25 of the 100 Greatest Movies

Or, My 100 All-Time Favorite Films, Part One (in no particular order)
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The Third Man (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime. (104 mins.)
Director: Carol Reed
“ It plays like a masterfully crafted suspense thriller, but additional layers of meaning make themselves known with each repeat viewing. Everything about this movie is brilliant: Carol Reed's direction, Robert Krasker's photography, Graham Greene's original screenplay, Anton Karas' zither score, and the acting of Joseph Cotton, Orson Welles, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard, Bernard Lee, Ernst Deutsch, et al. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
Orpheus (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A poet in love with Death follows his unhappy wife into the underworld. (95 mins.)
Director: Jean Cocteau
“ Jean Cocteau's classic retelling of the Orpheus legend in modern garb. A poet (Jean Marais), in love with his death (Maria Casares), journeys to the Underworld in a bombed out landscape of haunting beauty. Semi-tragic mythopoeic masterpiece. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A seductive woman falls in love with a mysterious ship's captain. (122 mins.)
Director: Albert Lewin
“ Albert Lewin isn't generally listed among the cinema's great auteurs, but he should be. A visually stunning masterpiece in which James Mason gives up his salvation for love. It's cinema as pure myth. And Ava Gardner never looked lovelier. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Fascinated by gorgeous Mrs. Bannister, seaman Michael O'Hara joins a bizarre yachting cruise, and ends up mired in a complex murder plot. (87 mins.)
“ This is my choice for Orson Welles' greatest films. It takes a couple of viewings to get the story straight (and even then it's never all that clear), but this only adds to the dreamlike thrust of the narrative. Glenn Anders is a standout among a castful of standout performances. And the fun house/hall of mirrors sequence (even in it's drastically cut final form) remains one of cinema's most iconic moments. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
The Seventh Seal (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague. (96 mins.)
Director: Ingmar Bergman
“ A knight returning from the crusades (Max von Sydow) engages in a game of chess with Death (Bengt Ekerot) in an attempt to buy enough time to regain his lost faith in God. Apocalyptic essay on the human experience. Ingmar Bergman's greatest film. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A religious fanatic marries a gullible widow whose young children are reluctant to tell him where their real daddy hid $10,000 he'd stolen in a robbery. (92 mins.)
“ A haunting cinepoem/religious allegory disguised as a particularly disturbing film noir. Robert Mitchum has his greatest role as a psychotic "preacher" who's worked out his own religion with God. Charles Laughton earned his place among our greatest filmmakers with his only directorial effort. Stanley Cortez' photography is equally brilliant. One of a kind. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
Duel in the Sun (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Beautiful half-breed Pearl Chavez becomes the ward of her dead father's first love and finds herself torn between her sons, one good and the other bad. (129 mins.)
Director: King Vidor
“ Producer David O. Selznick wanted this to be another Gone With the Wind -- he got something even better. It's the legend of star-crossed lovers who meet their end on at Squaw's Head Rock. It's classic horse opera on a Wagnerian scale. King Vidor directed. Gregory Peck and Jennifer Jones had two of their greatest roles in a stellar cast featuring Joseph Cotton, Lillian Gish, Lionel Barrymore, Walter Huston, Charles Bickford, Herbert Marshall, and Butterfly McQueen. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A chronicle of the trial of Jeanne d'Arc on charges of heresy, and the efforts of her ecclesiastical jurists to force Jeanne to recant her claims of holy visions. (110 mins.)
Director: Carl Th. Dreyer
“ Maria Falconetti, in the title role, gives one of the greatest performances in the history of motion pictures. Master filmmaker Carl Th. Dreyer creates a landscape of closeups, but the sets (what can be seen of them) and the images in general are unforgettable. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
Sunrise (1927)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A married farmer falls under the spell of a slatternly woman from the city, who tries to convince him to drown his wife. (94 mins.)
Director: F.W. Murnau
“ Often cited as the apex of the silent cinema, and with good reason. F.W. Murnau's direction and the camerawork of Charles Rosher and Karl Struss are breathtaking throughout. Janet Gaynor shines as the loyally suffering, and incredibly forgiving, wife. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
The Roots of Heaven (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
In Fort Lamy, French Equitorial Africa, idealist Morel launches a one-man campaign to preserve the African elephant from extinction... (126 mins.)
Director: John Huston
“ An overlooked masterpiece by John Huston. Trevor Howard gives the performance of his career as a former p.o.w. dedicated to saving the African elephant herds from poachers. He puts together a group of unforgettable outcasts to help him, including Juliette Greco, Errol Flynn, and Eddie Albert. Herbert Lom, Orson Welles, and Paul Lukas are also memorable. Ultimately a truly soul stirring tale of the triumph of the human spirit against overwhelming odds. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
Casablanca (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
In Casablanca, Morocco in December 1941, a cynical American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications. (102 mins.)
Director: Michael Curtiz
“ The archetypal Bogart film. It's one classic scene after another in a film that has transcended its original message (an allegory calling for the U.S. to abandon its pacifistic facade and join in the war) to become a towering cultural icon. Michael Curtiz directed. Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet, Paul Henreid, Claude Reins, Conrad Veidt, John Qualen, S.Z. Sakall and Dooley Wilson star. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
Odd Man Out (1947)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A wounded Irish nationalist leader attempts to evade police following a failed robbery. Action takes place in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (116 mins.)
Director: Carol Reed
“ James Mason has his greatest role as a wounded Irish nationalist on the run. Robert Newton is equally powerful as the alcoholic/psychotic artist whose among the strangers who cross his path. It's a religious allegory that becomes a truly religious experience. Carol Reed's direction and Robert Krasker's photography are stunning. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A doomed female hitchhiker pulls Mike Hammer into a deadly whirlpool of intrigue, revolving around a mysterious "great whatsit." (106 mins.)
Director: Robert Aldrich
“ Mickey Spillane's sleazy detective Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) picks up the wrong female hitchhiker (Cloris Leachman) in this nuclear powered film noir classic. Robert Aldrich directed with eye-popping style. The high-powered cast includes Paul Stewart, Albert Dekker, Strother Martin, and Jack Elam. Considered by many as the last true film noir. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
Pennies from Heaven (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
During the Great Depression, a sheet music salesman seeks to escape his dreary life through popular music and a love affair with an innocent school teacher. (108 mins.)
Director: Herbert Ross
“ Steve Martin should have won an oscar for his first dramatic performance as the doomed, though flawed, romantic dreamer Arthur Parker who only wants life to be like it is in the songs. Unfortunately, audiences weren't ready to accept the "wild and crazy" comedian in a serious tragic part. The film lost big at the box office, but has been gaining an increasing audience of devoted fans ever since. It's an artistic tour de force on every level and quite simply one of the greatest motion pictures ever made. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
Chimes at Midnight (1965)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The career of Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff as roistering companion to young Prince Hal, circa 1400-1413. (113 mins.)
Director: Orson Welles
“ A Shakespeare play that wasn't. Orson Welles grafted this masterpiece together from several Shakespeare plays featuring the character Falstaff. Falstaff served as comic relief in Shakespeare, but in Welles' portrayal, he takes on monumentally tragic proportions. A towering work of art. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
During a rural picnic, a few students and a teacher from an Australian girls' school vanish without a trace. Their absence frustrates and haunts the people left behind. (115 mins.)
Director: Peter Weir
“ Ostensibly a mystery without a solution, this film is a spellbinding, lyrical journey into the mysticism of burgeoning sexuality. Anne Lambert is "a Botticelli angel." It's best described by its opening line (a paraphrase of Poe): "All that we see and all that we seem, is but a dream. A dream within a dream." ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Powerful but unethical Broadway columnist J.J. Hunsecker coerces unscrupulous press agent Sidney Falco into breaking up his sister's romance with a jazz musician. (96 mins.)
“ Elmer Bernstein's jazz score helps drive this noirish tragedy. Tony Curtis stars as Sidney Falco, an amoral press agent who gets himself caught up in an inescapable web of double-crosses. Burt Lancaster is unsettling as the powerful (and emotionally crippled) Broadway critic J.J. Hunsecker. Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman wrote the screenplay. James Wong Howe's photography is unforgettable. Director Alexander Mackendrick turns a sleazy nightscape into high art. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A nineteenth-century New Hampshire farmer who makes a compact with Satan for economic success enlists Daniel Webster to extract him from his contract. (107 mins.)
“ a.k.a. All That Money Can Buy. William Dieterle, one of the great unsung auteurs, directed this stunning adaptation of the classic Stephen Vincent Benet story. Joseph August's cinematography is a visual feat that echoes the classics of German Expressionism and prefigures the dazzling baroques of Orson Welles and film noir. Walter Huston is unforgettable in the role of Mr. Scratch. Edward Arnold, Jane Darwell, John Qualen, Anne Shirley, James Craig, Gene Lockhart, H.B. Warner and a too beautiful to be real Simone Simon star. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
Dreams That Money Can Buy (1947)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
After learning how to look inside himself, a poetic bum sells people vivid dreams. (99 mins.)
Director: Hans Richter
“ Avant-garde masterpiece by Hans Richter with contributions from Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Max Ernst, and others. It's a surreal dream about a man who sells dreams, featuring beautiful color cinematography and a musical score that was decades ahead of its time. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
Zardoz (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
In the distant future, a savage trained only to kill finds a way into the community of bored immortals that alone preserves humanity's achievements. (105 mins.)
Director: John Boorman
“ A one of a kind cinematic experience that MUST be seen to be appreciated. John Boorman wrote and directed this futuristic allegory about the spirit of man (Zed) caught up in a struggle against religion (The Tabernacle) and Civilization (The Vortex). It's violent, mythic, artsy, philosophical, and one of the most visually dazzling films ever made (thanks to photographer Geoffrey Unsworth). Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling, John Alderton, and Niall Buggy star. It's still aeons ahead of its time, but has retained a devoted cult following since its release. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
Moby Dick (1956)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
The sole survivor of a lost whaling ship relates the tale of his captain's self-destructive obsession to hunt the white whale, Moby Dick. (116 mins.)
Director: John Huston
“ Ray Bradbury wrote the screenplay for this John Huston masterpiece which thoroughly equals the celebrated Herman Melville novel on which it is based. Forget To Kill a Mockingbird, this is the greatest performance of Gregory Peck's career. Richard Basehart, Friedrich Ledebur, Leo Genn, and Orson Welles also star. Oswald Morris' color cinematography relies heavily on symbolic blacks and whites for unforgettable effect. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Theseus, Duke of Athens, is going to marry Hyppolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Demetrius is engaged with Hermia... (133 mins.)
“ A Warner Brother's all-star superproduction morph's Shakespeare's play with a ballet set to Mendelssohn's music to gorgeously magical effect. Hal Mohr's cinematography literally shimmers in silver nitrate splendour. Victor Jory's Oberon is absolutely glorious. Dick Powell, Olivia de Havilland, James Cagney, Ian Hunter, Ross Alexander, Jean Muir, Joe E. Brown, Hugh Herbert, Anita Louise, Arthur Treacher, and Billy Barty are included in the cast. William Dieterle co-directs with the legendary German theater director Max Reinhardt. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
The Tales of Hoffmann (1951)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A melancholy poet reflects on three women he loved and lost in the past: a mechanical performing doll, a Venetian courtesan, and the consumptive daughter of a celebrated composer. (138 mins.)
“ Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger reteam with ballerina-actress Moira Shearer to go their former collaboration (The Red Shoes) one better: they abandon any attempt at framing narrative and present the Offenbach opera as a ballet. The clincher is that it's an opera-ballet that utilizes the unique abilities of cinema to create an artform of its own. The cinematography by Christopher Challis bathes the viewer in bold splashes of color that are a treat for the eyes throughout. And Moira Shearer is, as always, a delight. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
Show Boat (1951)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
The daughter of a riverboat captain falls in love with a charming gambler, but their fairytale romance is threatened when his luck turns sour. (108 mins.)
Director: George Sidney
“ My favorite musical (unless one includes Pennies from Heaven, above). The 1936 version by James Whale is preferred by the majority of critics, but it can't hold a candle to the George Sidney's sumptuous, color remake (Charles Rosher was the cinematographer). The cast features Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, Joe E. Brown, Agnes Moorehead, Marge and Gower Champion, and William Warfield who delivers the greatest rendition of Old Man River ever recorded. But it's Ava Gardner's doomed Julie LaVerne who really steals the show. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon
Eraserhead (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Henry Spencer tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child. (89 mins.)
Director: David Lynch
“ David Lynch's cult classic. A surreal nightmare of modern day existence -- and non-existence. Bizarre, funny (in a sick sort of way), horrifying, hideously poetic, and simultaneously sexy and revolting. The black and white images rank with the classics of German Expressionism. Jack Nance had his greatest role as the ill-fated Henry Spencer. ” - michaelmaleficapendragon