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The greatest L.A. movies? We have 140, and shrinking...

Los Angeles Times staff writer

For a few weeks now, we’ve been looking for the most emblematic Los Angeles movies ever and counting on crowd-sourcing to build a big list, then separate the wheat from the cinematic chaff.

Now that we’ve got some serious chaff on our hands, it’s time to start whacking.

Thanks to suggestions from dozens of readers, we’ve added more than 30 names to our original list of more than 100 movies set in Los Angeles. We’ve also put the list in alphabetical order, by title, below. (So don’t be alarmed. We don’t really think all three versions of “A Star is Born” are superior to “Blade Runner.”)

The titles in bold have gotten at least one thumbs-up vote from readers. The titles in italics have gotten at least one thumbs-down vote. The titles in bold italics have gotten both. (That’s you, “Drive” and “Go” and “The Big Lebowski.”)

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Now, let the fatal subtraction begin. I’ve already disqualified a few films, including “American Graffiti,” “Back to the Future” and the 1943 “Heaven Can Wait,” because they’re mostly set somewhere else, whether it’s a real or imaginary place.

But we’ve got a lot more hacking to do. We’re not just trimming our list to 50, we’re aiming for 49. (Really, the masters of the 50 list in this building are the Sunday magazine people who have done these lists www.latimesmagazine.com/50-category/ on crime stories, L.A. bands, vintage beer cans and more.)

Please, in the Comment space here, tell the world your choices for the three most worthy movies on this list and the three least worthy. (And holler if you think we’ve left something important off.) Remember, we’re not just choosing good or great movies, or movies about Hollywood. We want the movies that reveal most about Los Angeles, from the way it looks to the way it behaves, where it’s been and where it might be headed. The films you’d put in a time capsule, or force on a newcomer, or screen continuously in one of those underappreciated movie palaces along Broadway, if only you could.

You know, I think I can subtract four more right now. “Independence Day” (1996) -- insufficiently L.A.-based. “Asphalt Jungle” (1950) – insufficiently L.A.-based. (Several sources describe it as set in the Midwest.) “Annie Hall” (1977) – insufficiently L.A.-based, despite that great Woody Allen line about the right-turns-on-red-lights being L.A.’s only cultural advantage. “What Just Happened” (2008) – insufficiently great, despite the talents of director Barry Levinson and star Robert De Niro. (As I mentioned in an earlier post, you can count on this process being reliable as a campaign promise, scientifically sound as a racetrack hunch.)

1. “A Star is Born” (1937), William A. Wellman

2. “A Star is Born” (1954), George Cukor

3. “A Star is Born” (1976), Frank Pierson

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4. “Alien Nation” (1988), Graham Baker

5. “American Gigolo” (1980), Paul Schrader

6. “American History X” (1998), Tony Kaye

7. “American Me” (1992), Edward James Olmos

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8. “Angels in the Outfield” (1994), William Dear

9. “Barfly” (1987), Barbet Schroeder

10. “Barton Fink” (1991), Joel Coen

11. “Battle: Los Angeles” (2011), Jonathan Liebesman

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12. “Beverly Hills Cop,” 1984, Martin Brest

13. “Beverly Hills Cop II” (1987), Tony Scott

14. “Blade Runner” (1982), Ridley Scott

15. “Blast from the Past” (1999), Hugh Wilson

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16. “Blood In, Blood Out” (1993), Taylor Hackford

17. “Boogie Nights” (1997), Paul Thomas Anderson

18. “Boyz N The Hood” (1991), John Singleton

19. “California Split” (1975), Robert Altman

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20. “California Suite” (1978), Herbert Ross

21. “Changeling” (2008), Clint Eastwood

22. “Chinatown” (1974), Roman Polanski

23. “Cobra” (1986), George P. Cosmatos

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24. “Collateral” (2004), Michael Mann

25. “Colors” (1988), Dennis Hopper

26. “Clueless” (1995), Amy Heckerling

27. “Crash” (2004), Paul Haggis

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28. “Darkman” (1990), Sam Raimi

29. “Devil in a Blue Dress” (1995), Carl Franklin

30. “Die Hard” (1988), John McTiernan

31. “Dogtown and the Z-Boys” (2001), documentary by Stacy Peralta

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32. “Double Indemnity” (1944), Billy Wilder

33. “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” (1986), Paul Mazursky

34. “Drive” (2011), Nicolas Winding Refn

35. “Earthquake” (1974) Mark Robson

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36. “Echo Park” (1986), Robert Dornhelm

37. “Ed Wood” (1994), Tim Burton

38. “Falling Down” (1993), Joel Schumacher

39. “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982), Amy Heckerling

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40. “Fletch” (1985), Michael Ritchie

41. “Friday” (1995), F. Gary Gray

42. “Friends with Money” (2006), Nicole Holofcener

43. “Get Shorty” (1995), Barry Sonnenfeld

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44. “Go” (1999), Doug Liman

45. “Going Hollywood” (1933), Raoul Walsh

46. “Gone in 60 Seconds” (1974), H.B. Halicki

47. “Grand Canyon” (1991), Lawrence Kasdan

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48. “Harper” (1966), Jack Smight

49. “Heat” (1995), Michael Mann

50. “Heaven Can Wait” (1978), Warren Beatty, Buck Henry

51. “Hollywoodland” (2006), Allen Coulter

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52. “Inception” (2010), Christopher Nolan

53. “Indestructible Man” (1956), Jack Pollexfen. 54. “Inland Empire” (2006), David Lynch

55. “Inside Daisy Clover” (1965), Robert Mulligan

56. “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” (1963), Stanley Kramer

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57. “Jackie Brown” (1997), Quentin Tarantino

58. “Killer of Sheep” (1981), Charles Burnett

59. “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” (2005), Shane Black

60. “Kiss Me Deadly” (1955), Robert Aldrich

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61. “La Bamba” (1987), Luis Valdez

62. “L.A. Confidential” (1997), Curtis Hanson

63. “L.A. Story” (1991), director Mick Jackson

64. “Less than Zero” (1987), Marek Kanievska

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65. “Lethal Weapon” (1987), Richard Donner

66. “Lords of Dogtown” (2005), Catherine Hardwicke

67. “Los Angeles Plays Itself” (2003), documentary by Thom Anderson

68. “Magnolia” (1999), Paul Thomas Anderson

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69. “Mi Vida Loca” (1993), Allison Anders

70. “Mildred Pierce” (1945), Michael Curtiz

71. “Miracle Mile” (1988), Steve De Jarnatt

72. “Model Shop” (1969), Jacques Demy

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73. “Mulholland Drive” 2001), David Lynch

74. “Mulholland Falls” (1996), Lee Tamahori

75. “Murder, My Sweet” (1944), Edward Dmytryk

76. “My Family” (1995) Gregory Nava

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77. “Pat and Mike” (1952), George Cukor

78. “Point Blank” (1967), John Boorman

79. “Point Break” (1991), Kathryn Bigelow

80. “Point of No Return” (1993), John Badham

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81. “Pretty Woman” (1990), Garry Marshall

82. “Pulp Fiction” (1994), Quentin Tarantino

83. “Rampart” (2011), Oren Moverman

84. “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955), Nicholas Ray

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85. “Repo Man” (1984), Alex Cox

86. “Reservoir Dogs” (1992), Quentin Tarantino

87. “Rock’n’Roll High School” (1979), Allan Arkush

88. “Safety Last” (1923), Fred C. Newmeyer

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89. “Shampoo” (1975), Hal Ashby

90. “Short Cuts” (1993), Robert Altman

91. “Show People” (1928), King Vidor

92. “Singin’ In The Rain” (1952), Stanly Donen

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93. “S.O.B.” (1981), Blake Edwards

94. “Southland Tales” (2006), Richard Kelly

95. “Speed” (1994), Jan de Bont

96. “Stand-In” (1937), Tay Garnett

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97. “Stand and Deliver” (1988), Ramon Menendez

98. “Sunset Boulevard” (1950), Billy Wilder

99. “Swingers” (1996), Doug Liman

100. “The Aviator” (2004), Martin Scorsese

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101. “The Big Lebowski” (1998), Joel Coen

102. “The Big Sleep” (1946), Howard Hawks

103. “The Brasher Dubloon” (1947), John Brahm

104. “The End of Violence” (1997), Wim Wenders

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105. “The Graduate” (1967), Mike Nichols

106. “The Kids Are All Right” (2010), Lisa Cholodenko

107. “The Last Tycoon” (1976), Elia Kazan

108. “The Late Show” (1977), Robert Benton

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109. “The Limey” (1999), Steven Soderbergh

110. “The Long Goodbye” (1973), Robert Altman

111. “The Mark of Zorro” (1940), Rouben Mamoulian

112. “The Omega Man” (1971), Boris Sagal

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113. “The Onion Field” (1979), Harold Becker

114. “The Outside Man” (1972), Jacques Deray

115. “The Player” (1992), Robert Altman

116. “The Rocketeer” (1991), Joe Johnston

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117. “The Sandlot” (1993), David Evans

118. “Shopgirl” (2005), Anand Tucker

119. “The Soloist” (2009), Joe Wright

120. “The Terminator” (1984), James Cameron

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121. “The War of the Worlds” (1953), Byron Haskin

122. “The Way We Were” (1973), Sydney Pollack

123. “Them!” (1954), Gordon Douglas

124. “To Live and Die in L.A.” (1985), William Friedkin

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125. “To Sleep with Anger” (1990), Charles Burnett

126. “Training Day” (2001), Antoine Fuqua

127. “True Confessions” (1981), Ulu Grosbard

128. “Valley Girl” (1983), Martha Coolidge

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129. “Valley of the Dolls” (1967), Mark Robson

130. “Van Nuys Blvd.” (1979), William Sachs

131. “Volcano” (1997), Mick Jackson

132. “Welcome to L.A.” (1976), Alan Rudolph

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133. “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” (1962), Robert Aldrich

134. “White Heat” (1949), Raoul Walsh

135. “White Men Can’t Jump” (1992), Ron Shelton

136. “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” (1988), Robert Zemeckis

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137. “Wonderland” (2003), James Cox

138. “2 Days in the Valley” (1996), John Herzfeld

139. “10” (1979), Blake Edwards

140. “(500) Days of Summer” (2009), Marc Webb

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141. “1941” (1979), Steven Spielberg


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