SASY Wrap #5 – …And a SASY New Year

And so the epic saga continues. We here at Fan With a Movie Yammer are now 50 films — count ’em 50 films — into our experimental plunge into the Top 250 films of all time. That sounded impressive until we realized it means we still have 200 to go. Luckily our interest remains keen and our willingness to flood the screen with pixels remains undiminished. A quick scan through our word counts and a gambol through Google reveals to us that our yammers on these 50 movies are collectively longer than Sense and Sensibility, so take that Jane Austen! We only mention that because we really have enjoyed this experience and we think that tucked away in our small mountain of verbiage are some actual decent insights — hopefully you have been exploring our site and will agree.

But on to films 41 — 50. This most recent batch of 10 saw us thoroughly entrenched in American cinema of the early 1940s, as only one film was not from the United States (and it was a British short documentary, so no subtitles this go round). In this wrap up we’ll express the merits and problems with American cinema of the period, and why we are really jonesing for some European or Asian films right now. We will touch on reputation versus merit when it comes to film and film criticism. And we’ll try to sort out our own puzzlement over the inclusion of some of these films in the Top 250. But first, as tradition demands, our respective (and this time nearly identical) rankings of the last 10 films.



1. Casablanca (1942) 1. Citizen Kane (1941)
2. Citizen Kane (1941) 2. Casablanca (1942)
3. The Lady Eve (1941) 3. The Lady Eve (1941)
4. His Girl Friday (1940) 4. His Girl Friday (1940)
5. Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) 5. Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)
6. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) 6. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
7. The Grapes of Wrath (1940) 7. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
8. To Be or Not To Be (1942) 8. To Be or Not To Be (1942)
9. The Great Dictator (1940) 9. The Great Dictator (1940)
10. Listen to Britain (1942) 10. Listen to Britain (1942)

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#81 (tie) – The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), dir. Orson Welles


Faith, hope, and charity. Tim Holt stars as the spoiled sociopath George Minafer in Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons, a film many believe to have been decimated by studio tinkering behind the director’s back.

Poor Orson. With his first film (Citizen Kane), Orson Welles knocked it out of the park, but only really in the eyes of later film scholars and enthusiasts. At the time of its release in 1941, Kane was a failure at the box office and actually booed at the Academy Awards (although it did pick up a screenwriting Oscar). So the pressure was on for Welles to deliver a hit with his second film, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). It was not to be. The Magnificent Ambersons follows the decaying fortunes of the Amberson family from Victorian elites to forgotten relics in the 20th century. The journey is largely chronicled through the story of Amberson scion George Minafer, a vicious, entitled lout with a pretty serious mother fixation. George clings tenaciously to the former glory of the Amberson name while courting Lucy, the daughter of an inventor and automobile entrepreneur who happens to be in love with George’s mother. Though gorgeously and meticulously shot, the dark drama went over terribly with preview audiences. While Welles was overseas on a project, the studio ruthlessly cut about 50 minutes from the film and tacked on a happy ending, essentially destroying the original vision of the movie. Sadly, only this truncated version remains today, and it became the first of many occasions where the genius behind Citizen Kane would see his films slashed or undermined by studio hacks. (88 min.) Continue reading