The American Film Institute recently listed its picks for the Top 10 American films in 10 popular genres. From unforgettable sci-fi to classic Westerns, the lists include some of the most influential works in American cinema. Fresh Air continues a series reflecting on some of those great films.Today, archival interviews with an actor, a director, a writer and a producer whose work is among the best of the best:
- Director Martin Scorsese received two nods on the AFI’s lists. Scorsese has been nominated for seven Academy Awards and won the Oscar in 2007 for The Departed. His 1980 boxing film Raging Bull was named the best film in the sports genre, and his mob movie Goodfellas was the second-ranked gangster film.
- Goodfellas gave Michael Imperioli his breakthrough role. His character, Spider, was the man gratuitously killed by ruthless mobster Tommy DeVito, played by Joe Pesci. Imperioli went on to star in the popular television show The Sopranos.
- The Godfather beat Goodfellas for the honor of best gangster film. Author and screenwriter Mario Puzo wrote the original novel and then adapted it for the silver screen. Puzo also wrote the screenplays for The Godfather II — for which he won an Oscar — and The Godfather III. He died in 1999.
- Toy Story (No. 5 on the Best Animation list) revolutionized animation through its use of computer-generated imagery. Animator John Lasseter created the film and won a special-achievement Oscar for doing so. His other films include Cars, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo and Ratatouille. Most recently, he was executive producer of Pixar’s Wall-E, which opened in theaters today — to near-universal acclaim.
- Film historian Rudy Behlmer will also be commenting on one of the AFI’s greatest fantasy films: King Kong (No. 5). Behlmer is the editor of Memo from David O. Selznick, a collection of the producer’s private letters, telegrams and memos. The making of many film classics is documented in a revealing look at the movie business in its early years.