The 1001 Movies Podcast

When you mention Frank Capra, most people will thank of It's a Wonderful Life, or any of a handful of other movies starring James Stewart.  In the 1930's, however, Capra was probably Hollywood most prolific director, earning a string of Oscar nominations for his charming screwball comedies with traditional American values.

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town was another notch on Capra's belt after his film It Happened One Night hit the grand slam after winning all four major Academy Awards.  Featuring Gary Cooper as the titular character from a small town who is thrown into a frenzy of money-grubbing New York lawyers and businessmen, the movie was hugely successful and earned Capra another Oscar for Best Director.  Fun aside fact: it's also fetaures the first instance of the word "doodle", which soon found itself in the English vernacular.  The film is readily (and cheaply) available on DVD.

Have a comment or a question for the host?  Email Sean at and follow him on Twitter via @1001moviesPC.

Direct download: Episode_9_Mr._Deeds_Goes_to_Town_1936.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm CDT

After penning Dogme 95, a manifesto urging filmmakers to subscribe to a particular method, Danish director Lars von Trier made Breaking the Waves, about the ways of rigidly living by a particular religious dogma.  The film follows the rules set down by von Trier, but for a select few shots that are beautifully touched up by computer imagery and graced with pop music from the 1970's.

Based on a fairy tale von Trier read as a child, the story follow doe-eyed Bess (Emily Watson) as she marries oil rig worker Jan (Stellan Skarsgard) and copes with the tragedy that follows, both with the rigid religious rules laid down by the elders of her small Scottish village and the frustrations of sexuality.  The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.  The film is now available on Blu Ray and DVD via the Criterion Collection.

Have a comment or question for the host?  Email Sean at and follow him on Twitter via @1001moviesPC.

Direct download: Episode_8_Breaking_the_Waves_1996.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm CDT

Considering the number of films that Bollywood has spawned, it's surprising that there's a dearth of them in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.  One of the few inclusions is Deewaar, a 1975 (somewhat musical) drama directed by Yash Chopra and featuring Indian superstar Amitabh Bachchan.

"Deewaar" translated into English means The Wall, in this case referring to the divide between two brothers, one who has joined the police force and the other who has chosen a life of crime.  Whether you consider yourself a fan of Bollywood or not, you have to admit it's a great drama, even if you don't enjoy the musical bits that are so characteristic of the genre.  Deewaar is available on region-free Blu Ray from some international retailers.

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Direct download: Episode_7_Deewaar_1975.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm CDT

Greta Garbo has long been in the American cultural zeitgeist as the actress who "wanted to be alone", as her early retirement from Hollywood precluded her from a long career as an actress.  Ninotchka was her penultimate film, and it was billed as "Garbo Laughs!", as it was her first comedy, a fact that she had quite an issue with, particularly the scene in which she appeared drunk.

Garbo was in the good hands of Ernst Lubitsch, a German-born director who had made a string of successful comedies before and after Ninotchka.  The film became a critical and box office success, and remains surprisingly witty even today.  It is readily available on DVD and Amazon Instant Video.

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Direct download: Episode_6_Ninotchka_1939.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm CDT

Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder were pretty much a staple in my home growing up; at an early age I was indoctrinated with History of the World, Part 1 and Young Frankenstein, but never really got around to watching Blazing Saddles until years later.

This is the one that really put Mel Brooks on the map and, as I explain in the podcast, it paved the way for future comedies like Airplane!  Blazing Saddles was also, in a way, the last of a dying genre: since the 1980's comedies have seen box office success but, like horror movies, are often shunned by critics.  This film stands out as a testament both to Brooks the writer and director, and also to the time it was made.  It was recently released in a special edition on Blu Ray to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

Direct download: Episode_5_Blazing_Saddles_1974.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm CDT

The French new wave movement of the 1950's and 1960's may not appeal to the majority of audiences today, but the genre is required viewing for any film fanatic.  Jean-Luc Godard's Week End came at the tail end of the movement, which may not make it an ideal introduction to the genre, but it's nevertheless a spectacle that needs to be seen to be appreciated.

Week End is currently available on Blu Ray and DVD via the Criterion Collection as well as on Hulu (don't confuse it with the 2011 Andrew Haigh film of the same name), and the transfer has probably never looked better since its initial release.

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Direct download: Episode_4_Week_End_1967.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm CDT

Long before he began churning out Hollywood fare featuring Johnny Depp, Tim Burton had been known for directing two movies, Pee Wee's Big Adventure and Beetlejuice, before he took the helm to direct Batman.  Those that were familiar with the kitschy 1960's television show likely didn't expect Burton to add such a dark twist to the material, and it became an instant hit, securing Burton on the map as filmmaker.

Despite its three sequels (some of which cause intense eye-rolling among film buffs) and an even darker reboot, Burton's Batman remains a classic spectacle, with wonderful performs and gothic set pieces.  It went on to win an Academy Award for Best Art Direction.

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Direct download: Episode_3_Batman_1989.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm CDT

Known as a "Hong Kong Second Wave" director, Wong Kar-wai's Chungking Express paints the city and its denizens in lyrical strokes, belying the dirt and grit lurking just underneath what we can see.

Part action, part romance, the film is an excellent introduction to the director's work, with a unique narrative style; it's no surprise that it caught the attention of Quentin Tarrantino, who made it a mission to market the film to Western audiences.

Chungking Express was released on Blu Ray and DVD by the Criterion Collection, but unfortunately it is out of print at the time of this writing.  Tenacious film buffs in the U.S. can spend upwards of $100 for a copy or alternately purchase an imported edition if they have a region-free player.

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Direct download: Episode_2_Chungking_Express_1994.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm CDT

After the successful Back to the Future (1985), director Robert Zemeckis turned his sights to something even more ambitious, a full-length feature combining live actors and animated ones.

We start our journey through 1,001 movies with lighter - albeit technically groundbreaking and comedic - fare, with the story of an alcoholic private eye on the quest of saving an animated bunny rabbit.  The movie was a box office smash and won Oscars for Best Film Editing, Sound Effects Editing, Visual Effects, and a Special Achievement Award for its technical advancements.

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Direct download: Episode_1_Who_Framed_Roger_Rabbit_1988.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm CDT

Inspired by the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, this podcast will examine films picked randomly from the book.  Nearly every genre will be covered, with movies from 1902 through 2012 and made throughout the world.

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Direct download: Episode_0_Introduction.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:46pm CDT