What are the "essential" movies to watch?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Scott McGillivray, Sep 24, 2003.

  1. Scott McGillivray

    Scott McGillivray Supporting Actor

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    Hi Gang!

    I had a rather eye-opening, stomach-retching experience last night in talking with a young fellow about movies. He was in my store with 2 of his friends. They knew I was a part-time movie actor and started asking about my last movie. The 2 guys mention that the 3rd is a "real movie fanatic" and that I should not even begin to talk about movies because he knows so much. Well, I was intrigued to say the least! So, to start off, he mentions that in his opinion the greatest movie ever made was..."Smokey and the Bandit".

    *ahem* Now, certainly everyone is entitled to their opinion. I mentioned what I considered to be some great movies of the past and he had not heard of any of them. "Who is Kurosawa?", he says. "Did he film some crappy old movie?"

    So, I started thinking...in order for one to be considered knowledgeable in the field of movies, is there such a thing as a list of say 10-20 movies that one HAD to have seen in order to be considered literate in a good movie discussion? If so, I would love to see what movies you guys would suggest.
     
  2. Henry Gale

    Henry Gale Producer

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  3. StephenK

    StephenK Stunt Coordinator

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    In the spirit of this thread, these are my "essential movies", NOT my favorite movies, but merely those that I would consider mandatory to even begin calling one's self a cinephile.

    In no particular order.....

    King Kong (1933)
    Duck Soup (Marx Bros)
    Psycho
    Gone With the Wind
    Citizen Kane
    Wizard of Oz
    The Ten Commandments
    The 400 Blows
    The Bicycle Thief
    At least 1 Kurosawa film, (my pick The 7 Samurai)
    At least 1 Fellini film, (my pick La Dolce Vita)
    Star Wars
    Jaws
    Casablanca
    The Exorcist
    Taxi Driver (though Raging Bull was better)
    Lawrence of Arabia
    The Sound of Music
    Animal House
    Apocalypse Now


    This was so much harder than I initially thought...To include Animal House over, say, Dr Stangelove, or The Sound of Music over West Side Story, The Exorcist over Rosemary's Baby....still this is my list at the moment.

    edited to correct an egregious spelling error
     
  4. Michael Boyd

    Michael Boyd Second Unit

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    This reminds me of an incident about a month ago. Clint B and I were at a friends birthday party. She tells her friend to talk to us since we are into movies and he is also. Great I know whats coming. Sure enough I get an earful on how great Deuce Bigalow was.

    By the way cinephile StephenK . . . That would be Citizen Kane. [​IMG]
     
  5. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Also in no particular order:

    ·Citizen Kane, more essential than The Magnificant Ambersons or A Touch of Evil.
    ·Vertigo (or another Hitchcock such as Rear Window or North by Northwest[)
    ·8 1/2 (or another Fellini such as La Strada or La Dolce Vita
    ·I was born but… or another Ozu such as Tokyo Story
    ·Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
    ·Singin’ in the Rain
    ·Breathless or another early Godard or French New Wave such as Jules and Jim or The 400 Blows
    ·Dr. Strangelove or another Kubrick—perhaps 2001 or Barry Lyndon.
    ·The Passion of Joan of Arc or another Carl Dreyer such as Ordet
    ·The Palm Beach Story or any other top Preston Sturges such as The Lady Eve.
    ·The Gold Rush or Modern Times
    ·Some Like it Hot—I know that George will nominate The Apartment and most critics would place Sunset Blvd. at the top of the Wilder list.
    ·Grand Illusion or perhaps Rules of the Game. For those who do not like Renior, a pre-New Wave choice might be L’Atalante or Children of Paradise
    ·L’Avventura or maybe The Red Desert. If these are too inaccessible, choose a neo-relist film such as The Bicycle Thief.
    ·In the Mood for Love, for a mature Wong Kar-Wai. For a breakthrough film, pick Chungking Express
    ·Seven Samurai or some other Kurosawa, especially Ikiru
    ·Bringing Up Baby or some other comedy of the 30s or 40s by Hawks, Capra and company.
    ·Wild Strawberries—Bergman’s most personal film—many would choose The Seventh Seal.
    ·Taxi Driver or another top Scorsese such as Raging Bull or Goodfellas
    ·Through the Olive Trees or another film from Iran—perhaps The While Balloon or A Taste of Cherry

    I could make another list of 20 that I feel equally important. As I look at this list I have seriously underrepresented musicals, Asian films and newer films. But essential is a bit harder to define for newer films, so I went with older ones.

    When I was done with that list, I’d have another 20 that I also consider essential. Of course no one really has to like all these films, but they are all essential for anyone who wants to really understand film. The same for the other lists, I read.
     
  6. StephenK

    StephenK Stunt Coordinator

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    Omigod, I spelled Citizen Kane with a "C"ane. I feel like crawling into a hole (really!). That's embarrassing, man, and I'm usually one to point this stuff out to others. Argh!
     
  7. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    I do think that there is a difference between the 20 greatest films and the 20 most essential to having a good knowledge base. See my signature for the former.

    For the latter:

    Citizen Kane
    Casablanca
    Rear Window
    The Apartment
    2001: A Space Odyssey
    The Gold Rush
    Duck Soup
    Toy Story
    The African Queen
    Double Indemnity
    Adam's Rib
    The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
    The Maltese Falcon
    The Sound of Music
    Bringing Up Baby
    The Thin Man
    Top Hat
    Mr. Hulot's Holiday
    M
    Ben-Hur
     
  8. Bill Williams

    Bill Williams Screenwriter

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    Movie "essentials" I would put on the list (I may be duplicating some earlier suggestions):

    Metropolis (1920's)
    Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
    The Adventures of Robin Hood
    Gone With the Wind
    The Wizard of Oz
    Citizen Kane
    Casablanca
    The Ten Commandments
    Ben-Hur (the 1926 and the 1959 versions)
    2001: A Space Odyssey
    The Godfather
    American Graffiti
    The Godfather Part II
    Star Wars (original version)
    Close Encounters of the Third Kind
    Superman: The Movie
    E.T.
    Akira
    Dances With Wolves
    Jurassic Park
    The Lion King
    Titanic
    The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
    The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

    That's where I would begin. But to quote Dennis Miller, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. [​IMG]
     
  9. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    I think that Week End is a must over Breathless .
     
  10. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Ah Seth, I chose Breathless as my prime choice for the same reason that George chose his list: This, along with The 400 Blows was the film that began the French New Wave. I can still remember going down to the theatre to see these two films when I was a freshman in college and sitting in the coffee house and discussing them into the night.

    While The 400 Blows came first, I chose Godard’s film because Trauffaut was a screenwriter on Breathless and I did not really feel I could include two New Wave films as I was running out of nominations.

    Even then, I missed a Tati, but George included Mr. Hulot’s Holiday in his excellent list, so all is well.
     
  11. Kevin Porter

    Kevin Porter Supporting Actor

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    I know everyone is reccomending older films and I agree but I would say that every single (Yes all 3. 4 by the end of the year. 5 by Febuary) Quentin Tarantino directed movie is essential. I just discovered this and I am in love (But not like that) with Tarantino. You may have heard claims that this guy is a one hit wonder but these claims are false. This man has a talent for directing and anyone who calls themselves movie fans has to at least watch these films if not absolutely love them.

    Reservoir Dogs
    Pulp Fiction
    Jackie Brown
    And coming soon Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2

    All of these films are in my opinion nothing short of masterpieces. I'm sure Kill Bill will join the ranks of these movies soon. Kill Bill will thrill mill...ions at the theaters as well.
     
  12. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    My picks ( today )...

    2001: A Space Odyssey
    Casablanca
    Citizen Kane
    City Lights
    Double Indemnity
    Dr. Strangelove
    The General (1927)
    The Godfather
    High Noon
    King Kong (1933)
    Night of the Hunter
    Out of the Past
    The Passion of Joan of Arc
    Pinocchio
    Rashomon
    The Searchers
    The Seventh Seal
    Singin' In The Rain
    Some Like It Hot
    Vertigo


    - Walter.
     
  13. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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  14. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    Lew Crippen,

    I would say list 400 Blows to represent French New Wave, and Week End as both the ultimate Godard experience, and a film that brilliantly subverts itself and commercial narrative filmmaking.

    just my two sense.



    I think the claims are that he's turned ripping off others into a genre.
     
  15. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer
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    I don't know how you guys do it. There are hundreds of thousands of films available. How does anyone go about deciding what is "essential" viewing to be called a "cinephile"? The lists here already show signs that being a "cinephile" is already nothing but a subjective exercise. Someone who hasn't watched "400 Blows" but has watched "Seven Samurai" and "2001:A Space Odyssey" isn't a "cinephile"?

    I think that "Bambi" and "Apocalypse Now" are essential movies to watch, but if someone hasn't seem them and doesn't want to, does that make them less "cinephiliac"? [​IMG]
     
  16. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    You guys are forgetting the most essential film of all: The Third Man. [​IMG]

    Carol Reed's masterpiece is THE film for me - the one that opened my eyes to cinema.

    I would also add Romero's Night of the Living Dead to the list.
     
  17. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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  18. Arman

    Arman Screenwriter

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    One great director, one essential movie (not necessarily my greatest or most favorite out of their many great works):

    Non-active - The Top 20 Most Essentials
    Welles: Citizen Kane
    Truffaut: The 400 Blows
    Kurosowa: Ikiru
    Hitchcock: Vertigo
    Bunuel: Belle de jour
    Bergman: Wild Strawberries
    Lean: Lawrence of Arabia
    Fellini: 8 ½
    Kubrick: 2001: A Space Odyssey
    Renoir: Grand Illusion
    Bresson: Au hasard Balthazar
    Antonioni: L’Avventura
    De Sica: The Bicycle Thief
    Chaplin: City Lights
    Lubitsch: To Be Or Not To Be
    Lang: Metropolis
    Dreyer: The Passion of Joan of Arc
    Ford: The Searchers
    Wilder: Some Like It Hot
    Ozu: Tokyo Story

    The other 20 (one each):
    Griffith: Intolerance
    Rossellini: Open City
    Sturges: The Palm Beach Story
    Tati: M. Hulot’s Holiday
    Tarkovsky: Andrei Roublev
    Kusturica: Underground
    Reed: The Third Man
    Altman: Nashville
    Carne: Children of Paradise
    Visconti: Rocco and His Brothers
    Eisenstein: Battleship Potemkin
    Murnau: Sunrise
    Ophuls: Letter from an Unknown Woman
    Ray: The World of Apu
    Kieslowski: Dekalog
    Sturges: Sullivan’s Travels
    Herzog: Aguirre, Wrath of God
    Vigo: L’Atalante
    Cocteau: Testament of Orpheus
    Wiene: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari or Clair: A Nous La Liberte

    20+ more from active directors (one each):
    Kar-Wai: In The Mood for Love
    Scorcese: Raging Bulls
    Godard: Breathless
    Coppolla: The Godfather
    Kiarostami: The Wind Will Carry Us
    Lynch: Blue Velvet
    Allen: Crimes and Misdemeanors
    Miyazaki: Spirited Away
    Malick: Days of Heaven
    Zhang: Raise The Red Lantern
    Polanski: Rosemary’s Baby
    Lee: Do The Right Thing
    Rohmer: Chloe In The Afternoon
    Bertolucci: The Conformist
    Tarantino: Pulp Fiction
    Hanson: LA Confidential
    Spielberg: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
    Almodovar: Talk To Her
    James Ivory :Remains of The Day
    Takahata: Grave of the Fireflies
    Woo: A Better Tomorrow
    Inarritu: Amores Perros
    Von Trier: Breaking The Waves
    Lucas: Star Wars
    Gilliam: Brazil (one hit wonder?)

    I can sort it by country, one film each too. [​IMG]
     
  19. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    Edwin-S,

    I would call a "cinephile" someone who is well versed in various modes of filmmaking from various countries.

    Some early Russian works should be added to these lists, like Potemkin and Man with the Movie Camera. I'd also add Murnau's The Last Laugh, Dalí and Buñuel's Andalusian Dog, Brakhage's Anticipation of the Night, and maybe Buñuel's The Golden Age. I also feel compelled to mention somthing like Rhythmus 21
     
  20. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    I disagree since these lists only focus on commercial narratives. They exclude film modes like personal and experimental. I'd be shocked if any of them mentioned something by a filmmaker like Stan Brakhage.
     

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