Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Twenty-five years of going to the movies

In the fall of 1980 I began keeping track of every movie I went to see. I have kept that list going since then. It consists of over one thousand films, each one seen in a movie theatre or public auditorium, and each one viewed as light projected through film (i.e., none of the movies I have seen on video or on television are listed).

Here are the actors who have appeared in ten or more films on my list:

  1. Woody Allen: 19 films
    He made some great movies once upon a time.

  2. Charlie Chaplin: 16 films
    He's been called a genius so many times that people forget that he actually was a genius. He was sentimental to a fault, but at his best (e.g., City Lights, The Gold Rush) he carried the sentiment off with tremendous style and skill.

  3. Harrison Ford: 16 films
    There are three Star Wars and three Indiana Jones movies included here, but there are also some excellent performances in non-blockbuster films (e.g., Frantic, The Mosquito Coast, Witness).

  4. Gene Hackman: 14 films
    He makes it look easy, so people forget that he has been one of the best American actors of the past forty years. If only he were more discriminating in his selection of roles.

  5. Jack Nicholson: 14 films
    The icon of American films in the 1970s. Like the Rolling Stones, he has become a caricature of himself, but in his prime he was amazing.

  6. Susan Sarandon: 14 films
    She has made a few clunkers, but nevertheless, if there is one actor on this list I could describe as my hero it would be her.

  7. John Gielgud: 13 films
    Of the great acting knights, he had the best sense of humor.

  8. Robin Williams: 13 films
    Here is someone else who has descended into self- caricature, but despite that he has done some good work over the years.

  9. Robert DeNiro: 12 films
    In the late 1970s and early 1980s I was convinced that he was the greatest actor of our time. His career since then has made me reconsider that assessment, but his work from that era still holds-up well.

  10. Johnny Depp: 12 films
    Until he started making all these movies for kids he was one of the interesting actors of the past twenty years.

  11. Mia Farrow: 12 films
    Most of the movies on this list that feature her were made by Woody Allen. They did some great work together (e.g., Broadway Danny Rose, Hannah and Her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors) before their relationship went south.

  12. Cary Grant: 12 films
    My image of a gentleman. As a adolescent I wanted to be just like him.

  13. Alec Guinness: 12 films
    He was a brilliant actor. The Ealing comedies he made in the late 1940s and early 1950s hold-up very well.

  14. Willam Hurt: 12 films
    For a while in the 1980s he was one of the best actors working in American films.

  15. Buster Keaton: 12 films
    His films were much less sentimental than Chaplin's, and therefore they were much sadder.

  16. Meryl Streep: 12 films
    The dean of American film actresses. She deserves even more awards than the many she has won.

  17. Helena Bonham Carter: 11 films
    The queen of the Merchant-Ivory costume dramas. She comes across as a spoiled brat in interviews, but she is nevertheless a good actress.

  18. Sean Connery: 11 films
    The best Bond, of course, but also a fine actor when he cares to be.

  19. Danny DeVito: 11 films
    How he made this list I'll never know, as I have never gone to movie because he was in it. I don't even like him.

  20. Diane Keaton: 11 films

  21. Bill Murray: 11 films

  22. Ralph Richardson: 11 films
    Although he was often cast in a supporting role, he improved every film he appeared in. And he made a fine leading man in films such as The Fallen Idol and Breaking the Sound Barrier.

  23. Orson Welles: 11 films

  24. John Cusack: 10 films

  25. Mel Gibson: 10 films
    There are no Lethal Weapon movies on my list, but somehow I have managed to see ten films with him. He had great promise back in the days of The Year of Living Dangerously. All that promise was squandered by the time Braveheart was released. And let's not even get into the religious fanaticism.

  26. Dustin Hoffman: 10 films

  27. Anjelica Huston: 10 films

  28. Harvey Keitel: 10 films

  29. Ian McKellen: 10 films

  30. Laurence Olivier: 10 films

  31. Jimmy Stewart: 10 films

  32. Patrick Stewart: 10 films
    Captain Picard is a great character, but Patrick Stewart is much more than just the captain. I saw his Prospero at Shakespeare in the Park several years ago and he was remarkable.

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