12 Great Old Movies That Don't Get Talked About Enough (And How To Watch Them)

Sterling Hayden in The Killing
(Image credit: United Artists)

You know who I am? I’m the guy who loves classic movies. Sure, occasionally, I’ll leave my house and buy a ticket to go see something like Chistopher Nolan’s epic biopic, Oppenheimer. But, for the most part, I’d rather just watch some great old movies on my couch. In fact, putting classic movies in my Netflix queue (which I have so many feelings about it going away) , is just one of life’s greatest pleasures, and I love when I find great old movies that people don’t seem to talk about enough these days.  

For example, have you ever seen the 1940s movie, Black Narcissus? It’s about horny nuns, and it’s wonderful. And, I know you’ve seen Goodfellas, The Departed, and Taxi Driver, but have you ever watched Martin Scorsese’s hidden gem, After Hours? Seriously, I could go on and on about classic movies that you should check out. In fact, I have twelve of them for you now, from a variety of decades up to the 1980s, and not only that, but where you can find them. 

An eye in Man With a Movie Camera

(Image credit: All-Ukrainian Photo Cinema Administration)

Man With A Movie Camera (1929)

Starting off this list is a movie that pretty much doesn't have any characters or plot to speak of. So, how’d it get on Sight & Sound's list of the greatest movies of all time then? (It was listed as the 9th greatest film in the 2022 poll) Well, because it's freaking phenomenal, that’s how.

Directed by Dzgia Vertov, filmed by his brother, Mikhail Kaufman, and edited by Vertov's wife, Yelizaveta Svilova, the film is basically a day in the life of the Soviet Union. Throughout the film, we see people working, slumming it out, getting married (and inversely, getting divorced), having a good time, and also having tough times. Honestly, it sounds like a total bore, but it's really quite fascinating. I actually left it off my list of great silent movies to watch if you’ve only seen the talkies, but I have a good reason! 

You see, what’s interesting about Man With a Movie Camera, is that there isn’t one specific score that goes along with it. In fact, the first time I watched it (I’ve since seen it three times), I saw it with the Michael Nyman score, which was beautiful, harrowing, and thrilling. 

Well, the music compliments the film so completely that I forgot I was even watching a silent movie at all! But, there are other versions that totally change the feel of the film. My favorite version is still the one with Michael Nyman’s score (which, would you believe it, was actually originally the score for a Sega Saturn game called Enemy Zero?), but you really can’t go wrong with any version. 

Buy or Rent Man With a Movie Camera on Amazon Prime

Victor Mature in Cry of the City

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Cry Of The City (1948)  

Directed by Robert Siodmak, and starring Richard Conte, Shelley Winters, Fred Clark, and the great Victor Mature, Cry of the City is about a jewel thief and cop killer named Martin Rome (Conte), who is on the loose, and the persistent police officer who’s determined to bring him down (Mature).

Cry of the City is film noir done right, with sleazy lawyers, women who are shown as  just as capable as the men, and attack dog police officers. What’s truly great about it, though, is just how seedy the city feels. And, even though it’s not as famous as 1946’s The Killers, or 1949’s Criss Cross, which were also both by Siodmak, I would argue that this 1948 movie is just as good, but doesn’t get nearly as much love, which is a shame, because it should.  

Buy Cry of the City on Amazon.

James Stewart with his rabbit friend in Harvey

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Harvey (1950)

Directed by Henry Koster, and starring James Stewart, and Josephine Hull (who won both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for her performance as the protagonist’s poor sister), Harvey, which is based off of a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, is about a lovable guy whose best friend is an invisible, 6 ft tall rabbit. 

Yes, you heard that right. At first, when my mom described the movie to me, she said that Jimmy Stewart’s character was a drunk and he was just hallucinating the rabbit, but once you watch the movie, you realize that it’s a lot more than just that. Harvey, you see, is a puca, which actually comes from Celtic mythology. Even though Harvey is invisible to everybody besides Jimmy Stewart’s character, he impacts everybody in many different ways. 

It’s billed as a comedy-drama, and I can tell you that it fits that bill, since I laughed and was also touched by the end of it. It’s a really great film!  

Rent or Buy Harvey on Amazon Prime 

The end of The Killing

(Image credit: United Artists)

The Killing (1956) 

Stanley Kubrick is my favorite director (Wow. Big surprise coming from the guy who loves classic movies, right?), and one of my all-time favorite movies of his is another noir-ish classic called The Killing, which often gets overlooked when discussing Kubrick’s other major works like A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket, and The Shining.   

Starring Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards, and Sterling Hayden, amongst others, The Killing is about a successful heist at a race track and the repercussions that follow. It’s often seen as Kubrick’s first serious work (though, Killer’s Kiss and Fear and Desire are also quite good). Though it came out in 1956, Quentin Tarantino has said he was influenced by it, and considers it a favorite heist film. It’s little wonder that it was so inspirational to Tarantino, since it’s just that good. Heist films don’t get much better than The Killing.    

Buy or Rent The Killing On Amazon Prime.

Monica Vitti in L'Avventura

(Image credit: Cino Del Duca)

L'Avventura (1960)  

Now, I know the title of this article is “Great Old Movies That Don’t Get Talked About Enough (And How To Watch Them)” but when I say that, I mean movies that the general public doesn't talk about. For example, when most people bring up movies from the ‘60s, they’ll probably mention films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, and Psycho

I mean, everybody knows THOSE pictures. But, if you talk to a certain crowd of cineasts, then they’re surely talking about Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1960 masterpiece, L’Avventura, which translates to “The Adventure.” It’s often considered one of the greatest movies of all time. So, how the heck is it not talked about enough? 

Well, have YOU ever heard of it? If so, awesome. You’re one of my people. If not, well, no hard feelings. Starring Gabriele Ferzetti, Monica Vitti, and Lea Massari, L’Avventura is both hard and easy to describe. It’s about a woman named Anna (Massari) who goes missing. Her lover (Ferzetti) and friend (Vitti) go looking for her, only to form a romance of their own when they can’t find her. But, it’s more than just that, as you get a sense that these people, who are quite affluent, are just missing something in their lives, and have been missing something in their lives long before one of their own went missing. 

Let me just warn you in advance in case you’re interested, though… don’t focus on the missing person aspect of this movie. If you can get that out of your mind, then I think you might just love L’Avventura.  

Stream L’Avventura on HBO MAX.  

Shirley MacLaine in The Children's Hour

(Image credit: United Artists)

The Children’s Hour (1961)

Directed by the great William Wyler, and starring Audrey Hepburn, James Garner, and Shirley MacLaine, The Children’s Hour is based on a play of the same name, and I honestly didn’t know that Hollywood could make movies like this back in 1961. 

The story concerns two female friends who run an all-girls boarding school. Most of the kids are good, but there’s this one in particular who will make you so angry you’ll want to scream. You see, since she feels that the teachers are picking on her, she makes up a story that the two friends are actually lesbians, and the story spreads around, to which parents start removing their children from the school, en masse. 

But, what makes the story really stand out is Shirley MacLaine’s performance, as she plays a frustrated woman who just doesn’t understand why she’s angry all the time, especially around her friend’s fiance (played by Garner). It all leads to a distressing (and perhaps too blunt) ending that really hit me hard by the end of it. 

Buy or Rent The Children’s Hour on Amazon

Audrey Hepburn in Charade

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Charade (1963) 

Sometimes referred to as “the best Hitchcock movie Hitchcock never made” (Stanley Donen actually directed it), Charade stars Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn (again!), and Walter Matthau. The film is billed as a “romantic screwball comedy mystery film,” and, believe it or not, I can honestly see all of those genres at play in this film. It really is quite something. 

The plot concerns a woman (Hepburn) who goes on a skiing trip and meets a hunk (Grant), only to learn that her husband was killed, and that he had a secret in which he hid a quarter of a million dollars. The plot thickens when she learns that his former comrades are out to collect. But, the whole time, you’re wondering who Cary Grant’s character really is. Is he just another face in the crowd, or something more? By the end of it, my jaw was on the ground, and I also had a warm feeling in my heart. It’s a really fun film! 

Rent or Buy Charade on Amazon Prime

Elliott Gould in The Long Goodbye

(Image credit: United Artists)

The Long Goodbye (1973) 

Based on a Raymond Chandler novel of the same name, and directed by Robert Altman, Elliott Gould stars as Philip Marlow in this hard boiled thriller. The story concerns Marlow dropping off his friend to Mexico, only to return to America to learn that his friend likely killed his wife, and Marlow is considered a possible accomplice to the crime. 

What follows though is a winding path down corruption, intrigue, and death. Elliott Gould is perfect as Marlow (I prefer him to Bogart in The Big Sleep), and it’s great to see a detective story from the ‘70s played out to perfection, as it’s my favorite decade of cinema. 

Stream The Long Goodbye on MGM+. 

The crew pinned down in Assault on Precinct 13

(Image credit: Turtle Releasing Organization)

Assault On Precinct 13 (1976)  

John Carpenter is definitely no stranger to most audiences. I mean, I regularly share my thoughts on Big Trouble in Little China on this website (Like, seriously, all the time. I’ll even write a whole article about James Hong just so I can talk about Lo Pan again). And, it doesn’t even stop at Big Trouble in Little China. The Thing, Halloween, Escape From New York. Just take your pick of your favorite John Carpenter movie. There are several to choose from.    

But, the one I rarely hear people mention is the 1976 action thriller, Assault on Precinct 13, which was Carpenter’s second film before he reached mega stardom with Halloween. Starring Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, and Laurie Zimmer, the film is about a police officer who bands together with some prisoners to fight off an army of gang members who have trapped them in a police precinct. Hence the title. It’s unnerving, violent, and unique in that John Carpenter sort of way, and it’s also one of his lesser-talked-about movies, so, I’m talking about it now. Watch it!  

Stream Assault on Precinct 13 on FreeVee via Amazon Prime

Dennis Hopper in The American Friend

(Image credit: Filmverlag der Autoren)

The American Friend (1977)

Okay, I’m going to give you a little history lesson. I recently watched The Talented Mr. Ripley, and learned that the Tom Ripley character, who was created by Patricia Highsmith, has actually been featured in a number of films. He was just played by different actors. For instance, the 1960 film Purple Noon, which is also based on the book, The Talented Mr. Ripley stars Alain Delon as Ripley (I wasn’t a fan). 

The next book in the series, Ripley Under Ground, was also made into a film, and stars Barry Pepper as Ripley. This is probably the worst Ripley movie. The next book, Ripley’s Game, was also made into two movies. One of them was the 2002 film of the same time starring John Malkovich as Ripley (also kinda mid), and the other film is The American Friend, which was directed by Wim Wenders, and stars Dennis Hopper as Tom Ripley. The other two books, The Boy Who Followed Ripley, and Ripley Under Water, were never made into films. 

The Talented Mr. Ripley is by far the best movie based on the Ripley character, but a close second is The American Friend. Whereas Matt Damon played a deceptively conniving version of Ripley, Hopper plays him as a scary weird guy. The plot involves him getting upset over not getting a handshake and then involving this poor guy in a scheme that turns him into an assassin. It’s quite the picture! 

Stream The American Friend on The Criterion Channel. 

Gerard Depardieu in The Return of Martin Guerre

(Image credit: European International)

The Return Of Martin Guerre (1982)  

Eighties movies? OLD?! Yes, I’m afraid. In this French film directed by Daniel Vigne and starring Gerard Depardieu and Nathalie Baye, the story concerns a real historical case about a man who left for the Hundred Years War, was thought to be dead, and then returned to his native village. But… he was different. Before he left, he was a real SOB, terrible to his wife, and just an overall bad dude, and when he got back, he was charming and lovable. 

Depardieu plays said character, but throughout the whole film, you’re left to wonder if he's an imposter or not. There’s evidence that says he might be. And, that’s what keeps it engaging. If you only watch one picture on this list… don’t. Watch all of them! But, if you were to only watch one picture, I might suggest this one, since it’s likely the least known movie here. 

Rent or Buy The Return of Martin Guerre on Amazon Prime

Eric Bogosian in Talk Radio

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Talk Radio (1988) 

Lastly, without touching the ‘90s, I want to close on Oliver Stone’s 1988 drama thriller, Talk Radio. Starring Eric Bogosian (who also worked on the screenplay), Alec Baldwin, Ellen Greene, and Leslie Hope, Talk Radio is about a shock jock (Bogosian) who gets on a lot of people’s nerves, but he also has a heart. His show is possibly going national, but he might have to tone down some of his topics, to which the shock jock doesn’t think he can manage. 

I wanted to highlight Talk Radio since I would put it up there with Natural Born Killers, Platoon, and JFK, as one of Oliver Stone’s best movies, but like everything else on this list, I never hear it brought up in conversation. So, I’m bringing it up here.  

Rent or Buy Talk Radio on Amazon Prime. 

And, that’s the list. Have you seen any (or all) of these movies? For more stories about new AND old movies, make sure to swing by here often.  

Rich Knight
Content Producer

Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.