68°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Leap day a good time for classic film binge

Updated February 26, 2020 - 3:11 pm

It only comes around every four years. Like Americans’ interest in competitive swimming. Or the caucus system, a relic that was more appropriate centuries ago when it gave far-flung neighbors the chance to spend time together before they all died of consumption.

Saturday is leap day, a bonus 24 hours that you wouldn’t otherwise have. (That’s not really the way leap day works — Feb. 29 is technically just March 1 under a different name — but, for the purposes of this column, please play along.)

You could use that time for a little spring cleaning, but that requires effort. Why not spend those bonus hours clearing off some of those movies that have been gathering dust at the bottom of your streaming queue?

You know, the ones that might be a little heavy or a bit slow. The ones you figure you should see someday but just haven’t been able to motivate yourself to watch.

Some of these might feel a bit like being forced to eat vegetables as a kid, but they can be almost as good for you.

“Gone With the Wind” (1939)

One of the most popular movies of all time, it’s apparently a favorite of our “Parasite”-dissing president. But it’s also four hours long, which means there’s a very good chance you haven’t seen it in its entirety. The Civil War epic is wildly problematic when viewed through a modern lens, considering its views on race and the fact that there’s a pretty good chance Rhett raped Scarlett after that stairway scene. It’s still the sort of thing that should be seen once. Once.

"Gone With the Wind' (credit MGM)
"Gone With the Wind' (credit MGM)

“Citizen Kane” (1941)

It’s widely considered the greatest movie ever made, as well as one of the most influential. That feat is made even more astonishing by the fact that Orson Welles — its producer, director, co-writer and star — had just turned 25 when filming began. Relax: The fact that you already know Rosebud is a sled won’t affect things in the least.

Orson Welles co-wrote, directed and stars in "Citizen Kane" (1941), considered to be among the ...
Orson Welles co-wrote, directed and stars in "Citizen Kane" (1941), considered to be among the best movies ever made.

“Rebel Without a Cause” (1955)

James Dean was only 24 when he was killed in a car wreck, and he left behind just three movies. It was his performance here as troubled teenager Jim Stark that made him an icon.

James Dean (File photo)
James Dean (File photo)

“Some Like It Hot” (1959)

Speaking of screen legends, this one could serve as an introduction to three of them: Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and late longtime Las Vegan Tony Curtis. Sure, the idea of Lemmon and Curtis posing as women to hide from the mob as part of an all-female jazz band sounds lame. But the result is far deeper than that: It’s one of the best comedies of all time.

Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon appear in "Some Like It Hot." (File photo)
Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon appear in "Some Like It Hot." (File photo)

“Chinatown” (1974)

Everybody needs a little film noir in their lives. Look past the fact that it was the last film Roman Polanski directed before he fled to Europe in disgrace and enjoy Jack Nicholson as private investigator J.J. Gittes, the role that cemented his status as a leading man. It’s a testament to the film, and its legendary script by Robert Towne, that something centered on California water rights could be this compelling.

Jack Nicholson in "Chinatown" (Paramount Pictures)
Jack Nicholson in "Chinatown" (Paramount Pictures)

“Lost in Translation” (2003)

Writer-director Sofia Coppola’s minimalist, existential love letter to Tokyo and loneliness may be the closest Bill Murray will come to winning an Oscar. He’s simply terrific as the aging actor stuck in a hotel while filming a whiskey commercial. “Lost in Translation” introduced the world to a 17-year-old Scarlett Johansson, as Murray’s co-star and fellow insomniac.

Scarlett Johansson, left, and Bill Murray in "Lost in Translation." (Yoshio Sato/Focus Features)
Scarlett Johansson, left, and Bill Murray in "Lost in Translation." (Yoshio Sato/Focus Features)

“Fruitvale Station” (2013)

Nobody will argue that this account of the real-life shooting death of Oscar Grant at the hands of a Bay Area transit cop is a good time — at least not anyone you’d want to know. But the powerful, heartbreaking film marked the feature debut of writer-director Ryan Coogler as well as the beginning of his collaboration with Michael B. Jordan that continued in “Creed” and “Black Panther.”

This film publicity image released by The Weinstein Company shows Michael B. Jordan in a scene ...
This film publicity image released by The Weinstein Company shows Michael B. Jordan in a scene from "Fruitvale Station." From "12 Years a Slave" to "The Butler" to "Fruitvale Station," 2013 has been a banner year for movies directed by black filmmakers. (AP Photo/The Weinstein Company, Ron Koeberer)

“The Cove” (2009) and “Blackfish” (2013)

You can’t have a list of movies that people put off watching without including at least a couple of documentaries. These marine-themed films will make sure you never look at animals in captivity the same way.

"Blackfish" (File photo)
"Blackfish" (File photo)

Pretty much any Alfred Hitchcock movie between “The 39 Steps” (1935) and “The Birds” (1963)

Don’t be afraid of old movies! There are some true masterpieces you definitely should know in here, including the biggies: “Psycho,” “Rear Window,” “Vertigo” and “North by Northwest.”

Director Alfred Hitchcock has a word with actress Kim Novak in this undated file photo on the s ...
Director Alfred Hitchcock has a word with actress Kim Novak in this undated file photo on the set of his 1958 film "Vertigo". (AP Photo/Paramount)

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
John Prine, country-folk singer, dies at 73 - VIDEO
John Prine died due to complications caused by COVID-19 at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee on April 7. The singer-songwriter is counted as one the favorite artists by the likes of Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars furloughing about 90% of US workers
The furloughs come amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has prompted all U.S. commercial casinos to temporarily shut their doors.
Bill Withers, soul legend and 'Lean on Me' singer, dead at 81 - VIDEO
Bill Withers' family said he died of heart complications on Monday in Los Angeles. Withers was a three-time Grammy winner. His other major hits include “Ain’t No Sunshine" and “Lovely Day.” (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas KatsWalk: From the Mandalay Bay to Excalibur - VIDEO
Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes walks and talks along the Las Vegas Strip, from Mandalay Bay to Excalibur. (John Katsilometes and Kevin Cannon / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Make Ivan Grant's Quarantini - VIDEO
Ivan Grant, a flair bartender at Long Bar at The D Las Vegas, makes his Quarantini. (Ivan Grant)
Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger dies from coronavirus - VIDEO
According to Variety, 52-year-old frontman and songwriter Adam Schlesinger has died, following a short battle with the respiratory illness, coronavirus. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
KATS WALK: A walking tour on south Las Vegas Strip – VIDEO
RJ columnist John Katsiometes takes a walking tour of the south end of the Las Vegas Strip. (John Katsiometes and Kevin Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tiger King character has Las Vegas connection - VIDEO
Entertainment reporter John Katsilometes talks about the popular "Tiger King" and Jeff Lowe, a central figure in the Netflix documentary phenomenon who wanted to do business with the last Las Vegas Strip entertainer to use wild tigers in his act. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Coranavirus victim Howard Berman playing the harmonica in April 2014 - VIDEO
Howard Berman, 66, playing the harmonica at a jam session in April 2014. Berman, who was active in the Las Vegas music community, died on March 24, 2020, from COVID-19. (Diana Andriola)
Boarded-up businesses in the Arts District add some color - VIDEO
Businesses in the Arts District have commissioned local artists to paint murals on the boards covering their doors and windows. When the boards are removed, they will be auctioned off to raise money for those affected by the coronavirus shutdowns. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sold-out Electric Daisy Carnival still scheduled for May - VIDEO
In a post on his social media platforms, festival founder Pasquale Rotella confirmed that EDC remains scheduled for May 15-17 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway despite coronavirus concerns that have sideline scads of other live music events. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
City of Las Vegas responds to calls to allow restaurants offering curbside pickup
Alcohol is now allowed in curbside meal pickups in Las Vegas. The city of Las Vegas has responded to calls to allow restaurants offering curbside pickup service to include alcohol in those meals. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lady Gaga delays new album release - VIDEO
The pop star was planning to drop her sixth LP, "Chromatica," on April 10, but she's made the "tough decision" to push back the launch following the coronavirus outbreak. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ways to keep yourself from going crazy at home during coronavirus - VIDEO
Take art classes with your kids. Install a bidet. Practice yoga. Buy houseplants. Catch up your streaming queue. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas nightclub giant Hakkasan Group lays off 1,600 - VIDEO
The Las Vegas Strip’s leading nightlife company has let go of nearly its entire workforce, leaving about 1,600 staffers suddenly unemployed, due to the shutdowns during the coronavirus crisis. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Disneyland closes in response to coronavirus - VIDEO
Walt Disney Company announced the closure of its Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, on Thursday afternoon. Known as the "happiest place on earth," Disneyland has closed its doors only three other times in 65 years. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts to temporarily close buffets amid coronavirus fears - VIDEO
MGM Resorts International will temporarily close its Las Vegas buffets, effective Sunday amid growing coronavirus fears. (Al Mancini and James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morimoto tackles Italian cooking at Eataly Las Vegas
Masaharu Morimoto showed off his skills in a slightly different context Thursday night, when he dropped by Manzo in Eataly to launch the Italian restaurant’s new Guest Chef series. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Terry Fator leaving Mirage on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
The 11-year Las Vegas Strip headliner is on a venue hunt, confirming Wednesday he is leaving his eponymous theater at The Mirage this summer for parts uncharted. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Garth Brooks to play first concert at Allegiant Stadium - VIDEO
Country megastar Garth Brooks is the first non-football event announced for the $2 billion, 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Post Malone reveals his face tattoos are due to being 'ugly' - VIDEO
In a new interview with 'GQ,' the 24-year-old admitted his body art is linked to insecurity issues. [The face tattoos do] maybe come from a place of insecurity, to where I don’t like how I look .., Post Malone, via 'GQ'. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 Las Vegas chefs to watch - VIDEO
If you want to know what’s next for dining in Las Vegas, we suggest paying close attention to these five accomplished chefs. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Slanted Door in The Forum Shops at Caesars - VIDEO
The Slanted Door, Charles Phan's James Beard Award-winning modern Vietnamese restaurant, will open a Las Vegas location on March 2. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas REview-Journal)
Buddy V opens PizzaCake at Harrah’s - VIDEO
Buddy Valastro, aka Cake Boss Buddy V, is in town this week overseeing the soft opening of his new restaurant, PizzaCake, in Harrah’s Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making mist-shrouded tuna poke at Marssa at the Westin Lake Las Vegas - VIDEO
E.J. Estrella, banquet chef at Marssa at the Westin Lake Las Vegas, makes tuna poke by mixing chunks of bigeye tuna with sliced green onions, julienned white onions and house-made poke sauce and serving it on a bed of seaweed salad garnished with lotus chips and suspended over melon-scented mist. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making baked goat cheese at Ri Ra in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Shea Wafford, sous chef and pastry chef at Ri Ra at The Shoppes at Mandalay Place in Las Vegas, makes baked goat cheese served with honey-nut pesto, pickled red onions, peppadew relish and sourdough baguette. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bruce Kalman cooking at Ada’s - VIDEO
Celebrity chef Bruce Kalman will be cooking at Ada's in Tivoli Village in Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making banana cream pie at Cut in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Nicole Earl, pastry chef at Cut at the Palazzo in Las Vegas, makes an updated banana cream pie by layering banana ice cream, custard and compote with house-made Cool Whip, vanilla wafers and 24-karat gold leaf in a milk chocolate sphere and drizzling it with warm banana-caramel sauce so it devolves into petals. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making Chile Colorado at Kitchen Table and Kitchen Table Squared in Las Vegas
Javier Chavez, chef/owner of Kitchen Table and Kitchen Table Squared in Las Vegas, makes Chile Colorado by braising pork belly with three kinds of peppers and serving it atop stewed black beans with crema and pickled jalapeño, carrots and onions, with flour tortillas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Tap introduces its vegan CrazyShake - VIDEO
Black Tap at The Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip has a new CrazyShake that's vegan -- The Black ’N White CakeShake. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST