The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2020) 280-261


280. Edvard Munch (1974) Dir. Peter Watkins, 174 mins.

The film covers about thirty years of Munch’s life, focusing on the influences that shaped his art, particularly the prevalence of disease and death in his family and his youthful affair with a married woman.

279. Midnight Cowboy (1969) Dir. John Schlesinger, 113 mins.

A con man and a Texas hustler try to survive on the tough streets of New York.

278. Koyaanisqatsi (1982) Dir. Godfrey Reggio, 86 mins.

The first of Reggio’s trilogy of non-narrative examinations of landscapes and people-escapes with non-stop musical backing from Philip Glass.

277. A Prophet (2009) Dir. Jacques Audiard, 155 mins.

The film stars Tahar Rahim in the title role as an imprisoned petty criminal of Algerian origins who rises in the inmate hierarchy, becoming an assassin and drug trafficker as he initiates himself into the Corsican and then Muslim subcultures.

276. Beau Travail (1999) Dir. Claire Denis, 93 mins.

The film follows a former French Foreign Legion officer, Galoup as he recalls his once happy existence with the Legion serving in Dijibouti. However, things sour with the arrival of a promising young recruit who induces feelings of Jealousy in Galoup. Poetic, exhilarating and totally unforgettable.

275. Brief Encounter (1945) Dir. David Lean, 86 mins.

Laura Jesson, a suburban housewife in a dull but affectionate marriage, tells her story in the first person while at home with her husband, imagining that she is confessing her affair to him. Returning home from a weekly excursion, she meets a doctor called Alec Harvey.

274. Un Chien Andalou (1929) Dir. Luis Bunuel, 16 mins.

Un Chien Andalou has no plot in the conventional sense of the word. The chronology of the film is disjointed, jumping from the initial “once upon a time” to “eight years later” without the events or characters changing very much.  Bunuel and Salvador Dali combine to use dream logic in narrative flow that can be described in terms of then-popular Freudian free association, presenting a series of tenuously related scenes.

273. Don’t Look Now (1973) Dir. Nicolas Roeg, 110 mins.

The film follows a husband and wife whose lives grow complicated after meeting two elderly sisters in Venice, one of whom is clairvoyant and claims to be in contact with their recently deceased daughter who is trying to warn them of impending danger.

272. 12 Angry Men (1957) Dir. Sidney Lumet, 96 mins.

Directed by Sidney Lumet, this trial film tells the story of a jury made up of 12 men, as they deliberate the guilt or acquittal of a defendant on the basis of reasonable doubt, forcing the jurors to question their morals and values.

271. The Double Life of Veronique (1991) Dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski, 98 mins.

Written by Kieślowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz, the film explores the themes of identity, love, and human intuition through the characters of Weronika, a Polish choir soprano, and her double, Véronique, a French music teacher. The two women do not know each other, and yet they share a mysterious and emotional bond that transcends language and geography.

270. Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970) Dir. Elio Petri, 110 mins.

It’s a dramatic, psychological, black-humoured satire on corruption in high office, telling the story of a top police officer (the magnificent Gian Maria Volonte) who kills his mistress, and then tests whether the police would charge him for the crime. He begins manipulating the investigation by planting obvious clues while the other police officers ignore them, either intentionally or not.

269. Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Through the Ages (1916) Dir. D.W. Griffith, 197 mins.

After the controversy of The Birth of a Nation, Griffith came up with a direct response, a three and a half hour epic that, some thought rather unsuccessfully, intercuts four parallel storylines, each separated by several centuries, linked by shots of a cradle rocking mother (the iconic Lillian Gish) and all purporting to deal with intolerance. The four stories were a contemporary melodrama of crime and redemption, a Judean story following Christ’s mission and death, a French story following the events surrounding the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of 1572, and a Babylonian story following the fall of the Babylonian Empire to Persia in 539 BC (which features elaborate sets and battle scenes with hundreds of extras). Widely regarded as one of the great masterpieces of the silent era it was also a huge influence on the European film movements that followed.

268. Moonlight (2016) Dir. Barry Jenkins, 110 mins.

The film presents three stages in the life of the main character, his youth, adolescence and early adult life. It explores the difficulties he faces with his sexuality and identity, including the physical and emotional abuse he endures growing up.

267. WALL-E (2008) Dir. Andrew Stanton, 98 mins.

The story follows a robot named WALL-E, who is designed to clean up a waste-covered Earth far in the future. Watch

266. L’Argent (1983) Dir. Robert Bresson, 85 mins.

Looking for some quick cash, young Norbert (Marc Ernest Fourneau) gets a phony 500 franc note from his friend Matrial (Bruno Lapeyre). After he spends it at a photography shop, the unscrupulous shop owner (Didier Baussy) decides to pass it on to someone else. The unfortunate victim is honest delivery man Yvon Targe (Christian Patey), who doesn’t realise the bill is a fake. Watch

265. Dog Day Afternoon (1975) Dir. Sidney Lumet, 125 mins.

Based on a true 1972 story, Sidney Lumet’s drama chronicles a unique bank robbery on a hot summer afternoon in New York City. Shortly before closing time, scheming loser Sonny (Al Pacino) and his slow-witted buddy, Sal (John Cazale), burst into a Brooklyn bank for what should be a run-of-the-mill robbery, but everything goes wrong, beginning with the fact that there is almost no money in the bank. Watch

264. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) Dir. John Huston, 126 mins.

An adaptation of B. Traven’s 1927 novel of the same name, the film follows two financially desperate Americans, Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) and Bob Curtin (Tim Holt), who in the 1920s join old-timer Howard (Walter Huston, the director’s father) in Mexico to prospect for gold.

263. The Passenger (1975) Dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, 126 mins.

Written by Mark Peploe, Peter Wollen and Antonioni, the film is about an Anglo-American journalist, David Locke (Jack Nicholson) who assumes the identity of a dead businessman while working on a documentary in Chad, unaware that he is impersonating an arms dealer with connections to the rebels in the current civil war. Buy

262. The Elephant Man (1980) Dir. David Lynch, 124 mins.

The Elephant Man is a historical drama about Joseph Merrick (whom the script calls John Merrick), a severely deformed man in late 19th century London. Watch

261. Notorious (1946) Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 101 mins.

A film noir directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, Notorious stars Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains as three people whose lives become intimately entangled during an espionage operation.


The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2019) 700-681


700. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) Dir. Woody Allen, 103 mins.

Hannah and Her Sisters tells the intertwined stories of an extended family over two years that begins and ends with a Thanksgiving dinner.

699. Days of Being Wild (1990) Dir. Wong Kar-Wai, 94 mins.

Although a box office flop domestically, Wong Kar-Wai’s second feature maintained his reputation as one of the best up and coming art house directors on the international scene. Set in 1960, the stylish drama centres on the young, boyishly handsome rebel, Yuddy (Leslie Cheung), who learns from the drunken ex-prostitute who raised him that she is not his real mother. Deciding to trace the Filipino who gave birth to him, he leaves behind, with heartless disregard, two woman (Maggie Cheung and Carina Lau) who have fallen for him. With an intricately structured narrative and striking cinematography by Christopher Doyle, Days of Being Wild is probably Wong’s most underrated film.

698. The Big Heat (1953) Dir. Fritz Lang, 89 mins.

It centres on a cop who takes on the crime syndicate that controls his city, after the murder of his wife.

697. The Cranes Are Flying (1957) Dir. Mikhail Kalatozov, 94 mins.

It depicts the cruelty of war and the damage suffered to the Soviet psyche as a result of World War II.

696. RoboCop (1987) Dir. Paul Verhoeven, 103 mins.

Set in a crime-ridden Detroit, Michigan, in the near future, RoboCop centres on police officer Alex Murphy (Weller) who is murdered by a gang of criminals and subsequently revived by the megacorporation Omni Consumer Products (OCP) as a superhuman cyborg law enforcer known as RoboCop.

695. The Sword of Doom (1966) Dir. Kihachi Okamoto, 119 mins.

A bloodthirsty young fighter (Tatsuya Nakadai) kills a man in competition and is pursued by the slain warrior’s brother.

694. Avatar (2009) Dir. James Cameron, 150 mins.

The film is set in 2154, when humans are mining a precious mineral called unobtanium on Pandora, a lush moon of a gas giant in the Alpha Centauri star system. The expansion of the mining threatens the continued existence of a local tribe of Na’vi an indigenous humanoid species. We’ve seen this type of story before (Dances With Wolves and The Last Samurai are just two that come to mind), but never looking like this.

693. Breaker Morant (1980) Dir. Bruce Beresford, 107 mins.

While maybe lacking in subtlety, Bruce Beresford’s film touches a nationalist nerve by portraying Australian positivity against the pompous arrogance, conniving and incompetence of the British, who needing scapegoats for war crimes committed during the Second Anglo-Boer War, court martial three Australian Lieutenants Harry Morant (Edward Woodward), Peter Handcock (Bryan Brown) and George Witton. Set in 1902 and based on one of the first war crime prosecutions in British military history, the film offers historical insight from a time when Australia’s nationhood was being formed and still resonates with contemporary audiences thanks to its powerful sense of injustice.

692. Babette’s Feast (1987) Dir. Gabriel Axel, 102 mins.

A Danish film based on a short story by Karen Blixen (portrayed by Meryl Streep in Out of Africa) about two middle-aged sisters who take in a refugee as their housekeeper.

691. Goldfinger (1964) Dir. Guy Hamilton, 110 mins.

The quintessential Bond film follows Sean Connery’s 007 investigating gold smuggling by bullion dealer Auric Goldfinger and eventually uncovering his plans to contaminate the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox. The third entry in the series was a huge commercial success and features Shirley Bassey’s marvellous theme song and terrific action sequences.

690. Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) Dir. Michael Curtiz, 97 mins.

The film chronicles the fictional rise and fall of the notorious gangster William “Rocky” Sullivan (James Cagney). After spending three years in prison for armed robbery, Rocky intends to collect $100,000 from his co-conspirator, mob lawyer Jim Frazier. All the while, Father Jerry Connolly tries to prevent a group of youths from falling under Rocky’s influence.

689. Seven Beauties (1975) Dir. Lina Wertmüller, 115 mins.

Written by Wertmüller, the film is about an Italian everyman who deserts the army during World War II and is then captured by the Germans and sent to a prison camp, where he does anything to survive. Through flashbacks, we learn about his family of seven unattractive sisters, his accidental murder of one sister’s lover, his imprisonment in an insane asylum, where he rapes a patient, and his volunteering to be a soldier to escape confinement.

688. Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) Dir. Ingmar Bergman, 108 mins.

Although Ingmar Bergman had been directing films since the mid 1940s, it was not until Smiles of a Summer Night that he achieved substantial international recognition. Somewhat indebted to Mozart’s ‘ The Marriage of Figaro’, the film follows four people who indulge in a sexual rivalry during a wild weekend at a resort. A sophisticated comedy, the elegant ironies temper the film’s sense of the transience of love, happiness and enlightenment. The film inspired Woody Allen’s A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy.

687. Casque d’Or (1952) Dir. Jacques Becker, 96 mins.

One of the great films of the French classical era, Becker’s Casque d’Or is set in the turn of the century milieu of pimps and prostitutes. Not a popular success when released, perhaps because of its understated style, it has since been lauded for Simone Signoret’s performance and its heartbreaking romantic narrative.

686. War and Peace (1967) Dir. Sergei Bondarchuk, 453 mins.

An epic adaptation of Tolstoy’s novel that centres around the lives of two families during Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Russia.

685. Jurassic Park (1993) Dir. Steven Spielberg, 127 mins.

Based on the novel by Michael Crichton, Spielberg’s dinosaur epic is set on the fictional island of Isla Nublar, located off Central America’s Pacific Coast near Costa Rica, where a billionaire philanthropist (Richard Attenborough) and a small team of genetic scientists have created a wildlife park of cloned dinosaurs. When the park’s technology breaks the dinosaurs are set loose. While the film has a ferocity which sits uneasily alongside its tidy moral lessons, Spielberg manages to combine the bitter horror of his early work with state of the art special effects to create some awe inspiring moments. The film surpassed the earnings of E.T. to become, what was then, the biggest grossing film of all time.

684. Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974) Dir. Jacques Rivette, 192 mins.

The film begins with Julie sitting on a park bench reading a book of magic spells when a woman (Céline) walks past, and begins dropping (à la Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit) various possessions. Julie begins picking them up, and tries to follow Céline around Paris, sometimes at a great pace (for instance, sprinting up Montmartre to keep pace with Céline’s tram). After adventures following Céline around the Parisian streets, at one point it looks as if they have gone their separate ways, never to meet up again, Céline finally decides to move in with Julie.

683. Halloween (1978) Dir. John Carpenter, 91 mins.

In the film, on Halloween night in 1963, Michael Myers murders his sister in the fictional Midwestern United States town of Haddonfield, Illinois. He escapes on October 30, 1978, from Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, and returns home to kill again. The next day, Halloween, Michael stalks teenager Laurie Strode and her friends, while Michael’s psychiatrist, Samuel Loomis, pursues his patient, knowing his intentions.

682. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) Dir. Danny Boyle, 120 mins.

The film tells the story of 18 year old orphan Jamal Malik, from the Juhu slums of Mumbai, who becomes a contestant on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Jamal looks back on his life so far, showing how he is able to answer every question while dealing with the suspicions that he is cheating. A feel good film that’s often exhilarating, Slumdog won eight academy awards.

681. Koyaanisqatsi (1982) Dir. Godfrey Reggio, 86 mins.

The first of Reggio’s trilogy of non-narrative examinations of landscapes and people-escapes with non-stop musical backing from Philip Glass.


BBC’s 100 Greatest American Films

In July 2015 BBC Culture polled 62 film critics from around the world to determine the 100 greatest American movies ever made. There are some surprising results with Gone With the Wind which placed 6th on AFI’s 2007 list only 97th on the BBC poll. This maybe that AFI list comes from the choices of the US industry rather than foreign critics.

For the purposes of the poll, an American film is defined as any movie that received funding from a US source. The directors of these films did not have to be born in the United States nor did the films have to be shot in the US. Each critic who participated submitted a list of 10 films, with their pick for the greatest film receiving 10 points and their number 10 pick receiving one point. The points were added up to produce the final list. 

The 100 greatest American films

100. Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, 1951)
99. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)
98. Heaven’s Gate (Michael Cimino, 1980)
97. Gone With the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939)
96. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)
95. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)
94. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)
93. Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973)
92. The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
91. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)
90. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
89. In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)
88. West Side Story (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, 1961)
87. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
86. The Lion King (Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, 1994)
85. Night of the Living Dead (George A Romero, 1968)
84. Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972)
83. Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)
82. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)
81. Thelma & Louise (Ridley Scott, 1991)
80. Meet Me in St Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944)
79. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
78. Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)
77. Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939)
76. The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980)
75. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977)
74. Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994)
73. Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)
72. The Shanghai Gesture (Josef von Sternberg, 1941)
71. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)
70. The Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli, 1953)
69. Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, 1982)
68. Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946)
67. Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)
66. Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)
65. The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 1983)
64. Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954)
63. Love Streams (John Cassavetes, 1984)
62. The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
61. Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999)
60. Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)
59. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Miloš Forman, 1975)
58. The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940)
57. Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 1989)
56. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
55. The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)
54. Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)
53. Grey Gardens (Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, 1975)
52. The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)
51. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)

50. His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)
49. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)
48. A Place in the Sun (George Stevens, 1951)
47. Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964)
46. It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
45. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962)
44. Sherlock Jr (Buster Keaton, 1924)
43. Letter from an Unknown Woman (Max Ophüls, 1948)
42. Dr Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)
41. Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959)
40. Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, 1943)
39. The Birth of a Nation (DW Griffith, 1915)
38. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)
37. Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959)
36. Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977)
35. Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)
34. The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)
33. The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
32. The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)
31. A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974)
30. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)
29. Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)
28. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
27. Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975)
26. Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1978)
25. Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)
24. The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)
23. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)
22. Greed (Erich von Stroheim, 1924)
21. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
20. Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990)
19. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
18. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)
17. The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925)
16. McCabe & Mrs Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)
15. The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946)
14. Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975)
13. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)
12. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)
11. The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942)
10. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
9. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)
8. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
7. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952)
6. Sunrise (FW Murnau, 1927)
5. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
3. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
2. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
1. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)