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Casey06

What Would Be Your Essentials?

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With the Essentials coming back tomorrow with director Brad Bird, it’s fascinating to look at his selection and compare it with previous host Ava DuVernay. DuVernay took a more obscure approach. She looked at some timeless classics like Rashamon and West Side Story But also highlighted some lesser known films usually dealing with marginalized groups throughout film history like Sounder and Claudine. I thought it was an interesting and welcome approach.

On the other side, Bird seems to be going with some great, but more traditional choices.  Movies like Singin In the Rain. Lawrence of Arabia and The Searchers To Name a few. There is nothing wrong with either one of their choices obviously, but I think it’s quite interesting how different their choices are. I’m sure their very different life experiences helped in their decisions. It got me wondering, how would I make that choice? If I was a host on the Essentials, what would I choose? How would I choose? How do I narrow it down? 

And I'm curious with how you all would decide.  So what would choose as essentials? How would you do it? Would you stick with the canon or look at some overlooked classics? Would you look at the film’s impact on cinema or it’s impact on you personally? There really is no wrong answer. So please post your essentials and how you pick them! This should be fun! Pick about 10

Id try to do a combination of what is important to and what I feel people should see.

A Face In the Crowd(1957). In my opinion one of the best films of all time. It’s  A powerful satire of celebrity worship and how to bit entertainers can become to influential for their own good. In my mind it’s Elia Kazan’s Best Film and should be brought up more when talking about the best ever.

The Grapes Of Wrath(1940). The movie that got me into classic movies. I love everything about this movie from its acting, cinematography and it’s timeless messages and themes. It’s John Fords best movie, and continues to speak to me on a personal level.

The Palm Beach Story(1942). An underrated comedy from Preston Sturges. This is a hilarious escapist film with Claudette Colbert and Joel McCrea. I would want to highlight some lesser know, but still great, movies.

The Apartment(1960). One of the best romance films ever made. This Billy Wilder Film feels so real. It’s has to have one if the best screenplays of all time. Jack Lemmon, Fred McMurray and Shirley McClain are perfect here. Simply one of the best movies ever made.

One-Eyed Jacks(1961). The only film directed by Marlon Brando and one of the most unique westerns ever made. It’s troubled production is ripe for conversation and it’s a great movie to boot. 

Lawrence of Arabia(1962). Quite possibly the best movie of all time(in my opinion), Lawrence has been shown many times, but it’s always worth it. It opened my eyes to what cinema could do, what it can convey. Needless to say it’s near perfect.

The Circus(1928). I must show a Chaplin film. This is one of his most overlooked movies from the silent era but it’s to great to be underrated. I think it’s one of his best crafted and funniest movies. I never tire of it. It proves how much of a genius he truly was.

High Noon(1952). The story behind the film is a fascinating as the film itself. Gary Cooper gives his best performance as the sheriff who wouldn’t back down, despite being scared out of his wits. 10x better then your regular John Wayne shlock, High Noon is nuanced, gripping and psychological. One of the best ever made.

Throne of Blood(1957). Not quite as popular in the West as Akira Kurosawa’s other films, Throne Of Blood is no less Magnificent. An adaptation of Shakespeare’s McBeth set in feudal Japan, Kurosawa was at the height of his abilities here. Kurosawa’s movie have influenced so many filmmakers around the world and this list wouldn’t feel complete without at least one of his films.

Do the Right Thing(1989). This one may be a little much to show on TCM due to its content and constant swearing, but it’s no less brilliant. Not only is it a well written look into contemporary race relations in an urban setting, but it’s also a beautifully made movie. I love the hypnotic cinematography and editing. And despite its serious subject matter, it’s quite funny.

So that’s  what I believe I would show if I was on the essentials. What would you show?

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Why not simply ask for everyone's lists of favorites?  Because liking a movie doesn't necessarily make it an "essential".  since "essential" suggests, "that which is the very essence or constitution of a thing". which does seem to be an abstract and ambiguous definition.  So, that can make ANY movie(even "Plan 9 From Outer Space" and "Ishtar")  "essentials".  ;) 

Sepiatone

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5 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

Why not simply ask for everyone's lists of favorites?  Because liking a movie doesn't necessarily make it an "essential".  since "essential" suggests, "that which is the very essence or constitution of a thing". which does seem to be an abstract and ambiguous definition.  So, that can make ANY movie(even "Plan 9 From Outer Space" and "Ishtar")  "essentials".  ;) 

Sepiatone

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I'm listing 10 films I view 'essential' as it relates to American films from a historical POV.   While these might not be the 'best' ones in this regard,  from my POV they encapsulate an idea, concept, genre or theme in a 'complete' way:

City Lights - entertaining,  funny and very moving silent gem.

Red Dust - Heat in the jungle

Bride of Frankenstein - Horror with humanity 

My Man Godfrey - sophisticated comedy,   with that screwball element

The Adventure of Robin Hood - the adventure film,  in glorious color,  that set the 'tone' for this type of film,

 Casablanca - war film without any battles,   but with almost everything else done right

Sunset Blvd - slick,  gritty,   odd,  with no heroes,  only victims 

 Shane - beautiful western,  with nothing really new,  but packaged just right

Touch of Evil - Welles puts forth a story that while odd,  is understandable with tension

Laurence of Arabia - epic,,,   what more needs to be said 

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1 minute ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

I'm list 10 films I view 'essential' as it relates to American films from a historical POV.   While these might not be the 'best' ones in this regard,  from my POV that encapsulate a idea, concept, genre or theme in a 'complete' way:

City Lights - entertaining,  funny and very moving silent gem.

Red Dust - Heat in the jungle

Bride of Frankenstein - Horror with humanity 

My Man Godfrey - sophisticated comedy,   with that screwball element

The Adventure of Robin Hood - the adventure film,  in glorious color,  that set the 'tone' for this type of film,

 Casablanca - war film without any battles,   but with almost everything else done right

Sunset Blvd - slick,  gritty,   odd,  with no heroes,  only victims 

 Shane - beautiful western,  with nothing really new,  but packaged just right

Touch of Evil - Welles puts forth a story that while odd,  is understandable with tension

Laurence of Arabia - epic,,,   what more needs to be said 

Very nice list. I’ve seen and love all of those except Red Dust. Just haven’t seen it before. I like how you see them as well. To me essential is different for everyone. Love it!

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The Adventures Of Robin Hood 1938.

The Wizard Of Oz 1939.

Harvy 1950.

Treasure Island 1990.  TCM Premire.

Monkey Business 1952.

The Glen Miller Story 1954.

Dr Seuss’s The 5000 Fingers Of Dr T 1953.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 1968.

Compleate Matt Helm Franchise 1966-1968.

The Secerets Of The Incas 1954.  TCM Premire.

 

The first four I would choose If I were a guest programmer.  I just added some more.

 

 

 

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They should have great movies that have not yet appeared on TCM, as opposed to great movies that appear on it all the time:

Blade Runner

The Shining

Yi Yi

The Gospel According to Saint Matthew

Distant Voices, Still Lives

Shoah

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The Road To Singapore 1931.

Bachelor In Paradise 1961.

The Court Jester 1955.

Bringing Up Baby 1938.

The Awful Trooth 1937.

 

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These would be my Essentials.  I'm going to try and refrain from making a list of my favorite films as they might not be "Essential" to some.  But they are essential to me... 

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).  I'll admit that Adventure films aren't usually the first type of film that I gravitate toward, I do love this film.  This was the first Errol Flynn film I saw, and I saw it in the theater! Aesthetically, this film is gorgeous.  Errol Flynn is Robin Hood, even if this isn't my favorite of his films.  Whenever I've seen other iterations of the Robin Hood legend, I find myself comparing them to Flynn.  For the record, next to Flynn's version, I think that the 1973 Disney Animated version and Mel Brooks' 1993 Robin Hood: Men in Tights are the next best versions of the legend. 

Gidget (1959).  The quintessential beach movie.  This is the movie that started the 50s/60s teen beach movie trend.  I love this genre and love all the movies that came out of it.  Even if they are absurd.  While the Beach Party movies with Frankie and Annette are entertaining; Sandra Dee's Gidget film is genuinely a good film.  It's entertaining.  It's a coming of age story. It has everything.

The Thin Man (1934)- William Powell and Myrna Loy's Nick and Nora Charles are iconic, and with good reason.  These films have everything: murder mystery, romance, comedy, music... and are highly entertaining.  Powell and Loy have such great chemistry.  I wish they had been a real life married couple. 

Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)- I love film noir.  Barbara Stanwyck is fantastic in this film.  When I saw this film the first time, I was hooked by Stanwyck's performance.  I wondered what she was afraid.  Why was she an invalid? What's up with her husband Burt Lancaster? The ending of this film is so fantastic.  I only regret that I've already seen it and cannot experience the full impact of it a second time.  See Criss Cross and White Heat for other noir examples of impactful endings that I wish I could experience for the first time, again. 

The More the Merrier (1943).  This comedy cracks me up.  Jean Arthur is adorable.  Charles Coburn is so funny as the befuddled and conniving new roommate.  Joel McCrea is adorable.  I love the scene where the police ask him if he was wearing his uniform while he was looking out the window and McCrea says something like: "No I can see without it on."  The scene between Arthur and McCrea on the stoop is one of the sexiest scenes during the Production Code Era.  Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! 

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).  I am not a science-fiction fan at all. There are a few here and there that I enjoy, but I loved this movie.  I loved that while it was science fiction, the overall point of the film was much more a social message than anything else.  Michael Rennie was amazing.  I also loved BIlly Gray.  He was adorable in this movie.

A Face in the Crowd (1957) & Network (1976).  I would air these films back-to-back during a double-block of The Essentials.  One could say that Lonesome Rhodes in 'Face' is Howard Beale in Network, during the early part of his career.  Rhodes/Beale was discovered, put on the airwaves, and made a big star.  By the time Network rolls around, the Rhodes/Beale gravy-train has run out, ratings wise.  Frustrated, Rhodes/Beale takes to the airwaves to discuss his unhappiness with how the world has changed in the past 20-25 years or so and becomes a huge star again.  However, this time, there isn't a sympathetic Patricia Neal at the helm.  There's a cold, money-grubbing Faye Dunaway in charge, and she realizes that people will follow this prophet.  Dunaway plans to exploit this to the best of her ability, until there is nothing left to exploit. 

The Enchanted Cottage (1945).  This is probably one of the most romantic films that I've ever seen. A homely woman (Dorothy McGuire) and a disfigured war veteran (Robert Young) fall in love while staying together at an enchanted cottage. It is said that couples staying at the cottage become enraptured with one another and fall under the spell of the romantic cottage.  Both McGuire and Young are so in love, that they don't see each other's physical flaws.  Mildred Natwick and Herbert Marshall provide excellent support.

Singin' in the Rain (1952).  I know that this was just shown tonight, but this would be on my list of essential musicals as well.  It's a fantastic film from start to finish.  I don't think it has one bad part.  The only minor flaw I see is Debbie Reynolds having 3 different singing voices.

Psycho (1960).  I love this movie.  I've seen it multiple times and I'm hooked each and every time.  Anthony Perkins deserved an Oscar for his role, he was terrifying.  My favorite part is  ***SPOILER*** when Vera Miles taps on the shoulder of "Mrs. Bates."  My second favorite part is when "Mrs. Bates" murders Martin Balsam and he falls down the stairs. END SPOILER*** Norman Bates' face at the end of the film is chilling. 

Valley of the Dolls (1967).  If Essentials needs anything, it's a cult pick.  'Dolls' would be my pick.  This film has everything: great costumes, a bizarre montage of Patty Duke, Patty Duke's insane performance, the fight between Patty Duke and Susan Hayward in the bathroom, fun music, I absolutely love this movie. 

Match Your Mood (1968).  If there was an "Essential" short that TCM could continue to show.  It's this one.  Who doesn't want to watch a short that is basically a Westinghouse commercial?  Who doesn't want to watch a short film about decorating your refrigerator that starts with a woman wandering through the woods, looking wistfully at nature, wishing that she had something more going on in her life? Then it hits her! "My fridge is so boring. I should decorate the outside of it with stylish contact paper!" she thinks to herself.  Then comes the amazing montage of the woman measuring paper for her fridge and the images of available decorations and styles.  Then, the commercial promises seasonal designs.  So that at your next annual 4th of July party, when everyone is congregating in the kitchen, dancing in front of your fridge, they can admire your American Flag design! God Bless America! 

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On 5/2/2020 at 3:47 AM, skimpole said:

They should have great movies that have not yet appeared on TCM, as opposed to great movies that appear on it all the time:

Blade Runner

The Shining

Yi Yi

The Gospel According to Saint Matthew

Distant Voices, Still Lives

Shoah

I agree with you about the first two. I'm not a big fan of horror movies, but I watched The Shining in high school and liked it. Nobody can deny it's a horror classic.

I'm actually a little surprised Blade Runner has never been on TCM. They should've played it when honoring Rutger Hauer last December. Plus, his "All those moments will be lost in time,  like tears in rain" makes me melt inside every time I hear it.

 

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  • Dead Poets Society
  • Stand By Me
  • Running on Empty
  • The Outsiders
  • The Odd Couple
  • Days of Wine and Roses
  • Casablanca
  • Blade Runner
  • The Shining
  • Poltergeist
  • Brokeback Mountain
  • That Thing You Do!
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Which version of THE OUTSIDERS, jin?  There's at least 2 versions of it.  (Maybe three by now . . . ).

Same with BLADE RUNNER.  I've never seen "Blade Runner", but I have noted from the IMDb and Wikipedia there's 7 different versions extant.  Which one do you prefer?

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9 hours ago, Mr. Gorman said:

Which version of THE OUTSIDERS, jin?  There's at least 2 versions of it.  (Maybe three by now . . . ).

Same with BLADE RUNNER.  I've never seen "Blade Runner", but I have noted from the IMDb and Wikipedia there's 7 different versions extant.  Which one do you prefer?

Seven version sounds like a lot, but basically there's only two.  There's the original version, where Ford gives a voiceover to help explain things and which has a "happy" ending, explicitly saying Sean Young's character will not die like all the other replicants, and finding a nice place on the otherwise ravaged planet for her and Ford to live.  (Apparently among Shining outtakes.)  The international version is slightly more violent than this, the broadcast version is slightly less.  There's a San Diego sneak preview that is similar to this but has two extra scenes.

Then there is Scott's preferred version, released as a Final Cut in 2007 which has no voiceover, which does not have a happy ending, and where the last words are Olmos' previous line "It's too bad she won't live but then again who does."  There's also a scene where Ford dreams about a unicorn, which makes the appearance of Olmos' origami unicorn in the last scene especially striking.  There was an early nineties "Director's Cut" which was not actually Scott's cut, which is similar but not identical to this, as well as a similar workprint prototype from 1982, whose bootleg status helped lead to the Director's cut.  Increasingly when broadcast, television will show the Final Cut.  Though I think I've seen the theatrical version sometime in the last decade on TV.  

Almost everyone prefers the Final Cut.  Ford hated the voiceover, but swears he didn't deliberately sabotage it.  J. Hoberman has commented, in his recent book on American cinema in the eighties, that he finds the happy ending so phony as to have an integrity of its own.   

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Is STAR WARS (1977) similar to BLADE RUNNER where there's supposed to be several versions extant of that, too, due to George Lucas' incessant tinkering?

Let me say I've only seen 1 version of "Star Wars" -- whichever version was released on VHS in 1982 by '20th Century Fox Video' is the only version I've seen.   I've never bothered to watch "Star Wars" on television or cable.   

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On 5/3/2020 at 12:38 AM, speedracer5 said:

Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)- I love film noir.  Barbara Stanwyck is fantastic in this film.  When I saw this film the first time, I was hooked by Stanwyck's performance.  I wondered what she was afraid.  Why was she an invalid? What's up with her husband Burt Lancaster? The ending of this film is so fantastic.

Why has TCM not shown this recently?

Or...have I just missed it?

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5 hours ago, Mr. Gorman said:

Is STAR WARS (1977) similar to BLADE RUNNER where there's supposed to be several versions extant of that, too, due to George Lucas' incessant tinkering?

Let me say I've only seen 1 version of "Star Wars" -- whichever version was released on VHS in 1982 by '20th Century Fox Video' is the only version I've seen.   I've never bothered to watch "Star Wars" on television or cable.   

There are multiple versions of Star Wars, but I'm not familiar enough to enumerate them all.    IIRC, he released a slightly updated version to improve some of the effects, and remove a blooper or two.  Then another version was released with extended scenes and CGI-inserted characters that weren't in the original version.

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Thanks for the update on STAR WARS, o texas film fan.  

I've been thinking over the past day or so about the number of movies with different versions now.  With the advent of so many DVD's and Blu-Rays (and even a small number of VHS releases) with 'Extended Cuts', 'Extended Versions', 'Director's Cuts', et al. it's awfully difficult to keep track of the different versions now circulating of various titles. 

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6 hours ago, Arteesto said:

Why has TCM not shown this recently?

Or...have I just missed it?

TCM hasn't shown Sorry, Wrong Number since December, 2012. I don't have an answer why, other than it's a Paramount film (I think one of the 700 or so  Paramounts now owned by Universal).

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2 hours ago, Mr. Gorman said:

Thanks for the update on STAR WARS, o texas film fan.  

I've been thinking over the past day or so about the number of movies with different versions now.  With the advent of so many DVD's and Blu-Rays (and even a small number of VHS releases) with 'Extended Cuts', 'Extended Versions', 'Director's Cuts', et al. it's awfully difficult to keep track of the different versions now circulating of various titles. 

There's actually a Wikipedia article on the specific Star Wars changes, and there were slight differences even before the advent of home video releases.  Apparently the 35mm and 70mm versions of The Empire Strikes Back had some differences during its first run.

My take on it was a bit off, according to the article.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Changes_in_Star_Wars_re-releases

There are two interesting quotes from Lucas embedded in that article, where he first derides changes enabled by technology (colorization, etc), and then no more than 10 years later defends his choice to alter his films as he sees fit (the earlier release being a "draft").

After reading all of this, I realized that there's been slight variations in film presentation throughout history, even to the point of an extreme example like Oklahoma!, where the movie was shot twice simultaneously  in two different formats.   Even minor changes, like a film splice made by a local projectionist due to damage, can affect the flow of a film.   And the way those prints were handed around the country, this was inevitable as the prints made their way down the priority ladder of theaters.

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Jeepers,  txfilmfan, I didn't know what a quagmire of different alterations had been made to STAR WARS.  On the 1982 20th Century Fox Video version Han Solo shoots first.  End of Greedo. 

I noted the quotes from George Lucas in 1988 and then 1997.  Quite the change of mind.  However many versions of STAR WARS are extant I reckon I'll just stick with my old tape until is ceases to work.     

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16 hours ago, Arteesto said:

Why has TCM not shown this recently?

Or...have I just missed it?

I'm not sure if it's been shown recently? I own a copy; but prior to that, I had borrowed it at the library because I'd never seen it.  It's a Paramount film, which might explain why it's not played as often as some of Stanwyck's other films.

EDIT: I should have read down further in the thread, sewhite answered your inquiry 🙂

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1- Barry Lyndon - Kubrick's epic about the Irish conman and his exploits around Europe's aristocracy

2- the Great Dictator- Chaplin's comedy that takes down Fascism

3- Top Hat- Funny Astaire and Rogers musical comedy

4- the Adventures of Robin Hood - Errol Flynn's best

5- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - best Spaghetti western

6- Night Porter - Dirk Bogarde as a former Nazi camp commandant. Greek tragedy for the modern day

7- Damsel in Distress- underrated Gershwin musical

8- Gone WIth the Wind - Greatest Hollywood epic

9- Buddha- my foreign language pick. Japanese film on the life of the Blessed One

10 - Psycho - Hitchcock's greatest achievement. The fictional Ed Gein inspired Norman Bates is very creepy.

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Sorry. Way too many to list here.

And so simply put (and excluding foreign language films...although many foreign language films could of course also be considered "essential viewing") take the AFI's  and the BFI's list of the top 100 movies ever made and start from there.

And after going over those two lists just now again, I noted I've seen every one on the AFI's list and nearly every one on BFI's list over the years, many of them numerous times, and found very very few on those lists which I could say I didn't care for, and so with many of them being what I'd say could be called "favorites of mine" and thus what I would name as "essential viewing for others". At least by me, anyway.

(...and also apparently by the two aforementioned organizations dedicated to the heritage of motion pictures which took the time to compile said lists)

 

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My difficulty in choosing my "essentials" would heavily depend on what I choose "essential" to mean in this case.  Essential as in personal impact would probably win out, and make the choosing difficult if only in keeping the list short.  There's lots that are important to me for sentimental reasons and many others for the fact that I simply like them a lot.  So, I'll go now with sentimental reasons..And limit to ten..... (and no particular order)

THE WIZARD OF OZ

.THE BELLBOY ('60)

DEAD END ('37)

MY MAN GODFREY ('36)

THE THIN MAN('34)

THE COCONUTS ('29) 

SONS OF THE DESERT ( '33)

HUCKLEBERRY FINN ('39)

RIO BRAVO('59)

KING OF KINGS( '61)

Believe me, these choices weren't all that easy, since several films equally important to me (sentimentally) had to be passed up.  Plus I put on a limit so to not take up a lot of space.

Sepiatone

 

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