The Quest: Top 100 Films of All-Time

As some of you know, I’ve been on a mission to see all the films on several (eight to be precise) lists: Village Voice, Leonard Maltin, Roger Ebert, Entertainment Weekly, Signt and Sound, George Peary, Time Magazine and AFI. (The complete lists can be seen at this website: List of Bests

Anyway, I’m getting closer to the end; I can feel it! (Actually, I’ve been saying that for over a year now.) I’ll try to report about the films I’ve seen for anyone interested.

Also, any of you interested in watching some of these films, let me know. I would love watching these films with other idiots.

Here are some films I’ll be watching soon:

Giant
All Quiet On the Western Front
Brief Encounter
Blazing Saddles
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
Mary Poppins
Rio Bravo
The Blue Angel
Mutiny on the Bounty
Saturday Night Fever

52 Responses to “The Quest: Top 100 Films of All-Time”


  1. Reid

    I saw Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia tonight (on Ebert’s list). I’m wavering between a 6 or 7 for this film. I’ve enjoyed at least some element of the films by Sam Peckinpah. What I like about his films is that they’re not just violent action, but films that explore or center on other issues like code of warriors or love.

  2. Reid

    I saw Airplane! tonight. Read my review here

  3. Reid

    Easy Rider (1969)
    dir. Dennis Hopper
    starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson.

    6/10
    Should you see this?
    This is a traveling movie, and a “talkie” film. Think of something like Stand By Me, where the characters travel, stop and have these discussions. I didn’t enjoy ER as much as SBM, but some of the conversations kept my interest. More importantly, the dialogue didn’t into the cheesy psychedelic lingo as I was expecting.
    If you’re interested in the 60’s counter-culture, than the film is worthwhile to see, although there are some caveats to that which I go into below. There may be better films to see that represent this time. But it’s a fairly well-known film, but if seeing well-known films doesn’t matter to you, I wouldn’t strongly recommend this, particularly to people who mainly want good entertainment.
    Personal Comments
    Although there was some of that psychedelic babble, it wasn’t as cheesy and dated as I expected. The effectiveness and appeal of the scenes on the choppers with the 60’s soundtrack surprised me.

    I did not care for what felt like an apology for the counter-culture. The film felt like an introduction and lesson to conservative, mainstream viewers to show them the wrongness of rejecting the “long-hairs,” and their approach to life; in short, Easy Rider felt like propaganda. Nicholson’s character is the interpeter, a guy who understands both worlds. Despite this, it was a solid film, and maybe I woul have liked it less if my expectations weren’t lower.

    The Blue Angel (1930)

  4. Mitchell

    Easy Rider was great for the first half, but it deteriorated into a strange drug-infused trip for the second half, and it wasn’t at all interesting. I am reminded of Oliver Stone’s The Doors, where the first half seemed brilliant but the second half only tiresome. I think both movies succeed in that this is what I imagine drug-life to be like; however, the fact that they are possibly accurate portrayals of what drug-life is like doesn’t make either of them very good flicks.

  5. Reid

    But you didn’t Easy Rider felt a little too simplistic and propagandist?

    There is a scene near the end where the characters are drugged out, and it plays like a really hokey psychedelic moment–almost a parody you would see on SNL. (I forgot to mention that.)

  6. Mitchell

    I didn’t think it was especially complex or straightforward, but neither did I think it was particularly simplistic or propagandist. Overall, I just don’t think I get what the big deal is about this movie, outside of interesting performances by Fonda, Hopper, and Nicholson.

  7. Reid

    Saturday Night Fever 8/10. The disco music, dancing and fashion are really not at the center of this film, and surprised me. Read my V-I review here

    Now, I want to see Purple Rain because I’m wondering if it’s somewhat like the Saturday Night Fever of the 80’s.

  8. Mitchell

    It’s not. But it’s worth a look.

    Prince’s Purple Rain is mostly a vanity project. I think it’s good for what it is, and I in fact thought so when I first saw it in the 80s, despite my not liking the music back then.

    I saw it again recently and it’s not as good, but the music is great!

    And then there’s Apollonia…

  9. Reid

    Films on tab:

    Jazz Singer
    Nanook of the North
    The Producers
    Being There
    Gun Crazy
    Hard Day’s Night

  10. Chris

    OK,

    Perhaps I misled in my last post. I also saw *The Producers* (on DVD) over the summer; one of my flatmates left it behind.

    It was uneven but has moments of hilarity. The opening scene is quite something.

    It’ll be interesting to hear what you have to say.

    Chris

  11. Reid

    The Producers
    (2/10)

    The Producers sucked.” That’s the first thought that came to mind when I thought about what I wanted to write. That’s my honest reaction. If I were being more diplomatic and reasonable, I would say that I’m just not a fan of Mel Brooks.

    I really don’t have much to say about this film, except basically I thought it was a comedy that just wan’t funny. (That’ll do it.) I didn’t even think the opening scene was very funny.

    (spoilers)

    OK, there were some moments that were every so slightly humorous. Leo Bloom (Wilder) in hysterics while Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) tries to calm him down:

    Leo: I’m hysterical!
    Max: (runs to grab a pitcher of water and throws it on Leo)
    Leo: (pause) I’m wet! I’m wet! And I’m still hysterical!
    Max: (slaps him)
    Leo: (pause) I”m in pain! I”m in pain! And I’m wet! And I’m still hysterical.

    Gene Wilder had some moments.

    The only other seem that made me sort of chuckle was a short bit of dialogue where Leo is explaining the scheme and begins by saying something like, “Assuming you wouldn’t mind doing something illegal…”

    And Max says, “Assume away.”

    The 60’s guy that played Hitler was so un-funny to me. It’s like the goofy stuff they used to have on Laugh-In. The sexy blond gags were also stupid, and perhaps a bit chauvanistic.

    I had more to say about Airplane!, which is kinda unbelieveabl, as I didn’t like that film either.

    I actually have Blazing Saddles, and I’m not looking foward to watching this.

  12. Reid

    OK, I”m catching up on some of the films I’ve seen a little while ago, but never wrote.

    I saw Giant (5/10), directed by George Stevens and starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Talyor and James Dean. The film is basically chronicles the life of a family in Texas, and at the same time chronicles the state. In that way the film reminded me of Barry Levinson’s Avalon (although I probably like Levinson’s movie better). In another way, the film is like the TV series Dallas smushed into one “giant” movie.

    I also recently watched All Quiet on the Western Front (the original film version) (6/10). I had seen a TV version with Richard…(“John Boy” from the Waltons) a long time ago. What stood out with this version was the battle scenes. The director did an excellent job of filming these scenes, and they stand up quite well. The acting wasn’t very good at times, but I did like Louis Wolheim as “Kat.”

    (small spoiler)

    Perhaps, because I knew about the anti-war message, and had seen the storyline before, the message of the film didn’t have much of an impact.

    One problem I had with Giant was the way Stevens organized the film. He covers a really long period in the lives of a couple–Jordan (Hudson) and Leslie (Taylor) and eventually their children (including a young Dennis Hopper)–but I felt he didn’t manage the scenes really well–the length to time for each stage in the couples life. I couldn’t really connect with the characters very much, as I felt the director and actors only showed a superficial side to the characters.

    James Dean, once again, failed to impress me. He just seems weird and I don’t care for his over acting.

  13. Reid

    The other night I finally watched The Jazz Singer (7/10). I was planning to not like this film, For one thing, I knew Jolson was going to be in blackface. I also had a little snobby attitude as in “Huh, jazz singer. Yeah, right.”

    (small spoilers)

    The blackface still bothered me, but Jolson sang with feeling, particularly in the song during dress rehearsals. Sometimes his “jazzy” versions were a bit cheesy, but the guy excuded sincerity. The film did a pretty good job building to tense, dramatic moments. Particuarly effective was the score accompanying many of the scenes.

    What I found awkward as the way the film would move from a silent film with dialogue on the screen to singing you could hear. At one point, after Jolson sings to his mom, the filmmakers allow the audience to hear he and his mother speak to each. A few moments later they’re back ot the written out dialogue. But that wasn’t a really big problem.

    I also had a good time seeing My Life to Live, a film by Jean-Luc Godard, with Penny, Grace and Kevin. I’ll let one them try to write about the film. Like most of Godard’s other films I’ve seen, I have to watch it a few more times before I can say anyting intelligent about them. I don’t think I can give a rating to this film. I think it could be a film that I end up liking after thinking about it more, though.

  14. Reid

    Gun Crazy (4/10)
    (1949)

    The film is basically about a man and a woman who are both skilled with guns. Bart (John Dall) grew up loving guns, but also having an aversion to killing any living thing. Bart meets Annie (Peggy Cummins) at a carnival, where she performs as a marksman. They get together and eventually rob banks.

    Why are filmmakers so interested in the man-and-woman bank robbery team? Besides this film there are films like Bonnie and Clyde–which I preferred although both films are similiar in terms of plot–and Badlands, and Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry. I think you could count Sugarland Express and Wisdom and Kalifornia, but I’ve never seen those films.

    In way, the question is more interesting than the film itself. The story line or the psychology of the characters–their motivations, etc. wasn’t very interesting. The acting seemed a bit weak and dated, too. (Well, I guess, it is sort of a “B” movie film.) That’s not the case with Bonnie and Clyde. The acting, writing and characters were a lot better in that film.

    Perhaps, Peggy Cummins ,as Annie Laurie Starr–the marksman crook–is the prototype for female action figures. I’m thinking of films like La Femme Nikita or even TV shows like Dark Angel or Alias.Cummins does a lot of shooting in the film, and there are car chases with her at the wheel. (Btw, there are several interesting shots that come from the backsheat of the car during these chases. Unlike many other films during that time period, the camera and car seem to actually outdoors versus shot on a sound stage with a filmed background. Or am I remembering this wrong?)

    I hope to write some comments about The Golden Coach; Farewell, My Concubine; and The Blue Kite soon before I forget the details of those films. Generally, I enjoyed all of them and every one has something to recommend about it.

  15. Reid

    Farewell, My Concubine
    (6/10)

    Opens very strongly. We see a group of boys from an opera training school performing in the street. A new boy eventually joins the grew and we watch this boy and his best friend grow up. The visuals are really top-notch and the story of these two is compelling. When they become adults, I thought the film lost some cohesion as it included political and social changes of the times as well as jumping through large periods of time.

    The Blue Kite
    (7/10)

    For a depiction of the political, social and cultural changes that China exprienced during the Communist Revolution, I preferred The Blue Kite over “Farewell” In this film we follow a boy and his mother in a small town. The director, Zhuangzhuang Tian, does not show the audience any over-the-top Communist villians. We only see the subtle effects of the policy. In this way, the film really reminded me of Testament. In that film (don’t read if you haven’t seen the film), we see the effects of nuclear war in the quiet and simple moments. That choice makes the horror and devastation of even more powerful. I want to see more of this Zhuangzhuang’s films.

    The Golden Coach
    (7/10)

    I liked this film, particularly its depiction of theater life. Anna Magnani is really strong in this and the sets are very good.

    I have about 40 more films to go before I finish all eight lists–or at least come as close as possible. I probably won’t see Shoah which is almost six hour documentary on the Holocaust. Some other New York Underground films are impossible to get a hold of, too.

  16. Marc

    Wow, this is some quest. It sort of reminds me of the Blues Brothers being “on a mission from God”…

  17. Mitchell

    I agree with your assessment of Farewell, My Concubine. The last third just wasn’t as compelling or interesting, partly because the lead characters become far less admirable. My least favorite Gong Li movie. 6/10 from me, too.

  18. Mitchell

    It’s not everything, but when someone reviews a great novel, I like to know if the reviewer read the novel. So, Reid, have you read All Quiet on the Western Front or Pride and Prejudice? I’ve read them both; haven’t seen the film version of All Quiet, but I did see an excellent, excellent BBC version of Pride and Prejudice and loved it. It was as good as the novel. Here’s the IMDb link; I fully agree with what the reviewers say here.

  19. Reid

    No, I haven’t read “All Quiet” or “Pride and Prejudice.”

  20. Reid

    Saw a bunch of movies I really liked from the lists:
    Sansho Daiyu (8/10)
    The Story of the Last Chrysanthamum (two films by Kenji Mizoguchi) (7/10)
    Zero for Conduct (8/10)
    Camille (8/10)

    I’ll get to a review of the Mizoguchi films later, as well as some other films like the Apu Triology: Pather Panchali, Aparajito, and The World of Apu. All the films, including collectively, I would give 7/10; A Trip to the Moon and W.R.–the Mysteries of the Organism.

    There’s actually a lot more that I haven’t commented on, but you’re intrepid reporter will get to them in due time. Stay tuned.

  21. Reid

    Adam’s Rib
    (7/10)

    Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn star as a husband and wife lawyers. Hepburn defends a woman for shooting her husband, while Tracy is the prosecutor in the trial.

    I wanted to say two things about this.

    1. I enjoyed seeing Hepburn and Tracy on the screen. I thought the scene where they’re making curry and talking about the case was especially well-executed. (There’s also another similar scene between Hepburn and David Wayne–who plays the neighbor who’s after Hepburn.) There are roles that I don’t like Hepburn in–something about her acting that makes her annoying and not likeable (as in The Philadelphia Story). Her looks often suffer in some films. But when she’s with Tracy–particularly what I see through her interactions with him, the affection that seems to come out–she’s really beautiful.

    (small spoiler)

    2. Since the OJ Simpson trial anniversary just happened, I couldn’t help but think of the parallels with the case in the film. The trial was silly, and while I know the film was a comedy, I wished they dealt with the subject matter more seriously. (I thought you could do that while not completely sacrificing the comedy. I would have liked to have seen Tracy and Hepburn do the movie again as a more serious drama.)

    To me, whether the shooter was a man or a woman, I think they should have been convicted. However, if juries frequently let men off, I can understand how letting off a woman would be a kind of justice (He said, cringing). The OJ trial seemed to have a similar dyanmic.

  22. Reid

    Sansho Daiyu (8/10) is a 1954 film by Kenji Mizoguchi. The film is about medieval tale about a kind and moral governor that is sent into exile. His wife, and two children experience various tribulations in their attempt to reunite with their father.

    On the eve of his exile, the governor tells his son to “be hard himself, but merciful to others.” He makes the son repeat this. He also tells his son that all people are equal; peasants also have a right to be happy. It’s this attitude and approach that gets the governor and his family in trouble. Usually, if a film has these elements, I’m going to like it and this was no exception. The black-and-white film, plus other elements make the film look a bit old, but I think this film would appeal to many idiots here.

    (spoilers)

    So what did I like about this? Well, I just found the film very moving. The boy goes through a very hard life and almost forgets the main lesson taught to him by his father. I loved the tragedy of the situation and the sacrifice and perserverance the characters go through. A theme that resonates strongly with me is the idea of doing right even though it requires sacrificing your well-being. That’s partly what this film is about.

    The other part of the film that struck me was the depiction of the slave labor in the film. I recently watched the film about Wal-Mart, and I felt this sense that no matter what time period we live in, poor laborers will always be exploited. Sansho Daiyu, the person running the slave camps, is really no different than an employer overseeing sweatshops.

    If Chushingura serves as the model for the ideal Japanese male, than The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums (8/10) serves as the model for the ideal Japanese female. Click on the title to read the V-I review.

  23. Reid

    A Trip to the Moon (3/10) is a twenty minute silent film (although the version I saw had someone reading over a script decribing the scene with an orchestra playing in the background) made by George Melies in 1927. Many of you have probably seem clips from the film, and, really, those are the best parts. To me, the film doesn’t hold up, although the low-tech are charming, and appealing. Overall though, there’s not much to recommend except for historical value.

    I’ll flash foward 30 years and talk about the Apu Trilogy by Indian filmmaker, Satyajit Ray. Three separate films (in order)–Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road), Aparajito (The Unvanquished) and The World of Apu–make up this trilogy that follows a boy and his family in India. It’s a touching film that reminds me of the novel A Nectar in a Sieve and it has the feeling of an Indian Grapes of Wrath–although the film focuses primarily on one character.

    I don’t really have much to say, except that I think I preferred the third out of the three. There is some symbolism and other interesting aspects of the film that I’m sure I’m not doing justice to.

    I wish Penny, Grace or Kevin would help me out here.

  24. Reid

    King Kong (1933)
    6/10
    Dir. Merian C. Cooper
    Starring: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot, Frank Reicher, etc.
    (Village Voice, Entertainment Weekly, AFI, Roger Ebert, and Leonard Maltin)

    This made five out of the 8 top 100 lists I’ve been watching. I wondered if this film really was that good–and if it actually holds up–or iif the film just made a huge impression on the critics when they were younger. The verdict for me?

    Well, it’s a mixed bag. The special effects do not stand up. They cannot hold a candle to the cgi effects of say, Jurassic Park. The comparison is also apt because both films have a “sideshow” appeal; Audience go to them because they want to see monsters.

    While the King Kong’s fx is inferior to Jurassic Park, it is a better film in every other respect, imo. The filmmakers do a really good job of building the suspense up until the moment we see Kong. The beginning of the film starts with a conversation between a film director and some other people, including the crew of the ship. We learn that this director goes on dangerous adventures and that he plans to go on one now, except he refuses to anything about this current journey. When the ship finally get to Skull Island–home of King Kong–the drum beats, tribal activity and–most of all–the huge wall create a sense of mystery.

    The action sequences are also well shot and executed. (One of the surprises was the level of violence that was shown in the film. We see bodies falling from a cliff and crashing at the bottom; or Kong stepping on people.) As I watched the film, I thought that if I saw this in the 1930’s and the effects were impressive, this would be a really great monster movie. Despite the dated effects, I think one could argue that it is one of the greatest monster movies of all-time.

  25. Reid

    Top Hat (1935)
    7/10
    Dir. Marc Sandrich
    Starring: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers,
    101 minutes
    (Gerald Peary)

    I didn’t realize how effecively witty the dialogue would be in this film. I’ve seen the dancing to “Cheek to Cheek” before, but seeing it in the context of the film was something else. It’s one of the best musical scenes (or, perhaps, scene in general). There are a couple of things I noticed: 1) I loved the frilly dress Ginger Rogers wore. It really added to the feathery quality of the dancing; 2.) I loved the dancing and the music moves from agressive, fast movements to slow, gliding, gentle ones; 3)”Cheek to Cheek” is a great song. There were moments in that whole sequence that brought tears to my eyes, it was so beautiful and wonderful.

    Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
    8/10
    Dir. Michael Curtiz
    Starring: James Cagney, Walter Huston, Joan Leslie, etc.
    126 minutes
    (AFI and Roger Ebert)

    I didn’t care for this film at first, but the pure, earnest love of America just got to me towards the end. I didn’t care for the songs or the “talking” style of singing by Cagney as George Cohan, but the lyrics and music won me over.

    I think Michael Curtiz does a great job of editing what feels like a montage of greatest songs, dancing and personal moments of George M. Cohan. Despite making huge leaps through time, he still manages to make the scenes with family powerful.

    Young Mr. Lincoln
    7/10
    Dir. John Ford
    Starring: Henry Fonda, Alice Brady, Marjorie Weaver,
    100 minutes
    (Gerald Peary)

    If people were making a big deal out of Nicole Kidman’s nose in The Hours, I can’t imagine what they would say about Henry Fonda’s in this film. The make-up is actually really great, and so is Fonda’s acting, bringing to life the young Abe Lincoln.

    I love court dramas, and I was surprised to find that this film was essentially one. I didn’t care for the silly jokes Lincoln tells during the case. (I’d be disappointed if this actually happened.) Still, the case and the resolution is pretty satisfying.

    Mildred Pierce (1953)
    7/10
    Dir. Michael Curtiz
    Starring: Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, Eve Arden, Ann Blyth, etc.
    111 minutes
    (Entertainment Weekly)

    I believe this is the first time I’ve seen Joan Crawford in a film. She has the most eerie, bug eyes I’ve ever seen. Up there with Bette Davis. She’s attractive, but also not in a way. Again, just like Bette Davis. This was an entertaining film, that sort of made me think of Dolores Clairborne.

    Laura (1944)
    7/10
    Dir. Otto Preminger
    Starring: Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney,
    88 minutes
    (Roger Ebert)

    This was another entertaining mystery.

    (spoiler)

    The relationship between Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney was strange and not really believeable. Still, the movie unfolds in an entertaining and satisfying way.

    An Imitation of Life (8 out of 10)

    Man, I need to see more of Douglas Sirk’s films. I’ve seen All that Heaven Allows, and I liked this a lot better. The combination of melodrama and social commentary is really terrific and unique. (It lessened my estimation of Todd Haynes’ film Far From Heaven. What’s the point of making that film, when you’ve got these other two Sirk films?) The melodrama may be sappy, but I was moved by it.

    (spoiler)

    The scene that sticks with me is the one where Sarah Jane’s boyfriend beats her and yells, “Nigger!” It’s shocking for it’s blatant racism and brutality. Here’s a girl who looks white, but just by finding out she’s really black, she’s beaten up by someone who supposedly cares for. Wow.

    Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (4 out of 10)

    The songs and dance numbers are not that great. The dance numbers seem more “physical” rather than displays of dancing skill. The whole sexist aspects of the film are a turn-off, too. But it wasn’t a complete bore or offensive.

    Dracula (3 out of 10)

    There are some cool shots in this film, but other than, I found it hard to take. I’ve seen too many caricatures of the Bela Lagosi version of Dracula. At least it wasn’t that long. (less than 90 minutes)

    Detour (7 out of 10)

    I liked the rough B-feel of this moive. Tom Neal really looked like Kurt Russell at times, which was sort of distracting. I liked the whole fatalistic mythlike tone, too.

  26. Reid

    Nanook of the North (1922)
    (6/10)
    Dir. Robert Flaherty
    89 minutes

    When I was in grade school, I watched a PBS program on the Bushmen of the Kalahari. The program showed the way the Bushmen hunted and used other methods to survive. Nanook reminds of that film–indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if Nanook inspired other programs like. If you like the “Bushmen,” you will probably enjoy this film. I liked that program, but why did I give the film a 6? I thought the film was interesting and well-made, but the score reflects my level of enthusiasm. (It probably does deserve a 7.) The film does stand up fairly well despite its age. These factors, plus the likelihood that this was the first of a particular type of movie, make it an understandable pick for a top 100 list.

    Pickup on South Street (1953)
    (7/10)
    Dir. Samuel Fuller
    Starring: Richard Widmark, Jean Peters, Thelma Ritter, etc.
    80 minutes

    The film is about a pickpocket who unintentionally steals secrets that was going to be sold to Communists. Well cast, easy to watch and interesting characters. Not a great film, but may be deserving of being on a top 100 list for the characters in the film.

    (spoilers)

    Having seen Shock Corridor, I expected this to be a “B” movie, but it wasn’t. The acting, direction and script was solid (except for maybe the romance, which wasn’t unnusal in “A” films of that time period. The problem was that the romance just seemed to happen without effective development from the filmmakers.)

    I liked the way the film focused on these unlikely protagonists (a pickpocket, a kind of floosey, and a “snitch”).and made you care about them. In the initial phases of the film, it seems as if Skip McCoy (Widmark) is the typical bad guy, and the police the good guys after him. Gradually, we see another side of Skip and eventually root for him. The way Fuller makes this transition is one of the best things about the film. Yes, he’s a pickpocket, but we learn about his background to understand the reason for him doing that. We see that Tiger’s (Murvyn Vye), the police captain, utter contempt for Skip and his belief that Skip is irredeemable and when undestand why Skip is cynical and continues his life of crime. However, Candy’s love for him not only reveals the positive qualities of Skip, but she shows that he is redeemable. This story arc may not be that shocking with so many independent films exploring non-conventional heroes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was one of the first films to do this and do it well. If that’s the case, that would be a solid reason for putting this on a top 100 list.

    Thelma Ritter ‘s performance doesn’t hurt. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was nominated for an Academy Award. She’s a snitch–which is a crummy sort of “job,” but her performance is such that you don’t care; you like her anyway; you see that there are compelling reasons for this behavior. I liked the fact that we see her character by her unwillingness to turn over secrets to Communists, even at the cost of her life.

    The biggest problem I had was with the relationship between Skip and Candy. Fuller doesn’t do a good job of showing how or why Candy falls in love with Skip. It just happens out of the blue, but, again, I don’t think that is atypical of films from that era.

  27. Reid

    Having finished watching Ben-Hur, I have completed the AFL Top 100 list. One down, seven more to go.

  28. Reid

    OK, if I don’t write a quick review of some of the films I’ve seen in the past couple of weeks, I’ll get too far behind.

    Diva (1981)
    (4/10)
    Dir. Jean-Jacques Beineix
    Starring: Frederic Andrei, Roland Bertin, Richard Bohringer,
    123 minutes
    (Gerald Peary)

    I never heard of much about this film and it appears on only one list. This is French thriller, which should indicate that there are other non-Hollywood elements in the film. That does happen in this film. A mail-carrier (who happens to be an opera fan) gets involved with a mix-up between a bootlegged tape of a opera singer (who refuses to record) and tape implicating a prominent polic officer in illegal matters.

    I didn’t see the connection between the opera singer sub-plot and the corruption case. In a way, the opera singer and the police both feel a pressure to compromise their principles. Maybe if I think about the film more, I’ll see a better connection. For now, the film gets a four. There is an exciting chase sequence, and some quirky characters that add a nice flavor to the film. Still, the film doesn’t succeed as an art film or thriller.

    A Touch of Zen (1969)
    5/10
    dir. King Hu
    Starring: Ying Bai, Billy Chan, Ping-Yu Chan, Roy Chau, Shih Chun, Hsue Han, etc.
    200 minutes

    That’s a rather low score, but there is one thing to recommend in this film. I wish there were to reveal that one thing without taking a little away from the film, but I don’t think there is. (I did feel confident that Grace would want to see this, so I recommended it to her without telling her anything about it.) OK here it is: if you want to see influence of kung-fu film by Ang Lee and Zhang Yimou, see this film.

    The film was OK other that. I liked the way the film appears to be one genre, shifts into another and then combines genres. The fight sequences weren’t that great, either. It’s interesting to see the way fight sequences in early kung-fu films have evolved from coreography that looks close to Western fight sequences to the elaborate, dance-like, supernatural movements of contemporary kung-fu films.

  29. Reid

    Being There (1979)
    4/10
    Dir. Hal Ashby
    Starring: Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine
    130 minutes

    I think Ebert described this as a “one-joke” film, and that is true. Whether you like this film or not depends on whether you believe Hartley succeeds in telling this joke over and over again. He didn’t succeed to me, mainly because I couldn’t suspend my disbelief that people around the Sellers character was that dumb and oblivious.

    Leolo (1992)
    5/10
    Dir. Jean Claude Lauzon
    Starring: Maxime Collin, Ginette Reno, etc.
    107 minutes

    This is another film that I never heard of until seeing it on the Time top 100 list. The film feels like a Jeunet film (Amelie, Delicatessen), and Pixote, the gritty, neo-realist drama about street children in Brazil. It’s a coming of age film with a combination of whimsical fantasy, and disturbing scenes.

    I had a hard time grasping what the director was going for, as the main character, Leo, kept having these daydream/fantasies. Plus, the tone of the film shifts being playful and somewhat humorous fantasy to sad and disturbing moments. A very different kind of coming of age film, and I give the film points for that. Overall I didn’t care for the film, however.

  30. Reid

    The Exterminating Angel (1962)
    4/10
    Dir. Luis Bunuel
    Starring: Silvia Pinal, Enrique Rambal, Claudio Brook, Jose Baveira, etc.
    95 minutes
    (Appears on one list–Roger Ebert)

    Should You See the Film?
    Definitely not, if you want straight entertainment. If you are open to art films, there are other Bunuel films I would recommend over this (i.e. Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, L’age D’or, or Belle de Jour). The film is about a group of wealthy people going to dinner at a friend’s mansion. Weird things happen afterward.

    Personal Comments (spoilers)
    Bunuel films don’t always make sense on a rational level, but the films I’ve enjoyed affect me on an unconscious level. This was not one of those films. I also have more questions than answers:

    What is the significance of the guests not being able to leave the house, and, then eventually, the church? My initial response is that Bunuel is saying these institutions/lifestyles are traps…that reduce people to barbarism?

    Bunuel says that he has not intentionally employed symbols in the film, but the presence of the bear and sheep seem to mean something. What do they mean? I’m not sure.

    Baby Face (1933)
    5/10
    Dir. Albert E. Green
    Starring: Barbara Stanwyck
    70 minutes
    (appears on Time magazine’s list)

    Should You See the Film?
    Only if you’re a big fan of Barbara Stanwyck. The film is OK, in every other respects.

    Personal Comments
    Barbara Stanwyck is…well, Barbara Stanwyck. That’s what this film has got going for it. The story or other characters aren’t really that great. Stanwyck plays a woman raised in a speakeasy, who sleeps her way to the top of a bank. She’s a goldigger extraordinaire. At the end she faces a moral choice, which I won’t go into here.

    The film was also a little too short. The film is really compressed, and areas of the story could probably be developed more. For example, more time could have been given to showing her character change and her relationship with Cortland (George Brent).

    The other thing that stood out was the openess towards Stanwyck’s sleeping her way to get to the top. There VHS I saw the film on is ostensibly part of a “Forbidden Hollywood” series curated by Leonard Maltin. He says that the film was made before Hollywood production codes. The openess towards sex was not very shocking, but I just thought I’d mention it.

  31. Reid

    Finally, Schindler’s List(6/10) and Children of Paradise.(9/10). Read a review of “Children” here.

  32. Reid

    Rififi (1955)
    Du rififi chez les hommes (French title)
    7/10
    Dir. Jules Dassin
    Starring: Tony Servais, Carl Mohner, Robert Manuel, Jules Dassin, etc.
    115 minutes
    (Roger Ebert)

    Should You See This?
    I wouldn’t say, “you should see this film,” but this is a good film, totally accessible. One of the first things that come to mind when I think about the film is how well-composed it is. There is very little wasted celluloid–every scene seems to have a purpose–and the logic and pacing is spot on. This is not flashy or stylish directing, but direction that totally serves the story. (The direction reminds me Wes Craven’s work on Red Eye.)

    There’s another reason to see the film, but I would have to give away the type of film it is: this could very well be the best heist film of all time, and may have influenced the heist films after it. (For that reason, the film could deserve making a top 100 list.)

    I also liked Tony Cervais in this film, who reminded me of Phillip Baker Hall in Hard Eight.

    I recently watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Paris, Texas, Celine and Julie Go Boating, and The Rise of Louis the XIV.

  33. Reid

    Ben-Hur: a Tale of Christ* (1959)
    7/10
    Dir. William Wyler*
    Starring: Charlton Heston*,Jack Hawkins, Hugh Griffin* etc.
    212 minutes
    (AFI)
    (*Winner of an Academy Award; won a total of 11 Academy Awards)

    Should You See This Film?
    If you’re a film buff, you have to see this film–if nothing else for one scene (which I go into below). As epics go, I guess it must be one of the best. I gave it a “7” because, while it kept my attention, I felt the story wasn’t as tight as it could have been. I wished they simplified the story line, and shortened the film.

    Personal Comments
    The chariot race is one of the best races in film history. It could be one of the greatest moments, period. The set pieces (i.e. huge crouching statute), the stunts and the camera work are all stunning, even after all these years and comparing it to current technology.

  34. Reid

    I saw the The Texas Chainsaw Massacre(1974) , which was #83 on the Village Voice top 100 films list. Read my V-I review here.

  35. Reid

    Les Vampires(1915)
    Dir. Louis Feuillade
    Starring: Musidora, Edouard Mathe, Marvel Levesque
    399 minutes
    (Village Voice)

    6/10
    This is a not one film, but a series of episodes not unlike a TV program. The way the series held my interest surprised me. You get to see what has to be one of the first buddy type partnerships between two characters, which was pretty effective. Some of the plotting and surprises also was quite good. Musidora as Irma Vep was probably stood out the most. There’s something cool about her character. If you want to know the plot, the series is about a reporter and his side-kick tracking down a gang of thieves called the Vampires.

    Andrei Rublev(1969)
    Dir. Andrei Tarkovsky
    Starring:
    205 minutes
    (Gerald Peary and Sight and Sound)

    5/10
    One of the more accessible Tarkovsky films I’ve seen. This is actually a bio-pic of a Russian monk/painter. There may be some interesting comments about faith, human existence, art and creativity (mainly the latter two). Unfortunately, I didn’t digest the ideas in the film very well, although the film managed to keep me from falling asleep.

    The American Friend(1977)
    Dir. Wim Wenders
    Starring: Dennis Hopper, Bruno Ganz
    127 minutes
    (George Peary)

    6/10
    A review I read described this as a thriller combining European and American approach. I think that’s a good description. One of the characters is Tom Ripley who also appeared in two other films (one with Matt Damon and Jude Law; the other a film directed by John Malkovich). The best part of the film for me was the relationship between Ganz and Hopper. There is a believable connection, and chemistry between the two.

    In Cold Blood(1967)
    Dir. Richard Brooks
    Starring: Robert Blake, Scott Wilson,
    134 minutes
    (Roger Ebert)

    5/10
    The black-and-white cinematography stands out in this film. The direction is also quite good. I can’t help but feel my familiarity with the serial killer phenomenon took away from this film. The film tries to explain–in a non-didactic way, to its credit–how individuals could kill “in cold blood.” I wanted the film to dig a little deeper.

  36. Mitchell

    re: In Cold Blood, have you read Capote’s book or seen the recent film? If yes, how did either affect your experience with the film?

  37. Reid

    I haven’t read the novel or seen the film about him.

  38. Reid

    Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)
    Dir. Russ Meyer
    109 minutes
    (Village Voice)

    3/10
    A trash film that I found trashy and little entertainment value. I rented this on VHS from the Kapahulu Diamond Head Video.

    Woman in the Dunes (1964)
    Dir. Hiroshi Teshigahara
    123 minutes

    7/10
    A film I will have to puzzle over more. An existential film that may also comment on relationships, society and economics.I actually read the novel a long time ago–so long that I can’t make any meaningful comparison. Cool black-and-white photography, especially of the moving sand. The cinematographer goes overboard on shooting the scene dark at times.

    Salesman (1969)
    Dir. Albert and David Maysles
    85 minutes
    (Gerald Peary)

    5/10
    Documentary about door-to-door Bible salesmen. I’m not sure why I wasn’t more interested in this film. I think there are better documentaries to put on a top 100 list. Still, not a bad film.

    Personal Comments
    I was suprised at the brutal treatment of the salesman from the supervisor. I wondered if the salemen actually believed their pitches would work or were they just too far gone to tell. Pretty depressing and uncomfortable filmt: depressing because one of the salesmen is bitter, and you see it coming out in his sale pitch; uncomfortable because you can see the people often don’t want to buy anything, but they’re too decent to be blunt and kick these guys out.

  39. Mitchell

    Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is the wrong Russ Meyer film to check out first. I know, because it was my first Meyer film, too (in fact, the very same copy you watched, in all probability). Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is much, much better, and a better example of what people see in Russ Meyer. You still won’t like it, but you might see what it is about Meyer that many people think was so singularly visionary.

    Again, thinking about Meyer now that I’ve seen Plan 9 From Outer Space, I think there’s a fine line between awful and brilliant — it seems to me that a lot of brilliance takes the chance of being awful. Wood flopped miserably; Meyer falls somewhere in the middle. I’d rate Faster Pussycat ahead of Alphaville, to be honest.

    Tangent: From the Russ Meyer entry at Wikipedia:

    Meyer was known for his quick wit. While participating with Roger Ebert in a panel discussion at Yale University, he was confronted by an angry woman who accused him of being “nothing but a breast man.” His immediate reply: “That’s only the half of it.”

    This is one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard of someone saying.

  40. Reid

    Thanks for the comments.

    I’m actually not closed to seeing more of Meyer’s films. I actually didn’t get to analyze the film very much.

    I love the title, Faster, Pussycat! Kill Kill. I wonder if part of the reason I don’t care for his films is that big-breasted woman alone is not enough to keep my interest. It would be interesting to see a well-done, erotic film. I don’t think “Valley” qualifies though–although to be fair I don’t think Meyer’s was trying to make an erotic film, not as a first priority anyway.

    As for the fine line between brilliant and awful, I think there can be a fine line, especially when you have an artist making trashy and/or more popular films. I also think there is a difference between a bad film that was a good attempt versus just a bad film.

  41. Mitchell

    I guess what I’m trying to get at (and this is not contradicting anything you said, just exploring the subject further) is that the director who is trying to say something or do something that nobody has done before is taking a chance. I don’t think anything Bruckheimer and Bay have done in recent years is taking any kind of chance; thus, they may be successful at what they’re trying to do, but they’re not trying to do much.

    Ed Wood was clearly trying to do something different, to create something meaningful. In fact, his hurried style and disregard for nailing details and his fondness for using stock footage may have been part of his intent, and not merely the product of a very low budget. It’s possible that this skewed vision could have been revolutionary in some way; that’s not what ended up happening, but I think Plan 9 and Star Wars actually come from the same place.

    Russ Meyer is trying to do something, and I’m not sure I totally get it, but that doesn’t make it worthless or a failure. In some ways, I do get what he was after, and maybe a few more viewings of a few more of his films might make me see it. Or maybe not. Either way, I’m fascinated by these auteurs who aren’t quite Tarantino.

  42. Reid

    Having just seen The Big Parade and Greed, I have now completed the Leonard Maltin list! (Btw, the Movie Museum was the only place I could find both films to rent, VHS format.)

    I also saw Salo, which had the most disgusting scene(s) I’ve ever seen in film. I almost literally threw up several times.

  43. Reid

    Greed (1924)
    Dir. Erich von Stroheim
    239 minutes
    (Village Voice, Sight and Sound, Gerald Peary, Roger Ebert, and Leonard Maltin)

    3/10
    I feel bad giving this film a “3,” because the studio butchered von Stroheim’s film. Von Stroheim’s original cut was nine hours(!), but, with a friend, he cut it down to four hours. The studio cut it down to two hours. In the beginning of the version I saw, there’s a quote from Von Stroheim that said something like, “If I spoke continually for three weeks, I wouln’t beging to scratch the surface of the sorrow and pain I feel at the result of this current film.”

    Now the version I watched is a about four hours. However, instead of the original footage, the film has stilll photos shot in a Ken Burns style. This really takes away from the characters and the story. I can’t know the effectiveness and quality of the story, characters and the entire film through this format. I feel like I”m listening to the pitch to the movie or an outline. Sometimes this was really frustrating. For example, there’s at least one dream sequence, but it’s done in a few still photos. I get the feeling that Von Stroheim might have shot that scene in an German Expressionist style. But we just get a few photos.

    The lost footage and remaining film is sad because Von Stroheim really wanted to make a serious, realistic film and went through great lengths to achieve this.What we have in my opinion, doesn’t give enough to fairly udge the film–at least for me.

    This film is basically about the way greed corrupts and destroys people. It doesn’t surpass other films that deal with the subject like Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Ugetsu.

    The Big Parade
    Dir. King Vidor

    7/10
    I wouldn’t strongly recommend this silent film, but it was surprisingly entertaining. This about the three Americans and their experience in WWI. The shooting of the war sequences is pretty good, but not better than All Quiet on the Western Front.

    I liked the chemistry and acting of the three Americans.

    The female actor looked like Nancy Allen, the actor who appears in many Brian DePalma films.

  44. Reid

    The Travelling Players (1975)
    Dir. Theo Angelopolous
    230 minutes
    (Sight and Sound)

    5/10
    I really have a hard time recommending this movie. Yet, there were some some good camera work (execution of long shots) and interesting concepts and notions of time in the film. Still, I couldn’t connect with this film for one main reason: I am very unfamiliar with Greek history from 1940-to the early 50s.

    LIke films like Farewell My Concubine or The Leopard, this film feels more history than an actual story. Indeed, the main characters in the film–actors in a travelling group–are not very well developed. They play characters from the Oresteia–yet another reason I had trouble connecting with this film as I’m not familiar with those plays.

  45. Reid

    Pyaasa(1957)
    Dir. Guru Dutt
    Starr.Maha Sinha, Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman, etc.
    146 minutes
    (Time)

    5/10
    This is a Bollywood film, but it seems more restrained, like a Hollywood musical with a more philosophical socially conscious side with an Indian flavor. Here’s the thing: the version I saw did not translate the lyrics to the songs. Maybe I should tell you a little about the plot.

    The film is about a down-on-his-luck poet (who sings his poems, so I don’t know if that’s cultural or just an artifice in the film). His songs seem are moving and seem to contain lyrics that are critical to the characters feelings and ideas. I see the words having a moving effect on others, but I was never quite sure what was going on. Because of that I feel like I really haven’t watched the film. As for other elements of the film–the direction, cinematography and acting, I didn’t notice anything remarkable, but nothing bad either.

  46. Reid

    Alice in the Citiies(1974)
    Dir. Wim Wenders
    (Gerald Peary)

    4/10
    I don’t really know what to say about this film except, if I would end up liking this film, I would have to really analyze and absorb–something I haven’t done or am willing to do at this moment. I don’t know if it would be worth it.

    **
    Like An American Friend, the film shows the American and European cultures combine. That’s probably one of the potentially interesting aspects of the film. This intersection of cultures could be seen in the various cities that the characters travel through, but again I haven’t really thought abou it.

    ***
    Here’s a description of the film. A film with a European-art feel to it. A young German journalists is assigned to write about his travels in America, but only manages to take polaroids of his trip. This occurs in only the first fifteen minutes of the film. He decides to go back to Germany, and along the way meets up with a young German mother and her daughter, Alice. In a somewhat strange arrangement, the man agrees to take the daughter back home alone. The mother never returns and the man must find a way to get her to relatives.

    Stroszek (1975)
    Dir. Werner Herzog
    Starring: Bruno S, Eva Mattes, Clemens Sheitz, etc.
    115 minutes
    (Roger Ebert)

    7/10
    Objectively this film may be better than a 7, but the score reflexes my own personal enjoyment of the film. I would describe the film as a European Forrest Gump. Gone are the fancy effects and editing and gone are the mainstream Hollywood sensibility: no cute portrayals of wisdom and miracles. This is a much more realistic film; less polished. Herzog has the tendency to put things in his film that he finds interesting, even though it’s not totally related to the story. This gives this film (and others I’ve seen) a choppy and more raw feel to his films. The narratives are not very tight, but he doesn’t seem to care about creating films with a really tight narrative. That’s partly what can make his films less accessible. Still, there are elements to recommend in this and other of his films.

    **
    The film gets points for several reasons. First and foremost, the “actor” Bruno S.–who plays a “holy fool” character. Someone who possess kindness despite being mistreated and a way of winning the audience’s sympathy. The remarkable thing is that Bruno S. seems to be like this in real life. The story Herzog tells about him is interesting in its own right and parallels the character’s story.

    The other actors in the film are also interesting. Eva Mattes puts in a strong performance and Clemens Sheitz is another oddball character that is apparently not really acting.

    Finally, Herzog uses images to convey and sum up his ideas and feelings in powerful ways.

    (spoilers)

    I read a post from IMDB on the movie from someone named Juanathan (“My Take on the Ending–Major Spoilers”). I thought it was a really good interpretation of the film. I kinda wished I did the work to analyze the film, but who knows if I would have came up with the same thing. Here’s the post:

    I believe this ending was supposed to be Thanksgiving. There are many things that show it. Cherokee Indinas are present. Who can forget the frozen turkey that Bruno holds till his death(I interpreted that he killed himself)?One of the greatest American pastimes is having Thanksgiving and one of the greatest accomplishments is bringing home a turkey to your family to eat and you will all be happy. Stroszek has lost his so called family, Eva and Mr. Scheitz, for various reasons. I believe Bruno going up on the ski lift is forshadowing him going up to heaven and that the turkey is the American dream( IF YOU WORK HARD ENOUGH YOUR LIFE WILL BE PLEASURABLE). The only way he will achieve this dream is by killing himself and he will only be happy in death. I thought another sad truth in this film is that even though he moved from Germany to America and he still could not find happiness and that some people wherever they go in this world cannot fuction. As you see the truck burning and as the camera follows the smoke, it is almost completly in sync with how the ski left is going up the mountain bringing both Stroszek and the turkey (the American dream) to their death. I thought the animals were supposed to be mocking the American dream. You see all the animals doing their little jobs like they are supposed but they still get nowhere. I think the car going around in circles recalls a line from the beginning saying something along the lines how life goes around in cirlces and that if Stroszek got caught and thrown in jail his life would just go around in antoher circle. When the truck finally breaks down and goes on fire, he has refused to make his life go around in antoher circle.

  47. Reid

    Naked (1993)
    Dir. Mike Leigh
    Starring: David Thewlis, Lesley Sharp, Katrin Cartlidge, Greg Cruttwell, Claire Skinner, etc.
    131 minutes
    (Gerald Peary)

    8/10
    David Thewlis. I’m making a list of great characters/performances and David Thewlis gets on there for his role as Johnny in this film. I’ve read that he improvised every word in the film, which makes his performance impressive. (If they did the shots in a few takes, that would be even more impressive.) He’s speaking very fast intellectual and often witty lines. He’s one of the funnier characters–in one respect–of come across in a while.

    **
    The film is about lonely people in pain. Very few directors reach the depth of loneliness and realism in his characters. He’s also able to add humorous moments in this as well. In a way, the film made me think Leigh directing episodes of Taxi would be very interesting. You don’t see the average people that Leigh seems to like to feature, especially in many British films.

    The insights into class are also interesting.

    I’m curious to figure out the meaning of the sexual aggression in both male characters.

  48. Reid

    Shoah (1985)
    Dir. Claude Lanzmann
    (Sight and Sound and Village Voice)
    544 minutes

    7/10
    Well, I finally finished watching this documentary…well, sort of. Three discs of the copy I viewed had a missing section of about 10 minutes each. (The “broken” section on disc one was longer, but I went out and rented disc one from Diamond Head Video. You can get all four discs there, but pay for each individual disc.) It’s pretty annoying. Do I $5 to watch 20 minutes of film? I’m thinking about it.

    I’m not really interested in films about the Holocaust, but I would say this is a pretty good one. Being a documentary, the filmmaker didn’t have to weave in a narrative to make it interesting for viewers, which can take away from the complexity and other interesting aspects of the Holocaust. (Something I think happened in Schindler’s List.)

    There are some very compelling anecdotal stories that definitely kept my attention, and other historical details that interested me (the military had to find the money to pay for transporting the Jews from different parts of Europe–not only to other governments, but to the German government as well.)

    One annoying thing (besides the “missing” sections) is that the interviewees would speak for a long time before subtitles would appear on the screen. This was especially true in the beginning of the film when many Poles were interviewed. The reason for the lag was an interpreter would have to translate, and the subtitles would appear only when the interpreter spoke.

    I don’t know if I’d highly recommend this film, especially since it’s nine hours long. Does it really add anything significant to one’s knowledge of the event? There were some interesting historical details, but not enough to give me a dramatically different outlook of what was a terrible event in history.

    What is admirable and valuable about the film is that the filmmaker wants to document the details of the way in which the Nazi’s killed the Jews. These details make the viewer–present and future–feel and believe in the reality of the what happened. If you knew nothing about the holocaust, this would be one of the films that would be at the top of my list.

  49. Reid

    Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1967)
    Dir. Jean-Luc Godard
    90 minutes
    (Sight and Sound and The Village Voice)

    7/10
    A film very much in the same vein as My Life to Live and Masculin/Feminin. This film, more than the others, feels like an experimental “essay” more than a narrative. Godard seems to be more interested in social commentary and he makes these comments taking advantage of the medium–non-linear time, editing, etc. I appreciate the style of the flm, although I don’t really fully understand everything he’s trying to say. Godard directs his criticism against the US and Vietnam, consumerist/capitalistic society, industrial society, among other things.

    With this film I have completed the Sight and Sound list.

  50. Reid

    Mouchette (1967)
    Dir. Robert Bresson
    (Time)

    I wouldn’t put this on a top 100 films of all-time list, but then again, I don’t think I really “get” Bresson. The main thing that stands out for me is the similar motif that von Trier seems to be into–a woman treated cruelly. I should really think about this film, but I find it hard to go back to Bresson’s films because they seem so emotionally vacant.

    Basically, this is a film about young girl (early teens) who comes from a cruel home. She’s basically one of these kids who other kids pick on.

    The Crime of Monsieur Lange(1937)
    Dir. Jean Renoir
    (Time)

    8/10

    Now here’s a French director I really like. The more Renoir films I watch the more I find myself liking this director. Where Bresson’s films are emotionally vacant, Renoir’s films are filled with a lot of feeling. I’m suprised by the way some of the scenes touched me. Surprised because they don’t seem extraordinary on the surface. (I can’t think of the specific scenes right now.)

    The film is about a writer of pulp novels (I really liked Rene Lefevre, the actor who played this character) on the run from commiting a crime. The film is told in flashbacks, and involves a super charming, but despicable editor (played wonderfully by Jules Berry). This is good storytelling with likeable characters and good performances.

    I don’t know of other people will agree with the 8 rating. I could understand if many people would give it a 6 or 7. I don’t know if I’d put this on a top 100 films of all-time list, but it could reasonably be near the bottom.

  51. Reid

    Diabolique (1955)
    Dir. Henri-Georges Clouzot\
    114 minutes
    (Entertainment Weekly)

    7/10
    Like Psycho, this film won’t have the impact on modern audiences because they’ve seen the many other thrillers that have similar qualities to this film. Having said that, this is a solid film that kept me entertained for the most part.

    There are two things that stand out for me. First, Vera Clouzot (the director’s wife, I presume) did a fine job and creating tension and anxiety for the audience. I believed and felt her anxiety and stress. She was particularly effective in using her eyes.(Btw, her looks reminded me of Greta Garbo, which was sort of distracting, particuarly since Garbo and Vera Clouzot are so beautiful.)

    (spoiler)

    The other thing that stands out is the sequence when Christina (Vera Clouzot) investigates sounds she hears in the hallway. If you’ve ever got up the courage to investigate a noise down a dark corridor, you’ll know that Clouzot (both of them) capture this situation perfectly. Two things stood out: one, Christina shouts, “Who’s there?” and the words boom out, contrasting with the silence making the moment seem especially eerie. The other moment was when the light switch went off and Christina screams and runs back to her room. The scream is one of the more realistic screams of terror I have heard (better than the one’s by Janet Leigh, and I would say Fay Wray, although Wray’s vocal chord strength is impressive). I have to wonder if the actor didn’t know beforehand that the lights would be turned off or if some other “trick” was used to get her to scream that way (maybe someone grabbed her leg from under the table).

    The viewing of this film completes the Entertainment Weekly list.

  52. Reid

    I saw Decalogue last weekend which completes Roger Ebert and Time magazine’s lists and completes my quest. I’ll try to write a review of Decalogue later.

You can add images to your comment by clicking here.