Many films rush to mind when I consider which might be my own favorite...
From the 1930's, I think of the six films Marlene Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg made for Paramount in the U.S. following the breakout success of The Blue Angel, made for Ufa in Germany. My current favorite from this collection is The Devil is a Woman (1935), the sixth and last of their collaborations. Sternberg intended to title the film Capriccio Espagnol (Spanish Fantasy) and fashioned it as his "final tribute to the lady I had seen lean against the wings of a Berlin stage" and "an affectionate salute to Spain and its traditions."
|Marlene Dietrich, The Devil is a Woman (1935)|
The Devil is a Woman is less a romance than a reflection on grinding frustration. The Dietrich character (Concha) is entirely capricious and destructive, and the men she encounters are mostly fools. Her older lover/patron, Captain Don Pasqual (Lionel Atwill), may be unable to break from her but he is unsentimental, even fatalistic, about their relationship. The film has been called Sternberg's "coldest" film if, perhaps, his most perfectly realized. As with all of the pair's work together, The Devil is a Woman is beautifully made, an intentionally mannered and fanciful journey - and irresistible to me. It was Dietrich's favorite of her films. Interestingly, many years later Luis Bunuel would reference the same source material for his That Obscure Object of Desire (1977).
But I don't have a favorite film, per se. Even among the Dietrich/Sternberg films I waver between The Devil is a Woman and Shanghai Express (1932). And I go back and forth between Ford's Stagecoach (1939) and his The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) when it comes to "favorite Western."
|John Wayne, Stagecoach (1939)|
Favorite comedy is easier:
|Billy Wilder's Some Like it Hot (1959)|
|Audrey Hepburn (and Orangey) in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)|
|Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck, The Lady Eve (1941)|
And on it goes. For those interested in even more, I've got a board dedicated to Classic Screen Images on Pinterest, a work in progress that features scenes from a few hundred films (so far) that I admire from the 1920s to present.
Fun in a Chinese Laundry by Josef von Sternberg (MacMillan Co., 1965)
The Films of Josef von Sternberg by Andrew Sarris (The Museum of Modern Art, 1966)