The summer movie season of 2014 is making headlines for its lack of blockbuster successes. But that doesn’t mean movie-lovers have nothing to watch.
Following is a list of awesome movies that, while they may be decades old, have neither lost their appeal nor cinematic greatness. Each of the eight movies listed was either nominated for or won an Oscar.
Using sumptuous 1930s sets, this movie shows how both Julius Caesar and Marc Antony were led to their dooms by the notorious Cleopatra. Many people have seen the color 1963 Elizabeth Taylor production of Cleopatra. However, after seeing this classic black and white version, made almost 30 years earlier, it is obvious which rendition is the truly great one.
This film stars Claudette Colbert, Warren William and Henry Wilcoxon. While only an hour and a half, this 1934 movie deserved its Oscar for Best Cinematography. A note should be made that while many classic movies are family-friendly, there are a few eyebrow-raising scenes in this film, as it was not yet subject to the Hays Code. This movie can be seen via Netflix DVD.
We all know how the career of the infamous Marie Antoinette ended. But watching events unfold, even though this film is not entirely historically accurate, is a wonderful experience. Cast into a loveless marriage with the future king of France, Marie stands strong against the politics of the court. Craving companionship, she secretly takes a lover but then has to cast him aside in favor of ruling over the people of France.
Norma Shearer, Tyrone Power and Robert Morley star in this 1938 black and white film. At two and a half hours, it was nominated for four Oscars and can be seen Aug. 24 at 11:15 a.m. MDT on TCM. It can also be found through Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video and iTunes.
'Gone with the Wind'
The ultimate classic film, this Technicolor great is a must-see. Scarlett O’Hara is a spoiled Southern belle who finds her comfortable world side-tracked by the onset of the Civil War. With only her selfishness and wits keeping her alive, she bounces from husband to husband all while harboring a secret love for a married man.
Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable and Olivia de Havilland star in this movie masterpiece from 1939. An entire night will need to be carved out to see this winner of eight Academy Awards in its duration of nearly four hours. This Technicolor movie will be shown Sept. 29 at 8 p.m. MDT on TCM. It can also be viewed any time via Netflix DVD, Google play, Amazon Instant Video or iTunes.
'The Magnificent Ambersons'
Telling the tragic tale of a family’s demise, this movie shows the decades of a town’s life. Poor Eugene, in love with the beautiful, rich Isabel, leaves town after she chooses someone else. As the years pass, their fortunes change. When the wealthy Eugene returns and finds that his previous sweetheart, now a widow, still holds his affection, he hopes happiness is just around the corner. What he isn’t ready for is the never-ending sabotage set forth by Isabel’s spoiled son.
Nominated for four Oscars and staring Joseph Cotten, Dolores Costello and Tim Holt, this black and white 1942 movie can be comfortably watched in less than 90 minutes on Aug. 29 at 3 p.m. MDT on TCM. It can also be seen using Netflix DVD and iTunes.
'Duel in the Sun'
After her father is put to death for killing her mother, Pearl is sent to live with her father’s former girlfriend. As she struggles to fit in with their complicated family, she finds herself drawn to both sons for different reasons. Although she tries to act like a gentle lady, she finds that her hot blood and the Wild West bring out her more carnal nature. Soon her presence tears the family apart and brings unhappiness to everyone concerned.
Nominated for two Oscars, this Technicolor movie stars Jennifer Jones, Gregory Peck and Joseph Cotten. As a family-viewing warning, while this movie doesn’t actually portray rape or murder, the two are suggested. Just over two hours long, this 1946 dramatic Western can be seen on TCM Aug. 29 at 7:45 p.m. MDT. It can also be viewed using Netflix DVD.
When Pinky returns to her Southern home, she admits to her grandmother that she has been passing herself off as Caucasian. The grandmother tries to talk her into staying home and embracing her heritage; but Pinky has endured enough of the neighborhood racial harassment. She soon finds herself staying in town longer than intended and realizes that home might not be such a bad place after all.
This 1949 black and white movie stars three very talented women who were all nominated for Oscars: Jeanne Crain, Ethel Barrymore and Ethel Waters. “Pinky” can be watched with the entire family, although young children might not understand race relations of the middle 20th century. This movie can be seen on Netflix DVD and iTunes.
It seems inevitable that John and Nell, two high school sweethearts, will eventually marry. But when Susanna, a rich Southern belle, visits town, things quickly change. John soon forgets his faithful girlfriend and embarks on a summer fling with Susanna. When she reveals her pregnancy, John marries her out of duty. Soon though, he realizes that Susanna is mentally imbalanced. The Civil War brings more chaos and then Susanna makes a decision that will forever change the lives of those she loves.
Nominated for four Oscars, this Technicolor 1957 movie is over three hours long and stars Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift and Eva Marie Saint. It will be shown Oct. 17 at 9:45 a.m. MDT. It can also be viewed through Netflix DVD.
'War and Peace'
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union decided to finance its own version of Tolstoy’s classic work, “War and Peace.” The film took several years to make and cost a reported $100 million. With a cast of more than 100,000, its creators insisted on exact replicas of Napoleon’s battles and authentic uniforms. The end result was an epic film that has yet to be matched.
This movie stars Lyudmila Savelyeva, Vyacheslav Tikhonov, Victor Stanitsyn and Oleg Tabakov. At over six hours long, unless viewers are familiar with Russian, it will need to be watched with either English dubbing or subtitles. This 1966 Oscar-winning movie is hands down the best rendition of Tolstoy’s novel that can be found. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to locate and is best viewed after buying the DVD collection. Just make sure to purchase the correct DVD region format.
Elizabeth Reid has bachelor's degrees in economics and history. She has worked in retail, medical billing, catering, education and business fields. Her favorite occupation is that of wife and mother. She can be reached at [email protected].