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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.