The B+ Movie Guide: The New List (Part XIII)
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:
The Paradine Case (1947)
Hitchcock. It’s a noir and a courtroom drama. I’m pretty sure that combination makes it a movie impossible to dislike. This is also Hitchcock’s last movie for Selznick, and after this, he broke out and started making the kind of movies he wanted to make (starting with Rope). Gregory Peck is a lawyer hired by Alida Valli (Anna in The Third Man) to defend her. She’s on trial for killing her sister. It’s hard to tell if she’s innocent or a femme fatale. Peck becomes infatuated by her and really becomes obsessed, to the point of potentially pinning the murder on an innocent person. It’s really strong. It’s a Hitchcock drama that’s just as good as his thrillers. Charles Laughton, Charles Coburn, Ethel Barrymore, Louis Jourdan and Leo G. Carroll are in this. But you really didn’t need past Hitchcock, noir and courtroom drama to know you need to see this.
It’s a noir western. Robert Mitchum and Teresa Wright. The entire movie is a giant flashback. His entire family was killed when he was a child, and is haunted by it. He’s brought up by a foster family, and also falls in love with his “sister.” There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on here. Noir westerns are rare. See this.
An Anthony Mann noir. Two guys commit robbery and shoot a cop on the way out. They frame an innocent man for the murder. And all the evidence actually seems to point to the guy. Only his wife is convinced he didn’t do it. So she goes out to find out who did it. Which involves getting in close with the men who did it. Nice and short. It’s everything you want a noir to be.
Song of the Thin Man (1947)
Sadly the last one. But we got six perfect movies.
Without Reservations (1947)
Claudette Colbert is an author who is about to turn her famous book into a movie. And on the way, she meets John Wayne, who pretty much <em>is</em> the main character of her book. And she wants him to play the character in the movie. But he thinks the book is trash. And along the trip, they get into a bunch of comedic situations. You can guess how it progresses. It’s a fun movie. Wayne does comedy. Also a Mervyn LeRoy movie.
Blood on the Moon (1948)
This one is a mix of a psychological western and a noir western. Robert Mitchum again, who was the perfect guy to mix those two genres. Oh, also, to get the rest of the pedigree out of the way — directed by Robert Wise and also starring Walter Brennan, Barbara Bel Geddes and Robert Preston. Mitchum is called into town by his buddy Preston and comes into the middle of a war between homesteaders and a cattle owner. The homesteaders want the cattle owner to sell his herd. They think Mitchum can get him to agree, and agree to pay him a share of the money (which is all part of a con, anyway). Mitchum is working for his friend, but his loyalty gets tested when he sees the awful tactics being used. It’s a really good movie. Westerns are always worthwhile.
Call Northside 777 (1948)
Noir. Docudrama style. Henry Hathaway directs. Jimmy Stewart stars. A police officer is murdered during Prohibition. Two men are arrested and given life. Eleven years later, one of their mothers puts an ad in the paper offering a reward for information about the “real” killers. Jimmy Stewart is a reporter assigned to look into it. So we see him do it at first because he has to, but pretty soon he starts to realize he might be onto something. It’s fascinating. It’s really watchable, and really good. Highly recommended, this one.
The Fallen Idol (1948)
I’m calling this essential. This is Carol Reed, right before The Third Man, and it looks just as good. It won the BAFTA, got nominated for Director and Screenplay at the Oscars. It’s all told through the eyes of a child, who looks up to his butler. He tells him all these heroic stories and is really the boy’s only friend. Meanwhile, he’s just this miserable guy in a marriage to a woman he hates. And he’s secretly seeing a woman he actually likes. However, pretty soon, the butler’s wife is killed. And the boy is the only witness. It’s great. You need to see this one.
A Foreign Affair (1948)
Billy Wilder. See it. Jean Arthur, Marlene Dietrich and John Lund. It’s a comedy. He’s in Berlin and is trying to choose between which of the two women to be with. Arthur is investigating Dietrich, and Lund is sleeping with her. And he’s assigned to take her around as she does this. It’s really good. You should know by now to trust Billy Wilder.
Fort Apache (1948)
John Ford. John Wayne. Henry Fonda. Or, more simply — done. It’s the first of his “calvary trilogy,” with She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande. Shirley Temple is also in this. And Ward Bond and Victor McLaglen. All your favorite Ford cast members. Wayne is playing the same character he plays in Rio Grande, Kirby York. Basically — Wayne is the veteran officer all the men love, and Fonda is the new, inexperienced superior officer who is disliked. And they clash. It’s really good, and you should have been sold by the names at the start of the entry.
Best Picture, 1948. Beat Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Red Shoes, Johnny Belinda and The Snake Pit. All of these movies are on this list. It’s a great set of nominees. I think all should be see so we can really get into what was an appropriate winner there. But that aside, this is Hamlet, directed by Laurence Olivier and starring Laurence Olivier. He won his Oscar for this. It’s good. Probably still the best version of Hamlet ever made (Branagh’s is good, but long). He did some nice camera tricks and really directed the hell out of it. You know what you’re getting here.
I Remember Mama (1948)
I love this movie so much. George Stevens directs. Irene Dunne stars as the matriarch of a family of Norwegian immigrants. It’s mostly shown as a series of vignettes. We follow this family over the years. It’s a tough sell on plot. It’s more the experience. So I’ll put it this way — do you like In America? Because I love that movie. If you love that movie, then you’ll love this movie. It’s a beautiful film, and I think everyone should see it, unless you’re one of those people who can’t handle sentiment and has no soul.
Johnny Belinda (1948)
This is a drama that borders on melodrama. I fell in love with this movie pretty hard when I saw it for the Oscar Quest. Lew Ayres is the new doctor of a small town. He meets a family: Charles Bickford and Agnes Moorehead are the parents. (They’re both great here.) And they run a small farm. Their daughter is Belinda, played by Jane Wyman (who won an Oscar for this, and rightfully so). She’s a deaf-mute. So her entire performance is wordless. The parents think she’s dumb, but Ayres realizes she’s actually really smart, but doesn’t have the ability to communicate. So he works with her and teaches her sign language. And the first half of this film is a beautiful series of scenes between the two of them. And of course she starts to fall for him. Anyway, during this time, a local asshole boy gets drunk one night and rapes Belinda. And she gets pregnant. Everyone assumes it’s Ayres’s baby because of how much time they spend together. And… well, I won’t ruin where it goes from there, but it’s really good. There’s a murder, and a trial — it’s so good. I love this movie a lot. Jane Wyman gives one of my favorite Oscar-winning performances in this movie.
Key Largo (1948)
John Huston directs. Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Lauren Bacall, Lionel Barrymore, Claire Trevor… why are you not already watching this movie. Essential as essential gets. Noir. Badass movie. He shows up at a hotel to give condolences to the family of an army buddy of his. Meanwhile, Edward G. Robinson is a gangster hiding out at the hotel. A showdown is built toward. It’s great. You need to see this one.
Noir. John Payne and Dan Duryea (the best) are partners. They’re con artists. We see them in the beginning pulling off a con and getting out of town. Now they’re back together to pull a new con. Only Payne starts falling in love with his mark. Shelley Winters is also in this, and she’s great. Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea, noir — see this movie. This is glorious 40s B movie filmmaking.
Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)
Melodrama. Max Ophuls. This movie is great, but crazy. He’s a pianist and she’s a few years younger than him. (Think 25 and 16.) She develops a crush on him and falls in love with him from afar. He doesn’t know she exists. They meet a few times over the course of the film, and each time, he doesn’t remember her from the previous times. And the whole thing is framed around a letter she sends to him detailing all of this. It’s really good. I think this is essential and needs to be seen by everyone.
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)
Cary Grant. Myrna Loy. It’s kind of like The Money Pit. They build their perfect house, but don’t realize how much effort it actually is. It’s a nice little comedy, and you have two actors everybody loves. Look at the stars. You know what you’re getting.
The Naked City (1948)
Film noir. Shot docudrama style. We follow the cops as they investigate a murder case. It’s essential all the way through. See this movie. It’s terrific.
The Search (1948)
LOVE this movie. Post-War Germany. A bunch of lost children are collected to be brought to the Red Cross to be reunited with their families. But since they don’t understand, they all think they’re being led to camps to be killed. They run away. One of them in particular manages to get away from the aid workers. He runs into Montgomery Clift, an American soldier. They can’t understand each other, but they form a tentative bond. Eventually they become friends and Clift starts teaching him English. Eventually he starts taking him around to look for his mother. All the meanwhile, his mother is searching all over for him. The whole thing, of course, builds to the emotional climax. It’s a terrific movie. Got nominated for a few Oscars in 1948, including Director and Actor. Actually won for Best Story. Everyone should see this just because it’s so good.
Sitting Pretty (1948)
This movie is pretty hilarious. Clifton Webb got nominated for Best Actor for this, which is interesting. Robert Young and Maureen O’Hara have three kids and need a babysitter. Clifton Webb is the guy who answers the ad. It’s kind of like a Mary Poppins situation, where he’s really eccentric, but also manages to deal with the kids pretty well. It’s hilarious, and the reveal of what’s going on at the end is pretty great too. I liked this one quite a bit.
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