Unforgettable (1939-1979)

by samberdina | created - 11 Oct 2015 | updated - 8 months ago | Public

Before CGI and out-of-this-world special effects and make-up, the theater arena of the early and mid-20th century often opened the door for modern films with their bold and cerebral subject matter, many deemed before their time.

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1. Fahrenheit 451 (1966)

Not Rated | 112 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

In an oppressive future, a fireman whose duty is to destroy all books begins to question his task.

Director: François Truffaut | Stars: Oskar Werner, Julie Christie, Cyril Cusack, Anton Diffring

Votes: 41,742

Cerebral, making a powerful statement.

2. Persona (1966)

Not Rated | 83 min | Drama, Thriller

86 Metascore

A nurse is put in charge of a mute actress and finds that their personae are melding together.

Director: Ingmar Bergman | Stars: Bibi Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Margaretha Krook, Gunnar Björnstrand

Votes: 107,027

Another cerebral movie. Unique.

3. Ladybug Ladybug (1963)

Not Rated | 82 min | Drama

Staff and students at a rural school react to a warning of an imminent nuclear attack, not knowing whether it is real or a mistake.

Director: Frank Perry | Stars: Jane Connell, William Daniels, James Frawley, Richard Hamilton

Votes: 746

Told before its time.

4. The Boy with Green Hair (1948)

Approved | 82 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

This parable looks at public reaction when the hair of an American war orphan mysteriously turns green.

Director: Joseph Losey | Stars: Pat O'Brien, Robert Ryan, Barbara Hale, Dean Stockwell

Votes: 2,696

The subject matter was boldly and clearly presented. Timely for any era, but especially 1948.

5. The Bad Seed (1956)

Approved | 129 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

51 Metascore

A housewife suspects that her seemingly perfect eight-year-old daughter is a heartless killer.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy | Stars: Nancy Kelly, Patty McCormack, Gage Clarke, Jesse White

Votes: 13,285

Character development was very important and the actors stepped up to plate. Excellent film.

6. The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

PG | 117 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

70 Metascore

Nine people explore a cruise ship at sea in a manner that turns their whole lives upside down.

Director: Ronald Neame | Stars: Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters, Red Buttons

Votes: 41,816 | Gross: $84.56M

One of the greatest adventure movies. Character development/disaster make an interesting mix.

7. The Towering Inferno (1974)

PG | 165 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

69 Metascore

At the opening party of a colossal, but poorly constructed, office building, a massive fire breaks out that threatens to destroy the tower and everyone in it.

Director: John Guillermin | Stars: Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, William Holden, Faye Dunaway

Votes: 40,643 | Gross: $116.00M

Another one of the best disaster movies that I can watch over and over.

8. Lifeboat (1944)

Not Rated | 97 min | Drama, War

78 Metascore

Several survivors of a torpedoed merchant ship in World War II find themselves in the same lifeboat with one of the crew members of the U-boat that sank their ship.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Tallulah Bankhead, John Hodiak, Walter Slezak, William Bendix

Votes: 26,998

Tense.

9. The African Queen (1951)

PG | 105 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance

91 Metascore

In WWI Africa, a gin-swilling riverboat captain is persuaded by a strait-laced missionary to use his boat to attack an enemy warship.

Director: John Huston | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Robert Morley, Peter Bull

Votes: 72,787 | Gross: $0.54M

A unique adventure from start to finish.

10. North by Northwest (1959)

Approved | 136 min | Adventure, Mystery, Thriller

98 Metascore

A New York City advertising executive goes on the run after being mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Jessie Royce Landis

Votes: 304,800 | Gross: $13.28M

It's Hitchcock. There's a reason he is still famous.

11. The Birds (1963)

PG-13 | 119 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

90 Metascore

A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette

Votes: 175,077 | Gross: $11.40M

My favorite Hitchcock film. This one is tense and shows that lots of guts are not necessary to prove that someone is dead.

12. Psycho (1960)

R | 109 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

97 Metascore

A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin

Votes: 617,694 | Gross: $32.00M

Earns its fame.

13. Deliverance (1972)

R | 109 min | Adventure, Drama, Thriller

80 Metascore

Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it's dammed and turned into a lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a canoeing trip they'll never forget into the dangerous American back-country.

Director: John Boorman | Stars: Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox

Votes: 100,704 | Gross: $7.06M

Not just dueling banjos. Plenty of character development.

14. The Deer Hunter (1978)

R | 183 min | Drama, War

86 Metascore

An in-depth examination of the ways in which the U.S. Vietnam War impacts and disrupts the lives of people in a small industrial town in Pennsylvania.

Director: Michael Cimino | Stars: Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale, John Savage

Votes: 317,592 | Gross: $48.98M

Before. During. After.

15. Taxi Driver (1976)

R | 114 min | Crime, Drama

94 Metascore

A mentally unstable veteran works as a nighttime taxi driver in New York City, where the perceived decadence and sleaze fuels his urge for violent action by attempting to liberate a presidential campaign worker and an underage prostitute.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Albert Brooks

Votes: 744,062 | Gross: $28.26M

Excellent presentation of a descent.

16. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

R | 133 min | Drama

84 Metascore

A criminal pleads insanity and is admitted to a mental institution, where he rebels against the oppressive nurse and rallies up the scared patients.

Director: Milos Forman | Stars: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Michael Berryman, Peter Brocco

Votes: 936,186 | Gross: $112.00M

Every actor made this move a success. It's a classic.

17. Apocalypse Now (1979)

R | 147 min | Drama, Mystery, War

94 Metascore

A U.S. Army officer serving in Vietnam is tasked with assassinating a renegade Special Forces Colonel who sees himself as a god.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola | Stars: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Frederic Forrest

Votes: 619,015 | Gross: $83.47M

The director was harsh, but the results were unbelievable.

18. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

R | 125 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

86 Metascore

Three amateur bank robbers plan to hold up a bank. A nice simple robbery: Walk in, take the money, and run. Unfortunately, the supposedly uncomplicated heist suddenly becomes a bizarre nightmare as everything that could go wrong does.

Director: Sidney Lumet | Stars: Al Pacino, John Cazale, Penelope Allen, Sully Boyar

Votes: 240,183 | Gross: $50.00M

Everything fit into place. Pacino made this movie what it is.

19. Papillon (1973)

R | 151 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

58 Metascore

A man befriends a fellow criminal as the two of them begin serving their sentence on a dreadful prison island, which inspires the man to plot his escape.

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner | Stars: Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman, Victor Jory, Don Gordon

Votes: 124,047 | Gross: $53.27M

Every detail and the genius of McQueen and Hoffman made the unacceptable understandable.

20. The Great Escape (1963)

Approved | 172 min | Adventure, Drama, History

86 Metascore

Allied prisoners of war plan for several hundred of their number to escape from a German camp during World War II.

Director: John Sturges | Stars: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson

Votes: 229,243 | Gross: $12.10M

Not a dull moment. Every actor kept you in the reality of their circumstances.

21. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

PG | 161 min | Adventure, Drama, War

87 Metascore

British POWs are forced to build a railway bridge across the river Kwai for their Japanese captors, not knowing that the allied forces are planning to destroy it.

Director: David Lean | Stars: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa

Votes: 207,203 | Gross: $44.91M

I was there, watching the action unfold. Excellent.

22. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Approved | 129 min | Crime, Drama

88 Metascore

Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his children against prejudice.

Director: Robert Mulligan | Stars: Gregory Peck, John Megna, Frank Overton, Rosemary Murphy

Votes: 298,387

The movie doesn't compete with the book. It presents a portion of the story. The details aren't clouded and the sense of things come alive.

23. Gone with the Wind (1939)

Passed | 238 min | Drama, History, Romance

97 Metascore

A manipulative woman and a roguish man conduct a turbulent romance during the American Civil War and Reconstruction periods.

Directors: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood | Stars: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Thomas Mitchell, Barbara O'Neil

Votes: 295,335 | Gross: $198.68M

Over the top and known to the world.

24. The Way We Were (1973)

PG | 118 min | Drama, Romance

61 Metascore

Two disparate people have a wonderful romance, but their political views and convictions drive them apart.

Director: Sydney Pollack | Stars: Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford, Bradford Dillman, Lois Chiles

Votes: 23,003

You'll like it or not. Solid story.

25. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

PG | 122 min | Drama

97 Metascore

Disturbed Blanche DuBois moves in with her sister in New Orleans and is tormented by her brutish brother-in-law while her reality crumbles around her.

Director: Elia Kazan | Stars: Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden

Votes: 100,811 | Gross: $8.00M

Let the film take you for a ride.

26. Cool Hand Luke (1967)

GP | 127 min | Crime, Drama

92 Metascore

A laid back Southern man is sentenced to two years in a rural prison, but refuses to conform.

Director: Stuart Rosenberg | Stars: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin, J.D. Cannon

Votes: 165,280 | Gross: $16.22M

Paul Newman and a well cast winner.

27. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

Approved | 108 min | Comedy, Drama

63 Metascore

A couple's attitudes are challenged when their daughter introduces them to her African-American fiancé.

Director: Stanley Kramer | Stars: Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, Katharine Houghton

Votes: 40,756 | Gross: $56.70M

Lessons in perfect awkwardness.

28. 12 Angry Men (1957)

Approved | 96 min | Crime, Drama

96 Metascore

A jury holdout attempts to prevent a miscarriage of justice by forcing his colleagues to reconsider the evidence.

Director: Sidney Lumet | Stars: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam, John Fiedler

Votes: 709,253 | Gross: $4.36M

Outstanding performances.

29. And Then There Were None (1945)

Approved | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Seven guests, a newly hired secretary and two staff are gathered at a manor house on an isolated island by an unknown absentee host and are killed off one-by-one. They work together to determine who the killer is before it's too late.

Director: René Clair | Stars: Barry Fitzgerald, Walter Huston, Louis Hayward, Roland Young

Votes: 13,536

The only thing better is the book.

30. The China Syndrome (1979)

PG | 122 min | Drama, Thriller

81 Metascore

A reporter finds what appears to be a cover-up of safety hazards at a nuclear power plant.

Director: James Bridges | Stars: Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon, Michael Douglas, Scott Brady

Votes: 27,979 | Gross: $51.72M

31. Casablanca (1942)

PG | 102 min | Drama, Romance, War

100 Metascore

A cynical expatriate American cafe owner struggles to decide whether or not to help his former lover and her fugitive husband escape the Nazis in French Morocco.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains

Votes: 531,862 | Gross: $1.02M

32. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

G | 92 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

An alien lands and tells the people of Earth that they must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets.

Director: Robert Wise | Stars: Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe

Votes: 77,006

A warning.

33. The Andromeda Strain (1971)

G | 131 min | Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller

60 Metascore

A team of top scientists work feverishly in a secret, state-of-the-art laboratory to discover what has killed the citizens of a small town and learn how this deadly contagion can be stopped.

Director: Robert Wise | Stars: James Olson, Arthur Hill, David Wayne, Kate Reid

Votes: 34,304 | Gross: $3.42M

One of my top 5 sci-fi favorites.

34. Rear Window (1954)

PG | 112 min | Mystery, Thriller

100 Metascore

A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbors from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter

Votes: 453,672 | Gross: $36.76M

Another Hitchcock great.

35. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Approved | 228 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

100 Metascore

The story of T.E. Lawrence, the English officer who successfully united and led the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks.

Director: David Lean | Stars: Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins

Votes: 273,438 | Gross: $44.82M

Epic.

36. The Sound of Music (1965)

G | 172 min | Biography, Drama, Family

63 Metascore

A woman leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to the children of a Naval officer widower.

Director: Robert Wise | Stars: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker, Richard Haydn

Votes: 211,207 | Gross: $163.21M

A family movie with substance and historical significance.

37. Jaws (1975)

PG | 124 min | Adventure, Thriller

87 Metascore

When a killer shark unleashes chaos on a beach community, it's up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary

Votes: 552,260 | Gross: $260.00M

In my opinion, the best creature feature of all time.

38. Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

Approved | 114 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

54 Metascore

A surgeon is assigned the case of a young woman whose aunt wants her lobotomized to cover up a family secret.

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz | Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, Montgomery Clift, Albert Dekker

Votes: 14,168 | Gross: $13.90M

Ahead of its time.

39. Escape from Alcatraz (1979)

PG | 112 min | Action, Biography, Crime

76 Metascore

Alcatraz is the most secure prison of its time. It is believed that no one can ever escape from it, until three daring men make a possible successful attempt at escaping from one of the most infamous prisons in the world.

Director: Don Siegel | Stars: Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Roberts Blossom, Jack Thibeau

Votes: 124,591 | Gross: $43.00M

Excellent thriller.

40. A Patch of Blue (1965)

Unrated | 105 min | Drama, Romance

73 Metascore

A blind, uneducated white girl is befriended by a black man, who becomes determined to help her escape her impoverished and abusive home life by introducing her to the outside world.

Director: Guy Green | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Shelley Winters, Elizabeth Hartman, Wallace Ford

Votes: 7,713

The Best Acting. Raw. Real. Gentle.



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