Best Films Ever?

Here’s the list I sent in to the Normblog Best Movies poll, ordered by date, though the first is also the best:

Napoléon vu par Abel Gance (1927)
A Night at the Opera (1935)
Casablanca (1942)
Ladri di biciclette [Bicycle Thieves] (1948)
The Third Man (1949)
High Noon (1952)
Kumonosu jo [Throne of Blood] (1957)
Il Gattopardo [The Leopard] (1963)
La Battaglia di Algeri [The Battle of Algiers] (1965)
C’era una volta il West [Once Upon a Time in the West] (1968)

I’m pleased to see just how important good music is to most of these films: Napoléon requires an orchestra to perform properly, A Night at the Opera is all about music (and even has bearable musical interludes!), the Marseillaise scene from Casablanca is right at the heart of the film�s drama, two of these films have fine Ennio Morricone scores, one (High Noon) has the greatest title song ever (which I’ve blogged about before), another (The Third Man) has everyone’s favourite zither music.Other random thoughts: it’s a very conservative list: all of these films are generally reckoned to be masterpieces, and there’s nothing especially quirky or idiosyncratic here. It’s also a very male list, too: there are very few really interesting parts for women in any of these films (and I’m not counting Margaret Dumont in A Night at the Opera here), several of which centre — as so many films do — around the antagonistic relationships between the male principals. I’m surprised that there’s nothing French on this list apart from Napoléon (I remember enjoying La règle du jeu, but it’s too long since I saw it to have a strong memory of why it was so good, so it doesn’t make it onto this list). There’s nothing Russian. Nothing by several directors whose work I generally like quite a lot: Alfred Hitchcock, Satyajit Ray, Woody Allen. Most obviously of all, there�s nothing at all recent either, which seems odd, because I don’t usually think of myself as being the kind of person who thinks that the only really good films are the really old ones. (Last year’s City of God was splendid.) But there’s nothing here since Once Upon a Time in the West, and all of these films fit into a forty year period or so, 1927-1968, which is a striking distribution for an artform which has been around now for more than a century. Hmm.

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