Shelf of Shame – Craig Hamilton

It’s time for a self-proclaimed film buff who has slightly above average knowledge on the world of cinema, film-making and film awards to expose his inadequacies by tossing his Shelf of Shame hat into the FilmNerds ring.  Think of this as Hemingway turning his nose up at the prose of Tolstoy or Liberace not taking the time to peruse the catalogues of the great Ludwig Van.  However, there comes a time when even the greats, in order to enhance their greatness, must admit their deficiencies, eliminate them and continue on their quest for perfection.  The 5 films below signify where I have fallen short as a film fan.

1) Ben-Hur (1959)
Ben-Hur has Ben-Sitting on my shelf at home for 3 years now.  I bought the special 5-disc edition on Black Friday for about $5 and ever since that early morning it’s been collecting dust.  The DVD case hasn’t been collecting dust, but the shrink wrap from which I never removed it has been collecting the dust.  Ben-Hur is #100 on the AFI Top 100 list and it not only won the 1959 Best Picture, but received 11 total wins, which is the first of only 3 films to ever accomplish such a feat (Titanic, Return of the King).  Charlton Heston is the leading man of this epic film that coincides with the life and times of Christ.  It’s pushing 3.5 hours, but if I made it through the travesty that is Cleopatra, then Ben-Hur should be a cake-chariot-ride.

2) Easy Rider (1969)
Easy Rider
Easy Rider is one of the films used to refer to a particular cinematic era (late 60’s through early 80’s) that took a refreshing, realistic and independent turn.  It’s specifically referenced as such in the title of Peter Biskind’s book, “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and Rock ‘N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood”.  Films, for the most part, were stiff and formal but at this point in time began to change to a style more grainier and eccentric with a splash of Americana.  Easy Rider is directed by and stars Dennis Hopper and also includes costars Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda.  It’s a hippie road trip, the original motorcycle diaries, the poster child of the renaissance of film.

3) Deliverance (1972)
I’ve seen enough to know.  I’ve seen pieces, I’ve seen parodies and I’ve looked at the back of the video box at the rental store back when those still existed and quite frankly, I’m not necessarily looking forward to watching it.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that if you took all of the pieces of Deliverance that I’ve seen it might come together to make up the whole film itself.  However, the film experience must start from the beginning and go until the very end.  It’s a necessary evil and I’m hopeful that my initial dread will help the film to exceed my expectations.

4) Stagecoach (1939)
My childhood was full of Westerns playing on the TV in our house so it’s more of a shocker than it looks that I haven’t seen this film.  Stagecoach is one of the earliest and best of the many incredible collaborations between John Ford and John Wayne…or so I’ve herd.  I can’t really state that with any true enthusiasm since I’ve never seen it.  Stagecoach was nominated for both Best Picture and Best Director, but ultimately was beaten, along with every other film that year, by Gone with the Wind.  Stagecoach received 7 total nominations.  The Searchers is one of my Top 10 favorite films of all time, but without watching Stagecoach, that would be like saying Ray of Light is your favorite Madonna album when you’ve never bothered to listen to Like A Virgin.  Irregardless, Stagecoach is a must-see for any son of a Western/John Wayne fan like me.

5) Stand by Me (1986)
Stand By Me
If the surface of the water is the pedestal of a true film connoisseur and the bottom of the ocean is the midnight showing of Zookeeper, then not having seen Stand by Me is the proverbial millstone tied around my neck.  Directed by the once-great, Rob Reiner, Stand by Me is a film staple.  It’s based on the book, The Body by Stephen King; one of my favorite authors.  Coming from this era and having seen many other 1980’s, nostalgic, adolescent films, it’s seriously alarming that I haven’t yet seen this one.  Not to mention that the cast is great and stars your typical, iconic 80’s actors like, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, John Cusack, Kiefer Sutherland, Jerry O’Connell and Richard Dreyfus.  This is sure to be one that I will beat myself up over for waiting so long to watch.