Like another unwanted Kevin James film, I’m back! So far I’ve covered 120 films that have, in some way or another, inspired or moved me. There are still loads more that, if I was being a little more rigid in the organisation, would have been featured already. But, there is no order to this and I like it that way…
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963)
The second of Ian Fleming‘s James Bond novels to be filmed, From Russia With Love is seen by many as one of the definitive spy films ever made. Hot on the heels of Dr No‘s success and, once again, starring Sean Connery as 007 FRWL is a darker tale than it’s predecessor. Involving an assassination plot, double agents, white-haired killers and dangerous footwear, FRWL is a great Cold War thriller. Robert Shaw‘s Red Grant is a fine adversary to Bond but it’s Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) who most remember from this film with her fondness for a poison-tipped shoe!
WATCH IT FOR: The tightly-wound train fight with Bond and Grant
THE LADY IN WHITE (1988)
Halloween 1962. A young boy, locked in the school closet, sees the ghost of a young girl who was murdered and her killer. He soon finds himself being stalked by the killer and to the house of the mysterious Lady In White who might hold the key to finding out who killed the little girl. This is a superb little chiller starring Lukas Haas (Witness) as Frank who discovers that the killer might be closer than he thought.
WATCH IT FOR: The trailer
SAFETY LAST (1923)
As a kid in the 80s, I used to love watching Harold Lloyd in a filler programme that showcased his stunts and comedy (catchy theme tune too!) but it wasn’t until I was much older that I really appreciated the talent that man had. Safety Last is probably his most famous due to the ridiculously breath-taking stunt on the clock face. The plot of the film sees Lloyd as a store clerk who organises said publicity stunt but, due to unforeseen circumstances, is forced to take part in the stunt himself. Lloyd was right up there for me, along with Chaplin and Keaton, but isn’t as fondly remembered as he should be. He was a true genius of early cinema and should be respected as such.
WATCH IT FOR: THAT scene!
ATTACK THE BLOCK (2011)
The big-screen directorial debut of comedian Joe Cornish (Adam & Joe) this urban thriller sees a group of South London teens take on an alien invasion. This is such a great, fun movie that mashes up many genres to produce one of the surprise hits of the decade. Starring Jodie Whittaker and a pre-Star Wars John Boyega, Attack The Block deserves repeat viewing and to reach a bigger audience.
WATCH IT FOR: The hallway scene
LETHAL WEAPON 2 (1989)
It was almost inevitable that Riggs & Murtagh would return after the huge success of the first Lethal Weapon film. Once again, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover return for Richard Donner‘s follow-up to the 1987 smash-hit. This time, the detective pair come up against some dangerous South African diplomats who are using their immunity to deal drugs and other illegal activities. Along the way they pick up a witness (the brilliant Joe Pesci as Leo Getz) and Patsy Kensit as a love interest for Riggs. Although not as gritty as the original, this still has plenty going for it, not least the chemistry between Gibson, Glover and Pesci.
WATCH IT FOR: Riggs on suitably nutty form!
MURDER BY DEATH (1976)
One of a number of films released in the 70s and 80s to revive the old, dark mansion house style. The world’s greatest detectives and their sidekicks are invited to one such mansion to solve a mystery. From writer Neil Simon, Murder By Death crams in all the jokes and homages that you can imagine while the star-studded cast appears to have a ball playing these characters. David Niven, Maggie Smith, Peter Sellers, Eileen Brennan and Peter Falk to name just a few, but it’s Alec Guinness as Bensonmum, the blind butler, who steals the show.
WATCH IT FOR: Blind butler and deaf maid!!
A gay man, fired by his law firm because of his condition hires a homophobic lawyer in order to win a wrongful dismissal suit. In anyone else’s hands, this film could have been overly sentimental but it’s thanks to the skill and talent of the late Jonathan Demme that Philadelphia reached the wider audience. Tom Hanks stars as Andrew Beckett, the man dying of AIDS who hires Denzel Washington‘s lawyer to fight his case. Both actors are on top form but it’s Hanks who shines in the role that bagged him his first Academy Award for Best Actor. It’s not an easy watch by any means, but it’s an important film to see and one that lasts long in the memory.
WATCH IT FOR: One of the most moving scenes – La Mamma Morta
REAR WINDOW (1954)
There aren’t many directors that could have pulled off such a daring masterpiece as this, but Alfred Hitchcock did. And what a joy it is, too! James Stewart plays a photojournalist who, following an accident, is wheelchair bound and bored. He begins to spy on his neighbours to pass the time and stumbles across what appears to be a murder. He enlists the help of his girlfriend, brilliantly played by Grace Kelly, to be his ‘legs’ on the case. It’s full of all the usual Hitchcockian suspense and Stewart and, in particular, Kelly are just wonderful.
WATCH IT FOR: A closer look…
THE SIXTH SENSE (1999)
Bruce Willis plays a child psychologist who takes on the case of a young boy (Haley Joel Osment) who “sees dead people”. The trouble is, these dead people don’t know that they are dead and just won’t leave this poor kid alone. Director M. Night Shyamalan creates such a creepy and chilling atmosphere in this film that for some, especially me when I first saw it, the twist at the end comes as a complete surprise. Willis’ performance here is a revelation compared to his previous action hero roles but the film belongs to Osment who is old before his years and deservedly received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the tormented Cole Seer.
WATCH IT FOR: As iconic moments in film go, this is up there!
WEST SIDE STORY (1961)
An award-winning adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, West Side Story is an epic tale of two rival street gangs in New York. The Jets, lead by Riff (Russ Tamblyn) and The Sharks, lead by Bernardo (an Oscar-winning George Chakiris) can no longer coexist without breaking into fighting. Matters are made worse when Riff’s friend and former Jet Tony (Richard Beymer) falls in love with Bernardo’s younger sister, Maria (Natalie Wood). Fighting seems to be the only way to solve the rift between them, but that only leads to tragedy. This is a heart-stomping, mood-lifting, song-and-dance spectacular like no other. The winner of 10 Academy Awards (including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress for Rita Moreno), West Side Story is a must-see movie, whether you’re a fan of movie musicals or not.
WATCH IT FOR: Just one of the fantastic song-and-dance routines
Another eclectic batch of films, don’t you think? There’s plenty more where that came from – I’ve already started compiling the next list – so, if you fancy it, please drop me a line and let me know what you think of the 130 films I’ve showcased so far. Are any of your favourites in there? Are there any you think shouldn’t be there at all? Whatever you think, I’ll be happy to hear from you…unless you’re making nasty comments in which case I’ll just tut loudly and shake my head! Right, I’m off to have some red wine with fish…