I want to be honest with you. While preparing for days this article on forgotten cinema, even I forgot which movies I wanted to talk about.
So I don’t blame you if you don’t know or remember these, which you may or may not have seen.
Every year thousands of new films come out. Even the most passionate, maybe, watch a hundred and are really impressed by only a dozen of them.
Always and anyway, my posts are only a humble suggestion to look at something you may have unintentionally snubbed.
Especially for the youngest, even less guilty. Simply because at the date of these films’ release, maybe they were not even born or still start walk crawling.
Therefore, premising my summary of movies’ intentions, let us exhume together some fragments of forgotten cinema.
Let’s blow away the dust and rub it polishing. Thoroughly because once you press PLAY, I assure you it will be worth it.
To make everyone happy, we put on the plate three different genres of films.
A nice ’80s action, an existential movie from the ’60s and a funny ’90s horror.
Sit down with care, put on the useless 3d glasses, grab your bucket of popcorn firmly and let’s start.
1 – Blue Thunder (1983)
A funny and shrewd helicopter pilot has been working for the LAPD for years.
Constantly flying over the city, he watches over and helps colleagues from above to do their job.
Until one night, he witnessed the brutal attack on a woman by some robbers.
The victim dies in the hospital, and then he discovers she was an important city councilman.
Concurrently, the army believes him to test their new military helicopter prototype in an urban environment.
Its code name is Blue Thunder, with state-of-the-art surveillance and heavy arsenal technology equipment.
They built the vehicle to become the new anti-riot weapon because of the growing riots and social manifestations.
Driving the amazing new military toy over the city, the policeman discovers the instigators of the councilman’s murder.
Behind the murder disguised as a common robbery, in fact, hides a plot for total control of the city.
Having recorded everything with the helicopter cameras, the man and his young colleague realize they are in grave danger.
In order to survive, they absolutely need to make public the scandal.
Then they have to fly and deliver the recordings to the media with the army and the cops chasing them.
A cop amid the skies of the city of angels
Blue Thunder is an original and funny ’80s crime thriller, famous for its spectacular acrobatic helicopter sequences.
The idea of the flying policeman revives a widely abused genre and gives the story a whole new style.
It skillfully mixes genre characteristics with a sustained rhythm and an omnipresent sense of humor to dampen the tension.
A recipe lost by many of the modern films, resulting in unnecessarily more serious stories and compulsive video editing.
In addition, the plot is not the usual fight of good against evil through trivial and stereotypical characters.
On the contrary, the fierce police repression against citizens is still, 40 years later, a more topical issue than ever.
Especially in the United States, as we have seen in the sad and recent news episodes.
30 years of cinema for two movies makers who today many have forgotten
The brilliant Dan O’Bannon writes the script, with a successful blockbuster maker career such as Alien or Total Recall.
His ability perfectly combines an intriguing science fiction plot with universal and controversial psychological and social issues.
John Badham skillfully directs this mix with paced rhythm and drawing the maximum from the means at his disposal.
A director now forgotten but who has marked the cinema with many cult movies between the 70s and 90s.
Wargames, Short Circuit, Saturday Night Fever… maybe not everyone knows his name. But they’ve certainly seen or heard of at least one of his films.
The director also had the good fortune to get two actors of great fame riding their wave of success.
Roy Scheider was, indeed, one of the most popular stars after his wonderful performance in Steven Spielberg’s Jaws.
A nice bad boy always ready to joke, perfect to adapt to any role and cinematographic genre.
As his arch-enemy, we have the evergreen and devilish Malcolm Mcdowell.
An iconic face of madness played almost only the villain’s roles after A Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick.
They interpret two helicopter pilots from the strong rivalry that will inevitably lead to final air combat to the heart.
To summarize, Blue Thunder is a forgotten movie that rocked the theaters worldwide, followed by the homonymous television series.
Not affected by the lack of modern digital effects; therefore, it is aging like wine and improving with the years.
2 – Zorba the Greek (1964)
A writer in creative crisis is on his way to Crete. He wants to rekindle the flame by returning to the lands inherited from his father.
While waiting for his ship to depart, he befriends an old Greek who says his name is Zorba. Chatting gently while waiting, he discovers that the man was once an experienced miner.
So he decides to hire him to restore the old lignite mine that is part of his possessions.
The Greek immediately proves his wisdom and will to help him even in his personal life.
In addition, the local villagers enjoy that finally in the country has returned some work.
But the old character and behavior, absolutely unpredictable and uncontrollable, will strain the patience and resistance of the young.
With his life excesses, Zorba disappears for days, wasting all their money and ruining any hope for their project.
Despite the disaster, the young man’s deep respect will transform the elderly into a mad life guru.
And his most important lesson is that life, music, and love always defeat any adversity and misfortune.
How can the simplest of men complicate everything?
Zorba the Greek is a magnificent apology of life and happiness through a mad man free from all constraints.
The classic black and white have the simplicity and naturalness of forgotten cinema with an epic, timeless setting.
The poverty of the locations and its population struggle in every scene against their great wealth of passion and benevolence.
This contrast elevates the pathos and the poetry essence, with a story of growth and training for all generations.
The lesson is simple and effective: we all need some madness to be really free and happy in our life.
This moral is above the amount of money we have and the success we find in our profession.
And following the advice of this crazy grandfather, maybe each of us can benefit from his crazy pearls of wisdom.
Euphoric and drunk with fantasy and optimism; finally, he pursuit a place to find some peace and joy.
Culture against experience
The contrast between the two main characters is also a reflection of the double nature of its great protagonist.
The man of experience and knowledge immediately conquers the scene, and anyone he meets loves him immediately without hesitation.
Admirably played by Anthony Quinn, this superb character remains the pinnacle of his film performances to this day.
The actor has always been an amazing character actor in many secondary roles, as in the famous Viva Zapata! or The Guns of Navarone.
At his side is the young and naive intellectual played by Alan Bates.
A writer can no longer write, miserably unhappy and lost in his sad and lonely existence without friends and love.
On the other hand, Zorba is a noisy, ignorant and vulgar man. But he always fully live every moment and every day of his life.
His life, therefore, teaches us that culture does not make it better. At least, not alone without the experience and knowledge of the world and other people.
Director Michael Cacoyannis wisely leaves the reins of the film in the hands of Quinn, unquestionably reigning in every frame.
A perfect choice leading to a resounding international success of the 60s, loved unanimously by critics and viewers worldwide.
Many have forgotten, and others never know this rare little pearl submerged in the ocean of movies of the past.
3 – Needful Things (1993)
In the center of the small and isolated Castle Rock community appears a new store called Needful Things.
Its owner is a mysterious and unknown older man who seems to know his customers’ wishes perfectly.
Each of them, crossing his door, finds an object or a particular heirloom that irresistibly attracts him.
But the price is much higher than they initially imagined.
In exchange for the merchandise, indeed, they’ve made a small joke to another unsuspecting citizen.
Sooner or later, all the city inhabitants fall into temptation and reciprocate, making countless mischief and wickedness against each other.
The climate very soon becomes poisonous and extremely dangerous, feeding small envy and grudges in hatred and murderous fury.
By triggering a series of furious reactions, unfortunately, some citizens begin to kill each other.
But the final plan is actually much more ambitious. The evil older man craves the total devastation of their lives, reducing them to a pile of smoking rubble.
Only the local sheriff realizes the evil plan, trying to limit the damage.
But the increasingly destructive and chaotic events postpone the inevitable final confrontation with the evil owner of the shop.
Only one city for so many different stories
Needful Things is an exhilarating and gripping horror metaphor about the obsession of consumerism and human greed.
The desire to possess their particular precious thing slowly and inexorably pushes everyone into the abyss of madness.
So in this, consumerism literally consumes the souls and minds of those who end up the spell’s victim.
From the homonymous novel by Stephen King, the writer returns to his beloved town of Castle Rock.
Indeed, the imaginary place of the writer had already been the scene of other brilliant of his horrific nightmares.
Some of his best and most inspired works all converge here, one way or another.
Drawn by a magnet, there intertwining evil stories such as Cujo, The Dark Half, and even The Dead Zone.
An intertwining of plots and destinies led, in 2018, to the homonymous television series.
Long time forgotten, it remains a simple example of a movie faithful more than dignified to its purpose.
When the horror hides in the smile of our beloved neighbors
Historically, films taken from the writings of Stephen King become great masterpieces or inevitable sadly bad.
An unwritten law that, for once, this film pleasantly violates.
This one is by the honest Fraser Clarke Heston, son of the most famous movie star Charlton Heston.
The director puts on stage some good camera virtuosity and chooses a rising rhythm towards the epic final town apocalypse.
The supreme protagonist of the story is Max von Sydow, a histrionic devil maneuvering everything behind the scenes.
The wrinkles and the timeless eyes of the great actor are the perfect syntheses of his character.
An evil pure and complete, patient and relentless, who observes amused the descent into the underworld of all his customers.
The only one who contrasts it is the pure heart with the face of Ed Harris.
The sheriff is the classic fearless white knight standing as the last bulwark against the rampant forces of evil.
And even if his intentions are honorable and altruistic, he’ll only find himself at war with his entire city.
The movie has quietly cashed in cinemas around the world but quickly ended up forgotten.
Indeed, in the collective imagination, rightly or wrongly, other works of King’s derivation supplanted it.
The various Shining, Carrie, Misery, The Shawshank Redemption, or Stand by me sediment longer and deeper in our memories.
Nevertheless, in the final analysis, this Needful Things is perhaps one of the most unjustly underestimated. Just watch it and then tell me if I’m not right.