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Oscar, now ruler of Oz, uses his projector to sustain the belief that he is a powerful wizard. He presents gifts to his friends: Master Tinker, who helped build his machines, receives Oscar's jackknife while Knuck, the grumpy Munchkin herald who was called "Sourpuss" by Oscar as a running gag throughout the movie, receives a mask with a smiley face; the long-suffering Finley receives Oscar's friendship along with his top hat and China Girl accepts her friends as her new family. Finally, Oscar takes Glinda behind the curtains of his projector, thanks her for making him a better person, and they kiss.
With a long, grand history spanning more than a century, Stacker compiled the 100 greatest movie songs using data from the American Film Industry's 100 Years Project. The survey, which occurred in 2004 (hence no recent tunes like "Let It Go" from "Frozen"), asked a selection of jurors from across the movie industry to evaluate music and lyrics "featured in an American film that set a tone or mood, define character, advance plot and/or express the film's themes in a manner that elevates the moving image art form." The cultural impact and legacy involving the song were also important criteria in the selection process.
The classic musical "Singin' in the Rain" is not only considered to be one of the best musicals of all time but one of the greatest movies in history. An upbeat and happy depiction of the changing film industry of the 1920s, the song "Good Morning," originally from the 1939 film "Babes In Arms," remains a popular song to this day. The iconic and energetic dance sequence features Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, and Debbie Reynolds.
This faithful adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's classic pacifist novel is among the greatest antiwar films ever made, remaining powerful more than 80 years later, thanks to Lewis Milestone's inventive direction. Told from the perspective of a sensitive young German soldier (Lew Ayres) during WWI, recruited by a hawkish professor advocating "glory for the fatherland." The young soldier comes under the protective wing of an old veteran (Louis Wolheim) who teaches him how to survive the horrors of war. The film is emotionally draining, and so realistic that it will be forever etched in the mind of any viewer. Milestone's direction is frequently inspired, most notably during the battle scenes. In one such scene, the camera serves as a kind of machine gun, shooting down the oncoming troops as it glides along the trenches. Universal spared no expense during production, converting more than 20 acres of a large California ranch into battlefields occupied by more than 2,000 ex-servicemen extras. After its initial release, some foreign countries refused to run the film. Poland banned it for being pro-German, while the Nazis labeled it anti-German. Joseph Goebbels, later propaganda minister, publicly denounced the film. It received an Academy Award as Best Picture and Milestone was honored as Best Director.Expanded essay by Garry Wills (PDF, 713KB)Lobby card
Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray and Jack Buchanan star in this sophisticated backstage toe-tapper directed by Vincente Minnelli, widely considered one of the greatest movie musicals of all time. Astaire plays a washed-up movie star (in reality he'd been a succesful performer for nearly 30 years) who tries his luck on Broadway, under the direction of irrepressible mad genius Buchanan. Musical highlights include "Dancing in the Dark" and "That's Entertainment" (written for the film by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz) and Astaire's sexy Mickey Spillane spoof "The Girl Hunt" danced to perfection by Charisse. Fred Astaire would only make three more musicals after "The Band Wagon," before turning to a film and television career that included the occasional turn as a dramatic actor. Lobby cardAdditional artwork
This riotously funny, raunchy, no-holds-barred Western spoof by Mel Brooks is universally considered one of the funniest American films of all time. The movie features a civil-rights theme (the man in the white hat (Cleavon Little ) turns out to be an African-American who has to defend a bigoted town), and its furiously paced gags and rapid-fire dialogue were scripted by Brooks, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor, Norman Steinberg and Alan Unger. Little as the sheriff and Gene Wilder as his recovering alcoholic deputy have great chemistry, and the delightful supporting cast includes Harvey Korman, Slim Pickens, and Madeline Kahn as a chanteuse modelled on Marlene Dietrich. As in "Young Frankenstein," "Silent Movie," and "High Anxiety," director/writer Brooks gives a burlesque spin to a classic Hollywood movie genre.Expanded essay by Michael Schlesinger (PDF, 662 KB)
"The best Wim Wenders documentary to date and an uncommonly self-effacing one, this 1999 concert movie about performance and lifestyle is comparable in some ways to "Latcho Drom," the great Gypsy documentary/musical. In 1996, musician Ry Cooder traveled to Havana to reunite some of the greatest stars of Cuban pop music from the Batista era (who were virtually forgotten after Castro came to power) with the aim of making a record, a highly successful venture that led to concerts in Amsterdam and New York. The players and their stories are as wonderful as the music, and the filmmaking is uncommonly sensitive and alert," wrote film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum.
In this story of a blind flower girl (Virginia Cherrill) and the tramp who makes sacrifices for her (Charlie Chaplin), Chaplin deftly combines comedy with pathos. Despite the movie industry's embrace of talking pictures, Chaplin held on to the pantomime style that defined his screen persona, and the film earned great critical acclaim and box-office profits.Expanded essay by Jeffrey Vance (PDF, 331 KB)Charlie Chaplin and others during filming of "City Lights"
The "collegiate" fad that swept the U.S. during the 1920s testified to popular culture's utter fascination with youth, and Hollywood shrewdly jumped on the bandwagon. The formula was deployed with such regularity that comic Harold Lloyd satirized it to great effect in his enormously popular film, "The Freshman." Lloyd plays the naive collegian who enthusiastically determines to be Big Man on Campus by copying the manners of movie collegians. After donning his letterman sweater, perfecting his "college yell" and rehearsing the ridiculous "jig" that he hopes will be his ticket to popularity, he begins his journey to college. Lamb's arrival at Tate University, billed as a "large football stadium with a college attached," begins a series of comical trials and tribulations that tests his mettle. In addition to providing the perfect showcase for Lloyd's ingenious gags, physical humor and tender pathos, "The Freshman" proved to be one of the most successful films of his career.Expanded essay by Annette D'Agostino Lloyd (PDF, 295KB)
John Ford, a filmmaker since 1914, already had given the movie-going public such classics as "The Iron Horse," "Stagecoach," "My Darling Clementine," "Fort Apache," "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon," and "The Searchers." Ford's last great Western, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," makes explicit everything that was implicit in the genre which Ford himself shaped so heavily. By clearly showing that the conquest of the west meant the triumph of civilization (embodied in Jimmy Stewart) over wild innocence (John Wayne) and evil (Lee Marvin), this elegiac film serves as a film coda for Ford and also meditates on what was lost as progress and statehood marched across the West. The film's concluding aphorism has entered the American lexicon: "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."
The subject of drug addiction has been addressed in Hollywood films many times before, dating all the way back to the silent era (Kevin Brownlow's seminal "Behind the Mask of Innocence" chronicles these amazing early productions). But few dared to be as honest, blunt or graphic as this Otto Preminger treatment, which featured Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak. Sinatra stars as the heroin-addicted hero who, having gotten clean while in prison, now struggles to remain "straight" after release. Oscar-nominated for his work in the film, Sinatra is a raw nerve in his unvarnished portrayal of a "junkie," most memorably in his brutal withdrawal scenes. Along with its still topical subject and powerful storytelling, the film is further enhanced by its eye-popping Saul Bass opening credits sequence and Elmer Bernstein's remarkable jazz score. Critic Dave Kehr has noted that "Otto Preminger's 1955 adaptation of Nelson Algren's novel is something of a crossroads movie, suspended between the swirling expressionism of Preminger's early career and the balanced realism that would later become his forte." The film was preserved by the Academy Film Archive in 2005 with funding from the Film Foundation and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
Disdained as "Spaghetti Westerns" when they first appeared in American movie theaters, the best of these films, such as "Once Upon a Time in the West," are now recognized as among the greatest achievements of the Western movie genre. Director Sergio Leone's operatic visual homage to the American Western legend is a chilling tale of vengeance set against the backdrop of the coming of the railroad. Ennio Morricone's magnificent score (especially the elegiac "Jill's Theme") is likewise recognized for its brilliance.Expanded essay by Chelsea Wessels. (PDF, 441KB)
By 1984, Prince was already being hailed by critics and fans as one of the greatest musical geniuses of his generation. This post-modern musical secured his place as a movie star and entertainment legend. Largely autobiographical, "Purple Rain" showcased the late, great showman as a young Minneapolis musician struggling to bring his revolutionary brand of provocative funk rock to the masses. The film's soundtrack includes such decade-defining tracks as "When Doves Cry" and the title song. The film's multi-platinum soundtrack previously was named to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry. 2b1af7f3a8