Going to the cinema is pretty expensive these days, with cinema tickets in the UK typically costing £7.50 (around $15). I'm sure ticket prices have outpaced inflation, but perhaps I'm just turning into an old curmudgeon.

Anyway, after a run of bad films I started recording some of the oldies that are shown on TV as time fillers in the early hours. I was pleasantly surprised.

Here are my favourites:

The Big Heat (1953) — Has a beautiful art deco flavour, is very crisp and fresh in its filming (even though it's in black and white), and is very fast paced with top quality acting throughout (this film introduced me to the great Lee Marvin).

Becket (1964) - Features Richard Burton as Becket and Peter O'Toole as an wonderfully intense, unconstrained and maniacal King Henry. Watch this to see two great actors in their prime.

Favourite quote from Becket: Thomas a Becket: Tonight you can do me the honor of christening my forks. King Henry II: Forks? Thomas a Becket: Yes, from Florence. New little invention. It's for pronging meat and carrying it to the mouth. It saves you dirtying your fingers. King Henry II: But then you dirty the fork. Thomas a Becket: Yes, but it's washable. King Henry II: So are your fingers. I don't see the point.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) - A Bogart classic. The story of a small group of men who go up in to the hills in search of gold.

A quote from the film: Howard: Aah, gold's a devilish sort of thing, anyway. You start out, you tell yourself you'll be satisfied with 25,000 handsome smackers worth of it. So help me, Lord, and cross my heart. Fine resolution. After months of sweatin' yourself dizzy, and growin' short on provisions, and findin' nothin', you finally come down to 15,000, then ten. Finally, you say, "Lord, let me just find $5,000 worth and I'll never ask for anythin' more the rest of my life." Flophouse Bum: $5,000 is a lot of money. Howard: Yeah, here in this joint it seems like a lot. But I tell you, if you was to make a real strike, you couldn't be dragged away. Not even the threat of miserable death would keep you from trying to add 10,000 more. Ten, you'd want to get twenty-five; twenty-five you'd want to get fifty; fifty, a hundred. Like roulette. One more turn, you know. Always one more.

Adam Robinson hastens to add:

If we're talking Becket we can't leave out the magisterial Man for All Seasons.

For comedy selections, The In Laws (original Peter Falk version) easily ranks in any critic's top 10 comedies.

For readers of Vic and Laurel's web site, I also highly recommend the hard-to-find The Wrong Box, which features every major British comedian in an "economic lottery" theme (I don't want to give anything away), and also the 1960's period piece, The Magic Christian (written by Terry Southern of Dr. Strangelove, Easy Rider, Cinciannti Kid, Barbarella fame) in which Peter Sellars stars as the world's richest man who adopts Ringo Starr (!!) as his son. Quirky, but written by a comic legend, and there are terrific economic gags. 





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