Wow Wendy, I would have never thought you would actually make any type of list. Nice going!!!
I understand how difficult making such a list for you was. I am sorry if I may have caused you to prepare such a list with my continuing to goad you into making such a list especially if you were not ready to do so in the first place.
Now that you have created this list, how do you feel? Exhausted? Worried? I write worried because once you create one list you might want to create another list. I should know. Or a day or so or maybe a week or so from now you might feel the need to update your list or change it altogether. Heavens forbid!
So I have seen 18 of the 37 movies you have listed. I love the fact that you avoided the conventional wisdom of selecting films that might have appeared on so-called critic lists that are published annually. There is nothing wrong with those lists but some lack independent thinking like your list.
I tried to narrow it down as much as possible, while including films from every decade up to the 1970's. I did not limit myself to 25.
The purpose of me naming 25 films was just a beginning stab at an essentials list that included as many genres as I could. Since I love making lists, I could have easily created a list containing 100 essentials. I chose to limit myself to 25. And as I indicated, all of the films I included were pre-1960.
In picking my list, I chose favorites of mine that I thought would delineate the era they were made in - for instance, I believe that The Uninvited is as 1940's as you can possibly get. it simply couldn't have been made in any other decade. I also chose films that had a deep bearing on the psychology of the time - you really can't talk about the 60's without mentioning either Psycho or The Wild Bunch. They are of their time and yet incredibly deeply innovative. They broke huge boundaries.
The selection of films is a very personal thing to do. No one person can tell another person how they should go about selecting films. Anyone can have whatever criteria they want to use when selecting films. Like my Essential list of 25 films, they were all favorites of mine to begin with. I am of the belief that one should only include films on an Essential list that you have seen or more importantly like. It is also important to include reasons why one film was chosen over another. Or at least give an idea of why you made the selection in the first place, which you have done with Psycho and The Wild Bunch.
Some of the films I chose were just a bit more obscure, not all of them. I wanted a mix of films that would be good introductions to classic film and I think there are a few here that still fit the first two criteria (being illustrative of their time while also being an examination of the way people thought at that time) without being done to death. The more obscure films are there because I think they might be of particular interest as conversation starters... An example would be The Prisoner of Shark Island. It's a John Ford drama from 1936, and it includes some scenes that are questionable, as far as race is concerned, and yet at the end, the hero of the story, it seems to me, is not the main white character, but his black manservant. This is why I've included it on my Essentials list, instead of the more popular or fully realized Ford works such as The Searchers or The Grapes of Wrath or How Green Was My Valley. I think it's important to see the groping for meaning in film just as much as the fully realized movies we label as "the greats".
Obscure is fine. Nothing wrong with that. Just as there is nothing wrong with the list of 25 films I chose. My list might come across as more white bread than yours as FrankGrimes might say, but both lists are fine as far as I am concerned. As I wrote earlier, it does not really matter what criteria one uses, it is important to know that you like how you select films, not based on what some other person may feel is the best way to make a selection.
The hardest part was trying to fit in as many genres and foreign films as possible. I tried to list at least 1 film from countries that have been influential in cinema history. I tried to include a musical, a silent, noir, romance, screwball, straight dramas and epics.
This is where it gets to be really hard. The choices one must make to start a list like these. One must be willing to leave off a list personal favorites or other more important films through the ages than the ones you selected at the outset. But in the end, it does not really matter. All that is important is that you are happy with what you have come up with. The only problem with that is that in many cases one is never happy or satisfied with the selections they have made. There is always some doubt as to why one film was selected over another film. I may want to include five John Ford films or three John Frankenheimer films. You just never know that what you are selecting is really good enough to be included or not.
This was just off the fly, so I imagine I've made some glaring errors.
Errors? No errors. Just your opinion, thats all.