This week I would like to examine the top-10 films that not only honor American pride, but also symbolize and reflect upon what
Here is Johnny Chazz’s top-10 list for best “American-Pride” films:
1. AMERICAN GRAFFITI: From the cars to Mel’s Diner and the amazing soundtrack, this film is completely iconic of American culture. How much more American can you get than casting Richard Dreyfuss and Ron Howard? From the sock hops to the drag racing and cruising, every scene is a trip inside a time machine to one the most memorable and happy times in the lives of American youth. Each character learns what it means to struggle, to laugh, to cry, and to not only live in the moment but also think about the future before them in the land of freedom where anything is possible. What remains amazing is that the film was shot in less than a month on a fairly low budget. Still, it remains a classic.
2. EASY RIDER: This coast to coast film is representative of American culture in so many ways. The soundtrack is rock-and-roll based with some classic folk tunes thrown in. The locations are rustic, yet scenic and a perfect identity of what the American landscape looks like. The characters have heart, but remain rebels throughout without losing their compassion. A glimpse into “hippie”
Check out the intro accompanied by Steppenwolf's "Born to be Wild!"
4. WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?:
View this intense moment between Taylor and Burton !
5. ROCKY: How can Rocky not be included on this list? The idea of the small-town man becoming a National hero is exactly what
7. SILVERADO: So many westerns have been iconic of American culture over the past 60+ years, but I chose “Silverado” for this week’s purpose. Filmed in 1985, we are given an extraordinary cast that offers standout performances. The genre was dying during the 1980’s (“Pale Rider” aside) and Silverado really shined because of that very reason. Silverado is entertaining throughout every moment of the film and the vibrant script combined with the realistic action scenes make for an outstanding and memorable Western. The scenery and the locations used (
9. THE LAST PICTURE SHOW: Every aspect of this film is a pure and accurate depiction of American life during the early1950’s in the small-town atmosphere. Director Bogdanovich created an atmosphere on the set and in front of the camera that quickly placed the audience in the middle of this desolate, West-Texas town where nothing really ever happens. Life is slow – that is for sure. The performances are formidable and both the sets and the dialogue are second to none. What is highly intriguing about the film is that there is really no soundtrack. The film relies on the music played on juke-boxes or car radios. This in itself represents what American pop-culture is all about – at least in this part of the world and at this moment in time. The innocence of youth is examined in this film as well as their respect for authority. How spell-binding is it that we see very few adults in the film (at least in terms of screen time) combined with the tumbleweeds blowing across the screen almost symbolizing that these young people are really on their own in this world. Escaping the small town atmosphere and monotony is really the motivation here and so is the cast for so many Americans who reside in these types of locales.
Enjoy the classic original 1971 theatrical trailer!
JER: A most touching and heartfelt subject with a strong “top ten” list to boot. This will be difficult, but I will express my “top ten” list and its reasons for making it onto the list.
10. PRETTY WOMAN: Although this movie has slowly deteriorated from my list of enjoyment, I will say that it tells the story of a woman wanting to achieve her goals no matter the costs… even if it means whoring yourself on Hollywood Boulevard! Julia Roberts became quite annoying for me after this film, but I could take her in the role of a smart gal just wanting to live the dream and be independent. Along comes her Prince Charming, in the form of dapper Richard Gere, which closes the story book tale and everyone lives “Happily Ever After.” Sappy, sugary and unbelievable… maybe I should have gone with WORKING GIRL under the premise, but I cannot say no to a film shot on Hollywood Blvd. Damn you, Garry Marshall!
9. 1941: Maybe not director Steven Spielberg’s most crowning achievement in cinematic history, but the film works on many levels. It portrays the enemies as a bunch of goof-balls; the film is taking place at the dawn of World War II with many innuendos of panic, fear and distrust that has put a country in high- end alert since the bombing of
7. THE PLAYER: It is no surprise that
The intriging original 1992 trailer from director Robert Altman
6. SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER: Why would I include a disco movie with music by the Bee- Gees in a list of American Pride? Simple, it spells freedom and the ability to express oneself as you please…especially for 1970’s
5. THE NEW WORLD: Director Terrence Mallick presents a very realistic and heavily- researched account of 17th century living as explorer Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell) lands on Native American land to discover its people and Pocahontas (Q’orianka Kilcher). Not one of the proudest moments in American history, but a story that needs to be told nonetheless. The film focuses on the slow takeover of a land rightfully belonging to a people not wanting anything to do with modern men and his thoughts and lifestyles.
4. THE UNTOUCHABLES: Director Brian DePalma turns the clock back to 1920’s
3. SCARFACE: Another film by director Brian DePalma, this time capturing the tale of how the American Dream can be achieved and lost in a blink of a careless eye. Al Pacino embodies the immortal character of Tony Montana, a Cuban refugee that escapes the dregs of
2. PLATOON: Winner of Best Picture for 1987, director Oliver Stone drew from his own accounts during his tours in
1. THE PATRIOT: My top choice falls upon director Roland Emerick’s cinematic and epic telling of a family and its wiliness to not participate within the American Revolution. Mel Gibson stars as Benjamin Martin, a man whose previous life is best kept locked up in a foot locker along his bedside, fights to keep his sons at bay and not participate in a war that will only bring grievance to all. The film brings a hardening telling as continued grief plaques the Martins as they fend to survive the British armies closing in on their land and threatening to take all that they desire to take. The film takes itself very serious at times, as the militia sneaks surprise attacks on the unexpected soldiers and it plays on the patriotic emotions of any real red- blooded American who would take up a musket and ride alongside for the defending of a land…a land known as the United States of America!
I must commend a few of your selections in particular as being outstanding selections for the blog: #2 PLATOON was a film I considered, but I went with another war film instead - a tough decision of course. Also, your #4 selections of "THE UNTOUCHABLES" is really sharp and probably makes my top-20 list for the topic. It is a period piece with tremendous attention to detail and life in American pre-Depression.
Your selection of "THE PLAYER" is also intriguing, although as excellent as the film is I am not sure it really offered me a feeling of American pride - however, it did closely examine a piece of America - frankly that being the inner-workings of the film industry in Hollywood which really defined America for so many years.
So, this wraps up another segment of Cinema: Counterpoint - this time honoring those films that warm the hearts and minds of American audiences making us ever so proud to be a part of such a terrific country. Until next week when Jer takes us on a brand new ride – we will SEE YOU NEXT WEDNESDAY!