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We continue to get email responding not just to my list of 50 great American movies - which was itself a response to what I viewed as William Bennett’s misguided statement on “Morning Joe” that Independence Day was his idea of “great American movie” - as well as to all the emails on the subject that I posted earlier this week.

You can read my original list You can read my list here.

One MNB user wrote:

Kevin, I don’t care to add, subtract or dispute any movies that made your list of top 50 based on my own bias as to what my top 50 list might be.

I enjoy so many movies for so many different reasons it would be far too painful for me to limit my top 50 list to only 50 movies.

Anyway, seeing as you enjoy this topic so much I would like to see another list of your favorites based more strictly on the criteria of the chapter in Bennett’s book which features ..”Movies that reflect the American experience”, not just a “great” movie such as Independence Day, which, BTW, let’s hope doesn’t end up meeting that criteria. I am talking about movies from your list such as The Grapes of Wrath. Taking out movies such as The Wizard of Oz and then see what you have for a top 50.

Albeit there are a great number of movies on your list I believe already meet the refined criteria I would still enjoy seeing what additional movies would make your list.

Keep up the great work of making people think!

Actually, I would argue that almost every movie on my list reflects some measure of the American experience. Even The Wizard of Oz, which has the post-Depression mindset of a country looking for answers to the nation’s problems, and finding out that the best answers lie within one’s own mind, heart and ability to be brave.

MNB user Christina Harrison wrote:

Hi there!  I can’t say I totally agree with your list, but wanted to let you know that I printed it out and we had a great discussion about it around the dinner table last Friday night.  It brought up a fun memory…about ten years ago my husband insisted that I watch The Dirty Dozen, which I did and loved.  I called my sister who lived in San Francisco and told her to run over to BlockBuster and rent it (because that’s what you did back then before Netflix Instant Download).  So, she drives to the store and, of course, can’t remember the title (everybody didn’t have the cell phones back then so she couldn’t call me).  The only part she remembered was that it was about a group of twelve men so the kid (that’s still the same) who was working there tried to help her figure it out (didn’t have IMDB).  She walked out with 12 Angry Men.  To this day she still hasn’t seen The Dirty Dozen.

Also, you had Jaws on your list which I support 100%.  As a child of the ‘70s I’m a firm believer that every kid around the age of ten should watch this movie so they can enjoy the same kind of mind-numbing, absolute terror my Gen X generation experiences in small boats on the high seas.  It’s just one of those rights of passage, in my view, but my brother-in-law is fully against it as he got so wigged out he can barely enjoy swimming in a freshwater lake.  Over 20 years later.  HA!

Keep on writing and I’ll keep on reading!

I promise.

MNB user Tom Redwine wrote:

As a son of the South, I fully support your leaving Gone With the Wind off your list. I truly feel that it's four hours you can never get back.

I do object to your having E.T. on there rather than 2001: A Space Odyssey. Don't get me wrong, I love E.T. with all my heart, but until Spielberg stops monkeying around with it (and the same goes for Lucas with Star Wars), I have to put it on hold. Though we're ten years past the actual date of events portrayed in 2001, the questions it raised still haunt us. 

(Like, why don't we have a Moon Base yet?) 

Love the MNB, keep it rollin' my friend.

MNB user Dave Howald wrote:

I really enjoyed your list.  I suspect it is because we are both white males and within 5-8 years in age so we have experienced many of the same things.

Two movies I would add to the list (Don’t ask me which ones I would delete) our my all time favorite movie, The Deer Hunter, and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.
I love Deer Hunter because it shows the relationships and connectivity of the men and women of a working class town in PA and the effects of the Vietnam war.  The performances were outstanding.  I know the Russian Roulette scenes take the movie off of many people’s lists because according to historians it didn’t happen and was not needed to be a plot line of the movie, but I still love it.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is one of my favorites because I am a seasoned road warrior and I can identify (as I’m sure you can) with all the things that can and will go wrong while traveling.  I also love the humanity and love that develops between Steve Martin and John Candy.  Plus, every movie with late John Candy makes me laugh.

From another MNB user:

Surprised that Apollo 13 and Field of Dreams were missing off your list and also while Apollo 13 showed up in comments from a reader, that Field of Dreams did not.

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Apollo 13. As for Field of Dreams, I debated with myself long and hard about including it or Bull Durham, but went with the latter. Simply a matter of taste...though I love both movies.

MNB user Greg Lindenberg had some movies that did not make my list:

Yankee Doodle Dandy
It's a Wonderful Life
His Girl Friday
The Thing from Another World
To Kill a Mockingbird
Twelve Angry Men
Apollo 13
Saving Private Ryan
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

MNB user Philip Bradley wrote:

Your list omitted 2 great movies (I realize that this discussion could be endless! :-):
Klute and McCabe and Mrs. Miller.

Love them both...just wasn’t sure they were top 50 material.

MNB user Guy Wheeler wrote:

This from an old timer - Stalag 17 - in black & white. A great movie - drama
and comedy well done!

Love it. Along with The Great Escape and The Guns of Navarone, one of my favorite war movies.

One MNB user had a movie comment...and another, more serious point:

How could you leave off Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List?
And two, why do you mention "gambler" when describing Bill Bennett?  Do you mention "smoker" when describing President Obama, "alcoholic" when mentioning Ted Kennedy, or "adulterer" when talking about Bill Clinton?  If you don't like the man, which you clearly don't, that's fine. But I think it takes your integrity down a notch when you take a dig at him...especially when talking about an unrelated topic such as movies.

Fair enough. But he annoyed me with his Independence Day comment, and since I was writing within the context of an “OffBeat” piece, I decide to take what was admittedly a cheap shot.

(Besides, he has always struck me as someone with a compassion deficit for people who have vices other than his own ... and so I decided to take what was admittedly a cheap shot. Lack of integrity on my part? Maybe. But maybe I just like taking the occasional cheap shot....)

Finally (for now, at least), this email from MNB user Ken Wagar:

Since you like movies so much I am curious about a different twist on things. I often find myself more enthralled with an actor (or of course actress’) performance than the film itself. For example while I would not rate Scent of a Woman in the top 50 movies I would rate the performance of Al Pacino very highly. So I am curious about what actor’s performances in film you might rate in your Top 50. Also interested to see how much overlap there happens to be between the two lists.

I’ll have to give that one some thought ... and maybe address it in a future “OffBeat.”

I sort of prefer the early Pacino, of The Godfather and Dog Day Afternoon...though I think one of my favorite Pacino performances is in a thoroughly entertaining movie called Looking for Richard. Check it out.
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