"Can we ever get enough lists? Lists are the mix tapes of film buffs. Compilations of our favorites, presented to others in the hopes they'll love the selections as much as we do. Building a bond by finding mutual favorites. Showing what we love, and sharing it."
I love that quote (from "Rollerboy" over at AwardsDaily.com). It is such a fitting analogy for why movie lovers make so many lists of the best, worst, most, et cetera. It is also a great way to introduce this, the first of my "Facts & Figures" look at the best of the list makers, the American Film Institute.
The AFI began their annual countdown back in 1998 with this one, the ultimate "best of": AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movies. It proved controversial then and, when they redid the poll earlier this year, it was controversial again.
However, whatever the critical pundits said pales in comparison to the exposure this list, and all the AFI lists for that matter, have given to classic films. In my opinion, there is no better starting point for someone interested in American film to use as a reference tool.
Sure, there are many great movies not included (not to mention foreign films and documentaries), but surely this is not the be-all/end-all of anyone's movie watching, nor was it ever intended to be; for example, if someone watches Gone With the Wind, and then moves on to other Clark Gable movies or other historical epics or other romantic dramas and so on, then the AFI -- and these lists -- did the job right.
Facts & Figures:AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movies was presented in 1998. 100 films were selected from a nomination list of 400, and films released in 1996 and prior were eligible.
By the Year:
- The oldest movie on the list: The Birth of a Nation (1915).
- The newest movie on the list: Fargo (1996).
- Most represented decade: The 1950's, with 20 movies total.
- Most represented year: 1939, with 5 movies total.
Sight & Sound:
- Total number of color films: 59 (including The Wizard of Oz, which has some black and white sequences).
- Total number of black and white films: 41 (including The Birth of a Nation, which has some color-tinted sequences).
- Total number of silent films: 5 (including The Jazz Singer, which has some sound sequences, and City Lights and Modern Times, which had soundtracks but no dialogue).
- Most represented genre is drama, with 46 films.
- Comedies come in next with 20 films.
And the Winner Is:
- 98 films on the list were eligible for the Academy Awards (The Birth of a Nation and The Gold Rush were released prior to the Oscars' first year, 1927).
- Total number of Best Picture winners: 33.
- Total number of Best Picture nominees: 41.
- Robert Duvall appears in the most movies, 6.
- James Stewart is the star of the most movies, with 5.
- Other actors who appear in 5 movies are Ward Bond, Robert De Niro and Thomas Mitchell.
- Katharine Hepburn is the most represented actress, with 4 movies.
- Actors who appear in 4 movies include Humphrey Bogart, Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford, Alec Guinness, William Holden and Dennis Hopper.
- Note: these totals do not include uncredited bit roles.
- The most represented director is Steven Spielberg, with 5 movies.
- Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder come in second with 4 movies each.
- United Artist has the most films on the list, with a total of 17.
- Warner Brothers follows with 15.
- There are 2 animated films on the list (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Fantasia).
- Only 1 sequel made the cut: The Godfather Part II.
- The longest title, with 68 letters, symbols and spaces, is Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
- Shortest title: Jaws.
For the full list of 100 movies, see the comments section below (and for the record, I've seen them all!).Links via AwardsDaily.com and AFI.com.