The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2020) 340-321


340. Heimat: A Chronicle of Germany (1984) Dir. Edgar Reitz, 924 mins.

Shot in 35 mm, the sixteen hour epic TV series depicts over sixty years, beginning in 1919 and ending in 1982, of German political history through its impact on family life in the fictitious rural village of Schabbach in the Rhineland. A revisionist film, Reitz pursues history in terms of personal stories, seeking to restore a sense of continuity to the discontinuous and fragmented history of Germany. He integrates the Hitler regime into the lived experiences of the simple, unpolitical German villagers who consequently appear more as victims than anywhere near participants in the Third Reich. Becoming the most widely known and critically acclaimed history film of New German Cinema, it features remarkable attention to detail in its reconstructions of the various historical periods. It was screened as a film in two parts in European film festivals and all major German cities in the summer of 1984 before its release on TV.

339. La Haine (1995) Dir. Mathieu Kassovitz, 96 mins.

It is about three young friends and their struggle to live in the banlieues of Paris.

338. Ivan the Terrible, Part Two (1958) Dir. Sergei M. Eisenstein, 88 mins.

Made as being the second part of a projected trilogy, the film was banned by Russia’s Central Committee for portraying Ivan as an indecisive ruler and not the unifying hero of the first film, (he was shown to be too hesitant in killing his enemies). Part Two takes up the story of the complex leader (Nikolai Cherkasov) upon his return to Moscow from Alexandrov. Ivan must deal with a group of unfriendly boyars and becomes even more insulated after his mother is poisoned and an assassination plot is uncovered. With policy makers trying to reassert control of the arts and Eisenstein attacked by a wave of criticism, he was pushed into further poor health and isolation. The film was not shown until after the death of Stalin, by which time Eisenstein was also dead.

337. The Phantom Carriage (1921) Dir. Victor Sjostrom, 93 mins.

David Holm (Victor Sjostrom) is the abusive husband who finds his wife (Hilda Borgstrom) has left him after he is released from prison. He vows vengeance for her abandonment in his hour of need. The couple is reunited in a Salvation Army mission where David convinces his estranged wife to reconcile their differences.

336. The Circus (1928) Dir. Charlie Chaplin, 71 mins.

The ringmaster of an impoverished circus hires Chaplin’s Little Tramp as a clown, but discovers that he can only be funny unintentionally, not on purpose. Given that the troubled production coincided with the death of Chaplin’s mother and divorce proceedings by his second wife Lita Grey, it’s hardly surprising that The Circus has bitter undertones. However, the film does have moments of cinematic brilliance and hilarious slapstick comedy.

335. 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. Watch

334. The Cloud-Capped Star (1960) Dir. Ritwik Ghatak, 126 mins.

The first of an audacious and politically charged trilogy based in Calcutta that controversially addressed the condition of refugees, The Cloud-Capped Star is a devastating tale that centres on a working woman (Supriya Choudhury) who sacrifices her freedom and eventually her life to provide for her uncaring siblings. A basic and at times starkly realist narrative is enhanced by Ritwik Ghatak’s inventive direction and an overlaying mythic reference to a Bengali legend, about the Goddess Durga, that defines the actual means by which women are oppressed.

333 Colossal Youth (2006)

332. Where is the Friend’s Home? (1987) Dir. Abbas Kiarostami, 87 mins.

The first part of Kiarostami’s friendship trilogy, the film was made under the auspices of Iran’s Institute for the intellectual development of children and young adults and tells a deceptively simple account of a conscientious 8 year old schoolboy’s quest to the neighbouring village to return his friend’s notebook, that he took in error, as should his friend fail to hand it in the next day, it is likely he will get expelled. An often realistic and touching tale of loyalty and compassion that helped launch Kiarostami onto the world stage.

331. Early Summer (1951) Dir. Yasujiro Ozu, 124 mins.

Although lacking in international recognition when first released, Ozu’s domestic comedy was much lauded in his native Japan. The plot concerns Noriko, who lives contentedly in an extended family household that includes her parents and her brother’s family, but an uncle’s visit prompts the family to find her a husband. A lyrical evocation of suburban life.

330 The House Is Black (1963)

329. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) Dir. Robert Hamer, 106 mins.

Louis, the son of a woman ostracised by her aristocratic family for eloping with an Italian opera singer, decides to avenge the insult to his mother.

328. Steamboat Bill, Jr (1928) Dir. Charles Reisner, 71 mins.

Willie Canfield (Buster Keaton) is the namby-pamby son of rough-and-tumble steamboat captain “Steamboat Bill” Canfield (Ernest Torrence). When he’s not trying to make a man out of his boy, the captain is carrying on a feud with Tom Carter (Tom McGuire), the wealthy owner of a fancy new ferryboat. Carter has a pretty daughter, Mary King (Marion Byron), with whom Willie falls in love. The two younger folks try to patch up the feud, but this seems impossible once the captain is jailed for punching out Carter.

327. Ace in the Hole (1951) Dir. Billy Wilder, 111 mins.

Ace in the Hole is a film noir starring Kirk Douglas as a cynical, disgraced reporter who stops at nothing to try to regain a job on a major newspaper. Watch

326 An Elephant Sitting Still (2018)

325. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) Dir. William Wyler, 172 mins.

Wyler’s first postwar film was something of an epic statement. Running nearly three hours long, the film considers the transition from war to peacetime. It focuses on three United States servicemen from different branches of service and different social classes as they readjust to civilian life, particularly the relationships with their families, after returning to the same hometown after World War II. While Wyler might be trying too hard at cinematic realism, it has moments of touching honesty and Gregg Toland’s photography remains notable for the long takes, moving camera, and remarkable deep focus with a c!ever use of depth within the frame. The film also overshadowed It’s a  Wonderful Life at the Oscars, winning nine, but has ultimately failed to retain the sort of stature that Capra’s film went on to find.

324. The Graduate (1967) Dir. Mike Nichols, 105 mins.

The film tells the story of 21 year old Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), a recent university graduate with no well-defined aim in life, who is seduced by a bored older woman, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), but then falls in love with her daughter. Nichols’s satirical comedy drama doesn’t feel as cutting edge now as it did on release but it’s still notable for its stylish visuals and a memorable soundtrack, that with the inclusion of songs such as ‘Sound of Silence’ and ‘Mrs. Robinson,’ even made Simon & Garfunkel seem edgy and cool.

323. 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.

322. Winter Light (1963) Dir. Ingmar Bergman, 81 mins.

Winter Light follows Tomas Ericsson (Gunnar Björnstrand), pastor of a small rural Swedish church, as he deals with an existential crisis and his Christianity. A bleak desolate film in which the characters torment themselves and each other, seeking guidance and comfort in a world from which God is absent.

321. An Autumn Afternoon (1962) Dir. Yasujiro Ozu, 112 mins.

It stars Ozu regular Chishū Ryū as the patriarch of the Hirayama family who eventually realises that he has a duty to arrange a marriage for his daughter Michiko (Shima Iwashita).

The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2019) 240-221


240. The Maltese Falcon (1941) Dir. John Huston, 100 mins.

The story follows a San Francisco private detective and his dealings with three unscrupulous adventurers, all of whom are competing to obtain a jewel-encrusted falcon statuette.

239. The Last Picture Show (1971) Dir. Peter Bogdanovich, 118 mins.

Set in a small town in north Texas from November 1951 to October 1952, it is about the coming of age of Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) and his friend Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges).

238. The Graduate (1967) Dir. Mike Nichols, 105 mins.

The film tells the story of 21 year old Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), a recent university graduate with no well-defined aim in life, who is seduced by a bored older woman, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), but then falls in love with her daughter. Nichols’s satirical comedy drama doesn’t feel as cutting edge now as it did on release but it’s still notable for its stylish visuals and a memorable soundtrack, that with the inclusion of songs such as ‘Sound of Silence’ and ‘Mrs. Robinson,’ even made Simon & Garfunkel seem edgy and cool.

237. Rio Bravo (1959) Dir. Howard Hawks, 141 mins.

Written by Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett, and based on the short story “Rio Bravo” by B. H. McCampbell, the film is about the sheriff of the town of Rio Bravo, Texas, who arrests the brother of a powerful local rancher to help his drunken deputy/friend. With the help of a cripple and a young gunfighter, they hold off the rancher’s gang.

236. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) Dir. Arthur Penn, 112 mins.

The film follows Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, the notorious bank robbers who operated in the central United States during the Great Depression. The couple meet when Clyde (Warren Beatty) tries to steal Bonnie’s mother’s car. Controversial due to the excessive violence, it is seen as one of the first of the New Hollywood Era.

235. The Exterminating Angel (1962) Dir. Luis Bunuel, 95 mins.

A formal dinner party starts out normally enough. After the sophisticated guests retire to the host’s exquisite music room, they find that they cannot leave. Hours pass and then days, and as the time plods by, disturbing changes in the formerly-genteel guests occur.

234. The Wages of Fear (1953) Dir. Henri-Georges Clouzot, 131 mins.

When an oil well owned by an American company catches fire, the company hires four European men, down on their luck, to drive two trucks over mountain dirt roads that are loaded with nitroglycerine needed to extinguish the flames.

233. Magnolia (1999) Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, 188 mins.

The film stars Jeremy Blackman, Tom Cruise, Melinda Dillon, Philip Baker Hall, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ricky Jay, William H. Macy, Alfred Molina, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Jason Robards and Melora Walters, and is a mosaic of interrelated characters in search of happiness, forgiveness and meaning in the San Fernando Valley.

232. Kagemusha (1980) Dir. Akira Kurosawa, 162 mins.

It is set in the Sengoku period of Japanese history and tells the story of a lower-class criminal who is taught to impersonate a dying daimyō to dissuade opposing lords from attacking the newly vulnerable clan.

231. 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.

230. Double Indemnity (1944) Dir. Billy Wilder, 107 mins.

The film stars Fred MacMurray as an insurance salesman, Barbara Stanwyck as a provocative housewife who wishes her husband were dead, and Edward G. Robinson as a claims adjuster whose job is to find phony claims.

229. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) Dir. John Ford, 123 mins.

Eastern attorney Ranson Stoddard (James Stewart) heads to the wild West in search of a new life. He settles in the small town of Shinbone where he meets up with Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). Valance is as bad a villain as there ever was, and his dastardly deeds are financed by an evil conglomerate resolute on stopping the territory from gaining statehood.

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

After the controversy of The Birth of a Nation, Griffiths 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.

227. Day for Night (1973) Dir. Francois Truffaut, 115 mins.

The film details the making of a family drama called “Meet Pamela” about the tragedy that follows when a young French man introduces his parents to his new British wife.

226. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) Dir. Peter Jackson, 179 mins.

Frodo and Samwise press on toward Mordor with Gollum as their guide whilst Aragorn, drawing closer to his kingly destiny, rallies forces of good for the battles that must come. Perhaps lacking the polish and characterisation of the first film but The Two Towers does feature a memorably huge battle sequence.

225. Inglourious Basterds (2009) Dir. Quentin Tarantino, 153 mins.

The film, set in a fictional alternate history, tells the story of two plots to assassinate Nazi Germany’s political leadership, one planned by Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent), a young French Jewish cinema proprietor, and the other by a team of Jewish American soldiers led by First Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt).

224. The Earrings of Madame de… (1953) Dir. Max Ophuls, 105 mins.

Stars Danielle Darrieux as the titular Madame Louise de…, who is forced to discreetly sell a pair of earrings, a gift from her military officer husband Andre (Charles Boyer), in order to make good on her debts.

223. I Vitelloni (1953) Dir. Federico Fellini, 107 mins.

A story of five young Italian men at crucial turning points in their small town lives.

222. The Human Condition III: A Soldier’s Prayer (1961) Dir. Masaki Kobayashi, 190 mins.

After the Japanese defeat to the Russians in the last episode, Kaji, the Japanese soldier and humanist protagonist, leads the last remaining men through Manchuria. Intent on returning to his dear wife and his old life, Kaji faces great odds as he and his fellow men sneak behind enemy lines. it’s an often harrowing drama but still essential viewing.

221. Toy Story (1995) Dir. John Lasseter, 81 mins.

The film follows a group of toys and focuses on Woody, a pull-string cowboy doll, and Buzz Lightyear, an astronaut action figure. A fantastic buddy pic that was a real breakthrough for Pixar.