100+ Best Films I've Seen -- Part 2 (of my 100th Post Celebration)
Oct 27, 2000 (Updated Nov 22, 2000)
It began as a long list of 100 plus films in celebration of my 100th epinion post. Comments and suggestions have made it blossom into a listing with brief comments of the Best Films I've ever seen.
As I added comments to my list of films, I realized I would actually run out of space before I reached the end. So I've split the thing in two.
If you saw an early version of the first long list I did (without comments), please go back and take a look at it now.
I hope by this list I encourage you to seek out and discover these wonderful, entertaining and in some cases important films --or revisit them. I don't expect you to agree with all of my choices, nor my ranking of them. However when making a list you make decisions and choices based on a personal combination of logic and whimsy.
Enjoy, consider, and add as many as you dare to your own Must See or Must See again lists.
51) King of Hearts (1966, Phillippe De Broca)
Offbeat, allegorical anti-war film in French, German and English. Features a mixture of comedy styles in a story about a Scottsman Alan Bates who tries to warn the inhabitants of a french town that the German's are going to blow it up. Problem is, the people he meets have actually recently escaped from the insane asylum and are play-acting as the townspeople. Funny, touching film which also features Genevieve Bujold. It played in a Connecticut Theatre for more than ten years straight. If it sounds interesting to you... Don't miss it.
52) Peeping Tom (1960, Michael Powell)
Voyuerism from the perspective of psychopathic killer are what upset folks about this controversial film which ended director Powell's career. Holds up well.
53) The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962, John Ford)
Classic Ford Western. Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Vera Miles, Strother Martin, Edmond O'brien, Andy Devine, Woody Strode, Lee Van Cleef, John Carradine and Lee Marvin playing one of the most detestable villains every put on screen (and one he would parody in Cat Ballou).
54) Bringing Up Baby (1938, Howard Hawks)
One of funniest and fastest paced screwball comedies ever made. The only one Kate Hepburn did. Cary Grant is also a riot.
55) Un Chein Andalou (1928, Luis bunuel, Salvador Dali)
A.K.A. An Andalusian Dog. Featuring both Wagner and a tango for a musical score, this surrealistic short masterpiece is full of unforgettable and now classic images including ants crawling out of a hole in a man's hand, and the razor across the eyeball.
56) Sullivan's Travels (1941, Preston Sturges)
Five Sturges films belong on the top 100, but this week I'm giving this one the top nod. It's a deceptively cynical, near screwball comedy about a Hollywood director who after making silly comedies feels it is his duty to make a socially responsible and important film. (Don't miss
Unfaithfully Yours; The Palm Beach Story, The Lady Eve, or Christmas in July).
57) On the Waterfront (1954, Elia Kazan)
Brando, Steiger, Karl Malden, Eva Marie Saint and Lee J. Cobb in the classic and tough drama about N.Y.C. harbor unions by Budd Schulberg based on a series of articles by Malcolm Johnson).
58) The Seven Samurai (1954, Akira Kurosowa)
It should be in my top ten. An incredible, influential epic starring Toshio Mifune. Don't miss it.
59) Lawrence of Arabia (1962, David Lean)
It's a masterpiece but demands to be seen on the biggest movie screen you can find. It was made for the movie theater and is diminished in both its scope and power when viewed anywhere else.
See my long review for more details please.
60) Blue Velvet (1986, David Lynch)
An utterly original, dark satire of what lies just beneath normal American facades. Brilliant for many reasons but some will find it too bizarre, weird and sleazy.
61) M (1931, Fritz Lang)
Peter Lorre is superb as a strange psychotic child killer in this stylistic and still fascinating classic.
62) Once Upon A Time in the West (1968, Sergio Leone)
A western opera as Leone remakes Johnny Guitar into an oddly paced, impressive masterpiece.
63) The Crowd (1928, King Vidor)
A marriage on the rocks in this silent drama masterpiece. Make an effort to see it.
64) Stop Making Sense (1984, Jonathan Demme)
One of the best concert films ever made. It was brilliantly conceived mostly by David Byrne . Please see my review of the film for more details..
65) The General (1927, Buster Keaton)
Keaton's labor of love, comic masterpiece, is not full of over-the-top acrobatic comedy yet remains a meticulously detailed Civil War Era masterpiece.
66) The Big Sleep (1946, Howard Hawks)
Yet another Hawks classic, based on Chandler's first novel has a confusing convoluted plot, but you won't care .. it's THAT good. Oh and there's those Bogart and Bacall folks in it too.
67) Asphalt Jungle (1950, John Huston)
Suspenseful film about a just released criminal planning his biggest and most daring heist ever. One of the best of its type ever made with a stellar cast that inclueds Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe and Marilyn Monroe.
68) All Quiet on the Western Front (1930, Lewis Milestone)
Epic, poetic, haunting, still powerful anti-war film. Yes, it's dated, but it's still a riveting, beautifully made film.
69) The Magician (1958, Ingmar Bergman)
Not nearly as well known as other Bergman masterpieces this remains perhaps my favorite. It's the story of magician/conman who mentored under Mesmer and finds himself out of money and charged with blasphemy. Max Von Sydow is magnificent.
70) Five Easy Pieces (1970, Bob Rafelson)
A brilliant performance by Nicholson highlights this character study of a dreamer, musician who has grown bitter and cynical trying to ignore his artistic ambitions. He tries to communicate with his dying father and face his own fears of failure and mortality. Uncompromising, unflinching,
70's era, makes few concessions to the audience to be better liked–although the wonderful toast/chicken salad scene is here.
71) Nights of Cabiria (1957, Frederico Fellini)
Guilietta Masina's tour de force performance as a prostitute who dreams of a better life was turned into the musical Sweet Charity. A Masterpiece.
72) The Red Balloon (1956, Albert Lamorisse)
Perfect fable or a lonely French boy who's best friend is a red balloon. A 34 minute film which celebrates childhood, imagination and the importance of friendship.
73) Dr. Strangelove (1964, Stanley Kubrick)
Brilliantly sharp satire is also side splittingly funny. Peter Sellers was never better playing three memorable roles (and more) in this black comedy that gets better with each viewing.
74) Boudou Saved from Drowning ((1932, Jean Renoir)
Homeless suicidal tramp turns a wealthy French household upside down in Renoir's comic farce gem, that far outshines Mazursky's 1986 remake: Down and Out in Beverly Hills. Another one many need to seek out and watch.
75) Three Stooges Shorts (about 30 with Curly, and 5 with Shemp)
Dumb and Dumber slapstick antics at their finest. See my review of Curly Classics.
76) Last Picture Show (1971, Peter Bogdanovich)
Nostalgic, but never sentimental slice of life character study, beautifully acted, photographed , scripted and directed. A once in a lifetime cast most of whom were never better than they are in this film.
It will haunt you.
77) Cries and Whispers (1972, Ingmar Bergman)
A film which devastated me. It left me an emotional wreck for weeks afterward. As a woman slowly dies, three women care for her. Her two sisters can't bear to watch her die or face death. One is promiscuous, one is repressed. Unforgettable use of color (lots of reds), and imagery and the camera dwells on the meaningless, adding tremendous meaning to what transpires. A brilliant, difficult film. (Lars Von Trier touches upon the power of the film with his recent Dancer in the Dark).
78) Harold and Maude (1971, Hal Ashby)
This cult film classic, is at times screamingly funny and full of heart, soul and poetry. A product of and from the 70's. It's messages are now obvious and awkward but it doesn't diminish the comedy or the optimism of the film. A quirky masterpiece featuring definitive performances by Bud Court, Ruth Gordon and an innovative, risky and successful use of Cat Stevens' music (some original for the film). Definitely not for all tastes.
79) Rio Bravo (1959, Howard Hawks)
A suspenseful Western masterpiece with an all star cast at their best. It was remade and modernized by John Carpenter as Assault on Precinct 13. Don't miss it.
80) Shoot the Piano Player (1962, Francois Truffaut)
Stylized film about a concert pianist who changes his name, plays piano at a Paris Café dive, falls in love and gets involved with gangsters. A poetic masterpiece focusing on character development and emotion rather than plot.
81) Straw Dogs (1972, Sam Peckinpah)
An uncompromising film which builds, until you want it to explode in an orgy of violence and when it does you hate yourself for asking for it. A still controversial masterpiece. Dustin Hoffman and Susan George star.
82) Midnight Cowboy (1969, John Schlesinger)
A character study of two spineless lowlifes you shouldn't care anything about but you will. Incredible performances from Dustin Hoffman and John Voight. It was originally rated X (for showing pubic hair in the orgy scene). Now rated R (minus the second of pubic hair). It was the only X rated film to win an Oscar.
83) A Clockwork Orange (1971, Stanley Kubrick)
A disturbing, at times funny, often brutal, sadistic and misogynyistic film based on the controversial book by Anthony Burgess and featuring another brilliant, and fearless Malcolm McDowell performance. Only recently officially released in Britain. Brilliantly conceived and executed from start to finish.
84) The Searchers (1956, John Ford)
Classic Western. . . An embittered father (now full of hate) searches for his daughter who was kidnaped by Indians. John Wayne's the father (in perhaps his finest performance), Natalie Wood
85) Jason and the Argonauts (1963, Don Chaffeey)
The God's play a pseudo game of chess over Jason's journey for the Golden Fleece. Remarkable Ray Harryhausen special effects highlight the film along with a stirring Bernard Herrman score.
86) Modern Times (1936, Charlie Chaplin)
Chaplin's film has recorded sound effects, a few lines of mostly garbled dialogue (on purpose) and some beautiful music (written by Chaplin) which includes ‘Smile'. It's also one of the funniest
films you will ever in your lifetime see. Don't even consider depriving yourself of seeing it. Even if you aren't a Chaplin fan, I've never met anyone who didn't enjoy it.
87) Gimme Shelter (1970, David and Albert Maysles)
The Stones perform their best songs at the peak of their performing career. But this is Altamount, the infamous rock concert in which The Hell's Angels were hired as security guards and all hell literally broke loose. As the films end, you know you've seen one of the best performances by a consumate showman (Jagger), but you will be haunted and disturbed by what's occurred during the concert and how it's affected the performers, and the audiences. The Summer of Love was definitely over
with Altamount and Kent State.
88) Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941, Edward Cline)
An outrageously inventive comedy which is a borderline absurdist comedy of all things. Fields is brilliant in the last film he ever starred in. It's in some ways the Being John Malkovich of its day. Please see my review for my details.
88) Streetwise (1984, Martin Bell)
A real documentary about homeless kids living on the streets in Seattle. Powerful, moving, and sad. A lot of members of this Breakfast club can't go home again.
89) North by Northwest (1959, Alfred Hitchcock)
Starting with the witty title design and one of Bernard Herrman's best scores, this classic comedy-thriller is exciting, breathlessly paced and features one wonderful scene after another. Ernest Lehman wrote it and it's the best of its type. Cary Grant as an ad-man in the wildest case of
mis-identification you'll ever see. Is he a spy? An assassin? From the U.N. to the crop dusting scene in a corn-field to Mount Rushmore. Wow.
90) Annie Hall (1977, Woody Allen)
Witty, warm, incredibly influential semi-autobiographical love story. One of Woody's finest
See my review for more details.
91) Lost in America (1985, Albert Brooks)
Brook's brilliant satire of the 80's, yuppies, mid-life crisis, and more. It's last half hour may not be nearly as good as what came before, but it's a gem and improves upon multiple viewings.
92) The Conformist (1971, Bernardo Bertolucci)
Fully restored in 1994, this classic, disturbing and tense character study concerns a man (during the 1930's) who represses his homosexual desires, works for the Italian Fascists as a member of its secret service and slowly becomes capable of murder.
93) His Girl Friday ( 1940, Hawks)
Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer script provides a stellar once in a lifetime cast with the fuel to make the definitive and most successful version of The Front Page ever.
94) The Killer (1989, John Woo)
The film that made John Woo and Hong Kong gangster films internationally known. It's part Peckinpah, part Hawks, Part Clockwork Orange Kubrick and part original. It's over-the top, it's corny, it got more style than almost any ten American action films put together and most importantly it's got an Asian actor with nearly as much charisma as Cary Grant, Chow Yun-Fat. The many action sequences are breathtaking ballets of visual poetry and violence. Still Woo's best.
95) Carlito's Way (1993, Brian DePalma)
Pacino is at his best (and not over-the-top as he was in Scarface) playing a once powerful Puerto Rican street hood who is desperately trying to go straight. The revelation is Sean Penn as his cocaine addicted lawyer. It's DePalma using all of the many tricks he's ever borrowed or stolen to fashion a cracker-jack crime thriller that's a tough and exciting update of the finest gangster pictures from the ‘30's. The ending chase sequence was a last minute compromise because logistical problems wouldn't let DePalma shoot what he had planned. It's a keeper.
96) Satyricon (1970, Frederico Fellini)
It's an overindulgent, mess of a film full of Fellini's latter trademarks and penchant for bizzarre characters. It's set in a decadent Ancient Rome that only Fellini could do justice to. You'll be baffled by it, hate it, or be fascinated with it's tone, attitude and feel.
97) Short Cuts (1993, Robert Altman)
Altman uses several Raymond Carver stories, transplanted from the Northwest to a modern Los Angeles suburbia setting to tell several stories at the same time. The stories are about disillusioned and mostly burnt our characters who are spiraling downward in empty godless existences and wind up for the most part crossing paths in surprising ways. But Altman doesn't really do the Carver stories he uses them as inspiration and creates something different than Carver. It's a powerful, slightly indulgent, brilliant work of art.
98) Fantasia (1940, Ben Sharpsteen-supervisor)
Walt Disney's brilliantly conceived labor of love, mixes great music with stunning animation and imagination in an remarkable eight part film. It was a flop when it was first released.
99) El Topo (1970, Jodorowsky)
Filmed over a course of nearly three years, the filmmakers twice were stranded for weeks without supplies and without money. This film was started in 1964/65, completed and originally set for release in 1967/68, it predates The Wild Bunch, Easy Rider and other 60's landmarks.... It was a true labor of love to finish the film. And then the film was banned in several countries. What does it mean? It's often brutal, sadistic and extremely gorey. It's first half is an allegorical journey through most of the Eastern religions via a mysterious almost Christlike gunslinger. Midway through the film the tone changes and it becomes a blasphemous re-telling of the new testament. It was the film that first began the midnight movie phenomona. It's been out of circulation and nearly impossible to see for more 25 years because of a personal dispute between the producer and Jodorowsky. The feud continues as legal action was taken to preven Jodorowsky from using Sons of El Topo as the title for a sequel he was filming in 1999. There's nothing else like El Topo. For many that's a darn good thing.
100) tie (in no order) Faces, Dancer in the Dark, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Monsieur Verdoux, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, La Strada, The Gold Rush, Children of Paradise, Purple Rose of Cairo, Dracula (Browning), A Christmas Story, Miracle on 42nd Street, Twentieth Century, Palm Beach Story, The Lady Eve, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Passenger, Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Sunset Boulevard, Adam's Rib, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Siegel), Gabbeh, Donnie Brasco, Crumb, Coup de Torchon, Thieves Like Us, Rushmore, Babe Pig in the City, Lone Star, Sex Lies and Videotape, Pulp Fiction, Gods and Monsters, L.A. Confidential, Go West (Keaton), A Night at the Opera, Animal Crackers, Bananas, Take the Money and Run, Sleeper, Husbands and Wives, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Midnight Cowboy, Easy Rider, Carnal Knowledge, After Hours, Sabotage, Thirty-Nine Steps, Shadow of a Doubt, Foreign Correspondent, Maltese Falcon, The Killing, Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Airplane, Kiss Me Deadly, Saturday Night Fever, Targets, Point Blank, The Witches, Edward Scissorhands, Meet John Doe, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, The French Connection, I Never Sang for My Father, The Dead Zone, A Shot in the Dark, Stagecoach, All that Jazz, The Manchurian Candidate, Twentieth Century, Intolerance, Black Stallion, Miracle at Morgan's Creek, My Man Godfrey, The Man Who Would be King, A Face in the Crowd, Yojimbo, Ran, A Hard Days Night, The Pawnbroker, Dog Day Afternoon, All About Eve, Bullitt, Moscow on the Hudson, The Road Warrior-Mad Max 2, Father of the Bride, White Heat, The Fury, Paths of Glory, The Band Wagon, Dawn of the Dead, Raging Bull, Dirty Harry, Charly Varrick, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Band of Outsiders, Easy Living, The Lady Eve, Unfaithfully Yours, Witness, The Year of Living Dangerously, Double Indemnity, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Haunting, Enemies A Love Story ,Faster Pussycat Kill, Kill, Kill, The Remains of the Day, The Thin Blue Line, Night of the Living Dead, Dead of Night, Sunrise,It's A Gift, The Bank Dick, I'm No Angel, Life of Brian, Midnight Run, Open City, Sweet Smell of Success, Nosferatu, Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein,Pick Pocket, Kiss of Death, King Kong, Burden of Dreams, Lion in Winter, The Third Man, Bullworth, Defending Her Life, Mom, Modern Romance, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Living Out Loud, Election, Treasure of Sierra Madre, Caine Mutiny, African Queen, The Shootist, Deliverance, Aliens, Re-Animator, Titus, Deep Red, Dressed to Kill, Wages of Fear, Throne of Blood, and all those I'm forgetting....
Hey give me these on a desert Isle and I'll be pretty happy.
aargh.. I'm still toying with it.... stop me... I'm going insane!!!!!!!
Sprinkle these in there would you?
Tin Drum, Don't Look Now, Night of the Hunter, Local Hero, Apocalpyse Now, The Last Laugh, Pickup on South Street, The Big Heat, Johnny Guitar, Naked Kiss, Das Boot, NeverEnding Story, Exotica, Atlantic City, This is Spinal Tap, Badlands , Hoop Dreams, Crumb, Greed,. . . .
So how many of these have any of you seen?
Chris Jarmick, Author (The Glass Cocoon with Serena F. Holder Available November 2000)