An Updated Digest of Weekend Film Recommendations, Part II (M-Z)

Recommendations with titles beginning with A-L can be found here.

M — Peter Lorre made a lasting mark on German cinema with his terrifying yet pathetic take on a child molester/murderer in Fritz Lang’s 1931 masterpiece. Reviewed by Johann Koehler.

The Most Dangerous Game — Leslie Banks is a superbly depraved villain in this pre-Hays code thriller about a deadly hunt in which you-know-what are the prey.

Murder by Death — Neil Simon’s witty play mocking fiction’s most famous detectives is a delight in the hands of world class cast. Co-recommended with a worthy companion piece: The Cheap Detective.

The Music Man — Robert Preston soars as a singing, dancing con man in this funny, uplifting film based on the hit Broadway musical.

My Favorite Year — Peter O’Toole’s considerable charm holds together this warm, hilarious story of a broken down movie star’s appearance on a live television show in the 1950s.

The Naked City — Jules Dassin’s realistic police procedural gives Academy Award-winning cinematographer William Daniels a chance to show us how New York City and the people in it looked in the years immediately after the war.

The Naked Spur — “Nice guy” Jimmy Stewart is vengeful and full of grief as he tracks down the man who has wronged him in Anthony Mann’s noir western. Stewart and Janet Leigh’s heartfelt closing scene is a knockout.

Nanook of the North — Robert Flaherty’s pioneering 1922 docu-drama about an Inuit family in Northern Canada is both compelling and entertaining.

Night Slaves — A sturdy ABC movie of the week in which a couple discovers a Western town in which all the residents turn nightly into hypnotized laborers on a mysterious project. Scripted by Jerry Sohl of Twilight Zone and Outer Limits fame.

99 River Street — A hard luck ex-boxing champ gets up to his neck in jewel thieves and murder in this tough, entertaining film noir/gangster melodrama.

The Offence — Sean Connery gives perhaps his best performance in Sidney Lumet’s dark, powerhouse tale of a world-weary police detective who is losing control.

Once Upon a Time in the West — Johann Koehler dissects how music, emotion, violence and strong characters come together to make the all-time best Spaghetti Western.

Outland — High Noon in space with Sean Connery as a marshal and Peter Boyle as a sleazy mining magnate.

The Perfect Candidate — This essential documentary for political junkies gives an inside view of the Oliver North-Chuck Robb senatorial race in Virginia.

Peter’s Friends — A group of Oxbridge friends (played by a real-life group of the same) reunite at Peter’s house to examine their own lives and learn about a life-changing development in Peter’s. The “British Big Chill” is substantially better than its American cousin.

Pickup on South Street — Samuel Fuller’s pulpy tale of crooks, cops and communists is a hard-boiled masterpiece featuring standout performances by Richard Widmark, Thelma Ritter, and Jean Peters.

Point Blank — John Boorman’s first US film merges 1960s experimentalism with a classic gangster story. Starring Lee Marvin, this is one of the best films Keith has recommended at RBC.

Porterhouse Blue — OxBridge life has never been so silly in this gutbusting adaptation of Tom Sharpe’s satirical novel.

Railroaded! — This crime movie helmed by noir master Anthony Mann shows that you don’t need a big budget to deliver solid entertainment.

Raising Arizona — The Coen Brothers’ 1987 movie is a zany treat featuring hilarious dialogue, wacky car chases and fight scenes, and a standout performance by Holly Hunter.

Robbery — Peter Yates got the job as the Director of Bullitt (recommended here) after skillfully helming this caper film based on the famous 1963 British train robbery.

Rounders — Edward Norton gives a mesmerizing performance as an amoral card sharp who drags his buddy Matt Damon into high-stakes underworld poker. Reviewed by Johann Koehler.

Ruggles of Red Gap — Special guest reviewer Dr. Jean O’Reilly highlights the joys of Leo McCarey’s amusing and sweet film, with a standout performance by Charles Laughton.

The Ruling Class — Outrageous, irreverent one-of-a-kind black comedy/drama/musical about a daft British Earl who thinks he’s the messiah.

The Rutles: All You Need is Cash — Monty Python alum Eric Idle and his many funny friends create a very humorous mockumentary about the Fab Four.

The Scarlet Claw — The best of the Neill/Rathbone/Bruce Sherlock Holmes serial pits the great detective against a devious killer in a fog-shrouded Canadian town. The restored print by the UCLA film preservation angels only adds to the viewer’s pleasure.

The Screaming Woman — Unnerving made-for-television adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s suspense story is a nice vehicle for old Hollywood hands Olivia De Haviland, Joseph Cotten and Walter Pidgeon.

Scrooge — Alastair Sim is golden is this holiday favourite, probably the best adaptation ever of Dickens’ beloved novella.

Sexy Beast — Ray Winstone thinks he is retired from a life of crime when a menacing old acquaintance played by Ben Kingsley comes to fetch him for one. last. job. Reviewed by Johann Koehler.

Slap Shot — Director George Roy Hill and Actor Paul Newman triumph yet again in this profanity-laced, outrageously funny, blue collar story about minor league hockey.

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold — Espionage has never been as unglamourous yet compelling as in Martin Ritt’s film, which features a shattering performance by a shattered Richard Burton.

The Sting — Guest film reviewer Johann Koehler describes why he loves seeing Newman and Redford bilk nasty gangster Robert Shaw.

Strange Days — Johann Koehler praises this kinetic dystopia about the desire for escapism from the present life, and a failure to face up to current problems.

Strange Impersonation — Hillary Brooke makes the most of one of her best roles in this tale of strong women battling for love and more. Anthony Mann directs with his usual verve, and the recently restored print looks fantastic.

Superman — Richard Donner’s reverent, thrilling film gives the comic book icon the superior treatment he has long deserved.

Tales of Terror — Roger Corman’s spooky, campy, adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe stories makes great use of the acting talents of Peter Lorre, Basil Rathbone, and Vincent Price.

Tarantula — It’s B-movie matinee fun as scientist Leo J. Carroll accidentally unleashes an outsized arachnid on an unsuspecting town.

The 39 Steps — Robert Donat cuts a dash in Hitchcock’s thoroughly enjoyable comedy-romance-suspense film about an innocent man battling a devilish spy ring.

The Three Musketeers — En Garde! Richard Lester’s lavishly-produced adaptation of the classic swashbuckling novel is an early work of gangbanger fiction with some farcical elements blended in. Bonus for film buffs: Reviewer Johann Koehler explains the origin of the legal requirement known as the Salkind Clause that determines actors’ future stake in multiple movies made on the same shoot.

A Time for Drunken Horses — The first internationally released Kurdish language film is a shattering account of a poor family struggling to survive on the Iran-Iraq border.

Time, Gentlemen, Please! — This nearly forgotten British comedy tells the delightful story of the one resident of an Essex town who refuses to work.

Timetable — Mark Stevens’ 1956 film noir gives the traditional heist movie a special twist.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy — This 5 1/2 hour adaptation of John Le CarrĂ©’s espionage novel is one of the greatest triumphs in the history of BBC television.

Too Late for Tears — In an underappreciated noir classic, Lizabeth Scott tears up the screen as a scheming, brutal woman.

Treasure Island — Walt Disney’s first live action film is a superb, family-friendly adaptation of R.L. Stevenson’s novel.

The Trotsky — Johann Koehler praises the wit and originality of this offbeat Canadian indie in which a bright but strange high school kid becomes convinced he is the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky.

True Romance — One of Johann Koehler’s “favorite films of all time” conceals a romantic narrative underneath a hyper-violent high-stake caper film.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea — Disney live-action moviemaking at its best as Jules Verne’s adventure comes to life. Love that giant squid!

Twilight — Five Academy Award winners led by Paul Newman collaborate in this deliberately old-fashioned story of murder, intrigue and old Hollywood.

Uncle Buck — Although this John Hughes/John Candy collaboration includes some big laughs, reviewer Johann Koehler makes the case that its themes of sorrow and loneliness are powerful and underappreciated.

The Untouchables — Brian De Palma’s big budget update of the classic cops and gangsters story features outsized performances by Robert De Niro and Sean Connery.

Unman, Wittering and Zigo — Students torment their teachers in this disturbing, little known British chiller.

Vampyr — Carl Theodor Dreyer’s arty horror classic has the inner logic of a nightmare from which you cannot awake.

Waking Ned Devine — Johann praises the charms of this comic Irish tale of a town that tries to cash in by hiding the fact that the holder of a winning Lotto ticket has died.

Watership Down — A dark, mystical animated film based on Richard Adams’ bestselling novel about rabbits on the run.

The Web — Vincent Price makes a fine non-horror film baddy in the 1947 film noir about a shady businessman, his secretary/mistress and a lawyer they both manipulate.

We Have a Pope/Habemus Papam — Johann Koehler examines the virtues of Nanni Moretti’s psychological study of a cardinal who has a breakdown when he is chosen to ascend to the papacy.

Where the Sidewalk Ends — Exciting crime melodrama that showcases Dana Andrews’ acting and Joseph LaShelle’s camerawork.

The White Knight Strategem — Handsomely produced BBC update of Sherlock Holmes features an astonishingly good performance by Rik Mayall as a dipsomaniac yet clever police detective.

The Wicker Man — Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee anchor this scary and sensual cult classic of British horror.

Zero Hour! — The film that Airplane! parodied so well is in fact a solid suspenser with a strong-jawed Dana Andrews rescuing a plane in peril.

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over thirteen thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.