10 Classic Films Critics Originally Hated

"There's no need to see this version of The Thing" - Roger Ebert's original review.

The Thing
Universal Pictures

They say no opinion's truly right or wrong, making the job of posting an opinion rather questionable. Ideally, critics get paid for their views due to a studious, well-versed education in film that the standard viewer typically lacks. There is, after all, a titanic difference between a review penned by the likes of Roger Ebert and that of the typical IMDb commenter.

The old concept of critics being able to either make or break a film via the power of opinion is rather over-stated, particularly these days. While heavy duty praise can help elevate a smaller scale feature (just as scathing hatred can damage a major one's reputation from the get go), the ultimate, historical impact of reviews is mostly minor.

Great films cruelly torn a new one in their day may find new light and reinterpretation years later. In turn, a new reception is formed and a movie once considered the utmost trash suddenly finds itself as a beloved classic, tragically misunderstood in its own time. Along with reappraisal, some classics were always gems as far as the audience was concerned with critics simply taking their time in catching up.

10. It's A Wonderful Life (1946)

The Thing
Paramount Pictures

Many critics believed Hollywood titan Frank Capra had lost his mojo with this Christmas extravaganza. Released shortly after the end of World War II, It's A Wonderful Life was intended as an uplifting, life-affirming drama. Instead, it was widely dismissed as saccharine and cheesy with many struggling to take its sentimentality seriously.

Even the FBI got their digs in thanks to Lionel Barrymore's villainous, Scrooge-incarnate performance as the banker Mr Potter. With the Cold War gearing up already, the Bureau claimed that the Potter character was an example of Communist propaganda designed to incite distrust and even hatred towards the upper class.

The poor reviews added to the film's box office setbacks, with it not even approaching breaking even. Despite several Academy Award nominations, the film ultimately fell by the wayside for many years until its entry into the public domain. With its broadcast unencumbered by royalties and licensing, it reached a wide audience on the small screen from 1976 onwards.

With the benefit of hindsight, Capra's personal favourite effort was reappraised as arguably the greatest and most important holiday film out there.


John Cunningham hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.