Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Sergio Leone was by far the most talented director of spaghetti westerns, but arguably his best film is this gangster epic that he made having earlier turned down the chance to direct The Godfather. The long but always fascinating story chronicles the lives of Jewish ghetto youths who rise to prominence in New York City’s world of organised crime, particularly David “Noodles” Aaronson, initially a poor street kid struggling to survive in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the early 1920s. One of the few great Italian films of the 1980s and featuring a remarkable reproduction of New York’s Lower East Side, Once Upon a Time in America is visually stunning, violent and desperately sad.

Buy or Rent (watch online)
Two-Disc Special Edition (DVD)
Extended Director’s Cut [Blu-ray]
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Complete Version 2 Pieces Set [DVD]
Robert De Niro Collection – 4-Disc Box Set ( Heat / Goodfellas / The Mission / Once Upon a Time in America ) [ Blu-Ray, Reg.A/B/C Import – United Kingdom ]


The 400 Blows (1959)

Director: François Truffaut Cinematographer: Henri Decaë

Reacting against the supposed formulaic and studio controlled mainstream films of the 1950s, outspoken Cahiers du Cinema critic, Francois Truffaut helped trigger the New Wave with a film revolving around an ordinary adolescent in Paris, Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Leaud) who is thought by his parents and teachers to be a trouble maker. His teacher singles him out for criticism and punishment, while his mother is cold and demanding, and frequently argues with her husband (Antoine’s stepfather). The 400 Blows has elements of autobiography as the precocious Truffaut was incarcerated as a teenager for failing to pay debts while in the film the young protagonist is jailed for stealing a typewriter. Showing an allegiance to the visual style of filmmakers such Renoir and Welles, Truffaut uses moving camera shots and long takes to create an open fluid mise-en-scene. However, it’s the performance of Leaud, who provides an intelligent yet innocent portrayal of the troubled but often humorous youth during his initiation into a callous adult world, that gives the film its brilliant pathos and is ultimately the key to its success.

Buy or Rent (watch online)
The Criterion Collection (DVD)
Francois Truffaut’s Adventures of Antoine Doinel (The 400 Blows / Antoine & Collette / Stolen Kisses / Bed & Board / Love on the Run) (The Criterion Collection) DVD
Essential Art House, Volume II (Black Orpheus / The 400 Blows / Ikiru / The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp / Pygmalion / La Strada) DVD
Jules Et Jim/La Peau Douce/400 Blows/the Last Metro (DVD)



  • Jean-Pierre Léaud as Antoine Doinel
  • Albert Rémy as Julien Doinel, Antoine’s stepfather
  • Claire Maurier as Gilberte Doinel, Antoine’s mother
  • Guy Decomble as Sourpuss, School teacher
  • Patrick Auffay as René Bigey, Antoine’s best friend
  • Georges Flamant as Monsieur Bigey, René’s father
  • Pierre Repp as an English teacher
  • Daniel Couturier as Betrand Mauricet
  • Luc Andrieux as Le professeur de gym
  • Robert Beauvais as director of the school
  • Yvonne Claudie as Mme Bigey
  • Marius Laurey as L’inspecteur Cabanel
  • Claude Mansard as the examining magistrate
  • Jacques Monod as commissioner
  • Henri Virlojeux as the night watchman
  • Jeanne Moreau as a woman looking for her dog
  • Jean-Claude Brialy as a man trying to pick up a woman

Directed by François Truffaut
Produced by François Truffaut, Georges Charlot
Screenplay by François Truffaut, Marcel Moussy
Music by Jean Constantin
Cinematography Henri Decaë
Edited by Marie-Josèphe Yoyotte
Running time 99 minutes
Country France
Language French

Quo Vadis (1913)

Director: Enrico Guazzoni

Part of an Italian industry that had pioneered the feature film, Quo Vadis is a lavish spectacular.






1913 photo Scene from the 1913 Italian silent film Quo Vadis? graphic. Vintag c3
1913 photo Scene from the 1913 Italian silent film Quo Vadis? graphic. Vintag c2
1913 photo Baptism scene from the 1913 Italian silent film Quo Vadis? graphic b1
Odsan Gallery Quo Vadis, Amleto Novelli & Gustavo Serena, Amelia Cattaneo, 1913 – Premium Movie Poster Reprint 24″ by 38″ Unframed

The 25 best action movies

In August 2017 Total Film Magazine compiled a list of what they considered the 25 best action movies. It’s hard to go against the top 2 choices with Terminator 2 certainly one of the most thrilling and entertaining films ever made and Die Hard is never too far from the top of these types of polls.

  • 25. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

  • 24. Atomic Blonde (2017)

  • 23. Air Force One (1997)

  • 22. Taken (2008)

  • 21. Con Air (1997)

  • 20. Dredd (2012)

  • 19. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

  • 18. Skyfall (2012)

  • 17. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)

  • 16. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

  • 15.  Fast Five (2011)

  • 14. John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

  • 13. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

  • 12. The Raid 2 (2014)

  • 11. Predator (1987)

  • 10. Gladiator (2000)

  • 9. 13 Assassins (2010)

  • 8. John Wick (2014)

  • 7. The Matrix (1999)

  • 6. First Blood (1982)

  • 5. Aliens (1986)

  • 4. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

  • 3. True Lies (1994)

  • 2. Die Hard (1988)

  • 1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Director: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen Cinematographer: Harold Rosson

Buy or Rent (watch online)
Original Film Soundtrack
Singin’ in the Rain / The Music Man / Seven Brides For Seven Brothers / Yankee Doodle Dandy / Elvis-Viva Las Vegas (5 Film Collection Musicals) DVD
Essential Classics: Musicals (My Fair Lady / Singin’ in the Rain / Gigi) DVD
TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: American Musicals (The Band Wagon / Meet Me in St. Louis / Singin’ in the Rain / Easter Parade) DVD



  • Gene Kelly as Don Lockwood. 
  • Debbie Reynolds as Kathy Selden. 
  • Donald O’Connor as Cosmo Brown, Don’s lifelong pal, and vaudeville partner, who becomes the head of Monumental Pictures’ music department.
  • Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont. 
  • Millard Mitchell as R.F. Simpson.
  • Cyd Charisse as the long-legged woman in the green sequined dress and Louise Brooks hair who vamps Gene Kelly in the “Broadway Melody” sequence.
  • Douglas Fowley as Roscoe Dexter, the director of Don and Lina’s films.
  • Rita Moreno as Zelda Zanders, the “Zip Girl” and Lina’s friend.
  • King Donovan as Rod, head of the publicity department at Monumental Pictures.
  • Judy Landon as Olga Mara, a silent screen vamp who attends the premiere of The Royal Rascal.
  • Madge Blake as Dora Bailey, a radio show host.
  • Kathleen Freeman as Phoebe Dinsmore, Lina’s diction coach.
  • Bobby Watson as diction coach during the “Moses Supposes” number.
  • Jimmy Thompson as the singer of “Beautiful Girl”.
  • Mae Clarke as the hairdresser who puts the finishing touches on Lina Lamont’s hairdo.
  • Julius Tannen as the man demonstrating the technology of talking pictures.

Directed by Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
Produced by Arthur Freed
Screenplay by Betty Comden, Adolph Green
Music by Lennie Hayton (original score), Songs: Nacio Herb Brown (music), Arthur Freed (lyrics)
Cinematography Harold Rosson
Edited by Adrienne Fazan
Running time 103 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Paul Greengrass’s Favourite Films

Paul Greengrass is an English film director, film producer, screenwriter and former journalist. He specialises in dramatisations of real-life events and is known for his signature use of hand-held cameras. His early film Bloody Sunday won the Golden Bear at 52nd Berlin International Film Festival. Other films he has directed include three in the Bourne action/thriller series: The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), and Jason Bourne (2016); United 93 (2006), for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Director, and received an Academy Award for Best Director nomination, Green Zone (2010) and Captain Phillips (2013). In 2004 he co-wrote and produced the film Omagh, which won British Academy Television Award.

  • The Battle of Algiers (1966, dir. Gillo Pontecorvo)
  • Battleship Potemkin (1925, dir. Sergei Eisenstein)
  • Z (1969, dir. Costa-Gavras)
  • Citizen Kane (1941, dir. Orson Welles)
  • Breathless (1960, dir. Jean-Luc Godard)
  • The War Game (1965, dir. Peter Watkins)
  • The Gospel According to St Matthew (1964, dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini)
  • Kes (1969, dir. Ken Loach)
  • Bicycle Thieves (1948, dir. Vittorio De Sica)
  • Seven Samurai (1954, dir. Akira Kurosawa)
    • Made In Britain (1982),  Rita, Sue and Bob Too! (1987) , Scum (1979)

MICHAEL MANN’s Favourite Films

Michael Kenneth Mann is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer of film and television who is best known for his distinctive brand of stylised crime drama. For his work, he has received nominations from international organisations and juries, including those at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Cannes and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His most acclaimed works are the crime film Heat (1995) and the docudrama The Insider (1999). Total Film ranked Mann No. 28 on its list of the 100 Greatest Directors Ever, Sight and Sound ranked him No. 5 on their list of the 10 Best Directors of the Last 25 Years, and Entertainment Weekly ranked Mann No. 8 on their 25 Greatest Active Film Directors list.

1. Apocalypse Now (Coppola, 1979)
2. Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, 1925)
3. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)
4. Dr Strangelove (Kubrick, 1963)
5. Faust (Murnau, 1926)
6. Last Year at Marienbad (Resnais, 1961)
7. My Darling Clementine (Ford, 1946)
8. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, 1928)
9. Raging Bull (Scorsese, 1980)
10. The Wild Bunch (Peckinpah, 1969)

The Cinema of Michael Mann: Vice and Vindication (Directors’ Cuts) Paperback
Michael Mann – Hollywood’s Best Film Directors – Buy or Rent (Watch Online)
Michael Mann (Hardcover)
Michael Mann: Crime Auteur (Hardcover)
Michael Mann Cinema And Television: Interviews, 1980-2012 (Hardcover)
Existentialism and Social Engagement in the Films of Michael Mann (Hardcover)


Orson Welles’s Favourite Films

George Orson Welles was an American actor, director, writer, and producer who worked in theatre, radio, and film. He is remembered for his innovative work in all three: in theatre, most notably Caesar (1937), a Broadway adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar; in radio, the legendary 1938 broadcast “The War of the Worlds”; and in film, Citizen Kane (1941), consistently ranked as one of the greatest films ever made. Below are his ten favourite films.

1. City Lights (Chaplin, 1931).
2. Greed (von Stroheim, 1924).
3. Intolerance (Griffith, 1916).
4. Nanook of the North (Flaherty, 1922).
5. Shoeshine (De Sica, 1946).
6. Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, 1925).
7. La Femme du boulanger (Pagnol, 1938).
8. La Grande Illusion (Renoir, 1937).
9. Stagecoach (Ford, 1939).
10. Our Daily Bread (Vidor, 1934).
Orson Welles: A Biography (audiobook)
Orson Welles, Volume 1: The Road to Xanadu (Paperback)
Orson Welles, Volume 3: One-Man Band (Hardcover)
My Lunches with Orson: Conversations between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles (kindle)
Citizen Welles: A Biography of Orson Welles (kindle)

Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Director: Sergei Eisenstein Cinematographer: Eduard Tisse
Vladimir Popov (Uncredited)

Battleship Potemkin with Bonus Sergei Eisenstein Documentary Buy or Rent (watch online)
Restored Kino Edition – Buy or Rent (watch online)
Sergei Eisenstein: Double Feature (Battleship Potemkin & Strike) [Blu-ray]
The Soviet Influence: Battleship Potemkin + Drifters (DVD & Blu-ray)
The Battleship Potemkin: The Film Companion (KINOfiles Film Companion) (Book)



  • Aleksandr Antonov as Grigory Vakulinchuk (Bolshevik sailor)
  • Vladimir Barsky as Commander Golikov
  • Grigori Aleksandrov as Chief Officer Giliarovsky
  • I. Bobrov as Young sailor flogged while sleeping
  • Mikhail Gomorov as Militant sailor
  • Aleksandr Levshin as Petty Officer
  • N. Poltavseva as Woman with pince-nez
  • Lyrkean Makeon as the Masked Man
  • Konstantin Feldman as Student agitator
  • Beatrice Vitoldi as Woman with the baby carriage

Directed by Sergei Eisenstein
Produced by Jacob Bliokh
Screenplay by Nina Agadzhanova, Sergei Eisenstein Intertitles; uncredited: Nikolai Aseyev, Sergei Tretyakov
Music by Edmund Meisel (original 1925 score), Edison Studio (2017 soundtrack)
Cinematography Eduard Tisse, Vladimir Popov (Uncredited)
Edited by Uncredited: Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov
Running time 75 minutes
Country Soviet Union
Language Silent film, Russian intertitles

BFI’s The 50 films you should see by the age of 14

In 2005 the British Institute published a list of the 50 films you should see by the age of 14 to inspire parents and educators to take movies as seriously as books and other forms of art. It was created by more than 70 experts including film producers, teachers, authors and critics who all made their own top ten. The film registering the most votes was Spirited Away, which won the 75th Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and the Golden Bear at the 52nd Berlin International Film Festival. The British Film Institute published the top 10 and then the other 40 films in alphabetical order.

Top 10

Film Director Year Country
Bicycle Thieves Vittorio De Sica 1948 Italy
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Steven Spielberg 1982 USA
Kes Ken Loach 1969 UK
The 400 Blows Francois Truffaut 1959 France
The Night of the Hunter Charles Laughton 1955 USA
Show Me Love Lukas Moodysson 1998 Sweden/Denmark
Spirited Away Hayao Miyazaki 2001 Japan
Toy Story John Lasseter 1995 USA
Where is the friend’s Home? Abbas Kiarostami 1987 Iran
The Wizard of Oz Victor Fleming 1939 USA

Rest of Top 50

The Adventures of Robin Hood Michael Curtiz/William Keighley 1938 USA
Au revoir les enfants Louis Malle 1987 France/West Germany
Back to the Future Robert Zemeckis 1985 USA
Beauty and the Beast Gary Trousdale/Kirk Wise 1991 USA
Billy Elliot Stephen Daldry 2000 UK/France
A Day at the Races Sam Wood 1937 USA
Edward Scissorhands Tim Burton 1990 USA
Etre et Avoir Nicolas Philibert 2002 France
Finding Nemo Andrew Stanton/Lee Unkrich 2003 USA
It’s a Wonderful Life Frank Capra 1946 USA
Jason and the Argonauts Don Chaffey 1963 UK/USA
The Kid Charles Chaplin 1921 USA
King Kong Merian C. Cooper/Ernest B. Schoedsack 1933 USA
Kirikou et la sorcière Michel Ocelot 1998 France/Belgium/Luxembourg
La Belle et la Bête Jean Cocteau 1946 France/Luxembourg
Le Voyage dans la Lune Georges Melies 1902 France
Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday Jacques Tati 1953 France
My Life as a Dog Lasse Halström 1985 Sweden
My Neighbour Totoro Hayao Miyazaki 1988 Japan
Oliver Twist David Lean 1948 UK
The Outsiders Francis Ford Coppola 1983 USA
Pather Panchali Satyajit Ray 1955 India
Playtime Jacques Tati 1967 France/Italy
The Princess Bride Rob Reiner 1987 USA
Rabbit-Proof Fence Phillip Noyce 2002 Australia
Raiders of the Lost Ark Steven Spielberg 1981 USA
The Railway Children Lionel Jeffries 1970 UK
The Red Balloon Albert Lamorisse 1956 France
Romeo + Juliet Baz Luhrmann 1996 USA
The Secret Garden Agnieszka Holland 1993 UK/USA
Singin’ in the Rain Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly 1952 USA
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs David Hand 1937 USA
Some Like It Hot Billy Wilder 1959 USA
The Spirit of the Beehive Victor Erice 1973 Spain
Star Wars George Lucas 1977 USA
To Kill a Mockingbird Robert Mulligan 1962 USA
Walkabout Nicolas Roeg 1971 UK
Whale Rider Niki Caro 2002 New Zealand
Whistle Down the Wind Bryan Forbes 1961 UK
The White Balloon Jafar Panahi 1995 Iran

Sight & Sound ~ May 2018 ~ BFI Film Magazine 120 BPM Lean on Pete Woodfall Films
Sight & Sound (Kindle Tablet Edition)
Back to the Future (BFI Film Classics) Paperback
Bicycle Thieves (BFI Film Classics) Paperback