Classic DVDs
March 18, 2004 9:21 PM   Subscribe

We've got quite a large DVD collection, but they naturally tend towards newer releases. This weekend I want to bolster the "classic" movie section. (more inside)

I need some suggestions that 1) are available in wide-screen format and 2) will hold the attention of two adults, a sixteen-year-old boy, a thirteen-year-old boy, and an eleven-year-old girl.

The kids are pretty hip to different genres, as kids go, but romance and romantic comedy are probably out unless we feel like spending an hour listening to them gripe about all the kissing (which we usually don't).

posted by mr_crash_davis to Media & Arts (62 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The Manchurian Candidate
posted by anathema at 9:38 PM on March 18, 2004

Modern Times or The Gold Rush from the Chaplin Collection. Fun for the whole family: more than smart enough for teens and adults, with slapstick and physical humor enough for kids to laugh along.
posted by crunchburger at 9:43 PM on March 18, 2004

To Kill a Mockingbird is a film that I enjoyed as a kid and to this day.
posted by teg at 9:47 PM on March 18, 2004

"Dark Star" and "The Forbidden Planet".
posted by interrobang at 9:49 PM on March 18, 2004

Rear Window and Vertigo are freakin' awesome, but I'm not sure how well they'd hold a kid's interest. Don't forget Bullitt. I'm not sure if you would define the 70s as "classic," though they were definitely a golden age of cinema. Every collection should have The Godfather I + II, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, French Connection, Taxi Driver, The Shining, American Graffiti, Animal House, Blues Brothers...
posted by keswick at 9:50 PM on March 18, 2004

Also - and I don't know if it's out on DVD yet - Chuck Jones' "The Phantom Tollbooth" is entertaining for both children and adults, and it's the kind of thing that a kid can grow up and be proud to know about.
posted by interrobang at 10:00 PM on March 18, 2004

It's not a classic, but I saw it the other day, and I thought to myself, "damn, this would hold the attention of adults as well as kids." Winged Migration. Plus I really, really enjoyed it despite the fact that it's a damned movie about birds.
posted by Hildago at 10:27 PM on March 18, 2004

The Princess Bride - a classic in my book, and it even addresses "all that kissing" from a kid point of view.
posted by Alylex at 10:29 PM on March 18, 2004

I second The Manchurian Candidate, loved that film as a kid.
posted by bobo123 at 10:31 PM on March 18, 2004

I can't judge what's good for an 11 year old but I recommend the following "classics" which are all available in their original aspect ratios (which isn't necessarily widescreen). I saw most of them as a kid:

To Kill a Mockingbird (seconded)
Grapes of Wrath
Once Upon a Time in the West
The Exorcist
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Night of the Hunter
North by Northwest
Captains Courageous
Tender Mercies
In the Heat of the Night
Paths of Glory
Lord of the Flies (original)
They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
The Hustler
The Train
The 400 Blows (if they don't mind subtitles)
A Night to Remember
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Wages of Fear (subtitles)
The Philadelphia Story
Arsenic and Old Lace
posted by dobbs at 10:37 PM on March 18, 2004

I'd say definitely Raiders of the Lost Ark, I second the Princess Bride, consider Do the Right Thing (No one will be bored, thats for sure) and Singin' in the Rain is just all around wonderful.
posted by Slimemonster at 10:54 PM on March 18, 2004

The Sting. Cool-ass period pieces always held my attention as a kid.
posted by o2b at 11:01 PM on March 18, 2004

Do Alien and Aliens count as classics yet? (Caveat: Violence, Profanity, Situations)
Kurosawa's Ran and The Seven Samurai. (Caveat: Graphic Violence)
Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet. (Caveat: Brief nudity.)
Lawrence of Arabia. (Caveat: Arabs! GASP!)

I loved all of these films when I was a teenager.
posted by Danelope at 11:04 PM on March 18, 2004

The Great Race
posted by planetkyoto at 11:06 PM on March 18, 2004

Some Like It Hot
The Apartment
Dr. Strangelove
Blazing Saddles
Young Frankenstein
The World According to Garp
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Sunset Boulevard
Double Indemnity
posted by kirkaracha at 11:12 PM on March 18, 2004

Some of them are classics, and most are probably not, but these are the movies I watched over and over as a older kid/young teen:

Watership Down
Escape From Sobibor
The Princess Bride
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
The Secret of NIMH
The original Star Wars trilogy

heh, you can probably tell what decade I grew up in. These should be OK for all of your kids, with the exception of Watership Down and Escape From Sobibor... then again, I watched and loved those movies when I was eight or so, so your mileage may vary.

Three classic anime movies I wish I'd been able to see back then:

My Neighbor Totoro
Castle in the Sky
Kiki's Delivery Service

These should be OK for everbody, they have only a little cartoonish violence. And speaking of cartoonish violence, a Looney Tunes collection is a must!
posted by vorfeed at 12:59 AM on March 19, 2004

Citizen Kane
Tarkovsky's Solaris (I like the new one, too, but you asked for older classics--this one is a Criterion Collection, though so it'll cost ya)
Brazil (again, the good version is a huge 3-disc Criterion Collection)
Full Metal Jacket, Clockwork Orange, The Shining (Kubrick is generally good--some of these won't be in widescreen format because Kubrick didn't shoot for widescreen, but that shouldn't matter if you're only concerned with keeping with the director's vision)
The Godfather (The dvd set of all three is really well produced. Watch all III, too, regardless of what people say. The third is by far the weakest, but with the strength of the other two it's still a very good film--Ebert's review was spot on if you want to look it up on
(note: wait on Goodfellas. There's a new special edition coming out to release the ancient one that I have sitting downstairs right now)
Taxi Driver
Das Boot (get the new superbit)
Glengarry Glen Ross

Some of the ones I listed are sort of "modern" classics, if you will (mid 80's to early 90's) but well worth checking out if you haven't seen them. I can't be of more help with many of the really old films, because I haven't really gone back that far myself (working my way back). Hopefully that helps though.
posted by The God Complex at 1:06 AM on March 19, 2004

All the ones above, plus:

The Wizard of Oz
Time Bandits
On The Waterfront
The Bridge on the River Kwai
The African Queen
2001: A Space Odyssey
The Maltese Falcon
The Big Sleep
Bonnie and Clyde
Annie Hall
King Kong
Scrooge (the 1951 Alistair Sim version)
posted by timeistight at 1:20 AM on March 19, 2004

Don't forget Bullitt

Oh man, yes. If the kids aren't getting the steve mcqueen, you need to learn them some, crash.

the movies i remember and treasure seeing with my father include:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (classic motherfucking Wilder)
Pink Panther series.
Every James Bond ever (well, the ones with Sean Connery -- the other ones suck. But I do have wonderful memories of my father announcing how much roger moore sucked as James Bond).
All the Star Trek films (i have good memories of my father taking me to see ... I believe ... ST6? where they went back to earth/san francisco? I mostly remember the application vulcan neck pinch on the punk rocker on the bus)
Great Escape (i don't think I saw this with my father, but i might have. great flick, although long).
Trading Places
Any Cosby standups.
Pink Panther cartoons (which I probably liked more than the movies that followed).
Woody Allen flicks (this was later on).

i'm sure there's more. I have fond memories of sitting down next to my father while he was watching a movie and seeing it with him, but I can't quite think of what they were. In the end, it's really not important.

It was enough that I watched them with him.
posted by fishfucker at 4:03 AM on March 19, 2004

No one mentioned Twelve Angry Men yet?!
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:35 AM on March 19, 2004

Uh, folks, don't take this wrong, but I myself would not show films like Bullit or the Aliens or the Godfathers to children of that age on the grounds of excessive violence [If you need a crash course on the Steve, try Cool Hand Luke or The Sand Pebbles.]

Paradoxically, tho, I say don't underestimate them: when my kids were that age I was happily surprised to find that they enjoyed dramas like 12 Angry Men and Sunset Boulevard.

And don't forget the screwball comedies, especially His Girl Friday.
posted by mojohand at 4:45 AM on March 19, 2004

Here's what's pre-1970 in my collection, in reverse chronological order):

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The Sound of Music
The Birds
Stanley Kubrick Collection
The Manchurian Candidate
Anatomy of a Murder
North by Northwest
Some Like It Hot
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Lady and the Tramp
Rear Window
Roman Holiday
The Third Man
The Big Sleep
Citizen Kane
Sullivan's Travels
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
The Wizard of Oz
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
The 39 Steps
The Bride of Frankenstein

Now that I look at it, it's a pretty stodgy, classicky list, which I guess is what you were asking for ... anything, all that's good for your target audience, except for Sound of Music, which the adults may not like (I don't care for it, but my wife does), Vertigo, which is really pretty perverse, and some of the stuff in the Kubrick collection.
posted by blueshammer at 4:47 AM on March 19, 2004

pretty much anything Hitchcock - his movies hold up well (I love Rear Window, even as a kid). And The Princess Bride is hilarious.

I have to say I'm not sure Citizen Kane would do well with the younger ones. I saw it in my early twenties and still thought it was slow and not very good.

The Philadelphia Story is awesome. And I also second 12 Angry Men and Do The Right Thing - good lessons for all.

Good luck, and have fun!
posted by evening at 4:59 AM on March 19, 2004

Great recomendations. I'd like to second (or third):

Any of the Hitchcock series
Blake Edward's Pink Panther series (or at least A Shot in the Dark)
Indianna Jones series
and all of Dobb's recs

and I'd like to chime in with:
Renior's La Grande illusion

Kubrick might be a little harsh for a 11 and 13 year old?
posted by jazzkat11 at 5:59 AM on March 19, 2004

I MUST second crunchburger's suggestion of some Chaplin. TCM has been showing a weekly synopsis of his film career for the last two Wednesdays, and I've gotten completely sucked in. He truly was a genius.
posted by pomegranate at 6:09 AM on March 19, 2004

It's been mentioned a couple of times, but...

posted by jpoulos at 6:15 AM on March 19, 2004

The Adventures of Robin Hood -- fun movie and also a great example of what a DVD should be. Swordfighting, swashbuckling, stupid humor, and romance.

Also, the Connery-era Bond films...
posted by anastasiav at 6:19 AM on March 19, 2004

There need to be more westerns on this list.
The Magnificent Seven
The good the bad and the ugly
High noon
The man who shot Liberty Valance
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Hang 'em high
A fistfull of dollars

And as I was growing up I had a real thing for WWII movies:
The great escape
The dirty dozen
Kelly's heroes
Von Ryan's Express
posted by ssmith at 7:24 AM on March 19, 2004

The Monty Python movies
The City of Lost Children
Altered States
Withnail & I
How To Get Ahead in Advertising
The Elephant Man
Any and all of the Laurel & Hardy movies/shorts

The Thing
posted by Blue Stone at 7:36 AM on March 19, 2004

Oh! Oh! And "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" (the Terry Gilliam version not the original b&w German one)!
My second favourite film, (and hugely and undeservedly maligned)!
posted by Blue Stone at 7:39 AM on March 19, 2004

Lawernce of Arabia
The General (Buster Keaton's best film, IMHO, and my kids have enjoyed it)
Get Bullit, but only show the car chase. (I remember my dad had me watch that part when it was on TV. All car chases are copies of that chase.)
Grand Prix
Rear Window
posted by grefo at 7:41 AM on March 19, 2004

I'm seconding mojohand's view on some of these films. I certainly would not show someone getting shot in the throat to anyone under 16, if not 18.

I used to love the Indiana Jones trilogy as a kid. I think you can get a DVD box set.
posted by derbs at 7:41 AM on March 19, 2004

The Third Man
Rear Window
Withnail and I

I think others have mentioned these though.

Are you interested in world cinema, or is it english only films?
posted by davehat at 7:44 AM on March 19, 2004

Some silents (note that they're pre-widescreen):

Peter Pan
The Thief of Bagdad
The Iron Mask
The Man Who Laughs
City Lights

Also, any Lon Chaney, although he might be too scary for young 'uns.
posted by hyperizer at 7:50 AM on March 19, 2004

50's Gene Kelly musicals. Singing in the Rain, American in Paris + lesser ones like On the Town & Anchors Aweigh.
posted by skyscraper at 8:26 AM on March 19, 2004

The Searchers

John Wayne, unfortunately, has been underrated in recent times. This movie is a masterpiece.
posted by rocketman at 8:30 AM on March 19, 2004

How old does a movie have to be before it is a "classic"?
Since the B&W territory has been covered pretty well above, here are some movies from the 70's and 80's:

Quest For Fire (might be too sexy for the youngest)
Rain Man (might be too sexy for the youngest)
Raising Arizona
A Christmas Story
Planes, Trains, & Automobiles
The Right Stuff
Stand By Me
Chariots of Fire
Sophie's Choice

Then there is the Vietnam War triple threat: Deer Hunter, Platoon, Apocalypse Now, but I don't know if that is family viewing. Depends on your feelings about violence, I guess.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:33 AM on March 19, 2004

Here are a few morally instructive classics that may be a bit challenging for your younger kids but are worth getting into their heads:

Mister Roberts
Sweet Smell of Success
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence
Absense of Malice
The Swimmer
Seven Days In May

and of course they should see Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory.
posted by nicwolff at 9:12 AM on March 19, 2004

These are all great recommendations, but I sure wouldn't show Unforgiven (a great movie) to anyone under 18 or so. Same goes for Gravy's 'Nam movies. It's not just the violence, it's a whole view of life that I personally think you need to be fairly adult to put in context.

On preview: the same goes for Sweet Smell of Success! Jesus, teenagers are cynical enough already; you want to put that into their heads?

Oh, and if you like Winged Migration, you should also like the amazing Kestrel's Eye.
posted by languagehat at 9:19 AM on March 19, 2004

a crash course on the Steve, try Cool Hand Luke

Actually, Paul Newman plays Luke. Not McQueen. It would still be good for the kids though. For McQueen I'd show 'em The Great Escape.
posted by dobbs at 10:03 AM on March 19, 2004

Do some of you people know anyone under the age of 40? All that's missing from a couple of these (otherwise really cool) lists is Bergman.

I'd definitely second the idea of WWII flicks from the 60s. Guns of Navarrone should make the list. Harvey would be a decent one as well. Just saw The Taking of Pelham 123 recently and that was terrific. Some "strong language" in that though.
posted by yerfatma at 10:07 AM on March 19, 2004

Stalag 11
posted by yerfatma at 10:08 AM on March 19, 2004

Gremlins 1 & 2
posted by Blue Stone at 10:15 AM on March 19, 2004

almost everything in the Criterion collection seems like a good choice. expensive but good. among newer releases I'd sigle out Renoir's La Regle Du Jeu, David Lean's Great Expectations, the Charade re-reissue.
not-as-new release especially good are The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, the timeless Grand Illusion, Umberto D, Time Bandits
posted by matteo at 10:20 AM on March 19, 2004

and of course to give them some perspective on all this IraqAttaq thing, I'd show them Lewis Milestone's All Quiet on the Western Front. but then they'd probably grow up all pacifist and commie and stuff, so be careful

posted by matteo at 10:25 AM on March 19, 2004

These are all great recommendations, but I sure wouldn't show Unforgiven (a great movie) to anyone under 18 or so. Same goes for Gravy's 'Nam movies. It's not just the violence, it's a whole view of life that I personally think you need to be fairly adult to put in context.

It depends on the kid, but yeah, eleven is probably too young. I was just listing some of the "older" movies I own and kind of didn't consider that part of the criteria. Then again, I probably watched it a year or two after it came out in '92 and I'm only 21 now. I probably didn't contextualize it fully (the same way I didn't contextualize a lot of great movies) but I certainly didn't watch it in a killing-is-cool way. It's pretty much a decision for parents, but if you have well-adjusted kids it's not nearly as dangerous as one may think it is.

And to the person who said Citizen Kane was "boring" and "slow" to someone of youth, I agree, to some extent. But asking your kids to spend a couple hours seeing how modern cinema was shaped might be worth it. It's absolutely fantastic.
posted by The God Complex at 10:36 AM on March 19, 2004

Do yourself a favor and pick up this fantastic book: 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. I spent four years in film school and ran a coolass video shop for 5 years and as a result have read hundreds of books on movies--this is the single best volume of "see this" I've ever found. So far I've only noticed one film that I truly love that is missing from the book (Carnal Knowledge) and agree with the inclusion of every movie in it that I've already seen. The best $25 you'll spend on movie education. Each film has an essay (250-750 words), list of crdits/awards, and every page has gorgeous stills.
posted by dobbs at 10:57 AM on March 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

It has already been mentioned, but Lawrence of Arabia is beautiful on DVD. Also, someone above mentioned Stalag 11; they might have meant Stalag 17. It is fun to watch Stalag 17 and The Great Escape together and note what was lifted from each to make Hogan's Heroes.

While we are on WWII movies, I didn't notice The Bridge Over the River Kwai above.

Another movie I didn't see above is the original Cape Fear, with Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum; although it might be a bit heavy for the younger viewers.
posted by TedW at 11:13 AM on March 19, 2004

Response by poster: "Are you interested in world cinema, or is it english only films?"

I think subtitled foreign films would go over just fine. They're all voracious readers, so keeping up with the captioning wouldn't be a problem.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:50 AM on March 19, 2004

they might have meant Stalag 17

Yeah. The part of my brain that stores World War II entertainment is all cross-wired so Stalag 17 gets crossed with Bob Crane's antics. I expect my Nazis to be evil and kooky.

If subtitles aren't a problem, Run Lola Run and King of Masks might fit the bill, though neither is very old.
posted by yerfatma at 12:01 PM on March 19, 2004

None of these are over PG-13 and most are from the 70's or before. All are available on DVD, but I'm not sure if they're all wide-screen format.

Along Came Jones
Andromeda Strain
Bang the Drum Slowly
The Bedford Incident
Ben Hur
Bite the Bullet
Breaker Morant
Cat Ballou
Jeremiah Johnson
King Rat
Lilies of the Field
The Natural
The Old Man and the Sea
Paint Your Wagon
The Shootist
Silent Running
The Sorcerer
Support Your Local Sheriff
What's Up, Tiger Lily
You Can't Take It With You
posted by joaquim at 12:16 PM on March 19, 2004

Harold and Maude.
posted by holloway at 5:25 PM on March 19, 2004

I watched Bullitt with a six year-old kid -- she loved the chase almost as much as I did (complete with "How'd they get all the way over there?") -- and found it less frightening and gory than Temple of Doom. Different strokes, I suppose.

At this point, and with kids that age, it's safe to say 80's film could be considered "classic" for purposes of collection: I don't see Spaceballs mentioned yet, and if you don't already have it, I'd suggest Ghostbusters as well. I'll also third Time Bandits, if you get the Criterion Collection print, and give another nod to The Great Escape. A lot of people like The Goonies, though I don't, but the kids'll probably enjoy it.

Nobody has said anything about Enter the Dragon, and that's a critical cornerstone of any movie collection. Drunken Master II has a couple of moments that might not be easy to explain to your youngest, but is, for the most part, family entertainment.
posted by majick at 6:07 PM on March 19, 2004

The Odd Couple. Not a classic yet but hopefully it will be in the future--if you haven't seen A Little Princess yet watch it with your kids! The Secret Garden, too. I wanted to recommend A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but it's not on DVD yet. Rashoman. Picnic at Hanging Rock. Gleaming the Cube. Big Night. Gaslight. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, maybe (too bawdy?). Charlotte's Web. Haven't seen Matilda yet but the book's a Dahl classic.
posted by ifjuly at 7:07 PM on March 19, 2004

Also: Weird Al's UHF is great entertainment, as is Kentucky Fried Movie, which it borrows from.
posted by majick at 7:20 PM on March 19, 2004

As counter-point to Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory, I would also show them Salaam Bombay!, although it's not an old film (it's from 1988). The main characters are kids, which may make it more interesting to your kids. It's a good introduction to subtitled/"foreign" films (there isn't lots of rapid-fire subtitles). It's good for showing how not all films are cheery all of the time. And adults will like it too. (Plus, the DVD has featurettes that are actually worth watching.)

However, it does touch on or refer to themes that might be a little intense for the young ones. There's no nudity or sex in the movie, but drugs and prostitution play a part of the story.

Without knowing more about what they usually watch and what their tolerance level is, it's hard to make lots of recommendations. When I was little and went to the see the Raiders of the Lost Ark for a second time in the theater, I brought along two friends because I wanted them to watch the coolest movie ever. The face melting at the end of the film completely freaked them out. I had no idea that they would be disturbed by it so much.
posted by gluechunk at 8:46 PM on March 19, 2004

Also, if I had a kid I wouldn't let them watch Lawrence of Arabia on DVD. They'd either have to see the 70mm version in a theater or not see it at all.
posted by gluechunk at 1:16 AM on March 20, 2004

dobbs, as soon as I read your comment I stopped scrolling down the thread and went right to Amazon and put that book on my wish list. As far as movies are concerned, you are my personal MeFi God.
*lights candle at dobbs altar*

Oh, and I know perfectly well that Kids These Days are used to all kinds of kinkiness and general unpleasantness. I don't happen to think that's a good thing, and if I had a kid I would not voluntarily contribute to it. I think being raised with a general sense that the world can be a good place and people are capable of being kind and honest gives you a context in which to fit the really nasty stuff later. If you grow up thinking the world is shit and the only proper response is to be totally cynical, then...
*looks around, waves arms in demonstrative fashion*
posted by languagehat at 9:31 AM on March 20, 2004

then you're right.


posted by matteo at 5:06 PM on March 20, 2004


A bajillion posts and nobody mentions THE MARX BROTHERS?!?!!!

Duck Soup and A Night at the Opera are both high-freekin'-larious, though you might have to spend a minute here and there explaining that these were in part old vaudeville shows that were filmed, and that NOBODY HAD DONE THE MIRROR GAG BEFORE.

(or Love Happy, a subpar Marx Brothers film but has the virtue of being Marilyn Monroe's first major role; she steals her scene)

Or just get the Looney Tunes box set, a big thing of Oreos or Chips-Ahoy, and sit down for some fun.

I'd mention Les Troi Stooges, but then I'd get shouted down by the XX crowd
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:52 PM on March 20, 2004

I love this thread !!!!

Spencer Tracy in the courtoom - Inherit the Wind (love movies that give you something to talk about afterwards); Adam's Rib (with Hepburn - really anything with Tracy and Hepburn is GREAT, but this is one of the best)

When I read what fishfucker said about watching movies with his father, I immediately thought of Jimmy Stewart - Glenn Miller Story with June Allison (I can still remember how heart-broken I was when I found out they weren't really married in real life after seeing this and Stratton Story); Shenendoah (Civil War anti-war movie); Made for Each Other (plays young newlywed with Carole Lombard). Sprit of St. Louis, about Lindbergh's flight, isn't out in DVD yet, but really should be.

Way We Were- NOT a great movie. Embarassing cringe-inducing overacting from Streisand. BUT interesting historical references for lefties - Hollywood Blacklisting in the fifties, Eleanor Roosevelt, Spanish Civil War, early no-nukes movement.

Reds - Russian revolution with Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson and Maureen Stapleton

Funny Girl - IMHO, the one and only great Streisand flick.

All The President's Men

Barefoot in the Park - wonderful comedic acting from Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Mildred Natwick and Charles Boyer.

This looks interesting to me, cause I loved Intolerance and appreciated Broken Blossoms from D.W. Griffith with Lillian Gish, BUT LOTS of caveats - I find Birth of a Nation unwatchable and even with Broken Blossoms you have to make a LOT of allowances for racial attitudes of the times.

Wish they would bring out Lilian Gish's silent Scarlet Letter. It's been a long time since I've seen it but I remember it as completely enchanting.

How the West Was Won - Chock-full of great stars, lots of action and "first feature film to be photographed and projected in the panoramic three-camera Cinerama process" according to Amazon.

Hepburn - Philadelphia Story; Lion in Winter(kids might not like it, but I love it for the sheer joy of watching Kate and Peter O'Toole play their roles to the hilt and right on over the top)

Cary Grant - Notorious (Classic Hitchcock - with spell-binding Ingid Bergman)'; To Catch a Thief (more great Hitch with ethereal Grace Kelly); North by Northwest (another one of my dad's Hitchcock favorites);

Melvyn Douglas - Can't understand why he wasn't much bigger star. His dry wit always completely wins me over. Sadly, Ninotchka and Mr. Blandings Build His Dream House (Melvyn plays charmingly irritating third wheel to Cary Grant and Myrna Loy) aren't on DVD, but I'll keep hoping this injustice is soon corrected.

Marnie - more Hitch. Nowadays, the idea of adult bad behavior being caused by suppressed childhood memories is so overdone, but this is the first example I can remember. I saw it at an impressionable age, and it really got to me. Marnie's mom was played by an actress whose name I don't know, but everytime she pops up in something else, I always think, ooooh, there's Marnie's creepy mom again. I read or heard someone somewhere criticizing the dockside backdrop in the last scene as they are leaving her house for its obvious fakey-ness, but for me it just added to the creep factor.

Night of the Hunter - more primal dread - Robert Mitchum as evil preacher and Lillian Gish as saintly grandmother-ly figure.

Dr. Zhivago

Twelve Chairs (early Mel Brooks, lots of great wide shot scenery and an incredibly hunky Frank Langella.)

McCabe and Mrs Miller (set in VERY crude mining town with wonderful Leonard Cohen soundtrack)

Days of Heaven - Among the best cinematography ever. Wonderfully unsettling narration from Linda Manz playing Richard Gere's little sister.

Badlands - Another Terrence Malick movie with even more unsettling narration from Cissy Spacek. Based on Charles Starkweather murder spree in the 50's.

Splendor in the Grass - the ultimate heartbreaking star-crossed lovers movie.

Elephant Man - David Lynch weirdness, but very moving at the same time.

Risky Business - Not a Tom Cruise fan, but I love this. It has this 'style', that when I first saw it, seemed completely fresh to me. Hynotic soundtrack from Tangerine Dream.

The In-Laws (the ORIGINAL with Peter Falk and Alan Alda)

Straight Story - David Lynch's least Lynch-like movie. A sweet story quietly told with wonderful performance from Richard Farnsworth.

Visions of Light - gorgeous movie about gorgeous movies.

So many other great movies have already been mentioned but I'd like to give 2 especially stong seconds to Grapes of Wrath. And A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Sorry for the length. I could go on and on when it comes to movies.
posted by marsha56 at 9:44 PM on March 20, 2004

Got a little too carried away.

Realized that more of these than I realized at the time may not be suitable for kids. Especially Badlands and McCabe and Mrs. Miller.

And while Straight Story is a great family movie, it really isn't old enough yet to be a classic.

Scorry !!
posted by marsha56 at 10:09 PM on March 20, 2004

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