Last week a black & white movie, The Artist, cleaned up at the Oscars!
The film – which is set in the roaring 1920’s – pays tribute to silent era cinema (when there was no speaking in films at all!) and is fittingly shot in black-and-white!
But that has not put off the millions of people around the world from flocking to the cinema to watch the movie, which picked up Academy Awards for Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor among others.
With The Artist looking back to those classic films from decades ago, we thought we’d take you through some of the best classic films of all time for you to watch as a family.
Plus, since they’re old, they’re really cheap to buy on DVD!
Modern Times (1936, U)
A movie considered to be Charlie Chaplin’s last silent film (though it is packed full of sound effects!), it looks at the advancing technologies of the day, as we see Chaplin driven mad by the boredom of his job in a factory.
He has a spell in a mental asylum and several jail terms before meeting an orphaned girl, with who he gets work at a nightclub.
The employment is short-lived, but the pair soon embark on more adventures.
FILMCLUB member Graeme, age 13 says: “We watched this film as part of my film clubs Silent Season along with the recent films Wall.E and Mr Bean’s Holiday, but this film 73 year-old film was definitely the funniest!”
Singin’ In The Rain (1952, U)
This is widely considered to be the best musical ever made.
The movie is set in the 1920s when films, originally silent moving pictures with live musical soundtracks, turned into ‘talkies’ and actors could be heard as well as seen.
Lina Lamont and Don Lockwood are a celebrated on-screen couple making the transition from silent films to sound. There’s one problem: Lina’s voice could shatter glass. So aspiring actress Kathy Selden is hired to provide Lina’s singing and speaking voice, and she and Don fall in love.
However, Lina is livid, and sets out to sabotage Kathy’s chances – but will she succeed?
FILMCLUB member Alice, age 9 says: “It is a toe tapping classic!”
Mon Oncle (1958, U)
Jacques Tati was France’s answer to Buster Keaton, or Charlie Chaplin. His films were made in the era of sound, but the sight gag still rules.
In this Oscar-winning comedy, he plays the unlucky Monsier Hulot, who visits his sister and is baffled by her state-of-the-art home and soon comes to resent society’s technological advances.
Hulot spends time with his nephew trying to save the traditional culture he believes is slipping away…
FILMCLUB member Lucy, age 9 says: “The greatest film you can ever watch is just in front of you now.”
Horse Feathers (1932, U)
Comedy legends the Marx brothers were known for the no-limits lunacy of their movies – and Horse Feathers might just be the craziest of them all.
Set at an American college, the fast-talking Groucho plays the new head of the institution, who’s desperate to win a sports match against a rival school.
But instead of hiring talented players to help him gain victory, he mistakenly brings in two hopeless oafs named Pinky and Baravelli – played by the silent, havoc-causing Harpo, and the ever-wisecracking Chico.
To say Horse Feathers is laugh-a-minute underestimates how funny it is – this is a true classic of movie comedy.
FILMCLUB member Vita, age 10 says: “I giggled so much that I almost fell off my seat!”
Laurel and Hardy – Way Out West (1937, U)
Comedy duo Laurel and Hardy travel to the Wild West where they run into a cunning bar owner, and soon everything starts to go wrong – which is exactly what you want to happen in a comedy!
Want to see a man actually being forced to eat his hat? The weighty Olly doing a spot of dancing (surprising well)? Someone using his thumb as lighter? It’s all here, and more, in this hilarious Hollywood classic.
FILMCLUB member Sonny, age 10 says: “The first ever silent black and white film I’ve ever watched. Hilarious.”
A Voyage To The Moon (1902, E)
You may sometimes find yourself watching a modern movie and wondering where it all got started – the answer lies in this fascinating (and still very entertaining!) early slice of science fiction, one of the first real films as we know them today.
It tells the tale of a group of astronomers who allow themselves to be rocketed into space, before they eventually land on the moon – and while the special effects involved were obviously so primitive they now simply look bizarre, the imagination and creativity that legendary cinema pioneer Georges Melies brings to the film means that even at only fourteen minutes long, it will stay in the memory long after it is over.
This DVD contains over 10 more of examples of Melies’ work, mostly only a few minutes long but all examples of an extraordinary imagination run riot, as well as a documentary explaining the man and his vision.
FILMCLUB member James, age 17 says: “Amazing to see how cinema began!”