"Classic Films for Dummies", suggestions?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Stephen_L, Aug 24, 2004.

  1. Stephen_L

    Stephen_L Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2001
    Messages:
    534
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading and participating in the thread about not always enjoying classic films. When I was younger and wanted to learn about classical music, a friend who knew the music made me a list of classics that were accessible to a novice and easy to enjoy. It was a great introduction to an area that can take some work to appreciate, just like great films. How about a list of classic films that are most easy for the novice to enjoy and get into. Here are a few of my suggestions.

    Foreign film: "The Seven Samurai"
    the first foreign film
    I ever saw. It was kinda off-putting having to read
    subtitles, but by the end of the film, I was so into
    it I was no longer aware that I was reading the
    dialogue at all. If you liked this try Kurasawa's
    "Hidden Fortress"

    Film noir: "Sunset Boulevard" Wonderful, weird characters,
    dark cynical tone, lots of crisp sharp writing. Gotta
    love a film narrated by a corpse!

    Romance: "Casablanca" Bogart, Bergman, Raines, Lorre,
    Greenstreet. Razor sharp dialogue, world weary
    cynicism. "We'll always have Paris"

    Animation: "Pinocchio" I once drove a hundred miles just
    to watch this film. (pre-video DVD days) Dazzling
    color. Take a minute and just look at the amazing
    background paintings. Great music. Just the best
    Disney ever made (in my opinion)

    War movie: "Dawn Patrol" with Errol Flynn and David Niven.
    World War I pilots facing deadly odds with dash and
    fatalism.

    Silent film: "Metropolis" by Fritz Lang. The grandaddy of
    science fiction film. Weird and disjointed like a
    strange dream. Epic images. The best first mad-
    scientist on film.

    Any other suggestions?
     
  2. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2001
    Messages:
    13,063
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    There have been lots of similar threads in the past, but I'll play (I always do).

    If you're focusing on accessibility (as opposed to best), then I guess I'd go:

    Foreign film: M. Hulot's Holiday

    Mystery: Rear Window

    Film Noir: Double Indemnity

    Silent film: Modern Times

    Comedy: It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

    Animated: Dumbo

    Romance: Casablanca

    Drama: It's a Wonderful Life

    War (action): The Great Escape

    War (other): Stalag 17

    Western: The Magnificent Seven

    Spy: Goldfinger

    Science Fiction: Star Wars

    Musical: Singin' in the Rain

    Horror: Jaws

    Adventure: The Adventures of Robin Hood
     
  3. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2002
    Messages:
    6,531
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I think the most accessible list would be the AFI Top 100, start at the top (#1 Citizen Kane) and work down. These films may be difficult to some, but it really is the list that typifies "Classic American Films 101" and I can think of no better films to start seeing than the top 10 (minus The Graduate, which I feel is an important "60's" film, but may rank so high because of the average age and nostalgia level of the majority of the reviewers):

    1 CITIZEN KANE 1941
    2 CASABLANCA 1942
    3 THE GODFATHER 1972
    4 GONE WITH THE WIND 1939
    5 LAWRENCE OF ARABIA 1962
    6 THE WIZARD OF OZ 1939
    7 THE GRADUATE 1967
    8 ON THE WATERFRONT 1954
    9 SCHINDLER'S LIST 1993
    10 SINGIN' IN THE RAIN 1952


    It really has everything (besides a great comedy) - A director/cinematography/acting tour de force, a perfect example of a 40's "Hollywood" movie, a 70's realistic mafia classic, an epic novel adapted for the screen, a big budget true widescreen outdoor epic, a children's favorite musical, a cynical statement on the 60's, a gritty realistic "method" acting driven crime drama, a hearbreaking historical war/humanity drama and a feel good musical. A good start, not perfect, but a good start.
     
  4. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2000
    Messages:
    9,467
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Foreign film: Stray Dog

    Mystery: Rear Window

    Film Noir: The Maltese Falcon

    Silent film: Steamboat Bill, Jr.

    Comedy: Hail The Conquering Hero

    Animated: Sleeping Beauty

    Romance: It Happened One Night

    Drama: It's a Wonderful Life

    War (action): Paths Of Glory

    War (other): The Best Years Of Our Lives

    Western: High Noon

    Spy: Secret Agent

    Science Fiction: Frankenstein

    Musical: Singin' in the Rain

    Horror: Rosemary's Baby

    Adventure: Mutiny On The Bounty
     
  5. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Messages:
    12,060
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Twenty films in English to begin. I left off a few well known films, like ‘2001’, but I assumed that everyone had seen some of those—others I thought were not particularly accessible for novices. Perhaps another 20 with subtitles for the advanced novice.

    As George mentions, this has been done before—even so I’ll throw out a few suggestions, all based on what I think are accessible to those who may not be familiar with the ‘classics’.

    1)Rosemary’s Baby—every list needs a horror film and this is one of the best.
    2)Singin’ in the Rain—what’s not to like (an alternative is My Fair Lady)
    3)Touch of Evil—I think easier than Sunset Blvd. for the casual viewer.
    4)It’s a Wonderful Life—Frank Capra has to be here somewhere.
    5)Raging Bull—easy to get caught up in the story—have a beginner watch a second and third time just for the camera moves during the fight scenes.
    6)North by Northwest—maybe not as good as either Rear Window or Vertigo but an easier film than either.
    7)The General—I think that Keaton’s slapstick is more appealing on the surface than Chaplin’s tramp.
    8)Some Like it Hot—Wilder at his best. This is so funny on the surface that beginners don’t have to worry about the subtleties.
    9)Bridge Over the River Kwai—one of the easiest and best of the ‘action war films’. Enough complexity to just push it past the simplistic category.
    10)Chinatown—Jack at the top of his game—and so is everyone else.
    11)The Third Man—and go back a few years—easy to get hooked on the zither.
    12)The Maltese Falcon—one more film noir
    13)Casablanca—Bogart even more cynical, more resigned, more heroic and more romantic.
    14)Brief Encounter—David Lean’s master romance—by this time even novices should begin to get the movie jokes.
    15)The Lady Eve—perhaps not Preston Sturges’ finest film, but certainly as witty as is possible—and enough edge to leaven the romance. Plus it has Henry Fonda in a very different role.
    16)Mister Roberts—WWII as a mundane experience. Fonda and Lemmon and an all-round great cast.
    17)Bringing Up Baby—the definitive screwball—Hepburn and Grant at their most appealing
    18)Red River—a different Howard Hawks
    19)The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance—John Ford, Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne—who could ask for more?
    20)The Naked Spur—not yet on DVD, but the opposite of a John Ford western.
     
  6. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    Messages:
    7,505
    Likes Received:
    234
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    KY
    Real Name:
    Michael Elliott
    Foreign film: M

    Mystery: PSYCHO

    Film Noir: OUT OF THE PAST

    Silent (early): THE BIRTH OF A NATION

    Silent (later days): SUNRISE

    Comedy: CITY LIGHTS

    Comedy (newer) PLAY IT AGAIN SAM

    Animated: EDUCATION FOR DEATH

    Romance: WOMAN OF THE YEAR

    Drama: RAGING BULL

    Drama (older): 12 ANGRY MEN

    War (action): THE GREAT ESCAPE

    War (other): PATHS OF GLORY

    Western: UNFORGIVEN

    Science Fiction: THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL

    Musical: SINGIN' IN THE RAIN

    Horror: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

    Fantasy: BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN

    Adventure: THE GENERAL

    Epic: SPARTACUS

    Short: EVIDENCE OF THE CRIME

    Forgotten classic: THE OZ BOW INCIDENT
     
  7. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2003
    Messages:
    6,008
    Likes Received:
    24
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Foreign film: M

    Film Noir: SUNSET BLVD.

    Silent: PHANTOM OF THE OPERA / CITY LIGHTS

    Comedy: SONS OF THE DESERT

    Romance: IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT

    Drama: THE STING

    Western: BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID

    Science Fiction: PLANET OF THE APES (1968)

    Musical: THE WIZARD OF OZ

    Horror: ROSEMARY'S BABY, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN

    Fantasy: KING KONG (33)

    Epic: BEN-HUR (59)
     
  8. DaveButcher

    DaveButcher Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2004
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I don't have to create a list (I always end up putting more thought into them, then I should), so I'll just name a couple that haven't been mentioned that I like and I believe are accesible.

    The Country Girl; Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby and William Holden in an excellent character study (coming out on DVD very soon!)

    Breakfast at Tiffany's; Audrey Hepburn...do I need to say more? Well, it's one of the greatest romance movies I've ever seen, and more so it's totally unapologetic view of the characters.

    And (arguably) the greatest Film Noir, The Killers. Burt Lancaster showing why he's a leading man, Ava Gardner showing why she's the best Femme Fatale ever and Edmund O'Brien showing why he's in every noir ever made! Great story, brilliant direction and cinematography, and amazing atmosphere.

    I say you can't go wrong with those three (and many of the others already listed)
     
  9. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2002
    Messages:
    6,546
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    all geared towards accessability
    * denotes availability on dvd

    Mystery: Shadow Of a Doubt*


    Film Noir: Out Of The Past* (that would be my first choice- The Killers*(40's) or Gilda* would be my close seconds)

    Silent film: The Wind


    Comedy: The Prisoner Of Second Avenue*


    Romance: Hold Back The Dawn (catch it on TCM) / The Apartment*


    Drama: The Best Years Of Our Lives* / Who'll Stop The Rain*


    War (action): The Great Escape* / Bridge On The River Kwai*


    Western: Bend Of The River*


    Spy: The Counterfeit Traitor*


    Science Fiction: The Day The Earth Caught Fire*


    Musical: Swing Time / The Music Man*


    Horror: Dawn Of The Dead*


    Adventure: The Professionals* ('66)
     
  10. Keith M.

    Keith M. Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 1999
    Messages:
    486
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    great lists
     
  11. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2002
    Messages:
    1,526
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Foreign film: THE 400 BLOWS
     
  12. Kal Istoga

    Kal Istoga Auditioning

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2004
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Great lists! One more comes to mind (since its in my collection), "The Searchers".
     
  13. Stephen_L

    Stephen_L Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2001
    Messages:
    534
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I consider myself pretty well versed in film, but these lists show I've missed some great ones.

    I was laughing to myself a bit though. I'm 47 and some of the 'classics' being listed are current cinema to an old fart like me. [​IMG]
     
  14. andrew markworthy

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 1999
    Messages:
    4,762
    Likes Received:
    12
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I think it's important to bear in mind that you won't like every 'great' film and you're not 'wrong' if this is the case. To take an example from classical music - you'd be considered a classical music fan if e.g. you liked Schubert, Brahms, Beethoven and Bach but hated Stravinsky and Monteverdi. Similarly, you shouldn't be concerned if e.g. you love Bergman but hate Fellini. I think the only important thing is that even if you dislike one of the 'great movies' you can appreciate why others may like it.

    FWIW, the movies that got me interested in art house cinema:

    2001: A Space Odyssey
    Belle et la Bete
    Citizen Kane
    Last Year in Marienbad
    Seven Samurai
    Madadayo
    Kind Hearts and Coronets
    Last Tango in Paris [though I now am bored by it]
    E.T. [I'm serious - that is a far better constructed film than most people give it credit for]
    The Searchers
    North by North West
     

Share This Page