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Stanley Kubrick's Favorite Films Included 'The Jerk,' 'White Men Can't Jump' & 'Modern Romance'

by Ken Guidry
February 13, 2013 9:18 AM
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Anyone who is fan of Stanley Kubrick is aware of the fact that he was a very private man. He rarely did interviews, and his process is as discussed as it remains elusive. He was painstakingly meticulous, a perfectionist, and many would assume that Mr. Kubrick was a serious man both on and off the set. There are many indications, however, that suggest otherwise. Over at Criterion, Joshua Warren has compiled a list of Stanley Kubrick’s favorite films, a list he gathered from interviews with friends, family, and colleagues as well as from an interview Kubrick did about fifty years ago. While there are certainly a fair amount of high-brow titles on the list, you may be surprised to learn just how… diverse it is.

The list Warren compiled includes titles from the Criterion Collection, such as "Henry V," "I vitelloni," "Wild Strawberries," "Beauty and the Beast," and Max Ophuls' "Le plaisir" and "La ronde" (based on the play by Arthur Schnitzler, who also penned "Traumnovelle," the source material for Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut"). But Warren also included titles that aren’t in the Criterion Collection, like "Eraserhead," "Citizen Kane," "City Lights," "The Godfather" and more surprising movies like "White Men Can’t Jump," "Modern Romance," and "The Jerk." No, that’s no joke. "White Men Can’t Jump" is indeed among Stanley Kubrick’s favorite films. Perhaps it was the budding chemistry between Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson that won him over. Or maybe the chess playing Kubrick was also a major baller. It’s no secret that Stanley Kubrick had a wicked sense of humor, but it’s always amusing to learn about the lighter side of the late auteur.

Be sure to check out the entire list here. Next time, we’ll learn that Andrei Tarkovsky was a huge fan of “Revenge of the Nerds” and that Ingmar Bergman loved the "Police Academy" movies.

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  • Huffy | February 14, 2013 12:03 PMReply

    Directors seem much more comfortable with acknowledging lighter films than critics are. Go take a look at the Sight&Sound polls where they have critic top tens and director top tens. The contrast is pretty striking: most critic lists feel extremely self-aware and picked based on intellect whereas those of directors' feel more organic, like they actually picked the films they enjoy the most and not the ones which "belong" on a best of all time list.

  • hank | February 13, 2013 3:35 PMReply

    The guy made Dr. Strangelove. What's so surprising about him enjoying a comedy?

  • Serena | February 13, 2013 3:10 PMReply

    There's a serious rumor going around that one of Terrence Malick's favorite movies is ZOOLANDER. No joke.

  • alan | February 13, 2013 12:48 PMReply

    kubrick was also a huge armageddon fan.

  • Chris | February 13, 2013 11:48 AMReply

    What an ignorant response, Ken. Why is it surprising that Kubrick liked light comedies? Answer me that. Also, Modern Romance and The Jerk have been well-known as Kubrick favorites for decades. Hardly new news. He once called Modern Romance "a perfect movie." And he was a huge Steve Martin fan (he wanted Martin for the Sydney Pollack role in Eyes Wide Shut).

  • Ken Guidry | February 13, 2013 1:02 PM

    Yeah, it's always nice to hear about a serious filmmakers' diverse tastes. Like I know Kubrick loved his tv sitcoms like the Simpsons and Seinfeld, but I didn't want to get too off track. I tend to forget that what I write doesn't always sound to others what it sounds like in my head. Kubrick is a personal hero of mine so I love hearing about stuff like this. I wish that came across better.

  • Chris | February 13, 2013 12:41 PM

    Fair enough, Ken, and I appreciate your response/clarification. I guess I was just reacting to the common misapprehension that "serious" filmmakers (like the ones you mentioned) just sit around watching heavy movies, reading Nietsche, going to the opera and brooding about the meaninglessness of existence - when in fact those filmmakers often appreciate all forms of the medium, the way most film buffs/critics do. Bergman, for example, absolutely adored Soderbergh's Ocean's Eleven, and was apparently a Die Hard fan as well. But it seems you get that, and I may have mis-read your intentions. So apologies and good cheer all around! And let's just celebrate Kubrick being a badass for loving Albert Brooks and Steve Martin as much as so many of us do!

  • Ken Guidry | February 13, 2013 12:30 PM

    There's not meant to be any negative connotation on the word "surprising," perhaps that wasn't the best word to use. But really, I wasn't trying to imply anything other than how cool it is to learn about Kubrick's diverse taste in movies. That's all I was saying. I'm sorry if it didn't come off that way.

  • Fran | February 13, 2013 12:11 PM

    He wanted Harvey Keitel for that role.

  • max | February 13, 2013 11:28 AMReply

    I'm probably nitpicking here, but CITIZEN KANE actually was a Criterion title at one point, back in the days of Laserdiscs. In fact I still own a copy.

  • Anonymous Hater | February 13, 2013 10:57 AMReply

    You forgot to title this piece: "BREAKING: Stanley Kubrick liked films that entertained him as well as thoughtful, more serious films. What an idiot right? He should just hate everything except the work of Bela Tarr like The Playlist does."

  • huffy | February 14, 2013 12:07 PM

    Playlist barely even mentions Tarr. Half of their articles cover the exact same material that Ain't it Cool News does so drop the self-righteousness and fuck off, no one wants to hear you bitch about a light-hearted post that's interesting to people who aren't trolls.

  • d | February 13, 2013 3:13 PM

    I think you might have misread the article.

  • BCM | February 13, 2013 10:14 AMReply

    Whoops! La Ronde is not source material for Eyes Wide Shut. Eyes Wide Shut is an update of Rhapsody – also published as Dream Story (Traumnovelle – 1925/26). Both La Ronde and Rhapsody were written by Arthur Schnitzler.

  • Arch | February 13, 2013 10:05 AMReply

    "An American Werewolf in London (...) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" !
    Also Victor Erice's The Spirit of the Beehive is an absolute must-see.

  • owdl114 | February 13, 2013 9:55 AMReply

    I believe he was also a huge fan of Heimat whilst I remember reading that he wasn't a fan of The Wizard of Oz.

  • mpbstereo | February 13, 2013 9:36 AMReply

    Ron Shelton's White Men Can't Jump finally gets some love...

  • jt | February 13, 2013 12:35 PM

    Where is the love for Shelton's Bull Durham ? In my book, that film is an instant classic. I will never forget the great sexy chemistry between Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon.

  • Max | February 13, 2013 9:30 AMReply

    I read a few times that he loved a 1940s comedy The Bank Dick staring W.C. Feilds.

  • Stanley | February 13, 2013 9:24 AMReply

    Uh, this list is nearly five months old.

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