Film Classics - what are they?

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Nov 23, 2002
I was idly flicking through the channels when I found Gandi was on. Amazingly, I realised that I hadn't seen it. As it was half-way through I also ended up having to switch off (I have to watch from the opening credits!).

In fact, I haven't seen quite a lot of the big film classics (or purportedly so).

I always used to make a point of reading books that had made waves. I didn't care how much the books sold - I wanted to read those books that had changed thinking. I even managed to read the Bible (except for the Psalms), but Father Christmas never brought Das Kapital by Karl Marx.

Anyway, is this simply because I've always been steering towards literary-ism?

I have a dabbling interest in film - so which are the classics that I really should seek to rent out? Non-genre specific here.
Twelve is right. "The Godfather" is most definitely a classic. It's one of my favorites, as well.

Other classics, off the top of my head:

"Citizen Kane" - Although I don't think it is as brilliant as many critics make it out to be, it is definitely worth watching.

"The Day the Earth Stood Still" - The classic science fiction film.

"Rebel Without A Cause" - An amazing film; a bit dated now, but it almost singlehandedly created the modern concept of the teenager.

"Double Indemnity" - Classic film noir.

"A Hard Day's Night" - Okay, so it was just a way to cash in on Beatlemania. Still, a wonderful comedy.

"The Right Stuff" - This may be my favorite film of all time; it captures an era perfectly.

Let me think about this: these are the films that I think of first when I think of classics, but it is far from being an exhaustive list.
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Frankenstein (James Whale 1931 version)
Jean de Florette/ Manon des Sources
Angels with Dirty Faces
A Streetcar Named Desire (Marlon Brando/Vivien Leigh version)
And, as there's always room for a bit of Harryhausen animation...Jason & The Argonauts.

I am also a big fan of The Godfather and Citizen Kane - very good films.
North By Northwest
The Great Escape
Some Like It Hot
On The Beach
Breakfast At Tiffanys
The Last Of Sheila
Robin And Marion
12 Monkeys
Dances With Wolves
Gnome...I agree that "The Last of Sheila" is definitely a classic. However, I rarely come across anyone who even knows the film.

I also agree with you, Foxbat, about "Metropolis" and "Frankenstein". In that spirit, I would like to also offer the 1932 Karl Freund-directed "The Mummy." I first saw it when I was five years old, on television with all my cousins trying to get me out of the room because it was too "scary" for a little kid.

I'd also like to add:

"Rear Window" - Hitchcock shows you exactly what is happening, then manages to get you to believe that you didn't see what you know you saw. This my favorite James Stewart film.

"The Lion in Winter" - The late, great Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine. What more needs to be said?

"The Reivers" - You hear very little about this 1969 film which starred Steve McQueen and was based on a William Faulkner novel. I don't know why that is. It is a great film.

"The Rocky Horror Picture Show" - Not a traditional classic, I'll grant you. But it is the granddaddy of all the midnight cult classics, so I feel it belongs on an list of classic films.
My 'classics' may be a little different than others' but here they are:

The Court Jester, The Inspector General, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - Danny Kaye was a fantastic comedian and played his roles to the hilt.

Old Disney - The Love Bug, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Apple Dumpling Gang, The Incredible Mr. Limpet...there are tons more but these come up first in my head.

John Hughes teen films: The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink, Sixteen Candles, Weird Science.

Anything Godzilla ;D

All About Eve - Someone out-b*tchyed Bette Davis! Love it!

The Scarlet Pimpernel - Merle Oberon was beautiful and Leslie Howard did a fantastic job on this one.

Two Mules for Sister Sara - Squint and Shirley MacLaine were a great combo.

Victor/Victoria - I can watch this one over and over! Gotta love Julie Andrews and her cockroach scheme!

Edited to add: The Dirty Dozen and Kelly's Heroes as two of my favorite war films.

Ok, that's all I have for now.
Littlemissattitude, Thanks for reminding me about the Mummy. I've managed to track it down and now have it on order :)
The Searchers (western, sort of)
A Shot in the Dark (best Peter Sellers)
Dr. Strangelove (ok, this is better Peter Sellers
The Haunting (1963 version)
Theatre of Blood (the best Vincent Price)
Out of the Past (film noire)
King Kong (defined filmmaking better than Citizen Kane)
Well, rats. I had a message all composed and then I lost it. So, I'll try again.

dwndrgn...My own favorite Disney is "The Parent Trap." I love the camping trip. I definitely agree that "All About Eve", "Victor/Victoria", and "Kelly's Heroes" are classics. And I really like both "Sixteen Candles" and "Pretty in Pink" are very cool films, even though I haven't been a teen for awhile. :)

Foxbat...Glad to be of service.

Gnome...How could I have forgotten "King Kong"? Did you know that the filmmakers who made it had previously made a documentary called "Grass" that followed the migration of a herding group from their winter to their summer grazing lands? I had never heard of it until I saw it in a visual anthropology class last year. Actually, the filmmakers had intended to make another documentary and took off to the South Pacific to try to find another "lost tribe" (just a little ethnocentrism there). But they couldn't find such a group, and ended up making "King Kong" instead.

And that is my trivia contribution for the day. :)
I can't believe I forgot The Parent Trap! I just watched That Darn Cat with Hayley Mills the other night. ;D

Thank you for the trivia! I'm really curious as to how they came around from a documentary to King Kong. Did some chimpanzee scare them while searching for their 'lost tribe' so they decided to make a movie about it? Fascinating stuff.
I don't know what the progression from documentary to "King Kong" was. There have been books (or at least a book) written about it, but I haven't read it. But, yes, it would be interesting to know exactly how that came about.

I really liked "That Darn Cat", too. The original, I mean. I haven't seen the remake.
The Parent Trap - yes, I remember seeing that as a kid at my grandparents. :)

Believe they remade it recently. No idea why - anything think it even comes close to the original??
I haven't seen either remake, and I don't really plan to. It would be hard to improve on the originals.

Oh, and before I forget: just a little more "King Kong" trivia before I give it up. You know the huge gates where they take the pretty girls for Kong to carry off? Well, this is what happened to them after the film was made: Along with a lot of other old scenery from older movies, it was burned as part of the "burning of Atlanta" scene in "Gone With the Wind."

And, I tracked down the information about the group of people "Grass" (which was made in 1925) was about. They were the Bakhtiari, a nomadic group in Iran.

-Requiem for a Dream (if you like Sundance films)
-Of Mice and Men
-The Princess Bride
-Forest Gump (I love that movie..I'm a sap...I know)

Maybe I'll think of a few more later...
Got to add (if I haven't!) Lawrence of Arabia. Superb all round - the views of the desert, the great characters, and the absolutely superb music. It's one film that touches many things and excels at them all.

Quite different in part from the book - "7 Pillars of Wisdom" - but that's probably a relief. In the book Lawrence barely gives a fig about Arabian life - he's simply thankful no Brits were killed.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Disney
Master of the World
Its a Mad Mad , Mad, Mad World
The Great Race
Those Fantastic Flying Fools
Take the Money and Run
Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines
The Blue Max
The Guns of Navrone
Ice Station Zebra
The Dirty Dozen

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