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Classically Speaking:
Promoting Classic Movies in a Jaded World!

Monday, January 16, 2006



I almost hesitated to do a “favorite film by decade” list, because I had not seen so many of the really classic films of various decades. Still, I took a shot at it. Listed here are films I have seen in their entirety. I resisted the temptation to appear intelligent by adding films I had only seen excerpts from which I knew were on all the experts’ lists.

Broken Blossoms (1919)

Broken Blossoms (1919)


Daddy Long Legs (1919) – So far, my 1910’s viewing has been mainly Mary Pickford. I hope to keep expanding my horizons. Of the handful of Pickford films I have seen so far, I like this one best. Mary is at her huggable, irascible best.

Stella Maris (1918) – Another great Pickford film, one that really showed her abilities as a dramatic actress.

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917)– More of the same. I love Rebecca’s umbrella scene with Minnie Smellie!

Birth of a Nation (1915) – Obviously, this is THE film of the decade, if one figures in the impact it had. It’s been 20+ years since I’ve seen it, but it was an amazing piece of filmmaking – especially for the period.

Broken Blossoms (1919) – I’ve come to love Lillian Gish, as well as Mary Pickford. Of course, Lillian was a sweetie, even at 91, in The Whales of August!

The Gold Rush (1925)

The Gold Rush (1925)


The Gold Rush (1925) – I’m ashamed to say, this is about the only major Chaplin silent film I’ve seen all the way through as an adult. I need to rectify that shortcoming.

(1922) – It says something when a film is still scary 84 years after it was made! I now have the restored Kino version, with Murnau’s color tinting restored, as well as the missing 23 minutes added and the film synch problem corrected. This is simply a masterpiece and one of my favorite films of all-time.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
(1920) – This film was so important, spawning at least three genres.

The Thief of Bagdad
(1924) – I can see why Douglas Fairbanks was a major star. This was a great vehicle for him!

Sherlock Junior
(1924) /Our Hospitality (1923) – These Buster Keaton classics always seem to be packaged together & are both a blast.

(1925) – A real classic.

Grand Hotel (1932)

Grand Hotel (1932)


Grand Hotel (1932) – One of my all-time favorites. What an ensemble cast! Garbo, both Barrymore brothers, Crawford, Beery, as well as Lewis Stone.

Duck Soup (1933) – My favorite Marx Brothers movie and probably their best. This is still gut-bustingly funny! Horse Feathers (1932), Monkey Business (1931) & A Night at the Opera (1935) are all very good films, as well.

The Gable-ing of America -- It Happened One Night (1934), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Gone With the Wind (1939) – Gable was great in action/drama, period romance or screwball comedy.

Eeeek! – Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde (1932), Spanish Dracula (1931), The Old, Dark House (1932)– When I think of the 1930s, I think of the Universal horror flicks. Lugosi, Karloff, etc. The Spanish version of Dracula is a real gem, too!

The Thin Man (1934), My Man Godfrey (1936) – Whether teamed with Myrna Loy in the Thin Man movies or with Carole Lombard, William Powell was great.

Ninotchka (1939) – Actually “Garbo Laughs” wasn’t a particularly accurate plug, since the Divine Garbo had indeed laughed delightfully in virtually every previous movie! This one showed what a deft comic hand she had, in addition to her dramatic skills and allure. Other Garbo – Mata Hari (1931), Camille (1936), Anna Karenina (1935) & Queen Christina (1933) were all great! I quickly fell in love.

The Wizard of Oz (1939) – A real classic. I was fortunate enough (as a small-town reporter) to photograph and interview one of the last surviving Munchkins, Mickey Carroll.

Stagecoach (1939) – I should have made a separate entry for best films of 1939!!! This quintessential western classic blazed the way for the genre and has been remade as many times as Liz Taylor’s face!

Honorable Mention – Several Laurel & Hardy films, many of the Three Stooges’ short films, Joe E. Brown, Mae West and W.C. Fields vehicles.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)


It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) – My second-favorite Christmas movie of all-time. Of course it includes the famous near-kiss.

Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) – The only time a father & son won Oscars for same film (John and Walter Huston). This is probably Bogart’s best acting job.

Citizen Kane (1941) – The academic film critic’s No. 1 all-time film, it seems, this one is certainly a great one.

The Great Dictator (1940) – Although I actually enjoyed Moe Howard’s Hitler better, Chaplin was great in his dual role.

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) – My favorite Cary Grant film. This one is a true classic.

Casablanca (1942)

The Bishop’s Wife (1947)

Life With Father (1947)

Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (1949)

All About Eve (1950)

All About Eve (1950)


All About Eve (1950) – One of my all-time top five, it probably has the best dialogue ever written in Hollywood.

12 Angry Men (1957) – A black & white cinematic classic. What a cast, too!

Scrooge (1951) – This is the Alastair Sim version, the best one in my mind. Sim’s face is so elastic! He is convincing as both the miserly Scrooge and the redeemed Scrooge. The scene at "Old Joe’s" is great, too!

The Quiet Man (1952) – Probably the best Ford/Wayne corroboration, this is a magnificent work.

ALSO: Sunset Boulevard (1950), The African Queen (1951), High Noon (1952), Shane (1953), The Caine Mutiny (1954), On the Waterfront(1954), Hobson’s Choice (1954), The Night of the Hunter (1955), The Searchers (1956), Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), North by Northwest (1959), Some Like It Hot (1959)

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)



To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) – What a great B & W classic! Great cinematography, great mood, wonderful acting.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) – Speaking of B & W cinematography! This is one that could NOT have been made in color! Bette rocked!

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) – If nothing else, this one is worth watching, just to see Jimmy Stewart sock John Wayne in the jaw! This is a wonderful western/non-western, with great supporting work from Lee Marvin, Andy Devine, etc.

ALSO: The Alamo (1960), The Misfits (1961), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), To Sir With Love (1967), Bonnie and Clyde (1967), In the Heat of the Night (1967)


Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1963) – One of the last real B & W classics and perhaps the best & most important political satire ever made. This is a honey of a film.

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) – A Who’s Who of living comedians in 1963, this grand farce is still a delight.

The Great Race (1965) – While many films of the decade were better, this is still one of my very favorites, since early childhood. What a fun film this is & what a cast!

ALSO: The Pink Panther (1963), A Shot in the Dark (1964) , Mary Poppins (1964), Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (1965) , The Graduate (1967) , Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)


Psycho (1960) – I finally saw this great classic a couple of years ago. It’s outstanding.

The Haunting
(1963) – This has to be one of the better horror films made.

ALSO: The Birds (1963), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), 2001: Space Odyssey (1968), Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Jaws (1975)

Jaws (1975)


The Godfather (1972), The Godfather Part II (1974) – These two – in whichever order one places them – are deservedly among almost everyone’s top five.

Being There (1979) – This may have been Peter Sellers’ best performance. What a way for Sellers and Melvyn Douglas to close out careers (and lives)!

Star Wars (1976) – How important was THIS one? I need to see it again; it was incredible first time around.

Jaws (1975) – I didn’t fully appreciate Jaws until I grew up and learned something about film. Thanks to an undependable mechanical shark, Spielberg had to resort to real movie-making!

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974) – I have trouble explaining this film’s appeal to someone who doesn’t “get it,” but I rate this as one of the most hilarious films ever made.

ALSO: Patton (1970), Waterloo (1970), Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), The Exorcist (1973), Young Frankenstein (1974), Blazing Saddles (1975), Rocky (1976), The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976), Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978), Superman (1978), 1900 (1979), Alien (1979), The In-Laws (1979)

Airplane (1980)

Airplane (1980)


Airplane (1980) – Like The Holy Grail, it’s hard to defend this one against a sophisticate or one who doesn’t connect with the humor. I probably know more lines from Airplane than any other film, though. This is a true classic.

Hoosiers (1986) – I consider this the best film ever made with a sports theme. It’s hard to beat Hoosiers.

The Big Chill (1983) -- This was the first film I really studied, in college cinema class. Kasden didn’t become the preeminent director of the 1980s, like I thought he might, but The Big Chill still stands as a brilliantly directed, acted and edited film with a fantastic soundtrack.

The Shining (1980) – Probably the most intense horror film I have ever seen, The Shining is a doozy. Kubrick proved he is a master in any genre.

ALSO: Chariots of Fire (1981), On Golden Pond (1981), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Eating Raoul (1982), Places of the Heart (1984), Witness (1985), Ruthless People (1986), Rawhead Rex (1986), Mississippi Burning (1988), The Unnamable (1988), Eight Men Out (1988), Field of Dreams (1989), Glory (1989), The Naked Gun (1989), Pumpkinhead (1989)

A League of Their Own (1992)

A League of Their Own (1992)


(Chronological order)

What About Bob? (1991) – Such a fun little comedy. Murray and Dreyfuss are both great.

A League of Their Own (1992) – Maybe the second-best sports-themed film ever made. This is a heart-tugger and a great sports film at the same time.

Boris and Natasha (1992) – No one else even remembers this one, but I liked it better than most of the cartoon-to-live action film projects of the past two decades. Dave Thomas and Sandy Kellerman are hilarious.

Jurassic Park (1993) – Here’s one that changed everything! It still stands as a great film – not a true masterpiece like Jaws, but a very good, still very entertaining film.

The Empty Mirror (1996) – This is an amazing film, picturing Hitler in sort of an after-life Purgatory, working on his memoirs and being challenged about various beliefs and actions.

Breakfast of Champions (1999) – I absolutely ADORE this film. I consider it one of the funniest films of the decade, but nobody else likes it!

Sleepy Hollow (1999) – I fell in love with this film on first viewing. Burton & Depp provide wonderfully creepy Gothic atmosphere, some real goosebumps and a dash of tongue-in-cheek humor. Walken, as the pre-decapitation horseman is awesome, too.

Rushmore (1999) – I love Wes Anderson and nearly put Bottle Rocket on this list, also. Rushmore is a cool film with an awesome soundtrack.

The Blair Witch Project (1999) – I didn’t see this one until a few years after it came out and had forgotten about some of the controversy that had surrounded it. I love it; bigger is not necessarily better!

Chocolat (2000)

Chocolat (2000)


(Chronological order)

Chocolat (2000) – Lasse Hallstrom rocks! So does Judi Dench! This is a wonderful film.

The Perfect Storm (2000) – A good old-fashioned action-adventure yarn, but based on a real-life tragedy, this one was quite fulfilling.

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) – Here is my vote for best film of the 2000’s so far! Wes Anderson is an incredible talent and this is his masterpiece so far. The cast is incredible, the script outstanding, the cinematography and settings creative, and the use of music truly inspired.

The Shipping News (2001) – Hallstrom may be the most talented director working. Dench may be the best character actress working. Throw in a fine performance by the rest of the outstanding cast and you have a movie that I would rank among the top 2-3 of the New Millennium so far. I can’t understand why it didn’t catch on. This film has everything.

Amelie (2001) – This film is a real charmer. Picture Mary Pickford in living color, speaking French, and with a little more sexuality and you have Amelie.

Rat Race (2001) – While this isn’t quite the film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was and isn’t the deep, sophisticated type of production like The Royal Tenenbaums, it is still flat-out hilarious! The “Barbie Museum” gag may be the Zuckers’ most clever one ever.

Conspiracy (2001) -- This HBO film is stunning. Branaugh is incredible as Reinhard Heydrich. This one may keep you up a night or two.

Ghost Ship (2002) – Wonderful Gothic backdrop of a derelict ocean liner, with a strong cast, this one is probably best remembered for its gruesome special effects in the early part of the film.

The Alamo (2004) – I love the John Wayne (1960) version, but this one ranks right there with it – and well ahead of it, in historical accuracy. Thornton, as Davey Crockett, is absolutely masterful.

Garden State (2004) – Zach Braff looks to be an up-and-coming director with the potential to be the next Anderson or Hallstrom, based on this wonderful debut. This film, like Ms. Portman, is a real charmer.

Eulogy (2004) – Not quite as arty as Garden State or The Royal Tenenbaums, this one combines the finer dark comedic elements with just a touch of toilet humor, to provide a really enjoyable romp.

Friday Night Lights (2004) – Another of the really, really good sports-based movies (61*, Remember the Titans, The Natural & a few others should probably have made my list, too), this is one of Thornton’s best performances. The action sequences are perfect (edited in with real game film from the 1988 football team portrayed) and the soundtrack outstanding.

*Contributed by: "MarkMyWord" Date: Wed, Jan 11 2006 / 21:55:23 PST

Movie stills displayed: Broken Blossoms (1919), The Gold Rush (1925), Grand Hotel (1932), It's a Wonderful Life (1946), All About Eve (1950), To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), Jaws (1975), Airplane (1980), A League of Their Own (1992), Chocolat (2000)


  • Hi Liz,
    I am always impressed with your ability to recall details and write so well. What a wonderful listing of movies you have enjoyed. I have seen many of them also and am putting together a collection of films with Mary Pickford.
    I have not watched them all yet!
    Thank you for all you do to keep classic movies as part of our lives.

    By Blogger SylviaK, at Wed Jan 18, 07:07:00 PM PST