The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2020) 740-721


740. Rosetta (1999) Dir. Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, 93 mins.

The film follows a seventeen-year-old girl (Émilie Dequenne) who lives in a caravan park with her alcoholic mother. Trying to survive and to escape the caravan and her dysfunctional mother, she makes numerous attempts at securing a job.

739. Rapture (1979) Dir. Iván Zulueta, 105 mins.

A drug-addicted director becomes obsessed with an experimental approach to filmmaking.

738. Monsieur Verdoux (1947) Dir. Charles Chaplin, 124 mins.

Monsieur Verdoux is a black comedy directed by and starring Chaplin, who plays a bigamist wife killer inspired by serial killer Henri Désiré Landru. Watch

737. Placido (1961) Dir. Luis García Berlanga, 85 mins.

A poor trucker gets involved with a charity drive and realizes the woes of other people.

736. Vengeance is Mine (1979) Dir. Shohei Imamura, 140 mins.

It depicts the true story of serial killer Akira Nishiguchi (Iwao Enokizu in the film). Watch

735. Crumb (1994) Dir. Terry Zwigoff, 119 mins.

A documentary about the noted underground cartoonist Robert Crumb and his family, particularly his brothers, Maxon and Charles, as well as Robert’s wife Aline Kominsky-Crumb and his children. Making the connection between Crumb’s creativity and his eccentricity or perhaps craziness, the film is troubling and disarming with some haunting images. Watch

734. Belle de jour (1967) Dir. Luis Bunuel, 101 mins.

Séverine Serizy, a young, beautiful housewife who has masochistic fantasies about elaborate floggings and bondage, decides to spend her days as a prostitute while her husband, with whom she has no physical intimacy, is at work. Watch

733. In Cold Blood (1967) Dir. Richard Brooks, 134 mins.

An adaptation of Truman Capote’s bestseller, the film follows the trail of real life murderers Perry Smith and Dick Hickock who went to rob the home of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, and ended up killing all four members of the family who were present. They then went on the run before being caught by the police, tried for the murders, and eventually executed. Brooks delivers a remarkably faithful adaptation given the source material had been deemed unfilmable. Holding onto a relentlessly grim mood throughout, the film has some harrowing moments enhanced by a strong cast.

732. The Straight Story (1999) Dir. David Lynch, 112 mins.

The film is based on the true story of Alvin Straight’s 1994 journey across Iowa and Wisconsin on a lawn mower to visit his estranged brother Lyle, who has suffered a stroke, and hopefully make amends before he dies. The slow pace may well bore younger viewers but The Straight Story is a lyrically profound work that features a perfect performance by Richard Farnsworth.

731. The Wedding March (1928) Dir. Erich von Stroheim, 113 mins.

An aristocratic army officer, Nicki, is smitten with commoner Mitzi. But Vienna’s inflexible caste system and family pressure lead to him marrying heiress Cecelia. Heartbreak follows for the duo.

730. Still Life (2006) Dir. Jia Zhangke, 108 mins.

Shot in the old village of Fengjie, a small town on the Yangtze River which is slowly being destroyed by the building of the Three Gorges Dam, Still Life tells the story of two people in search of their spouses.

729. Forrest Gump (1994) Dir. Robert Zemeckis, 142 mins.

The story depicts several decades in the life of its titular character (Tom Hanks), a slow-witted but kind-hearted, good-natured and athletically prodigious man from Alabama.

728. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969) Dir. Sydney Pollack, 120 mins.

Based on Horace McCoy’s 1935 novel of the same name, the film focuses on a disparate group of individuals desperate to win a Depression-era dance marathon and an opportunistic emcee who urges them on.

727. Night and the City (1950) Dir. Jules Dassin, 96 mins.

Shot on location in London and at Shepperton Studios, the plot revolves around an ambitious hustler whose plans keep going wrong.

726. La Ciénaga (2001) Dir. Lucrecia Martel, 103 mins.

The film is set in the high plains of northwestern Argentina and portrays the life of a self-pitying bourgeois family.

725. The Palm Beach Story (1942) Dir. Preston Sturges, 88 mins.

Writer/director Sturges’s satirical comedy follows a couple, Tom Jeffers (Joel McCrea) and Gerry Jeffers (Claudette Colbert). After five years of marriage, Tom hasn’t raised a dime with his lacking inventions and Gerry decides, rather absurdly, that the only way to help her poverty stricken husband is to divorce him, marry a wealthy man, and use the second husband’s money to finance Tom’s schemes. With Colbert’s witty deliveries and some inspired direction from Sturges, The Palm Beach Story is a hugely entertaining romantic comedy.

724. The Last Command (1928) Dir. Josef von Sternberg, 85 mins.

A former Imperial Russian general and cousin of the Czar ends up in Hollywood as an extra in a movie directed by a former revolutionary.

723. Ruggles of Red Gap (1935) Dir. Leo McCarey, 90 mins.

It is the story of a newly rich American couple from the West who win the services of a British valet (Charles Laughton) in a poker game.

722. The Promised Land (1975) Dir. Andrzej Wajda, 179 mins.

Set in the industrial city of Łódź, The Promised Land tells the story of a Pole, a German, and a Jew struggling to build a factory in the raw world of 19th-century capitalism.

721. Daisies (1966) Dir. Vera Chytilova, 74 mins.

A Czech New wave comedy, generally regarded as a milestone of the Nová Vlna movement, the surreal and exuberant film was made with the support of a state-sponsored film studio and follows two subversive teenage girls (Jitka Cerhová and Ivana Karbanová), both named Marie, who engage in strange pranks. Buy


The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2019) 780-761


780. Love and Death (1975) Dir. Woody Allen, 85 mins.

Filled with Allen’s much loved neurotic humour, Love and Death is a satire on Russian literature following Boris (Woody Allen) and his distant cousin, Sonja (Diane Keaton), who are living in Russia during the Napoleonic Era. After Boris accidentally becomes a war hero and Sonja is left a widow, they get married and engage in mock-serious philosophical debates. Silly, very funny and even poignant at times.

779. Simon of the Desert (1965) Dir. Luis Bunuel, 45 mins.

It is loosely based on the story of the ascetic 5th-century Syrian saint Simeon Stylites, who lived for 39 years on top of a column.

778. Atlantic City (1980) Dir. Louis Malle, 104 mins.

Burt Lancaster was at his best when blending pathos with bravado as shown with Atlantic City where he plays an ageing petty crook, who, granted the chance to live out his own absurd fantasies, rediscovers his self-respect.

777. Mary Poppins (1964) Dir. Robert Stevenson, 139 mins.

With terrific songs from the Sherman Brothers and an Oscar winning performance from Julie Andrews, Mary Poppins remains one of the most beloved musicals of all-time. Andrews plays the nanny who floats into London to improve the lives of the dysfunctional Banks family. Even Dick Van Dyke’s laughable attempt at a Cockney accent couldn’t prevent the film becoming the only Disney production made during Walt’s lifetime to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.

776. Oslo, August 31st (2011) Dir. Joachim Trier, 95 mins.

Thirty-four-year-old Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie) is a fortunate, but deeply troubled man battling drug addiction. As part of his rehabilitation program, he is allowed to go into the city for a job interview, but instead uses the opportunity as a way to drift around and revisit old friends. The day grows increasingly difficult as he struggles to overcome personal demons and past ghosts for the chance at love and a new life.

775. City of Life and Death (2009) Dir. Lu Chuan, 133 mins.

The film deals with the Battle of Nanjing and the following massacre committed by the Japanese army during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

774. Rosetta (1999) Dir. Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, 93 mins.

The film follows a seventeen-year-old girl (Émilie Dequenne) who lives in a caravan park with her alcoholic mother. Trying to survive and to escape the caravan and her dysfunctional mother, she makes numerous attempts at securing a job.

773. All About My Mother (1999) Dir. Pedro Almodóvar, 104 mins.

A single mother in Madrid sees her only son die on his birthday as he runs to seek an actress’ autograph. Beside herself with grief, she returns to Barcelona where she hopes to find her son’s father, Lola, a transvestite she kept secret from the boy, just as she never told Lola they had a son.

772. Scarface (1932) Dir. Howard Hawks, Richard Rosson, 93 mins.

Written by former news reporter Ben Hecht to be like the story of the Borgias set in Chicago (at the request of Hawks), this ground-breaking and complex gangster film is essentially a family drama. At its core is the barely repressed incestuous desire of Tony Camonte (Paul Muni) for Cesca (Ann Dvorak). While controversial due to the graphic depiction of violence and Muni’s disturbing characterisation of the gangster as grotesque and abnormal, the film boldly outlines the motivations behind Camonte’s actions with a clarity that’s missing from similar gangster stories.

771. Local Hero (1983) Dir. Bill Forsyth, 111 mins.

Years before Donald Trump built a golf course in his mother’s native Scotland, Burt Lancaster played the wealthy American angering locals with his development plans.

770. Foolish Wives (1922) Dir. Erich von Stroheim, 140 mins.

Actor/writer/director Erich Von Stroheim stars as a fraudulent count, living high on the hog in Monte Carlo. He supports himself by extorting huge sums of money from silly married ladies who are dumb enough to fall for his romantic charms.

769. A Star is Born (1954) Dir. George Cukor, 181 mins.

A comeback for Judy Garland who plays an unknown aspiring actress who is given a career boost by an alcoholic film star on his last professional legs. The two marry, whereupon her fame and fortune rises while his spirals sharply downward. Unable to accept this, the male star crawls deeper into the bottle, leading to the wife tearfully deciding to give up her own career to care for her husband.

768. Antonio das Mortes (1969) Dir. Glauber Rocha, 100 mins.

Rocha’s highly stylised, inverted western masterpiece is set in the wilderness of the Brazilian north east. Having already appeared as the hired bandit killer for the church and landlords in Black God, White Devil, the eponymous mercenary is back, but this time he turns away from corrupt authority and becomes a revolutionary. Part fact and part legend the hallucinogenic western blends social banditry with the mysticism of messianic religion.

767. Closely Watched Trains (1966) Dir. Jiri Menzel, 93 mins.

The film is a coming-of-age story about a young man working at a train station in German-occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II.

766. In the Realm of the Senses (1976) Dir. Nagisa Oshima, 108 mins.

Set in 1930s Japan, the film is a fictionalised and sexually explicit treatment of an incident between geisha and prostitute Sada Abe and her lover, Kichizō Ishida.

765. 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.

764. 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.

763. Sullivan’s Travels (1941) Dir. Preston Sturges, 90 mins.

The film is a satire about a movie director (Joel McCrea), who longs to make a socially relevant drama, but eventually learns that comedies are his more valuable contribution to society.

762. The Shop Around the Corner (1940) Dir. Ernst Lubitsch, 99 mins.

Eschewing regional politics in the years leading up to World War II, the film is about two employees at a leathergoods shop in Budapest who can barely stand each other, not realising they are falling in love as anonymous correspondents through their letters.

761. Excalibur (1981) Dir. John Boorman, 140 mins.

Based on the 15th century Arthurian romance Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory and directed, produced and co-written by maverick film maker John Boorman, Excalibur is an audacious attempt to place the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table into less than 2 1/2 hours. Born out of a failed attempt to make Lord of the Rings, the film is much more than a mere sword and sorcery blockbuster and has some truly stunning visual sequences, even if some may struggle with the overly theatrical style. More…



Best films to win Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival

The July/August 2009 issue of Film Comment polled several critics on the best films to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Taxi Driver placed first, ahead of films such as Il Gattopardo, Viridiana, Blowup, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, La Dolce Vita, and Pulp Fiction. Votes were cast by Melissa Anderson, Geoff Andrew, Richard Brody, Michael Chaiken, Chris Chang, Chris Darke, Scott Foundas, J. Hoberman, Alexander Horwath, Kent Jones, Laura Kern, Nathan Lee, Elisabeth Lequeret, Adrian Martin, Olaf Möller, James Quandt, Jonathan Romney, Gavin Smith, Chuck Stephens, and Amy Taubin.

1. Taxi Driver Martin Scorsese, 1976
2. The Leopard Luchino Visconti, 1963
3. Viridiana Luis Buñuel, 1961
4. The Conversation Francis Ford Coppola, 1979
5. The Third Man Carol Reed, 1949
6. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg Jacques Demy, 1964
7. Rosetta Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, 1999
8. Blow-Up Michelangelo Antonioni, 1967
9. Apocalypse Now Francis Ford Coppola, 1979
10. The Wages of Fear Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1953
11. La Dolce Vita Federico Fellini, 1960
12. Othello Orson Welles, 1952
13. Under the Sun of Satan Maurice Pialat, 1987
14. Taste of Cherry Abbas Kiarostami, 1997
15. If… Lindsay Anderson 1969
16. The Tree of Wooden Clogs Ermanno Olmi, 1978
17. The Cranes are Flying Mikhail Kalatozov, 1958
18. Kagemusha Akira Kurosawa, 1980
19. Padre Padrone Paolo & Vittorio Taviani, 1977
20. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days Cristian Mungiu, 2007
21. The Ballad of Narayama Shohei Imamura, 1983
22. Brief Encounter David Lean, 1946
23. The Working Class Goes to Heaven Elio Petri, 1972
24. The Go-Between Joseph Losey, 1971
25. The Eel Shohei Imamura, 1997
26. Pulp Fiction Quentin Tarantino, 1994
27. The Tin Drum Volker Schlöndorff, 1979
28. Wild at Heart David Lynch, 1990
29. Underground Emir Kusturica, 1995
30. L’Enfant Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, 2005

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