I hope everyone is well during this challenging and supremely surreal time.
As many of us are house-bound, I thought it might be an idea to offer up some of my favorite films. This list might be helpful as we pass the time reading, exercising, cleaning out closets, and scouring streaming services and cable channels for interesting and original content.
I’ll break these down in somewhat spontaneous categories, beginning with Paul Newman films. Some of his best are:
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Cool Hand Luke, Harper, The Verdict, Hud, The Hustler, The Young Philadelphians, The Sting, and Absence of Malice.
Next we’ll venture into gangster movies: The Godfather I and II and Donnie Brasco, for Al Pacino fans. Scent of a Woman is a great film, but be ready for the colorful language that is part and parcel to Pacino’s colorful, award-winning performance.
Mesrine is a French language film, two films actually: Public Enemy Number One and Killer Instinct. Vincent Cassel delivers a definitive performance as one of France’s most notorious bank robbers, based on a true story. Don’t be put off by the subtitles. (Note: I would give both these a strong ‘R’ rating, FYI.)
Staying with French cinema for a moment, don’t miss The Professional, starring Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, and Natalie Portman in her first film role (the American version is better than ‘Leon’, the director’s cut). This one’s in English.
Luc Besson also directed the original ‘La Femme Nikita’, (French language) and ‘The Fifth Element’, a sci-fi film with Bruce Willis. All worth the price of the homemade popcorn.
Other great French language films include ‘Jean de Florette‘ and ‘Manon of the Spring’. This is also a two-film compilation (watch them in order). These films tell a beautiful, heartbreaking story set in the French countryside. Have a tissue handy as Gerard Depardieu and and Yves Montand deliver the tragic goods.
‘Queen Margot’ is a period piece, in French, based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas. A dramatic, unflinching look at a really rough patch in French history. Powerful.
For British entertainment, the Shelter In Place Film Festival will…flip to television!
‘Sherlock‘ with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, is a fast-paced, fun, and super-intelligent delight. ‘Line of Duty‘ is probably the best police drama made in the last few years. Definitely binge-worthy. The first season will leave you speechless.
If you love Downton Abbey, I recommend ‘The Way We Live Now’ and ‘The Forsythe Saga’.
Watch ‘Fleabag.’ Don’t be put off by the first episode or the language. It’s worth it. It’s hilarious. It’s compelling. It’s heartbreaking. Watch it.
‘Young Offenders’ is an Irish comedy series. Prepare for foul language and hilarious episodes. Also hysterically funny is The Wrong Mens, starring James Corden.
Okay. That’s a random start. I’d love to hear what you guys suggest.
Be safe. Be healthy. Be patient.
24 thoughts on “For Your Consideration…”
Anything with Cary Grant! North by Northwest, To Catch a Thief–they stand up to repeated viewings. That man seemed to improve with age!
Yes, absolutely. Definition of a movie star. Thanks, Katie. – BGT
Speaking of Cary Grant (North by Northwest is my husband’s favorite film), I’ll add Charade with Audrey Hepburn. With Audrey, you could easily say “anything”, but I’ll suggest How to Steal a Million with her and a young Peter O’Toole and the ever-delightful Hugh Griffith.
Charade, of course! Thank you for that suggestion!
Good ones. I miss Peter O’Toole. Thank you, Captain Crunch. – BGT
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (I’ve lived that one) and The Bishop’s Wife.
Good films, Tom. Thank you. – BGT
My all-time favorite is “Vertigo,” Alfred Hitchcock directing Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak, with beautiful 1950s San Francisco as the background, and a great plot.
Other good ones from roughly the same time include “Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” (Gregory Peck), Rear Window (Hitch, Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly), An Affair to Remember (Deborah Kerr, Cary Grant), To Catch a Thief (Cary Grant, Grace Kelly), High Society (Grace Kelley, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong). The list goes on . . . Another favorite, more recent (1970s), is The Way We Were (Robert Redford, Barbara Streisand). My wife and I recently watched Casa Blanca — another all-time great (Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman).
I think that readers of your blog, Byron, might enjoy any of these, especially younger people who might be seeing them for the first time. But start with Vertigo!
Excellent list, Mr. Forbes. Classic storytelling with great actors. – BGT
Very good list. I’d like to throw in a few lesser known films, not “all time greats” but entertaining nevertheless: All That Jazz starring Roy Scheider based on the life of Bob Fosse, Matchstick Men with Nicholas Cage and Sam Rockwell about con men in Southern California and Sexy Beast with Ben Kingsley for some dark comedy.
Sexy beast is a great movie. It’s a totally different film from what people might expect when you only see the title.
Byron may I suggest a better mafia/gangster movie? It’s called Onve upon a time in America.
It may not be as known as The Godfather I and II but I find it to be one of the best.
Thanks, Lennart. Good film. Sergio Leone. – BGT
Thanks, Amy. Good ideas. Stay safe. – BGT
We watched Hud last night…. thank you for the recommendation, Byron. It’s been awhile since Paul Newman has been on our radar. And, what a surprise as I didn’t realize Hud was based on the book written by Larry McMurtry! xoxo
Hi Lark, Glad you enjoyed. Be safe. Talk soon. – BGT
OMGs may enjoy the work of Whit Stillman: Metropolitan; Barcelona; and The Last Days of Disco.
Thank you, Jonny. Good suggestions. – BGT
Whit Stilman’s Metropolitan. It can best be described as a coming of age movie centered around some Old Money teens.
Good one, Owen. Thank you. – BGT
I watched The spy who came in from the Cold, Who is afraid of Virginia Woolf and Day of the Jackal. In the house I mapped a waling path of 300 repeat walking until I reach one mile in steps. Key thing is to keep busy and to take time to reflect on the people we lost.
Excellent suggestions and sterling thoughts. Thanks, Bob. – BGT
Good ones, Bob. thanks, BGT
I love that you recommended Queen Margot! It’s been a favorite and a film I always thought was vastly underrated. For pure style, The Talented Mr. Ripley never fails as a recommendation
Good call, Dolley. Thanks. – BGT