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Classics you must see!

One of my best memories of childhood is settling down on a winter afternoon, with my mum, in front of the TV for the Sunday Afternoon Classic.

Together we sobbed our way through Waterloo Bridge, failed to follow the thread of The Big Sleep, learnt American history from Scarlett O’Hara, hummed along with West Side Story and tut-tutted when Alida Valli rejected Joseph Cotton in The Third Man.

I always imagined I’d enjoy the same bonding sessions with my own children but somehow Casablanca failed to grip their imaginations – black and white? No CGI? What’s this guy called again? Humphrey? Weird name for an actor.

I soon found I had to jump a decade or three before they could engage in what they saw as a “classic” movie. But there was an upside. Films I had experienced as part of my own progress through adulthood were presented in an entirely new light. Some had vintage stamped all over them; others were, well, showing their age. And some were a revelation. I had been too young, or too distracted, or too prejudiced, when I had first seen them but now they revealed their hidden delights to me.

So here’s a small sample of the good, great and not so great from the past three decades or so.

Triple-a bona fide masterpiece

  • The Last Picture Show
  • Days of Heaven
  • The Conversation
  • Blue Velvet
  • American Beauty
  • Mean Streets
  • Throne of Blood
  • Midnight Cowboy
  • Chungking Express
  • Chinatown
  • Spirit of the Beehive
  • Downfall

Absolute must-sees

  • Star Wars
  • Hana-bi
  • Run, Lola Run
  • Lone Star
  • The Sweet Hereafter
  • Hoop Dreams
  • Pixote
  • The Godfather
  • The Vanishing (original Dutch version)


  • Apocalypse Now (first half)
  • Wake in Fright
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  • Manhattan
  • Blade Runner
  • Alien
  • Red Sorghum
  • The Marriage of Maria Braun
  • Annie Hall
  • Taxi driver
  • La Haine
  • Raise the Red Lantern
  • In the Mood for Love
  • Fargo
  • The Barbarian Invasions
  • Gallipoli

Definitely worth your time and commitment

  • The Killing Fields
  • The Graduate
  • Don’t Look Now
  • All the President’s Men
  • Network
  • American Graffitti
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Dog Day Afternoon
  • Do the Right Thing
  • Thelma and Louise
  • The Usual Suspects
  • Body Heat
  • Matador
  • Chariots of Fire
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • They Shoot Horses Don’t They?
  • Dr Strangelove
  • The Wedding Banquet
  • Eat Drink, Man Woman
  • Once Upon a Time in China
  • Ran
  • Kagemusha
  • The Odd Angry Shot
  • Saturday Night Fever
  • Deliverance
  • Talk to Her
  • Donnie Darko
  • Newsfront

Still worth a look

  • This is Spinal Tap
  • Koyaanisqatsi
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  • Easy Rider
  • The Electric Horseman

Kinda weird but interesting

  • The Swimmer
  • Rocky Horror Picture Show

What was I thinking?

  • The Piano
  • Shine
  • Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
  • The Deerhunter
  • Apocalypse Now (second half)


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