2013-2015: TOP 250 FILM CHALLENGE - Page 2
Aside from the talents of Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, this revisit to an oldie-but-goodie allows us to deep further into the psychology of the inner-struggles to conquer anticipated pain deliberately.
I am sure if there are any war veterans who experienced combat, hand-to-hand, fist-a-cuffs, and the brutality of war with the subsequent body pain - they would probably see this film in a connected value, albeit a fictional story that would never amount to the actual experience.
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
Getting a head start on the upcoming Christmas Season (12 weeks) - with this great classic.
Many of today's folks did not grow up watching this film on TV, and perhaps even their parents missed it. Sad, because this film touches on the historical view of human nature and how some of us can live above the "crowd" so matter what the financial or power temptations may be.
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
Getting a head start on the upcoming Christmas Season (12 weeks) - with this great classic.
Many of today's folks did not grow up watching this film on TV, and perhaps even their parents missed it. Sad, because this film touches on the historical view of human nature and how some of us can live above the "crowd" so matter what the financial or power temptations may be.
I'm also a huge fan of this movie.. but I'll save it for a Snowy night, I'm sure it won't be too long in coming! I agree that this film is so much more than a simple story. It's a commentary on the human condition: suffering. And how to realize that we can have joy in the midst of that suffering, if we only have the right perspective.
I loved all the lord of the rings films, I've got a box with all of them! I also really liked the dark knight and I just found a discount code on voucherbox for amazon so I will buy all three tomorrow :). I've never seen the godfather, and I feel really bad about it actually. I think that will be my next purchase. Do they have a box with all the godfather films?
Why is it that another viewing of this film during a quiet time of the evening brings additional insights into the human drama of civilization? I am fortunate to have this in my collection.
For those who are new to this film, the following may be enlightening:
"Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film . . . stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid; and features Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Dooley Wilson.
"Set during World War II, it focuses on a man torn between, in the words of one character, "love and virtue". He must choose between his love for a woman and helping her Czech Resistance leader husband escape the Vichy-controlled Moroccan city of Casablanca to continue his fight against the Nazis.
"Story editor Irene Diamond convinced producer Hal Wallis to purchase the film rights of the play in January 1942. Brothers Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein were initially assigned to write the script. However, despite studio resistance, they left after the attack on Pearl Harbor to work on Frank Capra's Why We Fight series. Howard Koch was assigned to the screenplay until the Epsteins returned. Casey Robinson assisted with three weeks of rewrites, but his work would later go uncredited. Wallis chose Curtiz to direct the film after his first choice, William Wyler, became unavailable. Filming began on May 25, 1942, and ended on August 3, and was shot entirely at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, and one sequence at Van Nuys Airport in Van Nuys.
"Although Casablanca was an A-list film with established stars and first-rate writers, no one involved with its production expected it to be anything out of the ordinary. It was just one of hundreds of pictures produced by Hollywood every year. Casablanca had its world premiere on November 26, 1942 in New York City, and was released on January 23, 1943, in the United States.
"The film was a solid if unspectacular success in its initial run, rushed into release to take advantage of the publicity from the Allied invasion of North Africa a few weeks earlier. Despite a changing assortment of screenwriters adapting an unstaged play, barely keeping ahead of production, and Bogart attempting his first romantic leading role, Casablanca won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Its lead character, memorable lines, and pervasive theme song have all become iconic.
"The film has consistently ranked near the top of lists of the greatest films of all time."
All my best,
UPDATE ON EXPANDED RECOMMENDED FILMS:
Check out the Leonard Maltin 100 Must-See Films of the 20th Century. CLICK HERE
Edited by David Copeland - 11/9/13 at 12:30pm
For a long time I found the list was relatively reliable -- for about a decade. I remember going on there years ago and it never changed because tried and true movies were at the top and the latest rave review couldn't dislodge the likes of Shawshank or Godfather. I noticed the list began to become unstable around the time the last Lord the Rings movie came out (2005ish?). It finally became totally unstable in 2008 when The Dark Knight went to number one nearly overnight. From there the decline escalated to a point where the latest critical fave can move up the list with relative ease. Case in point: I noticed just last week that Gravity was sitting somewhere around 40. Good flick, but not top 40.
100 Must-See Films of the 20th Century
by Leonard Maltin
146 minutes, D: Martin Scorsese
A boy grows up in an Italian-American neighborhood of Brooklyn and dreams of becoming part of the Mob. Fascinating look at the allure - and the reality - of day-to-day life in a Mafia family, based on experiences of Henry Hill (Liotta), who wound up in the Federal witness protection program. The violence is (necessarily) harsh and off-putting, like the film itself at times, but it's brilliantly realized by Scorsese and cinematographer Michael Ballhaus. Major criticism: It goes on too long. Bracco and Oscar winner Pesci stand out in an exceptional cast; that's Scorsese's mother as Pesci's mom. Screenplay by the director and Nicholas Pileggi, based on the latter's book Wiseguy.
Schindler's List (1993)
195 minutes, D: Steven Spielberg
Staggering adaptation of Thomas Keneally's best-seller about the real-life Catholic war profiteer who initially flourished by sucking up to the Nazis, but eventually went broke saving the lives of more than 1,000 Polish Jews by employing them in his factory, manufacturing crockery for the German army. Filmed almost entirely on location in Poland, in gritty b/w, but with a pace to match the most frenzied Spielberg works, this looks and feels like nothing Hollywood has ever made before. The three central characters rate - and receive - unforgettable performances: Neeson, who's towering as Oskar Schindler; Kingsley, superb as his Jewish accountant (and conscience); and Fiennes, who's frightening as the odious Nazi commandant. Outstanding screenplay by Steven Zaillian and cinematography by Janusz Kaminski. Spielberg's most intense and personal film to date. Seven Oscars include Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction, Cinematography, Editing, and Original Score (John Williams).
Pulp Fiction (1994)
154 minutes, D: Quentin Tarantino
Audacious, outrageous look at honor among lowlifes, told in a somewhat radical style overlapping a handful of separate stories. Jackson and Travolta are magnetic as a pair of hit men who have philosophical debates on a regular basis; Willis is compelling as a crooked boxer whose plan to take it on the lam hits a few detours. (In fact, there are no slackers in this cast.) This voluble, violent, pumped-up movie isn't for every taste - certainly not for the squeamish - but it's got more vitality than almost any other film of 1994. Tarantino is featured onscreen as Jimmie of Toluca Lake. Roger Avary gets co-story credit with Tarantino (they won the Screenplay Oscar).
97 minutes, D: Joel Coen
The Coen Brothers put a unique spin on a murder case, layering their story with droll observations about Minnesotans and winding up with a totally disarming comedy! McDormand is terrific as an efficient (and pregnant) police chief with multiple murders on her hands; Macy is equally good as a two-bit schemer who tries to stay cool when he finds himself way over his head in a quicksand of crime. Love that Muzak in the background! Oscar winner for Best Screenplay (Joel and Ethan Coen) and Actress (McDormand).
Raging Bull (1980)
128 minutes, D: Martin Scorsese
Extraordinarily compelling look at prizefighter Jake La Motta, whose leading opponent outside the ring was always himself. That such an unappealing man could inspire so vivid a portrait is a tribute to the collaboration of Scorsese, De Niro, and writers Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin. There's not a false note in characterization or period detail. De Niro and editor Thelma Schoonmaker won richly deserved Academy Awards.
E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
115 minutes, D: Steven Spielberg
A 10-year-old boy (Thomas) befriends a creature from another planet that's been stranded on Earth. A warm, insightful story of childhood innocence, frustration, courage, and love...with a remarkable "performance" by E.T. An exhilarating experience for young and old alike. Screenplay by Melissa Mathison. John Williams won an Oscar for his soaring score, as did the sound and visual effects teams. Trivia note: Debra Winger contributed to E.T.'s voice.
The Godfather (1972)
175 minutes, D: Francis Ford Coppola
The 1970s' answer to Gone With the Wind, from Mario Puzo's novel on the violent life and times of Mafia patriarch Don Corleone (Brando). Pulp fiction raised to the highest level; a film of epic proportions, masterfully done, and set to Nino Rota's memorable music. Absolutely irresistible. Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Actor (Brando), and Screenplay (Coppola and Puzo). Followed by two sequels.
Mean Streets (1973)
110 minutes, D: Martin Scorsese
Masterpiece about small-time hood Keitel, irresponsible friend De Niro and their knock-about cronies in N.Y.C.'s Little Italy. Technically dazzling film put director Scorsese on the map and deservedly so.
The Godfather, Part II (1974)
200 minutes, D: Francis Ford Coppola
They said it couldn't be done, but cowriter-director Coppola made a sequel that's just as compelling. This one contrasts the life of melancholy "don" (Pacino) with early days of his father (De Niro) as an immigrant in N.Y.C. Winner of six Oscars including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay (Coppola, Mario Puzo), Supporting Actor (De Niro), Score (Nino Rota, Carmine Coppola), Art Direction/Set Decoration (Dean Tavoularis, Angelo Graham, George R. Nelson).
The Conversation (1974)
113 minutes, D: Francis Ford Coppola
Brilliant film about obsessive surveillance expert (Hackman) who makes professional mistake of becoming involved in a case, and finds himself entangled in murder and high-level power plays. Coppola's top-notch, disturbing script makes larger statements about privacy and personal responsibility. An unbilled Robert Duvall has a cameo. One of the best films of the 1970s.
Blazing Saddles (1974)
93 minutes, D: Mel Brooks
Brooks's first hit movie is a riotous Western spoof, with Little an unlikely sheriff, Korman as villainous Hedley Lamarr, and Kahn as a Dietrich-like chanteuse. None of Brooks's later films have topped this one for sheer belly laughs. Scripted by Brooks, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor, Norman Steinberg, and Alan Uger; story by Bergman. Title song sung by Frankie Laine.
124 minutes, D: Steven Spielberg
A rare case of a bubble-gum story (by Peter Benchley) scoring as a terrific movie. The story: New England shore community is terrorized by shark attacks; local cop (Scheider), ichthyologist (Dreyfuss) and salty shark expert (Shaw) determine to kill the attacker. Hold on to your seats! Screenplay by Benchley and Gottlieb. Three Oscars include John Williams' now-classic score, Verna Fields' sensational editing. Benchley has cameo as reporter on beach. Followed by three sequels.
159 minutes, D: Robert Altman
Altman's brilliant mosaic of American life as seen through 24 characters involved in Nashville political rally. Full of cogent character studies, comic and poignant vignettes, done in seemingly free-form style. Carradine's song "I'm Easy" won an Oscar; Elliott Gould and Julie Christie appear as themselves. Screenplay by Joan Tewkesbury.
Annie Hall (1977)
94 minutes, D: Woody Allen
Woody's best film, an autobiographical love story with incisive Allenisms on romance, relationships, fame, N.Y.C. vs. L.A., and sundry other topics. Warm, witty, intelligent Oscar winner for Best Picture, Actress, Direction, Screenplay (Allen and Marshall Brickman). Look sharp and you'll spot future stars Jeff Goldblum (at the L.A. party), Shelley Hack (on the street), Beverly D'Angelo (on a TV monitor), and Sigourney Weaver (as Woody's date seen in extreme long-shot near the end of the picture.)
Star Wars (1977)
121 minutes, D: Geroge Lucas
Elaborate, imaginative update of Flash Gordon incredibly became one of the most popular films of all time. It's a hip homage to B-movie ethics and heroism in the space age, as a callow youth (Hamill) becomes an interplanetary hero with the help of some human and robot friends. R2D2 and C-3PO steal the show. Won seven Oscars for various technical achievements and John Williams' rousing score.
The Deer Hunter (1978)
183 minutes, D: Michael Cimino
Stunning film about young Pennsylvanian steelworkers, their lives before, during, and after wartime duty in Vietnam. Long but not overlong, this sensitive, painful, evocative work packs an emotional wallop. Story by Cimino, Deric Washburn, Louis Garfinkle and Quinn Redeker; scripted by Washburn. Five Oscars include Picture, Director, Supporting Actor (Walken), Editing (Peter Zinner).
Apocalypse Now (1979)
150 minutes, D: Francis Ford Coppola
Coppola's controversial Vietnam war epic, based on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Special agent Sheen journeys upriver into Cambodia with orders to find and kill errant officer Brando, leading him (and viewer) on a mesmerizing odyssey of turbulent, often surreal encounters. Unfortunately, film's conclusion - when he does find Brando - is cerebral and murky. Still, a great movie experience most of the way, with staggering, Oscar-winning photography by Vittorio Storaro
109 minutes, D: Alfred Hitchcock
The Master's most notorious film is still terrifying after all these years, as larcenous Leigh picks the wrong place to spend a night: The Bates Motel (12 cabins, 12 vacancies...and 12 showers), run by a peculiar young man and his crochety old "mother." Hitchcock's murder set-pieces are so potent, they can galvanize (and frighten) even a viewer who's seen them before! Bernard Herrmann's legendary (and endlessly imitated) score adds much to the excitement. Script by Joseph Stefano from the Robert Bloch novel.
La Dolce Vita (1962 - Italian)
175 minutes, D: Federico Fellini
Lengthy trend-setting film, not as ambiguous as other Fellini works - much more entertaining, with strong cast. Mastroianni stars as tabloid reporter who sees his life in shallow Rome society as worthless but can't change. Story and screenplay by Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, and Tullio Pinelli, with Brunello Rondi. Piero Gherardi's costumes won an Oscar.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962 - British)
216 minutes, D: David Lean
Blockbuster biography of enigmatic adventurer T.E. Lawrence is that rarity, an epic film that is also literate. Loses some momentum in the second half, but still a knockout - especially in 1989 reissue version, which restored many cuts made over the years (and made a few judicious trims in the process). Still, the only way to really appreciate this film is on a big screen. Screenplay by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson, based on Lawrence's book The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Seven Oscars include Best Picture, Director, Cinematography (Freddie Young), Score (Maurice Jarre), Editing, and Art Direction. O'Toole's first leading role made him an instant star.
8 1/2 (1963 - Italian)
135 minutes, D: Federico Fellini
Fellini's unique, self-analytical movie casts Mastroianni as a filmmaker trying to develop a new project, amid frequent visions and countless subplots. A long, difficult, but fascinating film, overflowing with creative and technical wizardry. Certainly one of the most intensely personal statements ever made on celluloid. Screenplay by Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano, and Brunello Rondi. Oscar winner for Costume Design and as Best Foreign Language Film.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying... (1964 - British)
93 minutes, D: Stanley Kubrick
U.S. President must contend with the Russians and his own political and military leaders when a fanatical general launches A-bomb attack on U.S.S.R. Sellers plays the President, British captain, and mad inventor of the Bomb in this brilliant black comedy, which seems better with each passing year. Sellers' phone conversation with Soviet premier is classic. Outstanding cast, incredible sets by Ken Adam.
Mary Poppins (1964)
140 minutes, D: Robert Stevenson
There's charm, wit, and movie magic to spare in Walt Disney's adaptation of P.L. Travers's book about a "practically perfect" nanny who brings profound change to the Banks family of London, circa 1910. Oscars went to Richard and Robert Sherman for their tuneful score, the song "Chim-Chim-Cheree," the formidable Visual Effects team, Cotton Warburton for his editing, and Andrews, in her film debut (though Van Dyke is equally good as Bert, the whimsical jack of all trades). That's Jane Darwell, in her last screen appearance, as the bird lady. A wonderful movie.
Blow-Up (1966 - British/Italian)
111 minutes, D: Michelangelo Antonioni
Writer-director Antonioni's hypnotic pop-culture parable of photographer caught in passive lifestyle. Arresting provocative film, rich in color symbolism, many-layered meanings. Music by Herbie Hancock.
The Graduate (1967)
105 minutes, D: Mike Nichols
Landmark film of the late 60s that's still just as poignant - and funny - as ever. Hoffman, in his first major film role, plays ultra-naive college grad who's seduced by a middle-aged woman, then falls in love with her daughter. Perfect song score by Simon and Garfunkel. Script by Buck Henry (who plays the desk clerk) and Calder Willingham from Charles Webb's novel. Nichols won Best Director Oscar.
Bonnie And Clyde (1967)
111 minutes, D: Arthur Penn
Trend-setting film about unlikely heroes of 1930s bank-robbing team has spawned many imitators but still leads the pack. Veering from comedy to melodrama and social commentary, it remains vivid, stylish throughout. When released, violent conclusion was extremely controversial. Screenplay by David Newman and Robert Benton. Parsons and cinematographer Burnett Guffey were Oscar winners. Wilder's first film.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968 - British)
139 minutes, D: Stanley Kubrick
A unique masterpiece, immensely influential; Kubrick starkly depicts several encounters mankind has with never-glimpsed aliens, from the dawn of Man four million years ago to the title year, when an alien artifact is found on the Moon. An expedition tracking its radio signal is launched to Jupiter, with mysterious, haunting results. A visual feast, film also boasts distinction of having put Richard Strauss into the Top 40 with "Also Sprach Zarathustra." Oscar-winning special effects. Screenplay by Arthur C. Clarke and the director, from Clarke's The Sentinel.
The Wild Bunch (1969)
134 minutes, D: Sam Peckinpah
Peckinpah's best film won instant notoriety for its "beautiful" bloodletting, but seems almost restrained alongside today's films. Aging outlaws with their own code of ethics find themselves passe in 1913 and decide to retire after one final haul. Acting, dialogue, direction, score, photography, and especially editing are world class; an authentic American classic.
Midnight Cowboy (1969)
113 minutes, D: John Schlesinger
Emotionally shattering dramatization of James Leo Herlihy's novel was rated X in 1969, but it's essentially an old-fashioned story with some unusual modern twists: hayseed Voight comes to N.Y.C., becomes a free-lance stud, and develops unusual and deep friendship with seedy Ratso Rizzo (Hoffman). Seamiest side of N.Y.C. is backdrop for compelling, keen-eyed character study that if anything looks better today than it did when it came out. Won Best Picture, Director, Screenplay (Waldo Salt) Oscars. Graphic effects by Pablo Ferro.
All About Eve (1950)
138 minutes, D: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Brilliantly sophisticated (and cynical) look at life in and around the theater, with a heaven-sent script by director Mankiewicz (based on the story "The Wisdom of Eve" by Mary Orr). Davis is absolutely perfect as an aging star who takes in an adoring fan (Baxter) and soon discovers that the young woman is taking over her life. Witty dialogue to spare, especially great when spoken by Sanders and Ritter. Six Oscars include Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Supporting Actor (Sanders).
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
110 minutes, D: Billy Wilder
Legendary Hollywood black comedy about faded silent-film star Norma Desmond (Swanson), living in the past with butler (von Stroheim), who shelters hack screenwriter (Holden) as boyfriend. Bitter, funny, fascinating; Gloria's tour de force. Three Oscars include Best Screenplay (Wilder, Charles Brackett, D.M. Marshman, Jr.) and Score (Franz Waxman).
Rashomon (1950 - Japanese)
88 minutes, D: Akira Kurosawa
Kurosawa's first huge international success is superlative study of truth and human nature; four people involved in a rape-murder tell varying accounts of what happened. The film's very title has become part of our language. Oscar winner as Best Foreign Film.
Strangers on a Train (1951)
101 minutes, D: Alfred Hitchcock
Walker gives his finest performance as psychopath involved with tennis star Granger in "exchange murders." Lorne is unforgettable as doting mother; so is merry-go-round climax. First-class Hitchcock, based on a Patricia Highsmith novel and coscripted by Raymond Chandler.
Singin' In The Rain (1952)
102 minutes, D: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
Perhaps the greatest movie musical of all time, fashioned by Betty Comdon and Adolph Green from a catalogue of Arthur Freed-Nacio Herb Brown songs. The setting is Hollywood during the transition to talkies, with Hagen giving the performance of a lifetime as Kelly's silent screen costar, whose voice could shatter glass. Kelly's title number, O'Connor's "Make 'Em Laugh," are just two highlights in a film packed with gems.
High Noon (1952)
84 minutes, D: Fred Zinnemann
On his wedding - and retirement - day, marshal Cooper learns that a gunman is coming seeking revenge. Though he has good excuses for leaving, he feels a responsibility to stay and face the gunman - but no one in town is willing to help. The story appears to unfold in "real time," as the many on-screen clocks will verify. Legendary Western drama about a crisis of conscience, written by Carl Foreman, underscored by Tex Ritter's performance of Oscar-winning Dimitri Tiomkin-Ned Washington song, "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'." Oscars also went to Cooper, Tiomkin's score, and Elmo Williams' and Harry Gerstad's editing.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
103 minutes, D: Stanley Donen
Rollicking musical perfectly integrates song, dance, and story: Keel's decision to get himself a wife (Powell) inspires his rowdy brothers to follow suit. Tuneful Johnny Mercer-Gene DePaul score (with Oscar-winning musical direction by Adolph Deutsch and Saul Chaplin), but it's Michael Kidd's energetic dance numbers that really stand out, with rare screen work by dancers Jacques D'Amboise and Marc Platt. The barn-raising sequence is an absolute knockout. Screenplay by Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, and Dorothy Kingsley, from a Stephen Vincent Benet story.
On The Waterfront (1954)
108 minutes, D: Elia Kazan
Budd Schulberg's unflinching account of N.Y.C. harbor unions (suggested by articles by Malcolm Johnson), with Brando unforgettable as misfit, Steiger his crafty brother, Cobb his waterfront boss, and Saint the girl he loves. That classic scene in the back of a taxicab is just as moving as ever. Winner of eight Oscars: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Brando), Supporting Actress (Saint), Story and Screenplay, Cinematography (Boris Kaufman), Art Direction-Set Decoration (Richard Day), and Editing (Gene Milford). Leonard Bernstein's music is another major asset. Film debuts of Saint, Martin Balsam, Fred Gwynne, and Pat Hingle.
The Seven Samurai (1954 - Japanese)
141 minutes, D: Akira Kurosawa
Classic film about 16th-century Japanese village which hires professional warriors to fend off bandits. Kurosawa's "far-east Western" has served as model for many films since, including American remake The Magnificent Seven (a title once given this film for U.S. release).
The Searchers (1956)
119 minutes, D: John Ford
Superb Western saga of Wayne's relentless search for niece (Wood) kidnapped by Indians, spanning many years. Color, scenery, photography all splendid, with moving, insightful Frank Nugent script to match (based on Alan LeMay's novel). And who could ever forget that final shot?
Paths of Glory (1957)
86 minutes, D: Stanley Kubrick
During WW1, French general Macready orders his men on a suicidal charge; when they fail, he picks three soldiers to be tried and executed for cowardice. Shattering study of the insanity of war has grown even more profound with the years; stunningly acted and directed. Calder Willingham, Jim Thompson, and Kubrick adapted Humphrey Cobb's novel - based on fact.
The Seventh Seal (1957 - Sweden)
96 minutes, D: Ingmar Bergman
Sydow, a disillusioned knight on his way back from the Crusades, tries to solve the mysteries of life while playing chess game with Death, who has offered him a short reprieve. Spellbinding, one-of-a-kind masterpiece helped gain Bergman international acclaim.
128 minutes, D: Alfred Hitchcock
One of Hitchcock's most discussed films. Retired police detective Stewart, who has a fear of heights, is hired by old school chum in San Francisco to keep an eye on his wife (Novak), eventually falls in love with his quarry...and that's just the beginning; to reveal more would be unthinkable. Alec Coppel and Samuel Taylor scripted, from the novel D'entre les morts by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. Haunting, dream-like thriller, with riveting Bernard Herrmann score to match; a genuinely great motion picture that demands multiple viewings.
North By Northwest (1959)
136 minutes, D: Alfred Hitchcock
Quintessential Hitchcock comedy-thriller, with bewildered ad-man Grant chased cross country by both spies (who think he's a double agent) and the police (who think he's an assassin). One memorable scene after another, including now-legendary crop-dusting and Mount Rushmore sequences; one of the all-time great entertainments. Witty script by Ernest Lehman, exciting score by Bernard Herrmann.
The 400 Blows (1959 - French)
99 minutes, D: Francois Truffaut
Captivating study of Parisian youth who turns to life of small-time crime as a reaction to derelict parents. First of Truffaut's autobiographical Antoine Doinel series.
Some Like It Hot (1959)
119 minutes, D: Billy Wilder
Legendary comedy by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond about two musicians who witness the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and try to elude their pursuers by joining an all-girl band heading for Miami. Sensational from start to finish, with dazzling performances by Lemmon and Curtis, a memorably comic turn by Monroe as Sugar Kane, and Oscar-winning costumes by Orry-Kelly. Brown has film's now-classic closing line.
His Girl Friday (1940)
92 minutes, D: Howard Hawks
Splendid comedy remake of The Front Page with Grant as conniving editor, Russell as star reporter (and his ex-wife), Bellamy as mama's boy she's trying to marry amid hot murder story. Terrific character actors add sparkle to must-see film, scripted by Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer.
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
129 minutes, D: John Ford
Classic Americana of Okies moving from dust bowl to California during Depression, lovingly brought to screen. Fonda, as ex-con, is unforgettable in role of his life. Darwell, as determined family matriarch, and Ford won well-deserved Oscars. Written for the screen (from John Steinbeck's classic) and produced by Nunnally Johnson. Don't miss this one.
120 minutes, D: Ben Sharpsteen (production supervisor)
Walt Disney's eight-part marriage of music and animated images remains an amazing achievement; Taylor's narration dates it more than the content. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (with Mickey Mouse), "The Dance of the Hours" (with dancing hippos and alligators), "Rite of Spring" (dinosaurs stalking the earth), and "A Night on Bald Mountain" (with Chernobog, the personification of evil) are so stunning that they make up for the less compelling sequences. Also notable for groundbreaking use of multichannel stereophonic sound.
Sullivan's Travels (1941)
91 minutes, D: Preston Sturges
Tired of making fluff, movie director McCrea decides to do a "serious" film; to research it, he sets out with 10 cents in his pocket to experience life in "the real world." Slapstick and sorrow blend seamlessly in this landmark Hollywood satire, which grows more pertinent with each passing year. A unique achievement for writer-director Sturges.
Citizen Kane (1941)
119 minutes, D: Orson Welles
Welles' first and best, a film that broke all the rules and invented some new ones, with fascinating story of Hearst-like publisher's rise to power. The cinematography (by Gregg Toland), music score (by Bernard Hermann), and Oscar-winning screenplay (by Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz) are all first-rate. A stunning film in every way...and Welles was only 25 when he made it!
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
100 minutes, D: John Huston
Outstanding detective drama improves with each viewing. Bogey is Dashiell Hammett's "hero" Sam Spade, Astor his client, Lorre the evasive Joel Cairo, Greenstreet (in his talkie film debut) the Fat Man, and Cook the neurotic gunsel Wilmer. Huston's first directorial effort (which he also scripted) moves at lightning pace, with cameo by his father Walter Huston as Captain Jacobi.
The Lady Eve (1941)
94 minutes, D: Preston Sturges
Stanwyck is a con artist who sets her eyes on wealthy Fonda - the dolt to end all dolts, who proclaims "snakes are my life." Sometimes silly and strident, this film grows funnier with each viewing - thanks to Sturges's script, breathless pace, and two incomparable stars.
102 minutes, D: Michael Curtiz
Everything is right in this WW2 classic of war-torn Morocco with elusive night-club owner Rick (Bogart) finding old flame (Bergman) and her husband, underground leader Henreid, among skeletons in his closet. Rains is marvelous as dapper police chief, and nobody sings "As Time Goes By" like Dooley Wilson. Three Oscars include Picture, Director, and Screenplay (Julius and Philip Epstein and Howard Koch). Our candidate for the best Hollywood movie of all time.
The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
75 minutes, D: William A. Wellman
The irony and terror of mob rule are vividly depicted in this unforgettable drama about a lynch mob taking the law into its own hands, despite protests of some level-headed onlookers. Based on Walter Van Tilburg Clark's book; superb script by Lamar Trotti.
The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944)
99 minutes, D: Preston Sturges
Frantic, hilarious comedy of Betty attending all-night party, getting pregnant and forgetting who's the father. Bracken and Demarest have never been better than in this daring wartime farce. Filmed in 1942.
Double Indemnity (1944)
106 minutes, D: Billy Wilder
Wilder-Raymond Chandler script (from the James M. Cain novel) packs fireworks in account of insurance salesman MacMurray coerced into murder plot by alluring Stanwyck and subsequent investigation by Fred's colleague Robinson. An American movie classic, with crackling dialogue throughout.
My Darling Clementine (1946)
97 minutes, D: John Ford
Beautifully-directed, low-key Western about Wyatt Earp (Fonda) and Doc Holliday (Mature), leading to inevitable gunfight at O.K. Corral. Full of wonderful details and vignettes; exquisitely photographed by Joseph P. MacDonald. One of director Ford's finest films, and an American classic. Screenplay by Samuel G. Engel and Winston Miller, from a story by Sam Hellman. Based on a book by Stuart N. Lake. Remake of Frontier Marshal (1939).
It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
129 minutes, D: Frank Capra
Sentimental tale of Stewart, who works all his life to make good in small town, thinking he's failed and trying to end his life. Guardian angel Travers comes to show him his mistake. Only Capra and this cast could pull it off so well; this film seems to improve with age. Capra, Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, and Jo Swerling expanded Philip Van Doren Stern's short story "The Greatest Gift" (which had originally been written by Stern as a Christmas card!).
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
172 minutes, D: William Wyler
American classic of three veterans returning home after WW2, readjusting to civilian life. Robert Sherwood's script from MacKinlay Kantor's book perfectly captured mood of postwar U.S.; still powerful today. Seven Oscars include Best Picture, Wyler, March, Russell, Sherwood, Daniel Mandell's editing, Hugo Friedhofer's score. Russell, an actual veteran who lost his hands, also took home a second Oscar, a special award for bringing hope and courage to other veterans.
Great Expectations (1946 - British)
118 minutes, D: David Lean
One of the greatest films ever made, a vivid adaptation of Dickens's tale of a mysterious benefactor making poor young orphan a gentleman of means. Opening graveyard sequence is a gem. Oscars went to cinematographer Guy Green and art director John Bryan. Lean, Kay Walsh, Cecil McGivern, and producers Anthony Havelock-Allan and Ronald Neame all contributed to script.
The Bicycle Thief (1948 - Italian)
90 minutes, D: Vittorio De Sica
Simple, realistic tale of working-man whose job depends on his bicycle, and the shattering week he spends with his young son after it is stolen. An honest, beautiful film that deservedly earned a special Academy Award (before foreign films had a category of their own); one of the all-time classics.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
124 minutes, D: John Huston
Excellent adaptation of B. Traven's tale of gold, greed, and human nature at its worst, with Bogart, Huston, and Holt as unlikely trio of prospectors. John Huston won Oscars for Best Direction and Screenplay, and his father Walter won as Best Supporting Actor. That's John as an American tourist near the beginning, and young Robert Blake selling lottery tickets.
Gun Crazy (1949)
86 minutes, D: Joseph H. Lewis
Knockout of a sleeper in the Bonnie and Clyde tradition, stylishly (and sometimes startingly) directed. Cummins is femme fatale who leads gun-crazy Dall into life of crime. Screenplay credited to MacKinlay Kantor and Millard Kaufman (who was actually "fronting" for then black-listed writer Dalton Trumbo), from Kantor's Saturday Evening Post story. Aka Deadly Is The Female.
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
133 minutes, D: Lewis Milestone
Vivid, moving adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's eloquent pacifist novel about German boys' experiences as soldiers during WWI. Time hasn't dimmed its power, or its poignancy, one bit. Scripted by Milestone, Maxwell Anderson, Del Andrews, and George Abbott. Academy Award winner for Best Picture and Director.
City Lights (1931)
86 minutes, D: Charlie Chaplin
Chaplin's masterpiece tells story of his love for blind flower girl, and his hot-and-cold friendship with a drunken millionaire. Eloquent, moving, and funny. One of the all-time greats.
M (1931 - German)
99 minutes, D: Fritz Lang
Harrowing melodrama about psychotic child murderer brought to justice by Berlin underworld. Riveting and frighteningly contemporary; cinematically dazzling, especially for an early talkie. Lorre's performance is unforgettable.
75 minutes, D: Tod Browning
Classic horror film of Transylvanian vampire working his evil spell on perplexed group of Londoners. Lugosi's most famous role with his definitive interpretation of the Count, ditto Frye as looney Renfield and Van Sloan as unflappable Professor Van Helsing.
70 minutes, D: James Whale
Definitive monster movie, with Clive as the ultimate mad scientist, creating a man-made being (Karloff) but inadvertently giving him a criminal brain. It's creaky at times, and cries for a music score, but it's still impressive...as is Karloff's performance in the role that made him a star. Long-censored footage, restored in 1987, enhances the impact of several key scenes, including the drowning of a little girl. Based on Mary Shelley's novel. Followed by Bride of Frankenstein.
Trouble in Paradise (1932)
83 minutes, D: Ernst Lubitsch
Sparkling Lubitsch confection about two jewel thieves (Marshall and Hopkins) who fall in love, but find their relationship threatened when he turns on the charm to their newest (female) victim. This film is a working definition of the term "sophisticated comedy." Script by Samson Raphaelson and Grover Jones.
King Kong (1933)
103 minutes, D: Merian C. Cooper
Classic version of beauty-and-beast theme is a moviegoing must, with Willis O'Brien's special effects and animation of monster ape Kong still unsurpassed. Final sequence atop Empire State Building is now cinema folklore; Max Steiner music score also memorable. Followed immediately by The Son of Kong.
Duck Soup (1933)
70 minutes, D: Leo McCarey
The Marx Brothers' most sustained bit of insanity, a flop when first released, but now considered a satiric masterpiece. In postage-stamp-sized Freedonia, Prime Minister Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) declares war on neighboring Sylvania just for the hell of it. Enough gags for five movies, but our favorite is still the mirror sequence. Zeppo's swan song with his brothers.
Sons of the Desert (1933)
69 minutes, D: William A. Seiter
Laurel and Hardy's best feature film; duo sneaks off to fraternal convention without telling the wives; then the fun begins, with Chase as hilariously obnoxious conventioneer.
It Happened One Night (1934)
105 minutes, D: Frank Capra
Legendary romantic comedy doesn't age a bit. Still as enchanting as ever, with reporter Gable and runaway heiress Colbert falling in love on rural bus trip. Hitch-hiking travails, the Walls of Jericho, other memorable scenes remain fresh and delightful. First film to win all five major Oscars: Picture, Actor, Actress, Director, and Screenplay (Robert Riskin). Based on Samuel Hopkins Adams' story "Night Bus," originally published in Cosmopolitan.
It's A Gift (1934)
73 minutes, D: Norman Z. McLeod
Fields is a grocery store owner who goes West with his family. Beautiful comedy routines in one of the Great Man's unforgettable films. Charles Sellon as a blind man, T. Roy Barnes as a salesman looking for Carl LaFong, contribute some hilarious moments. A remake of Fields' silent film It's the Old Army Game.
A Night at the Opera (1935)
92 minutes, D: Sam Wood
The Marx Brothers invade the world of opera with devastating results. Arguably their finest film (a close race with Duck Soup), with tuneful music and appealing romance neatly interwoven. One priceless comedy bit follows another: the stateroom scene, the Party of the First Part contract, etc. This is as good as it gets.
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
75 minutes, D: James Whale
Eye-filling sequel to Frankenstein is even better, with rich vein of dry wit running through the chills. Inimitable Thesiger plays weird doctor who compels Frankenstein into making a mate for his creation; Lanchester plays both the "bride" and, in amusing prologue, Mary Shelley. Pastoral interlude with blind hermit and final, riotous creation scene are highlights of this truly classic movie. Scripted by John L. Balderston and William Hurlbut. Marvelous Franz Waxman score, reused for many subsequent films. Followed by Son of Frankenstein.
The 39 Steps (1935 - British)
87 minutes, D: Alfred Hitchcock
Classic Hitchcock mystery with overtones of light comedy and romance, as innocent Donat is pulled into spy-ring activities. Memorable banter between Donat and Carroll, who thinks he's a criminal, set style for sophisticated dialogue for years. John Buchan's novel was adapted by Charles Bennett and Alma Reville; additional dialogue by Ian Hay.
Swing Time (1936)
103 minutes, D:George Stevens
One of the best Astaire-Rogers films, with stars as dance team whose romance is hampered by Fred's engagement to girl back home (Furness). Fine support by Moore and Broderick, unforgettable Jerome Kern-Dorothy Fields songs "A Fine Romance," "Pick Yourself Up." Oscar-winning "The Way You Look Tonight." Astaire's Bojangles production number is a screen classic.
Modern Times (1936)
89 minutes, D: Charlie Chaplin
Charlie attacks the machine age in inimitable fashion, with sharp pokes at other social ills and the struggle of modern-day survival. Goddard is the gamin who becomes his partner in life. Chaplin's last silent film (with his own music - including "Smile" - sound effects and gibberish song) is consistently hilarious, and unforgettable. Final shot is among Chaplin's most famous and most poignant.
101 minutes, D: William Wyler
Superb adaptation of Sinclair Lewis novel about middle-aged American industrialist who retires, goes to Europe, where he and his wife find differing sets of values, and new relationships. Intelligently written (by Sidney Howard), beautifully filmed, extremely well acted, with Huston recreating his Broadway role. Won Oscar for Interior Decoration (Richard Day). Unusually mature Hollywood film, not to be missed.
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)
115 minutes, D: Frank Capra
Cooper is Longfellow Deeds, who inherits 20 million dollars and wants to give it all away to needy people. Arthur is appealing as the hard-boiled big-city reporter who tries to figure out what makes him tick. Capra won his second Oscar for this irresistible film, written by Robert Riskin (from Clarence Budington Kelland's story "Opera Hat").
Grand Illusion (1937 - French)
117 minutes, D: Jean Renoir
Renoir's classic treatise on war, focusing on French prisoners during WWI and their cultured German commandant. Beautiful performances enhance an eloquent script (by Renoir and Charles Spaak).
Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1937)
83 minutes, D: Ben Sharpsteen
Walt Disney's groundbreaking animated feature film - the first of its kind - is still in a class by itself, a warm and joyful rendition of the classic fairy tale, enhanced by the vivid personalities of the seven dwarfs. Only a real-life Grumpy could fail to love it. Songs include "Whistle While You Work," "Heigh Ho," and "Some Day My Prince Will Come."
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
102 minutes, D: Michael Curtiz
Dashing Flynn in the definitive swashbuckler, winning hand of de Havilland (never lovelier as Maid Marian), foiling evil prince Rains, dueling wicked Rathbone. Erich Wolfgang Korngold's outstanding score earned an Oscar, as did the art direction and editing. Scripted by Norman Reilly Raine and Seton I. Miller. Arguably Flynn's greatest role.
The Lady Vanishes (1938 - British)
97 minutes, D: Alfred Hitchcock
An old woman's disappearance during a train ride leads baffled young woman into a dizzying web of intrigue. Delicious mystery-comedy; Hitchcock at his best, with a witty script by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat, and wonderful performances by Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford, who scored such a hit as a pair of twits that they repeated those roles in several other films! Based on Ethel Lina White's novel The Wheel Spins.
96 minutes, D: John Ford
One of the great American films, and a landmark in the maturing of the Western, balancing character study (as disparate passengers travel together on the same stagecoach) and peerless action (in a lengthy Indian attack, featuring Yakima Canutt's famous stuntwork). Also the film that propelled John Wayne to genuine stardom. Mitchell won an Oscar as the drunken doctor, as did the music score. Script by Dudley Nichols, from Ernest Haycox's story "Stage to Lordsburg" (whose plot is reminiscent of Guy de Maupassant's Boule de Suif). Filmed in Ford's beloved Monument Valley on the Arizona-Utah border.
Gone With The Wind (1939)
222 minutes, D: Victor Fleming
If not the greatest movie ever made, certainly one of the greatest examples of storytelling on film, maintaining interest for nearly four hours. Margaret Mitchell's story is, in effect, a Civil War soap opera, focusing on vixenish Southern belle Scarlett O'Hara, brilliantly played by Leigh; she won Oscar, as did the picture, McDaniel, director Fleming, screenwriter Sidney Howard (posthumously), many others. Memorable music by Max Steiner in this one-of-a-kind film meticulously produced by David O. Selznick.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
101 minutes, D: Victor Fleming
A genuine American classic, based on L. Frank Baum's story of a Kansas girl who goes "Over the Rainbow" to a land of colorful characters and spirited adventure. A perfect cast in the perfect fantasy, with Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg's unforgettable score. Just as good the fifteenth time as it is the first time. Won Oscars for "Over the Rainbow" and Herbert Stothart's scoring, plus a special miniature award for Judy.
The Birth of a Nation (1915)
186 minutes, D: D. W. Griffith
The landmark of American motion pictures. Griffith's epic story of two families during Civil War and Reconstruction is still fascinating. Sometimes the drama survives intact; other times, one must watch in a more historical perspective. Griffith's portrayal of Ku Klux Klan in heroic role has kept this film a center of controversy to the present day.
178 minutes, D: D. W. Griffith
Landmark American epic, interweaves four stories of prejudice and inhumanity, from the Babylonian era to the modern day. Melodramatic, to be sure, but gains in momentum and power as it moves toward its stunning climax. That's Lillian Gish as the mother rocking the cradle; Constance Talmadge gives a most appealing and contemporary performance as the sprightly Mountain Girl.
Our Hospitality (1923)
74 minutes, D: Buster Keaton
Buster goes to the South to claim a family inheritance, and falls in love with the daughter of a longtime rival clan. Sublime silent comedy, one of Buster's best, with a genuinely hair-raising finale. Incidentally, Buster married his leading lady in real life.
140 minutes, D: Erich von Stroheim
Powerful adaptation of Frank Norris' novel McTeague, about a simple man whose wife's obsession with money eventually drives him to madness. Even though von Stroheim's film was taken from him, and severly cut by the studio (it originally ran eight hours), this remains a stunning work, one of the greatest of all silent films. The final sequences in Death Valley are unforgettable.
The Gold Rush (1925)
82 minutes, D: Charlie Chaplin
Immortal Chaplin classic, pitting Little Tramp against Yukon, affections of dance-hall girl, whims of a burly prospector. Dance of the rolls, eating leather shoe, cabin tottering over cliff - all highlights of wonderful, timeless comedy. Chaplin re-edited film in 1942; that version, with his narration and music, runs 72m.
Potemkin (1925 - Russian)
65 minutes, D: Sergei Eisenstein
Landmark film about 1905 Revolution. Unlike many staples of film history classes, this one has the power to grip any audience. Odessa Steps sequence is possibly the most famous movie scene of all time.
The Big Parade (1925)
141 minutes, D: King Vidor
One of the best WWI films ever; clean-shaven Gilbert a wonderful hero. Adoree an unforgettable heroine. Filled with memorable vignettes, and some of the most harrowingly realistic battle scenes ever filmed. A gem.
The Freshman (1925)
70 minutes, D: Sam Taylor and Fred Newmeyer
One of Lloyd's best remembered films casts him as collegiate patsy who'll do anything to be popular on campus, unaware that everyone is making fun of him. Football game finale is one of several comic highlights. A real audience-rouser.
Metropolis (1927 - German)
120 minutes, D: Fritz Lang
Classic silent-film fantasy of futuristic city and its mechanized society, with upper-class young man abandoning his life of luxury to join oppressed workers in a revolt. Heavy going at times, but startling set design and special effects command attention throughout. Many shorter prints exist; reissued in 1984 at 87 minutes with color-tints and score by Giorgio Moroder. [Also restored in its most complete version in 2002.]
The General (1927)
74 minutes, D: Buster Keaton
One of Keaton's best silent features, setting comedy against true Civil War story of stolen train, Union spies. Not as fanciful as other Keaton films, but beautifully done.
110 minutes, D: F. W. Murnau
Exquisite silent film is just as powerful today as when it was made, telling simple story of farmer who plans to murder his wife, led on by another woman. Triumph of direction, camerawork, art direction, and performances, all hauntingly beautiful. Screenplay by Carl Mayer, from Hermann Suderman's story. Cinematographers Karl Struss and Charles Rosher won Oscars, as did the film for "artistic quality of production." Gaynor also won Best Actress Oscar (shared for her performances in 7th Heaven and Street Angel). Remade in Germany as The Journey to Tilsit. Full title onscreen is Sunrise - A Song of Two Humans.
The Crowd (1928)
104 minutes, D: King Vidor
Classic drama about a few happy and many not-so-happy days in the marriage of hard-luck couple. One of the greatest silent films; holds up beautifully. Written by Harry Behn, John V.A. Weaver, and director Vidor, from the latter's original story.
That list is absulutely terrible. Save yourself some time and agony and go off of the the Sight and Sound Top 100:
Couldn't agree more... I take IMDB ratings with a grain of salt.