The Observer’s senior film critic, Rex Reed, has been with us for 34 years, ever since the first issue of The New York Observer hit the newsstands in the fall of 1987. With many of our holiday plans cancelled and much of our “to watch” list already exhausted, we asked Mr. Reed to recommend some less well-known classics to keep us safely entertained while Omicron rampages through the city. A few hours later a list appeared.
“There is no better time to watch famous films like Sunset Boulevard (Prime Video, Paramount+) than while shut in with an illness or pandemic… but I tried to stick to films worth discovering for the first time,” he said.
And so here are a few Rex Reed picks for films to watch while stuck indoors with nothing to do but worry and pass the time wisely. Many are available to rent or stream digitally, but a few you will have to figure out how to obtain on your own. Isn’t that part of the fun?
Rex Reed’s picks for a pandemic winter:
All Fall Down — 1962
Director: John Frankenheimer
Ralph (Karl Malden) and Annabell Willart (Angela Lansbury) are the parents of troubled, womanizing son Berry-Berry (Warren Beatty).
The Unforgiven — 1969
Director: John Huston
The neighbors of a frontier family turn on them when it is suspected that their adopted daughter was stolen from the local Kiowa tribe.
Pierrot le Fou — 1965
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Pierrot escapes his boring society and travels from Paris to the Mediterranean Sea with Marianne, a woman chased by hit-men from Algeria.
Streaming: Criterion Channel
Any Number Can Play — 1949
Director: Marvyn Leroy
Gambling-house owner finds himself estranged from his wife and son.
Edge of Darkness — 1943
Director: Lewis Milestone
After two years under German rule, a small Norwegian fishing village rises up and revolts against the occupying Nazis.
The Damned — 1969
Director: Luchino Visconti
The dramatic collapse of a wealthy, industrialist/Junker family during the reign of the Third Reich.
Director: Vittorio De Sica
The story of the Finzi-Continis, a noble family of Ferrara, during the Jewish persecution in Italy in the 1930s.
The Servant — 1963
Director: Joseph Losey
Upper-class Tony hires servant Hugo Barrett, who turns out to have a hidden agenda.
The Big Country — 1958
A New England sea captain in the 1880s arrives at his fiancée’s sprawling Texas ranch, where he becomes embroiled in a feud between two families over a valuable patch of land.
Director: William Wyler
No Man of Her Own — 1950
Director: Mitchell Leisen
A pregnant woman adopts the identity of a railroad crash victim and starts a new life with the woman’s wealthy in-laws, but is soon blackmailed by her devious ex.
Apartment Zero — 1988
Director: Martin Donovan
Adrian begins to suspect that his outwardly likable roommate Jack is responsible for a series of political assassinations.