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The B+ Movie Guide: Part XXVII

In May of 2012, Colin said I should make a list of movies that need to be seen, because he felt there were huge gaps in what he’d seen, and wanted something to do. The idea was that I’d make up a list, as “homework” for him, and he’d use that as things to watch.

So we came up with a giant list of 500 movies that worked, and Colin went about finishing it. And now that it’s finished, we’re gonna write it up. Because you don’t watch a giant list of movies without documenting that you did it.

We’re going through the entire list, little by little, for posterity’s sake. And here’s the next set:

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Mike:

(2)

Colin:

This is basically the prototype for modern sci-fi movies, and it remains the best of them. There’s almost nothing shot more beautifully, nothing at thematically strong, nothing as iconic, and nothing as thought-provoking. This is a moment in cinema that says something about humanity. Even if it’s not your favorite of Kubrick’s films, I think it’s probably his best. I’d watch Dr. Strangelove first, but this is still probably a more complete film.

Bullitt (1968)

Mike:

(3)

Colin:

This was on in my house more than once a year while I was growing up. Mike picked the GIF of the Charger coming over the hill, but the most iconic moment has to be the Mustang in the mirror. There has never been a Mustang on film that made a greater impression on audiences than that green GT 390. Everyone knows this movie, right?

Steve McQueen plays Detective Frank Bullitt, a badass on homicide at the SFPD. There’s a plot to kill some people and things are connected politically, but that doesn’t matter because Steve McQueen doesn’t follow rules like most people. Mostly he just drives around San Francisco in that awesome Mustang like a boss, but he’s also got an artsy British girlfriend (Jacqueline Bisset) who drives a Porsche 356, which is also awesome.

You really have to respect this movie for what I will call the best car chase in film history. Nobody’s done it with the style they did this since then. Bill Hickman, who played one of the hit men, was primarily a stunt driver, and he handles the Dodge Charger 440 Magnum like a champ. And McQueen did a bunch of his own driving too. The genius of this chase is that they play it super cool for the first three and a half minutes as the Charger follows the Mustang, and then the Mustang follows the Charger. You’ve got the great jazz score going the whole time until Hickman puts on his seatbelt and lays rubber with the 440. Thing sounds like a volcano erupting. I can just listen to the chase because every little bit of it has a perfectly unique sound. The part that sticks with me is toward the end of the chase as they’re on the highway and McQueen’s catching up after spinning out. The sounds as he upshifts the 390 are just breathtaking. So yeah, this is a police procedural with the coolest actor who ever lived, and all of that is secondary to the 10 minutes of film that remain the greatest chase ever seen on the big screen. One of my favorite movies.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Mike:

(3)

Colin:

What a dork. I don’t love horror, but there’s no denying that this is a classic of the genre. People love zombies these days, and this is probably the biggest classic of that particular subgenre. I like that they did it in black and white, and I like how messed up the beginning was. Particularly the scene that’s in that GIF. 

The Odd Couple (1968)

Mike:

Lemmon and Matthau. Neil Simon. You’re already hearing the theme song in your head. (3)

Colin:

I am already humming the song. This was my grandfather’s favorite movie, though he said it was tied with It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Of the two, I say this is better. It’s Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, for heaven’s sake. The Pigeon sisters! Probably the best comedy by one of the best comedy pairs on film ever. One of the greatest of the genre, without question. 

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Mike:

(2)

Colin:

I loved this for a few reasons. First, it was a total accident. Leone was done with Westerns, they asked him to make another, so he just did this. He was trying to make Once Upon a Time in America, and he had to do this, so he calls it Once Upon a Time in the West. And then he casts Henry Fonda as a bad guy, which…what the hell are you thinking? And yet, it WORKS. What the hell can you say about this? Nothing about it should work, but all of it does. It’s Sergio Leone. The man knew what he was doing.

The Producers (1968)

Mike:

I couldn’t decide between the two, so you’re getting both. (2)

Colin:

Holy crap. Loved this one, and I think I memorized and performed the Zero Mostel monologue from the beginning for a class in high school. There are at least three quotable lines out of every 30 seconds of this movie, because that’s how Mel Brooks works. I’m sorry, but the musical and the movie of the musical just weren’t as good as this. I love Mel, but he had it right the first time — I respect his effort to do something different with it and Nathan Lane was still hysterically funny, but I’ll always prefer the original. Zero Mostel is a freaking treasure. Wait, you guys know the story, right?

Zero Mostel is a washed up Broadway producer and Gene Wilder is a neurotic accountant. They put together a scheme to make a fortune by ensuring that a show closes on its first night, so they try to engineer a failure by putting on a show called “Springtime for Hitler,” hiring a crazy transvestite director and casting a hippie as der Fuhrer. Things go surprisingly…well.

It’s on my top five list of comedies ever. My favorite by Mel Brooks. Even more than Blazing Saddles. Watch it.

Romeo and Juliet - 42

Romeo and Juliet (1968)

Mike:

If you’re gonna watch any version, make it the Zeffirelli version. I know everyone says Baz Luhrmann, but no. That’s the version you see alongside this one. This is the classic one. This is the one to see. (And I say this every time, but it bears repeating: Olivia Hussey in this movie is one of the most beautiful women ever put to screen. (3)

Colin:

The one thing I’ll say is — even though I know who Michael York is, I can’t watch this movie as a Millennial and not say, “Goddamn, Basil Exposition is playing Tybalt!”

But Mike’s right. This version is gorgeous. Almost as gorgeous as Olivia Hussey. 

Rosemary's Baby - 24

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Mike:

I was gonna put a gif, but I realized — this is a movie I actively avoided for the longest time. Because I don’t like horror, and I always thought this was just a horror movie and I wasn’t gonna like it. And I ended up seeing it for the Oscar Quest. And it’s great. It’s such a different movie from what I was expecting. It’s such a banal movie for the first half, and then gets weird, and then it’s so normal at the end that it’s terrifying. What an absolutely brilliant movie. And 100% essential. (2)

Colin:

This movie upset me because things just kind of developed slowly and got progressively darker until it was too late to do anything about it. You usually expect things to turn around at some point. They don’t. You just accept it. It’s like the horror film equivalent of freezing to death slowly. But like, in a good way.

Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Mike:

(2)

Colin:

This requires no explanation. Everyone quotes from this movie. This movie has its own Simpsons musical spoof, which I hope you knew about before Mike posted it.

“Oh my God! / I was wrong! / It was Earth / all along!”

Though more recent TV fans will probably remember this instead. 

butch-cassidy-and-the-sundance-kid-83

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Mike:

(2)

Colin:

One of the best Westerns, and one of the Westerns I was raised on. It’s Newman and Redford doing the buddy picture. These guys perfected the buddy picture. It’s also a perfect end-of-the-Western Western. Funny, beautiful, tragic, and rich in themes. You can show this to someone who’s never seen a Western before, and they’ll be moved. At the same time, you can show it to someone who’s studied in film and they’ll be moved as well. It’s hailing on all frequencies, and every time you watch you appreciate something new. I should know, I’ve seen it like 20 times.

– – – – – – – – – –

Final Thoughts:

Mike:

I like it when I don’t have to do very much work. Look at these movies. I’m jealous of the person who gets to see these all for the first time. People ask why anyone would want to have kids, and my first thought is — think of getting to show them all these movies for the first time.

Colin:

Night of the Living Dead and Romeo and Juliet were the only two here that I was going in completely cold, though you can’t really go into any film version of Romeo and Juliet cold, can you? Everyone comes out cold, but that’s a different issue. Once Upon a Time in the West was also out of left field because I vaguely knew it but hadn’t processed that Fonda was the bad guy, which is a serious shock for most people who know Fonda.

If you’re watching these, I hope you’ve seen BullittThe Odd CoupleThe Producers and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Those are all way the hell up on my list, because my list of favorites is pretty densely populated by stuff from the late 60s. These years are almost all good stuff, and they’re also my father’s teenage years, which is probably why I watched so many movies from then growing up. Well worth above average scrutiny because if you pick up a movie from 1968, there’s a good chance you’re going to have something good. I guess we don’t have Funny Girl or The Love Bug, but whatever. I’ve seen those. Those are for another list.

– – – – – – – – – –

More movies tomorrow.

http://bplusmovieblog.com

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2 responses

  1. Whoa – loads of great ones here! I’m a big fan of Night of the Living Dead. :-)

    August 3, 2015 at 2:30 pm

  2. Reblogged this on Stuff I Like to Blog About.

    August 3, 2015 at 4:09 pm

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