AFI 100 (1998 version)

The American Film Institute’s 100 YEARS, 100 FILMS


1: Citizen Kane (1941) 100
[ review ]


2: Casablanca (1942) 100
[ review ]


3: The Godfather (1972) 100
[ review ]


4: Gone with the Wind (1939) 95
[ review ]


5: Lawrence of Arabia (1962) 66
[ review ]


6: The Wizard of Oz (1939) 93
[ review ]


7: The Graduate (1967) 94
[ review ]


8: On the Waterfront (1954) 93
[ review ]


9: Schindler’s List (1993) 95
[ review ]


10: Singin’ in the Rain (1952) 100
[ review ]


11: It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) 94
[ review ]

12: Sunset Boulevard (1950) 95
[ Part film noir and part Hollywood satire, this endlessly rewarding film is about the events that led to a homicide in a mansion on the titular road, as recounted by the dead victim! Played by the great William Holden, Joe Gillis is a struggling screenwriter who enters a bizarre relationship with half-mad has been silent film star Norma Desmond, unforgettably portrayed by Gloria Swanson. Gillis also entertains a flirtation with Betty Schaefer (Nancy Olson), a cute reader on the Paramount lot, but Norma has her claws too deep in him to allow her gigolo a chance at a normal life… Boasting exquisitely pulpy dialogue (and narration) and expressionistic B&W cinematography, “Sunset Blvd.” is truly one of the greats. ]

13: The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) 62
[ Alec Guinness leads a company of British P.O.W.s in occupied Burma who are forced by a Japanese madman to build a railway bridge in this classic WWII film. Shot in CinemaScope, on location in the Ceyton jungle, with hundreds of extras and what might be the largest set ever built for a movie, this 160 minute beast is pure David Lean, for better or worse. I have a feeling I’d be more appreciative of his films if given the opportunity to see them on the big screen. On a small TV, you clearly lose on the epic aspect of the filmmaking, and the slow storytelling can be a chore. Guinness and the Japanese colonel spend almost an hour arguing whether officers should do manual labor. Is this such an important principle? Hundreds of soldiers are worked to death, but the half dozen officers get out of it, whoop-dee-doo. Then the British decide to take the bridge-building seriously and be the most productive possible for their enemy (???) and, as soon as the bridge is finished, Allied commandos blow it up! What was that all about? Goes to show how pointless war is, I guess. The movie’s well crafted and I like William Holden’s smart-ass character, but I don’t feel this is “one of the most memorable cinematic experiences of all time”, as the back of the DVD promises. ]

14: Some Like It Hot (1959) 94
[ This is the best comedy of all time according to the American Film Institute. That might be pushing it a bit (I’m partial to “Dr. Strangelove” or “The Producers” myself), but there’s no denying that this is an incredibly witty and enjoyable flick. It starts off like a gritty gangster film in prohibition era Chicago with car chases and shoot-outs and a raid on an illegal booze joint, but the tone lightens up considerably when the story shifts to Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon as musicians who escape all the surrounding mayhem by taking a gig in Florida… in an all-girl band! The back-and-forth between the two actors in drag is very amusing and supporting actress Marilyn Monroe? Zowie! Now that’s a woman! But she’s also got great comic timing, overflowing charm and a great singing voice to boot. ]


15: Star Wars (1977) 90
[ review ]

16: All About Eve (1950) 93
[ When Broadway star Margo Channing (Bette Davis) meets borderline stalker Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), who comes to see her perform in her latest play every night, they hit it off and Eve becomes Margo’s “sister, lawyer, mother, friend, psychiatrist and cop”. But soon enough the honeymoon’s over and the claws come out, as Eve’s initially flattering attempts to become like her idol reveal to be the makings of a cunning coup. Full of bitingly clever dialogue and note-perfect acting, “All About Eve” is a brilliant satire of clashing egos, backstage brouhaha and diva behaviour. “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” ]

17: The African Queen (1951) 90
[ Movie star heaven, with Humphrey Bogart doing his gruff man’s man boat captain against Katherine Hepburn’s sophisticated English lady. Laughs, thrills and sensuality ensue as the two come across white water rapids, wild animals and German soldiers. “I never dreamed a mere physical experience could be so stimulating!” ]


18: Psycho (1960) ???
[ This is the second time that I decide not to give a rating to a film. The first time was for Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”. The thing with these two films is that I just couldn’t decide if they were truly great or not. I’m aware that they’re timeless classics that were masterfully directed by brilliant filmmakers, and that the logical thing would be to reward these masterpieces with high ratings. The problem is that these two films are… Well, kinda boring to me. Then again, I haven’t watched them since my late teens, so the wise thing might be to revisit them in the near future. ]

19: Chinatown (1974) 88
[ This late addition to the film noir tradition has Jack Nicholson playing a private eye in Depression era Southern California who stumbles upon a political scandal involving the Water Department. This is a tight, tight picture, well written, well acted, well shot and well scored, full of surprising twists and gritty confrontations – how about “midget” Polanski cutting Jack’s nostril! ]


20: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) 92
[ review ]

21: The Grapes of Wrath (1940) 84
[ Your family’s been living, working and dying on this land for generations and now the Man comes in with a piece of paper and wants to take it away? As if the harshness of the Oklahoma “dust bowls” wasn’t enough… Tom Joad and his folks pack up and head for California, hoping for greener pastures, but they only find more sorrow and abuse from the Man. This classic slice of old Hollywood moviemaking is a gripping adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Some of the supporting players overact a storm, but their heart is in the right place and Henry Fonda’s slow-burn performance elevates everything around him. “Wherever you can look – wherever there’s a fight, so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there.” ]


22: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) ???
[ What am I supposed to do with this film? Is it a masterpiece or a bore? Could it be both? In a way, it is indeed truly great. The storyline is very ambitious, attempting to tell the story of humanity from the Dawn of Man to the future, into deep space. Kubrick’s direction is brilliant, the camerawork is inventive, there are countless beautiful shots, and the special effects are excellent for the time. But… It’s so slow! I think it’s the most actionless, even motionless film I’ve ever seen! Then again, I haven’t watched it since my late teens, so the wise thing might be to revisit it in the near future. ]

23: The Maltese Falcon (1941) 95
[ The first collaboration between John Huston and Humphrey Bogart (who also worked together on other brilliant films like “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” and “The African Queen”) is also Huston’s first picture and, by many accounts, the first film noir. The opening scroll and its mentions of Knight Templars and pirates having been involved with the titular priceless token instantly grabs your attention, the opening scene with private dick Sam Spade rolling a cigarette then meeting with a female client quickly seals the deal, then the twists start unrolling like wildfire and there’s no turning back. The smoky B&W cinematography, the moody score, the hard-boiled dialogue, the femme fatale (“What else is there that I can buy you with?”), the quirky supporting performances by Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet (who both turned out the next year with Bogie in “Casablanca”, probably not coincidentally) and the very Bogartitude of it all are simply intoxicating. It’s a cliché to say that they don’t make them like this anymore, but damn! Every single beat of this yarn is awesome, there’s none of the filler and nonsense that make up so many of the movies today. Sam Spade is one of the coolest characters ever – as the Fat Man tells him at one point, “There’s never any telling what you’ll say or do next, except that it’s bound to be something astonishing.” ]

24: Raging Bull (1980) 92
[ A brilliantly crafted character study with some of the most stunning boxing scenes ever shot and blistering performances by Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. What’s more brutal: the violence in the ring, or the one at home, back in the Bronx? Jake La Motta’s rage is a plus in his boxing career, but it means trouble when he carries it with him in his relations with women, his brother and just about everybody else. This is Scorsese at his best, in form, with virtuoso B&W cinematography and editing, and in content, with another raw yet profound “street-smart” screenplay by Paul Schrader and some of the best acting you’ll ever see. Pesci and De Niro have become self-parodies, but their back-and-forth here is incredibly intense and multi-layered, the two brothers’ relationship being rough, tender, sad, sometimes all at once. The fight scenes are unglamorous, all blood and sweat, hardly Rocky-like inspirational; this is more like something out of German expressionism, with Sugar Ray Robinson looming like an African-American Nosferatu! And then there’s the pathetic third act, with De Niro/La Motta all fat, doing bad stand-up… A truly great biopic. ]


25: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) 97
[ review ]


26: Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) 97
[ review ]

27: Bonnie and Clyde (1967) 69
[ During the Great Depression, an “ignorant, uneducated hillbilly” and “the best damn girl in Texas” are hot for each other, the road and cold hard cash. Armed robberies as foreplay? A life of crime as the only true romance? This is bullshit, but spectacular bullshit that serves the movies well (see also: “Badlands”, “Natural Born Killers”, etc.). Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway look sharp, talk in sexy Southern accents, stick-up banks and drive stolen cars as bluegrass pursuit music blares on! It’s all good… until it isn’t. Clyde ain’t quite the stud he seems to be, Bonnie has wild mood swings and, inevitably, people get killed. Grim stuff, but the movie can also be a lot of fun, like during the hilarious Gene Wilder cameo. “I’m an undertaker!” ]


28: Apocalypse Now (1979) 100
[ review ]

29: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) 87
[ James Stewart is wonderful in this inspirational political fable about an earnest senator’s day-long stand for what he believes in, in spite of his opponents’ cheap tricks. Pure Capra. ]

30: Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) 89
[ Humphrey Bogart is riveting as a down-on-his-luck American in Mexico who takes on prospecting with fellow bum Tim Holt and old-timer Walter Huston. They must face bandits, exhaustion and the paranoid fear of being robbed of one’s share by the others. This is classic studio moviemaking, well-oiled entertainment that never misses a beat but also has a thing or two to say about the darker chambers of the human heart. ]


31: Annie Hall (1977) 95
[ review ]


32: The Godfather Part II (1974) 86
[ review ]

33: High Noon (1952) 70
[ This black and white Western is kinda square, with Gary Cooper’s Marshall walking around like he’s got a stick up his ass and Grace Kelly being all self-righteous (she plays a Quaker) and pretty (oh so pretty). But the plot’s clock (an infamous bandit is coming to kill Cooper on the noon train and the movie counts down the hour until then in real time) builds up a lot of suspense, there are some interesting morality issues (Cooper refuses to flee, even though no one in town will stick his neck out for him) and I love the recurrent theme song (the Oscar-winning Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin’. ]

34: To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) 97
[ One of the greats, it conveys an essential message about racial harmony with grace and intelligence. Gregory Peck is the father everyone wishes he had. ]

35: It Happened One Night (1934) 62
[ “Remember me? I’m the fella you slept on last night.”
Clark Gable stars as a flippant newshound who hooks up on a night bus to New York with a spoiled brat (Claudette Colbert) running away from her father. This is an old-fashioned romantic comedy, pairing a wisecracking leading man matched with a dame who can snap back at him – it’s “When Harry Met Sally” 50 years early. The plot is thin and the characters aren’t very complex, but Colbert and Gable have chemistry and the banter between them is enjoyable. ]


36: Midnight Cowboy (1969) 90
[ review ]

37: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

38: Double Indemnity (1944) 94
[ Hard-boiled narration, light coming in through venitian blinds, a dame who’s “not fully covered”… This is noir alright, but with Billy Wilder’s cynical sense of humor offsetting things. Right from their first exchange, sparks are flying between Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck:

Phyllis: Mr. Neff, why don’t you drop by tomorrow evening about eight-thirty. He’ll be in then.
Walter Neff: Who?
Phyllis: My husband. You were anxious to talk to him weren’t you?
Walter Neff: Yeah, I was, but I’m sort of getting over the idea, if you know what I mean.
Phyllis: There’s a speed limit in this state, Mr. Neff. Forty-five miles an hour.
Walter Neff: How fast was I going, officer?
Phyllis: I’d say around ninety.
Walter Neff: Suppose you get down off your motorcycle and give me a ticket.
Phyllis: Suppose I let you off with a warning this time.
Walter Neff: Suppose it doesn’t take.
Phyllis: Suppose I have to whack you over the knuckles.
Walter Neff: Suppose I bust out crying and put my head on your shoulder.
Phyllis: Suppose you try putting it on my husband’s shoulder.
Walter Neff: That tears it.

Ouch! Then it just gets hotter, scene after scene until… You wouldn’t want to get into this kind of deal because it can only end badly, then again, that very danger is part of the turn-on of a femme fatale! This is genius, from the B&W to the acting, the great lines (courtesy of Wilder and co-writer Raymond Chandler) and the music. Insurance fraud, the perfect murder, an intuitive boss who never has a match for his cigars, “a crazy story with a crazy twist”. Doesn’t get much better than this. ]

39: Doctor Zhivago (1965) 70
[ As I’ve suggested before, either DVD doesn’t do justice to David Lean’s vision or it’s me who doesn’t get it. Watching a film like “Doctor Zhivago”, I certainly admire the majestic Maurice Jarre score, the masterful cinematography and the epic scope of the picture, but I can’t say I fell in love with it like I did with, say, “Double Indemnity”, which might have made an easier transition to the small screen. It’s too bad, because there are a lot of elements that I did love: the bookends with the imposing Alec Guiness (who also provides sparse but cutting narration through the feature), Rod Steiger’s cynical views on mankind (“There are two kinds of men and only two. And that young man is one kind. He is high-minded. He is pure. He’s the kind of man the world pretends to look up to, and in fact despises. He is the kind of man who breeds unhappiness, particularly in women. Do you understand? I think you do. There’s another kind. Not high-minded, not pure, but alive. Now, that your tastes at this time should incline towards the juvenile is understandable; but for you to marry that boy would be a disaster. Because there’s two kinds of women. There are two kinds of women and you, as we well know, are not the first kind. You, my dear, are a slut.”), the palpable dread of the World War I and Russian Revolution sequences, the misery and pseudo-socialist tyranny of Communism… Yet my experience felt incomplete. I haven’t read the Boris Pasternak novel, but on screen there seems to be whole pages missing. We’re rushed through History and the characters’ lives, often being told about greatly dramatic events instead of them being shown to us. Still, we can understand why Omar Sharif’s Zhivago longs for Julie Christie’s Lara – she’s a mess, but oh so fascinating. I wish the film had opened up to me more, but polite admiration is all it got from me. ]


40: North by Northwest (1959) 75
[ review ]


41: West Side Story (1961) 95
[ review ]

42: Rear Window (1954) 95
[ Another great James Stewart film but in quite a different register. Stewart plays a wheelchair-bound magazine photographer who fights boredom by looking out the window into the apartments of his neighbours: the newlyweds, the sexy ballet dancer, the lonely single woman, the pianist… the murderer? This makes for one of the most voyeuristic and suspenseful films Alfred Hitchcock ever directed. “Rear Window” is packed with virtuoso visual storytelling, managing to remain absolutely engrossing even though we never leave Stewart’s tiny little apartment. It doesn’t hurt that his girlfriend is played by the most beautiful woman in the world, Grace Kelly, who never looked better than in this movie. That first close-up of her when she bends to kiss Stewart would make anyone’s heart melt. ]

43: King Kong (1933) 65
[ Foolish white film crew invades primitive black tribe’s island to shoot legendary giant monkey, but serves as dinosaur lunch instead. Meanwhile, Kong gets hot for Fay Wray (who can blame him?) and chases her all the way to New York and to its own doom. Kick ass, brutal stop-motion action more or less makes up for deadly dull human drama, but I still wouldn’t call this a masterpiece. ]

44: The Birth of a Nation (1915) ???
[ An extreme case of dichotomy between artistic genius and abject morality. You want to praise this as early cinema’s most important film, with DW Griffith basically laying out all the bases of camerawork and editing still in use today, but at the same time one wants to throw this ode to the KKK in the darkest pile of cinematic trash. ]


45: A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) 93
[ review ]


46: A Clockwork Orange (1971) 92
[ review ]


47: Taxi Driver (1976) 100
[ review ]

48: Jaws (1975) 94
[ Watching this again, more than forty years after it exploded as the first modern Hollywood blockbuster, one can appreciate more than ever the way Spielberg keeps the shark unseen for most of the film and how much time and care he puts in developing Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw’s characters and the way they play off each other. This may not have quite the visceral impact it must have had back then, but it’s still totally badass, with so endless quotable dialogue, iconic shots, memorable scenes… The first half is a quasi horror movie, with a shark slasher stalking the waters around Amity Island. Then the second half is this awesome adventure film, with the central going out at sea on the Orca to kill that damn Bruce. “Jaws” is pretty much a perfect picture, with confident, gripping storytelling, masterful mise en scène, great performances and that classic John Williams score. One of Spielberg’s all-time best. ]

49: Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs (1937) 86
[ I remembered how beautiful and colorful the animation is (gotta love all the cute animals) and how goofy them dwarfs are, but I’d forgotten how evil that Stepmother Queen is: “Kill Snow White and bring back her heart in this box”? Damn! And is it just me or Snow White sounds like she’s a “very special” princess? In any case, this remains a truly charming picture. ]

50: Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid (1969)

51: The Philadelphia Story (1940) 93
[ Katharine Hepburn as a spoiled socialite about to get remarried, Cary Grant as her bitter ex-husband and James Stewart as a snobbish tabloid reporter: quite the cast, isn’t it? This old-fashioned yet incisive romantic comedy is a bit stiff, looking every bit like the filmed play it basically is, but the flawless performances and the wise and witty dialogue more than make up for it. And this that rare movie romance where you actually don’t know who will win the woman’s heart until the very last minute. ]

52: From Here to Eternity (1953)

53: Amadeus (1984) 84
[ Salieri (F. Murray Abraham, in one of the most incendiary “super-villain” performances I’ve ever seen) is chaste and devoted while Mozart (Tom Hulce, irreverent) is a “giggling, dirty-minded creature”. Then why would God give the latter the greater musical genius? This is the fascinating mystery at the heart of this peculiar historic biopic, less a conventional costume drama than a comedy of manners and cruel irony. Even more so, this is an astounding tribute to Mozart’s music, deconstructing and reconstructing it to glorious effect. ]

54: All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)


55: The Sound of Music (1965) 93
[ review ]

56: MASH (1970) ???
[ This a totally chaotic and unkempt mess, with nary a plot or character development in sight. This is supposed to reflect the craziness of working as surgeons in the Korean war, I guess, and I understand that what Bob Altman was doing (improvised scenes, overlapping dialogue, guerrilla-style filmmaking) was revolutionary at the time – in Hollywood, at least, because the French Nouvelle Vague was up to the same tricks ten years earlier. Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould are vaguely entertaining, but the movie itself isn’t that funny. ]


57: The Third Man (1949) 94
[ review ]

58: Fantasia (1940) 90
[ Forget the American Idol and the Montreal film festival of the same name, THIS is “Fantasia”. Walt Disney’s imagination spawned countless cultural landmarks, but this might be his most brilliant creation. This series of cartoons inspired by classical pieces of music is kind of like the high art ancestor of MTV. From the abstraction of Toccata and Fugue in D minor to the colourful fairies flying to The Nutcracker Suite, from Mickey Mouse’s unforgettable embodiment of The Sorceror’s Apprentice to the life and death of dinosaurs in The Rite of Spring, from the mythological creatures of The Pastoral Symphony to the Dance of the Hours by hippos in tutus and crocos in capes (!), all the way to the Devil’s Night on Bald Mountain and the elegiac retreat to Ave Maria, this “concert feature” is an astonishing experience. Who needs hallucinogens when you can just watch this trippy flick? ]

59: Rebel Without a Cause (1955) 74
[ This is pure ‘50s Americana cinema, with the Cinemascope, the Technicolor (or actually Warnercolor), the swelling score, the Method acting and, of course, James Dean. The gone too soon actor plays the ultimate angry young man, getting drunk, getting up in his father’s face and getting into knife fights, car races and other trouble. There’s also some rather obvious gay subtext going on, especially through Dean’s relationship with the Sal Mineo character. “Hey, you wanna come home with me. There’s nobody at my house and, heck, I’m not tired…” The film might be overly melodramatic, but it still resonates. ]


60: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) 93
[ review ]


61: Vertigo (1958) 100
[ review ]

62: Tootsie (1982) 35
[ I had a hard time getting into this movie. The first act is so inside-ball that it will mostly appeal to viewers who are struggling actors themselves. Dustin Hoffman plays an actor who’s talented but so difficult that no one will hire him, so he decides to put on a wig and become a new man – a wo-man, that is. Second act swings for broader situation comedy, with Hoffman experiencing various mishaps as a female soap opera star. These scenes are mildly entertaining, but I can’t say I laughed at all. Last act about how Dustin becomes a better man after living as a woman is well-meaning, but still nothing particularly inspired. There’s nothing here that wasn’t done a hundred times better in “Some Like it Hot”. ]

63: Stagecoach (1939) 73
[ A stagecoach must ride through Apache country, but the greatest challenge might be for the mismatched passengers to get along. The interaction between the “gentleman” gambler, the soldier’s wife, the drunken doctor, the whore, the banker and the Ringo Kid (a young John Wayne, already iconic) is indeed the most enjoyable thing about this classic B&W Western, though the impending threat does add suspense. And when the attack comes, it’s exciting and full of badass stunts. ]


64: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) 91
[ review ]


65: The Silence of the Lambs (1991) 93
[ review ]

66: Network (1976) 63
[ Peter Finch’s posthumously Oscar-winning turn as a news anchorman turned mad prophet is riveting and the satire of the television world is incisive, but the film is loose, all over the place and uneven. Could have used a good rewrite. ]


67: The Manchurian Candidate (1962) 92
[ review ]

68: An American in Paris (1951) 61
[ The story is paper thin and the romance doesn’t work, but the song and dance numbers are pretty great. ]

69: Shane (1953)

70: The French Connection (1971) 90
[ In France, he guy walks around, buys a baguette, goes home and gets shot in the face. Back in the New York, Roy Scheider and Gene Hackman (the latter dressed as Santa Claus!) run after a “nigger”, then rough him up. Later, our two cops tail a “greaser”, just because he looks suspicious… 20 minutes into the movie, we don’t really know what’s going on, except that the protagonists seem to be antiheroes and that director William Friedkin has a knack for making everything feel tense and gritty. Scheider and Hackman do stakeouts, listen to wiretaps, follow people around… But again, for a long time, we’re not sure what they’re after and the thing is, maybe they don’t either. They just have a hunch or something. Yet thanks to the way each scene is shot, cut and scored, it remains engrossing. “The French Connection” is basically a feature-length chase scene, culminating with the famous sequence in which Hackman tries to catch up to a train in a car. Add a few shootouts and you get one of the best action films of the 70s. ]


71: Forrest Gump (1994) 100
[ review ]

72: Ben-Hur (1959)
73: Wuthering Heights (1939)

74: The Gold Rush (1925) 60
[ Maybe this shoots down whatever credibility I have as a critic, but I just don’t find Charlie Chaplin particularly funny. Oh, I can see his physical skills and sense of timing, and the sentimental beats always touch me but in general this kind of slapstick leaves me cold. ]

75: Dances with Wolves (1990) ???
[ Saw this on VHS back in the day with my parents… I might have fell asleep… Obviously, I need to see it again! ]

76: City Lights (1931) 65
[ Most of this other “timeless classic” of Chaplin didn’t make much of an impression on me but I have to say, the ending is absolutely marvelous. ]

77: American Graffiti (1973) 46
[ review ]


78: Rocky (1976) 91
[ review ]


79: The Deer Hunter (1978) 92
[ review ]


80: The Wild Bunch (1969) 91
[ review ]

81: Modern Times (1936) 70
[ A clock (time is money!), titles (“A story of industry, of individual enterprise – humanity crusading in the pursuit of happiness”), then a shot of cattle fading into one of workers rushing out of a subway station! Not very subtle, but an effective opening to this whimsical anti-capitalism / pro-proletariat comedy. I’ve never found the Tramp’s pratfalls particularly funny, but I do admire Chaplin’s physical prowess and the heartfelt, unpretentious way he expresses his convictions. And how cool is it that there’s actually a scene here where he’s high on cocaine and beats up escaping convicts? ]

82: Giant (1956) 79
[ Rock Hudson goes East to buy a stallion and comes back with a beautiful young bride (Liz Taylor). They settle in his giant Texas ranch and learn to deal with the heat, the cows, the Mexican workers, children, grandchildren… and Jett (Jimmy Dean), a headstrong ranch hand who grows up to be an oil tycoon. You can probably guess that mucho drama will come out of all this, building up to an epic saga spanning decades. This is classic but engrossing storytelling, set against a breathtaking backdrop and driven by gorgeous movie stars like they don’t make them anymore. This is kind of a thematic cousin of “Gone With the Wind”; it’s not quite as (Techni)colorful and unforgettable as Scarlett and Rhett’s Song of the South, but Hudson, Taylor and Dean are certainly iconic in their own right. And how about that hamburger joint fisticuff! ]

83: Platoon (1986) ???
[ Saw this a long time ago, so my memory is hazy… I remember some iconic shots, great acting… But also a feeling that this is no “Apocalypse Now”. ]


84: Fargo (1996) 95
[ review ]

85: Duck Soup (1933) 81
[ Groucho Marx is appointed dictator of Freedonia in this endlessly witty and silly political satire. Groucho’s rapid-fire zingers always hit and the perfectly timed physical comedy bits (the lemonade stand, the mirror scene…) are hilarious. ]

86: Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

87: Frankenstein (1931) 65
[ “Bride of Frankenstein” is obviously a much more inventive and effective film, but James Whale’s first dig at the Mary Shelley creation offers its share of creepiness and pathos, and you gotta love the atmospheric cinematography, the dramatic sets and the intense performances by Colin Clive as the mad scientist and Boris Karloff as the monster. ]


88: Easy Rider (1969) 91
[ review ]

89: Patton (1970)
90: The Jazz Singer (1927)
91: My Fair Lady (1964)
92: A Place in the Sun (1951)

93: The Apartment (1960) 90
[ Funny, charming and smart if old fashioned. Jack Lemmon and Shirley Maclaine are adorable and I love that the ending is left open. ]


94: GoodFellas (1990) 94
[ review ]


95: Pulp Fiction (1994) 100
[ review ]

96: The Searchers (1956) 64
[ John Wayne’s Ethan Edwards is a man on a mission. After Comanches massacre his kin and kidnap his young niece, he goes out after them and nothing will stop him. Some have accused the film of being racist, but I don’t think so. John Wayne’s character certainly hates “Injuns”, but the film doesn’t necessarily approve of it. He’s clearly drawn as an anti-hero, an obsessed man who will get the girl away from the Comanches even if that means he has to kill her. Wayne is riveting in the role, which makes up for some of the weak supporting cast, lame comic relief and the staged feeling of many of the scenes. I don’t reckon this really is one of the great Westerns, but Wayne’s performance is a must-see. ]

97: Bringing Up Baby (1938) 44
[ I’m generally quite fond of old American movies, but I had much trouble sitting through this “classic” screwball comedy. The humor seemed rather contrived to me and Katherine Hepburn’s manipulative loudmouth and Cary Grant’s stuffy nerd of a zoologist quickly grow obnoxious. I didn’t root for them to hook up, I just wanted them to shut up! The leopard’s pretty cool, though. ]


98: Unforgiven (1992) 93
[ review ]

99: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) 91
[ “He thinks you’re gonna faint because he’s a Negro.”
This old-fashioned yet still relevant meet-the-parents dramedy boasts irresistible performances from the ever charismatic Sidney Poitier, bubbly Katharine Houghton, commanding Kate Hepburn and thoughtful Spencer Tracy. Every character is complex and endearing and the interaction between them is involving from the first to the last minute, even though you could accuse the film of being little more than a TV sitcom. ]

100: Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)