Film Class: historic films that can be found on YouTube

Now I love a good old-fashioned movie night, where I’m transported to bygone times for a couple of hours or so. But where can I find these forgotten gems, without bring out the old video player? Well, I recently found out that YouTube is where its all at. I’ve compiled a list of a few must watch timeless classic films for your every mood, that can be watched full-length on Youtube:

Fan of silent films?

One of the greatest classic films of the silent era is The Kid (1921), starring and directed by Charlie Chaplin (one of his first). Considered “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant”, this dramedy (combining comedy and drama elements) was not only truly innovative, but a successful move on Chaplin’s part.

A heart-wrenching plot, the story revolves around the bond Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp develops with an abandoned child, who he names John. After the mother of the abandoned child — who meanwhile became a wealthy star — offers a reward for her son, the ‘fugitive’ boy is reunited with his mother. On discovering the boy is missing, the tramp desperately searches or him and eventually dozes off in front of his humble home in self-defeat. He is awakened out of his ‘dreamland’ by a policeman who takes him to the boys newfound home, where the mother and son welcome the tramp in with open arms.

I loved how this classic film used visual components and sound effects rather than dialogue to express emotion and communicate the narrative to the viewer. This is definitely a go-to feelgood movie; that may even bring on heartfelt tears.

 

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Now it’s time for the thrills

A genius in his own right, Alfred Hitchcock certainly knows how to bring on the suspense. Hitchcock’s thriller drama film, Blackmail (1929), starring Anny Ondra, John Longden, and Cyril Ritchard, was voted the best British film in 1929. Drawing inspiration from a Charles Bennet’s play, the plot revolves around a London woman who is blackmailed after killing a man in self defence when he tried to rape her. Although initially imagined as a silent film, the British International Pictures had a brain wave and decided to transform Blackmail into a sound film, making it the first successful dramatic talkie to be produced in Europe. It is considered a historical landmark film — essentially changing the game when it came to producing films in the following decades.

 

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Feel like a touch of romance?

A narrative film directed by F.W. Marnau, Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931) is a clever cinematographic combination of documentary and fiction. Marnau is hailed as an artist for his cinematographic masterpiece, using beautiful sailing imagery, underwater photography, elaborate dance scenes and tons of moody scenes. Using music and song elements to translate action, this ‘silent’ narrative is split into two chapters. Opening in ‘paradise’, the first half of this classic film portrays the romances of two lovers on a South Seas island of Bora Bora, until they decide to flee the island after gods choose the girl as their holy virgin. This action was considered unthinkable and completely against their religious beliefs, which is where the film title is derived from; namely the Polynesian word tapu, which translated means “taboo”. The latter half of the film, ‘Paradise Lost’, deals with the couples experience on a colonised island, where they struggle to adapt to the ways of Western civilisation. A thought-provoking film, you can take a trip down memory lane into another world and another life.

 

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For the love of laughs

Described as an American ‘screwball comedy film’, His Girl Friday (1940) directed by Howard Hawks, essentially satirises the traditional love story, where the dominant female character essentially challenges the masculinity of her male partner (go, girl power!). A humorous battle of the sexes, the plot follows editor Walter Burns’ attempts to win back his reporter ex-wife Hildy Johnson, who is recently engaged. Burns suggests they cover one more story together and find themselves tangled up on a murder case. Using humour and interlinking sped up dialogues, Hawks idea was to break the fourth wall, where viewers could actively respond to the aggressive and impronto representation of characters. Now this is a definitely a must-watch movie and I found it super interesting to look at this represented relationship from an ultra-feminist 21st century perspective.

 

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Looking for a humorous dark twist?

A unique juxtaposition directed by Roger Corman, A Bucket of Blood (1959) is characterised as a American black comedy horror film. Shot in only few days, this low budget film (typical of Corman’s work), is about a busser who works at a Bohemian café and is an aspiring sculpture. The plot takes a dark turn when the acclaimed sculptor takes on murderous tendencies after accidentally killing his landlady’s cat. An honest and effortless dark piece of satire, this film delves into multi-cultural facets of the times, from the beatnik movement, as well as progressive art, dance and style of living.

 

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How do you feel about goosebumps?

Written, produced and directed by Herk Harvey, Carnival of Souls (1962) is a horror film that tells a story of Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss), a young woman whose life is turned upside down after a car accident. She is forced to relocate to a new city, where she struggles to integrate herself into the local community. This leads her to find refuge at a pavilion of a carnival, where she is stalked by a mysterious ghoulish figure (played by Harvey). Employing various guerrilla filmmaking techniques, this independent film’s unique cinematography and foreboding atmosphere was only recently recognition by contemporary critics and film scholars and is even claimed by the likes of David Lynch (a genius in his own right and one of my favourite directors). A fan favourite with a large cult following, Carnival of Souls is great movie to watch over the Halloween season or to have a proper scary movie night.

 

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Keen for a punch of action-packed adventure?

Directed by Lo Wei starring Bruce Lee, The Big Boss – Fists of Fury (1973) is a Hong Kong martial arts action film which gained critical acclaim and was a smashing box office hit. Lee’s stellar performance made him famous across Asia, and is definitely something to give a watch.

 

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For the sound of music, with a dark undertone

Characterised as an American rock musical with a comedy horror twist, Little Shop of Horrors (1986) was directed by Frank Oz as a film adaption of the off-broadway musical comedy composed by Alan Menken and written by Howard Ashman. The story follows a dorky florist (played by Rick Moranis), who discovers his Venus flytrap (which he sourced to impress Audrey with whom he is deeply in love) can not only speak, but is a monstrous man-eater. Receiving critical acclaim, Little Shop of Horrors soon gained a cult following. I found the moral struggle of florist intriguing; and the romance between the unlikely couple brings on an “awww isn’t that sweet” reaction.

 

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I’ve only mentioned the tip of the iceberg. The deep dark depths of Youtube have many more old classics to find. Do you have any noteworthy mentions found on Youtube? Feel free to share your favourite classic films you have found on Youtube in the comment section below.

Header image courtesy of IMDb

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