27 November, 2008


The greatest film ever made? Maybe...

The legendary French Film Magazine CAHIERS DU CINEMA has released an updated 100 BEST FILMS list compiled from the choices of French directors, critics and film industry leaders.

It seems like CITIZEN KANE is always going to top most of these lists, with THE GODFATHER perhaps sometimes getting #1. The most interesting choice for me is Luis Bunuel's rather obscure 1952 Mexican melodrama EL [over LOS OLVIDADOS or VIRIDIANA]. I find it interesting that a favorite like CASABLANCA didn't make it and no films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder are cited. I can think of at least three Fassbinder films which I would list along with Werner Herzog's AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD. All such lists are ultimately subjective, culturally skewed and questionable but it can be a fun game to play.

I recently revisited EL, a jet black comedy of manners with tragic undertones as well as a typically Bunuelian study of clinical paranoia. I'll be reviewing it here soon.

For the record, my favorite Orson Welles film is FALSTAFF/CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT (1965) the project on which Welles hired Jess Franco to help film the much praised battle scene. A must for Welles and Franco enthusiasts but unfortunately, due to labyrinthe legal complications, not available on the kind of high quality R1 DVD presentation this masterwork demands.

Here's the list:

Citizen Kane - Orson Welles
The Night of the Hunter - Charles Laughton
The Rules of the Game (La Règle du jeu) - Jean Renoir
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (L'Aurore) - Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
L'Atalante - Jean Vigo
M - Fritz Lang
Singin' in the Rain - Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly
Vertigo - Alfred Hitchcock
Children of Paradise (Les Enfants du Paradis) - Marcel Carné
The Searchers - John Ford
Greed - Erich von Stroheim
Rio Bravo - Howard Hawkes
To Be or Not to Be - Ernst Lubitsch
Tokyo Story - Yasujiro Ozu
Contempt (Le Mépris) - Jean-Luc Godard
Tales of Ugetsu (Ugetsu monogatari) - Kenji Mizoguchi
City Lights - Charlie Chaplin
The General - Buster Keaton
Nosferatu the Vampire - Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
The Music Room - Satyajit Ray
Freaks - Tod Browning
Johnny Guitar - Nicholas Ray
The Mother and the Whore (La Maman et la Putain) - Jean Eustache
The Great Dictator - Charlie Chaplin
The Leopard (Le Guépard) - Luchino Visconti
Hiroshima, My Love - Alain Resnais
The Box of Pandora (Loulou) - Georg Wilhelm Pabst
North by Northwest - Alfred Hitchcock
Pickpocket - Robert Bresson
Golden Helmet (Casque d'or) - Jacques Becker
The Barefoot Contessa - Joseph Mankiewitz
Moonfleet - Fritz Lang
Diamond Earrings (Madame de…) - Max Ophüls
Pleasure - Max Ophüls
The Deer Hunter - Michael Cimino
The Adventure - Michelangelo Antonioni
Battleship Potemkin - Sergei M. Eisenstein
Notorious - Alfred Hitchcock
Ivan the Terrible - Sergei M. Eisenstein
The Godfather - Francis Ford Coppola
Touch of Evil - Orson Welles
The Wind - Victor Sjöström
2001: A Space Odyssey - Stanley Kubrick
Fanny and Alexander - Ingmar Bergman
The Crowd - King Vidor
8 1/2 - Federico Fellini
La Jetée - Chris Marker
Pierrot le Fou - Jean-Luc Godard
Confessions of a Cheat (Le Roman d'un tricheur) - Sacha Guitry
Amarcord - Federico Fellini
Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bête) - Jean Cocteau
Some Like It Hot - Billy Wilder
Some Came Running - Vincente Minnelli
Gertrud - Carl Theodor Dreyer
King Kong - Ernst Shoedsack & Merian J. Cooper
Laura - Otto Preminger
The Seven Samurai - Akira Kurosawa
The 400 Blows - François Truffaut
La Dolce Vita - Federico Fellini
The Dead - John Huston
Trouble in Paradise - Ernst Lubitsch
It's a Wonderful Life - Frank Capra
Monsieur Verdoux - Charlie Chaplin
The Passion of Joan of Arc - Carl Theodor Dreyer
À bout de souffle - Jean-Luc Godard
Apocalypse Now - Francis Ford Coppola
Barry Lyndon - Stanley Kubrick
La Grande Illusion - Jean Renoir
Intolerance - David Wark Griffith
A Day in the Country (Partie de campagne) - Jean Renoir
Playtime - Jacques Tati
Rome, Open City - Roberto Rossellini
Livia (Senso) - Luchino Visconti
Modern Times - Charlie Chaplin
Van Gogh - Maurice Pialat
An Affair to Remember - Leo McCarey
Andrei Rublev - Andrei Tarkovsky
The Scarlet Empress - Joseph von Sternberg
Sansho the Bailiff - Kenji Mizoguchi
Talk to Her - Pedro Almodóvar
The Party - Blake Edwards
Tabu - Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
The Bandwagon - Vincente Minnelli
A Star Is Born - George Cukor
Mr. Hulot's Holiday - Jacques Tati
America, America - Elia Kazan
El - Luis Buñuel
Kiss Me Deadly - Robert Aldrich
Once Upon a Time in America - Sergio Leone
Daybreak (Le Jour se lève) - Marcel Carné
Letter from an Unknown Woman - Max Ophüls
Lola - Jacques Demy
Manhattan - Woody Allen
Mulholland Dr. - David Lynch
My Night at Maud's (Ma nuit chez Maud) - Eric Rohmer
Night and Fog (Nuit et Brouillard) - Alain Resnais
The Gold Rush - Charlie Chaplin
Scarface - Howard Hawks
Bicycle Thieves - Vittorio de Sica
Napoléon - Abel Gance


scott said...

yes, no fassbinder in the list! sucks..even sadder is the quirks I find within the list that go against my taste.

8 1/2 and AMARCORD higher than LA DOLCE VITA?!


What about those crazy choices of films from almodovar and bergman? ! they've made much better films. i don't know.

the only good thing I can say is that Bunuel's EL finally made it somewhere... but what about BELLE DE JOUR?

crazy crazy list.

My list would have included a few Fassbinder titles including BEWARE OF A HOLY WHORE

Tom Mather said...

I agree with you about Chimes at Midnight, a wonderful film.

No Powell/Pressburger films! Meet Me in St Louis, Kobayashi's The Human Condition, Feuillade's Les Vampires.

But that's what makes lists like these so interesting. If everyone agreed where would the fun be?

Robert Monell said...

No Powell/Pressburger films

No British flms at all! That was immediately noted in some commentaries. PEEPING TOM comes to mind, although it still may push too many politically incorrect buttons.

What about those crazy choices of films from almodovar and bergman? ! they've made much better films.

I'm surprised TALK TO HER got even one vote. Does this really belong on any 100 Best Films of all time list?

And how about Fritz Lang's influential German classics?

scott said...

Yes- PEEPING TOM where is that one???!!

a masterpiece!

TALK TO HER for me was an ok Almodovar, but not his best by any means. Maybe the lesser themes in it really is what won them over.

Lars Jacobsson said...

I love that MOONFLEET is on the list. One of Lang's most underrated and most special films in my book.

Turned out I have only seen 51 of the films.

Clifford Brown said...

French critics are sooooo boring...