What’s Your Favorite Basic Cable Classic? (New Substandard!)

Last weekend was a garbage fire at the multiplex, so JVL, Vic, and I toasted the dearly departed Red Eye and used the excuse of a new Michael Caine movie, Going in Style, to talk about some of our favorite basic cable classics. If you don't listen to this episode, the bank is going to foreclose on my house and my dog will run away to a no-kill shelter. So, you know, help a brother out by downloading it and reviewing it.

It would be hard to rank my favorite basic cable classics writ large—there are so many great ones I didn't even get a chance to mention on the podcast, like Quigley Down Under and Open Range and Tombstone and Red Dawn and on and on and on—so I will instead limit myself to the Caine-Hackman Theory and list just those films that fall under its rubric. What is the Caine-Hackman Theory, you might be wondering? Formulated in PCU by the character Pigman, it's the idea that no matter what time of day no matter where you are, some cable channel somewhere is playing a movie that stars either Michael Caine or Gene Hackman.*

It's a solid theory. But which are the all stars of the Caine-Hackman Theory? Without further ado:

The Five Best Michael Caine and Gene Hackman Movies That Are Frequently on Cable TV, Where Sonny Defines What "Frequently" Means.

It's a good list name, Bront.

5. Zulu

There was a five-year stretch or so when Zulu was playing on either AMC or TCM every weekend and I must have seen, like, 30-minute chunks of it at least 98 times. An important tribute to the brave men engaging in the colonialist project.

4. Hoosiers

I don't actually like this movie very much but I don't really feel like being yelled at by all you jerks so here, here it is, on the list.

3. The Quick and the Dead

The Quick and the Dead was Sam Raimi's effort to prove that he can handle a mid-to-high-budget action picture, and he performed admirably, infusing the proceedings with his own wry sense of humor and wicked camera work. It is stuffed with talent—Hackman, Crowe, DiCaprio, of course, but also a murderer's row of character actors that included Gary Sinise, Lance Henriksen, Keith David, Tobin Bell, and Pat Hingle. I feel like its reputation has improved with repetition—no one would deny its standing in the Basic Cable Classic Canon—and that makes me happy.

2. Children of Men

"Pull my finger."

1. The Royal Tenenbaums

I've seen The Royal Tenenbaums at least a dozen times from start to finish—and probably another dozen from-random-point-on-cable to finish. Wes Anderson's at the height of his powers here, and Royal is the absolute peak of late-Hackman. Can't get enough of that quirk!

*True story: I brought this obscure reference up with Caine when I had the chance to interview him during the press tour for Harry Brown. I think he was more confused than anything else, but he seemed slightly amused by the idea.