1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die Blog Club

Thursday, April 17th

Hey all!
Chip's interview is up! Enjoy a good read! 
Tell your film blogging friends all about the club! The more the merrier!
Today - right under Chip's interview - we review:
#192. Rome, Open City [Roma, Città Aperta] (1945)

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We are a community of bloggers who share a common interest in cinema past and present, using the '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die' book as our guide to exploring this vast realm of study.  

The 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die Blog Club is a forum for bloggers to share in their passion and engage in group study, one classic film at a time. For our readers, it is a portal of cinematic opinions from a wide assortment of blog critics, one film per week, 52 weeks per year.

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 Person Behind The Post

Chip Lary of Tips From Chip

 Person Behind The Post - Chip Lary

Why is the '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die' list important to you?

Someone once called me “a natural organizer” and part of that is being a list maker.  Combine that with a love of movies and the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list is a natural fit for me.  It’s not the first movie list that I’ve taken viewing suggestions from, or even the first one I’ve completed, but it is the largest and the most weighted towards film critics’ opinions as opposed to the general consensus on films. 

To me, the most important thing about this particular list is that it is not an attempt to name the 1,001 greatest movies, or most enjoyable movies, or most profitable movies, or most technically perfect movies.  Rather, it attempts to give a broad range of films that shows how they developed and changed over the years, as well as trying to cover every kind of genre. 

If you are interested, I wrote some thoughts about completing the entire list in this recent post.

Share with us an early film childhood memory. For example, it could be about the first film you saw in theaters or when you realized you had a passion for film.

When I was a small child my school took my class to see the original version of Charlotte’s Web.  Based on its release date I would have been in third grade.  I had never seen a movie in a movie theater before.  In fact, I had no idea what this place with all the seats was.  Classmates sprinted down to the front, so I did, too.  They were excited, so I was excited, even though I didn’t know what was going on.  When the movie started it was a big surprise.  I had seen movies on TV, of course, so my reaction wasn’t like the patrons who saw the film of the train arriving at the station in the 1890s.  I remember recognizing Paul Lynde as the voice of Templeton the rat because he was the center square on Hollywood Squares, a show I had watched when not at school.


It may boggle someone’s mind nowadays how I could get to be eight years old and never have been to a movie, but my mother had little money to take me and even if someone had given it to her she also did not own a car.  Living about ten miles outside of the nearest town with a movie theater meant that I simply didn’t have the opportunity to see them.  Because they were so infrequent, to this day I can probably name every single movie I ever saw at a theater or drive-in up to the time I reached adulthood.  I could probably count them on three hands – maybe two if I had been born with an extra pinkie on each one.  And this was in the days before home rentals of movies, too.  I never really started watching movies until I was in my early 20s.
What was your first ‘favorite movie’? What is it now?

When I was twelve years old "The Wonderful World of Disney" TV show aired the original The Parent Trap with Hayley Mills.  I loved this movie.  The girls were only one year older than me.  Like in the movie my parents were divorced and neither had gotten remarried.  While I was not an apparent only child like in the film, my two sisters were so much older than me that they had moved out of the house years before and it had just been my mother and I alone for a while.  The idea of having a brother my own age that I could play with was wonderful.  This movie was a fantasy come to life for me – a fantasy I did not even know I had until I saw the film. 

I'm not MESSING AROUND MISTER!I remember that at 9:00 PM the movie was still going.  That was my bedtime then and my mother was very punctual in coming into the livingroom and letting me know it was time to shut the TV off and go to bed.  My reaction was immediate and strong.  I begged her to let me stay up and finish watching this.  I was desperate to see how it would all turn out.  My mother was not in the habit of making exceptions to her rules, but something in my voice or reaction must have swayed her because she let me stay up for another half hour until it finished.  I went to sleep thinking about the movie and woke up the next morning still thinking about it.  For at least the next month I would catch myself daydreaming in class or after school about moments from the movie.  You know how kids nowadays watch a movie a hundred times?  I would have been doing that with The Parent Trap, except I couldn’t.  This was still the days before home video so I did not get to see the film again until I was an adult.  Even though it was a little cutesy for an adult I still loved it just as much because of the residual good will it had built up in me as a child. 

As for my current favorite movie, I wrote the following in my review of it: “At some point, when people find out we ‘like movies’ all of us are almost immediately asked, ‘What’s your favorite movie?’  I’ve always found this a little difficult to answer.  The sheer number of movies I’ve seen would make it tough to pick any single one of them.  When asked, it is tempting to go with some critically acclaimed film such as Citizen Kane or The Godfather (both of which are great, but not for everyone).  If I had to pick a single favorite movie that I have watched more than a dozen times, that has been loved by everyone I have watched it with, that is eminently quotable, that can be enjoyed by all ages, and that is completely entertaining from beginning to end, then that movie would be The Princess Bride.”

What is the last book you read?
At any given time I have several books that I am in the process of reading and I move among them as the urge takes me.  The last book I completed, though, is Insane City by Dave Barry.  He is a humor columnist that has published many collections of his works.  This is an original fiction novel, though; his first in several years and his third overall.
You have a film blog – what made you decide to create it?

Leave me alone, I'm writingAt work I was “the movie guy”.  When people wanted a recommendation they’d come to me.  For those people whom I knew well enough to judge their preferences in movies I would sometimes email them about films I had seen that I thought they would like.  People used to tell me, “You should start a blog where you recommend movies.”  I would always reply that there were a million sites that already did that and besides my job took up most of my time. 

Well, I started a one year sabbatical that has extended far beyond that.  One of the things I set out to do was look into websites and blogs to see what I could teach myself about them.  I found it was pretty easy to do now because you didn’t have to start from scratch, so about two months after I left work I started my site.  At first I reviewed an entire category of three to five movies, plus a book, plus a hike every week and I would post them all at the same time.  Over time as I got to know other sites I changed to single posts.  I have always stuck to it being a movie, book, hike, TV show, etc. that I would personally recommend, though.  I do not write dedicated reviews for anything that I do not think is worth mentioning to others.

Think of a time when you were asked to pick a film for the '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die' club to review.  Why did you choose that film, and what were you expecting?

When I first joined the club I didn’t realize we picked within a certain range.  I had already decided that The Princess Bride would be the one I would choose.  When Squish explained to me how it worked I mentioned in passing that I had been prepared to pick a movie that wasn’t in one of the ranges I was given.  He took a look and made a judgment call that it would be okay to let me choose The Princess Bride for my first pick.  Since then I have chosen Seven Samurai, M, Cabaret, Throne of Blood, and Lone Star, my first foray into a smaller, not as well known film. 

As for what I was expecting, I thought The Princess Bride would get all positive reviews.  It did from most people, but there was one four sentence review that criticized everything about it.  This just reminded me that there is no such thing as a universally loved movie.  It’s seeing the different reactions people have to the same films that makes all these different blogs interesting.

Where are you from originally, and where do you live now? Has either of these places affected / influenced your enjoyment of film?

I was born, raised, and live in Maine, the most northeastern state in the U.S.  I have moved around the state for work, but I’ve never had the urge to live anywhere else.  I can drive less than an hour one way and be at the beach, or drive less than an hour the other way and be hiking in the mountains.  I like natural beauty and Maine has it in abundance

I don’t really believe that where I have lived has had any influence over my enjoyment of films.  I sometimes recognize places in movies that are located in Maine because I have been to them myself, but that is about it.

After film and blogging, what are your other favorite pastimes?

Lookit this pair o' genes!I like reading and hiking, as the occasional post on those subjects at my site will show.  I also have done a considerable amount of genealogical research into my family, which culminated in the publication of a 900 page book on one of the branches.  I am now working on a Supplement to it for additional information that has come to light since its publication.

What is the most annoying part of film for you?

This can be described in three words: “shakycam shakycam shakycam”.  At best it is annoying and it sometimes makes parts of films completely unwatchable.  At worst it completely kills my suspension of disbelief because it’s an in your face reminder that there’s a person standing there pointing a camera at actors.  It’s to the point now where I won’t even bother watching a Paul Greengrass movie when it comes out.  And I only watch a J.J. Abrams movie after a lot of hesitation.  I’m cringing at the thought of what he’s going to do to Star Wars Episode 7.

A while back I gathered together all the arguments both for and against shakycam and then discussed them (and there are some legitimate reasons to have it).  The comments from others also added to the discussion.  If you are interested in seeing this, you can find it here.

Name an actor/actress who you enjoy seeing so much that you will watch them, no matter what they're in.

I don’t really have one nowadays.  It’s more what’s going to happen in the movie that makes me interested in it.  Back in the 1980s and 1990s I saw most every Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, but even then I missed a couple like Red Sonja and Raw Deal that just got terrible word of mouth.  I still have never seen them to this day.

Who is your favorite director and what is your least favorite of their films?

I’ve never really been a follower of any particular director.  Especially among movie people this places me in the minority.  For some reason my brain never seems to think that because I loved a movie I should seek out the other movies made by the same director.  Like my answer on actor, it’s the story in the movie that interests me.  If a director made a heist film that I loved I’m still probably not going to be interested in his next film if it’s a slasher movie.

Here is an example: I consider Akira Kurosawa to be one of the greatest directors of all time.  Regardless of this, I have only watched about ten of his most acclaimed films out of the more than thirty that he made.  Using Kurosawa for the second part of the question, I would pick Dersu Uzala as my least favorite.  I’d still recommend it, but it is not as good as the other films of his I have seen.

Share with us a traumatic film event. For example, it could be about a first date gone wrong or a brutally torturous movie you had to suffer through.

Back in the days of VHS rentals it was easy to glance at the top of the cassette and see what the running time for the film was going to be.  Around 1988 or 1989 a friend and I had rented The Accidental Tourist because the box made it out to be a quirky comedy and because Geena Davis had won an Oscar for it.  While sliding it into the VCR I noticed that it was two hours long. 



The movie turned out to be so slow for us.  Geena Davis’ quirky character was not lovable or funny; she was irritating as hell.  William Hurt’s character was intentionally boring.  And when they finally ended up together my buddy and I were glad that the movie was over…except that it wasn’t.  I glanced up and noticed that it was only an hour and ten minutes into it.  We still had almost half of the movie to sit through.  I would have sworn we had already been sitting there for well over two hours.  And with that much time left I immediately said, “Christ, he’s going to end up getting back together with his wife.”  I now had to sit there and watch the movie very slowly play out to where I knew it was going to go.  “Torturous” is definitely the right word for it. 


This was long before there was a 1,001 Movies list, which includes The Accidental Tourist, so some of you may be wondering why we kept watching it if we hated it so much.  It was sheer stubbornness.  We had spent good money to rent the movie and we were going to finish it.  And there was a hope, however small, that maybe at some point it would get better.  

Was there a time in your life when movie watching changed for you? If so, how, and what was the catalyst?

After I got my college degree I was living right on the financial edge.  Between student loans, a car loan, rent, and food I had no money left over to go out and do anything.  I had cable for the first time in my life and I started watching movies on TV.  I found I really liked not having all the commercial interruptions, so I watched more films and fewer TV shows.  I had seen very few movies all the years I was growing up, so almost every single film being shown, whether new or old, was new to me.  The vast majority of the more than 6,000 films that I have seen have been watched only since I was 22 years old.

When people go to your home, do they see a shrine to all that is film? Do you have memorabilia you're particularly proud of?
Shelves and... yes, shelves
I don’t have any memorabilia like posters or props from films.  What I do have are shelves and shelves of movies.  You know that scene in Hot Fuzz where Nick Frost’s character shows Simon Pegg’s his DVD collection?  That’s me, except it’s not just action movies and my setup isn’t as fancy.  Most people that come to my house usually take a few minutes just to look over the sheer number that I own, and to shake their heads in amazement.
I remember a neighbor noticing about 30 DVDs I had stacked on a chair and remarking, “Wow, you do have a lot of movies.”  I just chuckled and said, “Turn around”.  He did and saw the shelves of DVDs I had.  He didn’t say anything at all; he just stared.
And if you are wondering how many I do own, the answer is “I don’t know.”  I used to keep track of them, but when it passed 1,500 I stopped bothering.  That was years ago.  I’ve continued to buy movies, but I’ve also sold some at yard sales, so I have no idea what the count would now be.
And finally, what gets you really angry?
Being accused of something I did not do, or being labeled something that I am not.  When I was little my ten years older sister would sometimes play games with me.  She would also sometimes cheat even though she was a teenager playing a child.  I would get mad and we would start fighting.  Our mother would come in, ask what the fuss was about, we would each accuse the other of cheating, and my mother would always take my older sister’s side, because apparently girls never lie.  My mother would tell me to not be a cheater and to stop making my sister angry.  I would be so mad I would see red.  I would literally almost be crying because I was so frustrated.
To this day I dislike labels in general, and I hate it when I see negative labels applied to people inaccurately, because I know how much it would bother me if someone called me that.  I’ve even written a post on the continued use of the word “slut” in movies to describe a woman that has sex.  It was triggered by Silver Linings Playbook and can be read here. Incorrect, negative labels bother me so much that some of my fellow bloggers have been unfortunate enough to have unknowingly pushed my button now and then, resulting in a comment (or two or three) from me about their use of a particular label.  They’ve probably wondered, “What is this guy’s major malfunction?”, but they’ve handled what I’m sure appears to them to be a huge overreaction with patience and, if not understanding, then at least tolerance.
Chip Lary is one of the many contributors of the 


If You Visit, He Promises 'Just The Tip':


#192. Rome, Open City [Roma, Città Aperta] (1945)

#192. Rome, Open City [Roma, Città Aperta] (1945)

Why It's In The Book: “Considered the initiator of an aesthetic revolution in film, Roberto Rossellini’s Open City was the first major work of Italian Neorealism, and it managed to explode the conventions of the Mussolinian 'cinema of white telephones' that was fashionable in Italy at the beginning of the 1940s...

The scarcity of technical and financial resources available to Rossellini proved to be a virtue of Open City, which was shot in a documentary style. Showing real people in real locations, the film brought some fresh air to the existing Western cinema. The freedom of the camera movements and the authenticity of the characters, allied to a new way of storytelling, were among the qualities that made Open City the revelation of the 1946 Cannes Film Festival, where it was awarded the Palme d’Or. Neorealism quickly became an aesthetic model for directors interested in a vivid description of history and society.

One of the most amazing things about Open City is the approach Rossellini takes to each character’s drama. Some of the film’s heroes will forever remain in the hearts of viewers.

Although it may veer toward the melodramatic, the story is just as moving today as it was then. And it should come as no surprise to learn that, after this role, Magnani became one of the greatest actresses of the Italian screen.” -1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Member Ratings

marie_dressler - 9/10
"This is must-see viewing for its unforgettable images, outstanding acting, and poetic dialogue…not so much for the rather heavy-handed plot."

Movie Guy Steve - 9/10
"Our imagination works overtime thinking of what might be going on, and when we see the end results, they are every bit as bad as we thought they would be."

TSorensen - 9/10
"I must admit that before watching this film I was not entirely sure what that label [neorealism] covered and I feared for something boring. No need to fear though. Italian neorealism in the incarnation of Roma, Città Aperta has a nerve that comes from an unprecedented, almost documentary nakedness."

nicolas krizan - 7.5/10
"technical flaws only serve to heighten the newsreel style"

Adolytsi - 6/10
"I understand its importance in how it revolutionized Italian cinema at the time and became a new standard thus for historically contexted films, but it was just too stagnant for me."

Squish - 6/10
"Much like my opinion of Open City, the film is split into two parts."

Overall Rating: 7.5/10


#320. Forbidden Planet (1956)

#320. Forbidden Planet (1956)

Why It's In The Book: "This superior 1950s sci-fi gem by director Fred M. Wilcox, ambitiously shot in widescreen CinemaScope, owes nothing to the period’s paranoid McCarthyite preoccupation with hostile invaders from outer space but a great deal to the plot of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and the sophisticated psychological premise that the most dangerous monsters are those lurking in the primitive impulses of the subconscious mind…

Attended by one of the best-loved metallic characters of the screen, versatile and obliging Robby the Robot… Outstanding effects (including the unleashed “monsters from the id”), the awesome Krell underground complex, and an eerie, groundbreaking score of electronic tones are among the treats in a much-referenced picture that inspired many later speculative fictions of technology running away with its users." - 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die 

Member Ratings

Adolytsi - 8/10
"With excellent named actors and a tightly written script, this film broke the badly constructed mold that sci-fis were known for at the time."

Chip Lary - 8/10
"On the surface it can be enjoyed as a simple monster movie with some jokes from a comic relief character. Dig a little deeper and you find a story that is based on Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, and that incorporates the concepts of the conscious and subconscious as major plot points. It also throws in two different mysteries to solve."

marie_dressler - 8/10
"The granddaddy of big-budget sci-fi movies is still enjoyable after all these years."

Michaël Parent - 8/10
"As the viewer, I felt like I was five again and reading those classics of my childhood when I watched Forbidden Planet."

Movie Guy Steve - 8/10
"While Forbidden Planet manages to fall into many of the same clichés as most 1950s sci-fi films, it also manages to transcend a number of them."

Sunny D - 7.5/10
"The sci-fi tropes and trappings of Forbidden Planet still come off as cool, but the characters populating its story mostly come off as embarrassing."

Overall Rating: 7.9/10


#33. Metropolis (1927)

#33. Metropolis (1927)

Why It's In The Book: "Originally clocking in at over two hours, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis is the first science-fiction epic with huge sets, thousands of extras, then-state-of-the-art special effects, lots of sex and violence, a heavy-handed moral, big acting, a streak of Germanic Gothicism, and groundbreaking fantasy sequences. Bankrolled by UFA, Germany’s giant film studio, it was controversial in its day and proved a box-office disaster that nearly ruined the studio…
Shortly after its premiere, the expensive film was pulled from distribution and reedited against Lang's wishes: this truncated, simplified form remained best-known, even in the colorized Giorgio Moroder remix of the 1980s, until the 21st century, when a partial restoration - with tactful linking titles to fill in the scenes that remain irretrievably missing - made it much closer to Lang's original version. This version not only adds many scenes that went unseen for decades, but also restores their order in the original version and puts in the proper intertitles. Up to that point rated as a spectacular but simplistic science-fiction film, this new-old version reveals that futuristic setting isn't intended as prophetic but mythical, with elements of 1920s architecture, industry, design, and politics mingled with the medieval and the Biblical to produce images of striking strangeness… Frölich's performance as the hero who represents the heart is still wildly overdone, but Klein-Rogge's engineer Rotwang, Abel's Master of Metropolis, and, especially, Helm in the dual role of saintly savior and metal femme fatale are astonishing. By restoring a great deal of story delving into the mixed motivations of the characters, the wild plot now makes more sense, and we can see it is as much a twisted family drama as an epic of repression, revolution, and reconciliation."
  -1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Member Ratings

Chris Edwards - 10/10
"The above-grounders squander their time with aristocratic pursuits like gaming and whoring; the workers, meanwhile, are broken on labour’s wheel; overloaded and exhausted; they trudge silently to and from their brutal shifts, heads down, clothes drab, hours spent."

Adolytsi - 9/10
"I can only imagine what audiences must have thought upon their initial viewing of this film. That imagination would surely be less than that of the film itself."

Chip Lary - 9/10
"This movie was hugely influential.  You can see its impact on Blade Runner, The Matrix, Brazil, and yes, even Star Wars. It is said that the look of C-3PO was based on the robot from this film."

Jay Cluitt - 9/10
"I was pretty floored by this film, and that is a great and all-too-rare feeling to have these days."

Movie Guy Steve - 9/10
"Metropolis may have lost most of its power to cause awe and shock, but it still works, the effects are still good, and the Machine Man is still impressive as a piece of costuming."

nicolas krizan - 8.5/10
"the sheer visual power is overwhelming"

Sunny D - 8.5/10
"I was so taken with it that if I ever hear of a local showing, particularly if it’s on a big screen with a live orchestra doing the soundtrack, I’d probably go to great lengths to arrange another viewing of all two hours and twenty-eight minutes of it."

Thomas Ostrowski - 8/10
"It’s a strong film with visual effects that stand the test of time and still continue to impress."

Kim Wilson - 7.5/10
"The story itself is a bit preachy for my taste, but I have to admit I enjoyed the film. I especially enjoyed the scenes in Rotwang’s laboratory and who can forget how Hel looked and moved when she first came to life. This is an important piece of sci-fi film history and a visual dynamo."

Squish - 7.5/10
"Without a doubt, one of the most amazing settings and concepts in any film ever made. The expanses of blackness... are so vast that everyone seems like a cog in this sinister machine."

TSorensen - 6/10
"I do recognize the significance of Metropolis, but I really do not consider it a good movie"

Overall Rating: 8.4/10

Upcoming Member-Assigned Reviews:

Thursday April 24th

782. Stand By Me (1986)
Thursday May 1st

#1090. Children of Men (2006)
Thursday May 8th

#575. Pink Flamingos (1972)
Thursday May 15th

#254. Forbidden Games [Jeux Interdits] (1952)

Past Assignment Archives

You can now find all the Past Assignments the 1001 Club has reviewed on its very own page.

Yes, I agree that it's long overdue.


Complete Members List

(in order of contributions)

AdolytsiMovie Guy SteveSquishNicolas KrizanSiochembioKlaus MingMichaël Parent   KimWilsonAlysonJay CluittChipSunny DTSorensenLindseymarie_dressler Doug TilleyJaime GrijalbaBrian Vs. Movies •  BrandenOilarHaricharanDarwinTim BurrowbpdreviewUnivarnThe Mad Hatter  •  Shubhajit Lahiri •  ChrisLejarzar Robert • Simon Columb •  Jeff CotéChris Edwards • OilarKevyn KnoxK.J BroylesKurosawa_Lover  •  alfindeol  •  FeyjohnlgilpatrickThis Guy Over HereThe Movie Mistress  • WhitneyAndrew Robinson • Danny KingThomas GattoBlakeCastorHeatherMy Floating Red CouchTom CliftEl GringogenevieveRipleyRonanTravis McCollumCMrok93C.M. Dobson


Recent Posts You May Have Missed - April

Adolytsi knaws on Man Bites Dog.
Chip Lary takes a trip with Sullivan's Travels.
Movie Guy Steve and nicolas krizan review Metropolis, still on the main page.
TSorensen has great things to say about Brief Encounter, It's a Wonderful Life and Gilda.
Kim Wilson warms up with Zero Kelvin and gets her head spinning with The Exorcist.

Don't forget to check them out.

Remember kiddies, Archive posts are welcome. Whether you were a club member since its inception in 2009 or just joining us now, if you have a review you are proud of, I will gladly add it to the archives list.
Just submit it as you would an assigned review, including your score out of 10 and the quote from your post.


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