Saturday, December 23, 2006

50 Lost Movie Classics

by Professor Wagstaff
The English Guardian newspaper recently ran an article listing 50 lost movie classics - not only because they've been underrated but that many of them haven't even been released on DVD as yet. Below is the list of titles (as well as director and year of release) - I've added comments to the ones that I've seen:

1 Salt Of The Earth Herbert Biberman, 1953

2 Petulia Richard Lester, 1968 (fully deserving of appearing here. Terrific film that benefits from repeat viewings and more then any other film I've seen presents an excellent portrayl of what life would've been like in the hippie centre of San Francisco at its peak in 1968.)

3 The State Of Things Wim Wenders, 1982

4 Newsfront Phillip Noyce, 1978 (Also deserving of an appearance here. Doesn't get the kudos that other Australian films of its era do (probably because its less pretentious) but is very entertaining and manages to capture an accurate snapshot of Australian life in the decade after WW2).

5 Fat City John Huston, 1972

6 I Wanna Hold Your Hand Robert Zemeckis, 1978

7 The Swimmer Frank Perry, 1968 (Like 'Petulia', another unjustly neglected film from 1968. Brillantly done and insightful with a superb performance by Burt Lancanster, who handles the pysical aspects of the film despite being over 50 when the film was being made.)

8 Under The Skin Carine Adler, 1997 9 The Front Page Lewis Milestone, 1931

10 The Damned Joseph Losey, 1961

11 Ace In The Hole Billy Wilder, 1951 (Saw this many years ago. Very well done and ultra-cynical in the traditional Wilder style but I wonder whether this would hold up as well today in these far more cynical times, especially when journalism is regarded in such a low esteeem.)

12 The Beaver Trilogy Trent Harris, 2001

13 Top Secret! Jim Abrahams, David and Jerry Zucker, 1984 (Don't really think it deserves a place in here. It's pretty funny and has some classic bits (best of all is when they're in the cow disguise) but it's slow and sluggish early on, and only really gets going once the 'Blue Lagoon' character joins in.

14 Bamboozled Spike Lee, 2000

15 3 Women Robert Altman, 1977

16 Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me David Lynch, 1992

17 Let's Scare Jessica To Death John D Hancock, 1971

18 The Low Down Jamie Thraves, 2000

19 A New Leaf Elanie May, 1971

20 Quiemada! Gillo Pontecorvo, 1969

21 The Hired Hand Peter Fonda, 1971

22 Safe Todd Haynes, 1995

23 Housekeeping Bill Forsyth, 1987

24 Le Petomane Ian MacNaughton, 1979

25 Lianna John Sayles, 1982

26 Bill Douglas Trilogy Bill Douglas, 1972-78

27 The Parallax View Alan J Pakula, 1974 (The template for how a paranoid/conspiracy thriller should be made. While Pakula's 'All The President's Men' is probably a better film overall, I'm personally biased to this film and how it's made - one of my favourite films of all time, let alone most underrated). 28 Babylon Franco Rosso, 1980

29 Dreamchild Gavin Millar, 1985

30 Ride Lonesome Budd Boetticher, 1959

31 Breathless Jim McBride, 1983

32 The Day The Earth Caught Fire Val Guest, 1961

33 Less Than Zero Marek Kanievska, 1987

34 Day Night Day Night Julia Loktev, 2006

35 Tin Cup Ron Shelton, 1996

36 The Ninth Configuration William Peter Blatty, 1980

37 Cutter's Way Ivan Passer, 1981 (Admirable in many ways, but bleak, depressing and not particularly entertaining and not a film I'd want to watch again).

38 Save The Last Dance Thomas Carter, 2001

39 The Mad Monkey Fernando Trueba, 1989

40 Cockfighter Monte Hellman, 1974

41 The Narrow Margin Richard Fleischer, 1952

42 Terence Davies Trilogy Terence Davies, 1984

43 Wise Blood John Huston, 1979

44 Robin Hood Wolfgang Reitherman, 1973

45 Two-Lane Blacktop Monte Hellman, 1971

46 Beautiful Girls Ted Demme, 1996

47 Millions Danny Boyle, 2004

48 Round Midnight Bertrand Tavernier, 1986

49 Jeremy Arthur Barron, 1973

50 Grace Of My Heart Allison Anders, 1996

Any underseving entries in there? I haven't seen it but 'Tin Cup' I would've thought was the classic ho-hum Costner effort that saw his career decline so rapidly during the 1990s. And the Disney version of 'Robin Hood' has generally been seen as symptomatic of their decline during the 1970s. Any others that deserve a mention under this category?


Blogger Brian said...

Yeah, having Tin Cup on the list is weird - not only is it the first time I've heard of it as a classic - I'd agree that it's underrated, and far better than the other two movies he compares it to, but a classic? - it's the first I've heard that it's 'lost'. It's 10 years old, for crying out loud!

Same with Millions. I liked it a lot - thought it was one of the best I saw last year - but a movie that came out the year before last is hardly a 'lost classic'. Anyone can see it pretty easily if they want to.

As a list of interesting stuff that's been overlooked, it's not a bad list, though. Safe was a very weird movie and worthwhile if you're into slow yet unsettling art stuff, but calling it a "horror film" is going to make a lot of people think it's much different than it really is.

Bamboozled really should have been seen by more people, as it's probably the most abrasive studio movie I've ever seen. Truly vicious.

12/24/2006 12:09:00 AM  
Blogger jaydro said...

Tin Cup is one of the great sports films, along with Shelton's own Bull Durham and Steve McQueen's Le Mans and a few other films, because it's not about winning.

Anyway, for US readers this list is seriously flawed because several of these films are not lost here.

12/24/2006 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Professor Wagstaff said...

One film that I think has been undeservedly forgotten is a 1971 film called 'Gumshoe'.

The plot (A Liverpool comedian and bingo-caller (Albert Finney) fantasizes of becoming a private eye in the style of Raymond Chandler's gumshoe Philip Marlowe) sounds like a one-joke movie, but thanks to a good central performance and intelligent writing/directing, it goes beyond the obvious and is a thoughtful and impressive film that stays in the memory. Definitely worthy of DVD release at the very least.

12/24/2006 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me was a disaster, a classicly bad film. I'm not a David Lynch hater--I dug Mulholland Falls, even if I didn't understand it, but Twin Peaks just made me want to throw things at the screen.

12/27/2006 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

Oops--Mulholland Drive, not Mulholland Falls, which was a film that was most notable for showing off Jennifer Connelly's spectacular breasts.

12/27/2006 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger Count Olaf said...

I thoroughly enjoyed Disney's Robin Hood. Probably one of my favorite Disney-only animated classics. Just got the "Most Wanted Edition" for Christmas!

12/27/2006 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

I was going to go through and list all the ones that are available on DVD in the US but not in the UK, but the first few I looked up are available in the UK (I didn't catch at first that the original article said 18 of the 50 are), so I'm too lazy....

Anyway, I would add The Great Waldo Pepper. It's one of my all-time favorite films, even though people use it to dismiss screenwriter William Goldman when he gets uppity. It was issued as a Good Times DVD several years ago and may even have been reissued in the same form by Universal, but that pan & scan version has been out-of-print for some time and wasn't worth having.

I love Petulia, too, and was excited to hear about the DVD release here this past summer, but I haven't checked it out yet.

And I love Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. I was a big fan of the TV series, and while the film prequel is not entirely satisfying, there are all these hauntingly indelible images from it, as with so many Lynch films for better or worse, but this time for the better, IMHO.

12/27/2006 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger Professor Wagstaff said...

I saw 'The Great Waldo Pepper' a few months back. Not without its charms but overall wasn't particularly impressed.

The main problem was that Redford's character wasn't that likable or, more importantly, interesting.

12/28/2006 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

I've always wanted to see Steven Soderbergh's King of the Hill, but as far as I know it's never been put out on DVD, at least here in the States. I don't know if it's any good or not, but it seems to have been fairly well-regarded at the time it was released.

12/28/2006 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

I think William Goldman himself has said that The Great Waldo Pepper would have been more successful with someone like Jack Nicholson in the lead instead of Redford--that would have given it an entirely different tone, and people would have accepted Nicholson losing the girl while they couldn't take it with Redford. As it was I liked it just fine, because Redford was more believable to me as this really charming guy who was actually just a total fake (like people would have been suspicious of Nicholson from the get-go), and like his character in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid he finds that he can't seem to adapt to the world changing around him. Plus the flying stunts are without parallel.

I've recorded King of the Hill twice from IFC (or was it Sundance Channel?), and I've ended up deleting it before watching because I've needed the disk space. Hard to admit for a Soderbergh fan, but it just doesn't look that compelling.

12/28/2006 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Sherry said...

Tin Cup? Lost? Maybe in the UK, I suppose. Great sports movie, though. Tin Cup is completely in Costner's wheelhouse. This sad sack yet talented and deeply flawed sports slacker is where Costner shines (note: Bull Durham and The Upside of Anger)

Bamboozled: Excellent movie. A bit on the uncomfortable side, but it's a vastly underrated flick.

My question, though...

Save the Last Dance? Really? The Julia Stiles flick? It's not bad, but a lost classic?

And is Beautiful Girls lost?

1/06/2007 08:53:00 AM  

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