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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: Girl

There's an abundance of riches for today's Top 6 Word list, which is "Girl" movies. Some of the movies that missed the cut would have easily made a less competitive list. The runners up include the Barbra Streisand musical Funny Girl (1968), Mario Bava's proto-giallo The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1967), both Stieg Larsson adaptations of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009 and 2011), the frothy Deanna Durbin vehicle One Hundred Men and a Girl (1937), the psychological thriller The Girl On the Train (2016), the jazzy Jayne Mansfield vehicle The Girl Can't Help It, and the Mike Nichols comedy-drama Working Girl.

How can there possibly be anything left to fill out a Top 6 list? Here's how:

6. The Bohemian Girl (1936)

Laurel and Hardy survived the transition to sound better than any of the original silent comedians. You could make a case for Charlie Chaplin, despite how far into the sound era he clung to the silent aesthetic, but his films became fewer and far between, whereas Laurel and Hardy kept cranking out inspired work that still holds up today. The Bohemian Girl isn't their best work, but it's an eminently likable one and has one of Laurel's funniest solo scenes. It's also one of their best looking, with all the elaborate gypsy costumes and sets.

5. The Goodbye Girl (1977)

I always perk up when I see Neil Simon listed as the writer of a movie. The Odd Couple is a joy throughout, and The Sunshine Boys and Barefoot In the Park are almost as good. The Goodbye Girl, while not as focused or consistent as any of those, nevertheless has enough greatness in it to carry the whole. Richard Dreyfuss' performance is the standout and earned him an Oscar.

4. The Country Girl (1954)

Speaking of Oscars, Grace Kelly won one for her role as the wife of an alcoholic actor in The Country Girl. The actor is given one last chance by a director who sees her as having ruined the man while gradually becoming infatuated with her himself. The ensuing complications are brimming with moody reflections and barely repressed emotions. It's based on a contemporary Clifford Odets play but is by many accounts superior to it.

3. Girl With a Pearl Earring (2003)

This film dramatizes the creation of one of the most recognizable paintings in the world, Vermeer's Girl With a Pearl Earring. The story is a fictional account, based on an earlier novel, but is true enough to human nature. I tend to like movies about process, all the more so if the people performing them are complicated and compelling. This film is all that and more.

2. His Girl Friday (1940)

His Girl Friday is one of the giants of screwball comedy. Even in a genre famous for fast-paced dialogue, this one rips along at breakneck speed. Good luck trying to catch all the jokes the first time through! The screenplay was based on a play called The Front Page, which had other movie adaptations made of it both before and since, but this one, which in a stroke of ingenius inspiration changes the sex of one of the two leads, is the best, hands down. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell have all the chemistry you could ask for and wind up the comedic and romantic tension about as far as it can go.

1. Gone Girl (2014)

David Fincher's adaptation of Gillian Flynn's thriller novel is relentlessly compelling, surprising, and downright chilling. Ben Affleck plays a man accused of murdering his wife, who has disappeared. That's enough plot to carry a lesser film through to the end, but that's only where Gone Girl begins. What makes the film work is that the characters are drivers of, rather than slaves to, the twists and machinations of the story; were the characters mere puzzle pieces of a writer's Rube-Goldberg narrative, it wouldn't work at all. But when you have human beings and all the messy emotions, irrationality, pride, passions, and primal instincts they bring with them, it all makes a kind of haunting sense.

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