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Mark Juddery

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Movies Ready for Reassessment

Posted: 08/07/2012 6:19 pm

So Vertigo -- a 1957 flop that was greeted with bad reviews ("another Hitchcock-and-bull story") -- is now apparently the greatest film every made. It has beaten the long-standing champion, Citizen Kane -- also a flop when it was released in 1941. Both of these films were made in the Hollywood studio system, so Hollywood isn't all bad -- and even the "greatest" films aren't always hits. You probably know that Blade Runner, Fight Club and It's a Wonderful Life were not successful when they were first released, but the same is true of classics in every decade. Even going back to the 1920s (The General, Pandora's Box), future classics would be dissed by critics and dismissed by audiences. What movie will we next be reassessed? Ignoring foreign arthouse films (which is a topic for another article), here are some American movies from the past 20 years, either ignored or badly reviewed (or both), that might one day be reevaluated as misunderstood classics. Or at least, much better than we thought they were.


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The musical, starring a teenaged Christian Bale as an 1890s newsboy in New York, sank without trace when it was released in 1992. Twenty years later, it has been turned into an unexpected Broadway hit, loved by critics and audiences alike. When a movie flop becomes a Broadway success, you can’t help but reassess the movie, which had the same story and most of the same Alan Mencken songs (including the one in this clip, "I'm Shipping Up To Boston"). Still, being the toast of Broadway doesn’t always work. It's hard to believe that movie critics will ever consider Xanadu to be a masterpiece. The difference: Newsies, in hindsight, wasn't such a bad film.
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