100 FURIOUS FILM CLASSICS: Volume One

If you love movies you most likely have a lot of favorites from a wide variety of genres. At FC we simply love it all, and we try to celebrate that fact with our lists and reviews. What we really want to do on this site is focus on cinema, not Hollywood gossip and random news being posted everywhere online. So, we’ll continue to stay free of filler as much as possible and keep things as furious as we can for our readers.

For this new list the idea is to take you through the many films that have impressed us the most over the years as cineastes. Many of them were discovered on our own, others we learned about through friends and also from directors we are big fans of.

We hope after reading our list you find some of your own new favorites but, above all, that you continue to explore and enjoy all that cinema (in its many styles, forms) has to offer! – 

PART TWO

King Kong King Kong (1933) – This film really epitomizes the magic of moviemaking for me. It has crude stop motion animation and old fashioned melodrama, yet it’s heart and soul make it endlessly endearing. An exotic adventure film meets Beauty and The Beast styled love story that simply can’t be duplicated.

At The Circus At The Circus (1939) I actually could’ve picked any Marx Brothers film but I went with this simply because it stands out to me as one of their zaniest because of the backdrop which just compliments their already off the wall movie characters. I also particularly love when Groucho sings “Lydia The Tattooed Lady”!

The Great Dictator The Great Dictator (1940) – Charlie Chaplin faced the imposing threat of Hitler and fascism head on with this comedy masterpiece. Chaplin used his trademark humor to address a very serious subject and triumphed with brilliance.

Bringing Up Baby Bringing Up Baby (1938) – This is the second Howard Hawks film I ever saw and I instantly loved it. The screwball antics and continuous bickering between Katherine Hepburn’s free spirited Susan and Cary Grant’s nerdy David always gets me to laugh and smile. Easily one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen.

Citizen Kane Citizen Kane (1941) – Not only is this a treasure in terms of the groundbreaking cinematography and direction, it’s just a very entertaining story about a newspaper tycoon’s turbulent and controversial life. It features top notch acting from Welles and his cast who were at the time mostly unknowns from his Mercury Theater Company. A movie every cineaste should see.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre The Treasure of The Sierra Madre (1948) – A rollicking South of the Border adventure into the mountains to search for gold with three American down and outers played by Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt and Walter Huston is one of John Huston’s finest films and for me an example of storytelling at it’s best.

White Heat White Heat (1949) – Jimmy Cagney at his most ruthless and crazy on film. One thing I’ve always found so interesting about Cagney was his ability to play both nasty gangsters like Cody Jarrett and then do a film like Yankee Doodle Dandy where he’s lighthearted, funny and dances on air. He was an amazing talent/character and this is Grade A crackerjack gangster film.

Sunset Blvd Sunset Blvd (1950) – One of the reasons I love this film is the fact its set around the world of movies. It’s a shady little film noir that slowly pulls you in like quicksand. Gloria Swanson constantly chews her scenes up as the reclusive silent film star Norma Desmond who seems to be always over-acting for a rolling camera that’s in her mind.

Rebel Without a Cause Rebel Without A Cause (1955)James Dean plays Jim Stark the new kid in town who tries his best to fit in but ends up getting into trouble with a gang of rowdy kids at his high school. A turbulent, honest look at what its like to be an outsider and misunderstood by your parents and peers. Dean is brilliant as is the rest of the cast including a young Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo.

East of Eden East of Eden (1955) – Eliza Kazan’s classic based on John Steinbeck’s retelling of the story of Cain and Abel was set in small town Salinas, CA. James Dean plays Cal, an awkward teenager that wants to belong but is constantly in the shadow of his brother Aron (Richard Davalos), the outgoing popular guy with the pretty girl on his arm. Cal’s father (Raymond Massey), a staunchly religious man can’t identify with him in any way. His estranged mother (Jo Van Fleet), a brothel owner, is a cold and distant but Cal seems to identify with her the most. A beautifully shot/acted American fable.

The Night of the Hunter The Night of The Hunter (1955)Robert Mitchum gives a chilling, over the top performance as Reverend Harry Powell, a man who claims to be the lord’s servant but is actually a psycho who is searching for some stolen money that his cellmate hid with his family. The visual stylization by first time director Charles Laughton is extremely captivating and vivid. One of the most haunting works of cinema I’ve ever seen. It was not a success when it was released and Laughton never made another movie. THANKS CRITICS!

Touch of Evil Touch of Evil (1958) – 17 years after his groundbreaking masterpiece Citizen Kane, Orson Welles did his own take on the film noir genre and made a B-movie classic. Welles again proved he was a visual genius and turned what might’ve been a forgettable little crime thriller by another director into something unique and daring.

Bad Day At Black Rock Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)Spencer Tracy gives one of his greatest performances as a one handed war veteran named Macreedy who travels to a small Southwestern town to give a medal to the father of a Japanese-American soldier who saved his life during battle. Macreedy learns the man, Komoko has been killed and the townspeople have covered it up and won’t speak. Determined to find out the truth, Macreedy must face a group of locals who want him to leave and will do what they must to keep him quiet. A hardboiled drama about loyalty and upholding honor and law. Featuring an amazing supporting cast including Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin.

Faces Faces (1968) – Whenever I watch John Cassavetes’ films, I really connect with them, much more than I do with say the Nouvelle Vague era (I’d take a Cassavetes film over a Godard anytime). This film is a prime example of the power of low budget filmmaking and how people in front of a camera expressing all their emotions can be just as entertaining as a big action spectacle. Like with many of his films it’s extremely funny and a realistic view of how human’s interact with each other in all their goofiness and ugliness.

La Strada La Strada (1954) – One of the most emotional film experiences I’ve ever had came from this Fellini film about two traveling performers, a brutish, womanizing strongman named Zampano (Anthony Quinn) and his kind hearted, waifish partner Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina) who is a clown. A deeply affecting tale about how pride and ignorance can destroy love and friendship.

Psycho Psycho (1960) – Hitchcock, like Orson Welles’ and his film Touch of Evil took what was supposed to be a low budget genre exercise and turned into something much more. He essentially made the first true slasher film and brought his mastery of visual storytelling to another level. This movie is a great scene by scene lesson in editing and direction.

Peeping Tom Peeping Tom (1960) – Michael Powell’s disturbing but captivating psychological thriller about an obsessive filmmaker/serial killer comments on the dangers of voyeurism and the twisted results of mental abuse. It is probably even more relevant today than it was when it was made. Sadly, it was a film that seriously damaged Michael Powell’s career due to the critical disdain.

The Hustler The Hustler (1961) – A story about a man with incredible talents as a pool player that can win against anyone, but who loses the things he really cares about due to his pride and self destructive ways. Paul Newman joined Brando and Dean as one of the cool silver screen rebels here. Co-stars Piper Laurie, George C. Scott and Jackie Gleason all deliver some amazing performances.

X: The Man with X Ray Eyes X: The Man With The X Ray Eyes (1963) – Low budgets be damned, Roger Corman created this enthralling, fast paced story about a doctor named Xavier (Ray Milland) who creates a miraculous x-ray vision serum. The only problem is the side effects cause Xavier to go a bit mad. Soon he is on the run from the law while trying to reach the outer limits of the power he has discovered. A fantastic little sci-fi B-thriller that delivers.

Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!(1965) – Three buxom go go girls (Tura Satana, Haji, Lori Williams) take off in their sportscars on a little road trip and find out about an old man who has some money hidden on his land. The girls decide to try to use their good looks to steal it, but their simple plan doesn’t go as easily as they had wished. A super blast of cinematic action and eroticism shot in stark black and white from the busty babe obsessed Russ Meyer.

The Dollars Trilogy The Dollars Trilogy – Not only did Sergio Leone reinvent the American Western but he created three works of post modern cinema that are endlessly rewatchable.

Rosemary's Baby Rosemary’s Baby (1968) – Psychological thrillers don’t get much better than this story about a newlyweds Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and Guy Woodhouse (John Cassavetes) who find themselves living next to satanic cult members in a NYC apartment building. Paranoia and hallucinatory elements crank the tension up to intense levels.

Danger: Diabolik Danger Diabolik (1967) – In the late 60s, America had Adam West as Batman and Italy had a popular fumetti character, the master criminal known as Diabolik (John Phillip Law). Mario Bava crafted a colorful, highly inventive low budget action-adventure film that showcased his brilliance and inventiveness both as a cinematographer and filmmaker.

The Wild Bunch The Wild Bunch (1969) – Sam Peckinpah’s ode to the end of the Old West and the wild world of the outlaw was an ultra-violent masterpiece shot straight from the heart. An epic study of honor among bandits that’s filled with beautiful cinematography, rowdy humor and visceral action.

Midnight Cowboy Midnight Cowboy (1969) – Two outsiders, a male hustler from the South named Joe Buck (Jon Voight) and a grimy street urchin named Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman) become friends and help each other survive in the Big Apple. A very emotional and daring work of counterculture cinema from the end of the 60s. Featuring a fantastic theme/score by Harry Nilsson.

A Clockwork Orange A Clockwork Orange (1971) – When Stanley Kubrick made a movie, he really took you to the edge emotionally and psychologically. With this film he was able to take the audience on a ride with a maniacal thug named Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell) and amazingly do it with an elegance and comedic wit.

Jeremiah Johnson Jeremiah Johnson (1972) – A Mexican-American War veteran (Robert Redford) moves to Colorado to try his hand at living in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains. Johnson must battle the brutally cold environment and several of the native Indians who see him as an unwanted presence. An epic journey that takes him from being another wandering scavenger to becoming a living legend.

Super Fly Super Fly (1972) – An intimate look at a supercool drug dealer (Ron O’Neal) who wants to make one last big score and do something else with his life. Featuring a soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield that still sounds as funky and cool as it did when it was first released.

Deliverance Deliverance (1972) – Four friends (Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty) from the city decide to go on a weekend canoe trip on a Georgia river only to discover they’ve entered a very deadly domain. A classic survival-adventure film that shows the vulnerability and endurance of man.

Mean Streets Mean Streets (1973) – Scorsese fans who want to know what it was like to live in his Italian-American neighborhood and hang out with low level mafia members when he was growing up just need to watch this funny, violent and brilliantly acted/filmed powder keg of personal cinema.

The Godfather Trilogy The Godfather TrilogyFrancis Ford Coppola didnt enjoy making these films which is strange because for me they’re all perfect movies. Yes, even the third one with Sofia Coppola, who I liked in her role as Mary Corleone. I’ve watched these movies more times than any others on this list.

Carrie Carrie (1976) I never read Stephen King’s book but I’ve watched this film by Brian DePalma many times over the years and I regard it as one of the most enjoyable works of cinema because of it’s unique mixture of teenage angst, goofy and dark humor. DePalma’s own personality/style and his influence from Hitchcock merged wonderfully making it his first true Hollywood studio masterpiece. I think from this point on his purely visual filmmaking just got more creative.

Django Django (1966) – Sergio Corbucci’s answer to Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars is equally as entertaining, although I do have a problem with the American dubbed voice of Django (Franco Nero). Even with that flaw I still regard it as a truly excellent spaghetti western I can revisit often.

Annie Hall Annie Hall (1977) – I started out watching Woody’s “early funny movies” like many cineastes and slowly worked my way up to this film. I consider it a romantic comedy masterpiece and its one of my all time favorite movies, way up at the top of my list. The way Woody utilized the different tools of cinema storytelling (from breaking the fourth wall to split screen to animation) along with his sense of humor all while making us care and love his characters in the way he did is just special. If I was restricted to watching only one Woody movie for the rest of my life, it would be this one.

Apocalypse Now Apocalypse Now (1979) Take a script written by avid surfer turned screenwriter/director John Milius about The Vietnam War based on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness give it to the daring auteur Francis Ford Coppola. Now put the production in The Phillipines, throw in a cast of young actors then add drugs, an overweight, dictator-like Marlon Brando and a coked up Dennis Hopper. That will give you just an inkling of whats in store for you. It’s an incredibly daring, surreal men on a mission epic and film like no other ever made.

Mad Max Mad Max (1979) – To me, this is what you’d get if Sergio Leone had made an Ozploitation film with muscle cars. Its also got an aspect of comic book mythology going on. Whatever George Miller set out to do, he accomplished that and created a high octane cult classic.

Jaws Jaws (1975) – In the realm of terrifying films this ranks up with the very best. Spielberg took our fear of the dangers of the deep and brought that to the big screen with a psychological brilliance. The film, which was close to being a complete disaster because of the mechanical sharks malfunctions, was really saved by Hitchcock style visual execution and editing. One thing that isn’t often said about this movie is the fact that as well as being part of the eco-terror subgenre it’s also a kind of high seas adventure as well. The iconic theme by composer John Williams brought another level of atmosphere it needed as well.

Friday the 13th Friday the 13th (1980) – As far as the 80s slasher genre goes, this low budget horror-thriller remains one of my most favorite. Although it’s short on plot/story, it has alot of grassroots charm and exceptional Special FX (by Tom Savini) and also acts as a time capsule of when it was made.

Dressed To Kill Dressed To Kill (1980) – This film is special to me because of how it’s almost a purely visual experience. DePalma combined aspects of Italian giallo cinema and Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and re-invented the psychological thriller bringing in his own sense of humor, eerie dream sequences and the topic of doppelgangers and the split personality. A lush, beautifully shot, mind bending thriller that is as trademark DePalma as they come.

Blade Runner Blade Runner (1982) – Ridley Scott’s futuristic sci-fi neo noir is an example of how style over substance can actually work when handled right. Harrison Ford plays a police detective/android hitman who must track down and kill a gang of Replicants who have escaped an Off World colony and are hiding on Earth. The atmosphere, special FX and cinematography are some of the greatest ever brought to the big screen. The score by Vangelis is an electronic mood enhancer that truly compliments the visceral adventure.

The Thing The Thing (1982) – John Carpenter’s update of the original Christian Nyby/Howard Hawks film is an example of what all remakes should try to do. Every aspect of the original film is improved on. The alien being who crashes on Earth is changed from a giant walking vegetable into a parasitic organism that can hide and change into different living things, albeit in a VERY gory and shocking way. The film uses the fact noone knows who’s real or the alien as a way to ramp up the paranoia making it an incredibly tense psychological horrific nailbiter.

Repo Man Repo Man (1984)Alex Cox blended the science fiction and comedy genres to create this strange, energetic story about a punk kid named Otto (Emilio Estevez) who becomes a repo man under the tutelage of Bud Wiser (Harry Dean Stanton). The two go on the search for a stolen Chevy Malibu that is rumored to contain a trunkful of dead aliens. The movie is a unique slice of 1980s Reagan era weirdness filled with colorful characters and a rockin soundtrack featuring such acts as Black Flag, The Circle Jerks, The Plugz and Iggy Pop.

Enter The Dragon Enter The Dragon (1973) – This is what I refer to as “The Citizen Kane of kung fu movies”. Bruce Lee’s final swan song is a James Bond-ian adventure that showcases his martial arts prowess and contains some extraordinary fight sequences. Lee goes undercover at a kung fu tournament to infiltrate and expose a renegade Shaolin monk (Shih Kien) who is operating a heroin plant and pimping out young girls as prostitutes.

Raising Arizona Raising Arizona (1987) – The Coen Brothers take us on a mad as hell adventure with an ex-con named H.I. McDonough (Nicolas Cage) and his young wife Ed (Holly Hunter), who happens to be a police officer. The two cant have kids of their own due to “Ed’s insides being a rocky place where his seed can find no purchase” so they decide to steal a baby from Nathan Arizona, a well to do furniture salesman. The screwball hijinks ensue as the pair must keep their friends in the dark and evade a crazy biker (Randall “Tex” Cobb) who has been sent from hell to get back the stolen child. One of The Coen’s most enjoyable and zany cinematic excursions.

Evil Dead 2 Evil Dead 2 (1987) – I first saw this on video back in the late 80s and never forgot the experience I had because it was something I hadnt seen before. Sam Raimi is a friend of The Coens so if you watch this film after something like Raising Arizona you can see a similar approach to the off the wall action. This is basically a remake of the original Evil Dead, but has better production value and goes even further into gory, over the top comedy “splatstick”. A low budget horror comedy classic.

GoodFellas GoodFellas (1990)Martin Scorsese took this story about a despicable albeit likable wiseguy and his life in the Mob and turned it into a beautifully realized work of art. Simply one of the greatest films ever made regardless of its genre.

King of New York King of NY (1990)Christopher Walken gives one of his most memorable performances as a ruthless crime kingpin who has been released from prison after several years and must try to relinquish his place in the underworld. Only he’s got both the rival gangsters and a group of vengeful cops who he must deal with. A hardcore vision of urban crime that is one of Abel Ferrara’s best works.

Glengarry Glen Ross Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) – There are films that have to use CGI, action and flashiness to create drama and thrills and there are those that can just use dialogue and great acting to give you the same emotions. This is one of the finest of that type.

Cinema Paradiso Cinema Paradiso (1988) – For me this is one of the greatest love letters to cinema and is also a personal study of how it effects those who escape into the darkness of the theater and experience all the different emotions and magic films possess.

Stay Tuned for PART 2: Coming Soon!

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Peter

Editor-In-Chief of The Grindhouse Cinema Database and Furious Cinema. Pete is an avid movie geek who enjoys everything from wild n' crazy exploitation and cult films to popular mainstream classics.

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