The B+ Movie Guide: The New List (Part XII)
I gave Colin a giant list of 500 movies, and he finished it. Of course I’m gonna come up with another list.
This one is for everyone, though. Not specifically for Colin. This is raw material for everybody, should they choose, to go out and see more movies. Not all of them are essential. Most of them are just awesome. I told Colin that once he finished this list, I’d give him another one that was more fun than work. Geared toward cool stuff that he’d enjoy.
I went through and found 1,000 more movies that I think either need to be seen (leftover “essential” films) or are just really great and would be enjoyed by most who see them. Here they are:
Another noir. Vincent Price is a psychiatrist who is treating a woman who is comatose after witnessing a murder. Only we find out… Price is the one who committed the murder. He’s trying to make sure she can’t say anything. Highly recommended, this one. Everyone loves Vincent Price, and everyone loves a good noir.
Song of the South (1946)
The Disney movie Disney doesn’t want you to see. Because it’s racist as shit. They’ll trot out “Zip-a-dee Doo-dah,” but they won’t mention where it’s from. Because here’s a movie about a slave telling the white kids stories. About tar baby and things of that sort. This movie is essential. Because they don’t want you to see it. And everyone needs to see it.
The Spiral Staircase (1946)
Robert Siodmak was nominated for Best Director for this. It’s a psychological thriller, incredibly well-directed. It’s about a serial killer who goes after disabled women. And it’s about a mute woman caring for an elderly woman who is the next target. It’s really good. I recommend this one highly. Watch how he directs this. Definitely one that stands out.
To Each His Own (1946)
Melodrama. Olivia de Havilland won her first Oscar for this. She gets pregnant but isn’t married. She has to give up the child. But she follows the child as he grows up. She stays close enough to watch him grow up, but never gets close to him, for fear that it would hurt him to know that he is a bastard child. It’s… heartbreaking. da Havilland is so good here. Highly recommend this one.
The Yearling (1946)
I’m calling this one essential. It’s one of those movies that’s really great, and looks spectacular. See as many Technicolor movies from this era as you can. This movie is the precursor to all those animal movies. A boy finds a deer in the woods and he persuades his parents to let him adopt it. And there are great scenes with the parents — Gregory Peck is the father who loves the boy and is willing to let him slide on things, and Jane Wyman is the mother who is strict and cold at times and never shows any affection for her son — but mostly it’s the kid and the deer. And of course the time comes when the deer becomes too much of a nuisance and doesn’t know any other way of living so… well, let’s say it gets emotional. I think everyone should see this movie.
The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)
Myrna Loy and Carry Grant. And Shirley Temple to boot. Myrna and Shirley are sisters. Shirley has a crush on Cary Grant. He’s not interested in her, but has to “date” her to avoid an assault charge. And along the way and Myrna fall in love. It’s a good comedy.
The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
I feel like this is a story everybody knows. When I saw this for the first time, I knew the story. David Niven is a bishop who needs to get money to build his church. So he prays for help. And down comes Cary Grant, an angel. He’s there to guide him. Only, as he does… he may also start to have a thing for Loretta Young, Niven’s wife. It’s a really good film. And a lot of moments in it were repeated in other things. For instance — the snowball fight in Elf? Taken from this movie. Straight from this movie. They also remade this with Denzel and Whitney Houston. Still, it’s a pretty famous movie, historically. Worth seeing.
Body and Soul (1947)
Noir. Boxing movie. Gorgeous cinematography. James Wong Howe. Huge influence on how the Raging Bull scenes were shot. It’s about John Garfield as a boxer who gets derailed from what he wants to do because of money… you know the story. It’s how all these boxing stories go bad. Garfield got nominated for Best Actor for this. Terrific movie, and it should be seen for a variety of reasons. (Noir, it’s great, the cinematography. You have more than enough reasons to see this.)
Born to Kill (1947)
Lawrence Tierney is a real bastard in this one. Claire Trevor is engaged to marry a “safe” guy, but here comes Lawrence Tierney, who recently murdered her neighbor. He’s got a bit of a temper. He marries her sister and she marries the other guy, but they start fucking. She starts to get a bit… dark, and the police start investigating him. It doesn’t end well. Great noir. Really great noir.
Brute Force (1947)
Prison film. This movie is great. It’s technically a noir, but it’s a prison film. This is it’s own genre. You know how Shawshank is just watchable? This is just like that. It’s so good. Burt Lancaster stars. It’s about a bunch of prisoners and a sadistic warden who just fucks with everybody. He manipulates the inmates to snitch on each other and really creates a horrible environment. And everyone knows it’s gonna explode at some point. Meanwhile, some prisoners are planning an escape, and — let’s just say… the last little bit of this movie is really good. Highly, highly, highly recommended, this one.
This is the first B movie to be nominated for Best Picture. It’s basically a B movie version of Gentleman’s Agreement. In the sense that it deals with anti-semitism. But in a B movie way. A Jewish guy is brutally murdered and the police have to figure out who did it. And the suspects are a group of soldiers. So we watch as they interview them to figure out who it was. It’s actually really good, and is a really important film. Should be seen. Should be seen because it’s a B movie that got nominated for Best Picture, because it’s a noir, because it has great actors in it (Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, Gloria Grahame), and because it’s pretty frank about the whole thing, in ways Gentleman’s Agreement isn’t.
I find Elizabeth Taylor to be one of the most fascinating actresses to ever grace the screen. There are a few actresses who I want to see in everything they do. Audrey Hepburn was another one. I just want to see all their work. So, for that reason, I put this here. Because I really enjoyed this movie. There’s a definite evolution of Taylor’s career. There’s child work (National Velvet, Lassie Come Home), then the teenage work (this movie), then she grows up (Place in the Sun), then she gets to play sexpot for a while (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), and then she gets full on mature woman who is also sexy (Cleopatra), and then she gets into the real adult stuff (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Sandpiper).
Here, she’s a sickly teenager who really likes music. Her doctor urges that she don’t do any strenuous activity. But her mother says, “Fuck that, let her live a little,” and lets her try out for the school musical. Meanwhile, she falls for a classmate of hers, and starts to come into her own. And through all of this, the family has some real money issues going on. It’s a complete film. I liked this. Some people won’t. But if you’re as interested in Elizabeth Taylor as I am, I like seeing her grow up as an actress. You can really see that special something she had all throughout.
Dark Passage (1947)
This movie is fascinating because the entire first act is shot POV. Bogart is a man in prison for killing his wife. And he escapes. So the escape, all the way up to him getting plastic surgery, is all shot POV. And then he gets out and tries to clear his name. Lauren Bacall is in this, as is Agnes Moorehead. It’s really good. Highly recommended here. See it for the cinematography and for Bogie and Bacall.
A truck driver gets hired on a job, and realizes it’s for stolen goods. He wants no part of it, but in the ensuing scuffle, a cop gets killed. And he gets blamed. And eventually he and his wife are on the run from both the cops and the criminals. This is a noir with the innocent man on the run theme, and one that keeps upping the stakes as we go along. This is one of those noirs that I added because I felt it was above average as a noir. I’ve been watching a lot of them, so rather than overload the list with them, I wanted to list, aside from the really obvious ones, the best of the best and the most entertaining.
A Double Life (1947)
Ronald Colman won an Oscar for this. George Cukor directed it. Ronald Colman is a tempestuous actor who starts playing Othello. Only, doing so actually starts affecting his sanity. He starts to lose his grip on reality, may or may not commit a murder or two, and then there’s that final scene he has to deal with… it’s pretty great. It’s a noir melodrama of sorts. Really strong stuff.
The Fugitive (1947)
John Ford. One of his outliers. It’s very unlike the rest of his stuff. Henry Fonda is a priest in South America. Religion is outlawed, so he’s on the run. He has to hide the fact that he’s a priest, but not so much as to disavow whatever oath he has and that sort of thing. And the people after him keep trying to find ways to get him to admit that he’s a priest. It’s really good. And also doesn’t go the way you think it’s gonna go. It doesn’t feel like a Ford movie at all. Which is what made this fascinating. I do recommend this as a change of pace from Ford’s usual stuff.
Lady in the Lake (1947)
Robert Montgomery directed and starred in this. It’s based on Raymond Chandler. What makes this really worthwhile is the fact that nearly the entire movie is shot first-person. The entire thing. Except when he addresses the audience. The rest of the movie is entirely from the point of view of Marlowe. Which really makes it something you need to see. This I consider essential for all, simply as a cinematic experience.
The Long Night (1947)
Great movie. Noir. Henry Fonda is barricaded in a room and the cops and snipers are waiting outside. We flash back to how he got there. It involves his wife and a magician played by Vincent Price. I can’t recommend this noir highly enough.
Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
Chaplin. It’s… different. You expect a certain thing when you get to Chaplin. This… is not that. He plays a guy who gets fired after 30 years on the job. And, to support his family, he goes out and marries a bunch of widows and murders them for their money. It’s way darker than most of Chaplin’s movies but is also really great. I think people should see this just to see that the man could do more than just straight comedy. This movie is more dark comedy, but it’s definitely not what he did in the silents.
Odd Man Out (1947)
Carol Reed. James Mason. Noir. Mason is an IRA member who is in hiding after escaping prison. And we follow him over the course of a night through a single town as he tries to avoid being caught. It’s great. See this movie.
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