Publicists declare each film release “Great.” But what about films with GREAT in the Title?

What’s the first film that comes to mind? The Great Train Robbery? After all that’s considered the first film (with a plot) that was ever released.

There are dozens of films with Great in the title but we naturally are going to stick with ones we consider to be classics — or at least good old films still worth a look.

Let’s start with one of Joe’s favorites, The Great McGinty. This is the 1940 comedy written and directed by Preston Sturges and the first in his series of superior films with his “stock” company at Paramount in the early 40s. It stars Brian Donlevy and Akim Tamiroff, one of very favorite character actors. And it’s about corrupt politicians. Sound current?

That same year Chaplin released The Great Dictator and it remains a classic. His imitation of Hitler and Jack Oakie’s imitation of Mussolini are priceless. The ending is a bit weak, but let’s give the genius some slack on this one. After all World War II was still raging and the outcome was still in doubt at the time. The fact that he made such a daring film is spectacular enough. It is a testament to the power of good filmmaking.

The Bette Davis/George Brent/Mary Astor programmer The Great Lie is by no means a classic but shows what top actresses of the screen can do with a corny script to make it compelling.

The 1950s gave us The Great Caruso. Predictable story line but wonderful technicolor and the voice of Mario Lanza and the beauty of Ann Blyth.

The Great movie of the 1960s is, of course, The Great Escape.

More recent films we might suggest include The Great White Hope, The Great Santini and The Great Muppet Caper. 

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