As promised/threatened in my spectacular viewer categorization post, I wanted to have a look at what truly classifies as essential. My main point in the post linked above is that ‘essential’ is subjective to the viewer, but if we can roughly classify viewers then we can perhaps distinguish between what is essential for each viewer type, and what is not. Now, this is not scholarly in the slightest, nor is it researched in any way aside from in my own head between 1 and 2 am when I can’t sleep. Take it with as many pinches of salt as you like, and perhaps some vinegar.
Greetings, Glancers! We’re back again to check which classic movies should be considered essential within each category of viewer. Check out my 1963 Oscars posts for more on some of these movies, otherwise lets go.
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Elia Kazan. The American Dream. Nominated for 4 Oscars, won one.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Three hours long. Old. Most would view it as foreign. Didn’t make a bunch of money so most would remember it.
What I Think: Essential only for critics and wannabees. Fans of Kazan will obviously see it, but there would be a few others to consider before this.
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Hitchcock. Birds. You already know.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It’s actually pretty slow and anyone expecting all out constant bird attacks may be disappointed.
What I Think: It’s The Birds. Pick five or 10 Hitchcock movies everyone should see and this will be there.
Bye Bye Birdie
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Top 15 grossing. Nominated for 2 Oscars. One of the few musicals based on rock n roll.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Dated. Musical.
What I Think: I think you know what I think, at least the music isn’t as bad as most.
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: One of the most famous movies ever, incredibly expensive, highest grossing film of the year. Liz Taylor. Richard Burton. Mankiewicz.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: 4 hours long.
What I Think: It’s Cleopatra. You don’t need to know the history, the stories, or have seen the movie, but when you hear the name you probably imagine Taylor, extravagantly adorned and reclining. Essential for everyone down to movies fans, but probably too long to convince anyone else.
8 And A Half
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Fellini. Almost always near the top of any Best Foreign Film Ever list. Top 30 grossing film. Iconic. Influential. Nominated for 5 Oscars, two wins.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Old. Weird. Black And White. Foreign.
What I Think: I’m not sure whether we can consider foreign films essential for your typical fan or casual, not matter how important it is. Essential for Critics and Wannabees, most likely essential if you call yourself a worldly film fan.
From Russia With Love
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Bond. Generally considered one of the top five, if not the best Bond.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: If you have to pick one Bond film as essential, most people would go for Goldfinger. A bit tame on the action and tension maybe for modern viewers.
What I Think: It’s not my personal favourite, not even my favourite with Connery, but it’s still Bond and therefore everyone should see it.
The Great Escape
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: One of the best ‘escape’ movies, one of the best POW movies ever, Steve McQueen, Donald Pleasance, Richard Attenborough, James Garner, Charles Bronson, iconic scenes and soundtrack.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It’s pretty long?
What I Think: I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but everyone in GB sees this, usually as a kid. It’s one of my favourite movies ever and would recommend to everyone.
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: One of, if not the most highly regarded haunted house movie ever.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Old, black and white. Scares will be deemed tame by modern audiences.
What I Think: It doesn’t matter how old it is, the tension is still there, the sound work is brilliant, and if you’re going to see one haunted house movie it should be this one. Essential for the usual suspects and for horror fans. Film fans and casuals in general should give it a go.
High And Low
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Kurosawa. Mifune. How many times will I say that? No Samurai here though.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Old, BW, foreign. It’s not one most people will recommend in a top 5 or 10 list of Kurosawa movies.
What I Think: It’s still Kurosawa so essential for Critics and Wannabees. Kurosawa fans should see it. Film Nerds can probably skip it, and there isn’t enough to encourage anyone else.
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Paul Newman. Top 20 grossing. Nominated for 7 Oscars, won three.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: The usual (old, BW), even though others won for their performances, most won’t care about the cast outside of Newman.
What I Think: It has some great performances, but on the surface sounds boring and may be a hard sell. Outside of Critics, Wannabees will need to see it, I don’t think it’s essential enough for Film Nerds or fans, but Newman fans will want to see it.
Jason And The Argonauts
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Harryhausen. Skeletons. Talos. Harpies.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It’s dated.
What I Think: I love this movie – it’s one of those movies we all have where if you stumble across it on TV, you have to watch it. Critics, Wannabees, Film Nerds, Fans should all see it – I can’t see any category who wouldn’t get a kick out of it.
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Visconti. Burt Lancaster. Claudia Cardinale. Alain Delon. Now seen as one of the best foreign movies ever.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Old. Foreign. Long. Modern audiences won’t care about the actors or politics.
What I Think: Not a personal favourite but essential for Lancaster and Cardinale fans.
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: One of the most famous comedies and comedic performances of all time. Blake Edwards. David Niven. Peters Sellers. The music. Top 15 grossing.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: The humour is heavily slapstick and many will find it dated.
What I Think: It’s The Sellers show and fans of comedy need to see it. Casuals should give it a chance.
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Sam Fuller. Cult classic.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Even among cult fans it’s not widely known.
What I Think: One for Fuller fans and those curious about cult films and interesting ideas. Horror fans should give it a go.
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: 10 Oscar Nominations, 4 wins including Best Picture and Director. 4th grossing film of the year.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Its merging of styles and comedy may feel stilted and confusing to modern viewers, the cast will not appeal to those outside of specific fans, particularly in the UK.
What I Think: It’s not my sort of thing, but you can’t deny its success and pedigree. Therefore essential for Critics and Wannabees. Fans of British comedy or the source material should see it. Probably not essential for anyone else.
The Knife In The Water
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Polanski – his first. Nominated for Best Foreign Film Oscar. 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It’s not seen as one of Polanski’s best, despite the critical acclaim. Old. Foreign.
What I Think: You don’t get to be a movie fan without seeing a Polanski movie. However, this is likely one you’ll only get to if you see and enjoy his more famous works. Essential for Critics and Wannabees, Nerds should be aware of it, fans should give it a shot if they don’t find foreign cinema.
The Sword In The Stone
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Disney. Still the definitive version of the story?
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It came during a downturn in quality and success by the Company and it isn’t highly regarded outside of its hardcore fans.
What I Think: I’ve always considered it one of my favourites but there are much better Disney films. Still, almost all Disney movies are essential for all kids so by the time you care about films you’ve already probably seen it. If you get to adulthood without seeing it, it’s not you’ll likely seek out.
Let us know which movies of 1963 you would deem as Essential for a particular audience!
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