Five awesome classic films you can watch in under 90 minutes

March 31, 2016
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It’s a good rule of thumb when producing any piece of fiction – be it visual or otherwise – that every moment should either contribute to the overall product as a plot or character beat, or as a thematic thread to deepen the intended meaning of the story. Some movies, like many recent Christopher Nolan efforts, take upwards of two pee breaks to cram all this relevant information in. These ones do it in under 90 minutes.

Freaks (1932) – 64 Minutes

This film centres on a woman who marries the leader of a bunch of sideshow performers, who all take revenge on her after they find out she only married him for his money. It garnered a lot of controversy upon release for not only using real circus ‘freaks’, but also for making the audience more sympathetic towards them than towards the main characters. Tod Browning, who’d directed the iconic Dracula only a year before, had his career irreparably damaged by the boycotting and banning of this wonderfully disturbing film, and consequently left Hollywood in 1939. Don’t let the age put you off, as Freaks remains thought-provoking entertainment even in this day and age.

Where you can watch it: The entire film is on YouTube.

Dumbo (1941) – 64 Minutes

A Disney classic, this film’s about an elephant with oversized ears who is teased mercilessly until he finds out that he can use his ears to fly. One of the shortest -- and one of the sweetest -- in Disney’s illustrious canon, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who’s never at least seen a little footage from this classic. The runtime feels right for the story, and at no point does it overstay its welcome or bore the audience. Dumbo brings a whole lot of heart to even the parts that haven’t very aged well. Like the Jim Crows. Yikes.

Where you can watch it: The DVD is currently out of the Disney vault, so is at most major DVD retailers.

Airplane! (1980) – 87 Minutes

Lord knows why, but the name of this Leslie Neilson spoof flick was changed to Flying High for Australian audiences. Name change aside, Airplane! continues to be a pun-filled blast. It tells the story of an ex-military pilot who tries to land a plane he’s travelling on after there’s an outbreak of food poisoning on-board. Although the ridiculously specific genre parody (1970s airport disaster movies) is outdated -- as are some jokes -- perhaps the best thing about Airplane! is that no matter how many times you’ve seen it, you’ve probably missed a gag.

Where you can watch it: It’s available on DVD at JB Hi-Fi under the name Flying High.

Stand By Me (1986) – 88 minutes

Stand By Me, easily one of the best coming-of-age stories, joined the annals of great Stephen King adaptations when it was released, and it’s enjoyed a solid reputation to this day. It can proudly sit beside a masterpiece like The Shawshank Redemption thanks to the wit, pathos and honesty of Raynold Gideon’s screenplay and Rob Reiner’s direction. This simple story of a group of boys journeying to find a dead body is bursting with great performances from young stars such as Corey Feldman, Wil Wheaton and River Phoenix. A worthy watch indeed.

Where you can watch it: The DVD is widely circulated and should be available at most major outlets.

Run Lola Run (1998) – 81 Minutes

This German film, originally titled Lola Rennt, is a brilliantly inventive look at three different scenarios that may await Lola (Franka Potente) as she races against the clock to come up with 100,000 DM (around AU$75,000) in the space of 20 minutes. No wonder she’s running.

The film is beautifully photographed and edited, showing the various consequences of Lola’s actions on both herself and those she comes into contact with in seamlessly integrated style. It’s a masterclass movie from beginning to end.

Where you can watch it: Most entertainment stores with a foreign film section are likely to house this one. If not, there are plenty of copies on eBay.

Ally Jurgens

Ally is a uni student who is shockingly good at remembering facts no one cares about involving TV shows and films. She also writes a bit.

Image: Dumbo official Facebook page