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August 01, 2012


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Hey, I've got PSYCHO at #3! Otherwise, no overlap whatsoever.


Vertigo toppling Citizen Kane made primetime BBC News here in the UK, capped with a clip of that moment when James Stewart awakens from his Technicolor nightmare all bolt-upright and wide-eyed.

It looks like Sight & Sound ceased the controversial 2002 practice of adding together the votes for 'The Godfather' and 'The Godfather Part II', and I'm sorry to see no Kurosawa in either the critics' or directors' top ten.

Owain Wilson

I have to say, I still can't see the point of 'greatest films of all time' lists. They're always full of political choices, and I dare say it's unlikely that everyone who chose Citizen Kane as their No 1 would also say it's their favourite.

It's that whole 'admire it rather than love it' thing, which also translates as 'THIS film is greater than THAT film, but I actually like THAT film more than THIS film'.

I understand the importance of the films in these lists and the precedents they set, but intellectualising films in this way is pretty depressing. It's unlikely that Citizen Kane will ever be toppled, which makes the whole enterprise rather boring.

'Favourites' would make a much more honest, interesting list.


Actually Owain, Citizen Kane WAS toppled in the new poll. Vertigo is the new #1

Michael Healey

Glenn, I'm curious whether seeing STALKER at the "Tarkovsky Interruptus" event this past March boosted your vote for that film. Or would STALKER have landed at roughly the same place on your list, regardless?

It's a great film, of course, so this isn't a challenge. I'm just wondering how the coincidences of what you were watching/reading/writing about during the spring may have influenced which films you ultimately chose to put on your ballot.


My co-worker just removed your blog from his feed reader.

Owain Wilson

Yes, Brian, but I was referring more to Citizen Kane topping most of these polls around the world year in year out.

Matthew Blankman (@blankemon)

I'm with Owain - I find lists of "favorites" generally more interesting and revealing than "greatest ever" lists. I don't know if NIGHT MOVES is one of the 10 greatest films of all time, but it's certainly one of my 10 favorites.

That said, it's hard to get too worked up about these rankings - they serve as great fodder for barroom (and internet) debates and hopefully turn some people on to great films they might have missed up to now.

And Glenn, I love how high you have ANATOMY OF A MURDER.


Really bummed out that the new print of Céline & Julie didn't arrive sooner (not to mention a region 1 digital release), but it's nice to know someone voted for it. Instead, we get FOUR Godard films in the critics' Top 50. [insert eye-roll]

Hopefully Rivette can gain in stature by the time 2022 rolls around.

Also loving that both Preminger and Lang made your list, Glenn, even if my choices from those directors would have been different.


I mean, fuck it, I just like that mainstream media are talking about these movies at all. Doesn't matter to me how they're ranked. Personally, I'd swap Late Spring with Tokyo Story, move The Searchers into the #1 spot and, I dunno, maybe try to get The Best Years of Our Lives on there somehow? But again, as long as people are talking about these movies, then I'm good.


One of the first things that popped into my head when I saw the list of 50 was that it lacked a Buñuel.

Tom Block

Here's the top 50:


It doesn't contain even one surprise on the level of "Anatomy of a Murder".

Tom Block

Ach, sorry--I didn't see it was already linked.

Jason M.

I'd say that Tarkovsky cracking the top 20 with 'Mirror' was surprising to me (not unwelcome either). Or that 'Jeanne Dielmann' or 'Histoire(s) du Cinema' made it onto the list at all (again, not unwelcome).

Lots of little nitpicks and things that I would rank differently, of course, but like MarkVH pointed out above, I'm just happy that people are talking about these films. All of them are very worthwhile.


Lazarus, I admit to being woefully ignorant on Rivette's stuff (I adore LA BELLE NOISEUSE, and liked PARIS BELONGS TO US, though the latter was an awful print, but that's all I've seen), but I don't think liking Rivette means you have to bash Godard (I might not have four films of his in the top 50 - and instead of CONTEMPT and HISTOIRE DU CINEMA, I'd have WEEKEND and MADE IN U.S.A.).

And I agree with Mark VH on some level - it is nice to see these movies get talked about, and as much as we pick on Dan Kois here, I know Tarkovsky movies got rented quite a few times at my store (as well as stolen, unfortunately), so it's not just people who feel the need to eat "cultural vegetables" who like him. On the other hand, given GODFATHER PART II is my choice for #1 (and the only ones in my top 10 that made the top 50 besides that were BREATHLESS, the first GODFATHER, PERSONA, and THE SEVEN SAMURAI), it was a little disappointing it ranked so low.


Nice list, Glenn. Is Celine and Julie available on DVD or blu in the US? A little internet searching hasn't turned up much info. What should I do? Find a videotape?



My long-time fervent desire to see Vertigo leapfrog Citizen Kane into the #1 spot has actually taken place. Now it just has to keep percolating through the canon.

My faith in humanity is restored.


"Nice list, Glenn. Is Celine and Julie available on DVD or blu in the US? A little internet searching hasn't turned up much info. What should I do? Find a videotape?"

Nope. Just go boating. It's summertime.


@Phil I don't know where you live, but a new 35mm print of Celine and Julie Go Boating has been traveling around the U.S. lately. I was lucky enough to see it here in St. Louis when it came through for a night a fortnight ago. Check your local listings!

If you're not so fortunate, there has been recent chatter about Criterion releasing it soon (perhaps some time this year even).


I've yet to see Anatomy of a Murder. I'll put it on the list. Glad that Belle de jour made someone's list. No Bunuel but all kinds of Godard and Tarkovsky made the top 52. [Not that there is anything wrong with those two].

Celine and Julie is available on Region 2 DVD if you have an all region player [they're inexpensive]. I am guessing though with the new print it will be available soon enough in the US.

Matthew Blankman (@blankemon)

I'm kind of surprised there isn't more love for the Americans of the 60s and 70s by now in the top 50 - no Peckinpah, Altman, Penn, Cassavetes.

Chaplin & Keaton have fallen down the list over the last couple of decades, too, I notice. No Lubitsch, either.


@Wolfmansrazor. Thank you very much. I'm in Detroit or, if there's a bright center to the film culture universe, the point farthest from. I'll keep my eye out.

I like seeing In the Mood for Love in the top 50. But I think Rosetta is the best film of the past 20 years. Happy to see that finally coming out on DVD and blu-ray.

Glenn Kenny

I think ten years from now you're going to see even less Hollywood stuff, either from the Golden Age or the Peckinpah/Altman/Penn/Cassavetes era. It just ain't the American century anymore. Weirdly enough, the title I'm regretting not finding room for on the list is, in fact, Edward Yang's "A Brighter Summer Day."


@Phil Hopefully the print will find its way to Detroit after the rest of the Midwest has had our way with it.

@Glenn I wonder how many votes "Yi Yi" received. If any film from the 2000s other than "In the Mood for Love" and "Mulholland Dr." had a chance to crack the top 50, it would almost certainly be that one. It ranks third (after "Mood for Love" and "Mulholland Dr.") on both the Film Comment and TSPDT best-of-the-2000s lists.


lipranzer, while I'm not a big Godard fan (I've enjoyed about half of the 10 or so films I've seen), my point wasn't that he doesn't belong on the list, but that he's over-mentioned. Consider this list of filmmakers who weren't mentioned at ALL in the Top 50, or only after Godard's four entries:

- Max Ophuls
- Kenji Mizoguchi
- Charles Chaplin
- Luis Buñuel
- Ernst Lubitsch
- Luchino Visconti
- Howard Hawks
- Powell & Pressburger
- Victor Sjostrom
- King Vidor
- Erich Von Stroheim
- Nicholas Ray
- Alain Resnais
- Ritwik Ghatak
- Woody Allen
- Preston Sturges
- Chris Marker
- Vincente Minnelli
- John Cassavettes
- David Lean
- D.W. Griffith
- Terrence Malick
- G.W. Pabst
- Mikio Naruse
- Jacques Rivette
- Eric Rohmer
- Otto Preminger

You see a problem with the Cult Of Godard now?


So nice to see a comedy/musical in Mr Kenny's list. As the old actor said on his deathbed, 'Dying is hard, so hard.... but comedy's harder.'

By the way, excellent blog, much appreciated here in Scotland.


Comedy in the Top Ten? Personally I'd be tempted to put Ozu's 'An Autumn Afternoon' (or even 'Good Morning') in place of 'Tokyo Story'.

How do you suppose jizz on a DVD would degrade the image quality during playback, Lex? We may have provided Bill Morrison with a idea for a 'Decasia' sequel!

David Ehrenstein

Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train (Patrice Chéreau, 1998)
Out 1 (Jacques Rivette, 1971)
8½ (Federico Fellini, 1963)
La Commune (Paris, 1871) (Peter Watkins, 2000)
Film Socialisme (Jean-Luc Godard, 2010)
Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967),
The Red Shoes (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1949)
Record of a Tenement Gentleman (Yasujiro Ozu, 1947)
The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
Good News (Charles Walters, 1947)


"lipranzer, while I'm not a big Godard fan (I've enjoyed about half of the 10 or so films I've seen), my point wasn't that he doesn't belong on the list, but that he's over-mentioned"

I think that has to do with the era weighting of the list. Half of the 50 are made between 1953 and 1968. And if you are going to so heavily weight the list toward that particular era, then Godard deserves at least that many mentions, considering just how dominant he was during the '60's.

Also, three Coppolas is more indefensible than four Godards.

(The real problem isn't the number of Godard flicks, it's that they don't pick the CORRECT four Godard movies...)


The lack of Altman, Buñuel, Hawks, and Von Sternberg is kinda wrong.

Robert Sweeney

New Yorker Films is the distributor behind the new theatrical run of CELINE AND JULIE, and they also have the DVD/Blu-Ray rights. They haven't set a release date for the Blu-Ray yet, but hopefully they'll get it out this year.

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