If you’re a cinephile this list is not for you. These are films that actually are relatively well known amongst people who watch films as a hobby or a snobbish activity (like me). These are films that I consistently find the people I work with or bump into have simple never even heard of. These are all excellent films. If you’ve never heard of a film on this list you should watch it.
This is my favorite film of all time. I never watch it with anyone because I cry through the whole bloody beautiful affair. It came and went with little fanfare and almost everyone I mention it to has not heard of it. If you haven’t seen this spectacular film watch it tonight.
9. The Big Heat
This is a Noir by one of the great Noir directors: Fritz Lang. It doesn’t feel noirish and it’s very entertaining with some shocking and memorable moments. Of all the film Noirs this maybe the most entertaining for a mainstream audience.
This movie is so weird and wonderful. Kevin Smith always makes personal movies but I think this film is more about his soul than any other. It’s almost like watching his personality just play out on screen. But more importantly this film is solid entertainment. And I don’t mean that in a Fast & Furious way I mean you want to keep watching till the end. It’s good.
7. The Naked Spur
Jimmy Stewart in one of his best films and maybe Anthony Mann’s best film period. It’s entertaining and exciting, everything a western should be.
6. Hard Eight
This is PT Anderson’s best film. It is tight, fast, and entertaining. Everything he’s done since then has been very self indulgent. Here he shows why he was able to get more creative control but this is still his finest moment.
5. The Gunfighter
This is often put forward as a psychological western, the kissing cousin to Film Noir. Whatever it is it’s a solid flick. If you like Gregory Peck watch this. It’s a small western in many ways but after High Noon and My Darling Clementine it might be the best b/w western.
4. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
This is probably the most pure Batman film ever made. I think Nolan’s trilogy is the bar for Batman on film (and really it is the definitive Batman story because it actually tells Batman’s whole story, something that doesn’t exist anywhere else and he gives him a happy ending) but this movie is truly amazing. I think in terms of artistic achievement this is as good as anything Disney or Pixar have ever done. It is fun and mysterious but also heartbreaking and very very Batman. It has everything. If you’ve never seen it you need to watch it.
This is one of the best Bogie films that no one ever talks about. It’s a fun exciting B/W war film with a bit of a Seven Samurai last stand vibe. If you want to see a pure story (everything that happens is a response to the situation) with Bogie as an un ambiguous hero check this film out. This film is not famous anywhere to my knowledge. I only know of it because my Target had it in their bargain area for years. The cover looked stupid. Finally I bought it and loved it.
2. Scarlet Street
Double Indemnity, Laura, Sunset Boulevard…Scarlet Street is better than them all. Until I saw the number 1 film on this list this was my all time favorite Film Noir. It is one of the best most perfect films ever made. The second Fritz Lang Film on this list. If you wonder why Edward G Robinson is so famous…it’s becsue he was a great actor. This film is basically all him and it’s amazing. The Lady in the Window (also Lang and Robinson) is also very good but far inferior to this film.
1. In a Lonely Place
Bogart’s best performance hands down. Also the best Film Noir and one of the best films about Hollywood. It’s simply fantastic. It also showcases what a fantastic actress Gloria Grahame was. This film fires on all cyclinders. It is perfect. Up there with Casablanca, Citizen Kane, It’s a Wonder Life, etc. It should always be in the top ten films ever made but nobody watches it anymore. Go watch it.
Here’s some Hitchcock films you should watch if you haven’t:
Strangers on a Train
But most importantly: Shadow of a Doubt, probably the best Film Hitch ever made
The Lady from Shanghai and A touch of evil by Orson Welles
Red River, Rio Bravo and El Dorado by Howard Hawks
Almost anything by Anthony Mann
The Night of the Hunter (almost anything featuring Robert Mitchum)