Forgotten Classic Movies

I’ve seen a lot of movies. Old ones, new ones, all kinds. For many years, I’ve taken the Leonard Maltin book and highlighted the movies I’ve seen. Then I’ve even taken the step of making a long, long list of movies I’d like to see someday. Ok, so I’m a tad obsessive! I also use Videohound, belong to the Home Film Festival, and post frequently on IMDB.

I know there are many people on this board who share this passion, and I’d like to draw on that vast among of moviegoing experience now.

I’d like people to give me their favorite old movies that maybe most people don’t know about. For example, I just finished watching The Wicker Man (1975), with Edward Woodward. A magnificent film and a great, great ending, say I. Next on my docket is 1942’s Random Harvest.

Cult films are prime candidates for this kind of list, of course. What I’m trying to avoid here are:

o New movies

o Movies from the past, say, 10 years. Nothing against the off-beat stuff that’s out there now, but my theory is that a movie’s not classic until a few decades have passed as a testement to its endurance. I’m sure Eve could come up with a few, as I noticed in a few posts she likes films from the 1940’s (earlier, even?).

o Movies Everyone Has Heard Of. Ok, pretend you’re Joe Six-Pack. You don’t know your All The President’s Men from your All the King’s Men. You know movies like Casablanca, All Quiet on the Western Front, Gone With the Wind, and The Wizard of Oz. Let’s avoid stuff you, Joe Six-Pack, recognize.

Since this thread is certainly not just for me, I would welcome any other film. I personally am not a big fan of foreign films or documentaries; perhaps you are. No problem! Bring them on!

Here’s some to start us off:

Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)
Capricorn One (1978)
The Ox-Bow Incident (1947)
Crossfire (1947)
Force of Evil (1948)

Thanks, and have at it!

The Court Jester, starring Danny Kaye is almost forgotten. It’s also one of the all-time funniest movies ever made.

A bizarre and funny animated movie called Twice Upon A Time came and went in the early '80s and is a gem of a movie.


A good WWII movie that also was a bit of psychological thriller was “36 Hours”.

James Garner is a US Army Major who knows the secrets of the allied invasion of Normandy just before it’s about to take place. He’s captured by the Germans (being beaten during his abduction). He’s then brainwashed when he awakens to think that it’s several years after the war, so that he might let slip some crucial details of the invasion (mainly the where).

I think this ranks right up there with “Stalag 17” in the WWII genre.

This one is kind of on the edge, but I’ll go with it anyway:

“The Front Page,” with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. In my opinion, the best adaptation of the classic stage play. Its hilarious, touching, and you get to see Cary Grant at his most smarmy and annoying, as an editor who just can’t let his best reporter go and finally realizes how much he lvoes her. Great performances from the entire cast, and there is nothing better in Rosalind Russell’s career (though I have a love for “The Trouble With Angels”).

I’m still waiting on John Huston’s The Kremlin Letter to be released. Same with Man in the Glass Booth starring Maximilian Schell, (which I believe was based on the play by Robert Shaw of all people). While neither of them are considered “classics,” I remember reading about them years ago, but they’re still locked away, gathering dust in someone’s archives. . . .

You know, it would help if I GOT THE FREEKING NAME OF THE MOVIE RIGHT!

The original play, and the 1974 movie, are titled “The Front Page.” The 1940 version which I speak of above is “His Girl Friday,” directed by Howard Hawks (there is also the 1988 version, “Switching Channels,” but despite having Kathleen Turner it’s a pale update).

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

WESTERNS: Little Big Man/ Soldier Blue/ The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid

Nic Roeg: Walkabout/ (the one with Gary Busey where Marilyn Monroe meets Einstein)/ The Man who Fell to Earth

Fanny and Alexander

Repo Man

State of Seige/ Missing

There actually IS a 1931 version of the play, although for the life of me I can’t remember who’s in it. Pat O’Brien, maybe? At any rate, IIRC there is no gender issue - the reporter and the editor are both male.

That Nicholas Roeg movie you mean, dustMagnate is called Insignificance (1985). A very remarkable film! I’ve seen it, plus The Man Who Fell to Earth (David Bowie), Repo Man, and Missing.

I’m adding the ones you guys mention that I’ve not seen to a list… someday I’ll see them all!

Damn, I forgot the 1931 version of “Front Page”…

Anyway, I just came up with another one, reminded by “The Man Who Fell To Earth”:

Joe Morton in the remarkable John Sayles movie “Brother From Another Planet.” Brilliant performance by Joe Morton (who you may remembers as Dyson in “Terminator 2,” his guest appearance on “X Files” this year, or as oone of the few worthwile things about “Blues Brothers 2000”) as an alien slave who escapes to Earth. He just happens to be black, and it’s the best in the genre of “aliens learning about common human culture,” which also includes teh wonderful Jeff Bridges performance in “Starman.”

Morton, however, has the acting disadvantage of not speaking. It’s not a disability, but rather just the way he is - it also results in everybody he meets projecting their own words on him.

Great use of late '70s New York City locales, including one of those neighborhood bars where you better know somebody before you sit down. Also look for John Sayles as one of the alien cops looking for Joe Morton.

“The Wind” dir. Victor Sjostrom (Seastrom) – truly great silent film.

“The 39 Steps” Alfred Hitchcock – I think this is overlooked because it’s B&W, but it’s one of the most entertaining films ever made.

“Them!” A vastly underrated SF/thriller.

“It Came From Outer Space” One of several Jack Arnold classics, with a nice twist ending. Watching it in 3D is optional, but nice.

“She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” John Ford – John Wayne’s best role.

“Fort Apache” John Ford. Henry Fonda as a George Custer figure; John Wayne as his subordinate who’s sympathetic to the Indians. Ford shows his “print the legend” philosophy.

Thanks for the ID on “Insignificance”. My brain shorted from all the one-word titles out there.

I saw many of my favorite movies on BRAVO before they started having commercials. They will show director’s cuts sometimes. Saw a six hour Das Boot (cut down from the 15 hour original) as well as the five hour Fanny and Alexander.

I recommended somewhere before: pick a favorite director or several and try to see everything they’ve done. In Altman’s case that would mean tracking down his old TV shows too.

A couple more ‘war movies’: Birdy, Bless the Beasts & Children, Gardens of Stone, Go Tell the Spartans, 84 Charlie MoPic, The Odd Angry Shot, Rolling Thunder.

I second ‘Brother From Another Planet’. The subway scene, last stop before Harlem: “now I’ll make all the white people disappear!” What a great movie.

Love this movie. However, I must issue a warning. Beware the kiddie-fied version where they cut out all the bad words. The adult version is much more fun.

I’m kinda partial to him in Red River or The Searchers (and how do we forget Stagecoach)… Ah, but now we’re really digressing, and this would be a topic for another thread. Thanks for the input, RealityChuck!

That Rolling Thunder that you mention, dustMagnate… Is that the one with Tommy Lee Jones from the 70s? (Only one that I can think of right now…)

Ah, a forgotten western!

“Westward the Women,” about a group of mail-order brides headed for California. Great use of location shots (especially effective in the haul across the western desert). Darker than you’d expect, it doesn’t skimp on showing just how ardous of a haul this was before the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.

One note of warning: there is a colorized version wandering around. It’s, quite frankly, a good colorized version, but stick with the black and white version.

That’s the one. William DeVane too, before he started doing dumb TV shows.

Cotton Comes to Harem (Dir: Ossie Davis; Stars: Godfey Cambridge, Raymond St. Jacques)

The Anderson Tapes (Dir: Sidney Lumet; Stars: Sean Connery, Dyan Cannon)

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (Dir: Joseph Sargent; Stars: Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw)

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Dir: Peter Yates; Stars: Robert Mitchum, Peter Boyle)

Charley Varrick (Dir: Don Siegal; Stars: Walter Matthau, Joe Don Baker)

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (Dir: John Cassavetes; Star: Ben Gazzara)

Gloria (Dir: John Cassavetes; Star: Gena Rowlands)

Should be: Cotton Comes to Harlem, dammit

“‘The 39 Steps’ Alfred Hitchcock – I think this is overlooked because it’s B&W, but it’s one of the most entertaining films ever made.”

I love “39 Steps” too! It pops up ever so often after 10pm on the second PBS station here in Chicago (WYCC 20, the City Colleges station). I’ve read the book, too (old pre-WWI novel), and this is one of the few times when the movie was an improvement on the book.

Just off the top of my head:

(I cut and pasted some summaries to speed things along, hope you don’t mind.)

The Mouse That Roared (1959)
Beloved British satire traces the hilarious efforts of the tiny Duchy of Grand Fenwick to escape bankruptcy by declaring war on the United States so they can quickly surrender and be repaid in foreign aid…but that’s assuming they lose the war! Peter Sellers stars in three roles; with Jean Seberg, Leo McKern. Jack Arnold directs. 83 min.
Director: Jack Arnold Cast: William Hartnell, David Kossoff, Leo McKern, Jean Seberg, Peter Sellers, Austin Willis - Synopsis courtesy of Movies Unlimited

Man in the White Suit- (1951) Sidney Stratton, a humble inventor, develops a fabric which never gets dirty or wears out. This would seem to be a boon for mankind, but the established garment manufacturers don’t see it that way; they try to suppress it.
Summary written by John Oswalt {}
Courtesy - Internet Movie Database
Whisky Galore (1949)
Droll British comedy deals with Scottish islanders during World War II who must cope without alcohol…until a shipload of whiskey is stranded just off their shores and a “rescue” run is planned. Basil Radford, Catherine Lacey, Joan Greenwood star. AKA: “Tight Little Island.” 81 min.
Category: Comedy Director: Alexander Mackendrick
Cast: Finlay Currie, Joan Greenwood, John Gregson, Gordon Jackson, James Robertson Justice, Catherine Lacey, A.E. Matthews, Basil Radford, Bruce Seton - Synopsis courtesy of Movies Unlimited
Hawks (1989)
Two terminally ill patients, an English lawyer and an American football player, decide to sneak out of their hospital rooms and live to the max. It’s off to Amsterdam they go, in search of the good life and good brothels. A poignant, life-affirming film starring Timothy Dalton and Anthony Edwards. 105 min.
Category: Drama Director: Robert Ellis Miller
Cast: Jill Bennett, Connie Booth, Camille Coduri, Timothy Dalton, Anthony Edwards, Janet McTeer, Geoffrey Palmer - Synopsis courtesy of Movies Unlimited
No Way To Treat a Lady (1968)
A delightfully macabre crime thriller, with Rod Steiger tackling the role of a serial killer who uses various disguises to trick his female victims. George Segal is the cop on the case; Lee Remick, Eileen Heckart, Michael Dunn also star. 108 min.
Category: Mystery Director: Jack Smight
Cast: Barbara Baxley, David Doyle, Michael Dunn, Joey Faye, Murray Hamilton, Eileen Heckart, Bob O’Connell, Lee Remick, Doris Roberts, George Segal, Rod Steiger - Synopsis courtesy of Movies Unlimited

We’re No Angels -(1955) Not the 1989 movie w/ Sean Penn! A lesser known Bogart film that I have to watch every time it comes on the TV.
Classic offbeat comedy focuses on three escaped convicts from Devil’s Island–played by Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray and Peter Ustinov–who take to a French house for refuge. Lots of funny gags and performances here. Joan Bennett, Basil Rathbone; Michael Curtiz directs. 106 min.
Category: Comedy Director: Michael Curtiz
Cast: John Baer, Joan Bennett, Humphrey Bogart, Leo G. Carroll, Basil Rathbone, Aldo Ray, John Smith, Gloria Talbott, Peter Ustinov - Synopsis courtesy of Movies Unlimited

Rocket88: Charley Varrick - Yes! Thanks for reminding me.

I would definitely second AWB’s choice of 36 Hours: definitely one of the best WW2 espionage films I’ve seen, and virtually unknown today.

I would add Billy Budd (Ustinov’s version) and Morituri. It’s amazing that the latter film is so little known, considering it stars Marlon Brando and Yul Brynner, and has one of Brynner’s best all-time performances.