My Top Ten Stephen King Movies

Welcome to Day Two of Stephen King Week! King turns 70 on Thursday so I’m going to post something King-related all week. One book review (End Of Watch, yesterday), two movie reviews (including the new It film tomorrow), and two Top Ten lists. Here’s my list of My Top Ten Stephen King Movies.

I love when Stephen King’s novels are made into movies, even though some of the films have been atrociously bad. But I do my best to watch every adaptation that I can, and… Holy shit – I’ve watched a lot. I think this is the longest list I’ve ever done since I now choose to rank everything that I’ve seen instead of just the top ten. Wait – I lie! My list of My Top “Ten” Best Picture Oscar Winners is slightly longer. But not much.

For this list, I’ve excluded TV shows & most straight-to-TV mini-series(es?!). I cheated & included It (1990) & Salem’s Lot (1979), however. They’re so good we’ll pretend they were theatrical releases (which they actually were in the UK, I think). Some others may have been TV – hard to remember. Enough faffing! Let’s start this countdown.

Here are My Top Ten Stephen King Movies (from least favorite to favorite & not judging on if they’re “loyal” to the book). I could do with re-watching a lot outside the top twenty so don’t take the order of those too seriously… πŸ˜‰

**Edited October 22nd 2017 to add Gerald’s Game & 1922**

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

43. The Mangler
42. Sleepwalkers
41. The Lawnmower Man (WTF? Shares only the title.)
40. Dolan’s Cadillac
39. Rose Red
38. The Night Flier (Don’t really remember this)
37. Sometimes They Come Back
36. Dreamcatcher (Why, Morgan?!)
35. Quicksilver Highway
34. Desperation (Also don’t really remember)
33. 1922
32. Cell
31. Storm Of The Century
30. A Good Marriage
29. Carrie (2013)
28. The Dark Half
27. Apt Pupil
26. Dolores Claiborne (Could do with re-watching)
25. Thinner
24. Secret Window
23. Needful Things
22. The Langoliers
21. Hearts In Atlantis (I need to re-watch this – it probably deserves to be higher)

Top Twenty:

20. Christine (Again, I could do with re-watching this)
19. 1408
18. Firestarter
17. Cujo (Although the complete change of ending was odd)
16. Maximum Overdrive (I like this more than I should. The soundtrack helps.)
15. Children Of The Corn (I like this. Not ashamed. Malachai!)
14. Creepshow 1 & 2 (I could do with re-watching. To be honest, I’m not sure which is which so stuck them together)
13. Misery (I know this should be higher)
12. Silver Bullet (I know this should be lower but, you know, it has one of the Two Coreys…)
11. Cat’s Eye

Top Ten:

10. TIE: The Running Man & Gerald’s Game

9. β€˜Salem’s Lot

8. The Dead Zone

7. Pet Sematary

6. The Mist

5. TIE: It (1990) & It (2017) (In all honesty, the 2017 adaptation is the superior film but I’ll always have affection for the 1990 version and, of course, Tim Curry)

4. The Green Mile

3. Carrie

2. The Shining

1. TIE: Stand By Me & The Shawshank Redemption (Sorry. Don’t make me choose between them!)

Movies Not Seen:
Graveyard Shift, Tales From The Darkside: The Movie, Children Of The Corn II through VIII & TV Movie, Sometimes They Come Back…Again & …For More, Trucks, The Rage: Carrie 2, Firestarter 2, Carrie (2002), The Diary Of Ellen Rimbauer, Riding The Bullet, ‘Salem’s Lot (2004), Big Driver, The Dark Tower

TV Series/TV Movies:

Seen:
Golden Years, The Tommyknockers, The Stand, The Shining (1997), Nightmares & Dreamscapes, Haven (Saw most of. Stopped watching when it stopped being pretty damn good.)

Didn’t finish:
Under The Dome (Started. Stopped. Not bothered. Hated the book’s characters.), The Dead Zone (2002) (Saw most of this. Pretty good show. Need to finish.), 11.22.63 (Started. Just don’t have the time to devote to TV shows nowadays.)

Not Seen:
Bag Of Bones, Kingdom Hospital, Mr. Mercedes, The Mist (2017), Various short stories…

**I cannot WAIT for Castle Rock to start up as I adore King’s short stories & want to see more of them made! But it’s gonna air on this Hulu thingymabob so who the hell knows how/when/if I’ll ever see that in the UK… 😦

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My Top Ten Morgan Freeman Movies

Happy Birthday to Morgan Freeman, who is 80 today.

Freeman is easily one of my favorite actors. Who doesn’t love Morgan Freeman??? Plus that VOICE of his! Perfect for God in Bruce Almighty. And just thinking of his Shawshank Redemption narration gives me happy goosebumps.

Looking at this list, he’s only been in one movie that I really love. But I’ve seen quite a few of his films as he’s one of those actors who will make me watch a movie that I might not have watched if it starred someone else. It’s a pretty mixed bag – he doesn’t stick to any one genre. I think he’s fun when in comedies but probably like him most in things such as Shawshank & Million Dollar Baby.

Here are My Top Ten Morgan Freeman Movies (not performances) counting down to my favorite:

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

22. Hard Rain
21. Chain Reaction
20. Nurse Betty
19. Dreamcatcher
18. Wanted
17. Now You See Me
16. Gone Baby Gone
15. War Of The Worlds
14. Bruce Almighty
13. Outbreak
12. Ted 2
11. Lucy

Top Ten:

10. TIE: Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves & Driving Miss Daisy

9. Oblivion

8. Seven

7. Unforgiven

6. The Bucket List

5. Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy

4. Deep Impact

3. Million Dollar Baby

2. The Lego Movie

1. The Shawshank Redemption

Saw But Don’t Remember Well So Can’t Include Them:
Kiss The Girls
Glory
Lean On Me

Some I’ve Not Seen:
Teachers, That Was Then… This Is Now, Clean And Sober, Johnny Handsome, The Bonfire Of The Vanities, Lucky Number Slevin, Evan Almighty, Invictus, Red, Last Vegas, Olympus Has Fallen, London Has Fallen, Transcendence, Now You See Me 2, Ben-Hur, Going In Style

My Top Ten William Sadler Movies

Happy Birthday to William Sadler, who turns 67 today.

Sadler is a great “Hey, it’s that guy!“. I doubt many people other than hardcore movie fans could name him but most people will know his face. He’s been in 165 things according to IMDb. I’m a fan thanks mainly to his Frank Darabont/Stephen King connections. I wish Darabont, King, and Darabont’s usual favorite actors would work together all the time! Come on, Darabont – would you hurry up & adapt King’s fantastic The Long Walk?! And please once again give Sadler at least a small role. And Jeffrey DeMunn! Okay – I’m getting off topic. I just love Darabont’s King adaptations & he’s had the rights to The Long Walk, a favorite of mine, for ages. I. WANT. TO. SEE. IT. NOW. πŸ˜‰

Sadler’s Darabont/King movies may be my favorites but my favorite role has to be his Grim Reaper in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. He stole the show in that one – I wonder if he’s fond of that role? He should be! I think he got to play quite a different character in that film & he really stood out. It would be cool to see him in more unusual roles like that one. But not necessarily lead roles – sometimes it’s cool to be a “Hey, it’s that guy!” guy.

As always, I’ll count down to my favorite films as opposed to performance. What a great, mixed bag to choose from. Here are My Top Ten William Sadler Movies:

The Other Two I’ve Seen:

12. Hard To Kill
11. Disturbing Behavior

Top Ten:

10. Man On A Ledge

9. August Rush

8. K-9 (Haha! Can’t even find a picture of Sadler in this as “Salesman Don”. So here’s James Belushi & the dog…)

7. Iron Man 3

6. Die Hard 2

5. Project X

4. Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey

3. The Mist

2. The Green Mile

1. The Shawshank Redemption

Sadler has also been in lots of TV shows, some of which I’ve seen him in, but the one movie of his that I’ve not yet seen but really want to is Rush starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jason Patric & Sam Elliott (stud).

Here’s Sadler as Death with Bill & Ted. Best two out of three!

Escape From Alcatraz (1979) Review

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Escape From Alcatraz (1979)

Directed by Don Siegel

Based on Escape from Alcatraz by J. Campbell Bruce

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Fred Ward, Roberts Blossom, Larry Hankin, Jack Thibeau, Paul Benjamin, Danny Glover

Running time: 112 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Escape from Alcatraz is a 1979 American prison film based on true events. It dramatizes possibly the only successful escape attempt from the maximum security prison on Alcatraz Island.

My Opinion:

This movie is great! I remember scrolling through Netflix a few months ago & being so sick of the absolute shit I’d watched recently and really wanting to see a proper,  good movie so I decided to give Escape From Alcatraz a go. I’m happy to say that I wasn’t at all disappointed! I actually don’t know why it isn’t a little more highly regarded – I think its IMDB rating is a little low at 7.6 as I actually enjoyed it quite a bit more than several of the “classics” that are in the IMDB Top 250. I think Escape From Alcatraz actually deserves a place in the Top 250 more than a lot of the films that are in it (especially the current films that end up there just because users rate modern movies far too highly).

If you haven’t seen this but you like either The Shawshank Redemption or The Great Escape, I can pretty much guarantee that you’d enjoy this one as well. It’s actually funny just how similar this is to Shawshank! There’s quite a similar set of quirky & likeable characters (even though they’re criminals) and an evil warden (Patrick McGoohan). Alcatraz even has its own Shawshank Brooks in the form of a painter & lover of chrysanthemums named Doc (Roberts Blossom). They’re so similar that I just looked up Stephen King’s novella on Wikipedia to see if he was inspired by the true story & this movie. Turns out that his story is heavily based on the 1872 short story God Sees the Truth, But Waits by Leo Tolstoy. What? Huh – I never knew that! You learn something new every day. πŸ™‚

While watching this, I couldn’t help but wonder about the true story and how accurately it’s portrayed in the movie. From the little bit of investigation that I did, it seems pretty accurate from what I can tell (with the usual small changes to make for a better movie). Maybe I should read the J. Campbell Bruce novel someday – it really is a fascinating story. It’s funny how in this (and Shawshank), the criminals are the “heroes” while the prison employees are the bad guys. As this story is based on real people, however, I was worried after it finished that I was cheering the escape of hardened criminals. Looking them up, it appears that they were there mainly just for robberies. Not that I condone robbery! I’m just glad they weren’t murderers or rapists. Eastwood’s character (Sam Morris) was sent to the maximum security island as he had escaped from other prisons and, like the real life Morris, had a very high IQ. It was quite an elaborate two-year long escape plan – You have to give these guys credit for their determination. Well, Andy Dufresne spent far longer on his plan. πŸ˜‰ (Sorry, sorry… I just can’t help the Shawshank comparisons!).

Besides Clint Eastwood, we have a lot of other very recognizable faces in this movie. The painter & flower-lover that I mentioned, Doc, is played by Roberts Blossom (the nice “scary” old man in Home Alone!). Another really great character who is based on one of those involved in the plan but whose character was changed slightly from the real-life man is played by Larry Hankin (grumpy neighbor Mr. Heckles in Friends!). The warden is played by Patrick McGoohan (Scanners!) and another great inmate who helps out, English, is played by Paul Benjamin (Across 110th Street! Never seen it!). The actors playing the bank-robbing brothers from the real story are played by Fred Ward (Tremors!) and Jack Thibeau (I didn’t know him but he was in Lethal Weapon as was Danny Glover, whose very small film debut was in Alcatraz). As for Clint Eastwood, I have to honestly say that I think this is now my personal favorite of his movies that I’ve seen so far.

Summary:

Based on the fascinating true story of what is probably the most famous prison break, Escape From Alcatraz was likely to be a highly entertaining film. And it certainly was! The story seems pretty unaltered as far as the main characters & the actual prison break go. As for the lesser characters, I don’t know if people like Doc were real but I’m not too bothered if things like that were added as these little things help to make this such an enjoyable film. Were the real-life criminals such likeable “heroes”? Unlikely. But movies often elaborate in this way. All in all, this is a great film and those who are interested in the real story can further explore its accuracies if they wish (and I just might someday). I call that a successful movie when it makes you want to learn more about the real story. And, as brilliant as this movie is, it’s only my second favorite “Escape” movie that I’ve watched for the first time this year! (I’d have to put Escape From New York above this one – what a good year I’ve had for Escape movies). πŸ™‚

My Rating: 8/10

CPD Classics: The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Review

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The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Directed by Frank Darabont

Based on Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King

Starring:
Tim Robbins
Morgan Freeman
Bob Gunton
William Sadler
Clancy Brown
Gil Bellows
Mark Rolston
James Whitmore
Jeffrey DeMunn

Music by Thomas Newman

Running time: 142 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Andy Dufresne is a banker sent to Shawshank State Prison after being convicted of murdering his wife and her lover. While there, be becomes friends with fellow inmate Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding. Through years of hardship, Andy maintains his innocence and never gives up hope.

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Why It’s A CPD Classic:

First off, I’ll point out that this is in the IMDB Top 250 so I figured it would be a good one to do today to help kick off all the guest IMDB Top 250 reviews that I’ll start posting next week (More about that after the review). And what a place to start! The Shawshank Redemption takes the number one spot, having been voted as the best movie of all-time by IMDB users. So why is that….?

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I’m a Shawshank lover. Yep – I’m one of those mainstream masses who is perfectly happy to see Shawshank at number one above the likes of The Godfather and Citizen Kane. Yep – it’s a “feel good” movie. Yep – it may sometimes try a little too hard to be a “feel good” movie. You know what? I don’t care. Because this movie DOES make me feel good! And there’s nothing wrong with that. And most importantly, to me, it has these amazing feel good moments yet it doesn’t feel contrived. Most of us film lovers can see right through that. If Shawshank was guilty of that, it wouldn’t have stayed in the number one spot for all these years. It tells a pretty straight forward story in a straight forward way. I suppose thanks can go to Stephen King for that, my very favorite author and whose adapted works will be featuring more than just this once in my CPD Classics series.

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But clearly the combination of Stephen King & Frank Darabont just WORKS. The Green Mile is also absolutely fantastic and I think The Mist is a great underrated film. Oh, and I have to mention a third very important element: Thomas Newman. I ADORE so many Thomas Newman scores. He’s amazing & doesn’t quite seem to get the credit he deserves. Now isn’t the time to go into him, though, as I think I should devote an entire post to him someday.

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I don’t know if I need to go into any detail with this review. I would assume that most everyone has seen this movie by now and, if not, I think it’s extremely well known what happens in it anyway. I love this film and I’m clearly not alone in feeling this way, although I rarely see it mentioned amongst bloggers here so I’d love to know everyone’s thoughts on this one in the comments below. Is it too mainstream for the blogging crowd? Too obvious & “feel good”? Am I now going to be considered uncool and you’ll all run me out of (WordPress) town?

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I think there are a lot of things that make The Shawshank Redemption such a widely loved film and the movie just gets so many things “right” that they all combine to give us something spectacular: Feel good moments like the beer & opera scenes (which never fail to move me no matter how many times I watch this movie). Andy & Red’s friendship. The lesser characters such as Brooks & Heywood (and the heartbreakingly beautiful “Brooks Was Here” theme from Thomas Newman). Seeing the posters on the wall change, showing the passage of time. Alexandre Dumbass. The pet bird. Rita Hayworth. And, of course, the overall message of hope.

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More than anything, though, I think it’s Stephen King’s story and Darabont’s ability to give us scenes of pure beauty in a movie based someplace as awful as a prison, along with Thomas Newman’s amazing score plus superb narration from the always lovely-to-listen-to voice of Morgan Freeman which may all be most to thank for making The Shawshank Redemption as near to perfection as I think any film could ever really get. That’s why The Shawshank Redemption is a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 10/10

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(That’s the first 10 I’ve given on my site)

IMDB Top 250 Guest Reviews: Thanks once again to all who signed up to help me finish my IMDB Top 250 Challenge by doing guest reviews. I’m still amazed by the huge response and can’t believe I’ve already received some reviews! So I’ll be starting to post them next week (I’ll e-mail you to let you know when yours will be posted). There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone else would like to join in! You can find a list with the remaining movies HERE.

JOHN HUGHES BLOGATHON: Also, a quick reminder that March is when I’ll be having the John Hughes blogathon (so the Top 250 thing will go on hold for a month). I’ve had several reviews so far – thank you everyone! I’d like to receive the rest by the end of this month at the latest so that I can get them all scheduled & let you know when yours will be posted. Reviews can be e-mailed to tableninemutant at hotmail dot com. AND – I’d be happy for anyone to still join!!! You can do any film you want. See more details HERE. πŸ™‚

My Top Ten Tearjerker Movies

I haven’t done a top ten list in ages so I thought this would be a good topic. I’m not a girly girl & don’t get all teary eyed at the usual sort of contrived chick flicks (piss off Beaches!). For the most part I’m going to leave out true stories (except for my number one) because it would be insane to not have something like Schindler’s List at the top. So bear that in mind before asking why certain movies based on horrific real life events aren’t on here. I’m also almost more of a sucker for happy endings than sad ones so you won’t only find sad ones here.

So here are my Top Ten Tearjerker Movies counting down from ten: 😦

10. American History X

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9. Brokeback Mountain

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8. Toy Story 3

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7. The Bucket List

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6. The Shawshank Redemption

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5. Stand By Me

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4. City Lights

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3. Cinema Paradiso

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2. Up

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1. Mask

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Honorable Mentions:

Bambi
The Lion King
The Green Mile
Always
Midnight Cowboy
The Lives Of Others
Legends Of The Fall
The Elephant Man
Untamed Heart
It’s A Wonderful Life
The Secret In Their Eyes
Untouchable