There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Aaron Spelling is one of the most influential figures Hollywood has ever seen. Over the course of his decades-long career, he acted, wrote, directed, and produced hundreds of movies and television shows. In fact, he is the man behind some of the most beloved dramas to ever hit television. Spelling has tried his hand at every genre under the sun and has built a legacy that is hard to tarnish or ignore. He is one of the few industry players who really transformed the landscape of American television and film. On that note, here is a list of 10 Aaron Spelling’s movies and TV shows ranked from best to worst.
Aaron Spelling Movies and TV Shows
1. AND THE BAND PLAYED ON (1993)
The story about the AIDS epidemic and the political discord and rampant homophobia in the scientific community and beyond that slowed down the early detection and response to the crisis is beautifully and achingly told in this movie. And the Band Played On manages to capture the paranoia, terror, and discrimination that was prevalent during the period of the AIDS crisis.
The movie is brilliant, epic, informative, heartbreaking, and well-portrayed. It explains in detail how the medical community was stonewalled by the Reagan administration from pursuing research and finding a cure for the deadly disease until it had claimed the lives of thousands. This film is a must-see, not just because it is one of the best Aaron Spelling movies that he produced, but because it blows the door wide open on a touching subject, revealing the heavy costs that neglect often enacts upon the people.
2. THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS (1957)
This 1957 biopic follows Charles “Slim” Lindbergh as he struggles to finance and design an airplane so he can make the first solo transatlantic flight by flying from New York to Paris. James Stewart puts in a show-stealing appearance as the audacious hero pilot. He delivers his snappy, soul-searching dialogue with a brilliance that leaves you in awe after every scene. The movie is a glaring reminder of just how far humans have come and how much we can achieve when we set our minds to it. It fills the viewers with a sense of adventure and wonder as they embark on the visionary journey with Lindbergh and celebrate the astounding feat of engineering that made air travel possible.
3. CALIFORNIA SPLIT (1974)
This vividly fascinating movie was made possible under the direction of Robert Altman and it explores the psychology behind gambling addiction. Although it was packaged as a comedy as it’s seriously funny, the movie also takes on more serious issues. It uses improvisation, impeccable soundtracking, and a non-structured storyline to create a powerful image of two very different men who are drawn together by their compulsive love for gambling. George Segal and Elliot Gold deliver unimpeachable performances as the lead characters. They manage to create a poignant sense of friendship, disappointment, and desperate thrills that filter in and out of a gambler’s life. The result is hard to look away from, which is why this film is often heralded as one of the best Aaron Spelling movies to hit the big screen. He served as an executive producer here.
4. BEVERLY HILLS 90210 (1990-2000)
Towards the end of the 80s, adult audiences began growing weary of the usual shows about rich people conniving against each other. Spelling saw an opportunity and realized that since the adults were tired, it was time to give the younger generation some drama they can enjoy. This is how Beverly Hills 90210 was created.
The show follows a group of teenagers living in Beverly Hills and the happenings in their lives. It proved to be a big hit amongst teenagers and found eager audiences in other demographics as well. The series explored a myriad of issues including domestic violence, date rape, suicide, alcoholism, drug abuse, gun control, pregnancy, eating disorders, and sexual identity. The show ran for ten seasons, during which viewers got to see the characters tackle all sorts of issues as made their way through the murky waters of teenage into stormy seas of adulthood. Beverly Hills was wonderfully addictive. It was one of the best of Aaron Spelling’s TV shows, and one of the major highlights of his distinctive career. He featured in an uncredited role as an Executive in Limo.
5. CHARMED (1998-2006)
This was the last Aaron Spelling’s TV show that was made before he passed away. Charmed is a fantasy series about three beautiful sisters living in San Francisco who happen to be witches. They each have different powers which they combine to combat evil and protect the good people of the world. The show was so good that the exit of Shannon Doherty, one of its lead characters did nothing to hurt it. Instead, another actress, Rose McGowan was written into the script and the show went on like nothing ever happened. The supernatural series was beloved by fans as it served as a welcome change from the usual stuff on television at the time. It also helped establish the career of future stars including Kaley Cuoco who went on to play Penny on Big Bang Theory. Charmed is one of the very best of Aaron Spelling’s TV shows ever produced.
6. MELROSE PLACE (1992-1999)
Following the unprecedented success of Beverly Hills 90210, Spelling decided to bring together another group of young adults to create campy pleasure for audiences to indulge in. Melrose Place is teeming with sexy lingerie, loves gone fantastically wrong, raging lunatics, cliffhangers, backstabbing, bed-hopping, and endless drama. Although the series often struggled with shallow characters and one-dimensional storylines, it continued to pull in viewers and maintain high ratings enough to keep it on air until Spelling wrapped things up.
Melrose Place offers a look into how young people run their lives while also striving to accomplish their dreams. The show was headlined by stars like Heather Locklear, Vanessa Williams, Thomas Calabro, Alyssa Milano, Doug Savant, Marcia Cross, and Josie Bissett amongst others. The show also picked up a couple of Emmy nominations during its run. He’s the executive producer of the TV series.
7. BLACK WIDOW (1954)
In this film, a Broadway producer named Peter Denver kindles an affair with a young, pretty actress while his wife is out of town. He soon feels guilty about his infidelity and decides to break things off. Before he can break the news to her, she is killed in his apartment, forcing him to run away and try to figure out who killed her before he is found and arrested for the crime. As the producer searches for clues, he covers a deep dark web of secrets involving other people who have been acquainted with the girl. Everyone becomes a suspect, but who really is responsible for her death. Spelling plays a minor role as a character called Mr. Oliver. The movie has very little going for it. The acting over the top, the pacing and writing are poor, and it barely manages to be entertaining enough to hold the viewer’s interest.
8. VICKI (1953)
This 1953 film noir was adapted from the Steve Fisher novel I Wake Up Screaming. It was directed by Harry Horner and starred Richard Boone, Jeanne Craine, Elliot Reid, Aaron Spelling, and Jean Peters. The story follows a waitress who builds a successful career as a fashion model with the help of a press agent. When she winds up dead, the cop investigating the case tried to pin the murder on the press agent even though he knows who the real killer is. Spelling plays the murderer who was actually acting on the information given to him by the dirty cop. Vicki did not appeal to critics as they considered the movie to be too contrived, farfetched, and poorly directed. It remains one of the few regrettable Aaron Spelling’s movies out there.
9. ALASKA SEAS (1954)
Aaron Spelling only manages to hold a small role in this crime film noir as The Knifer. The premise of the film is fairly simple: a crooked salmon fisherman returns to his hometown after being released from prison and tries to ruin his best friend’s fishing business and steal his fiance. The reason Alaska Seas makes the list for worst Aaron Spelling movies has little to do with his performance and more to do with everything else in the film. The other characters lack believability, are inconsistent, aggravatingly naive, or simply frustrating to watch. The storyline is also inconsistent and riddled with glaring plot holes that all in all make the movie a very weak one. However, it does boast some really compelling nature shots and a unique setting that almost makes you want to forget its downsides.
10. THE NEW PEOPLE (1969)
Although Spelling was known for turning everything he touched to gold, there were some instances where he didn’t succeed in doing so. The New People is one of such failures. The show was written by Rod Serling, the creator of the hit series Twilight Zone, so a lot of people had high hopes for it, however, it turned out to be a huge disappointment.
The story revolves around a group of young college students who find themselves stranded on a remote, uninhabited island. The show received very low ratings and was eventually taken off the air after only 17 episodes. It’ll always be remembered as one of the terrible TV shows of Aaron Spelling’s career. He created the series with Larry Gordon and Rod Serling.