A Classic American Movie Primer – 5 to Start With

All About Eve: Bette Davis plays the middle-aging Broadway superstar Margot Channing, who fears losing her popularity with age.  Who can eclipse her in the dog eat dog world of show biz?  George Sanders is wonderful as the cynical critic Addison DeWitt, whose bimbo de jour is played by Marilyn Monroe.  All About Eve was nominated for fourteen Oscars and won six.

If you like All About Eve, try The Best Years of Our Lives, To Kill a Mockingbird and 12 Angry Men.



The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: John Ford was the greatest director of Westerns and this is his masterpiece, showcasing both James Stewart and John Wayne.  It took one kind of man to explore and tame the West and another kind of man to bring peace and prosperity.   Ford uses the genre of the Western to deconstruct the mythology of the West.

If you like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, try The Searchers and My Darling Clementine.



Strangers on a Train:  Alfred Hitchcock was the master of building tension, especially about ordinary folks who become entangled in someone else’s dastardly plot. Here, the tennis match and the carousel scene are great set pieces.  Robert Walker plays one of the creepiest villains in movie history.

If you like Strangers on a Train, try North By Northwest and Rope.



Double IndemnityFilm noir is a French term for an American concept – the dark and cynical stories of men who are tempted by money and bad girls, all filmed in dramatic shadows.  Billy Wilder’s  Double Indemnity is one of the best, about a guy who is just selling insurance until he meets a woman he can’t resist.

I you like Double Indemnity, try The Maltese Falcon, Laura, The Third Man and Out of the Past.



Sullivan’s Travels:  The great Preston Sturges created this fast-paced and cynical comedy about a pretentious movie director who goes out to be inspired by The Average Man – and gets more of an adventure than he expects.

If you like Sullivan’s Travels, try Twentieth Century, My Man Godfrey, Arsenic and Old Lace and Some Like It Hot.

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