Monday, December 8, 2008

Come On Guys, Just Tell Us What Movies You Really Like

All right, French guys, you win. You win. Your taste in cinema is superior to mine. Forgive me for harboring secret affection for "overexposed Hollywood pseudo-classics" such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, Casablanca, and - gasp - The Third Man. Forgive me for never having bothered to watch Ugetsu, Sunrise, Johnny Guitar, and Pierrot le Fou more than once.

Honestly. All I get from this list is, "Yeah. Oh yeah. Check out all these foreign/silent films we can name. Yeah. The Mother and the Whore. Tabu. Gertrud. Mmm yeah. Lick it. Lick it, bitch." I mean, a list is a list, but gimme a break. You just know there's a guy on this staff who goes home and watches The Sound of Music every night, but when it comes time to make the 100 Greatest Movies list, he chickens out and names Ivan the Terrible and Night of the Hunter just so he doesn't look like a total loser to his buddies.

That's the problem with this thing. It's like the Taste Police. "Well, let's just name a bunch of movies that are about eighty years old so nobody can really argue with us." This list just isn't any fun. Sure, I'm as frustrated with the Internet Movie Database "Shawshank Redemption/Lord of the Rings" style of listmaking as anybody, but I'm afraid Cahiers du Cinema may have swung the pendulum just a wee bit too far in the opposite direction. For a better list of this kind, I would recommend They Shoot Pictures, Don't They? or Sight and Sound's Top Ten Poll. The Sight and Sound Director's Poll is probably the most reasonable list I've ever seen, presumably because actual filmmakers, unlike snooty French film critics, may not feel like they have quite as much to prove.

Cahiers du Cinema's 100 Greatest Films:
  1. Citizen Kane - Orson Welles
  2. The Night of the Hunter - Charles Laughton
  3. The Rules of the Game (La Règle du jeu) - Jean Renoir
  4. Sunrise - Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
  5. L’Atalante - Jean Vigo
  6. M - Fritz Lang
  7. Singin’ in the Rain - Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly
  8. Vertigo - Alfred Hitchcock
  9. Children of Paradise (Les Enfants du Paradis) - Marcel Carné
  10. The Searchers - John Ford
  11. Greed - Erich von Stroheim
  12. Rio Bravo - Howard Hawkes
  13. To Be or Not to Be - Ernst Lubitsch
  14. Tokyo Story - Yasujiro Ozu
  15. Contempt (Le Mépris) - Jean-Luc Godard
  16. Tales of Ugetsu (Ugetsu monogatari) - Kenji Mizoguchi
  17. City Lights - Charlie Chaplin
  18. The General - Buster Keaton
  19. Nosferatu the Vampire - Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
  20. The Music Room - Satyajit Ray
  21. Freaks - Tod Browning
  22. Johnny Guitar - Nicholas Ray
  23. The Mother and the Whore (La Maman et la Putain) - Jean Eustache
  24. The Great Dictator - Charlie Chaplin
  25. The Leopard (Le Guépard) - Luchino Visconti
  26. Hiroshima, My Love - Alain Resnais
  27. The Box of Pandora (Loulou) - Georg Wilhelm Pabst
  28. North by Northwest - Alfred Hitchcock
  29. Pickpocket - Robert Bresson
  30. Golden Helmet (Casque d’or) - Jacques Becker
  31. The Barefoot Contessa - Joseph Mankiewitz
  32. Moonfleet - Fritz Lang
  33. Diamond Earrings (Madame de…) - Max Ophüls
  34. Pleasure - Max Ophüls
  35. The Deer Hunter - Michael Cimino
  36. The Adventure - Michelangelo Antonioni
  37. Battleship Potemkin - Sergei M. Eisenstein
  38. Notorious - Alfred Hitchcock
  39. Ivan the Terrible - Sergei M. Eisenstein
  40. The Godfather - Francis Ford Coppola
  41. Touch of Evil - Orson Welles
  42. The Wind - Victor Sjöström
  43. 2001: A Space Odyssey - Stanley Kubrick
  44. Fanny and Alexander - Ingmar Bergman
  45. The Crowd - King Vidor
  46. 8 1/2 - Federico Fellini
  47. La Jetée - Chris Marker
  48. Pierrot le Fou - Jean-Luc Godard
  49. Confessions of a Cheat (Le Roman d’un tricheur) - Sacha Guitry
  50. Amarcord - Federico Fellini
  51. Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bête) - Jean Cocteau
  52. Some Like It Hot - Billy Wilder
  53. Some Came Running - Vincente Minnelli
  54. Gertrud - Carl Theodor Dreyer
  55. King Kong - Ernst Shoedsack & Merian J. Cooper
  56. Laura - Otto Preminger
  57. The Seven Samurai - Akira Kurosawa
  58. The 400 Blows - François Truffaut
  59. La Dolce Vita - Federico Fellini
  60. The Dead - John Huston
  61. Trouble in Paradise - Ernst Lubitsch
  62. It’s a Wonderful Life - Frank Capra
  63. Monsieur Verdoux - Charlie Chaplin
  64. The Passion of Joan of Arc - Carl Theodor Dreyer
  65. À bout de souffle - Jean-Luc Godard
  66. Apocalypse Now - Francis Ford Coppola
  67. Barry Lyndon - Stanley Kubrick
  68. La Grande Illusion - Jean Renoir
  69. Intolerance - David Wark Griffith
  70. A Day in the Country (Partie de campagne) - Jean Renoir
  71. Playtime - Jacques Tati
  72. Rome, Open City - Roberto Rossellini
  73. Livia (Senso) - Luchino Visconti
  74. Modern Times - Charlie Chaplin
  75. Van Gogh - Maurice Pialat
  76. An Affair to Remember - Leo McCarey
  77. Andrei Rublev - Andrei Tarkovsky
  78. The Scarlet Empress - Joseph von Sternberg
  79. Sansho the Bailiff - Kenji Mizoguchi
  80. Talk to Her - Pedro Almodóvar
  81. The Party - Blake Edwards
  82. Tabu - Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
  83. The Bandwagon - Vincente Minnelli
  84. A Star Is Born - George Cukor
  85. Mr. Hulot’s Holiday - Jacques Tati
  86. America, America - Elia Kazan
  87. El - Luis Buñuel
  88. Kiss Me Deadly - Robert Aldrich
  89. Once Upon a Time in America - Sergio Leone
  90. Daybreak (Le Jour se lève) - Marcel Carné
  91. Letter from an Unknown Woman - Max Ophüls
  92. Lola - Jacques Demy
  93. Manhattan - Woody Allen
  94. Mulholland Dr. - David Lynch
  95. My Night at Maud’s (Ma nuit chez Maud) - Eric Rohmer
  96. Night and Fog (Nuit et Brouillard) - Alain Resnais
  97. The Gold Rush - Charlie Chaplin
  98. Scarface - Howard Hawks
  99. Bicycle Thieves - Vittorio de Sica
  100. Napoléon - Abel Gance


Peter Matthew Reed said...

How did you get Jake to dress up like that?

Herr Zrbo said...

Wow, I haven't seen more than a handful of those films. After #1, Citizen Kane, I have to go all the way down to #40 to the Godfather. At least I've seen #1, eh?

Btw LE, I think your link should read "They shoot pictures, don't they?"

Little Earl said...

You've never seen Singin' In The Rain or Vertigo? Or Nosferatu? (hey, you're a goth kind of guy.) The rest I can understand. If it makes you feel any better, there are 42 movies on this list that I haven't seen either.

And who is this "Jake" you speak of, Peter?

Herr Zrbo said...

I've seen parts of some of those films (like Nosferatu or the Great Dictator), but can't say I've sat through the whole shebang.

Peter Matthew Reed said...

He's one of my friends from off-the-Internet. Kinda looks like Yoggoth, now I come to think of it. I think Singin' In The Rain is my highest one on that list actually.

Little Earl said...

Yeah, I wouldn't worry too much about it. In fact, I think the most obvious sign of the listmakers' less-than-pure agenda would be the failure to include even a single British film. From the article on FILMdetail:

The reaction from some outlets in this country is surprise that there are no British films on the list.

The Telegraph say:

The list in the publication Les Cahiers du Cinema features films from the USA, Germany, Russia, Italy and Sweden but there is no place for some of the biggest British directors including David Lean, Ken Loach and Peter Greenaway.

British-born Alfred Hitchcock and Charlie Chaplin are both mentioned but only for the movies that they made in Hollywood.

The nearest the British cinema industry comes to a mention is the 17th (equal) place given to 2001: A Space Odyssey, made in 1968, by the American director, Stanley Kubrick, partly with British money and with British technicians.

The 1962 classic Lawrence of Arabia came seventh in a recent list of the best 100 movies drawn up by the American Film Institute in Hollywood but is perhaps the highest profile omission.

Jean-Michel Frodon, the editor of Les Cahiers du Cinema, has pointed out that the lack of British-made films was “striking” but not part of any Gallic conspiracy:

“It does not reflect an anti-British bias. It is simply the result of the individual choices of 76 people in the French industry. Each was asked to name their 100 best films and this was the result.

Yes, it is surprising, maybe, that there is no Lawrence of Arabia, or no film by Ken Loach or Stephen Frears (The Queen).

But there are many other national film industries which are also missing. There are no Brazilian films, for instance.”

Oh gimme a break, buddy! How many Brazilian films can you name? City of God and that's about it. That's like saying, "Yeah, but there weren't any Icelandic films either."

ninquelote said...

I've only seen about 32 of the movies listed here which means that I apparently have to start catching up on my old, foreign films. I was kind of surprised at some of the films chosen or not chosen, but other films just seemed like they were mentioned because they were "suppose" to be mentioned. I doubt very much that the FROGs watch any of these films on a regular basis.

Little Earl said...

Exactly! That's the basic problem I have with this list. I couldn't hand this list to someone who didn't know anything about cinema and say with confidence, "These are the movies you will enjoy the most." A person who did not take the time to watch all these old silent and foreign films will not, I feel, be missing much.

If I were to make my own list of the 100 greatest movies, I would not include a single silent film on it. Call that blasphemy if you wish; they just don't hold up for me the way that even really old sound films do. And I might include about eight foreign language films on there. The rest would be in English. And I don't really think this is an American/European thing. No French person I've ever talked to has actually seen a Godard, Resnais, Rohmer, or Renoir movie. I take that as a sign.

So no, Ninquelote, you don't really need to start catching up on your old, foreign films, unless you care what French film critics think of you (and I'm sure you do).