Ten Movies I Love

My contribution to an already fading Twitter game

  • Chinatown  Roman Polanski

  • A Hard Day’s Night  Richard Lester

  • Jackie Brown  Quentin Tarantino

  • Jules and Jim  Francois Truffaut

  • The Last Detail  Hal Ashby

  • Make Way for Tomorrow  Leo McCarey

  • Nothing but a Man  Michael Roemer

  • One-Eyed Jacks  Marlon Brando

  • Roma  Alfonso Cuaron

  • Where Is the Friend’s Home?  Abbas Kiarostami

Some notes on this alphabetized, not just seat-of-the-pants but hardly exhaustive or final list. First, it should surprise no one that when I had six or seven I brought them to Carola Dibbell over breakfast. Unlike me, Carola went to the movies regularly as a kid. She put her first husband through film school in London. She worked with her documentarian friend Janet Mendelsohn in the late ‘70s. In short, she’s smarter than me about movies (and plenty else). Nonetheless, our tastes are remarkably congruent. The Kierostami was her thought, and My Neighbor Totoro and All About My Mother would definitely be on her list, which definitely wouldn’t include One-Eyed Jacks.

Although I am not someone who watches movies over and over, the only one of these I haven’t seen more than once is Roma. Roma and Where Is the Friend’s Home? are the only ones I haven’t seen in theaters on a big or at least (with Make Way for Tomorrow, which we stumbled on in 1973 at the Berkeley Cinema Guild) medium-sized screen. Then again, the only one I’m not sure I’ve seen in my living room is One-Eyed Jacks, directed by and starring Marlon Brando, which I went back to some half dozen times in one of the cheapo rerun houses that were once the jewels of a tattered 42nd Street. At least one of these reviewings was occasioned by a 1966 assignment from my long-lost friend James Stoller (who later, while a copy editor at the Voice, suggested naming my prospective column Rock & Roll &) to write about it for Stoller’s short-lived but legendary film mag Moviegoer. As I recall, my chief point compared the transmutation of a cheap locket by the sincerity of Brando’s love for Louisa to the film’s transmutation of the corny kind of Western it was. Stoller rejected it and, being some kind of genius, was probably right, although someday I should dig out a copy if there is one and make sure. I should also mention that my memoir Going Into the City includes a few pages about Jules and Jim and that the most obscure pick here, the Kiarostami, is recommended by not only my wife but my daughter, who was never one to allow her fondness for Justin Timberlake to blind her to her fondness for this great Iranian filmmaker.