The new thriller Unforgettable that opens tomorrow looks like a retread of many obsessive marital, extra-marital Fatal Attraction movies that we see at least 5 of per year. These movies are made so often, and so forgettable (hopefully this movie will live up to it’s title, but I’m not holding my breath), that we forget the movies that really have taken us to the depths of the disaster that can be caused by jealousy and obsession. Here are the best ones that I’ve seen.
10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
“Mirror, mirror on the wall.” The evil queen’s obsession with youth and beauty drag her to the most evil extremes to keep her self-deceptions of her own importance alive.
9. King Kong (1933)
“It wasn’t the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast.” It is the Beauty that King Kong is after through the whole movie, wreaking havoc because of his obsession, putting her in grave and eventually getting himself killed because of his obsession with the Beauty.
8. Whiplash (2014)
Andrew’s obsession with musical greatness costs him every relationship he has, demands that he subject himself to an abusive conductor, and dominates every aspect of his life. He defends his obsession by comparing himself to Charlie Parker, yet the movie keeps telling us that Charlie Parker died in his 30s of a drug overdose and his obsession never fulfilled him. The movie finishes with his moment of Charlie Parker greatness, telling us that without a complete rejection of his obsessiveness, the rest of his life will be like the last years of Charlie Parker’s.
7. The Blue Angel (1930)
Immanuel Rath (Emil Jannings) is a respected college professor who shuns the decadence around him. When in a situation where he’s unable to avoid a lounge singer (probably prostitute, but a 1930 movie won’t tell us that), he is driven mad my his unwanted attraction toward her that turns into an obsession that destroys him.
6. Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)
Obsessed with a brief moment in her younger life, Lisa (Joan Fontaine) writes to Stephan (Louis Jourdan), the man she claimed to love and be betrayed by, but he didn’t know who she was. The letter (and the movie) opens with her statement that she will be dead by the time he receives it. He receives the letter only to develop his own obsession, trying to remember who she was.
What begins as a pursuit to make honest, needed money turns into a hunger that can never be satisfied. Once one of the characters finds gold, the only things that matter are protecting what he thinks is his and getting more. He’s willing to betray his friends, willing to die, and willing to kill to make those things happen.
4. Black Swan (2010)
Ballet carries with it a need for perfection. It is hard not to enter that world without developing an obsession. Nina’s (Natalie Portman’s) is very specific. She’s auditioning for Swan Lake, and she already knows she’s perfect for the White Swan but that she’s got a long ways to go to be perfect as the Black Swan. We watch as she digs into the darkest parts of her own soul in order to become the perfect Black Swan.
3. Amadeus (1984)
Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) is insanely jealous with Mozart’s talent, angry with God for not giving him the same abilities He gave Mozart, and bitter with the world for not being what he wants it to be, but mostly Salieri is ashamed of himself. The only way he can find to deal with that shame is to take it out on Mozart. As he is driven mad, he tries to drive Mozart mad. When he thinks he would be better off dead, he plots to kill Mozart first.
Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) is so obsessed with the actress Margo Channing (Bette Davis) that she wants to be her. She studies her every gesture, wears her clothes, walks like her, talks like her, and eventually acts like her on the stage to the ruin of other careers, relationships, and lives.
Former silent movie star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) has only one reason to keep living, the hope that she might get to make another movie. This hope is unrealistic for many reasons, but it drives her to delusions of grandeur and murder.