Rick's Flicks

So Many Movies, So Little Time

Here are some movies that one would enjoy seeing if one wanted to be more aware of the scope of movies, what movies can be at their best and worst.  

What are those old-timers ranting about when they say that "They don't make 'em like they used to?"  Not all of these are old, of course.  There are future classics being made today, movies that are really breakthroughs or the peak of their genre, movies that changed the scope of moviedom from that point forward.  Flicks like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars.  They're here, too.  But many of the breakthroughs -- inventing a new type of movie or setting a new standard for epic scope, vision, violence, ordering, symbolism, evil, humor, slapstick, parody, dystopia, and such -- many breakthroughs happen early in the life of a medium. Sure, new ones are happening now, especially with respect to computer graphics and "photographing" scenes that can't really be seen.  But, well, for example, even the new style of action flicks, where everything goes fast and then blows up, started decades ago with films like Bullitt, which I think invented the insane city car chase, and the early James Bond films that blew up everything.  

And there are a number of cases where the same plot gets recycled into another movie a decade or two later.  And we won't even mention the remakes of older movies, very few of which come near the standard of the originals.  

Please remember that this is not intended as a "best of" list, but as a list of, well, hard to say, sort of milestones, cultural shared experiences, cinemahhhhh vocabulary.  Like Joe Bob's list but with a bigger scope.  And I'm sure I have erred in not including a couple of his choices in there, because he really was going for the milestone-breakthrough-things-can-never-be-the-same-again-who-let-the-nitrate-genie-out-of-the-bottle high spots.  Saturday reaction: "Jesus H!  How could they do that?  In public!"  Monday reaction: "But, C. B., our next project has to leap over that new bar!"

Your help is requested in editing it into a saner format, with perhaps more clear distinction between cinema history and "cultural literacy."  Currently, they are divided into three categories: 

Happy viewing!  


2001 A Space Odyssey sci fi Keir Dullea, Stanley Kubrick (dir) Book by Arthur C. Clarke. The first realistic sci fi movie. Images you'll never forget. Rated #1 in most best-of sci-fi movies lists. If you want to understand everything about the movie, you really have to read the book, which is terrific. must see
39 Steps, The spy Robert Donat, Alfred Hitchcock (dir) Seems like first draft of Saboteur and North by Northwest. Incredibly, this was, seventy years later, made into a very funny play for Broadway. must see
African Queen, The drama Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn Grungy boatman and prissy schoolmarm go down the river through the jungle. They even discover love through hate. must see
Agony and the Ecstasy, The bio Charlton Heston, Rex Harrison Michelangelo paints the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and paint drips on the Pope. must see
Airplane comedy Leslie Nielsen Every possible slapstick device around a thin plot. One of several similar farces by the Zucker brothers. Laugh after laugh. must see
Alien sci fi Sigourney Weaver First you eat it, then it eats you. In the future, everything looks dirty. Design by weird German artist Giger. Followed by at least two sequels, similarly gritty. must see
All That Jazz musical Roy Scheider, Bob Fosse (dir) Choreographer's fantasy of death. Bob Fosse's sort of story of his own life. Great music and dancing, as you would expect. The guy sitting behind us in in the theater said, when it was over, ''I want my two bucks back.'' I almost punched him out. But being that much a Philistine for the rest of his life seemed to be punishment enough. must see
Annie Hall comedy Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts Won the Oscar for best picture. Not just a flippant Woody Allen movie, but a serious exploration of relationships. must see
Apocalypse Now war Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Francis Ford Coppola (dir) Heart of Darkness (by Joseph Conrad) story retold in Vietnam. The desperate trip up the river to stop the renegade general. Apparently the film was a near-disaster to make, years in the jungles of the Philippines, but what a wonderful result. must see
Arthur comedy Dudley Moore, Lisa Minelli, John Gielgud Poor little rich kid drinks and drinks. Where's the rest of that moose? Dudley Moore's finest hour. must see
Bad Day at Black Rock drama Spencer Tracy After World War II, ex-GI (Tracy) comes to small town to find who killed his friend, a Japanese farmer in Arizona. He is not welcomed. must see
Bad Seed, The drama Patty McCormack A little girl likes to get her way, does whatever it takes, ruining and removing people in the process. Horrifying. must see
Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, The sci fi dunno Dinosaur attacks roller coaster. Classic single-frame animation. Behemoth! BEE-HEE-MOTH! Adapted from the Ray Bradbury story, "The Fog Horn." Single-frame animation by Ray Harryhausen. must see
Becket drama Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole Henry II vs St. Thomas Becket. ''Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?'' must see
Bedazzled (old) comedy Peter Cook, Dudley Moore Faust, with a hip Mephistopheles (Cook) and a schlemiel short-order cook (Moore). Watch the little things that Cook does to increase the anger in the world, like making parking meters go red, ripping the last few pages out of Agatha Christie books. must see
Ben Hur biblical, Roman Charlton Heston Indy 500 with chariots. One of the great Biblical epics. must see
Birds, The horror Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedrin, Alfred Hitchcock (dir) Hitchcock story about the birds of the world turning on humans. Seagulls' revenge on the beautiful people in Bodega Bay. The advertising posters at the time said simply, "The Birds is Coming!" must see
Blade Runner sci fi Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Ridley Scott (dir) Film version of the Philip K. Dick story, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? A grimy future, but not impossible. Classic. must see
Blazing Saddles comedy Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks (dir), Harvey Korman, Madeline Kahn, Slim Pickens Mel Brooks makes a Western. Black sheriff outrages town, saves town. Typical Mel Brooks insanity. No, not typical; probably his best. Shatters the fourth wall. must see
Blob, The (old) sci fi Steve McQueen Crazy goo. It eats you. Angry jello from meteorite absorbs animals and grows. How to stop it? must see
Blow-up crime David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Michelangelo Antonioni (dir) Photographer takes pictures of a couple meeting in a park. Maybe there's something interesting in that picture if you enlarge it enough. But what really did happen? Where's the proof? must see
Body Heat crime Kathleen Turner, William Hurt Smart woman outsmarts attorney. Scary movie about uppity woman who plans ahead. must see
Bonnie and Clyde crime Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker rob banks all over the midwest. Famous for its ultra-violent ending. must see
Boys from Brazil, The drama Laurence Olivier, Gregory Peck, James Mason Nazis in the late 1970s, the SS still plotting to take over. Peck and Mason are really bad bad guys. Wonderful, scary drama. Book by Ira Levin. must see
Bride of Frankenstein sci fi Elsa Lanchester The monster is lonely, needs a date. ''She's alive! Alive!'' Love the gray lightning bolts in the hair. must see
Bridge on the River Kwai war Alec Guiness Prisoners build the Bridge of Death in Burma. Maybe not quite historically accurate but compelling. must see
Bringing up Baby comedy Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn Hysterically funny madcap comedy. Supporting roles played by a dinosaur, a dog, and a leopard. Often on top-ten lists of comedies of all time. must see
Cabaret musical Lisa Minelli, Joel Grey, Bob Fosse (dir) 1930s decadence in Berlin during the rise of the Nazis. Watch the kids sing Tomorrow Belongs to Me. Won 8 Oscars. must see
Casablanca drama Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman Play it, Sam. If this boy-loses-girl doesn't choke you up, you have no soul. must see
Chinatown crime Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Roman Polanski (dir) Nicholson as PI in corrupt thirties LA. Nicholson is tough and bumbling. Huston is wonderfully slimy. Where does LA's water come from? must see
Citizen Kane bio Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton Welles's triumphant epic as enfant terrible first-time director. Usually listed as the best movie ever made. Arguable, but certainly possible. must see
Clockwork Orange, A sci fi Malcolm MacDowell, Stanley Kubrick (dir) Anthony Burgess novel about ultra-violence. Lock your door. Very scary and creepy. must see
Cocoanuts, The comedy Marx Brothers The brothers run a hotel in Florida. The source of the saying, ''Why a duck?'' must see
D.O.A. (old) noir Edmund O'Brien I want to report a murder. Who's been murdered? Me. Man has been fatally poisoned, has only a couple days to live, tries to find out who and why. must see
Dark Passage noir Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall Innocent man escapes from San Quentin, then is helped by woman, pursued by everyone else. Beautifully atmospheric shots of forties San Francisco. ''There are a lot of smart people in San Quentin.'' must see
Day of the Jackal, The (old) spy Edward Fox, Derek Jacobi The most exciting spy/crime novel I have ever read, and a pretty good movie, too. Smooth dog sniper is hired to assassinate de Gaulle. Cop hunts him down. Tick. Tick. Tick. must see
Day the Earth Stood Still, The (old) sci fi Michael Rennie Flying saucer lands in D.C. Alien comes bearing and hopeful yet frightening message. Earth reacts with predictable terror. "Klaatu barada nikto," dude. Classic. must see
Dead of Night drama Ensemble cast. A sleeper, not well known. Weekend guests at English country house tell weird stories, recurring nightmares. And then some of them come true. must see
Deliverance drama Burt Reynolds, John Voight, Ned Beatty One outdoor fanatic takes his city slicker friends rafting on a Georgia river before it is dammed into a lake. They get into real trouble in the back country with the hillbillies and the moonshiners. Often quoted in other movies and parodies. must see
Desperate Hours (old), The crime Humphrey Bogart, Fredrick March Escaped convicts hold family hostage. The home invasion from hell. Classic. must see
Dial M for Murder noir Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings, Alfred Hitchcock (dir) Let's kill her. Oops. That didn't work. Okay, let's frame her. must see
Dirty Harry crime Clint Eastwood The first of five (?) so far, San Francisco cop tough guy films. A follow-on to Bullitt. A lot better than its reputation would lead you to believe. Do you wanna know? Well, do ya, punk? must see
Dr. Strangelove black comedy Peter Sellers, Peter Sellers, Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Slim Pickens, James Earl Jones, Stanley Kubrick (dir) Subtitle: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The blackest of black comedies. You will laugh all the way to the end of the world. (Sellers plays three roles.) must see
Dracula (old old) horror Bela Lugosi First talkie vampire flick. Moody, slow paced, black and white. Atmospheric, and scary as hell. Read the book, too, if you never have, which is remarkably scary and waaay better than any recent vampire novels. must see
Duck Soup comedy Marx Brothers Funniest Marx Brothers movie. You're accused of not paying your taxes. Hey, I have an uncle who lives in Taxes. No, I mean money, dollars. Yeah, that's where he lives: Dollars, Taxes. must see
Easy Rider drama Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, Choppers and doobies. must see
Enter the Dragon action Bruce Lee, John Saxon The high-budget kung-fu movie up to its time. Amazing fight scenes. Much copied. With the real Bruce Lee. The scene with the nunchucks is fifteen seconds you have to see. must see
Exorcist, The horror Max von Sydow Truly horrifying flick from the famous novel, much quoted and parodied. must see
Fail Safe sci fi Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau The not-at-all-funny reality version of Dr. Strangelove. Glitch nukes Moscow. Eeeeeeeeeeeee. How do you stop World War III? must see
Fantasia (old) animation (Disney) Many short music pieces set to animation, or short cartoons set to classical music. Gotta see the dancing hippos in tutus. must see
Fargo crime William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, the Coen brothers (dir) Fake kidnapping by massively incompetent criminals hired by incompetent businessman. Fortunately the cops are competent. Yah. must see
Five Million Years to Earth sci fi No one we know Ancient spacecraft dug up in London subway. It's not inert. Strange bodies and threatening technology. must see
Forbidden Planet, The sci fi Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Robby the Robot Highest budget sci fi flick up to its time. Very high production values, and many familiar images. The real Robby the Robot debuted here. must see
Frankenstein (old old) horror Boris Karloff, Colin Clive Yes, that monster. The original one. Trivia challenge question: Frankenstein was the doctor's name; what was the monster's name? must see
French Connection, The crime Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, William Friedkin (dir) Two hard-boiled New York cops try to stop a huge heroin shipment from France. Some iconic scenes that are often quoted, such as the horrifying, insane car chase under the elevated subway (for which the director admitted later he did not have permits). must see
From Russia with Love spy Sean Connery, Robert Shaw, Lotte Lenya The first (decent) James Bond movie. must see
Godfather, The crime Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Francis Ford Coppola (dir) The beginning of a mob legend and film dynasty. must see
Godzilla (old) sci fi Raymond Burr and a guy in a rubber suit Originally a Japanese anti-nuke and anti-American flick. The Burr scenes were shot separately in the US and edited into the Japanese movie. must see
Gold Rush, The comedy Charlie Chaplin Chaplin starving in the Yukon. This steak is as tough as leather. must see
Goldfinger spy Sean Connery, Robert Shaw, Lotte Lenya The best early James Bond. Just what you expect, superspy fighting off the bad guys at every turn. must see
Gone with the Wind drama Clark Gable, Vivian Leigh Civil War epic. Frankly, I don't give a damn. must see
Graduate, The comedy Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Mike Nichols (dir) Every boy's dream, then nightmare. Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson. must see
Grapes of Wrath, The drama Henry Fonda, John Ford (dir) Gritty, honest rendering of John Steinbeck novel. must see
Great Escape, The war Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough Escape from Nazi POW camp. Large ensemble cast. must see
Harvey comedy Jimmie Stewart Man with invisible companion. He's not a rabbit, he's a puka. must see
High Noon western Gary Cooper Bad guys coming to town and no one will help the sheriff. must see
His Girl Friday comedy Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell Hysterically funny madcap comedy. Remade several times. must see
History of the World, Part I comedy Mel Brooks (writer and director, too), Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, et al. Insanely funny Mel Brooks romp from Biblical times thru Rome. Sort of Blazing Chariots. must see
How Green Was My Valley drama Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O'Hara, Roddy McDowall Poor but noble coal miners in Wales. must see
How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying musical Robert Morse, Rudy Vallee Broadway musical on film. "A Secretary Is Not A Toy!" and "No Coffee!" are classics. must see
Hustler, The crime Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason Pool player hits the skids. must see
I, Claudius historical drama Derek Jacobi, Brian Blessed (TV) Dozen-hour-long BBC production, wonderful, from the also-wonderful Robert Graves novels. Jacobi as Claudius and Blessed as Augustus are riveting. "In nineteen hundred year or near, Claw-Claw-Claudius shall speak clear." must see
In the Heat of the Night crime Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger Black northern cop in southern town. must see
Incredible Shrinking Man, The sci fi dunno Radiation or something makes man shrink in size, to child-size, to doll-house, to matchbox. His battle with the spider is horrible. must see
Inherit the Wind comedy Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Gene Kelly, Harry Morgan Stage play about the Scopes "monkey trial" of Clarence Darrow (Tracy) vs William Jennings Bryan (March), with reportage by H. L. Mencken (Kelly). Riveting. must see
Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The (old) sci fi Kevin McCarthy The original pod people invade California. Small town doctor notices kids complaining, Mommy isn't Mommy anymore. Then they discover the pod. Then the girl falls asleep. Oops. must see
Invisible Man, The (old) sci fi Claude Rains Invisibility corrupts. Footprints in the snow give him away. must see
Ipcress File, The spy Michael Caine Using psychological stress to break and brainwash. The first film with Caine doing the 'arry Palmah character. must see
It's a Wonderful Life drama Jimmie Stewart How different would the world be without him? must see
Jaws horror Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfus, Steven Spielberg (dir) You know what this is about. Don't eat the tourists, please. The shark is too damned smart. Robert Shaw's speech about the USS Indianapolis sinking is gripping, maybe his finest moment. must see
Judgment at Nuremberg historical drama Spencer Tracy, Richard Widmark, Maximillian Schell, Montgomery Clift, Burt Lancaster, Marlene Dietrich, William Shattner The trials of Nazi judges as war criminals in the late forties. Long, and worth watching every minute. Amazing performances. must see
Key Largo noir Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall Bad guys take over resort hotel during a hurricane. must see
Killing, The noir Sterling Hayden, Stanley Kubrick (dir) How to rob a race track. Very early crime procedural. Pseudo-documentary style with official-sounding narration in places. must see
King Kong (old old) sci fi Clyde Beatty, Fay Wray Old scratchy black and white. Sure, the animation is less smooth than modern versions, but the film has more soul. 'Twas beauty killed the beast. must see
L. A. Story comedy Steve Martin, Victoria Tennant, Sarah Jessica Parker Send-up of Los Angeles craziness, shallowness, narcissism. Few big laughs but constant little ones. Great fun. must see
L.A. Confidential crime Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito LA cops, corruption and violence, surprise surprise. Powerful movie from Ellroy novel. The reputation for violence plagues LAPD to this day. must see
La Dolce Vita drama Marcello Mastroianni, Federico Fellini (dir) First of the Italian decadence and ennui movies. must see
La Strada drama Anthony Quinn, Federico Fellini (dir) Incredibly touching story of circus strong man and mute girl. must see
Last Seduction, The crime Linda Fiorentino, Bill Pullman Incredibly sexy heartless bitch screws, robs, kills. Great fun. Like Body Heat but nastier. must see
Little Shop of Horrors, The (old) black comedy Jack Nicholson, Roger Corman (dir) Feed me! Hungry plant from space becomes a sensation. Old B&W. must see
Lodger, The (medium-old) noir George Sanders, Merle Oberon, Cedric Hardwicke Quiet and odd man rents the room upstairs. Jack the Ripper, maybe? must see
Lost Weekend, The drama Ray Milland Alcoholism long before The Days of Wine And Roses. The bottle in the light fixture is an image you'll never forget. must see
Love and Death comedy Woody Allen, Diane Keaton Woody is drafted into the Russian army to fight Napoleon. ''You don't want your children to grow up eating those rich pastries and cream sauces, do you?'' Becomes an accidental hero. must see
Loved One, The black comedy Robert Morse, Jonathan Winters, Jonathan Winters, Rod Steiger, Robert Morley Hysterical send-up of Hollywood funerals and Forest Lawn. Evelyn Waugh novel. must see
M.A.S.H. black comedy Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, Robert Duvall, Sally Kellerman, Robert Altman (dir) The original M.A.S.H. movie from which the TV show grew. How funny can a hospital in the Korean war zone be? Very. must see
Magnificent Seven, The western Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, lots of others American version of the Seven Samurai. One-stop shopping for Western cliches. must see
Maltese Falcon, The noir Humphrey Bogart, Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, John Huston (dir) Jon Huston's first movie as boy wonder writer and director. Tight, tense, an amazing first effort. Watch it down to the last second. must see
Man Who Fell to Earth, The sci fi David Bowie Alien illegal alien. must see
Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The western Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Lee Marvin Flamboyant story of extremely bad guy, extremely good killing thereof. When the legend is better than the truth, print the legend. must see
Man for All Seasons, A drama Paul Scofield, Robert Shaw Henry VIII vs Thomas More. must see
Man in the Glass Booth, The coutroom Maximilian Schell Man is kidnapped in Paris and put on trial in Israel as a Nazi war criminal. Reminiscent of Eichmann trial. Gripping trial story. Maximilian Schell's finest hour. must see
Manchurian Candidate, The (old) spy Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury Soldier brainwashed to be assassin. Lansbury is deliciously evil as the assassin's mother. Sinatra is wonderful as the intelligence officer trying to save him. Re-released after forty years in the vault. must see
Manhattan comedy Woody Allen (dir), Diane Keaton, Mariel Hemingway B&W Woody Allen with younger woman. must see
Matrix, The sci fi Keanu Reeves, Lawrence Fishburn, the Wachowski brothers (dir) Reality is going bye-bye. Computers run the world, using and farming humans. A breakthrough in special effects. The sequels are not so hot. must see
Midnight Cowboy drama Jon Voight, Dustin Hoffman Cowboy gigolo moves from the country to New York, finds it harder than he thought to make it. must see
Miracle on 34th Street comedy Maureen O'Hara, Edmund Gwenn Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. must see
Mirage noir Gregory Peck, Walter Matthau Traumatic amnesia from seeing something horrible. Why is everyone trying to kill me? must see
Moby Dick (old) drama Gregory Peck Herman Melville would not be unhappy at this film rendering of his novel. Bombastic but effective. must see
Mr. Roberts comedy Henry Fonda, Jack Lemmon, Jimmy Cagney WW2 merchant marine ship. Tyrannical captain and rebellious crew. must see
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington drama Jimmie Stewart Trying to do good in D.C.? Filibuster. must see
Mutiny on the Bounty (old old) drama Charles Laughton, Clark Gable Hard captain, soft babes in Tahiti. must see
My Favorite Year comedy Peter O'Toole Kid is assigned as handler for an old time swashbuckler star. Insane. must see
My Little Chickadee comedy Mae West, W. C. Fields Quadruple entendre galore. must see
Network comedy Fay Dunaway, Albert Finney Backroom insanity in network TV. must see
Never on Sunday drama Melina Mercouri Hooker with heart of joy. must see
Night at the Opera comedy Marx Brothers "You can't fool me. There ain't no sanity clause." Maybe second funniest Marx Bros movie. must see
Nightmare Before Christmas, The animation Tim Burton (dir) Ghouls in the nether world discover Christmas, but understand it only perversely. Astonishing animation. Burton and Parks (The Wrong Trousers, q.v.) show what animation is really capable of. must see
Ninotchka comedy Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas, Bela Lugosi Bolsheviks need to sell czar's old jewelry to fund the government. Hysterically funny. must see
North by Northwest spy Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Martin Landau, Alfred Hitchcock (dir) Innocent man caught in web of spies by mistaken identity. Ends with literal cliffhanger at Mt. Rushmore. Hitchcock did two earlier drafts of this same plot: The 39 Steps and Saboteur. Third time's the charm. must see
Nosferatu (old) horror Max Schreck Probably the original vampire flick. Chilling. Hard to find a good copy, but there are some. must see
Odd Couple, The comedy Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon Slob and obsessive-compulsive live together. Want a brown sandwich or a green sandwich? must see
Of Mice and Men (old old) drama Burgess Meredith, Lon Chaney, Jr. Wonderful telling of tragic John Steinbeck story. must see
Oklahoma musical Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones, Rod Steiger Wonderful movie of Hammerstein play. must see
On the Waterfront crime Marlon Brando, Lee J. Cobb, Karl Malden, Rod Steiger I coulda been a contender. Watch this to understand the context of this famously parodied line. Eight Oscars. must see
Parallax View, The spy Warren Beatty, Paula Prentiss, William Daniels Political assassination at a fund-raiser. Nothing unusual about that. But a couple years later, almost all the witnesses happen to be dead. Lone reporter, the last witness, tracks down assassins. The most paranoid political thriller flick. Adapted brilliantly from an undistinguished book. must see
Pat and Mike comedy Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn Woman athlete and her manager. must see
Paths of Glory war Kirk Douglas, Adolphe Menjou, Stanley Kubrick (dir) The French general staff finds scapegoats to execute for a failing of the chain of command. Horrifying. must see
Petrified Forest, The noir Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Leslie Howard Arch criminal Duke Mantee (played by guess who) hides out in a roadside diner in the desert. The sensitive poet sacrifices himself for the young girl. Beautiful, atmospheric. must see
Philadelphia Story, The comedy Katharine Hepburn, Jimmie Stewart, Cary Grant Reporters come to cover society wedding. must see
Pillow Book, The drama dunno A novel written in a unique medium, on the skin of the messengers, one chapter at a time. must see
Planet of the Apes sci fi Charlton Heston Musical chairs for primates. Apes replace Man. must see
Play It Again, Sam comedy Woody Allen (dir), Diane Keaton The classic Woody Allen as schlemiel flick. Bogie's ghost gives him tips on getting the girl, but it still doesn't help. must see
President's Analyst, The comedy James Coburn, Godfrey Cambridge If you shrink the President, you become a security risk, right? Why is everyone trying to kidnap me? Or kill me? must see
Producers, The (new) comedy Nathan Lane, Uma Thurman, Matthew Broderick, Will Farrell New, musical version of Mel's masterpiece. Producer and accountant still trying to run the worst play in the world on Broadway. must see
Producers, The (old) comedy Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks (dir) The original, non-musical version of Mel's boys trying to produce Springtime for Hitler on Broadway. Insane. must see
Psycho crime Anthony Perkins, Alfred Hitchcock (dir) Classic Hatchplot. Mommy made me do it. Showering will be more exciting for a while. must see
Pulp Fiction crime John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Quentin Tarantino (dir) Miracles and weirdness in the life of two hoods. Famous for out-of-sequence presentation and variety of plots that weave together. must see
Putney Swope comedy Robert Downey, Sr. (dir) A new take on advertising. Insane art director takes over agency and makes ads that almost wreck the US economy. must see
Pygmalion comedy Leslie Howard, Wendy Hiller George Bernard Shaw play, precursor to My Fair Lady musical. must see
Raiders of the Lost Ark swashbuckler Harrison Ford Every adventure cliche imaginable. Non-stop and frenetic. must see
Rear Window crime Jimmy Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock (dir) Man recuperating with broken leg gets bored, looks out the window at his neighbors. Odd goings-on. Did he really slice up his wife into little pieces? must see
Rebecca crime dunno Scary, atmospheric rendering of Daphne DuMaurier novel. must see
Richard III (Olivier) Shakespeare Laurence Olivier, Cedric Hardwicke, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson The British Gang of Four in one of the best Shakespeare movies. Creepily good. must see
Road Warrior (Mad Max), The sci fi Mel Gibson The end of the world with mutants and no gasoline. First of the series. Widely quoted and parodied. must see
Rocky Horror Picture Show, The comedy Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bosworth Let's do the Time Warp again! Cult flick for midnight shows. This picture has the highest ratio of gross to cost. must see
Rosemary's Baby horror Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes Ira Levin novel of a Devil dad in the Dakota (apartment in NY). Paranoid and chilling. must see
Run Silent, Run Deep war Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster WW2 submarine conflict, outside and inside. must see
Ruthless People comedy Bette Midler, Danny DeVito A man (DeVito) wants to get rid of his wife (Midler). She gets kidnapped and he doesn't pay. A plot so complicated, twisted, and insanely funny that it cannot be explained. See it. must see
Saboteur spy Robert Cummings, Alfred Hitchcock (dir) Innocent man caught in ring of spies by mistaken identity. Nazis in New York and California. The second draft of what became North by Northwest. Unforgettable cliffhanger scene at the Statue of Liberty. must see
Saturday Night Fever drama John Travolta Disco fever. Famous dance scenes. Widely parodied. must see
Scrooged comedy Bill Murray Insane modern redo of Christmas Carol, and funny as the dickens. must see
Seven Samurai war Toshiro Mifune Unemployed samurai save a village. Original version of The Magnificent Seven. Long but worth it. must see
Seventh Seal, The drama Max von Sydow, Ingmar Bergman (dir) Soldier plays chess with Death. Images widely quoted in later flicks. must see
Shaft (old) crime Richard Roundtree, Gordon Parks (dir) Black private eye kicks butt, and the babes love him. Theme music by Isaac Hayes won Oscar. must see
Shane western Alan Ladd Ex-gunfighter saves family. must see
Shot in the Dark, A comedy Peter Sellers, Walter Pidgeon The funniest of the Inspector Clouseau flicks. Much funnier than The Pink Panther (old version). must see
Silence of the Lambs, The crime Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Scott Glenn Wonderfully creepy psycho murderers. Imagine a psychotic psychiatrist who's smarter than everyone else. must see
Sin City crime Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen Stark black and white reproduction of the graphic novels of the same name. Unique, beautiful, noir plots and cartoon violence. Amazing movie. must see
Singin' in the Rain musical Gene Kelly Dancin' in the rain. must see
Sleeper comedy Woody Allen Man reawakens in far future, where hot fudge sundaes are health food. must see
Sleuth (old) crime Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine Two-character play about what really happened. must see
Some Like It Hot comedy Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis Hiding from the mob, in drag. must see
Sound of Music, The musical Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer Almost-nun becomes Maria von Trapp. must see
South Pacific musical Mitzi Gaynor, Rosanno Brazzi, Ray Walston Movie version of Rodgers and Hammerstein play. WW2 Navy on (Tonkinese) island. Many horny sailors, too few nurses, and racist attitudes toward the natives. must see
Spartacus (old) biblical, Roman Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, Stanley Kubrick (dir) Huge ensemble cast. Script by Dalton Trumbo, who had been blacklisted. must see
Spotlight drama Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci Biopic of the Boston Globe investigation into corruption in the Catholic Church (cover-up of child molestation by priests). Gripping, horrifyingly true. Won best picture, best screenplay. must see
Stalag 17 war William Holden, Gritty Nazi prison camp. must see
Star Wars sci fi Harrison Ford, Alec Guiness, George Lucas (dir) Hard to believe it was done with hand animation, compared with modern computer-generated imagery. must see
Starman sci fi Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen Alien falls to Earth, must come go grips with his surroundings and survive until he can meet his rescue mission. A sensible, adult version of E.T. Best line: ''I observed you very carefully. Red means stop. Green means go. Yellow means go very fast.'' must see
Sting, The crime Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw A con game, but the mark can never know that he was conned. must see
Stranger, The noir Orson Welles, Ida Lupino, Edward G. Robinson Ex-Nazi hides in respectable Connecticut. Obscure but dandy. Welles really does evil roles well. Love the alarm clock. must see
Sunset Boulevard drama William Holden, Gloria Swanson Writer lives with over-the-hill actress. I'm ready for my close-up now, Mr. DeMille. must see
Taxi Driver crime Robert DeNiro, Harvey Keitel, Jodie Foster, Martin Scorsese (dir) You talkin' to me? Early Scorsese flick, considered a classic. A taxi comes out of the fog. The driver tries to save a teenage hooker. All hell breaks loose. must see
Ten Commandments, The biblical Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner Charlton parts the Red Sea. must see
Terminator, The sci fi Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, James Cameron (dir) The first of the Terminator series, one of the best B movies ever made. must see
Them sci fi James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn Mutant ants, caused by atomic testing, eat cities. Giant bugs, dotty old scientist with beautiful daughter, one of the first of its type. must see
Thin Man, The crime William Powell, Myrna Loy Decadent drunks solve murder. The first of a long series. must see
Thing (old), The sci fi James Arness (remember Sheriff Dillon?) Flying saucer crashes near Arctic army station that is snowed in for the season. They find the body. Oops, it isn"t quite dead. The vegetable bites back. B&W. must see
Third Man, The noir Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton Welles's version of Graham Greene novel. Wonderful music. Appears in almost all top-ten best-movies-ever lists. Watch it down to the last second. must see
Three Days of the Condor spy Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Max von Sydow, Cliff Robertson, John Houseman, Sidney Pollack (dir) Accidental amateur spy. Everyone wants to kill him, of course. Fabulous cast. A top-ten political thriller flick on every list. must see
To Catch a Thief crime Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock (dir) Jewel robberies on the Riviera. When Hitchcock first saw Grace Kelly in the evening gown, he famously quipped, "There's hills in them thar gold." must see
To Kill a Mockingbird drama Gregory Peck Lawyer defends black man in the South. must see
Topkapi caper Melina Mercouri, Peter Ustinov, Maximillian Schell, Robert Morley Heart-stopping museum burglary. must see
Touch of Evil noir Orson Welles, Charlton Heston Corrupt cop (Welles) frames another cop's (Heston's) wife. Extremely dark. must see
Toy Story animation Pixar Studios, Tom Hanks First Pixar animated feature film. must see
Treasure of the Sierra Madre western Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, John Huston (dir) Bogart is down-on-his-luck American in Mexico, takes up with others as a prospector. Gold fever makes men crazy. "We don't need no stinkin' badges." must see
Twelve Angry Men (old) courtroom Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb Eleven guilty votes, one not guilty, hours of argument. Gripping. must see
Twelve Monkeys sci fi Bruce Willis, Andy MacDowell, Brad Pitt The world of the future is grim, grim. They have time travel that sorta works, complete with paradoxes. must see
Unforgiven western Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Richard Harris, Clint Eastwood (dir) The West, but much closer to the way it actually was. Received Oscars for best picture and director. must see
Village of the Damned (old) sci fi George Sanders Perfect little blond space kids, monsters all, conceived on the same day. Teacher has to take care of the coven before they break out. must see
Viva Zapata bio Marlon Brando, Anthony Quinn The zealous peasant leader of the Mexican revolution. must see
Wait Until Dark crime Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin Blind woman versus really bad guys. must see
Waking Life animation Richard Linklater, dir. Combination of live action footage, interviews and other scenes, then animated in a style called 'digital rotoscoping' that outlines the figures and flattens the areas of color. Like some of the brokerage ads you've seen lately. must see
War of the Worlds (old) sci fi Gene Barry Scary, high budget fifties version of H. G. Wells's very scary story. Much scarier than the remake, which is all special effects and no soul. must see
West Side Story musical Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno Romeo and Juliet in New York, by Leonard Bernstein. Arguably the best film version of a musical play. must see
White Heat noir Jimmy Cagney, Edmund O'Brien Classic Jimmy Cagney gangster flick. Undercover cop brings down brutal, marauding gang. The end is even more violent than Bonnie and Clyde. Top of the world, Ma! must see
Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? comedy George Segal, Jaqueline Bisset, Robert Morley Very obscure but very funny flick. Chefs murdered in the style of their most famous dishes, as advertised. must see
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? drama Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Mike Nichols (dir) Marital discord from hell. Play by Edward Albee. must see
Witness for the Prosecution comedy Charles Laughton, Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Elsa Lanchester, Alfred Hitchcock (dir) Man accused of murder. Girlfriend gives him an alibi. Girlfriend is a great actress. Courtroom fun with double jeopardy. Twisty, twisty. must see
Wizard of Oz, The musical Judy Garland Follow the yellow brick road. must see
Wolfman, The sci fi Lon Chaney, Jr. A b&w classic in the old style. Tourist buys an item in an antique shop. A cane ... with a silver handle ... in the shape of a wolf. He has an encounter with a wolf and kills it. Or was it the gypsy? must see
Wrong Trousers, The animation Wallace and Gromit, Nick Park Hysterical claymation from the animator of Chicken Run. Wallace, gadget junkie and kludge inventor, and his faithful dog, Gromit, and their adventures with the remote control. Nick Park and Tim Burton (Nightmare Before Christmas, q.v.) show what animation is really capable of. must see
8-1/2 drama Marcello Mastroianni, Federico Fellini (dir) Second of the Italian decadence and ennui movies, with male mid-life crisis added. should see
Absolute Power crime Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Scott Glenn Mere burglary turns into major political intrigue. Clint is the best burglar, hiding in the closet when bad things happen. should see
Act of Violence noir Robert Ryan, Van Heflin, Janet Leigh Serious noir, classic, beautifully filmed, wonderful location shots. And, shockingly, an almost happy ending. Soldier pursues traitor from WW2 prison camp. should see
Adventures of Robin Hood, The swashbuckler Errol Flynn Leaping from tree to tree with bow and arrow! should see
Alfie (old) drama Michael Caine Ladykiller with no soul. should see
American History X drama Edward Norton Skinhead goes to prison, learns about life, how unfair the system really is, and reforms. should see
Angel Face noir Robert Mitchum, Jean Simmons, Otto Preminger (dir) Ambulance driver ensnared by beautiful woman, becomes her chauffeur at the mansion on the hill as she kills off various people. Revenge is sweet. should see
Angel Heart noir Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, Charlotte Rampling Private detective Harry Angel (Rourke) is hired by Mr. Louis Cyphre (De Niro) to find a person that doesn't want to be found. No, no, you really don't want to find him, believe me. should see
Apartment, The comedy Jack Lemmon For company execs to hold afternoon assignations. should see
Basic Instinct mystery Sharon Stone, Michael Douglas, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Paul Verhoeven (dir) High-profile murders in San Francisco. Rich babe involved? Semi-disgraced cop who is a loose cannon tries to detect and get the babe at the same time. Haunting score by Jerry Goldsmith. should see
Beau Geste war Gary Cooper, Ray Milland Three brothers in the Foreign Legion. should see
Big Easy, The crime Dennis Quaid, Ellen Barkin, Ned Beatty, John Goodman Cops brawlin' in Nawlins. Surprisingly good cop flick. Great zydeco music. Real cops in New Orleans hate the story of corruption in the movie. should see
Big Short, The drama Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling The story of the 2007 Mortgage Crisis Meltdown that crippled the US and world economies. An excellent, accessible explanation of the crazy, complex economics of that crisis, for general audiences. From the book by Michael Lewis. Won best adapted screenplay. should see
Birth of a Nation drama 1915 silent, D. W. Griffith (dir) The Civil War and the Klan during Reconstruction, unfortunately makes the Klan look heroic and useful. should see
Boogie Nights bio Burt Reynolds, Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Don Cheadle, William H. Macy, Paul Thomas Anderson (dir) Flashy, sexy, heyday of L.A. before internet porn. Sort of a bio-pic of John Holmes's (porn actor) descent into drug hell. He's just one of many actors to fall into the drug pit. You think this is a pornie? No, it's a dark, violent, anti-drug, anti-cocaine flick. should see
Bullitt crime Steve McQueen Great San Francisco hill car chase. One of the first SF crime super-cop movies. Became a cliche. should see
Bus Stop drama Marilyn Monroe A crime in a storm always goes wrong. should see
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid western Paul Newman, Robert Redford Western crime duo made pretty. should see
Captain Blood swashbuckler Errol Flynn Leaping from deck to deck with sword and knife! should see
Charade mystery Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, James Coburn, Walter Matthau Sort of like Ten Little Indians. Which crook did it? They die off one by one. should see
Courage Under Fire war Denzel Washington, Meg Ryan, Michael Moriarty, Matt Damon, Lou Diamond Phillips Very good movie about modern war (first Persian Gulf War), and courage and betrayal. Denzel investigates a nomination for the Medal of Honor while fighting his own demons. should see
Death Wish crime Charles Bronson Vigilante fighting street crime in New York. The first of its type, followed by many others. should see
Dr. Ehrlich"s Magic Bullet drama Edward G. Robinson Great ealy biopic. German doctor discovers many good things, but is still reviled. Cures syphillis but has to defend himself against early product liability action. should see
East of Eden drama James Dean, Julie Harris, Raymond Massey Dysfunctional family before the term was coined. should see
Eiger Sanction, The spy Clint Eastwood (actor, dir), George Kennedy, Jack Cassidy "Wet work" specialist (Eastwood) tries to retire but must take one last assignment. Climb the mountain (Eiger, north face), find the bad guy, kill him. Oh, and survive yourself, too. should see
Girl Hunters, The noir Mickey Spillane, Shirley Eaton Yes, Spillane himself plays Mike Hammer the way a tough guy should play a tough guy. should see
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The noir Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, novel by Stieg Larsson Gripping mystery, where a cold case is revealed bit by bit, despite the best efforts of murderous corporate interests. should see
Grand Hotel drama ensemble The first of the many-story ensemble cast movies. should see
Great Dictator, The comedy Charlie Chaplin The Little Tramp does Hitler should see
Gunga Din war Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Kipling story. should see
History of Violence, A crime Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris, William Hurt Hitman from Boston quits the life, starts over. The old life finds him. He has to fight back to protect his family. Violence ensues. Intense performances. should see
Horse's Mouth, The comedy Alec Guiness Brilliant but nutso artist house-sits to paint his mural. should see
House of Games crime Lindsay Crouse, Joe Mantegna, Ricky Jay, David Mamet (dir, writer) Famous psychologist tries to help patient with gambling debt. A con game within a con game within a con game. Does not end well for all involved. Tight, tense, twisty, wonderful. should see
It Happened One Night drama Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert Runaway socialite befriended by reporter. should see
Last Picture Show drama Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd Larry McMurtry novel. should see
Laura crime Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Vincent Price, Otto Preminger (dir) Murder investigator falls in love with his idea of the victim. should see
Lawrence of Arabia epic Peter O'Toole Sand epic. 'If he were any prettier, it would have been Florence of Arabia.' should see
Lust for Life bio Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn Van Gogh and Gaugin. should see
M crime Peter Lorre Criminals hunt one of their own. should see
Marty drama Ernest Borgnine Whatever it is women want, I ain't got it. should see
Meet Joe Black drama Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt Death comes for wealthy businessman, takes a few days to understand the man and his world. Many poignant and touching scenes, e.g., visiting with an old Gullah woman in the hospital. should see
Metropolis sci fi 1927 silent, Fritz Lang (dir) Class warfare in far future. should see
Millennium sci fi Kris Kristofferson From the story by John Varley. The most plausible time travel story I've ever read or seen, and complicated. "How could you build all those nuclear weapons and think that no one would use them? They've been used eleven times." should see
Mystic River crime Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Laura Linney, Marcia Gay Harden, Clint Eastwood (dir) Young girl is killed in East Boston. We know the dummy did it! Only he didn't. Laura Linney gives the most chilling wife-supports-husband speech since Lady Macbeth. Eastwood's best. should see
Nell drama Jodie Foster, Liam Neeson, Natasha Richardson Seriously touching movie. Amazing performances by Foster and Neeson. Girl grows up isolated, almost "wild-child" in North Carolina hills. "Don't weep for Nell. I have no greater sorrows than you." should see
Omega Man, The sci fi Charlton Heston End of the world, by virus this time. Remaining man against mutants. should see
Play Misty for Me crime Clint Eastwood Sadistic female stalker flick. should see
Public Enemy crime James Cagney The bad brother goes really bad. should see
Rebel without a Cause drama James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo New kid in town proves himself. Others die. should see
Red River western John Wayne Cattle drive. should see
Repulsion drama Catherine Deneuve Woman goes slowly nuts. You won't believe the rabbit in the purse. should see
Roman Holiday comedy Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn Runaway princess befriended by reporter. should see
Scarlet Pimpernel, The drama Leslie Howard British aristocrats save French aristocrats from the guillotine during the French revolution. The plot is a lot like Zorro but in Europe. should see
Searchers, The western John Wayne, Natalie Wood Said to be the best of the tough-guy, Western hero, John Wayne genre. Father searches for daughter taken by indians years ago. should see
Seven Year Itch, The comedy Marilyn Monroe Family away, sexy neighbor. should see
Sixth Sense, The mystery Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, M. Night Shyamalan (dir, writer) Shrink (Willis) tries to help very troubled boy who sees ghosts. The kid helps others; the shrink helps him. Tense, eerie, very good. should see
Snake Pit, The drama Olivia de Havilland How did I get into this asylum? I don't belong here! should see
Spirit of St. Louis drama Jimmie Stewart Charles Lindbergh story. should see
Strangers on a Train crime Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, Leo G. Carroll Let's trade murders, then we'll both have alibis. should see
Tale of Two Cities, A drama dunno The Dickens novel of the French Revolution. should see
Thunderheart crime Val Kilmer, Sam Shepard, Graham Greene Murder on an Indian reservation during something like the Wounded Knee uprising. The FBI sends in an Indian agent to show their sensitivity, ha ha. The locals call him "the Washington Redskin". should see
To Rome With Love comedy Woody Allen (dir, writer, actor), Judy Davis, Roberto Benigni, Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz Another Woody Allen comedy about strange stories in a European city. Wonderful, some really unforgettable scenes and mad scenes. should see
Twentieth Century, The comedy John Barrymore Show biz types on a train ride. A classic. should see
Two Jakes, The crime Jack Nicholson, Harvey Keitel, Jack Nicholson (dir) Sequel to Chinatown. Much better than the average sequel. should see
Usual Suspects, The crime Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri Five criminals of varying talent are brought together in a line-up for a crime they did not commit. But then they have to work together to satisfy a legendary, maybe mythical, crime lord named Keyser Soze. Wonderful, twisty plot, often referenced. should see
48 Hours crime Nick Nolte, Eddie Murphy Cop-buddy-bad-partner flick. fun to see
Across the Universe other Julie Taymor (dir) If you love the music of the Beatles, you have to see this. A simple love story using the music and images of that generation. fun to see
Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, The comedy John Lithgow, Jeff Goldblum Doc Savage updated for the next generation. fun to see
Arsenic and Old Lace comedy Cary Grant, Raymond Massey, Peter Lorre Great, funny movie of famous play. Cary Grant goes way over the top. fun to see
Awful Truth, The comedy Cary Grant, Irene Dunne Couple really don't want to get divorced, finally reunite at 11:59. Very funny along the way. fun to see
Barabbas biblical, Roman Anthony Quinn From the novel by a Nobel prize winner. Portrait of isolation and cluelessness. Best line: You have the privilege to be the property of the Emperor Tiberius. fun to see
Being John Malkovich black comedy John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, John Malkovich, Orson Bean, Spike Jonze (dir) Puppeteer gets a job as file clerk on the 7-1/2 floor of an office building. There is a secret portal that allows you into the mind of John Malkovich for fifteen minutes at a time. And then it gets strange. But riveting. fun to see
Bound crime Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, Joe Pantoliano, Wachowski brothers (dir) Laundering money, literally, and then stealing it. Beautiful images and cinematography. fun to see
Brazil comedy Terry Gilliam (dir) Hard to classify. A bureaucratic error . . . but we never make mistakes. Kill the people with the evidence. But it's a comedy. fun to see
Color of Night mystery Bruce Willis, Lesley Ann Warren, Scott Bakula Shrink (Willis) has patient commit suicide by jumping out his window. He needs to heal, visits his classmate shrink (Bakula), gets involved with group therapy. One of the group kills the others. Good L.A. sets and characters. fun to see
Contact sci fi Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, James Woods, Tom Skerritt, Robert Zemeckis (dir) Good movie from book by Carl Sagan about first SETI message from the stars. Iconic flick about politics and religion getting in the way of science, not surprisingly. fun to see
Conversation, The drama Gene Hackman Who bugs the bugger. Sort of an intro to Enemy of the State. fun to see
Crying Game, The crime Forrest Whitaker IRA kidnapping goes wrong, but that's not the real story. Army buddy promises to take care of dead pal's girlfriend. fun to see
Dave comedy Kevin Kline, Frank Langella, Sigourney Weaver, Ving Rhames, Ben Kingsley U.S. President has a stroke. Advisers don't want to turn over power to the V.P. They find a double. He learns the part all too well. Compare with Moon Over Parador. fun to see
Deep End, The crime Tilda Swinton, Goran Visnjic Woman gets deeper and deeper in trouble trying to save someone who doesn't really need saving. Too pretty to be classified as noir. This is a remake, and a better one, of The Reckless Moment. Capsule review: Only the bad people die. fun to see
Deja Vu sci fi Denzel Washington, Val Kilmer Terrorist blows up a ferry full of sailors on leave. Feds use a time viewer to look into the past, before the bombing, to try to find out who planted the bomb. Very complex and entertaining. fun to see
Demolition Man sci fi Sylvester Stallone, Sandra Bullock, Wesley Snipes Cops and robbers in a future kinder, gentler, and very campy LA. Many good political-correctness and absurd-future jokes. fun to see
Devil's Advocate, The horror Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron Talented young lawyer (Reeves) with flexible ethics is recruited by boss (Pacino) of hot New York firm. Winning is the only thing that counts. And the boss turns out to be inhumanly demanding. fun to see
Devil's Own, The drama Brad Pitt, Harrison Ford The IRA, and attendant violence, comes to New York. This is not an American story with a happy ending. fun to see
Die Hard action Bruce Willis Eventually, *every*thing blows up. First of at least three movies in the series, all fun. fun to see
Do the Right Thing comedy Spike Lee (dir) Tough neighborhood to run a business in. fun to see
Dogma comedy Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Chris Rock, Alan Rickman, George Carlin, Kevin Smith (dir) Theology can be funny. This is either very funny or blasphemous, pick one. Jay and Silent Bob help save the Universe. And imagine Alanis Morissette as God. fun to see
Downhill Racer drama Robert Redford, Gene Hackman Redford at his very prettiest, and much pretty ski footage, too. Downhill ski racer, not a nice person, not a team player, gets a place on the American Olympic ski team. Doesn't become any less thoroughly unlikable along the way. fun to see
Earth Girls Are Easy comedy Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, Jim Carrie, Damon Wayans Spaceship lands in bimbo's swimming pool. Carrie's and Wayans's first movie exposure. fun to see
Edge, The drama Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin Brilliant billionaire and entourage vacation way up in the Northern wilds. Plane crash strands three of them in real wilderness, which is okay until the bear shows up and wants to eat them. Horrifying even if things do work out. fun to see
Ex Machina sci fi (no one I knew) Top programmer is asked to perform Turing Test on a new robot: is this robot intelligent, self-aware, apparently alive? Very thoughtful. fun to see
Eye in the Sky war Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul Drone strike on terrorists in the Middle East. British intelligence, American weapons. Tense and way too realistic and uncertain. fun to see
Eye of the Needle spy Donald Sutherland, Kate Nelligan From Ken Follett book of the same name. WW2 German spy almost gets the goods on D-Day. Very tense, tight, scary spy story, down to the last minute. fun to see
F/X crime Bryan Brown, Brian Dennehy, Jerry Orbach Use Hollywood-style special effects to commit a crime, then try to rub out the f/x guy. fun to see
Fallen mystery Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Donald Sutherland Cop (Washington) is plagued by murders that seem to point to him. Someone or something is trying to make his life miserable, and succeeds. Moody, scary. fun to see
Fame drama Irene Cara NY high school for the performing arts. fun to see
Fatal Instinct comedy Armand Assante, Sherilyn Fenn Parody of Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct put together. fun to see
Father Goose comedy Cary Grant, Leslie Caron Goody Two-Shoes and the Filthy Beast meet on WW2 Pacific island. fun to see
Femme Fatale noir Rebecca Romijn, Peter Coyote, Antonio Banderas, Brian De Palma (dir) A crime caper sooo complicated ... not the crime itself, but what happens to the people involved is incredible. A double cross, a double life, a double ending. And beautifully shot. fun to see
Fish Called Wanda, A comedy John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin Complicated crime caper containing many aberrant personalities. Take two Monty Python grads, mix with Kline and Curtis and betrayal and mishaps, and it's very funny. Tense right up to the end. fun to see
Giant Behemoth, The sci fi dunno Dino eats roller coaster. fun to see
Good Will Hunting drama Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver Very smart but very damaged kid (Damon) can't connect with real people. Shrink (Williams) helps. Won best screenplay Oscar for Damon and Affleck. fun to see
Hamlet Shakespeare Laurence Olivier (dir, actor), Jean Simmons Glorious, moody, black and white Hamlet with Olivier at his prime. Shorter than the Branagh version, but complete enough. fun to see
Hard Day's Night, A musical John, Paul, George, and Ringo Delightful farce. But if you can't name all four beatles in less than two seconds, you might not care much. fun to see
Heaven Can Wait drama Warren Beatty, Jack Warden, Julie Christie, Dyan Cannon, Buck Henry Man accidentally killed before his time, gets another chance. Remake of Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison fun to see
High Sierra crime Humphrey Bogart Atmospheric crime drama. fun to see
Hunt for Red October spy Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Scott Glenn, James Earl Jones New Russian super-silent sub. Captain wants to defect to U.S. to prevent new offensive weapon from starting a war. CIA wants it, Russians want to destroy it. Chase ensues. Many unpredictable plot twists. From the Tom Clancy novel. fun to see
I'm Gonna Get You, Sucka comedy Keenan Ivory Wayans, Isaac Hayes, Jimmy Brown, Spike Lee (dir) An urban hero needs his own theme music. Black heros go after The Man. fun to see
I, Robot sci fi Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, James Cromwell Personal-assistance robots are the new labor-saving appliance. But the new, new generation of them has problems. A cop who hates robots tries to find out why. Loosely based on Asimov 3-Laws robotics series. fun to see
In the Cut mystery Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jane Campion (director and writer) Very dark murder mystery with cop protecting but getting too involved with witness who is also potential next victim. fun to see
In the Line of Fire crime Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich, Rene Russo Ex black ops assassin wants to assassinate the President. fun to see
Jeremiah Johnson western Robert Redford Frontier man vs indians, incredible mountain scenery. fun to see
Kill Bill action Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, David Carradine, Quentin Tarantino (dir) Samurai babes. Thurman on a mission to kill Bill (Carradine). More swordplay than most Japanese flicks. The body count and the hydraulics are perhaps excessive, but the choreography is wonderful. fun to see
Kiss Me Deadly noir Ralph Meeker, Cloris Leachman, Mickey Spillane (novel) Meeker is too slick as Mike Hammer, but the hard-boiledness comes through. Good, pointless loyalty to the never-actually-was-a-client, and a good MacGuffin. fun to see
Last Action Hero sci fi Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie as reality, reality as movie, great fun. Ian McKellen does an unforgettable cameo as Death. fun to see
Little Shop of Horrors (new) musical Rick Moranis, Vincent Gardenia Film version of comic musical play based on the old movie. Surprisingly decent. fun to see
Lives of Others, The noir Ulrich Muehe, Sebastian Koch Chilling tale of the East German secret police (Stasi) spying on their own population. fun to see
Lodger, The (new) mystery Alfred Molina, Hope Davis, Simon Baker Someone in modern L.A. is recreating the crimes of Jack the Ripper. Nutso landlady has a very strange lodger in the carriage house. Decidedly not bad. fun to see
Ma and Pa Kettle comedy dunno Dogpatch slapstick. Whole series. fun to see
Moon over Parador comedy Richard Dreyfus, Raul Julia, Sonia Braga Actor (Dreyfus) impersonates dead Latin American dictator for a while. Dave in a banana republic. Terrific cast, wonderful comedy. fun to see
Moonstruck comedy Cher, Nicholas Cage, Olympia Dukakis, Vincent Gardenia Cher as accountant with boring life meets madman Cage for affair. fun to see
Mr Saturday Night comedy Billy Crystal Old comic's comic tells several jokes per minute. Try to remember some of the hundred jokes. fun to see
Murder by Death comedy Peter Falk, Alec Guiness, Peter Sellers, Truman Capote, Elsa Lanchester, Maggie Smith Send-up of every detective ever. All the big fictional detectives come to a dinner at a crazy mansion where a murder will happen. It does. They solve it six different ways, all wrong. Very funny. fun to see
My Fair Lady musical Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison Pygmalion with music. Broadway play. fun to see
Nashville drama Robert Altman (dir), Keith Carradine, Karen Black, Henry Gibson Altman overview of the crazy country music business. fun to see
No Way Out spy Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman Politician accidentally kills his mistress, covers up, blames innocent man. Sorta. Adapted brilliantly from an otherwise boring book. fun to see
Noises Off comedy Michael Caine, Carol Burnett Little-known but hysterically funny play within a play. fun to see
Notting Hill comedy Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts Touching boy-loses-girl story. Grant, lowly book store owner, and Roberts, famous actress pursued by the paparazzi. Can the two worlds meet? fun to see
Ocean's Eleven (old) caper Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford One of the original caper flicks. Steal a ton of money from Las Vegas. Great cast, great fun. fun to see
Our Man in Havana comedy Alec Guiness Vacuum cleaner salesman becomes reluctant spy, from Graham Greene novel. fun to see
Patriot Games spy Harrison Ford, Anne Archer Innocent American tourist accidentally breaks up a terrorist attack in London. Earns him the undying hatred of the IRA who were foiled. He goes back to the CIA as an analyst to track them down before they get him. fun to see
RED action Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Mary-Louise Parker Retired and Extremely Dangerous ex-spies. They know something that they don't know they know. Someone else wants to hide it. This reduces their life expectancy. Great fun. fun to see
Repossessed comedy Leslie Nielsen Naked Gun does The Exorcist. Every cliche known to man. fun to see
Ring, The horror Naomi Watts This movie should have a warning label for people with weak hearts. fun to see
Robe, The biblical, Roman Richard Burton Another biblical epic. Burton driven nuts by touching the robe. fun to see
Robocop sci fi Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Paul Verhoeven (dir) In dystopic, crime-ridden Detroit of the future, the police are private industry. One dead cop is turned into a cyborg and really enforces order. fun to see
Robot & Frank sci fi Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon Old gentleman with failing health is given a personal health-assistance robot by his children, so he can continue to live independently. He hates it at first, but it changes his life much for the better. fun to see
Romeo is Bleeding crime Gary Oldman, Lena Olin Dirty cop versus the Bitch Queen of Hell. But boy is she gorgeous. fun to see
Roxanne comedy Steve Martin, Daryl Hannah Modern version of Cyrano de Bergerac. Steve Martin kills. And a happier ending than Cyrano. fun to see
Run Lola Run sci fi? dunno What if...? Seconds can make a difference when you're really in a hurry. fun to see
Sabrina (old) drama Humphrey Bogart, William Holden, Audrey Hepburn Industrialist and the chauffeur's daughter. Better than the modern remake. fun to see
Sea of Love crime Al Pacino, Ellen Barkin, John Goodman Who is killing off the few remaining straight single men in New York? fun to see
Seven mystery Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Gwyneth Paltrow Two homicide detectives search for killer who is killing people to illustrate the seven deadly sins. They find him and then he finds them, and the result is terrible. fun to see
Sex, Lies, and Videotape drama James Spader, Andie MacDowell Everybody is having an affair with everybody else. fun to see
Shakespeare in Love drama Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Affleck, Tom Stoppard (author) Shakespeare has trouble writing the play, but succeeds. fun to see
Shampoo comedy Warren Beatty, Julie Christie Ladykiller with no soul. Hairdresser who listens to women, understands them to nail them all. fun to see
Silent Running sci fi Bruce Dern Tree-hugging in orbit around Saturn. fun to see
Spaceballs comedy Mel Brooks, Bill Pullman, John Candy, Joan Rivers Mel Brooks send-up of Star Wars characters. Less violently insane than Blazing Saddles but worth your time. fun to see
State and Main comedy William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, David Mamet (author and director) Very funny Mamet craziness about trying to shoot a movie in a small town. "It's not lying. It's a gift for fiction." fun to see
Stepford Wives, The (old) sci fi Paula Prentiss, Katharine Ross, Ira Levin (novel), William Goldman (script) Yes, the book was better than the movie, but the movie is still fun. And the expression "Stepford wife" has come into common parlance with just this meaning. fun to see
Striking Distance mystery Bruce Willis, Sarah Jessica Parker, John Mahoney, Dennis Farina Cop is put into the penalty box for insisting on too much investigation of serial murders. He's assigned to river patrol. The serial murders start again, and they point to him. fun to see
Striptease comedy Demi Moore, Burt Reynolds, Armand Assante, Ving Rhames Book by Florida humorist Carl Hiaasen turned into a pretty good movie. Very funny, especially for far-out character portrayals, like Burt Reynolds as the completely degenerate congressman. Usual Hiaasen plot: greed, more greed, money, murder, and corrupt politics. fun to see
Syriana spy George Clooney, Matt Damon, Amanda Peet, Christopher Plummer, Chris Cooper Spies and loose weapons in the Middle East. Oil money and greed. Good mix for action, bribes, accidents, murder, torture, terrorism. fun to see
Team America: World Police comedy Trey Parker, Matt Stone (writers) The South Park guys make the funniest, crudest, most offensive, animated (puppet) feature ever. Well, most offensive to date, anyway. A special police team goes after terrorists and super-villains, with incredible collateral damage in the process. Great non-PC fun. fun to see
They Live sci fi Meg Foster Guy finds special sunglasses that let him see the aliens among us and their subliminal messages: ''Obey!'' ''Consume!'' fun to see
Thousand Clowns, A comedy Jason Robards, Jr. Man hates the insipid, gosh 'n' golly, you betcha. fun to see
Time Machine, The (old) sci fi Rod Taylor, Yvette Mimieux Good version of H. G. Wells's story. British inventor goes to far future, where humanity is split into two very different groups. He tries to rescue one of them. fun to see
Time to Kill, A coutroom Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey Young lawyer (McConaughey) defends a black man in Mississippi who murdered two white men who raped his ten-year-old daughter. The case brings racial tensions and Klan violence back out into the open. The closing argument is McConaughey's finest hour. fun to see
Tom Jones comedy Albert Finney, Susannah York Ladykiller with humor. fun to see
Top Secret comedy Val Kilmer Sort of an early draft of Airplane. Not so polished but funny. fun to see
Topper comedy Cary Grant May the ghosts be with you. fun to see
Total Recall (old) sci fi Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone Governor Arnie Gropehfuehrer version of classic scifi story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale. fun to see
Victor Victoria comedy Julie Andrews, James Garner, Alex Karras, Robert Preston, Lesley Ann Warren, Blake Edwards (dir) Talented soprano (Andrews) can't get a job as a woman, so she pretends to be a man who is a female impersonator night club singer. And he/she is really good at it. Complicated enough yet? American gangster (Garner) falls for they guy/girl. fun to see
Videodrome horror James Woods TV really does warp your mind. fun to see
Walk Like a Man comedy Howie Mandel Boy raised by wolves, returns to society. Insane. fun to see
Westworld sci fi Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, James Brolin, Michael Crichton (dir, writer) Amusement park where humans can do anything they want to the android robots. Westworld is shootouts, Romanworld is orgies, Medievalworld is jousting. Until the computer glitch and the robots start to fight back. Oops. fun to see
Where the Buffalo Roam comedy Bill Murray, Peter Boyle Bill Murray does Hunter Thompson (Uncle Duke for you Doonesbury fans) wonderfully. fun to see
Whole Nine Yards, The comedy Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Natasha Henstridge, Amanda Peet Terrific comedy. Dentist with unhappy marriage. Gangster, hiding from the old mob, moves in next door. Everyone tries to kill everyone else. A top-ten comedy. fun to see
Young Frankenstein comedy Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr, Mel Brooks (dir) Insane Mel Brooks send-up of Frankenstein movies. Beautiful b&w. NY doctor (Wilder) inherits castle from grandfather that he has tried to distance himself from. Discovers granddad's experimental notes. Tries to duplicate. Works out surprisingly well for all concerned. fun to see
Bedazzled (new) comedy Brendan Fraser, Elizabeth Hurley, Peter Cook (story) Medium-stupid remake of the good old flick.
Day the Earth Stood Still, The (new remake) sci fi Keanu Reeves Seriously stupid remake of what was a great movie.
Godzilla (new remake) sci fi Matthew Broderick Another stupid remake of an old flick. The old one had cheesy special effects but some plot and message. This one is all effects and no clue.
Manchurian Candidate, The (new) noir Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber, Meryl Streep Not terrible remake of the wonderful original, but not very good. Watch the B&W with Sinatra instead.
Planet of the Apes (new remake) sci fi Mark Wahlberg Yet another modern, all-special-effects-no-concept remake.
Stepford Wives, The (new remake) sci fi Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler, Matthew Broderick Terrible, stupid remake of the forty-year-earlier movie that was half-decent. Why do people feel they have to remake -- and ruin -- good, old movies?
War of the Worlds, The (new remake) sci fi Tom Cruise, Steven Spielberg (dir) Really stupid modern action remake of one of the best fifties sci-fi flicks.


Comments and flames to the author.  "Why use rational argument when there's a flame-thrower handy?"  Hey, go ahead. I didn't exactly leave the gloves on when I wrote this. 

Last edited 2007/10/23.

Copyright (C) 2003-2007 Richard Landau.  All rights reserved.