Old movies: where to start?

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#1 Posted by Meinhard1 (6728 posts) -

I want to get into old films. Like 1960s at the latest, but preferably earlier.

Any suggestions?

I suppose the best place to start would be to find books, lists, and discussions about the best actors, directors, and films in a given era.

Maybe I'll start with Clark Gable, I haven't seen any of his work.

#2 Posted by LostProphetFLCL (16944 posts) -

Well it would help to know if you would prefer any particular genres.

Anyways, I am not terribly fond of films that old (I prefer stuff from the 70's and up) but there are some great films that are that old. Here be the ones I can think of:

Duck Soup

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Citizen Kane (just cause)

Charlie Chaplin movies (he is a man I feel the need to go through and watch some of his works)

#3 Posted by EagleEyedOne (1353 posts) -

Casino.

Probably the best film ever made.

#4 Posted by Hallenbeck77 (14234 posts) -

Well it would help to know if you would prefer any particular genres.

Anyways, I am not terribly fond of films that old (I prefer stuff from the 70's and up) but there are some great films that are that old. Here be the ones I can think of:

Duck Soup

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Citizen Kane (just cause)

Charlie Chaplin movies (he is a man I feel the need to go through and watch some of his works)

Anything with the Marx Bros. is gold. Also, Psycho (1960), just for the fact I just watched it last night--and it still holds up.

#5 Posted by The-Apostle (12077 posts) -

Psycho (1960)
Anything by Hitchcock (big fan)
War of the Worlds (Original)
House on Haunted Hill (Original)
13 Ghosts (Original)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The Shining (Nicholson version)

#6 Posted by Stranger_36 (454 posts) -

Psycho kind of seems like a film that was ahead of its time.

#7 Edited by PernicioEnigma (5271 posts) -

Check out the classics. Sure - some of them aren't all they're cracked up to be, but most of them are remembered for a reason.

Check out One flew over the cuckoo's nest and Vertigo. They're both awesome.

#8 Posted by sukraj (21494 posts) -

Psycho (1960)

Anything by Hitchcock (big fan)

War of the Worlds (Original)

House on Haunted Hill (Original)

13 Ghosts (Original)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The Shining (Nicholson version)

the shining is a amazing film

#9 Posted by sammyjenkis898 (27929 posts) -

Start with one of the more accessible directors: Hitchcock. Start with some of his big titles, such as Psycho or Rear Window. Work your way down to some of his smaller - but just as good - titles: Shadow of a Doubt and Notorious.

If you want an accessible foreign director, go with Kurosawa. He's probably the most western foreign director. Start with the obvious: Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and Rashomon.

#10 Posted by CommanderShiro (21746 posts) -

Start with one of the more accessible directors: Hitchcock. Start with some of his big titles, such as Psycho or Rear Window. Work your way down to some of his smaller - but just as good - titles: Shadow of a Doubt and Notorious.

If you want an accessible foreign director, go with Kurosawa. He's probably the most western foreign director. Start with the obvious: Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and Rashomon.

These are great suggestions. Go with that topic creator. Try out some Charlie Chaplin films too. Maybe even David Lean or Sergio Leone's Man with No Name Trilogy.

#11 Posted by SaintLeonidas (25604 posts) -

Starting with someone like Clark Gable is a good idea, or go with a director like Hitchcock which was mentioned. I think it is a lot easier to get into older films when you focus on one director/actor you are interested in, and then branching out from there.

#12 Posted by Aljosa23 (24216 posts) -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_Golden_Age

Just start with films listed there.

#13 Posted by ernie1989 (8547 posts) -

Starting with someone like Clark Gable is a good idea, or go with a director like Hitchcock which was mentioned. I think it is a lot easier to get into older films when you focus on one director/actor you are interested in, and then branching out from there.

I can definitely agree with this right here. If you follow your interests long enough, you'll end up going over a significant amount of cinematic history without feeling much of the pain that comes when you try to force yourself to watch films you simply have no interest in checking out, which usually results in boredom and frustration. To put it another way, it makes things easier and more enjoyable.

#14 Edited by LoG-Sacrament (20369 posts) -

if you don't have any reference points in an era, start with the big cultural ones: citizen kane, king kong (1933), seven samurai, the searchers, rebel without a cause, and the maltese falcon as examples. they're all pretty indicative of a genre (monster movies, dramas, westerns, mysteries) or filmmaking as a whole. if you like one, dig deeper.

#15 Posted by The-Apostle (12077 posts) -

The Godzilla movies are always good too if you don't mind watching dubbed movies...

#16 Posted by Shadow4020 (1937 posts) -

Forbidden Planet is good and stars a young Leslie Nielsen

#17 Posted by BranKetra (47369 posts) -

If you are interested in old films, I suggest starting at the 00s and going back from there.

#18 Posted by DharmaMember77 (2377 posts) -

If you've never seen Casablanca stop whatever it is you're doing and go watch it immediately.

#19 Posted by LZ71 (10233 posts) -

Starting with someone like Clark Gable is a good idea, or go with a director like Hitchcock which was mentioned. I think it is a lot easier to get into older films when you focus on one director/actor you are interested in, and then branching out from there.

Definitely this. I started watching old movies just by picking out random ones and it wasn't a very good idea. I just wasn't interested in what I saw. It took some specific recommendations (from people here, mostly) to really get me into older films and love a lot of them. Start with something specific your interested in, and then branch out.

#20 Posted by MrGeezer (55910 posts) -

I want to get into old films. Like 1960s at the latest, but preferably earlier.

Any suggestions?

I suppose the best place to start would be to find books, lists, and discussions about the best actors, directors, and films in a given era.

Maybe I'll start with Clark Gable, I haven't seen any of his work.

Well, there you go. IMDB Clark Gable, and then watch the movies that are listed.

#21 Posted by MrGeezer (55910 posts) -

Starting with someone like Clark Gable is a good idea, or go with a director like Hitchcock which was mentioned. I think it is a lot easier to get into older films when you focus on one director/actor you are interested in, and then branching out from there.

This is true, and it's also generally the case with EVERYTHING. If you're filing a personal injury lawsuit, you're gonna get better results if you look for people who specialize in personal injury. If you're most interested in science fiction, you're gonna be more well-served by seeking out movies in the science fiction genre. If you want something for lunch, you first determine if you want a cheeseburger or a taco. You're usually gonna get better feedback on what you'll like if you start out with a specific and more directed statement of what you want/need. Everyone would be happy to sell you whatever they've got, but it's not like they can read your mind.

#22 Posted by m0zart (11562 posts) -

Here's the first 10 I could think of from the pre-1970 black and white era:

  • Night of the Hunter
  • Arsenic and Old Lace
  • It Happened One Night
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  • The Fountainhead
  • Meet John Doe
  • Stalag 17
  • Marty
  • The Ladykillers
  • The Manchurian Candidate
#23 Edited by AFBrat77 (23978 posts) -

Birth of a Nation (D.W. Griffith, 1915, silent)

This is the first Masterpiece and stands up strong today, although its racist as hell.

Definitely worth seeing.

#24 Edited by Aljosa23 (24216 posts) -

@m0zart: Do you think it's a good idea to recommend Capra to him? Besides It's A Wonderful Life, he's not exactly easy to get into today.

#25 Posted by GamingTitan (489 posts) -

High Noon

Ben-Hur

War of the Worlds

12 Angry Men

King Kong

#26 Posted by iampenguin (223 posts) -

@Meinhard1: You can't go wrong with Fred Astaire movies, and try the 1920s The Picture of Dorian Grey it's a favourite of mine.

#27 Posted by m0zart (11562 posts) -

@Aljosa23:

Every Capra film I listed is timeless, as easy to get into now as it was then.

There are only a few tidbits from each film that seem to have been pop culture references from the time and are all but lost on viewers today. They are small segments and wistful enough not to drag down the films.

#28 Edited by m0zart (11562 posts) -

@m0zart said:

Here's the first 10 I could think of from the pre-1970 black and white era:

  • Night of the Hunter
  • Arsenic and Old Lace
  • It Happened One Night
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  • The Fountainhead
  • Meet John Doe
  • Stalag 17
  • Marty
  • The Ladykillers
  • The Manchurian Candidate

To add to my list:

  • The Children's Hour
  • M
  • Homicidal
  • The Night of the Iguana
  • Witness for the Prosecution
  • The Killers
  • On the Beach
  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
  • Brief Encounter
  • The Virgin Spring
#29 Posted by br0kenrabbit (12594 posts) -

Nosferatu (1922) and Metropolis (1927) are still two of my favorite films. Supposedly they recently discovered 30+ minutes of missing footage from Metropolis, I'm anxiously awaiting being able to get my mitts on it.

#30 Edited by Laihendi (5800 posts) -

The Fountainhead is an excellent film. I highly recommend it. Ayn Rand wrote the screenplay herself.

#31 Posted by THE_DRUGGIE (24921 posts) -

@Laihendi said:

The Fountainhead is an excellent film. I highly recommend it. Ayn Rand wrote the screenplay herself.

Nah, Death Wish had a better architect character.

#32 Posted by thegerg (14223 posts) -

What you need to figure out is WHY you want to get into those particular movies, and go from there. If you simply want to get into them because they're old, then just watch old movies.

#33 Posted by OrkHammer007 (4751 posts) -

No love for Night of the Living Dead, The Thing (original black and white), Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy or Metropolis? For shame.

If you want a really bad, so-bad-it's-good film, try Plan 9 From Outer Space.

If you don't mind color, I'll recommend The Blob (original version).

#34 Posted by DaX_Factor (98 posts) -

Man, I got into watching the great combination of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mufine (Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, Rashomon, Druken Angel...) Dudes did like 15 movies together. They set the standard in the 50' and 60's from Japan and many American director's and actors were inspired by their films. Case in point; Magnificent Seven bit off Seven Samurai (which is still by far "my" favorite classic movie of all time).

#35 Posted by OrkHammer007 (4751 posts) -

Damnit... I forgot Creature From the Black Lagoon. Even I get spooked by the Creature... there's something about the black and white that gives the Creature's eyes a very "dead" look. Every time it swam into the picture, I'd get chills.

Oh... and the original The Fly, too.