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All Movie Talk

Welcome to All Movie Talk! In this audio podcast, Samuel Stoddard and Stephen Keller talk about old and new movies, famous directors, historical film movements, movie trivia, and more.

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Top 6 Word: Red

My favorite color is red. That means it's time for the Top 6 movies with the word "red" in the title. There are a lot to choose from, but I narrowed it down to seven. The honorable mention that just missed the list is Raise the Red Lantern (1991), one of the most beautiful, vibrant movies I've ever seen. (The director, Zhang Yimou, would go on to make the better known and equally gorgeous Hero (2002).)

6. The Hunt For Red October (1990)

First and probably best of the Jack Ryan movie adaptations. Alec Baldwin plays Jack Ryan, and Sean Connery plays a Russian submarine captain. Not having any predecessors, the film was allowed to tell a story and crank the tension without outdoing what had come before.

5. Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)

Harry Leon Wilson's comic novel of the same name, about an English valet negotiating the culture shock of relocating to the American West. It was filmed no less than five times, once in 1950 with Bob Hope and Lucille Ball in a film called Fancy Pants. But the best by far is this one starring Charles Laughton as the longsuffering valet. Now, Laughton is primarily known as a dramatic actor, but his comic presence was infectious and instantly likable. The film was made at the height of the screwball comedy genre and keeps company with the best of them.

4. The Red Balloon (1956)

This wordless short film tells a fairy-tale-like story of a boy running through the streets of Paris after a runaway red balloon. It's utterly charming, but more than that it's a masterpiece of editing and mood. This is a great example of what film can do that no other medium can.

3. Three Colors: Red (1994)

Krzysztof Kieslowski's final theatrical feature is one of his best. It caps off the Three Colors trilogy, a series of independent stories that take place within the same universe. The continuity between the films is mostly a thematic one; nonetheless they are best viewed in order. This episode wrangles with thoughts about privacy, privilege, and power as a woman played by Irene Jacob runs up against a retired judge. The character story is compelling on its own, and the cinematography is gorgeous.

2. The Red Violin (1998)

I've spoken about this film on All Movie Talk before. Ostensibly it's the story of an inanimate object as it is crafted, played, and passed down through the centuries. Things happen to it, with it, and through it, while the human characters come and go. The human vignettes work individually, but they work so much better linked together in this historical saga that few of them realize they are a part of. The musicality on display is incredibly stirring and enhances the emotional rhythms of the story.

1. Red River (1948)

There are a few candidates for the best western ever made. This Howard Hanks film with John Wayne and Montgomery Clift is a worthy contender. Hawks uses the premise and setting of a cattle drive, and all the physical and emotional toil that goes into it, as a means of straining masculine identities and relationships, particularly that of a father and son, to the breaking point. It's grueling and brutal and dirty, a far cry from the sun-soaked elegies John Ford was making with John Wayne around this same time.

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