Centennial Universal

Tags: Films, Hollywood

As the studio celebrates 100 years of moments and memories, Roar takes a trip down memory lane replete with films that made this century memorable

Centennial Universal
A 100 years after Universal was incorporated, the studio continues to make films that make us laugh, cry and think; movies that are milestones in filmmaking. Through its journey, the studio has served as home for a powerhouse of talent — filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, Ron Howard, Peter Jackson, Spike Lee, Brian De Palama, John Landis, George Lucas, Stanely Kubrick, Sydney Pollack, George Roy Hill and John Hughes.

Universal is celebrating its 100 years of moments and memories in a big way. Through the year, it has invested in major film restoration commitment (13 films are to be restored), unveiled a new logo and launched its 25-film 100th Anniversary Collection on Blu-ray and DVD.

To celebrate Universal’s 100th birthday, FC Roar lists the studio’s 100 best movie projects, focusing on the top 10 movies, works that helped shape the legacy of one of the most successful movie studios of all time. Here they are (in no particular order):

ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Steven Spielberg

Cast: Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Robert MacNaughton and Drew Barrymore

Co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, ET: The Extra-Terrestrial is the tale of Elliott (Thomas), a lonely boy who befriends an extraterrestrial, dubbed ET. The concept was based on an imaginary friend Spielberg created after his parents’ divorce in 1960. ET is stranded on Earth, and Elliott and his siblings attempt to help it return home while trying to keep it hidden from their mother and the government. ET surpassed Star Wars and became the highest-grossing film of all time — a record it held for 10 years until Jurassic Park came along.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Robert Mulligan

Cast: Gregory Peck,Mary Badham, Philip Alford

Gregory Peck is best remembered for playing charismatic lawyer Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. The adaptation of the critically acclaimed Harper Lee novel manages to capture the essence of the book, and Peck delivers a standout performance as Finch — he’s steadfast, honest and unwavering in his defence of a black man wrongly accused of a crime, and his performance won him an Academy award.

Schindler’s List (1993)

Steven Spielberg

Cast: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes

Based on a true story, Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List stars Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler, a German businessman in Poland. Keen to profit from the Nazis’ rise to power, he starts a factory where he uses Jews as labour. As time goes by, Schindler realises that his factory is what stands between his staff and death camps. By the time Germany falls to the allies, Schindler saves 1,100 people from likely death. Nominated for 12 Academy Awards, Schindler’s List is one of the best American movies about the Holocaust.

Jaws (1975)

Steven Spielberg

Cast: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss

This genre-defining classic, Jaws is way up there with the best thrillers of all time. When a giant man-eating great white shark attacks beachgoers on Amity Island, a fictional summer resort town, the local police chief must rope in a marine biologist and a professional shark hunter to stop it. Spielberg tapped fear, special effects and an ominous theme successfully to create an iconic movie. Jaws went on to be the prototypical summer blockbuster — its release is regarded as a watershed moment in cinema history.

Psycho (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock

Cast: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles

Alfred Hitchcock changed all the rules of the thriller game with Psycho. Infamous for the shower scene, Psycho is now considered a modern work of art — Hitchcock succeeded in filming horror with tact and grace. A young woman makes off with $40,000, hoping to start a new life. She pulls in for the night at the Bates Motel, where the nervous innkeeper tells her that she’s the first guest in weeks. Psycho, now considered one of Hitchcock’s best films, made a new level of violence and sexuality acceptable in films.

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

Lewis Milestone

Cast: Louis Wolheim, Lew Ayres, John Wray and Arnold Lucy

An American war film based on the Erich Maria Remarque’s novel of the same name, All Quiet on the Western Front is a realistic and harrowing account of World War I. Amid the trauma and horror unleashed by the war, a young soldier faces profound cynicism and disenchantment. In June 2008, when AFI announced its 10 Top 10 — the 10 best films in the 10 ‘classic’ American film genres; All Quiet on the Western Front was ranked the seventh-best film in the epic genre.The film was the first to win Academy Awards for both Outstanding Production and Best Director.

The Birds (1963)

Alfred Hitchcock

Cast: Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Suzanne Pleshette

Loosely based on a Daphne du Maurier story of the same name, Hitchcock’s The Birds takes birds and turns them into objects of fear and loathing. When a rich San Francisco socialite follows a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town, little does she know what’s in store. Things slowly get a bizarre touch as birds of all kinds, shapes and sizes suddenly begin to attack people in increasing numbers and with mounting viciousness. For a few days, you’ll never look at a bird and feel safe!

Jurassic Park (1993)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Richard Attenborough, Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern

Jurassic Park is a tense and thrilling ride. Two dinosaur experts receive an invite from an eccentric millionaire to preview a new amusement park that is home to brachiosaurus, triceratops, velociraptors and a T-Rex. A tropical storm knocks out the power supply and an unscrupulous employee sabotages the system. The humans must do all they can to escape the raging dinosaurs on their trail. The film, the highest grossing film produced by Universal, remains a landmark in the use of computer-generated imagery.

The Sting

Director: George Roy Hill

Cast: Paul Newman, Robert Redford

Set in 1936, The Sting follows two professional con men, one of them seeking revenge for the murder of his partner, and how they go about conning a mob boss. The Sting was inspired by real-life con games executed by brothers Fred and Charley Gondorff. The Sting was nominated for 10 Oscars and won seven.

Back to the Future (1985)

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Cast: Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson

Back to the Future follows a teenager who is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-travelling DeLorean invented by his friend, Emmett Brown. He meets his future parents and ends up attracting his to-be-mother’s romantic interest. He must lead his parents-to-be on the path to love and find a way to return to present day.


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