Classic Movies to Watch Now (Because You've Finally Got the Time)
If you love movies like we do, you've probably got a long list of titles you've meant to watch for ages — and quite possibly, there are a lot of classic movies on there. It's easy to put off watching the classics, as there are always great new movies to check out.
Now, however, is the perfect time to dive into some of those classics you've had on deck for a long time. Not only are these movies beautifully made, they are just as effective and powerful now as they were originally — and you'll find that a lot of movies from decades past are just as relevant to what's going on today as they were in their own time. Here are five classic movies to watch now.
The African Queen
[Image Credit: Paramount Pictures]
There's nothing very surprising in this story of a well-educated missionary (Katharine Hepburn) who recruits a well-pickled riverboat captain (Humphrey Bogart) to strike back against the German forces which killed her brother in this rollicking World War I adventure-romance. But that's not the point — the appeal of THE AFRICAN QUEEN is the interplay between Hepburn and Bogie, and the assured direction by John Huston. This is the fifth of a spectacular six-movie creative partnership between the Huston and Bogart, which began with THE MALTESE FALCON. Bogie was nominated for three Best Actor Oscars but only took home the statuette once, for this movie. (THE AFRICAN QUEEN is also certainly an influence on Disney's upcoming JUNGLE CRUISE.)
[Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]
Forget for a moment that you've read about this being on top of lists about the greatest movies ever made. Look at CITIZEN KANE this way: Imagine your favorite podcast host got a deal to make a movie and, at 25, turned out a subtle and savage biopic about a media exec like Fox News chief Rupert Murdoch. KANE stands out today because it breaks many informal rules that dictated how classical Hollywood movies were made, which makes it look a lot more like a modern movie than something released in 1941. And while you've probably heard many riffs on the "Rosebud" reveal, the arc of the story still packs an emotional wallop.
[Image Credit: Paramount Pictures]
You could describe SUNSET BOULEVARD as a movie in which a wealthy woman and a new friend hole up in her opulent home to watch movies and reminisce about the past. But this isn't a quarantine rom-com, because the woman is Norma Desmond, masterfully played by Gloria Swanson, a faded silent film star who harbors desperate dreams of reclaiming her Hollywood glory. When luckless screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) enters her life, each quickly sees the other as a possible stepping stone to the success they crave… and the stage is set for an unlikely and ultimately tragic collaboration.
[Image Credit: Toho]
A few things about Akira Kurosawa's action masterpiece make it easy to put off: It's three and a half hours long, and was produced in 1954, long before most of the characteristics we expect from action movies had been developed, and features a story that has been remade and borrowed from so many times that you might think you know what to expect: A village recruits seven warriors to defend against raiding bandits. We promise, however, that SEVEN SAMURAI will surprise you. It is thrilling, moving, absolutely beautiful to look at, and the origin point for so much of what an action movie is now, almost 70 years later.
[Image Credit: MGM/UA]
This is the newest film we're spotlighting, and it might also be the most purely uplifting. Cher stars as a widowed Brooklyn bookkeeper who develops a big problem when she falls in love with Ronny (Nicolas Cage), whose brother Johnny (Danny Aiello) she has already agreed to marry. Cher and Cage are exuberantly delightful, and surrounded by a marvelous supporting cast including Olympia Dukakis and Vincent Gardenia. MOONSTRUCK can be wacky and it isn't shy about inflating simple situations into big problems for comedic effect — but this movie also has a bittersweet quality and a sense of romantic yearning that make it far more than a kooky romance.