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Name Your Favorite Ensemble Cast Movies


cinemaman
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THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY (1954) had an ensemble cast in telling its tale in the sky --  just like those four "AIRPORT" movies did in the 1970s.  

(P.S.  For those of you who've seen "Airport '79:  The Concorde" -- note Cicely Tyson's very weepy performance.  Pure paycheck!  It's hilarious.  That's what I remember most about the movie.  Cicely had to know it was bad . . . so she wept a lot when the camera was running). 

ANYWAY: 

Then we have the star-filled "Irwin Allen Disaster Movies" (only describing Irwin's theatrical presentations, not his TVM's [although those had pretty good casts, too]).

These IRWIN FLIX had all-star ensemble casts and some of the big names get KILTIVATED in these movies.  Can't let a good cast *all* survive now can we?  → Would not be realistic if all the BIG NAME STARS LIVED!  VERY BAD!  MUS' KILL A FEW!    💀  (Jennifer Jones getting mangled into a zillion human cutlets in "Towering Inferno" was *most* egregious!  After she had survived earlier in the movie climbing around blown-up stairwells she falls out of the elevator and hits the side of the building.  By the time she hit the concrete below you'd need some kind of large 'dust pan' to sweep up what was left of her). 

THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1972)

THE TOWERING INFERNO (1974)

THE SWARM (1978)

BEYOND THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1979)

WHEN TIME RAN OUT . . . (1980)

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The  movie  Stand  By  Me  1986  had  an  good  ensemble cast  of  young  stars.  The  movie  has  these  rising  stars,  Will  Wheaton,  River  Phoenix,  Corey  Feldman,  Jerry  O'Connor  and  Kiefer  Sutherland.  Richard  Dreyfuss  had  an  big  part  in  the  movie,  this film had  these  stars  as  well  Bruce  Kirby  and   John  Cusack  Stephen  King  told  director  Rob  Reiner  that  was  an  good  adaptation  of  his  work  and  was  pleased.

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@CINEMAMAN:  Funny you mention "Stand By Me" . . . there's too darn many cuss words in it.  Were kids of the late '50s really as potty-mouthed as kids were in 1986 when the movie was made?  I was 13 in 1986 and I admit it was kool to 'cuss' when you were a kid and your parents forbade you!  But, still, there were so many four-letter words in STAND BY ME the more times I saw the movie the more it irked me.  When I accidentally broke the Columbia VHS tape I had of "Stand By Me"  I didn't replace it for that reason.   Maybe I'm just getting grumpy as I age?  I dunno.  

The one "ensemble" ROBERT ALTMAN movie I've never seen, mostly because it's never been issued on homevideo on any medium, was HEALTH (1980).  Think it was a 20th Century Fox movie.  But where to see it?   I'd have just bought the movie and watched it had it been made available for purchase. 

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Seeing "The Breakfast Club" on Cinemaman's initial list prompted me to think of "St. Elmo's Fire" as an ensemble film from the same period.  Yes, I enjoy and admire both of these movies shamelessly. 

Breakfast Club especially,  in that each character shares screen time and story line almost equally.   Trapped in school, there are no secondary characters (with one exception) to interfere.   No unlike a sort of high-school Lifeboat scenario.  St. Elmo's takes the lead group out and about in various story lines introducing supporting characters. 

Molly Ringwald's other major films of the Bratpack Era clearly make her the star (such as "Pretty in Pink")  while other characters are generally in support. 

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15 hours ago, Dargo said:

Because it doesn't feature any A-listers in its cast, John Ford's often lesser regarded western (by some...not me) Wagon Master (1950) has now come to my mind in these regards.

(...this ensemble cast filled with character actors such as Ward Bond, Ben Johnson and Harry Carey Jr. work well together, I've always thought)

...plus Jane Darwell, Joanne Dru, James Arness...

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3 hours ago, Mr. Gorman said:

@CINEMAMAN:  Funny you mention "Stand By Me" . . . there's too darn many cuss words in it.  Were kids of the late '50s really as potty-mouthed as kids were in 1986 when the movie was made?  I was 13 in 1986 and I admit it was kool to 'cuss' when you were a kid and your parents forbade you!  But, still, there were so many four-letter words in STAND BY ME the more times I saw the movie the more it irked me.  When I accidentally broke the Columbia VHS tape I had of "Stand By Me"  I didn't replace it for that reason.   Maybe I'm just getting grumpy as I age?  I dunno.  

The one "ensemble" ROBERT ALTMAN movie I've never seen, mostly because it's never been issued on homevideo on any medium, was HEALTH (1980).  Think it was a 20th Century Fox movie.  But where to see it?   I'd have just bought the movie and watched it had it been made available for purchase. 

HEALTH has aired on FXM Retro. 

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Not to over-analyze this topic, but I do think there's a difference between a film that is cast with a lot of well-known actors versus a truly ensemble film. For this reason, I do not consider CASABLANCA an ensemble film.

Most of us probably agree that Robert Altman and Woody Allen are the masters at making ensemble films.

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Bear in mind I'm not arguing here,  but in  confirming definitions,  "ensemble" refers to(by one definition)  principle actors receiving about equal screen time. Or close to it.  And by this I'd say CASABLANCA does  make it.  But too....

I usually considered an "ensemble" cast to be a certain group of actors, number indeterminate,  who are usually gathered together in multiple movies.  Not necessarily a franchise of pictures, but typically gathered by a certain producer or director.  My example of this would be CLINT EASTWOOD, who in several of his movies(that he directed) often has many of the same persons in the cast.  Like  WOODROW PARFREY,  GEOFFREY LEWIS,   MATT CLARK, JOHN QUADE, BILL McCONNELL and others.  ;) 

Sepiatone 

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I would imagine ensemble casting comes from the theater. And in early Hollywood pictures, like MGM's NIGHT FLIGHT (1933), we have the studio over-loading a film with big names all under contract and in need of an assignment, since the studio was paying them a weekly salary whether they worked or not. NIGHT FLIGHT includes Helen Hayes, John Barrymore, Myrna Loy, Robert Montgomery, Clark Gable and Lionel Barrymore. All of these performers had enough box office clout on their own to headline their own separate pictures.

But in later years, I think ensembles were used to hide the fact that half to three-fourths of the cast did not have enough sway at the box office and could not sell a picture with the audience on their own. So they had to be dropped into these "A" pictures doing expanded subplots, alongside other actors in a similar situation. A good example of this is ONCE AROUND (1991) where we have Griffin Dunne, Danny Aiello, Gena Rowlands and Laura San Giacomo-- all recognizable names but none of them exactly box office stars. They are put into subplots, while the main plot is given to Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter, who are the more bankable names in the cast.

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20 hours ago, Stallion said:

Although I already commented that Casablanca is the first movie that comes to mind on this topic, I think The Great Escape is up there too. With so many actors needed to fill out the number of prisoners needed plus the amount of military officers involved as well, it was the perfect movie to fill the ranks with name actors.

I definitely agree with The Great Escape.  With Casablanca on the other hand i see the regular actors under contract with  WB who are in many movies together.

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When I saw the topic, I immediately thought of my favorite Woody picture:  Hannah and Her Sisters.  And I see that many have suggested it.

Although it's not one of my favorite movies, I like the ensemble cast of The Greatest Show on Earth.  Betty Hutton, Cornel Wilde, Charlton Heston, Gloria Grahame, Dorothy Lamour, Lawrence Tierney, Lyle Bettger, Henry Wilcoxson, and during the best years of his career, Jimmy Stewart begged DeMille to cast him in the supporting role of Buttons the clown.  Not to mention all of those cameos!

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The  Disney  movie  The  Parent  Trap  1961  is  an  wonderful  movie  and  one of  my  favorite  Disney films.  Speaking  about  ensemble  cast ,  this  movie  had  in  spades. This  movie  had  an  strong  cast  of  character  actors like  Una  Merkel,  Charlie  Ruggles,  Nancy  Kulp ,  Ruth  McDevitt,  Cathleen  Nesbitt,  Crahan  Denton,  Linda  Watkins  and  Leo  G Carroll .  The  main  leads  of  this  film  were  very  good  in  this  comedy  (  Hayley  Mills ,  Brian  Keith,  Maureen  O'Hara  and Joanna  Barnes). In  fact  this  movie  for  Brian  Keith was  preview  of  coming  attractions ,  in  his  television  show  Family  Affair. Hayley  Mills  was  in  a  lot  good   Disney  Films  like  Pollyanna ,  in  Search  of  the  Castaways, Summer Magic ,That  Darn  Cat  and  The  Moon-Spinners.

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On 11/24/2021 at 9:32 AM, TopBilled said:

I do not consider CASABLANCA an ensemble film.

It's top-heavy with its stars, but I've always thought of it as an ensemble film, at least the idea I have of one in my head without ever having looked up a definition, in that its scenes and speaking parts are distributed liberally all around, admittedly sometimes more than others. But very ensemble-y for its first half or or two-thirds.

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On 11/23/2021 at 6:26 AM, cigarjoe said:

For Noirs I'd go

Grand Central Murder (1942)

Deadline At Dawn (1946)

Lady In The Lake (1946)

His Kind of Woman (1951)

Shack Out On 101 (1955)

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), 

Seven Beauties (1977) 

The Late Show (1977) 

After Hours (1985)

Down By Law (1986)

Delicatessen (1991)

The Big Lebowski (1998).

 

 

Shack Out On 101

That's one that Eddie hasn't shown. It's like a companion piece to Rooney's Platinum High School. (Since both costarred Terry Moore.) I still have the VHS of 101.

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