The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2020) 260-241


260. Rocco and His Brothers (1960) Dir. Luchino Visconti, 177 mins.

Set in Milan, it tells the story of an immigrant family from the South and its disintegration in the society of the industrial North.

259. The Tree of Life (2011) Dir. Terrence Malick, 138 mins.

The first American film to win the Palme d’Or since 2004, Malick’s ambitious experimental epic chronicles the origins and meaning of life by way of a middle-aged man (Sean Penn) and his childhood memories of his family living in 1950s Texas, particularly his often difficult relationship with his father (Brad Pitt). The family drama is interspersed with imagery of the origins of the known universe and the inception of life on Earth. The film polarised critics with some considering such a philosophical work to be incomprehensible and pretentious, particularly the depiction of evolution, but when the film focuses on the drama of small town domestic life, Malick finds an emotional core, which is helped along by some fine performances and beautiful cinematography. More…

258. Memento (2000) Dir. Christopher Nolan, 113 mins.

The film stars Guy Pearce as Leonard Shelby, a man with anterograde amnesia which renders his brain unable to store new memories.

257. Oldboy (2003) Dir. Chan-Wook Park, 120 mins.

The film follows the story of one Oh Dae-Su, who is locked in a hotel room for 15 years without knowing his captor’s motives. When he is finally released, he is trapped in a web of conspiracy and violence.

256 Manila in the Claws of Light (1975)

255. Memories of Murder (2003) Dir. Joon-ho Bong, 130 mins.

It is based on the true story of Korea’s first serial murders in history, which took place between 1986 and 1991 in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province. Watch

254. Unforgiven (1992) Dir. Clint Eastwood, 131 mins.

Eastwood’s revisionist western portrays William Munny (Eastwood himself), an ageing outlaw and killer who takes on one more job years after he had turned to farming.

253. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) Dir. Peter Jackson, 2001.

One of the most critically and commercially successful films of all time, the conclusion of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien trilogy sees the Dark Lord Sauron launching the final stages of his conquest of Middle-earth. While it’s epic fantasy with huge battles some of the action is undermined by the supernatural elements and many of the characters lost amongst the massive effects. Jackson also struggles to come up with one fitting ending and yet the film with its colossal scale, surprising detail and emotive soundtrack, remains a visually stunning and powerfully compelling triumph of large scale entertainment and a satisfying ending to a landmark achievement in studio film making. More…

252. Black Narcissus (1947) Dir. Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 100 mins.

It is a psychological drama about the emotional tensions of jealousy and lust within a convent of nuns in an isolated valley in the Himalayas.

251. In a Lonely Place (1950) Dir. Nicholas Ray, 94 mins.

Humphrey Bogart stars as Dixon Steele, a troubled screenwriter suspected of murder, and Gloria Grahame co-stars as Laurel Gray, a neighbour who falls under his spell.

250. Marketa Lazarova (1967) Dir. Frantisek Vlacil, 162 mins.

Voted the greatest Czech film of all time, Marketa Lazarova takes place in an indeterminate time during the Middle Ages, and tells the story of a daughter of a feudal lord who is kidnapped by neighbouring robber knights and becomes a mistress of one of them.

249. A Face in the Crowd (1957) Dir. Elia Kazan, 125 mins.

The story centres on a drifter named Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes who is discovered by the producer (Patricia Neal) of a small-market radio program in rural northeast Arkansas. Rhodes ultimately rises to great fame and influence on national television. Watch

248. Kings of the Road (1976) Dir. Wim Wenders, 175 mins.

While travelling his route along the border between East and West Germany, projector repairman Bruno (Rüdiger Vogler) meets paediatrician Robert (Hanns Zischler) when the latter attempts suicide by driving his car into a shallow lake. From such off beginnings, the two form a genuine friendship as Robert accompanies Bruno on the road.

247. 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

246. The Thin Blue Line (1988) Dir. Errol Morris, 103 mins.

An investigation of the 1976 murder of a Dallas cop.

245. The Easy Life (1962) Dir. Dino Risi, 115 mins.

The Easy Life (Il Sorpasso) casts Vittorio Gassman as Bruno, a jaded, ageing rogue, who introduces a young withdrawn scholar, Roberto Mariani (Jean-Louis Trintignant) to his hedonistic lifestyle. Previously a man with a purpose in life, Roberto soon becomes as wanton and wastrel as Bruno. The older man is proud of his handiwork, until tragedy strikes. Watch

244. The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964) Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, 137 mins.

It is a cinematic rendition of the story of Jesus Christ according to the Gospel of Saint Matthew, from the Nativity through the Resurrection.

243. Diary of a Country Priest (1951) Dir. Robert Bresson, 115 mins.

It tells the story of a young, sickly priest, who has been assigned to his first parish, a village in northern France.

242. Blow-Up (1966) Dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, 111 mins.

Blowup is a British-Italian mystery thriller about a fashion photographer, played by David Hemmings, who believes he has unwittingly captured a murder on film. Watch

241 Eureka (2000)

The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2019) 360-341


360. The Long Goodbye (1973) Dir. Robert Altman, 112 mins.

Based on Raymond Chandler’s novel but set later in the 1970s, the film follows smart-aleck, cat-loving private eye Philip Marlowe (Elliott Gould) who is certain that his friend Terry Lennox (Jim Bouton) isn’t a wife-killer, even after the cops throw Marlowe in jail for not cooperating with their investigation into Lennox’s subsequent disappearance.

359. Peeping Tom (1960) Dir. Michael Powell, 101 mins.

The notoriously vilified film was Powell’s most important outside of his prominent collaborations with Emeric Pressburger. Peeping Tom follows the tormented son of a neurologist Mark Lewis (a chilling performance by Carl Boehm) who works as an assistant cameraman at a London film studio, but is also an amateur documentary maker, aspiring movie director and a part-time taker of pornographic pictures. His voyeuristic perversions lead him to murdering women while filming them, forcing his victims to view their own deaths in a mirror attached to his tripod equipped with a deadly protruding blade. At the time of release the film did not always connect with mainstream audiences and was attacked by many critics. As a result it was heavily cut and altered for overseas distribution. While it hugely damaged Michael Powell’s reputation, it has since been re-evaluated as a masterpiece of self-reflective perversity and been championed by the likes of Martin Scorsese.

358. L’Age d’Or (1930) Dir. Luis Bunuel, 60 mins.

A French surrealist comedy directed by Luis Buñuel about the insanities of modern life, the hypocrisy of the sexual mores of bourgeois society and the value system of the Roman Catholic Church. The film confirmed Bunuel’s originality after the acclaim for An Andalusian Dog but also brought controversy to the surrealist movement when extreme white wing activists attacked the cinema where it was showing, leading to the film being banned by the authorities.

357. The Man Who Would Be King (1975) Dir. John Huston, 129 mins.

Michael Caine and Sean Connery replaced Huston’s original American choices in an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s cautionary tale as two rogue ex-soldiers, former non-commissioned officers in the British Army, who set off from late 19th-century British India in search of adventure and end up in faraway Kafiristan, where one is taken for a god and made their king.

356. Diary of a Country Priest (1951) Dir. Robert Bresson, 115 mins.

It tells the story of a young, sickly priest, who has been assigned to his first parish, a village in northern France.

355. Rocco and His Brothers (1960) Dir. Luchino Visconti, 177 mins.

Set in Milan, it tells the story of an immigrant family from the South and its disintegration in the society of the industrial North.

354. The Prestige (2006) Dir. Christopher Nolan, 130 mins.

The story follows Robert Angier and Alfred Borden, rival stage magicians in London at the beginning of the 20th century. Obsessed with creating the best stage illusion, they engage in competitive one-upmanship with tragic results.

353. Ballad of Narayama (1983) Dir. Shohei Imamura, 130 mins.

The film looks at the cruelties of life in a small Japanese 19th century village where once anyone reaches 70 years old they must leave and go to a mountain top to die.

352. Bride of Frankenstein (1935) Dir. James Whale, 75 mins.

A chastened Henry Frankenstein abandons his plans to create life, only to be tempted and finally coerced by the Monster, encouraged by Henry’s old mentor Dr. Pretorius, into constructing a mate for him.

351. Le Cercle Rouge (1970) Dir. Jean-Pierre Melville, 140 mins.

Corey (Alain Delon) is the young gun in the French underworld who has just been released from prison. Escaped convict Vogel (Gian-Maria Volonté) hides in the trunk of Corey’s car and the two enlist the help of an alcoholic former cop (Yves Montand) for an elaborate jewelry-store robbery.

350. Farewell, My Concubine (1993) Dir. Kaige Chen, 156 mins.

Farewell My Concubine explores the effect of China’s political turmoil during the mid-20th century on the lives of two male stars in a Peking opera troupe and the woman who comes between them. Financed with Taiwanese money, the film was the first from China to win the Palm d’Or at Cannes.

349. Duck Soup (1933) Dir. Leo McCarey, 68 mins.

A wealthy widow offers financial aid to the bankrupt country of Freedonia on condition that Rufus T. Firefly be made leader. But his chaotic, inept regime bumbles into war with neighbouring Sylvania.

348. This is Spinal Tap (1984) Dir. Rob Reiner, 82 mins.

By following a fictional British heavy metal band Spinal Tap, the film satirises the wild personal behaviour and musical pretensions of hard rock and heavy metal bands, as well as the hagiographic tendencies of rock documentaries of the time.

347. Death in Venice (1971) Dir. Luchino Visconti, 130 mins.

Based on a novel by Thomas Mann, Death in Venice stars Dirk Bogarde as a German composer who is terrified that he has lost all vestiges of humanity. While visiting Venice, he falls in love with a beautiful young boy (Bjorn Andresen). Most notable for the remarkable imagery, lyrically stunning final scene and the music of Gustav Mahler.

346. Underground (1995) Dir. Emir Kusturica, 170 mins.

The film uses the epic story of two friends to portray a Yugoslav history from the beginning of World War II until the beginning of the Yugoslav Wars.

345. Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Dir. Denis Villeneuve, 163 mins.

Set thirty years after the first film, K (Ryan Gosling), a blade runner, uncovers a secret that threatens to instigate a war between humans and replicants. While it lacks the strong dialogue and iconic supporting characters of the original, the film works thanks to an excellent lead performance from Gosling and stunning visual work from British cinematographer Roger Deakins who finally won an Oscar after thirteen previous nominations.

344. The Grapes of Wrath (1940) Dir. John Ford, 129 mins.

The film tells the story of the Joads, an Oklahoma family, who, after losing their farm during the Great Depression in the 1930s, become migrant workers and end up in California. The motion picture details their arduous journey across the United States as they travel to California in search of work and opportunities for the family members.

343. Heat (1995) Dir. Michael Mann, 188 mins.

A surprisingly literate action film from the master of stylised drama, where Robert De Niro plays Neil McCauley, a professional thief, while Al Pacino plays Lt. Vincent Hanna, a LAPD robbery-homicide detective tracking down McCauley’s crew. It’s an influential and engrossing crime thriller that also provides insight into the psychology behind the actions of those on both sides of the law.

342. Requiem For a Dream (2000) Dir. Darren Aronofsky, 102 mins.

The film depicts different forms of addiction, leading to the characters’ imprisonment in a dream world of delusion and reckless desperation that is subsequently overtaken and devastated by reality.

341. All the President’s Men (1976) Dir. Alan J. Pakula, 138 mins.

Directed by Alan J. Pakula with a screenplay by William Goldman, the film is based on the 1974 non-fiction book of the same name by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, the two journalists investigating the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post.