67 – Pollyanna:
We have a film here that is based on one of the most notoriously sappy children’s books of all time. When I did my research and discovered that Disney adapted it, I rolled my eyes and went ‘of course.’ It was a similar reaction to the ones that critics had at the time. The book had a notorious reputation by the early 60s when it was put into production. And one critic said that in the hands of “the master of schmaltz”, it had the potential to be positively unbearable. But we really should not forget that – while plenty may condemn the man’s sentimental nature – Walt Disney was still a master storyteller. Although he did not direct or write this film, he still had a heavy involvement in it. He developed a special fondness for Pollyanna, and fell so in love with the final film that he refused to let any of the scenes be cut. At least according to word of mouth anyway. Despite low Box Office numbers, a few critics held this up as Disney’s best live action film yet. You can also thank this film for giving us child star Hayley Mills – who went on to star in the iconic The Parent Trap. So let’s get ready to play the Glad Game once again.
68 – The Devil Rides Out:
“Do you believe in evil?”
“As an idea.”
Has there ever been anything more decidedly British than Hammer Horror? Well besides tea & biscuits, Carry On films, The Beatles and the Royal Shakespeare Company that is. Surprisingly enough, Hammer Horror is not totally everything you think of when you hear the term. It’s commonly associated with Bela Lugosi as Dracula, Boris Karlof as Frankenstein etc. While Hammer Horror was done in the style of those films, they were produced by Universal in America (who still distributed Hammer). Likewise, The Wicker Man isn’t actually a Hammer film – despite featuring studio regulars like Christopher Lee and Ingrid Pitt. The actual Hammer films began as loving homages to Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolf Man tales – but they eventually branched out into other fare. The films were standard, gothic haunted house rides that were usually cult hits with the public. Moving into the 1960s and 70s, they ended up duelling with American horrors that had better special effects and were really terrifying audiences. Their solution was to amp up the sex and nudity – meaning that there were a few lesbian vampire movies produced by the studio. The film on this list appears to take place before that period, given that it features a fully-clothed Satanic ritual. Nonetheless, it’s a film that’s still held in high regard today: The Devil Rides Out.
Honorary Entry – Mindhunters:
So we’ve reached something of a fork in the roads. Anyone who scrolls back to before I started doing these 100 Films will see that I did other reviews too. And it just so happens that I may or may not have already reviewed films that ended up on my list of 100 favourites. So rather than just re-treading over a film I’ve already done, I decided to come up with a compromise. Four entries on this list have already been covered in the reviews on here. So for each of those, I’ll post both a link to the canon review and cover an honorary film on the list. How does a film count as honorary? Well, here are the rules I like to lay down when deciding what goes on my list:
- It has to be a movie. As in it has to have been released theatrically. Made for television or direct to video therefore does not count. Nor do miniseries that get edited into one film later. After careful consideration, a limited theatrical release doesn’t really count either.
- I have to like the movie. If it’s critically acclaimed or Oscar-winning means jack shit if I wouldn’t want to watch it again. Hence why the list is my ‘favourite’ films and not ‘greatest films I’ve seen’. For example, I recognise Whiplash as a fantastic film that’s flawlessly made. But I have no intention of watching it again – so it doesn’t count.
- The movie must be genuinely good in my eyes. I include it on my list if I think its good points outweigh its flaws, and is still a quality piece of cinema. If there’s something I enjoy in an ironic ‘so bad it’s good’ sense, then it doesn’t count. So the likes of Showgirls, Mommie Dearest and The Room don’t qualify.
So the honorary picks are the ones that don’t meet one or all of the above criteria. The first honorary pick fits the first two, but unfortunately doesn’t quite meet number three. All will become much clearer the further I get. So without further ado, let’s look at the hot mess that is Renny Harlin’s Mindhunters. The actual film in number 69 is Mean Girls, and you can check out that review here. I’ll grade it at the end just the same though.
70 – X-Men: Days of Future Past:
Ah so there’s that old franchise issue again. Unlike with the Alien series, here I had eight films to choose from. Also unlike that series, here I just decided to pick one film. Back when I first started this list, X-Men 2 was the representative. But times have changed. Oh boy, times have indeed changed. They haven’t really for the X-Men as a whole however; the comic began quite humbly in the 1960s – as a superhero team made up of a bunch of people with unique abilities. Rather than getting into accidents with radiation or mutated animals, their powers were genetic. Possessing the ‘x-gene’, each X-Man was a mutant with their own special ability. The X-Men have always had an enduring popularity in the mainstream. Since the theme at the heart of most X-Men stories is persecution, it meant that a lot of readers could relate to them. Ethnic minorities, homosexuals, people from different religions or even people who just didn’t fit in – all of them could sympathise with the X-Men. And in this case what made them different was usually something to be proud of. Likewise, rather than the typical dashing white male leads that graced comic book covers, the X-Men had its share of ass kicking females and minorities. And in these days, where big budget studio movies are dominated by white male leads, the X-Men usually offer up the chance for women and minorities to fight on equal playing fields. The X-Men franchise’s popularity is increasing every year. And I can think of no better entry to represent the film series than Bryan Singer’s masterpiece X-Men: Days of Future Past.
71 – A Royal Night Out:
On this day, 71 years ago, peace was declared in Europe. The Second World War was half over, and a national day of rejoicing was on the cards. Even the Royal Family were in a celebrating mood. The young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret asked if they could go out into the crowds to celebrate with everyone else. Permission was granted and, like any young girls let off their leash for a few hours…they responsibly returned home for their curfew. But some seventy years later, some filmmakers decided to come up with a fun ‘what if’ scenario. What if the two princesses ditched their chaperones and headed off into the drunken depravity that is downtown London? What if the Queen who only recently celebrated her 90th birthday once just wanted an evening of fun, like any normal nineteen-year-old? What if the things that normally happen to young girls on a drinking binge happened to two princesses? The result is A Royal Night Out – a light-hearted comedy that came out only last year. I only saw it on a whim, and it was one of my favourite films of 2015. Be warned: this movie is complete nonsense and not to be taken as fact. It’s just meant to be enjoyed.
72 – Enchanted:
It’s time for some Disney again. Well, not quite. I mentioned back in my Tangled review that the public eventually grew sick of Disney’s constant stream of animated musicals in the 90s. You can credit the movie-going public with becoming that extra bit more self-aware in the 2000s. People were quick to cop on to the idealised nature of movies in general – and many a wannabe critic was eager to point out what could and couldn’t happen in real life on newly established internet message boards. Disney in particular were attacked for their familiar formula of girls only dreaming of marrying the first man they meet and nothing else. Matters weren’t helped by the Disney Princess franchise being established and the marketing to girls being targeted in a similar manner to Barbie – wondering whether or not they were good role models for children. Granted, most of those criticisms seemed to come from people who didn’t watch Disney regularly or had rather shallow views towards their stuff. Parodies like Shrek became the new formula. But sometime in 2007, after their animation studio had shut down for a while, Disney decided to poke fun at their own films. The result is the comedy Enchanted.
73 – Sherlock Holmes:
Elementary, my dear readers. Well actually, it’s interesting for me to open with that statement – as it doesn’t get said in this particular adaptation. And it’s actually not found anywhere in the original books. But I’m a big fan of irony. I’m not however much of a Sherlock Holmes fan. Well what I mean by that is I didn’t seem to get exposed to the books or films that much when I was growing up. The first one I read was The Hound of the Baskervilles when I was fifteen, and the only other stories I know are The Copper Beaches and The Final Problem. In terms of films, the Hammer adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles is the only version I saw (unless you count Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective). Of course, everyone ‘knows’ what to expect when you read/watch a Sherlock Holmes mystery: Sherlock is a super-competent genius who walks around wearing a deerstalker cap, smoking a pipe and saying “elementary, my dear Watson” – usually having to explain everything to his bumbling, dim-witted sidekick. But actually, three out of four of those qualities aren’t found anywhere in the original book. Holmes only wears such a hat in the countryside, never says that particular line, and his sidekick is actually a suave ladies’ man who can more than handle his own in a fight. As can Holmes too. So Guy Ritchie’s unique film adaptations actually have more in common with their source material than you’d think. But now I really can’t think of a line to end this paragraph with since I just busted the elementary one.