Top-Ten Movie Lists Give Me Vertigo


Sight and Sound has announced its Greatest Films of All Time list and I will not even bother linking to it because it replaced Citizen Kane with Vertigo, the most overrated film of all time, with the single exception of the ponderous and self-important Gone with Some Wind.

Quentin Tarantino came up with his own list (which included a spaghetti western and The Bad News Bears — but nothing from Hong Kong, so I’m figuring this was not very well thought out). Francis Coppola included The King of Comedy (good freaking grief!) in his list, and both Tarantino and Michael Mann included Apocalypse Now but not The Godfather! Woody Allen’s list runs closer to my tastes. The filmmakers who show up most among the greats in the estimation of the filmmakers polled are Bergman, Fellini, Scorsese, Hitchcock, and Welles, which should surprise no one. Scorsese included Ugetsu, which is a hauntingly beautiful film, but also Salvatore Giuliano, which is excellent but not worthy of this kind of honor.

I’m surprised Kurosawa didn’t show up more often, and if you’re going to include American Werewolf in London and Carrie, there is no reason not to throw Frank Capra a bone.

For whatever it’s worth, my list:

1. Citizen Kane

2. The Hustler

3. Touch of Evil

4. Mon Oncle (that Jacques Tati made NO ONE’s list makes me want to punch a squirrel)

5. 8 1/2

6. The Virgin Spring

7. Dr. Strangelove

8. The Godfather Part II

9. Bicycle Thieves

10. Meet John Doe (once again demonstrates that Capra and his screenwriters had more than “corn” on their minds — namely, how mass communications can be manipulated by powerful forces to turn communities into angry mobs)

Ten more films that could easily have made this list:

1. My Darling Clementine (which made Michael Mann’s list)

2. Sherlock Jr. (that Buster Keaton failed to show up more often on the lists is just sad)

3. The Third Man

4. The 400 Blows (although I’m tempted to substitute Fahrenheit 451)

5. Some Came Running (Dean Martin gives one of several stunningly good career performances)

6. Taxi Driver (as unnerving today as it was in 1976 — think Aurora)

7. Minority Report (yes, the one with Tom Cruise, but I can understand why Jaws made it on at least two lists)

8. High and Low

9. Bridge on the River Kwai

10. Lawrence of Arabia (that David Lean failed to make anyone’s cut also shows a lapse in judgment so stunning that these guys must have been stopped in an airport as they were racing to catch a plane)

Top 10 Fun FIlms (yes, I like Gene Wilder…)

1. The Owl & the Pussycat (George Segal & Barbra Streisand starring — “The sun. Does not. SPIT!”) / What’s Up Doc? (Ryan O’Neal & Barbra Streisand starring — HOWARD: “No, sir, the one who isn’t my fiancée doesn’t call me Howard and the one who isn’t my wife doesn’t call me Howard because the one who isn’t my fiancée is also the one who isn’t my wife. The other one who ISN’T my wife, the one who IS my fiancée… she doesn’t call me “Steve.” She calls me Howard. Do you see? JUDGE MAXWELL: “Let’s skip over this part.” )

2. Take the Money and Run (“He is forced to take to the streets, and for a while he makes a meager living selling meagers”)

3. Duck Soup (“Get out and never darken my towels again!”)

4. Balls of Fury (Christopher Walken’s performance as the reclusive and twisted quasi-Asian puppetmaster is easily as funny as Mike Myers’s Dr. Evil) / Transylvania 6-5000 (written and directed by one of Mel Brooks’s co-writers, Rudy DeLuca, it’s too silly, but Joseph Bologna as a Frankensteinian plastic surgeon is almost as funny as Joseph Bologna in The Big Bus — “I ate ONE foot!”)

5. The Producers (“Look at me now — LOOK AT ME NOW! I’m wearing a cardboard belt!”)

6. Quakser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx (you just have to see it)

7. Young Frankenstein (“Hello, handsome!”)

8. Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (“I’m sorry, but all questions must be submitted in writing”)

9. Anchorman (“It’s anchorman, not anchorlady!”)

10. Office Space (“I don’t really like talking about my flare”)


4 thoughts on “Top-Ten Movie Lists Give Me Vertigo

  1. Great choices. There are so MANY awesome movies.

    Have you ever seen Night of the Hunter? Or, ‘The Fugitive’ (starring Henry Fonda, about a Catholic priest)

    So, so many good ones.



    1. The Fugitive, yes — an adaptation of a Graham Green novel. To this day I have not seen Night of the Hunter (hangs his head in shame)…


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