Hands up if the movies in latest top ten list were made before you were born. There’s a good chance as they’re all over 30 years old. And if, like some of us, you’re old enough to remember some or all of them, why not revisit them? They’ve all stood the test of time and are well worth another watch.
10. Barbarella – 1968
If Barbarella is Sci-Fi, then Apocalyse Now is the Sermon on the Mount. How can we put this nicely? Barbarella is a vehicle for Jane Fonda to have her clothes removed in a multitude of ways. The end result is, of course, pleasant for fans of Jane Fonda but the movie has attained cult status for little else. Perhaps it’s because the movie was invariably watched at the time under the influence of, er, added colorings and flavourings.
9. Saturday Night Fever – 1977
Saturday Night Fever goes way beyond the superficial examination of class struggle in 1970s America. John Travolta’s performance as Tony makes a 70s disco music movie into an exploration of homophobia, racism, and misogyny in small minded people. The movie never attempts to justify Tony’s attitudes to these but it allows us to believe that he is genuinely uncomfortable with them.
8. The Great Gatsby – 1974
Since the 1974 adaptation of the classic novel by F Scott Fitzgerald there have been two further adaptations of the story. And this testament to the depth of the story and anyone who has read the book will appreciate that it’s not an easy story to migrate to the big screen. It’s not really worth comparing the three different versions as they all bring something different to the drama.
7. Cleopatra – 1963
Burton and Taylor were going through one of their let’s be married phases when Cleopatra was made and the intensity of their off-screen relationship comes through loud and clear in this huge production of a true story. I say true because we know Cleopatra existed. A nice piece of trivia is that the studio ran out of money so couldn’t make the monumental end piece so typical of this era of movie making.
6. The Longest Day – 1962
The Longest Day is another massive war movie bursting at the seams with the stars of the day – perhaps too many stars of the day. As a dramatized “documentary” of events surrounding the D Day landings it had plenty of input from men who were actually there and, unlike many other movies that examine this chapter of history, recognizes that the British, the Free French and other nations were to give the Americans a hand.
5. The Panic in Needle Park – 1971
A young Al Pacino puts in a masterpiece performance (it was the role that earned the part of the Godfather) in this bleak story of life with heroin addiction. There is no attempt to glorify these unfortunate people and the low key love affair develops into a latter day tragedy. Many movies since have taken their inspiration from this stark vision of New York life.
4. Warriors – 1979
Some 25 years after it was released, The Warriors spawned an unlikely video game. The game featured the voice of Michael Beck in a reprise of his role as Swann, a role that took him on to Xanadu and then largely TV work. The violence in Warriors is rather contrived but entirely necessary for the story of survival against all the odds.
3. Clockwork Orange – 1971
Stanley Kubrick was never entirely happy with the story of violence adapted from Anthony Burgess’ novel which is a shame because it’s a very powerful movie. As a vision of the future it’s entirely nihilistic and the sinister Alex, played beautifully by Malcom McDowell, offers an extraordinary incongruity with his passion for Beethoven.
2. The Enemy below – 1957
When a whole generation still had World War Two fresh in their minds, war movies were a fertile source of movies and, inevitably, some of them were destined to be great. This is the story of a battle of wits between on American ship captain (a Brit in the source book) and a German U boat commander. History is written by the winners and there are no prizes fro guessing who eventually wins this duel.
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey – 1968
Another Kubrick movie in a completely different genre but with the recurring theme of a vision of the future. The nice ideas are that a computer can decide that it’s more important than the men that made it and that there’s a benign intelligence out there beyond the stars. The special effect were years ahead of their time.