Favorite new-to-me films of 2021

At the end of each year, I think back on my favorite new-to-me film discoveries.

For the past few years, I’ve shared these in just a Twitter thread, but this year, I decided to write a formal blog post. As of Dec. 29, 2021, I have watched 517 feature films. The following or the films I’ve continued to think about long after they were over. The first three may be a tie:

crimson

The Crimson Kimono (1959)
Written and directed by Samuel Fuller
Over the past few years, I have really gotten into director Sam Fuller’s films, and I was blown away by THE CRIMSON KIMONO. The story is powerful but it’s also visually stunning.

that man from rio

That Man From Rio/ L’homme de Rio (1964)
Directed by Philippe de Broca
I watched this in memory of Jean-Paul Belmondo and was left in a glittering haze of a love of cinema — in love with this film, Belmondo and the whole idea of traveling to Rio de Janerio. I daydreamed about this movie the whole next day of watching it. Its thoroughly charming.

dog fight max resolution

Dogfight (1991)
Directed by Nancy Savoca
If you follow me on any social media platform or have spoken with me in person, you’ve heard me mention DOGFIGHT.
As of Dec. 29, 2021, I watched DOGFIGHT six times from May 2021 to the end of the year. Why? I don’t really know – do you have to have a reason for why a film moves you? All I know is that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Don’t just go off the plot description that is given for this film. Watch it for yourself.

smallest show

The Smallest Show on Earth (1957)
Directed by Basil Dearden
This is the sweetest, most charming movies. I love to see real-life married couple Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers act together for starters. And then some of the actors are their co-stars, Margaret Rutherford, Peter Sellers and Bernard Miles. It’s just plain lovely.

come next spring

Come Next Spring (1956)
Directed by R.G. Springsteen
Steve Cochran usually plays a bad dude. And here, he plays a reformed bad dude and I loved it. Come Next Spring is really lovely and visually stunning in Technicolor. Ann Sheridan is also a major highlight in this film, but Steve Cochran’s sensitive performance blew me away.

home of the brave3

Home of the Brave (1949)
Directed by Mark Robson
I didn’t expect to cry as much as I did during this movie. Not only does HOME OF THE BRAVE look at racial tensions with Black and White soldiers serving in World War II, but it also looks at the complicated emotions of soldiers when their friends are killed in action. James Edwards is not recognized enough as an actor and he shines here.

no regrets

No Regrets for Our Youth/Waga seishun ni kuinashi (1946)
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
An incredible film that left me speechless. I was blown away. Actress Setsuko Hara is always wonderful, but I enjoyed seeing her play a different type of character than I’m used to seeing. Hara’s character is complex and transforms from a selfish, conflicted youth to a woman who sacrifices her life and reputation for a loved one.

here i am stranger3

Here I am a Stranger (1939)
Directed by Roy Del Ruth
This was my favorite new-to-me film from 1939 of this year. Richard Dix gave an emotional and sensitive performance of a father who reconnects with his son after many years. I also loved seeing Brenda Joyce play against type.
My full review here.

tickle me 7

Tickle Me (1965)
Directed by Norman Taurog
Have you ever remembered a movie scene that you watched as a child but you never knew what it was? Watching Tickle Me solved that mystery for me this year—I remembered Elvis and a woman in a haunted house and never knew what it was. Tickle Me is wacky and ridiculous, but it also made me laugh more than any other new-to-me movie I watched this year. Sometimes a feel good silly film is needed at the right moment. A movie doesn’t have to be the best, most serious Academy Award winner to find its way on a list like this. Shout out to my friend Nikki who loves this film. My full review here.

St. Louis Blues

St. Louis Blues (1958)
Directed by Allen Reisner
After wanting to see this film for years, I was happy to finally discover this musical. It’s interesting to see Nat King Cole in a lead performance, when he generally only appeared as a specialty act in feature films. This film is chock full of musical performances, and Eartha Kitt naturally steals the show. My full review here.

mad

Madeleine (1950)
Directed by David Lean
Why did I put off watching this film for so long? This had me on the edge of my seat, and also feeling heartbroken for Madeleine’s suiter, Mr. Minnoch. Even more interesting that this is based on a true story.

green for

Green for Danger (1946)
Directed by Sidney Gilliat
This “whodunit” had me guessing until the very end of the film. Thoroughly enjoyable, and Alastair Sim was wonderful (per usual).

magnificent

The Magnificent Dope (1942)
Directed by Walter Lang
I didn’t know what to expect from THE MAGNIFICENT DOPE, and judging by the title, I feared it would be an irritating, zany comedy. Far from it. Don Ameche as a bullish, unsuccessful business man and lazy Henry Fonda gets caught up in his success scheme when he wins the “biggest failure” contest. Both are in love with Lynn Bari. It sounds silly but it works in a charming way.

Heres-to-the-young-lady-still-1

Here’s to the Young Lady/Ojôsan kanpai (1949)
Directed by Keisuke Kinoshita
What a joy! This lovely romantic comedy made me laugh and left me feeling wistful.

strange

Strange Bargain (1949)
Directed by Will Price
Martha Scott and Jeffrey Lynn? Sign me up! I thought this was an exciting film noir with interesting twists. Now I need to watch the follow-up “Murder, She Wrote” episode.

song of the open road3

Jackie Moran, Bonita Granville, Jane Powell in SONG OF THE OPEN ROAD

Song of the Open Road (1944)
Directed by S. Sylvan Simon
This was the only Jane Powell film I hadn’t seen, and after she died I sought it out. It may be low budget, but I had such fun watching it. The film begins with teens riding bikes and singing and I was charmed at that moment. My full review here.

under pup3

The Under-Pup (1939)
Directed by Richard Wallace
This was another favorite 1939 new-to-me film discovery. I haven’t seen many Gloria Jean films, because they can be difficult to access. My full review here.

Honorable Mention
Films I loved but didn’t quite make the favorites list
Rembrandt (1936)
Convicts 4 (1962)
The Lovers (1958)
Invitation to Happiness (1939)
Murder at the Vanities (1934)
Seven Keys to Baldpate (1929)
Tennessee Champ (1954)
Crooks and Coronets (1969)
As Long as They’re Happy (1955)

I joined Letterboxd this year, so if you’d like to see my thoughts on other films I watch, you can find me here: https://letterboxd.com/HollywoodComet/

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page, follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet or e-mail at cometoverhollywood@gmail.com

2 thoughts on “Favorite new-to-me films of 2021

  1. A great list and isn’t it fun to discover films for yourself. There’s always another one waiting. I’ve seen only 4 of these so thanks for the leads. Smallest Show on Earth a real gem but not surprising considering all those involved. Cheers and Happy New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

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