[01] Top 30 Personal Favorite Films [1964 - 1988]

9:30 PM Joseph Aberl 0 Comments

So why am I writing this list? At first I simply wanted to work towards my 50th article and thought this would be an interesting way to show my thanks to everyone who takes their time reading these articles. After I started writing I came to realize how much cinema has affected me overall over the years and this list became much more personal. So, I ended up deciding to find not only tell you my favorite films, but because I have a hard time deciding which one is the best of them all, I thought they represent a part of me evolving over time, so why not list them by the time of their release. It was rather difficult to figure out which films I loved the most watching so I was able to narrow it down to 30 films. Each article will showcase five as I end up writing much more than I ever could have anticipated. So I hope you enjoy my list and here we go.

Mary Poppins
This film might be on this list simply due to nostalgia, but simply because it played a big role of my childhood. I remember seeing this film a while back, it was a cassette my mother owned and told me I should watch it. Maybe it was back at that time that my fascination for film in general starting to develop. Still, as the film came out long before I was even born I could only discover it through the generation that came before me. If I think about it more closely my almost old-fashioned moral compass might be the result of seeing this film as a child. Yet now that I am older I have come to realize how much this film changes depending on your age.

I know about the history of the film with the author of the original novel P.L. Travers and while it might not truly be 100% of what she imagined it to be, I cannot deny that while watching the film as an adult one important aspect continues to live on from book to film, the true focus is about saving Mr. Banks. No, I did not originally intend to copy the name of the 2013 film focusing on a romanticized version of that history. Re-watching the film I realized how scary life truly is. How much a man is forced to sacrifice to have a career and even be able to give his children what they want. Good intentions can pave the paths to our own personal hell.

It can be just mean reading into the story more than there is, but maybe the perspective from the generation I live in has also affected the way I see this film. It is in my list not only due to nostalgia, but probably because how time has changed my perspective but never my love for this film. I could watch it in any possible way I wanted to. I could see from the eyes of a child enjoying what is happening, I can read into it as a man growing up and starting to accept that life is not easy or I can look at it from a critical standpoint and trying to understand what makes this film what it is, and how it has changed me over the years.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Oh boy where do I start with this film? I think the reason I hold this film dear comes from another very personal area. You could say this film build up a connection between my stepfather and I, as this was a film I connected with him. A humor we both loved and for years still quote to this day. One cannot deny that Monty Python is one-of-a-kind that not even Mel Brooks could copy. The humor is truly out there but so grounded that it is amazing. I personally still believe that the Holy Grail has some of their best jokes both in English and even in German. Yes, this is a film that probably was one of the best German dubs I have ever seen with additional jokes thrown in that are some of the best German wordplays I have ever heard.

I cannot deny it is a strange reason to evaluate a film on, but with most German dubs either coming off as strange or mistranslating a lot of lines, this was just an amazing feat by the team behind that dub. Yet the original is still absolutely amazing with the jokes coming fast and quite strong. The Black Knight is to this day still one of my personal favorite gags of all time and among all their amazing films, may it be Life of Brian or The Meaning of Life, this one simply stuck in my memory the longest since I’ve seen the film for the first time. Maybe that is why it is on my list.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 
Yes, even Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back has a story to it. Shortly before the release of Phantom Menace in Austria, I think I was around 7 or 8 years old at the time, they re-released the original trilogy of Star Wars in cinema. We missed the first film but my mother wanted me to see at least one of them and that so happened to be The Empire Strikes Back, but ironically I was too young to see the film. The people that worked there actually told my mother she could watch the film after she purchased the tickets and I should sit outside and just wait. Naturally, my mother did not do such a thing and we left, went to a store and purchased the entire trilogy and just watched it at home. What amazes me the most is that I still remember this happening and probably is one of the reasons this film is on my list.

It doesn’t hurt that the film is just a visual masterpiece with Hoth just being an iconic environment. I remember wishing I could actually ride one of those gigantic AT-AT Walkers, because they just looked amazing. Then you have Darth Vader being the most iconic villain of all times, meeting Yoda for the first time and just so much more. I think any Star Wars film to this date will be compared to this one, simply because it managed to do so many things with so little. What amazes me if you look at the CGI spectacles that come out nowadays for $200 million and this film cost around $18-20 million in comparison? That is just amazing to think about. Yes, this does prove the fact that I am a business student, but it isn’t a reason why it is in this list.

Why this one in comparison to the original Star Wars that started it all? It probably is because that this film felt more like it knew what it was rather than an experiment that the first one is. It built upon everything the first one did and even went a few steps further, something a sequel should do. I guess that is exactly boils down to, it was the perfect sequel that build upon the foundation of the first. It is also the film that I personally use as a way to analyze sequels that come out and it just added so much lore to Star Wars for me personally that I would be offended by myself for not adding it to this list.

The Nightmare on Elm Street
Is it strange for me to say that I love this film or the franchise generally due to its bizarre yet really unique concept?  Of all the Slasher films this one just stuck out to me every single time I watch it, because the concept truly scares me. Sleep is the only time you truly feel safe yet here we have a killer who literally enters your dream and alters them into horrible nightmares until you literally die. I don’t know about you but knowing that would frighten me every time I get sleepy. It doesn’t help at all that the murderer not only has probably one of the most unique weapons, a glove with claws attached to it, but also with so much personality. You know that Freddy Krueger is who he is not only because of his iconic shirt, fedora and gloves, but simply when you hear the amazing voice of Robert England.

You also have to love how much backstory there is to this character. A lot of elements are simply implied which makes it even scarier as you are unsure what you can believe. His personality alone actually goes against what you would first assume when you figure out the history behind the character. He is not trying to take revenge at all, he just loves killing and has a certain glee to it, as now he can do it more effective than ever before. The implications for a character are amazing, but furthermore you have a very strong character on the other side of the spectrum. Heather Langenkamp as Nancy was a great foil for the character and slowly evolved into a great heroine. The way she sets up traps at the end to capture him prove she is not your typical damsel in distress or a simply victim, she will go down with a fight.

This is in my opinion the best Wes Craven ever created that worked on every single level. The characters were interesting, the music was perfect for the atmosphere and the horror was true. While later in the series the character became more comical and the kills more creative, here we have the best of both worlds, he is creative, he is cruel and worthy of being on this list. Have to add though he was also my first real horror film that I saw. While I did actually watch Army of Darkness as my first quasi horror film I never saw the whole thing at the time, but A Nightmare on Elm Street I actually did end up watching a few years later. Hell, not many can compete with the one and only Freddy Kruger.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit 
Here is another story for you. To this day I still have never uncovered the reason for this, but as I live abroad in Austria and my family is in the States I only get to see them once a year and somehow even though the date constantly changed when I returned, the day I came back they played Who Framed Roger Rabbit on TV. It was a film that stayed in my head because it felt like a welcome home to me every single year, but only saw the original version until many years later. This film is probably to me a lot like Mary Poppins was, as it changed as I grew up. There are so many layers to this film that simply change with every year passing by and every single viewing.

As a child, the film is a live-action cartoon like I’ve never seen it before and even among all the CGI characters in live-action environments never could reach this level of detail in my mind. As much as the director Robert Zemeckis has made some incredible films ranging from Forrest Gump to Back to the Future, I simply believe this was his best film. The comedy was not only on point, but served a great narrative structure. The toons were actual characters and had some great personality to them. Roger Rabbit was a character I wished actually had his own show alongside Bugs Bunny at the time and it probably helped that at the time I just adored the Looney Tunes, who I wish would return alongside Disney.

Yet as an adult I have come to realize how dark of a noir story is hidden here. It is a story about a man who lost his smile due to an incident. Toons live in a realistic world so there are consequences to their actions. While it is quite easy to figure out who the villain is, this fact just doesn’t take away from the performance or the fears it actually creates in your mind. Can you imagine a toon going insane? That thought kind of scares me and the mystery that is never answered I think is an amazing choice that makes the thoughts linger in your head long after the film is over. To this day, I still want to know the history behind this toon going insane.