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Jeannie Come Lately Post: BookLikes Round Robin -- Favorite Pre-1980s Movies

Pretty much everybody has seen it at this point I guess, but anyway, here is Book Cupidity's idea:


"Let's list favorite old (or older) movies. The list can be long or short, with a narrative or no, anything goes. The parameters is that it has to have been made prior to 1980, I sort of arbitrarily picked this number, and sort of didn't -- for the young whippersnappers, Star Wars is the equivalent to some of our black and white favs. Plus, I think cinema in the 80's had a different feel.


So, tell me some of your favorites! Maybe we will discover new great flicks and new friends. Let's tag the post so that we can search it over the weekend - "Fav old movies'. I will also use the tag 'BL Round Robin."


So while everybody else is probably already moving on to the next decade, i.e. movies made in the 1980s (since that's cropped up in the comments to some of yesterday's posts), here's my pre-1980s contribution:


Humphrey Bogart


They don't make 'em like that anymore -- there isn't, never was and never will be, anyone like him.  I'm going to limit myself to the three absolute essentials, though I'm sorely tempted to list virtually his entire body of work.


Oh yes, and Bacall of course -- and Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre.  'Nuff said.



All About Eve


The Bette Davis movie to end all Bette Davis movies, and the principal reason why I'm a fan of hers.  Bumpy ride indeed.








Grigori Kozintsev: Hamlet (Гамлет)


You didn't really think I'd be capable of posting without a reference to Shakespeare, did you?  This is one of my all-time favorite adaptations of Shakespeare's plays in general, and of "Hamlet" in particular.  (And no, I don't speak Russian, but who needs subtitles with a play, and a movie, like this?!)





Witness for the Prosecution


Marlene Dietrich.  Billy Wilder.  Charles Laughton.  (OK, and Tyrone Power.)  Based on a story (and a play) by Agatha Christie.  One of the best court movies ever made -- and that "hearing aid" cross-examination scene is even the stuff of law school trial advocacy classes these days.





Murder on the Orient Express


Allbert Finney isn't my favorite Poirot (that would be David Suchet), but you can't beat this one for class, style and a cast that somehow makes the word "star-studded" sound like the understatement of the decade (including some of my all-time favorite actors, in particular Lauren Bacall, John Gielgud, Sean Connery, Vanessa Redgrave, and Wendy Hiller).




Mata Hari


Ah, Greta Garbo.  Hollywood's iciest blonde, even more so than Bacall and La Dietrich.  I could just as well have listed "Ninotchka", "Grand Hotel" or "Anna Karenina", too, but what the heck.  This one is utterly and completely fictionalized, but it's a great spy story, and who can resist Garbo opposite Ramon Novarro?





The Thin Man


Doesn't actually have all that much to do with Dashiell Hammett's literary original, but a hot contender for an adaptation that's actually better than the book.  Myrna Loy and William Powell are the duo from hell (or heaven, depending on your perspective), and you just gotta love Asta.


"Will you bring me five more martinis, please?"





43 years later, still the best neo-noir, bar none.  Hits all the right skewed notes and grey shades (noir grey, that is, not that book ... [*TA ducks*]), and Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston are right up there with Bogey, Bacall and Sidney Greenstreet.


"Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown ..."





Le Samouraï


Nobody epitomized "cool" the way Alain Delon did, and nowhere more so than in this movie.  Looks to die for and killer charm at arctic temperatures.







M -- Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder


Claustrophobic, dark and eerily timeless: German pre-WWII cinema at its best; the story of a serial killer and child abuser who ends up being hunted by an entire city.  Directed by Fritz Lang and starring Peter Lorre.






The Godfather


The whole trilogy, actually, though only Parts 1 and 2 qualify for inclusion in this list.  The mob movie trilogy to end all mob movies -- directed by Francis Ford Coppola and bringing together Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and Robert de Niro.  How much more heavyweight can you get?


"I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse ..."



To Kill a Mockingbird and Twelve Angry Men


Golden Age Hollywood's two other stand-out court movies, with mindblowing performances by their respective stars and a tremendous cast all around.




Cat on a Hot Tin Roof


Two names: Paul Newman and Tennessee Williams.  A killer combination in the best and most lethal sense simultaneously.  Liz Taylor is in great shape, too, but truthfully, it's all about those two guys for me.







Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Sting


While we're mentioning Paul Newman, his hilariously funny double bill with Robert Redford obviously can't be left out, either.


Bifocals, anybody?





All the President's Men


And while we're on it, I could just as easily have listed the better part of His Redfordness's body of work, too.  One of my all-time favorite Redford movies is outside the parameters for this list ("Out of Africa" ... expect that one on my list for the 1980s), but this one comes darned close.  And anyway, Watergate was one of the defining moments of the 1970s, so there!





The Day of the Jackal and Bullitt


The two movies that, along with Redford's "Three Days of the Condor" and the Sean Connery Bond films exemplify 1960s and 1970s thrillers to me.






James Bond 007: Goldfinger


There's only one James Bond, and he is Sean Connery -- and "Goldfinger" sets the standard for every single other Bond movie.  (Plus, it's got Gert Froebe.)








In the Heat of the Night


"My name is Virgil Tibbs."


Growing up in Europe, the movie that taught me more about racism in the pre-Civil Rights / Black Power Movement Southern U.S. than anything I could have read in a book.





East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause


Can you reach adulthood as a woman without having had a giant crush on James Dean at some point in your life, I wonder?  (Or is this a generational thing?)  Mine had everything to do with these two movies -- and it (as well as my lasting interest in everything Southwestern U.S.) also ended up making me a major fan of John Steinbeck.


Gone With the Wind


The epic love story to end all epic love stories.  (Also, Clark Gable.)  Yes, I know it's been called racist, and totally for good reason.  But I can't help it; I'm sucked right in every single time.  So call me a sop ...







The Scarlet Pimpernel


Forget Anthony Andrews and Richard E. Grant: If you haven't seen the Pimpernel portrayed by Leslie Howard yet, you've missed out on the real thing.  Nobody else manages the transition from cunning swashbuckling hero to preposterous fop as seamlessly and convincingly.  And needless to say, this is a completely different Leslie Howard from Ashley in "Gone With the Wind", too ...





"He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad" -- and he's a hot contender for the Pimpernel when it comes to swashbuckling heroes and revolutionary France.







The Three Musketeers


1973 version -- never surpassed.  One of the first swashbucklers I ever watched, and still one of my all-time favorites.










And speaking of swashbucklers, how can I leave out this story?  Never again in film history were medieval knights and damsels in distress so romantic and just plain sexy.








The Adventures of Robin Hood


Never again after "Ivanhoe" ... but before that there was, of course, already Errol Flynn!  I'm going to go with "Robin Hood", here (particularly since I've already included another Sabatini story further above -- "Scaramouche"), but I could just as easily have included the adaptations of Raphael Sabatini's "Captain Blood" and "The Sea Hawk".




Kind Hearts and Coronets


Alec Guinness's most hilarious multiple-character tour de force ever.  Ealing Studios at their absolute best.









To Catch a Thief


Hitchcock on a slightly lighter note -- also, Nice and the French Riviera (... and Cary Grant.  Has to be at least one Cary Grant movie in everybody's list, as it turns out!).  A sentimental favorite.







Lawrence of Arabia


(aka "Orence"). I'm a sucker for Hollywood's classic epic movies in case you hadn't noticed, and who can resist a double billing of Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif, set in an exotic location (and purporting to be based on, even though in reality myopically glorifying, real historical events)?





The Lion in Winter and Becket


Speking of Peter O'Toole, can't leave out his two forays into medieval history (or more precisely, Henry II's troubled reign), either.  You really don't want to cross that Plantagenet king ... and his costars in both movies aren't exactly slouches, either.  Pure dynamite, in fact.


A Man for All Seasons


And while we're speaking about great historical movies and English kings and their advisors, obviously this one needs to be added to the list, too.  Up until Hilary Mantel's Cromwell books I'd have taken this as gospel on Thomas More's character, but whatever the historical truth, it's an amazing film.







'Nother one of Hollywood's great epics.  Yes, it's preachy -- but man, that chariot race alone is worth the price of admission.  And you just gotta love Sheik Ilderim ... (also, as a teenager I had a major crush on Stephen Boyd's Messala).






Quo Vadis


Forget the persecution of Christians stuff; this one you have to see just for the fun of watching Peter Ustinov satirizing Emperor Nero.








Star Wars


(So I'm finally getting 'round to this one, too, Troy ... :) )


To this day, one of the few SciFi / Fantasy sagas other than Tolkien's Middle Earth books that I not only can endure but can actually watch over and over.  It changed the way Hollywood does things in more ways than one, made household names of those of its participants that weren't well-known already, and taught moviegoers that even robots can be downright cute.


Cabaret, West Side Story, and My Fair Lady




Of Hollywood's varied and numerous adaptations of musicals (or films featuring musical numbers), by and large these three qualify as my all-time favorites; in terms of storylines, actors and production values alike, each in its own way.


Karl May Adaptations


My guilty pleasure movies: the 1960s' Karl May adaptations starring Pierre Brice and Lex Barker as Winnetou and Old Shatterhand. Cheesy and only marginally faithful to the books at best, but with two heroes such as these, who gives a flying f*ck?  To this day, you can't grow up in Germany without becoming aware of Karl May's adventure novels, the most popular of which are set either in the American West or in the Middle East -- and I was hooked pretty much from the time I learned to read.  That I'd also become a fan of the movies was pretty much a foregone conclusion.


Upstairs, Downstairs


OK, for my final entry I'm going to break the rules and include a TV series: the first series I ever watched, in fact (in its original run), and of which I instantly became a fan, with a particular fondness for Gordon Jackson, David Langton and Jean Marsh (as well as the characters played by them, as well as Angela Baddeley's Mrs. Bridges).  Forget "Downton Abbey" ... this one's the real thing!