by Allan Fish
As you know, and I have made clear in recent months, the pieces for my countdowns are taken from a book written over the last 6 years encompassing every aspect of screen history. Following the heated discussions yesterday for my number 1 choice, which I fully expected from all parties, as stated in my just submitted comment on said thread, I post my entire introduction from the book as a defence, as it were, to the accusations of not doing what certain people consider to be my duty.
It’s long, but that’s to be expected. But it’s better to clarify completely than do so in comments which, by their very nature, are limited…
Let me get one thing perfectly clear before we start; I am not a film critic. I am, to all intents and purposes, an amateur, much like the average person reading these words, I’ll wager. I have no axe to grind, no allegiance to nod to, no affiliation to satisfy. I’m just a crazy cineaste who wanted to put his passions down in print. However, it would be remiss of me to make myself out to be an eternal fan of the moving picture. As a child, the cinema didn’t mean very much to me. If it meant anything, it meant a rundown old fleapit at the other end of town where all the town drunks used to go in the afternoon to have a dry kip for just a few pence. Maybe it was because it had a most inappropriate name, The Palladium; you couldn’t have anything less like a Palladium than our cinema. Just one decent sized screen, fold up chairs like Venus Fly Traps that nearly swallowed you whole, carpets that hadn’t seen a Hoover since its namesake was President and enough cigarette smoke to rival the fogs of Hollywood movies set in Victorian England – let it suffice to say that Laird Cregar’s George Harvey Bone would have been in his element and you half expected to hear Bernard Herrmann’s ‘Concerto Macabre’ over the speakers. It made the Cinema Paradiso (not the new swanky one built by the Neapolitan, but the old fire hazard) look like the Savoy Theatre in comparison.
The tome you currently hold in your hand is, however, the offspring of a love affair with the cinema, and indeed with the moving image in general, that has lasted for over half my life to date. I may have been a late starter, but from the age of sixteen, it has been an increasing obsession. And though I might have dreamt of one day writing a book on the subject, one never expected anything to come of it. Yet one thing about the cinema still remains true to this day; in short, that it is the people’s art form, the most popular artistic entertainment medium for the masses. I have no practised, cultured literary style, only a real passion for film and have set about writing this book as a correction to a commonly perceived notion that most people who say they are film buffs are actually worthless nerds who obsess about junk and give glib opinions. Indeed, it wouldn’t be inaccurate to refer to me as one of what Joel McCrea called in Foreign Correspondent the “well-meaning amateurs.”
As a man in his thirties, I would be perceived to be typical of my generation, believing that cinema began with Star Wars or, at the earliest, Ben Hur and Spartacus, and passing themselves off as a lover of cinema. One is reminded of a story told by Derek Malcolm; “consider a recent talk I gave to 30 teenage media students. “Why did you choose so many old films?”, I was asked at question time. “Because there were rather more great directors then than there are now, like John Ford and Orson Welles. Hands up who has heard of either?” No hand went up for Ford, and only one for Welles. Their teacher then hurriedly borrowed the book.” For this is the age of students who watch old classics because they have to for their syllabus, but then proceed to call them boring in reviews on web sites. A leaning towards the trendy perfectly exemplified by the Empire magazine readers survey of the twenty greatest directors in 2005 that listed them as Steven Spielberg, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, Ridley Scott, Akira Kurosawa, Peter Jackson, Quentin Tarantino, Orson Welles, Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood, David Lean, The Coen Brothers (despite Joel being the actual director), James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola, Oliver Stone, Sergio Leone, John Ford, Billy Wilder and Sam Peckinpah. No-one could deny any of them (well, maybe Stone and Cameron) a place in the Hall of Fame, but only one foreign director (simply because Kurosawa did cool things with samurai swords, mention Ikiru to them and the same people who voted for him would look at you with a blank expression) and only four directors in the list who made all their best films before 1960 (with Kurosawa and Kubrick overlapping that date). And seeing names like Robert Zemeckis, Brian DePalma, Tony Scott, Tim Burton, George Lucas, Ron Howard and M.Night Shyamalan in amongst the nearlies (along with Lang, Hawks and Bergman), with all due respect to them, it just makes you wince. In what alternate universe are they regarded as superior to the likes of Renoir, Godard, Gance, Bresson, Powell, Von Stroheim, Von Sternberg, Ophuls, Ozu, Mizoguchi, Eisenstein, Murnau, Fellini, de Sica, Visconti, Buñuel, Dreyer or Tarkovsky? Seemingly in response to this, when Empire released their own short-lived film guide in 2006, it catered purely for the sort of so-called film buff who would vote so myopically; hence they included such pap as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Battlefield Earth, Babe: Pig in the City and every Halloween, Police Academy, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Carry On film in their 3,000 reviews (compared to 17, 23 and 24 thousand respectively in the Time Out, Radio Times and the much mourned Halliwell Guides), yet thought better of including La Belle et la Bête, All That Money Can Buy, An American in Paris, The Band Wagon and The Bank Dick. Sadly they know their core readership would rather read half a page on Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason than half a dozen lines on Dreyer’s also conspicuously absent Day of Wrath. Yet the fact remains that the people who voted in this survey, and for whom this film guide was compiled, are my generation, a generation that should be my cine-brothers, and here I am ranting like the sort of character you’d drift away from in the pub. You’ll have to forgive me when I say that I disown my family most heartily and this book is my testimony for the prosecution.
Though I could certainly say that the opinions mooted by the aforementioned survey would be true of some of my cine-minded acquaintances, nothing could be further from the truth in my own case, as I adore every aspect of the cinema; any genre, director, star, age or style. It is my belief that every discipline needs its amateurs who have taught themselves, but just as lovers of opera and classical music are ignorantly described as elitist so are lovers of so-called classic cinema, from the great silent masterpieces of old to the almost deified works of world cinema. This book is designed to show that an everyday Joe can appreciate the finer points of movie history, not to just feign a quick “yeah, that was really good” at a Tarkovsky without actually understanding a word or frame of it. The sort of people who might buy the odd Bergman, Buñuel, Bresson or Renoir DVD because it looks good on the shelf as a contrast to Fist of Fury, Pretty Woman, Titanic and Spider-Man, but never have any intention of watching them; coffee table cinema, if you like.
One problem about writing on the cinema is that there is such a flood of literature on the subject that much of it has become superfluous. Film reference works by such greats as Georges Sadoul, Ephraim Katz, Leslie Halliwell and David Thomson made writing any such book out of the question, not to mention the many movie databases on the internet, such as the IMDb and the All Movie Guide. One type of book or treatise that had been frequently done was the best 100 films. However, the various authors who compiled such lists were unable, in my humble opinion, to totally distinguish between the best 100 films and their favourite 100 films. The lists compiled by the likes of Derek Malcolm and Leslie Halliwell were basically favourite lists, the sort compiled by avid fans at parties; Desert Island Cinema, for want of a better term. Halliwell even went out of his way to list films such as The House of Dracula as ‘Films I Love to Hate’.
To illustrate this, when asked by various people, both professional and otherwise, why such films were included and not included in his list, Britain’s own Barry Norman replied succinctly “because it’s my list, not yours, not anyone else’s, but mine.” This is a valid point, for sure. And though the pretentiousness of the critic who referred to German expressionist classics as “films I must have about me” is so staggering as to be laughable, Barry’s treatment of silent films was negligible at best. However, back in the early nineties when his list was compiled, many silent films were not available for home viewing. In the new millennium, armed with a decent multi-region DVD player and internet access one has the ability to get virtually anything for home viewing. In addition, the digital restoration of many a cinematic masterpiece is becoming an art form in itself and the debt owed by serious film devotees to such distribution and restoration companies as Criterion in the US and the Masters of Cinema, FilmMuseum and Transit Film in Europe cannot be underestimated. Not to mention the fact that lost treasures are being discovered every year. As I write, it seems impossible to think that one day such mythical titles as the Theda Bara Cleopatra, Browning’s London After Midnight, Korda’s The Private Life of Helen of Troy, Thomas Ince’s Human Wreckage, Franciszka and Stefan Themerson’s Europa, Murnau’s Four Devils, Lubitsch’s Kiss Me Again and The Patriot and Von Stroheim’s The Honeymoon, would ever be seen again. Yet not so long ago the same was said of such lost classics as Oscar Micheaux’s Within Our Gates, Rex Ingram’s The Magician and Murnau’s The Burning Soil. The increased appreciation of silent cinema generated by these restorations and discoveries meaning that, though a decade or so ago Barry had a justifiable excuse for leaving out certain silent films, things are rather different a decade on. Besides, however eruditely he confirmed his choices, I couldn’t help but feel that he, like Halliwell and Malcolm, was catering for a shipwreck on uncharted islands, with only films, a projector and an electricity source for company.
I conjured with the thought of doing a book about the best one thousand films ever made, entitled a Millennium for the Millennium, but that would really have to have included only the films premiered up to and including 31st December 2000 (not 1999; Stanley Kubrick knew when the millennium really started). This would have been rather unfair to any films released afterwards (it would have meant exclusion to the likes of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Mulholland Drive, The Lives of Others, Downfall, Dogville, There Will be Blood, Brokeback Mountain and Spirited Away), and such thoughts were finally dispelled from my mind when, in 2003, Steven Jay Schneider edited a book entitled ‘1001 Films You Must See Before You Die’. As Schneider’s was a list compiled by many critics, it couldn’t help but seem non-uniform, as well as being only part of a cultural series of 1,001s of other disciplines (albums to hear before you die, books to read before you die, even gardens to see before you die – some day we might get 1,001 banks to rob before you die to pay for all this). What’s more, in certain cases, it looked like the reviewers had either not seen the films at all, or at the very least hadn’t bothered to watch them again for the review. (A perfect example of this was the reviewer of the 1939 Wuthering Heights insisting that it was Donald Crisp’s Dr Kenneth who was the stranger on the moors in the film’s framing flashback device, not Miles Mander’s Mr Lockwood.) I had to take a slightly different take on things.
Upon analysing matters I found that, were I to be given the unenviable task of compiling a film guide, there would be over 1,000 films I would consider giving the maximum rating to as seminal works of the cinema, from milestone of cinema’s technical advancement to classics of directors, actors or other technicians, to absolute masterpieces of the art. I conjured with various ideas, including a top 500 and even a top 366, a film for every day of the year (in a leap year), yet why, I asked myself, should I put limits on it at all? Surely it’s far better to just discuss all the great works and that way it wouldn’t necessitate removing films to accommodate new ones or resurrected old masterpieces. And though, if I’m honest, not all of the entries herein would get the top marks if I was writing an all-encompassing film guide – about a quarter of them would get the maximum *****, the others would be those who rate ****½ – the selections represent the final list from which the absolute crème de la crème could be chosen, the final shortlist (or long list if you prefer). The list could expand while the quality stayed the same, with every style and genre covered from film noir to westerns, from musicals to war films, from screwball comedy to romantic comedy, from Gothic horror to modern horror, from science fiction to explicit erotica, from short cartoons to feature length animation, from documentaries to the avant garde, and from the silent pioneers to the masterpieces of the 21st century.
If one takes a trip to a large city bookstore, and makes one’s way to the Entertainment section, the choice can become overwhelming. In the last few years there have, for example, been various versions of best film lists. The craze really started around 1995 when, to coincide with cinema’s accepted centennial, various film guides, magazines and even the BBC picked out top 100 film lists. Then the film list circles went quiet, until we reached the millennium, when all of a sudden the very number 1,000 became almost part of the subconscious. First out was Schneider’s aforementioned ‘1,001 Films You Must See Before You Die’, which in turn prompted responses from Jonathan Rosenbaum (1,000 Favourite Films in ‘Essential Cinema’), John Walker (courtesy of the ‘Halliwell’s Top 1,000’), David Thomson (‘Have You Seen?’) and Time Out, while various other lists and polls were conducted among the serious and not so serious periodicals. Everybody was doing it, but there seemed to me something restrictive about such lists. When it came to writing an all-encompassing work about the screen, two things came swiftly to mind; that any list confined to a certain number is by itself restrictive, as a few of the films excluded must be equally as good as a few included, and thus the difference is merely down to personal taste. And secondly, there is something missing when one examines the shelves of that bookstore. It was time to think outside that proverbial box towards another sort of box, the one situated in the corner or on a wall in your living room.
We are in an age where film guides are very prevalent, and are valuable research tools in every sense. Yearly editions of the Time Out and Radio Times film guides in particular (no longer the Halliwell after the abomination of 2007-09), or the Video Hound and Maltin Guides for the more casual viewer, ensure that few films, if any, are overlooked, their value and timelessness (or otherwise) dissected by the year. Yet this only covers the large screen; what, may I ask, about the smaller screen? Leslie Halliwell, in partnership with Philip Purser, updated a Television Companion up to his death in 1989 (the last edition hit the shelves in 1986). In some ways one can understand it not being continued after his death, in that the onset of cable and satellite TV and all the many stations would have made it impossible to continue with such a book, and yet because of it some of the screen finest moments are being lost to the recollection. Many would say that leaving aside TV is quite right, yet if this is the case, we must be consistent. Film connoisseurs will quite happily discuss the merits of Dekalog, Berlin Alexanderplatz, Heimat (and sequels), Hitler: A Film from Germany, The ‘Up’ Series, Scenes from a Marriage, The Age of Cosimo de Medici, Fanny and Alexander, The Kingdom, Das Boot and documentaries like Ken Burns’ The Civil War, and yet these were all originally financed and made for television (if by established movie masters like Bergman, Rossellini, Kieslowski, Von Trier and Fassbinder). If these effective serials can be considered for best lists, why not the masterful one off serials of British TV, written by such major players as Dennis Potter, Stephen Poliakoff, Alan Bleasdale and Peter Flannery. Or classic adaptations of novels no less masterful than, say, Bondarchuk’s War and Peace and influential series that ran for years but can still be cherished now. You’ll also have to forgive me for a top heavy load of British TV over American; there are some series like 24, The West Wing and Seinfeld that I just didn’t warm to and keep meaning to come back to. One day I will and they may feature in future updated versions, but for now, I crave the apologies of those shows’ fans. (Just as if to prove my point about television, in 2008 David Thomson’s ‘Have You Seen?’, in the tradition of his ‘Biographical Dictionary’, included several TV pieces.)
Then we have the comedies, those sitcoms that too often lend new meaning to the word ‘derivative’, but occasionally stand tall. All the great and popular comedians, so we are told, had made their films by the fifties – Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, the Marx Brothers, Fields, Laurel and Hardy, Tati, Hay, West, Hope and Kaye – and only the Monty Python team have come close to being their successors. It’s perhaps ironic that they should have come closest, as they are as good a representative as anybody that it is to the small screen that one must look for their successors. It may be true that various potential masterpiece TV sitcoms went on too long or became too complacent in their situations – Till Death us do Part and The Likely Lads in the UK, M*A*S*H, Soap, Cheers and Frasier in the US, or were never that good to begin with (Only Fools and Horses in the UK, say, or Friends in the US). It’s true that the best work in television is not in the directing, but in the writing and the playing, but this makes their achievements no less important. So, to make things perfectly clear, this is not just a work of the great works of the cinema, though it is that for 90% of its content, but also touches on those select few seminal works of the small screen that do not deserve to be dragged down with the rest of the dross the lesser medium currently feeds us, be they serials, series, one off plays, sitcoms or documentaries.
In the cinema, however, the increasing dumbing-down of mainstream cinema was perfectly exemplified when Disney released Fantasia 2000 for the new millennium which, compared to the two hour original, clocked in at only 75 minutes! As for the selected musical excerpts, they were so brief as to be almost insulting to their illustrious composers and the longest segment was the pointless inclusion of the Dukas’ Sorcerer’s Apprentice from the original. Were Disney right in patronising its audience by releasing such a pale imitation of the original with what was actually less than an hour of new animation (when you remove the Dukas segment and the endless intros), or did they correctly diagnose the modern audience’s short attention span? Compare for example the difference between the twenty minute plus sequence of Beethoven’s 6th symphony in the original with the barely five minutes long opening of the 5th symphony in 2000. That says it all really and reminds me of a famous change in career made in the early eighties. When special effects genius Douglass Trumbull retired from films to design theme park rides in the mid eighties, he wasn’t changing his career at all. That’s all the latest blockbusters are; entertainments to provide the latest thrill, until something bigger and better (or in the case of cinema, much worse) comes along.
If I were to be asked what I hoped to achieve by writing this book, my answer could not be restricted to merely a simple “this or that”. It was not written for the purpose or in the hope of being published, because, as I mentioned earlier, there is a saturation of books on the cinema on the shelves of the nation’s book stores and, frankly, I’m not a good enough writer. It was rather written for my own personal satisfaction and as a document of my own cinematic preferences and how far I have come in such a relatively short space of time. I remember reading in Hotdog magazine that the critic reviewing Steven Jay Schneider’s aforementioned tome had seen nearly 400 of the 1001 films contained within, whereas I had actually got in my collection over 750 and seen nearly a hundred more, which could be viewed as quite an achievement. In his introduction Schneider referred to his book as a rallying cry, to make people aware that time is short and one should aim to view as many of these films as possible. However, that in itself can hardly be enough reason for writing my piece as people have various ambitions or things they’d like to do before they die. It may be going to an Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, or to see Brazil play at the Maracana, or see in New Year in Times Square or Trafalgar Square, or sit in the Arkle bar during the Cheltenham Festival (if you’re Irish), or to climb Everest, or see Bailey’s beads for yourself, or dive by the Great Barrier Reef, or walk along the Great Wall of China, or see the Bolshoi ballet in Moscow, or listen to Wagner’s Ring Cycle at Bayreuth, or go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Giza or Mecca before you die. There is no such thing as a cinematic pilgrimage and I don’t think anyone could achieve the completion of Schneider’s rallying call. Though this book contains even more entries, there’s no command here to watch them all. My real goal here is to write a book that everyone can relate to, not simply wax lyrical about cinematic terms such as nouvelle vague, cinema du look, expressionism, film noir, neo-realism and the auteur theory, written in a style to relate not only their education but their everyday passion about film to the reader. It didn’t seem appropriate to write in the style of modern day critics in periodicals as they have a target readership. I am just writing as – and for – a discerning cineaste and am happy to write in a more idiosyncratic way, less heavy on the terminology and iconography of film critique theory. In other words, these will be not so much reviews as mini essays, less concerned with making a particular argument or a single theme and more concerned with communicating a lasting affection for and appreciation of the work. I consider myself very fortunate to have all these films in my possession to watch anytime I choose and would like people to read this, perhaps disagreeing with my leaving out such populist fare as Titanic or Raiders of the Lost Ark, but hopefully thinking that if I can appreciate the so-called art cinema and the sort of films championed by the intelligentsia, why can’t they? There is nothing to fear in watching Bergman, Buñuel, Eisenstein, Kieslowski, Dreyer, Ray, Ozu, Bresson, Tarkovsky, Godard, Mizoguchi or Renoir. Indeed, there is so much to gain. I want to be able to direct people towards having the same sort of euphoric feel I felt on seeing my first Chaplins nearly twenty years ago, or of my first viewings of such works as Ballad of a Soldier, Three Colours: Red, Tokyo Story or Le Mépris, to name but a few.
The fact remains that the cinema, both in terms of individual films and a collective, is and will always be a collaborative process, not only in the making (in spite of all the auteur theories, a theory that only really makes sense with regards to certain egotistical directorial styles), but in the viewing. Even if we often watch these films at home on our home cinema systems, so are thousands of others around the country. We are still seeing that which masses of people, from all walks of life, are seeing and we all have our own favourite images from the great films of cinema imprinted on the mind’s eye for the term of our natural lives. For myself, I can recall such screen memories as the look of recognition in front of the traffic lights from Anton Walbrook in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp as Deborah Kerr’s face is lit up for him; the look on the face of the dying King Kong; Chieko Higashiyama and Chishu Ryu staring out to sea in Tokyo Story; Orson Welles dripping evil in the shadows in The Third Man; the immortal fade out to Modern Times; Errol Flynn entering the great hall of Nottingham Castle with his deer in The Adventures of Robin Hood; Bill Murray’s inaudible farewell to Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation; Josephine Stuart staggering along the dirt track at the beginning of Lean’s Oliver Twist; Karloff’s monster with the little girl in Frankenstein; the smile that creeps across Shirley MacLaine’s face during Auld Lang Syne in The Apartment; Herbert Marshall ordering dinner in Trouble in Paradise; the mirror sequence in Duck Soup; Falconetti tied to the stake in La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc; Malcolm McDowell doling out punishment to his droogs along the embankment at Thamesmead in A Clockwork Orange; Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson’s faces becoming one in Persona; Everett Sloane’s New Jersey ferry speech in Citizen Kane; the endless tracking shot of the retreat from the battle of Borodino in the epic War and Peace; the shoot out in the hall of mirrors in The Lady from Shanghai; Cary Grant’s tears at Thomas Mitchell’s death in Only Angels Have Wings; that entrance from Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia; blind old Severin-Mars at the point of death in La Roue; the final fade out to poppies in Blackadder Goes Forth; the look on Veronica Lake’s face after hearing of her beloved’s death and oblivious to those around her in Sullivan’s Travels; Bernard Hill banging his head against the wall of his derelict house in Boys from the Blackstuff; the final shot of the graves marked by katanas in The Seven Samurai; Claudette Colbert bathing in asses milk in The Sign of the Cross; Arthur and his knights riding through the blossom trees to Carl Orff in Excalibur; the lanterns on the boats in Sunrise; Buster Keaton’s waterfall rescue in Our Hospitality; Jane Greer entering the cantina through the shadows in Out of the Past; the first appearance of the coach in The Phantom Carriage; the first shot of H.B.Warner’s Christ through the clearing mist of a cured blind boy’s eyes in The King of Kings; the final realisation in City Lights; the lingering if ambiguous caress of Raoul Coutard’s camera over Brigitte Bardot’s derrière in Le Mépris; Moore Marriott popping his head out of the shutter to declare “next train’s gone!” in Oh Mr Porter!; Daniel Craig striding across the Tyne Bridge to Oasis at the end of Our Friends in the North; Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains walking across the airport tarmac away from the camera at the end of Casablanca; Kate Hepburn destroying the dinosaur skeleton at the end of Bringing up Baby; that single ray of sunlight into the pit in Red Riding; the final pre-death freeze-frame from The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford; the appearance of the Ghost in Kozintsev’s Hamlet; John Cleese giving his car a damn good thrashing in Fawlty Towers; Irène Jacob holding up the glass ball to the train carriage window in The Double Life of Veronique; Death calling the tune in silhouette on the horizon in The Seventh Seal; Jeremy Irons’ final soliloquy before driving away in Brideshead Revisited; Marita Breuer’s transcendental death at the end of Heimat; the Berkeley kaleidoscopes of ‘By a Waterfall’ in Footlight Parade; Kevin Spacey smiling at death as he says his last words in LA Confidential; Gloria Swanson’s final descent down the stairs to “the people out there in the dark” in Sunset Boulevard; that garbage truck at the end of Once Upon a Time in America; the opening up to early widescreen at the end of Napoleon; the death of the eponymous donkey in Au Hasard, Balthazar; Harold Lloyd hanging from that clock face in Safety Last; Woody Allen’s opening narration to Gershwin in Manhattan; John Wayne staggering away at the end of The Searchers; the apple blossom love scene in The Wedding March; the Dance of the Swords in the silent Casanova; Ulrich Mühe’s last line in The Lives of Others; Dominic West’s faux Irish wake on the pool table at the end of The Wire; Julie Delpy signalling between her bars in Three Colours: White; The Wild Bunch strolling to certain death and glory; Lya Lys sucking the toe of the statue in L’Age d’Or; the cut to the space ship and Strauss in 2001: A Space Odyssey; the final crucial credit sequence on the school steps that explains Caché; and, last but not least, Legolas single-handedly killing the mumakil and its passengers in The Return of the King (and Gimli’s retort). All are moments that will stay with me till my dying day and which I can recall spontaneously as I write, like my own version of the montage at the end of Cinema Paradiso. They may not be as indelible as Bailey’s beads or the Giza pyramids, but they are timeless to the mind’s eye.
If with this work I can bring similar warm remembrances to any single reader, I feel it will have been a job well done, but do not take this list to be definitive; rather use it as a starting point, both for debate and for deciding on viewing material. There is no such thing as a definitive list – the reason why I call it a personal selection, not simply stating a fact, as that would be just asking for trouble – as, to paraphrase Mr Norman, “this is my opinion, not anyone else’s…” They’re my chosen ones, the films that I believe, above all others, represent the pinnacle of the achievement of the seventh art over the last hundred years or so, but in the end, it’s a list no less arbitrary than the next fellow’s. But the great works of the screen, those that can justifiably be called art, must not be left to highbrows alone, but for the whole populace. So long as we embrace the cinema as a whole, and not just as a temporary pleasure fix satiated by the latest brainless blockbuster, its future will remain open to wonder and amazement. Enjoy!
“I asked for a mission, and for my sins they gave me one.” Martin Sheen as Capt.Willard in Apocalypse Now.