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100 Movie

A

Adam’s Rib (1949)
Starring: Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Holliday, Tom Ewell, David Wayne, Jean Hagen
Director: George Cukor
A great, sophisticated, battle-of-the-sexes comedy, one of Hollywood’s greatest comedy classics, about husband-and-wife lawyers who take opposite sides of a court case, from a forward-looking screenplay with snappy dialogue by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin – the husband and wife’s second collaboration with director George Cukor. Often rated as the best pairing of the nine films of the legendary screen team of Tracy and Hepburn – it was their sixth film together. The film was originally titled Man and Wife. Chauvinistic District Attorney Adam Bonner (Tracy) prosecutes a ‘dumb blonde’ Doris Attinger (Holliday in her debut role) for attempted murder. The bombshell vengefully shot and wounded her philandering, two-timing husband Warren (Ewell) with mistress Beryl (Hagen). His savvy wife Amanda Bonner (Hepburn) victoriously defends the woman with feminist, women’s rights arguments, upsetting sexist double standards. At film’s end, Adam conclusively admits the profound differences between males and females: Vive la difference. Academy Award Nominations: 1, Best Story and Screenplay.
Alien (1979)
Starring: Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Harry Dean Stanton, Yaphet Kotto, Veronica Cartwright
Director: Ridley Scott
A grisly, futuristic, suspenseful, atmospheric, memorable and popular science fiction/horror film about the intergalactic journey of a claustrophobic, commercial space cargo freighter, the Nostromo. With terrific sets designed by surreal artist H. R. Giger. The crew includes warrant officer heroine Ripley (Weaver in her starring debut role), Kane (Hurt), Dallas (Skerritt), Ash (Holm), and others, who are awakened from hyper-sleep to investigate a distress signal on a mysteriously bleak, dead planet with a crashed alien spacecraft. In its interior, a lifeform with tentacles clings to Kane’s helmet/face, incubates inside his host body, and ultimately bursts from his gut. The hideous, indestructible, carnivorous creature grows in size and hides within the hyper-tech spacecraft, menacing and picking off one crew member after another until self-reliant, resourceful Ripley outsmarts the primal, lethal monster in the explosive conclusion. Followed by three sequels, including James Cameron’s Aliens (1986), Alien3 (1992), and Alien Resurrection (1997). Academy Award Nominations: 2, including Best Art Direction/Set Decoration. Academy Awards: 1, Best Visual Effects.
American Graffiti (1973)
Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Cindy Williams, Mackenzie Phillips, Charles Martin Smith, Harrison Ford, Candy Clark, Paul Le Mat, Suzanne Somers
Director: George Lucas
In pre-Kennedy assassination America and in the pre-Vietnam War era, a time of innocence, this nostalgic, coming-of-age story features the songs of its era, in a classic sound-track provided by Wolfman Jack’s Rock ‘n’ Roll radio show. Director George Lucas memorialized his own teenage years in Modesto, California in this episodic, idealized, low-budget tale of a bygone era with numerous subplots. On their final summer night after their Class of 1962 graduation, two clean-cut, college-bound California high schoolers Curt (Dreyfuss) and Steve (Howard) – with girlfriend Laurie (Williams), cruise the streets of their N. California town in their hot rods, and eat at Mel’s Diner. Other characters include hot-rodders John (Le Mat) and Falfa (Ford), nerdy Terry the Toad (Smith), pre-teen Carol (Phillips), a mysterious girl in a white T-Bird (Somers), and an experienced Debbie (Clark). Inspired the popular TV situation comedy Happy Days and helped position Lucas for his greatest film of all time – Star Wars. Academy Award Nominations: 5, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress–Candy Clark, Best Original Story and Screenplay, Best Film Editing.
The Apartment (1960)
Starring: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Jack Kruschen
Director: Billy Wilder
A classic, caustically-witty, satirically cynical, melodramatic comedy about corporate politics – and a bitter-sweet romance. In a bid to get ahead, an ambitious, lowly, misguided and young insurance clerk C. C. Baxter (Lemmon) generously lends out the keys to his NYC apartment to his company’s higher-up, philandering executives for romantic, adulterous, extra-marital trysts, including to his callous married boss J. D. Sheldrake (MacMurray). Baxter’s own budding crush toward his building’s elevator operator – melancholy, and vulnerable Fran Kubelik (MacLaine) turns ugly when he discovers he has been outsmarted – she is the latest conquest of his boss – and has attempted suicide in his apartment. Baxter’s next-door, philosophizing doctor/neighbor Dr. Dreyfuss (Kruschen) convinces Baxter to confront the craven ethics of his superiors – and he wins the affections of Fran. Academy Award Nominations: 10, including Best Actor–Jack Lemmon, Best Actress–Shirley MacLaine, Best Supporting Actor–Jack Kruschen, Best B/W Cinematography, Best Sound. Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Story and Screenplay, Best B/W Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Film Editing.
The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
Starring: Sterling Hayden, Sam Jaffe, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, Marilyn Monroe
Director: John Huston
A classic noirish thriller, an adaptation based on a novel by W. R. Burnett, about a mastermind, aging, ex-convict criminal Doc (Jaffe), who comes out of retirement (prison) for one last jewel robbery with an assemblage of underworld characters – Kentucky horse-farm loving Dix Handley (Hayden) with tough-girlfriend Doll (Hagen), and sleazy lawyer partner Alonzo Emmerich (Calhern) who plans to fence the jewels to support his expensive habits (e.g., an affair with seductive mistress Monroe – in a cameo role). The heist unravels quickly and everything falls apart when an alarm accidentally sounds and the safecracker is mortally wounded by a stray bullet. While Emmerich commits suicide, and others are either jailed or wounded, Doc’s creepy voyeurism for a young girl dooms him during his escape. Dix reaches his childhood Kentucky farm but expires in a field surrounded by horses. Academy Award Nominations: 4, including Best Supporting Actor–Sam Jaffe, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best B/W Cinematography.
The Awful Truth (1937)
Starring: Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy, Joyce Compton, Alexander D’Arcy, Esther Dale
Director: Leo McCarey
A fast-paced, classic screwball romantic comedy of the 30′s, starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in their first on-screen pairing. Jerry and Lucy Warriner (Grant and Dunne), a married, high-society couple who are convinced of infidelities (based on misunderstandings and other ridiculous reasons), file for divorce and separate for six months after a custody battle for their dog (Asta of The Thin Man films). During the interim, they verbally spar, sabotage and ruin each others’ new relationships and romances – with handsome voice teacher Armand Duvalle (D’Arcy) and mother-dominated, millionaire Oklahoma rancher-hick Daniel Leeson (Bellamy), and singer Dixie Belle Lee (Compton). Before their divorce is finalized, they ultimately cannot resist each other and discover their mutual love. Academy Award Nominations: 6, including Best Picture, Best Actress–Irene Dunne, Best Supporting Actor–Ralph Bellamy, Best Screenplay, Best Film Editing. Academy Awards: 1, Best Director.

B

The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
Starring: Kirk Douglas, Lana Turner, Dick Powell, Gloria Grahame, Walter Pidgeon, Barry Sullivan
Director: Vincente Minnelli
A scathing melodrama and dark expose of sordid backstage Hollywood, with memorable performances by both Turner and Douglas. An ambitious, cruel, driven, amoral, egotistical producer Jonathan Shields (Douglas), begins as a maker of low-budget westerns and horror films. His manipulative and ruthless victimization of others is seen, in flashback, from the viewpoints of three former associates that he betrayed, double-crossed, and caused emotional pain – a star actress and ex-lover Georgia Lorrison (Turner), award-winning screenwriter James Lee Bartlow (Powell) and his faithless, southern belle wife Rosemary (Grahame), and director Fred Amiel (Sullivan). Now that they have furthered their careers, they tell their stories to film studio executive Harry Pebbel (Pidgeon), who has been asked to convince the individuals to join the despised Shields on his next project – they all disown him and hope that he will fail. In the final scene, the three listen – with a phone to their ear – when the exiled Shields calls from Europe. Academy Award Nominations: 6, including Best Actor–Kirk Douglas. Academy Awards: 5, including Best Supporting Actress–Gloria Grahame, Best Screenplay–Charles Schnee, Best B/W Cinematography, Best B/W Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best B/W Costume Design.
Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
Starring: Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin, Anne Francis, Dean Jagger, Walter Brennan
Director: John Sturges
A suspenseful, powerful, 50′s, Western-like drama, a mystery-thriller set in an isolated, southwestern desert town in 1945, and based on Howard Breslin’s novel. A mysterious, one-armed veteran John J. MacReedy (Tracy) arrives in the tiny town of Black Rock by train, to fulfill a promise made to a Japanese-American soldier who died fighting in WW II. He searches for the whereabouts of the local Japanese-American father, Komoko, of his soldier/friend who saved his life, to bestow the deceased man’s posthumously-presented medal of honor to the family – but encounters only a conspiracy of silence. His awkward questions cause the uneasy, hostile local inhabitants to confront their guilty consciences and threaten his life , led by menacing, sinister town boss Reno Smith (Ryan) and his henchmen – a racially-prejudiced Coley Trimble (Borgnine) and Hector David (Marvin). They retaliate with violence, putting his life at risk. Some town members, including a drunken sheriff (Jagger), a doctor (Brennan), and gal in town (Francis), become the stranger’s allies. Academy Award Nominations: 3, including Best Director, Best Actor–Spencer Tracy, Best Screenplay.
Badlands (1973)
Starring: Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek, Warren Oates
Director: Terrence Malick
Inspired and based on the murder spree of a killing, loving couple, Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate, in the late 1950′s in Nebraska and bordering states – a daring, directorial film debut for Terrence Malick. Social outcast and misfit, James Dean look-alike ex-garbage collector Kit Carruthers (Sheen) romances a naive, lackadaisical, starry-eyed, celebrity magazine-addicted 15 year old teenager Holly Sargis (Spacek) (who narrates the film in a deadpan tone), kills her disapproving father (Oates), and then embarks on a state-wide flight – and shocking, emotionally-apathetic and casual, homicidal binge – into the badlands of South Dakota and Montana. The disturbing, complex character study observes the twisted, strange actions of the couple as they are hunted down and apprehended. No Academy Award nominations.
The Bank Dick (1940) (tie)
Starring: W. C. Fields, Cora Witherspoon, Franklin Pangborn, Una Merkel, Grady Sutton, Shemp Howard
Director: Eddie Cline
One of the best comedies ever made – and the best of W. C. Fields’ latter films – a witty, zany, madcap, rambling comedy classic written by Fields himself (under the pseudonym ‘Mahatma Kane Jeeves’). In Lompoc, California, Fields stars as eccentric, henpecked, loafing, unemployed Egbert Sousè (pronounced with a French accent as Soo-zay), a lush who ‘directs’ a low-budget film production, accidentally trips a bank robber, foils the bank robbery, and as the town’s local hero is awarded the job of bank guard. On the job (when he isn’t frequenting the Black Pussy Cat Cafe and downing stiff drinks from the bartender (Howard)), he manages to embezzle bank funds, under the watchful eye of bank examiner J. Pinkerton Snoopington (Pangborn), to foolishly finance a boondoggle – a worthless mine operation, and he marries his daughter Myrtle (Merkel) to a dimwitted Og Oggilby (Sutton). Concludes with one of the greatest chase sequences in film history – a funny, Mack Sennett-like cops/robbers chase. No Academy Award nominations.
The Big Heat (1953)
Starring: Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Lee Marvin, Alexander Scourby, Jocelyn Brando
Director: Fritz Lang
A dark, very brutal and violent, classic, expressionistic film noir/melodrama and gangster film that explores the seamy underworld of American organized crime. Following the suicide of a guilt-stricken, supposedly-honest fellow cop, homicide Sgt. Dave Bannion (Ford) is determined to discover the truth. A car bomb meant for him accidentally kills his wife Katie (Brando). Suspended from duty on the force, he tenaciously avenges the mob’s murder of his wife, confronting the city crime ring to uncover the truth. A hard-hitting showdown is destined with ruthless, meglomaniacal kingpin Mike Lagana (Scourby), aided by a sadistic, psychotic thug Vince Stone (Marvin). One of the film’s most celebrated scenes is the coffee-scalding scene – an enraged Stone hurls his boiling coffee into the face of his moll girlfriend Debby Marsh (Grahame) – in retribution, she courageously aids Bannion’s search for the culprits and returns the coffee-scalding favor to Vince. No Academy Award nominations.
The Big Parade (1925)
Starring: John Gilbert, Renee Adoree
Director: King Vidor
A still-powerful classic Great War, anti-war epic with compelling, realistic, brilliantly-staged battle scenes — showing the virtually-unprotected front lines marching toward the enemy and getting picked off. This was the highest grossing silent film in its day. The film mixes grueling infantry action with bittersweet romance and a little comic relief. The war takes its toll as many of the men die or get seriously wounded. The emotion-filled story focuses on an American troop stationed in France with soldiers from different backgrounds. One American soldier (Gilbert) falls in love with a French woman (Adoree), and they are traumatically torn apart as the war carries them further apart.
Blue Velvet (1986)
Starring: Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Hopper, Dean Stockwell, Laura Dern
Director: David Lynch
A controversial, disturbing, off-beat cult film drama that explores the corrupt, malevolent under-side of small town, suburban Americana. Following the collapse of his father in a colorful opening sequence, a college boy Jeffrey Beaumont (MacLachlan) returns to middle-class hometown Lumberton, where he finds a severed human ear in an overgrown vacant field. With the help of an innocent, sweet high school teenager Sandy Williams (Dern), he investigates the bizarre mystery of the ear, finding himself involved (and participating) in a frightening, nightmarish world of voyeurism, violent sex, perversion, drug-addiction, and depraved degradation. He encounters nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens (Rossellini) (who repeatedly sings Bobby Vinton’s “Blue Velvet”) enslaved by her sadistic, demoniacal, obscenity-shouting, sexual tormentor and drug-dealer Frank Booth (Hopper), who psycho-sexually blackmails her while holding her husband and child hostage. Academy Award Nominations: 1, Best Director.
Brazil (1985)
Starring: Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Bob Hoskins, Kim Greist
Director: Terry Gilliam
An offbeat, satirical ultra-dark comedy of an oppressive, alternative future, with visually-imaginative references to Kafka’s The Trial, Orwell’s 1984 and A Clockwork Orange. Mild-mannered and meek bureaucratic statistician Sam Lowry (Pryce), a civil servant Everyman works in the regulatory Ministry of Information (MOI), jammed with paperwork and filled with endless pneumatic tubes. When a literal beetle is squashed in an office teletype printer and causes a typographical error that alters an arrest record, it unjustly identifies an innocent citizen Mr. Buttle as suspected terrorist Harry Tuttle (De Niro). When Lowry investigates the case of mistaken identity and attempts to unravel it, he escapes to become a silver-winged hero in the clouds who rescues a dreamlike fantasy girl Jill Layton (Greist). A similar-looking female truck driver inspires him to win her love, but meanwhile, he has become the subject of study by the totalitarian regime. Academy Award Nominations: 2, Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration.
Brief Encounter (1946)
Starring: Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard
Director: David Lean
Based on a Noel Coward play – a poignant, restrained British melodramatic romance, about two married strangers, Dr. Alec Harvey (Howard) and housewife Laura Jesson (Johnson), who have a chance meeting one Thursday on the platform of a train station. Their casual friendship soon turns into a romantic relationship and they fall in love. The romanticism of the film is enhanced by Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 musical score. Academy Award Nominations: 3, including Best Director, Best Actress–Celia Johnson, Best Screenplay.
Broken Blossoms (1919)
Starring: Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Donald Crisp
Director: D.W. Griffith
An early silent film, a classic melodrama, poignantly effective in its almost barren simplicity, with evocative cinematography by Billy Bitzer. A poor Chinese immigrant (Barthelmess) and abused teenager (Gish) in London’s squalid, foggy Limehouse district form a fragile bond in this touching, moving silent classic. The gentle, pacifistic Chinaman struggles to free the woman he loves – an abused waifish girl living in the poor East End district of London, from her violent, drunken, prize-fighting father (Crisp). Even when the Chinese man shelters and hides her by dressing her up in Oriental costumes, his desire to help her proves useless in the face of her father’s continued brutality.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Starring: Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Katharine Ross
Director: George Roy Hill
One of the most-popular, appealing, beguilingly star-driven, tragi-comedy Westerns ever made. About two charming, turn-of-the-century, train-robbing outlaws – with comedy, drama, action, a witty script, and two handsome leads. The romanticized buddy film is loosely based on real-life, legendary outlaws Robert Leroy Parker (Butch Cassidy) and Harry Longbaugh (The Sundance Kid) and the Hole in the Wall gang. The film’s early 1900′s anti-heroes are free-wheeling, non-chalant Butch (Newman) and sharpshooting Sundance (Redford), both with human fallible traits – their specialty is robbing trains, until they bungle their second attempt on the Union Pacific Express and are relentlessly pursued by authorities in a posse. With Sundance’s beautiful, school-teacher lover Etta Place (Ross), they flee to Bolivia to seek further wealth. In the end, they are outnumbered and die in a blazing, hail of bullets, freeze-frame shootout, reminiscent of Bonnie and Clyde. Features the song “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” while Etta and Butch share a bicycle ride. Academy Award Nominations: 7, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Sound. Academy Awards: 4, including Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Cinematography, Best Song (“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”), Best Original Score.

C

Cabaret (1972)
Starring: Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey, Michael York, Helmut Griem, Marisa Berenson, Fritz Wepper
Director: Bob Fosse
Set in a cabaret in sexually-charged, decadent, 1930s pre-war Berlin, one of the greatest musicals ever produced, adapted from the Kander-Ebb Broadway stage musical from John Van Druten’s play (and movie) I Am a Camera, which, in turn, was based on Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories. Young, bisexual Englishman Brian Roberts (York) becomes involved with free-spirited, promiscuous Kit Kat Klub singer and American expatriate Sally Bowles (Minnelli in her first singing role on-screen). Unbeknownst to her, he also shares her with wealthy German baron playboy/homosexual Maximilian von Heune (Griem). The seedy and sleazy Kit Kat Klub is presided over by a sinister, leering, androgynous emcee/master of ceremonies (Grey). After Sally’s abortion and the end of her affair, she sings: “Life is a cabaret, old chum, only a cabaret…” The show ‘must go on’ night after night as the monstrous Nazis come to power, anti-Jewish persecution and propaganda increases (the subplot of the love affair between Roberts’ Jewish friends Fritz and Natalia) and the horror of war appears on the horizon. Academy Award Nominations: 10, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay. Academy Awards: 8, including Best Director, Best Actress–Liza Minnelli, Best Supporting Actor–Joel Grey, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Sound, Best Adapted Song Score, Best Film Editing.
Camille (1936)
Starring: Greta Garbo, Robert Taylor, Lionel Barrymore, Henry Daniell
Director: George Cukor
An adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ play – a tragi-romantic film with the radiantly-luminous Greta Garbo in her most famous role as a doomed, star-crossed, dying French courtesan who falls in love with a young nobleman. Marguerite Gautier (Garbo) is a Parisian courtesan, supported by Baron de Varville (Daniell), but she falls in love with a naive, shallow gentleman Armand Duval (Taylor). When his concerned father (Barrymore) thwarts them and objects to their love affair, she selflessly renounces and sacrifices her own happiness and breaks off her relationship. In the film’s finale, Armand returns to her deathbed where she is dying of tuberculosis – the camera lingers on her face as she dies in her lover’s arms. Academy Award Nominations: 1, Best Actress–Greta Garbo.
Cat People (1942)
Starring: Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Tom Conway, Jane Randolph
Director: Jacques Tourneur
One of the greatest, low-budget horror films, the first produced by the legendary Val Lewton, known for his haunting, understated, suggestive, psychologically-eerie films. A young, beautiful, Serbian-born immigrant bride Irena Dubrovna (Simon), a fashion sketch artist/dress designer living in NYC, marries American architect Oliver Reed (Smith). Unable to consummate the marriage, she is tormented by the fear of sexual frigidity and by the folklore belief that she suffers from an ancient, supernatural Balkan curse – whenever emotionally, passionately, or sexually aroused, she will be transformed into a lethally vicious black cat-panther. When he confides in his female co-worker Alice Moore (Randolph), Irena’s jealousy is aroused and unseen – she stalks Alice through a foreboding Central Park and later at a darkened indoor swimming pool. A disbelieving clinical psychiatrist Dr. Louis Judd (Conway) is unable to cure her and suffers a painful death. No Academy Award nominations.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Provocatively adapted from the famous novel by Anthony Burgess. A glossy, stylish, graphically-violent, controversial, futuristic, science-fiction satire about the effects of crime and punishment (aversion therapy and brainwashing against violence) on a British teenaged punk. After a night of hooliganism with his vicious gang of droogs, including gang rapes and beatings, a sadistic Alex (McDowell) is captured. In a grim, unorthodox governmental experiment, he is re-programmed, through his love for Beethoven’s music, to reject violence, but he is dehumanized in the process of being cured. Vengeance is revisited upon him by his former victims after he is released into the society. Academy Award Nominations: 4, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Francois Truffaut, Melinda Dillon, Cary Guffey, Teri Garr
Director: Steven Spielberg
A science-fiction epic and adventure story about the mysteries of UFO and extra-terrestrial appearances. A Middle-American from Indiana Roy Neary (Dreyfuss), a utilities lineman, is confronted by a UFO on a deserted road at night as he investigates a power outage – a near-religious, life-transforming experience. Afterwards, he becomes obsessed with unexplained, mountainous shapes, and five musical notes. By piecing together clues, he is ultimately led to a rendezvous on Devils Tower in Wyoming with Jillian (Dillon), a mother whose young boy Barry (Guffey) was kidnapped by the aliens. There in the exhilarating climax, they witness an arriving spacecraft, the dazzling mother-ship, greeted by a top-secret scientific establishment led by Claude Lacombe (Truffaut). Academy Award Nominations: 8, including Best Supporting Actress–Melinda Dillon, Best Director, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Sound, Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects. Academy Awards: 1: Best Cinematography. Also a Special Achievement Award for Sound Effects Editing.
The Conversation (1974)
Starring: Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Frederic Forrest, Cindy Williams, Harrison Ford
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
A brilliant thriller and murder mystery that was made during the Watergate Era, and coming at the height of Coppola’s fame for his two Godfather films. One of the best films of the 70s. A professional, reclusive, alienated, and paranoid surveillance expert Harry Caul (Hackman), assisted by Stan (Cazale) is hired by the ‘director’ (Robert Duvall in a cameo) of an anonymous business, in a seemingly-routine job, to secretly wiretap the conversations of two employees – an unfaithful wife and her lover (Cindy Williams and Frederic Forrest). After repeatedly playing back the tape, he realizes that he has captured a terrifying conversation with clues about an impending tragedy – a death sentence. He feels compelled to intercede and circumvent fate with disastrous consequences. Academy Award Nominations: 3, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Sound.
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Starring: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin, Jo Van Fleet
Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Based on Donn Pearce’s novel and one of the great prison-chain-gang films. A spirited, irreverent, social misfit Luke (Newman) is arrested for destroying parking meters and imprisoned in a tough Southern prison farm, commanded by a sadistic, prison officer Captain (Martin). After boxing with the chain-gang boss Dragline (Kennedy), he eventually becomes a hero to his fellow inmates, earning the title “Cool Hand Luke” because his will cannot be broken. A visit by Luke’s dying mother (Van Fleet) reveals facts about his past. The stubborn, unruly and independent rebel refuses to submit and continually and cooly defies the authorities with repeated escape attempts. As the inmates start worshipping him as a folk hero, he risks everything in order to live up to their expectations, and is sacrificed in the tragic climax. With the memorable line of dialogue: “What we have here is failure to communicate,” and the classic egg-eating scene. Academy Award Nominations: 4, including Best Actor–Paul Newman, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Music Score. Academy Awards: 1, Best Supporting Actor–George Kennedy.

D

Days of Heaven (1978)
Starring: Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Shepard, Linda Manz
Director: Terrence Malick
Director Terrence Malick’s second feature film, an original, lyrical and gorgeously-photographed work of art. A tragic, turn-of-the-century tale of a hot-headed Chicago steel worker (Gere) who flees to the wheat fields of the Texas Panhandle following the accidental murder of the mill foreman, with his lover-girlfriend (Adams) and his younger 13 year-old sister (Manz) (who provides the film’s raw commentary). He takes up itinerant work for the fall harvest with a wealthy and prosperous but terminally-ailing and lonely farmer (Shepard). When an unusual love triangle develops, the farm-hand pretends that his girlfriend is his sister and encourages her marriage to the farmer, hoping that they can escape from poverty. The plot includes a plague of locusts, fire, and the tragic consequences of greed and jealousy. Academy Award Nominations: 4, including Best Score, Best Costume Design, Best Sound. Academy Awards: 1, Best Cinematography.
The Deer Hunter (1978)
Starring: Robert De Niro, John Cazale, John Savage, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep
Director: Michael Cimino
Michael Cimino’s disturbing, emotionally powerful film about three friends who are forever changed by imprisonment during the Vietnam War. Michael (De Niro), Nick (Walken), and Steven (Savage) are three close buddies from the steel mill town of Pittsburgh who hang out in bars and hunt deer. Steven is getting married while Michael and Nick compete over the affections of Linda (Streep). Their lives are turned upside down when they are drafted into the airbourne infantry to fight in Vietnam, and are soon captured by the enemy. There, among other things, they are forced to endure a game of Russian Roulette in the P.O.W. camp. Michael and Steven manage to escape and return home, but each of their lives are forever changed by the experience. Cimino’s second film, he’d previously made a name for himself with Thunderbolt & Lightfoot (1974), a cult crime caper starring Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges as the titular characters. However, his career was destroyed by the disastrous epic Heaven’s Gate (1980), and would make only five more films to date. Academy Award Nominations: 9, including Best Actor–Robert De Niro, Best Supporting Actress–Meryl Streep, Best Cinematography–Vilmos Zsigmond, Best Original Screenplay. Academy Awards: 5, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor–Christopher Walken, Best Director–Michael Cimino, Best Film Editing, Best Sound.
Dodsworth (1936)
Starring: Walter Huston, David Niven, Mary Astor, Maria Ouspenskaya, Ruth Chatterton, Paul Lukas, Gregory Gaye
Director: William Wyler
A bittersweet, intelligent drama – a film adaptation from Sinclair Lewis’s 1929 novel of the same name, about the disintegration of a troubled marriage during a European trip. Following his retirement, a retired, reserved, self-made, wealthy auto tycoon and manufacturer Samuel Dodsworth (Huston) travels to Europe with wife Fran (Chatterton). His vain, pampered, selfish and shallow wife, unwilling to confront her middle-age, is seduced by the aristocratic, charming lifestyle she finds there, and flirts with and enters into affairs with British officer Lockert (Niven) and an international adventurer/banker Arnold Iselin (Paul Lukas). As their marriage fails, she asks for a divorce so that she can marry an impoverished, mother-dominated Austrian nobleman Kurt von Obersdorf (Gaye), but the man’s mother (Ouspenskaya) blocks their marriage. Fran returns to her husband, unremorseful and none the wiser. Sam turns disconsolate until discovering love – he finally abandons his shrewish wife for a kind, young widow Edith Cortright (Astor) whom he met on the Queen Mary. Academy Award Nominations: 7, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor–Walter Huston, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress–Maria Ouspenskaya, Best Sound Recording. Academy Awards: Best Interior Decoration.
Don’t Look Now (1973)
Starring: Donald Sutherland, Julie Christie
Director: Nicolas Roeg
Based on a short story by Daphne De Maurier – a supernatural, mysterious, eerie, psychological thriller about a British couple in Venice. Following the tragic, accidental drowning of their daughter, John and Laura Baxter (Sutherland and Christie) travel to Venice where he works on restoring a church, still shattered and haunted by their child’s death. In the off-season resort, they meet two elderly sisters, Wendy and Heather, one of whom is blind but claims to be psychic. She insists that, in visions, she sees the spirit of the Baxters’ red-coated daughter, and possesses a message of warning from the dead child. While John is skeptical and resistant, he catches a flashing glimpse of a red-raincoated child darting around a dark street corner alley – and he sees Laura and the sisters on a funeral gondola drifting down a Venetian canal. No Academy Award nominations.

Dracula (1931)
Starring: Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan
Director: Tod Browning
The classic horror film, the first screen version of Bram Stoker’s famous tale, that launched Bela Lugosi’s career in his most famous role as the Transylvanian, blood-sucking vampire. Begins with a masterful twenty minutes, in the Carpathian Mountains at Count Dracula’s castle, and Dracula’s lugubrious introduction: “I…am…Dracula.” British real-estate salesman Renfield (Frye) arrives at the dark castle to arrange for the sale of an English manor house to Count Dracula (Lugosi). Renfield becomes Dracula’s demented slave as they return to London, where Dracula is smitten by Mina Seward (Chandler), but is fought off by vampire-hunter Van Helsing (Van Sloan). Followed by the sequel Dracula’s Daughter. No Academy Award nominations.

E

The Empire Strikes Back (1980) (tie)
Starring:
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams
Director: Irvin Kershner
The second in the famous Star Wars trilogy of fantastic science-fiction films, often rated as the best in the trilogy, with stunning special-effects, great characters and a rich, comic-bookish storyline. Again, evil Darth Vader continues to aid the Emperor to determinedly crush the Rebel forces. The Rebel Alliance, on the frozen and icy planet Hoth, are threatened by troops attacking from the Galactic Empire, and space jockey Han Solo (Ford) and Princess Leia Organa (Fisher) – with the Wookie Chewbacca and the two robotic droids (R2-D2 and C-3PO) – flee to Cloud City ruled by supposed-ally Lando Calrissian (Williams). Meanwhile, young Luke Skywalker (Hamill) is mentored about the wise ways of the Force and Jedi Knights by the last great Jedi Master, a gnome-like, swamp-dwelling Yoda on the planet Dagobah. The film culminates with a climactic show-down between Luke and Darth Vader. Followed by Return of the Jedi (1983). Academy Award Nominations: 3, including Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Original Score. Academy Awards: 1, including Best Sound. Also a Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects.
The Exorcist (1973)
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Jason Miller, Max von Sydow
Director: William Friedkin
A disturbing, shocking, exploitative, and frightening film adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s best-selling, blockbuster book about satanic demon possession. A sweet pre-teenaged girl Regan (Blair) becomes possessed by an evil spirit – and is soon transformed and disfigured into a head-rotating, levitating, green vomit-spewing, obscenity-shouting creature. Her divorced mother Mrs. MacNeil (Burstyn) is at wit’s end, until she calls on a dedicated, faith-questioning Jesuit priest Father Karras (Miller) to exorcise the malevolent devil from her daughter’s body. An elderly priest Father Merrin (von Sydow), whose archaeology project released the Satanic being, also risks his life to administer rites of exorcism with incantations and holy water. Academy Award Nominations: 10, including Best Picture, Best Actress–Ellen Burstyn, Best Supporting Actor–Jason Miller, Best Supporting Actress–Linda Blair, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Film Editing. Academy Awards: 2, including Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound.

F

Fargo (1996)
Starring: Frances McDormand, William H. Macy
Director: Joel Coen
An offbeat, clever, kidnap whodunit-caper and black comedy, a tale of greed and crime, involving a financially-stricken Midwestern car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) who ineptly schemes to kidnap his own wife Jean (Kristin Rudrid). When his hired henchmen Carl and Gaear (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) botch the kidnapping, their murderous plan is persistently investigated by Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), the pregnant police chief of Brainerd, Minnesota. Academy Award nominations: 7, including Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography (Roger Deakins), Best Director, Best Supporting Actor — William H. Macy. Academy Awards: 2, Best Actress (Frances McDormand), Best Original Screenplay (Ethan and Joel Coen).
Five Easy Pieces (1970)
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, Susan Anspach, Sally Struthers
Director: Bob Rafelson
An existential, off-beat road movie and character study of classical concert pianist-turned-oil rigger who must reluctantly return home. A talented musician-pianist Robert Dupea (Nicholson) abandons his privileged, well-to-do family background, becoming the black sheep of his family as a crass, drifting, redneck, rough, beer-drinking oil worker in Southern California. After a period of twenty years, he confronts his past when he returns home to Washington State (Puget Sound) to his artistic, upper-class family and his dying father’s deathbed, accompanied by his adoring but clinging, dim-witted, pregnant girlfriend Rayette (Black). With the most-famous scene in the road-side restaurant when he orders a chicken-salad sandwich from a stubborn, strict waitress. Academy Award Nominations: 4, including Best Picture, Best Actor–Jack Nicholson, Best Supporting Actress–Karen Black, Best Adapted Screenplay.
Frankenstein (1931)
Starring: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Dwight Frye
Director: James Whale
The classic horror film, adapted from Mary Shelley’s famous 1818 novel, from the great director James Whale. With his hunchbacked, twitchy assistant Fritz (Frye), fanatical mad scientist Dr. Frankenstein (Clive) steals bodies from graves to assemble a creature – a mute, lumbering, flat-headed and browed Monster (Karloff) with visible facial scars, bolts in his neck and sunken eyes. Frankenstein shouts: “It’s alive! Alive!” during the fantastic creation scene in his castle, when the hulking body comes alive with electricity harnassed from lightning. The revived, childlike brute with a criminal brain is misunderstood, and while playfully tossing flowers into a lake heaves in an innocent eight-year-old girl – who he imagines as another flower – to her drowning death. No Academy Award nominations.
The French Connection (1971)
Starring: Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Fernando Rey, Tony Lo Bianco, Marcel Bozzufi
Director: William Friedkin
An action-packed, intense, gritty crime thriller filmed on location and based on a true story, starring two hard-nosed, vulgar New York City police cops who expose an international, heroin-smuggling operation based in Marseilles – headed by suave, elusive, mastermind crime boss Alain Charnier (Rey). Passionate, tough, pushy, and unorthodox narcotics detective Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle (Hackman) recklessly and obsessively fights crime with partner Buddy Russo (Scheider). With the breath-taking, famous elevated-railway scene of Doyle fearlessly chasing a runaway train – with Charnier’s henchman Pierre Nicoli (Bozzufi) in a borrowed car while narrowly dodging traffic and bystanders. A sequel four years later chased Charnier to Marseilles. Academy Award Nominations: 8, including Best Supporting Actor–Roy Scheider, Best Cinematography, Best Sound. Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor–Gene Hackman, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing.
From Here to Eternity (1953)
Starring: Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, Frank Sinatra, Ernest Borgnine
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Based on James Jones’ best-selling, hard-hitting novel of on-duty/off-duty military life among recruits in the pre-Pearl Harbor era of 1941 – on the eve of WWII. A combination romance, combat and melodramatic film set at the Schofield Barracks Army base on Oahu. Sensitive bugler Pvt. Robert E. Lee “Prew” Prewitt (Clift) is dealt harsh treatment when he stubbornly refuses to fight for the company’s boxing team. The bored company commander’s wife Karen Holmes (Kerr) engages in a torrid affair with the good-guy Sgt. Milton Warden (Lancaster) – their embrace in the pounding surf is indelibly imprinted in cinematic history. Pruitt falls in love with a nightclub “hostess” (prostitute) Alma (Lorene) (Reed). Meanwhile, Prew’s Italian friend Angelo Maggio (Sinatra) is tormented by sadistic stockade Sgt. “Fatso” Judson (Borgnine). Academy Award Nominations: 13, including Best Actor–Montgomery Clift, Best Actor–Burt Lancaster, Best Actress–Deborah Kerr, Best Dramatic Score, Best B/W Costume Design. Academy Awards: 8, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor–Frank Sinatra, Best Supporting Actress–Donna Reed, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best B/W Cinematography, Best Sound Recording, Best Film Editing.

G

GoodFellas (1990)
Starring: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Lorraine Bracco
Director: Martin Scorsese
Based on Nicholas Pileggi’s non-fiction book Wiseguys – a definitive and stylish, violent gangster film, with a soundtrack that chronicles the passage of time through three decades of crime (the 50s to the 70s) in the life of a mid-level, aspiring mobster Henry Hill (Liotta). Raised on the streets of a Brooklyn neighborhood, he marries Karen (Bracco) and slowly advances up and climbs the Mafioso ladder. With superb performances by Joe Pesci as meanly psychotic wiseguy Tommy DeVito, and Robert DeNiro as paranoid James Conway. In the end as his life unravels, after dealing narcotics and becoming hooked, Hill protects himself and his wife by testifying and becoming part of the federal witness protection program – and being left in anonymous, suburbanized exile. Academy Award Nominations: 6, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress–Lorraine Bracco, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing. Academy Awards: 1, Best Supporting Actor–Joe Pesci.
Gun Crazy (1950)
Starring: Peggy Cummins, John Dall
Director: Joseph H. Lewis
A cult, noirish love-on-the-run tale based on MacKinlay Kantor’s story, pre Bonnie and Clyde, about a reckless couple fatally attracted to their firearms – and each other. One of the best B films ever made. After serving in the Army, gun-loving Bert Tare (Dall) meets trick sharp-shooter femme fatale Annie Laurie Starr (Cummins), portraying Annie Oakley in a Wild West carnival side-show – they are perfect companions. The two wild, amoral lovers marry – when financially strapped, they turn to a series of exciting cross-country robberies. One unnerving sequence is shot non-stop from a camera planted in the back seat of their getaway car. Their amour fou ultimately leads to their tragic end in a foggy swamp, brought down by their violent, jarring, reckless natures. No Academy Award nominations.

H

The Heiress (1949)
Starring: Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson, Miriam Hopkins
Director: William Wyler
A great romantic drama based on Henry James’ 1881 novella Washington Square, with an icy musical score from Aaron Copland. In 19th century New York City, a plain, repressed, shy and virginal ‘heiress’ daughter Catherine Sloper (de Havilland) of a wealthy, arrogant, imperiously abusive, and domineering, widowed, patriarchal physician Dr. Sloper (Richardson) becomes a spinster, after her young, first love toward a handsome, but penniless, mysterious suitor and mercenary, scheming fortune hunter Morris Townsend (Clift) is thwarted by her stern, tyrannically-selfish father, who denies the bride-to-be her inheritance. Pitifully, she is jilted on the night of their elopement. Over many years, her anger is suppressed and simmers, and surfaces when insincere scoundrel Townsend returns and again asks for her hand in marriage. With rational, cold, controlled rage, she turns the tables on him in the final, chilling scene. Academy Award Nominations: 8, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor–Ralph Richardson, Best B/W Cinematography. Academy Awards: Best Actress–Olivia de Havilland, Best B/W Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Dramatic Score, Best B/W Costume Design.
How Green Was My Valley (1941)
Starring: Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O’Hara, Donald Crisp, Sara Allgood, Roddy McDowall
Director: John Ford
A compelling, classic, heart-wrenching drama of a Welsh coal-mining family over a fifty-year period, adapted from a story by Richard Llewellyn. Told in voice-over narration and flashback as intelligent and sensitive 10 year-old Huw Morgan (McDowall) nostalgically looks back on a bygone way of life. Huw is the youngest of seven children (six sons and one beautiful daughter Angharad (O’Hara)) in the Morgan family, led by elderly Mr. and Mrs. Morgan (Crisp and Allgood). Tensions in the family grow at the beginning of the 20th century, during periods of labor unrest and workers’ strike. When stern Mr. Morgan resentfully refuses to join a miners’ union, calling it “socialist nonsense,” the family is split and the older brothers depart for a boarding house. Among other crises and losses that devastate the community, Angharad’s romantic love for the local preacher Mr. Gruffydd (Pidgeon) is ultimately thwarted. The film concludes with Huw’s understanding of the vanished old way of life. Academy Award Nominations: 10, including Best Supporting Actress–Sara Allgood, Best Screenplay, Best Sound Recording, Best Dramatic Score, Best Film Editing. Academy Awards: 5, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor–Donald Crisp, Best Director, Best B/W Cinematography, Best B/W Interior Decoration.
The Hustler (1961)
Starring: Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott
Director: Robert Rossen
A dramatic, realistic character study based on Walter Tevis’ novel. A young, arrogantly-cocky, anti-hero, pool-hall hustler, “Fast Eddie” Felson (Newman), challenges acclaimed, cool, professional Minnesota Fats (Gleason) in Ames Billiards Room in New York City. The naive, talented, and ultimately self-destructive challenger loses. Defeated and self-pitying, he meets and falls in love with another loner – alcoholic, desperate, waifish cripple Sarah Packard (Laurie) – whom he ultimately forsakes. He attracts the attention of slimy, calculating, venal, and repulsive promoter Bert Gordon (Scott). With financial backing from the pimpish entrepreneur, Felson struggles to get back on top – at a great cost to his own self-esteem and soul. Reprised twenty-five years later, with Paul Newman as an older, wiser Eddie Felson in director Martin Scorsese’s Color of Money. Academy Award Nominations: 9, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor–Paul Newman, Best Actress–Piper Laurie, Best Supporting Actor–Jackie Gleason, Best Supporting Actor–George C. Scott, Best Adapted Screenplay. Academy Awards: 2, including Best B/W Cinematography, Best B/W Art Direction/Set Decoration.

I

I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (1932)
Starring: Paul Muni, Glenda Farrell, Helen Vinson, Edward Ellis, Hale Hamilton
Director: Mervyn LeRoy
A graphic portrayal of post-WWI chain gang conditions – in the first of Warner Bros.’ social conscience films. A discontented veteran-drifter (Muni) finds unemployment after the war. He is wrongly convicted after a diner robbery, and imprisoned in a Southern (state not specified) prison farm at hard labor for ten years under inhumane conditions. He escapes in a thrilling sequence, assumes an alias in Chicago, and becomes a well-respected bridge construction engineer, until his blackmailing, gold-digging landlady (Farrell) forces him into marriage. Based upon the real-life story of Robert E. Burns and his best-selling autobiographical book. Academy Award Nominations: 3, including Best Actor–Paul Muni, Best Sound, Best Picture.
In a Lonely Place (1950)
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame
Director: Nicholas Ray
A mature, bleak and dramatic 1950 film noir from maverick director Nicholas Ray – from a complex script by Andrew Solt. World-weary, acerbic, self-destructive, hot-tempered, depression-plagued Hollywood screenwriter and laconic anti-hero Dixon Steele (Bogart), while planning to adapt a trashy best-selling romance novel, becomes the prime suspect in a murder case of a night-club hat-check girl Mildred Atkinson (Martha Stewart). After he invites her to his apartment to discuss the book that he hasn’t read, she is found brutally murdered the next morning. His romantic relationship with a lovely neighbor/would-be starlet Laurel Gray (Grahame) in the housing complex grows stronger when she confirms his alibi, but ultimately is put to the test as she becomes increasingly suspicious of his disintegrating self. No Academy Award Nominations.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Starring: Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter
Director: Don Siegel
An allegorical, intensely paranoid, chilling science-fiction parable of alien possession, based on Collier’s Magazine‘s serialized story The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney – one of the greatest low-budget 50′s films that can be interpreted as philosophical commentary upon the spread of McCarthyism or Communism. Set in the idyllic small town of Santa Mira, California and told in flashback. Physician Dr. Miles Bennell (McCarthy) begins to become paranoid and suspicious when his patients report that their loved ones, friends, and relatives are not themselves but emotionless shells, replicas, or imposters. Actually, the town is being surreptitiously invaded by strange, alien plant forms called ‘pods,’ that take over or replicate the likenesses, personalities and identities of human beings while they sleep. Miles and old girlfriend (now recently divorced) Becky Driscoll (Wynter) fight to stay awake and battle the changes that may overtake them. When they flee to escape a similar fate and are chased into an abandoned mine shaft, Becky momentarily falls asleep – and her unresponsive kiss is revelatory. As the last ‘human’ being, he hysterically screams warnings while running down the middle of a highway, reaching the refuge of a hospital in San Francisco. No Academy Award nominations.
It’s a Gift (1934) (tie)
Starring: W. C. Fields, Jean Rouveral, Kathleen Howard, Charles Sellon, Tommy Bupp
Director: Norman Z. McLeod
One of W. C. Fields’ earlier comic masterpieces – starring Fields as a victim of small-town family life in a series of vignettes. Harold Bissonette – pronounced ‘Bee-soh-nay’ – (Fields) endures hardships at home in Wappingers Falls, New York with his shrewish, status-conscious wife (Howard), and selfish children – daughter Mildred (Rouveral) and young son Norman (Bupp). To escape his travails, he dreams of a California orange ranch he has purchased with an inheritance. At work, as the fumbling proprietor of a grocery store, where blind and hard-of-hearing Mr. Muckle (Sellon) crashes through his front door, he anxiously helps customers. Attempting to sleep on his outer porch, he is tormented by a noisy milkman, a grape-throwing baby (Baby Dunk) on a higher level, an annoying insurance salesman looking for Carl LaFong, a rolling cocoanut, and a broken chain on his porch swing. Finally, the family packs up and travels westward, picnicking on (and littering) the lawn of a private estate along the way, and finding that the California orange grove is a ramshackle house on an unproductive lot. The film ends with Harold’s dream of the ‘good life’ intact. No Academy Award nominations.

J

The Jazz Singer (1927)
Starring: Al Jolson, May McAvoy, Warner Oland, Eugenie Besserer
Director: Alan Crosland
Legendary, revolutionary film, known as the first sound motion picture – literally, the first feature film to utilize Synchronous Sound. In actuality, it was a part-talkie with only a few musical sequences and one ad-libbed, conversational sequence. With Al Jolson in his film debut. Precipitating a split with his cantor father (Oland) and mother (Besserer), young Jewish son Jakie Rabinowitz (Jolson) leaves his home, takes a new name – Jack Robin – and enters show business as a Broadway singer of popular/secular music. When his father falls ill on Yom Kippur, Jakie takes his father’s place in the synagogue and performs the Kol Nidre. Contains the classic line: “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!” Tunes include “My Mammy,” “Dirty Hands, Dirty Face,” “Toot, Toot, Tootsie Goodbye” and “Blue Skies.” Academy Award Nominations: 2, including Best Adapted Writing, Best Engineering Effects. Special Award to “Warner Bros., for producing…the pioneer outstanding talking picture, which has revolutionized the industry.”
Jezebel (1938)
Starring: Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, Fay Bainter, Margaret Lindsay
Director: William Wyler
Set in the mid-1800s New Orleans, a stylish, classic romantic melodrama about a headstrong, flamboyant Southern belle. To arouse the jealousy of her beau Preston Dillard (Fonda), willful, spiteful, tempestuous Julie Marsden (Davis) thoughtlessly and selfishly insists on wearing a scarlet red gown (rather than a virginal white one customarily worn by unmarried women) to the Olympus Ball – a major social function, defying social customs. She disgraces herself and is jilted by her embarrassed fiancee, who returns to Julie’s plantation a year later. Without knowing that her estranged man has brought his new Yankee wife Amy (Lindsay), she surrenders to him. In further scheming, she rebounds and marries Southern gentleman Buck Cantrell (Brent), who dies in a duel unintentionally caused by her. Later, when Pres contracts deadly ‘yellow jack’ (yellow fever), she heroically redeems and atones for her transgressions by pleading with Amy to nurse his illness during the epidemic. In the final scene, she rides off with him in a wagon to certain death. Academy Award Nominations: 5, including Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Score. Academy Awards: 2, including Best Actress–Bette Davis, Best Supporting Actress–Fay Bainter.

K

The Killers (1946)
Starring: Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O’Brien, Sam Levene, Albert Dekker, Charles McGraw, William Conrad
Director: Robert Siodmak
A classic, definitive film noir, from a short story by Ernest Hemingway, told in eleven taut flashbacks after a bravura opening murder sequence. Two hit men Al (McGraw) and Max (Conrad) enter a greasy-spoon diner in Brentwood New Jersey, asking the manager about Ole ‘Swede’ Andersen (Lancaster, in his film debut) – a gas station attendant. The doomed ‘Swede’ (an ex-boxer), who has been hiding in town under an alias for six years, is warned in a nearby boardinghouse. Indifferent, he expects their arrival and calmly, passively awaits their deadly approach. Insurance investigator Jim Reardon (O’Brien) pieces together and unravels the plot and reconstructs the life of the victim through interviews and detective work. He discovers a complex tale of crime and treacherous betrayal – all revolving around a beautifully-glamorous, mysterious, double-crossing femme fatale Kitty Collins (Gardner) – who sings “The More I Know of Love.” Academy Award Nominations: 4, including Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Dramatic Score, Best Film Editing.
Click to PurchaseKiss Me Deadly (1955)
Starring: Ralph Meeker, Albert Dekker, Maxine Cooper, Gaby Rodgers, Cloris Leachman
Director: Robert Aldrich
A paranoid, suspenseful, noirish, melodramatic crime film brimming with apocalyptic, Cold War paranoia. Based on Mickey Spillane’s pulp fiction novel. The nihilistic film opens on a dark night when flashy, sleazy, hard-hitting private eye Mike Hammer (Meeker) picks up an almost-naked, barefoot, trenchcoat-wearing hitchhiker Christina (Leachman), who is panting heavily and running down the highway. Villainous thugs force them off the road and gruesomely torture the mysterious girl to death (semi off-screen) as the detective lies semi-conscious. During his own brutal, pursuit of the criminals, recalling her haunting words “Remember me,” Hammer – with the help of his limber secretary Velda (Cooper) who frames men for infidelity – pursues the trail to a strange young lady named Lily (Rodgers), the key to an atomic, ‘glowing’ box containing the Great Whatsit, and a sinister conspirator Dr. Soberin (Dekker). In the controversial, fiery melt-down climax at Soberin’s beach hideout, Lily greedily opens the Pandora’s Box, releasing the deadly secret and incinerating herself, as a wounded Hammer frees the kidnapped Velda and stumbles with her into the cooling ocean waters. No Academy Award nominations.

L

The Last Picture Show (1971)
Starring: Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cloris Leachman, Cybill Shepherd, Ben Johnson, Ellen Burstyn, Clu Gulager
Director: Peter Bogdanovich
Based on the novel by Larry McMurtry. A bleak, black and white cinematic modern-day classic, set in the small, northwestern (fictional) Texas town of Anarene in the period between the end of World War II and the Korean War in the early 50s. A poignant, coming-of-age tale of the loss of innocence for teenagers in the slowly-dying town, symbolized by the closing of the local picture palace, owned by Sam the Lion (Johnson). The story is about a pair of HS football players, seniors Sonny Crawford (Bottoms) – who has an affair with the lonely football-basketball coach’s wife Ruth Popper (Leachman), and Duane Jackson (Bridges) – who dates the sexy, self-centered, spoiled student beauty Jacy Farrow (Shepherd in her film debut) and enlists after being dumped. Other desperate townsfolk are also having affairs – Jacy’s loose mother Lois (Burstyn) with oilfield worker Abilene (Gulager). Academy Award Nominations: 8, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor–Jeff Bridges, Best Supporting Actress–Ellen Burstyn, Best Cinematography. Academy Awards: 2, including Best Supporting Actor–Ben Johnson, Best Supporting Actress–Cloris Leachman.
Laura (1944)
Starring: Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, Judith Anderson
Director: Otto Preminger
Based on the novel by Vera Caspary. A great murder-mystery film noir, about the supposed murder of the beautiful title heroine, ad executive femme fatale Laura Hunt (Tierney), with a shotgun blast to the face. The film opens with voice-over narration by acidic, cynical newspaper columnist Waldo Lydecker (Webb), Laura’s patron/mentor: “I shall never forget the weekend Laura died…” In the course of his investigation, police detective/necrophiliac Mark McPherson (Andrews) obsessively falls in love with the dead woman – through her painted portrait. Suspects in the murder include ne’er-do-well Kentuckian playboy Shelby Carpenter (Price), Lydecker, Laura’s middle-aged aunt Anne Treadwell (Anderson) – and Laura herself! Academy Award Nominations: 5, including Best Supporting Actor–Clifton Webb, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best B/W Interior Decoration. Academy Awards: 1, Best B/W Cinematography.
Little Caesar (1930)
Starring:
Edward G. Robinson, Glenda Farrell, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Ralph Ince, Thomas Jackson
Director: Mervyn LeRoy
A landmark, classic gangster/crime film – an adaptation of W. R. Burnett’s novel about the rise and fall of an ambitious mobster in the underworld. Small-time hood Caesar Enrico “Rico” Bandello (Robinson), ugly, viciously cruel, and ruthless – is modeled after 1920s gangster Al Capone. After a night-time robbery of a gas station, Rico moves to the city to advance from “just another mug” to being a big-shot – with his nightclub dancer friend Joe Massara (Fairbanks, Jr.). Joe’s girlfriend Olga Strassoff (Farrell) pressures him to turn on his gangster pal. Rico thwarts other rival gang leaders, challenges crime boss Pete Montana (Ince), and opposes efforts of Sgt. Flaherty (Jackson), but meets his fate behind a billboard sign, crying out: “Mother of Mercy, is this the end of Rico?” Academy Award Nominations: 1, Best Adapted Writing.
The Lost Weekend (1945)
Starring: Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, Phillip Terry, Howard Da Silva
Director: Billy Wilder
Based on Charles Jackson’s 1944 novel by co-screenwriters Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder and filmed in NYC. A classic, melodramatic, realistically-grim and uncompromising “social-problem” film of the 1940s, about the controversial subject of alcoholism, told partially in flashback. Rather than join his brother Wick (Terry) on a weekend outing to the country, talented New York aspiring novel writer Don Birnam (Milland) – a chronic alcoholic with writer’s block – spends a ‘lost weekend’ on a wild, self-destructive drinking binge. Eluding his persistently supportive girlfriend Helen St. James (Wyman), he desperately trudges down Third Avenue on Yom Kippur attempting to find an open pawnshop to hock his own typewriter for another drink. In Bellevue Hospital’s alcohol detoxification ward, he awakens to shrieking inmates suffering the DT’s, and in his apartment experiences hallucinations of a mouse attacked by a bat. He narrowly avoids committing suicide in the ‘optimistic’ ending. Academy Award Nominations: 7, including Best Film Editing, Best B/W Cinematography, Best Dramatic Score. Academy Awards: 4, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor–Ray Milland, Best Adapted Screenplay.

M

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Starring: Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury, James Gregory, Leslie Parrish, John McGiver
Director: John Frankenheimer
Based on Richard Condon’s novel, and adapted by George Axelrod. A complex, realistic depiction of brainwashing in a frightening, satirical psychological thriller. An American platoon fighting in the Korean War is captured and brainwashed by Communist North Koreans in Manchuria. Upon their return to the US, one of the veterans Major Bennett Marco (Sinatra) is haunted by recurring nightmares about their frightening incarceration. He slowly realizes that fellow hero and Congressional Medal of Honor winner Sgt. Raymond Shaw (Harvey), controlled and manipulated by his spy-agent “Queen of Diamonds” ambitious mother (Lansbury) (the wife of right-wing, McCarthyite demagogue Senator John Iselin (Gregory)), is behind the sinister plot to assassinate political enemies. The mind-controlled operative Shaw murders his own wife Jocie (Parrish) and his father-in-law, liberal Senator Thomas Jordon (McGiver). In the tense climax, Marco uncovers the programmed killer’s fiendish plans to assassinate the presidential nominee. Academy Award Nominations: 2, including Best Film Editing, Best Supporting Actress–Angela Lansbury.
Manhattan (1979)
Starring: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, Mariel Hemingway, Michael Murphy, Karen Ludwig, Anne Byrne
Director: Woody Allen
A mature, B/W, tragi-romantic comedy enhanced by a George Gershwin score about infidelity, romances and relationships set in Allen’s beloved urban NYC and within a group of intellectual Manhattanites. Neurotic TV comedy writer Isaac Davis (Allen) turns from comedy to serious novels, and lives with an sweet, innocent, high-school-aged drama student Tracy (Hemingway), 25 years younger than he is. His lesbian, divorced ex-wife Jill (Streep), who is writing an expose about their marriage/divorce (entitled Marriage, Divorce, and Selfhood), lives with Connie (Ludwig). Davis meets Mary Wilke (Keaton), the pseudo-intellectual mistress of his guilt-torn best friend Yale (Murphy) – who is married to Emily (Byrne). Initially, he disapproves of the extra-marital affair and Mary’s personality but then becomes attracted and fascinated by her and begins his own affair with her. In a soda fountain, he must confess his affair to a tearful Tracy. Academy Award Nominations: 2, Best Supporting Actress–Mariel Hemingway, Best Original Screenplay.
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
Starring: James Stewart, John Wayne, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, Lee Van Cleef, Strother Martin
Director: John Ford
Another B/W Ford film about the passing of the Old West, one of the master’s last westerns. In 1910, respected but timid Senator Ransom Stoddard (Stewart) from the East journeys westward by train with his wife Hallie (Miles) and returns to the city of Shinbone to attend the funeral of his old friend Tom Doniphon (Wayne). Told in flashback to a local newspaper editor, he remembers his life and career in the wild town and how he was reputedly known as “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” As an eastern law school graduate, he set up a law practice and had to contend with outlaw Liberty Valance (Marvin). Idealistic Ransom (called “Pilgrim”) is contrasted to the rugged cowboy frontiersman Doniphon, and accorded fame and credit for taming the West and civilizing the town, but it was Doniphon who killed tyrannical outlaw Liberty Valance (Marvin). Academy Award Nominations: 1, Best B/W Costume Design.
McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971)
Starring: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie
Director: Robert Altman
A classic, dark-toned, moody anti-Western from iconoclastic and offbeat director Altman, based on the novel McCabe by Edmund Naughton. At the turn of the century, a mysterious, roguish, small-time, frontier drifter/gambler John McCabe (Beatty) opens up a brothel/casino in the great northern, wintry wilderness settlement of Presbyterian Church – a grimy, lamp-lit and shoddy mining town. Amiable braggart McCabe has entrepreneurish ambitions and partners with opium-smoking, British whorehouse madame Constance Miller (Christie) who helps to stabilize the operation and make it a successful enterprise. McCabe refuses to sell out to a corporation, leaving him vulnerable to hired bounty hunters who track him down in the tragic finale. With great cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond. Academy Award Nominations: 1, Best Actress–Julie Christie.
Mean Streets (1973)
Starring:
Harvey Keitel, Robert De Niro, Amy Robinson, David Proval, Richard Romanus, Cesare Danova
Director: Martin Scorsese
Scorsese’s third full-length film with energizing early 60s rock ‘n’ roll – a low-budget, semi-autobiographical, realistic tale about four struggling, small-time hoods in New York’s Little Italy trying to establish themselves. Tony (Proval) owns the neighborhood bar, and Michael (Romanus) makes deals and rips off naive teenagers from Brooklyn. Ambitious punk Charlie Calla (Keitel) befriends violent Johnny Boy (De Niro), who irresponsibly and recklessly incurs gambling debts and becomes dangerously obligated to a loan shark. Charlie’s uncle Giovanni (Danova) is the local Mafia boss and grooming his nephew for ‘respectable’ gang life by having him collect for a protection racket. Unclear and confused about his life’s direction and loyalties, Charlie wrestles with his devout Catholic guilt, the temptations of the Mafia, and his feelings for Teresa (Robinson), Johnny Boy’s epileptic sister. No Academy Award nominations.
Metropolis (1927)
Starring: Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Gustav Frohlich, Rudolf Klein-Rogge
Director: Fritz Lang
A stylized, visually-compelling, melodramatic silent film set in the 21st century city of Metropolis – Lang’s German Expressionistic masterpiece helped develop the science-fiction genre. The luxurious, futuristic city of skyscrapers and bridges is stratified and divided into an upper, elite, privileged class and a subterranean, nameless, oppressed, ant-like worker/slave class. Freder (Frohlich), the young son of a ruling, aristocratic capitalist Master Joh Fredersen (Abel), discovers the miserable life of the proletariat when he notices a beautiful young woman Maria (Helm) with a group of worker children and pursues her into the squalid, labyrinthine underground slums. The wistful, Christ-like young woman urges her comrades to peacefully await their salvation. After discovering their meeting, Freder’s father instructs mad scientist Rotwang (Klein-Rogge) to create an evil robotic Maria look-alike that will manipulate the workers, preach rebellion, and cause their elimination. The false Maria goes beserk and incites the workers to revolt, causing a cataclysmic flood. Freder and the real rescued Maria lead the worker children out of danger, and Joh Fredersen is convinced to reconcile with the workers – Capital and Labor united in Love.
Mildred Pierce (1945)
Starring: Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Ann Blyth, Zachary Scott, Bruce Bennett
Director: Michael Curtiz
One of the best melodramatic, ‘women’s pictures’ and film noir classics of the 1940s – and Joan Crawford’s comeback film. Adapted from James M. Cain’s novel. Begins with the murder of Monte Beragon (Scott) in a beach house. Suspect Mildred Pierce (Crawford) is interrogated by police for the killing of her second husband. In flashback, housewife Mildred is divorced from her husband Bert (Bennett). The hardworking, dowdy woman obsessively dotes on her two daughters, especially rotten, spoiled elder daughter Veda (Blyth), so she is forced to become a waitress. Through determination and will-power, she opens up a small restaurant, develops it into a successful chain, receives assistance from realtor/rebuffed beau Wally Fay (Carson), and marries socially-prominent playboy Monte Beragon. The petulant, selfishly-ungrateful Veda romances her own step-father behind the restaurateur’s long-suffering back. The murder mystery concludes with a resolution to the question – who murdered Monte? Academy Award Nominations: 6, including Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress–Eve Arden, Best Supporting Actress–Ann Blyth, Best B/W Cinematography. Academy Awards: 1, Best Actress–Joan Crawford.
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)
Starring: Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, George Bancroft, Lionel Stander
Director: Frank Capra
Capra’s populist romantic screwball comedy based on Opera Hat, a Saturday Evening Post story by Clarence Budington Kelland. Mandrake Falls, Vermont greeting-card poetry-writing, tuba-playing rube Longfellow Deeds (Cooper) inherits $20 million from his wealthy NYC uncle, but eccentrically decides to be philanthropic and give it to Depression-Era needy. A hot-shot news reporter Babe Bennett (Arthur) poses as an out-of-work stenographer to get close to him for a story – calling him “The Cinderella Man.” She falls in love, defending him when he is declared insane and goes to trial, and is accused of being ‘pixilated.’ Eventually, he defends himself and is acquitted by the judge: “…you are not only sane but you’re the sanest man that ever walked into this courtroom.” Academy Award Nominations: 5, including Best Picture, Best Actor–Gary Cooper, Best Screenplay, Best Sound Recording. Academy Awards: 1, Best Director.
Murder, My Sweet (1944)
Starring: Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, Mike Mazurki, Anne Shirley, Otto Kruger, Douglas Walton
Director: Edward Dmytryk
Original release titled Farewell, My Lovely – the second screen adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s second novel of the same name, a 1940 hard-boiled tale that was a superb, complex, shadowy film noir of murder, corruption, blackmail, double-cross and double identity, with witty dialogue and cynical voice-over narration. The film opens in wartime Los Angeles, where tough yet vulnerable, blindfolded/bandaged gumshoe detective Philip Marlowe (played by 30s musical crooner Powell in a dramatic role switch) is grilled under a bright light by police interrogators. In flashback, he tells a convoluted, bewildering tale. He was hired by recently-released, brutish, urgent ex-con Moose Malloy (Mazurki) to search for his missing ex-girlfriend/lover Velma Valento (Trevor) who sold him out eight years earlier. And then he was also commissioned as a bodyguard to accompany an effeminate gigolo Lindsay Marriott (Walton) (associated with underworld Jules Amthor (Kruger)) during a ransom payoff for stolen jewels. When Marriott is killed and Marlowe is blackjacked unconscious (“a black pool opened up”), he becomes the prime suspect for the murder. Millionaire’s daughter Ann Grayle (Anne Shirley) reveals her interest in the case, which brings Marlowe for a visit to the Grayle mansion in Brentwood where he meets Mr. Grayle (Miles Mander) and his much younger wife Helen (Trevor again). During his investigation, Marlowe is drugged and experiences drug-induced hallucinations and nightmares (“a crazy, coked-up dream”) when pursued through a series of identical doors by a man with a giant hypodermic needle (filled with truth serum), after being roughed up by master-crook Jules Amthor (Otto Kruger). Amthor is a blackmailer, involved in setting up rich women as targets for Marriott. The owner of the jewels – mysterious, flirtatious and slinky Helen Grayle, also hires the detective to locate the stolen jade necklace (which she later reveals is not actually stolen). Marlowe navigates through a perilous world, becoming further entangled with and threatened by despicable high- and low-class criminals. The final showdown occurs at the Grayles’ beach house, where Helen is killed by her husband. [T
he final shoot-out revealed that mysterious, flirtatious, gold-digging double-identity Mrs. Helen Grayle - also known as Velma Valento, had set up numerous individuals over the theft of jade jewelry, and was indeed a murderous femme fatale.] Both Moose and Mr. Grayle also shoot and kill each other. (It is also revealed that Moose had murdered Amthor). A witness to all the killings, Ann Grayle is able to clear temporarily-blinded Marlowe of all charges – and accompanies him home in the back seat of a taxi – where they share a kiss. No Academy Award nominations.
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
Starring: Charles Laughton, Clark Gable, Franchot Tone, Dudley Digges
Director: Frank Lloyd
The oft-filmed (1962 and 1984), classic adventure tale of the famous, historical 1788 British naval vessel the HMS Bounty and its mutiny on the high seas. Based on Nordhoff and Hall’s novel. Partially filmed on location in Tahiti. One of MGM’s glossiest and biggest box-office successes. On a journey from Portsmouth, England to Tahiti to procure breadfruit trees, the crew suffers under the merciless chastisements of the tyrannically-cruel and mean Captain William Bligh (Laughton). After an idyllic interlude on the exotic island, where the crew romances native women, the crew on the return voyage rebels under the courageous, noble leadership of First Mate Fletcher Christian (Gable) following the Captain’s brutal insistence that the ship’s elderly doctor Bacchus (Digges) come topside to witness the flogging of five crew members. The despicable Captain is set adrift in an open lifeboat with no sail, compass or food, for an amazing 4,000 mile voyage to safety. In the final scene, Roger Byam (Tone) is brought to trial. Academy Award Nominations: 8, including three Best Actors (Gable, Laughton, and Tone), Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Score. Academy Awards: 1, Best Picture.
My Fair Lady (1964)
Starring: Rex Harrison, Audrey Hepburn, Stanley Holloway, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Gladys Cooper, Theodore Bikel
Director: George Cukor
One of the best and most popular musicals of all-time, from Lerner and Loewe – based on George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 play Pygmalion. Arrogant, fastidious, linguistics Professor Henry Higgins (Harrison repeating his Tony Award-winning performance on Broadway) wagers fellow linguist Colonel Hugh Pickering (Hyde-White) that he can transform a Cockney flower-selling, street urchin Eliza Doolittle (Hepburn) – a ‘guttersnipe’ – into a proper lady with prescribed diction/elocution lessons. The irrepressible ‘guttersnipe’ is scrubbed, dressed, and tutored, in time to attend the Ascot races and a society ball. In the end, he reluctantly falls in love with Eliza. Includes songs “On the Street Where You Live,” “Get Me to the Church on Time,” and “I Could Have Danced All Night.” Academy Award Nominations: 12, including Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor–Stanley Holloway, Best Supporting Actress–Gladys Cooper, Best Film Editing. Academy Awards: 8, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor–Rex Harrison, Best Color Cinematography, Best Color Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Sound, Best Score, Best Color Costume Design.
My Man Godfrey (1936)
Starring: William Powell, Carole Lombard, Alice Brady, Mischa Auer, Gail Patrick
Director: Gregory La Cava
A great, classic, madcap screwball comedy from the 30s, based on the story 1101 Park Avenue by Eric Hatch. Two spoiled daughters of the wealthy but dysfunctional, zany Bullock family, sultry, scheming Cornelia (Patrick) and younger, endearing nit-wit Irene (Lombard) search for a “forgotten man” during a high-society scavenger hunt. They discover dishevelled tramp Godfrey Parke (Powell) in the city dump, and ultimately the down-and-out man is hired to be the Manhattan family’s butler. His high-minded, decent, suave sophistication is contrasted to the antics of concerned father Alexander (Pallette), his dizzy wife Angelica (Brady) and her protegé Carlo (Auer). A mysterious man, Godfrey’s real identity (and wealth) is finally revealed after he transforms and teaches the confused family about life, money, and happiness and wins Irene’s love. Academy Award Nominations: 6, including Best Director, Best Actor–William Powell, Best Actress–Carole Lombard, Best Supporting Actress–Alice Brady, Best Supporting Actor–Mischa Auer, Best Screenplay.

N

Network (1976)
Starring: Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, Beatrice Straight, Robert Duvall, Ned Beatty
Director: Sidney Lumet
A prophetic, explosive, provocative satire from screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky about the medium of network television and its abusive, self-prostituting quest for ratings. Chief UBS TV (a fourth-rated fictional broadcasting system) veteran news anchorman Howard Beale (Finch) is driven insane when told that he will be fired after twenty-five years because of low ratings. On the air, the beserk newsman tells his audience that he will committ suicide during his final live broadcast. A ratings-mad, cold-blooded, ambitious programming VP Diana Christensen (Dunaway) exploits the furor when ratings zoom. Messianic hero and cult celebrity Beale continues to report the news and evangelistically urges his viewers to go to their windows and yell: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” The craggy, dissenting head of the news division Max Schumacher (Holden) is fired, as the network is overtaken by a multinational conglomerate and alliances are made with urban guerrilla terrorists for programming ideas. Married Schumacher, in a mid-life crisis, has a May-December affair with Diana and leaves his wife (Straight). Academy Award Nominations: 10, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor–William Holden, Best Supporting Actor–Ned Beatty, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing. Academy Awards: 4, including Best Actor–Peter Finch (awarded post-humously), Best Actress–Faye Dunaway, Best Supporting Actress–Beatrice Straight, Best Original Screenplay.

Now, Voyager (1942)
Starring: Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Paul Henreid, Gladys Cooper, Bonita Granville, Janis Wilson
Director: Irving Rapper
From the novel by Olive Higgins Prouty and enhanced by Max Steiner’s score. A classic soap-operaish, melodramatic tearjerker from Hollywood’s Golden Era. Repressed, middle-aged, frumpy, ‘ugly duckling’ spinster Charlotte Vale (Davis), from a wealthy Boston family, is controlled by her domineering, unloving mother (Cooper). During counseling at a sanitarium with a kindly, esteemed psychotherapist Dr. Jaquith (Rains), the frightened, frustrated, introverted woman is restored and transformed into a chic, more attractive, self-confident person. During a suggested South American cruise, she meets a handsome, suave unhappily-married architect Jerry Durrance (Henreid) and finds love through a bittersweet shipboard affair and a befriending of his shy and troubled, withdrawn daughter Tina (Wilson). Concludes with the famous line: “Oh, Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars” as the two share a cigarette smoke. Academy Award Nominations: 3, including Best Actress–Bette Davis, Best Supporting Actress–Gladys Cooper. Academy Awards: 1, Best Dramatic Score.

O

Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
Starring: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Richard Barthelmess, Rita Hayworth, Thomas Mitchell
Director: Howard Hawks
A classic Hawksian, entertaining adventure/action film – with romance – set in Barranca, South America. About a group of mail pilots who fly treacherous routes from Ecuador to Peru over mountain passes in the fogged-in Andes Mountains. Stoic, cool, all-business Geoff Carter (Grant) leads a group of dare-devil aviators that hazardously transport air freight, with their headquarters in a saloon. Stranded, smart-talking, blonde showgirl Bonnie Lee (Arthur) falls for Carter, but he initially ignores her advances. Disgraced pilot Bat ‘MacPherson’ Kilgallen (Barthelmess) is married to Carter’s glamorous ex-lover Judy MacPherson (Hayworth). He remains guilt-ridden and under a cloud of cowardice after causing the death, years earlier, of the brother of another tough, elderly pilot Kid Dabb (Mitchell). Needing a replacement pilot, Carter is forced to hire the discredited Bat who wants to redeem himself. Carter’s close friend Kid Dabb volunteers to fly a dangerous mission and is killed. Academy Award Nominations: 2, including B/W Cinematography, Best Special Effects.
The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
Starring: Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Harry Morgan, Anthony Quinn, Francis Ford, Frank Conroy
Director: William A. Wellman
From the novel by Walter Van Tilburg Clark – a grim study of mob rule based on a true story. In 1885 Nevada, two drifter-cowboys Gil Carter (Fonda) and Art Croft (Morgan) ride into the town of Bridger’s Wells. A report that a local rancher has been shot by rustlers gathers a frenzied, angry lynch mob to dispense vigilante frontier justice. The posse is led by sadistic ex-Confederate officer Major Tetley (Conroy). Three tired homesteaders Donald Martin, Juan Martines, and a senile old man (Andrews, Quinn, and Ford) are confronted as the rustlers with circumstantial evidence and lynched by the hysterical mob – without a trial – despite the objections of Carter and Croft. In a final poignant scene, after the suspected victims have been declared blameless, Carter reads Martin’s farewell letter to his family. Academy Award Nominations: 1, Best Picture.

P

Pinocchio (1940)
Starring: Christian Rub (voice of Geppetto), Cliff Edwards (voice of Jiminy Cricket), Walter Catlett (voice of J. Worthington Foulfellow), Dickie Jones (voice of Pinocchio), Evelyn Venable (voice of the Blue Fairy)
Director: Ben Sharpsteen, Hamilton Luske
The second full-length animated feature classic from Walt Disney Studios – about a wooden puppet who yearns to be a real boy. Based on a story written by Carlo Collodi in the 1800′s. Beautifully drawn with technically-superior animation and memorable characterizations – Geppetto the kindly woodcarver, Figaro the cat, Cleo the goldfish, Stromboli the puppeteer, Monstro the whale, the Blue Fairy, Lampwick – and obviously Jiminy Cricket and Pinocchio. The carver’s creation – a puppet boy, is turned into a flesh-and-blood boy, with the stipulation that he must be brave, unselfish, and learn right from wrong in order to earn real life. The boy is accompanied by his conscience, Jiminy Cricket for his adventures. Pinocchio is tempted by a conniving fox J. Worthington Foulfellow, exploited by a puppet master Stromboli, and sent to Pleasure Island (where naughty boys are turned into donkeys) for truly terrifying experiences and a daring rescue from the belly of a monstrous whale. Includes Jiminy Cricket singing the future Disney theme song “When You Wish Upon a Star.” Academy Award Nominations: 2. Academy Awards: 2, including Best Original Score, Best Song (“When You Wish Upon a Star”).
A Place in the Sun (1951)
Starring: Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley Winters
Director: George Stevens
An adaptation of Theodore Dreiser’s novel An American Tragedy – a star-crossed melodramatic romance. Low-born, ambitious George Eastman (Clift) hitches a ride to his distant uncle’s place, where he is given an assembly-line bathing-suit factory job. The poor boy is entranced and infatuated by the snobbish, beautiful, well-bred rich girl Angela Vickers (Taylor) and they fall in starry-eyed love, but he also dates and impregnates poor, lower-class co-worker Alice Tripp (Winters). On Labor Day weekend at the Vickers’ lakeside home, during a rowboat ride with Alice on a lake, George contemplates and wills (if not actually commits) the murder of his fiancee when she accidentally falls in and drowns – he falls from his ‘place in the sun’ when convicted and executed. Academy Award Nominations: 9, including Best Picture, Best Actor–Montgomery Clift, Best Actress–Shelley Winters. Academy Awards: 6, including Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best B/W Cinematography, Best Dramatic Score, Best Film Editing, Best B/W Costume Design.
Platoon (1986)
Starring: Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger
Director: Oliver Stone
A harrowing, visceral, realistic, visually-shattering Vietnam-war film, based on the writer/director’s own first-hand knowledge as a Vietnam combat soldier. Young, naive, 19 year-old enlisted infantry soldier Chris (Sheen) serves in Vietnam in a fragmented, schizoid, rifle platoon/troop under two radically-different, veteran officers: pot-smoking, compassionate Sgt. Elias (Dafoe) and boozing, fierce Sgt. Barnes (Berenger). In the violence of combat, the two ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sergeants clash, forcing Chris to examine his own loyalty and perspective toward violence. The first film in Vietnam veteran Oliver Stone’s Vietnam trilogy, followed by Born of the Fourth of July (1989) and Heaven and Earth (1993). Academy Award Nominations: 8, including Best Supporting Actor–Tom Berenger, Best Supporting Actor–Willem Dafoe, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography. Academy Awards: 4, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Sound, Best Film Editing.
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
Starring: Lana Turner, John Garfield, Cecil Kellaway
Director: Tay Garnett
An adaptation of James M. Cain’s torrid crime melodrama – one of the best film noirs. Handsome drifter Frank Chambers (Garfield) is hired at the California roadside Twin Oaks diner/restaurant as a handyman by kindly, middle-aged proprietor Nick Smith (Kellaway) after one look at his sizzling, lustfully hot (and unhappy), platinum-blonde waitress wife Cora (Turner). The slow-burning fuse of sexual passion between Frank and Cora leads to their plot to ‘accidentally’ kill her husband. After the murderous couple’s plot is executed following a failed first attempt, they betray each other and are undone by their own uncontrollable, calculating natures, even as Cora admits before her death in an automobile crash: “When we get home, Frank, then there’ll be kisses, kisses with dreams in them. Kisses that come from life, not death.” No Academy Award nominations.
The Public Enemy (1931)
Starring: James Cagney, Jean Harlow, Mae Clarke, Edward Woods, Leslie Fenton, Donald Cook
Director: William A. Wellman
A definitive, brutal gangster film from the early 1930s with James Cagney’s effective portrayal of the rise and fall of a prohibition-era criminal. Two young punks who grew up on the South Side of Chicago – Tom Powers (Cagney) and Matt Doyle (Woods) – move from petty crimes to armed robbery and bootlegging. They lead violent and lethal lives, slap their blonde girlfriends around, and retaliate against rival hoodlums. (The film is most notable for its scene in which Tom pushes his breakfast grapefruit into the face of his moll girlfriend Kitty (Clarke).) They become associates of mobster Nails Nathan (Fenton), self-destructively engage in gang warfares, and Tom takes a new girlfriend Gwen Allen (Harlow). The final image of the delivery of Tom’s ‘mummified’ bullet-ridden body at his estranged family’s door is bone-chilling. Academy Award Nominations: 1, Best Original Story.

Q

Queen Christina (1933)
Starring: Greta Garbo, John Gilbert
Director: Rouben Mamoulian
A screen biography of the legendary 17th century Queen of Sweden Christina (Garbo), from the directorial master Mamoulian. After rejecting an arranged marriage for political advantage, the Queen fatefully meets newly-appointed Spanish ambassador Don Antonio De la Prada (Gilbert) during a horseback ride. To be incognito, she disguises herself as a man and visits with him in a snowbound country inn. During a night in his shared room in a gorgeously photographed sequence, she reveals her disguise and the two become passionate, clandestine lovers. Later, she officially receives him in her court, and in a shocking move, she relinquishes and abdicates herself from the throne for her love. Concludes with the famous closeup of Garbo’s face at the bow of the boat as she faces her destiny. No Academy Award nominations.

R

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen
Director: Steven Spielberg
Spielberg’s thrilling, entertaining homage to 1930′s cliff-hanging adventure serials/films at Saturday matinees. One of the greatest action films ever made – led to a trilogy. Mid-1930s, pre-WWII comic-bookish, globe-trotting, bull-whip toting adventurer/archaeologist Dr. Indiana Jones (Ford) searches for rare antiquities. The film’s opening sequence is a white-knuckled experience in a South American rainforest and cave with poisonous darts and a threatening boulder. In a race with the Nazis, dashing Dr. Jones is enlisted to locate the Biblical Ark of the Covenant before the evil agents of Hitler use its powers to win the war. From Nepal to Cairo, the self-effacing hero is aided by tough, hard-drinking, spunky and feisty ex-girlfriend Marion Ravenwood (Allen), as he escapes one life-threatening situation, fight, scrape, and chase after another – especially venomous snakes and the mysterious wrath of God in its finale. Academy Award Nominations: 8, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score. Academy Awards: 4, including Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects. Special Achievement Award for Sound Effects Editing.
The Red Shoes (1948)
Starring: Anton Walbrook, Moira Shearer, Marius Goring, Leonide Massine, Albert Basserman, Robert Helpmann
Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
An exquisite musical tragedy, taken from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale of the same name. An ambitious young English ballerina (Shearer) is made a star by mentor impresario (Walbrook) of the Lermontov Ballet Company. But she is soon torn between the struggling composer (Goring) who can offer nothing but his love and the obsessed impresario who can further her dancing career. Includes a wonderful 15-minute balletic performance. From the masterful directing/producing team of Powell and Pressburger, and filmed in breathtaking, gorgeous Technicolor. Academy Award nominations: 5, including Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Story (Pressburger). Academy Awards: 2, Best Art Direction, Best Score.

Romeo and Juliet (1968)
Starring: Olivia Hussey, Leonard Whiting, Milo O’Shea, Michael York, Paul Hardwicke, John McEnery, Pat Heywood, Laurence Olivier (narrator)
Director: Franco Zefferelli
The classic and immortal Shakespearean tale of forbidden, tragic, and star-crossed love. Adapted in this modern and realistic version by Zefferelli for the first time with two teenaged leads as the youthful, innocent, strong-willed lovers Romeo (Leonard Whiting) and Juliet (Olivia Hussey). Their warring families, the bitterly-hateful Montagues and Capulets, doom their tender romance, with a first-time-ever scene of the nude couple on their wedding night. In gorgeous Technicolor, shot on location in Italy and enhanced by a memorable soundtrack from Nino Rota. Academy Award nominations: 4, including Best Picture, Best Director. Academy Awards: 2, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design.
A Room With A View (1986)
Starring: Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter, Denholm Elliott, Julian Sands, Daniel Day-Lewis, Simon Callow, Judi Dench, Rosemary Leach, Rupert Graves, Patrick Godfrey
Director: James Ivory
Producer: Ismail Ivory
A delightful comedy of errors tale of repressed Victorian romance and British conceit, adapted from E.M. Forster’s novel. A proper Edwardian young girl (Carter) with her elderly, guilt-ridden spinster chaperone/cousin (Smith) take a tourist holiday in Italy. There, she meets a free-spirited suitor (Sands), but is whisked back to Surrey, England when romance develops. Back home, she is engaged to a prissy, dispassionate, self-possessed, intellectual gentleman (Day-Lewis). When she is reunited with the charming young man from Florence, she must make a defiant decision regarding her marital plans. Academy Award Nominations: 8, including Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor–Denholm Elliott, Best Supporting Actress–Maggie Smith. Academy Awards: 3, Best Adapted Screenplay (Ruth Prawer Jhabvala), Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Starring: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer
Director: Roman Polanski
Polanski’s first American film, from Ira Levin’s best-seller – a convincing, creepy, psychological, Satanist horror/thriller about a young pregnant wife who suspects and has strange premonitions about diabolical forces (a witches’ coven) threatening her unborn baby. Young newlywed couple Rosemary (Farrow) and aspiring, out-of-work actor/husband Guy Woodhouse (Cassavetes) move into a gothic NYC apartment complex, with intrusive, elderly next-door neighbors Roman (Blackmer) and nosy Minnie Castevet (Gordon). With a fertile imagination, Rosemary gradually believes that she hasn’t been impregnated by her husband but by the Devil. Academy Award Nominations: 2, including Best Adapted Screenplay. Academy Awards: 1, Best Supporting Actress–Ruth Gordon.

S

Scarface: The Shame of the Nation (1932)
Starring: Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, George Raft
Director: Howard Hawks
A landmark, classic crime-gangster film (one of the earliest) personally produced by Howard Hughes about a brutal, homicidal hood during Prohibition. Although the film was made before The Public Enemy and Little Caesar, it was released after them due to censorship concerns and squabbling between the director and producer – with an attached subtitle: The Shame of the Nation. Its violence delayed its release and helped contribute to the creation of the Production Code shortly thereafter in 1934. Notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone’s nickname is the title of the film that traces the rise and fall of Antonio (Tony) Camonte (Muni), a maniac, reptilian killer who murders without hesitation on his way to the top, with the aid of right-hand, coin-flipping thug Guino Rinaldo (Raft). Tony also has an ambiguous, almost incestuous relationship with his beautiful, slinky sister Cesca (Dvorak). Originally made with two endings, Hawks’ original finale, and the Hays Office ending. No Academy Award nominations.
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Starring: Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright, Patricia Collinge, Henry Travers
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Reportedly Hitchcock’s own personal favorite, a chilling mystery thriller from Thornton Wilder’s co-written script, based on the real-life 1920s serial killer – the Merry Widow – who cold-bloodedly murders wealthy widows for their jewels. Charming Uncle Charlie (Cotten), a psychotic murderer, returns to his small hometown in Santa Rosa, California for an extended visit with his sister Emma Newton (Collinge) and her family, including her mystery-buff husband Joseph (Travers) and namesake daughter Charlie (Wright). Young Charlie has wished for change and excitement in her boring life, and is psychically linked to her favorite uncle – and then she slowly begins to intuitively suspect that her beloved relative is a wanted mass murderer, through clues including a newspaper article and an engraved ring stolen from a woman he murdered. And when Uncle Charlie comes to recognize her suspicions… Academy Award Nominations: 1, Best Original Story.
She Done Him Wrong (1933)
Starring: Mae West, Cary Grant, Noah Beery, Sr.
Director: Lowell Sherman
Liberated Mae West’s first starring film based on her infamous 1928 Broadway stage play Diamond Lil. She stars as buxom, bawdy, double-entrendre-spouting Lady Lou, a diamond-jeweled saloon chanteuse, the ‘sweetheart’ of owner Gus Jordan (Beery) in the Naughty Gay ’90s Bowery region. Handsome Captain Cummings/”Hawk” (Grant), a detective poses as a Salvation Army missionary crusader while investigating a corrupt, white slavery and counterfeiting ring in the saloon. Includes West’s singing of “Frankie and Johnny,” “I Wonder Where My Easy Rider’s Gone,” and “I Like a Man What Takes His Time,” and her most famous line of dialogue: “Why don’t you come up sometime ‘n see me? I’m home every evening.” Academy Award Nominations: 1, Best Picture.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine, Brooke Smith
Director: Jonathan Demme
Ted Tally’s screenplay was based on Thomas Harris’ 1988 best-selling novel of the same name (an earlier thriller, Michael Mann’s Manhunter (1986), was based on another Harris novel – titled Red Dragon). A genuinely-frightening, violent, psychological thriller about the intimate exchanges between a deranged, hypnotic serial killer and a raw, vulnerable FBI trainee. Novice agent Clarice Starling (Foster) is sent by senior agent Jack Crawford (Glenn) to conduct an interview with an insane, psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lecter (Hopkins), housed in a claustrophobic, underground prison cell. In exchange for her haunting, deepest secrets and memories about her childhood and the slaughter of lambs, she is supplied with clues about the identity and methods of another serial killer Jame Gumb, dubbed Buffalo Bill (Levine), who skins his victims and is currently holding victim Catherine Martin (Smith) – the daughter of a US Senator. Academy Award Nominations: 7, including Best Sound, Best Film Editing. Academy Awards: 5, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress–Jodie Foster, Best Actor–Anthony Hopkins, Best Adapted Screenplay.
Sons of the Desert (1933)
Starring: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Charley Chase, Mae Busch, Dorothy Christy
Director: William A. Seiter
A classic, hilarious comedy – the funniest full-length feature from Laurel and Hardy. The two boys Stan Laurel (Himself) and Oliver Hardy (Himself) deviously plan to fool their wives by claiming to have gone on a prescribed ocean voyage to Hawaii (to cure Ollie’s illness), while instead attending the national convention of their fellow Sons of the Desert lodge members in Chicago, with mad-cap conventioneer Charley Chase (Himself). Their plan fails miserably when the ship is reported sunk, and Mrs. Hardy (Busch) and Mrs. Laurel (Christy) discover the truth, viewing their husbands in the fraternal parade in a movie newsreel. In revenge, the two wives plot to test their exposed mates. No Academy Award nominations.
The Sound of Music (1965)
Starring: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker, Peggy Wood
Director: Robert Wise
Based on the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical and the true story of the von Trapp family – a lovely film with a mixture of comedy, romance, and suspense – and a wonderful collection of musical tunes. Restless novice postulant Maria at the Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg, Austria, first pictured daydreaming on the hillside surrounded by the beautiful Alps, is persuaded by the Reverend Mother (Wood) to take a governess position for the motherless, singing family of stern widower Captain von Trapp (Plummer), who is engaged to Baroness SchrÖder (Parker). The seven children include: 16 year-old Liesl (Charmain Carr), 14 year-old Friedrich (Nicholas Hammond), 13 year-old Louisa (Heather Menzies), 11 year-old Kurt (Duane Chase), 10 year-old Brigitta (Angela Cartwright), almost 7 year-old Marta (Debbie Turner), and 5 year-old Gretl (Kym Karath). The children have a well-deserved reputation for scaring off caretakers, but Maria wins them over, and falls in love with her employer, amidst the ominous Nazi occupation. Includes the songs: “Maria,” “The Sound of Music,” “My Favorite Things,” “You Are Sixteen, Going On Seventeen,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “Do-Re-Mi,” and “Edelweiss.” Academy Award Nominations: 10, including Best Actress–Julie Andrews, Best Supporting Actress–Peggy Wood, Best Color Cinematography, Best Color Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Color Costume Design. Academy Awards: 5, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Sound, Best Adapted Score, Best Film Editing.
Splendor in the Grass (1961)
Starring: Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, Audrey Christie, Pat Hingle, Zohra Lampert, Jan Norris
Director: Elia Kazan
A tragic, coming-of-age melodrama set in the mid-1920s in a small, rural Kansas town, from playwright William Inge’s original, award-winning script. Star-crossed, teenaged sweethearts, poor HS senior Wilma Dean “Deanie” Loomis (Wood) and rich Bud Stamper (Beatty in his film debut) fall deeply and passionately in love, but are repressed by the sexual mores of the time, their class differences, and disapproval from their parents – especially her prudish, puritanical mother (Christie) and his rigid, domineering father (Hingle). Deanie’s pent-up sexual longings cause her to almost go insane in a memorable bathtub scene. Repercussions cause Bud to chase after slutty girl Juanita Howard (Norris), and eventually marry Italian Angelina (Lampert), while Deanie is institutionalized following a suicidal nervous breakdown. Years later, the two meet again and she resolves her feelings about him. Academy Award Nominations: 2, including Best Actress–Natalie Wood. Academy Awards: 1, Best Original Story and Screenplay.
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Starring: Farley Granger, Robert Walker, Ruth Roman, Laura Elliot, Jonathan Hale
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Another of Hitchcock’s great suspense thrillers – co-scripted by Raymond Chandler and based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith. During a ‘chance’ meeting on a train enroute from Washington DC (a cleverly-choreographed sequence in which the two sets of the strangers’ shoes are highlighted), rich psychopathic playboy Bruno Anthony (Walker) explains his macabre, morbid theory of the perfect murder – an exchange or swap of murders and victims – to professional champion tennis player Guy Haines (Granger). Bruno diabolically proposes murdering Guy’s clinging, stifling wife Miriam (Elliot) – since Guy wants to marry US Senator’s daughter Anne Morton (Roman) – in exchange for Guy murdering Bruno’s spiteful father (Hale) and his acquisition of an inheritance, without any trace of clues. Haines dismisses the preposterous idea until Anthony kills his wife Miriam by strangulation at an amusement park and he is expected to fulfill his part of the bargain – with threat of blackmail. With a few great set pieces, including the tennis match, the cross-cutting sewer grating scene, the cocktail party scene of how to commit a murder, and the out-of-control merry-go-round in the finale in which Guy was finally cleared of the murder. Academy Award Nominations: 1, Best B/W Cinematography.
Sullivan’s Travels (1941)
Starring: Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake
Director: Preston Sturges
A landmark, sardonic film satire from writer/director Sturges about a successful escapist comedy Hollywood director John L. Sullivan (McCrea) who has tired of making light-hearted films. Sullivan is determined to make a serious-minded, socially-responsible drama about poverty and hardship in America titled O Brother, Where Art Thou? To research his new film project, he disguises himself – for his ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ journey through pre WWII America – as a down-and-out tramp/bum to experience cruel adversity first-hand. After shaking off the hot pursuit of a caravan of studio publicists, and being joined by a beautiful, out-of-work, failed blonde actress The Girl (Lake), he serves time on a prison chain gang, where during the showing of a Disney cartoon he gains a newfound appreciation that the down-trodden do indeed need laughter and humor. No Academy Award nominations.

Romeo and Juliet (1968)
Starring: Olivia Hussey, Leonard Whiting, Milo O’Shea, Michael York, Paul Hardwicke, John McEnery, Pat Heywood, Laurence Olivier (narrator)
Director: Franco Zefferelli
The classic and immortal Shakespearean tale of forbidden, tragic, and star-crossed love. Adapted in this modern and realistic version by Zefferelli for the first time with two teenaged leads as the youthful, innocent, strong-willed lovers Romeo (Leonard Whiting) and Juliet (Olivia Hussey). Their warring families, the bitterly-hateful Montagues and Capulets, doom their tender romance, with a first-time-ever scene of the nude couple on their wedding night. In gorgeous Technicolor, shot on location in Italy and enhanced by a memorable soundtrack from Nino Rota. Academy Award nominations: 4, including Best Picture, Best Director. Academy Awards: 2, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design.
A Room With A View (1986)
Starring: Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter, Denholm Elliott, Julian Sands, Daniel Day-Lewis, Simon Callow, Judi Dench, Rosemary Leach, Rupert Graves, Patrick Godfrey
Director: James Ivory
Producer: Ismail Ivory
A delightful comedy of errors tale of repressed Victorian romance and British conceit, adapted from E.M. Forster’s novel. A proper Edwardian young girl (Carter) with her elderly, guilt-ridden spinster chaperone/cousin (Smith) take a tourist holiday in Italy. There, she meets a free-spirited suitor (Sands), but is whisked back to Surrey, England when romance develops. Back home, she is engaged to a prissy, dispassionate, self-possessed, intellectual gentleman (Day-Lewis). When she is reunited with the charming young man from Florence, she must make a defiant decision regarding her marital plans. Academy Award Nominations: 8, including Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor–Denholm Elliott, Best Supporting Actress–Maggie Smith. Academy Awards: 3, Best Adapted Screenplay (Ruth Prawer Jhabvala), Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Starring: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer
Director: Roman Polanski
Polanski’s first American film, from Ira Levin’s best-seller – a convincing, creepy, psychological, Satanist horror/thriller about a young pregnant wife who suspects and has strange premonitions about diabolical forces (a witches’ coven) threatening her unborn baby. Young newlywed couple Rosemary (Farrow) and aspiring, out-of-work actor/husband Guy Woodhouse (Cassavetes) move into a gothic NYC apartment complex, with intrusive, elderly next-door neighbors Roman (Blackmer) and nosy Minnie Castevet (Gordon). With a fertile imagination, Rosemary gradually believes that she hasn’t been impregnated by her husband but by the Devil. Academy Award Nominations: 2, including Best Adapted Screenplay. Academy Awards: 1, Best Supporting Actress–Ruth Gordon.

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Scarface: The Shame of the Nation (1932)
Starring: Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, George Raft
Director: Howard Hawks
A landmark, classic crime-gangster film (one of the earliest) personally produced by Howard Hughes about a brutal, homicidal hood during Prohibition. Although the film was made before The Public Enemy and Little Caesar, it was released after them due to censorship concerns and squabbling between the director and producer – with an attached subtitle: The Shame of the Nation. Its violence delayed its release and helped contribute to the creation of the Production Code shortly thereafter in 1934. Notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone’s nickname is the title of the film that traces the rise and fall of Antonio (Tony) Camonte (Muni), a maniac, reptilian killer who murders without hesitation on his way to the top, with the aid of right-hand, coin-flipping thug Guino Rinaldo (Raft). Tony also has an ambiguous, almost incestuous relationship with his beautiful, slinky sister Cesca (Dvorak). Originally made with two endings, Hawks’ original finale, and the Hays Office ending. No Academy Award nominations.
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Starring: Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright, Patricia Collinge, Henry Travers
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Reportedly Hitchcock’s own personal favorite, a chilling mystery thriller from Thornton Wilder’s co-written script, based on the real-life 1920s serial killer – the Merry Widow – who cold-bloodedly murders wealthy widows for their jewels. Charming Uncle Charlie (Cotten), a psychotic murderer, returns to his small hometown in Santa Rosa, California for an extended visit with his sister Emma Newton (Collinge) and her family, including her mystery-buff husband Joseph (Travers) and namesake daughter Charlie (Wright). Young Charlie has wished for change and excitement in her boring life, and is psychically linked to her favorite uncle – and then she slowly begins to intuitively suspect that her beloved relative is a wanted mass murderer, through clues including a newspaper article and an engraved ring stolen from a woman he murdered. And when Uncle Charlie comes to recognize her suspicions… Academy Award Nominations: 1, Best Original Story.
She Done Him Wrong (1933)
Starring: Mae West, Cary Grant, Noah Beery, Sr.
Director: Lowell Sherman
Liberated Mae West’s first starring film based on her infamous 1928 Broadway stage play Diamond Lil. She stars as buxom, bawdy, double-entrendre-spouting Lady Lou, a diamond-jeweled saloon chanteuse, the ‘sweetheart’ of owner Gus Jordan (Beery) in the Naughty Gay ’90s Bowery region. Handsome Captain Cummings/”Hawk” (Grant), a detective poses as a Salvation Army missionary crusader while investigating a corrupt, white slavery and counterfeiting ring in the saloon. Includes West’s singing of “Frankie and Johnny,” “I Wonder Where My Easy Rider’s Gone,” and “I Like a Man What Takes His Time,” and her most famous line of dialogue: “Why don’t you come up sometime ‘n see me? I’m home every evening.” Academy Award Nominations: 1, Best Picture.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine, Brooke Smith
Director: Jonathan Demme
Ted Tally’s screenplay was based on Thomas Harris’ 1988 best-selling novel of the same name (an earlier thriller, Michael Mann’s Manhunter (1986), was based on another Harris novel – titled Red Dragon). A genuinely-frightening, violent, psychological thriller about the intimate exchanges between a deranged, hypnotic serial killer and a raw, vulnerable FBI trainee. Novice agent Clarice Starling (Foster) is sent by senior agent Jack Crawford (Glenn) to conduct an interview with an insane, psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lecter (Hopkins), housed in a claustrophobic, underground prison cell. In exchange for her haunting, deepest secrets and memories about her childhood and the slaughter of lambs, she is supplied with clues about the identity and methods of another serial killer Jame Gumb, dubbed Buffalo Bill (Levine), who skins his victims and is currently holding victim Catherine Martin (Smith) – the daughter of a US Senator. Academy Award Nominations: 7, including Best Sound, Best Film Editing. Academy Awards: 5, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress–Jodie Foster, Best Actor–Anthony Hopkins, Best Adapted Screenplay.
Sons of the Desert (1933)
Starring: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Charley Chase, Mae Busch, Dorothy Christy
Director: William A. Seiter
A classic, hilarious comedy – the funniest full-length feature from Laurel and Hardy. The two boys Stan Laurel (Himself) and Oliver Hardy (Himself) deviously plan to fool their wives by claiming to have gone on a prescribed ocean voyage to Hawaii (to cure Ollie’s illness), while instead attending the national convention of their fellow Sons of the Desert lodge members in Chicago, with mad-cap conventioneer Charley Chase (Himself). Their plan fails miserably when the ship is reported sunk, and Mrs. Hardy (Busch) and Mrs. Laurel (Christy) discover the truth, viewing their husbands in the fraternal parade in a movie newsreel. In revenge, the two wives plot to test their exposed mates. No Academy Award nominations.
The Sound of Music (1965)
Starring: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker, Peggy Wood
Director: Robert Wise
Based on the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical and the true story of the von Trapp family – a lovely film with a mixture of comedy, romance, and suspense – and a wonderful collection of musical tunes. Restless novice postulant Maria at the Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg, Austria, first pictured daydreaming on the hillside surrounded by the beautiful Alps, is persuaded by the Reverend Mother (Wood) to take a governess position for the motherless, singing family of stern widower Captain von Trapp (Plummer), who is engaged to Baroness SchrÖder (Parker). The seven children include: 16 year-old Liesl (Charmain Carr), 14 year-old Friedrich (Nicholas Hammond), 13 year-old Louisa (Heather Menzies), 11 year-old Kurt (Duane Chase), 10 year-old Brigitta (Angela Cartwright), almost 7 year-old Marta (Debbie Turner), and 5 year-old Gretl (Kym Karath). The children have a well-deserved reputation for scaring off caretakers, but Maria wins them over, and falls in love with her employer, amidst the ominous Nazi occupation. Includes the songs: “Maria,” “The Sound of Music,” “My Favorite Things,” “You Are Sixteen, Going On Seventeen,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “Do-Re-Mi,” and “Edelweiss.” Academy Award Nominations: 10, including Best Actress–Julie Andrews, Best Supporting Actress–Peggy Wood, Best Color Cinematography, Best Color Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Color Costume Design. Academy Awards: 5, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Sound, Best Adapted Score, Best Film Editing.
Splendor in the Grass (1961)
Starring: Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, Audrey Christie, Pat Hingle, Zohra Lampert, Jan Norris
Director: Elia Kazan
A tragic, coming-of-age melodrama set in the mid-1920s in a small, rural Kansas town, from playwright William Inge’s original, award-winning script. Star-crossed, teenaged sweethearts, poor HS senior Wilma Dean “Deanie” Loomis (Wood) and rich Bud Stamper (Beatty in his film debut) fall deeply and passionately in love, but are repressed by the sexual mores of the time, their class differences, and disapproval from their parents – especially her prudish, puritanical mother (Christie) and his rigid, domineering father (Hingle). Deanie’s pent-up sexual longings cause her to almost go insane in a memorable bathtub scene. Repercussions cause Bud to chase after slutty girl Juanita Howard (Norris), and eventually marry Italian Angelina (Lampert), while Deanie is institutionalized following a suicidal nervous breakdown. Years later, the two meet again and she resolves her feelings about him. Academy Award Nominations: 2, including Best Actress–Natalie Wood. Academy Awards: 1, Best Original Story and Screenplay.
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Starring: Farley Granger, Robert Walker, Ruth Roman, Laura Elliot, Jonathan Hale
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Another of Hitchcock’s great suspense thrillers – co-scripted by Raymond Chandler and based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith. During a ‘chance’ meeting on a train enroute from Washington DC (a cleverly-choreographed sequence in which the two sets of the strangers’ shoes are highlighted), rich psychopathic playboy Bruno Anthony (Walker) explains his macabre, morbid theory of the perfect murder – an exchange or swap of murders and victims – to professional champion tennis player Guy Haines (Granger). Bruno diabolically proposes murdering Guy’s clinging, stifling wife Miriam (Elliot) – since Guy wants to marry US Senator’s daughter Anne Morton (Roman) – in exchange for Guy murdering Bruno’s spiteful father (Hale) and his acquisition of an inheritance, without any trace of clues. Haines dismisses the preposterous idea until Anthony kills his wife Miriam by strangulation at an amusement park and he is expected to fulfill his part of the bargain – with threat of blackmail. With a few great set pieces, including the tennis match, the cross-cutting sewer grating scene, the cocktail party scene of how to commit a murder, and the out-of-control merry-go-round in the finale in which Guy was finally cleared of the murder. Academy Award Nominations: 1, Best B/W Cinematography.
Sullivan’s Travels (1941)
Starring: Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake
Director: Preston Sturges
A landmark, sardonic film satire from writer/director Sturges about a successful escapist comedy Hollywood director John L. Sullivan (McCrea) who has tired of making light-hearted films. Sullivan is determined to make a serious-minded, socially-responsible drama about poverty and hardship in America titled O Brother, Where Art Thou? To research his new film project, he disguises himself – for his ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ journey through pre WWII America – as a down-and-out tramp/bum to experience cruel adversity first-hand. After shaking off the hot pursuit of a caravan of studio publicists, and being joined by a beautiful, out-of-work, failed blonde actress The Girl (Lake), he serves time on a prison chain gang, where during the showing of a Disney cartoon he gains a newfound appreciation that the down-trodden do indeed need laughter and humor. No Academy Award nominations.

Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Starring: Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Susan Harrison, Martin Milner, Emile Meyer
Director: Alexander MacKendrick
A caustic, dark film noir based on the short story by Ernest Lehman titled Tell Me About It Tomorrow, and filmed on location in NYC. MacKendrick’s debut American film. Opportunistic, vicious, hustling, slimy press agent Sidney Falco (Curtis) provides publicity for showbiz clients, hoping for exposure in the syndicated columns. Ruthless, sadistic, monstrously-manipulative newspaper columnist J. J. Hunsecker (Lancaster) unscrupulously plots with Falco to disrupt and destroy the romantic relationship of his younger sister Susan Hunsecker (Harrison) with a jazz musician Steve Dallas (Milner). Unethical and immoral but desperate to please Hunsecker, Falco smears Dallas as a drug addict and Communist by planting evidence, but causes Susan to become suicidal. Ultimately vengeful, she walks out on her ‘incestuous’ and obsessed, overprotective brother, while a raging Hunsecker has Falco beaten up. No Academy Award nominations.
Swing Time (1936)
Starring: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Betty Furness, Landers Stevens
Director: George Stevens
Another of the greatest Astaire-Rogers dance musicals, their sixth film together, with lyrics and music by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields. Hoofer/gambler “Lucky” Garnett (Astaire) is late to his marriage to hometown socialite Margaret Watson (Furness). Her father Judge Watson (Stevens) challenges his prospective son-in-law to return only after earning a fortune of $25,000 in the big city. In a local dance studio, Lucky falls in love with instructor Penny Carrol (Rogers). After many romantic misunderstandings, complications and difficulties in the contrived plot, he finds his real life’s partner. Songs and dances include: “Pick Yourself Up,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Waltz in Swing Time,” “A Fine Romance,” “Bojangles of Harlem” (Astaire’s only blackface number in a tribute to Bill Robinson), and the lengthy, romantic dance duet “Never Gonna Dance” in the finale. Academy Award Nominations: 2, including Best Dance Direction. Academy Awards: 1, Best Song (“The Way You Look Tonight”).

T

The Terminator (1984)
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton
Director: James Cameron
A stylish, action-packed, low budget, beautifully-paced science-fiction film. Kyle Reece (Biehn), a hunted, fugitive, freedom-fighting soldier-hero from the post-apocalyptic, wasteland future of 2029 Los Angeles, where a race of machine-like cyborgs rule the Earth and exterminate human beings, volunteers to return to present-day 1984 Los Angeles. In pursuit through time travel is an invulnerable, ruthless, assassin-terminator cyborg (Schwarzenegger), sent to kill the innocent young woman Sarah Connor (Hamilton) destined to bear a son – John Connor – who will eventually become a liberator and lead the revolt against the evil machines to prevent the world from being annihilated. Rebel soldier Kyle’s mission is to protect her, explain her destiny and the reason for the Terminator’s stalking – as he falls in love with her. No Academy Award nominations.
The Thin Man (1934)
Starring: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O’Sullivan
Director: W.S. Van Dyke
The first in a series of six charming and sophisticated who-dun-it “Thin Man” films (between 1934 and 1947), teaming William Powell and Myrna Loy as a witty, mystery-solving, sleuthing couple – with delightfully-affectionate, rapid-fire banter and chemistry between the pair, and a wire-haired terrier named Asta. Based on Dashiell Hammett’s 1932 novel. Retired and soused detective Nick Charles (Powell), now married to wealthy heiress Nora (Loy), is commissioned by Dorothy Wynant (Maureen O’Sullivan) to investigate the mysterious disappearance of her inventor father (Edward Ellis) – the “thin man” of the film’s title. Followed by the sequel, After the Thin Man (1936). Academy Award Nominations: 4, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor–William Powell and Best Adapted Screenplay.
The 39 Steps (1935)
Starring: Madeleine Carroll, Robert Donat, Wylie Watson, Lucie Mannheim, Godfrey Tearle, Peggy Ashcroft, John Laurie
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
One of Hitchcock’s most entertaining, suspenseful British romantic/spy-mystery thrillers. In 1930s London during a Palladium performance featuring Mr. Memory (Watson), innocent vacationing Canadian tourist Richard Hannay (Donat) is thrown into the arms of a mysterious secret agent Annabella Smith (Mannheim) who later informs him that she is being pursued by a spy ring (led by a criminal mastermind later revealed as Prof. Jordan (Tearle) with a half little finger) and agents code-named “the 39 steps” – Hitchcock’s MacGuffin. In his rented flat, the woman is murdered and Hannay becomes the prime suspect. He flees to Scotland with the police (and agents) on his trail to locate the spies and clear his name, and meets lovely cool blonde Pamela (Carroll) on a train. His journey includes an overnight stay in a crofter’s cottage where the couple suffer an unhappy marriage (Laurie and Ashcroft), a spontaneous improvised lecture in a political meeting, and handcuffing to a resentful, antagonistic Pamela. The mystery is finally solved with a return to the London Palladium where it is discovered that memory expert Mr. Memory is part of the spy organization that plans to smuggle valuable military secrets out of the country for sale to an unknown enemy. No Academy Award nominations.
To Be or Not to Be (1942)
Starring: Jack Benny, Carole Lombard, Robert Stack, Stanley Ridges, Sig Rumann
Director: Ernst Lubitsch
A satirical, black comedy masterpiece set in occupied wartime Poland, controversial in its time for providing serious social commentary on the Nazi regime. Trapped in Warsaw, vain Joseph Tura (Benny), the lead Polish actor in a theatre troupe and his flighty actress wife Maria (Lombard in her last role before her tragic death in an airplane crash) star in a production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet after their anti-Nazi play has been censored and shut down. To outwit the occupying Nazis in the war effort, the actors become engaged in a complex plot to help the Resistance Underground by having Tura first impersonate Nazi Colonel “Concentration Camp” Ehrhardt (Rumann) and then traitorous Nazi spy Prof. Alexander Siletsky (Ridges). One of the young fugitive pilots who requires protection, Lt. Stanislav Sobinski (Stack), is in the midst of a platonic, idolizing affair with Maria. In a continuing joke, Joseph cues the surreptitious lovers each night when he begins Hamlet’s famous soliloquy “to be or not to be” and Joseph noisily departs the theater’s second row for a tryst in her dressing room. Academy Award Nominations: 1, Best Comedy Score.
To Have and Have Not (1944)
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan, Lauren Bacall, Walter Molnar, Dolores Moran
Director: Howard Hawks
Adapted from the 1937 novel by Ernest Hemingway, with a script by William Faulkner and Jules Furthman – often considered a sequel to Casablanca. Noted for being the film in which Bogart fell in love with much-younger Bacall. In Vichy-controlled Martinique in 1940 after the fall of France, American charter boat captain Harry ‘Steve’ Morgan (Bogart), with whiskey-soaked Eddie (Brennan) who continually asks “Was you ever bit by a dead bee?”, hires his vessel for professional fishing excursions. Although jaded, Harry reluctantly agrees to become involved and aid the Free French Resistance movement by smuggling an underground leader Paul De Bursac (Molnar) and his wife Helene (Moran) off the island. Living in an upstairs apartment above a cafe where Cricket (Carmichael) plays the piano, Harry meets and falls in love with a sultry and seductive young woman Marie ‘Slim’ Browning (Bacall in her screen debut) – she teaches him how to whistle. No Academy Award nominations.
Tootsie (1982)
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman, Sydney Pollack, Bill Murray, Charles Durning, George Gaynes
Director: Sydney Pollack
A modern-day, appealing classic Hollywood comedy with witty dialogue about a NYC actor who cross-dresses to find employment. Desperate out-of-work stage actor Michael Dorsey (Hoffman), often considered temperamental, can only find part-time jobs. When his girlfriend Sandy (Garr) is rejected for a role in a daytime TV soap opera produced/directed by sexist Ron (Coleman), Michael disguises himself as ‘Dorothy Michaels’ – a middle-aged feminist with padding, and wins the part. Soon, he becomes wildly popular in the hit show, but his life becomes even more soap operish. Complications arise with his insecure girlfriend, his nervous roommate Jeff (Murray), his exasperated agent George Fields (Pollack), lecherous fellow actor John Van Horn (Gaynes), his new love interest – co-star Julie (Lange), and her interested widowed father Les (Durning). Academy Award Nominations: 10, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor–Dustin Hoffman, Best Supporting Actress–Teri Garr, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Song (“It Might Be You”), Best Film Editing. Academy Awards: 1, Best Supporting Actress–Jessica Lange.
12 Angry Men (1957)
Starring: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam, Ed Begley, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Jack Warden, John Savoca
Director: Sidney Lumet
Sidney Lumet’s debut directorial film, a taut courtroom drama based on Reginald Rose’s television play. In a hot summer courtroom in NYC, a teenaged Latino (Savoca) is on trial for murdering his father with a switchblade knife, and faces the electric chair if convicted. The twelve jurors assemble together to decide the fate of the minority defendant after being given instructions from the judge about ‘innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.’ In a seemingly open-and-shut case, the jurors rapidly vote for conviction, but one lone liberal dissenter, Juror # 8 (Fonda) holds out for innocence. In the sweaty, claustrophobic room, the tempers, prejudices and personalities of the cranky, smoking men are displayed as they examine the evidence and deliberate their verdict. Academy Award Nominations: 3, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay.

U

Unforgiven (1992)
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Jaimz Woolvett
Director: Clint Eastwood
Actor/director Clint Eastwood’s magnificent Western masterpiece. Circumstances force a retired, poor, notorious ex-bounty hunter William Munny (Eastwood), now a hog farmer, to resume his former occupation. In the 1880s frontier town of Big Whiskey, Wyoming, a prostitute’s face has been brutally slashed by vicious cowboys, and her fellow co-workers have raised a $500 bounty. Joined by former sidekick partner Ned Logan (Freeman) and aspiring, cocky gunfighter ‘The Schofield Kid’ (Woolvett), they journey to the town to confront the corrupt, sadistic and autocratic Sheriff “Little Bill” Daggett (Hackman), who has denied justice to the brothel’s women. In a deadly and bloody showdown, Munny’s nihilistic past is graphically brought back. Academy Award Nominations: 9, including Best Actor–Clint Eastwood, Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Cinematography, Best Sound. Academy Awards: 4, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor–Gene Hackman, Best Film Editing.

V

W

White Heat (1949)
Starring: James Cagney, Edmond O’Brien, Margaret Wycherly, Virginia Mayo, Steve Cochran
Director: Raoul Walsh
One of the most volatile, super-charged gangster-crime films ever made, about a psychopathic, homicidal, mother-devoted gangster. Tough-guy, eccentric Cody Jarrett (Cagney) leads a gang of train robbers, supported by the ministrations of his beloved Ma (Wycherly) and the love of wife Verna (Mayo) who is unfaithful with gang member Big Ed Somers (Cochran). When imprisoned and he learns of his mother’s death, the mother-fixated Cody goes beserk. After an escape from prison during a riot, he is betrayed by an undercover agent/informant Vic Pardo/Hank Fallon (O’Brien) during the payroll robbery of an oil refinery. In the legendary finale, Jarrett is consumed in the flames of a holding tank explosion as he proclaims: “Made it Ma! Top of the world!” Academy Award Nominations: 1, Best Motion Picture Story.
Winchester ’73 (1950)
Starring: James Stewart, Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea, Stephen McNally, Millard Mitchell, Charles Drake, John McIntire, Will Geer, Jay C. Flippert, Rock Hudson
Director: Anthony Mann
Unique and classic, noirish black and white “psychological” western film based on a story by Stuart Lake – and the first of eight films pairing James Stewart with director Mann. An obsessed, hard-bitten man (Stewart) participates in a Fourth of July shooting contest in Dodge City to win back a prized 1873 Winchester repeating rifle. Although he wins, the rifle is stolen by his surly, runner-up opponent (McNally) (and the murderer of his father). The film follows the dogged, revenge-seeking search for the cursed weapon, as the gun passes through the hands of many new “owners” and their stories are depicted. No Academy Award nominations.
Written on the Wind (1956)
Starring: Lauren Bacall, Rock Hudson, Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone, Robert Keith
Director: Douglas Sirk
A lush, psychosexual, trashy melodrama about wealth, greed and lust, acclaimed director Douglas Sirk’s best film, about the decline and self-destructiveness of a rich Texas oil family. Adapted from Robert Wilder’s novel. Told in flashback after an opening murder scene, weak Texas millionaire/oil man Kyle Hadley (Stack), the ne’er-do-well son of Texas dynasty magnate Jasper Hadley (Keith), marries beautiful executive secretary Lucy Moore (Bacall) after an insistent romance. But he becomes suspicious of his best friend Mitch Wayne (Hudson), a handsome, successful geologist, who has similar affections – but only platonic – for Lucy. Kyle’s trampy, nymphomaniacal sister Marylee (Malone), who wants the unattainable Mitch, fuels Kyle’s anxious jealousy, suspicions of his own sterility, and an habitual bout with a bottle by suggesting that Lucy is pregnant with Mitch’s child. An unfortunate confrontation ensues, causing Lucy to have a miscarriage. Roaring drunk, gun-wielding Kyle threatens Mitch and ends up dead. An inquest is held to determine Mitch’s guilt or innocence, with Marylee’s testimony holding his life in the balance. Academy Award Nominations: 3, including Best Supporting Actor–Robert Stack, and Best Song (“Written on the Wind”). Academy Awards: 1, Best Supporting Actress–Dorothy Malone.


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