The B+ Movie Guide: The New List (Part XXXI)
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 Beatles had two movies by this point (three, if we’re counting Yellow Submarine), so now The Monkees get in on the action. They have a fucking weird, psychedelic kind of movie that is just bizarre all around. Directed by Bob Rafelson, who would follow this up with a movie called Five Easy Pieces. It has no plot at all and is actually way more artistic than the Monkees were given any credit for. Jack Nicholson helped write this. It’s just a bizarre good time, is what it is.
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968)
Hey, look at that. Two McCullers adaptations in one article. Alan Arkin got nominated for this. He doesn’t speak a word of dialogue. In both his Oscar-nominated performances (well… for Best Actor, anyway), he plays a Russian submarine captain and a deaf mute. Arkin plays a mute who comes to a small town to be near his best friend. It’s like Of Mice and Men if George was a deaf mute and Lenny was institutionalized. And he moves into a room in the house of a family and becomes close to the family’s daughter, played by Sondra Locke. And I think she should have won Best Supporting Actress for this movie. That’s how good I think she was. Just — you gotta trust me on this. The Member of the Wedding, Reflections in a Golden Eye, and this movie. See them all. They’re all terrific. Carson McCullers is like Tennessee Williams, or Neil Simon, whoever those people are whose material always makes for good movies. Her stuff isn’t as well known as the other stuff, but it’s just as good.
Hell in the Pacific (1968)
What a unique movie. Do people know this exists? John Boorman directs. Here’s the premise — World War II, stranded on a small island in the pacific are: Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune. They are the only two actors in the entire movie. They are stuck on this island and do not understand a word of what each other says. They have to work together to survive, but can they? Lee Marvin is one of the quintessential American actors and Toshiro Mifune is perhaps the quintessential Japanese actor. It’s a really good movie, too.
Ice Station Zebra (1968)
I love this movie. Apparently Howard Hughes was obsessed with this movie and watched it on a continuous loop on one of his naked, locked-in-a-room movie binges. A nuclear sub has to rescue the crew of a station in the Antarctic. It’s Cold War, so there’s a lot of espionage stuff going on. My favorite is the special effects. It’s those perfect 60s special effects that look spectacular in just the right way. Oh, and this movie stars Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine and Jim Brown. This movie is a lot of fun, and looks terrific.
Essential movie. I’ll lead with that. It’s about a British boys private school, and is really terrific. To try to explain it wouldn’t do it justice. You need to see it, so just see it.
The Lion in Winter (1968)
Perhaps the pinnacle of the costume dramas of the 60s. A Man for All Seasons won Best Picture, but this is probably the one that people consider the best. It’s Becket, Man for All Seasons, this and Anne of the Thousand Days. This is an indirect sequel to Becket. Peter O’Toole plays the same character. Now he’s much older. His three sons want to take over for him, but he hasn’t decided which one will. Meanwhile, his wife (whom he’s had locked away in a tower for years) comes by to scheme to get her favorite to be the choice. It’s a great movie. Katharine Hepburn is his wife. She won Best Actress (tied with Barbra Streisand). And the sons are played by Anthony Hopkins, Timothy Dalton and John Castle. It’s a great movie, and it’s essential.
It’s the musical version of Oliver Twist. It won Best Picture, Carol Reed directed. It’s big and overdone and very enjoyable. “Food, Glorious Food,” “Pick a Pocket or Two,” “Consider Yourself” — great musical numbers. This is on par with all the bloated musicals of the 60s. Most of them are good, some of them are unbearable. This one is one for the good side.
The Scalphunters (1968)
Fun western. Burt Lancaster and Ossie Davis. Buddy comedy, essentially. He runs into some indians and they steal all his furs and leave him with Ossie Davis, a slave. They plan on stealing the furs back together, but then some “scalphunters” come and kill the indians. So now they have to get them back from the gang. Very, very fun. Sydney Pollack directs. Also stars Telly Savalas and Shelley Winters. Look at those five names. How can you go wrong?
The Swimmer (1968)
Burt Lancaster again. Frank Perry, too. Again, let me take the time to say that Frank Perry is one of the most underrated filmmakers of all time. His first four movies (this is number three. 1 and 2 are also on this list) are all incredible pieces of filmmaking. Here’s the premise of this one — Burt Lancaster is at a party at his friend’s house. There, he realizes that all of the neighbors pools snake all the way back to his house. So he decides to “swim” his way back home. And along the way, he talks to all of the neighbors as he swims in their pools, and things get a bit weird as we go on, and we slowly get more and more information. It’s actually a very tragic film, with a terrific performance by Burt Lancaster. Trust me when I say Frank Perry movies will elicit an emotion out of you. Everyone should see these movies.
The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
Oh yeah. Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway. DO NOT think seeing only the Pierce Brosnan sequel is okay. It is not. I’m going to assume you’ve seen neither and that you’re intelligent and will see this one. It’s about a rich guy who hires other guys to commit a crime for him for fun. He thinks it’s perfect. Only Faye Dunaway is the insurance investigator who will stop at nothing to find out where the money is. So the whole movie is her knowing it’s him and trying to catch him and him having fun with the whole thing. Terrific 60s movie, and should be considered essential viewing.
Where Eagles Dare (1968)
The best thing about this part is that I don’t have to sell these movies to Colin, because he’s seen a bunch of them and knows how awesome they are. This movie is great. Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood. ‘Nuff said. Just see this movie. It’s so much fun. THIS is a proper war movie.
Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)
This might be my favorite of the costume dramas. It’s about Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Henry VIII was a minor character in A Man for All Seasons, and Sir Thomas More’s decision to not allow him to divorce was the driving point of that film. This is told from Anne’s perspective. How Henry meets her, and she wants absolutely nothing to do with him, but instead falls in love with the power of the position. And we see her blossom into this whole new woman — which is threatened by her inability to bear Henry a son. And, well — we know how that ends. It’s a great movie. Genevieve Bujold should have won Best Actress for her performance in this. Richard Burton is incredible too. All these costume dramas are terrific. See them all.
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969)
Paul Mazursky’s first movie. He’s like Frank Perry. He made some really terrific and underrated movies in his career. Many of which are almost forgotten now. Here’s the premise — Bob and Carol are played by Robert Culp and Natalie Wood. They’ve gone to counseling and decide to be open with one another and share everything. Ted and Alice are played by Elliott Gould and Dyan Cannon (both got nominated for this). They’re pretty conservative, and are shocked by this. Because the openness includes Bob talking about an affair that he had. And the whole movie is basically the two couples hanging out in various pairs or all together and having open discussions about sex. And it’s a really great film. I love how sex is just this open topic, which is starting to become more of a thing in this part of the 60s, but not as much as it is in this movie. The ending is also very memorable. You should see this.
Cactus Flower (1969)
Hilarious movie. Goldie Hawn has just been dumped and is putting her head in the oven to kill herself. She’s done this because she’s been dating Walter Matthau, and he broke up with her because he told her he had a wife and kids. (He’s not married.) Though when he finds out she tried to kill herself, he decides he actually wants to marry her. Though to keep her from finding out that he lied, he has to fabricate a wife and kids. So he uses his assistant to pose as his wife. That’s Ingrid Bergman, for those keeping score. And the ruse plays out, and of course comedy ensues. It’s all very funny. (They actually stole this plot for the shitty Adam Sandler movie Just Go With It. Please don’t ever see that movie.) Goldie Hawn won an Oscar for this. She’s pretty great. (Pretty and great.)
Castle Keep (1969)
Battle of the Bulge — a small squad of American soldiers are stuck in a castle and have to defend it against the Germans. Simple plot. Badass war movie. Sydney Pollack directs. Starring Burt Lancaster, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Peter Falk, Bruce Dern — at this point, I bet a lot of people are going, “How do I know nothing about this movie?” As you should.
The Italian Job (1969)
It kills me to think that more people know this for the Mark Wahlberg version and not this one. This is the original, and this is the essential one.
John and Mary (1969)
I really love this movie. It’s an in depth analysis of a one night stand. This is a movie that film students nowadays making theses are gonna think is really terrific, because it’s exactly the kind of stuff that they’d make now. Here’s the premise — Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow (he’s coming off The Graduate and she’s coming off Rosemary’s Baby) meet in a bar and spend the night together. The next day, they realize they know nothing about one another, and spend the day getting to know who the other is. And as they talk, we hear their inner thoughts. Thinking about a potential future with this other person, making assumptions about them based on their mannerisms or something they said, flashing back to previous relationships. It’s really interesting. A lot of people don’t like this movie, apparently. I thought it was pretty terrific simply because of how different it is and how much of a nontraditional narrative it has. Sure, it’s not perfectly executed, but since this hasn’t been executed better than this movie, I’ll give them all the credit for the effort.
Last Summer (1969)
Frank Pery again. This movie. I’m gonna give you the rundown of my experience with this movie. It’s the year of May 2010 to May 2011. I’ve graduated college, and I’ve got nothing going on. The only things I’m doing are the Oscar Quest and visiting friends still at college every couple weeks and getting shitfaced with them. The thing is, with me, when I’ve got nothing going on and no responsibilities, I’m nocturnal. I sleep between 5 am and noon. So anyway, I’m in the middle of my movies, and it’s early February 2011, and I see this movie on TCM at 2:45 in the morning. I realize that this might be my only chance to see it (this is before I learned how to really procure hard to find movies). So I stay up to watch it, not expecting much. To me, it’s just a tally. Then I can say I’ve seen it and not have to worry about it. And I’m also focusing on Catherine Burns, who was nominated.
So I’m watching, and it’s about three people vacationing on Fire Island. Barbara Hershey (you should know who she is), Richard Thomas (if you’ve seen the color, TV movie version of All Quiet on the Western Front, he’s the main character) and Bruce Davison (you’ll recognize him as the senator in the first X-Men). They become really close. Then, along comes Catherine Burns as the fourth person, threatening to mess up the group. So I’m watching this movie, and at first I’m like, “Okay, this is weird but interesting.” Because there’s seemingly no plot here. And then Catherine Burns shows up, and I’m like, “All right, she’s not bad.” And there’s one scene where they’re all sitting in a living room, talking, and I’m going, “Oh my god, this woman is amazing. She was actually good enough to win.” She’s really good. And then the movie gets to the point where, when you hit the last ten minutes, you’re in this complete state of shock over what’s happened. And then when the movie ends, you’d just sitting there, stunned. It’s really something else. Just watch the movie and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I saw the end of this movie at 5 am and then had to go to bed. I’m pretty sure I just laid there for two hours thinking about this before I could finally fall asleep. This was a hell of a movie.
Medium Cool (1969)
This is gonna be on a lot of essential lists. It’s a docudrama, incredibly shot. Robert Forster is a cameraman shooting footage of the 1968 Democratic Convention. And things — well, just see the movie. It’s essential, so just watch it. It’s a hell of an experience.
The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969)
You’re gonna be sold on the logline. So I’ll start by saying this was directed by Stanley Kramer and stars Anthony Quinn and Anna Magnani. Now — here’s the logline: WWI. Germany is taking over Italy. Anthony Quinn is the mayor of Santa Vittoria, a wine-making town. He, like most people in the town, sits and drinks all day. The Germans are coming and want to take all their wine. So the town conspires to hide all of the wine from the Germans so they can’t find it. So the entire movie is them hiding the wine and the Germans trying to figure out where it is. Tell me you’re not really interested in seeing this movie right now.
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