The Criterion Collection remains known for many wonderful classic movies, but the ones spoken of most come from outside the United States directed by men like Akira Kurosawa and Jean Luc-Godard. However, there are a lot of great American classics in the Criterion Collection as well. Here is a look at 10 essential titles for Criterion Collection American classics that all film lovers should watch.
“12 Angry Men” – Sidney Lumet directed “12 Angry Men” in 1957, the story of a jury sequestered and tasked with discovering the guilt of a young man accused of murder. Almost the entire film takes place in the one room, but somehow Lumet created a thrilling, exciting movie that lives and dies by the cast and dialogue. It is a masterpiece.
“Ace in the Hole” – Released originally in 1951, “Ace in the Hole” stars Kirk Douglas as a news reporter who comes across the story of a lifetime and does a number of very unscrupulous things to make sure that the coverage lasts as he capitalizes on it. The film was directed by the great Billy Wilder and resonates as much today as it did back then.
“Badlands” – There have been many serial killer movies based on real-life murderers, but few are as masterful as “Badlands.” Terrence Malick made his debut with this story of Charles Starkwether and his killing spree, with Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek as the star crossed lovers.
“Hoop Dreams” – Steve James directed this pitch perfect documentary about two Chicago high school students with dreams of escaping their neighborhoods and making it in the NBA. It is both uplifting and a cautionary tale and a movie that Roger Ebert considered one of the best of the 1990s.
“The Last Picture Show” – In the late ’60s and early ’70s, independent cinema changed what movies looked like. While “Easy Rider” and “Bonnie and Clyde” were the ones most referred to, Peter Bogdonovich’s “The Last Picture Show” remains one of the best of the early independent era, a story of changing times and escaping the past.
“The Last Temptation of Christ” – Martin Scorsese directed one of the most controversial movies of all time. “The Last Temptation of Christ” is both a highly spiritual movie and a movie protested by many organized religions. As the title states, this is about the final temptations that Christ suffered through, and rejected, before his crucifixion.
“The Night of the Hunter” – This movie contains two of the most haunting horror types there are – the all-too-human sociopath and children in danger. In this movie, Robert Mitchum portrays a traveling preacher who is actually searching for a buried stolen treasure. When he learns that two children might know its location, he does everything in his evil power to force them to reveal its location.
“On the Waterfront” – Marlon Brando remains considered one of the greatest actors of his time, and “On the Waterfront” remains his most iconic role. In the movie, he plays a dock worker who used to be a promising boxer until he took a fall to help his brother’s mafia boss score a big win, costing him his career as a boxer in the process.
“Paths of Glory” – Stanley Kubrick created some amazing movies over his career, including “Paths of Glory,” one of the finest war movies of all time. In this film, Kirk Douglas stars as a military attorney who represents men accused of cowardice and facing a firing squad to cover the mistakes of their commanding officer. The trench battles in this movie are what Steven Spielberg reference for his war movie, “Saving Private Ryan.”
“Rosemary’s Baby” – When Roman Polanski signed on to make a horror movie, he wanted to make something that was a serious movie and not a schlocky scare-fest. What he created was “Rosemary’s Baby,” the story of a woman impregnated by Satan, who believes that her lovely neighbors might have a nefarious plot against her and her baby. Using suspense and intrigue, Polanski surpassed the horror genre at the time and the movie has stood the test of time.
‘The Crow’ Remake: Breaking Down the Actors Who Played the Crow
‘Star Wars’ News: Why a Movie Every Year is Not Too Much
‘Repo Man’ Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review
Top Actors to Play Real-Life Sports Stars in Movies
’42’ Breaks Records as Highest Grossing Opening Weekend Baseball Movie