Someone asked me the other day what my top ten favorite movies were. Now to me, favorite is a sliding scale. On any given day you'll probably get a different answer, though there will be one or two films that always stay on the list. For instance, had you asked me to name favorite movies ten years ago you'd have probably gotten a very different list than today. And if you ask me next year, you'll probably get a slightly different list then too.
My absoute favorite film has remained pretty much the same for a long time though. It is The Maltese Falcon, John Houston's 1941 adaptation of Dashiell Hammet's novel. That's the movie I've watched the most, somewhere in the area of 50 times I'd guess, and I'd watch it again today with no problem at all.
Why? Any number of reasons. I like Hammett. I've read the novel Maltese Falcon many times and the movie script is almost word for word from the novel. I like Humphrey Bogart, probably my favorite classic movie actor. The rest of the cast is amazing. Peter Lorre. Mary Astor. The amazing Sydney Greenstreet. The philosophy expressed by the film, that we live in a random and orderless universe, is pretty much in line with my world view. And, what can I say, I'm attracted to the stark noir atmosphere of the film.
Anyway, that's my favorite movie of all time. The other nine? Well, looking at my shelf of DVDs and seeing what I've watched the most in the last year or two, I'd say top four behind Falcon are Oh Brother Where Art Thou, Lost in Translation, Scent of a Woman, and Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan. After that are the three recent Lord of the Rings films, a couple more Star Treks (Voyage Home and Generations) a bunch of Akira Kurasawa films, Sinbad movies, Errol Flynn swashbucklers, etc. Gets pretty hard to choose. Why do we have favorites anyway? I suppose they are the films that most closely reflect our inner landscapes. They are, as Bogie says at the end of Falcon, "The stuff that dreams are made of."