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Sunday, 23 October 2011

100 Essential Classic Films: Part 2 (90-81)

Here I am with Part 2 of my 100 Essential Classic Films list. I hope you enjoy reading about my choices and once again, don't forget to let me know what you think about them! :)
#90 It, 1927
Dir.: Clarence G. Badger
Starring: Clara Bow, Antonio Moreno, William Austin
IMDb says: A salesgirl with plenty of "it" pursues a handsome playboy.
Why I picked it: It will forever be one of my favourite silent films and, as such, it's definitely one that I would show to a silent film newbie. Not only is it a wonderful example of the "fluffy" silent film genre, it's also quite snappy and as such is perfect for those used to watching the much more fast paced modern films.

#89 Heaven Can Wait, 1943
Dir.: Ernst Lubitsch
Starring: Don Ameche, Gene Tierney, Charles Coburn
IMDb says: An old roué arrives in Hades to review his life with Satan, who will rule on his eligibility to enter the Underworld.
Why I picked it: Heaven Can Wait is an utterly charming film filled with wonderful actors, beautiful costumes (made even more gorgeous by Technicolor), and an intriguing plot. Don Ameche gives a particularly brilliant performance as the endearing cad, Henry Van Cleve.

#88 The Apartment, 1960
Dir.: Billy Wilder
Starring: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacClaine
IMDb says: A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue.
Why I picked it: The Apartment is romantic dramedy with a difference: Billy Wilder's masterful use of the dark twist. The world isn't a place of rainbows, unicorns, and fairytale romances, but maybe eventually everything will work out OK. Lemmon and MacClaine make about the sweetest on-screen couple that you will ever see.

#87 High Society, 1956
Dir.: Charles Walters
Starring: Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Celeste Holm, John Lund
TCM says: In this musical version of The Philadelphia Story, tabloid reporters invade a society wedding
Why I picked it: The poor, younger, musical sister of The Philadelphia Story is often been frowned upon by lovers of the original film, but if you try to forget that it's Grace Kelly taking Katharine Hepburn's place as Tracy Lord (I know... what?!!) then you might just find yourself really enjoying it. It has some truly hilarious moments and everything with Frank and Celeste is pure gold.

#86 Sorry, Wrong Number, 1948
Dir.: Anatole Litvak
Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Burt Lancaster
IMDb says: Whilst on the telephone, an invalid woman overhears what she thinks is a plot to murder her.
Why I picked it: Sorry, Wrong Number is a film that will have your nerves in shreds by the end. Although you do start to realise what's going to happen sooner than Leona (Stanywck's character) does, the ending won't fail to send chills up and down your spine. It's a thriller of the highest degree!

#85 City Lights, 1931
Dir.: Charlie Chaplin
Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee
IMDb says: The Tramp struggles to help a blind flower girl he has fallen in love with.
Why I picked it: The silent, loving gestures made by Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp towards a blind, young flower girl with whom he has fallen love with in City Lights, hit home with more force than the love scenes in possibly any films since. If you want to watch silent films, here's your starting point.

#84 Mr. and Mrs. Smith, 1941
Dir.: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: Carole Lombard, Robert Montgomery, Gene Raymond
IMDb says: Not a typical Hitchcock movie, this is a comedy about a couple who learn that their marriage was not valid.
Why I picked it: There is nothing better than a Hitchcockian comedy. It's not something you expect, almost like when you bite into something that you think will taste one way but ends up tasting so much better! But Hitchcock's films are scattered with (dark) humour much more than most people realise and, not surprisingly since he can do no wrong, he excels at the romcom just as much as he excels at the psychological thriller.

#83 The Grapes of Wrath, 1940
Dir.: John Ford
Starring: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine, Charley Grapewin
IMDb says: A poor Midwest family is forced off of their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression.
Why I picked it: The Grapes of Wrath deals with the Great Depression in a brutally honest and painful way. It's remains a stringent reminder of the hardships borne by the working class people who lived during the Thirties. Definitely not a film to miss.

#82 Since You Went Away, 1944
Dir.: John Cromwell
Starring: Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Shirley Temple
IMDb says: While husband Tim is away during World War II, Anne Hilton copes with problems on the homefront.
Why I picked it: As someone who grew up with war films that were almost all depicted from a British home front perspective, when I first saw Since You Went Away I was a bit sceptical as to whether a film about the vastly different American home front could ever be as brilliant as "our" WWII films. I was pleasantly surprised. Although it has a completely different feel to the British films I'm used too, it's beautiful, poignant film of epic proportions (almost 3 hours long!) that every classic film fanatic should see.

#81 The Innocents, 1961
Dir.: Jack Clayton
Starring: Deborah Kerr, Peter Wyngarde, Megs Jenkins, Michael Redgrave
IMDb says: A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.
Why I picked it: A more chilling, haunting film you'll never see. The Innocents plays creepy tricks with your mind, something that the incredible cinematography only perpetuates. If you get the chance to see this film, don't pass it up!

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