TV Guide Magazine offers their picks for the perfect flicks to catch on television or pop into your Blu Ray player. From hundreds of the magazine’s four-star titles, they chose the movies that play particularly well on the small screen and hold up to repeated viewings. Their one golden standard: how much fun they are to watch. These are the films — from Chaplin to Hanks, Kane to Vader — that represent the Hollywood dream machine at its most inspired. They have plenty of monsters and heroes, saints, sinners and, of course, more than a gangster or two. A movie is noted when black and white (BW) and when a video is available in letterbox format.
You’ve already seen part 1 with movies 41-50.
Here is part 2. (31-40)
40. On the Waterfront (1954), 108 minutes, NR, BW
The theatrical trailer promised “a story that’s as warm and moving as ‘Going My Way’ (but with brass knuckles!)” — as good a description as any for this Oscar-winning morality tale. The characters struggling with pier pressure include an ex-boxer with a soft spot for pigeons, a luscious nun-in-training and a priest with a mean punch. And Marlon Brando’s “contenduh” speech is still a knockout.
39. Laura (1944), 85 minutes, NR, BW
Otto Preminger’s deliciously sleek Manhattan murder mystery is a grabber from its first line — “I shall never forget the weekend Laura died” — and keeps its hold through a shocking mid-picture twist and shattering climax. With a cigarette dangling from his lip, Dana Andrews plays a tough cop investigating the murder of a beautiful woman (played by the dreamy Gene Tierney in flashbacks) who finds himself obsessed with her portrait. Among the suspects: a shifty fiancé (Vincent Price) and Laura’s arrogant mentor (unforgettably played by Clifton Webb). Add a theme song that virtually defines haunting and the elements conspire to make “Laura” one of film noir’s great cases.
38. Jaws (1975), 124 minutes, Rated PG, Letterbox
The movie that emptied beaches and created the modern blockbuster, “Jaws” holds up today not so much for its jolts — there aren’t as many as you think you remember — but because of something missing from the movies it inspired: real characters. Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw are more than fish bait, and the conversation about the USS Indianapolis is worth all the dinosaurs in “Jurassic Park.”
37. American Graffiti (1973), 110 minutes, Rated PG, Letterbox
George Lucas was a 28-year-old unknown when he made this autobiographical teen picture for less than $800,000. The result was a genuine pop classic that became an audience favorite and brought accolades to Lucas and his cast (including Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss and Harrison Ford). With its drag races, sock hops, doo-wop and Mel’s Drive-In, “Graffiti” makes pop-culture myth out of nostalgic reverie.
36. The Graduate (1967), 105 minutes, Rated PG, Letterbox
“The rules don’t make any sense to me,” says a baby-faced Dustin Hoffman as recent college grad Benjamin Braddock. “They’re being made up by all the wrong people.” So goes a rallying cry for the 1960s in Mike Nichols‘ comic masterpiece. The gap of ages is hilariously and poignantly evoked in the soulless affair between Ben and Anne Bancroft‘s Mrs. Robinson, the embodiment of middle-aged resignation.
35. The African Queen (1951), 105 minutes, NR
Humphrey Bogart bagged his only Oscar anchoring John Huston’s rumbling adventure set in WWI German East Africa. Bogie’s gin-guzzling skipper of the floating junk heap called the African Queen meets his match in Katharine Hepburn’s “psalm-singing, skinny old maid.” The duo embarks on a suicide mission to torpedo one of the Kaiser’s gunships, en route making film history. Bogie and Kate were made for each other.
34. Apollo 13 (1995), 139 minutes, Rated PG, Letterbox
“Houston, we have a problem.” With that, Tom Hanks gave liftoff to a nifty summer entertainment — riveting drama and thrilling special effects. The true story of astronaut Jim Lovell (Hanks) and his crew’s long-awaited moon mission is nostalgically captured by director Ron Howard. Who cares that Lovell’s actual words were “Houston, we’ve had a problem”?
33. Schindler’s List (1993), 195 minutes, Rated R, BW with color segments, Letterbox
An emotional obstacle course of a film, Steven Spielberg’s Holocaust movie tells the story of Oskar Schindler, the enigmatic industrialist who saved more than 1,000 Polish Jews from the Nazi gas chambers. As painful as it is powerful, “Schindler’s List” is enobled by Spielberg’s vision, Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography, and two Olympian performances: Liam Neeson as the self-made hero Schindler and Ralph Fiennes as the astonishingly demonic Nazi officer.
32. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), 93 minutes, NR, BW
Blasted and praised when it was released, Stanley Kubrick’s black comedy about nuclear annihilation remains unchallenged as cinema’s most devastating attack on the military mind. The brilliant cast is headed by an inspired Peter Sellers playing three roles — the eggheaded U.S. president, a stiff-upper-lip RAF captain and the wheelchair-bound ex-Nazi scientist Dr. Strangelove.
31. Rebel Without a Cause (1955), 93 minutes, NR, BW 111 minutes, NR, Letterbox
The archetypal juvenile delinquency movie has everything it takes to be, well, the archetypal juvenile delinquency movie: Teen angst, switchblades, blue jeans, hot rods and James Dean. “Rebel” stands as director Nicholas Ray’s enduring ode to disaffected youth. Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo. Who would have pegged Dennis Hopper as a survivor?
Have no fear, part 3 of the countdown is coming SOON!!