“What did you do during the pandemic, Aunty Marie?” “Well dear, I spent half the year watching a whole pile of black and white films, and the world felt like a better place.”
If you’ve read the first part of my top picks of 2020, you’ll know that I allowed myself some (well, a lot to be honest) wriggle room with my choices due to the limited number of releases and viewing opportunities I had for fresh fodder.
However, being on lockdown for effectively five months of the year allowed me to catch up with a truck-load of older films which I had been waiting to view. Some of them were ones I had been embarrassed not to have seen, others were names I had heard but knew little about – in both cases, a number of them completely overwhelmed me with their brilliance so I wanted to share my favourite first-time watches with you here. I was helped massively by taking advantage of a three-month free trial for Mubi, and I haven’t looked back since.
What follows is in a vague order of ranking, but only vague, as it seems unfair to put 50 years of cinema against each other!
Number 10 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948, dir John Huston)
I love this! I mean, Humphrey Bogart is always a good watch, and I should not have been surprised, but I had always marked this down as more of a cowboy shoot ‘em up type thing. But no, but this is a lot more engaging and intricate than anything I had imagined, and turned out to be positively Shakespearian. Also, I coincidentally saw this not long before viewing Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods – which was helpful!
Number 9 The Big Heat (1953, dir Fritz Lang)
I enjoy a good noir but for some reason had never got round to this one before. It’s a nasty noir, with a good few brutal moments and a quite terrifying Lee Marvin. Glenn Ford battling corruption is a thing to behold, and Gloria Grahame is magnificent.