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James Rolfe: This is something I've thought about doing for a long time. But I think anyone would agree it's hard to pick your favorite films and it's even harder to put them into some kind of order, especially when it can always change. So consider this an incomplete list. I'm gonna give you… how about 30? That sounds good, right? This is a three-part video. If you've seen a lot of my movie reviews you might even be able to predict what some of my top choices are going to be. But now it's the time to lay them all down.

Of course a lot of these films I've seen at a young age and it had a huge impact on me. But the ones I'm choosing are the ones that keep getting better with repeating viewings. These are the movies that mean the most to me, the movies that stood the test of time. I most humbly present to you my top 30 favorite films. 

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#30 - Jurassic Park[]

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James: This is a story about what happens when you fuck with nature! Scientists come up with a way to bring back the dinosaurs and builds an entire theme park around it – but then all hell breaks loose. 

It's like a prehistoric "Frankenstein". Afterwards I had to read every Michael Crichton novel I could get my hands on. It's a great story with great characters. Sam Neil's stubborn attitude mixed with Jeff Goldblum's playful and joking personality is a good combo. However it was the dinosaurs that stole the show. The special effects were jaw-dropping. These were dinosaurs like we've never seen before; they were quick, they were mean and they ripped people apart. Parents brought their kids to see this and didn't even know what was coming. When I watch this movie today it brings me back to my youth and reminds me of a time when dinosaurs were awesome! 

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#29 - 7 Faces of Dr. Lao[]

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Dr. Lao: 'Lao'. Dr. 'Lao'. 

James: Well, excuse me. I'm gonna have a hard time explaining this movie. It's about a quiet western town that's visited by a strange man named Dr. Lao who brings with him a circus. This is no ordinary circus – it's full of magical fantasy characters such as the Serpent, the Abominable Snowman, the Medusa, Merlin the Magician, the fortuneteller and the goofiest of all; Pan. 

Tony Randell does a fantastic job playing all these different characters. It brings to mind actors like Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy who are known for playing multiple roles. But I think "7 Faces of Dr. Lao" might be the greatest and most diverse collection of characters I've ever seen portrayed by one actor. This movie can be enjoyed for its individual scenes. There's a scene where the fortuneteller is telling woman her future but he's honest and brutal. 

Apollonius: When you die you'll be buried and forgotten… That is all. 

James: He brings her to tears and at the same time it pains him because he's cursed to tell the truth – it's hilariously morbid. The whole film is a mixture of different emotions but the feeling it leaves you with is a positive outlook that the world is full of magic and wonder. 

Dr. Lao: Every time you watch a rainbow and feel wonder in your heart you're part of the circus of Dr. Lao. 

Mike: I don't understand… 

Dr. Lao: Neither do I. 

(Dr. Lao jumps over Mike's head and they begin to dance)

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#28 - Scarface (1983)[]

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James: This is one instance where I choose the remake over the classic 1932-version. To me, Al Pacino IS Tony Montana. Nobody swears as good as him. 

Tony Montana: Huh? You fuckin' maricón! 

Tony Montana: This town is like a great big pussy just waiting to get fucked. 

James: Under its facade of funny quotes and insane violence it has a great story. Tony is an immigrant who tries to start a new life in America but he turns to a life of crime. He climbs his way to the top of the gangster totem pole and once he has the whole world in his hands it all comes falling down on him. What's so great about it is how attached you become to this character. Even though he kills people and does bad things he has his limits. There's a  scene where he refuses to blow up a car because there's children inside.

Tony Montana: You think I'd kill two kids and a woman? Fuck that! I don't need that shit in my life. 

James: There's enough movies out there about the 'good guy'. This is one for the 'bad guy'. 

Tony Montana: So say "goodnight" to the bad guy! 

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#27 - Night of the Living Dead[]

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Johnny: They're coming to get you, Barbara. 

James: I consider it to be the last of the classic black-and-white horror films. It was just a little independent film that went a long way and ushered in a whole genre of modern horror flicks. Every horror movie today owes something to it – especially the zombie genre. But its historical significance does not overshadow how suspenseful and exciting it is as a movie. 

Even though it's cheap-looking and some of the acting is really bad, it has a haunting nightmarish quality that just builds up until the climax. Right from the opening scene the zombies attack – no explanation needed, it just happens. A bunch of strangers locks themselves up in a farmhouse while the dead try to break in. They treat it like a natural disaster with everybody fighting to stay alive. The only problem is that they can't learn to work together. 

Ben: I ought to drag you out there and FEED you to those things! 

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#26 - Jason and the Argonauts[]

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James: It's the classic adventure flick. It captures your imagination and puts you into a fantasy world where the gods and goddesses treat the mortals like pawns in a chess game. The real show-stopper is the stop-motion animation by Ray Harryhausen. I had a hard time choosing between this, "Clash of the Titans" and the "Sinbad"-trilogy, but I think this is his best work. It's all about the man-on-monster deathmatches, like the battle with the Hydra. Look at all these heads he had to animate. Then of course there's Talos' statue. When that thing starts moving, goddamn is it scary. And the best scene of all is the battle with the skeletons. It is so freaking cool! I never get tired of watching this. 

Tom Hanks (Academy Awards 1992): Some say "Casablanca" or "Citizen Kane"… I say "Jason and the Argonauts" is the greatest film ever made. 

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#25 - One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest[]

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James: I haven't read the novel, not yet at least, but the film very much impressed me. Jack Nicholson plays a criminal who's serving a sentence in prison. He pretends to be mentally ill so that he can be transferred to the mental institution, because he thinks that that would be better than prison. 

McMurphy: You know, what do ya want me to do? Like… *mimicking masturbation* You know what I mean, is that it? Is that crazy enough for ya? Want me to take a shit on the floor? 

James: That is until he finds out that he's going to be stuck there indefinitely and then he wants out. He develops a friendship with the others and inspires a rebellion against the coldhearted nurse, Ratched. I think this is Jack Nicholson's best role and one of the greatest screen-performances of all time. Not just him but the whole cast is excellent. I really think I do sympathize with these people. A mandatory film – check it out. 

McMurphy: Hahaha! How about it, you creep? 

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#24 - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade[]

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Professor Henry Jones: Junior? 

James: The real ingenuity of the "Indiana Jones" films is that they're all build around clichés of old adventure films, but they come off as being so fresh. It's definitely a tossup between "Raiders" and "Crusade", but my favorite is "Crusade". The quest for the Holy Grail has been written about for ages and has probably been the most sought-after object in human history. There's something satisfying about seeing Indiana Jones find it, even though it is just a movie. What I like best is the father-and-son relationship. 

Indiana Jones: Dad! 

Professor Henry Jones: What? 

Indiana Jones: Dad!? 

Professor Henry Jones: What?! 

Indiana Jones: DAD!! 

Professor Henry Jones: WHAT?? 

James: Sean Connery is great as Indy's dad and it's so appropriate because James Bond was one of the main heroes that inspired "Indiana Jones"

Professor Henry Jones: Son, I'm sorry. They got us. 

James: There's a perfect blend of humor and outstanding action scenes. One of the best of its kind. 

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#23 - Batman (1989)[]

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James: Gotta include this. Seeing it as a kid I didn't fully appreciate it. It's a movie that I feel has gotten better with age and has truly surpassed the test of time. It was the first movie to show us the darker side of Batman. Going from the 1940's film-serials to the 1960's TV-series and then to THIS was the biggest change that Batman has gone through in the movies. It set the dark tone, the standard for what newer "Batman" movies would follow. Michael Keaton is great. 

Bruce Wayne: LIGHTS OUT! Now you wanna get nuts? Come on! Let's get nuts! 

James: As Bruce Wayne he's sly and unassuming. When he's Batman he's badass! 

Criminal: Who are you?!? 

Batman: I'm Batman. 

James: Jack Nicholson as The Joker, one of the greatest screen-villains. 

The Joker: Boh! Hehehehe! 

James: He's maniacal, funny and totally unpredictable. 

(Bob the Goon hands over his gun to The Joker, who then shoots him)

It's definitely more heavy on atmosphere and visuals than on story, but that's Tim Burton for you. The music by Danny Elfman is what holds it all together. It sets the mood, the dark ass-kicking wipe and gives me chills every time I hear it. 

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#22 - The Great Escape[]

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James: Inspired by real-life events it tells the story of prisoners in World War 2 trying to escape from a nazi prison camp. 

Ives (as his hiding spot is revealed): Hold it, hold it! 

James: The plan is to dig tunnels from inside the prisons and dispose of the dirt outside the camp. 

Barlett: How do you breathe? 

Hilts: Oh, we got a steel rod with hinges on it. We'll shove it up and make air holes as we go along. G'night, sir. 

James: The movie works so well because you really wanna see these guys get out and it's not easy for them at all.

Sedgwick: Danny, do you speak Russian? 

Danny: A little, but only one sentence. 

Sedgwick: Well, let me have it, mate. 

Danny: Ya vas lyublyu. 

Sedgwick: Ya ya vas…  

Danny: Lyublyu. 

Sedgwick: Lyublyu? Ya vas lyublyu. Ya vas lyublyu. What's it mean?  

Danny: "I love you". 

Sedgwick: "Love you"?!? What bloody good is that?  

Danny: I don't know, I wasn't going to use it myself. 

James: The cast is excellent. Donald Pleasence, Charles Bronson, Neil Niren MD among many others. But the guy who steals the show is Steve McQueen. It's no wonder why everyone loves him so much. He's funny and you root for him the whole time. 

The motorcycle chase is often considered to be one of the all-time greatest action scenes. It's not just because of the stunt work and the whole spectacle of it, but because you're so emotionally invested in seeing him escape. It's a very long movie but when you got some extra time on your hands, give it a watch. 

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#21 - North by Northwest[]

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James: It's the ultimate reluctant hero story about an innocent man who's being chased all across the US by both the police, who thinks he's a terrorist and actual terrorists who thinks he's a government agent. 

Hellbent on finding the real agent he goes on a quest as the plot unravels and gets even more complicated. He finds out the agent never existed – a decoy planned by the FBI. But now that he's assumed the role, he's actually enlisted to become the fake agent he was originally trying to prove he was not. It'll make your head explode! 

Phillip Vandamm: Seems to me you fellows could stand a little less training from the F.B.I. and a little more from the Actor's Studio. 

Roger Thornhill: Apparently the only performance that will satisfy you is when I play dead. 

Phillip Vandamm: Your very next role and you'll be quite convincing, I assure you. 

James: Cary Grant is phenomenal in the role; speaking rapidly, making smart comebacks to everything. You believe that a guy with his personality could get himself into such a mess. 

Ticket Seller: Something wrong with your eyes? 

Roger Thornhill: Yes, they're sensitive to questions. Will you call them? 

James: It's both a hilarious comedy and a suspenseful thriller. One of Alfred Hitchcock's best. But remember, I said 'one' of them… We have 20 movies left to go so check in for part 2.    

- - - PART 2 - - -[]

James: Welcome back. We're counting down my top 30 favorite films. 

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#20 - Full Metal Jacket[]

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James: Stanley Kubrick was definitely one of those directors who's films were stronger in artistic quality than on actual story. Some people may not like "2001" or "The Shining", but no matter who you are you gotta love "Full Metal Jacket"

Recruits: I don't know but I've been told!  

Hartman: Eskimo-pussy is mighty cold! 

Recruits: Eskimo-pussy… 

James: It's both a funny and horrifying film that shows the dehumanizing effects of war. The first half is bootcamp, the second half is the war in Vietnam. R. Lee Ermey is freaking awesome as the drill sergeant. 

Hartman: How tall are you, private? 

Pvt. Cowboy: Sir, five foot nine, sir! 

Hartman: Five foot nine? I didn't know they stacked shit that high! 

James: And Vincent D'Onofrio is great as Pvt. Pyle who looses his mind. 

Pvt. Pyle: I AM… IN A WORLD… OF SHIT!! 

James: Many people feel that after the bootcamp scenes the movie goes downhill, but I think the second half is still good if you give it a chance. 

Donlon: Me want suckee. 

Pimp: Suckee, fuckee, smoke cigarette in the pussy. 

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#19 - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly[]

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James: The last and best of the "Dollars"-trilogy by Sergio Leone. Right off the bat we have three great characters. Lee Van Cleef as the ruthless bounty hunter Angel Eyes, Clint Eastwood as the calm and cool Blonde, also known as "The Man with no Name" and best of all Eli Wallach as the dirty, rotten, shit-talking scoundrel Tuco. 

Tuco: Whoever double-crosses me and leaves me alive… He understands nothing about Tuco. Hehehe, nothing. 

James: I love this fucking bastard! Blonde and Tuco hates each other's guts… 

Tuco spits Blonde in the face and laughs. Blonde returns the favor by punching him in the face)

James: But they need to work together to find the stash of gold that's buried in a cemetery grave. Tuco knows the name of the cemetery, Blonde knows the name of the grave but neither one is telling. Along the way they have Angel Eyes watching over them, who also wants the gold. It all leads to a suspenseful finale with the three of them facing off. The music by Ennio Morricone is so amazing that Metallica uses it to open all their concerts. 

It's a masterpiece of epic proportions that depicts a savage world where everybody is a swindler and only the quickest survive. 

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#18 - The Sword in the Stone[]

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James: My favorite of the Disney animated features. It happens to be the last one released while Walt Disney was still alive. I don't know what it is, this movie just brings a smile on my face. It's an underdog story about a young boy named Arthur who gets bossed around by his foster-father and brother, not realizing that he would become the future King Arthur. He befriends a wizard named Merlin and a talking owl named Archimedes. 

Archimedes: Huh? Uh! 

James: Merlin becomes Arthur's mentor and helps him rise up and become what he needs to be. 

Merlin: King Arthur and his knights of the round table. 

Arthur: Round table? 

Merlin: Oh, eh… Would you rather have a square one? 

James: The musical scenes are great and I love the characters. Arthur is so innocent and pure. And Merlin and Archimedes are hysterical. 

(Archimedes laughs hysterically)

The only thing it lacks is a main villain, although there is a last-minute addition, Madam Mim; a crazy witch who's an old rival of Merlin's. In the end they have a spectacular wizards duel which is one of the highlights of the film. All around it's a fun time. 

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#17 - Rear Window[]

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James: Some more Hitchcock for you. Jimmy Steward plays a photographer who's recovering from a broken leg. He's so bored he spends a lot of time staring out of his window and begins to suspect that one of his neighbors committed murder. He has an amazingly beautiful girlfriend, played by Grace Kelly, who he thinks is too perfect for him. He's into adventure while she's into fashion. 

Jeff Jefferies: Did you ever try to keep warm on a C-54 at 50,000 feet, twenty degrees below zero? 

Lisa Fremont: Oh, I do that all the time. Whenever I have a few minutes after lunch. 

James: But they work together on solving the mystery and settle their differences. Nothing like a murder to help a relationship – it's Hitchcock's subtle, dark humor. Jimmy Stewarts, who's in a lot of Hitchcock films, gives his usual performance that's natural and full of nervous energy. 

Jeff Jefferies: I've seen bickering and family quarrels and mysterious trips at night and knives and saws and rope – and since last evening, not a sight or sound of his wife. Now you tell me where she is… 

James: We see everything through his eyes and feel like we're in his spot, spying on the neighbor. It's brilliantly photographed and edited – nothing less than the work of a master. 

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#16 - First Blood[]

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James: "First Blood" is not about how many things you can blow up in an hour and a half – it's about the character. John Rambo is an army soldier who returns from the war to find that he has no friends left. He wanders into a town where he meets a cop that gives him a hard time. 

Teasle: We don't want guys like you in this town. 

James: It starts out as just a small feud but evolves into a full-out war with the entire police force against one man. It's not your usual 'good guy vs. bad guy'-scenery. 

Teasle: Are you telling me that two hundred men against your boy is a 'no win'-situation for us? 

Trautman: If you send out THAT many, don't forget one thing. 

Teasle: What? 

Trautman: A good supply of body-bags… 

James: Rather than brute force Rambo goes into stealth-mode, sets traps and uses different survival tactics. It's awesome. 

John: Don't push it or I'll give you a war you won't believe. 

James: Sylvester Stallone does a great job and at the end gives the most dramatic monologue of his career. 

John: And I come back to the world and I see all those maggots at the airport, protesting me, spitting!! Calling me baby-killer and all kinds of vile crap!! 

James: It's not often you see an action star break down and cry. "First Blood" is as emotional as it is action-packed. 

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#15 - Jaws[]

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James: I think everyone knows what it's about. A killer-shark is terrorizing the beaches, so three men hit the waters to hunt it down. In essence it's a B-horror movie – a simple story about a monster on the loose, but it's done so well. Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw are all excellent. You spend so much time with these three characters you feel like you're on the boat with them. My favorite scene is when they're showing each other their wounds.  

Quint: You wanna drink? Drink to your leg. 

Hooper: I'll drink to your leg. 

Quint: Okay, so we drink to our legs! Hahahaha!!! 

James: Then the mood changes… Quint tells a bone-chilling story about an experience he had with a killer-shark. 

Quint: When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be livin'. Until he bites ya and those black eyes roll over white. And then… 

James: Next thing, they're singing. 

All three (singing): Show me the way to go home… 

James: And THEN all of a sudden they're being attacked by the shark. It all happens in ONE scene. "Jaws" is one hell of a ride – it's Spielberg at its finest. 

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#14 - This is Spinal Tap[]

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Marty: What do you call this? 

Nigel: Well, this piece is called "Lick My Love Pump"

James: It's the story of the musically pretentious and unoriginal rock band, Spinal Tap. It's shot in the style of a documentary with a fictional director and a fictional band… 

Marty: The review we had on "Shark Sandwich" which was merely a two word review just said "Shit Sandwich"

James: … And follows the rise and fall of their career. Their drummer keeps dying, they're cursed with a dismal black album cover… 

Marty: It's like, how much more black can this be? And the answer is… none. 

James: They get lost on their way to stage, there are stage props going wrong and eventually they're reduced to an opening act for a puppet show. 

David: I do not, for one, think that the problem was that the band was down. I think the problem may have been, that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf! 

James: I have to admit it took me a few times to really get this movie. But now I think it's one of the funniest things I ever saw in my life. Even though Spinal Tap is all actors they've actually recorded albums, played live concerts, been on talkshows and recorded a DVD-commentary track in character. 

Marty: Oh, that's great… Stop, it's getting too small. 

James: It has opened up a whole world for Spinal Tap outside the movie, which is always just as funny as ever. Of all the rock-documentaries this one says it all. Even though it's not real, it shows all the things that can go wrong with a band and parodies the whole genre perfectly. 

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#13 - Ed Wood[]

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James: I've definitely talked about this movie enough already. It's the story of the B-movie king, Ed Wood, who's famous for making some of the worst films of all time. 

(An actor accidentally bumps into the stage set)

Ed Wood: And cut! Perfect, print it. 

James: Even though his films were not commercially successful, his heart was in the right place and he never gave up. Johnny Depp gives a great performance as Ed Wood. This was one of the first movies I saw him in before he got super-famous. Martin Landau plays Bela Lugosi – he's so good it's like Lugosi has come back from the grave. 

Bela Lugosi: If you want to make out with your young lady, take her to see "Dracula"… Hehehehehehe… 

James: Tim Burton directs and gives it his unique style. It comes off as being deeply personal. It becomes a portrait of a rebel and eccentric director who's obsessed with his own art. It makes fun of Ed Wood just as much as it celebrates him and in general all artists who fight for their visions. 

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#12 - Gremlins[]

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James: It was a clever little idea. It takes a regular B-movie plot; you know, like a normal town gets invaded by monsters. There's only one person who knows about it. He tries to warn the authorities but they don't believe him and then a mass-attack takes place involving a huge rampage through the town. 

It has all of the shock clichés like something jumps out from the background or from the foreground, but it's a comedy. Even though the gremlins are terrible little bastards they have a fun-loving personality. They just wanna have a party and go nuts at the cost of humanity. 

This is a movie where you cheer for the monsters. That's not to say you don't care for human characters too. Billy and his pet Gizmo make great protagonists. If it hadn't been for them we wouldn't mind seeing all the humans die. What's so ingenious is how it starts like a family film with Gizmo as the gremlin, but then we meet the bad gremlins and shit goes off the wall! It mixes horror with comedy and entertains the living fuck out of you. 

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#11 - Vertigo[]

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James: Hands down – best Alfred Hitchcock film! Jimmy Steward plays Scottie, a detective who suffers from acrophobia – fear of heights. One of his fellow police officers dies because of him so he retires from the force. As a favor for an old friend he accepts one last job; to watch over a suicidal woman. He desperately falls in love with her and tries to save her from the top of a steeple where he's once again conflicted by his acrophobia. 

I won't reveal the rest of the plot because it'll take forever and I'll spoil it. Besides the story cannot be explained because it's not about what's literally happening on the surface. It's about what's going on inside Scottie's mind, how he's obsessing over this woman and going completely insane. It has a magnetic power – it starts out slow and gradually pulls you in. Check in for part 3 as I count down my top 10. 

Trautman: It's over, Johnny. It's over! 

John Rambo: NOTHING IS OVER!!  

- - - PART 3 - - -[]

James: Welcome back. It's the final part. I present to you my top 10 favorite films.

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#10 - American Movie[]

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James: The most quotable movie of all time. 

Mark: Cuz I was thinking; "I'm 30 years old and in about 10 seconds I gotta start cleaning up somebody's shit, man". 

James: This documentary follows indie-filmmaker Mark Borchardt, who's trying to make a film about an alcoholic writer that has to battle his own personal demons. Mark is an easy guy to latch on to; you can relate to him, dreaming the big dream. 

Mark: I'll be okay. It'll be just like you wander around the kitchen just like you… Yeah, you're right. Never.

James: This is the common everyday-man. Everybody at some point has filmed something in their backyard or got their mom to act. At his side is his best buddy and righthand-man, Mike Schank. He's cool as shit. 

Mark: Ready, Mike? When I say "Go" give it a couple of seconds. Take 1… 

(Mike screams at the top of his lungs)

Mark: That was wicked, man. 

James: Then there's uncle Bill, one of the funniest motherfuckers around. 

Uncle Bill: It's alriiiight, it's okaaaaay, uuuh…… 

Mark: Okay okay, cut! You gotta bring passion to it, a message… It's a message. 

Uncle Bill: This is for the shits and for the birds… 

James: It's humble and it's sincere – it's my filmmaking bible. 

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#9 - The Wizard of Oz[]

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James: It's a timeless gem. Even though it was made in the 30's it's just as appealing to any generation. It's such a classic story. Farm girl Dorothy wants to get away from her mundane sepia-tone life. She's transported to the technicolor fantasy-world of Oz and then longs to be back home. 

Dorothy: I'm trying to get home to you, Auntie Em! 

Wicked Witch: Auntie Em! Come back! I'll give you Auntie Em, my pretty! Hahahahahaha! 

James: There's so much going on; singing munchkins, flying monkeys. You put on the movie and it's just a blast of colors and crazy shit going on. Each of the characters Dorothy meets represent some kind of virtue; knowledge, compassion and courage. And the wicked witch is a symbol of all our childhood fears. 

It's such a rich story, but aside from that I just like looking at it. The painted backgrounds are such a spectacle and that Emerald City sitting at the end of the Yellow Brick Road is an image that I'll never forget. You subject your imagination to it. You feel magic and wonder and fear – and then you come back to the real world, satisfied. 

Dorothy: There's no place like home. 

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#8 - Terminator 2[]

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James: With the "Terminator" movies I think it's understandable for anyone to choose either the first movie or the second for their own reasons. But for me "Terminator 2" is the ultimate masterpiece of action and science-fiction. It's all a battle for the fate of the future. A terminator goes back in time to  try and kill John Connor, the future savior of humanity. While a good terminator comes to protect him and along with his mother they're going on a mission to prevent the future war from happening. 

The CG-effects were groundbreaking for the time and the action scenes are still just as amazing as ever. However it's the story arc that makes the movie so great. The characters all go through a change. The Terminator takes the place of a father John never had and learns the value of human life. Sarah goes from being a paranoid wreck, doomed by the horrible future to having a newfound optimistic outlook that we as a human race can learn to make the future better. 

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#7 - The Star Wars Trilogy[]

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James: Yeah, I couldn't pick one. I consider the first three films one whole movie – and what I mean is the first three that were made. It completes a story arc over those three movies and to me as a whole. I feel very attached to these three movies because I saw them at a young age. As a kid I was into the monsters and special effects. As an adult I followed the story and fully appreciated everything else that went into making these movies. And with repeated viewings they're always just as great. 

Han Solo: I know. 

James: From a technical standpoint I think it's really impressive the imagination and creativity that went into making all these creatures using puppets and animatronics – it's really a dying art. What I think makes the story so timeless is that it's a combination of everything we're familiar with. Wether we can identify with it or not, it borrows from classic science-fiction, fantasy, westerns, samurai films – it's every epic story rolled into one. 

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#6 - Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory[]

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James: Gene Wilder gives an incredible performance as the candyman, Willy Wonka, who makes the world taste good. By finding golden tickets hidden in these chocolate bars five lucky children get a tour of his chocolate factory. Most of the children are spoiled, rotten brats. 

Veruca Salt: Snozzberries? Who ever heard of a snozzberry? 

James: Only Charlie is noble and decent. In the end he's rewarded for being a good kid. Even though the morale of the story is to be a good boy and not be greedy, it doesn't come out and preach it. You're too busy having a good time. All the crazy set-pieces, catchy songs – it makes you feel like a kid. 

Oompa Loompas: Oompa Loompa, doo-pa-dee-do. 

James: For a movie about candy and chocolate it sure can be horrifying too. 

(The psychedelic boat ride scene is shown briefly)

It's like a terrible acid-trip. There's the boy getting stuck in the pipe, there's the girl who's about to burst like a balloon and Wonka's always flipping out like a lunatic. 


James: Sure scared the shit out of me when I was a kid. 

Willy Wonka: The suspense is terrible… I hope it'll last. 

James: The movie was filmed in Munich, Germany, although apparently it was never released in Germany until after the Tim Burton version. I've gotten a lot of emails telling me about that and I find it very depressing. No country should ever be without Willy Wonka.

Willy Wonka (singing): If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. 

James: Every time I finish watching it it leaves me with a warm, optimistic feeling, that if you look at the right places the world is full of pure imagination. 

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#5 - Rocky[]

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James: Sylvester Stallone writes and stars as a humble, smalltime boxer who gets a chance to fight the heavy-weight champion, the cocky and arrogant Apollo Creed, played by Carl Weathers. Rocky is an unsophisticated brute but he has a good heart. He refuses to break a guy's thumb, he tries to help a little girl on the street and he sees the beauty in a shy store clerk, Adrian, played by Talia Shire. As she warms up to Rocky so do we as an audience. 

Adrian: Can I ask you a question? 

Rocky: Absolutely. 

Adrian: Why do you wanna fight? 

Rocky: Because I can't sing or dance. 

James: Burgess Meredith plays his trainer, Mickey, the classic archetype of an old, broken-down mentor. 

Mickey: Like the guy said; you're gonna eat lightnin' and you're gonna crap thunder! 

James: Then there's Adrian's brother, Paulie, played by Burt Young. A real bitter character with violent mood-swings and pissy attitude. 

Paulie: You want the bird? Go out in the alley and eat the bird! 

Adrian: Oh, Paulie… 

James: But underneath it all a heart of gold. Through good times and bad times the final outcome is a positive feeling. One of the all-time feel-good movies – the classic story of the underdog who rises up and overcomes. 

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#4 - Ghostbusters[]

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James: I don't even need to vouch for it. "Ghostbusters" is one of the most popular movies in existence. 

Peter: He slimed me… 

James: It's brilliant. Three guys start a business catching ghosts at the expense of being ridiculed. They go from being a total joke to being New York City heroes. The ghost-effects are charming and sometimes terrifying. The dogs used to scare my balls off. It's a perfect blend of horror and comedy. 

Louis: Okay, who brought the dog? 

James: What makes it all work are the characters and their personalities. They balance scientific intellect with childish bickering. They interact with one another in a way that feels natural and improvised, turning up some of the greatest movie-quotes of all time. 

Peter: Yes, it's true. This man has no dick. 

James: Over the past 25 years it has only gotten funnier. As a kid I didn't always understand Bill Murray's dry sense of humor, but now I get it. He's the master of sarcasm. I just look at his face and wanna laugh. 

Peter: Tell you what, I'll take Miss Barrett back to her apartment and check her out…… I'll go check out Miss Barrett's APARTMENT. Okay? 

Dana: Okay… 

James: The greatest thing about this movie is that its special-effects never overshadow the delicate humor. It all falls into place. 

Chambermaid (after accidentally being shot at): What the hell are you doing? 

James (without any pause): And that says a lot for a movie that's about an architect named Shandor who creates a building for attracting spiritual energy, calling forth an ancient sumerian god named Gozer the Gozerian who can only appear when two dogs named Zuul and Vinz Clortho take possession of a guy and a girl turning them into the Keymaster and the Gatekeeper. They get it on at the top of the building, making Gozer appear who then takes the form of the Destructor by reading someone's mind who's thinking of marshmallows and becomes Stay Puft, a giant marshmallow man to destroy New York City! Wow, it's ingenious. 

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#3 - Back to the Future[]

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James: Anyone who lives on planet Earth has got to love this movie. It's a comedy, a science-fiction, an action movie and a high school movie. It has everything in it. Furthermore it's a solid trilogy with a story that completes itself over the course of three movies. But for me it's a no-brainer – the first one is the best. 

Doc Brown: 1.21 GIGAWATTS!?! 

James: Also, like "Ghostbusters", the plot will make your head spin if you think about it too much. Marty McFly goes back in time and accidentally separates his parents from falling in love, thus preventing his own birth. On top of getting them back together he must also outrun a bully named Biff, get back to the present time and save his friend Doc Brown from being shot. 

The script does a clever job fleshing out all the characters, playing with the irony and paradoxes, throw in surprises and crafting hilarious dialogue that isn't there just for the sake of comedy but also for revealing important plot points and always moving the story forward. 

Marty: Whoa! Wait a minute… Doc, are you trying to tell me that my mother has got the hots for me? 

Doc Brown: Precisely! 

Marty: Whoa, this is heavy. 

Doc Brown: There's that word again; 'heavy'!? Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the Earth's gravitational pull? 

Marty: What? 

James: It's one of the tightest screenplays ever written. In no way should this film be limited to 80's pop culture. It really is one of the greatest. 

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#2 - King Kong[]

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James: This is the movie that made me wanna become a filmmaker. It's a true testament to the power of creative vision. To make all the creatures come alive Willis O'Brien had to invent new techniques. By using a combination of stop-motion animation and a live-sized head of Kong, it broke new grounds in moviemaking. Sometimes the actors would perform in front of a mere projection. Other times two pieces of footage were composited together. And other times the scenes with the real actors were projected into the background frame by frame while the stop-motion creatures were being animated around them. For 1933 it's beyond impressive and truly a wonder of cinematic history. 

The soundtrack itself is a masterpiece. For an early talky-film with sound it really went balls to the wall. Never is there a quiet moment. You can hear birds in the background, dinosaur roars and a fully orchestrated musical score that heightens the excitement. 

On top of all that it's a timeless story of beauty and beast. A great adventure with great pacing – it starts out slow and accelerates to an exciting finale. A milestone in motion picture achievement. 

And now number 1… 

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#1 - It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World[]

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James: It's a comedy, an action movie and a treasure hunt all-in-one. A man who's on the run from the cops crashes his car over the side of a cliff – that's how you start a good movie! Random people get out of their cars and go down the cliff to try and help. The man is dying and in his final words tells them he hid 350.000 dollars in a park.

Smiler Grogan: It's in this box buried under this… *coughs* … buried under this big 'W'. 

James: So all these strangers decide they're going after the money, so it becomes a race. The rest of the film follows realtime as they travel Southern California from Palm Springs to the Portuguese Bend. They travel by air, by water, by ground and everything that could possibly go wrong; does. The different groups cross paths here and there. They meet other people along the way and it all ties together so nicely. 

Its biggest claim to fame is that it stars every famous comedian of the time, like Milton Berle, Sid Caesar and it's loaded with cameos; Jerry Lewis, Don Knotts, Jack Benny, The Three Stooges and even Buster Keaton. Most of these cameos are completely pointless. 

Man in car in desert (Jack Benny): Well… 

James: But as far as the main cast goes they all do such a great job, it's not important you know who they are. Mickey Rooney and Buddy Hackett make a really funny pair. There's a scene where they're stuck on a plane with an alcoholic pilot. 

Ding Bell: You think you ought to drink while your'e flying? 

Pilot: Well, stop kidding and make us some drinks. You just press the button back there marked "booze". It's the only way to fly. Hahahaha! 

James: The pilot passes out and they're stuck trying to land the thing. It takes a serious situation like that and makes it fun. Ethel Merman plays a cranky, annoying bitch. 

Mrs. Marcus: Emmeline, shut up!! 

James: That's the whole point. She's the character you love to hate. Whenever something bad happens to her, you cheer. Phil Silvers plays a swindler; a real dirty, rotten bastard – always tricking the other characters. 

Otto Meyer: Oh kid, you better get that bike out of there. Somebody's likely to trip over it in the dark. 

(Otto drives off, leaving Lenny Pike behind)

James: Jonathan Winters is the lovable guy you root for. He's always the blunt end of the joke, but he gets mad and fights back. In one of the best scenes from any movie he battles two gas station attendances for almost no reason at all. The gas station is more fragile than anything Ed Wood ever created! He doesn't just do some damage – he fucking annihilates that place. By the time it's over there's nothing left! He levels the gas station to the ground! You're still laughing when the next scene comes on and we're introduced to Dick Shawn as the crazy nut, Sylvester. He's the moodiest and most unpredictable character in the film. The first time we see him he's dancing. 

(Sylvester dances a crazy dance with a bikini-wearing woman)

James: Then he's trying to run somebody off the road. 

Sylvester Marcus: When I get, i'm going to nail… Uhuuu, god! 

James: He's like a tornado! 

(Sylvester throws someone off a bridge and threatens another) 

James: When Sylvester is not happy you're in big trouble. Spencer Tracy plays a police inspector who's watching over the other characters and planning to take the money for himself. While he doesn't participate in the chase, not from the beginning, you can see the hell he goes through at the police department and understand his reasons for wanting the money – looking for that grand escape. 

It was originally shown on a 70mm format – the equivalent of today's IMAX. Supposedly the original rough cut was 5 hours long and shortened to just over 3 hours long for its premiere. For its general release it was cut to 2 hours 40 minutes and that's the standard version you see today on DVD. Even though some of the missing parts have been restored on the laserdisc and some of the VHS-editions, there are still scenes from the premiere which are now lost. My opinion is, if you're casual viewer, stick to the 2 hour 40 minute version. 

It's a big spectacle; lots of car crashes, lots of stunt work but it all flows like a ballet. It's a movie that celebrates the comedy of life. It's about common, ordinary working people who aren't happy with their lives. We see a golden sight, that unreachable fantasy, the big 'W' – a symbol of all of our dreams. But they're overcome by humanity's greatest flaw which is greed. And the real funny thing is that every single one of these characters gets what they deserve. The world is a mad place.