The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2020) 240-221


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

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

239. 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.

238. Duck Soup (1933) Dir. Leo McCarey, 68 mins.

A wealthy widow offers financial aid to the bankrupt country of Freedonia on condition that Rufus T. Firefly be made leader. But his chaotic, inept regime bumbles into war with neighbouring Sylvania.

237. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) Dir. Guillermo del Toro, 119 mins.

The film is set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War and details the strange journeys of an imaginative young girl who may be the mythical princess of an underground kingdom. Watch

236. Aliens (1986) Dir. James Cameron, 137 mins.

Much more of an action film than Ridley Scott’s original, the film follows Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) as she returns to the moon where her crew encountered the hostile Alien creature, this time accompanied by a unit of space marines.

235. Rosemary’s Baby (1968) Dir. Roman Polanski, 136 mins.

The film chronicles the story of a pregnant woman who suspects that an evil cult wants to take her baby for use in their rituals. Watch

234. Network (1976) Dir. Sidney Lumet, 121 mins.

Network is a satirical film written by Paddy Chayefsky about a fictional television network, UBS, and its struggle with poor ratings. Watch

233. Le samourai (1967) Dir. Jean-Pierre Melville, 105 mins.

Melville’s stylish crime thriller follows a hitman (Alain Delon), on his last assignment, which leaves him under the surveillance of the police. Learning that his boss now has him marked for death, he must now try to take him out first. Watch

232. Sweet Smell of Success (1957) Dir. Alexander Mackendrick, 96 mins.

The film tells the story of powerful newspaper columnist J.J. Hunsecker (portrayed by Burt Lancaster and based on Walter Winchell) who uses his connections to ruin his sister’s relationship with a man he deems unworthy of her.

231. 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.

230. My Darling Clementine (1946) Dir. John Ford, 97 mins.

John Ford’s western takes its inspiration from the life and legend of Wyatt Earp (Henry Fonda), the frontier lawman who teamed with Doc Holliday (Victor Mature) for the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

229. Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974) Dir. Jacques Rivette, 192 mins.

The film begins with Julie sitting on a park bench reading a book of magic spells when a woman (Céline) walks past, and begins dropping (à la Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit) various possessions. Julie begins picking them up, and tries to follow Céline around Paris, sometimes at a great pace (for instance, sprinting up Montmartre to keep pace with Céline’s tram). After adventures following Céline around the Parisian streets, at one point it looks as if they have gone their separate ways, never to meet up again, but Céline finally decides to move in with Julie.

228. Incendies (2010) Dir. Denis Villeneuve, 130 mins.

The story concerns Canadian twins who travel to their mother’s native country in the Middle East to uncover her hidden past amidst a bloody civil war.

227. Last Year at Marienbad (1961) Dir. Alain Resnais, 94 mins.

Set in a palace in a park that has been converted into a luxury hotel, it stars Delphine Seyrig and Giorgio Albertazzi as a woman and a man who may have met the year before and may have contemplated or started an affair, with Sacha Pitoëff as a second man who may be the woman’s husband.

226. Das Boot (1981) Dir. Wolfgang Petersen, 149 mins.

An adaptation of Lothar-Günther Buchheim’s 1973 German novel of the same name, the film is set during World War II and tells the fictional story of U-96 and its crew. It depicts both the excitement of battle and the tedium of the fruitless hunt, and shows the men serving aboard U-boats as ordinary individuals with a desire to do their best for their comrades and their country.

225. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) Dir. Jonathan Demme, 118 mins.

An adaptation of Thomas Harris’s best selling novel and the first horror film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture, The  Silence of the Lambs follows Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), a young working class FBI recruit, who puts herself in physical and psychological danger by seeking the advice of the imprisoned former psychiatrist and cannibalistic murderer, Dr. Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) to apprehend another serial killer, known only as “Buffalo Bill” (Ted Levine) and rescue his latest victim. While lacking the atmospheric style of Michael Mann’s earlier Manhunter (also based on Harris’s novel), the film works thanks to tour de force performances by a memorably chilling Hopkins, a creepy Levine and the compelling Foster. The latter had to fight hard for what would be her second Oscar winning role (the part being originally earmarked for Michelle Pfeiffer), but her strong performance was somewhat overshadowed by a campaign to out her as gay that came after criticism of the film by LGBT groups for its portrayal of Buffalo Bill as bisexual and transsexual.

224. 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.

223. North by Northwest (1959) Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 136 mins.

North by Northwest is a tale of mistaken identity, with an innocent man (Cary Grant) pursued across the United States by agents of a mysterious organisation trying to prevent him from blocking their plan to smuggle out microfilm that contains government secrets. Watch

222. Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987) Dir. Louis Malle, 104 mins.

During the Nazi occupation of France, a young Catholic boarding-school student witnesses the courage of his teachers as they defy the anti-Semitic policies of the German forces, and quietly enroll Jewish children in their school using assumed names.

221. Out 1 (1971) Dir. Jacques Rivette, Suzanne Schiffman, 773 mins.

Being mainly improvised (there was no script) and running for a taxing 773 minutes, the long version of Rivette’s experimental Out 1 was always going to be too daunting for mainstream consumption. It’s a uniquely ambitious cinema verite mix of fiction and documentary that looks at two underground theatre troupes both workshopping Aeschylus using different methods. Then there’s the nonsensical parts of the film that look at street people. Most will find it frustrating and exhausting while others may feel a deeply satisfying sense of achievement by reaching the end.


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