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Poets' Favorite Movies

Lawrence Raab

I've often thought of my Ten Best, or Ten Favorites, or (since I got a better tv and DVD player) the movies I'd most want to own, or most enjoy watching repeatedly. So my criteria is somewhat mixed here.

My first five: 8 1/2 (Fellini)--the end is just transcendent, well the whole thing is wonderful; Blow-Up (Antonioni)--far more than a romp through swinging London, a beautiful and intellectually challenging film; Jules and Jim (Truffaut) which I haven't seen for a while, so maybe Shoot the Piano Player or Day for Night instead; Hour of the Wolf (Bergman)--not the "greatest" Bergman film, but how can you go wrong with vampires, Mozart, and a suffering artist, not to mention a wonderful confessional narration from Liv Ullman; and Citizen Kane (Welles)--still the best story about trying to get the story that you can't get.

My second five: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone)--if only for the opening sequence, but also the great music, and Henry Fonda as the bad guy; Psycho (Hitchcock)--I still remember seeing it in a packed theater when it first came out; Betrayal (David Jones)--from the Pinter play, and yes, not a great film (though maybe a great filmed play) but the acting by Jeremy Irons, Ben Kingsley, and Patricia Hodge is absolutely riveting, and the play is wonderful and disturbing; Monty Python and the Holy Grail--which I almost know by heart, and is still hilarious; and finally Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur) holding down the film noir spot which I might use sometimes for Double Indemnity or The Maltese Falcon or The Big Sleep.

As soon as I send this I'll probably think of one that absolutely without question should have been included. Ah well.


Lawrence Raab is the author of six collections of poems, most recently Visible Signs: New and Selected Poems  (Penguin. 2003) and The Probable World  (Penguin, 2000). He has published a chapbook of collaborative poems with Stephen Dunn, Winter at the Caspian Sea  (Palanquin Press, 1999). His poems have appeared in several editions of Best American  Poetry  and in Garrison Keillor's Good Poems. Raab was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1993. Penguin will publish The History of Forgetting  in 2009.

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Speechless Spring 2007
Copyright 2007 Published by
Tebot Bach