Film History and Meaning : A good starting point for watching movies ?

A good starting point for watching movies ?

I hate the feeling that I've missed out on some great films, so like I've started with music and games. I want to watch some old films to if I like some of the old films I'm to young to be aware of.

Looking for your suggestions, I've tried Kelly's Heroes and The Lost World as starting points, but I just can't connect with silent films. I don't mind black and white but I think I require 'talkie' films. My usual favourite genre is Sci-Fi but I do watch other genres.

What year of film do you suggest I start from ?

BTW - I'm talking cinema/theatrical released films and I'm 35 so anything pre 1985 is pretty lost on me.

Re: A good starting point for watching movies ?

Start with anything from about 1939 on; that's around the time when many of the
major films got away from that filmed stage play look and developed a more
cinematic style. Sharp dialogue was at its peak around the '40s, too, as many
of the best writers of the time (Raymond Chandler, Dorothy Parker, etc.) were
involved in writing screenplays. The films of William Wellman are a good starting point, or anything with which the Epstein brothers or Herman Mankiewicz
was involved.

I'm not crying, you fool, I'm laughing!


Re: A good starting point for watching movies ?

I tell everyone my favorite movies are 1939 and before. Just my personal opinion, but I believe when you go back in time I think you find movies with higher moral values. Silent films are wonderful. It's a different art form, more like painting and serious music combined.

Re: A good starting point for watching movies ?

Try watching the Best Picture winners and what people sometimes think should have won. I am doing that right now and I am almost done. I think you get better understanding of film history if you watch at least one film from every year. Most of the winners are good and some great, but even when you see something bad you feel like you learned something and did not just loose time.

Re: A good starting point for watching movies ?

Go by the IMDB Top 250.

Re: A good starting point for watching movies ?

To be honest, i find old movies really boring most of the time, the acting really frustrates me, its way to theatrical but there are alot of crazy and cool movies wich where time far ahead back in the days.

George Melies was awesome, he was a kind of magician with film and used very well made special effects. If you like sci fi then take a loot at this:

Metropolis from Fritz Lang you might like aswell. This movie is beautiful made, I really like the style.

This is from Fritz Lang to:

If you like old experimental stuff you really have to check out the work from Stan Brakhage and Oskar Fischinger. Its abstract and most of the time its without a story.

Re: A good starting point for watching movies ?

I think you mean 'sound' films, not 'talkie' films. A 'talkie' (talky) film would usually mean one that has a lot of talk in it as opposed to action. Like 12 Angry Men (1957). The term you must be thinking of is 'talkies'. That's generally the way to refer to non-silent films.

I suggest you start with Some Like it Hot and Star Wars episode 4 (if you haven't seen it). They are extremely different but great movies. Some good old classics are Double Indemnity (1944) and Casablanca (1942). Or Key Largo (1948). Those are black-and-white. As for action/Sci-fi, try Planet of the Apes (1968).

"Did you make coffee...? Make it!"--Cheyenne.

Re: A good starting point for watching movies ?

Take a look at Roger Ebert's The Great Movies. I'd post a link, but I don't know how. Just Goggle it.
Danny Peary's Cult Movies (3 volumes), is also excellent.
Work your way through these list, you will be very educated in film and it's history. And have a lot of fun.

Re: A good starting point for watching movies ?

I do not think it is the best idea to start at some particular year. But for myself, because of the tiredness of old age I can no longer enjoy silent movies. And if you, because of any other reason have little profit from this category of movies it might be harmful if you tried to force yourself to enjoy what you do not enjoy spontaneously.
But you should not overlook another risk, viz. that you may neglect movies from minor countries.
Earlier during the 1930s there are some excellent movies. “Tabu” by Friedrich Murnau. “You only live once” by Fritz Lang. “A Midsummernight’s Dream” by Max Reinhardt. “The rules of the game” is listed below and was released in 1939.

The following list is just the movie I love most. Maybe they are not in your taste. And you might have noted that many of them are on the tragic side.

“Les enfants du Paradis” (Children of Paradise) by Carné, Marcel (France, 1945)
Many agree that this is the best French movie ever made. Many but not all think it is the best movie ever made in any country. I belong to these. I saw the movie for the first time in 1954 and have never changed my mind about its unique quality.
If you like to read about movies I would in particular recommend, Edward Baron Turk (1989): Child of Paradise. Marcel Carnë and the Golden Age of French Cinema. When reading it I started with chapter 9 which is a survey of the German occupation. The following four chapters are devoted to this single movie.

“A Streetcar Named Desire” by Kazan, Elia (USA, 1950)
[This is the adaptation of the play by Tennessee Williams. I still think this is the best movie made in USA.]

“Professione: reporter” by Antonioni, Michelangelo (Italy/France/Spain, 1972)

“Letiyat zhuravli” (The Cranes Are Flying) by Kalatosov, Mikhail (Russia, 1957)
[This is both a war movie and a love movie. Note in particular the music. There may be movies with more beautiful music, but the great part it had has no rival. In particular not in the sequence starting when Boris’ cousin plays his piano concerto for Boris’ girlfriend during an air attack, and until Boris dies at the front.]

“La dentellière” (The Lace-Maker) by Goretta, Claude (France, 1977)
[I take the liberty to say that I have read the novel that was adapted. It is exceedingly poor waste of time to read it. But someone understood that an excellent movie could be based on it.]

“Fröken Julie” (Miss Julie) by Sjöberg, Alf (Sweden, 1951)
[It was first shown in Paris. It was a world-wide artistic success and the Swedish movie to win the Golden Palm. It was also a world-wide box office success.]

“Les parapluies de Cherbourg” (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) by Demy, Jacques (France, 1963)

“Les nuits fauves” (Violent Nights) by Collard, Cyril (France, 1992)
[When Collard directed this movie and had the main part he was dying in aids. He could not wait until all finances were ready. I think he died four hour after the movie got a great award, probably a cesar.]

“Les dimanches de Ville d'Avray” (Sundays and Cybèle) by Bourguignon, Serge (France, 1961)
[A chaste love story involving a 30-year-old man who after an accident in a war had lost his memory and a 12-year-old girl with no relatives who lives at a Cartholic boarding school. Everybody thinks he is her father.]

“Popiol i diament” (Ashes and Diamonds) by Wajda, Andrzej (Poland, 1958)
[During the German occupation different partisan groups (Nobile, Bourgeois, Workers) live in peace with each other. But on the first day of freedom they start to fight each other. In this plot is weaved a fine love story.]

“Les diables” (The Little Devils) by Ruggia, Christophe (France, 2002)
[See the plot summary]

“La vie d'Adèle “ (Blue is the warmest colour) by Kechiche, Abdellatif (Tunisia, 2010)
[Most people would agree that this is the best Lesbian movie made so far. Many would also agree that it is the most tragic movie ever released. But most people would probably not agree that such a highly quality as “Children of Paradise” and “Blue is the Warmest Colour” are only made once in a century.]

“A Taste of Honey” by Richardson, Tony (UK, 1961)
[It is actually my absolute favourite among all movies from Great Britain.]

“Ikiru” (To Live) by Kurosawa, Akira (Japan, 1952)
[When his wife died 25 years before the movie begin he lived only for his son, but find the son is only planning to place the father on some institution and steal his retirement money. He learns that he has cancer and only a few months left. But he does do something very meaningful of these few months.]

“Monpti” by Käutner, Helmuth (Germany, 1957)
[Of course I always though that Romy Schneider is beautiful and talented. But I also used to think that she is neither more beautiful nor more talented than many other girls in the same movies. Monpti was the movie which made me a Romy-fan. I saw it for the first time in 1988 - the year when she would have been 50 if she had not taken her own life some 7 years earlier.]

“L'immortelle” (The Undeadly One) by Robbe-Grillet, Alain (France, 1963)

“Repulsion” by Polanski, Roman (UK, 1965)
[I am not happy when people watch this as a horror movie. Much of it is the reality for many schizophrenic patients.]

“The Servant” by Losey, Joseph (UK, 1963)

“Great Expectations” by Cuarón, Alfonso (USA, 1997)
[Among all adaptations of Dickens’ novel this is the one I love most.]

“Seppuku” (Harakiri) by Kobayashi, Masaki (Japan, 1962)

“Såsom i en spegel” (Through a Mirror Darkly) by Bergman, Ingmar (Sweden, 1961)

“Auf der anderen Seite” (At Heaven’s Edge) by Akin, Fatih (Germany/Turkey, 2007)

“Il ladre di bambini” (Stolen Children) by Amelio, Gianni (Italy/France, 1992)

“Les demoiselles de Rochefort” (The Girls of Rochefort) by Demy, Jacques (France, 1966)

“Les misérables” by Chanois, Jean-Paul de (France, 1958)

“Smultronstället” (Wild Straw Berries) by Bergman, Ingmar (Sweden, 1957)

“Va, vis et deviens” (Live and Become) by Mihaileanu, Radu (France/Belgium/Israel/Italy, 2005)
[read the plot summary]

“Anita” by Carnevale, Marcos (Argentina, 2009)
[Note! There are at least two very different versions. Anita suffers from Down syndrome and is eimmensely fat and mentally retarded. After a terrorist attack she makes an odyssey through the town. But here comes the difference. In the version I saw at a film festival she meets a large series of people. Almost all think to get rid of her as soon as possible, but also to take natural responsibility of her until she disappears. The photographer is just one I the series. But in the DVD I bought from Taiwan the photographer has a main part, and he certainly does not think of any responsibility.]

“Barfuss” (Barefoot) by Schweiger, Til (Germany, 2005)
[There is both action and fun in this movie, but basically it is a love movie of a kind that is not often made during the last two generations. Nick got a job as a cleaner on a mental hospital, but after one hour he is kicked out. He had left a bottle of soap unguarded and a patient had drunk it. When he leaves he does not detect that a patient, Laila, is following him closely during many street. He does not discover her until she follows him in in the men’s room.]

“Brief Encounter” by Lean, David (UK, 1945)

“Golakani Kirkuk” (The Flowers of Kirkuk) by Kamkari, Fariborz (Italy/Switzerland, 2013)
[Only the finances come from Italy and Switzerland. The plot takes place in Kurdish Iraq. It is both a political and a love movie. Both a partisan and an officer in the dictator’s police are in love with the female doctor.]

“Il portiere di notte” (Night Porter) by Cavani, Liliana (Italy, 1974)
[Max was an SS-man in a German KZ-lager. Lucia was a prisoner. They had a sexual relation. 12 years later Max lives as a night porter in a Viennese hotel under an assumed name. One day an American conductor arrives to conduct at the opera. His wife is Max’ “little girl from then”.]

“Illegal” by Masset-Depasse, Olivier (Belgium/Luxembourg/France/White Russia, 2010)

“Jeanne et le garcon formidable” (Jeanne and the Perfect Guy) by Ducastel, Olivier & Martineau, Jacques (France, 1997)
[A musical, both a love movie and a movie about the fight of homosexuals for forcing the government to taking action about aids.]

“King and Country” by Losey, Joseph (UK, 1964)

“La régle du jeu” (The Rules of the Game) by Renoir, Jean (France, 1939)

“Mickey One” by Penn, Arthur (USA, 1964)

“Pour Elle” (Anything for Her) by Cavayé, Fred (France, 2008)
[The innocent wife got a 20-year prison sentence for a murder. Her husband collects the relevant information and liberates her by force.]

“Priest” by Bird, Antonia (UK, 1994)

“The End of the Affair” by Jordan, Neil (UK, 1998)

“Utsukushisa to kanashimi to” (With Beauty and Sorrow) by Shinoda, Masahiro (Japan, 1965)
[A DVD subtitled in English or Chinese is available from - It is the adaptation of the novel by Yasunari Kawabata who got the Nobèl Prize in 1968. The novel is translated into both English and German.]

“Vargtimman” (The Hour of the Wolf) by Bergman, Ingmar (Sweden, 1968)