Great Movies





10 Masterpieces of World Cinema Every Movie Fan Should See

11 April 2014 Features, Film Lists by Emilio Santoni

world cinema masterpieces

If you are serious about your love for cinema, you have got to know your essentials so it would be nice to compile a list of ten undisputed masterpieces from ten different nations. If you are a real cinema aficionado, you might have already seen all of these but maybe there are few that are still on your list of shame (i.e. classics you have missed). If you are a new lover of the art of film and haven’t seen all that much yet, these ten films are a great starting point.

It is of course impossible to be even remotely comprehensive when compiling such a list as many of these nations have produced a plethora of classic films and there are nations, which haven’t even been mentioned because we chose to stick to only ten. But for what it’s worth, you simply cannot go wrong with any of these ten movies and anybody with a serious passion for cinema would be advised to see all of them. At some point. Note: movies on this list are ranked in no particular order.

1. Germany – M (Fritz Lang – 1931)

m 1931

Fritz Lang’s first feature with sound, which he wrote with his wife Thea von Harbou, is an early example of a technically accomplished sound film and became a worldwide hit. The film was one of Lang’s last films in Germany before he departed to the United States in 1933 after having been offered to direct Nazi propaganda films by Josef Goebbles, who was unaware of his Jewish heritage.

The movie tells the story of a mentally ill child murderer, played by Peter Lorre in a magnificent breakthrough performance, who in 1930s Berlin is eluding police as they round up every criminal in the city they can find. This causes the Berlin underworld considerable grief and they decide to form their own hunting parties and when the killer is discovered, a young man manages to mark Lorre with a white chalk letter “M” (for Murderer) on the back of his coat. When Lorre is eventually caught, he is taken to a kangaroo court, where the Berlin underworld puts him on trial whilst the police is closing in.

m lang

Shot in expressive black and white, which manages to create a sinister nightly world with deep dark shadows in combination with remarkably fluid camera movement, the film also features fantastic use of sound; the killer is characterised by the tune he whistles and the murder of a child is not shown directly but suggested by a mother’s desperate cries and images of the child’s ball and balloon left abandoned. The film also has an almost documentary-type feel as it meticulously details the police’s procedures (using the then new techniques of fingerprinting and handwriting analysis). Also, there is an absence of non-diegetic music and some parts were actually played by real-life criminals for authenticity.

M is an undisputed masterpiece and Lorre’s monologue towards the end of the movie, as he pleads for his life in front of the kangaroo court, is simply one of the best monologues ever put on film. As well as being a film that bridges the silent era to the sound era of film, M’s German expressionism verges towards elements of Film Noir (Fritz Lang would go on to make a few Film Noir classics in the U.S. later on). M is a towering achievement and a must-see for any serious film buff.

2. Italy – The Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica – 1948)


Arguably the best Italian neorealist film ever made and certainly one in the upper echelon of world cinema, The Bicycle Thieves is a classic in the truest sense of the word. Italian neorealism was a post WWII film movement, which used location shooting, non-professional actors and dealt with the hard economic conditions of the working class during this time.

A poor family man, at the end of his tether, finally finds a job putting up posters in the days immediately after the end of World War II. The job, however, requires a bicycle and as the family have nothing of value left, they decide to pawn their bed sheets in order to be able to buy a bicycle. On the first day of the job, the bicycle is stolen which starts a frantic search by the father and his young son through the streets of Rome, attempting to find their sole means of survival.

The Bicycle Thieves

The film works on many levels: as a document of its era, as a sentimental drama, as clear social commentary and as a prime example of the neorealist movement; which was born out of necessity in post-WWII in Italy as there were simply no means to make movies. Filmmakers were forced to tell simple stories dealing with the after-effects of the war on ordinary poor people, whilst shooting on location and with non-professional actors. This movie received the Oscar for Best Foreign Film seven years before they officially came up with that category; it’s that good!

3. India – The Music Room (Satyajit Ray – 1958)

The Music Room

Satyajit Ray, India’s most celebrated director, was at the height of his game in the late fifties. After he made the first two entries in his renowned Apu Trilogy, he managed to find the time to direct The Music Room before finishing his trilogy in 1959. The Music Room was a failure upon its initial release but it has since taken its place amongst Ray’s greatest works. Whilst the Apu Trilogy might be his best known and most critically praised work, I decided to select The Music Room for this list as it is a stand-alone film and is just as good as any of the films in the Apu Trilogy.

It tells the story of Huzur Biswambhar Roy (Chhabi Biswas), a middle-aged aristocrat in India. Huzur’s fortunes are waning but he holds on to his pride and tries to maintain his social status and heritage by throwing lavish music parties in his mansion’s music room, even though he cannot afford them. His wife tries to keep him from spending their last resources but Huzur doesn’t listen and spends huge amounts of money on a party for their son who is coming of age. Then tragedy strikes and Huzur goes into deep depression until a shrill social-climber tries to outdo him and he decides to give one last grand party in his music room.

The Music Room 1958

The film initially received poor reviews in India but when it was released in the West, it was met with critical acclaim and financial success. The first film to extensively use Indian classical music and dancing, the film features a number of truly memorable performances by some of India’s top musicians at the time. A stunning drama with a marvellous performance by Chhabi Biswas, who manages to make an extremely arrogant and foolhardy man remain sympathetic throughout the entire film, and an analogy for a class which was disappearing from India, The Music Room is certified classic cinema and just as stunning as Ray’s celebrated Apu Trilogy.

4. France – La Grande Illusion (Jean Renoir – 1937)


One of the best war movies (or like all great war movies, an anti-war movie) ever made, La Grande Illusion is a humanistic masterpiece of poetic realism.

The story deals with two French men, one an aristocrat called de Boeldieu (Pierre Fresnay), the other a working class man called Maréchal (Jean Gabin), whose plane is shot down by German aristocratic aviator von Rauffenstein (Erich von Stroheim) during World War I. They survive and are invited for lunch by von Rauffenstein, who discovers he shares mutual acquaintances with the French aristocrat; a clear sign that these men might have more in common than they differ from each other. Both men are then transported to a POW camp where amongst others, they meet a French Jew called Rosenthal who generously shares his food rations with others. They make various plans to escape but just before they finish an escape tunnel, everybody is transported to another camp.

The men are moved to a few different camps and finally end up at Wintersborn; a mountain fortress prison commanded by Von Rauffenstein. During the time of incarceration, the two aristocrats from different nations almost become friends until Boeldieu acts as a distraction in order to let his friends escape, and von Rauffenstein is forced to shoot him. He regrets this greatly and as he nurses de Boeldieu during his last hours, the men mourn the disappearance of their class, which the war will bring about. Meanwhile, Maréchal and Rosenthal travel across Germany trying to reach safety until they finally reach Switzerland.

La Grande Illusion film

The title of the film was taken from the book The Great Illusion by economist Norman Angell, who argued that war was futile because of the common economic interests of all European nations. The film examines the absurdity of war, the decline of aristocracy across Europe and the bond of humanity which we all share. It has been said that Renoir specifically created the character of the Jewish Rosenthal as a symbol of humanity across class lines and to also counter the rise of anti-Semitism in Hitler’s Germany.

La Grande Illusion received a “Best Artistic Ensemble” prize at the 1937 Venice Film Festival despite being banned in Italy and Germany. However, the greatest acknowledgement of its potent message was that Joseph Goebbels declared the movie: “Cinematic Public Enemy No. 1″ and ordered all prints to be destroyed. One of the greatest films ever made and an absolute must-see for all lovers of cinema.

5. Japan – Tokyo Story (Yasujirô Ozu – 1953)


Tokyo Story is often seen as the crowning achievement of Japanese director Yasujirô Ozu’s oeuvre, a body of work which is littered with masterpieces anyway.

The story is deceptively simple: an elderly couple travels from their village to Tokyo to visit their children who live and work in the capital. Once there, it becomes obvious that their eldest son and daughter don’t have time for them as they are too busy with their respective jobs. The only person who actually takes time out for them is their widowed daughter-in-law, who treats them kindly and shows them the sights of the big city. Their older children arrange a visit to the Atami Hot Springs for their parents but they feel like they are just being kept out of the way and soon return to Tokyo disappointed. They decide to go back to their village but during the trip back the elderly mother gets gravely ill and it might be too late for their children to make amends.

Tokyo Story film

A story about modern urbanization and changing values in Japan after the war, Tokyo Story is a truly beautiful film in which the director, in his trademark style, focuses on the little details, often keeping the camera running after the actors have already left the frame. This quiet and silent approach, in combination with the static low-angle framing and the languid pace of the movie, have an almost meditative effect and the film gracefully depicts the relentless passing of time and man’s inevitable fate.

A true masterpiece of cinema, Tokyo Story often rightfully shows up in polls as one of the best films ever made. A film everybody should see at least once in their lives.

6. Russia – The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov – 1957)

The Cranes Are Flying

The Cranes Are Flying firmly re-established Soviet cinema in the West with its heartfelt depiction of the horrible effects of the Second World War on Russia and its citizens. The movie starred Tatiana Samoilova, who was propelled to stardom by the film and received various offers to continue her career in the West, but who never did so probably due to the political situation at the time.

The film revolves around Veronika, who is in love with Boris, at the onset of the war. As Russia enters the conflict, Boris enlists and leaves Veronika behind. He is killed whilst trying to save one of his fellow soldiers but is listed as “missing in action” and hence, his family and Veronika ponder his fate throughout the war. When Veronika’s parents are killed during a bombing, Boris’ father invites her to stay with his family, which consists of his wife, daughter and Boris’ cousin, Mark. Mark always had an eye on Veronika but she rejects him as she is waiting for Boris to return.

During another bombing however, Mark rapes her and she is shamed into marrying him even though the rest of the family disapproves of this. The family then needs to relocate further East and eventually learns that Boris has died in action. Ultimately Boris’ father discovers that Mark has lied about his reasons for not going to war and that he took advantage of Veronika, thereby shaming the whole family.

The Cranes Are Flying film

Stunningly shot in stark black and white and with signature virtuoso camerawork from director Mikhail Kalatozov and his regular cinematographer Sergey Urusevsky, The Cranes Are Flying was met with much critical acclaim in the West and won the 1958 Palme D’Or at Cannes (the only Russian film to do so). Tatiana Samoilova, whose startling beauty and formidable performance made her a crowd favourite and instant critical darling, also won an honorary prize at the festival. A dark drama about love, betrayal, war and its far-reaching effects, The Cranes Are Flying is an absolute highlight of post-World War II Russian cinema.

7. Spain – Viridiana (Luis Buñuel – 1961)


Luis Buñuel started his career with two surrealist masterpieces in the early thirties in France and challenged bourgeois morals and religion from the very start. After a brief period of filmmaking in his native Spain, he had to leave after Franco came into power and spent a few years in the United States before moving on to Mexico, where he continued making films again from 1947 onward. In 1961 he was invited back to Spain to direct his first feature in almost 25 years, which was to become Viridiana.

The film tells the story of a young novice, Viridiana (Sylvia Pinal), who, just before taking her vows to become a nun, is pressured by her Mother Superior into visiting her uncle Don Jaime (Fernando Rey), who has always provided for her. Upon arriving at his house, Don Jaime is struck by Viridiana’s resemblance to his deceased wife. The night before she is about to leave, Don Jaime asks her to wear his wife’s wedding dress and proceeds to drug her with the intention of raping her, although he doesn’t follow through on his plans. Nevertheless, he tells her the next morning that he took her virginity so that she cannot possibly go back to the convent.

When Viridiana is still intent on departing he admits he lied to her, leaving her unsure as to what actually happened the previous night. But when she is at the bus stop on her way back to the convent, police stop her and inform her that Don Jaime has hung himself. She then decides to go back to the house and invites a bunch of homeless beggars to come live there in order to do some good. When she leaves the house however, the beggars turn the place upside down and when she returns, some of them try to rape her. Although they don’t succeed, all these horrible experiences change Viridiana in fundamental ways and the movie ends with the suggestion that she might have lost her faith and beliefs.


After the film had already been sent to the Cannes film festival, Franco was unsuccessful in his attempts to withdraw the film. However, he did ban it in Spain where it wouldn’t be shown until 1977 because of its blatant attack on the Catholic Church and bourgeois values. The film even caught the attention of the Vatican and was deemed “blasphemous”. Despite all this, the film won the Palme D’Or at Cannes that year and is seen by many as Buñuel’s finest achievement. A wonderful sardonic attack on all that the Franco regime stood for, Viridiana still stands tall as one of Spain’s greatest cinematic achievements.

8. Sweden – The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman – 1957)


The fact that most people, even those who have never seen this film, will be familiar with its imagery through the countless references and parodies by other directors, is testament to the huge influence this Swedish masterpiece has had on the world of film. It is not often that such a highbrow work with existential themes so firmly entrenches itself into popular culture.

The film tells the story of Antonius Block, a 14th century knight played by Bergman regular Max von Sydow, who is returning home to Sweden with his nihilistic squire Jöns after having spent ten years fighting in the Crusades. Disillusioned by the lengthy war he fought and the plague which is ravaging his homeland, Block has started to have serious doubts about the existence of God.

But when he is visited by Death, who has come to claim him, Block is not yet prepared to leave this life and proposes to play a game of chess with Death for his soul; a game which lasts the remainder the film. As the knight and squire continue their journey to the knight’s castle they meet some actors, led by Jof, who holds simple beliefs in God. They all continue travelling together, encountering various folk who highlight the many shortcomings of religion.

The Seventh Seal film

Probably the hardest entry on this list, The Seventh Seal is in no way an easy film to watch. Both its direct approach of the subject matter as well as its inherent complexity, make The Seventh Seal a challenging viewing experience. Though the film’s themes of the existence of the God and the meaninglessness of life without God are religious ones, the film never really deals with God or religion directly but more with their place within the human experience.

The Seventh Seal won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and helped establish Bergman as a director of importance, especially in Europe, where the movie went on to win various awards. Over the next five years, in which he also released Wild Strawberries and The Virgin Spring, he would become the world’s best known Swedish director and auteur, which he remains until this day.

9. United Kingdom – Brief Encounter (David Lean – 1945)


A stunning romantic drama by David Lean, who is best known for his later epics like Lawrence of Arabia and Bridge on the River Kwai, and based on the play “Still Life” by his frequent collaborator at the time, Noël Coward.

The film seems way ahead of its time in its honest depiction of two married people who meet by chance at a train station and start an affair but still deeply care about their significant others and families. After Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson) catches a cinder in her eye on a railway platform, she meets Dr Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard), who removes it for her. The two are immediately attracted to each other and start meeting up at the railway station’s cafeteria every week and fall in love, only to realise that they are both bound to their family lives and that their love can never really go anywhere. A small and restrained film in comparison to Lean’s later spectacles but not any less impactful, and his first truly great film.

Brief Encounter film

Brief Encounter was nominated for three Academy Awards (Best Actress, Best Director and Best Screenplay) and shared the Grand Prize at Cannes in 1946. The film often appears on critics’ lists as the best British film ever made and that might just be right. Beautiful, realistic, romantic yet truthful and heart wrenching, Brief Encounter is an absolute masterpiece.

10. United States – Citizen Kane (Orson Welles – 1941)


Often cited as the greatest American film ever made, Citizen Kane was the directorial debut of Orson Welles, who also produced, co-wrote and starred in the movie in his first major role.

Whilst he had already starred in a few shorts and was famous for his work in radio and theatre, Wells was given full creative freedom when he was signed to RKO Pictures in 1939. Given the opportunity, he completely turned filmmaking conventions on their head by telling a story in a non-chronological order by way of flashbacks and by starting the movie with the death of the main protagonist. Wells also reinvented the way films were shot by using deep focus, long takes, low-angle-shots, high-contrast black-and-white photography and inventive editing, as well as using music and sound in previously unheard ways.

The film famously starts with Kane on his deathbed uttering the word “Rosebud”, which sets in motion the story of newsreel reporter Jerry Thompson (William Alland) seeking to solve the mystery behind that last word. From here on in the film tells the life story of Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) through a series of interviews with friends, colleagues (most notably Joseph Cotten) and family, from his days as an abandoned child to his rise to power as a newspaperman and his ultimate fall from grace. But none of the people Thompson speaks to seem to know what Kane was referring to on his deathbed and it’s only in the last frames of the film that we as the audience are able to figure it out as Kane’s belongings are removed from his mansion or burned.

rosebud citizen kane

The film was loosely based on the life of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, who disliked the movie and prohibited mention of it in any of his newspapers and even offered to reimburse RKO their production costs in exchange for burning all the negatives, which the studio thankfully refused. Non-Hearst newspapers, however, recognised the value of the film and lauded it for its cutting edge qualities but the damage was done and it was a commercial failure at the time.

The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards but ended up winning only one of them for Best Original Screenplay. It wasn’t until after the war that the film was “rediscovered” by primarily French critics, which started its rise in critical stature to the masterpiece it is considered today. A truly ground-breaking work of cinema, which in a way has influenced all Western films that came after it, Citizen Kane is the most important American film ever made.


20 Overlooked Movies Made By Famous Directors

12 January 2014 Features, Film Lists by Liam Hathaway

underrated movies acclaimed directors

Here are some great films which often do not seem to get the attention they sorely deserve. They come from famous directors, or directors that have at least enjoyed some degree of success. Whether they were small-budget debuts, box-office bombs, critically panned, overshadowed by the director’s previous or future work or simply never caught on with their contemporary audiences – they are still sadly overlooked.

Some of the following titles may have since garnered small cult followings but are still arguably under the radar. Though this list is not always suggesting that the mentioned films are the respected director’s best work, these films are still definitely worth a watch.

20. Following (1998) by Christopher Nolan


What is it about? Before Nolan became one of Hollywood’s biggest directors, he started his career by shooting this tiny film on a shoestring budget in monochromatic black and white with a typically perplexing narrative. A writer follows pedestrians in order to gain inspiration for a novel – he is soon approached by a burglar who allows him to ‘follow’ his break-ins and other criminal activities.

Why is it overlooked? Considering the average box-office earning of every other Nolan film is somewhere around $500 million and Following took in around $200,000, it must give you some idea as to why. Although, his future success has shed light on this interesting little film.

19. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) by David Lynch

Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me

What is it about? A prequel to Lynch’s own celebrated cult 90s TV show, Twin Peaks concerning the brutal and mystery-shrouded murder of a prom queen and the revelations and dual-lives which surface from the small town’s populace as a result. The film gives us the harrowing last seven days of Laura Palmer (said prom queen, and a frightfully intense performance from Sheryl Lee too).

Fire Walk With Me is often an incredibly horrifying experience and goes to places where even your nightmares are not supposed to take you. The series often delved into sordid subject matter but here it is propelled it to an almost exhausting degree (see the ‘Pink Room’ scene and Killer Bob’s blood-freezing occurrences).

Why is it overlooked? Where to start? Well, the series’ focus of dreams involving backward-speaking dwarves, visions of foretelling giants and “damn fine coffee” struck a chord with contemporary audiences. But, by the time the film was released, the novelty of the show had long worn off and audiences just wanted answers – plain, un-enigmatic answers. To many, the film did not deliver and most of the show’s cast could not reprise their roles or were written out and instead replaced with jarring cameos from David Bowie and Chris Isaak! Even Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) has very little screen time!

The film was a commercial failure and was lambasted by critics, many fans of the show were left frustrated by its lack of tied loose ends which remained after the TV series’ abrupt cancellation. Lynch’s response to its failure was Lost Highway a film even more alienating and cryptic, but not nearly as disturbing. Fire Walk With Me is not Lynch’s best work a long way – but severely overlooked nonetheless.

18. Spider (2002) by David Cronenberg

spider movie

What is it about? David Cleg, a constantly mumbling and clearly confused man (Ralph Fiennes) is released from a mental institution and begins to piece together his repressed childhood memories. There are many great Cronenberg films that do not feature exploding heads, corpus invading parasites or vagina-like chest slits such as M. Butterfly, Crash or Eastern Promises; Spider is one of his most accomplished yet uncelebrated ventures outside of his popular body-horror work.

Why is it overlooked? Trying to discern Fiennes mumbled delivery of lines is especially tough without subtitles and with it being a Cronenberg film, many people will be turned off to the fact that no one sprouts tentacles or implodes. But, those who stick with Spider will be gifted with a compelling and ultimately sinister piece of work.

17. Duel (1971) by Steven Spielberg

duel movie

What is it about? Duel is film that condenses the elements of a thriller into the most bare and simple of forms – a massive truck chasing a man in a small car for 90 minutes resulting in nothing but pure suspense. “Psycho on wheels” as Spielberg put it himself.

Why is it overlooked? Duel was initially a TV movie that got a small theatre release due to its overwhelming ratings response. Needless to say, it was pivotal in getting Spielberg’s career in film up and running. Though regarded as a mini-masterpiece, Duel was later overshadowed by homesick aliens, an iconoclastic archaeologist and genetically engineered dinosaurs among other high-concept cinematic endeavours. Four years after its release, Spielberg would have effectively recreated Duel on water with a shark standing in for the truck in the original blockbuster, Jaws.

16. Salvador (1985) by Oliver Stone


What is it about? The film features a down on his luck, alcoholic but veteran photo-journalist, Richard Boyle (James Woods) who ventures to El Salvador to earn a quick buck covering what he believes to be a small civil war. He eventually ends up becoming unwillingly and emotionally attached to the horrendous events which he is supposed to be covering objectively and later falls in love with a woman whom he intends to rescue from the country. The film features one exhilarating combat sequence from the perspective of the journalists who are ‘shooting’ with cameras within the actual war-zone.

If you like Platoon, watch Salvador to see how Stone got his practice of simulating war to memorable effect. James Woods’ performance is the highlight of the film as he changes from a slob to a determined freedom fighter.

Why is it overlooked? Though not Oliver Stone’s first directorial offering, Salvador pre-dated the release of his most popular and financially successful releases. The likes of his hugely successful Vietnam War movies such as Platoon and Born On The Fourth Of July, his more politically charged outings such as Wall Street and JFK and even his more controversial and somewhat deranged Natural Born Killers or U-Turn left Salvador almost completely eclipsed even though it is Oliver Stone’s first official “Oliver Stone movie”.

15. A Simple Plan (1998) by Sam Raimi

A Simple Plan

What is it about? A group of three small-town Americans discover a crashed plane loaded with $4 million in ransom money and decide to keep it leading to the unveiling of family secrets, betrayal and murder. The film is a brilliant exploration into the capability of committing unspeakably evil acts of that people possess, even the supposedly good people. A Simple Plan maintains a level of suspense that is often at an unsustainably high level and keeps you empathetically hooked right up until its emotionally shattering denouement. Also, Danny Elfman’s uncharacteristically spare score adds to the film’s cold visuals and injects an element of creepiness to the proceedings.

Why is it overlooked? Though it was critically hailed, the film failed at the box-office. Also, A Simple Plan happens to be one of Raimi’s films that was released during the void of time between his revered Dead trilogy and the blockbuster-comic-adaptation-resurgence-starting Spiderman trilogy – his most popular work.

14. The Addiction (1995) by Abel Ferrara

addiction movie

What is it about? Picking up his usual gritty aesthetics and tendencies and dropping them in a more heightened supernatural territory. With The Addiction, Ferrara carved an interesting fable out of his usual New York setting incorporating vampirism to serve as a blatant metaphor for the drugs and catholic guilt. The latter being a recurrning theme in the director’s work.

Why is it overlooked? Ferrara’s more notorious films are what made his name, the trashiness of Driller Killer and the depravity of Bad Lieutenant are what has stuck in audiences’ memories the longest; The Addiction is a decidedly subtler and less painstaking experience. Also, despite featuring Ferrara favourite Christopher Walken on the front cover of the DVD, he is only in the film for little over five minutes.

13. Spontaneous Combustion (1990) by Tobe Hooper


What is it about? Sam, (the ever watchable Brad Dourif in a rare starring role) whose parents were test subjects in an atomic bomb facility learns that he can control fire with his mind. Though not a great, or even good, film by any means – Spontaneous Combustion falls into the dubious ‘hilariously terrible yet astonishingly entertaining’ category.

Why is it overlooked? Hooper’s career trajectory took a slight nosedive regarding quality after making the game-changing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and other 80s horror staples such as Salem’s Lot and Poltergeist. Even the overwhelmingly bizarre box-office flop Lifeforce has now got its following. Spontaneous Combustion is the career mid-point where his films which were pretty damn good and ones which were astonishingly bad met to maniacal results.

12. Until The End Of The World (1991) by Wim Wenders

Until The End Of The World

What is it about? Another film that dealt with the anxieties of approaching Y2K; Until The End Of The World is a visually breath-taking experience that concerns a worldwide panic instigated by a nuclear satellite that has fallen out of orbit and threatens to debase large parts of the globe into a Chernobyl-esque waste land. Wim Wenders who had near enough perfected the ‘road movie’ with films such as Paris, Texas and Kings Of The Road decided to display his mastery of the formula by creating one that traversed multiple continents with an apocalypse themed, future-based narrative.

Why is it overlooked? Wenders’ New German Cinema work remains his most renowned work and ‘Until The End’ was deemed a total misfire by many and was a major box-office flop – largely due to a staggering two hours being cut for theatres rendering it a nonsensical mess. Still, the director’s cut is the way to go despite its whopping run time that nears five hours!

11. Rumble Fish (1983) by Francis Ford Coppola

Rumble Fish

What is it about? Something of an art-house/coming-of-age drama and Coppola’s second foray into adapting S.E. Hinton material for the big screen following The Outsiders (1983), Rumble Fish is a decidedly better and more visually audacious film. The narrative follows a young gang member, who aspires to follow in the footsteps of his older and effortlessly cool but mysterious brother. The film features many up-and-comers of the time such as Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Laurence Fishburne, Chris Penn and Coppola’s own nephew, Nicolas Cage as well as a sublime percussion based score from Stewart Copeland of The Police.

Why is it overlooked? Rumble Fish is virtually a French New Wave film made in Oklahoma, something that simply did not translate well with mainstream audiences and was met with mostly negative reviews upon release. After the tumultuous production of Apocalypse Now, Coppola opted for smaller productions for his next few films and they suffered greatly in comparison. Much like William Friedkin, the director’s earlier releases have tended to overshadow much of his later output. This is the best of the directors post 70s work.

10. Tape (2001) by Richard Linklater

tape movie

What is it about? A group of old high school friends hang out and reminisce in a motel room whilst they wait to go to dinner. Old secrets start to emerge and the night sours as emotions and nerves being to unravel. It takes place in real-time, in one locations and stars only three people. Tape is merely great dialogue in a room; simple but effective and gripping from start to finish.

Why is it overlooked? Tape is a very low-key film; it had a very limited release, not even making $500,000 and was quietly released amongst some of Linklater’s most successful and acclaimed films, Waking Life and School Of Rock.

9. Seconds (1966) by John Frankenheimer

A still from Joel Frankenheimer's 1966 film "Seconds."

What is it about? A successful business man who has grown tired of his own life turns to an agency which offers to give him a new identity by simulating his ‘death’ and giving him a new face and lifestyle as a young bachelor in the form of Tony Wilson (Rock Hudson). The film is a disturbing delve into the answering of a timeless question, “What if I could be somebody else?” via social science-fiction. Saul Bass’s discomforting opening title sequence is initiation for James Wong Howe’s similarly distorted black and white cinematography and adds to the increasing paranoia that the film oozes. Nothing, however, prepares one for the rattling conclusion – an absolute sledgehammer of an ending.

Why is it overlooked? This film was perhaps too radical and years ahead of its time to be properly accepted back in 1966, but apart from that – the film’s biggest name (Hudson) does not even appear until near the forty minute mark. Though, making more of a name for itself nowadays with the help of a 2013 Criterion release, Seconds is still largely unknown compared to Frankenheimer’s Birdman Of Alcatraz and The Manchurian Candidate among others.

8. Fearless (1993) by Peter Weir


What is it about? Max Klein (Jeff Bridges) becomes increasingly delusional after surviving a plane crash. Having embraced death during the flight, he seeks similar thrills in order to feel ‘alive’ and cannot explain his state of mind to others who were not involved. He manages to form a bond with one of his fellow survivors (Rosie Perez) who lost a child in the crash and is suffering from survivor’s guilt. Fearless sheds light on often overlooked subject matter and the result is a disarming yet ethereal experience.

Why is it overshadowed? Fearless harnesses what could be regarded as heavy and inaccessible themes opposed to the more approachable Witness, Dead Poets Society or The Truman Show, all of which were unquestionably more successful.

7. Strange Days (1995) by Kathryn Bigelow

Strange Days

What is it about? In the then-future of 1999, on the brink of a new millennium – Los Angeles is a hostile environment, suffused with violence, crime and social disharmony (imagine an alternate timeline where the L.A. riots never actually stopped and racial-tensions are at boiling point, all worsened by pre-millennial anxiety!).

Lenny Nero, portrayed by Ralph Fiennes with a flawless American accent, is an ex-cop hustler of a new technology that enables black-market recordings of other people’s lives (sex, robbery, running on the beach, younameit!) to be experienced subjectively by others. Lenny gets embroiled in the brutal murder of a friend which, in turn, triggers events that may tip the heated city over the edge into an all-out war as the next century looms ever closer.

A new form of Steadicam was developed for the “S.Q.U.I.D.” sequences that were worn on the wearer’s head resulting in some breakneck cinematography. The overall result is something along the lines of Terminator 2: Judgment Day meets Blade Runner.

Why is it overlooked? It turns out (as Until The End Of The World has already exemplified) that films concerning the year 2000 and ‘bad things’ were somewhat unpopular. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (and written by her ex-husband, James Cameron) who was behind cult classics such as Near Dark and Point Break and was later met with Academy Award recognition for The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty later in her career – Strange Days was lost somewhere in the middle.

This film’s quick death and box-office disaster could be attributed to a number of things; overly ambitious subject matter, a 144 minute run-time, an ugly rape and murder scene from the perspective of the assailant and maybe because the year 2000 has now been and gone giving the film a limited shelf-life to casual viewers. The Fatboy Slim song, Right Here, Right Now takes its title and samples those very words from this film – it is fair to say more people have probably heard that song than have seen this spectacular and thought-provoking film.

6. The Quiet Family (1998) by Kim jee-Woon


What is it about? A small family open up a B&B lodge in the countryside of Korea. Getting paying guests to visit is hard enough but when they do and promptly die, things get even more demanding. Essentially, The Quiet Family is a pitch perfect Black Comedy with constant nods to horror and humour that compliments the desired zany tone undoubtedly well. The eclectic soundtrack from The Partridge Family to Harry Nilsson just adds to its peculiarity. The film also features now Korean heavyweight actors in Choi Min-sik and Song Kang-ho who would later feature prominently in Park Chan-wook’s vengeance trilogy among other popular films.

Why is it overlooked? This low budget film was the debut of the now very popular Korean director, Kim jee-Woon who went on to make A Tale Of Two Sisters, A Bittersweet Life and more recently the Arnie comeback vehicle, The Last Stand. The film was also remade by Takashi Miike and the result was the arguably more commonly known, The Happiness Of The Katakuris which added elements of surreal clay-mation, excessive farcical moments and even musical numbers to the already strong hybrid mix.

5. Wise Blood (1979) by John Huston


What is it about? Adapted from Flannery O’Connor’s novel of the same name – this film was perfect territory for the sometimes anti-religiously motivated John Huston. Wise Blood is an oddity of a film that focuses on a wide-eyed and flustered veteran of an unspecified war, again portrayed by the Brad Dourif in another rare lead role. He returns home to a run-down family barn and a crisis of faith, so he decides to buy a busted Sedan car to stand on top of and preach his own faith – “The Church of Truth without Jesus Christ”. Wise Blood is a bizarre mix of southern-tinged drama and Gothic-black comedy.

Why is it overlooked? Possibly, the abundantly clear criticisms towards religion, more precisely, towards the increasing commerciality of religion may have had something to do with it as televangelism was becoming a massive-money-making phenomenon by the 1980s in the U.S. Also, the fact that Huston directed bedrock classics such as The Maltese Falcon and The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre might, just might, have had something to do with this mini-classic’s ‘cult status’ limbo.

4. Running On Empty (1988) by Sidney Lumet

Running On Empty

What is it about? A moving film about a couple who have been on the run from the F.B.I. for nearly twenty years after blowing up a napalm laboratory during the 1960s and accidentally injuring someone in the process. Their eldest son, Danny (River Phoenix) is growing tired of constantly picking up and leaving and yearns to forge himself a proper existence without fake identities or sudden departures from places he has settled into. This film is a tear-jerking affair to start with, it is also a tragic reminder of how great an actor Phoenix was becoming. The bittersweet ending will stay with you for years.

Why is it overlooked? Running On Empty is one of Lumet’s later films after making such classics as 12 Angry Men and the Al Pacino starring Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon. Also it was one Phoenix’s first transitions into more mature roles who was eighteen at the time of release and he earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination. Regardless, this film still went over people’s heads.

3. Someone’s Watching Me! (1978) by John Carpenter

Someone’s Watching Me!

What is it about? A single woman takes up residence in her new high-rise apartment only to be terrorized by a man who spies at her with a telescope and makes unsettling phone calls. Think of the concept of Rear Window reversed and you will not be far off the mark of what this unsung little film offers.

Why is it overlooked? Often discounted from Carpenter’s filmography simply because it was a movie made for television despite its feature-length run-time. In addition, Someone’s Watch Me! was made during the same year of Halloween’s release so it is easy to see how it was all but forgotten. Also, copy this film can still prove difficult to track down making it something of a ‘lost’ film.

2. Sorcerer (1977) by William Friedkin


What is it about? A group of criminals, disgraced politicians and outcasts who come from different countries are forced to lay low in South America and work with oil derricks. They are given an opportunity for freedom when they are asked to transport nitro-glycerine through a treacherous jungle with giant trucks. Essentially a remake of The Wages Of Fear, this is a white-knuckle experience from start to finish and features one of the greatest stunt sequences ever filmed that involves a very rickety rope-bridge, a swelling river and one of those aforementioned trucks…

Why is it overlooked? Sorcerer had an incredibly turbulent production due to Friedkin’s insistence on authenticity that eventually paid off, but in the end it meant that its making overshadowed the final product. As with the rest of Friedkin’s films, despite their merits they are often outshined by his one-two 70s smashes, The French Connection and The Exorcist. Also, a film called Star Wars coincided with its release which may have had something to do with Sorcerer failing to make its inflated budget back. Hopefully the mid 2014 Blu-ray release will shed some well needed light on this lost classic.

1. After Hours (1985) by Martin Scorsese


What is it about? Paul Hackett is lonely word-processor (Griffin Dunne carrying the film brilliantly) suffers a string of spectacular bad luck when he ventures to Soho, New York for what he believes will be an innocent one-night-stand with a young woman (Rosanna Arquette) he met in a café. After Hours perhaps one of the tensest “comedies” ever made – a cinematic free-for-all with a manic pace. Watching this guy repeatedly suffer is almost too much to take, but hilarious.

Why is it overlooked? For starters, the films does not star De Niro as many of Scorsese’s more iconic classics do. The film was a deliberately low-key affair in order to rekindle Scorsese’s love of filmmaking after Ronald Reagan was almost assassinated by someone obsessed with Taxi Driver, The King Of Comedy bombed and the initial production of The Last Temptation Of Christ fell through. After Hours has largely been forgotten and is in ripe for rediscovery – a Blu-ray release would not go amiss either.




10 Films That Can Teach You Everything You Need To Know About Cinematography

12 February 2014 Features, Film Lists by David Biggins

film cinematography

The word cinematography literally means ‘to record movements’. A director relies on their cinematographer to manipulate the mood and implication of a shot.

For example; you might not think that there’d be many ways to film a person walking down a corridor – but what if that corridor had seedy red lighting? What if the person cast a long dark shadow? What if they were walking down the corridor in slow motion?

The smallest change in lighting or lens can create a whole new emphasis and completely change the meaning of a rudimentary action. This list aims to give you a good background on all the cinematographic tricks of the trade.

1. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)


What it can teach you about: Lighting

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is shot with low levels of lighting for a very simple reason: playing with lighting can make some very interesting shadows. The film’s cinematography may be extreme, but it’s a perfect example of how darkness and shadow can emphasize evil, and how light can emphasize good.

More than this, the jagged, twisted lighting literally helps to emphasize the madness within the film; characters are literally trapped in a nightmare. Another point of interest, is that German Expressionist films like Dr. Caligari were filmed in war torn and poor Weimar Germany. Shadows may be effective, but they’re also cheap.

2. The Bicycle Thieves (1948)


What it can teach you about: Focus, Camera Movement

Following the fall of Mussolini, Italy was a broken and depressed country. Vittorio Director De Sica wanted to capture more than just the plight of his protagonists, he wanted to capture the plight of his country. He does so, startlingly, by using static shots that lingerer on depressed buildings and depressed people.

Cinematographer Carlo Montuori used a deep focus to capture the surroundings, making sure that everything was in focus. Frequently we’re presented with stunning photography, but we’re never able to escape from Rome’s squalor and poverty – much the same as the central characters.

3. The Searchers (1956)

The Searchers Monument Valley

What it can teach you about: Aspect Ratio, Colour

The nineteen fifties were the golden years of television; every American household owned one, so why bother go to the cinema? It was a question that film directors had to answer, and answer they did. The Searchers is a glittering example of a film that delivered its audience an experience they’d be unable to replicate in their own living rooms. Its technicolor is inherently beautiful. It’s grand, it’s immersive and it’s obviously vibrantly colorful.

John Ford and his cinematographer Winton C. Hoch pushed the envelope further by filming in a high-res widescreen format known as VistaVision. The Searchers is BIG, and should be viewed in a cinema whenever possible.

4. Barry Lyndon (1975)

Barry Lyndon

What it can teach you about: Lighting, Effect of Lenses

Stanley Kubrick was so determined to film certain scenes of Barry Lyndon using natural light, that he went to the length of using camera lenses that had been developed by NASA. Most famously, this allowed Kubrick to film indoor night scenes using only candlelight (try it sometime, it’s near-impossible).

When he did deploy electric light, cinematographer John Alcott went to great lengths to make sure that the lighting looked as natural as possible by using filters. Using natural light (or natural looking light) is a great way of making a film look realistic, but Kubrick and Alcott’s extreme lengths created a particularly please aesthetic that replicated eighteenth century paintings.

5. Hard Boiled (1992)


What it can teach you about: Length of Shot, Camera Movement

Long takes are traditionally used for unintrusive and natural-feeling scenes. John Woo used the long take to devastating effect in the action bonanza Hard Boiled. Modern action films often heavily edit and shake up the action to create a false sense of adrenaline. Cinematographer Wang Wing-Heng does exactly the opposite here.

By using a long, uninterrupted three minute take during the final siege, he enhanced the peri by impressing the critics with just how REAL the chaos looked. Pyrotechnics fly, actors get clobbered, and the audience watches wide-eyed at the action packed brilliance of it all.

6. Pulp Fiction (1994)


What it can teach you about: Camera Positioning

Pulp Fiction is told from the point of view of a variety of different characters, using a non-linear narrative (in other words, everything is out of sequence). In order for this to make any sense at all to an audience, Quentin Tarantino tells the story using classic filming conventions. All scenes are filmed with one camera, and most shots are medium or close – never letting us too far aways from the characters that ground the story.

We also regularly see point of view camera angles; especially during dialogue scenes, where we see the conversation played out using the classic shot-reverse-shot technique that switches the point of view between characters. As a result, in a complicated story we’re always firmly connected to the characters’ narrative.

7. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

saving private ryan beach

What it can teach you about: Colour, Camera Movement

Blood red is a horrible colour. If it’s splashed about too freely on screen, it can inadvertently turn a picture into a video nasty. Saving Private Ryan certainly had a lot blood however, all of the colours were deliberately desaturated, reducing the brightness and adding a blue tint to the picture. The effect made the gore more palatable, while at the same time giving the film the look of an old newsreel (which was entirely appropriate for a film set during World War II).

The action sequences were filmed with a handheld camera, giving the audience a sense that they too were ducking for cover during the gunfire. The beach-landing “stuttery” effects were  created by skipping frames. This heightened the sense of trauma and confusion, and really helped to convey a sense of adrenaline to the audience.

8. Gosford Park (2001)

Gosford Park

What it can teach you: Camera movement, Lighting, Focus

Each scene in Gosford Park was shot using two cameras filming simultaneously. Unusually, in each scene the camera is always moving (even if it’s only very subtle movement). Almost everything is kept in focus, and indoor shots have soft lighting spilling in every direction. This allowed the actors to act freely, and complete scenes without the interruption of having to reposition the camera and relight each scene.

Many critics praised the “gliding” quality of Andrew Dunn’s cinematography. The set-up firmly elevates the importance of character interactions within the movie.

9. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

What it can teach you about: Camera Movement

In the wrong hands, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind could have been a computer generated special effects bonanza. Instead, Michel Gondry thought small, and used trap doors and quick costume changes to illustrate Joel’s oscillating subconscious.

More than this, he captured the narrative using a handheld camera and made an obviously unreal experience feel like a reality based documentary. Why? As fantastical or distorted as they may be, our memories and our imaginations feel real to us. As a result, many of us not only found Gondry’s film realistic, we also found it nostalgic.

10. The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

The Bourne Supremacy

What it can teach you about: Length of Shot, Camera Movement

The Bourne Supremacy’s cinematography really tied audiences and film critics in knots. Many loved it, many hated it. Either way, it was enormously influential on films like The Dark Knight and Quantum of Solace.

The Bourne Supremacy was so different because conventional film wisdom would say that you would pan or zoom to set the scene, then after the camera had stopped moving you’d then see an edit that takes you to the next shot.

Not so during The Bourne Supremacy. The movie frequently edits mid camera movement in an effort to disorientate the audience. While editing may be separate from cinematography, the length of a shot is often crucial to what a cinematographer is trying to convey. Cinematographer Oliver Wood created a movie with action sequences that feel wildly jerky, and have a constant sense of chaos and adrenaline as a result.



The 30 Greatest Westerns In Cinema History

11 May 2014 Features, Film Lists by James Newton

best westerns

The Western is one of America’s unique contributions to culture. It reflects American history and has helped shape the nation’s view of itself and how it others see it. However, the history of the Western is so pervasive, that some of the most remarkable films of the genre were actually made in Europe – specifically in Italy and Spain with the Spaghettis Westerns which began in the 1960s. There were also Westerns from Russia and Germany. So, the history of the genre is a complex one, with many different strands and facets, and with more icons and interesting films than is possible to mention in one article.

This list attempts a run-down of the greatest films in the genre; ones which are particularly important because they set certain standards, or those which are some of the most artistically impressive examples of the genre. Certainly, if you are a novice to Westerns, the list will provide an excellent starting point from which to begin your journey through this complicated, violent, morally ambiguous, but always fascinating genre.

30. The Great Train Robbery (1903)


The first Western ever made? While it is unlikely to be enjoyed in the same way as others on the list, this deserves to be mentioned for inventing so many of the conventions and recognisable iconography on which the Western was built. It is a straightforward story of a train heist and the subsequent hunting of the robbers, told with pace and with lots of action. Two scenes stand out – a poor unfortunate being sadistically forced to dance to avoid having his feet shot, and the closing shot of a gunman firing straight at the audience. Both scenes, incidentally, are explicitly referenced in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas.

29. The Ox Bow Incident (1943)

The Ox Bow Incident (1943)

William Wellman’s film starring Henry Fonda is an anti-lynching and anti-mob rule film. Fonda tries to stop the posse from fulfilling its role, but rather than simplistic moralising, the film is made complex through its characterisation. It also has a rough, occasionally brutal tone; especially evident in one early scene where Fonda punches a man out in a bar and then uses the leverage from the bar and a door frame to lift himself up and stamp on the man’s head.

28. Django (1966)


Sergio Corbucci made numerous Spaghetti Westerns, but none more famous or notorious as this. It replays the basic plot of Yojimbo, used by Sergio Leone for A Fistful of Dollars in 1964, of a lone stranger playing off two villainous gangs against the other, but adds in extra violence and baroque touches. These include a machine gun hidden in a coffin, which the hero drags behind him, plus a scene where a man’s ear is sliced off and fed to him. The figure of Django was so popular that it spawned numerous unofficial sequels, remakes, and spin offs (including Tarantino’s Django Unchained). Corbucci’s film had only one official sequel; Django Strikes Again in 1987).

27. McCabe and Mrs Miller (1971)

McCabe and Mrs Miller

Robert Altman’s unusual Western stars Warren Beatty as a gambler who owns a brothel with Madam Julie Christie. The snowy backdrop is beautifully photographed and the film is a critique of big business and capitalism. A sorrowful, quite melancholy film.

26. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)


The most recent version of the tale of the outlaw Jesse James, stars Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck as the title characters. Australian director Andrew Dominik is a former music video director, and his film is his follow up to his superb debut, Chopper, which similarly riffs on the links between crime, fame, and legend. The film has a melancholy, almost lyrical tone, which is aided by Roger Deakins’ warm and evocative cinematography.

25. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

John Ford’s film is dark and cynical, and brings together three American Western legends in John Wayne, Lee Marvin, and James Stewart. Unlike many of his films, the Monument Valley setting is absent, with much of the action shot on sound stages. It is a film about reputations and myths; with a politician Stoddard’s (Stewart) reputation owing everything to him shooting down Marvin’s Liberty Valance, even though it is Wayne’s character who actually did the deed – from behind and from the shadows. It was Ford’s penultimate Western (not including a segment for How the West Was Won).

24. Hang ‘em High (1968)

Hang ‘em High

This was Clint Eastwood’s first American Western after he had been out in Italy starring as the Man with No Name in Sergio Leone’s Dollars films. He stars as a sheriff out to take down the men who lynched him, the scar from the noose still raw around his throat. The story and visual style is a mixture of the traditional American Western, but influenced in the cinematography and the frequently baroque touches by the Spaghetti Westerns which were becoming so popular at the time.

23. The Magnificent Seven (1960)

The Magnificent Seven movie

A macho Hollywood ensemble film, with a famous Elmer Bernstein score. The plot is lifted straight from Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai, with a team of gunslingers hired to protect a village from bandits let by Eli Wallach. The film had several sequels and Yul Brynner later played homage to the character he plays here in Michael Crichton’s science fiction film Westworld; as a black clad, Terminatoresque robot gone insane.

22. Django Kill (1967)

Django Kill (1967)

A surreal Western and unofficial Django film, though in reality it is related to Corbucci’s film only in name. The film is intentionally closer to a gothic horror movie than a Western, born of the fact that director Giulio Questi had no real love of the genre. The film begins with Django crawling out of a mass grave, and has a recurrent fascination with images of gold. In one startling sequence a man is shot with gold bullets and then torn apart by people with their bare hands trying to dig out the nuggets. In another, one of the villains gets molten gold poured over his face after it melts during a fire.

21. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

The Outlaw Josey Wales

Clint Eastwood directed himself as Josey Wales, a Southerner out for revenge against the soldiers who killed his family and on the run from the bounty hunters hired to kill him. What makes the film different from other films sharing similar narratives is the band of followers Wales accumulates along the way. They represent the marginalised, the down trodden, and those rejected by society; including native Americans who eventually help him regain a sense of humanity. Chief Dan George plays Lone Watie, and provides much of the film’s sly humour.

20. The Shootist (1976)

The Shootist (1976)

John Wayne died of cancer only three years after playing the ageing gunfighter in Don Siegel’s plaintive Western, who coincidentally happens to be terminally ill with cancer. Instead of dying on his deathbed, he wants to go out in a blaze of glory, so he picks a fight with three of his enemies in a deserted saloon. The film was Wayne’s last, and ended a career dating back to the silent film era.

19. Open Range (2003)

Open Range (2003)

Kevin Costner’s film is less famous than his other Western, Dances with Wolves, but is a more traditional, tougher, and morally complex work. He directs as well as stars as a cowboy who battles, along with Robert Duvall, Michael Gambon’s villainous land baron. The final shootout is messy, fast, and violent, with the intention of creating a greater sense of realism.

18. Silver Lode (1954)

Silver Lode (1954)

Like the more famous High Noon, Silver Lode is a similarly allegorical tale about McCarthyism in America during the 1950s. Martin Scorsese cited the tracking shot towards the end, where the falsely accused hero Ballard makes his way across town in an uninterrupted take, as one of his favourite moments in the documentary A Personal Journey Through American Movies.

17. Johnny Guitar (1954)

Johnny Guitar (1954)

Typically written about in psychoanalytical terms due to the abundant symbolism it features, Nicholas Ray’s colourful Western is unusual in that it focuses on the female characters played by Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge, rather than the often weak and almost ineffectual male lead played by Sterling Hayden. It is a film packed with melodrama, and was lauded by the French critics and filmmakers of the new wave in the 1960s.

16. The Wild Bunch (1969)

The Wild Bunch

Along with Bonnie and Clyde this film changed the way screen violence was portrayed forever. Sam Peckinpah used slow motion and numerous squibs to emphasise the bloody and often beautiful nature of a cinematic gunfight. The story centres on the fading embers of the Old West, with four ancient bank robbers out of time and out of place with the changing modern world (it is set in 1913 and contains, among other things, a motor car and semi-automatic weapons). The final shootout, when they take on a cohort of the Mexican army and intentionally go down in a blaze of glory, is one of the most sustained and bloody shootouts in screen history.

15. The Naked Spur (1953)

The Naked Spur (1953)

One of five Westerns James Stewart made with director Anthony Mann, including Winchester ’73 and The Far Country. Stewart plays a bounty hunter out to track down Robert Ryan, and is a tormented, psychologically damaged hero. Mann’s film is about the moral complexities of the West, with no character a straightforward hero or villain.

14. The Beguiled (1971)

The Beguiled (1971)

This extraordinary film teams Clint Eastwood with his Coogan’s Bluff director Don Siegel. He plays a Yankee soldier lost and injured behind enemy lines during the American Civil War, who gets taken in and cared for by an isolated school for girls in the Deep South. During his slow recovery he sleeps with several of the teachers and pupils, and causes a jealous firestorm to develop amongst them. This gothic melodrama concludes with a terrible fate for Eastwood’s character, who is closer to a cowardly scumbag than the taciturn killers he typically played in Westerns.

13. Red River (1948)

Red River (1948)

Based on the tale of the Mutiny on the Bounty, Red River is a classic Howard Hawks film about drama and rebellion between John Wayne and Montgomery Clift on a cattle drive from Texas to Kansas. The stampede scenes, among others, are referenced and parodied in many later films, including the 90s comedy City Slickers.

12. A Bullet for the General (1966)

A Bullet for the General (1966)

Damiano Damiani’s Spaghetti Western is a film focusing on the politics of the Mexican revolution, and works as an allegory for contemporary imperialist wars of the time it was made. Gian Mario Volante plays a bandit who originally holds up trains motivated solely by the money, but comes to learn that the revolution is a cause worth fighting for. The film also stars Klaus Kinski and Bond girl Martine Bestwick.

11. The Searchers (1956)

The Searchers

Some would place this film at the top of the list. John Ford’s epic features an uncompromising performance by John Wayne as Ethan Edwards – searching for his niece who has been kidnapped by Commanches. Driven by hatred of the Native American, Edwards is even ready to kill the girl when he finds her at the end and discovers that, after five years of living with the tribe, she has fully assimilated into the lives of the Commanche who took her. The character of Edwards was even one of the inspirations for Travis Bickle, the near psychotic character in Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.

10. El Dorado (1966)

El Dorado (1966)

El Dorado is one of three Howard Hawks westerns based around the similar scenario of an unlikely band consisting of veteran John Wayne, an inexperienced young gunfighter, and an alcoholic former lawman. The first was Rio Bravo in 1959, the last was Rio Lobo in 1970. Sandwiched in between is this, the best and most consistently entertaining of the three. James Caan and Robert Mitchum complete the cast. The film has a comic tone, but that only masks an emotional core. And the film is a perfect example of Hawks’ themes of solidarity in the face of unfavourable odds, and the importance and honour of professionalism.

9. My Darling Clementine (1946)

My Darling Clementine

This is the definitive screen version of real life legends Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and the events culminating in the Gunfight at the OK Corral. Unlike other versions of the tale, this is a low key, subtle, and quite gentle take of how real life Earp became lawman of the town of Tombstone. Earp actually told his tale to director John Ford himself, with inevitable slant in his favour no doubt, and is played by Henry Fonda. Other versions of these events include the 90s movies Tombstone, with Kurt Russell, and Wyatt Earp, with Kevin Costner.

8. Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973)

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973)

Yet another elegiac film lamenting the end of the old West, this time told through the story of the former friends turned adversaries of the title. Bob Dylan provides the score, and has a supporting role, and the soundtrack includes Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door. Sam Peckinpah’s film is brutal and beautiful, and contains quite savage imagery, in particular during the opening scenes where live chickens are buried up to their necks to be used as target practice. Kris Kristofferson plays Billy, and James Coburn plays Garrett, and the film is a slow meditation, rather than a fast paced action film.

7. For a Few Dollars More (1965)

For a Few Dollars More (1965)

Sergio Leone’s sequel to his ground-breaking A Fistful of Dollars is longer, more accomplished, and provides the first example of a complex three way dynamic between heroes and villain which the director further explored in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and Once Upon a Time in the West. Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name teams up with Lee Van Cleef’s bounty hunter to foil a gang of bank robbers led by the brilliant Italian actor Gian Mario Volante. Ennio Morricone’s iconographic theme has been reborn in dance remixes, and the film is filled with gallows humour and moments of pathos; especially the extraordinary moment where Volante plays with a dying beetle while he listens to the sound of his men dying in a gunfight outside.

6. The Great Silence (1968)

The Great Silence (1968)

This subversive Spaghetti western is one of the bleakest films ever made. Its hero is the brooding, silent type – literally. Having been made mute by a horrific attack on him as a child, he is now working as a bounty hunter, and is hired to protect a town beleaguered by the policies of the local banker and property owner. The finale is a downbeat, brutal conclusion to the film, and was said by the director Corbucci to be an allegory for the contemporary assassinations of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Che Guevara. Ennio Morricone provides one of his best soundtracks.

5. El Topo (1970)

El topo

One of the original midnight cult movies, endorsed by John Lennon among others, Jodorowsky’s incredible film is packed full of extraordinary and surreal images. It begins as an (almost) straightforward western, with a black clad gunslinger saving some people from a vicious and perverse gang, but then morphs into an examination of the meaning of life, religion, and seemingly a million other things. No amount of words can adequately describe El Topo because the experience of it is not in words, but in its imagery.

4. High Plains Drifter (1973)

High Plains Drifter (1973)

Clint Eastwood rides into town and may, or may not be, the ghost of the Sherriff murdered when the cowardly townsfolk stood by and watched him whipped to death by three gunslingers, who incidentally are out of jail and coming back to take their revenge. He is hired to protect the town, but not before he gets revenge of his own on those he feels are responsible for his own past trauma. This was the first Western Eastwood directed, and is a stylistic homage to Sergio Leone. It is also indebted to Don Siegel, who directed him in The Beguiled, Coogan’s Bluff, and Dirty Harry.

3. Unforgiven (1992)


Eastwood reportedly held onto the script by David Peoples for ten years until he felt old enough to portray the retired gunfighter William Munny. Now working as a barely successful farmer, Munny is forced to take on the hunt for two cowboys accused of maiming and disfiguring a prostitute. The film, like so many on the list, has a revisionist stance, and examines the mythology of the Old West and the macho characters who epitomise it. It is Eastwood’s last western (to date).

2. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

the good the bad the ugly

Ennio Morricone’s iconic score, which everyone can sing whether they have seen the film or not, puts The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly near the top of any list of great Westerns. In fact, such is the mastery of the cinematic technique displayed by director Sergio Leone, that the film frequently comes near the top of any great film list, Western or not. Eastwood and Van Cleef return in this third of the Man with No Name/Dollars trilogy, and are joined by Eli Wallach to complete the trio of the title. Their double crossing search for buried gold during the Civil War culminates in the ultimate quick draw gunfight in the middle of a huge cemetery. The battle scenes and those set in the prisoner of war camp provide some moments of pathos amidst the nihilistic violence.

1. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)


Leone’s epic is an explicit homage to the America Western. It was written in conjunction with two Italian greats, Bernardo Bertolucci and Dario Argento, who compiled the story out of elements lifted from the hundreds of Westerns they watched as research. The film has one of the longest opening titles scenes in film history; where three gunmen wait for Charles Bronson’s character of Harmonica to show.

Leone originally wanted the good, bad, ugly trio of Eastwood, Van Cleef, and Wallach to play the gunmen, so that he could kill them off and draw a line between this and the Dollars trilogy. Apparently only Eastwood declined. Henry Fonda plays the main villain, a blue eyed child killer; and the film has several incredible crane shots, none more impressive than in the moment when the fate of Harmonica’s brother is revealed. Once again, Ennio Morricone provides the score, proving he is as much a presence in the history of the Western as any director or star. This is the perfect Western; epic in scale, romantic, dark, elegiac, with some exciting action, and in places very, very funny.


101 Great Movies

by daizybug created 05 Feb 2012 | last updated – 05 Feb 2012

Page 1 of 2   (101 Titles)

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Image of Όσα Παίρνει ο Άνεμος


Όσα Παίρνει ο Άνεμος (1939)


A manipulative Southern belle carries on a turbulent affair with a blockade runner during the American Civil War. (238 mins.)

Director: Victor Fleming

Stars: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Thomas Mitchell, Barbara O’Neil

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Image of Δεσμώτης του Ιλίγγου


Δεσμώτης του Ιλίγγου (1958)


A retired San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend’s wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her. (128 mins.)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Stars: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, Tom Helmore

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Image of Σιωπηλός Μάρτυς


Σιωπηλός Μάρτυς (1954)


A wheelchair bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder. (112 mins.)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Stars: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter

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Image of The Philadelphia Story


The Philadelphia Story (1940)


When a rich woman’s ex-husband and a tabloid-type reporter turn up just before her planned remarriage, she begins to learn the truth about herself. (112 mins.)

Director: George Cukor

Stars: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, Ruth Hussey

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Image of S.O.S Πεντάγωνο Καλεί Μόσχα


S.O.S Πεντάγωνο Καλεί Μόσχα (1964)


An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically try to stop.(95 mins.)

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Stars: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn

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Image of Οι Ασυγχώρητοι


Οι Ασυγχώρητοι (1992)


Retired Old West gunslinger William Munny reluctantly takes on one last job, with the help of his old partner and a young man.(131 mins.)

Director: Clint Eastwood

Stars: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Richard Harris

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Image of Τιτανικός


Τιτανικός (1997)


A seventeen-year-old aristocrat, expecting to be married to a rich claimant by her mother, falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic. (194 mins.)

Director: James Cameron

Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates

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Image of The Searchers


The Searchers (1956)


A Civil War veteran embarks on a journey to rescue his niece from an Indian tribe. (119 mins.)

Director: John Ford

Stars: John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Ward Bond

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Image of Αμερική, η Χώρα της Ελευθερίας


Αμερική, η Χώρα της Ελευθερίας (1939)


A naive man is appointed to fill a vacancy in the US Senate. His plans promptly collide with political corruption, but he doesn’t back down. (129 mins.)

Director: Frank Capra

Stars: James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold

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Image of Meet Me in St. Louis


Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)


In the year before the 1904 St Louis World’s Fair, the four Smith daughters learn lessons of life and love, even as they prepare for a reluctant move to New York. (113 mins.)

Director: Vincente Minnelli

Stars: Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, Mary Astor, Lucille Bremer

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Image of Ο Μάγος του Οζ


Ο Μάγος του Οζ (1939)


Dorothy Gale is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home. (102 mins.)

Director: Victor Fleming

Stars: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr

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Image of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof


Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)


Brick, an alcoholic ex-football player, drinks his days away and resists the affections of his wife, Maggie. His reunion with his father, Big Daddy, who is dying of cancer, jogs a host of memories and revelations for both father and son. (108 mins.)

Director: Richard Brooks

Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives, Jack Carson

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Image of O ouranos tis doxis


O ouranos tis doxis (1942)


A film of the life of the renowned musical composer, playwright, actor, dancer and singer George M. Cohan. (126 mins.)

Director: Michael Curtiz

Stars: James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston, Richard Whorf

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Image of Ben Hur


Ben Hur (1959)


When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge. (212 mins.)

Director: William Wyler

Stars: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd, Haya Harareet

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Image of Ο Τρίτος Άνθρωπος


Ο Τρίτος Άνθρωπος (1949)


Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, black-market opportunist Harry Lime. (104 mins.)

Director: Carol Reed

Stars: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard

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Image of Κάτω από έναν Άλλον Ήλιο


Κάτω από έναν Άλλον Ήλιο (1962)


A former Korean War POW is brainwashed by Communists into becoming a political assassin. But another former prisoner may know how to save him. (126 mins.)

Director: John Frankenheimer

Stars: Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury

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Image of Τραγουδώντας στη Βροχή


Τραγουδώντας στη Βροχή (1952)


A silent film production company and cast make a difficult transition to sound. (103 mins.)

Director: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly

Stars: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen

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Image of Sullivan's Travels


Sullivan’s Travels (1941)


A director of escapist films goes on the road as a hobo to learn about Life…which gives him a rude awakening. (90 mins.)

Director: Preston Sturges

Stars: Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick, William Demarest

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Image of Η Λεωφόρος της Δύσης


Η Λεωφόρος της Δύσης (1950)


A hack screenwriter writes a screenplay for a former silent-film star who has faded into Hollywood obscurity. (110 mins.)

Director: Billy Wilder

Stars: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson

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Image of Tootsie


Tootsie (1982)


An unemployed actor with a reputation for being difficult disguises himself as a woman to get a role in a soap opera. (116 mins.)

Director: Sydney Pollack

Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman

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Image of Eva


Eva (1950)


An ingenue insinuates herself in to the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends. (138 mins.)

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Stars: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm

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Image of Mildred Pierce


Mildred Pierce (1945)


After her cheating husband leaves her, Mildred Pierce proves she can become independent and successful, but cannot seem to win the approval of her spoiled daughter. (111 mins.)

Director: Michael Curtiz

Stars: Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, Eve Arden

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Image of Mrs. Miniver


Mrs. Miniver (1942)


A British family struggles to survive the first months of World War II. (134 mins.)

Director: William Wyler

Stars: Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Teresa Wright, Dame May Whitty

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Image of Stagecoach


Stagecoach (1939)


A group of people traveling on a stagecoach find their journey complicated by the threat of Geronimo and learn something about each other in the process. (96 mins.)

Director: John Ford

Stars: John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Andy Devine, John Carradine

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Image of Ο Πολίτης Κέιν


Ο Πολίτης Κέιν (1941)


Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance. (119 mins.)

Director: Orson Welles

Stars: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Agnes Moorehead

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Image of Περηφάνια και Προκατάληψη


Περηφάνια και Προκατάληψη (2005)


Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice? (129 mins.)

Director: Joe Wright

Stars: Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland

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Image of Τελευταία Έξοδος Ρίτα Χέϊγουόρθ


Τελευταία Έξοδος Ρίτα Χέϊγουόρθ (1994)


Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.(142 mins.)

Director: Frank Darabont

Stars: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler

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Image of Forrest Gump


Forrest Gump (1994)


Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny Curran, eludes him. (142 mins.)

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Stars: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Sally Field

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Image of Μια υπέροχη ζωή


Μια υπέροχη ζωή (1946)


An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed. (130 mins.)

Director: Frank Capra

Stars: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell

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Image of Dances with Wolves


Dances with Wolves (1990)


Lt. John Dunbar, exiled to a remote western Civil War outpost, befriends wolves and Indians, making him an intolerable aberration in the military. (181 mins.)

Director: Kevin Costner

Stars: Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene, Rodney A. Grant

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Image of The Last of the Mohicans


The Last of the Mohicans (1992)


Three trappers protect a British Colonel’s daughters in the midst of the French and Indian War. (112 mins.)

Director: Michael Mann

Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Russell Means, Eric Schweig

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Image of Συνέβη Μια Νύχτα


Συνέβη Μια Νύχτα (1934)


A spoiled heiress, running away from her family, is helped by a man who’s actually a reporter looking for a story. (105 mins.)

Director: Frank Capra

Stars: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly, Roscoe Karns

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Image of Bringing Up Baby


Bringing Up Baby (1938)


While trying to secure a $1 million donation for his museum, a befuddled paleontologist is pursued by a flighty and often irritating heiress and her pet leopard «Baby.» (102 mins.)

Director: Howard Hawks

Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Charles Ruggles, Walter Catlett

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Image of Giant


Giant (1956)


Sprawling epic covering the life of a Texas cattle rancher and his family and associates. (201 mins.)

Director: George Stevens

Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Carroll Baker

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Image of Casablanca


Casablanca (1942)


Set in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War II: An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications. (102 mins.)

Director: Michael Curtiz

Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains

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Image of Ο θησαυρός της Σιέρρα Μάντρε


Ο θησαυρός της Σιέρρα Μάντρε (1948)


Fred Dobbs and Bob Curtin, two Americans searching for work in Mexico, convince an old prospector to help them mine for gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains. (126 mins.)

Director: John Huston

Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt, Bruce Bennett

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Image of The African Queen


The African Queen (1951)


In Africa during WW1, a gin-swilling riverboat owner/captain is persuaded by a strait-laced missionary to use his boat to attack an enemy warship. (105 mins.)

Director: John Huston

Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Robert Morley, Peter Bull

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Image of Doctor Zhivago


Doctor Zhivago (1965)


Life of a Russian doctor/poet who, although married, falls for a political activist’s wife and experiences hardships during the Bolshevik Revolution. (197 mins.)

Director: David Lean

Stars: Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Rod Steiger

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Image of Τα φώτα της πόλης


Τα φώτα της πόλης (1931)


The Tramp struggles to help a blind flower girl he has fallen in love with. (87 mins.)

Director: Charles Chaplin

Stars: Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee, Harry Myers

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Image of Το Γεράκι της Μάλτας


Το Γεράκι της Μάλτας (1941)


A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette. (100 mins.)

Director: John Huston

Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter Lorre

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Image of Μοντέρνοι Καιροί


Μοντέρνοι Καιροί (1936)


The Tramp struggles to live in modern industrial society with the help of a young homeless woman. (87 mins.)

Director: Charlie Chaplin

Stars: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman, Tiny Sandford

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Image of Οι Κυνηγοί της Χαμένης Κιβωτού


Οι Κυνηγοί της Χαμένης Κιβωτού (1981)


Archeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the US government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis.(115 mins.)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Stars: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, John Rhys-Davies

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Image of King Kong


King Kong (1933)


A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal giant gorilla who takes a shine to their female blonde star. (100 mins.)

Stars: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot, Frank Reicher

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Image of Frankenstein


Frankenstein (1931)


An obsessed scientist assembles a living being from parts of exhumed corpses. (70 mins.)

Director: James Whale

Stars: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff, John Boles

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Image of Ο Πόλεμος των Άστρων


Ο Πόλεμος των Άστρων (1977)


Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a wookiee and two droids to save the universe from the Empire’s world-destroying battle-station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader. (121 mins.)

Director: George Lucas

Stars: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness

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Image of Ε.Τ. - Ο Εξωγήινος


Ε.Τ. – Ο Εξωγήινος (1982)


A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home-world. (115 mins.)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Stars: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote, Dee Wallace

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Image of Στενές Επαφές Τρίτου Τύπου


Στενές Επαφές Τρίτου Τύπου (1977)


After an encounter with U.F.O.s, a line worker feels undeniably drawn to an isolated area in the wilderness where something spectacular is about to happen. (137 mins.)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon

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Image of Οργισμένο Είδωλο


Οργισμένο Είδωλο (1980)


An emotionally self-destructive boxer’s journey through life, as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring, destroys his life outside it. (129 mins.)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Stars: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci, Frank Vincent

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Image of Ο Ταξιτζής


Ο Ταξιτζής (1976)


A mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran works as a night-time taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge for violent action, attempting to save a preadolescent prostitute in the process. (113 mins.)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Stars: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Albert Brooks

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Image of Τα Καλά Παιδιά


Τα Καλά Παιδιά (1990)


Henry Hill and his friends work their way up through the mob hierarchy. (146 mins.)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Stars: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco

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Image of Platoon


Platoon (1986)


A young recruit in Vietnam faces a moral crisis when confronted with the horrors of war and the duality of man. (120 mins.)

Director: Oliver Stone

Stars: Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Keith David

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Image of Ο Νονός


Ο Νονός (1972)


The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son. (175 mins.)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Stars: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton

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Image of A Place in the Sun


A Place in the Sun (1951)


A poor boy gets a job working for his rich uncle and ends up falling in love with two women. (122 mins.)

Director: George Stevens

Stars: Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley Winters, Anne Revere

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Image of From Here to Eternity


From Here to Eternity (1953)


In 1941 Hawaii, a private is cruelly punished for not boxing on his unit’s team, while his captain’s wife and second in command are falling in love. (118 mins.)

Director: Fred Zinnemann

Stars: Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed

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Image of Lilies of the Field


Lilies of the Field (1963)


A traveling handyman becomes the answer to the prayers of nuns who wish to build a chapel in the desert. (94 mins.)

Director: Ralph Nelson

Stars: Sidney Poitier, Lilia Skala, Lisa Mann, Isa Crino

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Image of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner


Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)


Matt and Christina Drayton are a couple whose attitudes are challenged when their daughter brings home a fiancé who is black. (108 mins.)

Director: Stanley Kramer

Stars: Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, Katharine Houghton

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Image of Μερικοί το Προτιμούν Καυτό


Μερικοί το Προτιμούν Καυτό (1959)


When two musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all female band disguised as women, but further complications set in. (120 mins.)

Director: Billy Wilder

Stars: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, George Raft

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Image of Στη Σκιά των Τεσσάρων Γιγάντων


Στη Σκιά των Τεσσάρων Γιγάντων (1959)


A hapless New York advertising executive is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies, and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive. (136 mins.)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Stars: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Jessie Royce Landis

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Image of A Raisin in the Sun


A Raisin in the Sun (1961)


A substantial insurance payment could mean either financial salvation or personal ruin for a poor black family. (128 mins.)

Director: Daniel Petrie

Stars: Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee, Diana Sands

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Image of Σκιές και Σιωπή


Σκιές και Σιωπή (1962)


Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his kids against prejudice. (129 mins.)

Director: Robert Mulligan

Stars: Gregory Peck, John Megna, Frank Overton, Rosemary Murphy

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Image of Η Διάσωση του Στρατιώτη Ράιαν


Η Διάσωση του Στρατιώτη Ράιαν (1998)


Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action. (169 mins.)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Stars: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns

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Image of Toy Story


Toy Story (1995)


A cowboy doll is profoundly threatened and jealous when a new spaceman figure supplants him as top toy in a boy’s room. (81 mins.)

Director: John Lasseter

Stars: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Jim Varney

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Image of Αποκάλυψη Τώρα!


Αποκάλυψη Τώρα! (1979)


During the U.S.-Viet Nam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe.(153 mins.)

Director: Francis Coppola

Stars: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Frederic Forrest

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Image of Swing Time


Swing Time (1936)


A performer and gambler travels to New York City to raise the $25,000 he needs to marry his fiancée, only to become entangled with a beautiful aspiring dancer. (103 mins.)

Director: George Stevens

Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Victor Moore, Helen Broderick

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Image of Sophie's Choice


Sophie’s Choice (1982)


Sophie is the survivor of Nazi concentration camps, who has found a reason to live in Nathan, a sparkling… (150 mins.)

Director: Alan J. Pakula

Stars: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Peter MacNicol, Rita Karin

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Image of Picnic


Picnic (1955)


Emotions are ignited amongst the complacent townsfolk when a handsome drifter arrives in a small Kansas community on the morning of the Labour Day picnic. (115 mins.)

Director: Joshua Logan

Stars: William Holden, Kim Novak, Betty Field, Susan Strasberg

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Image of Άγρια Συμμορία


Άγρια Συμμορία (1969)


An aging group of outlaws look for one last big score as the «traditional» American West is disappearing around them. (145 mins.)

Director: Sam Peckinpah

Stars: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmond O’Brien

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Image of Ζήτημα Τιμής


Ζήτημα Τιμής (1992)


Neo military lawyer Kaffee defends Marines accused of murder; they contend they were acting under orders. (138 mins.)

Director: Rob Reiner

Stars: Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon

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Image of The French Connection


The French Connection (1971)


A pair of NYC cops in the Narcotics Bureau stumble onto a drug smuggling job with a French connection. (104 mins.)

Director: William Friedkin

Stars: Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Fernando Rey, Tony Lo Bianco

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Image of Οι Δύο Λησταί


Οι Δύο Λησταί (1969)


Two Western bank/train robbers flee to Bolivia when the law gets too close. (110 mins.)

Director: George Roy Hill

Stars: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross, Strother Martin

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Image of The Way We Were


The Way We Were (1973)


Two desperate people have a wonderful romance, but their political views and convictions drive them apart. (118 mins.)

Director: Sydney Pollack

Stars: Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford, Bradford Dillman, Lois Chiles

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Image of Ο Πρωτάρης


Ο Πρωτάρης (1967)


Recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock is trapped into an affair with Mrs. Robinson, who happens to be the wife of his father’s business partner and then finds himself falling in love with her daughter, Elaine. (106 mins.)

Director: Mike Nichols

Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross, William Daniels

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Image of Η Γκαρσονιέρα


Η Γκαρσονιέρα (1960)


A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue. (125 mins.)

Director: Billy Wilder

Stars: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston

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Image of On Golden Pond


On Golden Pond (1981)


The loons are back again on Golden Pond and so are Norman Thayer, a retired professor, and Ethel who… (109 mins.)

Director: Mark Rydell

Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, Doug McKeon

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Image of The Jazz Singer


The Jazz Singer (1927)


The son of a Jewish Cantor must defy his father in order to pursue his dream of becoming a jazz singer. (88 mins.)

Director: Alan Crosland

Stars: Al Jolson, May McAvoy, Warner Oland, Eugenie Besserer

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Image of Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages


Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916)


The story of a poor young woman, separated by prejudice from her husband and baby, is interwoven with tales of intolerance from throughout history. (163 mins.)

Director: D.W. Griffith

Stars: Lillian Gish, Douglas Fairbanks, Spottiswoode Aitken, Mary Alden

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Image of The Birth of a Nation


The Birth of a Nation (1915)


The Civil War divides friends and destroys families, but that’s nothing compared to the anarchy in the black-ruled South after the war. (165 mins.)

Director: D.W. Griffith

Stars: Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Henry B. Walthall, Miriam Cooper

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Image of Poios fovatai tin Virginia Woolf?


Poios fovatai tin Virginia Woolf? (1966)


A bitter aging couple with the help of alcohol, use a young couple to fuel anguish and emotional pain towards each other.(131 mins.)

Director: Mike Nichols

Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis

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Image of Το Δίκτυο


Το Δίκτυο (1976)


A television network cynically exploits a deranged former anchor’s ravings and revelations about the news media for its own profit. (121 mins.)

Director: Sidney Lumet

Stars: Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall

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Image of Οι Δώδεκα Ένορκοι


Οι Δώδεκα Ένορκοι (1957)


A dissenting juror in a murder trial slowly manages to convince the others that the case is not as obviously clear as it seemed in court. (96 mins.)

Director: Sidney Lumet

Stars: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam, John Fiedler

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Image of Fargo


Fargo (1996)


Jerry Lundegaard’s inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen’s bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson. (98 mins.)

Director: Joel Coen

Stars: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare

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Image of Rocky


Rocky (1976)


Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer gets a supremely rare chance to fight the heavy-weight champion, Apollo Creed, in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect. (119 mins.)

Director: John G. Avildsen

Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers

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Image of Breakfast at Tiffany's


Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)


A young New York socialite becomes interested in a young man who has moved into her apartment building. (115 mins.)

Director: Blake Edwards

Stars: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen

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Image of Spartacus: Blood and Sand


Spartacus: Blood and Sand (2010 TV Series)


Watch the story of history’s greatest gladiator unfold with graphic violence and explicit sex. This is Spartacus. (55 mins.)

Stars: Andy Whitfield, Lucy Lawless, Manu Bennett, Daniel Feuerriegel

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Image of My Fair Lady


My Fair Lady (1964)


A misogynistic and snobbish phonetics professor agrees to a wager that he can take a flower girl and make her presentable in high society. (170 mins.)

Director: George Cukor

Stars: Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, Wilfrid Hyde-White

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Image of West Side Story


West Side Story (1961)


Two youngsters from rival New York City gangs fall in love, but tensions between their respective friends build toward tragedy.(152 mins.)

Director: Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise

Stars: Natalie Wood, George Chakiris, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn

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Image of Rebel Without a Cause


Rebel Without a Cause (1955)


A rebellious young man with a troubled past comes to a new town, finding friends and enemies. (111 mins.)

Director: Nicholas Ray

Stars: James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Jim Backus

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Image of Moulin Rouge!


Moulin Rouge! (2001)


A poet falls for a beautiful courtesan whom a jealous duke covets in this stylish musical, with music drawn from familiar 20th century sources. (127 mins.)

Director: Baz Luhrmann

Stars: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent

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Image of Gran Torino


Gran Torino (2008)


Disgruntled Korean War veteran Walt Kowalski sets out to reform his neighbor, a Hmong teenager who tried to steal Kowalski’s prized possession: a 1972 Gran Torino. (116 mins.)

Director: Clint Eastwood

Stars: Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Christopher Carley, Ahney Her

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Image of Η Έκτη Αίσθηση


Η Έκτη Αίσθηση (1999)


A boy who communicates with spirits that don’t know they’re dead seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist. (107 mins.)

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Stars: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams

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Image of The Last Picture Show


The Last Picture Show (1971)


A group of 1950s high schoolers come of age in a bleak, isolated, atrophied West Texas town that is slowly dying, both economically and culturally. (118 mins.)

Director: Peter Bogdanovich

Stars: Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Ben Johnson

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Image of 2001: Οδύσσεια του Διαστήματος


2001: Οδύσσεια του Διαστήματος (1968)


Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial, object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest. (160 mins.)

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Stars: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter

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Image of The Sound of Music


The Sound of Music (1965)


A woman leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to the children of a Naval officer widower. (174 mins.)

Director: Robert Wise

Stars: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker, Richard Haydn

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Image of Ο Άρχοντας των Δαχτυλιδιών: Η Συντροφιά του Δαχτυλιδιού


Ο Άρχοντας των Δαχτυλιδιών: Η Συντροφιά του Δαχτυλιδιού (2001)


A meek hobbit of the Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring and the dark lord Sauron. (178 mins.)

Director: Peter Jackson

Stars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean

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Image of Τα Σαγόνια του Καρχαρία


Τα Σαγόνια του Καρχαρία (1975)


When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it. (124 mins.)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Stars: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary

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Image of Λεωφορείον ο Πόθος


Λεωφορείον ο Πόθος (1951)


Disturbed Blanche DuBois moves in with her sister in New Orleans and is tormented by her brutish brother-in-law while her reality crumbles around her. (122 mins.)

Director: Elia Kazan

Stars: Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden

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Image of Η Γέφυρα του Ποταμού Κβάι


Η Γέφυρα του Ποταμού Κβάι (1957)


After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men’s construction of a railway bridge for their captors – while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it. (161 mins.)

Director: David Lean

Stars: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa

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Image of Στη Φωλιά του Κούκου


Στη Φωλιά του Κούκου (1975)


Upon admittance to a mental institution, a brash rebel rallies the patients to take on the oppressive head nurse. (133 mins.)

Director: Milos Forman

Stars: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Michael Berryman, Peter Brocco

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Image of Νευρικός Εραστής


Νευρικός Εραστής (1977)


Neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with the ditsy Annie Hall. (93 mins.)

Director: Woody Allen

Stars: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts, Carol Kane

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Image of Ιπτάμενος και Τζέντλεμαν


Ιπτάμενος και Τζέντλεμαν (1982)


A young man must complete his work at a Navy Flight school to become an aviator, with the help of a tough gunnery sergeant and his new girlfriend. (124 mins.)

Director: Taylor Hackford

Stars: Richard Gere, Debra Winger, David Keith, Robert Loggia

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100 Greatest Movies Of All Time

One hundred five-star reviews, one article…

Jan 25th 2010By Total Film

100 Greatest Movies

Welcome to Total Film’s 100 Greatest Movies! To compile this list we trawled through our back catalogue of issues – 13 years worth – and picked out all of our 5-star reviews in search of our top 100 films.

In those 13 years, 160-some films were regarded worthy of a 5-star review, and after some cutting, whittling and massaging (Talladega Nights anyone?), we’ve culled that original shortlist down to the one hundred five-star reviews we think represent the 100 Greatest Movies.

If a film isn’t on the list, it may mean that we haven’t reviewed it in our tenure, or that for some reason we only gave it a 4-star review.

For films that came out before 1997, we’ve relied on the DVD review, for films post-1997 that have both cinema and DVD reviews, we’ve used the original cinema review (hence no Hidden – criminally given only 4-stars on release).

And lastly, this list is not a count-down, it’s alphabetical – we’re not playing favourites here.

So sit back, and scroll and click your way through our 100 Greatest Movies, and no doubt leave us a comment about something not being included…

100 Greatest Movies Of All Time2001: A Space Odyssey
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeAlien
100 Greatest Movies Of All Time All About Eve
100 Greatest Movies Of All Time Amadeus
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeAmelie
100 Greatest Movies Of All Time American Graffiti
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeAnnie Hall
100 Greatest Movies Of All Time The Apartment
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeApocalypse Now
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeAvatar

Next: Back To The Future, Badlands, Bambi[page-break]

100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeBack To The Future
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeBadlands
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeBambi
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeThe Battle Of Algiers
100 Greatest Movies Of All Time Belle De Jour
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeThe Bicycle Thieves
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeThe Big Lebowski
100 Greatest Movies Of All Time Black Narcissus
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeBlade Runner
100 Greatest Movies Of All Time Blue Velvet

Next: Bonnie And Clyde, Boogie Nights, Brazil[page-break]

100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeBonnie And Clyde
100 Greatest Movies Of All Time Boogie Nights
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeBrazil
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeThe Cabinet of Dr Caligari
100 Greatest Movies Of All Time Casablanca
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeChinatown
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeCinema Paradiso
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeCitizen Kane
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeCity of God
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeThe Conversation
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeThe Dark Knight

Next: Das Boot, The Deer Hunter, Die Hard[page-break]

100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeDas Boot
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeThe Deer Hunter
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeDie Hard
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeDirty Harry
100 Greatest Movies Of All Time Donnie Darko
100 Greatest Movies Of All Time Don’t Look Now
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeDouble Indemnity

100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeDr Strangelove
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeET: The Extra-Terrestrial
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeThe Exorcist

Next: Fargo, Fight Club, Finding Nemo[page-break]

100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeFargo
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeFight Club
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeFinding Nemo
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeGladiator
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeGlengarry Glen Ross
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeThe Godfather
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeGoldfinger
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeGone With The Wind
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeGoodfellas
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeHalf Nelson

Next: Halloween, Heat, His Girl Friday[page-break]

100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeHalloween
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeHeat
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeHis Friday Girl

100 Greatest Movies Of All Time

It’s A Wonderful Life
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeJaws
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeKing Kong
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeL.A. Confidential
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeLawrence Of Arabia
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeThe Lord of the Rings Trilogy
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeM

Next: Manhattan, Metropolis, Miller’s Crossing[page-break]

100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeManhattan
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeMetropolis
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeMillers Crossing
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeMonty Python’s Life Of Brian
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeNashville
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeNetwork
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeNight Of The Living Dead
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeNo Country For Old Men
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeNorth By Northwest
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeOne Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

Next: The Passion Of Joan Of Arc, Persona, Psycho[page-break]

100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeThe Passion of Joan of Arc
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimePersona
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeThe Philadelphia Story
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimePsycho
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimePulp Fiction
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeRaging Bull
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeRaiders Of The Lost Ark
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeRear Window
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeReservoir Dogs
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeThe Seventh Seal

Next: Sideways, Sin City, Singin’ In The Rain[page-break]

100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeSideways
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeSingin’ In The Rain
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeSome Like It Hot
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeStar Wars Ep IV: A New Hope
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeStar Wars Ep V: The Empire Strikes Back
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeSunset Boulevard
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeThe Sweet Smell of Success
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeThere Will Be Blood
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeThe Third Man

Next: This Is England, This Is Spinal Tap, Tokyo Story[page-break]

100 Greatest Movies Of All Time

This Is England
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeThis Is Spinal Tap
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeTokyo Story
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeTouch Of Evil
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeThe Truman Show
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeVertigo
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeWest Side Story
When We Were Kings
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeWithnail and I
100 Greatest Movies Of All TimeThe Wrestler
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