Guess Who's Coming to Dinner 1967

61 Terms of Endearment 1983

62 North by Northwest 1959

63 Wuthering Heights 1939

64 Some Like It Hot 1959

65 On the Waterfront 1954

66 The Caine Mutiny 1954

67 Goodbye, Mr. Chips 1939

68 The Manchurian Candidate 1962

69 Kramer vs. Kramer 1979

70 The Birds 1963

71 How Green Was My Valley 1941

72 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 1948

73 The Godfather Part II 1974

74 Breakfast at Tiffany's 1961

75 Chariots of Fire 1981

76 Dead Poets Society 1989

77 Yankee Doodle Dandy 1942

78 The Thin Man 1934

79 Patton 1970

80 Funny Girl 1968

81 An American in Paris 1951

82 Shane 1953

83 Stalag 17, 1953

84 Laura 1944

85 Bonnie and Clyde 1967

86 Out of Africa 1985

87 Moonstruck 1987

88 Gandhi 1982

89 Midnight Cowboy 1969

90 Pretty Woman 1990

91 Platoon 1986

92 Rebel Without a Cause 1955

93 The Diary of Anne Frank 1959

94 Frankenstein 1931

95 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968

96 Rebecca 1940

97 Return of the Jedi 1983

98 The Shawshank Redemption 1994

99 Witness 1985

100 An Affair to Remember 1957

AFI's Top 100

1 Citizen Kane 1941

2 Casablanca 1942

3 The Godfather 1972

4 Gone With the Wind 1939

5 Lawrence of Arabia 1962

6 The Wizard of Oz 1939

7 The Graduate 1967

8 On the Waterfront 1954

9 Schindler's List 1993

10 Singin' in the Rain 1952

11 It's a Wonderful Life 1946

12 Sunset Boulevard 1950

13 The Bridge on the River Kwai 1957

14 Some Like It Hot 1959

15 Star Wars 1977

16 All About Eve 1950

17 The African Queen 1951

18 Psycho 1960

19 Chinatown 1974

20 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 1975

21 The Grapes of Wrath 1940

22 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968

23 The Maltese Falcon 1941

24 Raging Bull 1980

25 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 1982

26 Dr. Strangelove 1964

27 Bonnie & Clyde 1967

28 Apocalypse Now 1979

29 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington 1939

30 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 1948

31 Annie Hall 1977

32 The Godfather Part II 1974

33 High Noon 1952

34 To Kill a Mockingbird 1962

35 It Happened One Night 1934

36 Midnight Cowboy 1969

37 The Best Years of Our Lives 1946

38 Double Indemnity 1944

39 Doctor Zhivago 1965

40 North by Northwest 1959

41 West Side Story 1961

42 Rear Window 1954

43 King Kong 1933

44 The Birth of a Nation 1915

45 A Streetcar Named Desire 1951

46 A Clockwork Orange 1971

47 Taxi Driver 1976

48 Jaws 1975

49 Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs 1937

50 Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid 1969

51 The Philadelphia Story 1940

52 From Here to Eternity 1953

53 Amadeus, 1984

54 All Quiet on the Western Front 1930

55 The Sound of Music 1965

56 M*A*S*H 1970

57 The Third Man 1949

58 Fantasia 1940

59 Rebel Without a Cause 1955

60 Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981

61 Vertigo 1958

62 Tootsie 1982

63 Stagecoach 1939

64 Close Encounters of the Third Kind 1977

65 The Silence of the Lambs 1991

66 Network 1976

67 The Manchurian Candidate 1962

68 An American in Paris 1951

60 Shane 1953

70 The French Connection 1971

71 Forrest Gump 1994

72 Ben-Hur 1959

73 Wuthering Heights 1939

74 The Gold Rush 1925

75 Dances With Wolves 1990

76 City Lights 1931

77 American Graffiti 1973

78 Rocky 1976

79 The Deer Hunter 1978

80 The Wild Bunch 1969

81 Modern Times 1936

82 Giant 1956

83 Platoon 1986

84 Fargo 1996

85 Duck Soup 1933

86 Mutiny on the Bounty 1935

87 Frankenstein 1931

88 Easy Rider 1969

89 Patton 1970

90 The Jazz Singer 1927

91 My Fair Lady 1964

92 A Place in the Sun 1951

93 The Apartment 1960

94 Goodfellas 1990

95 Pulp Fiction 1994

96 The Searchers 1956

97 Bringing Up Baby 1938

98 Unforgiven 1992

99 Guess Who's Coming to Dinner 1967

100 Yankee Doodle Dandy 1942

Pub Date: 6/17/98

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