Every week, Criticwire asks film critics a question, and brings you the responses in The Criticwire Survey. We also ask each member of the poll to pick the best film currently playing in theaters. The most popular choices can be found at the bottom of this post. But first, this week's question:
Q: "We posted a piece on Criticwire this week inspired by Eric D. Snider's Shame List, where the good Mr. Snider confessed to 25 of his most embarrassing critical blindspots and set out on a quest to watch them all. So this week I want to know: what is the single most embarrassing movie YOU'VE never seen? Be honest."
"So, I'm just going to say it: I can't think of a single film that I am 'embarrassed' not to have seen. Okay, now that you all find me extremely loathsome, the most iconic and therefore deserving blindspot I could muster, and which most of you have seen I suspect, is Dennis Hopper's 'Easy Rider' (1969). My best explanation for never having seen it is my lack of passion for New Hollywood, but really, it's probably just my hatred of hippies that has kept me away."
"I have never seen 'The Wild Bunch.' There are other glaring omissions from the canon, but that film has been sitting on my DVD player for years now. It's almost become a fixture. I've seen bits and pieces from the film, and read up on it over time, but I don't think I've ever sat through the whole film. I hang my head in shame."
"I went back and forth between a few things for this one, as my list of "things I haven't seen but really should have" is a bit long, before finally realizing: I really don't have any excuse whatsoever for not having seen John Ford's 'The Grapes of Wrath.' Considering, first, that I saw 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' when I was about 9 and, second, dude, it's John Ford, this is not good and needs to be rectified immediately. In fact, I'm embarrassed enough that there's a chance I'll have hunted down a copy and watched it by the time this post goes up."
"Most people look at me with utter bewilderment when I tell them that I've never seen Scorsese's 'Taxi Driver.' Even as a life-long cinephile and four years of film school, this film has somehow eluded me. It really is pretty shameful and embarrassing that I've never taken the time to watch it, and I suspect I'm going to catch a lot of hell from some friends and colleagues about it. I guess now I'll have to make it a priority to watch it."
"I think my biggest critical blind spots come in the form of directors I haven't delved into yet rather than individual films. People like Rohmer, Vigo, and Carne come to mind. Don't worry, they're on my list!"
"'Battleship Potemkin.' Still curious to see what Peter Berg does with the material this summer."
"I feel no shame as it is impossible to see every movie. And that's how I'll justify never seeing 'The Godfather' or 'The Godfather Part II' in their entirety, just bits and pieces on TV over the years. Which is exactly the same as not seeing them at all. My God…the shame."
"This is the part where I'm supposed to say 'Gone With The Wind,' but at this point I've pretty well dug in my heels and don't feel too much shame about having never seen it. The real answer: the films of Jean Renoir. Any of them. How do you make it through undergrad and graduate degrees in film and seven years as a critic without seeing 'Grand Illusion' or 'Rules of the Game' — a movie that both critics and filmmakers consistently rank in the top ten of Sight & Sound's Greatest Films poll? It's baffling and, yes, embarrassing."
"Basically using They Shoot Pictures, Don't They? as a guide, there was a something I noticed in attempting to decide my worst blind spots. Many films I consider egregious blind spots are also impossibly difficult to see or only available in poor condition, and thus justifiable. Von Stroheim's 'Greed' and Welles's 'The Magnificent Ambersons' I only caught up with in the last year because I had the rare chance to see them on 35mm, as only the latter has finally come to DVD. The most egregious for me now would be 'Panther Panchali,' but I've put it off on purpose until I have a chance to see it either on film or that rumored Criterion Blu-Ray set, as I've never heard good things about the DVD (which has also never been available on Netflix either). In that way, someone could get away without having seen any Powell and Pressburger maybe five years ago, but because the work Film Foundation and Martin Scorsese have done restoring their films and promoting their importance, they are now essentials. Really for me it should be Jean Renoir's 'The Grand Illusion.' I have had a good DVD of it sitting on my shelf for 3 years."
"I've never seen 'Blade Runner.' I didn't see it when it came out — I was seven — and then by the time I would have caught up with it, there was one version, and then another version, and then another one. I figured I'd just wait until everybody settled down and decided, 'OK, this is the final and last and best one. We're done now.' I'm still waiting."
"I'm not sure it's the single most embarrassing film but it's the first one that occurred to me, and that's 'The Searchers.' My dad loved all those classic John Wayne Westerns when I was a kid and I could never get into them. So there. Now I'll go play catch-up."
"I actually wrote a post on this about a year ago at The Awards Circuit, on my cinematic blind spots. The piece is a little embarrassing, but the most notable omission to many who responded was that I've never seen any of the Harry Potter films, something that people took special umbrage towards when 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2' came out. I just was never interested in Potter, but considering how much of a potential Oscar player it was last year, it's definitely a little embarrassing that an Oscar prognosticator didn't even see it."
"Despite its reputation as an all-time classic, I've never seen 'Gone with the Wind.' For years, I blamed this oversight on the movie's length, but that's not really it. The truth is that I've heard and read so much about the film that I kind of feel like I've already seen it. For that reason, it's been almost impossible for me to muster up the enthusiasm. 'Gone with the Wind' is the sort of movie that everybody knows all about, whether they've actually experienced it first-hand or not."
"Let's go for an obvious choice: 'Casablanca.'"
"My most flagrant foul on the film canon would have to be my neglect of the highest grossing film of all time (adjusted for inflation), 'Gone with the Wind.' I’ve been meaning to get to it for years, but it keeps getting knocked down my Netflix queue. When I was a kid my dad used to wear a t-shirt that said 'Frankly scallop I don’t give a clam,' New England humor at its worst. Back then I had no clue what it meant. To this day I don’t know the context of the line, a truth I’ve repressed for far too long. You know what; I’m refreshing its place atop my queue right now."
"I haven't seen 'Gone With the Wind.' Or 'Jaws.' Somehow I missed 'The Matrix.' I was only recently sat down to watch 'The Godfather Part II,' in a friend intervention."
"Embarrassed to say, I've never seen 'Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.' I've seen every other Kubrick movie and have loved the majority of them. I also realize that 'Strangelove' is considered Kubrick's best by many, but somehow I've managed to miss it. That changes this week…"
"Akira Kurosawa's 'Yojimbo.' I'm an ardent fan of Westerns, I know this is hugely influential. I really have no good excuse."
"Oh god. The two biggest ones that come to mind are 'Ordet' and 'Only Angels Have Wings.' But what may be worse is that I've never seen a single minute of 'Die Hard,' and it upsets me every day."
"I often joke that I've seen 'Tango and Cash' more than I have 'Jules et Jim.' But my biggest shame is having, yes, not seen "The Shining.'"
"I have never seen 'Annie Hall.' I have seen parts of 'Annie Hall,' but I have never sat down and watched 'Annie Hall' from start to finish. Honestly, I think it might be due to some sort of subconscious protest against 'Annie Hall' for winning the Academy Award for Best Picture instead of 'Star Wars' — and that Woody Allen didn't even bother to show up to collect his trophy. I am not defending this stance as logical or even real, but I have an irrational annoyance toward 'Annie Hall' that I can't explain. I mean, what if I watched 'Annie Hall' and I liked it more than 'Star Wars?' My entire life would be a lie. I'm not sure I can allow myself to take that chance."
"My single most embarrassing critical blind spot is either 'Triumph of the Will' or 'Amadeus.' The former I've never seen because I'm not sure I have the stomach for it (formal innovation or not), and the latter I've never seen because, well, I have no excuse."
"Most embarrassing film I've never seen? Wow, so many 'guilty omissions' to choose from, but I think I'll have to go with von Stroheim's 'Greed.'"
"'Monty Python and the Holy Grail.' I take salt baths with razor blades to wash away the shame. Just kidding, I’m not ashamed."
"I haven't seen 'Citizen Kane.' Honestly, I wonder whether the other critics you survey have an admission that's more shameful."
The Best Movie Currently In Theaters on April 2, 2012:
The Most Popular Response: "A Separation"
Other Movies Receiving Multiple Votes: "The Deep Blue Sea," "Goon," "The Hunger Games, "Jiro Dreams of Sushi," "The Raid: Redemption"