BBC names 100 Greatest U.S. films

Drax1

Distinguished Member
http://www.darkhorizons.com/news/37961/bbc-names-100-greatest-u-s-films

  1. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
  2. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
  3. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
  4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
  5. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
  6. Sunrise (FW Murnau, 1927)
  7. Singin' in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952)
  8. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
  9. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)
  10. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
  11. The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942)
  12. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)
  13. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)
  14. Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975)
  15. The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946)
  16. McCabe & Mrs Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)
  17. The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925)
  18. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)
  19. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
  20. Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990)
  21. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
  22. Greed (Erich von Stroheim, 1924)
  23. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)
  24. The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)
  25. Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)
  26. Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1978)
  27. Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975)
  28. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
  29. Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)
  30. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)
  31. A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974)
  32. The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)
  33. The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
  34. The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)
  35. Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)
  36. Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977)
  37. Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959)
  38. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)
  39. The Birth of a Nation (DW Griffith, 1915)
  40. Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, 1943)
  41. Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959)
  42. Dr Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)
  43. Letter from an Unknown Woman (Max Ophüls, 1948)
  44. Sherlock Jr (Buster Keaton, 1924)
  45. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962)
  46. It's a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
  47. Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964)
  48. A Place in the Sun (George Stevens, 1951)
  49. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)
  50. His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)
  51. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)
  52. The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)
  53. Grey Gardens (Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, 1975)
  54. Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)
  55. The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)
  56. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
  57. Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 1989)
  58. The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940)
  59. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Miloš Forman, 1975)
  60. Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)
  61. Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999)
  62. The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
  63. Love Streams (John Cassavetes, 1984)
  64. Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954)
  65. The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 1965)
  66. Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)
  67. Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)
  68. Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946)
  69. Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, 1982)
  70. The Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli, 1953)
  71. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)
  72. The Shanghai Gesture (Josef von Sternberg, 1941)
  73. Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)
  74. Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994)
  75. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977)
  76. The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980)
  77. Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939)
  78. Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)
  79. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
  80. Meet Me in St Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944)
  81. Thelma & Louise (Ridley Scott, 1991)
  82. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)
  83. Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)
  84. Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972)
  85. Night of the Living Dead (George A Romero, 1968)
  86. The Lion King (Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, 1994)
  87. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
  88. West Side Story (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, 1961)
  89. In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)
  90. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
  91. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)
  92. The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
  93. Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973)
  94. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)
  95. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)
  96. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)
  97. Gone With the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939)
  98. Heaven's Gate (Michael Cimino, 1980)
  99. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)
  100. Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, 1951)


BBC Culture consulted 62 international film critics to come up with this little lot. Yes, it's all subjective, but for 'Do the Right Thing' (as good as it is), to come way higher than the likes of 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest', 'Jaws', 'Raiders', and 'The Empire Strikes Back', come on!
I thoroughly enjoyed all the Godfather films too, but can never understand how the first instalment always gets to virtually top these lists.
 

SDMDAM

Well-known Member
I totally do not get the Citizen Kane thing at all. I have watched it several times and would rate it "good" and no more. I really don't understand how it is consistently at the top of these lists.
 

Garrett

Moderator
I totally do not get the Citizen Kane thing at all. I have watched it several times and would rate it "good" and no more. I really don't understand how it is consistently at the top of these lists.
Same I watched it a few times and know what its getting at and like the camera work but don't think it should be top.
Probably if 62 all gave it 7/10 and all the other films where all over the show it could end up with higher masks than what we think are more deserving films.
 

Goooner

Distinguished Member
Totally agree about CK.

I've watched it a few times to make sure I wasn't missing anything, if I am, I can't see it.

I get it had loads of innovative stuff when it came out, but that was 70 odd years ago, why does it still always get to be top, or near top of these lists?
 

Courtjezter

Distinguished Member
I'm surprised (but not upset) that Shawshank isn't in there. That's usually an obligatory choice for these kind of lists.
I am equally surprised that Eyes Wide Shut is on there, i think what happened was that people saw the name Kubrick and thought, we must bung it on there.
 

lucasisking

Distinguished Member
Totally agree about CK.

I've watched it a few times to make sure I wasn't missing anything, if I am, I can't see it.

I get it had loads of innovative stuff when it came out, but that was 70 odd years ago, why does it still always get to be top, or near top of these lists?

Its just one of those things that seems to be accepted as gospel. It's even become part of our everyday lexicon whenever we want to highly praise any form of creative art:

"its the Citizen Kane of [insert film/tv show/play/game]s".

I haven't seen it though, so I wont make that assumption until I have.

I am equally surprised that Eyes Wide Shut is on there, i think what happened was that people saw the name Kubrick and thought, we must bung it on there.

Ah see I really like Eyes Wide Shut, so I'd probably find room for it in my 100 somewhere. I agree though its not really a popular choice.
 

Sonic67

Banned
Totally agree about CK.

I've watched it a few times to make sure I wasn't missing anything, if I am, I can't see it.

I get it had loads of innovative stuff when it came out, but that was 70 odd years ago, why does it still always get to be top, or near top of these lists?
Probably for that reason.

It's "Great" because it influenced so much that came after it and broke the mould in so many ways.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/CitizenKane

Because you have seen all the tropes in the film redone elsewhere then when you watch the original it doesn't seem so influential or as good.

It's like watching Seinfeld now if you have never seen it before. It's been copied so often with some of the things that were done for the first time in it, that later shows which then do it better, means that Seinfeld now looks poor in comparison with them.

I am reminded of someone posting that Hamlet was just a collection of quotes. Well it is now.
 

Goooner

Distinguished Member
And one place above The Shining?o_O

Well the Shining is rubbish, so not sure why that's in there at all :)

I actually proffered the mini-series and that was pretty bad, but a lot truer to the book.
 

Goooner

Distinguished Member
Probably for that reason.

It's "Great" because it influenced so much that came after it and broke the mould in so many ways.

Citizen Kane (Film) - TV Tropes

Because you have seen all the tropes in the film redone elsewhere then when you watch the original it doesn't seem so influential or as good.

It's like watching Seinfeld now if you have never seen it before. It's been copied so often with some of the things that were done for the first time in it, that later shows which then do it better, means that Seinfeld now looks poor in comparison with them.

I am reminded of someone posting that Hamlet was just a collection of quotes. Well it is now.

But couldn't you say the same about something like the Model T Ford? That must have done stuff first that was copied countless times later, but I'm sure nobody would be saying now that it's one of the greatest card ever made.

I have no problem with CK being praised for doing all the revolutionary stuff first, but I don't get how it almost automatically has to be the best just because it was first.
 

Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
A great list and not much to quibble with except maybe the order.

One quibble maybe - if I had to put one Disney animated film on the list it certainly wouldn't be The Lion King. Pinocchio would be my pick. Also it's nice to see Marnie getting a critical re-evaluation and some recognition at long last.

As to the No 1 choice, well I'll be the lone voice (so far) on this thread to champion it.

To think that Citizen Kane gets its consistent No 1 placement in polls the world over simply because of its technical innovations is to miss the point completely. Indeed some of it's presumed innovations had been used by other film makers before Welles, but not to the ground-breaking effect that he used them.

Likewise, to say we've seen those cinematic techniques many times since is, again, to miss the point completely. Yes, every film maker that ever shouted "action" owes a debt to this film, but very, very few have ever used those techniques and cinematic innovations to the effect that Welles did in Kane.

Practically every frame of the film is loaded with layers of meaning. Welles went to painstaking lengths to obtain particular compositions in order to convey in an image what lesser film makers would take a page or so of expositional dialogue to communicate. Every detail of the film was meticulously planned as to what the finished image could say in place of dialogue or conventional narrative exposition, right down to the choice or placement of props on a table in a scene.

Welles was that rare bird, a renaissance man and a bona fide genius to boot. He was steeped in literature, theatre, radio, art and music from an early age and brought his experience of all of these media to play in his new "train set" the motion picture. In particular, his love of literature and poetry played a great part in his concept of Kane, as he employed existing cinematic techniques (and where they didn't exist he invented them) to translate tried and tested classic written literary techniques and devices used by great authors and poets into a visual form, to add layer upon layer of significance, often outside the immediate on-screen action, to practically every frame of the film. Welles uses a well composed image in the way a poet uses a well composed verse to convey multiple meanings or to create ambiguity of purpose. No one had ever used the medium of cinema like this before and indeed very few have since, and bear in mind that Welles was a total newcomer to the medium of film.

That is one of the joys of the film and why it never loses its appeal because it is a truly cinematic experience in the fullest sense, in that you can enjoy not only the story (and for first time viewers the mystery), but you can literally "watch the pictures", over and over again and add layer upon layer to the narrative experience. It literally is the visual equivalent of a poem. Like a great novel or painting, Welles built this film to last and to stand up to many repeat visits.

I've used the film to teach film narrative technique to students many times over the years, and I've lost count of the times when I'm discussing a scene that I've seen dozens of times before, that I find myself stopped in my tracks by some detail that I've never noticed before that gives me a totally fresh perspective on what I'm looking at. I think I can count on one hand the number of films that can constantly surprise me in this manner like Kane can.

This is as far removed from technique for its own sake as one can get. Too often lesser directors resort to technical visual effects, or "flashy" cinematic techniques, to prop up a weak film or use them simply for their own sake. But in Citizen Kane the dog most definitely wags the tail in every frame, and not the other way round!

Yes, Kane is ground-breaking, innovative and one of the most important films ever made. But -and it's a big but- it is also a bravura piece of entertainment. It never cease to amaze me how fresh this film is no matter how many times I watch it. It is so alive and audacious and the fact that it is the work of a maverick talent at the peak of his powers, who has torn up Hollywood's rule book and written his own, is what keeps it so fresh.

And then I consider all of the above and remember that Welles was the ripe old age of 24 years when he embarked on Citizen Kane!

A bit like Gary Barlow when he started out, only talented! :)
 
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brian s

Distinguished Member
But couldn't you say the same about something like the Model T Ford? That must have done stuff first that was copied countless times later, but I'm sure nobody would be saying now that it's one of the greatest card ever made.

I have no problem with CK being praised for doing all the revolutionary stuff first, but I don't get how it almost automatically has to be the best just because it was first.

I don't get CK either but if it was revolutionary in it's time then fair enough. There's bound to many films you've seen that you thought were breaking new ground and loved them for doing so. In 50 years time those films will also be regarded poorly by anyone who can't judge them in their historical context. Being the first in any way is one hell of an achievement. How many original thoughts do any of us have each day?

Bri
 

Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
And once again, the elephant in the room, a "Best of" list that does not contain William Dieterle's The Devil and Daniel Webster, not only one of the greatest American films ever made but one of the greatest films ever made, period.

The long period of unavailability of this film has caused it to fall outside the contemporary critical radar, which is a crime. Someone needs to rectify this situation. I often fantasise that Criterion will give it a spruce up for Blu Ray release and it will have some selected cinema screenings of the newly minted print and then the world and his brother will discover it and give this cinematic gem the status it deserves.
 

Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
And while we're at it, where the **** is John Ford's The Quiet Man? Even Ford acknowledges this film as his masterpiece.
 

Sonic67

Banned
But couldn't you say the same about something like the Model T Ford? That must have done stuff first that was copied countless times later, but I'm sure nobody would be saying now that it's one of the greatest card ever made.

I have no problem with CK being praised for doing all the revolutionary stuff first, but I don't get how it almost automatically has to be the best just because it was first.

Car and Driver

1) Ford Model T
Our top pick for the number-one Ford of all time? Did you really have to ask? Over a period of 20 years Ford built about 16.5 million of these bare-bones, four-cylinder machines at assembly plants around the world. With the Model T, Ford really did put the world on wheels, and in so doing, the world changed.
 

lucasisking

Distinguished Member
And once again, the elephant in the room, a "Best of" list that does not contain William Dieterle's The Devil and Daniel Webster, not only one of the greatest American films ever made but one of the greatest films ever made, period.
.

And while we're at it, where the **** is John Ford's The Quiet Man? Even Ford acknowledges this film as his masterpiece.

I think the brief given to the critics was to find films that best represent American culture. Those two films- while made with American money- probably didn't meet that criteria?

(although having said that, Barry Lyndon is still on the list)
 

Garrett

Moderator
A great list and not much to quibble with except maybe the order.

One quibble maybe - if I had to put one Disney animated film on the list it certainly wouldn't be The Lion King. Pinocchio would be my pick. Nice to see Marnie getting a critical re-evaluation at long last.

As to the No 1 choice, well I'll be the lone voice (so far) on this thread to champion it.

To think that Citizen Kane gets its consistent No 1 placement in polls the world over simply because of its technical innovations is to miss the point completely. Indeed some of it's presumed innovations had been used by other film makers before Welles, but not to the ground-breaking effect that he used them.

Likewise, to say we've seen those cinematic techniques many times since is, again, to miss the point completely. Yes, every film maker that ever shouted "action" owes a debt to this film, but very, very few have ever used those techniques and cinematic innovations to the effect that Welles did in Kane.

Practically every frame of the film is loaded with layers of meaning. Welles went to painstaking lengths to obtain particular compositions in order to convey in an image what lesser film makers would take a page or so of expositional dialogue to communicate. Every detail of the film was meticulously planned as to what the finished image could say in place of dialogue or conventional narrative exposition, right down to the choice or placement of props on a table in a scene.

Welles was that rare bird, a renaissance man and a bona fide genius to boot. He was steeped in literature, theatre, radio, art and music from an early age and brought his experience of all of these media to play in his new "train set" the motion picture. In particular, his love of literature and poetry played a great part in his concept of Kane, as he employed existing cinematic techniques (and where they didn't exist he invented them) to translate tried and tested classic written literary techniques and devices used by great authors and poets into a visual form, to add layer upon layer of significance, often outside the immediate on-screen action, to practically every frame of the film. Welles uses a well composed image in the way a poet uses a well composed verse to convey multiple meanings or to create ambiguity of purpose. No one had ever used the medium of cinema like this before and indeed very few have since, and bear in mind that Welles was a total newcomer to the medium of film.

That is one of the joys of the film and why it never loses its appeal because it is a truly cinematic experience in the fullest sense, in that you can enjoy not only the story (and for first time viewers the mystery), but you can literally "watch the pictures", over and over again and add layer upon layer to the narrative experience. It literally is the visual equivalent of a poem. Like a great novel or painting, Welles built this film to last and to stand up to many repeat visits.

I've used the film to teach film narrative technique to students many times over the years, and I've lost count of the times when I'm discussing a scene that I've seen dozens of times before, that I find myself stopped in my tracks by some detail that I've never noticed before that gives me a totally fresh perspective on what I'm looking at. I think I can count on one hand the number of films that can constantly surprise me in this manner like Kane can.

This is as far removed from technique for its own sake as one can get. Too often lesser directors resort to technical visual effects, or "flashy" cinematic techniques, to prop up a weak film or use them simply for their own sake. But in Citizen Kane the dog most definitely wags the tail in every frame, and not the other way round!

Yes, Kane is ground-breaking, innovative and one of the most important films ever made. But -and it's a big but- it is also a bravura piece of entertainment. It never cease to amaze me how fresh this film is no matter how many times I watch it. It is so alive and audacious and the fact that it is the work of a maverick talent at the peak of his powers, who has torn up Hollywood's rule book and written his own, is what keeps it so fresh.

And then I consider all of the above and remember that Welles was the ripe old age of 24 years when he embarked on Citizen Kane!

A bit like Gary Barlow when he started out, only talented! :)
I agree that his camera and scene setting outstanding ever than some highly respected directors today, its just there something about the story I did not like.
 

djcla

Distinguished Member
I probably need to try watching the godfather again one day as I turned it off after 40 mins the first time, i found it to be really boring.
 

Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
I think the brief given to the critics was to find films that best represent American culture. Those two films- while made with American money- probably didn't meet that criteria?

(although having said that, Barry Lyndon is still on the list)

All the more reason to have a film like The Devil and Daniel Webster on the list. Among its many other achievements, it is regarded as one of the best representations of "Americana" ever put on screen, as well as its acerbic comments on the American Dream, the American political process and its politicians (the character of Daniel Webster was a real life 19th Century statesman) that are still relevant today. Not to mention the fact that the film is based on one of America's best loved pieces of literature. It's got everything that is all-American in it except mom and apple pie. Hang on, it actually has mom and an apple pie (stolen by The Devil) in it!


As Joe Dante points out in the above piece, the reason that this terrific film has dropped off the cultural radar, is due to its lack of availability over the years. One of my earliest childhood memories was of a TV showing of this film where it was literally burned into my memory. The image of The Devil playing a Satanic, screeching tune on his fiddle gave me many a childhood nightmare. It was almost 20 years before there was another UK TV screening as the film was considered lost. Even then, when it eventually reappeared, it was only shown only in it's drastically edited 85 minute version as Daniel and the Devil, but even in that bowdlerised version, the power of the film making still blew me away. It wasn't until 2003 and the discovery of a preview print among the director's personal effects, that Criterion restored the original 107 minute version of the film and that was a revelation!.

As to The Quiet Man, the underlying theme of the film is the headlong clash of American culture and values with that of another culture, so if Apocalypse Now and The Wizard of Oz can be included, then so can The Quiet Man.

And as you so correctly point out, Barry Lyndon is on the list, not to mention The Lion King! :)
 
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Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
I probably need to try watching the godfather again one day as I turned it off after 40 mins the first time, i found it to be really boring.

:eek::eek::eek:

You know, people can come round to your house and confiscate your home cinema equipment if you do things like that.
 
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theprestige

Well-known Member
Kane is good. Very good. But it would have been a pleasant surprise to see something else at the top spot for a change. Otherwise, a fairly predictable yet respectable list of American films.
 

Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
Sorry to use this thread to proselytize for The Devil and Daniel Webster, but the UK DVD release on Eureka's Masters of Cinema series, seems to be disappearing from sale.

http://www.find-dvd.co.uk/dvd/The-Devil-and-Daniel-Webster/1091170.htm

None available from Amazon, but a few copies left at £5.99 apiece from an Amazon Marketplace dealer. The Eureka release incidentally uses the Criterion restoration. I've A/B'd them and picture quality is identical. However, the Eureka release also includes an excellent 60 page book that the Criterion release doesn't have.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Devil-Danie...&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Devil+and+Daniel+Webster
 

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