Weekend Roundtable: Classic or Important Movies You’ve Never Seen

It’s confession time once again in the Roundtable. If you’re a reasonably film literate person, you’ve no doubt seen countless movies over the course of your lifetime. Nonetheless, it simply isn’t possible to see every movie you want. You’re bound to have missed some classic or supposedly “important” film along the way that it may seem like everyone else has seen, or expects you to have seen. So, fill us in. Where are the gaps in your film knowledge?

This Roundtable was inspired by a recent survey from British video rental service LOVEFiLM about the top 10 movies that people lie about having seen. So, with that in mind, you get bonus points if you’ve ever tried to bluff your way through a conversation about this movie that you’ve never even seen.

Josh Zyber

From that LOVEFiLM list linked above, I’ve honestly seen all but one of the movies. The one I’m missing is ‘The Great Escape‘. In fact, I’ve never seen any movie starring Steve McQueen. Not a single one, not even ‘The Towering Inferno‘. I’ve missed out on this cinema icon’s entire filmography. This certainly wasn’t intentional. I just never got around to them. The worst part of this is that I’ve got Blu-ray copies of ‘The Sand Pebbles‘, ‘The Thomas Crown Affair‘, ‘Bullitt‘, and ‘The Getaway‘ all sitting unwatched on my shelf.

Dick Ward

I’ve talked about some of the movies that I’ve just never gotten around to in the past, but this one may still come as a surprise. While I’ve seen the original once or twice, I’ve never seen ‘The Godfather, Part II‘. I know that it’s supposed to be an amazing film, but honestly, I just don’t care for serious gangster movies, which this seems to be. I’ll take ‘Casino‘ or ‘Goodfellas‘ any day of the week, but I just can’t bring myself to sit down and watch this one. Needs more Pesci I guess.

Aaron Peck

Believe it or not, but I’ve never actually seen ‘Apocalypse Now‘. Well, I’ve never seen it all the way through. I’ve seen bits and pieces here and there, but watching the entire film has somehow escaped me over the years. It’s something I plan to rectify soon, though. I really just need to sit down and watch it. I feel almost embarrassed that I haven’t watched it yet because of its classic status and because it’s universally loved.

Junie Ray

I have never seen ‘Titanic‘. I’m not really ashamed to admit it. I consider this more of a victory over Celine Dion. I’m not sure how or why exactly I avoided it. Certainly, I was turned off by the hype, but I have nothing against the stars or James Cameron (though I didn’t bother with ‘Avatar‘ either). I think I’ve just never been that taken in by the fascination with the Titanic. Did I miss anything worthwhile?

Luke Hickman

I haven’t seen ‘Gone with the Wind‘. It doesn’t matter how much of a “classic” it is, I simply don’t want to see it. Nothing about it sounds interesting to me. ‘Gone with the Wind’ may have done a bunch of filmmaking things that hadn’t been done before, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t seen them since. The sets are still going to suck. The story is still going to be predictable. And I’m still going to be bored out of my mind. I’ve never had to B.S. my way through a conversation about it because, frankly, I don’t give a damn about ‘Gone with the Wind’.

Mike Attebery

I love Billy Wilder’s stuff, particularly his films between 1950 and 1960, beginning with ‘Sunset Boulevard’ and ending with ‘The Apartment’. I’d say those were his Sgt. Pepper years, but for some reason I have never seen ‘Stalag 17‘, even though it stars the leading man from the first film in that decade-long winning streak, William Holden. For the life of me, I don’t know why I’ve continually put it off! I’ve rented the VHS release, borrowed copies of it from high school friends, recorded the old AMC broadcast onto videotape, rented the DVD, recorded it on my DVR. Heck, I think I even rented the Laserdisc once! I want to see it, but somehow I just always put it off, and I have no idea why. Just now, I went over to Amazon to see about ordering a cheap copy on DVD, but something keeps me from shelling out the dough. Maybe I’m afraid that owning my own copy and having it taunt me from the shelf will be more than I can take, but I’ve really got to check this classic off my list!

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

I decided a few years back that I was going to watch everything on the IMDb Top 250 that I hadn’t already seen. Well, it took an awfully long time, not made any easier by the fact that the list is such a moving target, but eventually I did it. Thanks to that, I really don’t have too many gaping holes in my list of Classics I’ve Gotta Watch Before I Keel Over. Of the stragglers that are left, one that sticks out like a sore thumb is ‘The French Connection‘. I’m such a sucker for gritty ’70s police dramas, and I’ve really been itching to see its legendary car chase in full. The only reason I haven’t checked this one off my list is that its release on Blu-ray is such a trainwreck, with director William Friedkin veering away from the film’s original cinema verite look and drenching it in pale, bleeding pastel colors. Maybe there’ll be a 40th Anniversary re-release before the year’s out? If not, I guess I’m going to have to settle for the DVD…

So, that’s what we’re still missing out on. How about you? Which important movies have somehow passed you by over the years? If you’re struggling to think of titles, check out the AFI Top 100 Movies list to get some ideas.


  1. adam

    I own all of those movies on blu-ray aside from the great escape

    i haven’t gotten around to watching about three of them

  2. BostonMA

    The Apu Trilogy
    Birth of a Nation
    The Decalogue
    Fanny and Alexander
    Floating Weeds
    Triumph of Will

    a general listing. others like the entire canon of Cecil B. DeMille also haven’t reached my eyes. i plan and look forward to seeing all of these sometime soon, but certain aspects from the list like extreme length (Ben-Hur & Fanny and Alexander), the fact that i almost only want to watch the Japanese films by Kurosawa (as opposed to Ozu with Floating Weeds), or the note that Triumph of Will is a flat out EVIL film, have continually pushed them back for me.

    but, when certain must see films that i’ve put off are announced for a Blu-ray release i make sure to get on them rather quickly as to not miss out on any potential deals lined up for any of them once they hit the market.

  3. I’ve never seen:
    The Sound of Music
    American Graffiti

    Until recently (the last few years), I hadn’t see The Third Man nor Citizen Kane…boy, am I glad I caught up with those.

  4. outside of stalag 17 i have seen every title up there and more than once. the reason i haven’t seen 17 is i saw a billy wilder movie once and hated it. so i never watched one of his films again.

    there are two that pop into my mind
    one is Annie hall and the other one is the hurt locker. the hurt locker i know why cause it has to deal with war and when i was in Jr high and high school there was every movie about Vietnam either straight out action , others serious drama and i had enough war films to last me a life time.

  5. Alex

    I’ve tried on Blade Runner. I really have. I’ve sat down no less than five times, excited to dive into it, looking forward to the intrigue, the suspense, the philosophy, everything. But every time I do, I wind up falling asleep. I really want to have seen and I really want to love it, but I just can’t seem to get through it.

    Oddly, I have the same relationship with The Last of the Mohicans. I would love to love that movie, because I know so many people do, but I just can’t do it.

    • BostonMA

      Alex dude Blade Runner is one of the best, best, best movies ever made. so entertaining and its replay value is endless.

      do yourself a favor and REALLY sit down and see it.

    • Shannon Nutt

      I dislike Last of the Mohicans as well. I’ve grown to love Blade Runner, though.

  6. I was just discussing this with my boss recently. I have a large depressing list of classics I just haven’t gotten around to (even if I own them.) Some of the most shameful are:

    1. Citizen Kane (been in my Netflix queue since I signed up.
    2. Godfather 2 & 3 (own the set and never got around to it.)
    3. 2001 (own it on blu, have watched a third of it.)
    4. The original Frankenstein and Dracula (own both, am a horror movie fanatic, but have difficulty sitting through these… I’m more ashamed of these than anything else.)
    5. King Kong (don’t own it, otherwise same feeling as above.)

    • Well you arent the only one that feels that way about older “classic” horror like those, most of the B&W horror films from back then I cant stand to watch, I can do others though, like I love Vincent Price in The Last Man on Earth, but old Dracula and Frankenstein and stuff are just stupid to me…..oh well 🙂

  7. EM

    I’ve seen “Un chien Andalou”, but I covered my eyes right before the slit-eyeball scene and left them covered until the reactions of the audience subsided. A buddy who sat next to me later asked how I knew to cover my eyes when I did, and I told him that the eyeball shot was the second part of a very famous graphic match that I had read about numerous times.

  8. Brian H

    I’ve never seen American History X, and I know Edward Norton to be a bad actor.

    • You know Edward Norton to be a bad actor? Is that what you meant to say? I would say he’s more of a bad ASS actor, especially in American History X, thats a really powerful and emotional movie, IMO his best performance, its a must see

      • Brian H

        I would say such screen gems as the Score, the Incredible Hulk, and Primal Fear help to illustrate Edward Norton’s Ass-Badness. (Ass-Bad because he’s so good at being ass bad in films)

  9. hurin

    I’ve developed an aversion towards WWII movies, and have not seen one since ‘Saving Private Ryan’ came out. Only exception being ‘Letters From Ivo Jima’.
    The combat is just so stupid, good guy fires gun, bad buy dies, bad guy empties an entire clip from a short range, doesn’t hit a thing.

  10. Out of the AFI List I’ve only seen 25 of those movies, its amazing what I’ve never watched and honestly most of it I just have no desire seeing but some major players would be

    Ben Hur
    Apocalypse Now
    Citizen Kane
    Taxi Driver
    King Kong
    Dr. Strangelove
    Godfather Part II (hated the first one so probably not going to bother with this)
    Schindlers List
    Lawrence of Arabia
    Raging Bull

    Yeah there are a lot of classics I havent seen and honestly have no desire to see, Schindlers List is one I forgot I havent watched yet, that will be one I will see at some point, the rest, eh we’ll see

  11. Off of the Lovefilm list, the only one I haven’t seen is “The Great Escape”. But honestly, I didn’t know that was a “must-see”. I just lumped it in with the other insanely long war epics from the 60s like “Bridge too Far” and such. I’ve seen plenty of films from 1963, including “Tom Jones” which won best picture (didn’t see the appeal of that one). But never in a film class was “The Great Escape” ever mentioned. Weird.

  12. Brian H

    I made a big effort ten years ago with some friends to watch the all the movies on the AFI 100. This is when most of them were only available on VHS(blockbuster video vhs!). A lot of the movies on the list are slow dramas that have been imitated, referenced, and ripped off repeatedly. Not to mention how often pivotal scenes have been parodied and spoiler-ed to

    Plus, it was a key marketing technique in the olden days when creating trailers to show the ending in the trailer (Chinatown comes to mind). Hopefully you stay awake during these movies, and even if you are unimpressed- the stories, the characters, the performances, etc. achieve a slow burn. So the next time said movies are mentioned or even (gasp) seen a second time, you have enough familiarity with the films to be able to watch without worrying about the hype or seeming lack of originality.

    For example, the dialog in Casablanca (the key composition for the story) is superb.
    “It would take a miracle to get you out of Casablanca, and the Germans have outlawed miracles.”

  13. Brian H

    I really enjoyed Black Swan and have essentially no qualms with it. And yet to think of the millions of people who saw it and have never seen “Perfect Blue,” -well I would list Perfect Blue as an important film.

    The Bonus View should do a top 100 important films that aren’t on the AFI 100, and then integrate the two lists.

    The idea would be be to have a list of important films that everybody talks about-AFI 100, Oscar Winners, BFI, etc. and a grass roots list of awesome sleeper movies, and then integrate the two very different lists into one. I would say a master list of 100 or less.

  14. vihdeeohfieuhl

    I’m ashamed and embarrassed to admit that I have never seen Citizen Kane. Is it really the G.O.A.T.? I’ve also never seen Spartacus, Ben Hur, or Lawrence of Arabia. I guess I never had a desire to see them on DVD. I’m waiting to watch them on Blu-ray.