TOP 10: Classics-on-the-Big-Screen Wish List

I live in an eastern Pennsylvania suburb—not far from Philadelphia or New York, but not close enough that I can jaunt to either city on a whim to check out one of the awesome-sounding events I’m occasionally invited to.

It typically doesn’t bother me much. There are two exceptional independent theaters within ten miles, so seeing something theatrically is rarely a problem, even if it isn’t on opening weekend. What’s a little disappointing, however, is missing out on seeing classic films on the big screen.

There’s only so many times I can listen to my favorite movie podcasters talking about some incredible Kubrick or Hitchcock retrospective without feeling just a twinge of jealousy. And I’m certain I’m not alone. Here’s my list of ten movies (with a few ties…sorry!) that I’d damn near kill to see on the big screen. Let me know what you think and share your classic-movie bucket list below.

10.) Days of Heaven
There are only a few filmmakers who really know how to utilize every inch of space on the big screen, and Terrence Malick is one of them. I was lucky enough to see his last two films—The New World (my favorite Malick film) and The Tree of Life—in a theater. Boy, what I’d give for an opportunity to see this one. The locusts scene alone, I suspect, would be more than worth the price of admission.

9.) McCabe and Mrs. Miller
The Western, at least for me, is probably the most visually appealing of all major film genres. Robert Altman’s 1970 film, however, is built around the idea that the Old West was a cruel and nasty place to live. It sucked the life out of many a dreamer—something that’s conveyed to us through both character and style. I love how ugly this film looks—how muddy the town’s streets are, how drab its buildings’ halls are. It’s the most beautiful ugliness I’ve ever seen put to celluloid.

8.) Once Upon a Time in the West
Another Western, this one is more conventional—and conventionally beautiful—but Leone’s epic is, for me, the apex of the genre. It’s a long one, but every single one of its 175 minutes is grand and glorious.

7.) Star Wars / The Empire Strikes Back
I vaguely remember seeing Star Wars during its 1997 theatrical run, but really, I was way too young (nine years old) to appreciate the films the way I do now. These will certainly get another run in the near future, but in 3D, which I have absolutely no interest in. What a shame.

6.) Barry Lyndon
You could fill this spot with almost any Kubrick film, really. I give the nod to Barry Lyndon because of the immaculate art direction, costumes, lighting, sound, etc. It’s just one of the most technically impressive films ever made.

5.) The Night of the Hunter
Charles Laughton’s first and only directorial effort is a German expressionism fan’s wet dream. As a great admirer of the movement, it goes without saying this is one of my very favorite films. And I’m happy to say that in a month’s time, I’ll be able to check this film off this list. Cannot wait!

4.) Alien / John Carpenter’s The Thing
The two squirmiest horror films ever made, and I’ve only ever seen them from the comfort of my couch. I want the sound (or lack thereof) to blast me out of my seat. I want visuals so intense that I need to watch them between my fingers. I want to see these movies on the big screen, and I want to right now!

3.) Lawrence of Arabia
This one might not surprise you, but the reason it’s on here probably will. I don’t care for Lawrence of Arabia. Not at all, actually. I’ve seen it multiple times, and I can’t seem to stay awake. I could be hopped up on caffeine in the middle of the day, and it would still put me to sleep. I know it’s blasphemous, but I can’t really find anything to like about the movie.

So why did I put it on this list? Because I want to like it so badly. I just feels wrong that I don’t. And maybe seeing the film as it was meant to be seen—allowing the sheer scope of it to completely overtake me—would give me the boost I need to get over this strange speed bump in my film-watching career.

2.) Citizen Kane
Sorry Vertigo fans, I stand with Kane. No, it’s not my favorite movie ever (see below), but it’s certainly up there. The first time I saw it was on a pretty big projector during film class in college. It was great, but not a true theater experience. Hopefully that’s to come one day so I can see an even bigger Charlie Kane stumble woodenly around his wife’s bedroom while he smashes her Hummel collection to bits. God, I love that scene.

1.) 2001: A Space Odyssey
This might have been the easiest top choice for any list I’ve ever done. For one, it’s my all-time favorite movie. It’s also a feast for the eyes and ears, and Kubrick’s version of outer space is arguably grander than anything other directors have ever attempted.

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