The list author says: "While majoring in writing at the University of Texas at Austin, I took film classes as a hobby. They were fun, but never matched my own journey that led me to become a film critic. So I made a list of the books and films I learned the most from.
I've noticed if some people don't "get" a particular classic film, they avoid classics altogether. I'm trying to avoid that here by choosing more accessible films; like Touch of Evil instead of Citizen Kane. You can always watch the harder films later."
"This is a fabulous intro into classic movies. It covers silents, westerns, musicals, noirs and much more. It talks about how film evolved and the history behind landmark films. Though it only does American movies, you'll still have plenty of recommendations to rent. MUST VIEW for serious movie buffs. The journey stops around the 70s when Scorsese hit it big."
"Roger Ebert said this was the one book everyone should read about movies. I agree. It's a fascinating read about the technical process of film making. Easy to read and you get some neat stories from Sidney Lumet (Dog Day Afternoon, Network, Serpico). Much more engaging than film textbooks."
"This includes the reviews for every movie of the year Ebert chose since 1967-2005, special documentaries and overlooked masterpieces. That alone will teach you a lot. Add the interviews, profiles and special articles and you have one of the best books on film ever written."
"Pauline Kael was the Roger Ebert back in the 60s (Ebert was just starting then). This book covers her most controversial few years as a critic where she got fired for her Sound of Music review and panned Kubrick. She's opinionated as hell, but makes many good observations. She practically defines film criticism."
"If you want a real textbook that breaks down film making into complex terms, this one is good. It has a lot of illustrations and covers a wide array of films. The writing is a step above most textbooks as well. Note: the included DVD is pretty worthless."
"Skip Birth of a Nation for now, it can be frustrating for novice silent film viewers. Orphans is a better D.W. Griffith intro. There's no racism, the story is interesting and the cross-cutting is better. This is what got me (and a lot of others) into silent films."
"This can be a chore for some, considering it's literally Soviet propaganda. But it's interesting and is important to understand in how the possibilities in film evolved. Lots of scholarly articles on this one."
"This is the guy that separates film experts from movie buffs. If you know about him and his theories, congrats! He can be quite boring sometimes and don't sweat it if you skip him. If you like him, look into his contemporaries for more film theory."
"The real start of horror films. Not really scary today, but it has an eerie creepiness to it and contains many important film techniques. An absolute classic everyone must see and a good F.W. Murnau intro."
"Little Caesar (1930) came first, but James Cagney defined the 30s gangster and gets the full treatment here. Also, Bogart's first film appearance is in The Petrified Forest. All good films; the set needs Scarface (1932) though."
"Sprinkle in a few classics: 1934 It Happened One Night 1938 You Can't Take It with You 1949 All the King's Men 1953 From Here to Eternity 1954 On the Waterfront 1957 The Bridge on the River Kwai 1962 Lawrence of Arabia 1966 A Man for All Seasons 1968 Oliver! 1979 Kramer vs. Kramer 1982 Gandhi"
"The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep are the best private eye noir films. They defined Bogie and are landmarks. Great next steps for noir lovers. Will lead you to Bogie's expansive career including Casablanca, Treasure of Sierra Madre and many others."
"No better Hitchcock to start with. The man practically defined suspense and perfected many film techniques. From here, check out Vertigo, North by Northwest, Rear Window, Strangers on a Train and Notorious at least."
"Maybe the greatest director that ever lived. Seven Samurai is easily one of the greatest films ever made. Add classics like Rashomon, Ran, Ikiru, Yojimbo, Red Beard and you get the idea. Without Kurosawa, we might not have westerns or Star Wars. For advanced viewers, check out Yasujiro Ozu."
"A lot of people start with Citizen Kane and don't get it. I recommend Touch of Evil. It's not as revolutionary, but funner and more accessible. Save Citizen Kane and maybe even The Third Man for when you know more."
"I can't think of a better French film to start with. Essential to understanding the films influenced by it. Imagine if Charles Dickens directed a movie and you get the idea. Probably the Citizen Kane of French films."
"Considered the film made tomorrow. Basically, it was so far ahead of it's time no one could believe it. Nowadays, it seems very Quentin Tarantino-ish. Good intro to French New Wave which would require many list to finish."
"Ingmar Bergman loved to ask the hard questions about love, life and God's silence. The Seventh Seal is Woody Allen's favorite movie and will, hopefully, make you watch ever Bergman film in existence. Very important director."
""The Hays Code" censored films for a long time to make them "morally acceptable." Streetcar was the first real rebellion against the code for more freedom in discussing sex and violence. Not to mention Brando and Leigh's masterclass acting showcase."
"Every Kubrick movie is a masterpiece. Anyone who tells you different, just doesn't get it yet. Every film is different and employs different techniques. May take multiple viewings or research to understand. But oh so worth it."
"Not many have seen Scorsese's first real film (Who's That Knocking was a student film). It employs a lot of regular Scorsese themes. If you watch his movies in order, you'll see him experiment and perfect cinema. Truly one of the greats."
"Considered the greatest Western ever made and John Wayne's favorite role. I think certain side stories slow things down, but the main plot is unmissable. Contains some of the most beautiful cinematography ever. Good intro into John Wayne and director John Ford. See also The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence."
"No director ever captured violence and outlaws like Sam Peckinpah. He had a sixth sense about how to make viewers feel the action and employs interesting themes about children, honor and friendship in this one. Peckinpah was a true cinematic rebel."