So you consider yourself a real

cineaste

, a regular Anthony Lane.

You fear the idiocy of the upcoming summer movie season. You know the most famous directors and own their most famous films.

But frankly, Scarlett Johansson, that ain't worth a damn. If you really want to win friends in nerdy glasses and influence coffeehouse conversations, buy these less well-known classics by the masters (all available on DVD), and flaunt them in your

entertainment unit for maximum effect.

Robert Altman

Everyone owns:

M*A*S*H

(1970);

McCabe and Mrs. Miller

(1971);

Nashville

(1975);

The Player

(1992);

Short Cuts

(1993);

Gosford Park

(2001)

You get:

California Split

(1974)

The iconoclastic, overlapping-dialoguing Altman is justly beloved as the most fluid and adventurous of moviemakers; this funny-sad tale of two gamblers on a spree is his most criminally overlooked film. And it's nice to recall a time when a quirky guy like Elliott Gould could be a leading man.

Wes Anderson

Everyone owns:

Rushmore

(1999),

The Royal Tenenbaums

(2001)

You get:

Bottle Rocket

(1996)

The reigning king of oddball comedies dropped a dud with his last effort, the uninvolving, unfunny

Life Aquatic with Steve Zizzou

, and his American Express ad is as annoying as Robert DeNiro's is pretentious. But Anderson's little-seen, pitch-perfect debut is an oddly moving treat that's a sharp exploration of male friendship. And it introduced the world to the winningly slack humor of brothers Luke and Owen Wilson.

Joel and Ethan Coen

Everyone owns:

Raising Arizona

(1987);

Fargo

(1996);

Barton Fink

(1991);

The Big Lebowski

(1998)

You get:

Miller's Crossing

(1990)

You've got a genre; the Coen brothers have a fresh take on it. Love them or hate them, the Coens always spin something new out of an old form, and

Miller's Crossing

revitalized the gangster flick with zinging retro patter and complex plotting. It features arguably the finest performances of Gabriel Byrne and John Turturro's careers, and showcased Marcia Gay Harden before her Academy Award-winning turn in

Pollock

.

Francis Ford Coppola

Everyone owns:

The Godfather

(1972);

The Godfather, Part II

(1974);

Apocalypse Now

(1979)

You get:

The Conversation

(1974)

Following the triumph of

The Godfather, Part II

, Coppola released this dense, unnerving thriller concerning privacy, power and paranoia (it was the Watergate era) that's no less rich or involving. Few films have ever used the medium's potential so fully or so well, and the ending promises to creep you out for weeks. (For advanced film geeks only: Brian DePalma's later

Blow Out

basically weaves together the plot of this film and Michelangelo Antonioni's

Blow Up

.)

Brian DePalma

Everyone owns:

Carrie

(1976);

Scarface

(1976);

Dressed to Kill

(1980);

Blow Out

(1981);

The Untouchables

(1987)

You get:

Hi, Mom!

(1970)

Some people can't forgive DePalma for the disaster that was

Bonfire of the Vanities

or his more recent dreck, but there was a long stretch when he made more great movies than anyone. His talent first came to widespread notice with this dark, controversial comedy starring a very young Robert DeNiro as a Vietnam vet who falls in with a Black Power group -- enough said.

Alfred Hitchcock

Everyone owns:

Notorious

(1946);

Rear Window

(1954);

Vertigo

(1958);

North by Northwest

(1959);

Psycho

(1960);

The Birds

(1963)

You get:

Shadow of a Doubt

(1943)

OK, it's hard to call any Hitchcock thriller "underappreciated" given the vast ink dedicated to the Master of Suspense, but

Shadow of a Doubt

is often overlooked in the pantheon. Hitchcock himself is said to have loved this film best among his work, and Joseph Cotton's turn as the charming Uncle Charlie (and also, alas, the "Merry Widow Murderer") holds up remarkably well.

Stanley Kubrick

Everyone owns:

Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

(1964);

2001: A Space Odyssey

(1968);

A Clockwork Orange

(1971);

The Shining

(1980);

Full Metal Jacket

(1987)

You get:

The Killing

(1956)

Kubrick made some of the movies' most ambitious, sprawling works, but he earned his stripes on this racetrack heist film noir that flies by like a thoroughbred at the three-quarter pole. The stentorian Sterling Hayden is commanding as the mastermind of the gang, while Elisha Cook Jr.'s memorable performance as a clueless cuckold steals the show. The screenplay was cowritten by the pulp master Jim Thompson, who also penned

The Grifters

, later turned into another superb noir starring John Cusack and Angelica Huston.

Akira Kurosawa

Everyone owns:

Rashoman

(1950);

Seven Samurai

(1954)

You get:

Ikiru

(1952)

"Kurosawa" and "samurai" are as linked in film history as Bogey and Bacall, but sandwiched between his two greatest epics is a truly heartrending, incomparable drama.

A downcast civil servant, played with immense grace by Takashi Shimura (who next starred in

Seven Samurai

, proving his remarkable range), learns that he has terminal stomach cancer and struggles with how to live out his remaining days.

That such potentially mawkish material proves so profound only underscores Kurosawa's enduring genius.

Errol Morris

Everyone owns:

The Fog of War

(2004)

You get:

The Errol Morris DVD Collection: Gates of Heaven

(1978);

Vernon, Florida

(1981);

The Thin Blue Line

(1988)

His vivid portrayal of Robert S. McNamara finally secured a long-overdue Oscar, but Errol Morris has been making some of the funniest, sharpest and intelligent nonfiction films for more than a quarter-century.

This trio, about pet-cemetery owners, the oddball-but-wise residents of a backwater town and a botched death-penalty investigation, respectively, offers an essential primer.

Roman Polanski

Everyone owns:

Rosemary's Baby

(1968);

Chinatown

(1974)

You get:

Repulsion

(1965)

In 1964, the lovely Catherine Deneuve sang her way through the famously romantic

Umbrellas of Cherbourg

. A year later, she was cast as a sexually repressed young woman who goes insane and may or may not be raped and commit murder. Guess which one Roman Polanski directed?

Repulsion

isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it's unsettling as hell and a remarkable piece of filmmaking.

Martin Scorsese

Everyone owns:

Taxi Driver

(1976);

Raging Bull

(1980);

Goodfellas

(1990)

You get:

Mean Streets

(1973)

Often described as Scorsese's most "personal" film,

Mean Streets

tells the story of low-life hoods in New York's Little Italy. Stronger on character than plot, the movie pushed Robert DeNiro and Harvey Keitel to stardom and introduced the world to a visionary director. (Good bar bet: Ask a film buff Scorsese's

Mean Streets

follow-up.

Taxi Driver

? Wrong! It was

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

, upon which the long-running sitcom "Alice" was based.)

Steven Spielberg

Everyone owns:

Jaws

(1975);

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

(1977);

Raiders of the Lost Ark

(1981);

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

(1982);

Poltergeist

(1982);

Schindler's List

(1993)

You get:

Duel

(1971)

Before the sharks and aliens and ghosts, Steven Spielberg made a perfect little action movie -- for television, although this first feature eventually got a small theatrical release. Here's the plot: On his way to work, guy in car passes semi truck. Unseen trucker spends rest of film taunting and then trying to kill guy in car. It's almost pure cinema, with no unfair editing tricks or special effects. E.T., go buy it.

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Evan Rothman is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. A former executive editor at Golf Magazine, his work has appeared in The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Esquire, Men's Journal and other leading publications.