Top 100 Classic Film-Noir Pictures of All-Time

Over the past month, I have celebrated Noirvember here at Cinespiria. While film-noir is a style that I have always enjoyed and many of the classics have been favorites of mine for decades, I have never delved as deep into it as I have over the past month. I have found new favorites and discovered classics that slipped under my radar. In some way, I wanted a big send off so I thought that a power ranking would be a good way to do that.

Granted, this is just my opinion and there are some things that others might question as being true noir. I have included some of those Val Lewton horror pictures because at their core, the ones listed are very much film-noir.

There are no movies after the 1950s listed because I wanted to make this exclusive to classic noir that came out during the two decade span of the style’s height in popularity. I have, however, included Frtiz Lang’s 1931 film M because even though it predates film-noir by a decade, after seeing it, I can’t not consider it noir.

Anyway, these are my top one hundred film-noir motion pictures of the classic era.

1. M
2. Gun Crazy
3. The Third Man
4. Sunset Boulevard
5. In A Lonely Place
6. He Walked by Night
7. Raw Deal
8. Double Indemnity
9. The Killing
10. Touch of Evil
11. The Maltese Falcon
12. The Big Heat
13. Criss Cross
14. The Stranger
15. Scarlet Street
16. The Asphalt Jungle
17. Laura
18. Cat People
19. The Big Sleep
20. The Window
21. Detour
22. Strangers On a Train
23. Sweet Smell of Success
24. Nightmare Alley
25. D.O.A.
26. Out of the Past
27. Side Street
28. White Heat
29. The Set-Up
30. The Prowler
31. Murder, My Sweet
32. Night and the City
33. The Lady From Shanghai
34. The Killers
35. Stranger On the Third Floor
36. Key Largo
37. Leave Her to Heaven
38. The Woman In the Window
39. Kansas City Confidential
40. Brute Force
41. Ace In the Hole
42. Dark Passage
43. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers
44. On Dangerous Ground
45. Notorious
46. The Big Clock
47. Mildred Pierce
48. Shadow of a Doubt
49. Possessed
50. Lured
51. Thieves’ Highway
52. Act of Violence
53. 711 Ocean Drive
54. Black Angel
55. The Naked City
56. Dead Reckoning
57. Kiss Me Deadly
58. Gilda
59. They Live by Night
60. The Seventh Victim
61. Champion
62. Moonrise
63. Lady In the Lake
64. Pickup On South Street
65. Rope
66. Phantom Lady
67. Odds Against Tomorrow
68. T-Men
69. Born to Kill
70. The Blue Dahlia
71. The Spiral Staircase
72. Crossfire
73. The Leopard Man
74. Scandal Sheet
75. Border Incident
76. Shield For Murder
77. Force of Evil
78. The Postman Always Rings Twice
79. Fallen Angel
80. Deadline at Dawn
81. Journey Into Fear
82. 99 River Street
83. The Big Combo
84. Framed
85. Shockproof
86. Smash-Up – The Story of a Woman
87. Where Danger Lives
88. Tension
89. The Breaking Point
90. They Won’t Believe Me
91. Tomorrow Is Another Day
92. The Blue Gardenia
93. Pushover
94. The Threat
95. City That Never Sleeps
96. This Gun For Hire
97. Pitfall
98. Fear In the Night
99. The Glass Key
100. The Brasher Doubloon

Ranking Every Episode of Batman: The Animated Series

*Written in 2014.

I recently reviewed Batman: The Animated Series. So I figured that I would rank every single episode of the series, as I just got done revisiting it and took a shit load of notes.

In this list I am including Batman: The Animated Series, The Adventures of Batman & Robin and The New Batman Adventures, as all three were really the same show with just some slight changes. Additionally, the creative teams on all of these variants of the show were comprised of the same primary people.

I will list these by episode name with the season number, episode number and the villain featured. Two-parters are ranked as one episode.

If you disagree or are puzzled with my picks, feel free to discuss in the comments.

1. “Heart of Ice” (Season 1, Episode 14 – Mr Freeze & Ferris Boyle)
2. “Mad As a Hatter” (Season 1, Episode 27 – The Mad Hatter)
3. “House & Garden” (Season 2, Episode 5 – Poison Ivy)
4. “Mad Love” (Season 3, Episode 21 – The Joker & Harley Quinn)
5. “Growing Pains” (Season 3, Episode 8 – Clayface)
6. “Sideshow” (Season 2, Episode 1 – Killer Croc)
7. “What Is Reality?” (Season 1, Episode 48 – The Riddler)
8. “Sins of the Father” (Season 3, Episode 2 – Two-Face)
9. “Never Fear” (Season 3, Episode 6 – The Scarecrow)
10. “Batgirl Returns” (Season 2, Episode 20 – Catwoman & Roland Daggett)
11. “Deep Freeze” (Season 2, Episode 19 – Mr. Freeze & Grant Walker)
12.  “Feat of Clay: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 20 & 21 – Clayface & Ronald Daggett)
13. “Heart of Steel: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 38 & 39 – H.A.R.D.A.C.)
14. “Birds of a Feather” (Season 1, Episode 47 – The Penguin)
15. “The Demon Within” (Season 3, Episode 18 – Klarion the Witch Boy)
16. “Cold Comfort” (Season 3, Episode 3 – Mr. Freeze)
17. “Two-Face: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 10 & 11 – Two-Face & Rupert Thorne)
18. “Beware the Gray Ghost” (Season 1, Episode 18 – The Mad Bomber)
19. “Old Wounds” (Season 3, Episode 17 – The Joker)
20. “On Leather Wings” (Season 1, Episode 1 – Man-Bat)
21. “Over the Edge” (Season 3, Episode 12 – The Scarecrow & Bane)
22. “Double Talk” (Season 3, Episode 4 – The Ventriloquist)
23. “Judgment Day” (Season 3, Episode 24 – The Judge, Two-Face, Killer Croc, The Riddler & The Penguin)
24. “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?” (Season 1, Episode 40 – The Riddler & Daniel Mockridge)
25. “Harlequinade” (Season 2, Episode 7 – The Joker & Harley Quinn)
26. “The Demon’s Quest: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 60 & 61 – Ra’s al Ghul)
27. “Beware the Creeper” (Season 3, Episode 23 – The Creeper, The Joker & Harley Quinn)
28. “Joker’s Favor” (Season 1, Episode 22 – The Joker & Harley Quinn)
29. “Robin’s Reckoning: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 32 & 33 – Tony Zucco)
30. “Avatar” (Season 2, Episode 4 – Ra’s al Ghul)
31. “Tyger, Tyger” (Season 1, Episode 42 – Emile Dorian)
32. “Harley and Ivy” (Season 1, Episode 56 – The Joker, Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy)
33. “Legends of the Dark Knight” (Season 3, Episode 19 – The Joker, the Mutants & Firefly)
34. “Torch Song” (Season 3, Episode 10 – Firefly)
35. “Read My Lips” (Season 1, Episode 64 – The Ventriloquist)
36. “Time Out of Joint” (Season 2, Episode 8 – The Clock King)
37. “Mean Seasons” (Season 3, Episode 13 – Calendar Girl)
38. “Harley’s Holiday” (Season 2, Episode 16 – Harley Quinn & Boxy Bennett)
39. “Shadow of the Bat: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 57 & 58 – Two-Face, Rupert Thorne & Gil Mason)
40. “The Last Laugh” (Season 1, Episode 4 – The Joker)
41. “Catwalk” (Season 2, Episode 9 – Catwoman & The Ventriloquist)
42. “Baby-Doll” (Season 2, Episode 11 – Baby-Doll)
43. “Vendetta” (Season 1, Episode 23 – Killer Croc)
44. “The Laughing Fish” (Season 1, Episode 34 – The Joker & Harley Quinn)
45. “Pretty Poison” (Season 1, Episode 5 – Poison Ivy)
46. “The Man Who Killed Batman” (Season 1, Episode 51 – The Joker, Harley Quinn & Rupert Thorne)
47. “Cult of the Cat” (Season 3, Episode 15 – Catwoman & Thomas Blake)
48. “The Worry Men” (Season 1, Episode 65 – The Mad Hatter)
49. “Joker’s Millions” (Season 3, Episode 7 – The Joker, Harley Quinn, The Penguin & Poison Ivy)
50. “Animal Act” (Season 3, Episode 16 – The Mad Hatter)
51. “Showdown” (Season 2, Episode 13 – Ra’s al Ghul)
52. “Almost Got ‘Im” (Season 1, Episode 46 – The Joker, Harley Quinn, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc and The Penguin)
53. “Terror In the Sky” (Season 1, Episode 45 – She-Bat)
54. “Trial” (Season 2, Episode 3 – The Joker, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, The Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, The Riddler, The Scarecrow, Two-Face & The Ventriloquist)
55. “A Bullet for Bullock” (Season 2, Episode 2 – Vinnie the Shark)
56. “Love is a Croc” (Season 3, Episode 9 – Baby-Doll & Killer Croc)
57. “Riddler’s Reform” (Season 2, Episode 14 – The Riddler)
58. “His Silicon Soul” (Season 1, Episode 62 – H.A.R.D.A.C. & Duplicate Batman)
59. “Joker’s Wild” (Season 1, Episode 41 – The Joker & Cameron Kaiser)
60. “Mudslide” (Season 1, Episode 52 – Clayface)
61. “Be A Clown” (Season 1, Episode 9 – The Joker)
62. “Christmas With the Joker” (Season 1, Episode 2 – The Joker)
63. “Perchance to Dream” (Season 1, Episode 30 – The Mad Hatter)
64. “The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne” (Season 1, Episode 37 – Hugo Strange, The Joker, Two-Face & The Penguin)
65. “The Mechanic” (Season 1, Episode 55 – The Penguin)
66. “Holiday Knights” (Season 3, Episode 1 – The Joker, Harley Quinn, Clayface and Poison Ivy)
67. “Dreams In Darkness” (Season 1, Episode 28 – The Scarecrow)
68. “The Clock King” (Season 1, Episode 25 – The Clock King)
69. “Blind As a Bat” (Season 1, Episode 59 – The Penguin)
70. “Bane” (Season 2, Episode 10 – Bane, Killer Croc & Rupert Thorne)
71. “Girls Night Out” (Season 3, Episode 20 – Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Livewire & The Penguin)
72. “Zatanna” (Season 1, Episode 54 – Montague Kane)
73. “I’ve Got My Batman in My Basement” (Season 1, Episode 13 – The Penguin)
74. “Fear of Victory” (Season 1, Episode 24 – The Scarecrow)
75. “See No Evil” (Season 1, Episode 17 – Lloyd Ventrix)
76. “Nothing to Fear” (Season 1, Episode 3 – The Scarecrow)
77. “Eternal Youth” (Season 1, Episode 29 – Poison Ivy)
78. “You Scratch My Back” (Season 3, Episode 5 – Catwoman)
79. “Off Balance” (Season 1, Episode 50 – Count Vertigo)
80. “Make ‘Em Laugh” (Season 2, Episode 18 – The Joker & The Mad Hatter)
81. The Ultimate Thrill” (Season 3, Episode 11 – The Penguin & Roxy Rocket)
82. “Appointment In Crime Alley” (Season 1, Episode 26 – Roland Daggett)
83. “Cat Scratch Fever” (Season 1, Episode 36 – Catwoman, Roland Daggett & Professor Milo)
84. “The Cape and the Cowl Conspiracy” (Season 1, Episode 31 – Josiah Wormwood)
85. “Lock-Up” (Season 2, Episode 17 – Lock-Up)
86. “Second Chance” (Season 2, Episode 15 – Two-Face, The Penguin & Rupert Thorne)
87. “Chemistry” (Season 3, Episode 22 – Poison Ivy)
88. “The Cat and the Claw: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 15 & 16 – Catwoman & Red Claw)
89. “Night of the Ninja” (Season 1, Episode 35 – Kyodai Ken)
90. “I Am the Night” (Season 1, Episode 49 – The Jazzman)
91. “Moon of the Wolf” (Season 1, Episode 43 – Professor Milo & The Werewolf)
92. “Paging the Crime Doctor” (Season 1, Episode 53 – Rupert Thorne)
93. “It’s Never Too Late” (Season 1, Episode 12 – Rupert Thorne & Arnold Stromwell)
94. “The Terrible Trio” (Season 2, Episode 6 – The Terrible Trio)
95. “Day of the Samurai” (Season 1, Episode 44 – Kyodai Ken)
96. “The Lion and the Unicorn” (Season 2, Episode 12 – Red Claw)
97. “Prophecy of Doom” (Season 1, Episode 19 – Nostromos)
98. “P.O.V.” (Season 1, Episode 7 – A drug lord)
99. “Fire From Olympus” (Season 1, Episode 63 – Maxie Zeus)
100. “The Underdwellers” (Season 1, Episode 6 – Sewer King)
101. “Critters” (Season 3, Episode 14 – Farmer Brown)
102. “The Forgotten” (Season 1, Episode 8 – Boss Biggis)

Ranking All the Kaiju of the Toho Godzilla Universe

The Godzilla universe spans seven decades, four different Japanese eras and two American remakes. In that long history, he has fought many deadly foes and had several awesome allies. However, the franchise expands beyond that as well, as some monsters that had their own films have crossed over into Godzilla movies, comics and video games. Toho has created a massive kaiju universe over the years and even if there are different eras and continuities, in some way, all these monsters exist in the same general realm.

So I feel the need to quantify these awesome giant beasts with a list. Because I like making lists and who the hell doesn’t like reading lists. Sure, our opinions may differ but that’s what the comments area is for. So feel free to list your favorites and discuss the results.

Also, I included the MUTOs from the American film for comparison’s sake.

How am I ranking these? Well, it is a combination of who is the most powerful, bad ass and the coolest. And of course, number one should not be a surprise.

1. Godzilla
2. Mothra Leo
3. Destoroyah
4. Monster X (Keizer Ghidorah)
5. Mecha-King Ghidorah
6. Biollante
7. Cretaceous King Ghidorah
8. Shin Godzilla
9. Fire Rodan
10. Gigan (Millennium)
11. King Ghidorah
12. Dagahra
13. Mechagodzilla (Showa)
14. Desghidorah
15. King Caesar
16. Mechagodzilla/Kiryu (Millennium)
17. King Kong
18. Mothra
19. Zone Fighter
20. Godzilla Junior
21. Gigan (Showa)
22. Rodan
23. Anguirus
24. Jet Jaguar
25. Mechani-Kong
26. Hedorah
27. Space Godzilla
28. Mechagodzilla (Heisei)
29. Gargantuan Sanda
30. Battra
31. Orga
32. Varan
33. Gargantuan Gaira
34. Megaguirus
35. MUTO (female)
36. Frankenstein
37. Megalon
38. Dogora
39. Gezora
40. Baragon
41. M.O.G.U.E.R.A. (Heisei)
42. Ebirah
43. Titanosaurus
44. MUTO (male)
45. Gabara
46. Moguera (Showa)
47. Manda
48. Kumonga
49. Ganimes
50. Gorosaurus
51. Kamoebas
52. Maguma
53. Kamacuras
54. Meganulon
55. Giant Octopus
56. Giant Sea Serpent
57. Minya
58. Giant Condor
59. Zilla

Top 50 Spaghetti Westerns of All-Time

Spaghetti westerns are better than westerns, at least in my opinion. Sure, there are fantastic American-made westerns but as a whole, the Italian-Spanish (sometimes German) films are superior. There is more grit, more bad ass shit and a level of violence that adds realism and authenticity to a genre that has typically been family friendly in the U.S.

The greatest film of all-time is a spaghetti western. And many of the other greatest films ever also fall into this genre.

I have spent the last several months watching a lot of these films. I have always been familiar with the greats but I had to delve deeper into the more obscure reaches of the genre. A special shout out goes to the Spaghetti Western Database for the hours of research I was able to accomplish in mostly one place. Also, thanks to Amazon, Hulu and YouTube for providing several of these films. The rest were an adventure to track down.

This list is the result of my hundreds of hours of film watching.

1. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
2. Once Upon A Time In the West
3. The Great Silence
4. The Big Gundown
5. For A Few Dollars More
6. Django
7. A Fistful of Dollars
8. The Mercenary
9. Face to Face
10. Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot!
11. A Bullet For the General
12. Compañeros
13. Duck, You Sucker! (A Fistful of Dynamite)
14. Day of Anger
15. Keoma
16. Sabata
17. Return of Ringo
18. Death Rides A Horse
19. Cemetery Without Crosses
20. My Name Is Nobody
21. The Grand Duel
22. A Genius, Two Partners and A Dupe
23. A Pistol for Ringo
24. If You Meet Sartana, Pray For Your Death
25. The Dirty Outlaws
26. Django, Prepare a Coffin (Viva Django)
27. Run Man Run
28. Tepepa
29. Navajo Joe
30. Four of the Apocalypse
31. Massacre Time
32. Shoot the Living, Pray for the Dead
33. Mannaja
34. Django Strikes Again
35. The Return of Sabata
36. A Few Dollars For Django
37. Light the Fuse… Sartana Is Coming
38. Machine Gun Killers
39. Beyond the Law
40. Ace High
41. The Bounty Killer (The Ugly Ones)
42. Trinity Is Still My Name
43. Hellbenders
44. Django the Bastard
45. God Forgives, I Don’t
46. Minnesota Clay
47. God’s Gun
48. They Call Me Trinity
49. Ringo and His Golden Pistol (Johnny Oro)
50. Arizona Colt

We Need More Revival Cinema

The last few months, I have been taking it upon myself to take advantage of the old school movies that have been playing in theaters near me. Unfortunately, I do not live in a big city. If I did, I would have a lot more places to go and a lot more variety in which classics I could see in the theater.

Being born in December of 1978 means that there are a ton of great motion pictures that I never had the opportunity to see on the big screen. Sure, there have been a lot of great films that have come out in my lifetime but, for the most part, you only get to see something on the big screen once. Plus, a lot of the great films that I have seen in the theater, I saw so long ago.

My first experience seeing a film come back to the theaters was in 1997 when George Lucas re-released the original Star Wars trilogy. Granted, these films were special editions littered with new effects but the experience was still unforgettable. Then I saw E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Alien and a few others that came out on their milestone anniversaries. It was a cool trend in the late 1990s and early 2000s but they still came out pretty scarcely.

Recently, some of the theaters around me have started bringing back some of the classics on a regular basis.

One theater near me hosts a program called Flashback Cinema. Every week, they show a different classic film. The showtimes are on Sundays and Wednesdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., which gives you four chances to try and make the show. Recently they have shown Citizen KaneThe GodfatherAliensThe NeverEnding StoryLabyrinthYoung FrankensteinRear WindowThe King & IHello DollyThe Ten Commandments and a slew of others. It’s a cool program and I try to take advantage of it as much as I can. Check their website because they list the theaters that host their program.

Fathom Events also does a good job of bringing back classics, as well. Recently I saw North By Northwest and I know that they have The GraduateSmokey and the Bandit, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Bonnie & Clyde and Casablanca on their docket. They don’t do it on a weekly basis like Flashback Cinema but it is still nice to have two alternative sources for classics on the big screen.

As the years pass, movies seem to get worse and worse. Sure, we have good films that come out every year but it seems like less and less are true classics. Look back at all the Oscar winners for best picture since the turn of the decade, how many of those do you truly consider classics?

MoonlightSpotlightBirdman12 Years a SlaveArgoThe ArtistThe King’s SpeechThe Hurt LockerSlumdog MillionaireNo Country for Old Men? Ok, maybe that one. The Departed? Also, maybe this one. CrashMillion Dollar BabyThe Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King? The only clear cut classic. ChicagoA Beautiful MindGladiator? For the most part, do any of these really have much value in repeated viewings? A few do, but just a few. I’m not saying that they aren’t good films but there is just something lacking in today’s best pictures compared to the stellar filmmaking artistry of yesteryear.

Frankly, I think it is important to look to the past and to see what was great in the earlier days of film history. It just seems that the competition among peers was stronger and the quality of the films being put out were better.

When we live in a world where Hollywood is mostly concerned with tent pole blockbuster films, milking every proven franchise till their tits chap, less attention is being given to making thought provoking motion pictures. The industry is losing its heart and its unique ability to challenge the social and political climate of the day. Celebrities giving long-winded speeches about how Trump is a Nazi and how guns kill babies and how vaccines create zombie children and how gluten is a registered Republican isn’t the type of social and political message that we need from Hollywood. In fact, that shit makes most people roll their eyes and ignore Hollywood. Well, except for celebrity obsessed ass clowns that will buy tickets for the next 214 Michael Bay Transformers movies. But those people should just be bulldozed into a ditch and buried because they’re why we can’t have nice things.

People need to be reminded of a time when Hollywood was this bad ass place where a filmmaker could get his message across artistically. There was a time when movies changed people’s lives and opened their eyes to things that they might not have experienced or conclusions that they may have never reached on their own.

In places like Los Angeles and New York, there are a lot of revival cinemas. There are these places that show nothing but old movies: many classics but also some lost gems. Sometimes they even show some real diamonds in the rough. Besides, what one person deems a classic, another might deem as trash. To each his own but variety is always a good thing and art is always a voice. Hollywood rarely makes art anymore. At least not at the same speed that they churn out mindless crap.

The world needs more revival cinema. Every town should have a place, a safe haven, where the masses can go, escape the world and the plastic mass produced entertainment of modern times and challenge themselves with something better than what is spoon fed to us today.

If I had Bill Gates money, this would be a priority for me. I’d open up a revival cinema in every town. I’d have a strong preference for 35mm film and old school projection. I’d want to show movies in their original format. Fuck all this digital HD special edition with new special effects crap that we get when things do come back to theaters.

While the likelihood of my dream happening is pretty slim to none, unless I find out that my long lost adoption records point to me being a royal, people can make the effort themselves. Nowadays, just about everything you can imagine is at your fingertips. You can be your own revival cinema. Granted, there is still something magical about seeing movies in a dark theater on a large screen with a gut full of popcorn, butter, salt, Sno-Caps and Diet Coke (gotta save my caloric intake for that butter).

It is nice to know that there are still people in the world that feel the same way; maybe not in my neighborhood but at least the Internet brings us closer.

I hope that other theaters or other organizations can start getting more of the old stuff back on the big screen. Hell, I’d go to the movies just about every night if there was something worthwhile playing. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Hitchcock marathon, a giallo triple feature or a spaghetti western night including a pasta dinner.

Sometimes, though, I just wonder what it was like to grow up in an era where there were grindhouse cinemas and old movie houses that ran twelve hour Godzilla marathons just for the hell of it. I never got to experience any of that and frankly, I don’t know why people stopped supporting these things.

I don’t even know where there’s a damn drive-in anymore, either!

Kudos to the real champions… or reel champions out there like New Beverly Cinema and the Alamo Drafthouse. Kudos to Flashback Cinema and Fathom Events for giving us something old and something different.

History is important. Besides, the future doesn’t really look too bright unless you’re just distracted starring at Optimus Prime having butt sex with a supernova because, at this point, what the hell else can they do with a Transformers movie?

Top 25 Baseball Films of All-Time

It is almost Opening Day for the 2017 Major League Baseball season! So I figured that I would put together something special.

This took a lot of time to compile and I spent over a month revisiting about fifty baseball films, as well as watching a dozen or so classics I had never seen. I also talked to countless people about the subject, whether online or at ballgames over the last month.

A special shout out goes out to those who contributed to the discussion.

So just in time for the season opener, I drop my list of the Top 25 Baseball Films of All-Time!

Top 25 Baseball Feature Films:
1. The Natural
2. Field of Dreams
3. Bull Durham
4. Sugar
5. Moneyball
6. 42
7. The Sandlot
8. A League of Their Own
9. Major League
10. 61*
11. Eight Men Out
12. Million Dollar Arm
13. The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings
14. Pride of the Yankees
15. Bad News Bears (original)
16. Walt Disney’s The Rookie
17. Bang the Drum Slowly
18. For Love of the Game
19. Cobb
20. Soul of the Game
21. Major League 2
22. The Perfect Game
23. Rookie of the Year
24. Trouble With the Curve
25. Mr. Baseball

Honorable Mention:
-Damn Yankees!
-The Pride of St. Louis
-Pastime
-Bad News Bears (remake)
-The Stratton Story
-Fear Strikes Out
-Headin’ Home
-The Jackie Robinson Story
-Fever Pitch (only because of how it shows the love of the sport)
-Angels In the Outfield (original)

Dishonorable Mention:
-Major League: Back to the Minors
-The Babe
-Angels in the Outfield (remake)
-Ed
-anything with Air Bud in it

Top 10 Baseball Documentaries:
1. Ken Burns’ Baseball
2. Catching Hell
3. Baseball: Pelotero
4. The Lost Son of Havana
5. No No: A Dockumentary
6. Pride & Perseverance
7. The Battered Bastards of Baseball
8. Knuckleball
9. The Heart & Soul of Chicago
10. The Life & Times of Hank Greenberg

Joe Bob Briggs: A Texan of Exquisite Taste and a Man Who Influenced a Generation

For those who read my blog Cinespiria, you know that I am a pretty big fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000. It is a show that helped me appreciate my love of film in all its forms, especially that low brow stuff they like to make fun of as the basis of their show. MST3K wasn’t the only influence I had, however. There is a man who came out before that great show; a man that taught me a lot about b-movies and cult films, especially horror flicks with a high level of absolute awesomeness. That man’s name is Joe Bob Briggs.

All men are not created equal and the same should be said about Texans. As far as I’m concerned, Joe Bob Briggs is the greatest Texan ever born. He is certainly the most entertaining and knowledgeable when it comes to the things I love most: motion pictures.

In the early 80s, Joe Bob took offense to the redevelopment of the Times Square area in New York City. 42nd Street was well-known for its multitude of grindhouse theaters that specialized in b-movies with double and triple bills. These theaters typically ran films 24 hours a day. Briggs encouraged a campaign that saw film fans write to city officials, pressuring them to preserve the area. Briggs referred to 42nd Street as “the one place in New York City you could see a decent drive-in movie.” Briggs wanted to preserve a piece of Americana and referred to these theaters as places where “Charles Bronson can be seen thirty feet high, as God intended.”

In the mid 80s, Briggs started a one-man comedy show called An Evening with Joe Bob Briggs. He eventually re-branded the show as Joe Bob Dead in Concert. The show was a bit of a variety piece, showcases Briggs’ many talents. It encompassed comedy, storytelling and music. Joe Bob’s show toured the country and played in over fifty venues within two years.

In 1986, Joe Bob Briggs was hired by cable giant The Movie Channel (the sister network to Showtime) to host a new show called Drive-In Theater. This was the gig that first brought Joe Bob Briggs into my life.

I didn’t discover Drive-In Theater until the summer of 1989 when I was ten years old. I often times spent the night at my cousin’s or my friend’s house and both of them had The Movie Channel. Back then, parents weren’t in helicopter mode like they are now. As long as we didn’t commit atrocious acts out in the world, our parents were pretty lackadaisical about censoring what we watched. Truthfully, they were usually asleep and had no idea what we were watching, as long as we stayed quiet enough. Plus there weren’t all those parental controls on cable boxes and whatnot.

I watched a lot of great flicks, many of them probably way too intense, sexual or scary for a ten year-old mind. Still, I turned out pretty okay and what these weekly experiences did was help me develop my love of film. That love already existed but what Joe Bob Briggs did was he introduced me to films I probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise. He spoon fed me giant helpings of feature films that the art house snobs and penguins at the Academy would thumb their noses at.

Drive-In Theater was the highest rated show on The Movie Channel and it was nominated twice for a Cable ACE Award. It ran for ten years and I got to see most of it. But when Joe Bob’s run at The Movie Channel came to an end, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. In fact, things got even better.

In 1996, Joe Bob Brings joined the TNT network where he would go on to host their spectacular MonsterVision movie show for four years. Now TNT couldn’t show the gratuitous violence and boobies that The Movie Channel could get away with. However, TNT geared a lot of their movies on MonsterVision towards a horror and sci-fi format, hence the name.

Most of MonsterVision‘s offering were 70s and 80s horror and sci-fi classics. It also showed some older films in the genre but the show was at its best when Joe Bob Briggs got to add his commentary and two cents on films like the Friday the 13th series, Return of the Living Dead, PhantasmSwamp Thing, Gremlins, They Live, The WarriorsThe FogMetalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-SynCritters, Logan’s RunDeadly FriendSoylent GreenSalem’s LotThe BeastmasterHalloween III: Season of the Witch, the Poltergeist series, The FunhouseNight of the LepusThe Fearless Vampire KillersThe Fly (1986), Child’s PlaySaturn 3Back to the FutureThe ExorcistThe Wraith, PredatorMad Max 2: The Road WarriorGhoulies, Godzilla vs. MothraThe Last StarfighterNightbreedHighlanderTron, The Black Hole and so many more.

Joe Bob Briggs would often times have guests on the show as well. MonsterVision opened their doors to horror greats and scream queens and allowed them to talk about these films. Briggs was a hilarious and thoughtful interviewer and his appreciation for a lot of the movies he was showcasing was apparent in how he talked about them and how he shot the shit with his guests.

MonsterVision existed in my later teen years and I am glad that it was a part of my life then, as I was growing into a man with a more refined taste and a pretty discriminatory palate in regards to film. It was a major influence on me and it inspired me to scour the mom and pop video stores for more obscure titles in the horror and sci-fi genres. Luckily, the Internet was becoming a big thing by this time and tracking down some hard to find movies was made a little bit easier.

After MonsterVision ended, I went through Job Bob withdrawal. The same thing happened when Mystery Science Theater 3000 left the airwaves too. Unfortunately, both of these shows disappeared around the same time and never has anything else come close to being as genuine in its appreciation of low brow cinematic art as these two shows were. But my love of these things never ceased and I never stopped watching the films that fit the type of ilk as those featured on both shows.

About five years ago or so, I was a political and economic blogger. My site, at that time, was getting about 100,000 hits per month. I sometimes got shares and mentions by famous people on Twitter. Kelsey Grammer once shared a post, as did several political pundit types. However, one day I was taken aback. The Twitter account for my site got a follow from Joe Bob Briggs. He even reposted a link to some story that I had written. Now I don’t know if he actually read my words but it was a pretty cool fucking feeling seeing a guy I looked up to for most of my life, share something that came from out of my head.

I miss Joe Bob Brigg’s presence on television tremendously, even to this day.

Things are starting to look up though, as Mystery Science Theater 3000 is returning in less than a month, after a nearly two decade hiatus. However, I am still waiting for the day that Joe Bob Briggs returns to the small screen, now in widescreen high definition, to grace us with his two cents once again. I don’t know if that will ever happen but damn it, it needs to.