Year Released: 1940 This film, released in 1940, was the first from actor, writer and director Charlie Chaplin to involve dialogue. Up until then, the movie star was used to working on silent films, although he did have a background in live music, which made it a bit easier for him to transition over.
The Great Dictator is a political satire comedy that poked fun at Adolph Hitler – making light of a very serious situation, which is something the world desperately needed during those days. Chaplin won several awards for his work on the film, including the 1940 New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor and the Jussi Award for Best Foreign Filmmaker in 1974.
Year Released: 1926 Buster Keaton stars in this 1926 silent comedy based on a true event known as the Great Locomotive Chase that occurred during the Civil War. Unfortunately, when it came out in theaters, audiences weren’t rushing to see it, which resulted in a less-than-stellar box office turn out.
However, as the years have gone by, critics have changed their thoughts about the film, and it’s now considered one of the best in movie history. It has made a number of the American Film Institute’s lists, from 1998-2007.
Kind Hearts and Coronets
Year Released: 1949 This 1949 British black comedy was fairly well-received by critics when it was initially released. It tells the story of the son of an aristocratic woman who becomes exiled from her wealthy family when they disapprove of her marrying someone they consider to be beneath their social class. The son, Louis, goes on a killing spree after his mother’s death, killing everyone in his way to the throne.
As with many classics, the more it is seen over the years, the more it seems to grow on the critics who watch it. One publication in the 60’s for instance, called it, “the most confident comedy to ever come out of a British studio.” Time and the British Film Institute (BFI) both listed the film on their “Top 100” lists.
North by Northwest
Year Released: 1959 With a nearly perfect rating of 99% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, North by Northwest is consistently listed as one of the best films in history. Of course, when you pair director Alfred Hitchcock with leading man Cary Grant, you get award winning films.
The motion picture was nominated for three Oscars including Best Film Editing and Best Art Direction. Hitchcock also won a Silver Shell Award for Best Director, which was his second after receiving the first for his work on Vertigo.
Year Released: 1944 This 1944 film noir is directed by Billy Wilder, and stars Fred MacMurray, an insurance salesman married to a woman who’d like to claim her own policy – on a dead husband. It was hailed by critics across the country upon its release, and, in 1992 it was selected by The Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry.
Double Indemnity was nominated for seven awards at the 17th Academy Award show. Unfortunately, it didn’t end up winning in any of the categories, which included Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress. It did, however, wind up on several of AFI’s list of “Top 100s.”