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January 04, 2007



more recent, but I love "Marie Antoinette;" it's a little slow, but sitting with glazed eyes staring at the costumes usually fills in the gaps. :)

Bill West

"The Man Who Would Be King" is my all time favorite historical drama followed closely by "The Lion in Winter".But I have a shameless addiction to pirate movies since I saw Errol Flynn duel Basil Rathbone along the beach in "Captain Blood". I know, I know, not historically accurate stuff but I plead exposure to it at age 7. I was too young to know better and by the time I did it was too late. Countless Sunday afternnoon showings of Errol Flynn movies had me hooked. John Wayne movies too.

Oh..and all those Italian Hercules movies but for a different reason. The English dubbed dialogue never fails to crack me up.

Ah, the shame!


Shenandoah the Jimmy Stewart western about the civil war must be a candidate partly because its so good about the sadness of war and the heartbreak that that causes in people. One film you've forgotten though it does have glaring historical inaccuracies is Bergman's Seventh Seal- its an amazing film the scenes where a witch is burnt alone make it one of the great depictions of history around.


This is the fun of a subjective list with nebulous - if explicit - criteria. There is no costume flick section of your local Blockbuster store. Westerns, Action / Adventure, Drama and Comedy are all possible sources for the genre. Those that are strictly war movies aren't quite what I had in mind - otherwise Breaker Morant, the Cruel Sea, and a host of other worthy films would jostle for position on my list.

fb - Gangs and Ballad of Little Jo are excellent films and most certainly fit. I considered another that you introduced me to and it almost made the cut - Babette's Feast. (I owe you a profound debt for the music of Richard Thompson, too.) As for Meet Me in St. Louis, you make me rethink my timeline (more reflective of my period biases than the end of costume romance). Fred and Ginger would sweep back into view as well, although they stand as part of the historic record of the 30s rather a nostalgic look back at their own era.

Dan - High adventure and a period look are perhaps my prime criteria. O Brother is a treasure and certainly deserving of consideration. The Mission is EXACTLY the kind of film that sparked this post. A River Runs Through It works as well, though I agree with fuzzyturtle that it was hard to admire the storm lashed rigging with Brad Pitt at the helm. I feel the same way about Daniel Day Lewis endlessly running leatherstocked through the wilderness in Last of the Mohicans. I might add that the mountains of North Carolina are geologically and botanically NOT the great northern forest above Fort Edward. Mind you, towering cliffs at tidewater Yorktown were laughably out of place in the utterly contempable Revolution.

Life of Brian and Holy Grail...what to do about these farcical, excessive glories? On the plus side, they have achieved the cult status that some of the best costume epics command, and Brian in particular feels like the real time and place (thanks to George Harrison financing the film). Comedy can work in costume flicks (Tom Jones and Musketeers), but sheer absurdity deserves its own subcategory in the genre. I would add King of Hearts to such a list. Probably not Robinhood: Men in Tights. Tough call.

FT - Karate Flicks were inexcusably slighted. Seven Samuri and Ran would be my top choices. As for eye candy, Montgomery Cliff simply smolders in Red River.

Now, who wants to stand up for HBO's Deadwood and Rome? Gritty, coarse and drenched in blood and exposed flesh, there is no denying their success at capturing the feel of their periods and presenting memorable characters. I have enjoyed both, but I tend toward a lighter touch with my choice of costume flicks.

Thanks for the comments and keep them coming!

Dan Trabue

Huh! One of the reasons I liked "River..." was because I thought it was pretty true to the book.

Or maybe it was just that I liked the book so much that I was pre-inclined to like the movie?


"Enter the Dragon ". I like karate flicks. :)

"A River Runs Thru It" (mentioned in replies) seemed to be a different movie than the book as I remember it. Kind of like "The Natural", which was supposed to be a morality play (we read alot of Malamud in high school. "Damn Pengiuns" as the Blues Brothers would say). Its as if the screenwriter MISSED THE POINT of the book. What is it with Robert Redford and rewriting stories...??

but I didn't notice the costumes. Brad Pitt kept distracting me .. haha.

Dan Trabue

On a serious note, would "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" fit in to this category? It's one of my favorite movies, period and it seems to me to be a faithful recollection of the time period.

"The Mission" and "A River Runs Through It" would be my other two additions.

LOVE all three of those movies.

Dan Trabue

One of my alltime favorite lines from such a film is no less than John Wayne as the soldier at the foot of the cross in The Greatest Story Ever Told, where he utters in his own John Wayne drawl, "Ah truly, this was the sonofGod!"

But that is more for its grand awful-ness than enjoyment.

Dan Trabue

You have a couple of glaring oversights in the twin Python costume flicks: Holy Grail and Life of Brian.


I have to confess to having a soft spot for Gangs of New York, despite its flaws. I also like The Ballad of Little Jo.

It just misses your cut-off dates, but I've also got a secret fetish for Meet Me in St. Louis. It's one of my comfort films.

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