A List That's Not About Comedies

  • The Maltese Falcon (1941) - "When you're slapped, you'll take it and like it." THE classic film noir. Brilliant performance by Bogart on his quest for the Maltese Falcon.
  • 12 Angry Men (1957) - An incredibly underrated film, that didn't win any Oscars. It's a shame too, because the direction, screenplay, and performances are amazing. This is probably the only film that creates such distinct, vivid characters that don't even have names (and the end, Juror #8 and Juror #9 telling each other their names, is my least favorite part of the film). Its social commentary is also amazing, and the plot is purely captivating. Luckily, it's found its popularity as #24 on IMDB's top 250 list (ranked by vote averages).
  • North by Northwest (1959) - I have to admit, I'm really not that familiar with Hitchcock. Ahhh, stop throwing that rotten fruit! I've been meaning to see more Hitchcock, and it's the thought that counts, right? Right?! Anyway, I loved "North by Northwest", a very well-done, suspenseful movie. The crop duster scene is, of course, a classic, and I also loved the ending sequence. I really enjoyed it.
  • Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) - "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges." This is an awesome Humphrey Bogart movie showing how men are consumed by greed. Who can you trust, when all three men are sleeping in the same vicinity, and all of them want that gold so badly? Amazing performances by the whole cast, and I liked how this is not a movie that has to submit to the old Hollywoodism where everyone lives happily ever after.
  • Memento (2000) - In my opinion, this is one of the best movies in recent years - unfortunately, stiffed by the Oscars, except for a Best Screenplay and a Best Editing nomination. Pffft. Everything was good about this movie, including the acting (surprising for an indie without many big names), directing, and scene setup. I loved how the story is told, commencing with the backwards ending and ending with the middle - it put the viewer in the same position as Leonard, a man without a memory, because we don't know what happened just previously. The message of the film is also cool.
  • Cinema Paradiso (1988) - I could identify with the kid in this movie, since I grew up with movies too. I never worked in a movie theater, though, but I loved this Italian masterpiece. This is a kid who doesn't have a father and doesn't have much of a mother, so he turns to movies to nurture him, with the help of Alfredo (amazing acting). The ending is especially memorable.
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) - "This means something..." This is probably Spielberg's best - great direction, great performances, yada yada yada. Only Spielberg could do a sci-fi movie this suspenseful where we hardly ever see inside the UFO. All the clues towards finding the aliens kept my attention, and the obsessions of the characters even after their loved ones leave them is frightening. Spielberg proves here that, when it comes to suspense movies, less is more. Awesome movie.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) - Well, the book was probably better, but the movie actually got the feel of the book right. At least the "Stand up, Scout. Your father's passing." scene gave me goosebumps in the movie, just like it did in the book. This may be the best novel adaptation out there. Gregory Peck deserves his Oscar, as does script writer Horton Foote for keeping the message of the movie as powerful as the book. That's right, kiddies: racism is bad.
  • Sunset Boulevard (1950) - Another amazing movie. It's a great film-noir which kept me on the edge of my seat from start till finish. I loved the interaction between the two leads - despite their mutual hostility, Joe Gillis and Norma Desmond had chemistry! Erich von Stroheim is also fabulous. This film also has probably the best ending line ever, with the possible exceptions of "Some Like It Hot" and "Casablanca."
  • Reservoir Dogs (1992) - Very bloody, yet ultimately an awesome character-driven movie. The first scene contains a lot of memorable dialogue, and then we get right to the action - who is the police informer? It could be ANY one of these guys; in fact, plenty of different scripts could have been written with everyone being the mole. But the end result is, while gory, very exciting. And it's not the blood that will keep your attention - it's the interaction between the various distinct characters.
  • Rashomon (1950) - I had never seen a Japanese film before, and I was expecting something artsy and hard-to-understand. But it was time to watch "Rashomon", because it was due back at Blockbsuter in a day or two. To say I was pleasantly surprised is a vast understatement. I was amazed by the power of this film and its strong messages on honesty and trust. Four different accounts told through varying points of view, I am sure it influenced "The Usual Suspects", which I liked but not enough to go here. Kurosawa kinda reminded me of the Eastern Tarantino. I am all the more eager now to see "Ikiru", "Ran", and "The Seven Samurai."
  • Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) - I just finished this today, and I was amazed. I loved it, and it has now become my favorite war movie...well, there is "Dr. Strangelove...make that, my favorite SERIOUS war movie. But it's not so much a war movie as it is a character study; the movie isn't about the war as much as it is about the relationships between Nicholson and Saito, Shears and Warden, etc. Whatever you wanna call it, I LOVED it.
  • Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) - This is a classic, but it's more comparable to a modern-day action movie than some of the deeper movies of the thirties. What I love about "Robin Hood" is that it's a hell of a lot of fun. The movie is beautifully shot, and all the actors look like they're really enjoying themselves. I'd highly recommend it if you're looking for a good adventure movie.
  • Cool Hand Luke (1967) - Paul Newman is just a great actor. I think he deserved the Oscar over Rod Steiger. Come to think of it, I think Dustin Hoffman deserved the Oscar over Steiger too (for "The Graduate"). The movie is a great showcase for his many talents, and the excellent script can't hurt either. There are so many individual memorable scenes in "Cool Hand Luke." An excellent film.
Author Comments: 

As I'm sure you all have seen if you've read any of my lists, I'm a big comedy fan. But this is a list of 12 of my favorite non-comedies, in no particular order.

Note that I haven't seen all that many non-comedies, so if anyone disses me for not having "Gone With the Wind" or "A Streetcar Named Desire" or "The Wizard of Oz" or "Raging Bull" or "Fight Club"...I could go on an on. It's probably because I haven't seen it. However, if you'd like to recommend some great non-comedies for me to see sometime soon, please be my guest.

The Seven Samurai, rent it tonight! :-)

No offense taken if you haven't seen "GWTW" or "2001"; you'll likely experience ambivalence after viewing them, but upon further watches you'll appreciate the brilliance of these films.

Allow me to recommend some films that are similiar to the ones you've mentioned:
-The Hidden Fortress: Another Kurosawa film, which bears a somewhat curious resemblance to a certain 1977 sci-fi film which has spawned 4 sequels (or two sequels and two prequels, depending on how you see it). Despite the parallel, it's probably Kurosawa's breeziest film, fun and exciting. I recently discovered a VHS copy in my local library!
- Anatomy of a Murder, directed by Otto Preminger, starring James Stewart. Brilliant, long, stunning courtroom drama. Very frank, for its time, in its portrayal of sexual tension and torment. Duke Ellington's score is masterful.

I'm going to add these two and jim's recommendation to my "How to Succeed as a Movie Buff Without Really Trying" list. Thanks!