I’m working on a post about action movies, and it’s not jelling. Sometimes this happens, whaddya gonna do. Needing something to clear out the writer’s block, I recalled at one point being asked about recommendations for old movies. Well, of course I can oblige on that front.
We’ll start here. That gets us back to 1971. We’ll go back to 1961 in this post. Ready?
1970: Colossus: The Forbin Project (imdb) (wikipedia). So many good movies in 1970. Patton. MASH. Five Easy Pieces. A Man Called Horse. Colossus hits two sweet spots for me: nerdy movies about ubercomputers, and disaster movies. So it gets the nod.
1969: I’m taking the easy way out and picking True Grit (imdb) (wikipedia). So many good runners up this year… Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Alice’s Restaurant. Easy Rider. The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (for the kids). The original The Italian Job. Once Upon a Time in the West. Midnight Cowboy! Support Your Local Sheriff!
1968: Criminey, just look at the top 10 films. They’re all good. I’m taking the easy way out again and picking 2001: A Space Odyssey (imdb) (wikipedia). It’s flawed, but it’s 44 years old and it stands up. That’s remarkable for an SF movie. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which has my favorite musical number of any movie ever (Me Ol’ Bamboo). Funny Girl. Hang ’em High. The Odd Couple. Five Card Stud. Bullitt. Rosemary’s Baby, which I can’t recommend on good conscience any more because of Polanski. The Shakiest Gun in the West, Don Knotts at his family friendly best.
1967: Wait Until Dark (imdb) (wikipedia). I can’t say why without spoiling the movie. If you’ve seen the movie, feel free to rot13 your guess in the comments. Oh, another great year… Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, To Sir, With Love, The Dirty Dozen, The Graduate, Cool Hand Luke, Dr. Doolittle (another kid movie that is excellent), A Fistfull of Dollars, Hombre, In Like Flint, In The Heat of the Night, Ultraman! This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse! (get really drunk for that last one, it’s camp at its worst) Okay, strike that last one off the list and Ultraman only counts if you’re the type of person who can’t get enough Godzilla movies. Still, great, great year for the movies.
1966: Fantastic Voyage (imdb) (wikipedia). Easily not the best movie of the year, but this one is one of the earliest SF movies I ever saw and I was completely captivated. So much fun! Other notables: The Russians Are Coming! The Russians are Coming! A Man for All Seasons, The Professionals, Fahrenheit 451 (best adaption), The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Our Man Flint, The Sand Pebbles. Side note: did you like the Austin Powers movies? They’re making fun of James Coburn in Our Man Flint and In Like Flint more than they are making fun of James Bond. Just for the record.
1965: Thunderball (imdb) (wikipedia). Confession time, I love The Sound of Music. But I can watch the big underwater scene in Thunderball seven or eight times in a row and adore every minute of it. Crazy confession time: I’ve never seen Doctor Zhivago. Me! I’ve never seen Doctor Zhivago! Other good candidates: The Cincinnati Kid, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Gamera, The Ipcress File, The Sons of Katie Elder, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, That Darn Cat! (another good ol’ kid movie).
1964: Viva Las Vegas (imdb) (wikipedia). Yeah, that’s right, I said it. This movie is fun, dammit. Another excellent year: Mary Poppins, From Russia With Love & Goldfinger (the first is better), Father Goose, Dead Ringer (she’s got Betty Davis eyes), Dr. Strangelove, Fail-Safe, My Fair Lady (great year for musicals), Topkapi, The Unsinkable Molly Brown (damn.. really good year for musicals!), Zorba the Greek, and Zulu.
1963: The Great Escape (imdb) (wikipedia). If, for some godawful reason, you have not seen this movie, stop what you’re doing and download it or go rent it, for cryin’ out loud. Charade. Bye, Bye, Birdie. Tom Jones. The Birds. Beach Party – which is terrible, but you have to see it, it’s a responsibility for all Americans. The Damned, a little known UK classic. The Haunting, a much better-known UK classic, but under-appreciated by modern day horror genre followers. The Nutty Professor, an actually funny Jerry Lewis movie. The Pink Panther. Vincent Price in The Raven.
1962: To Kill A Mockingbird (imdb) (wikipedia). Gregory Peck’s second-best movie. Another year where the top 10 grossing films are all pretty good candidates. Robert Preston absolutely kills in The Music Man, my second choice for this year. A UK production of Billy Budd. Hatari! (which needs editing but is a great romp if you take a long intermission in the middle). How The West Was Won, which ought to be watched as a piece of cinema history. Lolita. King Kong vs. Godzilla. The Longest Day. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (running hard on Westerns in the 60s!). Mutiny on the Bounty – not as good as the 1935 version but so, so much better than the Mel Gibson iteration. What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (edited to add) Tod points out I missed The Manchurian Candidate in the comments, and Rose mentions Lawrence of Arabia. Both of these movies belong on this list! (/edited)
1961: The Guns of Navarone (imdb) (wikipedia). Remember when I said TKAM was Peck’s second-best movie? This one is his best. Anthony Quinn and David Niven are stellar. The scene in the house before they pull off their attack on the guns is one of my top 10 favorite Angry Man Rant scenes. Still, a parade of other good candidates this year. West Side Story. Breakfast at Tiffany’s. El Cid. Judgement at Nuremberg. The Hustler. The Parent Trap, which is a great kid’s movie. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, which is notable as an early Armageddon flick, and as bad as it is otherwise.. as a fan of disaster movies I have to mention it. Yojimbo, my favorite Akira Kurowasa movie.
Another decade down! Next time we’ll hit the 50s, and that means that I’ll un-apologetically be harping on 50s monster movies.