Friday, June 17, 2011

My Favorite Unknown Movies

I was going to start that movie challenge today, but then someone asked this on FlickChart's Facebook page and I thought, "That would be a more fun blog." So here this comes instead:
What's one of your favorite movies that less than 10% of Flickcharters have seen?
I feel like I've seen a lot of (mostly) unknown movies. I like movies based off of plays and old movies and weird little indie flicks. So I'm going to look through my FlickChart top 250 and pull out the unknown ones. Turns out there were a lot more of them than I expected. There were a couple I weeded out because they really don't belong in my top 250, but the rest of the list is here.

From most well-known to least well-known:

How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967)
(my #136, seen by 10% of FlickChart users)
The musical has gained a bit more attention now that Daniel Radcliffe's taken on the role on Broadway, but I was a fan of the movie long before then. The music is written by Frank Loesser, best known for his work on Guys and Dolls (and the song "Baby, It's Cold Outside"), and so it's great. Robert Morse is hilarious as a young man who's determined, with the help of a how-to book, to work his way from window washer up to corporate executive. There are songs in this movie, but it is mostly a movie with songs rather than a musical with some plot.

Pygmalion (1938)
(my #157, seen by 10% of FlickChart users)
This one is somewhat shocking to me, but I guess not that many people are into older movies. It's My Fair Lady without the songs. The acting in this is phenomenal. Leslie Howard makes for a wonderful Higgins, and I'm pretty sure this movie's placement at #157 is almost solely because of him.

Shadowlands (1994)
(my #192, seen by 10% of FlickChart users)
It's been awhile since I've seen it, but I remember really enjoying this drama about C.S. Lewis and his marriage. So it hovers around in various places in my top 250. I should watch it again at some point.

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2003)
(my #22, seen by 9% of FlickChart users)
I saw this one a few years ago on a friend's recommendation and I'm delighted I did. Although it has moments where the joke plays out a bit long, overall it's one of the funniest genre spoofs I've ever seen. It's done in the style of old horror/sci-fi B-movies, complete with all the cliches, stilted acting, and preachy dialogue. This is one of those comedies that just keeps making me laugh out loud, no matter how many times I see it.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1999)
(my #229, seen by 9% of FlickChart users)
Joseph seems to be one of those musicals people either love or hate. Well, I love it. And I think this is a pretty darn good musical adaptation of it. Maria Friedman and Donny Osmond are great in the main roles, and it uses the fact that it's a movie to make its songs even bigger and more high energy, which is where the fun really kicks in.

Walk, Don't Run (1966)
(my #233, seen by 9% of FlickChart users)
A charming little romantic comedy (also Cary Grant's last acting role). Probably a little higher on my FlickChart than it should be, but certainly lots of fun to watch.

Purple Noon (1960)
(my #180, seen by 8% of FlickChart users)
The Talented Mr. Ripley is the better-known version of this story, but Alain Delon blows Matt Damon out of the water when it comes to portraying Tom Ripley himself. I watched the two movies within a month or so of each other and while I like them both almost equally (TTMR's supporting cast is wonderful), this French version takes it.

Wit (2001)
(my #190, seen by 8% of FlickChart users)
One of the saddest and most beautiful plays/movies I've ever read/seen. Wit is about an English professor who is diagnosed with ovarian cancer and goes through a series of experimental treatments. The movie stays very true to the original play, and Emma Thompson is amazing as the lead role.

The Sunshine Boys (1975)
(my #196, seen by 8% of FlickChart users)
This movie, based on a Neil Simon play, stars Walter Matthau and George Burns as two vaudevillian performers who hate each other but agree to reunite one last time to do their act. I read it described somewhere as "The Odd Couple for octogenarians," and that's certainly what it feels like. Although the ending doesn't go where I expected, it's a really fun ride. Matthau and Burns are hilarious together.

Equus (1977)
(my #96, seen by 7% of FlickChart users)
Based on the play by Peter Shaffer, Equus tells the story of a psychiatrist treating a mentally disturbed teenager who blinds six horses with a metal spike. It's a wonderful story and although the movie version doesn't quite measure up to what I imagined when I first read the play, it still fascinates and disturbs and mesmerizes me.

Enchanted April (1992)
(my #167, seen by 7% of FlickChart users)
One of my mom's favorite movies. It's about a group of women who decide to take a vacation to get away from everything. It's a very solid chick flick drama.

M. Butterfly (1993)
(my #225, seen by 7% of FlickChart users)
I can't remember how early the plot twist in this movie is given away, so I'm hesitant to say much about it. It's directed by David Cronenberg and stars Jeremy Irons as a government official who falls in love with a beautiful Chinese opera singer - fascinating film. I'm actually very surprised that it's not more well-known among FlickChart users. It's actually the only Cronenberg film I've ever seen (so far).

Legally Blonde: The Musical (2007)
(my #175, seen by 6% of FlickChart users)
The ultimate guilty pleasure movie. Let me start off by saying that I don't like the movie Legally Blonde much. I think it's kind of annoying. But the musical both embraces and pokes fun at the shallowness of it all in a way that makes it about 10 times more entertaining than the original. Plus, Laurence O'Keefe and his wife wrote the music for it, and he's the one who was responsible for the phenomenal Bat Boy musical.

Kiss Me, Stupid! (1964)
(my #249, seen by 6% of FlickChart users)
One of Billy Wilder's unknown films. It stars Ray Walston as an ambitious songwriter who gets the opportunity to host to a famous but sleazy pop singer at his house (Dean Martin hilariously parodies himself in this role). Walston worries his wife will end up involved with the singer, so he sends her off to her mother's and hires a prostitute (Kim Novak) to pretend to be his wife instead. This movie is darkly funny and has ended up being one of my favorite Wilder films.

Evil (2003)
(my #201, seen by 5% of FlickChart users)
This one is a bit too high on my list but it's worth recommending, especially since it's unknown. It's a foreign film with a misleading title - it's not a supernatural horror flick, it's a movie about student violence and bullying at a prestigious boarding school. Reminiscent of a Lord of the Flies sort of story.

Company: A Musical Comedy (2007)
(my #16, seen by 4% of FlickChart users)
This is a filmed version of Stephen Sondheim's concept musical - and a brilliantly acted one. Raul Esparza plays Bobby, who has all the friends he could ever hope for but has commitment issues and floats from woman to woman, while all his friends try to match him up. It's funny, it's moving, the songs are great. Each little vignette of his interactions with his neighbors is interesting. Esparza's Bobby is friendly, but much dryer than other interpretations of the role I've seen, and I think it's that that really sets this production apart for me. If you're not a fan of big flashy MGM song-and-dance musicals, it might be worth checking this one out - it's a very different kind of show.

Mozart and the Whale (2006)
(my #240, seen by 4% of FlickChart users)
One of my all-time favorite romantic comedies, this is a beautiful story about two people with Asperger's who fall in love. Josh Hartnett and Radha Mitchell create amazing characters who are easy to connect and sympathize with.

Amahl and the Night Visitors (1978)
(my #182, seen by 3% of FlickChart users)
I'm not a huge fan of opera, but I like some of it, and this is one of my favorites. It's the story of an extremely poor family (a crippled boy and his mother) and the three Nativity story magi, who stay at their house for one night. This has some beautiful music and is a really nice Christmas story.

The Bumblebee Flies Anyway (2000)
(my #222, seen by 3% of FlickChart users)
Elijah Wood is so much better in this movie than he ever was in Lord of the Rings. He plays a young man who wakes up in a hospital with no memory of who he is or why he is there. This movie differs from the original Robert Cormier novel by giving the audience a happier ending, but it works for me. It's an interesting little indie flick.

Cats (1998)
(my #232, seen by 3% of FlickChart users)
People either love Cats or hate it. I think it's a blast. Yes, there's no plot, no character development, nothing that people expect in musicals. But when done right, it's a series of fantastically fun songs and dances, with an incredible amount of energy. And this cast does it right.

The Star-Spangled Girl (1971)
(my #45, seen by 2% of FlickChart users)
The play this movie was based on is quite possibly my favorite of all Neil Simon's plays, although it wasn't received well by critics. It's just pure fun. It's the story of an all-American girl from Arkansas who moves next door to two men self-publishing a magazine dedicated to fighting the "system" in America (thanks, Wikipedia, for helping me figure out how to phrase that). It's silly and over-the-top but consistently makes me laugh and, like so many of Simon's works, just leaves me feeling happy.

Notre-Dame de Paris (1999)
(my #67, seen by 1% of FlickChart users)
Another theater-based one (that seems to comprise most of this list), this is a filmed version of Luc Plamondon's musical, based on the story of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. This one is really not worth seeing if you don't like musicals, as it's all about the music. However, if you like musicals at all, watch it. Some of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard, and an amazing cast of singers. Captivates me every time I watch it.

L.A. Without a Map (1998)
(my #148, seen by 1% of FlickChart users)
A quirky little romantic comedy starring David Tennant (which is how I found it in the first place) as a Scottish gravedigger who meets a girl at her father's funeral and falls in love with her at first sight. He then follows her to America to attempt to win her heart. It's goofy and ridiculous (he frequently gets advice from his living Johnny Depp poster) but Tennant is charming and the movie just makes me smile.

1 comment:

  1. I really like this idea. It's always fun to be made aware of more unknown movies that people love. Can't tell you how happy I am to see Evil on here. Not because it happens to be from my home country, but because it really is a great film. Wit is another great choice. Emma Thompson has never been better. Proof that just because a movie was made for TV doesn't mean it can't be wonderful.

    Some of your other picks sound interesting. I'll definitely be checking out Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Bumblebee Flies Anyway and a few others.

    Great post!