November 25, 2008

Cahiers du cinéma’s 100 Greatest Films.

Based on a survey of 76 French film-types. Causing consternation because there's not a single British film (though there are Hitchcock, Chaplin, and Laughton films on the list).

56 comments:

jdeeripper said...

Two for the limeys!

The Third Man - 1949

Monty Python and the Holy Grail - 1975

ron st.amant said...

I've always found The Grand Illusion far better than The Rules of the Game, so I thought it strange Game was so high and Illusion so far down the list...
Ditto North by Northwest and Vertigo...
But the biggest suprise to me is the inclusion of Manhattan over Annie Hall which is generally believed to be Allen's best film- I don't even think I'd list Manhattan in Woody's top 5 films.

jdeeripper said...

The English and the French have a long standing rivalry that nobody else cares about.

Ron said...

I like Mulholland Dr and Kiss Me Deadly a lot, but top 100? No.

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

The only recent movies: Talk To Her and Mulholland Dr. People don't really go out on a limb or make very original choices when they do lists like these.

Modern Otter said...

Night of the Hunter at #2! Is it out-of-the-loop of me that I'm (pleasantly) surprised by that?

Jeff Gee said...

Well, it's more interesting than most lists like this, but nowhere near as good as the one I would make were I capable of making one. Most Bizarre Selection: 81. The Party. Also, picking Huston’s The Dead as his sole entry in the top 100 and therefore naming it his best film seems deliberately perverse (it’s better than The Maltese Falcon and Treasure of Sierra Madre? Really?), but that kind of thing is inevitable in lists like this. The American picks tend to skew pretty far into offbeat genre flicks (Freaks, Kiss Me Deadly) and movies with (at the moment, anyway) unspectacular domestic reputations (America, America, The Deer Hunter). The absence of Jerry Lewis is a relief. Thank you, France! L’Atalante is great but Vigo’s Zero for Conduct would also make my top 20, and (especially given the Gallic bias here) I’m kind of flummoxed it didn’t make the list at all. By my count 15 of the top 20 are in black and white. The whole list is a fart-joke free zone.

Wait, I take that back, I think there was one in Amarcord. (The Wind doesn’t count).

Original George said...

Freaks

The movie that inspired Bill Griffith.

Cedarford said...

Barry Lyndon? Ack!

Some of the Froggie picks are pretty good. "Touch of Evil" is missed on lots of US lists.

But the French stuff is reminding me....

On HBO last night was the wonderful flick "Before Sunrise". When it came out in the mid-90s, we loved it. Discussed it. Then the sequel "Before Sunrise". I was enchanted with French actress Julie Delpy as lead with Ethan Hawke in both films.
Two of my favorite films ever. Delpy is radiant.

The Drill SGT said...

Delpy reminds me of one of Louisiana's best products:

Patricia Clarkson

Lem said...

Its unforgivable that "Unforgiven" is not in it.

Original George said...

It is irreversible that the 2002 French film "Irreversible" is not on the list. One of the most gripping and disturbing movies I've ever seen. The movie runs backwards, sort of.

rcocean said...

Night of the Hunter
Battleship Potemkin
Johnny Guitar
Some Came Running

Among the 100 best films? I think not. A very odd list.

LoafingOaf said...

Yeah, I don't get Johnny Guitar being on there either, and I actually like that movie. I just don't see how it can be amongst the 100 best of all time. It was #22!!! I guess because Martin Scorsese always goes on about it?

I haven't seen most of the movies on this list, but Barry Lyndon, Notorious, and Mulholland Dr. are three of my all-time faves, so that's cool.

These lists are always so arbitrary, there's no use in arguing about them. All the movies I've seen that are on the list are very good movies, but very few of them are movies I'd put in my Top 100. The Deer Hunter is VERY overrated IMO.

And it's weird. I got the whole Scareface set with the Tony Montana money clip and so forth. It has both the original Scarface and the remake. The original Scarface is significant in the history of film, but the remake is the movie I wanna watch over and over.

john said...

WTF? No Geisha Boy? No Nutty Professor? No Bellboy? No Diorderly Orderly? No Who's Minding the Store?

It's just to easy to make French jokes here.

Chip Ahoy said...

The British and the French. They've got this thing for one another. Ah, I see jdee already noted.

OT.

I made the sweet potato and butternut squash soup. My version of it is excellent, if I may say so. Thank you for bringing it up twice. Tomorrow, I'll fill a thermos and give it to two women in the office I like to impress. One already said she doesn't care for ginger. That's ridiculous, it's essential.

rastajenk said...

Maybe she's a Mary Ann fan.

Kurt said...

Cedarford, I think you meant to write that the sequel was "Before Sunset." I thought "Before Sunrise" was rather charming, but I had no patience for the sequel, and I thought that the characters that had been likeable in the first film had grown into rather unappealing types in the second.

As far as this list, I found it more than a little odd, and not in a good way. It's populated with far too many "serious," heavy-handedly "profound" types of films. There's nothing fun or interesting about it.

John Stodder said...

I love:
- two John Wayne films in the top 15
- The Jack Benny/Carole Lombard comedy "To Be or Not To Be" at #13
- Other atypical choices like "The Dead," "Barry Lyndon," "The Party," "Talk To Her," and "Freaks."

"The Dead" isn't out of line as Huston's best movie. It's truly beautiful, rendering in images and acting Joyce's incredible writing.

But I never understand why "Citizen Kane" is always #1 in these surveys. Yeah, it's really good, but the best movie ever? It's a little too sour and vindictive -- Welles' immaturity shows. I actually prefer "Touch of Evil."

And nothing by Scorcese? No "Third Man" or "Bridge Over the River Kwai?" No Preston Sturges?

bearbee said...

Strange selections:

12. Rio Bravo - Howard Hawkes
22. Johnny Guitar - Nicholas Ray
53. Some Came Running - Vincente Minnelli

Prefer Chinatown to any of the aforementioned three or The Grapes of Wrath or Dr Strangelove or Raging Bull.

There are better Elia Kazan's:
Viva Zapata
Streetcar Named Desire
On The Waterfront

Five Chaplin's?

No Lawrence of Arabia or The Third Man?

Ann Althouse said...

I just remembered what "Talk to Her" is. I saw that when it came out. It was tolerable. Hardly one of the greatest ever. This is a pretty wacky list. And yet, still "Citizen Kane" at the top. So many annoying things about this list. Many movies I could barely sit through like "Hiroshima, My Love."

I'm glad to see "Sansho the Bailiff"... I love that one.

I like the respect for Chaplin... but why "Monsieur Verdoux"? That's weird. Might as well put "Limelight" (which I've had on my favorite movies list in my profile for 5 years).

Original George said...

Just noticed #27...."The Box of Pandora"....Actually "Pandora's Box" starring Louise Brooks.

"The Most Seductive, Sexual Image of Woman Ever Committed to Celluloid."

John Stodder said...

I think this is an eccentric list. It's like the lists of top pop/rock albums at the end of each year. The critics are loathe to give too many nods to recognized greats. A journalistic critic's top 10 CDs of a given year usually have at least four CDs I've never heard of, and never hear of again. If it's in an alternative weekly, the unknown quotient jumps to about nine. Except this list was more fun to read, and some of its odd choices track with my tastes.

ron st.amant said...

Citizen Kane completely reinvented filmmaking. It broke new ground in just about every aspect from sound to narrative structure.
It influenced just about everything that came after it: noir, french new wave etc.

One also needs to remember that French film circles worship auteurs, which is why the list is so populated by them.

knox said...

What, no Jerry Lewis in the top 10?


I love Rio Bravo, but I'm surprised to see it at #12.

Brian O'Connell said...

I'm a bit surprised that my favorite French movie, Playtime, only made #71. I love that flick.

I just saw #81, The Party, on HDNet this month for the first time in 20 years. (Birdie Num-nums!) It's better than I remember it. One thing that struck me about it is how similar it is to Tati's Playtime: the set, the pacing, the sound mix. That might explain its presence on the list. Also, you can forget how charming Peter Sellers was if you only remember him from the Pink Panther and Dr Strangelove.

William said...

Cahiers does not crack my list of the top ten lists of the top 100 films of all time. AMC had a much better list of top 100 films. Even Entertainment magazine had a better top 100 list.....Gone With the Wind and Birth of a Nation have fallen off the cliff. The racial values in those movies are horrendous, but you're stuck with the fact that they were well made films. How do you classify something that is of high aesthetic or entertainment value but lacks ethical awareness?....Hollywood no longer stereotypes racial minorities. It now aims its caricatures solely at Republicans, Nazis, and Christian evangelicals....I would welcome the day when Eisenstein's myths are treated with the same disdain as those of Griffith.

Christopher said...

Well, I see any points I would make have been already made, especially with the abysmal "Johnny Guitar." I can only presume it's there because Nicholas Ray has been undergoing somewhat of a renaissance lately (hell, we've already had the Douglas Sirk revival, so why not?).

But "Intolerance" over "Birth of A Nation"? or "Greed" - which, for all intents and purposes, doesn't exist - over "Foolish Wives" or "Merry Widow"? Well, as William said, "BOAN," like "GWTW," is simply radioactive now in our ignorant culture. But "Birth" has to be on such a list, despite its shortcomings, because all of Griffith's genius is on display, as well as the hubris and sloppiness that would dog him through "Intolerance" and most of his career.

And speaking of Von Stroheim, I'd rather see "Sunset Boulevard" over "Monsieur Verdoux" or "Modern Times" any day.

It tends to reinforce my theory that the French are better talking about movies than they are making them.

Trooper York said...

As I have often stated, Johnny Guitar is an underrated classic. And Rio Bravo is a great flick although it is really there because the French love Howard Hawks. Red River is much more of a classic iconic western that is a better representation of Hawks talent.

I do think they were very unfair to Tyler Perry.

Trooper York said...

I mean don't those cheese eating surrender monkeys want to curry favor with the new administration.

William said...

Further comments about how ethics informs aesthetics and vice versa. Charley Chaplain, Woody Allen, and Roman Polanski all had a thing for underaged girls. Their critical reputation has not suffered because of it. (Only Michael Jackson seems to have lost points. Is it sexist to only draw the line at homosexual pedophilia? Don't gay pedophiles deserve the same high regard given to hetero ones?) Why are sexual deviations from the norm viewed with so much tolerance and political ones with so much abhorrence. Elia Kazan was, arguably, the greatest director of his generation, and he suffered more opprobium for his testimony before HUAC than Woody Allen did for marrying his almost step-daughter. On the Waterfront was Kazan's justification for his testimony. It is not listed on Cahiers' list but America, America is. A choice this stupendously bad can only happen when someone takes their politics way too seriously.

Original George said...

William--

re: the "racial values" in Gone With the Wind," the most realistic black character was the servile pathetic house servant, "Pork." His behavior wasn't that much of an exaggeration from the way lots of black men had to act to survive. Much too close to reality to be comfortable. It's part of what still makes the movie compelling.

Freeman Hunt said...

Roman Polanski

I think his reputation has suffered with some people. It certainly has with me. I can't watch his films without thinking about what a pervert he is. (And how incredibly evident that is in a film like Chinatown!)

William said...

Is it possible that Mamie was the first Oprah? All the characters in the movie defer to her considerable wisdom and strength. Margaret Mitchell created a racial stereotype that undermines racial stereotypes.

Christopher said...

Speaking of Chaplin's pedophilia, I heard from an old Hollywood queen years ago that one of Chaplin's conquests was an underaged tart named Reatha Watson who later emerged onto the silent screen as the "too-beautiful-to-live-girl" Barbara LaMarr. But I always suspected the story was just sleazy gossip meant to titillate the jaded - much like Kenneth Anger's insinuation that Lillian and Dorothy Gish were lovers.

But the reputations of Chaplin, Allen and Polanski don't really mean much to me simply because I don't care for much of their output. I like some of the Chaplin Mutual and Essanay shorts, but only "Radio Days" and "Knife In The Water" are movies I'd make an effort to see.

Trooper York said...

I am very political in my movie viewing so I will not watch something with an actor who I despise. I never watch any Polanski films except for the Fearless Vampire Killers and I just watch that because I love Sharon Tate's tits.

Trooper York said...

I watch it with the sound off.

zeek said...

No Roman Polanski?
No David Lean?
No Louis Malle?
No Fred Zinnemann?
No Hal Ashby?
No Steven Spielberg?
Only one Ingmar Bergman?
Only one Woody Allen?
Only one Eric Rohmer?
Only two Stanley Kubrick? (Whoever went "Ack" to Barry Lyndon, it should have been higher.)
The Godfather but not Godfather II?

But...

3 Godard?
5 Chaplin?
Ack!

Original George said...

William--

I dunno.

"Privileged, Southern white women were central in creating and propagating the Mammy myth. In 1923, the United Daughters of the Confederacy were nearly successful in lobbying Congress to erect a statue on federal land [??!!????] to honor "the memory of the faithful colored mammies of the South." The desire to memorialize Mammy reveals how Southern white women reveled in the subordinate role of their darker peers. These black women were vulnerable to the sexual and labor exploitation of slaveholders and household employers. These women masked their true thoughts and personalities in order to gain a modicum of security for themselves and their families. The Mammy monument was meant to display black women as the faithful, feisty, loyal servants of white domesticity. "

Christopher said...

Well, if it's tits you want, Trooper, how about "Glitter?" The WaPo called it "primarily a showcase for Mariah Carey's breasts," so you've got that going for you.

Freeman Hunt said...

I never watch any Polanski films

And really, are you missing much? As a director, he's very creative, sure. But his perspective on the world seems so small, his conscience so ill-formed. He doesn't strike me as being very intelligent in a deep way, and a great director really must have a great intellect. I think he's overrated.
---------
As for this list, I rather like it. I don't agree with every choice, but I like seeing some otherwise underrated films on the list.

Freeman Hunt said...

My list would include more Kurosawa, and he would have appeared higher in the rankings.

Trooper York said...

Well Christopher as all Yankee Fans know, Mariah has a very smelly cootch so that kind of kills your enjoyment if you know what I mean.

That's why I don't watch Gloria Swanson movies either.

Trooper York said...

Now Jennifer Tilly, just like a room full of flowers and sunshine.

I had to stay up till three in the morning to look at her in Poker after Dark last night.

Poke her after Dark. Heh.

John Stodder said...

Citizen Kane completely reinvented filmmaking. It broke new ground in just about every aspect from sound to narrative structure.
It influenced just about everything that came after it: noir, french new wave etc.


I know, I know. I don't disagree.

But there's something cold at the center of "Citizen Kane." It's apparent the filmmakers hate the main character and want us to hate him, too. They hate him so much, they stack the deck against him. That has the effect of stalling the narrative. About half-way through, we realize we don't care about anybody, so we're left to marvel at the movie's technique. We're shown over and over again what a miserable bastard Kane is, but from the audience's standpoint, he's kind of toothless. Who does he really hurt? His wives, I suppose, but they're both drawn as only slightly less loathsome than he is. But what's so terrible about a wealthy kid who becomes an innovative journalist and makes all his friend rich? At one level, "Citizen Kane" is socialist agitprop. You're supposed to hate Kane because he's rich and powerful. At another level, it's just a big prank, a hotfoot for an actual person, Hearst, but it is never explained why Hearst deserves to be punk'd like this.

Still, for all the reasons you say, it has to be considered one of the 100 best films, and certain one of the most significant films in the history of cinema. I just think there are better movies. It doesn't deserve to be #1 so predictably.

William said...

Original George: I don't think it was all a matter of masks. I think the Mammies and their young charges had genuine affection and respect for each other.....Also the domestic servants on English country estates and certainly the female serfs on Tolstoy's estates did not fare much better than the ante bellum slaves as regards sexual depradations.

Zyta Xylander Abayomi said...

No Cassavetes?

Only one Tarkovsky, and one Bresson?

And no South Park movie?

Matt Eckert said...

Do not forget interns.

LoafingOaf said...

I'm not defending men having sex with underage girls, but I don't think a man who has sex with an underage teenager is the same as a pedophile. Pedophilia is a sick attraction to children who haven't reached puberty. However immoral we consider it for an older man to go after teenaged girls, I don't think that's a mental illness as I'd assume most men have sexual thoughts about teenaged girls or boys.

LoafingOaf said...

The best war movie I've ever seen is the Russian WW2 movie Come & See, but it never seems to make these lists.

dave in boca said...

I resaw Barry Lyndon the other day on Netflix and it remains a torpid bore. If you want another Kubrick flick, put Clockwork Orange on the list, IMHO.

John Stodder said...

"Barry Lyndon" is all about images. The drama is told in pictures, with the dialogue seldom mattering for much other than exposition. The images in "Barry Lyndon" are sublime, like paintings. The images of the characters convey almost everything you need to know about them -- particularly their clothes, as well as how they are posed.

The performances are perfect in realizing his intent. He chose two extremely beautiful leads, and secondary characters were also selected for their physical features. They are models, in short. If Ryan O'Neal and Marisa Berensen were better actors, it would have unbalanced the movie. You're supposed to look only at the surfaces.

Kubrick was a Life magazine photographer before he got into the movie business. Most of his movies have the feel of an extended photo essay. This one feels like his attempt to use the movie camera like a paintbrush, and I think he pulls it off.

Not like anyone's still reading this thread.

Trooper York said...

Hey I am still here. But I think you miss the point about Barry Lyndon. You need to tell a story too and Kubrick just forgot to do so. A contemporary movie that was not quite as beautiful but was much more enjoyable was the Duelists with Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine. It at least had a story and a linear progression with a payoff at the end. Some artists are more interested in being artist than they are in telling a story. Storytellers are always best. At least in my book.

Trooper York said...

My favorite Kubrick movie is Paths of Glory which I think is a great war movie and much neglected.

But then I am a big Adolph Menjou fan so what can I say......

dave in boca said...

Yes, John, I know the background and the mental energy SK put into Barry L, and I've read a number of essays on his work, particularly with regard to BL. But unless you are in some sort of sensory deprivation tank, I don't think he does pull off anything more than a succes d'estime, even though the tableaux and music do combine to try for a Stendhal moment.

Also, I love Paths of Glory, which was banned by the censors in France until the nineties, I believe. The number of soldiers, including an entire Russian REGIMENT blown to pieces by artillery after they got too excited by the Czar's departure & Bolshevik Revolution, is still a top secret dossier in the French military archives...... Tens of thousands of suspected mutinous French poilus were executed according to piecemeal reconstructions done by historians after the War to End All Wars. But no book has ever got by the French censors.

Paths of Glory will never make it onto a Cahiers top100 list in the foreseeable future.

bearbee said...

John Stodder, what would be your #1?