Pop Culture

‘Oz,’ ‘Godfather’ among top genre films

Snow White, Dorothy Gale, the HAL 9000 computer, Charles Chaplin’s Little Tramp and Marlon Brando’s Godfather share top billing among the American Film Institute’s best genre movies.

Films featuring those characters were among the No. 1 picks Tuesday on the AFI’s top-10 lists of the finest flicks in 10 genres, including mystery, Westerns, sports tales and courtroom dramas.

The winners included “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” for animation; “The Wizard of Oz,” featuring Dorothy and her little dog, for fantasy; “2001: A Space Odyssey,” with HAL the demented computer, for science fiction; Chaplin’s “City Lights” for romantic comedy; and Brando’s “The Godfather” for gangster flicks.

The other No. 1 movies: Westerns, “The Searchers”; sports, “Raging Bull”; courtroom drama, “To Kill a Mockingbird”; epics, “Lawrence of Arabia”; and mysteries, “Vertigo.”

Not surprisingly, Alfred Hitchcock dominated the mystery category. Besides “Vertigo,” he landed three others on that top-10 list: “Rear Window” at No. 3, “North By Northwest” at No. 7 and “Dial M for Murder” at No. 9.

Chaplin’s “City Lights” from 1931, one of only two silent films to make the genre lists, was a surprise, beating such popular modern romances as “Annie Hall” (No. 2), “When Harry Met Sally ...” (No. 6) and “Sleepless in Seattle” (No. 10).

“This is why these shows are so important. They keep these films in the cultural conversation,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI president. “When ‘City Lights’ is honored as the No. 1 romantic comedy, millions of people will go back and watch it again.”

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The best genre movies were announced in the CBS special “AFI’s 10 Top 10,” the latest in the institute’s annual best-of shows. The winners were chosen by actors, filmmakers, critics and others in Hollywood from ballots that included 50 nominees in each genre.

Past AFI lists have included rankings of the top-100 American films, comedies, love stories, screen stars and movie quotes.

Walt Disney ruled the animation category. Trailing 1937’s “Snow White,” the first feature-length animated film, in the top-five were the Disney tales “Pinocchio,” “Bambi,” “The Lion King” and “Fantasia.”

Two Disney-Pixar computer-animated comedies made the list, “Toy Story” at No. 6 and “Finding Nemo” at No. 10. The only non-Disney cartoon was “Shrek” at No. 8.

Some filmmakers were confined to their best-known specialties, such as Hitchcock in mysteries and “The Searchers” director John Ford in Westerns. Others landed films in several genres.

Steven Spielberg had Nos. 3 and 8 among epics with “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan” and No. 3 among sci-fi movies with “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” Besides “2001,” Stanley Kubrick had the No. 4 sci-fi tale with “A Clockwork Orange” and the No. 5 epic with “Spartacus.”

Along with “Raging Bull” in sports, Martin Scorsese was on the gangster list with “Goodfellas” at No. 2.

Some actors crossed genre boundaries, too. James Stewart popped up in four categories: Fantasy with “It’s a Wonderful Life” (No. 3) and “Harvey” (No. 7); romantic comedy with “The Philadelphia Story” (No. 5); courtroom drama with “Anatomy of a Murder” (No. 7); and mystery with two Hitchcock flicks, “Vertigo” and “Rear Window.”

Tom Hanks also made four genres: Fantasy with “Big” (No. 10); romantic comedy with “Sleepless in Seattle”; epics with “Saving Private Ryan”; and animation with “Toy Story,” for which he provided lead vocals.

Diane Keaton had films in three categories: Gangster flicks with the two “Godfather” movies (Part II was No. 3 on the list); epics with “Reds” (No. 9); and romantic comedy with “Annie Hall.”

Major movie franchises were snubbed as fantasy nominees “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Spider-Man 2,” “Batman” and “Superman” failed to make the cut.

Such popular Westerns as “Dances With Wolves” and “The Magnificent Seven” were excluded, while best-picture winners “Chariots of Fire” and “Million Dollar Baby” landed outside the top-10 in the sports category.

Gazzale said part of the fun of the film lists is the debate they prompt over which movies are included and omitted.

“These countdowns are a collective opinion of leaders from across the film community. Any surprise about an omission would be entirely subjective,” Gazzale said.

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