Sometimes in life, we make the mistake of not loving and appreciating the amazing connections we make. We take for granted that special feeling and we never make them feel appreciated. Finally, they get up and walk out the door looking for someone who will appreciate them. Then one day you’re sitting at home alone eating a TV dinner and you find out that the best thing that ever happened to you is now the most famous and beautiful person in the world. Well, it doesn’t only happen in relationships, it can happen in cinema, too. There are many beloved films that have influenced generation after generation but when first released, either failed at the box office or didn’t impress the critics. In some cases it just went unnoticed. Critics and audiences initially despised several films that we love and adore today. However as time went by, views and thoughts on films changed, and the film would find itself being considered a classic. Some films that are highly influential were considered flops. In other cases, it took decades for a film to gain traction and an actor, writer or director of the film would die before the film gained popularity. In most cases due to VHS, DVD and Blu Ray releases, these films were able to find a wider audience and more acceptance.
Now these films are considered important, influential and groundbreaking but at the time of their release they were dismissed and largely forgotten. However, the films were so good that they could not be denied. Here is a look at 16 Awesome Movies Not Appreciated In Their Time.
16) True Romance – September 10, 1993
When Clarence met Alabama, it was love at first gunshot. True Romance revolved around Clarence Worley and Alabama Whitman who meet, fall in love, and get entangled in a violent journey to be together. It was written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Tony Scott. It starred an outstanding cast of Patricia Arquette, Christian Slater, Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman, Val Kilmer, Brad Pitt and Christopher Walken. Tarantino wrote True Romance just as his career as a filmmaker was starting to take off. True Romance received praise from critics for its writing, directing and cast. Despite the positive reviews the film is actually considered to be a failure at the box office. However, since its original release, it has gained a cult following through VHS and DVD. Specifically, a scene between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken known as “the Sicilian Scene”, has been highly praised by fans and critics. True Romance is now considered a cult classic.
15) Brazil – February 22, 1985
Brazil is set in a dystopian world with a totalitarian government in which the world has become reliant on terribly maintained robots. The plot follows Sam Lowry who works a boring job and begins to see a woman in his dreams that he tries to find. Terry Gilliam directed the film and it starred Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Kim Greist, Ian Holm, and Bob Hoskins. The film did fairly well in Europe, but failed at the box office in North America. Executives at Universal didn’t like the dark tones and bleak ending and re-edited it to end on a happier note. Gilliam took out an ad in Variety, urging the studio to release the film and eventually they came to an agreement. The film brought in around $9 million but was made on a budget of $15 million. It was considered a pretty big disappointment at the box office. The film began to gain a cult status after being released on VHS and then DVD. It is now recognized as one of the best sci-fi movies and has been a major influence on other films, such as The Hudsucker Proxy, Tim Burton’s Batman and Sucker Punch.
14) Scarface – December 9, 1983
Scarface revolves around the rise and fall of gangster Tony Montana. It was directed by Brian De Palma and written by Oliver Stone. It starred Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert Loggia. The film did very well at the box office and was considered a pretty big success. However, almost all critics strongly disliked the film and many had issues with the course language and violence. Many critics specifically took issue with a brutal scene in which one of Tony’s friends is cut to pieces with a chainsaw. Notably, film critic Leonard Maltin gave the film a negative review, however Roger Ebert did give the film a positive review. The film was largely dismissed and forgotten by mainstream audiences. It was however, a major success and influence amongst those in Hip Hop or aspirations to be in Hip Hop. Many Hip Hop artists cite the film as important to their culture and reference the film in their music, such as Nas, Mobb Deep and rapper Scarface. It developed a cult following and many critics have changed their opinion in regards to the film. It’s now considered to be an all-time classic gangster film.
13) The Warriors – February 9, 1979
The Warriors follows a street gang, known as The Warriors, who are accused of killing a gang leader and must make a dangerous journey back to their home turf. Walter Hill directed The Warriors, and it starred James Remar, Michael Beck, Dorsey Wright and Deborah Van Valkenburgh. In its initial theatrical run, the film was plagued by violence and vandalism during showings of the film. This caused Paramount to pull back on advertising of the film and released theater owners from the obligation of showing The Warriors. Due to this, many theatres chose not to air the film in order to avoid any more violence. This resulted in the film having a disappointing run at the box office. Many critics strongly disliked the film because of its violence and depiction of street gangs. The film was mostly forgotten but slowly gained popularity due to its standing as a cult classic.
12) Donnie Darko – October 26, 2001
Donnie Darko is like any other teenager; he’s full of teen angst, has a crush on the pretty girl in school, has been having dreams of doomsday, and is a possible time traveller… just a regular teenager. The film revolves around Donnie Darko who has been having strange visions that he attempts to unravel. Richard Kelly directed the film and it starred Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The film had a limited release and received mostly mixed reviews from critics with some feeling that the negative reception was due to its release one month after the 9/11 attacks. The film did poorly at the box office and failed to recoup its losses. Once it completed its theatrical run it was released on DVD. It found a great amount of success after its theatrical run was over and gained a massive cult following. Donnie Darko is now praised for its complex plot, writing and cast.
11) The Big Lebowski – March 6, 1998
The Coen Brothers directed The Big Lebowski and it starred Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore and Tara Reid. The plot followed “The Dude” Jefferey Lebowski, who gets caught up in a case of mistaken identity and must assist a millionaire in finding his missing wife. Upon its original release it garnered mostly mixed reviews and was considered a disappointment at the box office. At the time some critics felt it was a major step down from the massive hit Fargo, which was released in 1996. The Big Lebowski was dismissed by critics and mostly forgotten until it found new life in home video and DVD releases. The film is now considered one of the Coen Brothers’ best works. It developed a cult following and is now praised for its writing, dark comedy and acting. In fact, the film has such a large following that a religion developed based on the philosophy of “The Dude”, known as The Church of Latter-Day Dude or Dudeism. In 2014, the Library of Congress declared the movie “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” and was added to the National Film Registry.
10) Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory – June 30, 1971
When first released, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory was considered a disappointment and didn’t do well at the box office. However, just like that old piece of chocolate that you found in between the sofa cushions, Willy Wonka just got better over time…. okay, that comparison doesn’t really work, but you get the point. The plot revolved around Charlie Bucket who finds a golden ticket and goes on a tour of the chocolate factory, which turns into a wild adventure. Mel Stuart directed the film and it starred Gene Wilder, as Willy Wonka. It was not a success at the box office and only made around $4 million but was made on a budget of $3 million. Later, the film gained a cult following and a surge in popularity due to television broadcasts. In 2007, the film had an even greater surge in popularity when released on DVD and a whole new generation was introduced to Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. In 2014, it was added to the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”
9) Blade Runner – June 25, 1982
Blade Runner is now widely considered to be one of the greatest science fiction movies ever made, but that’s not how it started out. It starred Harrison Ford and was directed by Ridley Scott. Blade Runner takes place in a dystopian future where the Tyrell Corporation has created genetically engineered replicants, which look identical to humans. The plot follows Rick Deckard who is a Blade Runner that is tasked with hunting down a group of replicants who are hiding illegally on earth. When the film was first released it divided movie-goers. Some blame the film’s poor response on interference from the studio. Some audience members enjoyed the intercity and complexities of the plot, while others were displeased with the film’s pace. It didn’t do well at the box office and was considered a disappointment. However, as time went by the film began to gain a cult following. The director’s cut that was released in 1992 helped gain the film a wider popularity. Finally a 2007 version was released with Ridley Scott having complete creative freedom, which helped the film gain even more acceptance as a science fiction classic. In 1993, the film was added to the National Film Registry for preservation.
8) The Rocky Horror Picture Show – August 14, 1975
The Rocky Horror Picture Show follows a young couple whose car breaks down and seeks help from a nearby castle, which is run by an apparent mad scientist. Jim Sharman directed the film and it starred Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick. It’s based on a musical stage play, The Rocky Horror Show. When the film was first released it was dismissed by most critics and was a disappointment at the box office. However, the film was relaunched and played at midnight showings. This would be the start of the film’s rise to cult classic and cultural phenomenon. Audience members began dressing in elaborate costumes, mimed what was on-screen and even began talking back to the screen. This is now common at screenings of the film, which have continued since its release. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is now considered one of the greatest cult films ever made. It was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2005.
7) The Shining – May 23, 1980
Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is now considered an all-time classic and one of the scariest films ever made. However, when first released the feeling was very different. The film follows Jack Torrance and his family as they move into a hotel for the winter as the caretakers. Slowly, Jack descends into madness and attempts to kill his wife and son. The film was based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. At the time of the release the film did poorly at the box office and received almost only negative reviews. Most criticized were the casting choices of Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall; Stephen King was especially critical of both. The Shining was also disliked for its slow pace, which was uncommon with the horror genre at the time. In fact, The Shining was nominated for two Razzie Awards for Worst Director and Worst Actresses. Later, the critics softened, with many pointing out that the slow pace adds to the films appeal. As time passed it became an iconic and legendary film. As of July 2016, the film has not been added to the National Film Registry, which may come as a bit of a surprise. Regardless, it’s now considered one of the best, and most influential, films.
6) Fight Club – October 15, 1999
The first rule of Fight Club is – you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is – you need to watch it more than once. David Fincher directed Fight Club and it starred Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. The story followed the unnamed protagonist who meets the unpredictable Tyler Durgen, and together they start a fight club. Upon its release the film did poorly at the box office. The film was made on a budget of roughly $60 million but made only $37 million at the box office. It also received mixed reviews with some not liking the tone, violence and somewhat bleak ending. However, the film found new life when released on home video and DVD. It soon became a cult classic and continued to grow in popularity. Once the film was made more available to a wider audience it found much more acceptance. The film is now praised for its writing, acting and twist ending. It’s now considered one the best and most influential films made.
5) It’s A Wonderful Life – December 20, 1946
It’s A Wonderful Life was directed by Frank Capra and revolved around George Bailey, played by James Stewart, who had always been there for family and friends, but at the sacrifice of his own dreams. On Christmas Eve he’s on the verge of committing suicide when his guardian angel arrives and shows him what the world would be like if he was never born. It’s widely regarded as a Holiday Classic and one of the greatest movies ever made. However, when it was first released that was not the case.
The film initially received mixed reviews with some feeling that the film had a dark tone. Although it did receive several nominations at the Oscars that year, including Best Picture and Director and won a Technical Award for special effects. It wasn’t a box office flop, but was considered a “major disappointment”. It was made on the budget of $3.18 million and made roughly $3.3 million. The film eventually faded into oblivion until the late 1970s when it started to appear regularly during the holiday season. It ranked number 11 on the AFI 100 Years… 100 Movies list. In 1990, The Library of Congress recognized it as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and was selected for preservation in their National Film Registry.
4) The Shawshank Redemption – September 23, 1994
The Shawshank Redemption revolved around Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, who is convicted of the murder of his wife and her lover. He is sent to Shawshank prison where he befriends Ellis “Red” Redding, played by Morgan Freeman. Frank Darabont directed the film, which is an adaptation of the Stephen King novella, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. Despite receiving several nominations at the Oscars that year, the film was a disappointment at the box office. Even at that time the film was praised for its writing, directing and acting, yet somehow did not connect with its audience. However, the film would find new life and become an iconic and important film. Later, it found success through DVD releases and airings on TV. It’s widely considered one of the greatest films ever made. It was included in AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Movies 10th anniversary. The Library of Congress recognized the film as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” and was added to the National Film Registry for preservation in 2015.
3) Vertigo – May 9, 1958
Vertigo followed John “Scottie” Ferguson who is hired by an acquaintance as a private investigator to follow his wife. Scottie is a retired police detective who suffers from vertigo and an extreme fear of heights. Alfred Hitchcock directed the film and it starred James Stewart. When the film was first released it received mostly mixed reviews from fans and critics. The film underperformed at the box office and didn’t do as well as other Hitchcock films of the past. For the most part the film was dismissed and forgotten by most critics and fans. In fact, Vertigo was one of five Hitchcock films to be removed from circulation in 1972. This may have helped with the film’s appeal.
Since then the opinion of the film has drastically changed. In 1983, the film was re-released in theaters and eventually to home video. As time went by, the film began to be considered one of the greatest films ever made. In 2012, Vertigo replaced Citizen Kane as the number 1 film in the Sight and Sound critics poll. Citizen Kane had held that spot since 1962. Vertigo was declared “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1989.
2) Citizen Kane – September 5, 1941
Citizen Kane revolved around the life of newspaper and business tycoon, Charles Foster Kane. The plot follows a reporter who attempts to uncover the meaning of the famous final words uttered by Charles moments before his death, “Rosebud”. The film uses flashbacks to depict the rise and fall of Charles Kane. Orson Wells wrote, co-produced, directed and starred in the film. The character of Charles Kane was partially inspired by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Hearst did not like the depiction of Kane and used his power, influence and newspapers to prevent the film from any kind of success. Hearst refused to advertise the film in his papers, which hurt it at the box office. At the time, the film was well received by some critics and despised by others. It did poorly at the box office and failed to recoup its losses. It was nominated for several Oscars and won for Best Original Screenplay.
Many felt the film bombed at the box office because of Heart’s influence and because of the dark tone and somewhat bleak ending. Soon the film was forgotten and disappeared from the world. However, in the mid to late-50s, critics and filmmakers began to reevaluate the film. The film has been praised for its writing, cinematography, acting and story. It’s now considered the greatest film ever made. It ranks at number 1 on the AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Movies list. In 1989, the film was one of the first 25 films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
1) The Wizard of Oz – August 25, 1939
The Wizard of Oz tells the story of Dorothy Gale who is transferred from her life in Kansas to the mysterious Land of Oz and must find her way back home. Upon its release the film was well received by critics, however it didn’t perform well at the box office. The Wizard of Oz is well known for its elaborate sets, storytelling, musical numbers, and for its use of Technicolor. Judy Garland received praise for her performance and singing abilities, but the film failed to recoup its losses at the box office. It was made on a budget of $2.7 million but only brought in $3 million. Despite that, it was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars but lost out to Gone With The Wind.
It was largely forgotten and near excitation. It was rereleased a few times after, but it began to gain a massive amount of popularity after it was aired on TV for the first time. CBS aired the film in its entirety for the first time on November 3, 1956, and it was a massive ratings success. It would become a yearly tradition and family event on CBS before moving to NBC. It has since become a cultural phenomenon and is considered to be one of the greatest films ever made.