My Fellow Americans (1996)

My Fellow Americans is exceedingly kind to its two leads, who are allowed to be charming and charismatic and fun, and whose sheer exuberance turns a strange tale about the attempted assassination of two former presidents into a delightful, lighthearted comedy.

The Russian Woodpecker (2015)

It’s that connection between the corrupt past and the corrupt neo-Soviet present that gives The Russian Woodpecker its heft. The film never unearths anything startling, and its attempts to fool you into thinking it has are done in bad faith, but the film remains a compelling reminder of just how quickly we humans tend to fall back into old habits, even old habits that are likely to kill us.

Victor/Victoria (1982)

Victor/Victoria happily embraces the been-there-done-that tone of a film that, fifty years after the original, knows its plot should no longer be scandalous. The genius of the film’s nonchalant sexuality is that gender-bending, drag and homosexuality were still salacious in 1982, and Victor/Victoria shows better than any other film before or since just how ridiculous that is.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is one goddamned entertaining film. Pelham is also exciting, especially for a film that consists largely of guys talking into radio mics at people they’ve never seen. Matthau is tough and confident — so confident, in fact, that he handily pulls off wearing the most beautiful, outrageous clothes, two yellow and red catastrophes duking it out with each other across his chest throughout the entire film.

Gold (1934)

Gold is an odd little bird, irresistible and entertaining despite being a bit thin on plot. It’s believable and thoughtful and the performances range from good to fantastic. It’s hard to imagine getting all worked up over alchemy here in the amazing futuristic year of 2016, but it’s easy to do with Gold.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

The failures of the women in Woolf are reflective of the time in which it was made, which is ironic, considering this was very clearly intended to be an indictment of America’s sociocultural clime. It succeeds as being timeless far better than almost any other social consciousness film, and certainly is one of Albee’s best in this regard, but the need for the play to destroy Honey and Martha is telling.

The King and Four Queens (1956)

Filmed in the beautiful St. George, Utah area and with cinematography by Lucien Ballard, The King and Four Queens is light on plot but full of gorgeous scenery.

The Private Affairs of Bel Ami (1947)

Based on the Guy de Maupassant novel Bel Ami published in 1885, The Private Affairs of Bel Ami is the story of an unmitigated cad and his insatiable quest for money and power and women. Curiously, the film is serene, tasteful, sometimes even bland, surely in the service of the Production Code which was still in effect at the time.

Bulldog Drummond (1929) and Calling Bulldog Drummond (1951)

Bulldog Drummond (1929) was not the first film based on the popular British character, but it was the first talking film, and thanks to being a product of Sam Goldwyn’s exacting (though sometimes baffling) standards, it’s probably one of the best early talkies made. It’s fun and exciting and shockingly modern, with a camera that moves and audio that’s easy to hear and jokes that don’t fall flat — you can’t say that about most early talkies.