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10 Classic movies that you must watch before you die

By Edited Nov 15, 2013 1 1


"What most people don't seem to realize is that there is just as much money to be made out of the wreckage of a civilization as from the upbuilding of one."

"If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, it makes us feel as though our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'."

"Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine."

If you don't know any of these famous movie quotes, you should watch more classic movies.

If you're sick of all these sequels, prequels, parodies and mindless dramas that our modern Hollywood factory is churning out, take a vacation and watch more classic movies.

Hollywood's heyday was an era of smart dialogue, strong plots and great actors. So take a little time out of your busy lives, sit down with your significant other, and enjoy these cinematic classics. Here are ten influential classic films to get you started.

10. Gone with the Wind

This movie is a paragon of the American epic, following the story of a self-centred Southern Belle through the outbreak of civil war and the South's collapse.

This was the first movie to win more than five academy awards, with 13 nominations and winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Clark Gable), Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography (colour), Best Art Direction and Best Sound Recording, amongst others.

While some of its ideals are dated (a popular target of the Civil Rights Movement), the acting is superb and the adaptation is very elegant. It's a great movie for an introduction to Clark Gables excellent form.

9. It's a Wonderful Life

A classic movie that seems to be played on television every time Christmas rolls around. If you feel like modern Christmas has lost its spirit, this movie will help you rediscover it.

George Bailey gives so much to help the people around him, and teaches us the real joy of life that we receive every day from the people around us. The ending never fails to jerk a tear from me.

8. Ben Hur

Charlton Heston seems to always find himself in huge epics. He starred in the Planet of the Apes, played Moses in The Ten Commandments. Ben Hur is Judah in Ben Hur, another pseudo-Biblical tale that Hollywood was known for back then, and that Charlton Heston was known for playing in.

7. Dr. Strangelove (How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb)

If you need to develop a dry wit, you can do no better than watching Dr. Strangelove, an odd commentary and comedy in the Cold War era. A paranoid and mildly insane American air force general orders the B52 bombers under his command to initiate on the Soviet Union in response to his belief that water fluoridation is a Communist plot to contaminate our "precious bodily fluids".

The movie then focuses on the President of the United States and his Joint Chiefs as they try to recall the bombers and prevent a nuclear apocalypse, as well as the crew of one of the B52s.

If you want to see a cowboy riding a nuclear bomb, this is it.

6. An American in Paris

Gene Kelly is an amazing dancer and actor, known for his good looks and playing endearing characters. He was one of the big movers of musical films and filmed dance, peppering the films he starred in with energetic tap dancing.

An American in Paris is a fun romance. Kelly plays Jerry, a high-spirited American ex-patriate living in Paris trying to make it big as a painter. A lonely high classed lady, Milo Roberts takes under her patronage, but is clearly more interested in the man than his art. Jerry, oblivious to all this, falls in love with a French girl, Lise, who he meets in a restaurant.

It's definitely a fun watch, and describes an era when Americans were more curious about the world outside their borders. Or maybe it's just Gene Kelly.

5. The Sting

Oceans 11? Oceans 12?? Oceans 13?!? Let's revisit the original heist film. Robert Redford and Paul Newman play a pair of professional conmen who cons a big mob boss. The Sting refers to the last part of the con, or play. The whole movie is broken down into seven parts. Each part has a title card and music, which is cute and reminiscent of an even earlier form of movie.

(The parts are the Players, the Set-Up, the Hook, the Tale, the Wire, the Shut-Out, and the Sting - if you're interested!)

The movie is fun, with a great soundtrack. The title song "The Entertainer", a piano piece by Scott Joplin, is especially well known.

4. Singing in the Rain

Ah, more Gene Kelly. This was the definitive musical film of the first half of the 20th century.

It's 1927 and Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont are famous stars of the silent film. But with the recent introduction of sound in motion pictures, the duo are forced to turn their latest film into a "talkie".

Don falls for aspiring actress Kathy Selden, and together with Cosmo, Don's piano accompanist, suggests to the producer that they turn the film into a musical.

The problem? Lina's voice sounds like a cat on helium! Kathy is brought onboard to secretly dub over her voice, but when Lina finds out, there's trouble.

It's a fun romp, plotwise, but you should be watching this movie for the fantastic choreography that's in the movie. From the cheerful "Good Morning", to the dream sequences, and to the famous scene where Gene splishes and splashes his happy heart on a rainy curbside, Singing in the Rain is bound to keep you humming and tapping for days.

3. Bridge Over the River Kwai

Alec Guinness will roll in his grave if you keep associating him with his Star Wars role as "Obi Wan Kenobi". In this film, he plays the British colonel Nicholson whose unit was captured by the Japanese in WW2. They are marched to an POW camp, where its commandant, Colonel Saito, orders all prisoners to work on the construction of a railway bridge over the river kwai.

At first, the soldiers intend to sabotage the bridge, but Colonel Nicholson persuades his unit that the bridge should be done right, as a symbol of British morale and character.

The characters in this film are well developed, and as the movie progresses, we find Colonel Nicholson to be somewhat of an obsessive compulsive personality.

The beginning march of the British into the camp is accompanied by the main theme whistled by the soldiers. Another one of those catchy tunes that seem so lacking in modern films.

2. Psycho

Alfred Hitchhock was a top class British filmmaker known for his psychological thrillers. If you have the time, I highly recommend you go through his movies as they are all edge-of-your-seat affairs. However, if you had to start, Psycho would be the place.

In this film, a young woman steals $40,000 from her employer's client and drives out of town to meet her lover. Unfortunately for her, it's stormy and after a long drive, she finds herself at the Bates Motel, owned by a creepy young proprietor named Norman who appears dominated by his mother.

The movie is forever known for the murder of the protagonist in its famous shower scene, which runs 3 minutes and uses 77 different camera angles.

1. Casablanca

You'll have to excuse me as Casablanca is my favourite movie of all time, possibly one of the most famous movies of all time too. Any synopsis I give of this movie will not give it enough credit. You must get yourself a copy and watch it, and discover the amazingness of this movie on your own.

Here's looking at you, kid.



Dec 14, 2010 9:32am
Great list of classics and I've loved all of these - good picks. Movies made long ago were much better than many of today.
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