Five Favorite Films

Five Favorite Films with John Turturro

Fading Gigolo filmmaker and actor talks foreign and classic cinema

by | April 18, 2014 | Comments

Hear John Turturro discuss his Five Favorite Films and his new movie, Fading Gigolo, on the Rotten Tomatoes podcast (starting at 56:00).

Between The Big Lebowski, Rounders, Raging Bull and Do the Right Thing, actor John Turturro has made an impressive number of appearances on our Five Favorite Films lists. Now, he shares five faves of his own.

Given Turturro’s body of work as a writer and director, it may not surprise you that his favorites lean toward classic and foreign cinema — or that he had a hard time paring down the list to only five.

The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972; 100% Tomatometer)

I guess definitely I would say The Godfather is one of my favorite films. It’s beautifully written and beautifully shot and performed… it’s very entertaining, but it also has a lot of layers to it. It has a lot of fantastic actors in the film and in the script. It’s one of those films that works on many levels, and I think that the movies that stay with you, [they] work on many levels. I have so many movies that I’ve loved, it’s very hard to make it down to five — it would be hard to even make 20 — but I’m going to go for five, so I’m going to put The Godfather on that.

Le Notti di Cabiria (Nights of Cabiria) (Federico Fellini, 1957; 97% Tomatometer)

Then I would also put Nights of CabiriaLe Notti di Cabiria — by Fellini, which I love. It’s a movie about a woman who’s a prostitute, but it’s a fantastic movie with Giulietta Masina and I think it won, like, Best Foreign Film or something in 1957. It’s a film I look at again and again. I’m a big Fellini fan.

And is that one you watched while you were preparing for Fading Gigolo?

Well, there’s so many movies about that world, and so many [actors] have played roles — from Jane Fonda to Barbra Streisand to Barbara Stanwyck to Joan Crawford, Anna Magnani — it goes on and on and on all the way up to Midnight Cowboy. I’m not gonna put Midnight Cowboy as one of my five. But it’s close… That movie really influenced me wanting to be an actor actually because I saw Dustin Hoffman and I was like, ‘Wow, we could be related.’ I couldn’t see it when it came out because it was rated X… but if you see it again, it holds up really, really well. Maybe I’ll put that on my five. I don’t know.

Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942; 97% Tomatometer)

I would definitely have to put Casablanca on there because I think it’s such a great, entertaining film. It’s so witty and funny and it influenced so many people, including Woody Allen… I remember watching it when I was a kid and thinking like, ‘Wow, this is just perfect,’ so I would put that in there.

On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954; 100% Tomatometer)

And then I would put On the Waterfront in there too… I remember I broke my leg when I was in eighth grade and I actually taped it on my audio cassette. I taped the entire movie, so I know a lot of the movie by heart. So, these are movies that just have had big influences on you at different times of your life.

La Grande Illusion (Grand Illusion) (Jean Renoir, 1937; 97% Tomatometer)

Number five is a toss-up between The Seven Samurai and Grande Illusion. I still don’t know what to say. I’ll just say… Grande Illusion, which I think is a perfect film. And it doesn’t follow any rules because it’s very episodic. I’m a huge Jean Renoir fan, and I’m a huge Kurosawa fan too, and those guys made movies that — that’s as good as it gets. Jean Renoir’s films have such a tremendous intelligence and humanity, and there’s all this great depth and there’s this great joie de vivre — there’s this great joy in the film. It’s almost like commedia dell’arte, but then it exposes something really deep down. And so those are just great pieces of work, and there are so many other films that I love too, so it’s hard.

In Fading Gigolo, the fifth film written and directed by Turturro, he plays a New York City florist who takes up the world’s oldest profession in order to earn some extra cash for himself and his friend, Murray (Woody Allen). Sofia Vergara, Sharon Stone, Vanessa Paradis, Liev Schreiber and Bob Balaban co-star.

Fading Gigolo is currently in theaters.

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