This may fall into the category of blogging-when-provoked (always risky), or it may come down to a matter of de gustibus non est disputandum .  But the wild overhyping on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather wouldn’t provoke me if those doing the hyping didn’t use such unwarranted superlatives.  Our own Matthew Cantirino calls The Godfather and its immediate sequel “the greatest ensemble of American films ever produced.”  John Podhoretz , long on record about this matter, gives it another go at the Weekly Standard , calling The Godfather “the best motion picture made up to that time” (1972), and maybe since then too, and “arguably the great American work of popular art,” a statement that seems to sweep even beyond the genre of film (Mark Twain, call your office).  At least Cantirino makes a case for the seriousness of the films as a work of tragedy.  Podhoretz just seems utterly smitten by a film that caught him by the heart in his youth.

I don’t want to go on at length about The Godfather ‘s defects (the lugubrious score, the ponderous directing, the leaden acting).  In many respects the movie succeeds despite them.  But please.  The real test is whether one wants to see the picture again and again.  And in the case of Coppola’s “great” film, I just don’t.  The art of the motion picture—complete with sound— came into its own in the 1930s and 1940s.  And dipping quickly and without much close attention into my own collection, here are 100 movies—just from those two decades—that I’d rather watch before seeing The Godfather ever again:

1. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

2. Animal Crackers (1930)

3. Little Caesar (1931)

4. The Public Enemy (1931)

5. I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (1932)

6. Scarface (1932)

7. Baby Face (1933)

8. Morning Glory (1933)

9. The Gay Divorcee (1934)

10. It Happened One Night (1934)

11. The Thin Man (1934)

12. Captain Blood (1935)

13. The Informer (1935)

14. Mutiny On the Bounty (1935)

15. The Scarlet Pimpernel (1935)

16. The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936)

17. Follow the Fleet (1936)

18. The Petrified Forest (1936)

19. The Awful Truth (1937)

20. Nothing Sacred (1937)

21. Stage Door (1937)

22. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

23. The Mad Miss Manton (1938)

24. Room Service (1938)

25. Each Dawn I Die (1939)

26. The Four Feathers (1939)

27. Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939)

28. Gunga Din (1939)

29. Ninotchka (1939)

30. Stagecoach (1939)

31. The Women (1939)

32. Foreign Correspondent (1940)

33. His Girl Friday (1940)

34. The Philadelphia Story (1940)

35. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

36. The Thief of Bagdad (1940)

37. Ball of Fire (1941)

38. Blood and Sand (1941)

39. High Sierra (1941)

40. How Green Was My Valley (1941)

41. The Little Foxes (1941)

42. The Maltese Falcon (1941)

43. Meet John Doe (1941)

44. Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941)

45. Sullivan’s Travels (1941)

46. Suspicion (1941)

47. Casablanca (1942)

48. Larceny, Inc. (1942)

49. The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)

50. To Be or Not to Be (1942)

51. Woman of the Year (1942)

52. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

53. Five Graves to Cairo (1943)

54. Girl Crazy (1943)

55. Heaven Can Wait (1943)

56. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)

57. The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)

58. Sahara (1943)

59. Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

60. Tender Comrade (1943)

61. Double Indemnity (1944)

62. Gaslight (1944)

63. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

64. Ministry of Fear (1944)

65. The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944)

66. The Seventh Cross (1944)

67. To Have and Have Not (1944)

68. A Bell for Adano (1945)

69. Brief Encounter (1945)

70. Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

71. Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

72. The Lost Weekend (1945)

73. Spellbound (1945)

74. They Were Expendable (1945)

75. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

76. The Big Sleep (1946)

77. Gilda (1946)

78. The Killers (1946)

79. My Darling Clementine (1946)

80. Notorious (1946)

81. The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

82. Road to Utopia (1946)

83. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)

84. Crossfire (1947)

85. The Fugitive (1947)

86. Kiss of Death (1947)

87. Life With Father (1947)

88. Out of the Past (1947)

89. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947)

90. Fort Apache (1948)

91. I Remember Mama (1948)

92. Key Largo (1948)

93. Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)

94. Red River (1948)

95. The Red Shoes (1948)

96. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

97. Adam’s Rib (1949)

98. Pinky (1949)

99. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)

100. White Heat (1949)

 

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