A to Z of Films Meme (S) Preface

‘S’ encompasses everything the movies embody. Sex and superstars. Suspects and sleaze. Story-telling and sci-fi. Sensuality, sentiments, and scars. The sea, the stars, and the sky. A subject with sight and sound. The screen. Not surprisingly, ‘S’ is the most challenging letter in this series because there are simply too many excellent movies.

I shortlisted 30 odd films I liked for this entry. Spellbound and Strangers on a Train from the master of suspense. Billy Wilder’s masterpieces with the irresistible Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot. Al Pacino’s brilliant performances in Scarface and Scent of a Woman. Vijay Tendulkar’s Marathi landmark Shantata Court Chalu Ahe, followed by his script in Sardar, directed by Ketan Mehta of Mirch Masala fame, and brought to life outstandingly by one of the most underutilized, stereotyped actors in India, Paresh Rawal.

There are riveting thrillers like Silence of the Lambs, and Se7en. Films like Sound of Music and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that we loved both as kids and adults. The legendary Star Wars, an institution by itself. Hindi films make their mark as well, with Saraansh, Sparsh and Sadma. And the sensitive, powerful drama of Salaam Bombay! There are hilarious comedies like Silent Movie that make you laugh, to The Sweet Hereafter, a great Canadian film that makes you share the grief of a tragedy. Afterwards, you need the lighthearted Singin’ in the Rain, or the nostalgia of Stand By Me or Summer of ‘42.

The ‘greats’ didn’t spare me. Shakha Proshakha, one of Ray’s last films, and the metaphysical The Seventh Seal by Bergman. Tarkovsky gave us the Russian equivalent of ‘2001’ in the haunting Solyaris, while Brando made history and changed film acting forever by his performance in Kazan’s A Streetcar Named Desire. And yet, I am sure you, my readers, will come up with many more suggestions of excellent films that I must have missed.

Despite so many great films, some still stood above the rest. I think that they are timeless films that will remain great classics for generations to come. As I said in the beginning of this series, the cinematic experience is very subjective, hence my selections are those that I will keep seeing and enjoying throughout my lifetime.

In the interest of keeping the length of my posts manageable, giving me time to write, and retaining the momentum of interaction and conversation, the winners list will be in the next post. I’m sure that with many of the films listed here, you will be able to guess the winners, but the guessing game, though enjoyable, is not the only aspect of this series. Do share your thoughts of the films mentioned above!

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  • g

    Wow!! Exhaustive! Some Like it Hot has been on my list for so long; I still haven’t seen it!

    So to go back to the game: I did think you’d mention Seventh Seal & Se7en, and Spellbound too. I was quite watching for another (like I did for Mirch Masala 🙂 ) was The Spanish Prisoner. Seen it?

    And another one (it’s nice, but I’ve personally liked many other movies more – and I was just reminded of another good movie, so I have to go back to ‘B’) – Suraj ka Saatva Ghoda. Nice, but hyped, I think.

  • ‘Shankarabharnam’, ‘Sujata’, ‘Shaheed’, ‘Sholay’ – to add a few more to the list. ‘Syriana’ and ‘Saboteur’ are two more. And conspicuous by its absence from your list is ‘Shichinin no Samurai’ – which I have a feeling will make the final cut. 😀

  • That’s a long list! And was happy to know that I have seen many many of these S films! 🙂

  • The seventh seal is one of my favorite films!!! The cinematography is absly breahtaking.

  • Mahendra, ‘The Silence Of The Lambs’ has the shortest screen appearance for a best actor Oscar win – Anthony Hopkins appeared for about 16 minutes.

  • A very good list Mahendra. I think you can add “Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam” and “Shatranj ke Khiladi” to the list.
    And from Hollywood, Sophie’s Choice and Schindler’s List can also be added.

  • Anand

    Wow! This post is like a gold mine. I have seen roughly half of the movies that you have listed. I have catch up work to do 🙂

    When I wrote the first comment on ‘R’ and said that ‘S’ would be tough, within 2 minutes I came up with this list.

    Se7en
    The Shawshank Redemption
    The Shining
    Sin City

    Saraansh
    Sadma
    Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam

    Samana (Marathi)

    Looking forward to your winners…

  • I didnt like Some Like It Hot. I was bored to death. 🙁

    Sound of Music is a classic, it can still bring smiles. I haven’t watched seen several on this list, but Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman was brilliant.

    Silence of the Lamb was eerily wonderful. 😉

  • Dev

    Oh Man, that was too many films..thanks for taking time in sharing all these films..will watch some of these now. I like the way you start your posts…
    I was surprised not to see Schindlers list and Shawshank redemption earlier, but now I know that you were keeping the best for the end.

  • Ur 3part series on is fitting… 🙂

    have u seen or got a review of Sátántangó , The Shout , Sangre, stachka

    havent seen any of these yet but plan to sometime

  • So glad that I found someone who enjoyed Salaam Bombay- this is such a disturbing movie…on so many levels. I still don’t understand why this movie is so under-appreciated. Mira Nair deserves more accolades. Slumdog Millionaire feels like a fake copy of Salaam Bombay to me. Bombay is such a diverse city. It’s difficult for a movie director to do justice….yet, Mira Nair weaves her magic. 🙂

  • Mahendra:

    It is nice of you to have made a page of this meme. I just returned to it to add films to my queue and the page made it very easy. Thank you.

    Did I tell you I watched ‘Shantataa court chaloo aahe’ as a stage play when I was a very young child? Many years later I saw the film with Sulabha Deshpande. It might have taken me a few years to comprehend the story in its entire profundity but I do think Vijay Tendulkar was a master dramatist. Nehru Centre here puts up reasonable music performances but theatre isn’t their forte. Which is such a shame, really.