Favorite Movies—Decade by Decade

OK, I am feeling very chagrined by the movie threads, where few people seem to know (or like) any movies made before, say, 1985. So, lemme ask: what are your favorite films for each decade? I can’t really even answer that, for the opposite reason most people will have (I didn’t SEE enough 1990s films to make an intelligent choice!)

1900s—We can really skip this one; but still, I’ll pick “The Whole Damm Family and the Damm Dog” (1905).

1910s—“Intolerance” (1916). Still cry at the end, every time.

1920s—“It” (1927). Clara Bow’s best film, I think. Very funny, and Tony Moreno is a DOLL.

1930s—“Million Dollar Legs” (1932). One of the funniest screwball comedies ever.

1940s—Either “Now, Voyager” (1942) or “Brief Encounter” (1945). Classic chick-flick tearjerkers.

1950s—“The Best of Everything” (1959). Classic glitzy “working girls in New York” soap.

1960s—Hmmm. I’m gonna have to think about this.

1970s—“Female Trouble” (1976). John Waters’ best film.

1980s—“Airplane” (1980). One of the funniest movies, ever.

1990s—Jiminy. I’ll have to think about this one, too.

1990s: * Schindler’s List *
1980s: * Glory *
1970s: * The Godfather, Part II *
1960s: * Billy Budd *
1950s: * The Young Lions *
1940s: * Casablanca *
1930s: * The Wizard of Oz *
1920s: * The Gold Rush* *

*I’m not particularly crazy about this movie, it’s just that I think it’s the only 1920s movie I’ve ever seen.

I don’t have favorites for every decade, but here are the ones I do like.
1900s-I don’t know, I always liked that “Voyage to the Moon” movie where the ship gets stuck in the moon’s eye. But then, I’m easily amused.
1930s-Wizard of Oz (1939)
1970s-A Clockwork Orange, Duel, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
1990s-Man on the Moon



1920s—“Metropolis” (1927) or “The General” (1927). So far ahead of their time they’re still being copied.

1930s—Haven’t seen enough from this decade to really get a handle on it. And yeah, I know '39 was a great year.

1940s—“The Big Sleep” (1946). They just don’t write dialog like that anymore.

1950s—Another gap.

1960s—“Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964). A comedy about nuclear war, Kubrick picked the smallest target in the world and hit it dead on.

1970s—“Network” (1976). Great when it came out, absolutely brilliant now.

1980s—“The Right Stuff” (1983). If things didn’t really happen like they do in this movie, they should have.

1990s—“L.A. Story” (1991). It has to be love when you find the only person on the planet who laughs at the same jokes you do.

Well, this thread went down like Madonna at Mardi Gras.

Jesus H. Christ in a Six-Day Bicycle Race—were the first 40 years of film history completely LOST on you people?!

1920s - The General (1927)
1930s - Bringing Up Baby (1938)
1940s - Going My Way (1944)
1950s - On the Waterfront (1954)
1960s - Breakfast at Tiffanys (1961)
1970s - A Clockwork Orange (1971)
1980s - Das Boot (1981)

Whoops; didn’t see it yesterday. Howzis?

1900s: That’s a tough call. There’s really not one title I would choose that I could watch over and over.

1910s: Easy. BROKEN BLOSSOMS (1919). Lillian Gish at her most luminous. Simple story, but beautifully filmed and tinted, with a sweet romance and tear-jerker end.

1920s: I think I have to go with METROPOLIS (1927), too. It’s got its flaws, but the images (the underground city, the massive power plant, Maria the Robot, Rotwang’s house) are indelible and still awesome. I love Keaton and Chaplin, but they pall with repeated viewings, and SUNRISE has all that dumb comic relief in the middle parts.

1930s: THE ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1932). Pre-Code horror laced with pre-Code sex. Charles Laughton chews the scenery, and half the jungle. “Do you know how it feels…to be a…God?” The House of Pain. The Panther Girl. “The natives are very restless tonight.”

1940s: ALL THAT MONEY CAN BUY (1941.) Walter Huston as a delightfully devilish Mr. Scratch, Edward Arnold as Webster. Simone Simon (meeee-OWWWW) as Belle. Buying souls in 1840s New Hampshire, and with such style! Bernard Herrmann’s best non-Hitchcock musical score.

1950s: MOBY DICK (1956). Again, terribly flawed, but who could do a better job with this project than John Huston? Great scenes from Orson Welles as Father Mapple and Gregory Peck as Ahab. And another great musical score.

1960s: TOM JONES (1963). Prurient European costume drama, with nudity. Very English, and very 1960s, even before the 1960s got fully going.

1970s: 200 MOTELS (1971). Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. “Touring can make you crazy.” Featuring Keith Moon as The Hot Nun.

1980s: What a miserable decade for movies THAT was! I’d say UNDER THE VOLCANO (1984), but that would give me Albert Finney twice. So I’ll take RAISING ARIZONA (1987), even though I dislike the ending.

1990s: Worse and worse. Ahhhh, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991).

2000’s - Bounce (but that’s only because I’ve only seen two new movies this year)
1990’s - Air Force One
1980’s - Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
1970’s - Star Wars
1960’s - 36 Hours
1950’s - Stalag 17
1940’s - It’s a Wonderful Life
1930’s - The Wizard of Oz (the only other 30’s movie I can recall seeing, Bringing Up Baby, wasn’t to my liking)

Now, now. There’s no need to get in a tizzy. Some of us just didn’t see this thread until we got into work this morning. And a great idea for a thread, I must say.

[list][li]1910s - Hard to pick, but it would be any of the numerous shorts with Harold Llyod[/li][li]1920s - The Gold Rush with Charlie Chaplin.[/li][li]1930s - Holiday with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. I love the dialogue, Hepburn looked fantastic, and you get to see Cary Grant do a backflip.[/li][li]1940s - This one is tough. I love Casablanca, but it’s already been mentioned (not that we can’t mention the same films, but you know…). So I think I’ll go for Gaslight with Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. Ahhhh, Ingrid Bergman…[/li][li]1950s - Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. Just about the perfect romantic movie. I love the ending, and where else can you see Eddie Albert as a Beatnik?[/li][li]1960s - Sure, I could go with The Graduate or Bonnie and Clyde but since we are talking personal favorites, I can’t pass up Planet of the Apes. I can’t explain it.[/li][li]1970s - Little Big Man with Dustin Hoffman. A nice big sweeping epic with comedy, drama, and Richard Mulligan as an insane Gen. Custer.[/li][li]1980s - This is Spinal Tap. I’ve seen it a dozen times and I still laugh.[/li]1990s - L.A. Confidential with Russel Crowe and Kevin Spacey. I loved the plot, the sets, the dialogue, and even Kim Basinger.

1910’s Intolerance
1920’s The General
1930’s either City Lights or The Wizard of Oz depending on my mood
1940’s Casablanca
1950’s The Searchers
1960’s A Hard Days Night
1970’s Jaws
1980’s Raging Bull
1990’s Schindler’s List

Ohhh I forgot about Bonnie and Clyde, change my '60 answer to that and my 70’s to Chinatown

Pretty much. When you spend your first twenty-two years in Arkansas, and the next six or eight living with no money, no VCR and only a 9" B/W TV, you miss out on a lot of things, particularly when you’re usually broke to boot.

And this is favorites, not best – keep that in mind as you review the list.

1920s – The Cocoanuts. The Marx Brothers’ first talkie. I probably like this one more than most people; a lot of the script recycles bits from the short-lived Marx Brothers radio show, and they’re some of my favorite routines. All in all, a little stagey and stiff, but has some wonderful moments. And my experience of other stuff from the 20s is limited. So it edges out Metropolis, unquestionably a better and more important film, as my favorite.
1930s – probably It Happened One Night, though The Thin Man and My Man Godfrey bid fair for the top spot as well (William Powell is my idol).
1940s – almost certainly Sullivan’s Travels. I do think the ending cops out a bit, but it’s a lot of fun (and it has Veronica Lake all over it – rowr!).
1950s – Hmmmmm. Touch of Evil, perhaps? Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman gets an honorable mention as well (Allison Hayes and Yvette Vickers in the same movie!).
1960s – I’ll have to pencil in Dr. Strangelove and think about it more.
1970s – Ya know, I think I’ve gotta go with Star Wars here. There aren’t any movies from the seventies I can honestly claim to have enjoyed more at the time (though the hip film buff part of me wants to retrospectively put Nashville in there, and I could make a case for A Clockwork Orange).
1980s – Well, since Local Hero is my favorite movie of all time, that pretty much shuts out a number of other worthy candidates.
1990s – Hell, I’ve barely seen anything in the last decade; I’ll say Sling Blade for purely personal reasons.

What is it about hitting “Submit Reply” instead of “Preview Reply” that causes whatever inanities you’ve committed to suddenly spring forth from wherever they were hiding?

Maybe not my favorites (we already listed these alphabetically in another thread), but some that I never tire of watching:

1920s: Cabinet of Dr. Caligeri
1930s: So many great choices, but after seeing GWTW at the Byrd Theater (an old fashioned movie house with that HUGE screen, plush seating, a balcony that’s still open, and concession workers dresses as flappers) I’ll have to give the nod to Scarlet, Rhett, Melanie, Ashley, and Belle Watling (that painted up city woman).
1940s: The Maltese Falcon. My favorite movie of all time. Bogey, Mary Astor (the tramp), Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Ward Bond, and John Huston (in his directorial debut(!)) as Capt. Jacoby. “Its the stuff that dreams are made of.”
1950s: Ben Hur. Yeah, Chuck hams it up for all he’s worth but I’m a sucker for the big spectacle. Rumor has it that Heston never did pick up on the real relationship between Judah Ben Hur and Masalla (sp?) (the scene at the beginning was written by Gore Vidal, BTW). “Row, and live.”
1960s: The Apartment. I always knew Fred MacMurray was an eel.
1970s: The Godfather. Brando refused the honor of the Academy Award and sent a fake Indian to tell the assembled masses why.
1980s: I’ll second Raising Arizona. “Son, you’ve got a panty on your head.” The delivery makes it.
1990s: I’ll have to think a bit. Nothing sticks out as being worthy of comment.

1900s: The Dream of a Rarebit Fiend – is it a metaphor, or just weird?
1910s: Daddy Long Legs
1920s: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
1930s: Stage Door
1940s: The Third Man
1950s: I was tempted to say Some Like it Hot, but I think I’m going to go with The Bad Seed.
1960s: To Kill a Mockingbird
1970s: I was surprised that this was the hardest decade to pick just one. I’ll say Star Wars, but runners up included The Godfather, The French Connection, and MAS*H.
1980s: Amadeus
1990s: difficult to pick so soon after the 90s … maybe Silence of the Lambs

I made my pics based on my own enjoyment of the movies, and the fact that I love to watch these over and over again. Hence the mention of films like The Bad Seed, which I don’t think is the best film made in the 1950s. I’m just extremely fond of it.

First, I gotta say Turner Classic movies and AMC have really helped me get a leg up on old films. My true favorites have already been picked, so I’m mentioning other films I love.

1900s-George Melies’s “From the Earth to the Moon” A three-minute classic. I find it best viewed with Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” on the stereo.

1910s-“Birth of a Nation.” Yes, we know the story line is vile, but D.W. Griffith revolutionized film making with this epic. He made “Intolerance” four years later to say, “Hey, I’m not really a racist!”

1920s “Metropolis” Despite the sappy moralizing at the end,
"Metropolis is a stunning melding of German expressionism and science fiction.

1930s “The Women” Any gay man who aspires to wit must memorize this movie’s dialogue. “There’s a name for you ladies, but it isn’t used in high society, outside of a kennel.”

1940s “Casablanca,” followed closely by “The Best Years of Our Lives”

1950s “Singing in the Rain” The most perfect movie musical ever made, featuring Gene Kelly’s glorious choreography and the incandescent Debbie Reynolds.

1960s “West Side Story” Bernstein + Robbins=magic

1970s “Network” I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not taking it anymore!

1980s “A Fish Called Wanda” A comedy c-c-c-classic.

1990s “Titanic” I know it’s sappy, but I still cry at the end when Rose says, “I’ll never let go.” “Schindler’s List” is by far the best and most important film of the 1990s, but I find it indescribably depressing to watch.

Wow, tough one. Hope I don’t screw up on too many dates.

1920’s - Toss-up between “Metropolis” and “The Thief of Baghdad”. I love Fritz Lang, but who can resist Dougy Senior in a rip-roaring swash-buckler?

1930’s - Fritz Lang’s “M” and Alfred Hitchcock’s spy thriller “Secret Agent”, both with Peter Lorre giving masterful performances. “Secret Agent” also had the added bonus of an early John Geilgud performance in the lead.

1940’s - Too many really excellent movies, but if I had to choose, it would probably be “The Maltese Falcon” (yeah, yeah, Peter Lorre again - one of my all-time favorite actors). What a perfect combination of director and actors in classic hard-boiled noir. Close runner-up “Arsenic & Old Lace”, one of my traditional Christmas movies.

1950’s - Another vote for “Moby Dick” - Huston and a perfect cast again. Huston and Ray Bradbury collaborated on as good a script as is possible for this dense & difficult a book. Second favorite is “The Court Jester” Great cast & lots of fun. why isn’t there a Broadway adaptation of this yet?

1960’s - The epics take it - “Spartacus” and “Lawrence of Arabia”

1970’s - “The Sting” one of the scant handful of movies I consider to be just about perfect. Neck-and-Neck with “The Man Who Would Be King” in which Huston gets another perfect cast & script.

1980’s - Another vote for “Local Hero” sheer wonderfulness. Close tie with “Time Bandits” and “Brazil”

1990’s - “Apollo 13” ties with “Richard III”(McKellen version). Honorable mention to my favorite action film “The Hunt for Red October”

2000’s - Small pool, with “Best in Show” and “High Fidelity” well out in the lead.

With few exceptions, I couldn’t place a movie in a decade if you held a gun to my head. Even with that qualification, I can’t come up with “favorites” - there are some I like, some I don’t, and many I refuse to watch. Gee, why am I even posting here??


Glad to see that * The Man Who Would Be King * made Lucie’s list; even though I liked * The Godfather * more, TMWWBK deserved to be somebody’s favorite.

I was just thinking the same thing, Danimal. I wanted to pick it as my '70s choice, but I just HAD to be a smartass and go for the Zappa flick.

I, personally, would take THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING over THE GODFATHER in a re-viewing match in a New York minute.

Huston wanted to make this film as far back as the 1940s…his original choices for Daniel Dravot and Peachy Carnahan were Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart.

No offense to Sean Connery and Michael Caine, but wouldn’t THAT have been fun?