Peter's Classic Movie Picks

Peter, our resident film buff, has compiled a list of some of his favorite classic films available right now on Kanopy and also available to request from the library on DVD.


The Conversation

Francis Ford Coppolla
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This often-overlooked, moody thriller by Francis Ford Coppolla about a surveillance expert and the moral dilemma he faces when his recordings reveal a potential murder, with a wonderful lead performance by Gene Hackman, was Coppolla's pet project that the studio only allowed him to make if he agreed to direct The Godfather first. (1974)

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The Battle of Algiers

Gillo Pontecorvo
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One of the most influential socio-political films in history, The Battle of Algiers vividly re-creates a key year in the tumultuous and bloody Algerian struggle for independence from the occupying French in the 1950s. It was shot in documentary style on the streets of Algiers with mostly non-professional actors who had lived through the real battle. (1966)

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Chimes at Midnight

Orson Welles
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Orson Welles had a lifelong obsession with Shakespeare's ultimate rapscallion, Sir John Falstaff. Usually a comic supporting figure, Falstaff--the loyal, often soused friend of King Henry IV's wayward son Prince Hal--here becomes the focus: a robustly funny and ultimately tragic screen antihero played by Welles with looming, lumbering grace. (1966)

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The 400 Blows

François Truffaut
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The directorial debut of Francois Truffaut about a misunderstood adolescent in Paris whose rebellious behavior and dabbling with petty crime finds him clashing with his parents and teachers. A defining film of French New Wave cinema. (1959)

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8 1/2

Federico Fellini
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A landmark surrealist comedy/drama from Federico Fellini starring Marcello Mastroianni as a famous Italian film director who suffers from stifled creativity as he attempts to direct an epic science fiction film and struggles to find personal happiness in a difficult, fragmented life. (1963)

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Akira Kurosawa
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A masterwork from the visionary Akira Kurosawa, the film has become famous (and often copied) for a plot device that involves various characters providing subjective, alternative, self-serving, and contradictory versions of the same incident. (1950)

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His Girl Friday

Howard Hawks
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A screwball comedy romance from Howard Hawks, who, at the time, was determined to break the record for the fastest film dialogue. He may have accomplished that with the wonderful Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell's witty, rapid-fire, overlapping banter. (1940)


Modern Times

Charlie Chaplin
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With its barrage of unforgettable gags and sly commentary on class struggle during the Great Depression, this film is a timeless showcase of Chaplin's untouchable genius as a director of silent comedy and features the final portrayal of The Tramp, his signature character. (1936)