Like many other film fans I’m sure, I enjoy listening to the long-running Chicago-based podcast Filmspotting every week. One of the aspects I most respect about the hosts is that even though they are clearly highly knowledgeable about almost all aspects of cinema, they never pretend to be complete experts and have no qualms about admitting to not having seen a particularly famous film, referring to them as “blind spots”.
Earlier this year they announced a 10th anniversary show in which both hosts would list their Top 10 “blind spots”. Liking the idea, I jotted down a few of my own aiming to write a blog about them, with the later intention of attempting to see all ten within the following year. The next week when the show was released, I amusingly found that there was actually a little crossover between the famous films I hadn’t seen and theirs.
Then I promptly forgot about the whole thing until a couple of weeks ago when Filmspotting did a “Blindspotting” review of David Lean’s Dr. Zhivago, a film that I have actually seen. This reminded me to dig up the notes I’d made back in March and actually bother to write the list. That way at least I’ll be more motivated to put in the effort of seeking these films out. Anyway, after some whittling down, here’s the ten I settled on.
10. Patton (1970)
The only seventies Best Picture winner to have eluded me, this iconic war movie is now widely regarded as a classic of that particularly acclaimed decade.
09. Serpico (1973)
I feel like I’ve seen all the essential Al Pacino performances but then was reminded that I’d somehow never gotten around to watching one of his earlier iconic roles in Serpico, which came out between the first two Godfather movies.
08. The Right Stuff (1983)
There were many mentions of Philip Kaufman’s epic space drama around the time Interstellar was released last year, which only prompted me to look a little more into it and discover that its reputation is much greater that I’d estimated.
07. Stalker (1979)
Andrei Tarkovsky is regarded by many as being one of the greatest film directors of all time, yet I’ve never seen a single film of his. I suppose I could have chosen any of his famous works for this spot but went with Stalker as it appears to be his most highly regarded film, though I don’t know if it’ll be the best one to start with.
06. The Ten Commandments (1956)
Cecil B. DeMille’s Biblical epic was one of the highest grossing films of all time when it was originally released, and in fact still would be today if inflation were taken into account. It’s one of those films that I’d sometimes notice in the TV guides as a kid only to then be put off by its immense length, but I should try to make time for it at some point.
05. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Robert Wise’s fifties sci-fi tale is one that I sometimes feel like I’ve seen but never actually have. It’s been regarded as a classic of the genre for decades now.
04. Shane (1953)
Whenever I see lists of ‘the all-time greatest Westerns’ made I usually find I’ve seen the vast majority of them. The only one that continually turns up that I’ve never gotten around to is George Stevens’ Shane, which the AFI ranked as the third best of the genre .
03. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
I suppose I could make a list like this that entirely consists of old silent movies, and while I haven’t seen a great many of them, I have seen a lot of the most famous ones that immediately spring to mind. Carl Theodor Dreyer’s hugely influential 1928 film is the most obvious exemption.
02. La Dolce Vita (1960)
I’ve seen a number of Federico Fellini films, but have never sought out La Dolce Vita, his most iconic and acclaimed work, now generally acclaimed as being one of the best movies of all time.
01. Tokyo Story (1953)
Well this is my number one choice, widely regarded as a cinematic masterpiece; Tokyo Story has maintained a place in the top 5 of Sight & Sound’s once-a-decade poll for the last 30 years. In the most recent one (2012), it placed third behind Vertigo and Citizen Kane, and yet I’ve never seen it, or indeed any Ozu. For shame.
The other films I noted down for this were: MASH, Cabaret, Spartacus, Sophie’s Choice, The Player, Repulsion, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, anything by Abbas Kiarostami (I found it tough to single out one film of his), and because they don’t all have to be highbrow – Labyrinth and They Live.