Previously On StuartReviewsStuff…
I suggested you watch The Day the Earth Caught Fire, All About Eve, The Emperor’s New Groove, Mr Smith Goes to Washington and Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel.
Now for the next five…
6. Quatermass 2 (1957)
Before Doctor Who, before Star Wars, before Star Trek, before any of the most famous science fiction series’ we know of today, there was Quatermass.
Made into both films and TV series, it was a science fiction show based around Professor Bernard Quatermass.
The chances are that if you’ve heard of it, you’re most likely thinking about either The Quatermass Experiment, which was about an astronaut who had been infected by alien spores while on a mission, or Quatermass & The Pit, which was about an alien capsule being found buried deep under London.
Both of these films/TV series are good (except for the ultra boring remake starring David Tennant in the early 2000s) and are probably under-appreciated in their own right, but I want to focus on the second film.
Quatermass 2 (aka Enemy from Outer Space) is pure 50s Sci-Fi B Movie stuff centred around alien infiltration taking place in an industrial plant in the UK. And for some reason, Quatermass is played by an American. It’s also got a very rare thing in it – Sid James playing a serious role (which is reason enough to watch it).
If any of you reading this have been to Disneyworld, and in particular the retro Sci Fi Diner in MGM Studios, then this is the type of film they play the trailers for in a loop in that restaurant.
7. Rope (1948)
Another James Stewart film and the first of my Alfred Hitchcock choices too.
When people think of Hitchcock, it’s always the same ‘big’ films like Psycho, Vertigo, The Birds, Rear Window, North by Northwest etc. Rope just isn’t mentioned in the same breath.
And yet it should be.
In truth it’s one of his most highly rated films on imdb.
Based on a play and – crucially – filmed in the style of a play with as few cuts as possible (the 90 minute film is divided into nine continuous 10 minute sections, going as long as each reel of film allowed) Rope is the story of two cock-sure young men in New York who have murdered one of their friends with a rope, stuffed his corpse into a box in the living room and then invited his parents and girlfriend round for a dinner party. The audacity of it all!
They also invite round their former house master (Stewart) from school because of his philosophical ideals about ‘The Art of Murder’ and the belief that Murder should be the privilege of the elite. It’s not that they want him to find out about it, but they just want the thrill of getting him to talk about his beliefs at the party to the victim’s parents while he lies dead in a box mere feet away.
But as the evening unfolds, Stewart begins to suspect what has gone on and it all comes to a head.
While the film skims over the absolutely blatant homosexual subtext between not only the two murderers but with them and Stewart (it was made in 1948 after all) that doesn’t present as much of a problem.
The beauty of Rope is many layered. It’s got the acting, the direction and the plot to match. Everyone in it is better than good and the style of filming is terrific. Like many Hitchcock films it also raises the tension level to bursting point before a rather sudden ending.
An absolutely tremendous film and one that sits comfortably in my Top 10 of all time.
8. The Iron Giant (1999)
Sometimes because a film is animated people assume it’s just for kids. People are wrong.
Obviously some animation is just for kids, but the idea that animation as a whole is the domain of the child is seriously flawed. After all, everyone likes Toy Story don’t they?
Much like The Emperor’s New Groove, The Iron Giant was made at a time when ‘traditional’ animation styles were going out of fashion to make way for the CGI animation style of the aforementioned Toy Story. And if that wasn’t reason enough for it to fly under people’s radars it wasn’t even made by Disney, but rather by Warner Brothers.
Alright, you know by now that I have a thing for old films, science fiction and superhero films, so a movie like this is always going to get my approval, but there’s so much to approve of.
Set in the 1950s, it’s about a giant iron robot that has fallen from outer-space and landed near a small American town. The robot befriends a local boy (in a non seedy way I should add) but the US Army comes in to try and capture and destroy him.
It’s a delightful movie, that is both heart-warming and heart-breaking in equal measures. The end of the film would bring a tear to a glass eye, so it would.
As you can see from the trailer it’s also animated in a rather unique way.
Well worth a watch.
9. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
If you’ve seen the remake of this film from a few years ago, ignore it. Compared to this, it was absolutely terrible.
This is another often overlooked gem of a film that a surprising amount of people from my generation haven’t even heard of, let alone seen.
It’s about how people can be controlled to do whatever someone wants by using certain trigger words (and in this case a pack of cards). Obviously, this means murder.
I think I’ve summed that up quite concisely.
Other things to look out for in this film include Frank Sinatra as the hero and Angela ‘Even in the 1960s I looked old, so when exactly was I young’ Lansbury as a vile villain.
10. The Butterfly Effect (2004)
A lot of the films I’ve put forward are actually pretty highly rated, so my initial idea to go with the theme of ‘Underrated and Under-appreciated’ really didn’t hold much water.
But then there’s the Butterfly Effect. And yes, I know what you’re thinking – it’s another film from the same genre. Well that’s just what you’re going to get from me. I’m not going to include films like Bride & Prejudice or The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants.
The point I’m trying to make here is that for once I’m including a film that is actually considered to be poor by many rather than a great film that is often overlooked. One review in a US Newspaper simply said “It’s a terrible life. And a terrible movie”. Harsh.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to go and see this film, but ended up being dragged there by my mate. And I thank him for that, because it was great.
Based around the popular principle of chaos theory of the same name, the Butterfly Effect stars Ashton Kutcher as a guy who keeps going back into his own past to change his future.
The main point of consternation in this film was the ending. How the director wanted the film to end was deemed too grim and so a happier ending was filmed for the cinematic release but removed from the DVD. That’s a shame because I actually preferred the cinematic ending.
The film has spawned a couple of sequels but I haven’t bothered to watch them as they are bound to be shit. The principle of the film will work once in my opinion,
So enjoy this genuinely underrated movie.
On The Next Stuart Reviews Stuff…
Five more to go.