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The Pendragon Society

The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2018) 740-721


740. 3 Women (1977) Dir. Robert Altman, 124 mins.

It depicts the increasingly bizarre, mysterious relationship between a woman (Shelley Duvall) and her roommate and co-worker (Sissy Spacek) in a dusty, underpopulated Californian desert town.

739. The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) Dir. Martin Scorsese, 164 mins.

Having tried for many years to make an adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis’s book of the same name, funding finally arrived for Scorsese off the back of the commercial success of The Color of Money. Like the novel, the film depicts the conflict between the human and divine sides of Jesus Christ, showing his struggles with various forms of temptation including fear, doubt, depression, reluctance and lust. The film suffered from protests by religious groups which prevented many exhibitors from showing it and whilst the American accents will put some off, it has some arresting imagery.

738. 13 Assassins (2010) Dir. Takashi Miike, 126 mins.

Loosely based on historical events, the film is set in 1844 toward the end of the medieval Edo period. In the story, a group of thirteen assassins—composed of twelve samurai and a hunter—secretly plot to assassinate the savage leader of the Akashi clan, Lord Matsudaira Naritsugu, before his appointment to the powerful Shogunate Council.

737. The Roaring Twenties (1939) Dir. Raoul Walsh, 104 mins.

A pair of World War I buddies become underworld kingpins

736. Lolita (1962) Dir. Stanley Kubrick, 152 mins.

After the creative battles with Spartacus, Kubrick enjoyed full creative control over his adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel by moving to Borehamwood Studios in England. The film follows James Mason’s middle-aged literature lecturer who becomes sexually obsessed with Sue Lyon’s young adolescent. Kubrick turns the tragic tale into a sharp satire on the pathology of sexual frustration, but was widely criticized for making Lolita a teenager rather than pubescent nymphet of Nabokov’s novel.

735. If… (1968) Dir. Lindsay Anderson, 111 mins.

If…. is a British drama produced and directed by Lindsay Anderson satirising English public school life. Famous for its depiction of a savage insurrection at a fictitious boys’ boarding school. A vitriolic attack on the British public schools and the deeply divided society which they continued to underpin.

734. Hope and Glory (1987) Dir. John Boorman, 113 mins.

Boorman’s semi-autobiographical film follows a boy living in London during the 2nd World War. The film tells the story of the Rohan family and their experiences of the Blitz as seen through the eyes of the son, Billy (Sebastian Rice-Edwards).

733. Frankenstein (1931) Dir. James Whale, 71 mins.

Based on the nineteenth century novel, the film follows a scientist, Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) and his assistant who dig up corpses to build a man animated by electricity (Boris Karloff), but his assistant accidentally gives the creature an abnormal, murderer’s brain.

732. Casino Royale (2006) Dir. Martin Campbell, 144 mins.

The introduction of Daniel Craig as 007 takes the Bond franchise in a more gritty direction. Casino Royale takes place at the beginning of Bond’s career as Agent 007, just as he is earning his licence to kill. The film’s plot sees Bond becoming involved in an assignment to bankrupt terrorist financier Le Chiffre in a high-stakes poker game, after foiling an attack he arranged on a new aircraft being demonstrated at Miami International Airport; during the course of his assignment, Bond falls for Vesper Lynd, a treasury employee assigned to provide the money he needs for the game.

731. 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. The wife tearfully decides to give up her own career to care for her husband.

730. Zodiac (2007) Dir. David Fincher, 158 mins.

Zodiac tells the story of the manhunt for a notorious serial killer who called himself the “Zodiac” and killed in and around the San Francisco Bay Area during the late 1960s and early 1970s, taunting police with letters, bloodstained clothing, and ciphers mailed to newspapers.

729. 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.

728. The Saragossa Manuscript (1965) Dir. Wojciech Has, 182 mins.

Based on the novel by Jan Potocki and set during the Napoleonic Wars, two officers from opposing sides find a manuscript in a deserted house, which tells the tale of the Spanish officer’s grandfather, Alphonso van Worden (Zbigniew Cybulski). Van Worden travelled in the region many years before, being plagued by evil spirits, and meeting such figures as a Qabalist, a sultan and a gypsy, who tell him further stories, many of which intertwine and interrelate with one another.

727. Shakespeare In Love (1998) Dir. John Madden, 123 mins.

The film depicts an imaginary love affair involving Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow) and playwright William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) while he was writing Romeo and Juliet. Gwyneth Paltrow, and her perfect English accent, is the ultimate muse for Joseph Fiennes Shakespeare.

726. Alphaville (1965) Dir. Jean-Luc Godard, 99 mins.

Set in the future and shot entirely on location in Paris, using high contrast super fast black and white film, Alphhaville is a dystopian thriller in which a totalitarian society is ruled by the computer ‘Alpha 60’. It’s both a stylized sci-fi adventure and a social myth about the competing claims of human love and new technology.

725. I Know Where I’m Going! (1945) Dir. Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 91 mins.

The film follows Joan Webster (Wendy Hiller), who is forced to abandon her materialistic desires, and her marriage to a middle-aged wealthy man who embodies those desires, in favour of Torquil MacNeil (Roger Livesey) and the world he inhibits, dominated by centuries old legends, curses and myths.

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

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

723. Branded to Kill (1967) Dir. Seijun Suzuki, 98 mins.

Having been promoted from making low budget action B films, Suzuki was gradually decreasing the importance of rational and logical story when he made the gangster film, Branded to Kill. The plot, which generic conventions dictate should be clear, was transformed into a labyrinth. The story follows Goro Hanada in his life as a contract killer. He falls in love with a woman named Misako, who recruits him for a seemingly impossible mission. When the mission fails, he becomes hunted by the phantom Number One Killer, whose methods threaten his sanity as much as his life.

722. The Virgin Spring (1960) Dir. Ingmar Bergman, 89 mins.

A medieval film that retells a legend of murder and expiation. Set in medieval Sweden, it is a rape and revenge tale about a father’s merciless response to the rape and murder of his young daughter. Underlying the film is the search for meaning in the face of suffering and despair. This existential angst is dramatised through the famous rape scene.

721. Red Beard (1965) Dir. Akira Kurosawa, 185 mins.

Red Beard (赤ひげ Akahige) is a 1965 Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa about the relationship between a town doctor and his new trainee.