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

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:

1960-1964

Eyes Without a Face (1960)

A doctor has a daughter who has been horribly disfigured in a car crash. In order to repair her face to its former beauty, he kidnaps young girls and tries to put their face on his daughter’s face. It’s a very famous French horror film. The image of the girl in the mask is very well-known. I’d consider this essential. Particularly for the horror genre.

North to Alaska (1960)

This movie was so enjoyable to me. Starting with the theme song. The synopsis begins with, “John Wayne stars as a hard drinking gold prospector…” and right there, everyone should be in. It’s so fucking entertaining. He and his partner are up in Alaska and strike gold. And the partner’s like, “Oh man, I can’t wait to bring my gal up here.” And Wayne basically says, “They know nothing about marriage up here, and you shouldn’t teach them,” and then takes three whores up to his room. That’s how this movie starts. So Wayne is sent down to bring this guy’s girl back up to him, only to find that she’s already married. So instead Wayne decides to bring a prostitute instead for his partner to marry. It’s so much fun. I really, really, really enjoyed this one. There’s even a table flip involved!

Ocean’s Eleven (1960)

The original. Lewis Milestone directs. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Richard Conte, Joey Bishop, Henry Silva, Buddy Lester, Richard Benedict, Norman Fell, Clem Harvey, Angie Dickinson, Cesar Romero, Akim Tamiroff, Shirley MacLaine, George Raft and Red Skelton. This one is more about the cast than the story. Ends completely differently from the Clooney version, but is just as entertaining.

The Rat Race (1960)

Tony Curtis and Debbie Reynolds. And Don Rickles. And Richard Mulligan directs. You’ll find, as you watch Tony Curtis movies, that they’re almost always very good. He plays a saxophonist who comes to New York to make it big. He meets her, a jaded dancer. She’s just been evicted from the apartment he’s renting. So he lets her stay with him. And it’s about them trying to survive. It’s more about that than them getting together. Meanwhile, Don Rickles is a guy Reynolds is in debt to, who wants her to sell her body to pay him back. It’s straight dramatic work from him. It’s a really good movie. Relatively realistic for the era. It was actually pretty surprisingly how good it was.

The Unforgiven (1960)

I can pretty much stop after this — John Huston directs. Burt Lancaster. Audrey Hepburn. Need me to say anymore? I can. Audie Murphy, Charles Bickford and Lillian Gish are also in it. A family finds out their adopted daughter was actually stolen from a nearby Indian tribe. So it becomes about her deciding which side to take.

Who Was That Lady? (1960)

Hilarious comedy. Screwball. Tony Curtis is a professor married to Janet Leigh. She sees him kissing another woman one day and freaks out and says she wants a divorce. He then asks his buddy, Dean Martin, what he should do about it. And Martin concocts this whole lie where he can tell her he’s actually undercover for the CIA and not a professor. He uses props from his job (he’s a TV writer) to help him convince her. And she falls for it so much she actually starts telling everyone. And eventually this turns into a hilarious series of misunderstandings and complications where the real CIA is involved, and real spies think they are agents, and Leigh gets into the mix — it’s a really funny movie. Highly recommended.

The Children’s Hour (1961)

A great drama. William Wyler directs (based on a play, and a previous movie that he also directed), and Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn star. James Garner is the other star. Oh, and Miriam Hopkins and Fay Bainter are also in it. MacLaine and Hepburn run a school for girls. Hepburn is engaged to James Garner. A little girl (who is a spoiled little asshole) is caught doing something she shouldn’t be and is pissed because they punish her. And she then spreads a rumor that Hepburn and MacLaine are lesbians. And the news spreads so wide that it ruins their reputations and their livelihoods. Everyone just assumes it’s fact. It’s a really good movie that everyone should see. For this list, it’s essential. But you should have known that when you saw Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine in the same movie.

Fanny (1961)

I love this movie. It’s so simple. Joshua Logan directs. Maurice Chevalier, Charles Boyer, Leslie Caron and Horst Buchholz star. It takes place in a French seaside town. Boyer owns a bar, and Buccholz is his son. All Buchholz wants is to be a sailor. Caron, meanwhile, is in love with him and always has been. But he doesn’t care because all he wants is the sea. And then there’s Chevalier, who is old, but wants to marry Caron. It’s a nice Technicolor drama. Has a lot of elements I love. Also nominated for a bunch of Oscars including Best Picture.

The Great Impostor (1961)

Robert Mulligan directs Tony Curtis again. This one is basically Catch Me If You Can 40 years earlier. That’s really the best way to explain it. Though it’s more about him changing identities than forging checks. He just goes around, being whoever he wants to be: marine, monk, ship doctor, prison warden. It’s a terrific movie. Almost forgotten nowadays. But really good. Karl Malden, Edmond O’Brien, Arthur O’Connell, Gary Merrill, Raymond Massey, Jeanette Nolan and Dick Sargent are also in it, in case you needed more proof that it’s good.

The Guns of Navarone (1961)

Yeah, boy. A war picture nominated for Best Picture. Great movie. J. Lee Thompson directs. Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Stanley Baker, Anthony Quayle, Irene Papas, Richard Harris. A small team is sent to destroy some German guns in Greece. Peck is the dashing spy, Niven is the explosives expert, Quinn is the Greek (since this takes place in occupied Greece. Also, Zorba), Baker is the engineer (who is also great with knives), and Quayle is the leader. Terrific movie. Lot of fun. 60s epic war movies are the best. This is essential, of anything on these lists.

The Mark (1961)

Stuart Whitman got nominated for Best Actor for this. That’s how I saw it. Otherwise, it’s a forgotten movie. You have to keep in mind that it was made in 1961. That’s what makes it so good and so interesting and so worth watching. Whitman plays a convicted child molester who is out of prison and trying to get his life back together. And he starts to date a woman who is a single mother. You see where this is going. It’s not a thriller or anything. It’s actually about him trying to do the right thing. Which is what makes it so good.

The Misfits (1961)

You’ve heard of this. John Huston directs. Clark Gable’s last film, Marilyn Monroe’s last film. And Montgomery Clift. And Thelma Ritter. And Eli Wallach. I think you know you should see this.

One, Two, Three! (1961)

Billy Wilder. Screwball. James Cagney and Horst Buchholz. Cagney is a Coca Cola employee in Berlin trying to get promoted to the London office. Only the only way he’s gonna do that is by preventing his boss’s daughter from marrying a communist. This is basically Cagney’s last movie. He retired from acting after this, and would appear in his final film (Ragtime) 20 years after this. It’s screwball at times, and makes heavy use of the Sabre Dance during the running around bits. Not a top tier Billy Wilder movie, but this is a man whose fourth tier is better than most people’s first tiers.

A Raisin in the Sun (1961)

All black movie. VERY important historically. So you need to see it. Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee, Lou Gossett Jr. It’s essential. Just watch it. It’s great.

A Taste of Honey (1961)

British drama. Very progressive for its day. 17-year-old schoolgirl with a drunk for a mother gets knocked up by a black sailor and gets a gay best friend. The UK was the place for more realism in films in the early 60s. America wouldn’t catch up for a few years.

Advise and Consent (1962)

GREAT movie. This is one for Colin. Colin will love this. It’s Preminger, which is a good start. And it’s about Henry Fonda, nominated for Secretary of State, being put through the ringer by the Republicans who try to discredit him. It’s not a trial movie, but it’s essentially the same thing. Senate committee. People making statements and giving testimony. Same deal. And listen to this cast: Franchot Tone, Lew Ayres, Charles Laughton, Walter Pidgeon, Don Murray, Peter Lawford, Gene Tierney, Burgess Meredith and Betty White (as a senator). Everyone should see this. It’s great.

Billy Budd (1962)

Peter Ustinov directed this. Staring Robert Ryan, Terence Stamp (nominated for an Oscar for this. Supporting, though he’s basically a lead), Melvyn Douglas. Robert Ryan is basically Captain Bligh (but not the captain). Cruel, and likes to fuck with people. And he takes a particular dislike to Terence Stamp. The crew loves Stamp, but Ryan likes to torture him. Real fucked up shit. The “pick up these 2,000 toothpicks and put them in order and then knock them over when he’s on the last one” kind of torture. It’s a really good drama.

David and Lisa (1962)

This is Frank Pery’s first movie, and it’s great. He was nominated for Best Director for this (up against Lawrence of Arabia, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Miracle Worker). It’s so good. It’s a love story in a mental institution. It’s an absolutely beautiful movie that everyone should see. One of the great underrated gems. Frank Perry is one of the great underrated filmmakers. Pretty much his first five or six movies are going to be on this list. That’s how good and underrated they are.

Experiment in Terror (1962)

Blake Edwards directs a thriller. Almost a horror movie. Lee Remick is a woman who gets mysterious phone calls from a psycho who tells her he’ll kill her sister if she doesn’t do what he says. And it’s a really thrilling movie. He tries to get her to rob the bank she works at, meanwhile she’s secretly going to the police even though he told her not to — it’s a really good movie. People don’t even know about this movie anymore. Highly recommended. This is a gem you’ll be glad you saw.

Gypsy (1962)

This is one of those movies that I feel everyone’s at least heard of. It’s about Gypsy Rose Lee. Mervyn LeRoy directs. Natalie Wood is Gypsy and Rosalind Russell is her mother. And Karl Malden is in it too. Big, lavish musical.

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