Six movies that get more love now than when they first came out

I’d play Somewhere in Time throughout the evening, and they'd still sigh in ecstasy. They made me feel as handsome as Christopher Reeve

It’s a Wonderful Life official poster

Once in a while, there comes a movie that fails to meet the lofty expectations of their filmmakers. Both producer and director always share that high hope of making their mark (and lots of cash) with the movie they make. But not every movie can be successful. Sometimes, even if the product is admirable, it’s met with audience indifference and tepid reviews. Blame it on bad marketing and bad timing.  A turn of events and shifting trends can spell doom for a movie’s potential.

A good example is Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. It was a failure in 1958, but it’s now hailed by film buffs as the greatest film of all time, an opinion I don’t happen to agree with (Vertigo is rich in atmosphere but has too many plot holes). Another is The Shawshank Redemption, a box office bust. It earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture and it’s superior to the winner, Forrest Gump. It’s now a perennial entry on the various lists of all-time greatest movies.

Here’s my shortlist of movies that are better appreciated by today’s audiences and/or film experts.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, Henry Traverse
Written by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett
Directed by Frank Capra

Just like the Noche Buena, It’s a Wonderful Life is a Christmas tradition. It has a Charles Dickens ring to it. Family man George Bailey (James Stewart) has misplaced a huge amount of cash belonging to his employer. Expecting to be charged with embezzlement, he contemplates suicide.

His second-class guardian angel named Clarence (Henry Traverse) is thus called to duty and appears before him. The desperate George cries on the angel’s shoulder. He says he wishes he hadn’t been born. Clarence then shows him how life would be dour and even tragic if George had not existed. The movie’s feel-good conclusion happens on Christmas Day itself.

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is a Christmas tradition. It has a Charles Dickens ring to it

Sentimental movies are director Frank Capra’s expertise. Rest assured this movie isn’t over-sentimental, as the script is also spiced with humor. It’s a surprise then that it didn’t attract a huge audience when it opened at a time when people were less cynical. It was good enough to snag an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. Stewart was nominated for Best Actor.

Happily, TV networks continued airing the movie every Christmas. It now has a significant niche in pop culture. A particular scene even turned into a viral meme—when George’s exasperated wife (Donna Reed) angrily rips a record off the turntable and smashes it to pieces. I’m sure you’ve seen that!

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service official poster

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Starring George Lazenby, Diana Rigg, Telly Savalas
Written by Richard Maibaum
Directed by Peter R. Hunt

This James Bond installment was the 11th top-grossing movie of 1969. The problem was, previous Bond movies usually ranked among the top five. Critics were also cold to George Lazenby, who replaced Sean Connery for this outing.

On Her Majesty’s is now considered to be among the best of the franchise. Director Peter Hunt did dazzling camera work and editing. Unlike its predecessors, it doesn’t feel stodgy. It’s as if Hunt had laid out the blueprints for future Bond films. His location shots of Portugal and the Swiss Alps are breathtaking.  Fight scenes are tautly presented, and the car chase gives The Fast and the Furious a run for its money. The climactic chase on bobsleds also hasn’t aged.

As played and written, this Bond has a different persona. He doesn’t rely on gimmicky gadgets, and Bond’s brave enough to show his vulnerable side. Just when he’s about to accept defeat, a damsel comes to rescue the Bond in distress. That damsel is played by Diana Rigg, arguably the most dynamic Bond girl of all. She’s at the wheel during the exciting car chase. She also steals 007’s heart.

Much of the action happens on Christmas Day in a snowy Swiss village. It’s a Bond film that’s also a Christmas movie, though the ending is heartbreaking. As Bond movies go, this is the most atypical.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is streaming on Amazon Prime.

 In ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,’ the damsel is played by Diana Rigg, arguably the most dynamic Bond girl of all

The Last of Sheila official poster

The Last of Sheila (1973)
Starring James Coburn, Raquel Welch, Dyan Cannon
Written by Stephen Sondheim, Anthony Perkins
Directed by Herbert Ross

The Last of Sheila is the inspiration for the Knives Out movies, particularly the upcoming sequel. Set in a luxurious yacht sailing the French Riviera, the movie has a stellar cast playing bitchy, cynical Hollywood types. Hotshot producer James Coburn owns the yacht, and invites his friends for a weekend cruise. Playing parlor games is the order of each day. It’s his way of finding out who among his guests had killed his wife Sheila in a hit-and-run accident a year before.

The glamorous suspects include a coquettish screen goddess (played by Raquel Welch, of course), a contemptuous talent agent (Dyan Cannon), a self-absorbed hack writer (Richard Benjamin) and his neurotic heiress wife (Joan Hackett), and a pretentious has-been director (James Mason). These characters, all with their own dark secrets, were reportedly inspired by real personalities. The cast plays it with relish.

The airtight script is a smorgasbord of snide quips and Hollywood in-jokes. Both its authors—Sondheim the Broadway legend and Perkins of Norman Bates fame—were fond of concocting parlor games at parties. They decided to parlay their hobby into a movie script. Despite its pedigree and excellent reviews, however, The Last of Sheila opened and quickly disappeared. It has long been a hidden gem that’s been finally rediscovered, and imitated.

Somewhere in Time official poster

Somewhere in Time (1980)
Cast: Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, Christopher Plummer
Written by Richard Matheson (adapted from his novel Bid Time Return)
Directed by Jeannot Swarc

I played the piano a lot when I was in college. At parties, I’d show off at the keyboard and the girls would crowd around me and make a request: play Somewhere in Time. Then they’d ask me to play it again. I’d play it five times throughout the evening, and they would still sigh in ecstasy. They made me feel as handsome as Christopher Reeve.

For many people the world over, Somewhere in Time is a classic. For Hollywood, it wasn’t important enough to warrant a wide release. Due to an actors’ strike, the cast was prohibited from promoting the film. Cool reviews by cynical critics didn’t help. But because of cable TV, interest in the movie and the soundtrack grew tremendously. With two gorgeous leads involved in a romance set on a picturesque island, who can resist such a movie? John Barry’s poignant music is the icing on the cake.

With two gorgeous leads involved in a romance set on a picturesque island, who can resist ‘Somewhere in Time’?

Somewhere in Time was shot at the Grand Hotel on beautiful Mackinac Island in Michigan. Every year, the hotel offers a Somewhere in Time Weekend Package. It includes a cocktail party where guests can make a dramatic entrance in their period costumes. There’s a screening of the film, with invited cast members and crew holding an open forum afterwards. Jane Seymour was a special guest last October. If she’s attending again next year, I’m going. I can hypnotize myself into believing I’m there.

Somewhere in Time was streamed by Netflix. We hope it brings this movie back.

Newsies official poster

Newsies (1992)
Starring Christian Bale, Ann-Margret, Robert Duvall
Written by Bob Tzudiker, Noni White
Directed by Kenny Ortega

Hocus Pocus official poster

Hocus Pocus (1993)
Starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy
Written by Mick Garris, Neil Cuthbert
Directed by Kenny Ortega

As Somewhere in Time proved, the life of a movie can be prolonged by a huge fan base. Sometimes this sort of movie is called a cult film. Fans didn’t line up to see the likes of Newsies and Hocus Pocus in the cinemas, but the DVD release and repeated airings on cable helped them reach a huge and less discerning audience.

Newsies is a movie musical about the newsboys who led a strike against the newspapers that were shortchanging them. Set in 1899, the film allows viewers to watch a young Christian Bale embarrass himself with his singing. Ditto with the aging Ann-Margret—her two numbers are cruelly cut short. The movie is saddled by a mediocre script, unmemorable songs, and anachronistic choreography dominated by acrobatics and somersaults. You’re left wondering if this is a movie or the Summer Olympics.

But because of its resurgence in the DVD market, Newsies was adapted into a stage musical. It had a respectable two-year run on Broadway and was nominated for several Tony Awards. Admittedly, the stage version is less annoying than the terrible film.

Hocus Pocus is strictly for children, but Bette Midler’s diva turn as the wicked witch guarantees to entertain their parents as well. It was no blockbuster, but the Disney Channel continuously aired Hocus Pocus until it became essential Halloween viewing. It’s become so popular, Disney actually produced a sequel. As Midler declared in the first movie, she’ll be back with a vengeance.

Hocus Pocus, Hocus Pocus 2, and both film and stage versions of Newsies are streaming on Disney Plus.

About author


He is a freelance writer of lifestyle and entertainment, after having worked in Philippine broadsheets and magazines.

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