The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2019) 960-941


960. Jackie Brown (1997) Dir. Quentin Tarantino, 154 mins.

The film follows flight attendant Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) who is busted for smuggling money for her arms dealer boss, Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson).  Facing jail if she doesn’t cooperate with the cops or death if she does, Brown decides instead to double-cross both parties and make off with her boss’s money. While this adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s 1995 Rum Punch doesn’t reach the heights of Tarantino’s previous films it’s still enjoyable stuff and revitalised the careers of Grier and Robert Forster who plays her love interest. Watch

959. Donnie Brasco (1997) Dir. Mike Newell, 127 mins.

Johnny Depp stars in the true story of an FBI undercover agent who infiltrated the Mafia Bonanno crime family in New York City during the 1970s, under the alias Donnie Brasco. A tense  and compelling character study by Mike Newell that’s bolstered by a strong performance by Al Pacino as the ageing hitman that Brasco befriends. Watch

958. Reds (1981) Dir. Warren Beatty, 194 mins.

Beatty’s sprawling and ambitious epic follows the life and career of John Reed (played by Beatty), the journalist and writer who chronicled the Russian Revolution in his book ‘Ten Days that Shook the World.’ It focuses greatly on Reed’s relationship with left-wing activist, Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton) and also shows her romantic entanglement with a booze embittered playwright Eugene O’Neill portrayed by Jack Nicholson, whose scene stealing performance is probably the best thing in the often ponderous film. However, Reds does have its moments, enhanced by acclaimed cinematographer Vittorio Storao (The ConformistApocalypse Now), and Beatty did walk away with an Oscar for Best Direction. Watch

957. Les Vampires (1915) Dir. Louis Feuillade, 399 mins.

Feuillade’s celebrated underworld crime series was made up of ten feature length episodes released monthly. It follows a journalist and his friend who become involved in trying to uncover and stop a bizarre underground Apache gang, known as The Vampires. Elegantly beautiful and exhilarating, the film was despised by many critics when first released but is now revered, particularly the performance of Musidora as Irma Vep. Buy

956. The Last King of Scotland (2006) Dir. Kevin Macdonald, 123 mins.

Propelled by Forest Whitaker’s Oscar winning performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, The Last King of Scotland delivers a taut and satisfying (partly fictional) drama. James McAvoy plays the Scottish doctor who naively falls in with a monster. Watch

955. Witness for the Prosecution (1957) Dir. Billy Wilder, 116 mins.

Set in the Old Bailey in London, the film is based on the play of the same name by Agatha Christie and deals with the trial of a man accused of murder. Watch

954. Flowers of Shanghai (1998) Dir. Hsiao-hsien Hou, 130 mins.

Set in Shanghai in the 1880s the film follows the intrigues of four elegant brothels, each with a madam, a courtesan in her prime, older servants and maturing girls in training. Maybe not Hou’s best film and it does require plenty of patience, but it’s worth seeing for its exquisite imagery. Buy

953. Kwaidan (1964) Dir. Masaki Kobayashi, 125 mins.

The film consists of four separate and unrelated stories and is based on Lafcadio Hearn’s collections of Japanese folk tales, mainly ‘Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things’, for which the film is named. Watch

952. Knife in the Water (1962) Dir. Roman Polanski, 94 mins.

Polanski’s brilliant feature film debut follows three characters in a story of rivalry and sexual tension. Watch

951. United 93 (2006) Dir. Paul Greengrass, 111 mins.

The film chronicles events aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which was hijacked during the September 11 attacks of 2001. Treating the subject matter with real respect and apparently made with the cooperation of all of the passengers’ families, Greengrass’s film is obviously not an enjoyable watch but is well crafted, powerful and sobering. Watch

950. American Gangster (2007) Dir. Ridley Scott, 157 mins.

The partly fictionalised film is based on the criminal career of Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), a gangster from La Grange, North Carolina who smuggled heroin into the United States on American service planes returning from the Vietnam War, before being detained by a task force led by detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe). Propelled by great lead performances and an extremely well crafted story, American Gangster is an immersive experience even if it does start to lose some direction towards the end. Watch

949. Shutter Island (2010) Dir. Martin Scorsese, 138 mins.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as U.S. Marshal Edward “Teddy” Daniels who is investigating a psychiatric facility on Shutter Island after one of the patients goes missing. This psychological thriller doesn’t rank with Scorsese’s best work but it’s still cleverly constructed and boasts some compelling performances. Watch

948. Short Term 12 (2013) Dir. Destin Daniel Cretton, 96 mins.

The film stars the excellent Brie Larson (in her first leading performance) as Grace Howard, a young supervisor of a group home for troubled teenagers. Director/writer Cretton based Short Term 12 on his own experience working in a group facility. Watch

947. Week End (1967) Dir. Jean-Luc Godard, 105 mins.

Determined to collect an inheritance from a dying relative, a petit-bourgeois couple travel across the French countryside while civilisation crashes and burns around them. Buy

946. Teorema (1968) Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, 105 mins.

Pasolini’s visionary art-house film, a brutal dissection of the typical bourgeois family, follows a mysterious figure known only as “The Visitor” (Terence Stamp) who appears in the lives of an upper-class Milanese household and soon seduces each family member as well as the maid (Laura Betti). It’s full of great performances particularly from Stamp and Betti. Buy

945. Lone Star (1996) Dir. John Sayles, 135 mins.

With a narrative that becomes more and more engrossing as it progresses, Lone Star deals with the sheriff of a Mexican border town (Chris Cooper) who can’t escape the burdens of the past when he discovers a skeleton in the desert and finds himself investigating the murder of one of his predecessors and the murky past of his long dead father who was also a cop. The film, often with the help of flashbacks, moves with a graceful ease through a mosaic of different story strands and is enhanced by a hard working ensemble cast, particularly Matthew McConauhey in one of his most noteworthy roles as the sheriff’s father. Watch

944. Almost Famous (2000) Dir. Cameron Crowe, 162 mins.

Crowe’s semi-autobiographical film tells the fictional story of a teenage journalist writing for Rolling Stone magazine in the early 1970s (a former job of Crowe) who is touring with the fictitious rock band Stillwater, and trying to get his first cover story published. There’s some terrific off beat and charming moments, a wonderful soundtrack and a great ensemble cast, particularly Billy Crudup as the bands lead guitarist. Watch

943. JFK (1991) Dir. Oliver Stone, 189 mins.

Accused of taking liberties with historical facts, Stone’s examination of the events leading to the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the alleged cover-up was always going to be controversial. Kevin Costner leads a terrific cast as former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison who is convinced that there are some big flaws in the investigation of Lee Harvey Oswald. Leaving to one side the questionable historicity, JFK works as an entertaining and well crafted conspiracy theory. Watch

942. The Devil Is a Woman (1935) Dir. Josef von Sternberg, 76 mins.

Taking place in the 19th century during the revolution, the film centres on a Spanish seductress (Marlene Dietrich) with a spider-like tendency to destroy the lives of those who love her. The film opens as Galvan, a young soldier encounters the beautiful vamp and instantly falls in love. Later he tells this to his buddy Don Pasqual who is horrified to learn that she is the same vixen who destroyed his life. Attempting to warn his friend, he tells his grim story, which unfolds via flashback. Buy

941. Easy Rider (1969) Dir. Dennis Hopper, 95 mins.

Director Dennis Hopper and producer Peter Fonda star as two bikers who travel southern America with the proceeds of a drug deal. Their journey carries them to a hippie commune and to an encounter with an alcoholic civil rights lawyer, portrayed by a scene stealing Jack Nicholson. While now looking dated, Easy Rider, helped along by the popular rock song soundtrack, still holds on to a notable place in cinema history for helping to start the New Hollywood era and for encapsulating 1960s counterculture. Watch


Motion Picture Editors Guild’s 75 best-edited films of all time

For their Jan-Feb 2012 edition the Motion Picture Editors Guild’s members voted, to celebrate their 75th anniversary, on what they considered to be the 75 best edited feature films of all time. Raging Bull a great choice for no. 1 but All That Jazz in the top 10?

1 Raging Bull 1980 Martin Scorsese
2 Citizen Kane 1941 Orson Welles
3 Apocalypse Now 1979 Francis Ford Coppola
4 All That Jazz 1979 Bob Fosse
5 Bonnie and Clyde 1967 Arthur Penn
6 The Godfather 1972 Francis Ford Coppola
7 Lawrence of Arabia 1962 David Lean
8 Jaws 1975 Steven Spielberg
9 JFK 1991 Oliver Stone
10 The French Connection 1971 William Friedkin
11 The Conversation 1974 Francis Ford Coppola
12 Psycho 1960 Alfred Hitchcock
13 Bronenosets Potemkin 1925 Sergei M. Eisenstein
14 Memento 2000 Christopher Nolan
15 Goodfellas 1990 Martin Scorsese
16 Star Wars 1977 George Lucas
17 Cidade de Deus 2002 Kátia Lund, Fernando Meirelles
18 Pulp Fiction 1994 Quentin Tarantino
19 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968 Stanley Kubrick
20 Dog Day Afternoon 1975 Sidney Lumet
21 Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981 Steven Spielberg
22 The Godfather: Part II 1974 Francis Ford Coppola
23 The Wild Bunch 1969 Sam Peckinpah
24 Saving Private Ryan 1998 Steven Spielberg
25 The Matrix 1999 Lilly Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
26 The Silence of the Lambs 1991 Jonathan Demme
27 À bout de souffle 1960 Jean-Luc Godard
28 Fight Club 1999 David Fincher
29 Requiem for a Dream 2000 Darren Aronofsky
30 Cabaret 1972 Bob Fosse
31 Chinatown 1974 Roman Polanski
32 Moulin Rouge! 2001 Baz Luhrmann
33 Shichinin no samurai 1954 Akira Kurosawa
34 Casablanca 1942 Michael Curtiz
35 Inception 2010 Christopher Nolan
36 Rope 1948 Alfred Hitchcock
37 Schindler’s List 1993 Steven Spielberg
38 West Side Story 1961 Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise
39 The Fugitive 1993 Andrew Davis
40 A Clockwork Orange 1971 Stanley Kubrick
41 8½ 1963 Federico Fellini
42 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest 1975 Milos Forman
43 Reds 1981 Warren Beatty
44 The Shining 1980 Stanley Kubrick
45 Days of Heaven 1978 Terrence Malick
46 Ben-Hur 1959 William Wyler
47 Vertigo 1958 Alfred Hitchcock
48 Apollo 13 1995 Ron Howard
49 Rear Window 1954 Alfred Hitchcock
50 Touch of Evil 1958 Orson Welles

51 Chelovek s kino-apparatom 1929 Dziga Vertov
52 The Graduate 1967 Mike Nichols
53 Out of Sight 1998 Steven Soderbergh
54 High Noon 1952 Fred Zinnemann
55 Black Hawk Down 2001 Ridley Scott
56 Titanic 1997 James Cameron
57 The Limey 1999 Steven Soderbergh
58 The Exorcist 1973 William Friedkin
59 Annie Hall 1977 Woody Allen
60 Rashômon 1950 Akira Kurosawa
61 Sherlock Jr. 1924 Buster Keaton
62 Speed 1994 Jan de Bont
63 L.A. Confidential 1997 Curtis Hanson
64 The Sound of Music 1965 Robert Wise
65 The Tree of Life 2011 Terrence Malick
66 The Bourne Ultimatum 2007 Paul Greengrass
67 Z 1969 Costa-Gavras
68 A Hard Day’s Night 1964 Richard Lester
69 Hugo 2011 Martin Scorsese
70 Midnight Cowboy 1969 John Schlesinger
71 Miller’s Crossing 1990 Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
72 Blade Runner 1982 Ridley Scott
73 Mulholland Dr. 2001 David Lynch
74 Rocky 1976 John G. Avildsen
75 North by Northwest 1959 Alfred Hitchcock

The Years

1970s – 17 films
1990s – 16 films
1960s – 13 films
1950s – 8 films
2000s – 7 films
1980s – 5 films
1940s – 3 films

The Directors

5 Films – Alfred Hitchcock
4 Films – Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola
3 Films – Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese
2 Films – Terrence Malick, Bob Fosse, William Friedkin, Akira Kurosawa, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, Steven Soderbergh, Orson Welles and Bob Wise

The Editors

4 Films – George Tomasini
3 Films – Dede Allen, Michael Kahn and Thelma Schoonmaker
2 Films – Richard Chew, Anne V. Coates, Gerald B. Greenberg, Akira Kurosawa, Ray Lovejoy, Craig McKay, Sam O’Steen, Jay Rabinowitz, William Reynolds, Daniel Rezende, Pietro Scalia, Billy Weber and Peter Zinner

The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest films (2018) 960-941


960. Bambi (1942) Dir. David Hand, 70 mins.

With splendid animation the film tells the touching story of male deer Bambi from his birth, through to his early childhood experiences and particularly his memorable friendship with Thumper the rabbit. The tale takes a tragic turn with the traumatic loss of his mother at the hands of hunters and moves on to him falling in love and battling to save his friends from a forest fire. Was placed 3rd in the animation category of the AFI’s 10 Top 10 in 2008.

959. The Tin Drum (1979) Dir. Volker Schlondorff, 142 mins.

Already considered to be at the forefront of New German Cinema, Schlondorff took home an Oscar for best foreign film for his controversial adaptation of Gunter Gross’s allegorical novel of the same name. David Bennent plays Oskar, the young son of a German rural family, who receives a shiny new tin drum for his 3rd birthday. Seeing around him an unkind world full of miserable adults, Oskar vows never to grow any older or bigger. This eccentric and intense film has such startling images it’s hard for any viewer to turn away from.

958. A Short Film About Love (1988) Dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski, 86 mins.

A Short Film About Love is one of two episodes of Kieslowski’s The Decalogue TV series, that focused on the Ten Commandments, to be expanded for a cinema release. The film is about a shy young post office worker who spies on a promiscuous older woman living in an adjacent apartment building and falls deeply in love with her. There’s some beautiful and funny moments and it helped set Kieslowski on the road to international prominence.

957. Fallen Angels (1995) Dir. Wong Kar-Wai, 90 mins.

Sometimes frustrating but often visually exhilarating Wong Kar-Wai’s film expands on the themes and mood of Chungking Express while focusing more on style than the two loosely linked and minimal plot lines.

956. The Birth of a Nation (1915) Dir. D. W. Griffith, 190 mins.

Griffith’s twelve reel epic Civil War drama hastened the American film industry’s transition to the feature film but is also notable for its highly controversial portrayal of black men as unintelligent and sexually aggressive towards white women, and for glorifying the Ku Klux Klan. While The Birth of a Nation has garnered acclaim for the acting, the impressive spectacle and its innovative film making techniques Griffiths spent the rest of his career seemingly apologising for the blatant racism. 

955. The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933) Dir. Fritz Lang, 122 mins.

Rudolf Klein-Rogge returns as Dr. Mabuse who, while imprisoned in an insane asylum, continues on with his plots to destroy the world. Beautiful, powerful and with a great deal of suspense the film is Lang at his most inventive.

954. The Secret in their Eyes (2009) Dir. Juan José Campanella, 127 mins.

The Argentine-Spanish crime drama depicts a judiciary employee and a judge in 1974 as they investigate a rape and murder case that turns into an obsession for all the people involved, while also following the characters 25 years later reminiscing over the case and unearthing the buried romance between them. Full of excellent performances and with an unpredictable narrative, the film is well on its way to becoming a classic of world cinema. It placed 91st on the BBC’s 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century.

953. Diary of a Lost Girl (1929) Dir. Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 104 mins.

Louise Brooks stars, in the second of her two films with Pabst,  as the innocent, naive daughter of a pharmacist who becomes puzzled when on the day of her confirmation their housekeeper, Elisabeth, leaves suddenly. It turns out she is pregnant with the pharmacist’s baby and later that day appears to have committed suicide. Brooks is a beautiful and compelling presence that helps lift the film from lurid melodrama into the realm of haunting human drama.

952. Taste of Cherry (1997) Dir. Abbas Kiarostami, 95 mins.

Mr Badii (Homayoun Ershadi), a middle-aged man, drives through a city suburb looking for someone who can burying him after he commits suicide in return for a large amount of money. While Roger Ebert, in particular, hated the film others consider it hypnotic and profound.

951. The Little Mermaid (1989) Dir. Ron Clements, John Musker, 83 mins.

Based on the Danish fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid tells the story of a beautiful mermaid princess called Ariel who dreams of becoming human. After a string of critical and commercial failures for Disney, the film marked the start of the studios renaissance. A live-action film adaptation of The Little Mermaid is currently in the works.

950. Pride & Prejudice (2005) Dir. Joe Wright, 129 mins.

Keira Knightley stars as Elizabeth Bennet, in a version of Jane Austen’s hugely popular romance, as one of five sisters from an English family of landed gentry who must deal with issues of marriage, morality and misconceptions. Despite the numerous adaptations of the novel, the film feels surprisingly fresh combining 21st century sensibilities with an authentic look.

949. Dark City (1998) Dir. Alex Proyas, 100 mins.

Somewhat overshadowed by The Matrix which was released the following year, Proyas’s neo-noir sci-fi follows an amnesiac man who finds himself suspected of murder. He attempts to discover his true identity and clear his name while on the run from the police and a mysterious group known only as the “Strangers”.  It’s visionary to some and bewildering to others but few could argue that it doesn’t contain some startling and arresting imagery.

948. Cloud Atlas (2012) Dir. Tom Tykwer, The Wachowskis, 164 mins.

This hugely ambitious science fiction epic was one of the most expensive independent films ever made. Adapted from the 2004 novel of the same name by David Mitchell, the film has multiple plots set across six different eras exploring how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future. While some may be baffled by the narrative it’s hard to ignore the epic scope, stunning visuals and big ideas. It also benefits greatly from repeat viewings.

947. The Darjeeling Limited (2007) Dir. Wes Anderson, 91 mins.

Three brothers reunite on board a train called The Darjeeling Limited, having not seen each other since their father’s funeral a year earlier. They travel through a stunning Indian backdrop hoping to re-connect. While probably not Anderson’s best work, it is funny, melancholic and has a great soundtrack, particularly the songs by The Kinks.

946. Stray Dog (1949) Dir. Akira Kurosawa, 122 mins.

Notable as a precursor to the contemporary police procedural and buddy cop film genres, Akira Kurosawa’s crime drama also shows consideration for the difficult period of Japanese postwar recovery. Regular Kurosawa collaborators Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura star as the rookie and the veteran detectives in a visually strong and complex film.

945. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) Dir. Martin Scorsese, 180 mins.

Based on the memoir by Jordan Belfort the film recounts Belfort’s perspective on his career as a stockbroker in New York City and how his firm Stratton Oakmont engaged in rampant corruption and fraud on Wall Street that ultimately led to his downfall. Leonardo Di Caprio makes for a funny and magnetically charming Belfort in a film that received criticism for glorifying the crime while shying away from the true consequences of such criminality.

944. JFK (1991) Dir. Oliver Stone, 189 mins.

Accused of taking liberties with historical facts, Stone’s examination of the events leading to the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the alleged cover-up was always going to be controversial. Kevin Costner leads a terrific cast as former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison who is convinced that there are some big flaws in the investigation of Lee Harvey Oswald. Leaving to one side the questionable historicity, JFK works as an entertaining and well crafted conspiracy theory.

943. Samurai Rebellion (1967) Dir. Masaki Kobayashi, 128 mins.

Considered one of the best samurai films ever made, Toshiro Mifune is electric as the masterful swordsmen who goes against his local rulers to protect his family. It’s a meditative and gripping film which ends with an action packed and tragic finale.

942. Dirty Harry (1971) Dir. Don Siegel, 102 mins.

Clint Eastwood plays the title role, in his first outing as San Francisco Police Department Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan. Drawing upon the actual infamous case of the Zodiac Killer, Callahan seeks out a similarly mysterious and vicious psychopath. A hugely entertaining and violent action thriller directed competently by Don Siegel.

941. Salvatore Giuliano (1962) Dir. Francesco Rosi, 125 mins.

Shot in a neo-realist documentary, non-linear style, it follows the lives of those involved with the famous Sicilian bandit Salvatore Giuliano, who remains mostly off screen. Seen as groundbreaking in political cinema, Rosi’s film is both mysterious and open ended but also features a gritty, raw realism.