the Ten Best test

12 years ago we wrote about the ignorance of the then-young generation regarding the US’s and other Western societies doing amazing things in the last 150 years: conquering infant mortality, curing terrible diseases, extending life spans unbelievably, and creating great wealth through technologies unimagined only shortly before.

Now we see that the ease created for the young, abetted importantly by their mentors in academia and the media, has resulted a serious state of ignorance about such progress. The decline of the two parent family has added to this ignorance. Thus this state of affairs: we newbies are great, and everything before is bad, when the last century has been the greatest invention period in human history.

Such dissociations from reality often get shattered only by traumas, but that’s sub-optimal to say the least. In olden days, perhaps fixing youthful ignorance could be cured by heavy doses of the Bible and Shakespeare, but they’re not on the diversity reading list at the moment. We recommend another first step — watching movies.

TCM has the beautiful The Best Years of Our Lives on as we write. (We’ve endorsed a TCM list before, but it seems more urgent these days, since things have gotten ever nuttier.) It might be useful for parents to do a compare and contrast with their children: we’ll watch your films if you watch ours, with a discussion after each film.

So what’s on your Top Ten list of films? Ours might include the film above, plus Gone With the Wind, Gold Diggers of 1933, the Godfather, Casablanca and the Maltese Falcon, Modern Times, maybe Singing in the Rain, Metropolis, among others.

We might also include some nuclear tipped films such as Failsafe, Dr. Strangelove, and Goldfinger. (When asked why just these movies, our reply is that we searched for movies from the 20 previous millennia, but they had not been invented yet.)

The recent American generations know nothing about an America that knew lots of farmers and soldiers, and that empowers some peril. China and others have a lot of people who have come up the hard way, with millions of 1st and second generations of farmers and soldiers, who are not into microaggressions, self-blaming and the like.

The upside of our proposal is that maybe the kids will learn something. The downside is you have to watch the movies they like. Ouch!

4 Responses to “the Ten Best test”

  1. Neil Says:

    I think you should add “Victory at Sea” to the list. Maybe “The Crossing”. And some good Westerns; “Liberty Valence” and “The Searchers” maybe. And let’s get multi-cultural with “The Seven Samurai”.

  2. doc molloy Says:

    Yep. Liberty Valance.. on the blackboard in school room scene is written ‘Education is the basis of law and order.”

  3. Steve Y. Says:

    An overlooked film —hard to believe because it won 8 Oscars, including Best Picture— is 1953’s “From Here to Eternity”, today known for the scene where Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr rolled around in the surf.

    The plot sounds soap opera-ish, with cruel officers, love affairs, and unhappy relationships, but the greater truth was that in pre-War Hawaii Americans were thousands of miles away from the world they knew, and the only communication to the States was by letter and expensive telegraph. If you were thrown in jail and beaten to the point of death (Frank Sinatra’s character), there was no social media to complain to, and you couldn’t get a lawyer. You were truly on your own.

    As December 7th approached, an ineffable sadness tinges every scene, as the audience knows the characters and their concerns would be swept away.

    FHTE was filmed on location, and I enjoy watching scenes of the pre-jet-age Hawaii where I grew up.

    “From to Here to Eternity” was based on James Jones’ bestseller, and the title was cribbed from Kipling’s Gentlemen Rankers (“Gentlemen-rankers out on the spree, Damned from here to Eternity”), which Dinocrat and I heard often during our bright college years.

  4. TK Says:

    Off the top of my head without too much thought:

    The Godfather
    The Best Years of Our Lives
    Breaker Morant
    The Outlaw Josey Wales
    A Man For All Seasons
    The Quiet Man
    Chariots of Fire
    The Right Stuff

    Just missing out: The Shawshank Redemption, The Shootist, Goodfellas, Glengarry Glenross, The Lord of the Rings (all three), The Aviator, and The Caine Mutiny.

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