Smile! Withnail Has Something Special For You!
Richard E. Grant can’t stop smiling, since this list of films will make everyone deliriously happy!
For this edition of “Movies A-Z”, I wanted to make sure I offered a mix of the popular and the obscure.
When it comes to the letter “W”, there are SO many great movies that I didn’t have room for “When Harry Met Sally”, “What About Bob”, “Whiplash” or “War Of The Roses”…but I have ten great choices across a number of genres, so let’s get going!
10 – “Withnail & I”
The funniest British comedy ever, this 1987 comedy is the story of two struggling Actors in London at the end of the 60’s…here is the trailer:
The late, great actor Richard Griffiths is terrific as “Uncle Monty”, who has a thing for Withnail. Director Bruce Robinson based the story on his own life – see more great trivia about his hilarious film – and Richard E. Grant’s great autobiography here:
From the profane to the surreal, one of the greatest family films of all time:
9 – “Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory”
Forget the remake. Gene Wilder IS Willy Wonka, and this movie is one of the most inventive and surreal musical comedies of all time. Here is the trailer:
Gene Wilder brought the perfect blend of comedy and chaos to the role. He was a brilliant Actor – here is a look at some of his best work:
In 1973, one of the strangest horror films was released with one of the most shocking endings ever:
8 – “The Wicker Man”
It starts out so ordinary: a British Police Detective heads to a remote island to search for a missing girl…but that’s the last ordinary thing about the film. Here is the trailer:
Horror legend Christopher Lee stars as the cult leader who can’t let Detective Edward Woodward uncover the mystery of the island, and Britt Eckland does a nude dance that will never be forgotten! You can see it here:
The ending of “The Wicker Man” is one of cinema’s best. At the same time in movies, “old lady horror” was also a trend, and here is one of the campiest examples:
7 – “What’s The Matter With Helen?”
Debbie Reynolds and Shelley Winters had a blast making this campy horror film – check out the trailer:
In the early 70’s, several of these films were released, pairing up two Hollywood legends in a horror situation….see them here:
For fans of “The Deuce” on HBO, you will know that 42nd Street in New York was full of movie theaters showing films like this:
6 – “Wide Open”
The “Queen Of Artsploitation” was Sweden’s Christina Lindberg, who starred in a number of provocative european art films that were hugely successful in the US – partly because of the “relaxation” of obscenity laws in the early 70’s.
Lindberg inspired a character in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” movies, and she continues to have legions of fans today. See all of her movies here:
Also in the 70’s was one of my favorite sci-fi films:
5 – “Westworld”
This isn’t the HBO series, this is the original thriller starring Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin and James Brolin. Here is the trailer:
The tagline for this movie was classic:
“Westworld. Where nothing can possibly go W-O-R-N-G!”
Robots who begin to disobey and turn on humans….sound like the world today? This is a great film, and now an HBO series – read more about that here:
Burt Reynolds was one of the biggest stars in the 70’s, and this next film is a good reason why:
4 – “White Lightning”
Reynolds had a string of big hits in the 70’s, like “The Longest Yard”, “Gator”, and this film – here is the trailer:
Reynolds made great “hicksploitation” action films, with lots of redneck cops, fast cars and sexy women. The genre worked well for awhile – here are some of the others:
Next up is a fascinating documentary about some of the world’s most dangerous jobs:
3 – “Workingman’s Death”
The late Director Michael Glawogger turned his cameras on some of the most shocking jobs you could have.
Here is the trailer:
The film is composed of six differently titled chapters. The first five depict hazardous conditions of hard laborers around the world and the sixth shows contrasting scenes of youths in a former German industrial complex which had been converted into a leisure park – this is one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen. See more of this Directors work here:
OK, let’s lighten up with some Billy Idol, OK?
2 – “The Wedding Singer”
In 1998, Adam Sandler made one of his best movies, about a wedding singer who falls in love with Drew Barrymore – and yes, Billy Idol is in it too!
Here is the trailer:
This is a great “feel good” comedy, with Sandler giving one of his most effortless performances, and Billy Idol is hilarious in his cameo. Idol has had a well-deserved resurgence lately – check it out here:
Finally, one of the greatest films ever made ends the list:
1 – “The Wild Bunch”
Director Sam Peckinpah depicted the wild west as never before in this brilliant 1969 film starring William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates and Robert Ryan. Here is the trailer:
The film showed more bloodshed than any movie before, and set a new standard for the depiction of violence on the screen. But it was also an homage to the wild west, and the desperados who wandered it…
It is a masterpiece – and you can see more about it here:
So there you have it, ten films with a “W” that stand the test of time – even Withnail agrees!
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