top of page

Many of the most commercially successful American films are quickly forgotten. A tiny fraction are truly memorable, lasting from one generation to another.  Why?

Movies discussed include:

The Godfather, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Star Wars, Bambi, A Place In The Sun and others

Part 1:
Popular and Memorable

Most memorable stories, whether told in movies or in real life, are about traps. The most memorable are generally about the loss, sacrifice, and ultimate triumph the central character must engage in to escape their trap.  

Movies discussed include:

Casablanca, Lawrence of Arabia, Moonlight, Apocalypse Now!, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and others

Part 2:

There’s no such thing as an interesting character; there are only interesting character relationships. But, like religions, myths, and the most durable dramas, most memorable plots center on a single individual, around whom the most important action and characters revolve. 

Movies discussed include:

Sideways, E.T., Do The Right Thing, Thelma and Louise, Schindler's List and others

Part 3:
Character Relationships

Memorable films are often a compensation for what we don’t see in the real world— justice, commitment, and altruism. Movies frequently treat the central characters as if they were heroes or villains, but often the two are alike. 

Movies discussed include:

Vertigo, High Noon, Wonder Woman, The Exorcist, Dr.Strangelove  and others

Part 4:
Heroes & Villains

In almost every memorable film, things are not what they seem, and learning the truth creates much of the tension in the film. Often, the truth of the film is quite paradoxical, which is what makes us want to keep watching.

Movies discussed include:

Get Out, The Social Network, Citizen Kane, Tootsie, The Big Lebowski and others

Part 5:
The Power of Paradox

It’s often said that Hollywood films have to have a happy ending, but when you consider the most memorable love stories it’s astonishing how many of them end with the separation or death of one or both lovers. Often, the paradox underlying the film helps explain why they last in our memories.  

Movies discussed include:

Whiplash, Harold and Maude, Toy Story, A Star Is Born, The Wizard of Oz and others

Part 6:
Love and Meaning


A 6-part television event from legendary UCLA film professor Howard Suber, analyzing why certain films have remained popular and memorable for generations.

Scenes from hundreds of these much-loved movies are featured throughout.


Professor Emeritus Howard Suber image-discussion



THE POWER OF FILM is a 6-part television event from legendary UCLA film Professor Emeritus Howard Suber, analyzing why certain films have remained both popular and memorable for generations.

He uncovers mysteries, dispels myths, and explains with clarity and humor the defining principles and inner workings of some of the most powerful and beloved films of all time.   Scenes from hundreds of these much-loved movies are featured throughout.

“A one-of-a-kind odyssey into the soul of cinema and why it matters.” 

Wade Major

LAist, FilmWeek,

"By connecting us to what makes our stories powerful, Howard Suber connects us to who we are as human beings. An extraordinary and essential series.” 

Alexander Payne

Director, The Holdovers, Sideways, Downsizing, Nebraska

“When it comes to documentaries about movies, ‘The Power of Film’ is one of a kind in that it explores how we as an audience interact with classic films. In exploring how movies affect us, the series is equally affecting.”

Dave Karger

Turner Classic Movies

"Gabbert and Pray cast their own spell in carefully juxtaposing clips from films throughout Hollywood history from “Casablanca” to “Whiplash” to show the elements of timeless appeal Suber has identified and highlight his own enduring wisdom.”

Stephen Saito

Moveable Fest

"Why and how do our favorite movies live inside us? Let filmmakers Laura Gabbert and Doug Pray, and great cinema mind Howard Suber, show you how with a deeply entertaining dive into this lasting art form.”

Robert Abele

President, Los Angeles Film Critics Association

"This is a fun watch, the kind of academic lecture where people applaud at the end... it's THAT level of entertaining.”

Alonso Duralde

Linoleum Knife

bottom of page