By Allison McCausland
A&E and Online Editor
Classic movies are often referenced or parodied in current media platforms, but few people actually have seen the films that famous lines, scenes or character caricatures are from. Granted, the dated nature of some can make it hard to sit down and watch, but these gateway gems make watching and finding other films like them a treasure hunt worth uncovering, no matter what genre you’re into.
Film Noir: Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Before the thrillers that engulfed the modern crime genre, there was film noir. Exploring the seedy underside of society, the film selected tells a darker Hollywood story that seems as much believable today than it did with its release in the 1950s. The story begins at the end, narrated by a murdered writer who chronicles how the events unfolded to his untimely demise. Decorated with a love triangle, aging starlet and the glitz and glam of old Hollywood, this film best epitomizes the mysterious record-scratching “So you’re probably wondering how I ended up here” situation that modern audiences obsess over solving.
If you enjoy this you might also like: Touch of Evil, Double Indemnity and Out of the Past
Horror: The Haunting (1963)
Think Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House is scary? Check out its source material. A previous incarnation of the Shirley Jackson novel, this film version of the character study disguised as a horror flick does not disappoint as it became known to critics and filmmakers alike as one of the scariest movies of all time. Although they share similar elements, the difference in certain characters and plot will give a fresh take to viewers who have seen the series while also sustaining and interesting story about the house with tenants that “walk alone.”
If you enjoy this you might also like: The Innocents, Psycho and The Changeling
Romance: Casablanca (1942)
Before Jack and Rose, there was Rick and Ilsa. This tale of lost love and forbidden romance places even higher stakes in the war torn 1940s world. Known for its many memorable quotes, the film sees Humphrey Bogart reunited briefly with his old flame, played by Ingrid Bergman, in the exotic Moroccan city of Casablanca. Their star-crossed love is tested as they fight their feelings while Bergman’s character and her husband attempt to flee the Nazi-occupied city. Although their story can only end somewhere between tragic and bittersweet, even one watch of this film can be the Paris you always have to remember.
If you enjoy this you might also like: The Best Years of Our Lives, Doctor Zhivago and Bonnie and Clyde
Sci-Fi/Fantasy: Forbidden Planet (1956)
Science fiction and fantasy often portray current issues from a futuristic, allegorical perspective, and this film is no exception. Although the surface plot of this film is basically an iteration of Shakespeare’s The Tempest in space, the psychological and sociological themes found within it provide a parallel with what viewers are familiar with today. Revolving around a space crew that finds an abandoned colony with two living inhabitants hiding from the “monsters” that live on the planet, the film’s clear metaphor for McCarthyism at the time of its release is still tangible with the issues associated with Trump’s administration. The film is also notable for its groundbreaking, at the time, visual effects that give it a campiness that cult classics are known for.
If you enjoy this you might also like: The Day the Earth Stood Still, Things to Come and Metropolis
Western: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966)
Everyone’s referenced this title in complicated situations. A genre that was American-inspired and underrated at the time of this film’s release, a reinvention of the western revitalized its popularity with modern audiences during its release. The score alone is enough to draw viewers in while the characters draw out their gun fights, double crosses and standoffs. This film is also a good opportunity to see how Clint Eastwood made his Hollywood name in one of his best and most memorable roles.
If you enjoy this you might also like: The Wild Bunch, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Searchers