Cinema that was invented in the last decade of 19th century, flourished in the 20th century and for the most part,it was the most popular and in a way the most creative art format, borrowing from other art forms. After the invention of television, and the production of TV films in the second half of the last century, and later on the internet media and the new age of digitalism and online streaming or stealing of the movies, at least over the past couple of decades, Cinema has lost its glory. At the same time, while in the first half or most of the 20th century, Cinema was heavily in the hands of story tellers, photographers, and actors, who were all led by the filmmaker or the creator, in the last few decades of the past century and more so in the present 21st century, it is dominated by digital special effects and out of reality. So cinema as an art format has greatly transformed to a technical/digital industry. Along the many efforts across the globe to save this modern art against the box office sales pressure and capital demand, this site hopes to contribute a small part in this endeavor!
Cinema initially sprang from photography, so that later on and to this day, it is called “motion picture” or “movies”, while the term “film” could be used for both cinema and photography. In the beginning, cinema was simply, pictures in motion with no other adding arts or technology, such as sound, music, or else, but acting. That is why for the first few decades since the birth of cinema, the movies were “silent” and this art form had to rely basically on the power of imagery with all its cinematographic components and the filmmakers like painters on canvas had to do whatever they could to create a powerful moving picture on the screen in addition to silent acting without talk. In this endeavor, some relied on set design, the use of light and shadows, like the German expressionists, and some relied on editing like Eisenstein, and some relied mostly on acting and sensible realism like Chaplin. At the time and even today, it is easier to rate and rank a silent film, as there were no white noise of sound or talk and all were imagery and picture in motion to measure. Due to simplicity, originality and the role of these pure ingredients, the silent films are still on the top of many best films of all time, such as the works of Serge Eisenstein, Fritz Lang, D.W.Griffith, and Charles Chaplin.
The sound brought theatrical acting to the cinema despite strong oppositions of silent films’ actors who were great action actors, specially in comedy. While 1920’s were still dominated by the silent movies, the 1930’s were the era of infiltration of theatrical acting to cinema that lasted for several decades until the recent domination of special effects and interception of digitalism into cinema. Orson Welles, Humphrey Bogart, Catharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Vivien Leigh, James Dean and Marlon Brando were such actors who stemmed from theatre or acted as such. This continued to the modern era so that the newer actors such as Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Leonardo DiCaprio continued with such legacy. The theatrical acting while added rich flavor to the story telling and content through dialogues to the cinema, in many instances became very close to theatrical plays and robbed the cinematic experience and presentation, and limited the filmmakers in showing their talents. This is somewhat parallel to the digital cinema nowadays, where digitalism and special effects have totally stolen the rich cinematic creation.
Evaluation, rating and ranking movies, is not a matter of personal taste, likeness, or even a collective voting of majority, as the majority could be wrong and do not consider all the components of a film, with a delicate consideration of the differential factors. In other words, the role of camera, acting and editing are not the same and do not carry the similar weights as special effect. Unfortunately this has not been done closely in most rating and ranking of the motion pictures and the best lists, or awards such as Oscar. Beyond the different components of a film, that somewhat and singularly are recognized as in awards for script, acting, editing, directing, etc., the following factors in ranking the best films are essential. (Of course based on the following criteria, the earlier a film, the higher the rank would be, except the films that in addition to these factors, they have the “best impression” that could go beyond the time boundary. This is certainly very rare and on our list could include only a few rare top films such as “The Battleship Potemkin”, “Man with a movie camera” and “Metropolis”. Finally any originality and technicality if not cinematic or visual and at the service of story telling, entertainment or enlightening , like experimental works of some such as Godard do not count in this site evaluation and ranking of the films.
- Originality: No matter how well a film has been made today, if it is a copy of an original work, or an adaptation in one form or another, it would put it out of any best rank. An original work, even if not well done to perfection, it is still original and a creation that needs to be considered. Of course the earlier films fairly take on a lot of credits from this factor, but this may encourage the true filmmakers not to be copiers or followers but original and creative!
- Technicality: This factor should cover all the technical aspects of filmmaking from the story and script to the all works of camera, acting, editing, special effects, etc. The originality and proper application of each technique or component need to be considered in ranking.
- Impact Factor/Significance: This is the factor influencing other films, urging them to copy and experience the original work in part or in whole. This factor is not only the influence that an original work has on the industry, but on people in general and other forms of art and aspects of life as well. In conjunction with the influence that a film could have on other films or else, the significance of the film on cinema as a whole and on the history of this art medium is important and will be counted on.
- Survival: This shows how long a work, no matter how great, it will be remembered and looks fresh for years to come, specially in the eyes of the true cinema patriots.
Throughout this site, in writing on films and ranking them, the above factors will be delicately considered, though no evaluation or ranking could be rightful. Such comprehensive evaluation and ranking will hopefully encourage others to take on such or similar process in ranking and awarding, and avoiding a single factor such as the content of the story for political or trend of the time reasons!
Almost all available films in English or with English subtitles from the early years of inception of cinema in this list have been diligently reviewed. Since the originality criteria is very important and could affect the other criteria of technicality, impact and survival, this review has been so far until the year 1975. The following films that have been on some greatest films lists or have been ranked high or awarded by different organizations, have been particularly more carefully watched and reviewed.
In evaluation and recognition of the great and specifically the greatest films, beyond the factors of originality, technicality, impact factor and survival, the overall and instant impression of a film has been greatly considered. This impression that instantly in the first few minutes of the film befalls on the viewer, is what could move a film up the ladder of time and originality to the top of this list here. This impression factor also could include a film that’s not original in singularity, but original and novel in the application of previous original techniques.
The story content of the film does not bear any importance on this site in recognition and ranking the great films as it is customary in other awards and ranking recognitions. Also any adaptation from other sources such as novels or plays to the film takes off the originality of the film, unless such adaptation has become an original of its own. This list of greatest films of all time, unlike many other such lists is not limited to a certain number, e.g. 100, so it could be less or more and it is also ongoing, though the newer films have less chance or such recognition due to the high chance of lack of originality.
The films in blue colour have been great, but not the greatest to be in our list, and the film in red colour have been the greatest films of all time in our list:
1906:The story of Kelly Craig (Charles Tait) (Australia)
1911:L’inferno (Francesco Bertolini) (France) Defence of Sevastopol (A.Khanzonov/V.Goncharov) (Russia)
1912:Cleopatra (C.Gaskil) (USA) Robin Hood (E.Arnaud/H.Blache) (USA)
1913:Ouo Vadis (Enrico Guazzoni) (Italy) L’enfent de Paris (Leonce Perret) (France)
1914:Cinderella (J,Kirkwood Sr.)(USA) The Mysterious X (B.Christensen) (Denmark)
1915:The Birth of a Nation (D.W.Griffith) (USA) The Golem (P.Wegener/H.Galeen) (Germany) Alice in the Wonderland (W.W.Young) (USA) The Italian (R.Barker) (USA)
1916:Intolerance (D.W.Griffith) (USA) 20,000 Leagues under the sea (S.Paton) (USA) Sherlock Holmes (A.Berthelet) (USA) The end of the world (A.Blom) (Denmark)
1918:A trip to Mars (Holger-Madsen) (Denmark)
1919:Harariki (F.Lang) (Germany)
1920:The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (R. Wiene) (Germany) Erotikon (M.Stiller) (Sweden)
1921:The Kid (Chaplin) (USA)
1922:Nanook of the North (R.J. Flahery) (USA) Nosferatu (F.W.Murnau) (Germany) Othello (D.Buchowetzki) (Germany)
1923:The Ten Commandments (C.B.DeMille) (USA)
1924:Greed (E.v. Stroheim) (USA) America (W.D.Griffith) (USA)
1925:The Battleship Potemkin (Eisentein) (Russia) The Gold Rush (Chaplin) (USA) Strike (Eisenstein) (Russia) Orochi (B.Futagawa) (Japan)
1926:The General (B.Keaton) (USA) Nana (J.Renoir) (France)
1927:Metropolis (Fritz Lang) (Germany) Wings (W. Wellman) (USA) Sunrise: A song of two humans (R.Longford) (USA) The Jazz singer (A.Crosland) (USA) Berlin: Symphony of a great city (W.Ruttmann) (Germany) October (Ten days that shook the World) (Esienstein) (Russia) The end of Petersburg (V.Pudovkin/M.Doller) (Russia)
1928:The Crowd (K.Vidor) (USA) The passion of Joan of arc (C.T. Dreyer) (France) The last command (J.v. Sternberg) (USA) The circus (Chaplin) (USA)
1929:Man with a movie camera (D.Vertov) (Russia) Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog) (L.Bunuel) (Spain) Pandora’s box (G.W.Pabst) (Germany) The Broadway melody (H.Beaumont) (USA) Tokyo March (Mizoguchi) (Japan)
1930:All quiet on the western front (L.Milestone) (USA) Earth (A. Dovezhneko) (Russia) L’age d’or (Luis Bunuel) (Spain) The blue angel (E.Dmytryk) (Germany) A’ propos de Nice (J.Vigo) (France)
1931:Dracula (T.Browning)(USA) City lights (Chaplin) (USA) Grand Hotel (E.Goulding) (USA) M (F.Lang) (Germany) Cimarron (W.Ruggles) (USA) Frankenstein (J.Whale) (USA)
1932:Cavalcade (F.Lloyd) (USA) A farewell to arms (F. Borzage) (USA) Trouble in paradise (E.Lubitsch) (USA) Freaks (T.Browning) (USA) Boudu saved from drowning (J.Renoir) (France) Scarface (H.Hawks) (USA) L’Atlantide (G.W.Pabst) (Germany/France)
1933:Baby face (A.Green) (USA) King Kong (M.Cooper/E.Schoedsack) (USA) Duck soup (L.McCarey) (USA) 42nd street (L.Bacon/B.Berkeley) (USA) Zero for conduct (J.Vigo) (France) Don Quixote (G.W.Pabst) (France/England)) Land without bread (L.Bunuel) (Spain) The Invisible Man (J.Whale) (USA)
1934:It’s a gift (N.Mcleod) (USA) Three songs about Lenin (D.Vertov) (Russia)
1935:The 39 steps (Hitchcock) (USA) Triumph of the will (L.Rienfenstahl) (Germany) The informer (J.Ford) (USA) The Bride of Frankenstein (J.Whale) (USA) A night at the opera (S.Wood) (USA) Top hat (M.Sandrich) (USA)
1936:Modern times (Chaplin) (USA) The great Ziegfeld (R.Z.Leonard) (USA) Camille (G.Cukor) (USA) The crime of Monsieur Lange (J.Renoir) (Franace) Swing time (G.Stevens) (USA) Night mail (H.Smith) (USA)
1937: La Grand illusion (J.Renoir) (France) Pepe le Moko (J.Duvivier) (France) Snow white and the seven dwarfs (USA)(W.Disney/D.Hand/W.Jackson/L.Morey/P.Pearce/B.Sharpsteen)
Humanity and paper balloons (S.Yamanaka) (Japan) The awful truth (L.McCarey) (USA)
1938:Alexander Nevsky (Eisenstein) (Russia) The lady vanishes (Hitchcock) (USA) Pygmalion (A.Asquith/L.Howard) (USA) You can’t take it with you (F.Capra) (USA) Olympia (L.Reifenestahl) (Germany) Jezebel (W.Wyler) (USA) The Adventures of Robin Hood (M.Curtiz) (USA)
1939:Le jour se leve (M.Carne) (France) The rules of the game (J.Renoir) (France) The wizard of Oz (V.Fleming) (USA) Gone with the wind (V.Fleming) (USA) Stagecoach (J.Ford) (USA) Ninotchka (E.Lubitsch) (USA) Wuthering heights (W.Wyler) (USA)
1940:Fantasia (S.Armstrong/J.Algar…) (USA) The great dictator (Chaplin) (USA) The grapes of wrath (J.Ford) (USA) Rebecca (Hitchcock) (USA) Pinocchio (W.Disney/B.Sharpsteen…) (USA) The Philadelphia Story (G.Cukor) (USA)
1941:Citizen Kane (O.Welles) (USA) The Maltese Falcon (J.Huston) (USA) How green was my valley (J.Ford) (USA) Sullivan’s Travels (P.Sturges) (USA) The Lady Eve (P.Sturges) (USA)
1942:Casablanca (M.Curtiz) (USA) The magnificent Ambersons (O.Welles) (USA) Mrs. Miniver (W.Wyler) (USA) Listen to Britain (H.Jennings) (England)
1943:The life and death of colonel Blimp (M.Powell) (England) Titanic (H.Selpin) (Germany) Shadow of a Doubt (Hitchcock) (USA)
1944:Going my way (L.McCarey) (USA) Double indemnity (B.Wilder) (USA) Gaslight (G.Cukor) (USA) Meet Me in St. Louis (V.Minnelli) (USA) Laura (O.Preminger) (USA)
1945:Brief encounter (D.Lean) (USA) The lost weekend (B.Wilder) (USA) Spellbound (Hitchcock) (USA) Children of paradise (M.Carne) (France) Detour (E.Ulmer) (USA) Rome, Open City (R.Rossellini) (Italy) The turning point (Fridrikh Ermler) (Russia) A diary for Timothy (H.Jennings) (England)
1946:The best years of our lives (W.Wyler) (USA) It’s a wonderful life (F.Capra) (USA) Notorious (Hichcock) (USA) My darling Celmentine (J.Ford) (US) Beauty and the beast (J.Cocteau) (France) The Killers (R.Siodmak) (USA)
1947:Gentleman’s agreement (E.Kazan) (USA) Out of the past (J.Tourneur) (England)
1948:The Fallen idol (C.Reed) (England) Bicycle thieves (De Sica) (Italy) The treasure of Sierra Madre (J.Huston) (USA) Hamlet (L.Olivier) (England) Monsieur Vincent (M.Cloche) (France) Letter from an unknown woman (M.Ophuls) (USA) Red River (H.Hawks) (USA) The red shoes (M.Powell) (England) Macbeth (O.Welles) (USA) Germany year zero (R.Rossellini) (Italy) La Terra Trema (Luchino Visconti) (Italy) Le sang des bêtes (G.Franju) (France) Drunken Angel (Kurosawa) (Japan)
1949:Kind hearts and coronets (R.Hamer) (England) The Third Man (C.Reed) (England) All the king’s men (R.Rossen) (USA) Late spring (Y.Ozu) (Japan)
1950:Rashomon (Kurosawa) (Japan) All about Eve (J.Mankiewicz) (USA) Sunset Blvd. (B.Wilder) (USA) The walls of Malapaga (R.Clement) (France) In a lonely place (N.Ray) (USA) Orphee (J.Cocteau) (France) Los Olvidados (L.Bunuel) (Spain)
1951:Miss Julie (Alf Sjoberg) (Sweden) A streetcar named Desire (E. Kazan) (USA) An American in Paris (V. Minnelli) (USA) The African Queen (J. Huston) (USA) Diary of a country priest (R.Bresson) (France) The River (J.Renoir) (France) Othello (O.Welles) (USA) The day the Earth stood still (Robert Wise) (USA)
1952:Forbidden games (R. Clement) (France) Ikiru (Kurosawa) (Japan) The importance of being earnest (A. Asquith) (England) Umberto D. (De Sica) (Italy) The white sheik (Fellini) (Italy) High noon (Fred Zinnemann) (USA) The quiet man (J.Ford) (USA) Limelight (Chaplin) (USA) Singin’ in the rain (G.Kelly/S.Donen) (USA)
1953:M.Hulot’s holiday (J.Tati) (France) Ugetsu (K.Mizoguchi) (Japan) The wages of fear (H.G. Clouzot) (France/Italy) Tokyo story (Y.Ozu) (Japan0 The war of the worlds (B.Haskin) (USA) Julius Caesar (J.Mankiewicz) (USA) Shane (G.Stevens) (USA) From here to eternity (F.Zinnemann) (USA) Roman holiday (W.Wyler) (USA) The robe (H.Coster) (USA) The earrings of Madame De..(M.Ophuls) (France)
1954:Seven Samurai (Kurosawa) (Japan) La Strada (Fellini) (Italy) On the waterfront (Kazan) (USA) Gate of hell (T.Kinugasa) (Japan) Journey to Italy (Rossellini) (Italy) Rear window (Hitchcock) (USA) Godzilla (I.Honda) (Japan) Twenty-four eyes (K.Kinoshita) (Japan) Johnny guitar (N.Ray) (USA) Sansho the Bailiff (Mizoguchi) (Japan) A star is born (G.Cukor) (USA) Sabrina (B.Wilder) (USA) Seven brides for seven brothers (S.Donen) (USA)
1955:Richard III (L.Olivier) (England) Summertime (D.Lean) (USA) Apu Trilogy (Pather Panchali) (Satyajit Ray) (India) Oklahoma (F.Zinnemann) (USA) Rebel without a cause (Kazan) (USA) Samurai, the legend of Musashi (H.Inagaki) (Japan) Smiles of a summer night (I.Bergman) (Sweden) The night of the hunter (C.Laughton) (USA) Les diaboliques (H.G.Clouzot) (France) Marty (D.Mann) (USA) East of Eden (Kazan) (USA) To catch a thief (Hitchcock) (USA)
1956:The Searchers (J.Ford) (USA) The ten commandments (C.B.DeMille) (USA) Giant (G.Stevens) (USA) The king and I (W.Lang) (USA) The silent world (J.Cousteau) (France) Invasion of the body snatchers (D.Siegel) (USA) A man escaped (Bresson) (France) The Burmese Harp (K.Ichikawa) (Japan) Written on the wind (D.Sirk) (USA) And God created woman (R.Vadim) (France) Night and fog (A.Resnais) (France) Apu trilogy (Aparajito) (S.Ray) (India) Moby Dick (J.Huston) (USA)
1957: The seventh seal (Bergman) (Sweden) Wild strawberries (Bergman) (Sweden) 12 angry men (S.Lumet) (USA) Nights of Cabiria (Fellini) (Italy) Sweet smell of success (A.Mackendrick) (USA) Peyton place (M.Robson) (USA) Paths of glory (Kubrick) (USA) The cranes are flying (M.Kalatazov) (Russia) Throne of blood (Kurosawa) (Japan) The bridge on the river Kwai (D.Lean) (USA)
1958:Ashes and diamonds (A.Wajda) (Poland) Ivan the terrible, part II (Eisenstein) (Russia) Cat on a hot tin roof (R.Brooks) (USA) Mon Oncle (J.Tati) (France) Vertigo (Hitchcock) (USA) Touch of evil (O.Welles) (USA) The hidden fortress (Kurosawa) (Japan)
1959:Ballad of a soldier (G.Chukhrai) (Russia) Fires on the plain (K.Ichikawa) (Japan) Floating weeds (Y.Ozu) (Japan) The 400 blows (Trauffaut) (France) Some like it hot (B.Wilder) (USA) Ben Hur (W.Wyler) (USA) Anatomy of a murder (O.Preminger) (USA) Black Orpheus (O.Negro) (France) North by Northwest (Hitchcock) USA) Hiroshima, mon amour (A.Resnais) (France) Pickpocket (Bresson) (France) Il generale Della Rovere (Rossellini) (Italy) The human condition (M.Kobayashi) (Japan) Moi, un noir (J. Rouch) (France) Rio Bravo (H.Hawks) (USA) The Great War (M.Monicelli) (Italy/France) A summer place (D. Daves) (USA) Apu Trilogy (The World of Apu) (S.Ray) (India) The Unsent letter (M.Kalatazov) (Russia)
1960:L’Avventura (Antonioni) (Italy) The virgin spring (Bergman) (Sweden) Breathless (Godard) (France) La Dolce Vita (Fellini) (Italy) Psycho (Hitchcock) (USA) The apartment (B.Wilder) (USA) Two women (De Sica) (Italy) Eyes without a face (G.Franju) (France) Rocco and his brothers (L.Visconti) (Italy) When a woman ascends the stairs (M.Naruse) (Japan) Purple Noon (R.Clement) (France) The magnificent seven (J.Sturges) (USA) Peeping Tom (M.Powell) (England) Spartacus (Kubrick) (USA) Cimarron (A.Mann) (USA) Ocean’s Eleven (L.Milestone) (USA) The World of Suzie Wong (R.Quine) (England/USA) Elmer Gantry (R.Brooks) (USA) Shoot the piano player (Truffaut) (France)
1961:Il Posto (E.Olmi) (Italy) Viridiana (Bunuel) (Spain) West side story (R.Wise) (USA) Through a glass darkly (Bergman) (Sweden) The long absence (H.Colpi) (France) Yojimbo (Kurosawa) (Japan) Splendor in the grass (Kazan) (USA) La Notte (Antonioni) (Italy) Breakfast at Tiffany’s (B.Edwards) (USA) One, two, three (B.Wilder) (USA) The Hustler (R.Rossen) (USA) Barabbas (Richard Fleischer) (Italy)
1962:Jules and Jim (Trauffaut) (France) Knife in the water (Polanski) (Poland) Lawrence of Arabia (D.Lean) (USA) To kill a mockingbird (R.Mulligan) (USA) Sundays and Cybele (S.Bourguignon) (France) Keeper of promises (A.Duarte) (Brazil) La Jetee (C.Marker) (France) The Manchurian candidate (J.Frankenheimer) (USA) Birdman of Alcatraz (J.Frankenheimer) (USA) Cape fear (J.L.Thompson) (USA) Lolita (Kubrick) (USA) Sweet bird of youth (R.Brooks) (USA) Ivan’s childhood (A.Tarkovsky) (Russia) L’Eclisse (Antonioni) (Italy) Salvatore Giuliano (F.Rosi) (Italy) Harakiri (Kobayashi) (Japan) Cleo from 5 to 7 (A.Varda) (France/Italy) The trial (O. Welles) (USA) Sanjuro (Kurosawa) (Japan) Two weeks in another town (V.Minnelli) (USA) Phaedra (J.Dassin) (France) My life to live (Godard) (France)
1963:81/2 (Fellini) (Italy) Eat (A.Warhol) (USA) America America (Kazan) (USA) How the west was won (J.Ford/H.Hathaway/G.Marshall) (USA) Lilies of the field (R.Nelson) (USA) The Leopard (Visconti) (Italy) Charade (S.Donen) (USA) The Birds (Hitchcock) (USA) Contempt (Le Mepris) (Godard) (France) The house is black (F.Farokhzad) (Iran) The Pink Panther (B.Edwards) (USA) The Silence (Bergman) (Sweden) Shock corridor (S.Fuller) (USA) Winter Light (Bergman) (Sweden) Jason and Argonauts (J.Chaffey) (USA) The Great Escape (J.Sturges) (USA) It’s a mad, mad, mad world (S.Kramer) (USA) Cleopatra (J.Mankiewicz) (USA) Lord of the flies (P.Brook) (USA) The Servant (J.Losey) (Italy) The fire within (L.Malle) (France) Le petit soldat (Godard) (France) The Big City (S.J.Ray) (India)
1964:Dr.Strangelove or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb (Kubrick) (USA) For a fistful of dollars (S.Leone) (Italy) Becket (P.Glenville) (England/USA) Yesterday, today, tomorrow (De Sica) (Italy) The umbrellas of Cherbourg (J.Demy) (France) Band a part (Band or outsiders) (Godard) (France) A Hard day’s night (R.Lester) (England) The naked kiss (S.Fuller) (USA) Hamlet (S.Kozintsev) (Russia) Marriage Italian style (De Sica) (Italy) The Gospel according to St.Matthew (Pasolini) (Italy) Scorpio rising (K.Anger) (USA) Mary Poppins (R.Stevenson) (USA) Goldfinger (G.Hamilton) (USA) I am Cuba (Kalataov) Russia) The fall of the Roman Empire (A.Mann) (USA) Diamonds of the Night (Jan Němec) (Czechoslovakia) Before the Revolution (Bertolucci) (Italy) Black Peter (M.Forman) (Czechoslovakia) My Fair Lady (G.Cukor) (USA) Red Desert (Antonioni) (Italy) The night of the Iguana (J.Huston) (USA) Kwaidan (Kobayashi) (Japan) Gate of flesh (S.Suzuki) (Japan)
1965:Fists in the pocket (M.Bellocchio) (Italy) Loves of a blonde (M.Forman) (Czechoslovakia) Dr.Zhivago (D.Lean) (USA) The sound of music (R.Wise) (USA) The shop on Main street (Jan Kadar/Elmar Klos) (Czechoslovakia) The knack…and how to get it (Richard Lester) (England) Pierrot le fou (Godard) (France) Cat Ballou (Elliot Silverstein) (USA) Repulsion (Polanski) (England) Chimes at midnight (O. Welles) (USA) Red beard (Kurosawa) (Japan) Sandra of a Thousand Delights (Visconti) (Italy) Alphaville (Godard) (France)
1966:The battle of Algiers (Gilo Pontecorvo) (Italy/Algeria) The good, the bad and the ugly (S.Leone) (Italy) A man for all seasons (Fred Zinnemann) (England) The sand pebbles (R.Wise) (USA) Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Mike Nichols) (USA) A man and a woman (Claude Lelouch) (France) Au hazard Balthazar (Bresson) (France/Sweden) Persona (Bergman) (Sweden) Andrei Rublev (A.Tarkovsky) (Russia) Blow-up (Antonioni) (Italy) Farenheit 451 (Trauffaut) (France) Tokyo drifter (S.Suzuki) (Japan) Black girl (O.Sembene) (France/Senegal) War and Peace (King Vidor) (USA) Alfie (Lewis Gilbert) (USA) The Chase (Arthur Penn) (USA) Torn Curtain (Hitchcock) (USA) Is Paris burning? (Rene Clement) (France)
1967:Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn) (USA) The Graduate (Mike Nichols) (USA) In the heat of the night (Norman Jewison) (USA) Closely watched trains (Jiri Menzel) (Czechoslovakia) Playtime (Jacques Tati) (France) The producers (Mel Brooks) (USA) Mouchette (Bresson) (France) The dirty dozen (Robert Aldrich) (USA/England) The taming of the shrew (Franco Zeffirelli) (USA) Le Samurai (jean-Pierre Melville) (France) Belle de Jour (Luis Bunuel) (France/Italy) Memories of underdevelopment (Tomas Gutieerz Alea) (Cuba) Wavelength (Michael Snow) (Canada/USA) Don’t look back (D.A. Pennebaker) (USA) Titicut follies (Fredrick Wiseman) (USA) Portrait of Jason (Shirley Clarke) (USA) Cool Hand Luke (Stuart Rosenberg) (USA) Guess who’s coming to dinner (Stanley Cramer) (USA) War and peace (Segei Bondarchuk) (Russia) Doctor Faustus (Richard Burton/Nevil Coghill) (England) Barefoot in the park (Gene Saks) (USA) Wait until dark (Terence Young) (USA) In cold blood (Richard Brooks) (USA) Camelot (Joshua Logan) (USA) A countess from Hong Kong (Chaplin) (USA) Oedipus Rex (Pasolini) (Italy) Reflection in a golden eye (John Huston) (USA)
1968:Planet of the Apes (Franklin Schaffner) (USA) 2001: A space odyssey (Kubrick) (USA) Night of the living dead (George Romero) (USA) Oliver (Carol Reed) (England) Romeo and Juliet (Franco Zeffirelli) Italy/England) The lion in the winter (Anthony Harey) (England/USA) Once upon a time in the west (S.Leone) (Italy) Faces (John Cassavetes) (USA) Rosemary’s baby (R.Polanski) (USA) The swimmer (Frank Oerry/Sydney Polack) (USA) Two comrades were serving (Yevgeny Karelov) (Russia) Kuroneko (The Black Cat) (Kaneto Shindo) (Japan) Walden (Diaries, notes and sketches) (Jonas Mekas) (USA) Bullitt (Peter Yates) (USA) Shame (Ingmar Bergman) (Sweden) Hour of the Wolf (Bergman) (Sweden) Funny Girl (William Wyler) (USA) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Ken Hughes) (USA/England) The Party (Blake Edwards) (USA) Isadora (Karek Reisz) (England/France) Charly (Ralph Nelson) (USA) Stolen Kisses (Truffaut) (France) Rachel, Rachel (Paul Newman) (USA) The Boston Strangler (Richard Fleischer) The Shoes of the Fisherman (Michael Anderson) (USA) If…. (Lindsay Anderson) (England)
1969:Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (George Roy Hill) (USA) Midnight cowboy (John Schlesinger) (USA) Z(Costa-Gavras) (Algeria/France) Wild bunch (Sam Pekinpah) (USA) They shoot horses, don’t they? (Sydney Pollack) (USA) Army of shadows (Jean-Pierre Melville) (France) The sorrow and the pity (Marcel Ophuls) (France) My night at Maud’s (Eric Rohmer) (Frnace) Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper) (USA) The Red Tent (Mikhail Kaltozov) (Russia) Salesman (Albert & David Maysles/Charlotte Zwerin) (USA) Fellini’s Satyricon (Fellini) (Italy) The passion of Anna (Bergman) (Sweden) Topaz (Hitchcock) (USA)
1970:Patton (Frankiln Schaffner) (USA) Investigation of a citizen above suspicion (Elio Petri) (Italy) Tristana (Luis Bunuel) (Spain/France/Italy) The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci) (Italy/France) Dodes’ka-den (Kurosawa) (Japan) Love Story (Arthur Hiller) (USA) MASH (Robert Altman) (USA) The Wild Child (Truffaut) (France) Little Big Man (Arthur Penn) (USA) Le Boucher (Claude Chabrol) (France/Italy) The Artistocats (Wolfgang Reitherman) (USA) Ryan’s Daughter (David Lean) (England) Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson) (USA) Valerie and her week of wonders (Jaromil Jires) (Csechoslovakia) Le cercle rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville) (France) Claire’s Knee (Eric Rohmer) (France) The twelve chairs (Mel Brooks) (USA) Airport (George Seaton) (USA) T The Kremlin letter (John Huston) (USA) The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (de Sica) (Italy)
1971:A Clockwork orange (Kubrick) (England/USA) The French connection (William Friedkin) (USA) Fiddler on the roof (Norman Jewison) (USA) Straw dogs (Sam Peckinpah) (England/USA) The go-between (Joseph Losey) (England/USA) Death in Venice (Visconti) (Italy/France) King Lear (Grigori Kozintsev) (Russia) Wake in Fright (Ted Kotcheff) (Australia) The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich) (USA) Dirty Harry (Don Siegel) (USA) Klute (Alan J. Pakula) (USA) McCabe & Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman) (USA) Macbeth (Polanski) (USA/England) A touch of Zen (King Hu) (China) Trafic (Jaque Tati) (France) The Panic in the needle park (Jerry Schatzberg) (USA) Johnny got his gun (Dalton Trumbo) (USA) Nicholas and Alexandra (Franklin Schaftner) (England) Bananas (Woody Allen) (USA)
1972:Fritz the cat (Ralph Bakshi) (USA) The Godfather (F.Coppola) (USA) The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie (Bunuel) (France/Spain/Italy) Aguirre:The wrath of God (Werner Herzog) (West Germany) Junior Bonner (Peckinpah) (USA) Cabaret (Bobe Fosse) (USA) Quiz Show (Robert Redford) (USA) Last Tango in Paris (Bertolucci) (Italy/France) Man of La Mancha (Arthur Hiller) (USA/Italy) Roma (Fellini) (Italy) The bitter tear of Petra von Kant (Fassbinder) (W.Germany) Cries and Whispers (Bergman) (Sweden) Jeremiah Johnson (Sydney Pollack) (USA) Deliverance (John Boorman) (USA) Slaughterhouse-Five (George Roy Hill) (USA) Frenzy (Hitchcock) (USA) Everything you always wanted to know about sex, but were afraid to ask (Woody Allen) (USA) State of Siege (C.Gavras) (France)
1973:The spirit of the beehive (Victor Erice) (Spain) The Sting (George Roy Hill) (USA) Day for night (Francois Truffaut) (France) Badlands (Terrence Malick) (USA) Don’t look now (Nicolas Roeg) (England/Italy) The exorcist (William Friedkin) (USA) Papillion (Frankiln Schaffner) ((USA/France) We all loved each other so much (Etoore Scola) (Italy) Amarcord (Fellini) (Italy) American Graffiti (George Lucas) (USA) Mean Streets (Scorsese) (USA) Scenes from a Marriage (Bergman) (Sweden) Paper Moon (Bogdanovich) (USA) Save the Tiger (John Avlidsen) (USA) Serpico (Sydney Lumet) (USA) Immoral Tales (Walerian Borowczyk) (France) Sleeper (Woody Allen) (USA) The way we were (Sydney Pollack) (USA)
1974:Chinatown (Polanski) (USA) The conversation (Francis Ford Coppola) (USA) Scent of a woman (Dino Risi) (Italy) Blazing Saddles (Mel Brooks) (USA) The Enigma of Kasper Hauser (Werner Herzog) (W.Germany) Young Frankestein (Mel Brooks) (USA) Ali: Fear eats the soul (Rainer Werner Fassbinder) (W.Germany) The Great Gatsby (Jack Clayton) (USA) Celine and Julie go boating (Jacques Rivette) (France) The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (Joseph Sargent) (USA) The Towering Inferno (John Guillermin) (USA) Mirror (Andrei Tarkovski) (Russia) The Godfather Part II (F.Coppola) (USA) The Yakuza (S.Pollack) (USA/Japan) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper) (USA) Murder on the Orient Express (S.Lumet) (USA/England) Alice doesn’t live here anymore (Scorsese) (USA) The Night Porter (Liliana Cavani) (Italy/USA) The Phantom of Liberty (Bunuel) (France/Italy) Arabian Nights (Pasolini) (Italy) Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia (Peckinpah) (USA)
1975:Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Terry Gilliam/Terry Jones) (England) Jaws (Spielberg) (USA) One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest (Milos Forman) (USA) Barry Lyndon (Kubrick) (England/USA) Dog day afternoon (Sidney Lumet) (USA) Dersu Uzala (Kurosawa) (Japan/Russia) The story of Adele H (Truffaut) (France) Mirror (Andrei Tarkovski) (Russia) The lost honour of Katharina Blum (Volker Schlondorff/Margarethe von Trotta) (W.Germany) Jeanne Dileman, 23 quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman) (Belgium/France) Grey gardens (Albert Maysles/David Maysles) (USA) The battle of Chile Part I (Patricio Guzman) (Chile) Nashville (R.Altman) (USA) The Magic Flute (Bergman) (Sweden) The Messiah (Rossellini)(Italy/France) Shampoo (W. Beatty) (USA) The Passenger (Antonioni) (Italy/Spain/France) The man who would be King (J. Huston)(USA/England)
Another great film from Sydney Lumet after his masterpieces of “12 Angry Men” of 1957, and “Dog Day Afternoon “ of 1975, comes a year later “Network “ in 1976. Like his other two great works that are explosive in content, discussion and arguments, this film is the ultimate of any outrageous film in exposing the capitalist system and its spokes agent, the television. As Lumet has believed himself that a movie should be beyond just entertainment, to enlighten and move audience, “Network” did more than any of his films and any others’ films to the point of shock and surprise. The film is a harsh critic of the capitalist system, lack of freedom of thoughts and speech, all brain washed in the American people’s mind by the media and on the top by television networks to this very day.
Lumet, a director actor who started off the Broadway, directed almost any great American and international actors from Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Susan Strasberg, Christopher Plummer, Sophia Loran, Marlon Brando, Joanne Woodward, Anna Magnani, Katharine Hepburn, Ralph Richardson, Rod Steiger, Sean Connery, Candice Bergen, James mason, Walter Matthau, Simone Signoret, Maximilian Schell, Vanessa Redgrave, Omar Sharif, Anouk Aimee, Al Pacino, Anthony Perkins, Susan Sarandon, Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Michael Caine, Paul Newman, Anne Bancroft, Gene Hackman, Jane Fonda, Dustin Hoffman, Melanie Griffith, Jack Warden, Andy Garcia, Lena Olin, Richard Dreyfuss, George C. Scott, Glenn Close, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke, to name some. He pulled out of Peter Finch, a not very popular actor who acted on the screen since 1930’s, the best of his life career that unfortunately did not last due to his premature death just a year later in 1977.
Network: A Film that will never happen on screen again
Howard Beale (Peter Finch), a news reporter of the TV network UBS is fired after 25 years of hard work due to his lower rating. He has become an alcoholic and after getting the news of his career ending in two weeks, he tells his old friend and the head of the news department, Max Schumacher (William Holden) one evening when drinking together that he is going to kill himself right on his TV show. His friend doesn’t take him seriously, but when he announces his intention the next evening during his live show, that he is going to blow his head off right in front everyone in his show a week later, it shocks all in the studio. Beale is fired on the spot by the network, but Schumacher intervenes so him to have a dignified farewell, if he apologizes on live television. The next evening, Beale goes on live again and this time while he explains that the night before he was in a state of madness, in another rant, he describes his life and life in general being bullshit. This unexpected use of foul language and open criticism of the American life and television that has always been accommodating the system again enrages the network heads, including Frank Hackett (Robert Duval) who fires both Beale and Schumacher as well, for letting Howard go back on live TV.
Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway), an eager but impersonal UBS producer from another department who is after making any show at any cost and already planning filming a communist guerrilla group in action of their bank robbery and terrorist attacks, notices Beale’s photos on the front page of any newspapers and that the network’s rating that had been declining recently, has spiked overnight due to his outspoken show. She offers Schumacher to help him with the Beale’s show and make it number one, and the network one of the top ones in the country. To achieve her ambitious plan, after Schumacher rejects her offer, she tempts him into a personal extramarital affair. At the same time she also convinces Hackett to give her Howard’s show to run as he has become the spokesperson of all frustrated and despair people of America, disclosing the hypocrisy of the system.
Hackett in his turn convinces the other heads of the network that since their TV is already in debt and struggling against competitors to approve Diana’s proposal and let Howard go on with his bullshit spreading show. But after a few shows, Howard’s novelty wears off and the show and network rating slides back down. Until one evening when Howard is late for his show and nobody knows of his whereabouts, he walks in the last minute into the studio, drenched from the rain in his pajama covered by a raincoat. He goes on live like that and starts screaming “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore”. He asks all the viewers to get off their seats, raise their hands and go to their windows screaming out that they are mad as hell and they cannot take it anymore. To the shock of everyone and the excitement of Diana, who out of joy calls him “son of a bitch”, people respond to Howard’s suggestion and scream their anger and despair out in the air throughout their windows all over the city and the country.
From now on Howard’s show becomes the most popular and a live show with the audience in the studio. With his popularity and power on TV, Howard takes all the control in his own hands. Coming up with another novelty, he announces live that he has heard a voice like a messiah’s telling him to reveal the truth to the people. Schumacher who believes Beale is now really insane and needs psychiatric treatment suggests to take him off the show, but Diana steps in again to take advantage of the situation. She justifies that a messenger or not, Howard holds now a spiritual power over the viewers and he should be left on as long as his show is good for the business.
From here on, through Howard and justification of Diana, Sydney Lumet unleashes the freedom of speech in the film on the screen in a country that such liberty has long been lost. Instead of other messengers who are usually religious and spiritual, delivering God’s messages to people, Howard like a modern prophet discloses all the lies and crimes of capitalism under the cover of fake democracy. He goes on and discloses why people losing their jobs and “the air is unfit to breath and people just passively sitting and watching TV” and don’t do nothing about their depression. He blows the lids off all the big corporations who just care about the profits and not the people. He discloses how the United States of America is in the hands of Arabs for their wealth.
Meanwhile Diana is also working on her other live TV show of the terrorist group to rob and kill on live television for the sake of profit and raising the network ranking. At the same time Howard continues with his open criticism of the system and also attacks the media and TV networks that they do not tell people the truth, but illusions and in another rant asking people to turn off their television sets even as he speaks. Then as his late usual at the end of his show, he faints and falls on the floor right in front of the live audience in the studio.
Schumacher has left his wife and children at the cost of his wife’s depression, living with Diana who has him only on the side, and mostly is still pursuing her ambitious business plans. Schumacher slowly realizes this bitter fact and protests to Diana that he has left all his life for her love, and their love is not a script, but she breaks to him that she does not know how to love. Finally he packs and leaves her, telling her that he feels sorry for her as he was the only real thing between her illusions and her nothingness.
Meanwhile Beale continues with his disclosure of the reality of American system and its democracy that how much Saudi Arabia holds the shares and controls many US corporations, lands, banks and even cities in the United States of America. The owner of the UBS, Arthur Jensen (Ned Beatty) in rage with frankness of Howard who has gone beyond his limit, not only putting his network and all the media at risk, but the system as a whole. He calls Howard in for a face to face meeting, taking him to his conference room, have him sitting on a chair at the end of a long desk. Shutting the blind, making the room only lit by the lights above the chairs of the long desk, himself standing at the top end, this time he goes on a rant attacking and disclosing the fact of the system like a messiah to Howard. He shouts at him that there are no nations, no Americans or Arabs, it’s only one international echo system of corporations of IBM, ITT, AT&T, DuPont, Exon, etc. There’s no democracy, it’s all business and dollars that run the world and it’s been always like that and will be always like this. He orders Howard that he has to disclose this fact to the people, but Howard in a bewildered trancelike surprise asks him why him. Mr. Jensen, like the other messiah who came to Howard before, reminds him “because you’re on TV dummy”!
Howard goes back on TV and like a manifesto announcement telling people that the United States and its wealth is not finished, but its original idea of freedom and democracy has finished. He reveals that the freedom and the ides of the individual has finished, “you, me and all are finished…We are not humans anymore but humanoids looking like humans, with no control or freedom”. Mr. Jensen is not willing to fire Howard, but the rest of the heads of the UBS, perceive him as a dangerous risk for the network and the whole media and the system, specially since his attack on Arabs who have invested billions of dollars in their business. So they all decide to wipe him out, and the heartless Diana comes up again with another TV script to kill him by her terrorist group live on the studio during his show. In the final evening and at the end of the film, as usual Howard is announced to go on live in front of a packed audience that two terrorist militias shoot him with several bullets, end his life, his show and his legacy of freedom of speech on TV.
In an America in the aftermath of the Vietnam War affected them gravely for 20 years (1955-1975) for nothing, but loss of many lives on both sides, Sydney Lumet after his outrageous film of “Dog Day Afternoon” that touches on the reality of his country, in “Network” he unleashes through his character Howard, disclosing the American system and its spokes agent, the media. In fact and at the time, Lumet while he was perhaps the only one in Hollywood, he was not the only one in the other media, as Christine Chubbuck, a TV news reporter in Florida had shot herself during a live broadcast of her show in a suicide attempt, two years before this film in 1974. A nation shocked by this live event, explained it as a conclusion to Christine’s suffering from depression and to this day her suicide footage has been locked up from the public viewing. But two recent films in 2016, a feature “Christine” starring Rebecca Hall as her by Antonio Campos, and a documentary “Kate Plays Christine” have relived her memory. As political and general as “Network” or not, Christine before her live suicide had mentioned “In keeping with Channel 40’s policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts and in living color, you are going to see another first attempted suicide”, then she draws a revolver and shooting herself in the right side of her head. Despite the disclaims of Lumet and the screenwriter, Paddy Chayefsky, about any adaptation of the film from the actual live event of Christine Chubbuck’s suicide, that was the reality of the American society in the 70’s that Hollywood until Sydney Lumet and his film acted in denial.
“Network” is not an exemplary Hollywood film for being so outspoken and outrageous going against its own system, it is one of the rare cinematic experience that had not happened before and perhaps will not happen again on the screen. The film is explosive without any real explosion or even shooting except at the end. It is all explosion of rage and frustration against a system that kills freedom of thoughts, speech and individuals for rating and profit. In a Hollywood era of mafia and gangster films of Godfather’s like, then science fiction films of Star War’s like, “Network” is a rare achievement that its legacy will remain in the history of cinema for ever. Although nominated for 10 academy awards, including the best picture and best directing, the film won only the awards for the best acting for Peter Finch who did not live to see the appreciation of his achievement. The film also won the best actress award for Faye Dunaway, best supporting actress for Beatrice Straight playing Schumacher’s wife, Louise, and the best original screenplay for Paddy Chayefsky. Sydney Lumet won the best directing award from Golden Globe along with Finch (won British film Institute award as well), Dunaway and Chayefsky who won again.
In closing remarks “Network” one more time will be redefined based on the following criteria:
- Originality: “Network” is the only original film that in a way made its own genre of a TV film with outrageous criticism of the media and the whole system at large, suicide attempt and assassination of a showman during live broadcast. This genre has not been repeated yet and probably will never be repeated on the screen again.
- Technicality: The technicality of “Network” is in its special script, thoughtful and masterful direction, and above all in its exceptional and explosive performance of Peter finch who did not live to see his only great achievement after a life career in acting.
- Impact Factor: The influence of “Network” could be seen in many aspects in the popular media from its famous quote of “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore” to other direct and indirect adaptations in one way or another. Unfortunately the film did not sell at the box office as did “Dog Day Afternoon” that sold $50 million from a budget of $1.8 million a year before, while “Network” sold $23.7 million from a budget of $3.8 million, that could be related to the American people’s interest still in action than a reality, political and eye opening film.
- Survival: “Network” has survived well to this very day for its realism rare seen in American cinema. It is still enlightening and eye opening and exemplary of a committed filmmaking to the social cause and not just for entertainment as Sydney Lumet believed.
Sydney Lumet with a great portfolio as a filmmaker, starting his debut with his masterpiece “12 Angry Men” in 1957, created one or two films every year afterwards, until his great film of “Serpico” in 1973. Shortly after he made another masterpiece “Dog Day Afternoon” in 1975 again with Al Pacino and just a year after another great work “Network” in 1976. Though he touches on different topics, he is the best in examination of social issues and psychological struggles of modern humans as in his above three great films. Lumet as an “actor director” was a master of pulling the best performances out of different actors whom he directed. He brought out one of the best performances from Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobb in “12 Angry Men” and the best of Al Pacino in “Dog Day Afternoon” and from Peter Finch in “Network”.
Not an ordinary bank robbery:
Not only one of the first hostage taking film in cinema, “Dog Day Afternoon” is a unique one that has rarely equaled. Based on a true bank robbery in 1972 in Brooklyn by Sonny Wortzik (played by Al Pacino) and Salvatore “Sal” Naturale (played by John Cazale) the film is felt all the way very real, even the acts the bank employees taken as hostages. A more mature cooperation between Sydney Lumet and Pacino than their first work together in “Serpico”, the film depicts the reality of the lives of American people in a city like Brooklyn, where two of their residents struggling with living, attempt to steal some money for their needs. After an opening scene of the real poor neighborhood of Brooklyn in a summer heat, three robbers arrive at the bank in their car.
Sal approaches the bank manager who is sitting at his desk and on the phone pointing his rifle at, and Sonny taking his gun out of a wrapped gift box nervously. A young chap, Stevie as the third robber or their driver, who walks in with Sonny and Sal, soon gives up and leaves as he is scared. Sal is mentally disturbed looking and Sonny the mastermind is a nerve rack. The police soon is informed by the insurance salesman who works across the street, when he notices smoke coming out of the vents of the bank, from a document Sonny was burning inside.
The robbery though was planned somewhat by Sonny, it seems very spontaneous as one of the female bank teller telling him. This spontaneity is shown well by improvising act of Al Pacino as Sonny. The crowd outside who probably live a struggling life like the robbers, are supportive and cheer them, while Sonny who keeps getting in and out of the bank in negotiating talk with the police detective excites them more. Sal is the scarecrow who’s introduced to the police sergeant as a Vietnam veteran killer with killing meaning nothing to him. The whole film is charged with anxiety and anticipation and the nervous act of Sonny generalizes to the others including the police detective.
Sonny demands the police a helicopter ride to the airport and a jet to fly them away to a tropical destination such as Algeria. He also asks to see his wife, but the police brings a transgender man, Leon (Elizabeth) (Chris Sarandon) who reveals that the bank robbery has been for gathering money for his sex change. Sonny who’s married to Angie (Susan Peretz) apparently marries Leon as a help to him who was depressed and suicidal for being born as a woman in the body of man. Sonny’s triangular relationship is revealed from the dialogue between him and Leon outside the bank and from a phone conversation with his wife, Angie and also from his mother who has been brought at the bank by the police as well. Before departure to the airport in a heartbreaking dictation to a bank employee, Sonny passes on his life insurance money to his wife Angie and Leon for sex change.
Finally a limousine arrives to take the bank robbers and the hostages to the airport, but sonny realizes the driver being a cop, he changes him to another detective that he picks for seeming calm and perhaps thrust worthy. Escorted by the police cars, the limousine arrives at the airport and before all getting out and on the plane waiting, the detective driver asking Sal sitting in the back seat to point his gun up for safety that as soon as he does, the detective from a pistol hidden in the glove compartment, shoots him in the head and all ends. Sonny is arrested and handcuffed and the hostages are all rescued and the film ends by subtitles that sonny was sentences with 20 years in prison, Angie and her children went on welfare and Leon had his sex changed.
This great film of Sydney Lumet that broke some Hollywood filmmaking conventions, won only one screenplay award (for Frank Pierson) from Oscar, though received six nominations including the best picture, director, actor, supporting actor and editing. The same happened with the Golden Globe that nominated the film for seven awards but received none. But the film, its direction and Al Pacino’s acting were well received by the most critics of the time and years later.
In closing remarks “Dog Day Afternoon” one more time will be redefined based on the following criteria:
- Originality: “Dog Day Afternoon” is an original bank robbery/hostage taking film, but the film goes beyond an action film and discloses the social issues of the time, the poverty, briefly touching the opposition of American people to the Vietnam war through shouting “Attica! Attica!” along with Sal in reference to the Attica prison riot in protest to the war.
- Technicality: The technicality of “Dog Day Afternoon” is in its superb performances that changed Al Pacino’s acting method since, a flamboyant theatrical acting, that fitted the best in this film, but he took it to the exaggeration in his later films. The element of the improvisation in the act of bank robbery and the involvement of the crowd in support of the robbers well written in the script were all directed well by the socio-political filmmaker, Sydney Lumet. Finally the set design and filming on location adds credit to the technicality of the film and its superb direction.
- Impact Factor: The influence of “Dog Day Afternoon” could be seen in any future bank robbery, hostage taking and also on any actors who followed Al Pacino’s style. The film impacted or energized Lumet himself to come up one more time in the following year with another great film “Network” where he injected more of his socio-political elements and also more of his acting-directing method.
- Survival: “Dog Day Afternoon” has survived well to this very day for its freshness to watch, enjoy and more so to be surprised to see such an action Hollywood film at the time possessed some social and political depth that in later years were all faded from the American screen.
The Godfather Part II that was released two years after the first part in 1974 is placed above the first part in contrast to many other lists of the greatest films for the reasons that will follow. For example The Godfather (or part I) had been ranked the third on the first AFI list of the greatest American films in 1997 and the second on its second edition list in 2007, while The Godfather Part II has been ranked number 32 on both editions of the list. It is unusual to rank a second part of a film, or a trilogy in this case above the first or the original one, but The Godfather Part II has so much more and deserves to be at least one rank higher than the first part. In fact the major reason that the first part that will be presented here right after the second part at the same time, has been ranked on this list of the greatest films of all time, is its impact on others, and not per se for its own merit. To understand better the ranking differential between these two films, some comparisons will be attempted here.
The part two starts where the part one finished, with Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) ascends to the position of the Godfather, passed on to from Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando who plays only in the first part) ruling the family’s organized crime. Soon after, the next scene flashbacks to the past and origin of Vito Corleone, the Godfather, back to Sicily Italy. Vito Andolini at the time is a nine years old boy, the only son left for his mother whose husband has been stained by the local mob chieftain, Don Cicco for not giving in. Her older son who had disappeared to the hills to take revenge of his father’s murder, soon at the time of the father’s funeral is shot to death by the mobs as well.
The mother goes to Don Cicco with Vito asking for his forgiveness to spare his only son’s life as “he’s too young and would not seek revenge”. But the mother is killed on the spot and the young Vito runs away. While the local mobs looking for Vito everywhere in the village of Corleone, he’s arranged to flee the village and get aboard of a ship to America. The scene of immigrants aboard reaching the land of free with their hopeful eyes falling on the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island of New York is one of the most beautiful such scenes of immigrating to America at the turn of 20th century, even better than “America America “ of Elia Kazan. The next scene while Vito has passed the immigration screening and placed in a room, looking through the window at the Statue of Liberty, fades off to the present time where Michael hosts a party.
Right away the difference between the two parts is that the first part is a cross sectional depiction of a mafia family, while the second part is a longitudinal examination of the origin of such family, starting off good, but ending devil. Throughout the film there are flashbacks to the past in early 20th century when all started with Vito, first an honest and hard working man who grew to become a monster and a killing machine. Even when back to the present in the second part, Michael is seen clearly in conflict within himself for taking on such responsibility leading a criminal family at the cost of ruining his own life. This is not yet seen in the first part, where Vito Corleone like a king with no remorse orders killings at ease and comfort of his place.
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Although “The Godfather” is not much original and technical in a general sense on a cinematic world scale, there is no doubt of its impact on others, from critics to filmmakers and is on top of many lists of the greatest films of all time, including ranking second on AFI’s list of the American greatest films. The film at least boasts to be an original new gangster style in American cinema, introducing Italian Mafia to the screen. That also invigorated American Italian cinema in Hollywood to dominate part of the American cinema with the second and third parts of The Godfather trilogy and Martin Scorsese’s future films, starting with “Mean Street”.
Adapted for the screen from the Mario Puzo’s novel of the same name who collaborated with Francis Ford Coppola on the script. First major feature of Coppola who until then had mainly worked on screen writing, the film and its sequels were major box office hits and pleased both the critics who were mostly appalled a few years before by the violence and praising gangsterism with “Bonnie and Clyde” and just a year before with “Straw Dogs”. Perhaps by the pressure of the audience who received both previous films and also adjusting to the new American wave cinema of sheer violence, the critics not only received this film greatly, but worshiped it to this very day. Winning the best picture, best actor for Marlon Brando (who declined the award) and the best adapted screenplay for a mafia film depicting the organized crime in US was historically a surprise.
The film that is the part one of a trilogy, starting from the middle of the life story of Vito Corleone or the Godfather of an Italian Mafia family when he as an older man having a stronghold organized crime business with four grown up children. The part two that was released two years after in 1974, starting the life story of Vito Corleone who as a victim of mafia, back in Sicily of Italy, escapes the prosecution after his father, brothers and even mother were all murdered by the head of the local gangster, Don Chicho and seeks refuge in America. The beginning of the story is more empathizing to Vito who starts an honest simple life in America as a new immigrant, getting married and having children, before the victim or prey becoming a perpetrator and leading an organized crime establishment.
Already deep in an all illegal crime business in the part I, while the film stresses on the family values, that’s all about an organized criminal family. Like any non-righteous man in power to protect his kingdom and his large family, being not only a father to his own children, but a Godfather to many, Vito Corleone has to keep doing whatever it takes to keep his position strong and stable. Therefore the film is original in introducing to the screen, the life story of organized crime in America, though they were not in majority family oriented as in this story. Other than great unusual acting style of Al Pacino without his common theatrical exaggeration, in fact and despite winning Oscar, Marlon Brando in the same year performed better in “Last tango in Paris”.
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Being a graduate of law, Costa-Gavras in his political films, disclosing different dictatorships and unjust governmental systems around the globe, by using the best form of a fast paced judicial inquiry in the search for the truth. From his major film “Z” in 1969 that he disclosed the dictatorship in his homeland Greece to his last film “Amen” in 2003, blowing the lid of the Catholic Church’s knowledge of the Jews genocide by Nazis in the World War II, Costa-Gavras like an expert lawyer in the court, through powerful inquiry get the disclosure of the dictatorships well. In this process he either contradicts the political criminals or corner them to confession. This cinematic technique is only unique to Costa-Gavras that accompanying with the music score of his great country composer, Mikis Theodorakis create such powerful films that get the attention of even non-political crowds.
Other than the inquiry method with the fast tempo of events, shot after shot that is Costa-Gavras expertise, the depiction of political tortures and murders around the world by different dictators is only seen in his films. While others specially in Hollywood then and now depict non-political, mostly gangsters violence and tortures in their films that hailed and awarded by their pals, Costa-Gavras’ films carry on a humanitarian agenda. His films as if documentaries made by an organization such as the “Amnesty International” the principal agency disclosing the political tortures and imprisonments around the world by different dictatorships. Though his films that mostly were well recognized in Europe, in fact humanitarian organizations owe him recognition for a life time achievement in this cause.
State of Siege: State of Dictatorships
The story of the film that runs in Uruguay is the story of all Latin America under different dictatorships at least in the second half of the past century. The Uruguay Liberation Movement, Tupamaro mostly consisted of university students and intellectuals fighting for democracy against the dictatorship dominating their country, kidnap three diplomats on the demand of freedom of their prisoners. One of these diplomats is the American Philip Michael Santore (Yves Montand) who under the cover up of USAID (United States Agency for International Development) is an agent aiding the local police in their struggle to knock down the revolutionary and democratic movements such as Tupamaro.
The story of the film that is based on the true story of an actual incident of kidnapping the US embassy official, Dan Mitrione in 1970 who was killed at the end. Through the skilled, court-like interrogation of Santore by the guerrillas, the film discloses numerous incidents of governmental violence, arrests, tortures, and mass murders and executions of the democracy fighters without any judicial process. The film also discloses the extensive training of all Latin American police and counterinsurgency agents under USAID in their country and in US in different torture and murdering methods. The two sides of dictatorship of the government and the revolutionists, is intercepted all along by the press in the search for the truth and disclosure of what happening behind the curtain to the public.
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A film that broke so many standards of Hollywood at the time and still to this day remaining controversial and degraded by some critics, who called its director Sam Peckinpah, “Bloody Sam” is a major breakthrough in the cinematic history. While the more accredited Stanley Kubrick in the same year of 1971, made “A Clockwork Orange” depicting uncalled and unusual violence and abuse towards ordinary people by psychopaths, “Straw Dogs” portrays the real and usual violence that could be seen all around us even to this very day. The subject of racism, hatred, defensive animosity to un-likes, invasion of privacy, bullying, abuse and rape, that all depicted well in the film was not in the imagination of Peckinpah to like or dislike, but it was and it is a simple reflection of a bitter reality in the western society.
With a brief career and life (died at age 59), Peckinpah created such novel cinematic great works such as “Ride the High Country”, “Noon Wine”, “The Wild Bunch”, “Junior Bonner”, “The Gateway”, “Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia”, “Cross of Iron”, and his masterpiece “Straw Dogs”. The sheer and ruthless violence that Peckinpah introduced to the screen, shocked many and led to dislike and controversy of his films for shaking the moralistic standards of the time, that nowadays already a reality of the screen too and seen all over even on television and children’s films. It took the American society decades to adapt to such depiction of the reality of violence in their land of freedom and brave! The present portray of violence on the screen is empty without any background ideology, interpretation or enlightening, but sheer violence for the sake of entertainment, that in fact desensitize the viewers to such behaviours. Similar violence in the defense of invasion to our privacy in the family films such as “Home Alone” that now makes us laugh without any moral or judgmental surprise, all started with Peckinpah and his films such as “Straw Dogs”, but with an underlying meaning and enlightenment that many unfortunately did not grasp at the time.
Exposing A Violent Society:
Peckinpah serving in the second world war as a marine in the occupied China by Japan and witnessing the war violence, while traumatized and drawn to alcohol and drug use, used his gifted talent of creating great films to depict such societal violence. But instead of making war films where the violence could be justified, he portrayed the violence of the everyday life in the western society. He stepped deeper and analyzed the roots of violence that’s hatred, discrimination, racism, masculinity and in the land of freedom, anarchism. These all were shown at once beautifully in “Straw Dogs”, where he also showed bravery even out of superficial cowardice, through protection of the honor and righteousness in one’s hands when the society and its law are incapable of such. With his unique talent in visual and cinematic techniques and bringing out the best performances of the actors, Peckinpah and “Straw Dogs” have become a landmark not only in the American but the world cinema.
The film starts its title credits in black and white with a blurry background that will reveal to be a color film, as there will be bloodshed and better in color. An American mathematician David (Dustin Hoffman) with his British gorgeous wife Amy (Susan George) move to a small English town where Amy was raised to write his new research book. From the outset, the couple are welcome as strangers with contempt. Charlie, the head of a group of local men who has dated Amy in the past is all over her from the start while the husband David is a subject of ridicule and mockery for being an educated American coward and a quiet geek. Charlie offers fixing the roof of a building in their house where they will be staying with his local gang, as a plan to be close to Amy and cause the couple trouble from the first day of their arrival.
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The most popular and memorable love story on the screen with the most simple and common title of “Love Story” is the film adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name by Erich Segal who wrote the script as well. Directed by Arthur Hill, starring Ryan O’Neil and Ali MacGraw, this film one of the highest grossing films of all time, took the three up to fame, so that Ali MacGraw was voted in 1972 the top female box office star in the world. This actress who could not go higher than what she had achieved in “Love Story” with her somewhat unusual and novel role in love approaching conquered the hearts of the viewers across the globe and when her character died in the film, burst their tears and broke their hearts.
Despite the world-wide reception of the film by the public, as if some critics at the time could not handle it out of jealousy critiqued the film negatively and compared it with “Camille with bullshit” (Los Angeles Times), and with playboy love affairs in “Love Affair” and its remake “An Affair to remember” (The New York Times). Perhaps these negative critics of the film related to its script and dialogues, specially delivered by Jennifer Caville (Ali MacGraw) that were frank, funny, critical with some obscenity at the time, such as using the words “Stupid” and “Bullshit” to her lover. In fact the script of the film and such dialogues, other than being out of place for the time and reactionary, made the film and Jennifer more appealing and with her mischievous smile while saying those words. Her unusual or modern for the time approach to a love affair was a novelty and step up in Hollywood films and altogether made the film an iconic landmark of romance and tragedy in cinema.
A Love Story to Remember:
This film was a touchable love story and not like the love affair of Leo McCarey to remember forever. While a love story and the greatest of its kind, the film was a story of rebellion of rich father’s son, Oliver Barrett (Ryan O’Neil) like “Rebel with a cause” who hated his father for his dictatorship control and aloofness, not valuing his son’s independence mind and way of life. The film opens from the end, with its famous soundtrack by Francis Lai, and with Oliver sitting outside in a snowy winter back to the camera and talks about the tragic death of his love, Jennifer Caville: “What can you say about a 25-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant? That she loved Mozart and Bach? The Beatles? And me?”
Then the film flashes back to the start of the love story of Oliver as a Harvard student and Jennifer a student of music and also working as a librarian. In their first encounter, Oliver asking Jennifer at the library desk for a book that she refuses to lend it, telling him to go to his own library and calls him “preppy”. Then she puts him down as a rich and stupid boy, and describes herself as poor and smart. He asks what makes her smart that she says because I won’t go out for a coffee with you, that he says he has not even asked her out, that she responds that’s why it makes him stupid! This kind of conversation goes on between the two for a while during the formation and consolidation of their relationship. Jennifer with a mischievous smile while obviously attracted to Oliver, keeps mocking and putting him down all the time. But her style of conversation is not a bit throwing the viewers off, or to dislike her, but she is likeable on the screen despite her harsh tongue.
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