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A Year At The Movies

I kept a movie journal from December 30, 2009 through January 1, 2011, listing all the movies (and all the television episodes seen on DVD) that I saw during that time.  The total quantity of titles was 412.

To disclose some of the facts about how I get what I watch – I live in rural Michigan, far from movie theaters that show anything more than the absolutely most popular releases.  I think I only saw two of the films in movie theaters.  I live in a town that has its own film festival, and I saw three or so there.  I select and introduce a series of classic films every two weeks at the local public library.  Most of what I watch, though, I watch at home.  I have a one-at-a-time Netflix subscription.  I don’t have cable, or satellite TV.  Few of the local broadcast stations offer many movies.  I have no patience with films interrupted by commercials, anyway.  I rarely watch streaming video from the internet since the bandwidth available at my house is pretty narrow.  I buy DVDs, including some of the made-to-order titles that Warner Brothers, among others, presently offer.  Pretty nearly everything I watch I select myself, but occasionally I’ll watch something offered on television,  a film at someone else’s house, or a DVD from my sister’s Netflix queue.

Of the items I watched, 234 (57%) were American.  90 (22%) were British, 44 (11%) were French, 18 (4%) were Japanese, and 14 (3%) were Swedish.  Surprisingly, since both countries have great film histories, in all that time I watched only 2 German and 3 Italian films.  The rest were made in a number of countries – Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, and what was the USSR.

111 (27%) of the films I watched were made in the 1930s, not a surprise to me since movies from those years are often among my favorite films.  79 (19%) were made in the 1940s, 51 (12%) in the 1950s, 48 (12%) in the years from 2000-2010, 34 (8%) in the 1980s, and 25 (6%) in the 1960s.  The oldest film I watched was made in 1893, the newest in 2010.

The most frequent directors of the films I watched were Ingmar Bergman, René Clair and Alfred Hitchcock (each with 11), Michael Curtiz and Howard Hawks (each with 8), Mitchell Leisen and Jean Renoir (each with 7), George Cukor and Akira Kurosawa (each with 6), Louis Feuillade, John Huston, Ernst Lubitsch, W.S. Van Dyke, and William Wyler (each with 5), and Frank Borzage, Marcel Carné, Jean-Luc Godard, Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger, Josef von Sternberg, Raoul Walsh, and Orson Welles (each with 4).

I saw the following movies three times during that year: Mitchell Leisen’s Easy Living (1937), Sidney Gilliat’s Green for Danger (1946), W.S. Van Dyke’s It’s A Wonderful World (1939), and William Wellman’s Nothing Sacred (1936).


I saw the following pictures twice during that year: Edwin Marin’s A Christmas Carol (1938), Jean-Luc Godard’s Á Bout de Souffle (Breathless) (1960), Howard Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby (1938), Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca (1942), Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (1974), William Wyler and Howard Hawks’ Come And Get It (1936), Victor Saville’s Dark Journey (1937), William Wyler’s Dodsworth (1936), Rouben Mamoulian’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) William Wyler’s How to Steal a Million (1966), Howard Hawks’ I Was A Male War Bride (1949), Stanley Donen’s Indiscreet (1958), Gregory Ratoff’s Intermezzo (1939), Robert Hamer’s Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), each of the two parts of Marcel Carné’s Les Enfants du Paradis (1946), Frank Borzage’s Living on Velvet (1935), Richard Wallace’s Man of the World (1931), Carol Reed’s Night Train to Munich (1940), Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (1959), W.S. Van Dyke’s Penthouse (1933), Julien Duvivier’s Pepe le Moko (1937), Jean Renoir’s Rules of the Game (1939), Alfred Hitchcock’s Sabotage (1936), René Clair’s Sous les Toits de Paris (1930), Volker Schlondorff’s Swann in Love (1984), John Huston’s The African Queen (1951), Stephen Roberts’ The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (1936),  René Clair’s The Flame of New Orleans (1941), Anthony Asquith’s The Importance of Being Earnest (1952), John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon (1941), Mel Brooks’ The Producers (1967), Billy Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch (1955), Kenzo Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu (1953), and Frank Capra’s You Can’t Take It With You (1939).

I saw each of the following TV programs twice: the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes episodes A Scandal in Bohemia (1984), The Final Problem (1985), The Naval Treaty (1985), and The Second Stain (1986), and Chambre 12, Hôtel de Suéde (1993), a documentary about Breathless by Claude Ventura and Xavier Villetard.

What did I see during this year that I hadn’t seen before that knocked me out?  Fanny and Alexander (1982) directed by Ingmar Bergman won hands down, both the theatrical and especially the television version.  Other films that were new to me that I very much enjoyed included As It Is In Heaven (2004) directed by Kay Pollak, Departures (2008) directed by Yojiro Takita, the Fantômas movies from 1913-1914 directed by Louis Feuillade, Foolish Wives (1922) directed by Erich von Stroheim, Green for Danger (1946) directed by Sidney Gilliat, His and Hers (2009) directed by Ken Wardrop, Mississippi Mermaid (1972) by François Truffaut,  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2010) directed by Niels Arden Orlev, The King’s Speech (2010) directed by Tom Hooper, Underworld (1927) directed by Josef von Sternberg, and  some of Akira Kurosawa’s 1940s movies including Drunken Angel (1948), One Wonderful Sunday (1947) and Scandal (1950).