My favourite film: Readers' comments – week five

We're picking out your finest responses to our My favourite film series, for which Guardian writers have selected the movies they go back to time and again.

Here's a roundup of how you responded in week five, when the selections were Dead Poets Society, The Thing, Blow-Up, The 39 Steps, Little Shop of Horrors, Way Out West and Double Indemnity

The fifth week of our My favourite film series opened with an act of defiance. Sarfraz Manzoor had the floor. He spoke of passion and inspiration, of the courage in seizing the moment. He covered romance and skipped realism, asked for your heart, promised adventure. And, one by one, you read his piece on Dead Poets Society, gave your classmates a nudge and laughed him off the lectern.

"Oh Sarfraz! Captain my captain, how could you?," said MyLeftFoot. "It really is the most cliche-ridden load of baloney." "Appropriate time to have a turkey as your favourite film," smirked DemonFuzz, before Benulek pulled the group wedgie tighter: "Oh catpiss, my catpiss", the wag chortled.

To be fair to Sarfraz, he did acknowledge the cheesy aftertaste of Peter Weir's film, which sees Robin Williams star as John Keating, an English teacher who decides to add Free Thought 101 to the poetry curriculum. "It is not a film that it is cool to admit loving," said Sarfraz. "It is uncynical, idealistic and hopeful." For him, the film's message – saccharine as it may be – hit home. He looked at the group of affluent, white teenagers boxed in at Welton Academy and saw himself – a young British Pakistani, bored by 80s Luton, eager to practise Keating's mantra ("Carpe diem") and take a punt on a summer working in America. "It teaches us to resolve to lead lives of passion and conviction," he said.

It looked, for a moment, as if Sarfraz would be the only one clambering on to his desk to defend the film. Then, thankfully, other dreamers started to get to their feet. "I tend to think that the idealism of the film is the best way to judge it," said vrisas. "It may be distasteful to a more cynical audience, but it has a real emotional charge." Practicalcriticism agreed, to a degree: "Dead Poets one of those films that, seen at the right point in your life, is wonderful, but outside of it seems a little hackneyed and mawkish," he or she said. "Somewhat of a cinematic Catcher in the Rye, in that respect." We'll give Woof73 the merit badge though, as his/her comments best summed up the problem of judging an idealistic film with the appropriate degree of scepticism: "Seize the day, sure," he or she said. "But be prepared to feel a little guilty and foolish the morning after."

Next up was Dave Turner who … hang on a minute … sorry. Hello, puss. Where did you come from? Just got to write this. Then let's see if we can't find your owner, huh?

Sorry. Next up in the series was Dave Turner, who inhabited the series to talk about John Carpenter's The Thing. The body-mangling sci-fi horror features an alien organism that infects a team of scientists working in an Antarctic research facility and, when confronted, erupts from their bodies in horribly creative style. Dave decided to take the "wonderful" Morag to this veritable smoochfest. He lured her with the power of his Simon LeBon mullet, leg warmers and the promise of wine gums, but didn't reckon on the sheer terror that Carpenter's classic would provoke. "Throughout The Thing, man and creature merge in horrific, bloody contortions that would give Hieronymus Bosch nightmares," said Dave. "This is a creature that doesn't just hide in the dark, but could be your friend, your colleague, or the girl beside you whose hand you are breaking in a terrified vice-like grip … By the end I was a quivering, sweat-drenched wreck, and soon afterwards was single once more."

At least Dave found love for the film, which got an unmangled thumbs up from you lot, too. There was praise for Kurt Russell's anti-hero (Jangfet, jamie12), praise for the groundbreaking (and bone-breaking) makeup effects of Rob Bottin (limu, Irishscouser) and even praise for the "sinister" pooch (SidRoughdiamond) that acts as the alien's first host.

It's really strange about this cat – I'm sure the Guardian doesn't allow animals in here.

Anyway. Users such as Stayontheroofs were less possessed: "The Thing is a film about a man's head coming off and turning into a big spider," he or she said. "It's like the film-makers thought of that first and went from there." While sk1nneyman told us a spooky story. "I watched it on video a couple of years after cinema release," he said. "My wife had let in a stray kitten to feed and shelter the same day. The kitten stared at me throughout the whole movie. It didn't stay the night."

Which made good sense given the … What?! Kitten?! Oh. God. No! No! ARGHHHHHHHH!

Phew. It's all right. I fought it off and shoved it in the staff fridge. It's frozen among the staffers' foodstuffs. No one will ever disturb it unless we run out of beansprouts and soy milk.

Let's forget that unpleasantness by taking a trip with Jon Dennis on his tour of Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up, an occasionally surreal vision of swinging London seen through the eyes of an arch and indifferent fashion photographer (David Hemmings). Blow-Up was hip, said Jon, but it was also cold, due perhaps to the director's ambivalence towards the subject matter and the fact that the beautiful people are also repellent. "It reveals an enduring truth about London, my home town," he said. "It's never truly knowable."

Among those hip to the film, there was praise for Antonioni's handling of the central "murder" scene, while some of you had a slight problem with the wackier elements (anyone for mime tennis?) and the presence of a certain 60s somebody. "I enjoyed the movie," said BeckyP. "Pity that the only unreal part was the appearance of the decidedly unhip Janet Street-Porter." Mark4ru felt that its defining moments may have become too ripe for parody ("It has been seriously undermined by Austin Powers"), while MiddleAgedMod remarked that when he/she saw it (as a TeenageMod?) they were perhaps a little naive: "It's all about the superficiality of swinging London," he or she said. "But to me back then, it was a glimpse of the promised land."

Those not so down included Kaitain ("Curiously unengaging"), ysgvdi7brgvo ("Shapeless, self-indulgent drivel") and Magnusson ("Tremendously pretentious and well … boring"). Mrdaydream thought Hemmings overrated ("Very cool and very pretty, but not much of an actor"), while WhatsAmerica slung the same at Antonioni. The Italian director was defended by clum75 and dondi, who made up after their little to-and-fro last week through a shared love for his work. Right on guys! (By the way, apologies if you felt demonised last week clum75 – it's always good to hear from you. Keep the comments coming.)

Next on the line was Saptarshi Ray, spying on Hitchcock's The 39 Steps. It was the things that Hitch left out that made his film so glorious, said Sap. Namely sound. The film was one of the director's first attempts at a talkie and an uncertain Hitchcock keeps the soundtrack sparse. Hitchcock's "strokes [were] at once nervous and brash, and his motifs wonderfully contradictory," said Sap. "Like any artist trying something new." Plotwise though, we could have been playing Hitch bingo. There's the hapless hero (Robert Donat) on the run, the shady conspiracy, the beautiful blond (Madeleine Carroll) dragged along for the ride. Still, Sap's a fan – "as much for his dramatic sweeps and technical audacity as for his twinkling sense of mischief and mastery of the macabre".

For the most part you agreed, although when it came to Sap's opinion of John Buchan's source novel ("mediocre") you threw the book at him. TheGeeG, timothyb and noteverpc were among those who pointed out that Buchan's work boiled pots, ripped yarns and turned pages. Elsewhere, fatalist wondered why Hitchcock is "permanently tagged" the master of suspense when, judging by the chemistry between his leads, "master of sex/romance might be just as appropriate". Appropriate perhaps, but much as we love Hitch's work, that's not really an area of his life we want to think about, fatalist. Imagine that silhouette

Week five shut up shop with another burst of monsters and mayhem as Jessica Hopkins had a browse through a classic Frank Oz musical comedy. Little Shop of Horrors is a love story, said Jess, "a story about conquering your demons and discovering the best you can be – even if it takes a blood-guzzling, talking plant to get you there". The blood-guzzler's name was Audrey II –named after perma-loser Seymour Krelborn's (Rick Moranis) crush. He wanted constant feeding … and a soundtrack crammed with easygoing, free-flowing, catchy pop-funk.

"There is something amazing about this film," said romannosejob. "Especially when you're a kid. All kids being obsessed with Venus fly traps, having a secret best friend who isn't human and errr … killing people we don't like."

Normally I'd label that weird. But I can hear a muffled squealing that can only mean a Thing-possessed cat has defrosted and is working its way through the beansprouts. Who am I to judge?

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