Watching the Top 100 Highest-Rated Movies: #11-15

In this installment of our challenge to watch the top 100 highest-rated movies of all time, we watch and rate movies ranked #11 through #15.

Watching the Top 100 Highest-Rated Movies: #11-15
This post is part of an ongoing series where my wife and I watch the top 100 highest-rated movies of all time. You can learn more about the challenge, and you can see all of the movies we've watched under the tag #top-100-highest-rated-movies. You can also check out the previous post in the series where we watched movies #16-20.

#15. The Godfather Part II (1974)

Per the Ground Rules, since this movie is part of a series with multiple installments on The List, we're delaying it until we get to the highest rated movie in the list (which is #2: The Godfather (1972)).

#14. Vertigo (1958)

Vertigo, © 1958 Paramount Pictures

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay by Alec Coppel, Samuel Taylor
Based on D'entre les morts by Pierre Boileau, Thomas Narcejac
Starring James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, Tom Helmore, Henry Jones

Did we like it? 🤷‍♂️👍
Would we watch it again? 👎

Vertigo stars our ol' favorite Jimmy Stewart, who we've seen several times in The List, as a retired detective who develops severe acrophobia and vertigo after a near-death experience on a case and then gets himself all wrapped up in a mystery involving a wealthy couple and the wife's increasingly strange behavior.

We liked most of this movie, but we're still kinda shaking our heads at the third act and the ending – it was weird and abrupt and I feel like a lot of the story was skipped over. For example:

Spoilers inside...

What was up with Scotty being institutionalized after severe emotional trauma, and his buddy Midge was all like "Ahhh doc I don't think Mozart's going to help at all," but then we inexplicably never see Midge again, and then all of a sudden Scotty's back out in the city again and they don't really address what happened at all?

I feel like this movie didn't fully utilize its twist either, but maybe that's because movies nowadays have such shocking reveals (and post-reveal payoff) that I'm simply desensitized.

Let's end with some interesting things:

Vertigo, © 1958 Paramount Pictures

Veritgo was filmed on location in San Francisco, and it was cool seeing the city as it was in the 1950s. The Golden Gate Bridge was still very large and orange.

Vertigo, © 1958 Paramount Pictures

Hitchcock pioneered the super clever dolly zoom effect in this movie (also known as the Hitchcock shot or Vertigo shot), which is accomplished by moving the camera away from the subject while simultaneously increasing its focal length. This was a really cool way of simulating Scotty's acrophobia, and you've definitely seen it elsewhere (like that scene where the Nazgûl chase the hobbits through the woods in #62: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)).

And finally, like many films on The List, there's a really interesting and impressive story about how the film was painstakingly restored after its original film stock became damaged with age. I won't recount it in exhaustive detail here (I got enough of that out of my system in my review of #19: Metropolis (1927)), but let's just say the restoration's success hinged on the Ford Motor Company providing a miraculously well-preserved green auto paint sample in the eleventh hour.

Oh and one last thing: This is another Hitchcock movie that had a really cool spirographic title sequence designed by Saul Bass.

#13. Casablanca (1942)

Casablanca, © 1942 Warner Bros. Pictures

Directed by Michael Curtiz
Screenplay by Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch
Based on Everybody Comes to Rick's by Murray Burnett, Joan Alison
Starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre

Did we like it? 👍
Would we watch it again? 👍

Real talk: We just took a huge hiatus from watching The List, and I'm writing this summary something like six months after we watched Casablanca (oops). It was summer in Seattle, the weather was beautiful... yadda yadda. I can emphatically say that we liked Casablanca a lot, and I can also emphatically say that whatever witty and clever things I was going to write about it are now but mere shadows upon the neurons that those thoughts once graced.

A few quick beats:

  • Like many movies on The List, I've seen a ton of parodies and homages of this movie without having ever seen the original. As always, it was nice now seeing the original.
  • This was our second time hanging out with Humphrey Bogart (the first being #68: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)) and Claude Rains (the first being #30: Lawrence of Arabia (1962)).
  • Watching this movie triggered some subconscious impulse in me to watch Woody Allen movies, which I eventually realized was because I once watched Play It Again, Sam (1972), which I liked despite not knowing the references. So I rewatched it, and I liked it even more.

#12. Fanny and Alexander (Swedish: Fanny och Alexander) (1982)

Fanny and Alexander, © 1982 Sandrew Film & Teater

Directed by Ingmar Bergman
Written by Ingmar Bergman
Produced by Jörn Donner
Starring Pernilla Allwin, Bertil Guve, Jan Malmsjö, Börje Ahlstedt, Anna Bergman, Gunn Wållgren, Kristina Adolphson, Erland Josephson, Mats Bergman, Jarl Kulle

Did we like it? 🤷‍♂️️👍
Would we watch it again? 👎

This was our third time with Mr. Bergman on The List (impressive!), with the previous two encounters being #29: The Seventh Seal (1957), which I thought was excellent but Sarah wasn't wild about, and #78: Persona (1966), which Sarah liked and I reviewed as, and I quote: "I have no idea what I just watched."

For some reason, it took us a really long time to start watching this movie. When we arrived at it on The List, we instead took a six month hiatus. I blamed this on Seattle's nice summer weather earlier (sorry, #13: Casablanca (1942), I should have written your summary before the hiatus), but I think part of it was us simply not being eager to watch a really long Swedish film. But the length turned out not to be as bad as we thought might be: although the movie was originally intended to be a 312-minute (5.2 hours!) television miniseries, it was initially released as a 188-minute (3.1 hour) movie, which I felt was reasonable to watch instead since that would have been the version that received the initial critical acclaim.

This was obviously a deeply personal film for Ingmar Bergman, being semi-autobiographical with him as the basis of the titular Alexander. He clearly had a tough experience his father growing up, and I was really impressed how this movie looked as if it were an adult's interpretation of a child's somewhat unbalanced view of the world, including some fantastical elements that felt reminiscent of childhood imagination itself.

While we didn't love this movie, and don't plan to watch it again, we found it to still be on our minds a week after watching it.

#11. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Singin' in the Rain © 1952 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Directed by Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
Written by Adolph Green, Betty Comden
Starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchell, Cyd Charisse

Did we like it? 👍👍
Would we watch it again? 👍

This movie was delightful. It was funny, had great music, choreography, and dancing, and I found myself absentmindedly smiling throughout almost all of it. Mostly, I was in awe of the raw talent and enthusiasm pouring out of Gene Kelly (who also directed and choreographed the movie, no less!) and Donald O'Connor.

Seriously, check out Donald O'Connor here, doing back-to-back wall-flips at the end of this routine!

The Moses routine was an absolute delight to the ears (and impressive elocution!).

And even though that ballet scene in the huge soundstage felt like a bit of a non sequitur, it was gorgeous and really showcased Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse's talent.

After watching this, I'm excited to go back and check out La La Land (2016) again, and especially one of our personal favorites, The Artist (2011).


If you liked this, you should check out our next post in the series where we watch movies #6-10.

Want to see more posts about our challenge to watch the top 100 highest-rated movies of all time? Check out the tag #top-100-highest-rated-movies, and you should also sign up for my newsletter (it's free!) to get automatically notified when I make new posts in the series.