DVDs In My Collection [# - G]

  • 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY [1968. Aliens made us human - and they aren't done with us yet. Probably the most respected sf movie so far. Important both as sf and as cinema. If you are looking for effort-free entertainment, this isn't it.]
  • 2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT [1984. The sequel to 2001. Not in the same class, but a must see if you are serious about sf.]
  • 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA [1954. Disney's version of the Jules Verne novel about a misanthrope and his super submarine. The title refers to distance, not depth (as I used to think when I was a dumb kid).]
  • THE AFRICAN QUEEN [1951. I got this for my mother, but it's an oldie I really enjoy too. One of the most re-watchable movies ever made. A true classic of romantic adventure.]
  • ALL ABOUT EVE [1950.]
  • ALL THE KING'S MEN [1949.]
  • ALMOST FAMOUS [2000.]
  • ALTERED STATES [1980. Ever been tempted to try out a sensory deprivation tank? See this *after* you do. Stands up well as a good example of hard(ish) sf.]
  • AMADEUS [1984, 2002. Director's cut.]
  • THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN [1971. A team of scientists must find and analyse a deadly alien germ. Hard sf in which the suspense builds slowly but surely.]
  • ANIMAL CRACKERS [1930. The Marx Brothers. Still funny.]
  • ANNIE HALL [1977. One of the funniest romantic comedies. Woody Allen and Diane Keaton.]
  • ANTZ [1998. Animation. Almost as good as A Bug's Life.]
  • APOCALYPSE NOW [1979, redux 2001. Francis Ford Coppola's masterpiece (and, no, I'm not forgetting the Godfather movies). The greatest movie set in the Vietnam War. And, as usual, the longer cut of a movie is better.]
  • ARTHUR [1981. Great character-driven comedy. Probably the best movie by which to remember the late Dudley Moore. Fine performances also by John Geilgud and Liza Minelli.]
  • ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE [2001. A robot boy built to need love comes to believe he will never be loved until he is a 'real boy' and that there is a Blue Fairy who can turn him into a 'real boy'. (Can tragedy happen to artificial minds? Can artificial minds even be conscious? This story seems to assume affirmative answers to both questions. But how could anyone know?) Wouldn't it be wonderful to visit the alternate history in which Stanley Kubrick survived to make this movie, and compare it with the movie Steven Spielberg made!]
  • AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER [1997, 1999, 2002. These movies are by far the funniest of all attempts to parody James Bond. Bad taste so bad it's hilarious.]
  • BATMAN [1989. Could we wish for a better screen version of the classic comic? I think not. And Danny Elfman's music is immensely exciting and amusing.]
  • BATMAN RETURNS [1992. My favorite of the series. Penguin and Catwoman are priceless, and their scene together is extremely funny.]
  • BATMAN FOREVER [1995. Kilmer, Kidman and Carrey make this a worthy member of the series, but the fourth is a stinker (from Big Arnie's stinker period) and they can keep it.]
  • BEETLEJUICE [1988. I've always been a fan of Michael Keaton, and his performance here is incredible.]
  • BEING JOHN MALKOVICH [1999. A funny fantasy with actors playing themselves, plus some interesting puppetry.]
  • BELOW [2002. A good submarine movie, a good spooky movie, and a good mystery movie.]
  • BEN-HUR [1959. It won 11 (that's eleven) Oscars, including Best Picture. Need I say more? This DVD has...gasp!...a commentary by Charlton Heston!]
  • THE BICENTENNIAL MAN [1999. A good movie about a robot that not only wants to be human but wants to be legally declared human. Another theme is human mortality and robot immortality. An underrated movie.]
  • THE BIRDS [1963. Hitchcock achieves an almost surreal vividness in this movie. Perhaps only a master director could have made this thing work as well as it does. Some of the camera movements and point-of-view edits are obtrusive, yet they work anyway. The blackbird attack at the school and the gull attack at the gas station amaze me whenever I see them.]
  • BLACK HAWK DOWN [2001. I was lucky enough to see this at the cinema, where its fascinating visual effects really impress. Ridley Scott's art as a director is intensely visual, and this is one of his strongest works.]
  • BLACK ROBE [1991. A fascinating movie about French missionaries in 17thC Canada. Made by Australian director Bruce Beresford]
  • BLOW-UP [1966. A mesmerizing work of abstract cinematic art by director Michaelangelo Antonioni. This DVD has a commentary which points out the film's main philosophical argument, that the perception of reality is socially validated.]
  • THE BLUES BROTHERS [1980. Cult classic musical comedy. Very re-watchable. Very re-laughable.]
  • BODY HEAT [1981. A terrific neo-noir, equal to the best noirs of the forties. Don't miss that bitingly ironic final scene.]
  • BONNIE AND CLYDE [1967. Still a very watchable movie. Finely crafted by the director, with great performances by a cast most of whom have this movie to thank for subsequent successful careers.]
  • BRAINSTORM [1983. Sci-fi/horror blend with a great cast. A machine that records experiences accidentally records the experience of death. Natalie Wood's last film before her death by drowning. Also stars Christopher Walken, Louise Fletcher and Cliff Robertson.]
  • BOYZ N THE HOOD [1991]
  • BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA [1982. For my money, the best movie version of the Dracula story. Francis Ford Coppola's little visual conceits are a bonus for the attentive viewer.]
  • BRAVEHEART [1995. Excellent movie, and I have Scottish ancestors, ok?]
  • BRAZIL [1985. A wonderful, darkly funny fantasy about a romantic dreamer living in a technological and political nightmare. I first saw this at the cinema, where it impressed me more than any movie had since my childhood.]
  • A BRIDGE TOO FAR [1977. A grandiose WW2 epic directed by Richard Attenborough, director of Gandhi. You can see the money on the screen, but, while it's impressive, you get the feeling it should have been better.]
  • BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN [1935. James Whale's classic followup to his Frankenstein. An inexpensive DVD made in Australia, of all places.]
  • A BUG'S LIFE [1998. Okay, so the story's only a re-telling of The Magnificent Seven, which is itself only a re-telling of Seven Samurai, but the details are hilarious and the animation is awesome.]
  • THE CAINE MUTINY [1954.]
  • CASABLANCA [1942. Bogart defines cool, Bergman defines beautiful, Casablanca defines cinematic serendipity.]
  • CASINO [1995. A hard-as-nails story boasting excellent performances by Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Sharon Stone (outstanding!), and James Woods. Director: Martin Scorses.]
  • CHARADE [1963. Fun cast, fun story, fun movie.]
  • THE CHINA SYNDROME [1978. Surely one of the iconic movies of the 70s. Very much a work of its time, with its two main themes of environmentalism and feminism.]
  • CHINATOWN [1974.]
  • CITIZEN KANE [1941.]
  • CLEOPATRA [1963. The one starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Rex Harrison. A three disc set. I bought this at a bargain price (less than half its original price) at a K-Mart sale. I know my old Ma will like it.]
  • THE CLIENT [1994. Another one I got for my mother and which I too enjoy. Probably the best of the movies based on John Grisham books.]
  • A CLOCKWORK ORANGE [1971. A bit of the old ultra-violence, the old in out in out. Horrorshow.]
  • COMING TO AMERICA [1988. Yes, I bought an Eddie Murphy movie.]
  • CONTACT [1997. Wonderfully clear image. The space travel sequence is spectacular, beautiful and moving.]
  • COPYCAT [1995. A movie that I've liked more each time I've seen it (three times). Unusual in having two very strong female roles, besides being a cinematic primer on serial killers.]
  • CRIMSON TIDE [1995. I bought this mainly because it's a submarine movie. This DVD has something unique in my experience: a commentary for visually impaired viewers/listeners. The way it works is: when something happens on screen that you would miss if you were only listening, the commentary mentions it. For example, when the Captain's dog pisses on the deck.]
  • CROSS OF IRON [1977. Interesting WW2 story, directed by Sam Peckinpah. Cheap DVD.]
  • CYRANO DE BERGERAC [1990. This wonderful film makes the familiar story fresh again. Unreservedly recommended.]
  • DANCES WITH WOLVES [1990. Probably the best movie Kevin Costner has starred in, and one of the best about Native Americans.]
  • DANTE'S PEAK [1998. Scoff if you must, but this has superb special effects and a simple, likeable story.]
  • DARK CITY [1998.]
  • DAS BOOT [1985. The best submarine movie ever made? Perhaps. Certainly in the top three.]
  • DAY OF THE JACKAL [1973. The superior original which was remade as a vehicle for Bruce Willis, The Jackal]
  • THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE [1961. Excellent but little-known apocalyptic sf.]
  • THE DEAD ZONE [1983. One of the best movie adaptations of a Stephen King novel.]
  • DEEP IMPACT [2000. Hey, I'm a science fiction fanatic - so I'm allowed to buy movies like this.]
  • THE DEER HUNTER [1978.]
  • DIE HARD [1988. The action classic. "Welcome to the party, Pal!"]
  • DOCTOR ZHIVAGO [1965. My mother loves this.]
  • DRACULA [1931. "Listen to them. The children of the night..."]
  • DRESSED TO KILL [1980. Brian De Palma tries to outhitch Hitchcock, but, of course, he doesn't quite do it. Terrific first half, but after the brilliantly done scene in which Angie Dickinson bows out it goes downhill.]
  • DR STRANGELOVE [1963. Not just any great director's masterpiece, this is *Stanley Kubrick's* masterpiece. The greatest black comedy there is. Superb performances by Peter Sellars and George C.Scott. So many famous scenes that you'll never be culturally literate until you've seen this movie.]
  • DUCK SOUP [1933. Considered by many to be the Marx Brothers' best.]
  • DUNE [1984. Not many people realise it, but this is actually a great comedy movie and will eventually be recognised as such.
  • DUNE [1984. Extended edition. The director, David Lynch, disowned this version. Longer is not always better. In this case it is very much worse. No matter how cheaply you can get this DVD, don't get it.]
  • THE EAGLE HAS LANDED [1976. A highly entertaining WWII fantasy. Action, suspense, and erotic romance. Cast includes Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland, Robert Duvall, Jenny Agutter (Hot!), Larry Hagman and Donald Pleasence.]
  • EDGE OF DARKNESS [1985. Mini-series made for British television. A classic of anti-nuclearism. A policeman unofficially investigating the murder of his daughter discovers she was an anti-nuclear activist.]
  • ENTER THE DRAGON [1973. The legendary Bruce Lee at the peak of his skill. The climactic fight in the mirror room is special.]
  • E.T. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL [1982. Enhanced fx version. Probably the best sf movie aimed at children, and, of course, their adult carers can enjoy it too. Two disk set is available at a bargain price.]
  • EXCALIBUR [1981. John Boorman's lush and amusing version of the Arthurian legends.]
  • THE EXORCIST [1973. Extended version. Horrifying first half, but eventually it goes too far over the top and falls into self-parody. But while it's good it's very good.]
  • FAHRENHEIT 451 [1966. Interesting attempt to do justice to the famous novel, but it doesn't quite work. Director/cinematographer Nicolas Roeg made some great films (e.g. Don't Look Now; Walkabout), this is not at that level, but decidedly of interest to sf fans.]
  • FARGO [1996. How can something so horrible be so funny? But black comedy is a fact, and Fargo is a superb example of the genre.]
  • FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF [1986. Clever youth wins out against gullible age. A triumphant celebration of The (Young) Trickster's victory over The Man.]
  • FIERCE CREATURES [1997. Same cast as A Fish Called Wanda, but this is funnier. Yes it is.]
  • THE FIFTH ELEMENT [1997. Highly entertaining, somewhat eccentric, and the soundtrack will knock your socks off. Science fantasy has rarely been better.]
  • THE FINAL COUNTDOWN [1980. A U.S. aircraft carrier finds itself transported back in time and in a position to prevent the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. A triumph of story over uninspired direction.]
  • FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN [2001. Yet another landmark in computer animation, but the story is ho-hum fantasy in science fictional clothing and the characters are as interesting as Barbie and Ken dolls.]
  • FLYING HIGH [1980. U.S. title AIRPLANE! Funny by weight of numbers. An amazingly high gag-per-minute level. But the terrific cast adds value too. And stop calling me 'Shirley'.]
  • FORBIDDEN PLANET [1956. Watch this and see how much it reminds you of Star Trek. For all you Trekkies, this is the missing link between Shakespeare (it borrows from The Tempest) and Roddenberry.]
  • FORREST GUMP [1994. Great screenplay, but this is the movie that showed the limits of Tom Hanks's acting ability.]
  • FORT APACHE [1948. John Wayne and Henry Fonda directed by John Ford. Amazing political honesty in this story of an incompetent commander turned into a 'hero' despite sacrificing most of his men for his pride's sake.]
  • THE FOURTH ANGEL [2001. A newsman seeks revenge against the terrorists who murdered his family. More realistic than you would expect.]
  • FRANKENSTEIN [1931. James Whale's classic of horror/sf.]
  • THE FRENCH CONNECTION [1971. One of those movies that was so influental that when you look back on it seems nothing special because it's much like so many other movies (because they have, directly or indirectly, copied it). A two disc set, with a commentary by Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider and another by director William Friedkin. The second disc includes deleted scenes and two documentaries.]
  • FRENZY [1972. Hitchcock's third serial-killer movie pulls no punches. Warning: contains very disturbing scenes of rape and murder.]
  • FROM HERE TO ETERNITY [1953. I wonder how much the recent movie Pearl Harbor was influenced by this. Military life, including a three-sided romance, against a backdrop of the Japanese attack. Won eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor (Frank Sinatra). Legend has it that this is the movie alluded to in The Godfather's notorious horse-head-in-the-bed sequence, something that is explicitly denied by director Fred Zinneman in his audio commentary.) A surprising amount of extra material is crowded onto a single disc.]
  • FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE [1963. One of the best of the James Bond series.]
  • GANDHI [1982. Wonderful, moving account of the life of one of history's most amazing characters.]
  • GATTACA [1997. Life, ambition, love and death in a future dystopia in which your genetic profile determines your place in society. Among the top ten sf movies so far.]
  • THE GETAWAY [1972 The superior original directed by Sam Peckinpah.]
  • THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS [1996. Two man-killing lions prey on a construction crew building a railway bridge in Africa in the 19th century. Based on a true story which can be read here . Interesting musical score based on Irish folk tunes but with a strong African influence.]
  • GHOSTBUSTERS [1984. Bill Murray romances Sigourney Weaver while busting a serious ectoplasmic outbreak in NYC. Rick Moranis nearly steals the show.]
  • GLORY [1989.]
  • THE GODFATHER COLLECTION [1972, 1974, 1990. Contains the three Godfather movies plus an extras disc. An offer no cinema buff could refuse. Easily the gangster epic of choice. Al Pacino acts rather than mugs to the camera in the first two of these movies.]
  • GOLDFINGER [1964. High on anyone's Best of Bond list. When I was a kid I had a grey Aston Martin with rear pop-up bullet-proof shield, twin front fender machine guns, extendable bumpers, and, best of all, push button front passenger ejector seat with opening roof and dipensible plastic bad guy - all battery operated of course. One of my most memorable toys.]
  • GONE WITH THE WIND [1939. Still a great movie. The greatest, or grandest, chick-flick ever made.]
  • THE GRADUATE [1967]
  • THE GREAT ESCAPE [1963. Great (true) story, great cast, great movie.]
  • THE GREAT GATSBY [1974. I don't know how well it compares with the novel, not having read the novel, but I like the movie. Mystery, glamour, love, tragedy, and a large pair of spectacles (no, Odysseus, not anyone's breasts, just eyeglasses, but psychologically important too.)]
  • THE GREAT RACE [1965. Comedy spectacular re-teaming Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. Also stars Natalie Wood and Peter Falk. Odd plot starts as an around the world auto race but ends up rehashing the Prisoner of Zenda.]
  • GROUNDHOG DAY [1993. See my mini-review .]
  • THE GUNS OF NAVARONE [1961. Not bad, well-casted, re-watchable war epic.]
Author Comments: 

Yes, I am now the proud owner of a DVD player (Toshiba SD 1200). Goodbye videotape cassettes, your day has ended - or will have when DVD players become recorders too.

Why do I buy so many DVDs? Have you tried to watch a movie on commercial tv lately? I can't bear to do it anymore.

Cool! Pretty nice, huh? In addition to the improved picture/sound quality, and more widely available letterbox prints, the thing I like most about DVDs is how educational I find most extra features (esp. good commentary tracks). It's nice to be able to see some of the process. It serves to dymystify the moviemaking process, while at the same time making the work involved that much more impressive.

Jim, I have to admit to being somewhat ambivalent about the extra features. True, they are educational and raise one's appreciation of the sheer work (and often danger) involved in movie making; but then, even in my pre-DVD days I often found myself marvelling at what wonderful feats of logistical organisation must be performed in modern film making, and when these "Making of"s started becoming common I usually didn't watch them and they still don't appeal to me much. I was surprised at how eager the industry seems to be to de-mystify itself - but I guess it's market-driven; the movies is a par excellence example of a market-driven industry.

Your collection is expanding rapidly! We have a bit of overlap here, and you have some titles I covet. And I thought I was the only one that liked Mars Attacks!

Yes, Jim, it's curious to me that MARS ATTACKS! wasn't a big success for Burton; I find it hilarious on several levels: the performances (notably Martin Short's lustful press secretary), the Martians' sick sense of humour, Danny Elfman's music, the garish colour-scheme, the twisted homage to H.G.Wells' WAR OF THE WORLDS (I mean having the Martians be fatally allergic to yodeling, whereas Wells made them fatally allergic to the common cold), to mention just a few.

Agreed. I remember my favorite moment being the aliens saying, via their little translator boxes, "Don't run, we're your friends!" as they are blasting people left and right. It works so well because the humans continue to give the aliens the benefit of the doubt, vaporization after vaporization.

"Do the martians have two sexes? Like we do?"


Ben Hur won all 5 top Oscars? Which 5 are we talking about? It didn't win Best Actress or Best Script (it was nominated for screenplay, but lost), so along with Picture, Actor, and Director, what are the other 2 tops? Sound?

Usually when people speak of the top 4 Oscars, they are referring to Director, Picture, Actor, and Actress. I believe It Happened One Night, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and Silence of the Lambs are the only film to nab all four of these awards.

Just curious...

We have several DVDs in common. Isn't it nice to watch The Wild Bunch in beautifully restored widescreen?

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I hate being inaccurate. But let me assure you I don't mind being corrected. In fact I appreciate it. Thanks. I knew SILENCE OF THE LAMBS was a record holder, and I think it must have been IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT I saw it coupled with. How I confused that with BEN-HUR I don't know. Anyway, it won a wheelbarrowful of Oscars.

I plan to do a review of THE WILD BUNCH. I think the key word is 'redemption'. TWB is the story of how a bunch of murderous outlaws finally redeem themselves - and how an ex-member [Robert Ryan's character] who chooses to betray them to 'the law' remains unredeemed.

With Ben Hur, I was really curious if you remembered some award it won that I didn't. It certainly won too many to keep tabs on in my mind!

You're absolutely right about The Wild Bunch. The redemption of the outlaws was achieved within their own unorthodox moral code, while the more conventionally moral (ie, law-aiding) character simply obeys the rules and earns no real redemption. For all the fireworks in the movie, is there really a more powerful scene than, "Let's go"?

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Fierce Creatures funnier that Wanda?! <<gasp>> <<expire>>

Just kidding. Humor is so subjective. I'm really enjoying your commentary on this list! But I think Alan Rickman got all the best lines in Die Hard ("I am an exceptional thief! And since I'm making the move up to kidnapping, I'd be more polite!")

And his commentary is so often dead-on. Licence to Kill certainly is one of the best Bonds, marred only by a goofy stunt at the end.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, GANDHI, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS and ON THE WATERFRONT are from a series of Academy Award Winners on DVD. I got them at a bargain price from K-Mart on a 15%-off sale day.

Sir Bertie, have you considered highlighting new additions?


Bertie, a question for you and any others who care to share, do you listen to the commentaries on these DVD's?

I find it very distracting to watch and can not say I listen to many of them but I would like to know what other thinks about it.


Yes, I do. As I see it, the idea is to become familiar with the movie before playing the commentary, because, often, the first thing you'll hear is a spoiler. The commentaries vary, of course, in quality but they often enhance your enjoyment of the movie. Some are by directors, some by actors, and there are even some by fx technicians. The APOLLO 11 dvd has one by director Ron Howard and another by astronaut Jim Lovell and his wife! And there's a Speilberg movie called THE GOONIES that had a cast of young teen actors - the dvd commentary has most of them back as adults, and every so often during the commentary we see them, about seven of them plus the director, sitting at a long table. One thing I've found is that commentaries are sometimes hidden. For example, I didn't know COPYCAT had a director's commentary until I happened to go to the 'languages' page - it wasn't on the 'special features' page.

I usually start them to get a sense if I'm going to enjoy them or not. They're hit-or-miss, but the good ones are definitely worth the time, and often educational. For example, while I really didn't care for Blair Witch 2 , Berlinger is a well-respected documentarian, so I was curious as to what the hell he was thinking. It was clear from his commentary that he put a lot of thought into it, and had a reason for just about every shot in the movie. Not that it makes the movie any more successful, but getting inside his head was quite interesting, and it did make me respect his effort--if not the end result--quite a bit more.

My favorite commentary tracks so far are probably Fight Club and This is Spinal Tap, (which the original cast does in character!).

I can find a fair amount of Shakespeare on Amazon. Of course, it's all Region 1. Are you being victimized by region restrictions?

I don't know. But I've been around several different purveyors of the miracle discs. The local K-Mart, where I buy most, has Henry V on its Coming Soon list, and, come to think of it, I have seen Lurhman's Romeo + Juliet on offer, but it's far from being my preferred version.