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Iconic Films I Have Never Seen

Updated on January 25, 2016

Some of the most iconic films in movie making history enjoy a place in my vast collection of DVD's and VHS tapes, from Gone With The Wind to Singing In The Rain to Star Wars to 2001 A Space Odyssey. Yes, we still have a VHS player or three, and the better part of several hundred tapes that go along with it (them) to say nothing of the hundreds of DVDs we own as well. But for whatever reason, either through simple neglect or outright stubbornness, there remain some films that are considered classic and iconic that I have never sat down and viewed. What follows is a list that is by no means complete, but serves as one for me to follow moving into my latter years.


Lawrence of Arabia

The 1962 classic film based upon the life of T. E. Lawrence, starring Peter O'Toole as Lawrence is considered by many to by one of the most iconic, majestic, and dramatic films in history: yet I have never sat down to watch it. It is considered to be "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important" and as such is preserved in the United States Library of Congress National Film Registry. Nominated to a total of ten (10) Academy Awards, winning seven (7), it contained costars such as Sir Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, and Omar Sharif. Based upon the life of Lawrence, it is considered to be historically accurate although there is a bit of romanticism involved, perhaps changing the facts based upon the view of the author. It is well worth my time, and as I enjoy historical films, should be one I need to view at some point.

Doctor Zhivago

The 1965 epic stars Omar Sharif and Julie Christie and is set in Russia in pre-WWI to 1922 time frame. A long film (over three hours) filled with a romantic intensity that has improved over the past fifty years. Considered to be one of the greatest American films of all time, it garnered five Academy Awards and is the eighth highest grossing film of all time (adjusted dollars).

Taking place during the years of the WWI, the Russian Revolution, and the Russian Civil War the film includes Sir Alec Guinness and Rod Steiger as co-stars and details the arrival of one Vladimir Lenin in Moscow.

Based upon the 1957 novel, it was banned in Russia and as a result had to be filmed in Spain and in fact had to be smuggled out of Russia to the West where it became a New York Times Best Seller. The author, Boris Pasternak was awarded the 1958 Nobel Prize for Literature for his work.

A little factoid here: the star of Lawrence of Arabia, Peter O'Toole, was the original choice for playing Zhivago.

The Godfather

Perhaps of all the films that have been made, and all that appear on my list of to-do's, The Godfather might just be the one that draws the most "WHAT!?!?!" comments. No, I have never sat down and watched The Godfather, or any of the Godfather films. I actually own the book, and am familiar with the storyline but just have never seen the film.

The film debuted in 1972 based upon the 1969 book by Mario Puzo best selling novel. For a time it was the highest grossing film of all time and won three Academy Awards. It spawned two sequels and starred Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, and Robert Duvall.

Originally, the part of Vito Corleone was considered to be played by one of the following actors: Laurence Olivier, Ernst Borgnine, George C Scott, Anthony Quinn and even Frank Sinatra. The part of Michael Corleone was up for grabs as well, with Warren Beatty and Robert Redford considered, along with Ryan O'Neal, Dustin Hoffman, Martin Sheen and James Caan.

Even though I've never seen the film, I cannot imagine Laurence Oliver as Vito and Warren Beatty as Michael. Nope, can't go there.


Citizen Kane

Long considered to be one of, if not the best film ever made, Orsen Welles' classic is not one I have really ever been interested in for whatever reason. Whether it is the film noire style of film making or something else, it has not piqued my interest to view it.

Written by and starring Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane this film was a box office failure originally but was re-released in 1956 in America and gained ground from there.

A Clockwork Orange

Released in 1971, this film is a dialog in youth gangs, juvenile delinquency, and psychiatry in Britain in the then near future. Starring Malcolm MacDowell as the sociopathic Alex, the film follows Alex and his gang as they lead an ultra-violent crime spree across the area. Alex is captured at the scene of a crime and sentenced for murder. He is then "cured" with a combination of drugs and classical music and released.

From there, Alex meets a former victim and is tortured into attempting suicide. While he doesn't die, he is injured and returned to a hospital and learns he is no longer cured of his affliction regarding violence. He is offered a job by the person who "cured" him and gets a new lease on life.

Strange, weird and full of music, this film just does nothing to grab me and pull me in. This is not to say it isn't a good film as it was nominated for several awards, only that it offers nothing to me personally.

The Grapes of Wrath

"What the hell do you mean, you haven't seen "The Grapes Of Wrath"!?" No, I have not seen it. Another film I am familiar with but have never watched. I have read the book (years ago), even purchased a copy for my daughter (it remains one of her favorites) and I actually own a VHS tape of it.

But I have never watched it. (Head hung low, tears forming at the corners of my eyes, I await the punishment so richly deserved).

The 1940 film starring Henry Fonda and John Carradine among others and details the life of an Oklahoma family who lose their farm in the Great Depression of the 1930's and travel the Mother Road Route 66 all the way to California. Considered to be culturally, historically and aesthetically significant, the film based upon John Steinbeck's wonderful novel is a classic.

And I should take the time to sit down and watch it. I will, I will; soon I promise!!

Taxi Driver

"You talkin' to me?" Yeah, I'm talkin' to you. I ain't never seen dis movie! I have seen the famous "talkin' to me" scene I don't know how many times but have never, ever seen the film itself. Must be a failure inside me somewhere I guess. It is one of the most iconic films by one of the most iconic actors, Robert De Niro, of all time and is well deserving of my time. Someday, maybe.

Released in 1976 and directed by Martin Scorsese this film features Jody Foster, Harvey Keitel, Cybil Shepherd, Albert Brooks and one of my favorite actors, Peter Boyle. Named a Top 100 Film by AFI coming in at number 31 and at number 5 as determined by a director only poll, it is a violent look at the underbelly of life in these United States for a small minority of Americans.

Incidentally, John Hinkley Jr. became fascinated by the film and his obsession to impress Jody Foster by assassinating President Reagan was purportedly due directly to it.

Pulp Fiction

I have tried, and tried; several times I have. I promise I have. But I just cannot sit through this ridiculous film. I know, I know there are some supposedly spectacular scenes in it, but I just can't stomach Travolta and Jackson here. Sorry.

Considered a "black comedy" and directed by vaunted director Quentin Tarantino in 1994, this violent/comedic/slightly outside-the-norm look at some mobster types, it was a major success for those associated with it as it received several award nominations.

And while I have seen the "dance scene" (sorry, I think its stupid as hell) I just cannot allow myself to delve into the various scenarios contained within; just can't do it.

Chinatown

Jack Nicholson is a great actor. I loved The Shining and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. I truly don't even know what this movie is about, nor can I say why I have never sat down to watch it. I suppose that someday I will, if for no other reason than to cross it off this list.

Also starring Faye Dunaway, this 1974 release is another I find to be termed a "neo-noire" film, much in the same line as Taxi Driver, Pulp Fiction and A Clockwork Orange. I don't have the faintest idea what that means but I can say that there evidently is a reason I haven;t seen each of these films and they all are in the same style. Who knows, maybe I am just not drawn to "neo-noire" film styles.

Sunset Boulevard

Another film I have heard of time and again, yet never interested me in the least. A 1950 black comedy/drama and stars William Holden as a screenwriter and Gloria Swanson as a washed up silent film star who dreams of a return to glory. Directed by the King of Huge Films himself, Cecil B. DeMill, it adds other silent stars such as Buster Keaton and H.B. Warner.

Eleven Academy nominations and three wins, it is a testament to a time long gone and the stars that made it popular gone as well.

Rebel Without A Cause

There are those who will say that James Dean was one of the most talented actors ever; I can't say. I have never seen one of his four films, only heard a few mumbled words of his in various montages and retrospects. None of them have piqued my interest in his acting nor watching his films. Sorry.

An American drama released in 1955 and costarring Natalie Wood it is considered an iconic film which featured an iconic actor in Dean. Detailing the "moral decay of youth" with Dean in the feature role who is a juvenile delinquent deluxe.

Easy Rider

Among biker films, this is the most biker of the biker films. Peter Fonda is a good actor, although not what his father or sister are. And as I am not a biker film kinda guy, this one is likely to linger on my list for a long, long time.

Released in 1969 and featuring Dennis Hopper alongside Fonda, as well as Jack Nicholson, this film is one that reached a certain segment of America. I don't know that I am one of those who would enjoy it, but there are a lot who have over the years.

Midnight Cowboy

Jon Voight is one of those take-him-or-leave-him actors for me; hell, I am not even crazy about his daughter as an actor. Dustin Hoffman I do like and maybe, someday, I will get around to this one. Then again, probably not. I've made it this long, why give in now?

A 1969 release and if memory serves, it was released as an X rated film and remains the only such rated film to receive the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Apocalypse Now

There are violent films with reason, and violent films with no reason. This is one of those no reason films to me. From the things I have heard about it, and the few scenes I have viewed it just seems like something that I won't enjoy at all. Some war films are good, others great. To me, this one falls somewhere below both categories. I could be wrong; there are a lot of people out there who love this film. I'm just not one of them.

A 1979 release directed by Francis Ford Coppola, this film stars Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen and Robert Duvall. Costars Dennis Hopper and Laurence Fishburne play pivotal roles as well.

Platoon

Same as above. Violent to the point of nonsensical to me. Although I do truly enjoy Tom Berenger as an actor, his role does't look appetizing to me here.

Released in 1986 and the first in a trilogy of war films by Oliver Stone (the other two being Born On The Fourth Of July and Heaven & Earth), the story was written by Stone based upon his experience as an infantryman in Vietnam. Purportedly, he wrote this to directly counter the John Wayne film The Green Berets as a vision of what war was.

Yankee Doodle Dandy

Okay, okay we all know the song, and we've all seen the scene. But I have never, ever even remotely been interested in seeing this film. My loss, I'm sure.

A 1942 film about "The Man Who Owned Broadway", George M Cohan, Jimmie Cagney was a virtual clone of what Cohan was, even down to the singing and dancing styles. While I haven't seen the entire film, I have viewed bits and pieces of it, including the final few moments which involve Cohan (Cagney) receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor and sings "Over There" (a song he composed) with a group of soldiers in a parade. They ask if he knows the words, and with a smile, he begins to sing along with them.

Scarface

"Say hello to my little friend." No, thank you. I am not interested in seeing the seedy underbelly of the drug trade, watching extreme violence for violence's sake, nor watching unending gun battles. I never saw Rambo: Part Two either.

A 1983 release and featuring Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (LOVE that name!) and Michelle Pfeiffer and is considered to be among the best Mob films ever made.

North by Northwest

I like Hitchcock; I like Cary Grant. So why haven't I seen this film, considered one of the best films ever by one of the best directors ever? I wish I knew.

Released in 1959 the film also features Eva Marie Saint and James Mason (another Hollywood heavyweight) and tells the tale of an innocent man misidentified and pursued across the country by secret agents. By all accounts this is one of Hitchcock's best films.

Red River

I am a John Wayne fan, from way back. But for whatever reason I have not seen this wonderful film. Of all those on this list, this one is the one I am most likely to see soon. Released in 1948 and directed by the great Howard Hawks, co-starring Montgomery Cliff this tells the tale of the first cattle drive from Texas to Kansas along the Chisholm Trail. Also in the film is a veritable who's who of western actors: Walter Brennan, Harry Carey (both Sr and Jr), and Noah Beery among others. A great cast for a great film and one long overdue for me to view.

Any Woody Allen Movie

Can't stand Woody Allen. No excuses. Blegh!

So there you have it, a list of great, iconic films that I have never seen. What do you think, am I an idiot? Have you seen all of them, some of them, none of them? Are there films you haven't seen for whatever reason? Share a few with me, won't you; or tell me why I should see some of these films on my list.

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm not sure what it says about you, Mike, or what does it say about me that I've seen all of them? LOL

    • Mr Archer profile image
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      Mr Archer 16 months ago from Missouri

      I would say that this makes me a sheltered little tortoise who rarely sticks his head out and you a wonderful majestic eagle who spreads his wings and soars to new heights daily! Take care Sir William!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 16 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      I haven't seen any of these, either, so you are not alone.

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 16 months ago from Missouri

      Thanks Deb; have a good one!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 16 months ago from Central Florida

      Mike, the only ones I've seen in this list are Godfather, Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now, and Yankee Doodle Dandy. The others I was either too young and wasn't allowed to watch them, or they simply didn't interest me. Yankee Doodle Dandy is my favorite Jimmy Cagney movie. In fact, he's my favorite actor from his day. How many actors can be a bad guy or a song and dance man and pull both roles off?

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 16 months ago from Missouri

      He was very talented for sure, I just have never seen the entire film of this. Thanks, Cheyenne and have a wonderful day!

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