The Twenty Greatest “Flights of Fancy”

February 20, 2016

Notes on “Flights of Fancy”

These films have nothing to do with hardware, things crashing, or digital effects; most were made long before that format existed.  They are instead imaginative pieces of work put together with style and verve by skilled artists.

In no particular order… The Twenty Greatest “Flights of Fancy”


  1. “2001” (1968)  Stanley Kubrick  (One of the landmarks of cinema-brilliant!)
  2. “Blade Runner”  (1985)  Ridley Scott (Talk about an amazing set!  This downbeat sci-fi has many admirers.)
  3. “Brazil”(1985)  Terry Gilliam (Gilliam’s Orwellian tale is quite disturbing in its vision of the future.)
  4. “The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao” (1964)  George Pal  (Pal’s masterpiece is a seldom seen allegory about a mysterious circus that changes people’s lives.)
  5. “SHE” (1935) Lansing C. Holden and Irving Pichel  ( This is a crazy film-primitive men and women dancing as we meet “SHE”- who must be obeyed!)
  6. “Something Wicked This Way Comes” (1983) Jack Clayton  (Disney went into a darker arena with their adaptation of the Bradbury novel, and, unfortunately, no one saw it.)
  7. “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (1954) Richard Fleisher  (Perhaps Disney’s best live action film-it does give a real sense of wonder about the sea.)
  8. “The Time Machine” (1960)  George Pal (Though it does have its hokey moments, Pal’s film version of the H.G. Wells classic has a certain melancholy to it.)
  9. “King Kong” (1933)  Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack  (He was actually only 22 inches high, but he looms large in our imagination.)
  10. “Close Encounters of a Third Kind” (1977)  Steven Speilberg (Later films would take the sweetness of this film into a grotesque arena, such as “The Color Purple” and “Jurassic Park”, where sentimentality got the best of his films.)
  11. “Jungle Book” (1942) Zoltan Korda (One of the best adaptions of any Kipling classic.)
  12. “Wizard of Oz” (1939) Victor Fleming (A perfect example of how the artifice of the Hollywood sound stage could create works of art.)
  13. “Mysterious Island” (1963) Cy Endfield (Harryhausen’s incredible stop motion artistry is the real star, but it’s a fun ride nonetheless.)
  14. “Mary Poppins” (1964) Robert Stevens (Popular children’s film was given a lavish treatment by the Disney studio.  It does contain one sequence that veers into the surreal-the “feed the birds” scene.)
  15. “Forbidden Planet” (1956) Fred M. Wilcox (An entertaining variation on Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” set in outer space.)
  16. “Lord of the Rings-Return of the King”  (2003) Peter Jackson  (The last of the trilogy, and the best one.  Jackson and company must be commended for creating Tolkien’s landscape.)
  17. “Jason and the Argronauts” (1963) Don Chaffey  (Intelligent rendering of “The Legend of the Golden Fleece” with amazing Harryhausen effects.)
  18. “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” (1988) Robert Zemeckis (This film makes up its own rules; a wonderful combination of live action and animation.)
  19. “The Devil and Daniel Webster” (1941) William Dieterle (Faustian tale, set in rural New England (1840), was put together by some very skillful artists and contains an amazing performance by Walter Huston as the mysterious Mr. Straw.)
  20. “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.” (1953) Roy Rowland (This is the only screenplay penned by Dr. Seuss, and it’s a lulu!- a children’s musical complete with a nuclear bomb and 50’s paranoia.)