Reel Classics | The Essentials

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As a passionate and avid fan of ALL things cinema, one of my absolute favorite things to do is to watch movies. I’m often asked to name my favorite films and these are the ones that are most near and dear to me.

When I began reviewing movies twenty-plus years ago, I was a student of Black Cinema but not of mainstream films. Long before the advent of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), the only way to catch classic films was to catch reruns or copies of movies on video. There were an entire catalog of films that I had some familiarity but were largely a mystery to me.

All of that changed when I became a student of classic film with the help of TCM. Suddenly, the films of Hollywood legends such as Humphrey Bogart, James Stewart, Bette Davis, Gary Cooper, Elizabeth Taylor, Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Marlon Brando and so many others were piped into my space on a daily basis.

TCM’s Summer Under the Stars series that plays every August was like my film doctorate course. Over the course of the entire month, they feature one classic actor and 24 hours of their work. Needless to say, I am forever indebted to hosts such as Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz for providing much-needed context for the countless hours of great films.

Let’s discuss the significance of each of the films that made the list. Each film is important for important reasons, either it spotlight’s a certain actor or director’s work, has specific social relevance or has an emotional connection for the writer. In order to make this list, the film has to be special, not just the performances. By no means is this the definitive list but it is for me. The beauty of such a list is that I’m constantly searching for films to meet the standard established for admission in the future.

Over the years, I’ve picked up many monikers from my inner circle, including “Tim 10,000, Movie Man and the one that I go by to this day, FilmGordon. Below is a list of the movies that feature great performances and are true foundations of cinema . . . the movies that I refer to simply as “The Essentials!”

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