Films to See Before You Die: #6 Batman

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Batman (1989)

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Pat Hingle, Billy Dee Williams, Jack Palance

Synopsis: The criminals of Gotham City are in a panic because of rumours of a 6-foot bat terrorizing the crooks and gangsters of the city. No one believes these rumours to be true except a reporter named Knox and photographer Vicky Vale (Kim Basinger) who has arrived in Gotham specifically to cover the giant bat story.  The new District Attorney Harvey Dent (Billy Dee Williams), is desperately trying to get crime boss Carl Grissom (Jack Palance), brought up on numerous charges and incarcerated before the city’s 200th anniversary. The only thing linking Grissom to any kind of wrong doing are files at the Axis Chemical Plant, where he has his number one man Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) to destroy the files. Napier has been having an affair with Grissom’s girl making this the prime opportunity to set him up, Grissom sends members of the police force he has bought to go and kill Napier. Commissioner Gordon (Pat Hingle) gets wind of this and heads to Axis Chemicals to stop Grissom’s men and apprehend Napier who is vital in pinning Grissom to these crimes. A gunfight ensues and Napier is confronted by the new protector of Gotham, Batman (Michael Keaton), who after a struggle accidentally drops Napier into a vat of toxic chemicals where he is presumed dead. Napier somehow survives but is horribly disfigured then goes to a surgeon who leaves him with a paleface and a permanent grin. He pays a visit to Grissom and kills him for setting him up and reveals himself to be The Joker. Now taking over all of Grissom’s operations the Joker does not let on that he is dead and begins killing anyone who won’t join him. Batman’s alter-ego Bruce Wayne begins to date Vale at the behest of Knox and Vake does a back ground check revealing that Bruce witnessed the murder of his parent’s at a very young age. When Vale becomes an object of the Joker’s affection Batman must save her and the city while confronting a demon from his past.

Trivia: Michael Keaton being cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman caused a controversy amongst comic book fans, with 50,000 protest letters sent to Warner Bros. offices. Bob Kane, Sam Hamm and Michael E. Uslan also heavily questioned the casting. When the production design team arrived at Pinewood Studios in England to build the sets, they discovered the atmosphere processor set from Aliens in one of the sound stages, with most of the Aliens’ nest and eggs still intact.

Why I think you should see this: I have been watching this movie since I was 3 definitely have seen it over 100 times and I have always loved Batman even before it was cool to like him. I have always enjoyed Tim Burton’s work but this is my favourite along with Batman Returns which makes the perfect companion piece don’t waste your time on the other 2 by Joel Schumacher they are just garbage. It is funny that people protested Michael Keaton as Batman and now I consider him to be the best Batman yet. Jack Nicholson is just amazing as the Joker and Kim Basinger is pretty great as Vicky Vale. This is a great film that launched the career of one of the most imaginative directors in film history so check it out sometime.

Films to See Before You Die: #7 Back to the Future

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Back to the Future (1985)

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Thomas F. Wilson

Synopsis: In Hill Valley 1985, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), has a beautiful girlfriend and dreams of being a famous musician some day but can’t seem to escape the shadow of his loser family. His father George McFly (Crispin Glover) is still being intimidated by his high-school bully Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) who has just crashed George’s car ruining Marty’s plans for the weekend. The rest of his family is not much better both his brother and sister have crappy jobs and his mother Lorraine (Lea Thompson) is disappointed her brother didn’t make parole. Marty is also friends with the eccentric inventor Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown (Christopher Lloyd), needs Marty’s help because he has made a major breakthrough with his latest experiment. Marty meets the Doc after midnight in the local mall parking lot where Doc will test his latest experiment a time machine made out of a Delorean. After it is revealed that Doc stole the plutoneum used to run the time machine from some Libyan nationals both Marty and the Doc are attacked by the Libyans. The Libyans kill Doc but Marty manages to escape getting the Delorean up to 88 MPH inducing the time travel. Marty is unaware what has happened but quickly learns he is in 1955 and hides the Dolerean that no longer runs and find the current Doc Brown for help. Marty also runs into a younger Biff who isn’t to fond of the younger McFly. Before he finds the Doc, Marty runs into a teenage version of his dad and follows him to a house where he is peeping in on a girl in the window, where he falls out of the tree but before he can get hit by a car Marty pushes him out of the way. When Marty awakes he believes that it was all a dream but realizes that he is still in 1955 and the younger version of his mother is taking care of him as well as developing a large crush on him making the situation even weirder for Marty. After he finds the Doc and explains what he is doing there, the Doc makes sure that he didn’t come into contact with anyone else he is horrified to learn what has happened. After unsuccessfully trying to get Lorraine to notice George, Marty realizes that by pushing his father out of the way of the car he prevented his parents from meeting for the first time and from falling in love meaning he will soon be erased from history. Now in order to save himself and his family Marty must get his parents to have their first kiss before he can go back to the future.

Trivia: When Marty is being judged at the band auditions at the beginning, the judge who stands up to say he is “just too darn loud” is Huey Lewis, whose songs, “The Power of Love” and “Back in Time” are featured on the movie’s soundtrack, and also wrote Marty’s audition song (which is a re-orchestrated version of “The Power of Love.”) Doc’s distinctive hunched-over look developed when the filmmakers realized the extreme difference in height between Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox; Fox is 5′ 4½” while Lloyd is 6′ 1″. To compensate for the height difference, director Robert Zemeckis used specific blocking where the two often stood far apart at different camera depths. For close ups, Lloyd would have to hunch over to appear in frame with Fox. The same approach was used in the two sequels.

Why I think you should see this: Are you kidding me? This is Back to the Future so if you haven’t seen this you need to get out from under the rock you have been living and experience one of the most fun movies ever. Christopher Lloyd is spectacular as Doc Brown giving a whole new meaning to the word crazy. Michael J. Fox shines as Marty and Crispin Glover is pretty awesome as his dad George. Lea Thompson does a great job as Lorraine and Thomas F. Wilson plays probably the most memorable bully in film history. Although I only posted the first the trilogy is like a single entity and almost has to be watched simultaneously. Just an all around great film that is no surprise that Spielberg’s name is attached to it so check it out again sometime.

Films to See Before You Die: #8 The Sting

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The Sting (1973)

Director: George Roy Hill

Cast: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw, Robert Earl Jones

Synopsis: Luther Coleman (Robert Earl Jones), his apprentice Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford), and their underling Joe Erie’s latest swindle has netted them $11,000, enough for an aged Luther to contemplate retiring from grifting. They are unaware however that that money belonged to ruthless racketeer Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw), whose thugs kill Luther in retaliation. Before Luther’s death, he suggested to Hooker that he contact Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman), his old friend in Chicago to learn the art of the big con. Hooker does contact Gondorff, who has retired after being burned in his last big con. Gondorff decides to come out of retirement solely to help Hooker get back at Lonnegan for Luther’s murder. In pulling off the big con, Gondorff and Hooker require the assistance of a number of Gondorff’s old associates as well as a number of small time grifters. In the latter group includes Erie, who wants to do his small part in revenging Luther’s death. Beyond Lonnegan or anyone else finding out about the con, there are many potential obstacles in pulling off the sting, such as a controlling and overly cautious Lonnegan wanting to do things his own way, and a number of people chasing after Hooker, including a crooked Joliet vice cop named Snyder, Lonnegan’s lower level thugs and a hired hit man. Through the process, Hooker, who sees himself as being a wheeler dealer, may come across a better deal than that provided to him by Gondorff.

Trivia: Robert Shaw injured his knee and incorporated the resulting limp into his performance. According to “You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again” by Julia Phillips, Shaw split all the ligaments in his knee after slipping on a wet handball court at the Beverly Hills Hotel a week before filming started. He had to wear a leg brace during production which was kept hidden under the wide 1930s style trousers he wore. Technical advisor John Scarne doubled for Paul Newman’s hands in the film. It was he who did all of the card manipulations and deck switching in the film. It would have taken a long time for someone to be able to master all of the card routines shown. In the film, we see Scarne’s hands disappear off screen; a clever invisible cut hides the switch; Newman’s hands return, and the camera pans up to his face.

Why I think you should see this: I recently revisited this film after not watching it for a few years and I have to say this was the most fun I have had watching a movie in years. It is quite possible that there is no better acting combination than Paul Newman and Robert Redford who are magnificent in their roles. Robert Shaw was incredible as Doyle Lonnegan, I am not as familiar with him as I am other actors but I am excited to see some of his other movies. This movie has the best double -cross in movie history and requires multiple views just because you might have missed something the first time around. This is one of the best films I have ever seen so check it out sometime.

Films to See Before You Die: #9 The Silence of the Lambs

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The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Director Jonathon Demme

Cast: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine

Synopsis:Promising FBI Academy student Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is pulled from her training at the FBI Training Facility at Quantico, Virginia by Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, who tasks her with presenting a VICAP questionnaire to the notorious Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a brilliant forensic psychiatrist and incarcerated cannibalistic serial murderer. After learning the assignment relates to the pursuit of vicious serial killer Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine), Starling travels to the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane and is led by Dr. Frederick Chilton to Hannibal Lecter. Although initially pleasant and courteous, Lecter grows impatient with Starling’s attempts at “dissecting” him and viciously rebuffs her. As Starling departs, Lecter offers a riddle containing information about a former patient. The solved riddle leads to a rent-a-storage lot where the severed head of Benjamin Raspail is found. Starling returns to Lecter, who links Raspail to Buffalo Bill and who offers to help profile Buffalo Bill if he is transferred to a facility far from the venomous Dr. Chilton. Buffalo Bill abducts Catherine Martin, the daughter of United States Senator Ruth Martin. At Quantico, as news of Catherine Martin’s abduction sweeps the country, Crawford authorizes Starling to offer Hannibal Lecter a fake deal promising a prison transfer if he provides information that helps profile Buffalo Bill and rescue Catherine Martin. Instead, Lecter begins a game of quid pro quo with Starling, offering comprehensive clues and insights about Buffalo Bill in exchange for events from Starling’s traumatic childhood. Unaware to both Starling and Lecter, Dr. Frederick Chilton tapes the conversation and after revealing Starling’s deal as a sham, offers to transfer Lecter in exchange for a deal of his own making. Lecter agrees and following a flight to Tennessee reveals Buffalo Bill’s real name, physical description and past address to Senator Martin and her entourage of FBI agents and Justice Department officials. As the manhunt begins, Starling travels to Lecter’s special cell in a local Tennessee courthouse, where she confronts him about the false information he gave the Senator. Lecter refuses Starling’s pleas and demands she finish her story surrounding her worst childhood memory. After recounting her arrival at a relative’s farm, the horror of discovering their lamb slaughterhouse and her fruitless attempts at rescuing the lambs, Lecter rebuffs her, leaving her with her case file before she is escorted out of the building by security guards. Later that evening, Lecter escapes from his cell. After notified of Lecter’s escape, Starling pores over her case file, analyzing Lecter’s annotations before realizing that the first victim, Frederica Bimmel, knew Bill in real life before he killed her. Starling travels to Bimmel’s hometown and discovers that Bimmel was a tailor and has dresses with templates identical to the patches of skin removed from Buffalo Bill’s victims. Realizing that Buffalo Bill is a tailor fashioning a “woman suit” of real skin, she telephones Crawford, who is already on the way to make an arrest, having cross-referenced Lecter’s notes with Johns Hopkins Hospital and finding a man named James Gumb. Crawford instructs Starling to continue interviewing Bimmel’s friends while he leads a SWAT team to Gumb’s business address in Calumet City, Illinois. Starling’s interviews lead to the house of “Jack Gordon,” who Starling soon realizes is not who he claims to be.

Trivia: Before this movie, only two other horror films were ever so much as nominated for a Best Picture (The Exorcist and Jaws). As of 2010, The Silence of the Lambs remains the only horror film to win an Oscar for Best Picture. When Jonathan Demme filmed the scene where Lecter and Starling first meet, Anthony Hopkins said he should look directly at the camera as it panned into his line of sight. He felt Lecter should be portrayed as “knowing everything.” The first film to win the Best Picture Oscar that was widely available on home video at the time of the ceremony.

Why I think you should see this: I just love The Silence of the Lambs for so many reasons but none more than Anthony Hopkins creepy but excellent turn as Hannibal Lecter. He is only in the film for about 18 minutes but his presence is felt throughout the entire picture. Jodie Foster is pretty awesome as Clarice as well with Ted Levine turning in the performance of a lifetime as Buffalo Bill. This movie has the rare distinction of being released early in the year (February) but still pulled through with all of the major Oscar wins. The sequel Hannibal is serviceable but my favourite is the prequel Red Dragon which not only has a great performance by Anthony Hopkins but also terrific performances from Edward Norton and Ralph Fiennes. A must see so check this one out sometime.

Films to See Before You Die: #10 Rocky

Rocky (1976)

Director: John G. Avildsen

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Carl Weathers, Burt Young, Burgess Meredith

Synopsis: Small time boxer Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), though boxing is his passion he makes a living by being a debt collector for local gangster named Gazzo. At the gym where he trains his locker has been given away without his knowledge, angry he goes to confront the owner Mickey (Burgess Meredith) who tells him he needed it for a younger boxer who has more potential. Rocky visits the pet shop across the street daily in order to tell the girl her likes Adrian (Talia Shire), a new joke. At night he goes to the local bar and drinks with Adrian’s brother Paulie (Burt Young). There he is watching an interview with heavy-weight champion of the world Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) about his upcoming title defense in Philadelphia. Shortly after Creed learns that the fighter he was supposed to match up against has pulled out because of an injury which causes a temporary panic before Creed decides he will give an local unknown a chance at the title making for good publicity. Creed and his public relations man are searching through boxer names when Creed lands on one named the Italian Stallion, which happens to be Rocky’s nickname Creed believes this to be a perfect way to have an easy title defense and make a lot of money. When Rocky finds out that Apollo Creed’s men want to meet with him he and Mick get in a fight and Mickey tells him he could have been great but decided to be a leg breaker instead wasting his life. Rocky only believing that Creed is looking for a sparring partner is completely caught off guard when is offered a chance at the title at first he declines but is eventually talked into fighting Creed. After they make the press conference announcing the fight, Mickey visits Rocky offering to train him and help him from making the same mistakes Mickey made as a young fighter. Rocky eventually accepts Now in a relationship with Adrian and Mick by his side Rocky trains for the fight of his life. Apollo believing this is going to be a quick knockout is in for a major surprise because Rocky didn’t come to lose.

Trivia: The scene that involved Rocky and Adrian kissing in Rocky’s kitchen was originally not scripted the way it was shot. Talia Shire had contracted the flu and was worried about getting Sylvester Stallone sick, so she was very hesitant to kiss him. Her hesitation and behavior was actually such an improvement over the scripted scene that they decided to keep it. Indeed, this scene has become Stallone’s favorite scene in the entire Rocky saga, and both he and Shire see the scene as a ‘birth-scene’ for Adrian, where she is awakened to a new life.

Why I think you should see this: I love the Rocky films I have them all on Blu-Ray and regularly watch them in chronological order because I love the underdog story of Rocky Balboa. The first film is clearly the best even winning the Best Picture Oscar but it is worth watching them all. This is the film that launched Sylvester Stallone’s career making him one of the most successful and popular actors in movies over the last 35 years. Carl Weathers is great as the overly confident Apollo Creed but it is Burgess Meredith that really steals the show as Rocky’s trainer Mickey. Both Talia Shire and Burt Young a magnificent as Adrian and Paulie. This is an absolute classic so check it out sometime.

Films to See Before You Die: #11 Blade Runner

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Blade Runner (1982)

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Darryl Hannah, William Sanderson

Synopsis: In 2019, humans have genetically engineered Replicants, which are essentially humans who are designed for labor and entertainment purposes. They are illegal on earth, and if they make it to our planet they are to be hunted down and killed. Their is a special unit within the LAPD called Blade Runner’s whose main task is to hunt and kill any replicants that have made it to Earth. After four Nexus-6 replicants from an off world colony have made their way to Earth in a quest to expand their live span. Replicants are only given a four year life span so they do not have the chance to develop a mind of their own. Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former Blade Runner is brought in and explained the circumstances including a recently injured former colleague of  Deckards that is in critical condition at the hospital. Deckard is given no choice in the matter and i charged with hunting down and killling the escaped replicants. The leader of the replicants Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) is searching for the head of the Tyrell Corporation, Dr. Eldon Tyrell for advancing his life span so he interrogates employees of Tyrell which leads him to J.F. Sebastian (William Sanderson). Roy realizing that he needs Sebastian alive in order to get to Tyrell instructs the youngest replicant his lover Pris (Darryl Hannah) to get friendly with Sebastian and eventually introduce the two. Meanwhile Deckard heads to the Tyrell Corporation to interview Dr. Tyrell about the recent escape where he meets Rachael (Sean Young), a replicant who believes she is actually a human. After meeting with Tyrell, Deckard follows up on a tip involving snake skin which leads him to one of the escaped replicants who tries to run from Deckard who in turn guns her down in the street. Afterwords he is attacked by the same replicant who had almost killed the other Blade Runner but before he can kill Deckard is shot by Rachael. After being introduced to Sebastian, Roy talks him into arranging a meeting with Dr. Tyrell. When Roy meets with Tyrell he is informed that there is no way that he can live longer and he responds to this by killing both Sebastian and Tyrell. Deckard lets Rachael go for saving his life but now must find the other two replicants. After finding where they are hiding Deckard kills Pris leading to a final confrontation with Roy.

Trivia: The term replicants is used nowhere in Philip K. Dick’s writing. The creatures in the source novel are called Androids or Andies. The movie abandoned these terms, fearing they would sound comical spoken on screen. Replicants came from David Webb Peoples’ daughter, Risa, who was studying microbiology and biochemistry. She introduced her father to the theory of replication – the process whereby cells are duplicated for cloning purposes.

Why I think you should see this: I have seen three different versions of Blade Runner: the theatrical cut, the directors cut and the final cut all are very interesting in their own way but my favourite version is the final cut because it is exactly that it just feels like a finished product. Harrison Ford is amazing a Deckard and Sean Young does a fine job as Rachael, Deckard’s love interest. The film would not be the cult classic/sci-fi masterpiece that it is without Rutger Hauer’s hauntingly brilliant turn as Roy Batty where he is somehow able to be both tender and vicious at the same time he was just amazing. I am cautiously optimistic about the planned Blade Runner sequel even though it will be helmed by Scott as well it just seems like one of those films that might be best left alone. If you haven’t seen this but enjoy science fiction then check this one out you will be pleasantly surprised.

Films to See Before You Die: #12 Terminator 2: Judgment Day

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Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Director: James Cameron

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick

Synopsis: It has been ten years since SkyNet sent a Terminator back in time that failed to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and her unborn son John. Now in the year 1994, a newer and more lethal model of Terminator, a prototype of the T-1000 model (Robert Patrick), has been sent back to kill John Connor (Edward Furlong) as a young boy. The resistance has once again sent a protector this time it is another Terminator a class T-800 model 101 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), that they have reprogrammed. John is in foster care living with a foster family, while Sarah has been locked up in a mental institution for trying to blow up a computer company and claiming a cyborg came back in time to try and kill her. The T-1000 finds John at a local mall where the other Terminator intercepts and gives John a chance to escape. The T-1000 is the superior of the two models and quickly dispatches the other model and continues after John. John and the T-800 are able to get away and it is later learned that the T-1000 is made of liquid metal and can form stabbing objects as well as copy other humans. John begins to panic when it becomes obvious the T-1000’s next target is his mother and that after copying a human the subject is then terminated leading to an epic rescue attempt by John and the T-800. After Sarah is safe they make their way to Mexico where Sarah plans to murder the creator of the SkyNet program Miles Dyson. John and the T-800 race to stop Sarah before it is too late Johna is continually trying to show the Terminator the value of human life. When what the implication of his actions are explained to him Dyson agrees to help them destroy SkyNet which leads to final confrontation with the T-1000.

Trivia: The original script did not call for the top of the truck to be ripped off during the chase through the storm drain beside/beneath the freeway, but when they arrived on location they found that the cab wouldn’t fit under the overpass so director James Cameron decided that the roof was going to have to come off. The sound used for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s shotgun is actually two cannons. The name of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator is the Terminator Series 800 (shiny metal endoskeleton) model 101 (Arnold’s actual skin on that skeleton).

Why I think you should see this: This is one of only a handful of series where the second movie is far superior to the first. This has to be one of the biggest budget for a sequel to a modestly budgeted first film James Cameron turned the dial to 10 with this one. Arnold Schwarzenegger is awesome in his signature role but this movie really belongs to Robert Patrick who gives us one of the most cold and calculating villains in film history. Both Linda Hamilton and Edward did a pretty solid job as mother and son. Check out the extended cut which has some interesting scenes including the T-1000 experiencing glitches after being frozen. This is a classic that explodes out of the screen at you so check it out sometime.

Films to See Before You Die: #13 Dirty Harry

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Dirty Harry (1971)

Director: Don Siegel

Cast: Clint Eastwood, Andrew Robinson, Reni Santoni, John Vernon

Synopsis: Inspector Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) is the toughest cop in San Fransisco who always gets his man and is constantly getting in trouble with his superiors for breaking police protocol. His latest case is to track down the elusive Scorpio (Andrew Robinson) who has shot a young woman in a pool leaving a note ransoming the city of San Fransisco or he will kill more people. The Mayor (John Vernon) scrambles to try and get the ransom together, Callahan is outraged when he hears this but is told to cooperate.  To complicate things further Callahan has been assigned a new partner in rookie officer Chico Gonzalez (Reni Santoni), when we learn of the fate of Callahan’s other partners who are all dead or retired early. After the Scorpio kidnaps a young girl in anger for the ransom taking to long he then requests that a cop be made to run around town to deliver him the money the obvious choice is Callahan. After being run all around town Callahan is finally attacked by the Scorpio who takes the money and refuses to tell him where she is being hidden leaving Callahan unconscious. Callahan is able to stab him in the leg leaving him with a noticeable limp. After Callahan comes to he starts by checking the local clinics for someone fitting Scorpio’s description when they find a doctor who has treated a patient that matched the description of Scorpio. The doctor leads them to the football stadium nearby where he has seen the man who is given free room and board in the stadium for helping with odd jobs around the place. Callahan uses all his force to get the location of the girl from him, but when they find her the girl has been dead for some time. On top of that Callahan is brought up on charges for abusing the witness meaning he will walk with out being charged for murder and Callahan is told to stay away from Scorpio if he know whats good for him. Callahan does not listen to his superiors and begins to follow Scorpio which leads to a final showdown between the two men.

Trivia: One of the reasons why Don Siegel cast Andrew Robinson as Scorpio was because he wanted someone “with a face like a choirboy”. Clint Eastwood performed all his own stunts, including the stunt where he jumps onto the roof of the hijacked school bus from a bridge. His face is clearly visible throughout the shot. Andrew Robinson was cast at the behest of Clint Eastwood who had seen him in a Broadway production of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot”. Eastwood then convinced director Don Siegel that Robinson had the right unnerving characteristics to make an effective Scorpio.

Why I think you should see this: I love everything Clint Eastwood does but this is still my favourite of his movies he is just so convincing as Inspector Harry Callahan. Andrew Robinson is great as the Scorpio with his young and innocent looking face helps to make him all the more sadistic. Don Siegel’s direction is near perfection giving a good idea why Clint considered him to be such an important mentor. This is such a classic and I suggest you check it out sometime if you haven’t had the pleasure already.

Films to See Before You Die: #14 The Shawshank Redemption

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The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Director: Frank Darabont

Cast: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Clancy Brown, Bob Gunton

Synopsis: In 1947, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), a banker in Maine, is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover, a golf pro. He is given two life sentences and sent to the notoriously harsh Shawshank Prison. Andy always claims his innocence, but his cold and measured demeanor led many to doubt his word. During the first night, the chief guard, Byron Hadley (Clancy Brown), savagely beats a newly arrived inmate because of his crying and hysterics. The inmate later dies in the infirmary because the prison doctor had left for the night. Meanwhile Andy remained steadfast and composed. Ellis Redding (Morgan Freeman), also known as Red, bet against others that Andy would be the one to break down first and loses a considerable amount of cash. About a month later, Andy approaches Red, who runs contraband inside the walls of Shawshank. He asks if Red could find him a rock hammer, an instrument he claims is necessary for his hobby of rock collecting and sculpting. Red doesn’t think too much of Andy at first thinking that the general way about him didn’t suit Shawshank. Andy become quite friendly with Captain Hadley after he helps him with his taxes which eventually leads to an uncomfortable alliance with Warden Norton (Bob Gunton). After spending many years there dealing with the harsh reality of being in prison Andy finally has enough and plans his escape.

Trivia: Director Frank Darabont watched Goodfellas every Sunday while shooting Shawshank and drew inspiration from it on using voice-over narration and showing the passage of time. Rob Reiner loved Frank Darabont’s script so much that he offered $2.5 million for the rights to the script so he could direct it. Darabont seriously considered Reiner’s offer but ultimately decided that it was his “chance to do something really great” by directing the movie himself. Reiner wanted Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise to play Red and Andy respectively.

Why I think you should see this: I am not as well acquainted with this film as I am with most films on this list having only watched this movie twice but it was obvious about 30 minutes into my first viewing that this was something special. Morgan Freeman is just incredible as Red and Tim Robbins is amazing as Andy Dufresne. The narration of this movie set off a chain reaction of which almost any movie or documentary needing a voice over narration at least offered it to Morgan Freeman his voice is just perfect. I loved Clancy Brown as the sadistic Captain Hadley. This is one of the best movies ever and most people have seen it so check it out again for fun.

Films to See before You Die: #15 Die Hard

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Die Hard (1988)

Director: John McTiernan

Cast: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonny Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson

Synopsis: New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) is visiting his family in Los Angeles for the Christmas holidays. He is unexpectedly met at the airport by a limo driver who has been hired to take him to his wifes workplace the Nakatomi Plaza for the company Christmas party. His arrival is a surprise to his wife Holly (Bonny Bedelia), who had taken this prestigious job is L.A., leaving John in New York.They begin fight about their current living condition when Holly is asked to make a speech to her co-workers. At this moment terrorists have begun to take over the Nakatomi Plaza starting with subduing the security team and then crashing the party on the 30th floor. John is still waiting for Holly to return when he hears the gun fire not being able to grab his shoes he makes for the stair well and goes up to the 32nd floor where he tries to set off the fire alarm. Aware that they have company the terrorist leader Hans (Alan Rickman), sends a man up to investigate. McClane and the man fight with McClane killing him giving him another gun, he uses the body to send a message to Hans and also get an idea of who he is up against. While trying to get the police’s attention again McClane is shot at on the roof of the building so they send the closest squad car to the building to check it out. While checking the place out Sgt. Powell (Reginald VelJohnson), deems there to be nothing wrong. McClane impatient with the lack of cooperation throws the body of another terrorist of Powell’s car getting his full attention. Now that they have the police’s attention the situation turns into a media circus leaving McClane alone to fight the terrorists and save his wife.

Trivia: Director John McTiernan found it necessary to smash cut away from Hans Gruber’s face whenever he fired a gun, because of Alan Rickman’s uncontrollable habit of flinching from the noise and muzzle flash. If you look at Rickman’s face when he shoots Takagi, you can see him wincing. Bruce Willis was the sixth choice for the main character. It originally went to Arnold Schwarzenegger, then Sylvester Stallone, then Burt Reynolds, then Richard Gere, then Harrison Ford, then Mel Gibson before Willis got it.

Why I think you should see this: John McTiernan made quite the name for himself in the late ’80s early ’90s as one of the best action directors out there. With Die Hard and Predator arguably being the best action movies of the decade and then following them up with the incredible Hunt for Red October. That being said this movie would not have succeeded with out the awesome performance by Bruce Willis who is perfect as McClane. I often look at other actors considered for roles and say that another choice of actor would be interesting but I have never questioned the casting of Bruce Willis as John McClane because anyone else playing the part wouldn’t be able to add the heart that Willis does to the character. I am a huge Die Hard fan and recommend you check out all four films and if you know the series well you are just as excited as I am for the fifth installment A Good Day to Die Hard. Even though the names keep getting worse the movies stay at a pretty high quality which is rare for a quadrilogy to stay up to par so long. This is one of my favourites so check it out sometime or watch it for the umpteenth time for old times sake.