Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 1 - Movies That Are Among My Favorites

Thirteen of my Favorite Movies

I am a firm believer in the ideology that you are not only what you eat, but also what you watch, listen to, and read. In other words we become what we take in though our senses. In my very first TT I am going to share some films I enjoy watching. I hope you find some of them enjoyable as well.

1. American Hot Wax (1978) – Malcolm of “Pop Culture Dish” and I are always saying that this film should be released on DVD. This movie was a wonderful tribute to the man who coined the phrase “Rock and Roll”, Alan Freed and the era that the genre represented. The film is also noteworthy because of the solid musical performances by Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and a host of entertainers. A young Fran Drescher and Jay Leno also star.

2. The Color Purple (1981) - If I am flipping through the channels and this movie is on I cannot turn away. This film is noted for its breakout performance by Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey, who were both nominated for an Oscar for their performances (neither won). This film gave us a glimpse of what it was like to be a woman in the Deep South dominated by men. When Sophia (Oprah) rebelled she spent the better part of a decade incarcerated. Still it was a good story for the spirit because good did triumph over evil in the end.

3. Dirty Dancing (1987) – This is another film that I have watched more times than I can count. It is just something about it that remains so fresh too me, I think it is the dancing. Patrick Swayze sure knew his way around a dance floor. There is nothing remarkable about the plot, it is your typical good girl falls in love with the bad boy scenario, with some really corny dialogue (nobody puts Baby in a corner), yet somehow it works.

4. Do The Right Thing (1989) – This is one of my favorite movies by Spike Lee. It is always a treat for me to see Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis together and they were at full strength in this movie. The setting is one hot summer day in “Bed Stuy” New York where racial tension rises until a young man is left dead on the sidewalk. From the opening credits with Rosie Perez dancing to Public Enemy's “Fight the Power” you are engrossed by what is unfolding before you.

5. Friday (1995) – Whenever I want a good laugh I pop in this DVD. My favorite scene in the movie is when the mother has prepared all of the food for breakfast and Ice Cube’s character (Craig) finds out that he will not be getting any. Chris Tucker (Smokey) is also hilarious. [Craig Jones: We ain't got no sugar. Smokey: No sugar? Damn. Y'all ain't never got two things that match. Either y'all got Kool-aid, no sugar. Peanut butter, no jelly. Ham, no burger. Daaamn!].

6. Hair Spray (1988) – The Ricki Lake versions is a favorite of mine. The cast were well known, albeit “B” or “C” actors. I guess I am a sucker for a good musical and this film delivered. The dance sequences are great and the soundtrack is superb. Rounding out the cast was Sonny Bono, Deborah Harry, Pia Zadora, Jerry Stiller, Divine, and a fine performance by the late, great Ruth Brown.

7. I Want To Live: The Barbara Graham Story (1958) – This is one of my favorite movies of all times and my most favorite starring Susan Hayward. The 1958 film tell the true story about Barbara Graham, a petty criminal who is tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Ms. Hayward is gives a stellar performance that tugs at your heart strings. You really care about her and wish her well, though it is not to be. She was the last woman to perish in California’s gas chamber.

8. Let No Man Write My Epitaph (1960) – The sequel to “Knock On Any Door” focused on the drug addiction and the disenfranchised among us. The main premise is how a mother and her friends try to insure that her son does not end up like his father. What is more telling is how poorly society deals with the lower class. The film included stand-out performances by Shelley Winters, Ricardo Montalban, Burl Ives, and Ella Fitzgerald (yes that Ella Fitzgerald) as Flora. I don’t see this around very often, but I recommend it wholeheartedly.

9. Malcolm X (1992) – What can I say about this film other than Denzel Washington channeled the spirit of Malcolm X. How he failed to win an Oscar for this performance is a mystery. The transformation from Malcolm Little to Malcolm X to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz was extraordinary. I was mesmerized the entire time. The film featured some excellent work by Delroy Lindo as “West Indian Archie”.

10. Piece of the Action (1977) – My favorite of the three films from the duo of Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby. They portray criminals who are blackmailed into mentoring teenagers at the Benjamin Banneker Community Center by a well meaning detective. When they meet the kids, the fun and games begin. The center facilitator/babysitter questions Barbara’s “attention span” and all hell breaks loose. Curtis Mayfield is responsible for the soundtrack which is sung by Mavis Staples of The Staple Singers fame.

11. Sparkle (1976) – Before Fame and performing the Flashdance theme song, Irene Cara was Sparkle, of a trio of sister’s who have aspirations of making it big in the 1950’s recording industry. There is an abundance of hardship along the way, with drug addiction, poverty, and domestic abuse taking its toll before the human spirit triumphs. This film also has a Curtis Mayfield soundtrack, sung by none other than Aretha Franklin. Although I love Aretha, I always thought the songs on the album should have been song by the stars who sung them in the film. I later heard that Curtis Mayfield admitted that he wished he had released the album with the kids.

12. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) – This star-studded film cast included Barbara Stanwyck, Kirk Douglas, Lizabeth Scott, and Van Heflin. This film had some of the best dialogue between the characters portrayed by Ms. Scott and Mr. Heflin. They don’t make em’ like this anymore, the really don’t.

13. Why Do Fools Fall In Love? (1998) – The film was supposedly the true story of Frankie Lymon, who along with The Teenagers was a popular act circa 1950’s. The group disbanded when Lymon went solo and he like many stars of the era became hooked on heroin. Vivica Fox was hilarious as Frankie Lymon’s first wife, the petty criminal. Halle Berry and Lela Rochon were wives number 2 and 3 respectively.

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Malcolm: said...

Welcome to the Thursday Thirteen! I don't have to tell you that many of these are my favorites as well. I might have to watch "Do the Right Thing" this weekend. "Friday" is one of only two movies (the other is Tommy Boy) that had me laughing so hard, I had to pause it.

I didn't even realize until just about a year ago that there was a sequel to "Knock On Any Door" (one of my favorite Bogie movies). I am going to check to see if TCM has it in their library. Great list!

pjazzypar said...

Chris Farley use to crack me up too! Kind of like John Candy. Unfortunately there were only thirteen slots because number 14 might have been "Trains, Planes, and Automobiles.

I figured that Knock on any door was a movie you had seen. I guess the John Derek character is the father of Shelley Winter's character son (who incidentally is played by James Darren). I know you would like it. Ricardo Montalban is such a sleeze.

Open Grove Claudia said...

I could not agree with you more. I think our mental diet is so very important. I know I'm really impacted by what I watch.

Welcome to TTing! It's fun to see and read new things!

Great suggestions too! :)

Open Grove Claudia said...

Oh - have you seen It's vids from the Ted conference. Whenever I feel blue, I go on and watch something interesting!

Leah said...

I might have seen some reruns of these movies on TV but I am not all familiar with some of them. I love Dirty Dancing too, I think there's a remake movie in the works for this with same title.

My t13 is up over at

Country Dawn said...

Welcome to TT! :)

Nicholas said...

The only one I have seen is I Want To Live which always fills me with despair.

pjazzypar said...

Hi open grove claudia,

thanks for stopping by and providing me with the link to I will definitely be checking the site out. If what we watch does not impact us why bother?

Hi Leah,

Some of the older film are sometimes broadcast over Turner Movie Classics (TMC). Another excellent website for finding out when and if a movie is currently playing on television is (The International Movie Database). Thanks for the heads up regarding the possible remake of "Dirty Dancing".

Hi Country Dawn,

Thanks for stopping by. Happy TT to you as well.

Hi Nicholas,

The movie is heartbreaking, but Susan Hayward turns in a fine performance and California never executed another woman after Barbara Graham. Now if we could just stop them from executing men. Thanks for visiting.

Lori said...

ooHey PJ,
What a list! So many different styles on it. I've watched and enjoyed a number of these, including: SPARKLE (I love Aretha's version of those songs. Didn't know that about Curtis); DO THE RIGHT THING (This probably my favorite Spike Lee movie and I would say his best. I have issues with some of his work): DIRTY DANCING (even though I saw this at the movies, I'm not sure I could sit through it again); THE COLOR PURPLE (I went to the movies and saw this about 5 different times, with 5 different sets of folks when it first came out; MALCOLM X (another decent on by Spike)and A PIECE OF THE ACTION (I actually have a tape recording--yes from the 70's-- of that scene where they get into it about "attention spans" LOL).

I think the only other one on your list that I'd really like to see is LET NO MAN WRITE MY EPITAPH. Sounds interesting. Also, I'm not sure why I haven't made time to watch WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE?

But those FRIDAY movies, you can keep (LOL). Really, I think I'd have to be hog-tied first (smile).
My own guilty pleasure of this type is SNAKES ON A PLANE. That movie is so silly & campy, it just cracks me up.

damozel said...

Welcome and thanks for visiting. I totally agree with you about the importance of watching only what nourishes us. Great post.

pjazzypar said...


Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate the feedback. By the way I love your blog.

pjazzypar said...

Hey Lori,

I don't like the Friday series, only the first one. I think you would really enjoy "Let No Man Write My Epitaph", which is the sequel to a Humphrey Bogart film entitled "Knock On Any Door". Malcolm is checking to see if Turner Classic Movies have the film in its catalog. "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" Is A Dramady that I think you will enjoy. I like musicals and there are some excellent musical sequences and Larenz Tate is awesome.