Favorite Underappreciated Films

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I love making lists, so I decided to write my first list post.  Today, I discuss five of my favorite films that I think are underappreciated.  These are films that have not enjoyed mainstream success, whether because they are forgotten or because they have mixed reviews.  Three are classic films, and two are from after 2000, which is an accurate representation of the types of films I generally watch.

5) Beat the Devil (1953)

Why I Love It: This is a light film that is not in any way meant to be taken seriously, and sometimes, it’s refreshing to watch something like this.  It’s a bit silly, but it’s a laugh riot and immensely enjoyable to watch.  Nevertheless, the plot is intricate, and it requires a bit of concentration to appreciate it.  It also stars Humphrey Bogart and Jennifer Jones, both of whose work I enjoy.  I honestly can’t find much not to like about it.

Why I Think It’s Underappreciated: This is a film that, for whatever reason, people don’t understand or simply haven’t seen. For a film with such star power both behind and in front of the camera (besides starring Bogart and Jones, it was directed by John Huston, who co-wrote the screenplay with Truman Capote), it’s a film that is underseen.  Of the people who have seen it, there’s a minority that loves it – Roger Ebert among them – but the majority is ambivalent towards it.

4) Cluny Brown (1946)

Why I Love It: It’s funny that the only two comedies Jennifer Jones made are on my list, but there you have it.  Cluny Brown is a delightful little film about an English plumber’s niece who gets a job as a maid at a large estate.  The character of Cluny Brown is always looking for opportunities to increase her store in life, and she is a wonderfully optimistic person.  In addition to the comedy, Cluny Brown poses interesting questions about the nature of servitude, making it a well-rounded, entertaining social commentary.

Why I Think It’s Underappreciated: If you’ve seen Cluny Brown, please speak up.  It seems to be a film that not too many people have seen.  The two stars – Jones and Charles Boyer – aren’t terribly remembered outside classic film fans, which probably adds to its obscurity today.

3) The Fountain (2006)

Why I Love It: Watching this film is an intellectual exercise, and just as I enjoy watching light films like Beat the Devil, I also like to watch more cerebral films.  The Fountain tells its story nonlinearly, and that makes it all the more intriguing.  I also love the film’s style, with its yellow-gold visuals and its at times rockish score.  To make the style more interesting, all the visuals, including some involving a nebula, were made without CGI, making the whole film look more organic.

Why I Think It’s Underappreciated: The film wasn’t seen by too many people, and many critics panned it, citing that it doesn’t make sense.  In all honesty, I love The Fountain, but I do not pretend to understand it in its entirety; its open-endedness is what makes it great.  I think that The Fountain has achieved a bit of a cult status.  When you meet somebody who loves it, they think it’s one of the best films ever made.  It certainly is a divisive film but one that I wish more people could find a way to appreciate.

2) Hanna (2011)

Why I Love It: I’m a big fan of director Joe Wright’s style, and Hanna is basically all about style.  Unlike some of Wright’s other films, the story of Hanna isn’t nearly as important as how it’s made.  I love the fluidity of the shots and the way the electronic score punctuates the action sequences.  All in all, I find this to be an incredibly slick film.  On another note, it involves so many actors I like: Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams, and Michelle Dockery.  How can I not love it?

Why I Think It’s Underappreciated: The film received mixed review from critics and fared okay at the box office.  For a film that I think is just so great, I wish it could have achieved greater mainstream success.  We have yet to see if it will receive any Oscar nominations (there’s a chance especially in the technical categories), and if it doesn’t, that would be a gross mistake.

1) To Each His Own (1946)

Why I Love It: Simply put, this is a film that makes me smile.  Sure, there are melodramatic moments even facepalm moments, but at its core, the story of To Each His Own is heartwarming and made me grin ear to ear when I first saw it.  Thus, I find it a difficult film to dislike.  On top of all this, Olivia de Havilland gives a knockout performance and rightfully won an Oscar for it.

Why I Think It’s Underappreciated: Despite my admiration of this film, I have only met one other person who has seen it.  But on imdb, its rating is 7.9, which is pretty high, showing that people who have seen it really do like it.  Thus, like with Cluny Brown and The Fountain, I think one of the main reasons this film is underappreciated is because it is underseen.  It is also not as well known as some of de Havilland’s other films like The Snake Pit (1948) and The Heiress (1949).

Has anyone seen (and liked) any of these films?  If not, what are some of your favorite underappreciated films?

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