As some of you may be aware I am something of a secret movie statistics nerd. This usually takes the form of analysing box office figures but since I’ve started doing this Blog I’ve been transported into a completely different world – guessing which of my reviews (660-plus and counting) is going to attract the greatest number of views. To some extent, I presumed the growing success of the Blog would dictate which reviews would top the charts.
I imagined that films I reviewed when starting out more than two years ago (with scarcely more than half a dozen hits per day) would receive far fewer reader responses than movies I’m currently covering given that I am now in the regular bailiwick of 200 (and counting) views per day. But that has proved not to be the case.
In June this year when I updated my readers on the movie that had generated the greatest all-time response the number one picture was The Secret Ways (1961) starring Richard Widmark and based on the Alistair MacLean thriller. For a start that had been reviewed in April 2021, disproving the notion that more recent films gained an unfair advantage due to the increasing numbers of people looking at this site. It had been the favourite movie of my readers for the year 2021 and every time I glanced at the all-time numbers it seemed to be putting greater distance between itself and the other films following in its wake.
That is, until for no reason that I can discern, it was rapidly overtaken by Jessica (1962), an Italian-set romantic drama with songs starring Angie Dickinson and Maurice Chevalier. That had been originally reviewed in December 2021, but it wasn’t for another three-to-four months that it started to show substantial legs, not enough to topple The Secret Ways, but by the time of that all-time ranking table of June 2022 clearly beginning to pose a threat.
One month later and it had gathered enough further support to top the all-time table – and so far ahead of The Secret Ways that I believed it uncatchable.
That is, until this month, when again for no reason I can detect, Once Upon a Time in the West (1969) – reviewed May 2021 – put on a spurt on such strength that had this been a sporting event you would have guessed at a betting coup. The Sergio Leone western classic with an all-star cast of Claudia Cardinale, Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda and Jason Robards has not quite overhauled Jessica but it is so hot on its heels I believe it will only be a matter of time. You might put it down to the death of composer Ennio Morricone whose score remains one of the bestselling soundtracks of all time, but that occurred in July, a good six weeks before the movie started to move at a serious clip.
The Secret Ways, in case you are wondering, has slipped to number three in the all-time chart. Obviously, the sudden appearance of Once Upon a Time in the West in the Top Ten had affected other claimants to high positions. But it was only when I looked again at the all-time chart I had published in June that I realized there had been other significant changes. Rat Pack heist movie Oceans 11 (1960) – reviewed May 2021 – dropped one spot. But Ann-Margret as The Swinger (1966) had jumped two places from its position in June.
Suzy Kendall as World War One German spy Fraulein Doktor (1969) – reviewed December 2021 – was down the expected single place but Polish Egyptian epic Pharaoh/Faraon (1966) – reviewed as far back as December 2020 – had tumbled three spots while cat burglary thriller The Golden Claws of the Cat Girl / La Louve Solitaire (1968) – reviewed even further back in September 2020 – had plunged two places.
I only occasionally review new films so I was very surprised to discover, swimming against the critical tide, that my May 2022 review of Mark Wahlberg as Father Stu (2022) was now sitting at number nine and that number ten was also a newcomer to the Top Ten – Jean Seberg in Hitchcockian thriller Moment to Moment (1966) which was reviewed over year ago in August 2021.
Of course Jessica may yet stage a comeback and some other film in my catalog could suddenly soar to the top – I’ll keep you posted again at the end of the year.