This week’s picks include classics and cult faves. There’s only one foreign film in the bunch for a change of pace. Two of the films come from the same director, though one is a frightening drama and the other is a sci-fi. There’s a screwball detective comedy and a Spanish psychopath on the Amazon drama. It’s heavy on the 30s and the 70s.


The films are: Aguirre Wrath of God, It Happened One Night, Don’t Look Now, Notorious, Fight Club, The Thin Man, The Man Who Fell to Earth




50. Aguirre Wrath of God 1972

This film began my love affair with Werner Herzog. His longtime collaborator and nemesis Klaus Kinski stars as the ruthless and insane Don Lope de Aguirre. It’s the 16th century and the legend of the gold covered city of El Dorado has attracted the Spanish. Aguirre and a full retinue of soldiers contend with the jungle as they make their way over the Andes and  towards the imagined riches. A young royal woman in lace and velvet accompanies them, carried through the treacherous landscape in a sedan chair.

They arrive at the Amazon River and with only a handful of men left and they board a makeshift raft. But Aguirre will not hear any dissent in the ranks and grows more and more insane as his greed overcomes him. One by one everyone goes mad. It’s one of the most visually striking films out there.




51. It Happened One Night 1934

Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert star in this rom-com as Peter, an out-of-work reporter, and Ellie, an heiress on the run, who meet on a bus. She’s newly married, but her father disapproves of the husband, so he kidnapped her just after the ceremony. But she got away and is on the way back to her hubby. Peter recognizes her and sees a scoop. And when they are stranded together when the bus leaves them behind at a stop, he makes a deal with her not to give her up if he gets the exclusive on her story. At first they’re like oil and water, but as they make their way north, their chemistry heats up. It’s one of the best of the era.

Frank Capra directed. And it won 5 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Adaptation.





52. Don’t Look Now 1973

This one scared me to death. A British couple’s young daughter drowns, sending them both in a trough of deep grief. John (Donald Sutherland) is an architect and is hired to do some restoration work on a church in Venice. His wife Laura, (Julie Christie) comes along and meets a psychic there who tells her she can see her daughter and that she’s happy. But then John begins seeing a little girl in a red cape, just like the one his daughter was wearing when she drowned. But she’s always just out of reach, and he’s desperate to talk to her. No spoilers, but you’ll jump out of your seat.

It was directed by another of my favorite directors, Nicolas Roeg (Walkabout, The Man Who Fell to Earth) and the story comes from Daphne Du Maurier (Rebecca, The Birds).




53. Notorious 1946

One of my favorites of all time. I’ve watched it again and again and it never gets old. It’s Hitchcock at his best. Set in the years just after WWII, Ingrid Bergman stars as Alicia, the daughter of a convicted German spy and a bon vivant. She’s approached by government agent Devlin (Cary Grant) and asked to spy on her Dad’s old Nazi buddies in Rio de Janeiro, somewhat as atonement for her father’s sins. She reluctantly agrees to do it.

Once in Rio she’s tasked with trying to get close to one of the leaders, Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains). He was friends with her father and falls for her immediately. He’s older but she marries him anyway so she can get even closer. But meanwhile she and Devlin as falling for one another. And the closer she gets to the Nazis, the more danger she’s in and the more concerned the usually remote agent Devlin becomes. The scene with the wine bottles is one of the tensest ever. I love this movie!!

It garnered two Oscar nominations: Best Supporting Actor for Claude Rains and Best Screenplay for Ben Hecht.



54. Fight Club 1999

This one is a modern classic. From David Fincher (Se7en, The Social Network), it stars Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden and Edward Norton as the nameless Narrator. Also along for the crazy ride is Helena Bonham Carter playing a chain-smoking, wacko love interest. It’s a a hard one to describe because it’s such a well done fantasy with so many unexpected twists and turns and violence. It’s anti-consumer and anarchistic and totally engrossing and mind stretching. And a great script.

We’ve all heard the line, “The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club,” but you’ll want to talk about this movie after you’ve watched it. Pitt and Norton are perfect as the buddies on a mission. It’s a dark and disturbing film that you’ll remember for years to come.





55. The Thin Man 1934

Why can’t we do screwball comedies any longer? This is the first of the Thin Man movies, and they’re all fabulous. There are six in all.  Nick is a retired detective and Nora is his wife. They’re a high society couple who seem to fall into murder mysteries. They along with their dog Asta, solve them of course, but with a lot of comedy, witty banter, and cocktails galore along the way. If you’ve seen one, you’ll want to watch them all! In this first one, they’re drawn into a case of a missing father who may be a murderer.

Nick and Nora Charles were creations of the noted detective fiction writer Dashiell Hammett. They’re played by one of the greatest screen couples ever, William Powell and Myrna Loy. Nora’s an heiress and they’re newly married when the film starts. They drink too much, play too hard, and generally have a lot of fun. You will too!

The first film surprised even the studio in garnering four Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Adaptation.



56. The Man Who Fell to Earth 1976

I already loved Bowie as a singer/performer, but his dramatic turn in this one was a surprise. It was his first feature and led to a string of other great cinematic roles. In it, he stars as an alien from a dying planet, who crash lands on earth and poses as a human to try and get water for his people. His knowledge of alien technology allows him to start a hi-tech company and make billions, enough to build the starship he needs to get home. But of course there are complications. He falls prey to the vices of Earthlings: booze, sex and television.

Besides Bowie there are great performances from Rip Torn as the scientist who helps him, and Candy Clark as his lover, Mary Lou, and Buck Henry as Oliver Farnsworth, his lawyer and the head of his company.  It’s also from Nicolas Roeg (see above, Don’t Look Now).



All of these are streaming and some of the older ones you can find at your library.

And in case you missed them, here are the links to the previous weeks: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3.  Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7

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