18 Underrated Films
#18—Five Graves to Cairo (1943)
#17—Cry of the City (1948)
#16--Panic in the Streets (1950)
In this early Billy Wilder film, themes similar to Casablanca's are explored. Made during WWII, Five Graves has that feeling of authenticity--the emotions are raw--with excellent writing and performances all around.
Victor Mature and Richard Conte achieve great performances and the story is original and veteran director Robert Siodmak gets most out of--pretty gritty crime and sociology.
Interesting Elia Kazan film, with a sinister and very crazy Jack Palance. Richard Widmark is great and so is Barbara Bel Geddes (pre Vertigo)--and an unusual story and superb location filming. Definitely worth a watch!
#15—The Limey (1999)
When Terrence Stamp walks into a police detective’s office (if I remember correctly) and suddenly talks for about two minutes straight, after going through the whole movie without saying nary a word, it’s an amazing moment in a very good film.
#14—A High Wind in Jamaica (1965)
A complex interesting film about children’s relations to adults and other things, from master director Alexander Mackendrick.
#13--In and Out (1997)
Directed by Frank Oz and starring Kevin Kline. Despite an idiotic movie poster, a very funny and sweet film.
#12—A Canterbury Tale (1944)
This is a very English film, so somewhat hermetic (understandably, given when it was made), but a real gem. It inspired the famous time-jump cut in Kubrick’s 2001 (here a jump cut from medieval times to a Spitfire, I believe). Directed by the amazing duo, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.
#11--Le pere Noel est une ordure (Santa Claus is a shit, 1982)
A very funny French film with Thierry Lhermitte and a wonderful cast of great French comic actors.
#10—Les aventures de Rabbi Jacob (The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob, 1973)
Another funny French film with Louis de Funès, who was a huge star over there and for good reason. Slapstick. And a nice message that is still topical.
#9--Eine deutsche Volkssage (Faust, 1926)
One of the all-time great films, but don’t know too many people who have seen it. Directed by Murnau and starring Emil Jannings, has some of the greatest imagery in the history of film. Unbelievable stuff. My secret to watching silent films: Turn off the freakin’ music. Usually it’s so horrible and so grating and not what the director intended. Try and get into the feelings of the characters and the film without any distractions. It’s meditative.
One of those films where the location plays a major role successfully; I want to move to that town (in Canada?). But also well written, funny, and cast up and down with wonderful actors. A really nice love story and Steve Martin’s best film, maybe, though he’s done many good ones.
#7—The Naked City (1948)
Almost like a documentary, filmed entirely on location in New York City, a gritty film-noir procedural police film. A seemingly banal story is amped up by the glory of a million people seen in one of the great cities of all time. Directed by Jules Dassin.
#6--La Strada (1954)
Although critically worshipped, not too many people have seen Fellini’s masterpiece. This film changed my life. A moving, cautionary tale, so powerful I doubt I’ll ever watch it again.
#5--Sciuscià (Ragazzi, Shoeshine, 1946)
Another film that is a quasi-documentary; a harrowing condemnation by Vittorio de Sica on the treatment of children in postwar Italy, but timeless. Just another sign that the biggest problem today and always is not global warming or wars in the Middle East or any of that—but the treatment of children. If we’d learn how to raise children with “real love” (as Lennon would say), then all other problems, for the most part, would go away in a few generations.
#4--Tengoku to jigoku (High and Low, 1963)
Kurosawa’s underrated procedural police film, which is also a study on class systems and other matters in Japan, but true everywhere to some extent. With the great Mifune not playing a samurai. Beautifully shot and unpredictable.
#3—The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers (1973 and 1974)
These two films tell the story of the D’Artagnan and his cohorts in fantastic fashion with an incredible cast: Michael York, Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, Frank Finlay, Geraldine Chaplin, Charlton Heston, Christopher Lee, Faye Dunaway, Raquel Welch, and many great supporting actors, including Spike Milligan. Richard Lester, who directed A Hard Day’s Night (and one or two stinkers), is at his best, with exciting choreographed action and high comedy—and even tragedy. Also a great score.
#2—Green for Danger (1946)
Another during-WWII film that really captures its period with all of its subtleties, while at the same time telling a gripping story; a bit of a whodunit but also a comedy of manners. Again, very English, with a few of the great actors of the period, such as Alastair Sims and Trevor Howard. Not to be missed.
#1--My Darling Clementine (1946)
Again, considered a classic John Ford, but not too many of my contemporaries have seen. Great deep focus shots reminiscent of Greg Tolland; outstanding performances; and an odd bit of Shakespeare in the middle. Well written. A poetic Western.