Sunday, May 03, 2009

34 Films I DO Want To See Before i Die

After messing around with the new edition of Steven Jay Schneider's "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die," I started compiling a few other such lists, to see who agreed on what. The highest the brows got was the definitive 2002 Sight & Sound poll of critics' and directors' Top Ten Lists; the most populist, the IMDb Top 250 (as of April 23, 2009), which is open to anybody who feels like voting (but does pool the ratings of hundreds of thousands of viewers). In between, British film critic John Walker's 2002 volume "Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown" (because it's on my shelf), and the films Roger Ebert has so far included in his series "The Great Movies" (never intended as a definitive list, but a darn fine selection nevertheless). A new film friend also pointed me to "They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?", a director-oriented fan site that has compiled about a billion lists in an effort to come up with some sort of definitive canon - though I will say it contains as many eccentric choices as Walker's Anglo-centric thirties/forties valentine.

Thirty-four films appear on all six lists. Quite an accomplishment, given the widely varying nature of the sources. Here they are.

2001 - A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick / 1968 / UK)
The 400 Blows ("Les Quatre cents coups") (Francois Truffaut / 1959 / France)
8 1/2 (Federico Fellini / 1963 / Italy)
The Apartment (Billy Wilder / 1960 / USA)
Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola / 1979 / USA)
The Bicycle Thief ("Ladri di biciclette") (Vittorio De Sica / 1948 / Italy)
Blade Runner (Ridley Scott / 1982 / USA)
Casablanca (Michael Curtiz / 1942 / USA)
Chinatown (Roman Polanski / 1974 / USA)
Citizen Kane (Orson Welles / 1941 / USA)
City Lights (Charles Chaplin / 1931 / USA)
The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola / 1974 / USA)
The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola / 1972 / USA)
Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean / 1962 / UK)
M (Fritz Lang / 1931 / Germany)
Metropolis (Fritz Lang / 1927 / Germany)
On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan / 1954 / USA)
Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock / 1960 / USA)
Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese / 1980 / USA)
Ran (Akira Kurosawa / 1985 / Japan)
Rashomon (Akira Kurusawa / 1951 / Japan)
The Seven Samurai ("Shichinin no samurai") (Akira Kurosawa / 1954 / Japan)
The Seventh Seal ("Det sjunde inseglet") (Ingmar Bergman / 1957 / Sweden)
Singin' in the Rain (Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly / 1952 / USA)
Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder / 1959 / USA)
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (F.W. Murnau / 1927 / USA)
Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder / 1950 / USA)
Sweet Smell of Success (Alexander Mackendrick / 1957 / USA)
Taxi Driver ( Martin Scorsese / 1976 / USA)
The Third Man (Carol Reed / 1949 / UK)
ATouch of Evil (Orson Welles / 1958 / USA)
The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (John Huston / 1948 / USA)
Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock / 1958 / USA)
The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming / 1939 / USA)

Nice list. A person could do worse.

I've seen just over half of them. And it just so happens I'm at a point right now where my Soul Food Movies book is on the back burner - well, on a back shelf of the fridge, to be more precise, or maybe somebody's even moved the darn thing to the freezer so it doesn't go bad - and I've got me a hankerin' to watch some just plain old good movies this summer, whether they're soul food candidates or not.

So I've reorganized my Videomatica queue and gettin' historical. I'll start with the Billy Wilders, since one of my movie buddies counts THE APARTMENT as his all-time fave. Then I'll hit the flicks that show up all the time on another list-making pal's quarterly Hot 100 list, beginning with RAN and RASHOMON. Then THE BICYCLE THIEF because it's high on my newest film friend's Top 100. And once I work my way through the rest of those six-out-of-sixers, I might even check out whatever catches my eye among the list 25 titles that crashed five of the six list-making parties...

Amarcord (Federico Fellini / 1973 / Italy)
L'Atalante (Jean Vigo / 1934 / France)
L'Avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni / 1960 / Italy)
Battleship Potemkin  (Sergei Eisenstein / 1925 / Russia)
Breathless ("A Bout de Souffle") (Jean-Luc Godard /1960 /France)
La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini / 1960 / Italy)
Les Enfants du Paradis ("Children of Paradise") (Marcel Carné / 1945 / France)
Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman / 1982 / Sweden)
Grand Illusion (Jean Renoir / 1937 / France)
Greed (Erich von Stroheim / 1924 / USA)
Jules and Jim (François Truffaut / 1962 / France)
Modern Times (Charles Chaplin / 1936 / USA)
Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone / 1968 / USA)
Ordet (Carl Theodor Dreyer / 1957 / Denmark)
Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Theodor Dreyer / 1928 / France)
Pather Panchali (The Apu Trilogy) (Satyajit Ray / 1955 / India)
Persona (Ingmar Bergman /1966 / Sweden)
Pickpocket (Robert Bresson / 1959 / France)
Rules of the Game  ("La Régle du jeu") (Jean Renoir / 1939 / France)
Sansho The Bailiff ("Sanshô Dayû") (Kenji Mizoguchi /1954 / Japan)
The Searchers (John Ford / 1956 / USA)
La Strada (Federico Fellini / 1954 / Italy)
Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu / 1953 / Japan)
Ugetsu ("Ugetsu Monogatari") (Kenji Mizoguchi / 1953 / Japan)
Wild Strawberries  (Ingmar Bergman / 1957 / Sweden)

My cinephile summer.


Michael said...

Ron, are you pulling from both of Ebert's Great Movies books. I like the thought, but seeing that you are comparing four or five lists of a 1000, and at least one list of 100 or so, then doesn't the smaller sample pervert the data?

Ron Reed said...

Oh, there's nothing scientific about this data. The Sight & Sound poll yields only 79 titles by combining the critic poll and the director poll. If you like, you could think of this exercise as starting with the S&S list, then seeing which of their titles also show up on the other lists.

As for Ebert, he had 304 titles in his Great Movies series at the time when I worked them into my chart. Two volumes have been published (each containing 100 films, as you pointed out) - looks like Volume Three won't be too long now. But you can access them all via the link above.

Matt Page said...

Hmmm, I've seen 24 of the 34 in the all six list, but only 7 in the 5 out of 6 list. Does this mean that the best of cinema is behind me?


Ron Reed said...

It's all downhill from here, Matt.

Anonymous said...

When you're ready to watch The Searchers, I'm your man.

Mack Gordon said...

I've got five left to watch!
Some like it hot

I downloaded M and have bought Some like it Hot for five bucks at a bargain store!