Thirty-six Most Dated Movies

by Tin_ear | created - 17 May 2011 | updated - 24 Jun 2014 | Public

Like high school year-book photos and fashion, movies too age, often horribly. Some only improve with time and solidify their prestige like Casablanca or Gone With the Wind. Others go the way of the beehive and paisley shirts.

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1. Cruising (1980)

R | 102 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

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A police detective goes undercover in the underground S&M gay subculture of New York City to catch a serial killer who is preying on gay men.

Director: William Friedkin | Stars: Al Pacino, Paul Sorvino, Karen Allen, Richard Cox

Votes: 14,735 | Gross: $19.80M

Al Pacino goes undercover as a Village Person. Enjoy.

2. The Trip (II) (1967)

Not Rated | 82 min | Drama

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After his wife leaves him, a disillusioned director dives into the drug scene, trying anything his friend suggests.

Director: Roger Corman | Stars: Peter Fonda, Susan Strasberg, Bruce Dern, Dennis Hopper

Votes: 3,700

This must have seemed bold and timely back at the heyday of the drug-fueled counterculture. The modern equivalent would probably feature a senile version of Peter Fonda trying to figure out which one of his teenage grandkids is stealing his prescription Oxycontin.

3. The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (1988)

R | 93 min | Documentary, Music

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Documentary showcase, what life was like for the music artists living during the Los Angeles Heavy Metal scene in the mid and late 1980s.

Director: Penelope Spheeris | Stars: Joe Perry, Steven Tyler, Gene Simmons, Alice Cooper

Votes: 2,621 | Gross: $0.37M

This was apparently before anyone realized how big of a joke hair metal bands were or that the music business was populated exclusively by hedonistic scumbags and oppurtunistic labels. Shocking expose at the time, though, I'm sure.

4. The Terrorists (1975)

PG | 89 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

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A gang of hijackers led by Ray Petrie (Ian McShane) seize a British plane as it is landing in Scandinavia. Ruthless military police chief Colonel Tahlvik (Sean Connery) is assigned to ... See full summary »

Director: Caspar Wrede | Stars: Sean Connery, Ian McShane, Jeffry Wickham, Isabel Dean

Votes: 1,379

Made back in the day when the people who hijacked airplanes were secular, white Europeans, who were only interested in cash, and would prefer to stay alive to use said cash.

5. Alfie (1966)

PG | 114 min | Comedy, Drama

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An unrepentant ladies' man gradually begins to understand the consequences of his lifestyle.

Director: Lewis Gilbert | Stars: Michael Caine, Shelley Winters, Millicent Martin, Julia Foster

Votes: 11,508 | Gross: $18.87M

.................................. (Spoiler) ...................................... The legalization of abortion and subsequent normalization of promiscuity render this movie a meaningless curiousity to modern audiences.

6. Rollerball (1975)

R | 125 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Sport

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In a corporate-controlled future, an ultra-violent sport known as Rollerball represents the world, and one of its powerful athletes is out to defy those who want him out of the game.

Director: Norman Jewison | Stars: James Caan, John Houseman, Maud Adams, John Beck

Votes: 19,031 | Gross: $30.00M

This movie is so out dated even the 'futuristic computer' fonts and hideous orange-brown color schemes will elicit chuckles (and this is coming from a Cleveland Browns fan). The dystopian future schtick is a staple of Hollywood, but per usual the genre dates terribly. The tag line reads 'In the not-too-distant future, wars will no longer exist. But there will be Rollerball.' No and No. And no bell-bottoms or chest hair fetishes either. Sorry, James Caan.

7. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)

PG | 102 min | Comedy

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93 Metascore

A surreal, virtually plotless series of dreams centered around six middle-class people and their consistently interrupted attempts to have a meal together.

Director: Luis Buñuel | Stars: Fernando Rey, Delphine Seyrig, Paul Frankeur, Bulle Ogier

Votes: 30,570 | Gross: $0.20M

I suppose it made sense in 1972, and may have even been considered funny, but so was The Brady Bunch. Today where debt, economic decay, disillusionment, and massive unemployment have decimated the director's native Spain, some might long for a time when the worst perils facing society were aristocrats snorting coke and humping each other. The influence of Catholicism, Franco and fascism is now only a distant memory for most of Europe, as is Bunuel and his tiresome surrealism. This film none the less denies the mundane & obvious allure of social status evident in a modern world where no self-respecting pleb can be taken seriously without the latest iphone and designer sunglasses. For all his contempt, he never offers any kind of criticism on human behavior that had depth or lasting resonance here. This genre had pretty much been run dry (and much more effectively) by the likes of Renoir, Struges, Welles, La Cava, countless Monty Python sketches, and Bunuel himself years earlier, but Bunuel was always one careful to repeat himself.

8. The China Syndrome (1979)

PG | 122 min | Drama, Thriller

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A reporter finds what appears to be a cover-up of safety hazards at a nuclear power plant.

Director: James Bridges | Stars: Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon, Michael Douglas, Scott Brady

Votes: 22,446 | Gross: $51.72M

This movie was almost prophetic in its timing, released months before the Three Mile Island fiasco. Subsequent disasters at the Chernobyl and Japanese Fukushima Daiichi reactors now render The China Syndrome's crisis paltry in comparison. In thirty years this movie has been sapped of all its punch. We now oddly live in a detached resignation regarding the ticking time bombs in our back yards. In recent years the nuclear power industry has actually gained some popular support in the US. Kind of a scary thought.

9. The Lawnmower Man (1992)

R | 108 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

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42 Metascore

A simple man is turned into a genius through the application of computer science.

Director: Brett Leonard | Stars: Jeff Fahey, Pierce Brosnan, Jenny Wright, Mark Bringelson

Votes: 29,992 | Gross: $32.10M

Virtual reality was a big fad in the early Nineties but horribly primitive. I've not seen this in about fifteen years, so my memory is hazy, but I'd not be surprised if there was a scene showing the protagonist drinking Crystal Pepsi and reading Omni magazine. ...Now I've really dated myself.

10. The Siege (1998)

R | 116 min | Action, Thriller

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53 Metascore

The secret U.S. abduction of a suspected terrorist, leads to a wave of terrorist attacks in New York City, that lead to the declaration of martial-law.

Director: Edward Zwick | Stars: Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis, Annette Bening, Tony Shalhoub

Votes: 61,829 | Gross: $40.98M

Designed as a cautionary tale, this movie is admirable in its ambition but pales in comparison to the absurdity and complexity of real life after September 11th. In fact it's actually quite a quaint, mundane, little movie to us modern viewers. What, no color-coded terrorism warning system? No 'freedom fries'? No underwear bombs? No 'truthers'? There were protests at the time by Muslim groups concerning their portrayal as terrorists bent on killing innocent New Yorkers, now an ironic footnote. Unlike the movie, real life has never returned to normal, and we seem uncomfortably flexible on the whole torture and detainment thing.

11. Saturday Night Fever (1977)

R | 118 min | Drama, Music

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77 Metascore

A Brooklyn teenager feels his only chance to succeed is as the king of the disco floor. His carefree youth and weekend dancing help him to forget the reality of his bleak life.

Director: John Badham | Stars: John Travolta, Karen Lynn Gorney, Barry Miller, Joseph Cali

Votes: 59,543 | Gross: $94.21M

Conceived as a drama, it became an unintentional comedy within a few years. And kitsch almost immediately.

12. Batman: The Movie (1966)

PG | 105 min | Adventure, Comedy, Crime

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The Dynamic Duo faces four supervillains who plan to hold the world for ransom with the help of a secret invention that instantly dehydrates people.

Director: Leslie H. Martinson | Stars: Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwether, Cesar Romero

Votes: 25,816

See above.

13. Black Caesar (1973)

R | 87 min | Action, Crime, Drama

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Tommy Gibbs is a tough kid, raised in the ghetto, who aspires to be a kingpin criminal. As a young boy, his leg is broken by a bad cop on the take, during a payoff gone bad. Nursing his ... See full summary »

Director: Larry Cohen | Stars: Fred Williamson, Gloria Hendry, Art Lund, D'Urville Martin

Votes: 2,480

With a bi-racial president, this movie appears not just dated, but offensive to all races (but, bizarrely, still enjoyable). A 'blaxploitation' remake of an older, equally mediocre crime flick, Black Caesar implicitly insinuates physical force is necessary to achieve success if you live in low-income areas, revenge is a natural reaction to oppression, and simply putting 'black' in the title is just as good as actually coming up with orginal, meaningful movies for cinematically neglected black audiences.

14. The Apartment (1960)

Not Rated | 125 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

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A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue.

Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston

Votes: 125,688 | Gross: $18.60M

Clever as it was, Billy Wilder's Oscar winner seems bland by modern standards. Like Alfie, The Apartment speaks to certain era in time, and only that era. Its plot, today, seems perfectly appropriate for a CBS sitcom or Ashton Kutcher date movie. It was out of date within a decade.

15. The President's Analyst (1967)

Not Rated | 103 min | Comedy, Sci-Fi, Thriller

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When the overworked and stressed-out White House presidential shrink runs away, the CEA and the FBR scramble to retrieve him before he could be abducted by various competing foreign intelligence services.

Director: Theodore J. Flicker | Stars: James Coburn, Godfrey Cambridge, Severn Darden, Joan Delaney

Votes: 2,676

This largely forgotten movie has nostalgic value for me, so I'll be kind. The President's Analyst manages to capitalize on three largely passe trends of the Sixties: hippies, psychoanalysis, and the Cold War. Needless to say, time has not been so kind as I.

16. Clueless (1995)

PG-13 | 97 min | Comedy, Romance

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68 Metascore

A rich high school student tries to boost a new pupil's popularity, but reckons without affairs of the heart getting in the way.

Director: Amy Heckerling | Stars: Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd

Votes: 140,396 | Gross: $56.63M

You could only really appreciate this movie if you grew up in the mid-Nineties. Movies who live by appealing to pop culture and youth sensibilities usually die by it. This movie for all its glory in that decade has had a rather short shelflife.

17. Wild in the Streets (1968)

R | 97 min | Comedy, Drama, Music

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A young man gains significant political influence as the leader of a counterculture rock band with his rallying cry of voting rights for teenagers.

Director: Barry Shear | Stars: Christopher Jones, Shelley Winters, Diane Varsi, Hal Holbrook

Votes: 1,593

This list seems to prove there is a tendency among Sixties counterculture types to make overtly political statements and impulsive choices without regard to future consquences, but with Nixon as president who can blame them. Wild in the Streets is perhaps the best look into the zeitgeist of those knee-jerk reactionaries. The plot is too silly to explain in detail; it includes LSD, lowering the voting age, and square authority figures. Time, ironically, has shown even when hippies take power they are square and awkward.

18. The Living Daylights (1987)

PG | 130 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller

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60 Metascore

James Bond is living on the edge to stop an evil arms dealer from starting another world war. Bond crosses all seven continents in order to stop the evil Whitaker and General Koskov.

Director: John Glen | Stars: Timothy Dalton, Maryam d'Abo, Jeroen Krabbé, Joe Don Baker

Votes: 75,476 | Gross: $51.19M

Actually one of my favorite Bond movies, The Living Daylights is no more noteworthy for being dated than any other Bond film, except for one interesting aspect. The very idea of James Bond potentially sharing a foxhole with Osama bin Laden is too much for me to bear. That's right, James Bond battles along side a vague rebel force against the Russians in Afganistan. Obviously it's made up, but still.

There is also the cliched Cold War divided-Berlin, a giant 80's boom box, the theme song by one-hit wonder a-ha, and, if my recollection is correct, 007's last cigarette. I assume Brosnan-era Bond had a nicotine patch under the sleeve of his tux.

19. La Grande Illusion (1937)

Not Rated | 113 min | Drama, War

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During the First World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.

Director: Jean Renoir | Stars: Jean Gabin, Dita Parlo, Pierre Fresnay, Erich von Stroheim

Votes: 29,188 | Gross: $0.17M

It's an unpopular but worthy observation to note this anti-war 'masterpiece' is gravely naive. Jean Renoir portrays war as futile, arbitrary, outdated, and elitist. WWII was precipitated by precisely this mindset of appeasement and baseless optimism. Aristocratic snobbery was the least of Europe's concerns in 1937. Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin were all lower-class populists hungry for conquest, while the bluebloods Chamberlain and FDR dreaded the possibility of war. It was the jingoistic concepts of nationalism, duty, and honor (the very bane of Renoir and GI) that preserved Western Civilization and bailed-out France eight years later, contradicting many of this film's now celebrated platitudes. The centuries-old cycle of humiliation and hatred was only ended by outsiders after both Germany and France were rendered militarily and politically irrelevant. Although many claim it was too far ahead of its time to have made a difference, by my estimation, it was decades too late.

Though the melodramatic bromance between Boeldieu and Rauffenstein plays out unconvincingly, that's hardly the most ridiculous aspect. Negating the heroic escape, a middle-aged Rosenthal would likely have been shipped off to a concentration camp a generation later.

20. Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976)

PG | 98 min | Comedy, Drama

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Competition between privately owned Los Angeles ambulance companies is played for humor.

Director: Peter Yates | Stars: Bill Cosby, Raquel Welch, Harvey Keitel, Allen Garfield

Votes: 2,609 | Gross: $20.00M

Though funny, this film should make little sense to any jive turkey under forty.

21. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

PG-13 | 89 min | Adventure, Comedy

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51 Metascore

A 1960s hipster secret agent is brought out of cryofreeze to oppose his greatest enemy in the 1990s, where his social attitudes are glaringly out of place.

Director: Jay Roach | Stars: Mike Myers, Elizabeth Hurley, Michael York, Mimi Rogers

Votes: 195,900 | Gross: $53.88M

An ode to datedness itself, fittingly, the original Austin Powers is now synonymous with irritating impersonations and terrible fads from two non-consecutive decades.

22. Brief Encounter (1945)

Not Rated | 86 min | Drama, Romance

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Meeting a stranger in a railway station, a woman is tempted to cheat on her husband.

Director: David Lean | Stars: Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway, Joyce Carey

Votes: 29,083

Perhaps it was a revelation in war-time England that people are attracted to other people who aren't their spouse, but it seems laughably dated in an era where half of marriages end in divorce, and marriage itself has been largely stripped of whatever pretense of 'sanctity' it formerly possessed. In a modern update, the couple would have statistically split up regardless of infidelity sooner or later, then gone into years of fruitless counseling. And the two would-be-lovers would probably have wed eventually and lived mildly contented lives, anticlimactically, with lovers on the side.

23. An Unmarried Woman (1978)

R | 124 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

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A wealthy woman from Manhattan's Upper East Side struggles to deal with her new identity and her sexuality after her husband of 16 years leaves her for a younger woman.

Director: Paul Mazursky | Stars: Jill Clayburgh, Alan Bates, Michael Murphy, Cliff Gorman

Votes: 3,774 | Gross: $24.00M

The problem, aside from it's irritatingly obvious need to appear hip and contemporary (e.g. lesbian analyst, obligatory & nonchalant signature Seventies' cinema tit shot, teenagers using 'grass,' impossibly spacious Manhattan lofts, disco songs, abstract 'color field' art, etc), is the fact the film feels overwhelmingly humorless, estrogen-soaked, and empowering, like a bad clone of a Woody Allen film by a feminist.

24. Othello (1965)

Unrated | 165 min | Drama

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A general's marriage is destroyed when a vengeful lieutenant convinces him that his new wife has been unfaithful.

Director: Stuart Burge | Stars: Laurence Olivier, Frank Finlay, Robert Lang, Anthony Nicholls

Votes: 1,153

Legendary actor Laurence Olivier is renowned for his Shakespearian roles, and devotion to the craft, but this 1965 version of the classic play goes awry particularly as result of Olivier's depiction of the titular moor (traditional stage acting is notably histrionic, and the Othello role even more so). To start with, he is supposed to be a Mediterranean/Berber character but looks more like a Sub-Saharan African, or worse a Nineteenth century vaudevillian act. Even if his blacker-than-night make-up wasn't so distracting, he mugs and overreacts in nearly every emotionally intense scene he's in, practically thrusting himself in the spotlight, casting a flailing shadow on the more nuanced supporting roles, especially Frank Finlay's excellent Iago. This simply doesn't compare to any of the more immersive filmed versions of the play, Orson Welles's 1952 movie in particular. More recent versions put the great Olivier to shame.

25. Cop (1988)

R | 110 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

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An obsessive, insubordinate homicide cop is convinced a serial killer is loose in the Hollywood area and disobeys orders in order to catch him.

Director: James B. Harris | Stars: James Woods, Lesley Ann Warren, Charles Durning, Charles Haid

Votes: 3,486 | Gross: $1.88M

Count the clichés while watching this movie, you'll probably lose count by the second act. James Woods is one of my favorite actors but even he should've been smart enough to know he couldn't save this bomb. I suppose it is possible, considering the title and excessive & formulaic plot, that the creators were actually trying to make a satire. But I can't be sure, the whole thing is played with a straight face. Modern audiences would probably laugh at this today; barely beating out Cobra for most ridiculously clichéd Eighties cop movie.

26. Strange Days (1995)

R | 145 min | Action, Crime, Drama

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A former cop turned street-hustler accidentally uncovers a conspiracy in Los Angeles in 1999.

Director: Kathryn Bigelow | Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore

Votes: 58,770 | Gross: $7.92M

Remember Y2k? There is a good chance you don't. Don't bother looking it up, smart people didn't worry about it then, so don't you now. Leave it to writer/producer James Cameron to lead the way in capitalizing on an awful fad. This film ironically mocks absurd predictions while undermining complex social issues, but is itself based on several supremely stupid premises such as the proliferation of virtual reality, dystopian futurescape/police states, the longevity of gangsta rap and grunge music, millenarianism, unchecked police brutality and LA gang violence, etc. Some of these trends were already passe by 1995. Like the paranoia surrounding Y2k, Strange Days is now relegated to status as second-rate '90s nostalgia. In comparison, a film like Gattaca doesn't play down to its audience and because of that, works. And opposed to a daft yet fun film like Demolition Man, Strange Days actually takes itself seriously, and is therefore so much more idiotic. It is, after all, only written by James Cameron. Bonus points if you spotted the anachronistic reference to the LA Rams in the future tense. Kathryn Bigelow has since wisely escaped Cameron's orbit.

27. 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle (1967)

Not Rated | 87 min | Comedy, Drama

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A day in the life of a Parisian housewife/prostitute, interspersed with musings on the Vietnam War and other contemporary issues.

Director: Jean-Luc Godard | Stars: Marina Vlady, Anny Duperey, Roger Montsoret, Raoul Lévy

Votes: 5,275 | Gross: $0.10M

Forty plus years later this once fashionable Jean-Luc Godard experiment now appears as stagnant as a Le Corbusier housing project or a Guy Debord essay. The film contains an absurdly annoying whispered narration, pointless name dropping and literary allusions designed to appeal to the one percent (and by that, I mean the percent of people who know who Bertolt Brecht is), awful intertitles, clunky and improvised dialogue uttered by beautiful and clueless amateurs (the hallmark of his movies), and an aimless story with political interpretations jammed in whether they fit or not. This is the type of crappy avant-garde film that only could be taken seriously in the late Sixties, when anything new, shocking, or politically unconventional seemed like a good idea. Like most bad experimental movies of that era (e.g. Head, Wavelength, Sleep, Empire, Symbiopsychotaxiplasm, and every other Kenneth Anger or Jonas Mekas home movie, etc.), this movie appears almost entirely unscripted and preoccupied with style, contemporary politics, imagery, or the idea of filmmaking. His aim in filmmaking was admittedly to spark revolution, that revolution seemingly was born and died within a few months in 1968. Communism died a slower and more convulsive death. Needless to say, Godard has spent the last twenty years on defense, trying to justify the failed Maoist ideology and unwatchable style he married himself to in this era. It is my contention Godard will go down the greatest cinematic fashion victim in history.

28. Marnie (1964)

PG | 130 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

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Mark marries Marnie although she is a habitual thief and has serious psychological problems, and tries to help her confront and resolve them.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Tippi Hedren, Sean Connery, Martin Gabel, Louise Latham

Votes: 37,485 | Gross: $7.00M

The Sean Connery character solves a case of repressed trauma/ social phobia, borderline personality disorder, and kleptomania merely with amateur Freudian psychology, blackmail marriage, verbal abuse, and rape (which if you remember Goldfinger, seemed to be a recurring theme for Connery that year). We know he is an amateur psychologist because we see him read a book labeled 'Psychology.' These aren't taboo topics, but the film is played as light drama and even romance, and he's practically cast as the 'hero' in the story. He is the most normal and identifiable one at least. The story makes no sense, it never being clear other than physical attraction what a suave businessman sees in this frigid, suicidal basketcase. As with most later Hitchcock films, the cinematography is fabulous but a lot of the sets and backdrops look out of date. The hunt scene is particularly bad and is probably more apt to produce laughs than chills, which actually sums up the film pretty well. The film is more nuanced than I give it credit for, but it's still silly and unintentionally creepy.

29. Tomorrow's Children (1934)

70 min | Drama

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A young woman wishes to marry her boyfriend and raise a family, but because her own family has been deemed "defective" by the state health authorities--her parents are lazy alcoholics who ... See full summary »

Director: Crane Wilbur | Stars: Diane Sinclair, Donald Douglas, John Preston, Carlyle Moore Jr.

Votes: 98

Considering this is a pro-eugenics film, the title is, of course, a little ironic and more than a little derogatory. The film takes place before Nazi Germany, in a quaint world where social degeneracy is purely an objective, genetic matter. Where no upstanding citizen can possibly descend from a thieving, selfish 'house full of idiots and cripples.' A world where mentally ill people are readily identified as criminal, sex obessive, slow, addicted, or physically unattractive, etc., (which would just as appropriately have described the Kennedys, interestingly). Still the film admits the flawed, crackpot nature of selective breeding while basically endorsing the premise as a public service of a paternalistic government. Sterilization is literally compared to having a tooth pulled, evidence then established medical science was alarmingly ignorant of the complexity of mental health or any appreciation of civil liberties or basic ethics. The film does have a 'happy ending,' the protagonist is revealed to not have a defective gene pool because she was only adopted by her dead beat family. How's that for upbeat?

30. Future Shock (1972)

43 min | Documentary, Short

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Describes the constant, bewildering barrage of new technologies and all the resulting societal changes those technologies bring about.

Director: Alexander Grasshoff | Stars: Orson Welles, John Bray, Verlin Cobb, Charles Epstein

Votes: 76

It should be said, any film that shows its date within the first twenty seconds actually does represent the shock of the modern age pretty well, though, you still should chuckle at Orson Welles being overwhelmed by the variety of Swanson's dinners. Has CGI art taken over the art galleries? Are super intelligent robots going to replace human beings? Will pre-fabricated houses and communes lead to the breakdown of family and society? Are there faboulous space adventures, or a genetic arms race? No, and actually it is a little dispiriting to learn in forty years there still isn't a robot smart enough to vacuum the floor without ripping electrical cords out of the outlets. While we may be stressed by technology, that is not new, and we manage it relatively easily. Don't be fooled by the ominous moog synthesizer, nobody but religious fanatics, fringe weirdos, and old folks were ever really freaked out by gay marriage or e-mail; Moore's Law and technological advances aside, social progress is about as lumbering as a mammoth.

31. If.... (1968)

R | 111 min | Drama

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In this allegorical story, a revolution led by pupil Mick Travis takes place at an old established private school in England.

Director: Lindsay Anderson | Stars: Malcolm McDowell, David Wood, Richard Warwick, Christine Noonan

Votes: 18,688

Unfortunately, If, a nonliteral story of young, British rebels gunning down their oppressors, was rendered out-of-style by our own modern, American variation of youth rebellion, which happens to be literally shooting up our schools. A reversal on Marx's old maxim, this is a case of tragedy following farce.

32. Big Jim McLain (1952)

Approved | 90 min | Crime, Drama, History

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In the post-war Hawaii, House Un-American Activities Committee investigators Jim McLain and Mal Baxter hunt down Communists.

Director: Edward Ludwig | Stars: John Wayne, Nancy Olson, James Arness, Alan Napier

Votes: 1,655

In addition to its celebration of the House Un-American Activities Committee, Big Jim McLain also upholds that holy trinity of hidebound American culture: god, country, and the traditional family. Ex-communists in this movie are depicted as a remorseful and guilt-stricken lot, which makes all their snitching all that less painful, I assume. Commies are depicted as slanderous or stereotyped caricatures, either brainwashed dupes, racists, duplicitous college professors & infiltrators, murderous saboteurs, or inept workers (as opposed to McLain who is referred to as 'competent' twice in one minute by two separate people. Even by Fifties' standards the writing is pretty lame). James Arness' patriotic threats to pound suspected Communist Party members into submission is as amusing as it is exemplary of America's real attempts to stamp out dissent in any form by any means. McLain's adoration of the Constitution curiously seems to omit the First Amendment.

33. Rosemary's Baby (1968)

R | 137 min | Drama, Horror

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96 Metascore

A young couple moves in to an apartment only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life.

Director: Roman Polanski | Stars: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer

Votes: 156,002

Any sane person will surely cringe watching Rosemary downing booze to celebrate her impending child, her husband gleefully dump a carton of Pall Malls out on the kitchen table as a gift to his expecting wife, or their family doctor nonchalantly prescribe aspirin for morning sickness. It's a miracle the spawn of Satan was born at all. The copy of Time Magazine's 'Is God Dead' issue I get is played tongue-in-cheek, but even that is undercut by the religious revivalism of the Eighties and Nineties. As brilliant as Rosemary's Baby is it is definitely a product of a bygone era, when Satan worshipers wore tweed suits instead of black t-shirts and nose piercings.

34. Symmetricks (1972)

6 min | Animation, Short

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Against a black background and a pulsating beat matching white symmetrical geometric flashes around a central orb, white lines are drawn in mirror images vertical to each other. The images ... See full summary »

Directors: Wade Shaw, Stan Vanderbeek

Votes: 64

I've heard this described as a cutting edge blending of technology and avant-garde art. You can be excused for dismissing it as the pretentious waste of time it is. 'Video art' never really took off, and computers are used for more practical and less repetitive generated effects today. Art critic Robert Hughes once observed, 'nothing dates faster than people's fantasies about the future.' And this is undeniably 'yesterday's science fiction.'

35. Little Murders (1971)

PG | 110 min | Comedy

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Comedy about how New Yorkers are coping with pervasive urban violence, obscene phone calls, rusty water pipes, electrical blackouts, paranoia and ethnic-racial conflict during a typical summer of the 1970s.

Director: Alan Arkin | Stars: Elliott Gould, Marcia Rodd, Vincent Gardenia, Elizabeth Wilson

Votes: 2,020

Was NYC in the Seventies really this decrepit and violent? I had a hard time separating the absurdity from the straight-faced social critique, call me wet behind the ears. Was the writer, Jules Feiffer, mocking the state of dysfunctional affairs of the city or the popular image of New Yorkers as godless, nihilistic neurotics? Everyone plays a caricature and the film switches from lite-drama to gallows humor on a dime, it's hard to figure out what the filmmakers were thinking. The film bandies about the idea of atheism so emphatically, I just assumed the movie was suggesting not believing in God was tantamount to a grand political statement or decadent lifestyle, the protagonist is practically out of a Camus novel. While I can admit the film was probably cutting edge at the time it's too time specific to translate. There's a line about the twenty-six-year old female lead being too old to find a husband that should alienate most of the female race. And unless you are a psych major don't expect to get the breast-feeding jokes. Much like a Woody Allen film or Lou Reed album, this an interesting glimpse into the psyches of jittery, post-Woodstock, Manhattan intellectuals.

36. Cool as Ice (1991)

PG | 91 min | Comedy, Music, Romance

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 2.8/10 X  

A rap-oriented remake of The Wild One (1953), with heavy emphasis on the fact that Vanilla Ice has assumed the Marlon Brando role.

Director: David Kellogg | Stars: Vanilla Ice, Kristin Minter, Naomi Campbell, Deezer D

Votes: 8,028 | Gross: $1.19M

Aside from being a terrible fad, Cool as Ice is also one of the few movies on IMDb I have ever given a '1' rating. This movie doesn't warrant further comment, so that's where I'll finish this list. In the words of Mr. van Winkle, 'word to your mother.' I doubt even he knows what that means.