Modern Times (1936)

“We’ll get a home, even if I have to work for it.” Synopsis: An over-worked factory employee (Charlie Chaplin) suffers a nervous breakdown and is sent to the hospital. Upon emerging, he is instantly arrested as a Communist agitator and sent to prison, where his bravery in stopping a jail break earns him special privileges. […]

Great Dictator, The (1940)

“We can’t fight alone — but we can lick ’em together!” Synopsis: A shell-shocked Jewish barber (Charlie Chaplin) returns 20 years after World War I to his village, which is overrun by anti-semitic soldiers. He actively protests alongside a feisty maid (Paulette Goddard) he’s fallen in love with; meanwhile, their country’s tyrannical dictator, Adenoid Hynkel […]

City Lights (1931)

“Thank you for your kindness, sir.” Synopsis: A noble tramp (Charlie Chaplin) falls in love with a blind flower-girl (Virginia Cherrill) and saves the life of a drunk, suicidal millionaire (Harry Myers) who quickly befriends him, but forgets he knows him once sober. Can Chaplin earn the money to help Cherrill pay for a sight-restoring […]

Sugarland Express, The (1974)

“No more runnin’ off, no more speedin’, and no more guns. Now what do you say to that?” Synopsis: A mother (Goldie Hawn) recently released from prison convinces her about-to-be-released husband (William Atherton) to go on the lam and retrieve their young son from his foster parents. During their escape, they take a patrol officer […]

Harder They Fall, The (1956)

“Money’s money, no matter where you get it.” Synopsis: A washed-up sportswriter (Humphrey Bogart) eager for steady income accepts a gig as publicist for a hulky but ineffective new fighter (Mike Lane) working under a corrupt promoter (Rod Steiger) — but when an ethical journalist friend (Harold J. Stone) and his wife (Jan Sterling) learns […]

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

“You are the life of the fatherland, you boys!” Synopsis: A jingoistic teacher (Arnold Lucy) encourages his entire class of high school students to enlist in the German war effort — but Paul (Lew Ayres) and his classmates quickly find war to be far more hellish than they could ever imagine. Genres: Lewis Milestone Films […]

Queen Christina (1933)

“I do not wish to marry, and they cannot make me!” Synopsis: The headstrong queen (Greta Garbo) of 17th century Sweden is pressured to marry a prince (Reginald Owen), but falls instead for a handsome Spanish ambassador (John Gilbert). Will she choose loyalty to her position and her country, or her heart? Genres: Feminism and […]

My Fair Lady (1964)

“What am I fit for? What have you left me fit for?” Synopsis: A Cockney flower-girl (Audrey Hepburn) receives phonetics lessons from an arrogant professor (Rex Harrison) who claims he can make her acceptable for “high society”. Genres: Audrey Hepburn Films Battle-of-the–Sexes Character Arc Class Relations Cross-Class Romance George Cukor Films Mentors Musicals Play Adaptations […]

Grand Hotel (1932)

“I’d like to take you in my arms, and not let anything happen to you — ever.” Synopsis: In a ritzy Berlin hotel, a down-on-his-luck thief (John Barrymore) falls in love with a lonely ballerina (Greta Garbo) whose pearls he originally intended to steal. Meanwhile, a plucky secretary (Joan Crawford) accepts work with a womanizing […]

Private Benjamin (1980)

“I think they sent me to the wrong place.” Synopsis: A young widow (Goldie Hawn) whose husband (Albert Brooks) died on their wedding night listens to advice from a military recruiter (Harry Dean Stanton) on the radio and decides to turn her life around by joining the army. After initial shock and some ribbing by […]