By Michelle Miles

So the other day I was perusing the Barnes & Noble website, when I came across this cool new book: 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. (Click here to see the book or purchase.)

WOW! Okay – I had to get this book. I consider myself a movie buff. Granted, I don't see everything under the sun but I do see a lot of movies. And I wondered how many of the 1001 movies I had already seen and what was I missing. (It also helped the cover has Indiana Jones on it – my first true love.)

I emailed the link to Man with a PLEASE?!? Which translates to the big puppy dog eyes. As girls, we learned to do this with our Dads to get what we wanted and by the time we're 30+ and have a man in our life, we've perfected it so well, we can do it via email. ;)

Anyway, so he ordered the book for me just in time for my post here at popculturedivas Convenient timing, eh? The book is Ginormous. I don't know what I was expecting but certainly not something so...big. It's a hardback book with a dust jacket and 960 pages of Moviedom, complete with a handy checklist at the front. This is the October 2008 edition, by the way.

And so on Friday when the book arrived, I tore open the box with glee and then began my two-hour long perusal of the book. It's jam-packed with photos, a little synopsis of each movie and opinions by contributors, starting with a silent movie released in 1902: Le Voyage Dans La Lune (a.k.a. A Trip To The Moon). I can personally say I've never laid eyes on this movie but there are some iconic pictures that are widely recognizable. The Moon with the missile-like spaceship right in its eye, for example. According to the book, the movie "represents a revolution for the time" and clocks in at only 14 minutes. But at the turn of the century, there weren't movie theaters with stadium seating and THX sound in every major town.

There's a long list of silent-era movies through the 1920s. But in 1927, cinema history was born again with the first "talkie" - The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson. It introduced innovative changes in the industry, revolutionizing Hollywood and changing the way movies were viewed and made. As the 1930s and a Depression-Era world was ushered in, people used the movies to escape their lives. Movies such as Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), 42nd Street (1933) ("the grandmother of backstage musicals"), The Thin Man (1934) (the popularity of Nick and Nora spawned numerous copies such as McMillian & Wife and Hart to Hart) and so on brought the world imagination, humor, horror, singing, dancing, and romance.

You'd expect to find movies like Casablanca (1942) (offering up tons of quotable lines), Gone With The Wind (1939) (the director burned down the old King Kong sets for the burning of Atlanta), Captain Blood (1935) (who can resist the dashing Errol Flynn?), The Wizard of Oz (1939), and other classics. Even Disney makes the cut with Snow White (1937), Dumbo (1941) and Pinocchio (1940), as well as a few others.

On the list of Movies I'd Forgotten About:

The Red Shoes (1948)
Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Notorious (1946)

But you're probably thinking, That's all well and good, Michelle, but what about more current movies?

You're right of course. I get caught up in the classics because, for me, they defined the cinema. They made movies what they are today. And sometimes we forget the old and replace it with the newer, bigger, better, louder, more visually awesomey awesomeness. The men today are not as dashing and debonair (Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart) and the women aren't as classically beautiful (Greer Garson, Ingrid Bergman) as they were in Old Hollywood.

But I digress…

On the list of Movies I've Seen More Than Once After the Year of my Birth:

Star Wars (1977)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Blade Runner (1982)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
The English Patient (1996)
Braveheart (1995)
Terminator (1984)
Die Hard (1988)
Batman (1989)
Lord Of The Rings (2001, 2002 and 2003)

Of course, this is merely a partial list. I wouldn't want to bore you. ;)

Most notably absent from the book: Pirates of the Caribbean (2003), Superman (1978), Star Trek (ANY Star Trek!), Excalibur (1981), Sex and the City. How can these not make the cut? Okay, granted Superman wasn't all that spectacular and perhaps Sex and the City is too "girlie" for the big list of 1001 movies. But Star Trek? And Pirates? Not even a mention? I'm disappointed in that.

I can't say I'll see everything in the book – some are too difficult for me to sit through (A Nightmare of Elm Street [1984] for one, though I did see it WAAAAY back when it was in the theater. Through my fingers. Does that count?). I do find, though, the book a great challenge for a movie-goer like myself. I'd love to check off the movies in the book, for fun, to see how many I really have seen. No, I haven't yet but you can believe I will. Man and I thought it would be a fun thing to do (and he was very happy that Mad Max [1979] was in the book as well. Haha)

So – what would be on YOUR personal list of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die?

Michelle Miles is an avid movie watcher, writes romance, drinks coffee and collects shoes. You can learn more about her books at http://www.michellemiles.net.


  1. Three biggies in my book--
    Cape Fear with Robert Mitchum
    Elmer Gantry: Burt Lancaster
    On the Beach: Gregory Peck

    And always always, Singing in the Rain.

  2. Hi Michelle!

    (picking up Facebook invite)

    Big movie fan here, much rather sit through a movie than most TV. I've seen all the movies you've mention with the exception of The Red Shoes, I keep meaning to order it. I've even seen all the movies that Anonymous listed!

    As far as silent movies goes, The General with Buster Keaton is a favorite.

    I've never seen all of the movie From Here to Eternity with Burt Lancaster (1953). It's so sad and brutal, I start watching and have to stop. The love story so sweet and forbidden. One day I will finish it.

    I am totally with you about the Star Trek movies, any and all of them and TV series for that matter. Too Good!

    Dottie :)

  3. Michelle, I am surprised that at least one Star Trek movie wasn't mentioned, but I'll bet the first Star Wars movie was there. (My favorite Star Trek movie is the one where they come back in time for the whales.) You named some of my fav movies and so did Anonymous. My husband and I watch more movies than TV and have the Roku box that connects his computer to our family room TV so we can watch Instant View Netflix--which can eat up time I should be writing. And we love the PBS mystery series Albert Campion, Lord Peter Wimsey, Inspector Allyn, and the numerous Agatha Christie selctions. I love the clothes and home furnishings of the 1930's.

  4. Oh, fun.

    To Kill a Mockingbird
    The Lives of Others
    Lars and the Real Girl
    Desk Set
    Philadelphia Story
    and my secret favorite: Bring It On

    And now--I'll be thinking about this all day!


  5. Hi Michelle. I laughed at the big eyes via email comment. I know exactly what you mean. The movie book sounds like a fun read. Glad your puppy eyes worked on Man.

    Don't know if any of these movies are included, but I'd have to add my favorites: West Side Story, The Way We Were, Out of Africa, To Kill A Mockingbird (agreeing with Hank!), The Breakfast Club, Ocean's Eleven, Galaxy Quest, The Polar Express, It's a Wonderful Life, Harry Potter (take your pick), and my all time favorite, Operation Sheba. Oh, wait, that's only in my fantasy life. LOL. Sorry, got carried away...


  6. So many great movies to choose from. Maybe they're sitting on the more recent ones (i.e. Star Trek) and waiting for next year for the new edition. I'm sure the book included Lord of the Rings. (I hope so)! I would include as others have mentioned - To Kill a Mockingbird & The Harry Potter movies as well. , Also - Cinema Paradiso, Bicycle Thieves, Bonnie and Clyde, On the Waterfront, Psycho, Fargo, Pulp Fiction, When Harry Met Sally - so many more...Fun article! :D

  7. Like you, Michelle, I'm a HUGE movie buff. So many movies, so little time! I keep buying more and more movies, and my only problem is that I don't have time to watch them all. For example, would you believe I haven't watched any of the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN series? When I realized there would be a sequel, I decided to wait. I love watching sequels back to back. I LOVE the Bourne series. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD as well is one of my favourites, as is THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (fingers crossed that the story about Morgan Freeman isn't true), MISERY, MEMENTO was awesome, and I also loved MAGNOLIA (boy, did this film ever resonate with me). Some recent flicks. BLOOD DIAMOND was awesome, as was TRAITOR. CRY FREEDOM...wow. There are so many! I can't even begin to list all the movies on my must-see list!

  8. Oh--and THELMA AND LOUISE. I LOVE that movie.

  9. One movie that I watch every time it comes on TV is "Texas Across the River." The cast is great... Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Mel Brooks and on and on. It's a western, which normally never catches my attention, but it's so funny that you can't help but love it.

  10. Hi Michelle - just got home from work, so can finally get to this. I think the timing of the "Sex and the City" movie is why it's not in the book. May of 2008 was probably too close to publication, they may have had a cut-off on that. Anyway, like Caroline - I love "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home". I will always laugh at Spock and Kirk on the bus. My favorite though is "It's a Wonderful Life", I know a lot of people think it's sappy - but the message is really good, so I would encourage anyone to see it. Also on the list should be "You Can't Take if With You" - hilarious. "The Music Man"; "The Great Raid"; "The Longest Day"; "Tora!Tora!Tora!"; "The Uninvited"(original with Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey); "Hold That Ghost"; "The Canterville Ghost" (with Margaret O'Brien and Robert Young); "Journey for Margaret" (also with O'Brien and Young); and while we're on a Margaret O'Brienfest - "Meet Me in St. Louis"; "Serenity"; "Dead Again"; and "Them!" Okay, I give up, 'cuz I'm just as much of an old movie hound as you are. I want that book.

  11. Hey all! Thanks for stopping by. :)

    Sadly, no mention of any Harry Potter movie is in the book. BUT - all the LOTRs are. And of course Star Wars.

    I think for us movie fans, this book is great fun. I've been enjoying flipping through it, reading the little synopses and commentary for each movie. :)


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