The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2020) 500-481


500. Barren Lives (1963) Dir. Nelson Pereira dos Santos, 103 mins.

One of the key films in the Brazilian Cinema Novo movement, Barren Lives tells the story of a poverty-stricken family in the dry Brazilian northeast.

499. The Sting (1973) Dir. George Roy Hill, 129 mins.

The Sting is set in September 1936 and involves a complicated plot by two professional grifters (Paul Newman and Robert Redford) to con a mob boss (Robert Shaw).

498. Cremator (1969) Dir. Juraj Herz, 95 mins.

The story is set in 1930s Prague, where the cremator Karel Kopfrkingl lives and works. Kopfrkingl slowly devolves from an odd but relatively well-meaning cremator of the dead into a murderer of his family and mass murderer who runs the ovens at the extermination camps due to the influence of the Nazi party and Tibetan Buddhism, under which he believes his murders are “liberating” the souls of the diseased into a better life.

497. Late Autumn (1960) Dir. Yasujiro Ozu, 128 mins.

Late Autumn follows the attempts of three older men to help the widow of a late friend to marry off her daughter. The daughter is less than happy at the proposals, mainly because of her reluctance to leave her mother alone.

496. The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1987) Dir. Kazuo Hara, 122 mins.

The documentary centers on Kenzo Okuzaki, a 62-year-old veteran of Japan’s campaign in New Guinea in the Second World War, and follows him around as he searches out those responsible for the unexplained deaths of two soldiers in his old unit.

495. 4 Little Girls (1997) Dir. Spike Lee, 102 mins.

It’s about the murder of four African-American girls (Addie May Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Rosamond Robertson) in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15th, 1963.

494. Ninotchka (1939) Dir. Ernst Lubitsch, 110 mins.

Frivolous perhaps, but Lubitsch’s satirical romance was acclaimed at the time of release as a poignantly balanced comedy. The film opens in Paris during the aftermath of the Russian revolution. A trio of Russian delegates (Sig Rumann, Felix Bressart, and Alexander Granach) are sent to the French capital to sell the Imperial Jewels for ready cash. After some problems the Russians dispatch no-nonsense diplomat, Nina Ivanovna “Ninotchka” Yakushova (Greta Garbo) to ensure the sale of the jewels. While still notable for its wit and the marvellous performance of Garbo, for some the film now looks contrived and surprisingly heavy-handed for a director such as Lubitsch.

493. Threads (1984) Dir. Mick Jackson, 112 mins.

It is a dramatic account of nuclear war and its effects on the city of Sheffield in Northern England. The plot centres on two families as a confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union erupts. As the nuclear exchange between NATO and the Warsaw Pact begins, the film depicts the medical, economic, social and environmental consequences of nuclear war.

492. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) Dir. David Lean, 161 mins.

Based on the novel Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai by Pierre Boulle, the film is a work of fiction, but borrows the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942–1943 for its historical setting.

491. Let the Right One In (2008) Dir. Tomas Alfredson, 115 mins.

The story centres on the relationship between a 12-year-old boy, Oskar, and a vampire child, Eli.

490. Red River (1948) Dir. Howard Hawks, Arthur Rosson, 133 mins.

John Wayne revealed unsuspected depths in his portrayal of stoic patriarchal Texas rancher Tom Dunson. The film follows Dunson and his adopted adult son (Montgomery Clift), who are on the first cattle drive from Texas to Kansas along the Chisholm Trail. Directed and produced by Howard Hawks, the film’s dramatic tension stems from a growing feud over the management of the drive, between Wayne’s character and Clift’s.

489. The Big Parade (1925) Dir. King Vidor, 151 mins.

Written by World War I veteran, Laurence Stallings, the film is about an idle rich boy who joins the US Army’s Rainbow Division and is sent to France to fight in World War I, becomes a friend of two working class men, experiences the horrors of trench warfare, and finds love with a French girl.

488. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) Dir, Quentin Tarantino, 111 mins.

The film stars Uma Thurman as the Bride, who swears revenge on a team of assassins and their leader Bill (David Carradine) after they try to kill her and her unborn child.

487. Syndromes and a Century (2006) Dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 105 mins.

Dr. Nohng (Jaruchai Iamaram) joins the staff of a small, isolated clinic in Thailand after being interviewed by harried female Dr. Toey (Nantarat Sawaddikul), growing closer to her and dentist Dr. Ple (Arkanae Cherkam), who once dreamed of being a country singer. In the film’s second half, Nohng is once again questioned by Toey before receiving a job, this time in a more urban setting. Working alongside alcoholic Dr. Wan (Wanna Wattanajinda), Nohng settles into his new routine.

486. Bob Dylan: Dont Look Back (1967) Dir. D. A. Pennebaker, 96 mins.

In 1965, the iconic troubadour Bob Dylan toured the United Kingdom at the age of 23, and director D.A. Pennebaker was allowed behind the scenes to provide one of the most intimate glimpses of the private and frequently cantankerous songwriter. The film chronicles Dylan’s concert appearances, hotel room conversations, and transportation downtime, pulling back the curtain on the folk messiah at the end of his relationship with Joan Baez and on the cusp of his creative shift toward rock music.

485. Love Me Tonight (1932) Dir. Rouben Mamoulian, 104 mins.

It stars Maurice Chevalier as a tailor who poses as a nobleman and Jeanette MacDonald as a princess with whom he falls in love.

484. The Hunt (2012) Dir. Thomas Vinterberg, 106 mins.

The story is set in a small Danish village around Christmas, and follows a man who becomes the target of mass hysteria after being wrongly accused of sexually abusing a child in his kindergarten class.

483. Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) Dir. Terence Davies, 85 mins.

The first section, ‘Distant Voices’, chronicles the early life of a working-class Catholic family living under a domineering father. The second section, ‘Still Lives’, sees the children grown up and emerging into a brighter 1950s Britain, only a few years from rock and roll and The Beatles, yet somehow still a lifetime away.

482. Eraserhead (1977) Dir. David Lynch, 89 mins.

It tells the story of Henry Spencer (Jack Nance), who is left to care for his grossly deformed child in a desolate industrial landscape. Throughout the film, Spencer experiences dreams or hallucinations, featuring his child and the Lady in the Radiator.

481. Pain and Glory (2019) Dir. Pedro Almodóvar, 113 mins.

A film director reflects on the choices he’s made in life as the past and present come crashing down around him.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *