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

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:

1965-1969

The Professionals (1966)

Classic western. Richard Brooks directs (nominated for Best Director). Starring Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Woody Strode, Claudia Cardinale, Jack Palance and Ralph Bellamy. Bellamy is a millionaire who hires the four guys to bring his wife (Cardinale) back from Jack Palance, who has kidnapped her. What a fun movie. And look at all these stars. Why wouldn’t you see this?

The Russians Are Coming, the Russians are Coming (1966)

Nominated for Best Picture. A Soviet sub washes ashore off Cape Cod. They didn’t mean to, and they’re not planning on invading or anything, but someone sees it, and it sets the residents off in a panic. Comedy ensues. Alan Arkin plays the Russian sub commander. Nominated for Best Actor and he doesn’t speak a word of English in the film. Also starring Carl Reiner, Eva Marie Saint, Jonathan Winters, Paul Ford and Theodore Bikel. Lot of fun. If you liked It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, you’ll like this.

The Sand Pebbles (1966)

This movie checks a lot of boxes on this blog. Lot of Oscar nominations, Steve McQueen’s only one. Robert Wise directs. Richard Attenborough is in it. Great movie. An American gunship in the middle of Revolutionary China. It’s mostly about the men on the ship, with the political stuff growing in the background before boiling over. There’s a lot of good stuff going on, McQueen being a rebel, hiring a Chinese guy as his assistant, the racism of the crew, and a subplot with Attenborough falling in love with a Chinese woman. Good stuff.

Tokyo Drifter (1966)

What a badass movie. This has got to be the most experimental arthouse yakuza film ever made. The movie starts with overexposure for no good reason and goes from there. I have no real idea what the plot of this movie is, but it’s real fun to watch and looks fantastic. And the main character has his own theme song that he whistles. You can’t beat that. You should see this movie. It’s essential, and the only reason it wasn’t on the original list is because I knew Colin had seen it.

Torn Curtain (1966)

Hitchcock. Hitchcock on the wind down. But it is solid (probably his last really solid movie) and has Paul Newman and Julie Andrews in it. I want to give you the plot of the movie, but to do so would involve a spoiler that apparently none of the movie sites give a shit about spoiling. But I guess since it’s Paul Newman, we pretty much already know. The idea is that he goes to East Germany with her (he’s a scientist, she’s his fiancée) and says he’s defecting. It’s shocking. But we realize he’s doing it as part of a top secret mission. If it wasn’t Paul Newman, we could maybe buy that he’d actually defect. So that’s the plot. And then they have to get back over. Good stuff here. But honestly, if I had to sell this past “Hitchcock, Newman, Andrews,” then something is wrong.

Barefoot in the Park (1967)

Neil Simon. Robert Redford. Jane Fonda. You’re welcome. He’s a straight-laced lawyer, she’s his free-spirited wife. Comedy. It’s Neil Simon, just go with it.

Branded to Kill (1967)

If you saw Tokyo Drifter and said, “This is way too coherent and not weird enough,” then I have good news for you. This director got to make Tokyo Drifter, and it horrified the studio. Then he made this, and they fired him. You know what the best way to describe this movie is? This is the Only God Forgives to Tokyo Drifter’s Drive. Tokyo Drifter was the one that people saw and went, “Holy shit, that’s a generic story made great by how it was presented.” And this is the same director basically going, “Oh, you liked that first movie? Fuck you.” It takes the things from that one and just satirizes them, basically. Most people hate Only God Forgives, but they love Drive. I bet most people wouldn’t like this because it’s so fucking weird. And this, like Only God Forgives, I find utterly amusing and enjoyable. It’s so avant garde and absurd at points you can’t help but enjoy it.

A Countess from Hong Kong (1967)

Charlie Chaplin’s last film. Starring Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren. No one even knows this movie exists anymore. Marlon Brando pretty much disappeared in the 60s, until The Godfather. Though this is the decade where he did some of his most interesting work (another example of that will be coming up real soon). Here he is in a screwball comedy, essentially, with Sophia Loren. And then Chaplin — nobody really remembers what he did after The Great Dictator. But Limelight is incredible, Monsieur Verdoux is a fascinatingly good movie, and A King in New York is good because it highlights a lot of personal things he was going through at the time. And this movie is probably his most forgotten next to A King in New York.

Brando is on a ship and meets Sophia Loren. She’s a stowaway, without a passport, fleeing her country, and he’s an ambassador who is married. So he has to keep her hidden and figure out a way to get her to safety. Comedy and romance ensue. It’s one of my favorite Chaplin movies. Hugely underrated.

The Dirty Dozen (1967)

Again, an essential movie that didn’t make it on because I knew Colin had seen it. What a badass war movie that everyone needs to see. Robert Aldrich directs. Lee Marvin stars. Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, Trini Lopez, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, Clint Walker, Tom Busby, Ben Carruthers, Colin Maitland, Stuart Cooper and Al Mancini are the dozen. The movie also has Ernest Borgnine, George Kennedy, Richard Jaeckel, Ralph Meeker and Robert Ryan in it. The idea is that Lee Marvin is an officer assigned to take a dozen murderers and train them for a mission to kill a lot of Germans. It’s basically a suicide mission, but the idea is that if they come back alive, their sentences will be reduced. It’s a great movie, and one of the best of the 60s. And all time, really.

In Cold Blood (1967)

Based on the Truman Capote novel (and yes, the story of that movie). One of the most gorgeously shot films of the 60s. Great direction, great performances. Needs to be seen. Also stars Robert Blake as one of the murderers, which is humorous. Richard Brooks adapted and directed it, and all the credit goes to him. This is a great movie.

Playtime (1967)

Tati again. You’re either gonna love his style or not. I can only put them all here and say they’re more likely essential than not. Pick your poison and put the rest on if you like them or don’t and know the style of comedy is the same. This movie is broken into a bunch of stories. It’s about a group of people going around Paris and dealing with all the technology around. The sets here are beautiful. It’s a great film. Should be seen.

Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967)

John Huston directing Brando and Elizabeth Taylor. Yup. Oh, and based on a Carson McCullers novel. And you know how I feel about those (based on The Member of the Wedding and The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter). Completely overlooked now, but features what may be a top five Brando performance of all time. He’s so good here. He’s an army officer and Taylor’s his wife. He’s a repressed homosexual, she’s having an affair with another officer. She has a prize horse. There’s another character played by Robert Forster who barely speaks and likes to sneak around and secretly watch people through windows. The performances are top notch. And the whole film is tinted with a golden hue, which gives it a unique look. But honestly, read the first sentence. If that doesn’t do it for you, I don’t know what will.

To Sir, With Love (1967)

The classic “teacher” film. Blackboard Jungle is Glenn Ford teaching inner city youths (one of whom is Sidney Poitier). This movie is Sidney Poitier teaching a bunch of inner city British kids. It’s a mix of Blackboard Jungle and Mr. Holland’s Opus. He’s there, thinking it’ll be a springboard to another job, but realizes this is his true vocation. It’s great. How can you not enjoy a good “teacher” film. Stand and Deliver, Dead Poet’s Society. They’re all worth watching. This is one of those subgenres that always seems to work. (I grew up with Dangerous Minds, there’s that Hilary Swank movie that came out like ten years ago. Everyone’s seen at least one of these that they love.)

Two for the Road (1967)

You see Blue Valentine? The dissolution of a marriage told nonlinearly with great performances by great actors. This is that movie 40 years earlier. Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney. We see them married and despising each other and fighting all the time, juxtaposed with them early on in the relationship, madly in love. It’s great. I mean really great. One of the best movies of the decade. Completely underrated and should be considered essential. See this movie.

Up the Down Staircase (1967)

Pretty much everything I said for To Sir, With Love. The difference here is that it’s a female teacher. This time it’s Sandy Dennis. So the conflict is a woman teaching inner city youths. Just as good as To Sir, With Love and Blackboard Jungle. And way less known. Hidden gem of the 60s.

The Valley of the Dolls (1967)

A real cult movie. The sequel, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, was written by Roger Ebert. This isn’t that movie. This is the one that was supposed to be taken seriously. It’s — well it’s melodramatic, I’ll say that much. It’s one of those movies that’s great because it’s unintentionally terrible and over-the-top. Cinema has a long history of these. I’m not even gonna tell you the plot. You should see it. It’s entertaining.

Woman Times Seven (1967)

The conceit of this movie is that it’s about seven stories of adultery, and Shirley MacLaine plays seven different characters in all the segments. The film has cameos from Peter Sellers, Alan Arkin, Robert Morley, Michael Caine and Anita Ekberg. It’s entertaining to see MacLaine play seven different parts. Unique little film.

Barbarella (1968)

What an iconic movie. So, so campy. The opening sequence is Jane Fonda getting undressed in zero gravity. It only gets better from there. She has a lot of sex in this movie. The creepy thing is that it was directed by her husband. But yeah, see this movie. It’s hilariously campy. Only in the 60s.

The Boston Strangler (1968)

Very underrated movie. You know what it’s about, so I don’t need to get into detail there. It’s a procedural. Henry Fonda is the investigator looking to solve the murders. And about midway through the movie we meet the Strangler himself — Tony Curtis. Tony Curtis is so good here. He’s one of those great actors who excelled at everything. But here, he delivers what may be his finest dramatic performance. That, coupled with Henry Fonda, the procedural aspect, the direction of Richard Fleischer and supporting turns from George Kennedy, Murray Hamilton, Jeff Corey, Sally Kellerman, James Brolin and William Hickey really give you no reason to not see it.

Funny Girl (1968)

“Hello gorgeous.” Barbra Streisand’s first movie, and she was so good here she won Best Actress. (Well, she tied with Katharine Hepburn, but she still won.) It’s a big, musical biopic of Fanny Brice, a comedian from the 30s who did vaudeville. She plays herself in The Great Ziegfeld, and if you’ve seen that movie before you see this one (which I highly recommend that you do), you’ll watch it and go, “Oh my god, that’s Barbra Streisand.” That’s how perfect this casting was. And then the way she delivers this performance — this is a star-making turn from the first line. This also features one of the great musical numbers — “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” (Oh, and William Wyler directs this. You can trust him.)

 

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