4 Essential Films to Watch From Netflix's New 'Auteur' Section
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Netflix has never been a great place for watching classic films. It’s a great website and some of its original series’ are of a very high quality. Yet if you are looking for more than ‘Netflix and chill’ from your movies then you usually have to trawl through quite a bit of sludge in order to get to the really good films. Film-lovers have usually been better off going on sites such as MUBI and BFI for truly great classic films. Thankfully Netflix seems to be doing something about this. It has just put an ‘Auteur Cinema’ section on its website, and the films in it are a cut above the rest. Here are four essential films you should watch from this section. It Happened One Night (1934) Some films exude a magic that is as unexplainable as it was unexpected. Casablanca is the archetypal example. It Happened One Night is another. Neither Clarke Gable nor Claudette Colbert were particularly enthused the project. Both resented being loaned out to Columbia by their studios to play the leading roles: Columbia was one of the the minor studios in the 1930s, Gable didn't like the script, and Colbert didn't like the director, Frank Capra. Yet this was 1934, the height of the studio system, and the actors had to do more or less what the studio heads told them to do. Which is just as well. The result was a film of irresistible wit, charm and warmth that has been cherished by movie-lovers for generations. When spoilt heiress Ellen Andrews (Claudette Colbert) runs away from her father to elope with a play-boy aviator, she meets Peter Warren (Clarke Gable), a cynical out-of-work reporter who is willing to help Ellen reach her prospective husband so that he can get the inside scope on the story. As they travel across America, Gable and Colbert engage in the kind of verbal jousting between the sexes that would become the trademark of ‘screwball’ comedies of the decade. The zip and crackle of the dialogue, the coiled sexual tension bubbling just below the surface, the seemingly magnetic force drawing Gable and Colbert together, all serve to ensure that this swift-footed film was one of the most memorable of the decade. What separates this film from other screwball comedies of the period is Frank Capra’s direction. The Capra touch ensured that the films cynical, sardonic tone is infused with the warmth and humanity that would become his trademark. 12 Angry Men (1957) It’s the hottest day of the year, 1957 and the Cold War is still cold. 12 ordinary men are placed in a small, stuffy jury room in downtown New York, the life of an 18-year-old Hispanic boy is in their hands. 11 of the jury have little qualms about sending him to the chair, because they think it is self-evident that he has murdered his father. "I just wanna talk", Henry Fonda’s character says, the only juryman who isn't quite convinced the boy is guilty. "It's not easy to raise my hand and send a boy to die without talking about it first." Fonda thus removes the first thread in the case against the boy, something which leads inexorably to its breathless unravelling.
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