The Greatest Films of All Time?

As another brief respite from serious matters of politics, and as I appear to be in ‘Pop Culture’ mode today…

British entertainment magazine Empire has provided its list of the 500 greatest films of all time. The list was prurportedly put together through interviews with film professionals, critics and readers. The Top Ten, according to the magazine, is as follows:

1 The Godfather (1972)
2 Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)
3 Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
4 The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
5 Jaws (1975)
6 Goodfellas (1990)
7 Apocalypse Now (1979)
8 Singin’ In The Rain (1952)
9 Pulp Fiction (1994)
10 Fight Club (1999)

Um, yeah. I agree that most of them are great, but this in no way resembles my top ten. I mean, come on, Fight Club?

Seriously. Some of the other 500 films include:

410 – A Hard Day’s Night

397 – Night of the Living Dead

395 – Casino

381 – Monty Python and the Holy Grail

350 – Planet of the Apes (1968)

311 – American History X

296 – All the President’s Men

290 – Rashomon (A. Kurosawa)

283 – Ran (A. Kurosawa)

273 – The Maltese Falcon

263 – Das Boot

235 – Battle Royale (You need to see this – trust me. The most f*cked-up movie watching experience you’re likely to have for a while.)

212 – M (Fritz Lang, 1931)

195 – It’s a Wonderful Life

189 – Ghostbusters

181 – Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (WTF? Piece of trash written by Roger Ebert)

173 – Memento

172 – The Wizard of Oz

166 – Goldfinger

138 – Cool Hand Luke

135 – Duck Soup

133 – Double Indemnity

127 – The Sting (More Paul Newman!)

109 – Touch of Evil (Brilliant and underrated Orson Welles noir)

How some of these flims were rated where they are is a complete mystery to me. The Maltese Falcon at 273? This is only a partial list of the films from 500 to 100 – the rest were not available online yet, but I was annoyed enough by the time I got to 101 anyway. It got me to thinking – what would my top ten be? I think a preliminary list would look like this (in no particular order):

Ghostbusters (1984)- Yeah, seriously. I’ve seen it so many times that I’ve practically memorized all of the dialogue.

The Thin Man (1934) – William Powell and Myrna Loy – the first of six movies in total – absolutely brilliant dialogue and good mysteries as well.

Yojimbo (1961) – It doesn’t get much better than Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune – coincidentally, like The Thin Man, based on a Dashiell Hammett novel.

Metropolis (1927) – Silent Fritz Lang classic – now restored, it is still a visual wonder.

The Man Who Laughs (1928) – Another German silent masterpiece, with Conrad Veidt (the nasty Nazi from Casablanca) as Gwynplaine, who is disfigured in childhood by criminals to have a permanent grin. The film, as the legend goes, inspired Bob Kane to create The Joker.

Casablanca (1942) – Speaking of Conrad Veidt. And Humphrey Bogart. And Claude Rains. And Ingrid Bergman…

Seven Samurai (1954) – Again, another Kurosawa masterpiece.

Citizen Kane (1941) – Well, duh.

War of the Worlds (1953) – Produced by the ever-reliable George Pal, the best of the 1950’s alien invasion genre.

Them! (1954) – The (I think) first and best of the giant monster genre (in this case, ants). Eeny-weeny bit part for Leonard Nimoy, as well.

The Thing (1982) – (Yes, this list goes to 11, so what?) John Carpenter’s incredibly tense remake of the 1950’s film, based on a John W. Campbell short story, Who Goes There? After all this time, and hundreds of viewings, I still jump at one scene in particular (you know the one I mean).

Well, that’s it, although I could have included hundreds of films I love for one reason or another – The Maltese Falcon, Brazil, Gojira, and so on.

If anyone is interested, let’s hear from you – what are your favourites? Let the debate begin! (I hope)

It’s a Flash Fact.


4 thoughts on “The Greatest Films of All Time?

  1. Not gonna give you any film…..

    But will give, what I think is a much better method.

    I like using Metacritics top 200.


    While there is some bias in the original rankings of individual reviews after that it’s the aggregate, and for well reviewed movies it looks to shake down pretty well (and I’ve found some gems I would have missed completely…..ie. the 2006 Lassie with , yes, Peter O’Toole! – ok I gave you one film).

    Only crummy part – because the archiving of the reviews is, as far as I can tell, based purely on what is made available digitally by the reviewers’/ reviewing publications themselves, the list is highly skewed to the more recent stuff…..

    Maybe I should clarify – I use it find stuff; I don’t really care that much about the difference between, say, number 17 and number 117).



  2. Cheese has its own appeal – I own a VHS copy of “Plan 9 from Outer Space”. Plus, I’m a sucker for men in rubber suits stomping miniature Tokyo.
    I’ve been a huge fan of “Mystery Science Theater 3000″ for many years – if anyone out there hasn’t seen it, I highly recommend checking it out. There are tons of clips and full movies on Google Video. This is my favourite:”Pod People”.


  3. Speaking of MST3K, Flash – I don’t know if you were aware of it, but Mike Nelson has resurfaced on the Web providing downloadable commentaries with some other MST3K alumni and other celebrity guests – you can check it out at Rifftrax. To continue, my top ten in no particular order:

    1. The Princess Bride – has some of my favourite underappreciated actors (Peter Falk, Mandy Patinkin, and Wallace Shawn) in it, plus it just has some of the best throwaway lines.

    2. Blues Brothers – see above for throwaway lines, and some great musical cameos.

    3. Star Wars (a New Hope) – the original first movie, Hans shooting first and all, before George Lucas decided to start peeing in the kiddy pool of my childhood memories.

    4. Raiders of the Lost Ark – before Spielberg decided to do the same with the latest one (really – Aliens in an Indy film? – it’s just wrong).

    5. The Dark Knight – Heath Ledger defined how the Joker is meant to be played in this one. An excellent performance by Aaron Eckhart as Two-Face, and the return of Christian Bale and Michael Caine as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Alfred was just icing on the cake.

    6. Casablanca – the original movie. We will ignore the TV series with David Soul, and never speak of it again. We will also ignore the literary sequel that was written by Michael Walsh.

    7. War of the Worlds – the George Pal version, the Spielbert version shall never be spoken of.

    8. Seven Samurai – as you said, a classic Kurosawa masterpiece.

    9. Lord of the Rings – As a long-time Tolkien fan, when I heard they were making these movies, my only hope was ‘Don’t let them screw it up’ – thankfully, Peter Jackson must have heard me.

    10. And finally, my bit o’ cheese – a film called ‘Sword and the Sorceror’, a movie that could only be described as someone’s homemade D&D adventure made into a movie. I mean, when you have a 6’6″ Jamaican Pirate named Captain Morgan, you can only express your admiration that they managed to get this past a studio head to be made.

    11. (Yeah, this one goes to 11 too – actually, I haven’t seen more than clips from it yet, and really it’s a documentary, but I have to give a shout out to a film whose subject is my all-time favourite science-fiction author – I know the other authors of this blog have expressed admiration for Michael Moore and Bill Maher, but if you want the original shit-disturber, Harlan Ellison’s your Man.

    Well, there’s my list, Flash – I grant you there’s some overlap, but I remind you that a sure sign of genius in someone is how much he agrees with you….


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