Popular Movie Rental

Written by Kevin Tavolaro
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While the most popular movie rentals usually change on a weekly basis, some titles manage to maintain their popularity against the ever-changing roster of new releases. It's no surprise that many of these enduringly popular films are also included on the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 American films of all time.

Martin Scorsese's mob film "Goodfellas" has had enduring popularity as a top rental. The 1990 film, based on Nicolas Pileggi's true-crime book, "Wiseguy," portrays the real-life rise and fall of Henry Hill, a former mobster now living in the Federal Witness Protection Program. Using many of Hill's own words in voice-over narration, "Goodfellas" follows his journey from an impressionable kid, fascinated by his own romanticized impression of organized crime, to a paranoid, disloyal, drug-addled adult. The film stars Ray Liotta as Henry Hill, and also features Robert DeNiro an Joe Pesci (in a scene stealing performance as chatty, violently unpredictable wiseguy Tommy Devito).

Consistently Popular Movie Rentals

The original 1939 "The Wizard of Oz" is another film that enjoys consistent popularity as a rental. Although "The Wizard of Oz" is the most widely known film about the land of Oz, it was actually preceded by numerous features and shorts based on the series of Oz books by Frank Baum. "The Wizard of Oz" has even been followed by several films, most notably 1986s "Return to Oz." Although "Return to Oz" was poorly received upon its initial release, it's worth a look on video. The story takes place shortly after the events in "The Wizard of Oz," and begins with Dorothy being confined to an insane asylum, where she is subjected to shock treatment intended to cure what the doctors assume are her delusions about a land called Oz. The film, starring a young Faruza Balk as Dorothy, has a decidedly darker tone than its musical predecessor, and features some interesting visuals.

The deconstructionist western, "Unforgiven," has also been a steadily popular rental since its release in 1992. The film, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, is a dark, somber examination of violence and heroism, as played out in the life of a reformed notorious outlaw. The former outlaw, played by Eastwood, is recruited to help avenge a prostitute who was brutally disfigured by cowboys in a neighboring town. As he embarks on his mission, Eastwood is constantly haunted by memories of his murderous past. The film turns many traditional western conventions upside down, stripping any and all romanticism and sensationalism from shootouts, fights, and other violent scenes. In stark contrast to the cathartic, comic book violence prominent in the spaghetti westerns that Eastwood starred in as a young man, "Unforgiven," portrays acts of violence as small, pointless, and frustrating.

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