The American Film Institute just put out their new 100-greatest-movies-of-all-time list.
Because of the name of the institution, I guess it’s meant to only include movies made in “America”—which, as usual, means only the USA (or rather, made by companies in the USA, in fact, Hollywood, even if shot elsewhere, as opposed to movies made by Canadian or Mexican or Brazilian or any companies in other parts of “America” or by truly “independent” entities in the USA. (i.e. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE is on it, a British film, but made by Warners, a Hollywood studio, but no film by John Cassavettes!)
It turns out the director with the most films on the list is Stephen Spielberg—more than John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, etc. etc.
Maybe it’s just me, but as much as I enjoy Spielberg’s movies, I don’t see JAWS as greater than many films left off that top 100 list (e.g. John Ford's THE INFORMER).
At any rate, here’s the list of their top ten picks:
1. CITZEN KANE
2. THE GODFATHER
4. RAGING BULL
5. SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
6. GONE WITH THE WIND
7. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA
8. SCHINDLER’S LIST
10. THE WIZARD OF OZ
I agree that the first five could be on a top ten list, though not necessarily mine (with the exception of CASABLANCA and THE GODFATHER), but the next five?
I like all those movies, but would replace VERTIGO with another Hitchcock classic REAR WINDOW, or NORTH BY NORTHWEST etc.
As for LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (another British movie but produced by a Hollywood studio), I agree it’s a great filmic achievement, and on the big screen in its original glory it is overwhelmingly epic and cinematic. But would I want to watch it again tonight if I had the time, over every other Hollywood movie ever made except for the other nine? Nope.
That’s the test for me. If I had a spare few hours right now, which of these movies would I not hesitate to put on.
Ditto THE WIZARD OF OZ, as much as I love it, admire it, respect the artistry that went into it, especially the incredible performance by such a young Judy Garland, as well as her supporting players.
As for SCHINDLER’S LIST, it may well be Speilberg's masterpiece, and like all his films is incredibly well made. But top ten? It wasn't even my personal choice for the Oscar that year. Though for decades, whenever I watch the Oscars, or bet on them, I always choose the feature film, or documentary or short film, that has something to do with the holocaust, because almost every time, that’s what wins.
I assume that's because there's a lot of Jewish-Americans in the movie business, more so than most other businesses, and there is also a lot of sentimentality in the movie community, despite the hard-nosed business aspects of it, and sympathy for certain types of underdogs.
But in terms of actual movie making, how come REDS didn’t even make the top 100 list? Isn’t that movie as great—in terms of technique and acting and epic subject matter—as SCHINDLER’S LIST? And it didn’t even make the top 100?
And how come a movie that seems to glorify the South and make slavery look benign, like GONE WITH THE WIND gets to be one of the top ten? A movie that I certainly dig, but have a lot of reservations about politically, and artistically, because of the sometimes hammy, soap opera-ish acting in it.
At least DO THE RIGHT THING made it to the top 100. But not many other African-American themed movies.
And in terms of my own ax to grind, where’s john Ford’s THE INFORMER, one of the most original early “talkies” Hollywood produced, yet it didn’t even make the list of 400 movies that the voters had to choose from for the top 100!
Is it because it’s about the Irish “troubles” and that’s not as important as the holocaust? I know that it isn’t in terms of the amount of lives lost and the sheer inhuman cruelty of what was perpetrated on German and other European Jews by the Nazis—but then where is the movie about the almost complete annihilation of German and other European Gypsies by the Nazis?
Or is it that John Ford’s early artistry seems old hat now (THE SEARCHERS is high on the list, and GRAPES OF WRATH is prominent as well, though THE QUIET MAN is missing, making me conclude it is only his definitively Irish-themed movies that don’t qualify).
Obviously anyone can make their own list, and it’s only a reflection of the 1500, I think it was, movie industry folks who were asked to vote the top 100 out of the list of 400.
Here’s my top ten list of “American” (i.e. Hollywood) films NOT EVEN ON the AFI’s top 100:
1. THE THIRD MAN
4. OUT OF THE PAST
5. REAR WINDOW
6. FROM HERE TO ETERNITY
7. STRANGERS ON A TRAIN
8. LOST IN TRANSLATION
10. a tie amongst the following:
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM
ACE IN THE HOLE
BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY
BOYZ IN THE HOOD
I could go on, but would rather you showed me yours.