Top 6: Unfairly Maligned Films

Posted in Top 6 at 8:37 am by Sam

Sometimes a movie hits society at the wrong time or in the wrong way and inspires a tide of negativity that isn’t deserved. We all have different ideas about what movie was underrated or over-attacked, of course, and that makes this an especially subjective topic for Episode 48’s Top 6 segment. But we each came up with six movies that we feel are, in whole or in part, unfairly attacked.

For the most part, we tried to be more concrete with our lists than in our Controversial Take segments. We didn’t just want to come up with any old random movie we like that everybody else hates. We wanted to come up with movies that have accrued very specific unfair criticisms. In a sense, we’re talking more about the criticisms than the movies. Of course, that line is blurry, and we crossed it here and there.

What do you think everybody else is dead wrong about?

As always, we recommend listening to the episode before reading further.

  1. Gone With the Wind (1939)
  2. Fight Club (1999)
  3. Star Wars, Episode One: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  4. The Birds (1963)
  5. Life Is Beautiful (1997)
  6. Crash (2005)
  1. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
  2. Crash (2005)
  3. King Kong (2005)
  4. Schindler’s List (1993)
  5. Titanic (1997)
  6. Shakespeare In Love (1998)


  1. joem18b (231) said,

    August 28, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Elvis Movies - So much was expected from Presley, especially after his initial movies, that the long string of light musical comedies that he made were universally bashed. Many of them are quiet watchable, if you accept them for what they are and just want to sit back and watch Teh King in action.

    Early Adam Sandler movies - They’re all funny to me. The critics gave him no love.

    Oliver Stone movies - Bashed for many reasons. I liked them all (the movies, not the reasons).

    Ebert’s hated movies - On Ebert’s list of dispised movies are Spice Girls, Freddy Got Fingered, Catwoman, Armageddon, and Taste of Cherry. I liked them all and my niece is in Catwoman.

    Younger generation dumping on old classics: As you mentioned, starting to hear complaints about Gone With the End. Why can’t they dump on 2001 instead? What’s next, The Wizard of Oz?

    Speilberg - Munich (2005). Speilberg movie that got more disparagement than either Schindler’s List or Saving Private Ryan.

    Kazan - On the Waterfront (1954). I put this here to represent all the flack Elia Kazan received when the McCarthy era ended, especially for his Oscars. He deserved it but his movies didn’t.

    Fatty Arbuckle - The Hayes office banned all of Arbuckle’s films after he was involved in a scandal.

    1. One-eyed Jacks (1961) - Brando’s only directing job. I’ve watched it multiple times and heard it maligned plenty.

    2. The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) - The God Squad got after this one. Watch it along with Passion of the Christ for an interesting double feature. (See also Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1966).)

    3. Circle of Iron (1978) - Went to the movies. Saw it. Liked it. Then watched Siskell and Ebert. Sparky the Wonder Dog jumped onto the couch to announce the Dog of the Week.

    4. Peeping Tom (1960) - Wrecked Michael Powell’s career.

    5. Phat Girlz (2006) - IMBD 2.2 rating and on the IMDB Bottom 100. A perfectly good little comedy.

    6. Noah’s Ark

    Honorable mention: Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), Jingle All the Way (1996) (Why do so many people dislike this movie?)

  2. Sam (405) said,

    August 28, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    WOW, joem. Was that a serious post? I’d say it was, except you’ve got a couple of masterworks like On the Waterfront and Peeping Tom on there. You think the disparagement of Phat Girlz calls for a righteous crusade to defend its honor? Freddy Got Fingered? Even getting past the real turkeys, there are some I don’t know why they’re worth defending. I liked Jingle All the Way too, but I wouldn’t lift a finger to fight for it.

    I’m one of the “God Squad,” as you call it, that has a problem with The Last Temptation of Christ. But I’ve never heard anybody attack it on its merits as a film, only its portrayal of Jesus as a weak man with sinful desires, something I personally find quite loathsome. So I beg to disqualify that selection on the grounds that it is not attacked for cinematic reasons. I had a similar reaction with Noah’s Ark, but any additional flak it gets on its merits, or lack thereof, as a movie is entirely justified. The first half is laughably cheesy, and the second is an excruciating bore.

    You confuse me, joem. Just when I think I had you figured out, this post comes along, raising awareness of the underappreciated merits of On the Waterfront and Spice World.

  3. joem18b (231) said,

    August 28, 2007 at 9:08 pm


    The Last Temptation of Christ - I apologize for my language. I should have said that when this film opened, it was maligned in some quarters, not for its cinematic values but for its content. To me that seemed unfair, although you obviously disagree.

    On the Waterfront - When I thought about maligned films, the first thing that occured to me was the Blacklist. One of the greatest films ever made, On the Waterfront was not universally hailed when it opened. Why? Because of Kazan’s behavior during the witch hunts. Some viewed the film as his attempt at expiation, but that didn’t get him off the hook. You probably recall the controversy and refused applause when he won a special Oscar. So the film took some flack in lieu of the man.

    Phat Girls - One way to find maligned films is to check out the IMDB Bottom 100. Running my eyes over the list, I saw only one film that I remember enjoying. This one. A perfectly fine little comedy that doesn’t deserve to be down in the 2.2 garbage pail. Just sayin.

    Peeping Tom - Judged a great film now, when it came out Powell was instantly washed up. Unfair?

    Spice Girls, Freddy Got Fingered - Another way to find maligned films is to check out the most-hated list of Roger Ebert, America’s most beloved movie reviewer. Running my eyes over this list, I spotted five movies that weren’t bad, in my estimation. Not classics, but it’s hard cheese to be hated by Ebert, unfairly.

    Noah’s Ark - Just teasing.

    Jingle All the Way - I tried to think of movies that for some reason I hear dissed more often than others, for no obvious reason. Death to Smoochy, for example. “Jingle” is my entry for that list.

  4. Sam (405) said,

    August 29, 2007 at 8:20 am

    Hey, I thought On the Waterfront and Peeping Tom were great picks. And knowing your reasoning helps understand how you came up with the rest. Cool.

  5. Jeffrey (84) said,

    August 29, 2007 at 10:47 am

    I second Peeping Tom.
    Here’s some other choices:
    Straw Dogs, for the infamous double rape scene.
    A Clockwork Orange, banned in the UK by Kubrick himself for alleged copycat violence.
    Dances With Wolves, for beating GoodFellas to the Best Picture and Director Oscars.

  6. Ferrick (140) said,

    August 29, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    Joem mentions Munich but isn’t it more maligned because it is a political movie and not because of the movie itself? And when it comes to the movie, people get upset because they don’t think Spielberg took a stance or think he took a stance against them.

    It is one of those movies maligned by a lot of people who didn’t even see it.

  7. Ferrick (140) said,

    August 29, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    As for Titanic, the backlash to the popularity of a movie is usually pretty lame. Do people just get upset that they liked something that others now dislike so they trample women and children to get off the bandwagon, lest they be seen onboard?

    I saw it while it was still a phenomenon and not the ultra-mega thing that it became, sparking the backlash. We were in a small theatre in a small town with not too many people in the seats. I loved the spectacle and the history and attention to detail but I never liked the story and, while I think Leo is a great actor, could not stand his performance, the character or the dialogue written for him. Because of that, I couldn’t really buy into it. Unlike other movies that I didn’t like at first but eventually grew on me, Titanic didn’t change for me over time.

    Sam uses the spectacle of this movie as one basis for why it deserved Best Picture but I here that same reason as a negative excuse for why movies like Gladiator won. Obviously, spectacle and grandeur’s enhancement of a movie seems to be in the eye of the beholder. If you kind of like a movie, it can make it better in your eyes. If you don’t like the movie, it just becomes a distraction to hide its flaws.

    Top 6 Spectacle movies?

  8. Ferrick (140) said,

    August 29, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    Wow, Stephen’s list is more old-timey than Sam’s in this go-’round.

  9. WarpNacelle (48) said,

    August 31, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    I guess I’ll toss in “Lady in the Water.”

    No, it wasn’t “The Sixth Sense”, there was no “twist”! It was a wonderfully engaging and fanciful story - real modern day mythology which showed that M. Night is first, and foremost, a brilliant storyteller.

  10. Stephen (221) said,

    August 31, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    We’ve talked about this before, so I’ll save my venom, but I can’t disagree more about Lady in the Water. This is one of those rare movies where I just don’t see the other side of the debate: I found almost nothing to like about it, and I am still shocked that other people hold it in high esteem.

    What it showed to me is that Shyamalan is, in fact, a very poor storyteller. He’s a good director, though. I think he should really try directing somebody else’s scripts. For all the comparisons to Hitchcock and Spielberg people make for Shyamalan, neither Hitch or Spielberg wrote their own scripts — and I think Shyamalan should take a cue from them.

  11. WarpNacelle (48) said,

    September 3, 2007 at 1:16 am

    See! SEE! ;)

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