DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944)

Perhaps the ultimate Film Noir, about two murderers who are not nearly as smart as they think they are.

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)

The ultimate feel-good movie, or harrowing exercise in existential angst? Possibly both.

MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947)

A holiday classic about whether a crazy guy who thinks he’s Santa is actually Santa, made a time when studios insisted Christmas movies wouldn’t sell.

TO BE OR NOT TO BE (1942)

A surprisingly funny take on World War II from the point of view of Polish actors, that came out only 3 months after Pearl Harbor.

THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946)

A surprisingly universal and human story of three soldiers returning to their home town after World War II, from decades before “PTSD” was a term.

THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940)

Camps of migrants, driven out of their homes by economic hardship, hated by the locals and oppressed by the police. It’s hard to be an Oklahoman.

THE MALTESE FALCON (1941)

A movie that launched legendary careers and an entire classic genre of film, and is also pretty fun in its own right.