The Best Ten Unappreciated Movies

Movies that are not one Dimensional

Trouble With Harry

This 1955 black comedy from Alfred Hitchcock was not well received for a variety of reasons. First, movie goers were thinking this was going to be a type of suspense movie, the kind Hitchcock was well-known for. Secondly, the general consensus believes that this film was made before it's time. In 1955 the audience wasn't ready for a dark, sophisticated comedy. Basically, the movie crowd, at the time didn't know what to make of Harry.

“Trouble with Harry” has an awesome cast with Edmund Gwenn, John Forsythe, Mildred Dunnock among other well-known names. This was also Shirley MacLaine's first movie role.

The entire movie takes place during one beautiful Autumn day in a Sleepy New England town. Harry is actually a corpse. Each of the main characters believes they were the cause of Harry's death. Harry is dug up and buried countless times during the day.

The scenery is beautiful and the composition score by Bernard Herrmann (he did other compositions for Hitchcock movies) goes perfectly with the mood.

The In-Laws

The original 1979 movie, not the 2003 remake. This has to be one of the all time neglected comedies. Peter Falk and Alan Arkin are matched perfectly. Arkin plays the straight man with Falk claiming to be a CIA agent. All I can say is Serpentine Shelly, Serpentine!

Von Ryan's Express

Awhile back I saw a list of the 100 best war movies. I couldn't believe this movie was left out. This is a 1965 WWII movie with Frank Sinatra commanding escaped prisoners fleeing Germans on a commandeered train. Most of the men are British troops, while Sinatra plays an American Colonel.
Many twists and turns.

Bang the Drum Slowly

This 1973 movie features a young Robert De Niro and Michael Moriarty. De Niro plays a third string catcher, who's a bit slow and dying, and the friendship that develops with Moriarty as the team's all-star pitcher. The two struggle to finish the baseball season while keeping the illness from teammates and the public. The movie does seem a bit dated but again, this was in a time where ball players still had to get jobs during the off-season. Based on the book by Mark Harris.

Mystery, Alaska

A 1999 comedy-drama movie about an amateur hockey team taking on the New York Rangers in their town of Mystery, Alaska. I know this sounds bizarre but it works. Russell Crowe and Burt Reynolds head up the cast. Very good character development.

Rushmore

This 1998 movie is hard to define. Some people just don't get this one. I have shown friends this movie and at the best,had a lukewarm response. I guess you need to appreciate a dry-sense of humor.
Jason Schwartzman plays a 15-year-old, going on 40, prep student who falls in love with an older woman, a teacher. A much older Bill Murray is in love with the same woman. There are many sub plots involved. I think the movie does a fine job to make everything outrageous and over the top but at the same time, the viewer can pause and think yeah, I could see that happening. Besides the standard DVD I know there is another high dollar DVD of this movie with a lot of bonus material included. I need to open the wallet and get a copy.

Crimson Tide

This 1995 movie is the best character study ever made. The whole movie takes place on a United States Nuclear Sub. The Soviet Union is dissolving and rebels have taken over a silo of nuclear missiles. Tension is high. The principal actors in this suspense thriller are Gene Hackman, Commander of the sub and Denzel Washington, second in command. Gene Hackman as the commander of the sub has an old school background and interprets an incomplete flash message to launch their nuclear missiles. Second in command, Denzel Washington, college educated, interprets the message as something else.

The crew of the sub starts to take sides. At the end of the movie we find out who is right on what the incomplete message meant but it doesn’t matter. Under military regulations they were both right. This is not one man against the other using deception. They both believe they are right and have regulations too back them up. They both want to do the right thing. The best way to watch this movie is put yourself in the shoes of both men. I have and I don't know what I would have ended up doing.

Lucas

A classic coming of age story told with humor but also sadness. Unlike other coming of age stories, I think this one is more honest and viewers can relate to the characters trying to fit in during high school.
The cast includes a very young Winona Ryder, Charlie Sheen (first major movie role) and Corey Haim.

The lesser known Kerri Green has a fine performance as the romantic interest of both Sheen and Haim.
Corey Haim plays a goofy but smart kid who falls for the character played by Kerri Green, who's a few years older. Her real romantic interest is Sheen, but doesn’t want to hurt either of them.

This is a movie that is sentimental tinged with humor. I think this movie will appeal to all ages.

Stranger Than Fiction

Stars Will Ferrell as Harold, a quiet, efficient IRS agent whose whole life becomes a routine. That is, until Harold begins hearing a voice in his head. This voice is not only familiar but very annoying as it narrates his life.

Harold, through this voice, learns he is going to die soon. This starts a race to find where the voice is coming from before he dies. Along the way he meets a woman he starts to care about. This woman is his exact opposite, a free spirit who abhors routine.

Dustin Hoffman has a minor role in this film. I guess I would classify this movie as a comedy but there is always a sense of tragedy waiting to happen. A sense of despair. The ending may take the viewer by surprise.

Guarding Tess


Shirley MacLaine who I mentioned earlier in “Trouble With Harry” makes an appearance as the feisty wife of a deceased president whose security detail is headed up by special agent Doug Chesnek, played by Nicolas Cage.

Doug is ready to move on to a new assignment, something other than guarding a former first lady. When his assignment expires he is surprised to learn that the former first lady wants to keep him on her detail, something he does not want in no terms.

The plot involves the friction between the security detail and the former first lady with often amusing results. There are also serious undertones. I have watched this movie many times. The characters in “Guarding Tess” are developed in a way where the viewer cares about them.

Why I like These Movies

There is a recurring theme though-out most of these movies. These movies for the most part, are one part comedy and one part drama or tragedy. I like these movies because as in life, things are not one-dimensional but a mixture of complexities.

M*A*S*H, the TV series , especially in its early years, walked a fine balance between humor and drama. “Guarding Tess,” “Stranger Than Fiction,” “Rushmore,” and “Lucas” all exemplify this idea and “The In-Laws” and “Mystery, Alaska” to a lesser degree.

If you want a movie that is a comedy, drama, suspense, or a romantic movie than by all means watch one, but if you want a movie with more layers then try one of the movies I have described above.


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