Netflix has a lot of great classic movies; nearly all of the James Bond movies, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Odd Couple, Barbarella Queen of the Galaxy and many more that you have heard of and likely seen. But there are other classics that a lot of people haven’t seen, and if you haven’t you really should. Here are ten such classics that you may have missed and that you didn’t know you shouldn’t have.
A movie that is probably better known for what it wasn’t than what it ended up being. Marilyn Monroe’s last movie remained unfinished at her death. Something’s Got To Give was a remake of the Cary Grant classic My Favorite Wife and by all accounts was a disaster even before Marilyn Monroe passed away. Undeterred by the tragedy the studio recast the movie with Doris Day as the lead and renamed the film Move Over Darling. It is almost impossible to imagine the story of a woman who has been stranded on a desert island for five years (with another man) returning home to a husband who is about to be remarried and young children who were infants when she vanished and was presumed dead starring Marilyn Monroe (and I am one who believes she was a much better actress than people gave her credit for). But when you replace the sexy-ness of Monroe with the ‘girl next door’ cuteness of Doris Day the film falls nicely into place and is just fun to watch.
Based on the true story of a British regimen cut off from the rest of the army and find their 140 man force is about to be attacked by 4,000 Zulu warriors. This movie is gripping from beginning to end and Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins and a very young Michael Cain are all exceptional as they try to figure out a way to survive.
Al Pacino’s run in the 1970’s may be the greatest decade any actor has ever had. The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon, And Justice For All, that is just a ridiculous run of truly classic performance (and it is dumbfounding that he didn’t receive an oscar for any of those roles). Serpico is the classic performance that gets lost in the proverbial shuffle for Pacino in the 1970’s. The true story of an honest cop turned whistle-blower who in turn has the entire police department turn on him for having done the right thing, Serpico feels real from beginning to end (no small feat for this kind of movie) and for the most part avoids making its lead character too good, too noble, too perfect.
Okay, obviously you have seen the iconic image of Frankenstein’s bride with the crazy hair but have you ever actually seen the movie? Here’s the thing, it is really good, and not just in the campy way you think it will be. The genius of this movie, and its predecessor Frankenstein (both starring Boris Karloff as the monster) is that it isn’t all camp. There are genuine moments of feeling and tension and heartbreak. Honestly, I’m not kidding. Of course there is a lot of campy stuff too.
The longest and least accurate PSA in history may be one of the the top 100 funniest movies of all time. In truth that probably doesn’t do justice to just how hysterically funny this movie is. It is so insane that you have to think that the people making it were in on the joke and they knew that the ‘officials’ they were making it for would never get how subversively funny they were being. No matter how you feel about the societal impact of drug use and in particular marijuana this movie is so far away from anything that even resembles truth you can’t look at it as anything other than a comedy.
Howard Hughes produced it (yup, that Howard Hughes), Howard Hawks directed it (His Girl Friday, Bringing Up Baby, Rio Bravo, The Big Sleep and a slew of other classics) and when you watch it it will astound you what they have the main character do. Paul Muni’s Tony is every bit as violent, every bit as crazy as Pacino’s iconic “say hello to my little friend” Tony Montoya. In other words, if you are one of those who has a problem with the bloodless violence and off screen violence that allows movies to remain PG-13 in spite of very large body counts this is not the movie for you.
The Billy Wilder classic available whenever you want to see it, how awesome is that? It seems like only Bogart movies are mentioned as the hallmarks of film noir of the 30’s and 40’s, and that is too bad, because as great as The Maltese Falcon and Cassablanca and Key Largo are Double Indemnity doesn’t take a back seat for any of them. Barbara Stanwyck is the personification of femme fatale and Fred MacMurray (yup, the same guy from My Three Sons) is brilliant as the insurance salesman who is pulled into murder by the beautiful broad (or dame if you prefer).
The 1970’s will always be remembered for Coppola, for Scorcese, for Spielberg and Lucas. Those men defined that decade in film, both commercially and artistically, and nearly every movie made today can point to those men as their forefathers. And for all of the films we remember from those men in that decade (The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver, Jaws, Star Wars, American Graffiti, Apocalypse Now, etc.) the great movie that is often forgotten is The Conversation. Gene Hackman is simply brilliant as the surveillance specialist who might have stumbled onto a murder plot and Coppola masterfully hooks you and then does not let you go.
The revolutionary documentary that actually got a man acquitted for a murder he had been wrongly convicted of seemed to almost give birth to the modern documentary, films that don’t need to go into their subjects without a point of view. This movie was made to convince you of something, in this case the innocence of a man convicted of murder, not to simply show you a world and allow you to draw your own conclusions about that world. Even if you don’t love documentaries, this is a film that works on every level and in many ways feels much more like a movie than a documentary.
Do you want to see a conspiracy thriller done right? Here you go. Do you want to see why Warren Beatty is a movie star? Here you go. Do you want to see the work of a director who has made multiple classic movies (Klute, All The President’s Men, Sophie’s Choice) and a slew of very good movies (The Pelican Brief, Presumed Innocent, Dream Lover, Orphans, to name a few) and yet you have never heard of him (Alan J. Pakula)? The Parallax View is the movie for you. The story of a diligent newspaper reporter who thinks he has stumbled onto a massive conspiracy and goes undercover to expose the truth is fun from beginning to end and will keep you guessing all the way through.