Favorite old movieWhat movie can you watch over and over and never get tired of? Mine is "Mildred Pierce," Joan Crawford's character is a strong, independent woman who so fiercely loves her...

Favorite old movie

What movie can you watch over and over and never get tired of? Mine is "Mildred Pierce," Joan Crawford's character is a strong, independent woman who so fiercely loves her daughter that she'll even take the blame for a murder. I just love this movie!

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billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It's funny that nobody seems to have mentioned the movie so often called the best ever made. That would be Citizen Kane, of course. I have watched it probably eight or ten times and could watch it again--but I don't know whether I could keep watching it over and over. Another classic which I have watched more times than I can count is The Third Man. It seems that most really good movies have really good music to go with them. (That is the case with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.) The Third Man uses that eerie zither music throughout. Carol Reed just happened to discover the zither player when he visited Vienna to look for places to shoot scenes. I think Carol Reed also discovered that big ferris wheel and added it to the script. Trevor Howard was very good in that film as the British intelligence officer. Trevor Howard starred in Brief Encounter, which also happens to have an excellent music background consisting of Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto.

But I started to write this answer because I wanted to name one of my all-time favorites which nobody mentions. That is Midnight Cowboy. There again the music track contributes greatly to the whole production. "I'm goin' where the sun keeps shinin' through the pourin' rain..." 

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One film and can watch and have watched many times is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. That long chase scene, beginning with the lawmen jumping off the train on their horses and ending with the two fugitives jumping off the cliff into the river, is really gripping. And the continuity is good. The chase scene leads heroes to decide to move to Bolivia.

Another film I have seen many times is Three Days of the Condor, starring Robert Redford. In the opening scenes the Redford character just happens to go out to get lunch for everybody and when he comes back he finds they have all been murdered. It is uncanny.

But I also like intellectual films like many of those by Ingmar Bergman, including Winter Light, The Silence, Through a Glass Darkly, The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, and others.

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I find it difficult to enjoy really old movies because everything in them looks so primitive. I am not a connoisseur of movie history or anything like that. It seems to me that a big change in movie making took place around the 1940s. The photography became much better, and so did the sound quality. In the old days they had only one big camera and everything had to be shot indoors because they needed complete silence except for the actors speaking their dialogue. I think there was only one microphone suspended above the actors and out of sight. The actors typically took places so that they would all be facing the one camera, and they "projected" their voices as actors do on the stage. All the old movies, of course, were shot in black and white, and they often look grainy. The so-called production qualities bother me so much that I can't enjoy pictures like those of the Marx Brothers. 

Then Hollywood developed better cameras and better film at the same time. They developed the technique of shooting with several cameras and then splicing the best clips together. They can also jump back and forth between the actors, so that we see can see the faces of the different individuals when they are speaking or when they are betraying some thought or emotion with their experession. Film editors became more important. So did dubbing specialists.

So did writers, for that matter. Earlier filmgoers were not so discriminating (after all, they often only paid a nickel), but as better educated people started going to the movies the filmmakers realized that they had to have better writers as well as better directors. That was when they began importing good writers such as Dashiell Hammett, Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and many others from the East Coast. They wanted good dialogue. Raymond Chandler worked with Billy Wilder on the script of Double Indemnity because Wilder was a real pro as a movie maker but Chandler could write excellent dialogue. (I would say that Double Indemnity, starring Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMuirray, and Edgar G. Robinson, is one of the oldies I could watch over and over again, and that I really don't care much for movies that are older than that. That classic film was made in 1944.)

Dashiell Hammett's novels were very popular in Hollywood because he wrote such good dialogue. They made three different versions of his book The Maltese Falcon, but the only good one was the one starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet. That film was made in 1942. Another great 1940s film is The Big Sleep, based on a novel by Raymond Chandler. One of the greatest American writers worked on the script for that film. He was William Faulkner.

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mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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I agree with post 9.  In my family, everyone can use quotes from The Princess Bride for many occasions.  The group which forms to rescue Buttercup, destroy the prince, and kill the man with six fingers is funny, endearing, and on occasion, just plain hysterical.  Another film which gets quoted often is Monty Python and the Holy Grail. One of my daughter's acquaintances used the holy hand grenade speech in their wedding ceremony which of course was not in a church.  The third movie my family uses over and over is A Christmas Story.  Lines from this movie are quoted endlessly.  None of these would suit a literature course, but are favorite movies anyway.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I could watch Guess Who's Coming to Dinner a couple dozen times.  Same goes for Casablanca and All the President's Men. I'd wrap up my off the top of my head list with The Graduate starring Dustin Hoffman.

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Obviously I'm not that old, so mine isn't necessarily a "classic movie" but I have never become sick of The Princess Bride. I love catching it in the middle on TV and just seeing a couple scenes before I go on to something else.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I am completely with #9: Rebecca is an awesome film that never loses its appeal. Also, I really enjoy the black and white version of Julius Caesar. Also, another slightly more modern classic would be Bladerunner, based on a book intriguingly titled Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Unmissable!

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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It's so hard to choose.  I, too, love Frank Capra movies.  I also love The More the Merrier with Joel McCrea.  It's a comedy about the housing crisis in Washington DC during the 40s.

I love anything that Alfred Hitchcock directed, but my favorite is probably Rebecca.

I also think that The Sting with Paul Newman and Robert Redford is the perfect blend of suspense and comedy.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I love John Wayne movies and Gone with the Wind.  Of course, The Wizard of Oz is up there, too.  They all tell great stories, and for the time periods they were made in, the effects are advanced.  I guess I've always loved them, but especially after my film professor in college showed us the behind the scenes stuff he knew, and how to look at the lighting, music, and directorship.  It changes how one experiences a movie, that's for sure!

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sboeman | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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Mine would have to be Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet.  Shakespeare, of course, delved into the human mind and motivations more than anyone else, in my opinion, and Hamlet is such an incredible story about inner struggles and revenge.

The movie also has great cameos by other brilliant actors, and the costuming and set design are brilliant!  Of course, I may be a bit biased since I am a drama teacher as well as an English teacher.  I just love throwing this movie in on any given day and watching it for hours!

The other versions, such as Mel Gibson's and Laurence Olivier's, are great as well, but Branagh, in my opinion, is Hamlet.  I show bits of it in advanced drama class and ask the students if they realize that he's Professor Lockhart from the Harry Potter movie.

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MaudlinStreet | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Anything directed by Frank Capra. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington would probably rank #1, but I love every Capra movie. The man had a gift for revealing the most compassionate and (for lack of a better word) just simply good sides of humanity. I also feel that his movies offer a unique look at American society, codifying traits that are considered part of the American mystique. I feel a sense of affirmation in the basic good of humanity when watching his films. His characters are so powerful...even more so in that they're usually the archetype of everyman.

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teachertaylor | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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I love the 1930 version of All Quiet on the Western Front that was directed by Milestone.  The movie was remade in a color version (in the 70's I think), but this version is definitely not as good as the original.  The cinematography of the 1930 version captures the grittiness of war that Remarque wanted to explore in the novel.

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marbar57 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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I have to agree with #3 about The Wind and the Lion.  It is a wonderful story!  The character Sean Connery portrays was a real gentleman in my eyes.  He was principled and dignified.  It also shows President Roosevelt's grit and honor.  It's truly a must-see movie!

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martinjmurphy | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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A real old movie, like 1925?  How about The Gold Rush with Charlie Chaplin.  This movie always cracks me up--the potato dance is a classic.  Is 1975 considered old?  If so, one of my favorites is The Wind and the Lion with Sean Connery, Candice Bergen and Brian Keith.  Kind of a swashbuckler, kind of a love story.  Great story, great scenery, great acting!  If you haven't seen it, you should.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The movie that I have watched at least twenty-five times is Cool Hand Luke with Paul Newman, George Kennedy, and Stother Martin.  This movie about an unmotivated man who could have been a leader is a great character study.  The other men on the chain gang are also interesting studies of types.  Students have actually loved it in the past and later identified such types in literature.  Of course, some of the lines from this movie are still quoted. ("What we got here is...failure to communicate.  Some men you just can't reach...")

Another movie in which lines have been committed to memory is Arthur starring Dudley Moore, Sir John Geilgud, and Lisa Minnelli. And, of course, Casablanca.

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