The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2018) 920-901


920. Fox and His Friends (1975) Dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 123 mins.

The plot follows the misadventures of a working-class homosexual, who wins the lottery and then falls in love with the elegant son of an industrialist. His lover uses flattery to exploit him and ultimately swindles him out of his fortune. A riveting melodrama that features a strong lead performance by director Fassbinder.

919. The Thief of Bagdad (1924) Dir. Raoul Walsh, 155 mins.

As one of those who formed United Artists, star Douglas Fairbanks had far more control of his work in the 1920s, which led to more technically and aesthetically ambitious films such as this humorous adventure epic. Adapted from One Thousand and One Nights, Fairbanks stars as a thief who falls in love with the daughter of the Caliph of Bagdad. While many will find it too long, it has a captivating story, groundbreaking special effects and Fairbanks is a magnetic presence.

918. Sense and Sensibility (1995) Dir. Ang Lee, 136 mins.

Based on Jane Austen’s 1811 novel of the same name, the story follows the Dashwood sisters, members of a wealthy English family of landed gentry, as they are forced to seek financial security through marriage after falling into sudden destitution. Witty, lively and even a little sad, Sense and Sensibility is a triumph for Emma Thompson who wrote the script as well as starring as the eldest sister.

917. The Butcher (1970) Dir. Claude Chabrol, 93 mins.

Chabrol’s thriller follows a confident, slightly naive young teacher who meets a butcher at a wedding ceremony, and they strike up a close but platonic relationship. The young woman then grows suspicious of the butcher when a series of women in their small town fall victim to an unknown murderer. With something of a nod to a Hitchcockian thriller, The Butcher builds into a gripping and compelling film.

916. Medea (1988) Dir. Lars von Trier, 75 mins.

Based on Carl Theodor Dreyer’s adaptation of Euripides’ play, Medea was shot on analog video for TV. The film is a mythological story that depicts the events folowing the tale of Jason and the Argonauts. Medea, the mother of Jason’s two children, plans a horrible revenge against her husband and the King after she is exiled so that Jason can marry the king’s daughter. A compelling human drama with some haunting imagery.

915. L’Amour Fou (1969) Dir. Jacques Rivette, 252 mins.

L’Amour fou follows the dissolution of a marriage between Claire, an actress (played by Bulle Ogier), and Sebastien, her director (Jean-Pierre Kalfon). Innovative and adventurous, Rivette’s film was a vital component in the career path that led to his opus Out 1.

914. True Romance (1993) Dir. Tony Scott, 121 mins.

Scripted by Quentin Tarantino, the film follows Clarence Worley, a well-meaning but socially unskilled comic-shop clerk, who visits a grindhouse cinema and meets and falls in love with the beautiful Alabama. To Clarence’s disappointment he finds she’s a prostitute paid by his boss. However, Alabama has fallen for Clarence and is ready to get away from her pimp to be with him. With a terrific cast, plenty of humour and violent action, True Romance has earned cult status. In 2008 it was placed 157th on Empire Magazine’s 500 Greatest films of all time.

913. The Piano Teacher (2001) Dir. Michael Haneke, 131 mins.

It tells the story of an unmarried piano teacher at a Vienna conservatory, who is in her 40s and still living with her mother. Trapped in a state of emotional and sexual repression, she becomes attracted to a pupil but in the end repels him by her need for humiliation and self-harm. Some will question the purpose of Haneke’s psychological thriller and it’s certainly not an easy watch but does include perhaps Isabelle Huppert’s best performance as the troubled teacher.

912. A Room With a View (1985) Dir. James Ivory, 117 mins.

An adaptation of E. M. Forster’s novel, the film is set in England and Italy and follows a young woman named Lucy Honeychurch (a terrific film debut by Helena Bonham Carter) in the restrictive and repressed culture of Edwardian era England and her developing love for free-spirited young George Emerson. The film is hugely entertaining, very funny and includes great performances by a talented cast. Critics were particularly impressed by the relative new comer Daniel Day-Lewis as the snobbish and pretentious Cecil given that the part was on another planet to his other acclaimed role of 1985 as a gay street punk in My Beautiful Laundrette.

911. The Innocents (1961) Dir. Jack Clayton, 100 mins.

Based on the novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, the plot follows a governess who watches over two children and comes to fear that their house is haunted by ghosts and that the two children are being possessed. A British psychological horror that is smart, creepy and features a notable performance by Deborah Kerr as the governess.


910. Titanic (1997) Dir. James Cameron, 194 mins.

The film is a fictionalised account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912 and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet (both in star making performances) as members of different social classes who fall in love aboard the ship during its ill-fated maiden voyage. Although a technical masterclass, it has become popular to bash the film for its dialogue and melodrama, but putting to one side the dreadful Billy Zane character, Titanic features a tender love story and an ending that should have even the most cynical moviegoer shedding a tear.

909. Women in Love (1969) Dir. Ken Russell, 131 mins.

An adaptation of D. H. Lawrence’s novel of the same name, the plot follows the relationships between two sisters and two men in a mining town in post First World War England, exploring the nature of commitment and love. Perhaps Russell’s most fully realised film, it’s brilliant at times, with great performances and dialogue that’s far more exciting than the once controversial nudity.

908. Serpico (1973) Dir. Sidney Lumet, 130 mins.

An adaption of Peter Maas’s biography of NYPD officer Frank Serpico which covers 12 years of his undercover work to expose corruption in the police force. The film features a powerful central performance by Al Pacino and is thought provoking, gritty and compelling.

907. The Iron Giant (1999) Dir. Brad Bird, 86 mins.

Before moving onto box office success with Pixar, Brad Bird experienced financial failure (probably due to poor marketing) with The Iron Giant despite the sci-fi comedy drama receiving wide spread critical acclaim particularly for its beautiful animation and well crafted characters. Bird’s directorial debut is set during the Cold War in 1957 and follows a young boy named Hogarth Hughes, who discovers a giant metallic robot who fell from space. With the help of a beatnik artist, the boy attempts to prevent the U.S. military and a paranoid federal agent, from finding and destroying the Giant.

906. Django (1966) Dir. Sergio Corbucci, 93 mins.

Corbucci’s Italian Spaghetti Western follows a Union soldier-turned-drifter and his companion, a mixed-race prostitute, who become embroiled in a bitter, destructive feud between a Ku Klux Klan-esque gang of Confederate racists and a band of Mexican revolutionaries. Violent, artistically shot and with a breakthrough performance by Franco Nero.

905. Moon (2009) Dir. Duncan Jones, 97 mins.

Duncan Jones’s feature debut follows Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), a man who experiences a personal crisis as he nears the end of a three-year solitary stint mining helium-3 on the far side of the Moon. Rockwell gives an intense performance in a gripping old school sci-fi that has heart as well as intelligence.

904. Stranger Than Paradise (1984) Dir. Jim Jarmusch, 89 mins.

Jarmusch’s absurdist comedy was shot entirely in single long takes and is a three act minimalist story about Willie (John Lurie), who lives in New York City, and his interactions with the two other main characters, Eva (Eszter Balint) and Eddie (Richard Edson). Some will hate the slow pace, but others will find it an occasionally hilarious and engaging comedy.

903. V for Vendetta (2006) Dir. James McTeigue, 132 mins.

Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, the film is set in an alternative future where a neo-fascist regime has subjugated the United Kingdom. Hugo Weaving portrays V, an anarchist freedom fighter who attempts to ignite a revolution through elaborate terrorist acts, and Natalie Portman plays Evey, a young, working-class woman caught up in V’s mission. While Moore, damaged by previously poor adaptations of his work, wanted his name removed from the production, V should still be seen for its stunning visual style and the thought provoking, subversive narrative.

902. American Gangster (2007) Dir. Ridley Scott, 157 mins.

The partly fictionalised film is based on the criminal career of Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), a gangster from La Grange, North Carolina who smuggled heroin into the United States on American service planes returning from the Vietnam War, before being detained by a task force led by detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe). Great lead performances and well executed, American Gangster is an immersive experience even if it does start to lose direction towards the end.

901. An Actor’s Revenge (1963) Dir. Kon Ichikawa, 113 mins.

Visually stunning and profoundly affecting Ichikawa’s Kabuti (one of the theatre styles of Japan) classic is set in 1836, and follows Yukinojo (Kasuo Hasegawa) an actor, travelling to Edo in feminine disguise. On his journey, he recognises three ruthless merchants who ruined his father’s business, driving him to suicide. He follows them along with a mysterious bandit, pledging revenge even if it means the destruction of one of the merchant’s innocent daughters, who has fallen in love with him.


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