Top 10 Old Movies That Still Hold Up Today

220px-the_way_we_wereA while back, I had the pleasure of visiting author Joanne Guidoccio’s blog. It’s a great blog — all sorts of author interviews and fun stuff — but in case you missed it the first time, I’m reposting it here:

Top 10 Old Movies That Still Hold Up Today (in my humble opinion)

1969: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Featuring a young Paul Newman and Robert Redford as Butch and Sundance, the two leaders of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang. Butch is all ideas, Sundance is all action and skill. The west is becoming civilized and when Butch and Sundance rob a train once too often, a special posse begins trailing them no matter where they run. Oh…and Newman and Redford were smoking hot…

1973: The Way We Were. The story of Katie Morosky (Barbra Streisand) and author Hubbell Gardiner (Robert Redford) during the late 1930s to the late 1950s. A heartbreakingly beautiful love story that still makes me cry.

the-sting1973: The Sting. Newman and Redford are back (and still hot)! When a mutual friend is killed by a mob boss, two con men, one experienced (Newman) and one young (Redford) try to get even by pulling off the big con on the mob boss. I can remember seeing this at the show on Christmas Day (release date) and the audience stood up and clapped at the end.

1975: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) has a criminal past and has once again gotten himself into trouble and is sentenced by the court. To escape labor duties in prison, McMurphy pleads insanity and is sent to a ward for the mentally unstable. He rebels against an oppressive nurse (Louise Fletcher) and rallies up the scared patients (including a very young Danny DeVito). If you haven’t seen this, you must.

51k0Vu16EhL._SY300_1976: A Star is Born. Talented rock star John Norman Howard (Kris Kristofferson) has seen his career begin to decline. Then he meets the innocent, pure and very talented singer Esther Hoffman. He shows Esther the way to stardom while forsaking his own career. As they fall in love, her success only makes his decline even more apparent. The fact that Kristofferson is drop dead gorgeous doesn’t hurt. [In fact, I patterned Levon Larroquette, a major character in The Hanged Man’s Noose, after Kris].

overboard_film1987: Overboard. A cruel but beautiful heiress (Goldie Hawn) screws over a hired carpenter (Kurt Russell), who later is the first one to find her when she gets amnesia. Looking for a little revenge he convinces her that she’s his wife. One of the best endings ever. Love the macaroni necklace.

1989: When Harry Met Sally. Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) meet when she gives him a ride to New York after they both graduate from the University of Chicago. The film jumps through their lives as they both search for love, but fail, bumping into each other time and time again. The best New Year’s Eve movie EVER.

1990: Pretty Woman. Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) in a legal but hurtful business needs an escort for some social events, and hires a Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts), a beautiful prostitute … only to fall in love. Love the shopping scene on Rodeo Drive.

primal_fear_1996_film_poster1996: Primal Fear. An altar boy (Edward Norton) is accused of murdering a priest, and the truth is buried several layers deep. Richard Gere stars as the lawyer defending him. Norton was nominated for Best Supporting Actor (and should have won).

1996: The First Wives Club. Reunited by the death of a college friend (Stockard Channing), three divorced women (Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Bette Midler) seek revenge on the husbands who left them for younger women. My go-to movie when I’m feeling down. It always makes me laugh out loud.

What each of these movies has in common are characters we want to believe in, and a story that allows us to suspend disbelief for the time we invest in it. That’s my goal, as an author, whether I’m writing a short story or a novel. So what about you? Do you have a favorite old movie that still holds up today?

17 responses to “Top 10 Old Movies That Still Hold Up Today

  1. Judy Penz Sheluk

    It sounds wonderful!

  2. Ditto.

    I tend to prefer Meryl in her more “serious” roles like Sophie’s Choice or The French Lt.’s Woman – to me, it seems her energy is a tad “heavy” in some of her comedic roles (I thought she missed a lot of the comedy in Heartburn that Valerie Harper wouldn’t have, for example – whom I would have cast), but Meryl was spot on in Prada. Didn’t miss a beat! I was relieved to hear that the reports of her death earlier this month turned out to be a stupid internet hoax. Sheesh!

    Thanks to a personal connection, I was one of the few who had the opportunity to see Waiting for Godot in NYC with Steve Martin, Robin Williams, F. Murray Abraham and Bill Irwin. It was a short run in a small venue – but those of us who managed to get a ticket were treated to seats practically on stage with them – which also allowed them to fill their performances with nuance, knowing it will be seen and heard by the entire audience. It was one of the highlights of my theatre-going life!

  3. Judy Penz Sheluk

    We have another thing in common! I loved The Devil Wears Prada and I do not get the humor movies like The Hangover or Bridesmaids. An excellent film of rom-com elevated is It’s Complicated. Steve Martin at his best. Meryl is always wonderful, as is Alec Baldwin. Fun to have a discussion with you!

  4. Interesting indeed – taste in films seems broader, even, than taste in people. And I don’t dislike all of the newer films, even though I seem to like a greater percentage of the ones a few years back and older. As a theatre grad, I adored my film history classes in college – discussing the elements of the films screened and required as part of the curriculum. (You could even bring popcorn and a date to the screening portion!)

    As with my choice of reading material, I look for in-depth character, theme and story development. In more recent films, visuals have replaced much of what used to be carried in dialogue, and they seem overly-fond of repeated “action” scenes for my taste. If I’d find many pages describing car chases or a ninja fights a waste of limited reading time, I won’t be enchanted by sitting through many minutes of similar on screen (large screen or small), no matter how loud and exciting they attempt to make the score. I’m not even crazy about the stage fights many Shakespeare productions add “to keep audience interest” – no matter how well done.

    I do tend to like the more recent dramatic offerings more than the comedies, which seem to have strayed most from what I find truly funny (especially American films). One of the relatively recent films I loved was The Devil Wears Prada – so nothing is black and white, of course. But I’ve never found slapstick funny, even the almost revered Jerry Lewis. It brings to mind the childhood antics of younger brothers – which they found hilarious, of course, while I rolled my yearning to be grown up eyes (or The Three Stooges – the appeal of which I’ve never understood!)

    Wars and horse races, as they say. Taste is taste, and discussion is fun, as long as nobody personalizes. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

  5. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thanks for your input Madelyn! Isn’t it funny how we are all so different. I loved the whole Goldie’s lips stuff in FWC and the end scene where they sing You Don’t Own Me and walk away, all wearing white. Love it! I do love your movie list with 2 exceptions. Tootsie, to me, was Hoffman at his worst, and I don’t think Breakfast at Tiffany’s holds up any longer, though I love Capote and Hepburn. Funny Girl was a particular fave. Haven’t seen it in forever. Must try and find it.
    I do think they still make some fine films (The Hurt Locker, Spotlight, and The Dressmaker with Kate Winslet come to mind) but there does seem to be a lot of comic book hero stuff, which isn’t my cup of tea. If you like Capote, you must try to watch the film Capote with the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman in the title role. It nearly made my top 10, and in fact, on another day, it might have.

    All the best to you. Thank you for stopping by. Hope to hear from you again.

  6. I wildly agree with every single one of your choices except the last – didn’t care for the First Wives movie AT ALL, even the first time around. I’m holding my breath hoping that the remake won’t make the same choices with younger actresses. (My then fiance hated it so much he insisted on picking the movies for our movie dates henceforth, and on polling our theatre buds for their thoughts before trusting ANY of my suggestions!)

    Although the script & premise were incredibly clever and I love the rest of the work of every single actress in it, to me it seemed that the person tasked with holding the reins dropped them and walked away. But then, the director came from a VERY different take on comedy (Police Academy – which was wildly successful, if you want to look mainly at money metrics).

    It would have tickled my personal funny bone more effectively if they hadn’t gone for slapstick. Goldie’s lips? Spare me – I could barely keep from squirming through any scene she was in – and I LOVE every single thing she has done otherwise. (I agree with vweisfeld, “Comedy is hard to recommend; people’s sense of humor are so different.”)

    My reaction, upon leaving the theatre (besides the need to apologize profusely for dragging my fiance along), was a lump in my gut and the thought, “These woman have the money and clout to produce practically anything they want, and THIS is what they chose to release? HOW could they let this director talk them out of their usual great instincts? Didn’t anybody watch the dailies?” (I’d LOVE to know what they secretly think of the film themselves.)

    Ending on a more positive note and sticking with the theme of your title, I will always adore Dirty Dancing (1987), Tootsie (’84), Annie Hall (’77), MASH (’70), Funny Girl (’68), The Graduate (’67), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (’61) — and one of my all-time favs is Cat Ballou (’65).

    They don’t seem to make many like they used to these days, do they? (Unless you want to count the remakes, and most of those pale in comparison, IMHO). Thanks for the stroll down memory lane.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

  7. Me, neither!

  8. Judy Penz Sheluk

    That’s true. I don’t care for comedies like Hangover or Bridesmaids.

  9. Why I so like him in David Mamet’s “The Spanish Prisoner”! Agree. If you see them, let me know how you liked them! Comedy is hard to recommend; people’s sense of humor are so different.

  10. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Cabaret is 44 years old? The one with Liza Minelli and Joel Grey? Really?

  11. I find that Cabaret is just as compelling as when I first say it 44 years ago (which reminds me the movie is closer in time to the historical events it depicted than is it to now).

    Susan, I’ll take anything with Jimmy Cagney as a song and dance man.

  12. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Victoria, I haven’t seen any of those movies. I must look out for them. I like most things with Steve Martin, but my favorite movie with him in it is Planes, Trains and Automobiles with the late, great John Candy. I also really enjoyed him in It’s Complicated with Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin. I find Martin best in those serious/comedic roles.

  13. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Hi Susan, I’ve never seen those movies, but of course I’ve seen It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart a zillion times. As for The Way We Were, I actually start crying at the beginning because I know how it’s going to end!

  14. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Sheri, do you have a favorite old movie?

  15. A fun list! Our favorites when we need a few light moments are: My Blue Heaven (Steve Martin, Rick Moraniss, Joan Cusack); Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Steve Martin, Michael Caine), and on the mystery side Gosford Park (all-star cast)!

  16. Susan Van Kirk

    Ah, Judy. We obviously grew up watching the same movies. “The Way We Were” still makes me cry every time I watch it. I’d add a couple of originally black and whites: “Yankee Doodle Dandy” with James Cagney dancing his way into our hearts, and “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir,” a nostalgic, somewhat corny, love story. Also, anything Jimmy Stewart.

  17. eightpawswriting

    After reading these titles I’m ready for an oldies movie night!

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