The Classic Movie Project

Greetings, my cinematically savvy friends! Thanks so much for giving me all your suggestions for classic movies in the comments to the last post.  Man oh man you guys came through with some GREAT lists and my Netflix queue is quaking under the weight of its newly expanded duties.

Here’s a little more about what I’m doing: I recently realized that there are just a TON of movies out there that people consider classics — ones everyone has seen or should have seen — that I have managed to miss out on over the years.  While I have seen every single cookie-cutter romantic comedy released in the last fifteen years and probably every movie that came out on VHS in 1997, the year I worked at a video store, I still had managed not to see such classics as the ones listed below — until now!

So I chatted with some friends at trivia and then called out for suggestions here and it looks like I have my work cut out for me.  I have added all the suggestions I haven’t seen yet to my queue and will be working my way through as I can, and blogging about it.

Please don’t be sad if I don’t get to your suggestions right away.  There are just so many and I’ll be going by my whims and fancies, depending on what kind of thing I’m in the mood for.  So, like, musicals and animated movies may get de-prioritized since I rarely enjoy those genres.  (Notable exceptions are few, but include The Triplets of Belleville and My Neighbor Totoro in animation and The Sound of Music and anything Joss Whedon has done in musicals.)

So! Here are the first five new-to-me classics I have seen, and some brief thoughts on them. Please know that I won’t be offering any academic-type analyses, just commenting in my rather pedestrian fashion on whether I enjoyed them, etc. This ain’t no scholarly project!

Annie Hall Oh man, I loved this one.  Why did I wait so long to see it? The fashion, the meta-commentary when Woody addressed the camera, the scene with the lobsters (and the second-attempt lobster scene!) were all fantastic.  The only thing that I didn’t love was seeing Diane Keaton sing.  Over all I am now a devoted fan of this movie.

The Natural I do love a good baseball movie and this one was pretty good, but I don’t love it as much as Bull Durham.  It was a little too serious, I think. I can’t complain about young Redford, though.

Citizen Kane I don’t know why this one is always “ranked” “higher” than Casablanca in those AFI lists of great films.  It is in no way better than Casablanca.  I had high hopes for this but was disappointed.  The successful businessman who is sad inside? Please.  Sorry, film lovers!

The Godfather Did y’all know that this movie is THREE HOURS LONG? Yeah, I did not know that until like an hour into it, when I was thinking to myself, “How interesting that this entire movie takes place at a wedding; I didn’t realize that,” and then I checked how much time was remaining and saw that I still had over two more hours to go. At that point I think I mentally gave up.  The only two male characters I could reliably identify onscreen were Vito and Michael. Everyone else looked alike.  I definitely thought Sonny and Carlo were the same person for most of the movie. I kept dozing off again and again.  The plot, the motivations, the characters, the Italian dialogue with no subtitles — it was all just utterly incomprehensible to me. Hated it. And no, I don’t plan on giving it another try nor do I plan to try the sequels. Before I even put the DVD into the player it felt like this was a homework assignment and I don’t want to repeat that feeling in what is meant to be a FUN project. Not to get all defensive or anything but my male friends are pretty indignant about this one.

Rocky Most excellent! If you follow me on Twitter you probably saw my gleeful tweets as I was watching this last night. I loved Rocky’s jaunty little hat and his glasses and Adrian and her cool glasses and the overall adorableness of them together. And I’m sorry but I can’t get over the turtles named Cuff and Link! I also love a good sports movie with training montages and an underdog to root for (see also: The Karate Kid and the aforementioned Bull Durham). This hit plenty of my movie enjoyment buttons: good fashion, a love story, cute animals, and sports training montages. Win!

All righty friends, this has been your Movie Project Update! I am off to watch Monsoon Wedding on Netflix Instant Play. I thought I had seen that one but I definitely have not.  Indian classic!


  1. This is a good start! I have only seen the last two movies of this group of five and I should change that. Of course, I disagree with you on the Godfather, but that’s been discussed ad nauseam already.

    I am late to the suggestion party, but here are my recommendations (some of which are repeats of movies others have suggested):

    The Big Sleep
    Seven Samurai
    The Great Escape
    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    Arguably not classics, but very good:
    Jackie Brown
    Miller’s Crossing
    Blade Runner
    Cinema Paradiso


  2. I love Rocky. My parents’ first date was to the first Rocky movie, and the week I was born “Eye of the Tiger” was number one on the billboard charts the week I was born. I like to think Rocky and I have a special connection.

    I’m not so good at classic movies (though I do love Annie Hall) but one great one is “The Last Picture Show.” Not sure if it’s been recommended or if you’ve seen it, but it’s definitely amazing. I also recently saw “The Graduate” for the first time, and it was not at all what I expected! Great, but suprising.


  3. Ok, I’m willing to stop nagging you about the Godfather but I wish you would give Citizen Kane another go somewhere down the line. It yielded one of my favorite songs of all time, The White Stripes “Union Forever.”

    People like it for its then revolutionary film techniques but I love the characters, the dialog and the plot. “A good man strives to make use of his fortunes but is corrupted by the world and becomes so bitter and dejected that all he wants at the end of his life is to ride a dang sled in the snow” So many fantastic lines. Probably my favorite: “what would I have liked to have been? Everything you hate.” Also: that bit with the nerdy guy and the girl on the boat is fantastic too.

    Casablanca is just about but not quite as good and deals with many of the same “bitter idealist” themes. It’s a little too meandering though and cheesy. I like how it ends of a much more uplifting note than Kane though.

    I won’t suggest anything to add to your stack besides Ghostbusters, which is my favorite movie OAT these days. If you haven’t seen it since you were kids, give it another try. So many fantastic one liners that sailed over my wee head in the ’80s.


  4. Sho – I have seen most of those, but added Cinema Paradiso, The Big Sleep, and The Great Escape.

    Chrissy – I am adding The Last Picture Show — and I LOVE The Graduate!

    Brandon – Ghostbusters I loved back in the day. DEFINITELY adding it again now. Good idea.

    Emma – Oh, I do NOT want to think of that. I really like her, but….

    WWB – Oh, I definitely would call those classics. Seen them both though.


  5. @Kate, @WWB In this case, I guess I was dating classics as movies made before 1980 so as to avoid making a “great movies” list instead of a “classic movies” list.

    Anyway, @Kate, I think you’ll enjoy The Great Escape despite its male-centric plot and cast. It is almost three hours long, but the pacing is better than The Godfather and the characters are more distinct and recognizable.


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