The Blog

Why Once Is Never Enough

Fact is, I loved The Godfather when I originally saw it. I loved The Godfather the second time I saw it. I loved The Godfather the third time I saw it. I loved The Godfather the fourth time I saw it...

Do you remember your first time? I do. I must have been 16 and although the whole experience lasted for 175 minutes (Impressive? I thought so), for me it was all over far too quickly. I could easily have managed another 60 before Moe Greene finally got it in the eye.

Fact is, I loved The Godfather when I originally saw it. I loved The Godfather the second time I saw it. I loved The Godfather the third time I saw it. I loved The Godfather the fourth time I saw it...

The other evening I happened to watch The Godfather for the, oh, I don't know. I've now lost count of the number of times I've seen it. Needless to say, I loved it just as much as ever.

Those scenes which after 42 years really should have started to wither with familiarity simply didn't. Instead, they continued to fizz. Johnny Fontane singing I Have But One Heart at Connie's wedding. Sonny banging the bride's maid upstairs. Tom Hagen going to visit Jack Woltz in Hollywood. Michael killing Sollozzo and McCluskey. Vito dying in his garden. Kay revealing that rather than a miscarriage, she actually had an abortion. "An abortion Michael, just like our marriage is an abortion".

There are some movies, and Coppola's masterpiece is definitely one of them, where the enjoyment experienced doesn't seem to diminish, no matter the frequency with which they're shown.

You can watch them as many times as you wish and they remain fresh. From the opening titles to the closing credits, they draw you in with a vice like cinematic grip and refuse to let go, shaking every last ounce of emotion from your being until you sit there, hardly able to drag yourself away from the screen.

We all have our own list of films that could bear repeated viewing. Movies that if we were on our death bed, we'd want to see once more before departing for that great multiplex in the sky.

It has always struck me as strange how the condemned prisoner is allowed to eat the last meal of their choice. Wouldn't it be better, kinder, more compassionate and culturally more enriching to let them watch the last movie of their choice?

I have a feeling that we might be surprised by the selections: Bambi, Annie, Mary Poppins, the Little Mermaid and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. What, no Evil Dead, no Hostel, no Kill Bill, no 300 and no Angels with Dirty Faces where Rocky Sullivan goes to the electric chair a snivelling, crying coward?

Personally, if I found myself in a similarly unfortunate situation, I'd go for something such as Modern Times Forever, the Danish experimental film with a running time of 10 days. You'd be hard pressed to make any steak dinner last that long. With any luck, the executioner would get bored and go home, undoubtably to watch Reservoir Dogs.

Anyway, here, for what it's worth are my top 20 pictures that deserve to be watched again and again and again. It's constantly evolving and this time next year, it might be totally different. As with many comparable lists, The Swarm is nowhere to be seen, although from a purely ironic perspective, I was sorely tempted to include Piranha 3D.

At number 20, it's Casablanca. At number 19, it's Annie Hall. At number 18, it's Tootsie. While at number 17, it's Citizen Kane. And at number 16, it's North by Northwest.

Numbers 15 to 10 are as follows: Psycho, The Apartment, Kind Hearts and Coronets, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, Giant - was Elizabeth Taylor ever more beguiling and James Dean more sadly mourned? - and The Italian Job. Michael Caine's performance surpassed in no small measure by those of Noel Coward, Benny Hill and Irene Handl as Miss Peach.

At number 9, it's Gene Kelly's and Stanley Donen's quintessential musical, Singing in the Rain. At number 8, it's All About Eve. At number 7, it's not as you might expect, Seven. It is, however, Sunset Boulevard, with perhaps one of the greatest opening scenes committed to celluloid

And at number 6, it's Withnail and I. Thanks to Bruce Robinson's fantastic script, how many of us have found ourselves in a tea shop demanding to be served the finest wines known to humanity? I know I have and I'm teetotal.

Can you guess the top five?

Well, at number 5, it's A New Leaf. Alas, you'll have a hard job finding this comic gem. But it is worth seeking out. Anything with Elaine May is, of course, a laugh out loud triumph and when she's coupled with Walter Matthau, the result is totally unmissable.

At number 4, it's The Godfather Part 11- proof if proof was needed that sometimes sequels can match the greatness of their originals.

And at number 3, it's Body Heat. Few will agree with this rather odd choice, but inspired by Double Indemnity, it has many memorable exchanges of dialogue between the characters played by Kathleen Turner and William Hurt.

Matty: My temperature runs a couple of degrees high, around a hundred. I don't mind. It's the engine or something.

Ned: Maybe you need a tune up.

Matty: Don't tell me. You have just the right tool.

At number 2, it's the aforementioned and already discussed, The Godfather.

Not surprisingly, at number 1, it's Some Like It Hot. If Billy Wilder had only made one film in his whole career, this would have more than enough. Its stars are no longer with us, but their performances live on; testament to the complete and utter genius of all involved.

At the end when Jerry takes off his wig and shouts out "I'm a man", Osgood responds, "Well, nobody's perfect".

Maybe not, but this movie's as near dammit to perfection as you're ever likely to get.