Humphrey Bogart has starred in many great films including "The Maltese Falcon," "The Big Sleep," "To Have and Have Not," "Dark Passage," "Key Largo," "The Petrified Forest," "Marked Woman," "Dark Victory," "They Drive By Night," "High Sierra," "Sabrina," "Dead Reckoning," "The Treasure of Sierra Madre," "It's a Lonely Place," "The African Queen" and "We're No Angles." There are a few other films that qualify as really good if not classics. And all of those are films I would rank ahead of "Casablanca."
I've never cared for Ingrid Bergman until the 60s. She was so frothy and fake, to me. The exception being her work with Hitchcock.
I was asked to offer my thoughts for the best Christmas movies. So I'm going to do a top ten list.
1) "Miracle on 34th Street." A little girl meets a department store Santa and believe's he's real. This film has been remade over and over since the original. Only the original holds up. In that film, Natalie Wood plays the little girl. Don't underestimate her importance to the film.
2) "Meet Me in St. Louise." Vincent Minnelli directed Judy Garland in this classic which has Garland debuting the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
3) "Meet John Doe." Frank Capra directs Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper in a film that's a comedy and a drama and offers a critique of politics and journalism and zips along so fast. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry. It's an amazing film and held together by Stanwyck.
4) "Christmas in Connecticut." Barbara Stanwyck as a journalist again. Here she's an advice columnist, a sort of Martha Stewart type. But she can't cook and has no farm. Or husband. But her publisher doesn't know that and wants her to entertain a GI, Jefferson Jones. So she gets a place in Connecticut, a baby, a boyfriend to pretend to be her husband and . . . love for Jefferson Jones. She's convinced everyone she is the woman she presents in her column but now all she wants is to tell the truth and go off with Jones (Dennis Morgan). This is a really great Christmas film.
5) "Edward Scissorhands." A Tim Burton classic. Johnny Depp plays the title character who has scissors for hands. Winona Ryder is the woman who realizes too late she's falling for him. I think this was Vincent Price's last film.
6) "Bell, Book and Candle." This 1958 film stars Kim Novak who's great with Jimmy Stewart as her love interest. But the real surprise is Jack Lemmon. "Some Like It Hot" is Lemmon at his best and he'd do many great films with Billy Wilder directing ("Irma La Duce," "The Apartment," etc.) but few other directors really got something great out of him. I don't mean he was bad, I just don't mean he didn't really seem like a leading man (even when he was the leading man of the film -- see "Under The Yum-Yum Tree"). But in a supporting role, he's great in this film and you get so excited watching him that you realize why he became a star to begin with. He plays a warlock named Nicky, the brother of Kim's witch character.
7) "Three Days of the Condor." This Robert Redford film shares something in common with the handful of other classics he's made: A strong leading lady. Faye Dunaway, in this film. (Jane Fonda in "Barefoot in the Park" and "The Electric Horseman," Natalie Wood in "This Property Is Condemned" and "Inside Daisy Clover."). This is a dark film about what happens when the government turns on you. Redford gives his all time best dramatic performance in this film. (It takes place at Christmas time.)
8) "Desk Set." Computers take over the work place leaving Katharine Hepburn and company worried they will have no jobs. Still pertinent today! Spencer Tracy co-stars and Hepburn's at her best when she gets drunk (especially when she sings "Night and Day") but Bunny's probably the best character she ever had to play in her match ups with Tracy.
9) "Sleepless in Seattle." What does this film starring Meg Ryan have in common with the film above. Nora Ephron directed and co-wrote this film. Her parents Henry and Phoebe Ephron wrote the script for "Desk Set." In this film, Meg's engaged to be married but, on Christmas Eve, she hears a kid call into a national radio program and talk about his dad (Tom Hanks) who then gets on the line with Dr. Nora and Annie (Meg Ryan) falls in love. With great supporting work by Rosie O'Donnell, Rob Reiner, Rita Wilson and Victor Garber.
10) "Die Hard." Bruce Willis stars as a man who takes on terrorists in a bank at Christmas. Because sometimes, it ain't Christmas unless there's an explosion!
Seriously, I tried to vary it a bit. I do a list like this each year at this time and I didn't just want to repeat so I tried to make some new inclusions this year. 1,2,3,4 and 8 have always been on the previous lists. In addition to those five, I tried to grab five different ones this year.
Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"