A Year of Essential Cinemaby ric-burke1 | created - 19 Apr 2012 | updated - 09 Feb 2013 | Public
I've decided 2012 is the year in which I finally make a concerted effort to see those films I've always been meaning to watch.
Inspired by the superb 'The Story of Film' series, I will watch the films chronologically, starting from the birth of cinema, through the silent era, to the talkies, the genre flicks of the golden age of Hollywood, the rise of world cinema with the new waves spreading across the globe, the movie brats of the 70's, boom of independent film-making and the digital revolution.
Each month I will choose 20 films from a time period before moving on to the next month with a host of new films. Films will be added as I watch them.
January: 1895 - 1927 February: 1928 - 1936 March: 1937 - 1946 April: 1947 - 1954 May: 1955 - 1962 June: 1963 - 1967 July: 1968 - 1972 August: 1973 - 1979 September: 1980 - 1987 October: 1988 - 1995 November: 1996 - 2002 December: 2003 - Present
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1. Tables Turned on the Gardener (1895)
1 min | Comedy, Short
A gardener is watering his flowers, when a mischievous boy sneaks up behind his back, and puts a foot on the water hose. The gardener is surprised, and looks into the nozzle to find out why... See full summary »
A boy stepping on a hose, man looks into hose, boy steps of hose, man gets wet. At just 1 minute of film we have the foundations on which to build an entire industry.
2. The Arrival of a Train (1896)
Not Rated | 1 min | Documentary, Short
A train arrives at La Ciotat station.
I’m haunted by an image. An image I believe sums up my love for cinema. It’s not even a coherent or a well considered image, it doesn’t hold any significant meaning or some hidden depth, we’re not talking about a classic motif or something subtle, it has no other substance than what it is but it’s there all the time, constantly hanging about in my subconscious. Sometimes the image conjures up out of nowhere, sometimes when I’m at work, or on the bus or in a busy , crowded room but none more than when I’m thinking about cinema. It’s there when Chishu Ryu lets the apple skin slip from his grip in Late Spring, when the camera towers above the station of Sweetwater in Once Upon a Time in the West, when we float over a crowd of umbrellas and smoking patrons of a cinema house, before settling on two women crying watching ‘A Many Splendour Thing’ in Distant Voices, Still Lives. When Chaplin is recognised by the blind girl, the close up of Sylvia Bataille in the midst of love making in Partie de champagne, the sight of an inconsolable Jeremie Renier at the end of L’Enfant and when John Goodman says ‘eight year olds dude’. The image? Brad Pitt dressed as a Renaissance vampire sitting in the dark in a Paris cafe watching a train hurtling towards him.
3. A Trip to the Moon (1902)
TV-G | 13 min | Short, Adventure, Fantasy
A group of astronomers go on an expedition to the Moon.
Where have all the magic-makers, the charlatans, the image conjurers, the impressionists and the dreamers gone? Have any matched the simple beauty of George Melies?
Not Rated | 197 min | Drama, History
The story of a poor young woman, separated by prejudice from her husband and baby, is interwoven with tales of intolerance from throughout history.
Votes: 11,832 | Gross: $2.18M
The first of three D.W Griffith and I can tell it's not going to be that much fun, why be subtle when smashing your audience in the face with a breeze block will suffice? Ambitious, messy, naive and wild, a Griffith masterclass in the grandiose art of story telling.
Not Rated | 90 min | Drama, Romance
A frail waif, abused by her brutal boxer father in London's seedy Limehouse District, is befriended by a sensitive Chinese immigrant with tragic consequences.
An easier watch but no less melodramatic, the acting is what it is for 1919 but you can't help falling in love with Gish despite the tendency to OTT it.
7. Way Down East (1920)
Not Rated | 145 min | Drama, Romance
A naive country girl is tricked into a sham marriage by a wealthy womanizer, then must rebuild her life despite the taint of having borne a child out of wedlock.
Votes: 4,207 | Gross: $4.50M
11. Nanook of the North (1922)
Not Rated | 78 min | Documentary
In this silent predecessor to the modern documentary, film-maker Robert J. Flaherty spends one year following the lives of Nanook and his family, Inuits living in the Arctic Circle.
13. Our Hospitality (1923)
Not Rated | 65 min | Comedy, Romance, Thriller
A man returns to his Appalachian homestead. On the trip, he falls for a young woman. The only problem is her family has vowed to kill every member of his family.
14. Safety Last! (1923)
Not Rated | 70 min | Comedy, Thriller
When a store clerk organizes a publicity stunt, in which a friend climbs the outside of a tall building, circumstances force him to make the perilous climb himself.
Votes: 14,689 | Gross: $0.62M
15. The Last Laugh (1924)
Not Rated | 90 min | Drama
An aging doorman, after being fired from his prestigious job at a luxurious Hotel is forced to face the scorn of his friends, neighbours and society.
Votes: 10,171 | Gross: $0.09M
16. Battleship Potemkin (1925)
Not Rated | 66 min | Drama, History
In the midst of the Russian Revolution of 1905, the crew of the battleship Potemkin mutiny against the brutal, tyrannical regime of the vessel's officers. The resulting street demonstration in Odessa brings on a police massacre.
Votes: 44,552 | Gross: $0.05M
19. Metropolis (1927)
Not Rated | 153 min | Drama, Sci-Fi
In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.
Votes: 127,213 | Gross: $0.03M
21. The Cameraman (1928)
Not Rated | 69 min | Comedy, Romance, Family
Hopelessly in love with a woman working at MGM Studios, a clumsy man attempts to become a motion picture cameraman to be close to the object of his desire.
23. The Wind (1928)
Not Rated | 95 min | Drama, Romance, Western
A frail young woman from the east moves in with her cousin in the west, where she causes tension within the family and is slowly driven mad.
25. Pandora's Box (1929)
Not Rated | 109 min | Crime, Drama, Romance
The rise and inevitable fall of an amoral but naive young woman whose insouciant eroticism inspires lust and violence in those around her.
Votes: 8,170 | Gross: $0.01M
27. L'Age d'Or (1930)
63 min | Comedy, Drama
A surrealist tale of a man and a woman passionately in love with one another, but their attempts to consummate that passion are constantly thwarted by their families, the Church, and bourgeois society.
Votes: 10,490 | Gross: $0.03M
29. City Lights (1931)
G | 87 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
With the aid of a wealthy erratic tippler, a dewy-eyed tramp who has fallen in love with a sightless flower girl accumulates money to be able to help her medically.
Votes: 126,918 | Gross: $0.02M
30. Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931)
TV-PG | 86 min | Drama, Romance, Adventure
On the South Pacific island of Bora Bora, a young couple's love is threatened when the tribal chief declares the girl a sacred virgin.
31. Love Me Tonight (1932)
Passed | 104 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance
A Parisian tailor finds himself posing as a baron in order to collect a sizeable bill from an aristocrat, only to fall in love with an aloof young princess.
32. Freaks (1932)
Not Rated | 64 min | Drama, Horror
A circus' beautiful trapeze artist agrees to marry the leader of side-show performers, but his deformed friends discover she is only marrying him for his inheritance.
35. King Kong (1933)
Not Rated | 100 min | Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi
A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal ape who takes a shine to their female blonde star. He is then captured and brought back to New York City for public exhibition.
Votes: 69,699 | Gross: $10.00M
36. L'Atalante (1934)
Not Rated | 89 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
Newly married couple Juliette and a ship captain Jean struggle through marriage as they travel on the L'atalante along with the captain's first mate Le père Jules and a cabin boy.
37. A Night at the Opera (1935)
Not Rated | 96 min | Comedy, Music, Musical
A sly business manager and two wacky friends of two opera singers help them achieve success while humiliating their stuffy and snobbish enemies.
38. The 39 Steps (1935)
Not Rated | 86 min | Mystery, Thriller
A man in London tries to help a counterespionage agent. But when the agent is killed and the man stands accused, he must go on the run to both save himself and also stop a spy ring which is trying to steal top secret information.
40. A Day in the Country (1936)
Not Rated | 40 min | Short, Comedy, Drama
The family of a Parisian shop-owner spends a day in the country. The daughter falls in love to a man at the inn, where they spend the day.
41. Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)
Not Rated | 91 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
An elderly couple are forced to separate when they lose their house and none of their five children will take both parents in.
42. Alexander Nevsky (1938)
Not Rated | 112 min | Action, Biography, Drama
The story of how a great Russian prince led a ragtag army to battle an invading force of Teutonic Knights.
43. Stagecoach (1939)
Not Rated | 96 min | Adventure, Western
A group of people traveling on a stagecoach find their journey complicated by the threat of Geronimo and learn something about each other in the process.
44. The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (1939)
Not Rated | 148 min | Drama, Romance
The adopted son of a legendary actor, and an aspiring star himself, turns to his infant brother's wet nurse for support and affection - only for her to give up everything for her beloved's glory.
45. The Great Dictator (1940)
G | 125 min | Comedy, Drama, War
Dictator Adenoid Hynkel tries to expand his empire while a poor Jewish barber tries to avoid persecution from Hynkel's regime.
46. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Not Rated | 99 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
Two employees at a gift shop can barely stand each other, without realizing that they are falling in love through the post as each other's anonymous pen pal.
49. How Green Was My Valley (1941)
Not Rated | 118 min | Drama, Family
At the turn of the century in a Welsh mining village, the Morgans, he stern, she gentle, raise coal-mining sons and hope their youngest will find a better life.
51. Day of Wrath (1943)
Not Rated | 110 min | Drama, History
The young wife of an aging priest falls in love with his son amidst the horror of a merciless witch hunt in 17th century Denmark.
53. Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)
14 min | Short
A woman returning home falls asleep and has vivid dreams that may or may not be happening in reality. Through repetitive images and complete mismatching of the objective view of time and space, her dark inner desires play out on-screen.
54. To Have and Have Not (1944)
Not Rated | 100 min | Adventure, Comedy, Romance
During World War II, American expatriate Harry Morgan helps transport a French Resistance leader and his beautiful wife to Martinique while romancing a sensuous lounge singer.
55. Ivan the Terrible, Part I (1945)
Not Rated | 95 min | Biography, Drama, History
During the early part of his reign, Ivan the Terrible faces betrayal from the aristocracy and even his closest friends as he seeks to unite the Russian people.
57. Rome, Open City (1945)
Not Rated | 103 min | Drama, Thriller, War
During the Nazi occupation of Rome in 1944, the Resistance leader, Giorgio Manfredi, is chased by the Nazis as he seeks refuge and a way to escape.
59. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Not Rated | 170 min | Drama, Romance, War
Three World War II veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed.
Votes: 45,564 | Gross: $23.65M
61. The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
Not Rated | 87 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
Fascinated by gorgeous Mrs. Bannister, seaman Michael O'Hara joins a bizarre yachting cruise, and ends up mired in a complex murder plot.
Votes: 21,383 | Gross: $0.01M
62. Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
Not Rated | 124 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama
A suave but cynical man supports his family by marrying and murdering rich women for their money, but the job has some occupational hazards.
Votes: 12,905 | Gross: $0.33M
63. Red River (1948)
Not Rated | 133 min | Action, Adventure, Romance
Dunson leads a cattle drive, the culmination of over 14 years of work, to its destination in Missouri. But his tyrannical behavior along the way causes a mutiny, led by his adopted son.
64. Late Spring (1949)
Not Rated | 108 min | Drama
Noriko is twenty-seven years old and still living with her widowed father. Everybody tries to talk her into marrying, but Noriko wants to stay at home caring for her father.
65. White Heat (1949)
Not Rated | 114 min | Action, Crime, Drama
A psychopathic criminal with a mother complex makes a daring break from prison and leads his old gang in a chemical plant payroll heist. Shortly after the plan takes place, events take a crazy turn.
67. The Young and the Damned (1950)
Not Rated | 80 min | Crime, Drama
A group of juvenile delinquents live a violent and crime-filled life in the festering slums of Mexico City, and the morals of young Pedro are gradually corrupted and destroyed by the others...
68. Gun Crazy (1950)
Passed | 87 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
A well meaning crack shot husband is pressured by his beautiful marksman wife to go on an interstate robbery spree, where he finds out just how depraved and deadly she really is.
74. Casque d'Or (1952)
Not Rated | 94 min | Crime, Drama, Romance
In an open-air dance hall, the members of Leca's gang are relaxing with their ladies. One of them, Marie, aka "Casque d'Or" (Golden Helmet) meets Manda, a carpenter. Her man Roland belongs ... See full summary »
75. Shane (1953)
Not Rated | 118 min | Drama, Western
A weary gunfighter attempts to settle down with a homestead family, but a smoldering settler/rancher conflict forces him to act.
Votes: 31,023 | Gross: $20.00M
80. Senso (1954)
Not Rated | 123 min | Drama, History, Romance
A troubled and neurotic Italian Countess betrays her entire country for a self-destructive love affair with an Austrian Lieutenant.
83. Ordet (1955)
Not Rated | 126 min | Drama, Fantasy
Follows the lives of the Borgen family, as they deal with inner conflict, as well as religious conflict with each other, and the rest of the town.
84. Written on the Wind (1956)
Not Rated | 99 min | Drama
Alcoholic playboy Kyle Hadley marries the woman secretly loved by his poor but hard-working best friend, who in turn is pursued by Kyle's nymphomaniac sister.
86. Forbidden Planet (1956)
G | 98 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
A starship crew goes to investigate the silence of a planet's colony only to find two survivors and a deadly secret that one of them has.
Votes: 38,098 | Gross: $3.00M
89. Ashes and Diamonds (1958)
Not Rated | 103 min | Drama, Romance, War
During the German occupation noble, bourgeois and worker's partisan groups lived in peace with another. On the first day of freedom they start to fight each other. In these fights is weaved a most tender love story.
90. Mon Oncle (1958)
Not Rated | 117 min | Comedy
Monsieur Hulot visits the technology-driven world of his sister, brother-in-law, and nephew, but he can't quite fit into the surroundings.
93. Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959)
Not Rated | 90 min | Drama, Romance
A French actress filming an anti-war film in Hiroshima has an affair with a married Japanese architect as they share their differing perspectives on war.
Votes: 22,307 | Gross: $0.09M
94. Black Sunday (1960)
Not Rated | 87 min | Horror
A vengeful witch and her fiendish servant return from the grave and begin a bloody campaign to possess the body of the witch's beautiful look-alike descendant. Only the girl's brother and a handsome doctor stand in her way.
95. Shoot the Piano Player (1960)
Not Rated | 92 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
Charlie Kohler is a piano player in a bar. The waitress Lena is in love with him. One of Charlie's brother, Chico, a crook, takes refuge in the bar because he is chased by two gangsters, ... See full summary »
100. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
PG | 216 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama
The story of T.E. Lawrence, the English officer who successfully united and led the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks.
Votes: 217,342 | Gross: $44.82M