The B+ Movie Guide: The New List (Part XIV)

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:

1945-1949

The Snake Pit (1948)

Best Picture nominee this year. Surprising de Havilland didn’t win Best Actress this year (though against Jane Wyman, it was a tall order. Plus she won for an even better performance the year after this). It’s a chronicle of a woman’s stay in a mental institution. A lot of it is the daily life of a mental patient, then there’s her and her treatment and her relationship with her doctor and her boyfriend, and then there’s the flashbacks detailing how she got here. It’s great. And I mean really great. This actually was one of the first movies I saw at the very beginning of the Oscar Quest. To the point where I saw this movie sitting in my room back home with all my stuff partially unpacked. I remember watching and going through all my DVD binders (Colin remembers those) and putting them back in the cases and reorganizing them. But anyway, see this. I call it essential.

Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)

Noir. Barbara Stanwyck is a bedridden woman who overhears a murder plot on the telephone. And the entire movie is her in bed trying to figure it out over the course of an evening. A lot of the story is told in flashback. Burt Lancaster plays her husband. It’s pretty great. Strongly recommend this one.

The Street with No Name (1948)

Noir. It’s a follow-up to The House on 92nd Street. Another FBI case. An agent goes undercover in a mob. However, there’s an informant in the mob that threatens his position. Terrific movie.

They Live by Night (1948)

Nicholas Ray noir. This is a precursor to Bonnie and Clyde. Doomed lovers on the run. Farley Granger escapes prison and plans to rob a bank with his fellow escapees. He gets hurt and is nursed back to health by Cathy O’Donnell, with whom he falls in love. He decides to go straight and live a normal life with her. You can guess where it goes from there. Great movie.

Yellow Sky (1948)

Gregory Peck. Anne Baxter. Richard Widmark. Peck and his gang rob a bank and flee into the desert. They come across a ghost town, where only Anne Baxter and her grandfather live. She’s a feisty woman who is good with a pistol. The gang realizes the old man is mining gold, and realize they can make a fortune. But there’s a struggle for leadership between Peck and Widmark, and of course Peck starts falling for Baxter… it’s a great movie. Loosely based on The Tempest, apparently. But it’s really good. William Wellman.

Adam’s Rib (1949)

Tracy and Hepburn. Directed by Cukor. Husband and wife are opposing lawyers in a divorce case. Judy Holliday is a woman who shot her husband (Tom Ewell). So they argue opposite sides of the case, and that bleeds into their personal lives. It’s a terrific movie. Considered one of the great comedies. This is essential.

The Barkleys of Broadway (1949)

Astaire and Rogers. Their only movie in color. Made ten years after their previous movie together. They’re a husband and wife musical team who fight all the time. She decides she wants to be a serious actress and wants to break up the team. They fight a lot. It’s Fred and Ginger, so you know you’re getting the goods.

Beyond the Forest (1949)

King Vidor directs Bette Davis and Joseph Cotten. Famous for the line “What a dump.” If that sounds familiar even though you haven’t seen this, it’s because they reference it at the beginning of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? A similar story. Davis and Cotten move into a small town from Chicago. She hates it there, and starts to hate him. Pretty famous movie. Considered a noir. Not quite essential, but it’s in that range of “well known.”

The Big Steal (1949)

Don Siegel-directed noir. Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer again, reteaming after Out of the Past. He’s a soldier who gets robbed of a bunch of payroll money. His superior (William Bendix) thinks he was in on it, so Mitchum has to run to Mexico. Meanwhile, Greer is the girlfriend of the guy who actually took the money, and she’s after him because of some money he borrowed from her. So she travels with Mitchum, pursuing the guy who took the money, being pursued by Bendix. It’s a great movie. Really entertaining.

Champion (1949)

Noir. Boxing drama. Kirk Douglas fights his way to the top, and isolates himself from everyone who loves him. He got nominated for this, as did Arthur Kennedy, who plays his brother. This won an Oscar for Editing.

Criss-Cross (1949)

Noir. Robert Siodmak directs. Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Dan Duryea. Lancaster gets back together with Ava, his ex-wife, but she’s with Duryea. And they plan to rip Duryea off. Which of course leads to some deadly consequences. It’s really good. Look at the cast. You can expect quality here.

Hardly a Criminal (1949)

Noir. An Argentinian noir, at that. But trust me, it’s good. A guy finds a loophole that allows him to embezzle money and keep it after he serves his prison sentence. He hides the money and waits his time out. Only things don’t go exactly as planned. It’s really engaging.

The Hasty Heart (1949)

This movie takes place in a MASH unit. The war is ending, and all the men are being sent home once they are healed enough to travel. One of them is Richard Todd, a Scottish soldier. He’s pretty gruff and doesn’t get along with most of the men. He can’t wait to get out of there. Meanwhile, the rest of the men (led by Ronald Reagan), are having a good time and are slowly being sent home. They find out, through the head nurse (Patricia Neal), that the reason Todd isn’t being sent home is because he is dying. And pretty much the entire movie is all of these guys bonding and waiting it out until they get sent home (or in Todd’s case, die). It’s a pretty beautiful film. I like that it doesn’t take the route you expect it to take in regards to the ending. I really liked this. Todd was nominated for Best Actor for the role, and I think this is a real hidden gem of its era.

The Heiress (1949)

Olivia de Havilland won her second Oscar for this. And it’s great. William Wyler directs (which is always a sign of a good movie). She’s a plain woman who falls for Montgomery Clift. Her father, Ralph Richardson, assumes Clift is after his money. He’s emotionally distant. She loves Clift, and is prepared to run away with him. Only is he really after her money? The movie is pretty much structured around two walks up a staircase, one in the middle, and one at the end. And de Havilland is a very different person during both of those moments. Her change is startling. She gives a real powerhouse performance here. I highly recommend this one.

Holiday Affair (1949)

Ah, the Christmas time romance. It’s a very simple film, which makes it great. He’s a store clerk and she’s a comparative shopper from a rival store. She unintentionally gets him fired. He ends up getting to know her and her son. It’s a beautiful little story. I think everyone should see this. This should be seen way more than it has been, and is a great Christmas movie.

Home of the Brave (1949)

This is fascinating because it’s about a black man. It follows his life and the problems he encounters as a black soldier. We follow his life and see him on a mission on a dangerous mission with other white soldiers. It’s really good. And I think everyone should see it because it’s a huge outlier in history. They didn’t make a lot of movie about black people in this era. Especially ones as frank as this.

House of Strangers (1949)

Called a noir, but I consider it more of a drama than anything. Edward G. Robinson is a banker who has a specific (read: criminal) way of doing things. A lot of the movie is about his relationship with his sons. Most of them hate him, and one is loyal. It’s really good. Joseph L. Mankiewicz directs.

I Was a Male War Bride (1949)

Howard Hawks screwball with Cary Grant. They try to get married, but there’s a lot of red tape involved. The joke is that somehow he ends up being listed as a war bride instead of her. It’s really funny. One of the great comedies. You can never go wrong with Hawks. Especially Hawks and Grant.

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

There are a couple of really famous British comedies. This is one of them. Dennis Price is the distant relative of a man of title. He’s ninth in line to inherit. So he plans to kill all eight people in front of him. The key to this is — all eight people he murders are played by Alec Guinness. Even the women. This is the movie that made him famous. And like I said, there are only a couple of really famous British comedies. You need to see those.

A Letter to Three Wives (1949)

This movie is pretty famous. Won Best Director and Best Screenplay for Joseph L. Mankiewicz (a feat he’d achieve… the year after this too. For All About Eve). A woman writes (insert title here), telling them she’s just run off with one of their husbands. They’re on an outing with their children’s school so they won’t know which husband it is until they get home. But all along the way, they think about if it’s their husband or not. So each of the wives flashes back to what could have led their husband to do it, and we see each flashback as it happens. It’s a pretty great movie. Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell and Ann Sothern are the wives. Kirk Douglas, Paul Douglas and Jeffrey Lynn are the husbands. The woman who wrote the letter is never seen (but is voiced by Celeste Holm). Oh, and Thelma Ritter is in this too, for good measure. It’s terrific, and I consider this essential.

 

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