Old movies I’ve seen a million times

There are certain movies that I will watch over and over again. I guess they’re all “old” now. If I’m flipping around the TV channels and one of them comes up, that’s it, I’m watching until the end.

A lot of them are on everyone’s must-see list: box office hits, epic blockbusters, Academy Award winners, and such. Movies like Mutiny on the Bounty (both the Gable and Brando versions), The Godfather (I and II), Singin’ in the Rain, Casablanca, Goodfellas, Lawrence of Arabia, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Wizard of Oz, and many more qualify for me.

Generally the ones I’ll watch over and over are very well-written, or movies that have a performance that stands out so much that you want to see it again and again. Or movies that just make me laugh for whatever reason. Or movies with so many plot twists and characters you learn something new each time you watch.

Here are a few more that randomly come to mind that I never get tired of. They might not be the best ever made, and I’m not sure they’re even my “favorites”, but I will watch them again if I happen on them.

Post your own list in comments.

The Heiress (1949)

Based on the Henry James novel, “Washington Square”. Absolutely great writing. Every word of dialog is perfect and not a syllable wasted. Ralph Richardson is outstanding as Dr.Austin Sloper and Olivia de Havilland is perfect as his devoted, shy and unattractive daughter. Her transformation to embittered, wised-up adult is a tour-de-force. Montgomery Clift as the fortune-hunter, Morris Townsend.

heiress

The 1997 remake, “Washington Square”, with Albert Finney as the doctor and Jennifer Jason Leigh as the daughter, is also very worthwhile, and I’ll watch it whenever it’s on as well.

Get Shorty (1995)

Great cast and a very funny script based on the Elmore Leonard novel. Excellent music. It’s supposed to be John Travolta’s movie, and he’s very good,  but Dennis Farina as Ray Bones, and Rene Russo as Karen Flores, steal every scene they’re in.

Delroy Lindo,  James Gandolfini, and Gene Hackman are all great, too.

Film and Television

Breaker Morant (1980)

One of the best anti-war movies ever. Australian soldiers in the Boer War are put on trial for political reasons by their own leadership. Smart court-room dialog, based on real events.   Edward Woodward as the poetry-loving Breaker, and Bryan Brown as the women-loving Handcock are extremely sympathetic characters. British hypocrisy and snobbery are tested but win out in the end.

breaker

Young Frankenstein (1974)

Not many movies feature a virtuoso turn by a brilliant comedienne, but this one has three. Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, and Teri Garr are all fantastic. Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle are hilarious in Mel Brooks’ “Son of Frankenstein” send-up.

Mean Streets (1973)

Robert DeNiro’s Johnny-Boy is a psycho powder-keg, always getting his cousin Charlie, Harvey Keitel, in hot water with his mobbed-up uncle. As with all Scorsese, the music is great and the language is, too. Who you callin’ a mook?

mean

Hombre (1967)

Another oustanding script  based on an Elmore Leonard novel. Sharp dialog throughout. Paul Newman, Richard Boone, Fredric March, Martin Balsam, and Diane Cilento are all good.

hombre

Paths of Glory (1957)

Another excellent anti-war movie, also with great court-room dialog. Again, soldiers are being tried by their own leadership – this time it’s the French in WWI. Kirk Douglas is at the height of his powers in this early Kubrick gem.

paths

Play Misty for Me (1971)

Clint Eastwood as the FM disc jockey stalked by the insane Jessica Walter. What  I like about this movie is how perfectly it captures the time and place – Monterey/Carmel in the pre-hippie 1960’s. And Walter’s perfect crazy woman.

misty

Badlands (1973)

Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen are both great as teenagers on a murder spree in Terrence Malick’s take on the Charles Starkweather serial killings. Great music and atmosphere.

badlands

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6 thoughts on “Old movies I’ve seen a million times”

  1. I forgot to include The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, a beautiful, brutal movie and a good one for the current times. Tommy Lee Jones directed and starred in it. Other cast members– Barry Pepper, Dwight Yoakham, Melissa Leo and Levon Helm.

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  2. What a great list for 2017. Some of the movies I watch again and again in addition to many of those mentioned are Charade, A Shot in the Dark, Now Voyager, North by Northwest, Suspicion, The 39 Steps and The Man Who Would Be King

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  3. Stewie, you’ve inspired me to go on an emotional vacation in time and space. Starting in the west and moving east:
    LOVE WITH THE PROPER STRANGER. Robert Mulligan.
    Young Steve McQueen and Natalie Wood. Real 1960s NYC. Stark and lovely.
    THE APARTMENT and SOME LIKE IT HOT. The immortal Billy Wilder. He almost never put a toe wrong. On his office wall a sign: “What would Lubitsch do?” These are 2 of his best.
    TUNES OF GLORY and GREAT EXPECTATIONS. Ronald Neame. One of the great mid-century Brits. First is a harsh light on the cringing meanness of military life; the second is the best Dickens ever put on film.
    BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Jean Cocteau with Rene Clement helping.
    Made in Paris, 8 months after the nazis leave, for about $10,000 out of the scraps left by les boches. Hauntingly beautiful. Mystical. The kind of black&white film that makes you want to move to France.
    ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and OUAT IN AMERICA. Sergio Leone. The Italian master who invented Clint. These two painted on big canvases reflect the best and worst of the country that fascinated him.
    RAISE THE RED LANTERN and SHANGHAI TRIAD. Yimou Zhang with his muse Gong Li (She’s in the top 5 most beautiful actresses ever). They made many amazing films on their years together. I love these best.
    SEVEN SAMURAI, THRONE OF BLOOD and HIGH AND LOW. Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune. So many amazing films from this partnership and these show their range.

    Thanks, Stewie! H N Y!

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  4. Makes me want to watch them all. I thought for sure you would have 400 Blows in your list for some reason. My list would include Le Crabe Tambour/ Z/ Dr. Zhivago/ the Way/ many more. Thanks Stewie.

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  5. King Kong (1933) is one that draws me in every time. Great noir-ish NYC scenes in the beginning, and the entire movie is so atmospheric. It goes without saying that the animation and special effects were great for that period. Some slightly corny stuff near the end but nothing’s perfect.

    The first 15-20 minutes of Elmer Gantry are too long but as a big fan of Burt Lancaster I find this one of his best performances. Some of the revival meeting footage is pretty intense and there are some surprisingly strong (for 1960) anti-religious messages throughout.

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