1. The Manchurian Candidate, directed by John Frankenheimer (10/10)
My favourite “conspiracy” movie of all-time and probably also the greatest. Yes, it has dated a bit (okay okay, a lot), but I still think it’s about as effective as these types of films get, even with the passage of time.
2. Jules et Jim, directed by Francois Truffaut (10/10)
Yes, there is the odd issue with this movie. For example: Where does the money come from? Does the timing really make sense? What happens to Sabine? And so on and so forth. But it is amazing to watch: the stock footage, the stills, the shaky cameras, the helicopter shots. Just keep reminding yourself that this is 1962. 1962! It’s pretty rad. On the other hand, I don’t think I’ve met anyone real like these people. Truffaut’s best movie by far.
3. Lawrence of Arabia, directed by David Lean (10/10)
Years ago, as a I teen – in my David Lean phase, no less – I loved this movie. Having watched it again somewhat recently I feel it is perhaps a little bit too big for its own britches. On the other hand, the cinematography is incredible.
4. Ride the High Country, directed by Sam Peckinpah (10/10)
One of the great pre-revisionist westerns. I seem to have misplaced my review.
5. Vivre sa vie, directed by Jean-Luc Godard (9/10)
This is quite the odd little movie. We have twelve “tableaux” with which to watch the protagonist move from aspiring actress to hooker to worse. Hardly realistic like some later explorations of this theme, there are still lots of neat things. The style is thought provoking to say the least (with the arbitrary division of the film, and the changing sound design, among other things) and the ending is seemingly out of nowhere. Interesting stuff.
6. Mafioso, directed by Alberto Lattuada (9/10)
I think calling this a comedy does this movie a disservice. Calling it “devastatingly funny” really sets you up for the wrong experience. There are definitely humourous elements, but I think this is better seen as a fairly realistic attempt at actually showing how a hit-man might get recruited. Sure, it isn’t entirely realistic, otherwise it might not be funny, but it is probably more accurate than many films, especially of this vintage. It is incredibly shot to boot.
7. The Longest Day, directed by Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton (9/10)
This is a text-book “war” epic of the kind people have tried to make endlessly since (particularly in the ’70s). It is exactly how you should make this kind of film. Honestly, the only thing that keeps me from giving it full marks is that it glorifies war.
8. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, directed by Tony Richardson (9/10)
This is one of the better ‘rebel without a cause’ type movies. It’s mostly very well directed (there are a few silly or unnecessary shots, but most are great and it is edited well, for the most part) and moreover it is believable. It’s not overtly fictionalized, in the sense that it doesn’t feel like it was contrived for the purpose of showing the “angry young man.” The ending is particularly effective (except for the collage) because we know what’s going to happen, but it’s drawn out to make it almost suspenseful.
9. Lolita, directed by Stanley Kubrick (9/10*)
Giant asterisk. Seen during the height of my “Stanley Kubrick is God” phase.
10. La Jetee, directed by Chris Marker (9/10)
This is interesting, and certainly important, but I’m not sure I like it as much as the remake (shock! horror!). I sort of grew up with 12 Monkeys, a little, and I just have a hard time when the stories not as fleshed-out. It’s still a landmark, though.
11. Days of Wine and Roses, directed by Blake Edwards (8/10)
It’s annoying that I cannot find the review because I swear I re-read it within the last few months. Anyway, this is a mostly great depiction of alcoholism. It is a little too pro-AA, and it is also hampered by Lemmon’s ability overcome what his wife cannot. Of course the man can overcome alcoholism.
12. Cape Fear, directed by J. Lee Thompson (8/10)
I have no idea why people like the remake. This is pretty great for what it is, and there was no reason to change it. Scorsese ruined it. Only time you’ll probably ever see me write that.
13. Premature Burial, directed by Roger Corman (8/10)
My one overriding problem with this film is the near-camp of Milland’s performance. He goes too far. Especially in his endless mentioning of being “buried alive.” That gets a little ridiculous. Still, this is classic stuff. I feel like the Corman Poe movies are sort of “must watch” for all horror fans.
14. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, directed by John Ford (8/10*)
Seen during my John Wayne phase.
15. Dr. No, directed by Terrence Young (8/10)
This is iconic obviously, more so than really good, I say.
16. To Kill a Mockingbird, directed by Robert Mulligan (7/10)
This adaptation feels obvious to me. I think the book is slightly (slightly!) overrated and I feel like casting Gregory Peck is almost as bad as casting Henry Fonda.
17. Birdman of Alcatraz, directed by John Frankenheimer (7/10)
This is near-great. It’s a little overlong and because of that the pacing is a bit of a mess.
18. All Fall Down, directed by John Frankenheimer (7/10)
This film is one of those over-baked Tennessee Williams-esque portraits of a family barely keeping it together, with an over-bearing mother (naturally), a drunk father (naturally) and a golden boy who isn’t quite so golden (naturally). We’ve seen this before, even if the story isn’t quite the same. Beatty seems to be doing a James Dean impersonation (well, maybe that’s not fair), Angela Lansbury is in full blown mother mode (though not at The Manchurian Candidate level, and in this case she’s got a drunk husband that makes her much more sympathetic) and Karl Malden is doing a thing that I’ve seen him do in some other movie too (though I can’t remember it right now, and it might have been a later movie).
Read the rest of this review.
19. Invasion of the Triffids, directed by Steve Sekely (5/10*)
Seen during high school English class.
20. How the West Was Won, directed by John Ford, Henry Hathaway (5/10*)
Even as a teen I knew this was bad. I didn’t know how bad. So I think the rating is perhaps too positive.
21. Girls! Girls! Girls!, directed by Norman Taurog (2/10*)
I can almost guarantee you I didn’t sit through this.
22. The Brain that Wouldn’t Die, directed by Joseph Green (1/10)