By Will Griggs
12 ANGRY MEN (1957)
One of Henry Fonda’s finest performances has him fighting for justice in a jury room as a young man is being railroaded with the charge of murdering his father. From the heyday of the teleplay, this gripping drama uses a minimum number of sets and characters to capture the viewer’s attention and tell a morality play about putting aside one’s own opinions and prejudices to embrace their civic responsibility.
THE GAZEBO (1959)
This very dark comedy involves murder, blackmail, nude photography, and Broadway… and yes it was made in 1959. Starring Glenn Ford, Debbie Reynolds, Martin Landau, and Carl Reiner, The Gazebo cast exhibits some of the best comedic timing ever.
THE APARTMENT (1960)
Although this movie did win the Academy Award for Best Picture, it is still a little-known classic. Jack Lemmon and Shirley McClain are phenomenal as employees in a New York City skyscraper—McClain as an elevator operator and Lemmon as a middle-management bachelor who offers up his apartment as a love nest for executives. Fred McMurray plays against type as a cheating executive wooing McClain.
SOMEWHERE IN TIME (1980
Christopher Reeve filmed this time travel romance in between Superman films to keep from getting typecast and the result is a gem of a film. Christopher Plummer and Jane Seymour shine as the other legs of a love triangle as Reeve attempts to find true love across the reaches of time.
Arguably Chevy Chase’s greatest movie, Fletch follows Chase as an intrepid reporter—and die-hard Laker fan—as he investigates low-level drug dealing until it leads to international smuggling and corruption. While a lot of the references and outfits are dated, this remains Chevy Chase’s most quotable film.
DEFENDING YOUR LIFE (1991)
Who knew Meryl Streep was so adept at comedy? Albert Brooks—the neurotic west coast equivalent of Woody Allen—investigates what the afterlife would be like if it was a legal bureaucracy where you literally had to defend your life before moving on to the next stage of existence.
L.A. STORY (1991)
Steve Martin wrote this phenomenal homage to early 90s Los Angeles. Co-starring a young Woody Harrelson and an even younger Sarah Jessica Parker, L.A. Story ponders some of life’s existential questions while he navigates life, love, and open season on the L.A. freeways.
Albert Brooks and Debbie Reynolds make their second appearances on the list as a mother-son combo that learn about themselves while dealing with peckadillos of each other. Brooks mourns the ending of another relationship and the resulting lack of self-confidence by moving back home to live with his mother.
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004)
If you could erase the memories of a failed relationship and everything you knew about your former lover would you? That is the question at the heart of this endearing drama starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet—supported by Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson, and Kirsten Dunst. Incredible writing from Charlie Kaufman and gorgeous production design takes you into the twisted mind of Jim Carrey’s character as he tries to save his own memories.
THE PRESTIGE (2006)
Christopher Nolan. Hugh Jackman. Christian Bale. Scarlett Johansson. Michael Caine. David Bowie. Nikola Tesla. Andy Serkis. Magic. Enough Said.