Stanley Kubrick is remembered as one of cinema’s most reclusive (and revolutionary) filmmakers, and 14 years after his death, Criterion provides a glimpse into his personal preferences with a list of his favorite films. Culled from interviews with Kubrick’s family members, friends, and colleagues, the list spans genres and suggests what inspired the Oscar-nominated director. Among his top titles: the 60s Italian dramaLa Notte, David Lynch’s surrealist horror film Eraserhead,Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Michael Moore’s documentary Roger & Me, along with such classics as Citizen Kane,The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,The Godfather, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Dog Day Afternoon. Perhaps the most surprising titles to make the list, however, are Albert Brooks’s 1981 comedy Modern Romance, The Jerk, and White Men Can’t Jump.
Brooks has revealed that Kubrick was so taken by Modern Romance that the director actually phoned him—a pivotal interaction after the film failed to make an impression at the box office. From Esquire:
“He saved my life,” Albert says. “I was so depressed; I didn’t understand the movie business, I didn’t know what was happening, and he said, ‘This is a brilliant movie—the movie I’ve always wanted to make about jealousy. You will not understand what I’m saying, but you must believe me: The studio decides before the movie is ever released how it’s going to do. It has nothing to do with you.’“
Homage to Kubrick, published in August 1999, Michael Herr reveals that the director was so enchanted byThe Jerk that he wanted to cast Steve Martin in an adaptation of the German psycho-sexual novella Traumnovellein the 80s. At the time, Kubrick envisioned his film as “a sex comedy, but with a wild and somber streak running through it.” More than a decade later, Kubrick ended up casting Tom Cruise in a darker adaptation of the book, 1999’sEyes Wide Shut, which would be the director’s last completed film.
No word on whether he had any project ideas for Woody Harrelson or Wesley Snipes.