The B+ Movie Guide: The New List (Part XXXII)
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 Sterile Cuckoo (1969)
Liza Minnelli was nominated for Best Actress for this. That’s how I saw it. And she’s great. Alan Pakula also directed this. His first movie. Her second movie and her first leading role. It’s about a college romance. He’s a shy introvert, and she’s very much the opposite of that. It’s a terrific film. I really loved the film, and I thought her performance was incredible. Good enough to win an Oscar (and arguably should have). Highly recommended hidden gem.
Support Your Local Sheriff (1969)
Ahh. This movie is fun. James Garner shows up in a western town that just struck gold. He’s a very good shot, and seems to be able to handle himself. They want him to become sheriff. He says yes. The thing is — he’s actually a coward and is doing it for the money. And he gets out of situations just by being smarter than everyone else. It’s a really funny movie, and loaded with character actors. Walter Brennan, Bruce Dern, Joan Hackett, Haryr Morgan, Jack Elam, Kathleen Freeman, Gene Evans. Lot of fun. Even non western fans will enjoy it. It’s a lesser Blazing Saddles. That is, it’s not as funny as Blazing Saddles, and it’s also lesser because it’s not lampooning the genre conventions but rather is playing them for comedy, turning some of them on their head, but is also ultimately utilizing those conventions for its plot. Whereas Blazing Saddles just completely blows the roof off of all conventions by the end. But it’s really great and I highly recommend it.
Sweet Charity (1969)
Bobe Fosse made five movies. The middle three are full stop essential. The bookends aren’t totally essential but are well worth seeing. This is his first movie. It’s a musical with Shirley MacLaine, famous for the song “Big Spender.” Oh, and this is also a musical version of Nights of Cabiria with a book written by Neil Simon. So you have a Fellini story, turned into a musical by Neil Simon, directed by Bob Fosse and starring Shirley MacLaine. The defense rests.
True Grit (1969)
Oh yeah. John Wayne won his Oscar for this. And I believe when he won he said, “If I’d have know this would happen I’d have put that eye patch on thirty years ago.” I’m assuming you’ve seen the Coen brothers version of this movie. They’re very different. Basic plot is the same and a lot of moments are the same. But they’re played very differently. I actually prefer the Coen brothers version (the opposite is the case with The Ladykillers). Wayne is really good here, and it’s a very entertaining movie. I don’t think it’s essential, but it is iconic. Dennis Hopper and Robert Duvall are in this. And Strother Martin!
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Ah, the disaster film. There are a lot of precursors to it, going back to San Francisco in 1936 and even earlier than that. The High and the Mighty is a precursor disaster movie too. And Zero Hour!, which is the film that they used for Airplane! But the 70s and this movie is really what kickstarted the genre as we know it.
This is a big, ensemble movie with a cast that includes: Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Jean Seberg, Helen Hayes, Maureen Stapleton, George Kennedy, Jaqueline Bisset and Van Heflin. Nominated for ten Oscars. Helen Hayes won for Supporting Actress. A lot of subplots going on here. No point in explaining them all. The main one is that the plane ends up in trouble and they have to land it safely or else a lot of people are gonna die. It’s a great film. Closer to The High and the Mighty to later disaster movies. But really good. Ten Oscar nominations. A real benchmark film. Consider it essential.
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)
While The Valley of the Dolls is unintentionally hilarious, this movie is intentionally hilarious. Written by Roger Ebert, directed by Russ Meyer, the king of the sexploitation film. The movie was deliberately made to be dead serious and satirical at the same time. He deliberately mixed genres to create a giant, insane movie. And it’s quite interesting. Worth seeing because of the cult nature of it all.
Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970)
Frank Perry again. If you’re watching them in order, you’re realizing how much of a treat one of these is. This one got Carrie Snodgress an Oscar nomination. The movie is about a housewife whose husband doesn’t love or respect her. So she has an affair. The whole point of the movie is that here’s this woman being mistreated, yet they consider her the one who has something wrong with her. It’s a great movie. And again, I can’t stress how much Frank Perry is one of the great underrated filmmakers of all time. You should see all of his movies because you’ve never seen anything like them.
Gimme Shelter (1970)
This is a concert film of the famous Altamont concert where the Rolling Stones hired the Hells Angels as security and they ended up stabbing a guy and it was caught on camera. Very famous documentary. And you get Stones music. How can you go wrong? (Watching the movie, not — any of the stuff that they do during the course of this documentary.)
Oh, and I guess I should also mention the other Stones documentary that’s out there — Cocksucker Blues, which was a sequel documentary to this, detailing their first US tour post Altamont. It’s pretty raw — they do drugs on camera and stuff and there’s a lot of unflattering stuff in it. To the point where they sued to never have the movie released, and it’s now only allowed to be shown once a year and the director has to be present. Though at this point, I think that’s all out the window. It’s one of those famous movies that people have copies of that they pass around to their friends (so if anyone’s interested…) and is a really fun alternate (or additional) entry to this one if you’ve already seen Gimme Shelter.
The Great White Hope (1970)
I’ve raved about this movie many times on this site. As much as I can, really. James Earl Jones is so good here, I can’t even put it into words. If he wasn’t up against George C. Scott as Patton, he’d have walked away with an Oscar and have been one of the five or ten best decisions of all time in the category. I’m not kidding. He plays Jack Jefferson, who was heavyweight champ at the turn of the century. And white people hated him. And the idea was that he was so good and so cocky that white people looked for (insert title here) to defeat Jefferson. And the movie is about Jefferson trying to get by, even though they were looking for anything they could to take him down. Get ready for one of the greatest performances you’ve ever seen.
What an interesting movie. We’re really in the 70s now. What a decade. The entire decade is masterpieces and classics and then hidden gems galore. This movie is a John G. Avildsen movie starring Peter Boyle (and a young Susan Sarandon). Sarandon is dating a drug dealer and ODs. Her father goes and kills her boyfriend. He staggers to a bar, where he meets Peter Boyle, who is Joe. He’s talking shit about how terrible hippies are. And the guy goes, “Yeah, well I just killed one of them.” And Boyle thinks he’s awesome and they become friends. And it’s this really interesting movie with a super racist Peter Boyle at the center of it. And the climax of the movie is — well, interesting, I’ll say. Very 70s.
Kelly’s Heroes (1970)
Oh yeah. War movie. Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Donald Sutherland, Carroll O’Connor, Gavin MacLeod, Harry Dean Stanton. It’s a “men on a mission” film. They all band together to steal some gold. Almost like an earlier version of Three Kings. Terrific film. Lot of fun, really classic. You need to see this if you love movies.
The Molly Maguires (1970)
Here’s a hidden gem of a 70s movie. 19th century Pennsylvania coal mines. There’s a secret Irish group that fights back against the owners. And an Irish detective is sent in to infiltrate the group. The great part of this film is that it stars Sean Connery and Richard Harris. Connery is the leader of the gang and Harris is the detective. It’s great. Really great and underrated. This is one of those movies you want to see so you can show other people. This is a good one to have in your pocket.
The Out-of-Towners (1970)
Neil Simon. The end. Need more? Arthur Hiller directs. Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis. He’s going for an interview in New York. Their travels go hilariously wrong all the way through. The movie is very funny, and you should see it.
There Was a Crooked Man… (1970)
Oh man, how does nobody know about this movie? One of my favorite westerns. I had no idea this existed for the longest time. Came across it quite randomly. Okay — here’s the big reasons to see it: Joseph L. Mankiewicz directs. Stars Kirk Douglas, Henry Fonda, Hume Cronyn, Warren Oates, Burgess Meredith, Arthur O’Connell and Lee Grant. It’s incredible. Kirk Douglas just stole a bunch of money and is arrested and thrown in jail. He starts cutting deals, telling everyone he’ll give them a share of the money if they let him out. This movie is entertaining as all hell. Kirk Douglas is the biggest scumbag in the world in this movie. It’s actually hilarious how much of a dickbag he is. This is a hugely entertaining movie, and would be on my list of the most underrated westerns ever made.
Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
Pearl Harbor, shown from both the American and Japanese point of view. It’s an essential movie, so just get on seeing it rather than waiting for me to tell you what it’s about. It’s a classic.
The Twelve Chairs (1970)
Ah, the forgotten Mel Brooks film. This is actually up there with some of his funniest stuff. This is actually funnier than a lot of his later movies that people hold in high regard (Spaceballs, Men in Tights). Actually, IMDB’s logline is good enough to leave by itself: “In 1920s Soviet Russia, a fallen aristocrat, a priest and a con artist search for a treasure of jewels hidden inside one of twelve dining chairs, lost during the revolution.” Brooks, Ron Moody and Frank Langella star, along with Dom DeLuise. It’s hilarious. It’s seriously a very funny movie and fits in with all his other stuff.
Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)
Another hilarious and underrated western. Clint Eastwood and Shirley MacLaine. She’s a nun on the run and he saves her. He takes her along with him and — well, I’ll leave you to figure it out. But it’s really good. It’s one of those movies that… well, I won’t spoil it. But you’ll enjoy this one.
They made a documentary about Woodstock. Which is genius. Somehow they knew that this was going to be a major historical event and had cameras rolling. So they took all of this footage and edited it down into a 4 hour film. It took seven editors to do this, two of whom are Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker (she was actually nominated for Best Editing for it). And it’s a documentary about this once in a lifetime event that defined a period in time and, in a way, a generation. It’s 100% essential, and I probably should have put it on the other list.
Heist movie. Starring Warren Beatty, Goldie Hawn and Gert Frobe (aka Goldfinger). He’s a security expert and she’s a hooker and they want to steal a bunch of money from a safety deposit box. It’s really entertaining. Richard Brooks directed this. I’d say, probably ten of his movies are on both of these lists. You can trust him to make a great movie.
The Anderson Tapes (1971)
One of the most underrated movies of the 70s. What a gem. And I bet no one knows about this movie. Ready for this? Sidney Lumet directed it. It stars Sean Connery, Christopher Walken, Ralph Meeker, Martin Balsam, Dyan Cannon, Garrett Morris, Alan King and contains the final big screen appearance of Margaret Hamilton. Connery gets out of prison after ten years and starts planning another job. The beauty of this movie is that it’s all about surveillance and surveillance footage, pre-The Conversation. Trust me when I say this is a great 70s movie that nobody remembers.
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