The Handbook
The Handbook

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve never seen any of the Bond, Star Trek or Star Wars films. I have, however, seen all of the necessary classics that helped inspire the movie industry that we know and absolutely adore today.

Now that we are all cooped up inside, you have no excuse not to watch all of the films you’ve felt too embarrassed to say you haven’t seen before.

Grab your stockpiled popcorn kernels, pop on a movie and let’s ride out this self-isolation in style.

Casablanca, 1942

Casablanca, often easily confused with the Moroccan city of Casablanca, is director Michael Curtiz’ most famous romantic drama. This 1942 classic follows Rick Blaine, played by Humphrey Bogart, who runs a nightclub aptly named Casablanca, as he journeys to reignite a flame with his childhood sweetheart Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) while she’s in town with her husband, Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid). Set during World War II, the Germans are after Laszlo, and it’s Rick who helps to power through and helps them flee the country. 

If you’re a lover of heart warming lyrics, you’ll just want to catch the original version As Time Goes By.

The Godfather, 1972

We’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse… If you’re fed up of hearing endless Godfather references and not understanding them, it’s definitely time to watch the three hour escapade brimming with the gravitas and respect behind the mafia culture.

The three hour escapade is brimming with the gravitas and respect behind the mafia culture.

There’s rumours that The Godfather is supposedly loosely based on real-life mobsters, and takes inspiration from the narrative of Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel of the same name. The 1972 classic follows the mighty Italian-American Don Vito Corleone family, and sees the youngest don in the family in charge of the empire. Upset and a whole lot of crime ends up putting his whole family in stark danger.

12 Angry Men, 1957

Wondered what it was like to be part of a jury? Set in just one room, 12 Angry Men gives you an insider look at what decisions can be like for jurors in the middle of a courtroom drama. You see the flip and turn of the room, as some stick to their guns and others are on the fence.

Witness what many say is the best ensemble piece of acting ever committed on screen.

Sunset Boulevard, 1950

To say Sunset Boulevard changed the way the glitzy Hollywood was seen is an understatement. Billy Wilder’s American film noir movie quite literally opens with a shot of a man floating facing down in a swimming pool, and proceeds to follow this struggling screenwriter, Joe Gillis as he relays his journey six months prior to his traumatic death.

The Wizard of Oz, 1939

We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz. We hear he is a whiz of a wiz, if ever a wiz there was… 

Stroll down the yellow brick carved memory lane and indulge in this sweet, childhood musical. The fact this masterpiece was created all the way back in 1939 deserves a round of applause in itself.

Follow Dorothy, played by young Judy Garland, and her beloved dog, Toto, as their whole house and livelihoods are thrusted away to the wildly magical land of Oz. Along the way expect to meet a few familiar characters, including The Tin Man, Scarecrow, The Cowardly Lion and Glinda, as they fight against The Wicked Witch of The West.

The Apartment, 1960

This one’s another of Billy Wilder’s hits, but here us out. Back in the early 1960s, The Apartment descended onto a critical homerun with its five academy awards and 11 nominations. Wilder’s narrative is partially based on a real-life scandal in Hollywood, following a man who lends his apartment out to his boss as a base for his boss’s affair. In this day and age, it’s rather haunting to think of this but it’s comedic stance and jokes still rival through.

Taxi Driver, 1976

‘You talkin’ to me?’ is arguably one of the most famous lines in cinematic history, but did you know it’s actually from Martin Scorsese’s psychological drama Taxi Driver? 

One of the films that helped make Robert De Niro the iconic star we know and love today, Taxi Driver follows De Niro play an ex-veteran, New Yorkian cabbie Travis Bickle, who’s suffering from insomnia. Slowly heading on a downward spiral, declining into insanity, Bickle begins to plot the assisnation of the presidential candidate and the hustler of a 12-year-old prostitute named Iris (Jodie Foster).

Psycho, 1960

Ah yes, this list would not be complete without an honourable mention to Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological thriller, Psycho. 

Whether you’ve seen the movie or not, you’ll recognise its infamous shower scene shown above. Hitchcock’s film is famed for being the first to shine light on certain cinematic traits, but our favourite, is that it’s the first film to show the flushing of a loo. Random, yes, but it’s certainly iconic. 

Psycho follows Phoenix secretary Marian Crane, played by Janet Leigh, who’s on the run after she stole a whopping $40,000 sum from her employer to enable her to flee the constraints of her lover. The narrative is actually loosely based on the cast of convicted Wisconsin murderer Ed Gein. 

Citizen Kane, 1941

It’s rather easy to say that Citizen Kane features the greatest cinematography of its time, as it was one of the first films in history to use deep focus, a famed technique which allows audiences to see subjects both close and far in the camera shot to remain in focus. 

Citizen Kane was one of the first films in history to use deep focus.

Every film course will have had a dedicated lecture on this one film, focusing on its fine cinematography and complex narrative investigating Charles Foster Kane’s (Orson Welles) dying words. If you’re serious about film, it’s an absolute must see.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961

Everyone knows the catchy song but might be too ashamed to admit they never caught this classic on the big, or little, screen. 

Arguably one of Audrey Hepburn’s greatest roles, Blake Edwards’ Breakfast at Tiffany’s follows Holly, a working escort and woman on the search for a rich and older man to marry, meet a young man, Paul, who’s a writer striving for success as he moves into her apartment block. It’s worth a watch for the iconic shots of Audrey Hepburn smoking alone.

Titanic, 1997

Can Titanic really be classed as an all time classic? We certainly think so, or it will certainly be deemed so in 25 years time. If you’ve been living under a rock your entire life, Titanic follows the star-crossed romance of Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) as they fall in love on board the RMS Titanic ship before it tragically sinks. You’ll definitely want to get a pack of tissues at the ready for this one.

Dr Strangelove (Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb), 1964

First things first, we bet you didn’t know the full name of this 1960s movie. Next up, we bet you haven’t actually delighted in all of its glory. No? Didn’t think so, but you’re seriously missing out!

Directed, produced and co-written by Stanley Kubrick, Dr Strangelove (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) is a black comedy that helped to satrise the Cold War and its nuclear conflicts. 

Iconic actor Peter Sellers plays the performance of his career (three separate character performances!). During this scary time right now, relieve yourself with this dark comedy that helped audiences in the 1960s come to terms with the Cold War in a lighthearted way.