What Are Your Favorite Obscure Movies?

 

At the bottom of a webpage, between the “Actresses Who Age Badly” and “Bizarre Creatures of the Sea,” was a clickable list I couldn’t resist — “9 Great Movies You’ve Never Seen”. It turns out I had seen two of the movies, both of which I liked; the original Das Boot (with subtitles), and Fearless.  The ones I hadn’t seen were:

  • Amazon Women on the Moon
  • Swimming With Sharks
  • The Wild Blue Yonder
  • May
  • Secretary
  • Hard Eight
  • Bob Le Flambeur

Have you seen these films? If so, opinions please! What other lost gems should I be watching?

There are 170 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. user_2505 Contributor
    user_2505
    @GaryMcVey

    Here’s two seldom-seen oddballs that deserve audiences: “Bye Bye Braverman” (the clip is a ten minute excerpt), a movie so Jewish it makes “Fiddler” look like “My Three Sons”. Plus one of the most explicitly conservative/libertarian science fiction films of all time, Robert Heinlein’s “Destination Moon” (1950, full feature).

    • #1
  2. 6foot2inhighheels Member
    6foot2inhighheels
    @6foot2inhighheels

    I’ve seen neither!  Thanks, since I’m always on the lookout for good films.

    • #2
  3. user_1029039 Member
    user_1029039
    @JasonRudert

    May is a quirky little horror movie. I found it kind of uneven. But the depiction of the mother is pretty good, a la Mommy Dearest. The conceit is that there’s this girl who never gets to play with her dolls because they have to be kept in their packages, and then she grows up to be a killer. Has some funny lines.
    Secretary is an odd movie about an abusive boss and his secretary who are a perfect sado-masochistic match for each other. Maggie Gyllenhall and James Spader. I loved it; your mileage may vary.

    • #3
  4. tabula rasa Member
    tabula rasa
    @tabularasa

    The Judy Garland musical Meet Me in St. Louis is a family favorite.  It’s not my cup of tea, but my wife, children, and grandchildren love it.  I’ve seen parts of it as I pass through the family room, but have never watched the movie. 

    • #4
  5. Betty Inactive
    Betty
    @BettyW

    Some of those sound unpleasant, but I loved Das Boot in German, and we purchased it.

    • #5
  6. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    I’m quite sure I’ve slept through Das Boot at least twice.

    Hitchcock’s I Confess! is probably the most obscure gem in my collection. But McLintock! and Hatari! are also favorites… so maybe it’s just the apostrophe that excites me.

    The Couch Trip is another rarity, for entirely different reasons.

    And, though neither is unheard of, it boggles the mind why The Man Without a Face and Brannagh’s Henry V are not readily available at decent prices.

    • #6
  7. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    Das Boot is a classic and the only one on the list I’ve seen. It’s the feel-good movie you’d expect from a guilt-ridden German director filming a Nazi sub. As an ex-submariner myself, the movie rang very true, and made me thankful I served during peacetime.

    • #7
  8. Vald the Misspeller Member
    Vald the Misspeller
    @

    I just watched Destination Moon the other night. It was weird — nice, but weird — to see American industrialists portrayed as heroes. It must have been 40 years since I’d last seen it, and yet I still remembered the theme music well enough to hum it.

    • #8
  9. user_437098 Inactive
    user_437098
    @Wick

    As it happens, I just watched and reviewed Swimming with Sharks last week.  I found it a good but not great movie, albeit instructive as an example of Hollywood’s Zero Sum worldview.

    Wick on Swimming with Sharks

    • #9
  10. Pike Bishop Inactive
    Pike Bishop
    @PikeBishop

    Saw Hard Eight tears ago and enjoyed it thoroughly – Put it in my Nexflix queue to watch it again,  Highly recommend The Wild Bunch w/William Holden, Robert Ryan . Not recommended for the younger crowd

    • #10
  11. user_139005 Member
    user_139005
    @MichaelMinnott

    Outland with Sean Connery and Frances Sternhagen wasn’t on the list, but it’s is a favorite of mine.  Essentially it is a sci-fi remake of High Noon.  The reviews online seem to run hot, or cold; you either love this movie, or hate it.
    220px-Outland

    • #11
  12. user_2505 Contributor
    user_2505
    @GaryMcVey

    Ace Fungo

    I just watched Destination Moon the other night. It was weird — nice, but weird — to see American industrialists portrayed as heroes. It must have been 40 years since I’d last seen it, and yet I still remembered the theme music well enough to hum it.

    One of the joys of online life is talking about something (like this film) that is intriguing, not to be lost to history, but is probably no life changer, and then getting such an intelligent and sharp reply. I don’t know a thing about Ace Fungo, but he’s right. That’s all it takes. 

    • #12
  13. Crabby Appleton Inactive
    Crabby Appleton
    @CrabbyAppleton

    One I recently discovered through a junk-mail dvd catalog:  “Hail The Conquering Hero”.  A Preston Sturges flick starring Eddie Bracken (yeah, I know, who?).  It’s very Capra-esque & defiintely worth $5.98.  Was “The Wild Blue Yonder’ on the above list the Werner Herzog film?  If so then that is a good one.  If you’re a Herzog afficianado then I strongly recommend “Incident At Loch Ness”.  And from the category Japanese SciFi Flicks That Are So Bad They’re Brilliant:  “The Calamari Wrestler”

    • #13
  14. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy
    • #14
  15. Hodge Inactive
    Hodge
    @Hodge

    I saw a fairly recent Austrian thriller called Revanche that blew me away. Also enjoyed every movie I’ve seen by the French director Jacques Becker. It’s not a coincidence that I was turned onto both by the Criterion Collection.

    • #15
  16. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    Obscurity is a floating definition.

    Some movies that were in circulation when I was a kid are now largely forgotten. Many of the old great comedies, like WC Fields, are never seen … instead we see endless loops of stoner or slob movies. To my kids, the Marx Brothers might as well be Buster Keaton or Fatty Arbuckle.

    Of course, this could become a marketing opportunity. Suppose we had a movie that featured three brothers; one a wisecracking absurdist, another a lovable but unscrupulous absurdist, and a third who doesn’t talk … but we don’t overtly label it as a “new Marx Brothers remake” (because that would kill it). The audience wouldn’t grasp they were watching a Marx Brothers movie.

    Hey, a movie being obscure could be an advantage.

    • #16
  17. user_96427 Contributor
    user_96427
    @tommeyer

    I’ll put votes in for two wildly different and under-appreciated movies: In Bruges, which is about two Irish hitmen who — after a botched job — are sent to hide out in the eponymous Belgian city.  The older, wiser of them (Brendan Gleesen) takes the opportunity to enjoy the sites, while the younger, stupider one (Colin Farrell) becomes instantly bored of out his skull and promptly gets the two of them into yet more trouble.  Very funny (if you like dark humor) with a surprisingly deep take on sin and redemption.

    Persuasion was the best Jane Austen movie of the 1990s and almost nobody saw it.  The adaption is nearly perfect and Amanda Root’s performance as Anne is simply something to behold.  Unusually for an Austen movie, the male performances are equally strong, especially Ciarán Hinds as Wentworth and Corin Redgrave as Sir Walter.

    • #17
  18. Nathaniel Wright Member
    Nathaniel Wright
    @NathanielWright

    AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON is hilarious, but you need a specific sense of humor.
    In that vein is THE KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE which has a “martial arts” sequence I’ve always enjoyed.

    SWIMMING WITH THE SHARKS is an entertaining look at the life of an assistant in the film/tv industry. It’s only slightly an exaggeration of what J -cough- Si-cough is like to work with.
    As for obscure movies…as a RPG fan I’ve got a soft spot for SKULLDUGGERY (Canada’s Mazes and Monsters) and TAG: The Assassination Game. Hey, you wrote obscure and not “classic.”

    • #18
  19. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    KC Mulville:
    Suppose we had a movie that featured three brothers; one a wisecracking absurdist, another a lovable but unscrupulous absurdist, and a third who doesn’t talk … but we don’t overtly label it as a “new Marx Brothers remake” (because that would kill it). The audience wouldn’t grasp they were watching a Marx Brothers movie.

     You don’t have to imagine it. It’s already been done. It was called Brain Donors, and it’s an underrated gem of a comedy.

    • #19
  20. Deacon Blues Inactive
    Deacon Blues
    @DeaconBlues

    How about a couple of Albert Brooks comedies? I’d start out with a couple of oldies: Modern Romance and Lost in America. They still make me laugh thirty years after I’d first seen them.

    • #20
  21. Deacon Blues Inactive
    Deacon Blues
    @DeaconBlues

    oops… sorry for double post

    • #21
  22. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    The Wicker Man (1973)

    The Passenger (1975)

    • #22
  23. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    How could I forget to mention The Wicker Man!!

    • #23
  24. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    I second In Bruges.

    • #24
  25. Syzygy Inactive
    Syzygy
    @TzviKilov

    I don’t know if they’re obscure enough for this thread but The Four Feathers (2002) starring Heath Ledger was pretty good, and I love the cult classic Rushmore (1998)

    • #25
  26. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    A mix of movies for me that tend to be obscure in general but known within fans of specific genres:

    • Early Hitchcock (silent, British films) like The Ring, The Farmer’s Wife, The Manxman
    • Horror/suspense like M, The Man Who Laughs, The Whip and The Body
    • The Private Eyes – Tim Conway and Don Knotts are hilarious together playing bumbling detectives
    • #26
  27. user_105642 Member
    user_105642
    @DavidFoster

    “Runaway Train,” based on a screenplay by Kurosawa, is very good. It’s about 2 convicts who escape from a maximum-security prison and *think* they are getting a ride on a freight train. “Dresden,” is a German made-for-TV movie centered on a love affair in this city that was destroyed by Allied bombing. I thought it avoided moral equivalency quite well. My review is here. “The Awakening Land” is an American made-for-TV movie based on the Conrad Richter trilogy about a pioneer family in Ohio.

    • #27
  28. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, Peter Weller in the part he was born for and a supporting cast that moved on to great things, especially Jeff Goldblum, Ellen Barkin, John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd, Dan Hedaya, and Clancy Brown. This was dumped in theaters in its day with no publicity to speak of, but thanks to word of mouth it managed to make a little bit of money in first release. The promised sequel went up in smoke as these guys started breaking big. There is a deluxe extended version that includes edited opening scenes with Jamie Lee Curtis as Buckeroo’s mother. Make lots of popcorn and laugh at the analog modem scene.

    If that goes well, then you might also like Big Trouble in Little China, rumored to have been script doctored by the writer on Buckeroo. Kurt Russell is a scream as the clueless American whose heart is always in the right place. It seems that Chinese wizards are plotting to restore some potent ancestral deities to our plane, and Jack isn’t buying that line of hokum for a minute.

    • #28
  29. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    One of our favorite recent “small” movies is Lars and the Real Girl, about a lonely man who orders a sex doll on the internet and starts up a lovely, sweet relationship with her; and about how his family and friends adapt to this new girlfriend (Lars informs his sister that the girlfriend is very religious and it would not be appropriate for them to live together, and because she’s just home from the mission field and has no place to stay, asks if she can live with the sister and her husband.)

    It’s funny, sweet, and moving. I was particularly struck by a scene of a meeting at church where the people are trying to decide what to do about Lars’ delusion about his girlfriend. (Spoiler: they ask themselves what Jesus would do, and conclude that they should treat the doll as a real person while Lars works through whatever traumatic issues are affecting his mental health.)

    When I tell people to check out this movie about a guy and his sex doll, they give me really strange looks, and so I have to assure them that it’s really, really sweet and apart from the premise, this could practically be a G-rated movie.

    • #29
  30. Ed G. Member
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    KC Mulville:
    Obscurity is a floating definition.
    Some movies that were in circulation when I was a kid are now largely forgotten. Many of the old great comedies, like WC Fields, are never seen … instead we see endless loops of stoner or slob movies. To my kids, the Marx Brothers might as well be Buster Keaton or Fatty Arbuckle.
    …..

    KC, I used to love Thanksgiving morning for that chance to see those old movies, little glimpses into life for prior generations. Some channel would always have Ma and Pa Kettle, or Laurel and Hardy, or something like that.

    I also loved the time between the end of Saturday morning cartoons and the beginning of Saturday afternoon sports coverage when one station would play old sci-fi, horror, and action/adventure movies. Of course, we also enjoyed the Family Classics played on Sunday afternoons on WGN, which featured good family and action/adventure movies that may otherwise have fallen into obscurity. 

    • #30

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.