I hope this one gets a better fate; I was reminded of this from another of Joe Carter's posts on movies.
Anyhoo, lots of us - ok, some of us- remember Alan Bloom's advocacy of the the literary canon, "The Closing of the American Mind."
Having recently seen Metropolis, I realized I was watching a film that was a motherlode of influence s for a host of films that followed it, including Blade Runner, 1984, and others.
Public Enemy is clearly an influence on a film like Goodfellas.
So, I think there's a list of films that if you haven't watched them and know about them - even if you hate them- you can't really understand lots of things being made today.
So, in no particular order is my list of films that one should watch (in my admittedly elitist view) to be "viderate."
- The Public Enemy. One wonders if any other gangster movie would be the same, including things like A Bronx Tale, or Sleepers would have been anywhere near the same if this movie hadn't been made.
- That Fatal Glass of Beer. This is the granddaddy of everything from Monty Python to Saturday Night Live.
- Metropolis. An amazing work, it's like an entire civilization was created in a silent movie, with ballet-like choreography, and a story that is mythical and a critique of everything from political philosphy to Christianity. Awesome.
- The General. Not to take anything away from Jackie Chan, but Buster Keaton did it first.
- Duck Soup. Scenes in this have been stolen by everyone, including but not limited to Lucille Ball on multiple occasions. This movie is also a political movie, which, Joe Carter's list shows just how underrated it is as one of those.
- Triumph of the Will. You can't watch a modern political convention- especially a Republican one- the same way again if you haven't seen this film beforehand.
- The Seven Samurai.
- Duck and Cover. You can't really get anything Michael Moore has done without knowing about this film.
There's others, too, but I that's at least a start.