Total Recall: Best Steven Spielberg Productions

With Super 8 hitting theaters, we count down the best movies the great director managed behind the scenes.

Steven Spielberg

Much has been made of the fact that Steven Spielberg produced J.J. Abrams' Super 8 -- and rightly so, given how strongly it seems to evoke memories of Spielberg's classic past. But even though we think of Spielberg as a director first, he's also had a very busy (and fairly distinguished) career as a producer -- and to show you what we mean, we decided to dedicate this week's Total Recall to films he didn't direct. We ended up with a varied list that includes some huge hits, a handful of modern classics, and maybe even a few surprises. Read on!



84%

10. Gremlins

It earned nearly $150 million at the box office, marked Chris Columbus as a young screenwriter to watch, and resuscitated director Joe Dante's ailing career -- but Gremlins was also part of one of 1984's biggest Hollywood controversies, sparking concern that the MPAA was giving PG ratings to films that were too intense for a younger audience (such as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom). Spielberg suggested that an overhaul of the ratings system might be in order, and roughly a month after Gremlins' release, the PG-13 was born. Parental concerns over gremlin-related violence aside, the film was also a solid critical winner, earning praise from the likes of Roger Ebert, who wrote, "At the level of Serious Film Criticism, it's a meditation on the myths in our movies: Christmas, families, monsters, retail stores, movies, boogeymen. At the level of Pop Moviegoing, it's a sophisticated, witty B movie."


83%

9. The Mask of Zorro

As executive producer of Martin Campbell's swashbuckling Zorro reboot, Spielberg may not have had to take much of an active role in the day-to-day development of the film, but he was responsible for at least one key element: the casting of Catherine Zeta-Jones, who caught his eye with her performance in the CBS miniseries The Titanic. It proved a starmaking turn for Zeta-Jones, who upstaged Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins in the film that Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times called "A lively, old-fashioned adventure yarn with just a twist of modern attitude" and "the kind of pleasant entertainment that allows the paying customers to have as much fun as the people on screen."


82%

8. I Wanna Hold Your Hand

Somewhat appropriately for a film inspired by the Beatles' first performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, this wacky 1978 comedy was a film of debuts -- for Robert Zemeckis, notching his first feature-length directorial credit, and for Spielberg, who produced for the first time (under the watchful eye of Universal, who made him promise he'd step in and direct if Zemeckis faltered). Despite the lack of experience, it was smooth sailing for I Wanna Hold Your Hand -- at least until the film reached audiences, who ignored it so completely that it couldn't even earn back its $2.8 million budget. As far as critics were concerned, however, it was the audience's loss: "I Wanna Hold Your Hand re-creates precisely the excitement the Beatles let loose 14 years ago," wrote Time's Frank Rich, adding that "it transports the audience back to the eye of a phenomenal social hurricane."


87%

7. Poltergeist

Unlike a lot of the movies on this list, which benefited from his participation on a more or less ancillary level, Poltergeist was very much a Steven Spielberg production -- starting with the script, which he co-wrote, and ending with his almost daily presence on the set, which sparked a DGA investigation and years of rumors about whether the credited director, Tobe Hooper, was merely a stand-in to help Spielberg wriggle out of a contractual agreement that prevented him from helming a film that would end up in direct competition with E.T. Whatever really happened behind the cameras, the result was a huge hit that spawned a franchise and won the unqualified praise of critics like Moviehole's Clint Morris, who called it "One of the best horror flicks ever...bar none."


91%

6. Arachnophobia

Spielberg's longtime production partner (and co-founder of Amblin Entertainment) Frank Marshall made his directorial debut with this affectionate, cheerfully creepy tribute to classic Hollywood creature features, in which a deadly breed of spider terrorizes a small town whose residents include a lunatic exterminator (John Goodman) and, of course, a doctor with the titular phobia (Jeff Daniels). "That sound you hear in the background is the 'ugh!' heard round the world," chuckled Janet Maslin of the New York Times, adding, "luckily, Arachnophobia will also be generating its share of boisterous, nervous laughter."

Comments

Dave J

Dave J

Seen all of 'em, except for "I Wanna hold your Hand"!

Jun 8 - 03:30 PM

Mr. Lee

Daniel Lee

Didn't even know they made a movie like that...

Jun 8 - 03:42 PM

Dave J

Dave J

Didn't know Spielberg was also credited about that either until it was on here!

Jun 9 - 02:11 PM

Zach Thomas

Zach Idiculla

*I still very much like RT

Jun 8 - 03:35 PM

Mr. Lee

Daniel Lee

Didn't even know they made a movie like that...

Jun 8 - 03:42 PM

Dave J

Dave J

Didn't know Spielberg was also credited about that either until it was on here!

Jun 9 - 02:11 PM

Alica L.

Alica Leo

Why is their a trailer for gremlins under roger rabbit?

Jun 8 - 03:49 PM

redrooster0

Charlie Voelker

Good list until you get to the users' score list.

Jun 8 - 04:07 PM

LastAvenger

Mario Boozer

Why?

Jun 8 - 04:14 PM

WaistOfTime

Jade Palooka

#10, i guess..

Jun 8 - 04:33 PM

Odd E.

Odd Even

I'm pretty sure it's because Transformers is #1.

Jun 8 - 04:35 PM

LastAvenger

Mario Boozer

Transformers is speilberg's best.

Jun 8 - 04:58 PM

Wisenheimer

Joshua Dinsmore

Sorry, but that's far from true for most people. You have a right to your own opinion but the majority of people would disagree with you. Just saying. :/

Jun 8 - 09:09 PM

Hilmar A.

Hilmar Anthoniussen

I wholeheartedly agree... having Transformers at the top renders the list utterly worthless, in my opinion.

Jun 8 - 04:31 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

How about the fact that not only is Transformers number one, but that Revenge of the Fallen is in the top ten! MADNESS!!!!!!!!

Jun 8 - 07:15 PM

dethburger

dethburger hates Flixster

Makes one weep it does.

Jun 8 - 11:06 PM

Lumbergh Phucter

Jamie Eakins

With all the ire raised in the forums about it, where are all these alleged supporters? I'm calling shenanigans.

Jun 9 - 06:11 AM

Dave J

Dave J

Except that you're probably forgot about one thing, is how many films came from Spielberg's production company that he was involved in, which to me is not very many - also the fact that more people or children had seen Transformers than Spielberg's other produced films? The 'blatant' critical mass doesn't really mean anything unless a review can be read!

Jun 9 - 04:29 PM

Matanuki

Matanuki .

I can't believe they had the nerve to even post it. lol.

Jun 12 - 12:32 PM

Wisenheimer

Joshua Dinsmore

Yeah, Transformers is good popcorn fun but it's essentially a special effects extravaganza, and the second one is even worse.

Jun 8 - 09:06 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Yes, never have I seen a more stinging rebuke to the credability of RT Users. At least they had The Goonies on there which the critics didn't. Easily think The Goonies is better than at least I Wanna Hold Your Hand and probably about 80% of the others as well.

Jun 9 - 06:11 AM

LastAvenger

Mario Boozer

Why?

Jun 8 - 04:14 PM

WaistOfTime

Jade Palooka

#10, i guess..

Jun 8 - 04:33 PM

Odd E.

Odd Even

I'm pretty sure it's because Transformers is #1.

Jun 8 - 04:35 PM

LastAvenger

Mario Boozer

Transformers is speilberg's best.

Jun 8 - 04:58 PM

Wisenheimer

Joshua Dinsmore

Sorry, but that's far from true for most people. You have a right to your own opinion but the majority of people would disagree with you. Just saying. :/

Jun 8 - 09:09 PM

Hilmar A.

Hilmar Anthoniussen

I wholeheartedly agree... having Transformers at the top renders the list utterly worthless, in my opinion.

Jun 8 - 04:31 PM

WaistOfTime

Jade Palooka

#10, i guess..

Jun 8 - 04:33 PM

Odd E.

Odd Even

I'm pretty sure it's because Transformers is #1.

Jun 8 - 04:35 PM

mastershake616

Tanner Kish

The user list makes me want to yak, as well.

I really thought RT had a very smart community, and they do in the forums...but adding Flickster to the whole thing brought the entire "User Rating" system down so far it's become totally irrelevant.

Jun 8 - 04:54 PM

LastAvenger

Mario Boozer

Transformers is speilberg's best.

Jun 8 - 04:58 PM

Wisenheimer

Joshua Dinsmore

Sorry, but that's far from true for most people. You have a right to your own opinion but the majority of people would disagree with you. Just saying. :/

Jun 8 - 09:09 PM

Manuel G.

Manuel Granados

Only one I didn't like from this list is Zorro. (the actual RT list not the dumb user list)


Jun 8 - 05:30 PM

Sputnik99

sputnik 99

You're kidding! I love Zorro. I honestly have been thinking about watching it again. After seeing this list, I think I will!

Jun 8 - 06:10 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

I dig The Mask of Zorro, too. The less said of The Legend of Zorro, the better.

Jun 8 - 07:14 PM

rle4lunch

Chad W

Yeah, I had enough of 'Legend of' about 7-10 minutes into it. Utter crap.

Jun 9 - 12:13 PM

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