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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: Days

The word for today is "Days." I did this one already, but I did it fresh this time, without looking at what I'd written before. So kick your feet up and settle in for the 6 best movies with the word "Days" in the title. There are a lot that missed the cut, though not nearly as many as if I'd gone with the singular "Day." The X-Men had one of their better outings in Days of Future Past (2014); Tom Cruise wound down the first phase of his career with Days of Thunder (1990); and Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas found themselves embroiled in a political plot born out of nuclear paranoia in Seven Days In May (1964). The one I regret most about cutting is Around the World In 80 Days (1956), a movie that would be much better regarded today if it hadn't won the Best Picture Oscar. I love the film, but in all honesty it lost a multi-way tie just because I found six movies I wanted to write about more.

6. (500) Days of Summer (2009)

It's dressed up as a romantic comedy, but (500) Days of Summer knows too much about the complexity of human relationships to let the genre contain it -- yet it feels so light and airy that it may be easy to dismiss as a mere diversion. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel play supremely likable characters, and their banter is fun and witty throughout.

5. The Next Three Days (2010)

This remake of the French thriller Anything For Her is, unusually, every bit as good as the original. Russell Crowe plays a man whose wife is accused of murder. When he can't free her within the legal system, he resorts to working outside it. He is neither an everyman nor a superhero; this careful balance allows the film to impress us with its main character's ingenuity and still keep the tension cranked.

4. Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Sydney Pollack's paranoid political thriller Three Days of the Condor is almost suffocatingly good at suggesting puppet masters and strings around every corner. Robert Redford is a CIA researcher whose mounting desperation is all too palpable. It's neither romanticized, like Bond, nor brooding like so many of its equally cynical contemporaries. And while it is inextricably rooted in the 70s -- this film couldn't have been made in any other decade -- its subgenre makes it feel in some ways as modern and relevant as it ever was.

3. Days of Wine and Roses (1962)

Blake Edwards is better known for broad comedies; for that matter, so is his star, Jack Lemmon. But in Days of Wine and Roses they team up with Lee Remick to create one of the most hard-hitting dramas of its era, a tragic story about two alcoholics whose addictions steer them to self-destruction. Few movies are more insightful about addiction or chronicle the disease more compellingly. As I said about the previous film, however, it doesn't brood -- well, rarely -- which allows it to hit hard without making its audience feel assaulted. Part of that is thanks to the outstanding performances and screen presences of the leads, who somehow retain our empathy throughout.

2. The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950)

An undersung jewel of classic British comedy, The Happiest Days of Your Life achieves the perfect marriage between premise and cast and makes good on its promise with sharp writing and deft comic timing. In a nutshell, a clerical error results in an all-girls school and an all-boys school unexpectedly sharing a facility. It's up to the headmaster (Alastair Sim) and headmistress (Margaret Rutherford) to maintain decorum as they vie for the upper hand. No doubt this film led to the better known St. Trinian's series, but this one is better than any of those.

1. Days of Heaven (1978)

Terrence Malick's poetic epic about a farm labourer is a visual feast. It's a good movie to watch if you're into hay. If you love hay, you'll love Days of Heaven. There's a romance, too, and soft light at dawns and dusks, and the characters have more feelings than words of dialogue. If you know Terrence Malick, you know what I'm talking about. He's an acquired taste. Days of Heaven is the film where he finally clicked for me, but I don't expect it to make converts of disbelievers. As for me, well, it turns out I love hay. I had no idea.

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