The B+ Movie Guide: The New List (Part XXXIV)
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:
Pete ‘n’ Tillie (1972)
This movie. I did not know what to expect with this. I saw this near the tail end of the Oscar Quest. I knew Geraldine Page was nominated for Supporting Actress for it and nothing else. And… having seen Geraldine Page be nominated 8 times for Oscars, I had expectations for it. (These were her other nominations: Hondo, which is a fine film, but not my favorite western. Summer and Smoke, which bored me to tears. Sweet Bird of Youth, which is really good, and she’s good in it. You’re a Big Boy Now, which is a weird Francis Ford Coppola comedy that’s almost incoherent. Interiors, which is Woody Allen doing Ingmar Bergman, which means I doubly didn’t like it. The Pope of Greenwich Village, which is a great movie that she’s in for one scene. And The Trip to Bountiful, where she won a veteran Oscar for a decent, but unspectacular performance.) I don’t always correlate her nominations with movies I’m going to love. But fortunately, she’s barely a part of this.
The movie is Carol Burnett and Walter Matthau. And we watch them as they meet at a party and the relationship progresses into marriage. It’s a really great film. It’s very different from most films I’ve seen, and that drew me to it. Matthau wins her (and us) over really early, and then we see this realistic portrait of two people being together who may not really love each other, but also like each other — it’s one of those relationships we’d all be in. Which is what fascinated me. And then it progresses into something totally different, to the point where, once it’s all over, you feel like you’ve been through what these people have been through.
I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. In a year with The Godfather, Deliverance, Cabaret, Sleuth, and some major films, this is actually one of my top ten favorites. That’s how much I like this movie.
The Ruling Class (1972)
What a movie. Dear god. First I will recommend that you put this on knowing absolutely nothing about it. It’s a hell of an experience. If that’s not enough for you, then keep reading.
Peter O’Toole was nominated for an Oscar for this, and in just about any other year, I’d say that he should have won by a mile. The movie starts with an Earl hanging himself. We then meet his successor, Peter O’Toole, a schizophrenic who believes he is Jesus. So the entire first half of the movie is Peter O’Toole, walking around, singing and dancing and putting himself up on a giant cross. It’s this zany comedy. And then the centerpiece of the film is a giant psychotherapy sequence where they put him through electroshock therapy and convince him that he’s not Jesus, he’s “Jack.” And so he comes out of it…. only now, O’Toole believes he’s Jack the Ripper. And the movie goes so dark from there. It’s — Peter O’Toole gives one of his greatest performances. I love this movie so much. It’s such a tonal swing that you’re forced to just go with it. I think everyone should see this movie.
Tarkovsky again. This is his other film that everyone can watch and love. It’s also one of the greatest foreign films and sci-fi films ever made. A guy is sent to a space station orbiting a planet to figure out what happened to one of the crew stationed there. And when he gets there, he finds his wife, who has been dead for ten years. It’s a gorgeous film. This is essential viewing.
What’s Up, Doc? (1972)
Screwball comedy. Peter Bogdanovich is one of those directors whose career was made emulating the films he loved growing up. He’s to screwball comedies to what Brian De Palma is to Hitchcock movies. He made this movie as a cross between Bringing Up Baby and a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
This movie is about four identical overnight bags getting misplaced among different people, and the hilarity that ensues. It stars Ryan O’Neal, Barbra Streisand, Madeline Kahn, Austin Pendleton and Kenneth Mars. It’s hysterical. Huge hit the year it came out, considered one of the funniest movies ever made — you should see this.
Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)
This is the baseball version of Brian’s Song. Starring Michael Moriarty and Robert De Niro. Moriarty is a pitcher and De Niro is a catcher. De Niro is diagnosed with a few months left to live, and the film is about them going about the upcoming season and dealing with this. It’s a great film. Also features a hilarious turn by Vincent Gardenia as their sarcastic manager.
Charley Varrick (1973)
Don Siegel directs. Walter Matthau stars. He robs a bank with his wife and friends. Only they don’t realize the money they stole belongs to the mob. So now they have a whole other problem to deal with. It’s a great film. Classic 70s movie.
The Day of the Jackal (1973)
Fred Zinnemann directs. Another classic 70s film. An assassin named the Jackal is hired to assassinate the French president. It’s terrific. Close to being full-on essential. It’s fascinating because you’re following an assassin. Plus it’s a procedural. Good stuff.
Emperor of the North (1973)
This movie is something else. Robert Aldrich directs. Stars Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and Keith Carradine. Lee Marvin plays the King of the Hobos, who is the best at hopping freight trains for free. Meanwhile, Ernest Borgnine is a sadistic conductor who takes pride in killing hobos. The movie is about Marin trying to be the first hobo to ride Borgnine’s train all the way to the end of the line. It’s a great movie. Hidden gem of the 70s. And again — it’s about hobo fighting. Why are you not watching this movie right now?
Enter the Dragon (1973)
Bruce Lee. Come on now. You know you need to see this.
The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)
Robert Mitchum is a small time gun runner who is facing a lot of jail time. And the only way he can get out of it is by snitching on his friends. It’s a perfect 70s movie and I think this is known as one of the gems of the 70s, so I don’t think you need any push from me to see this.
High Plains Drifter (1973)
Clint Eastwood. More allegorical than anything. He rides into town with some almost supernatural abilities, and the town hires him to fend off some gunmen who are going to show up. And he does so, but it’s clear he’s got other things on his agenda. Really great western. Essential, as westerns go.
The Long Goodbye (1973)
Oh, this movie. Huge influence on Inherent Vice. You can see it. It’s Robert Altman doing a Philip Marlowe movie. It’s such a great film. Elliot Gould is so good. He’s stumbling and mumbling throughout the whole thing. What a fantastic movie this is. You need to see this one. This is one of Altman’s very best.
Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing (1973)
Alan Pakula. Maggie Smith. Timothy Bottoms. Bottoms is 20 and on vacation with his family. Maggie Smith is in her 30s and lonely. They meet and strike up a romance. It’s a sweet little movie. A nice little gem that no one remembers.
O Lucky Man! (1973)
The sequel to If… It’s pretty great. It’s — I can’t really explain it, so I’ll go with what IMDB says: “This sprawling, surrealist musical serves as an allegory for the pitfalls of capitalism, as it follows the adventures of a young coffee salesman in Europe. Many actors play multiple roles, giving the film a stagy tone.” See what I mean? It’s a strange movie, but it’s really good.
Save the Tiger (1973)
Jack Lemmon won Best Actor for this. It’s about a man dealing with the complexity of life now as opposed to the way things were in the 30s and 40s. He’s trying to keep his clothing company from going under and thinks about burning the store for the insurance money. It’s hard to explain the details of this one. It’s more about theme and mood, but Lemmon is sublime here. You know how good Lemmon is. This is a performance you need to see.
The Seven-Ups (1973)
This is the proper sequel to The French Connection. They made an actual sequel, but it’s not as good. This movie is more of a sequel in spirit. It stars Roy Scheider, and has a car chase that many people actually think is better than the one in The French Connection. Scheider is the head of a group of cops who use unorthodox methods but have the highest conviction ratio for their collars. It’s good.
Soylent Green (1973)
This is weird, because everyone knows the ending. But it’s still worth seeing. It’s a really engaging movie. Charlton Heston made a couple of really entertaining sci-fi movies in the late 60s, early 70s. Also features Edward G. Robinson’s final performance. Richard Fleischer directs, and also has Joseph Cotten in it.
The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)
One of those “essential” movies you see a lot. More of a film student kind of a movie. But it’s good. It’s a masterpiece of Spanish film. Kind of like if Pan’s Labyrinth were made in the 70s. It’s a beautiful film.
A Touch of Class (1973)
Glenda Jackson won her second Oscar for this. She plays a divorced woman opposite George Segal, who is a serial cheater. He tries to sleep with her, and the whole thing goes hilariously wrong in the first half. Eventually they start a relationship, having a secret apartment where they go when he can get away from his family. It’s actually a really good film. It starts as a romantic comedy and then completely changes tones midway through. It’s really well done.
The Way We Were (1973)
Classic movie. One of the most famous romances of all time. Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand. Sydney Pollack directs. You should consider this essential based on title alone.
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