The Pendragon Society

The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2018) 600-581


600. American Hustle (2013) Dir. David O. Russell, 138 mins.

Inspired by the FBI ABSCAM operation of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the film stars Christian Bale and Amy Adams as two con artists who are forced by an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) to set up an elaborate sting operation on corrupt politicians, including the mayor of Camden, New Jersey (Jeremy Renner).

599. Shane (1953) Dir. George Stevens, 118 mins.

Stevens’s deliberately mythologised western follows a mysterious drifter (Alan Ladd) who rides into a tiny homesteading community and accepts the hospitality of a farming family. Patriarch Joe Starrett is impressed by the way Shane handles himself when facing down the minions of land baron Emile Meyer, though he has trouble placing his complete trust in the stranger, as his wife is attracted to Shane in spite of herself, and his son Joey flat-out idolises Shane.

598. The Round-Up (1966) Dir. Miklos Jancso, 95 mins.

Following the famous Kossuth Rebellion, the Hungarian police “round up” the likely suspects. They then subject the peasant prisoners to a sophisticated, ritualised form of psychological torture. With sweeping camera movements and an epic scale Jancso’s.

597. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) Dir. Robert Aldrich, 134 mins.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a psychological thriller produced and directed by Robert Aldrich, starring Bette Davis as an aggressive and selfish former actress who holds her paraplegic sister (Joan Crawford) captive in an old Hollywood mansion.

596. Casino (1995) Dir. Martin Scorsese, 178 mins.

Based on a true story, Casino follows Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro), a Jewish American gambling handicapper who is called by the Italian Mob to oversee the day-to-day operations at the Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas.

595. The South (1983) Dir. Victor Erice, 95 mins.

El Sur (The South) is the story of Estrella (Iciar Bollain), a little girl from Southern Spain who has been uprooted to the North. Estrella maintains a sentimentalised attachment to the region of her birth, an attachment manifested in her love for her father (Omero Antonutti). The girl’s rose-coloured memories are shattered when she learns that her beloved dad once carried on affair with a Southern woman and that the flames of passion still smoulder within him.

594. The Master (2012) Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, 144 mins.

It tells the story of Freddie Quell (Phoenix), a World War II veteran struggling to adjust to a post-war society, who meets Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman), a leader of a religious movement known as “The Cause”. Dodd sees something in Quell and accepts him into the movement. Freddie takes a liking to “The Cause” and begins traveling with Dodd along the East Coast to spread the teachings.

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

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

592. A Trip to the Moon (1902) Dir. Georges Melies, 14 mins.

Perhaps the most famous film of the decade, A Trip to the Moon, was loosely based on Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon and H. G. Wells’ The First Men in the Moon. Méliès stars as Professor Barbenfouillis, the President of the Astronomer’s Club who proposes an expedition to the Moon. A space vehicle in the form of a large artillery shell is built in his laboratory, and he uses it to launch six men (including himself) on a voyage to the Moon. The vehicle is shot out of a large cannon into space and hits the Man in the Moon in the eye (the moment remains one of the most iconic and frequently referenced images in the history of cinema). Having landed, the intrepid French explorers encounter unfriendly extraterrestrials. The explorers flee to their spaceship and hurry back to the safety of Earth. While the use of overlapping action may confuse and even disconcert the modern viewer, A Trip to the Moon is still seen as important to view thanks to, what was then, an unusual length, lavish production values, innovative special effects, and an emphasis on storytelling that was markedly influential on other film-makers and ultimately on the development of narrative film as a whole.

591. Hour of the Wolf (1968) Dir. Ingmar Bergman, 90 mins.

Ingmar Bergman’s spin on the demons that plague his fellow creative artists. Max von Sydow plays a painter who, while spending a summer in seclusion with his pregnant wife Liv Ullmann, is visited by bizarre and disturbing visions.

590. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005) Dir. Cristi Puiu, 150 mins.

In the film an old man (Ioan Fiscuteanu) is carried by an ambulance from hospital to hospital all night long, as doctors keep refusing to treat him and send him away.

589. A Place in the Sun (1951) Dir. George Stevens, 112 mins.

It tells the story of a working-class young man who is entangled with two women: one who works in his wealthy uncle’s factory, and the other a beautiful socialite. Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor star.

588. The Dead (1987) Dir. John Huston, 85 mins.

The last and perhaps most perfect of Huston’s literacy adaptations, treats a short story by James Joyce with love, joy and quiet regret, an achingly poignant valediction, glowing with the beauty and transcience of life.

587. The Vanishing (1988) Dir. George Sluizer, 107 mins.

It stars Gene Bervoets as a man who searches obsessively for his girlfriend following her disappearance at a rest area.

586. 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.

585. Delicatessen (1991) Dir. Marc Caro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 99 mins.

The action takes place within a single apartment complex, which is owned by the same man that operates the downstairs butcher shop. It’s a particularly popular place to live, thanks to the butcher’s uncanny ability to find excellent cuts of meat despite the horrible living conditions outside. The newest building superintendent, a former circus clown, thinks he has found an ideal living situation.

584. Walkabout (1971) Dir. Nicolas Roeg, 100 mins.

It centres on two schoolchildren teenage girl (Jenny Agutter) and her younger brother are abandoned in the Australian outback and who come across a teenage Aboriginal boy who helps them to survive.

583. Force of Evil (1948) Dir. Abraham Polonsky, 78 mins.

Joe Morse wants to consolidate all the small-time numbers racket operators into a single powerful organisation. But, his older brother is one of these small operators, and he wants things to stay the way they are, rather than dealing with the gangsters who dominate the big-time.

582. Heart of a Dog (1988) Dir. Vladimir Bortko, 130 mins.

This Soviet film tells the story of Preobrazhensky (Yevgeni Yevstigneyev), a surgeon, who is a professor of medicine in Moscow. After the Russian revolution is thoroughly in place, he is visited by the housing committee, who feels that he should share the spaciousness his “big” five-room apartment with several others. Meanwhile, in an experiment he implants a dog with the heart and brain of a tramp. The dog gradually transforms into a man (Vladimir Tolokonnikov), but still has some doggy attitudes: for instance, he chooses to call himself Sharikov.

581. The Holy Mountain (1973) Dir. Alejandro Jodorowsky, 114 mins.

The most powerful individuals in the solar system are out to become gods and rule the universe.