Our movie guy, Paul McGuire Grimes, is usually telling us about the new releases out there and letting us know which ones we can’t miss. He’s switching things up and giving us his top three favorite movies of all time.
- TITANIC (1997)
James Cameron used the sinking of the Titanic to tell an epic love story between Jack Dawson, a third-class artist who won a ticket on a gambling bet, and Rose DuWitt Bukater, a first-class passenger on board with her wealthy fiancé. In present day, an oceanic exploration team goes down to the wreckage site hoping to find a renowned diamond called “The Heart of the Ocean” They find a the coveted safe, but instead of a diamond, they find a sketch of a nude woman. This prompts the now-elderly Rose to recount her time on the fated Ship of Dreams.
Starring: Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Gloria Stuart, Bill Paxton
Nominated for 14 Oscars, winning 11 including Best Picture, Director, Best Score, Best Song for “My Heart Will Go On”
Was the highest grossing film of all-time at the box office at the time of its release. Was surpassed by James Cameron’s next film Avatar. Was #1 at the box office for its first 16 weeks of release, which is unheard of anymore.
James Cameron is passionate about the Titanic taking many expositions down to the site in prep for the movie. You can see real footage of the wreckage in the movie. Most of the film outside of the Jack/Rose storyline is based on real accounts and passengers from the Titanic.
I will never forget seeing it opening night at the Mall of America. The lines were going far out the theater along the fourth floor. This was before advanced ticket sales, pre-assigned seats, you were showing up hours early hoping to get in. I was swept away in the epic historical nature of the Titanic, the love story, and Celine Dion’s epic song.
Interest in the Titanic’s sinking increased dramatically, and artifacts went on a national tour after the film’s release.
The production was plagued with problems, went massively over budget, and was thought to be a massive bomb before it opened.
- THE GODFATHER (1972)
Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather trilogy will forever be a part of film history. He adapted the book by Mario Puzo and turned it into unforgettable mob epic about the Corleone family. While I know the first film is the best of the three, it’s hard not to talk about the second film in conjunction with the first one. While Part III often gets flack, I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as others claim it to be.
Starring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, John Cazale, Talia Shire, Robert Duvall, James Caan
No one wanted to take on Mario Puzo’s book. Thought it glamorized the mafia and wouldn’t do well at the box office. Paramount bought the rights but wanted it done on the fast and cheap. Keep it a potboiler of a movie.
Coppola drawn to the story of family succession, a metaphor on capitalism, focus on the book’s setting, characters, family
Coppola was close to getting fired after first few weeks of shooting. Paramount hated the cast (Pacino, Brando), thought the photography was way too dark. The Sollozzo scene was the key turning point
Al Pacino was cast as Michael but was physically different than description in book. Coppola wanted an actor that looked like him. Saw Pacino’s work and new he was right despite limited film work. Robert Evans wanted a Ryan O’Neal, Robert Redford type who looked like him. Pacino was almost fired until studio execs saw the footage of the Sollozzo scene
Talia Shire, who plays Connie Corleone, is Francis Ford Coppola’s sister. He initially thought she was too pretty, not homely enough
Academy Awards: Won: 3 Oscars Picture, Leading Actor/Brando, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.
My love of The Godfather dates back to high school when a friend and I did a full trilogy binge in one sitting – 9.5 hours of The Godfather. I’ve seen the first film countless times and will always stop and watch it on cable despite owning many copies of the movie.
No matter how many times I watch the first two movies, I will almost stop in awe and find something new I haven’t seen before. Coppola and his cast have created some of the finest characters on screen with epic storytelling and filmmaking that will forever be lampooned and copied in pop culture.
- STAND BY ME (1986)
I frequently talk about Stand By Me as it’s my favorite movie of all time. It’s the page to screen adaptation of Stephen King’s novella “The Body” which was featured in his collection Different Seasons. It’s about four boys who go in search of a dead body, and along the way, learn more about themselves and the importance of having close friends. They were twelve going on thirteen, outcasts at school, and relied on each other to get through the rough times of their adolescent years.
Starring: River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, Jerry O’Connell, Corey Feldman, John Cusack, Kiefer Sutherland, Richard Dreyfuss
The quintessential coming of age movie
People frequently forget this is based on a Stephen King story. This comes from the same collection as “The Shawshank Redemption”
River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, Jerry O’Connell, and Corey Feldman were all cast because they were all so close to their characters in real life, there was an authenticity there that made the story feel rich and personal.
I can’t help but think of the friends I had as a kid, the adventures we had, and how they have made me who I am today.
My love of this film continues into adulthood. I even hosted a sold-out screening for Secret Movie Night at Emagine Theaters Willow Creek with a Q&A after the movie.