Bookmans Recommends: 5 Classic Films Everyone Should See
With August being Movie Madness here at Bookmans, we feel it’s fitting to highlight some of the greatest classic (pre-1970) films of all time. This includes everything from the Silent Era to Hollywood’s Golden Age. These stories are timeless and continue to influence film makers. Where would all those blockbuster thrillers be without the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock? You may be a classics connoisseur who hangs with the likes of Robert Osborne or you may be completely new to this genre but are eager to experience some of these cinematic masterpieces. Whatever level of familiarity you have, we can agree that certain classics stand the test of time and maintain relevance long after they left theaters. These are the films we present to you. Grab your popcorn and Raisinets because this is Bookmans Recommends: Five Classic Films Everyone Should See.
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane (1962)
This thriller staring Joan Crawford and Bette Davis tells the tale of two sisters, former child star Baby Jane Hudson (Davis) and Blanche Hudson (Crawford) who found success as an adult. Jane can not move on from her success as a child actress and grows increasingly jealous of her sister. After a car accident leaves Blanche crippled, Jane begins abusing her sister and forging checks in her sister’s name in an effort to support her failing career. Blanche is defenseless and locked away as her sister becomes worse and worse.
Rumor has it that there was a rivalry between the two star actress and when Bette Davis lost the Oscar for her role in this film, Joan Crawford excepted the best actress award on behalf of Anne Bancroft who could not make the ceremony just to spite Bette Davis. No wonder their performances as two sisters whose petty jealousy destroyed them were so believable. This movie defines the term “thriller”.
From Here to Eternity (1953)
Set in 1941 at a military base in Hawaii, From Here To Eternity is a drama and romance best known for the then controversial horizontal kissing scene. Scandalous! It stars Montgomery Clift (think James Franco, no joke looks just like him) as Private Prewitt who transferred to Company G. at Schofeild Barracks in Oahu. Prewitt is renowned for his skill in the boxing ring but no longer has any interest in the sport. After hearing of his prowess, Prewitt’s superiors pressure him to box for his company. After his continued refusal they decide to force the private my making his life unbearable. Prewitt is supported by his friend Private Angelo Maggio (Frank Sinatra). Mean while Sargent Warden (Burt Lancaster) begins an affair with the captain’s wife (Deborah Kerr). When Maggio gets sent to the stockade and is abused by Sargent “Fatso” Judson, he escapes and dies in Prewitt’s arms. Furious, Prewitt kills Judson and then goes AWOL seeking refuge with Lorene, a dancer and call girl with whom Prewitt has fallen in love. On December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor is bombed and Prewitt, unable to hide any longer, leaves Lorene to take his place among Company G. From Here To Eternity won eight Oscars, including best picture.
12 Angry Men (1957)
Based on the play of the same name 12 Angry Men follows twelve jurors as they deliberate in the jury room with one young man’s life hanging in the balance. The defendant is a teenage Hispanic-American accused of murdering his father. The movie begins in the jury room with a unanimously guilty verdict, but Juror #8, played by Henry Fonda, believes the verdict is not given enough discussion. Why is he guilty? Prejudices are brought to the surface and testimonials are called into question as each juror is asked to explain their verdict. What began as an open and close case is no longer that simple. Despite the small budget and its nominations for three Oscars the film failed to make any profit. Fonda was not given his salary in the end but considered 12 Angry Men among the three favorite films he completed.
The Jazz Singer (1927)
The Jazz Singer is not only the first motion picture with audio but also the first musical! This film launched “talkies”. Could you imagine going from silent films, where the actors’ actions and expressions were beyond exaggerated in an effort to convey the story and where there was no sound or dialog only cards between scenes describing what was being said and done by the characters to a film that not only featured spoken dialogue but also had song and dance? Talk about mind blowing! The Jazz Singer is revolutionary.
Jackie Rabinowitz wants only to sing jazz, but his father wants him to continue in the family business and become a cantor in the synagogue. Jackie steps out on his own, leaves for London and starts going by Jack Robin. After a few years as a struggling artist, he meets well-known stage performer Mary Dale who helps him with his career. Jackie returns to new york for an opportunity on Broadway. He is turned away by his father but is soon forced to choose between his career, Mary, his family and his religion. Who knew achieving your dreams could be so hard?
Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
“Plan R” is a military action that allows a senior officer to launch a retaliation strike against the Soviet Union if everyone in the chain of command including the U.S President has been killed in a sneak attack from the Soviets. General Jack D. Ripper is a senior officer who suffers from extreme paranoia and believes the Soviets have a plan to poison the water supply of the American people to “sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids.” The Doomsday Device is a Soviet weapon that will automatically activate in the event of a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union and will wipe out the world’s entire populace in a matter of ten months leaving no trace of life. Dr. Stranglove is a wheelchair-bound mad scientist, former Nazi and strategy expert who suffers from alien hand syndrome. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a comedy that resulted in policy changes to insure that the chaos depicted in the film could never actually happen.
All Bookmans locations have a classics section among the DVDs. We obviously can’t mention every classic film worth seeing. That’s almost 100 years of film making! But we hope you find at least one title that peaks your interest. What are some of your favorite classic films? Tell us in the comments below.