#41 PROOF OF LIFE (2000)
Russell Crowe – David Caruso – David Morse
Every now and then a good movie comes along that contains a fine cast, strong script and enough drama and action to satisfy most fans – and it flops at the box-office. This is such a film. Crowe is his usual polished self, Morse and Caruso offer strong support and Meg Ryan provides the eye candy.
#42 ANALYZE THIS (1999)
Robert De Niro – Billy Crystal – Joe Viterelli
I love this movie. De Niro does comedy really well, Crystal is his usual hilarious self, and Viterelli (who plays Jelly here) is one of those character actors that steal every scene they are in. It is a real pity that he died in 2004 when he was just starting to gain recognition for his work.
#43 A FEW GOOD MEN (1992)
Tom Cruise – Kiefer Sutherland – Jack Nicholson
All the raves went to Nicholson for this top quality courtroom drama, but Cruise more than carried his own in it (he usually does). Sutherland and Kevin Bacon were excellent (as usual).
#44 SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949)
John Wayne – Victor McLaglen – Ben Johnson
Brilliantly directed by John Ford, this classic western demonstrates Wayne’s acting ability better than any other. He thought so, too, believing he should have been nominated for this picture, not Sands of Iwo Jima. One of the truly great westerns filmed in the scenic Monument Valley, Arizona.
#45 GUARDING TESS (1994)
Nicolas Cage – Shirley Maclaine – Austin Pendleton
A good, lightweight drama with Cage and Maclaine characters slugging it out verbally throughout. I like Cage now that he has matured, and Shirley plays this kind of matriarch role in her sleep.
#46 SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (1957)
Burt Lancaster – Tony Curtis – Emile Meyer
Burt Lancaster was responsible for some of the worst ham acting in movies, yet every now and then he produced something of rare quality. This performance is one of those. Tony Curtis, too, could reach great heights in a sprinkling of roles like his Sidney Falco here. Great drama.
#47 THE LAST VALLEY (1971)
Michael Caine – Omar Sharif – Per Oscarsson
Critics belted this terrific movie probably because it slammed religion left, right and center. Nothing offends the Church (any church) more than having its deplorable history thrown in their faces. The Thirty Years War was just one of scores of abominable episodes in history where religion was used as an excuse for creating devastation on a huge scale. Noted writer, director (and atheist) James Clavell pulls no punches here and, no doubt, paid the penalty at the box-office.
#48 THE HUNTERS (1958)
Robert Mitchum – Robert Wagner – May Britt
Probably the best of the Korean War dramas that popped up briefly in the 1950s. The Bridges at Toko-Ri might be its equal. Mitchum is never dull and Wagner seemed to choose his material well in those days.
#49 THE STING (1973)
Robert Redford – Paul Newman – Robert Shaw
This is very close to the perfect caper movie, hence it won Best Picture Oscar in 1973. A very complex plot is presented clearly and excitingly, the performances right down the line are flawless, and everything gallops along at a thrilling pace. A great caper movie in every respect.
#50 THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS (1956)
Clifton Webb – Stephen Boyd – Michael Hordern
One of those excellent British World War Two gems that only they seem to know how to make. Operation Mincemeat was one of British Intelligence’s more brilliant subterfuges that helped save many Allied soldiers’ lives. The much under-rated (and underused) Stephen Boyd is seen at his best here.
#51 PATHS OF GLORY (1957)
Kirk Douglas – Ralph Meeker – Adolphe Menjou
This excellent wartime drama is as hard-hitting now as it was back in 1957. The insanity of war has never been more poignantly put on the screen, all the more powerful because it is based on a true story.
#52 CRY FREEDOM (1987)
Denzel Washington – Kevin Kline – Penelope Wilton
A true story about the life and death of black activist Steve Biko in South Africa in the 1970s during apartheid. The movie is just a tad long, but as an indictment of apartheid it has few equals.
#53 THE CARPETBAGGERS (1964)
George Peppard – Martha Hyer – Martin Balsam
Well, the critics absolutely hated it, but The Carpetbaggers is a much under-rated drama mainly because George Peppard is brilliant in it. The story is loosely based on Howard Hughes’s life; Carroll Baker’s character being equally loosely based on actress Jean Harlow. The only real weakness is the casting of a much too old Alan Ladd in a pivotal role.
#54 MANY RIVERS TO CROSS (1955)
Eleanor Parker – Robert Taylor – Victor McLaglen
Comedy-westerns are rare indeed and this is one of the best. Eleanor Parker is an absolute delight as the frontierswoman hell bent on marrying the footloose trapper Bushrod Gentry played well by Taylor. Most people remember Eleanor as the baroness in The Sound of Music, but in her earlier years she was a knockout as well as a fine actress.
#55 APPALOOSA (2008)
Viggo Mortensen – Ed Harris – Jeremy Irons
The only thing that stops me giving this wonderful western a ‘10’ is Renee Zellweger. The woman is just plain irksome. Mortensen and Harris, on the other hand, portray two utterly believable western lawmen, quiet-spoken, business-like professionals just doing their jobs. The more I see Viggo the better he gets.
#56 INDIANA JONES & THE LAST CRUSADE (1989)
Harrison Ford – Sean Connery – Alison Doody
There were four Indiana Jones movies made – two good ones (Raiders of the Lost Ark and this one), and two not so good – (The Temple of Doom and The Crystal Skull). For sheer fun and fast-moving entertainment it is hard to go past this, the third in the series. Connery is hilarious and Doody is stunning to look at.
#57 5 FINGERS (1952)
James Mason – Danielle Darrieux – Michael Rennie
James Mason is wonderfully cast as the spy in this superb drama based on a true story of WW2, although the real spy was nowhere near as suave or charismatic as depicted here. In fact, although not even hinted at in this movie, he achieved most of his success because he was involved in a homosexual relationship with the British Ambassador to Ankara.
#58 ARGO (2012)
Ben Affleck – Alan Arkin – John Goodman
Winner of the Best Picture Oscar for its year, this thriller based on a true story has a witty script and enough ‘contrived’ tension to keep the audience on edge. It should never have won an Oscar, but it is pretty well put together just the same.
#59 DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965)
Julie Christie – Tom Courtenay – Omar Sharif
Julie Christie is perfectly cast as Lara in this sprawling epic set in Russia during the revolution. Everyone in the picture is good, the score is beautiful, the scenery spectacular; but it is Julie’s film from beginning to end. Few movies have presented such a thoroughly dazzling heroine.
#60 THE WHOLE NINE YARDS (2000)
Bruce Willis – Matthew Perry – Amanda Peet
A very funny comedy that shows how funny Willis can be if given the right material. Perry is good, too, Amanda gets her gear off, and everybody seems to have a most enjoyable time. Good fun if you like your contract killers to be good-natured sweethearts.