Ella (Colleen Moore) wins a beauty contest sponsored by a movie magazine and is awarded a studio contract. New York Times reviewer Mordaunt Hall observed that the film was “filled with those wild incidents which are seldom heard of in ordinary society,” and noted “Miss Moore is energetic and vivacious.” The film is an archetype of 1920s comedy, featuring a star whose air of emancipation inspired her generation.
“Forbidden Planet” (1956)
Directed by Fred M. Wilcox, MGM’s “Forbidden Planet” is one of the seminal science-
fiction films of the 1950s. Since its production, the movie has proved inspirational to generations of speculative fiction visionaries, including Gene Roddenberry. Along with its literary influence, highly influential special effects and visual style, the film also pushed the boundaries of cinematic science fiction. For the first time, all action happened intergalatically and humans are depicted as space travelers, regularly jetting off to the far reaches of the cosmos. Additionally, “Forbidden Planet” is remembered for its innovative score—or lack thereof.
Director Charles Vidor capitalizes on the voyeuristic and sadomasochistic angles of film noir—and who better to fetishize than Rita Hayworth, poured into a strapless black satin evening gown and elbow-length gloves, sashaying to “Put the Blame on Mame.”
“Judgment at Nuremberg” (1961)
Conceived by screenwriter Abby Mann during the period of McCarthyism, the film argues passionately that those responsible for administering justice also have the duty to ensure that human-rights norms are preserved even if they conflict with national imperatives. “Judgment at Nuremberg” startled audiences by including in the midst of its narrative seven minutes of film footage documenting concentration camp victims, thus using motion-picture evidence to make its point both in the courtroom and in movie theaters. Mann and actor Maximilian Schell received Academy Awards and the film boasted fine performances from its all-star cast.
“The Magnificent Seven” (1960)
The popularity of this Western, based on Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” (1954), has continued to grow since its release due in part to its role as a springboard for several young actors on the verge of successful careers: Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn and Horst Buchholz. The film also gave a new twist to the career of Yul Brynner. Brynner bought the rights to Kurosawa’s original story and hand-
picked John Sturges as its director.
“Mary Poppins” (1964)
The film, based on the novel by P.L. Travers (and whose journey to the screen is the basis of “Saving Mr. Banks”), was alleged to be Walt Disney’s favorite of his films. Equal parts innocent fun and savvy sophistication, the artistic and commercial success of the film solidified Disney’s knack for big-screen, non-cartoon storytelling and invention. With its seamless integration of animation with live action, the film prefigured thousands of later digital and CGI-aided effects.
“Pulp Fiction” (1994)
By turns utterly derivative and audaciously original, Quentin Tarantino’s mordantly wicked Möbius strip of a movie influenced a generation of filmmakers and stands as a milestone in the evolution of independent cinema in the United States, making it one of the few films on the National Film Registry as notable for its lasting impact on the film
industry as its considerable artistic merits.
“The Quiet Man” (1952)
Directed by John Ford, the film stars Maureen O’Hara and a much-praised John Wayne.
“The Right Stuff” (1983)
At its heart, “The Right Stuff” is a tribute to the space program’s role in generating national pride and an indictment of media-fed hero worship. Remarkable aerial sequences (created before the advent of CGI) and spot-on editing team up to deliver a movie that pushes the envelope.
“Roger and Me” (1989)
Michael Moore’s controversial documentary chronicles the human toll and hemorrhaging of jobs in the auto industry during the 1970s and 80s, focusing on the firing of 30,000 autoworkers by General Motors in Moore’s hometown of Flint, Michigan.
“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
Edward Albee’s 1962 stage triumph made a successful transfer to the screen in this
adaption written by Ernest Lehman. Elizabeth Taylor won an Oscar for her performance and Richard Burton was nominated.