We’re halfway through the year, so let’s celebrate — with my biggest June ever!
First things first:
Continuing just as it should, I watched one more WDYMYHS film this month. As is often the case, it was the last film of the month… but for once it wasn’t squeezed in right at the end, I just didn’t watch anything else after it.
This movie is both the oldest and shortest on this year’s list. It sees Charlie Chaplin direct Charlie Chaplin from a Charlie Chaplin script. It is… Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. To put in the context of the two other Chaplins I’ve seen, I liked it more than City Lights, but not as much as The Great Dictator.
So the year is half passed and I’ve watched half my list. Hurrah! Still no Raging Bull from last year’s 12, though.
#45 Ghost Rider (2007)
#46 The Tournament (2009)
#47 The Secret of Kells (2009)
#48 Night of the Big Heat (1967)
#49 Elysium (2013)
#50 Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow (2008)
#51 Journey into Fear (1941)
#52 Sightseers (2012)
#53 Patriot Games (1992)
#54 The Conspirator (2010)
#55 Modern Times (1936)
As we reach the year’s halfway point (did I mention that?), 2014 almost looks like a year conceived by committee to be perfectly average. I’m not the furthest I’ve ever been (look to 2007’s 59, 2010’s 64, 2011’s 67, or last year’s 58 for that), nor the lowest (look to 2008’s 45, 2009’s 38, or 2012’s 51 for those). But average those totals out and you get 54.6 films reached by the halfway mark… or to round it up, 55 films — which, in case you hadn’t noticed, is exactly where I am.
That’s in part thanks to this being my largest-ever June (I definitely mentioned that). Eleven films isn’t that huge in the grand scheme of things (it’s not even the highest this year), but it’s an above-average number (the necessary monthly average being 8 (or, to be precise, 8.3)) and that’s always a good thing. If I can keep up my year-to-date pace for the rest of 2014, I’ll reach 110 (tricky maths, working that out), which would be equal to last year and — more importantly — be over target. To really be clever, if I kept up the pace set over my last four months, I’d end up pushing into the 120s… but let’s not get ahead of myself.
As this month’s WDYMYHS film is Modern Times, arguably the last silent movie made during the era itself (i.e. ignoring tributes like The Call of Cthulhu and The Artist), I thought now would be a grand time to take a look at the five most revered silent movies that I’ve still not seen. A highly personal list then (predicated as it is on what I’ve already seen rather than a general opinion of all films), but it’s what I wanted to see, so there.
Where did I fetch this list from? Well, it seemed only right to use the same methodology behind this year’s WDYMYHS (as it was one of those films that inspired the list) — but I did tweak it slightly: unsurprisingly, the iCheckMovies Most Checked and All-Time Box Office lists include no silents*, so in their stead I’ve factored in The Top 300 Silent Era Films.
And so, according to that formula, the silent films I haven’t seen but really should have are…
- The General
I’ve never seen a Buster Keaton movie, but the world reckons this is the one to go for — indeed, the Top 300 Silent Era Films ranks it the #1 silent film full stop. TSPDT and IMDb put it 36th and 132nd, respectively, out of all films ever, which isn’t too shabby. I actually recently got this on DVD (along with an array of his other works), so perhaps it’s time to make the effort…
- The Gold Rush
This Charlie Chaplin effort is the only film to appear on all four factored lists, albeit outside the top 250 on Empire’s (#342). TSPDT still put it in the top 100 though, placing it 63rd, while on IMDb it’s only just behind The General at #134. In the Top 300 Silents it’s in sixth place, making it the second-best I’ve not seen there too.
- The Passion of Joan of Arc
Many would rate this among the greatest films ever made… but not users of IMDb or readers of Empire, it would seem. The Top 300 Silents continue to dictate the order here: it’s seventh on their list, making it third for me. It’s only other placing, then, is TSPDT, where it’s right up at 15th. The 2012 Sight & Sound poll went even further, ranking it the 9th greatest film ever.
TSPDT rank D.W. Griffiths’ epic Birth of a Nation apology as the 88th greatest film ever, and it’s that high opinion that ends the Top 300 Silents’ dictating of this list: they rank it 16th, below six as-yet-unmentioned silents I’ve not seen — including Birth of a Nation, in fact. No room for either at IMDb or Empire, though. (For what it’s worth, TSPDT put Birth at #230.)
Empire readers considered this the 399th best film ever. TSPDT treated it more kindly, slipping into the top 100 at #94; the Top 300 Silents rank it among their top ten, however, at #10. The original (now lost) cut ran eight hours; the version released was merely two. In 1999 a four-hour version was created using stills from the deleted scenes, which seems to be the only one readily available, though I’ve heard the shorter cut is superior.
Just bubbling under were The Kid, Sherlock Jr., Napoleon, Un chien andalou, Der letzte Mann… I could go on — you have to go quite far before you reach a film I’ve not at least heard of.
* For what it’s worth, the IMDb Top 250 only threw up three silents I’d not seen (The General, The Gold Rush, The Kid), and the Empire 500 only included one in its top 250 (Pandora’s Box), though there were four more further down (The Gold Rush, Greed, Napoleon, Un chien andalou). The bulk of this list is therefore dictated by TSPDT (15 silents in their top 250, in addition to whatever I’d already seen), sifted slightly by their Top 300 Silents ranking. ^
It’s the summer! Though don’t tell the cinemas — they seem to think it’s been summer for about three months already.