Greetings, Glancers! We’re back again to check which classic movies should be considered essential within each category of viewer. Check out my 1964 Oscars posts for more on some of these movies, otherwise lets go.
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Richard Burton. Peter O’Toole. John Gielgud. Nominated for 11 Oscars, winning one.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It’s an old, very theatrical film about a period of time few people will be interested in.
What I Think: As far as costume dramas go, there were plenty to chose from during the Sixties – I’m ambivalent towards all of them and would suggest that anyone not interested in the style needs to only see one of them. This is as good as any, but it’s not to my personal tastes. Essential only for critics and wannabees.
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Kubrick. Peter Sellers. Dropping the bomb. Top 15 grossing film. Nominated for four Oscars.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: We’re distant from the time of release that was being satirized now, so much of the comedy may not hit the mark. Sellers can be an acquired taste. Many people don’t like political humour. Black and white, which will put off many modern viewers.
What I Think: It’s going to be eternally ranked among the best, most important comedies of all time. Even if the specifics are dated, a look at the world today shows that the satire still works. All Kubrick movies from Spartacus onwards (if not all, period) should be considered essential by critics, wannabees, nerds, and fans. Casuals with an interest in the director, the stars, comedy, or politics will enjoy it.
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Bond, one of the most successful and highly regarded of the series. Shirley Bassey. Most people would include this in the top five must-see Bond movies. 2nd highest grossing movie of the year.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: If you’ve seen any other Bond and you’re not a fan, then you likely won’t care to see this.
What I Think: It’s Bond, so I automatically consider it essential. It’s arguably the most iconic entry in the series, what with the song, the quotes, the bad guy, the henchmen, Pussy Galore, the car etc. Still, growing up more with Moore I find myself watching the Connery movies less than others. Should be essential for everyone down to Casuals, and essential for them if they like Bond.
A Hard Day’s Night
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: It’s The Beatles. It’s one of the first movies of its type. It showcases a specific time and place and energy like few films or documents do.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It will be too wacky and displaced for some. If you’re not interested in The Beatles, or music, it won’t be of interest.
What I Think: It’s weird and energetic and doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you place it in the context of the time and the surrounding hysteria. It gives insight into the minds of the Fab Four, their creativity, and is a valuable artifact as well as being a lot of fun. Great music too. Essential down to Casuals, essential for Casuals who like the band.
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: It’s Mary Poppins. You’ve seen it. Disney. Supercali, chim chimeree, lets fly a kite etc. Third highest grossing film of the year. 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Nominated for thirteen Oscars, won five.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It’s a musical. It’s essentially plot-less. It’s too long and drags on endlessly.
What I Think: Have you watched it recently? It’s pretty bad. It’s not just the Van Dyke accent that we all know about – for me it’s not that the accent is nothing like Cockney – it’s that you literally cannot understand 95% of what he says. His character is unnecessary too, aside from a few cloying nods in the pseudo-redemption arc. It’s takes a hell of a long time to get going, the kid actors are annoying though it’s unclear why they need a Nanny in the first place beyond the fact that their parents are terrible human beings. By the end of the film, no-one has learned anything – the kids have lost the only person who showed them some passing interest, the mother doesn’t change whatsoever, and the father clearly suffers some sort of breakdown. Some of the songs and scenes go on for far too long and the humour is worse than swallowing a fart. While obviously dated, it is still wildly inventive. Having said all of that, I’m clearly in the minority and there’s no doubting it’s essential given the cultural impact, though a modern viewer who hasn’t seen it will likely not be as impressed as the person forcing them to watch it.
My Fair Lady
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Audrey Hepburn. Loverly. Rain In Spain. Highest grossing movie of the year. Best Picture winner, along with seven other Oscar wins.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It’s a musical. Those accents. Rex Harrison is a dick.
What I Think: Although this defeated Mary Poppins at the box office, it has fared less well in terms of impact. It’s still talked about, it’s still iconic, but to a much lesser degree than Poppins. Again, for someone who largely despises musicals, it’s a struggle to get through it, only kept from shutting it off by Hepburn’s charm. Regardless, it’s essential for Critics, Wannabees, Nerds, Fans and Casuals can give it a go if they like Hepburn or musicals.
The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Catherine Deneuve. Nominated for five Oscars (over a number of years)
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It’s foreign, most viewers won’t care about the director or cast. Not a top grossing movie.
What I Think: As you should know by now – musicals are not for me. This is the bets musical of the year. It’s as charming as Mary Poppins is bad, it’s as enchanting as My Fair Lady is annoying. However, given the choice, the average fan will pick a different musical to watch from this year, in that case probably only essential for Critics and Wannabees, though geeks and musical fans should give it a go.
The Woman In The Dunes
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: One of the best films from the Japanese New Wave, nominated for two Oscars, gorgeous music and cinematography. 100% Rotten Tomatoes.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Old, black and white, Japanese, weird.
What I Think: Alienating, yet beautiful. Haunting, sad, creepy, yet definitely an acquired taste. Only for connoisseurs of Japanese cinema.
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Michael Caine’s first major role. A cast of British icons starring in a film about a pivotal moment in British history. A John Barry score. One of the most successful and enduring British films of all time, still shown regularly on TV. Influenced many later war films and battle scenes.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Outside of Britain, nobody really cares. It wasn’t one of the highest grossing films of the year outside of Britain, and critical reception was and remains divided – is it racist or not, is it good or not? It didn’t win any awards of note.
What I Think: This has become less essential with time. Even though I still think it’s a great film, and that more movie fans outside of Britain should see it, there’s maybe not enough incentive within the cast or via the director to encourage viewers. The action and tension remain fresh and modern viewers will recognise its influence. Critics and Wannabees need to see it, but I imagine my generation of film fans born in Britain will be the last to consider it essential.
A Fistful Of Dollars
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: It’s Sergio Leone. It’s Clint Eastwood. It’s Ennio Morricone. They are three of the biggest names in their respective fields, and they’re together, making possibly the first film which enabled their legend status. It introduced The Man With No Name, both as a character and a character type. One of the first Spaghetti Westerns which reinvented a dying genre and took it onto darker, more violent territory. It was a Top Ten Grossing Movie that year.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: British and US critics were not impressed upon release. The non-traditionalist, cheaper, more European feel may put some viewers off.
What I Think: While not as good as, or essential, or iconic as The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, it came first and laid the groundwork. It kick-started a number of careers who would each become superstars, and it defined a genre. Essential for Critics, Wannabees, Nerds, and Fans, and even with its age modern virgin viewers should get something out of it.
Zorba The Greek
Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Stars Anthony Quinn. Was a Top 20 Grossing film. It won three Academy Awards, and was nominated for four others, including Best Director and Best Picture.
Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Like most romances and comedies from a particular era, it hasn’t aged well. The stars probably aren’t recognisable enough to your average modern film fan.
What I Think: It has aged, but it still has good performances and at times is more like a buddy comedy/odd people romp than a romance. It was nominated for Best Picture, but didn’t win and has since become just another near-forgotten film. Critics and Wannabees should see it eventually, but for anyone else it’s only essential if you’re a fan of the cast.
Let us know in the comments which films above you would rank as essential, and which films of 1964 you would put in that category!