Five Must Watch Movies Made Before 1980
They just don't make 'em like they used to.
How many people have heard this claim and wondered if it could possibly be true? For seemingly every cultural format--books, music, television, and especially films--a crusty, dark-browed curmudgeon lurks waiting to insist that the product of yesterday far outweighs what we read, listen to, and watch today. For most avid film fans, the curmudgeon's reaction is a tempting one. When movies like "Shrek 3: The Search for More Kids to Exploit" and "Pirates of the Caribbean 3: We Promise Johnny Depp Isn't Dead" top the box office charts, it's easy to retreat into a warm bath of nostalgia ... with extra Audrey Hepburn bubbles.
This sense of nostalgia shouldn't go unquestioned. "Breakfast at Tiffany's" may be a great film, but it's also marked by mind-boggling racism. "The Searchers" showcases a top-notch performance from John Wayne, but the film is about a guy who plans to shoot his own niece because she's been kidnapped by Native Americans ... then we're proud of him when he doesn't. Movies like "The Thing from Another World" made plenty of money fifty years ago, just like movies like "Big Momma's House" make money today. And today's best films still hit the mark every so often.
The irony of the curmudgeon's cry is that his insistence on a stark contrast between then and now actually drives many people away from the films of the past. (It's that and the total lack of movies about battle droids pre-1998.) Inexplicably, many of my friends simply avoid old movies as voraciously as Mike Meyers avoids movies that aren't sequels.
The advent of Netflix and its imitators, however, has changed the rules of the game. If you want to watch a "vintage classic" film but don't have the gumption to take action, here are five films you might want to consider adding to your queue. I've tried to avoid the obvious recommends, like "Casablanca" and "Gone with the Wind." But feel free to add those t oo. The five below, however, promise to give contemporary moviegoer copious as they delve into the past.
The Third Man (1949): If you've seen "Citizen Cane," you've probably heard of Orson Welles. He's that guy who supposedly made only one good movie and then threw his life away. "The Third man," however, provides an impressive if brief dose of young, un-thrown away Orson-Welles-ification. It takes place in Vienna in the aftermath of World War II and centers on the mysterious death of Harry Lime (Welles). Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton) resolves to find his friend's killer.
Read more about it here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041959/plotsummary
All about Eve (1950): If you are looking for a classic that doesn't star Humphrey Bogart, Kerry Grant, or James Dean, consider "All about Eve," a pure masterpiece starring Anne Baxter, Celeste Horn, and Bette Davis. Often cited as one of the film industry's truly great achievements, "All about Eve" centers on an aging stage actress who takes an overzealous fan under her wing.
Read more about it here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042192/plotsummary
The Hustler (1961): Paul Newman plays "Fast Eddie" Felson, a young pool shark who's convinced he's the best the game has ever seen. Jackie Gleason puts forward an unforgettable performance as pool legend Minnesota Fats, while Piper Laurie skillfully plays Newman's melancholy love interest. On sheer acting alone, this one is worth seeing. It also explains so many jokes from so many later movies. "Oh! They were making fun of 'The Hustler'!"
Read more about it here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054997/plotsummary
The Last Picture Show (1971): I'd heard about this movie for years before I put together the gumption to see it. Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, and Cybill Shepherd all deliver knock out portrayals of young but not quite innocent teens in a small Texas town in the 1950s. This film grabs hold of the viewer almost ins tantly and doesn't let go.
Read more about it here: http://imdb.com/title/tt0067328/plotsummary
Mean Streets (1973): In the aftermath of Martin Scorsese's "The Departed," it's easy to forget he made another movie about urban youngsters walking the line between right and wrong, set to the awesomeness of a song by the Rolling Stones. No, I'm not talking about "Goodfellas." Scorsese's first official directorial effort, "Mean Streets," stars Harvey Keitel as Charlie, a low ranking hood in Little Italy's local mob. Robert Deniro, before he was a clichÃ© of himself, fills the supporting role of Johnny Boy, Charlie's erratic friend. Fans of "Pulp Fiction" will enjoy exploring a crucial work in the evolution of the gangster movie.
Read more about it here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070379/plotsummary