Thursday, January 03, 2013

10 Classics for 2013

Although I'm a lifelong film fan, the wonderful thing is that there are always more movies to see for the first time!

For each of the last two years, I jotted down a goal list of 10 highly regarded titles that I wanted to be sure to finally cross off my "need to see" list. Though I regularly see at least a couple hundred films a year, I've found it worthwhile to have a short, manageable goal of significant "must see" films each year, and I've felt a sense of satisfaction completing the lists. Although I haven't cared for all of the films seen as part of this project, I'm glad to now have first-hand familiarity with some well-known movies I had previously missed seeing.

Reviews of the films on the 2011 list can be found linked at the bottom of my post on the final movie seen from that list, SUNSET BLVD. (1950), while my 2012 list is here.

The focus of this year's list has shifted somewhat, with less of an emphasis on popular, big name Oscar nominees -- though a film which won five Oscars can be found on this list too! (Considering how much I love John Ford, it's rather amazing that I have somehow never seen HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY.) That said, these are all well-regarded films which in some cases have grown in stature with the passage of time.

While the 2011 list included some comedies, the 2012 list was filled with long films which were dark in content, so I made a conscious decision to "lighten up" a little this year too.

Some movies on this list stretch me out of my comfort zone; I rarely watch foreign films and never watch silents, so I've included a couple silent films and a French movie on the list. (We'll see if I can get past the problem I have with title cards interrupting the action in silents...) I also don't "do" horror, but I'm a great admirer of Jacques Tourneur, and having watched Val Lewton films in 2011 and 2012, I think I'm ready for the famous Lewton-Tourneur collaboration listed below. I also wanted to make sure I finally catch up with one of Disney's most highly regarded live-action films this year!

I'm especially appreciative of ideas from both my father and my friend Blake Lucas, who each played a significant role in the creation of this year's list.

The list for 2013:

SAFETY LAST! (Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor, 1923)

THE IRON HORSE (John Ford, 1924)

LITTLE CAESAR (Mervyn LeRoy, 1931)


CAT PEOPLE (Jacques Tourneur, 1942)

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Jean Cocteau, 1946)


THE GUNFIGHTER (Henry King, 1950)

20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (Richard Fleischer, 1954)

SOME CAME RUNNING (Vincente Minnelli, 1958)

As I did last year, I'll be returning to this post as I see each film, linking each title to its corresponding review.

I'll be watching and reviewing a great many films this year beyond this list of ten titles, and I value my readers' feedback as I continue to explore the world of Golden Era films in 2013!

Happy New Year!


Blogger barrylane said...

You shouyld not have any problme with Beauty and the Beast. The Iron Horse looks like Ford and as a student is valuable. Not sure about entertainment. Look forward to your post re the others. How Green Was My Valley is, in my opinion, moving and heartfelt. Shot on studio sets it becomes more poetry than docudrama. As it was intended. Probably Walter Pidgeon finest moment on film.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

Thanks for the kind mention, Laura, and I'm really gratified you took the suggested films from me that you did and look forward to your pieces on those films.

This is a great list all the way through--to my taste, it's the best list of the three you've had.

I think it's good you are taking a Billy Wilder break this year!

Also, HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY was not one of my suggestions, but only because it never would have occurred to me you hadn't seen it yet. Otherwise, it might have headed any list of suggestions I made. You are a lucky woman to have this film ahead of you, and if I had to bet on which of the ten films you will love, this would definitely be it.

12:18 AM  
Blogger Jeff Flugel said...

Some nice titles on your list, Laura! HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY is a wonderful film, think you'll really enjoy that one. I'm rather surprised, considering what a big Disney fan you are, that you haven't seen 20,00 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA. That's a fun one. Good luck on your mission.

By the way, I know you've already received one from Colin at Riding the High Country, but I'm sending you another star with an additional Blogger of the Year Award 2012. See here -

6:03 AM  
Blogger Irene said...

I love How Green Was My Valley - it is one of my favorite movies and I'm sure you will fall in love with it too. Miss O'Hara is strikingly beautiful in this picture - as she is in all of her movies! Make sure you see it in a pristine print.

6:55 AM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Interesting list, Laura.

My unsolicited opinion on a few titles:

"How Green Was My Valley" is exquisite.

"The Gunfighter" is impressive.

"Cat People" works its magic in the long run.

"20000 Leagues Under the Sea" still fires the imagination. James Mason is outstanding.

Edward G. Robinson jumps off the screen in "Little Caesar". Tough film.

"The Iron Horse" is very good thought a little long. Of Ford's available silent westerns I prefer "3 Bad Men".

"Safety Last!" is sure to make you a Harold Lloyd fan.

I just can't warm to "Beauty and the Beast" and "Letter from an Unknown Woman" despite their acclaim. Although, it's been a long time since I last saw "Letter from an Unknown Woman" Perhaps it's something my mature self would appreciate more than the callow youth.

8:07 AM  
Blogger DKoren said...

You know, I've never seen "How Green was my Valley," either! I read the book once and loved it but never caught the movie.

And you know, of course, that "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" is still my favorite movie of all time. I'm excited you're aiming to see it. Maybe it will play at the El Capitan or Egyptian this year, because that is one whose visuals are exquisite on the big screen.

Of the 10 on your list, I've only see "20,000" and "Some Came Running."

8:57 AM  
Blogger James Corry said...

Terrific list Laura! I am in total agreement with all the previous posts re: "How Green Was My Valley"....better have a big box of kleenex nearby when you watch that one.
"20,000 Leagues" is a terrific movie, but (in my humble opinion) Ray Harryhausen's "Mysterious Island" ("Leagues" sequel) is a better film.
Since you've "dipped your toe" into horror films let me suggest (if you've never seen it) Val Lewton alumnus Robert Wise's 1963 film "The Haunting" which still is (again, in my opinion) just about the most frightening film ever made. If you need a box of kleenex for "How Green..." (and you will) then you'll need a stiff drink after "The Haunting"....and you'll wonder if, after the film is over, you're REALLY alone in the darkened room......


6:16 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you all so much for the comments and encouragement! I really loved the individual feedback each of you shared on certain titles and welcome more such comments if others would like to chime in!

Barrylane, I'm becoming a George O'Brien fan so I thought THE IRON HORSE would fill several gaps at once. :)

Blake, I was strongly considering putting THE LONG GRAY LINE on the list, as I know you love that one too, but then thought if I was going to put a Ford-O'Hara film on the list maybe I should start with HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY. Perhaps I'll end up seeing both this year -- you know how much I enjoy Tyrone Power. It's gratifying to see all the positive comments on HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY, I look forward to finally seeing it.

Deb, I may hold off on 20,000 LEAGUES for a few months on the off chance it plays somewhere like the Egyptian again this year, as they do tend to re-show some of the same titles. I would have loved to see it in the Kirk Douglas tribute last year but couldn't swing it.

Jeff, just visited your blog and left a comment there -- thank you so very much for the kind words, I appreciate your positive feedback more than I can say.

Irene, wonderful to hear from you! I've got what I anticipate is a nice print of HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY, on a Fox Studio Classics DVD, which I'll be watching if a better opportunity doesn't come along in the meantime.

Caftan Woman, I loved your "thumbnail" reviews. I'm especially looking forward to delving into Harold Lloyd since he did such great location shooting. He was also an important name on campus at my daughter's alma mater, USC, with a soundstage and a lobby named in his honor.

Brad, I'll make a note to check out MYSTERIOUS ISLAND in the future, now that I'm delving a bit into Harryhausen films. Not sure if I'm up for THE HAUNTING yet but I'm getting braver every year (grin).

Best wishes,

7:06 PM  
Blogger rugged breed said...

Gotta have those lists thank you for giving this nice list and I hope to see these movies soon, my favorite here is Safety Last, Harold Lloyd did a wonderful acting job and its a real epic movie, I hope everyone has a chance to see because I am a real Harold Lloyd fan.

Zero Dramas

7:31 PM  
Blogger Lasso The Movies said...

Laura I love your list. I am eager to see your thoughts on these films. The only one I haven't seen is "The Iron Horse" but I just ordered it so I will see it soon.
As far as the other films go, "Some Came Running" is one of my all time favorites (I watched it again yesterday and my post will be up tomorrow) . "Letter From An Unknown Woman" is exquisite and "Beauty And The Beast" is one of the greatest French films of all time! I will also echo what everyone has to say about "How Green Was My Valley". It is coming to blu-ray later this month and I am extremely excited. Oddly enough, in the last year I watched all five of the other films and even posted about four of them.
I can't wait to see everything you will have to say about these films. I'm just sorry we have to wait all year!

3:22 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks so much for your comments on the list, Paul! I'll make it a point to visit -- or revisit! -- your posts on some of the films on the list. I love hearing that you feel so strongly about SOME CAME RUNNING.

Really looking forward to checking these titles out as 2013 progresses.

Best wishes,

9:09 PM  

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