Movieline Magazine

100 BEST MOVIES EVER MADE

by Movieline Magazine



Movieline Magazine selected The 100 Best Movies Ever Made (from silents to Spielberg) in their December 1995 issue - 100 of the all-time greatest English-language films - actually 101. The semi-serious article was written by Virginia Campbell and Edward Margulies, who admitted that they included one by Martin Scorsese and one by D.W. Griffith, but they compensated for that by not including any films by David Lean or Mike Nichols. See also Movieline Magazine's 100 Greatest Foreign Films selections.

Note: The films that are marked with a yellow star are the
films that "The Greatest Films" site has selected as the "100 Greatest Films".


Movieline Magazine's
100 Best Movies Ever Made

  1. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
    Before that movie staple, Adventure Films for Boys of All Ages, degenerated into cinematic roller-coaster rides, the genre boasted articulated plots, real wit, stylish villainy and great players. This, the best of the lot, has all that and a great star, Errol Flynn, at his apex.
  2. The African Queen (1951)
    A floating paean to cranky, middle-aged single people. The best of the Hepburn/Tracy pictures, because Tracy isn't in it.
  3. All About Eve (1950)
    Power-crazed media figure comes to regret helping an ungrateful unknown to become a star. A film so close to our own experience at Movieline magazine, we have to go lie down now.
  4. Annie Hall (1977)
    Unlikely Galahad's unlikely love poem to the most unlikely of screen queens.

  5. Badlands (1973)
    This nasty, bleak little take on Hollywood's favorite tale--psycho lovers on the lam from the law--gets better with every passing year. Two otherwise inexplicable stars can justly point with pride to their work here.

  6. Bambi (1942)
    The only film masterpiece ever created for three-year-olds.

  7. Being There (1979)
    In this film, when the idiot savant, who knows the world only through the garden he tends and the television he watches, makes gentle pronouncements that launch him to the heights of American power, the pseudo-aphorisms are a lot more clever than "Life is like a box of chocolates." Intelligent is as intelligent does.
  8. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
    Director William Wyler's tale of soldiers returning home to small-town American after World War II may not ever have been the paragon of sensitive realism it was once taken for, but it's still an accurate, meaningful fantasy of the way we never were.
  9. Blade Runner (1982, the Director's Cut)
    An expensive, stylish, despairing vision of 21st-century L.A. in which Daryl Hannah and Sean Young, both perfectly cast, play androids. The most borrowed/stolen-from film of the last 20 years.

  10. Blowup (1966)
    Those who think Antonioni's English-language film about a '60s London fashion photographer is dated should watch it again and try to name even one important item missing from this defining encyclopedia of what happened to us when we started looking at ourselves as cool objects.
  11. Blue Velvet (1986)
    David Lynch's fabulously, authentically neo-Freudian fairy tale about the seriously dark and weird things going on in a small American town and/or in the mind of an over-curious young man who lives there. A masterpiece that slipped miraculously through the screens Hollywood keeps in place to prevent such original eruptions.
  12. Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
    A precariously thin veneer of charm helps put over this frankly amoral tale of venal users who deserve--and, surprise, wind up with--each other. Hit theme tune goes a long way to disguise the bitterness of this pill.
  13. Cabaret (1972)
    A precariously thin veneer of charm helps put over this frankly amoral tale of venal users who deserve--and, surprise, don't wind up with--each other. Flashy musical numbers go a long way to disguise the bitterness of this pill.
  14. Casablanca (1942)
    A time capsule of World War II-era glamour, nobility and romance. The only movie that could rival the average Shakespeare play for number of lasting phrases contributed to everyday speech.
  15. Chinatown (1974)
    The best thing Jack Nicholson will ever do. The best thing Faye Dunaway will ever do. The best thing Roman Polanski will ever do. The best thing Robert Towne will ever do. Etc.
  16. Citizen Kane (1941)
    A boy and his sled are separated. Problems ensue.
  17. City Lights (1931)
    Even if--like us--you can generally do without Charlie Chaplin, this one's a keeper.
  18. The Conversation (1974)
    Are we just being paranoid, or has everything this movie predicted about the invasion of personal privacy come to pass? In any case, the thinking man's Sliver.

  19. Dodsworth (1936)
    This tale of a self-made American millionaire industrialist who sells his factory and sails off to Europe with his flighty, pretentious wife is even more remarkable than it seemed upon first release, because Hollywood would never write as much virtue and benevolence into the character of a businessman now.
  20. Don't Look Now (1973)
    There's a lot more going on in this film than the question of whether Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie were or were not doing it during the filming of the sex scene. Basically a kinky and intellectual ghost story, outre director Nicolas Roeg's tale of things unseen becomes, thanks to his lucid, subversive eye, an Investigation of the Unseen.
  21. Double Indemnity (1944)
    So oft-imitated it should be old hat by now, but no--mix together the ruthlessness of the script, the director, and the film's femme fatale star, and what you get is a poisonous cocktail that still has real kick to it.
  22. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
    A classic black comedy about the Cold War. Stanley Kubrick's icy gallows humor is hyperbolic but dead-on accurate about the various species of crazed extremists who handled the Bomb back when it looked like we might be lobbing it momentarily.
  23. The Elephant Man (1980)
    Quite an odd film to come from Hollywood, where physical beauty is the town religion. David Lynch's true story of John Merrick, a legendarily ugly man with an exquisitely gentle soul despite all the misfortune and cruelty makes you cry all the tears Merrick's kind doctor doesn't.

  24. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
    The best of the Star Wars trilogy. All the fun-filled archetypes are in top form, and a perfect balance is achieved between special effects and story, humor and emotion, and giddy action and dim-bulb philosophy.
  25. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
    By now, backlash has set in, claiming this movie's no The Wizard of Oz. They're wrong.
  26. A Face in the Crowd (1957)
    Power-crazed media figure comes to regret helping an ungrateful unknown to become a star. A film so close to our own experience at Movieline magazine, we have to go lie down now.
  27. Five Easy Pieces (1970)
    Bob Rafelson tops our list of filmmakers with only one movie in 'em, but that one movie is a corker. Some people cannot buy Jack Nicholson as a piano virtuoso, but we have trouble getting past the early scenes depicting Jack as an oil rigger. From then on, smooth sailing.

  28. Funny Face (1957)
    Power-crazed media figure comes to regret helping an ungrateful unknown to become a star. A film so close to our own experience at Movieline magazine, we have to go lie down now.

  29. Gallipoli (1981)
    One of the two best anti-war films ever made, starring a young Mel Gibson, whose outrageous good looks seduce you right into the heart of the battle.
  30. Gigi (1958)
    A gloriously gilded Easter egg of a movie. Despite the sugary trimmings, it's bracingly tart to the taste.
  31. The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather, Part II (1974)
    The very best of the gangster-glamorizing genre, if you give a damn about such things, and you really shouldn't.
  32. Gone With the Wind (1939)
    Long, Southern soaper closer to Jackie Collins than Shakespeare. Two big stars at their best. Still works, always will.
  33. Gun Crazy (1949)
    This nasty, bleak little take on Hollywood's favorite tale--psycho lovers on the lam from the law--has something that's missing from Bonnie and Clyde, Thieves Like Us, True Romance and all the others: irrepressible, irresistible Peggy Cummins, the gal we'd most like to be gunned down by.
  34. A Hard Day's Night (1964)
    Very funny, winning young guys run, hop, jump, flirt, wisecrack and make music. Our favorite Marx Brothers movie.
  35. The Haunting (1963)
    Two towering talents the movies completely misused--Claire Bloom and Julie Harris--provide the warm heart beating at the center of this cold-blooded haunted house thriller, which lets your imagination do all the work.

  36. His Girl Friday (1940)
    A classic of pre-shrill feminism. The one-liner chemistry between newspaper people Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell would probably result in mutual sexual harassment charges in real life today.
  37. In a Lonely Place (1950)
    A refreshingly off-putting Humphrey Bogart plays the self-involved, tormented writer with rage to spare, and the winningly sexy/creepy Gloria Grahame plays the woman who loves him to little avail. A remarkably grim and true portrait of a writer, a category of humans Hollywood so loathes and fears and needs that movies seldom present them realistically.
  38. The Informer (1935)
    John Ford's pointed political mood piece is a demanding partner, but still retains the power to haunt you afterwards.
  39. The Innocents (1961)
    Henry James's The Turn of the Screw makes for an alluring yet distant film, easily the movies' most ghostly ghost story. Great script, acting, and direction, but one lone teardrop steals the show.

  40. Intolerance (1916)
    Difficult, daunting, dated, and--OK, yes--challenging to sit through, yet D.W. Griffith's complex, four-part film lives up to its reputation as the first great epic produced in Hollywood.

  41. It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
    The only Frank Capra flick to make our list, and, sure, we'll admit we're sick of it by now, too. So try doing what we did--just knock off watching it for a few years. When you come back to it, it's even better than you first thought.
  42. King Kong (1933)
    A magical-looking movie that accomplishes the astounding feat of making a horny male (i.e. Kong) who lusts after a blonde bimbo half his age seem sympathetic, tragic and downright endearing. Added plus: peerless native headgear.
  43. The Lady Eve (1941)
    The only film that could possibly make you want to become a cardsharp--anything, actually, that would put you in the fast company of smart, sexy, utterly corrupt Barbara Stanwyck, who is at her glorious, comic best.
  44. The Last Picture Show (1971)
    Almost didn't make our cut, since, after all, this is the movie that unleashed on an unsuspecting world everyone from Randy Quaid, Cloris Leachman and Timothy Bottoms to Cybill Shepherd, Peter Bogdanovich and Larry McMurtry. Truth is, this film could have survived Penelope Ann Miller, too, and still been great.
  45. Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948)
    The incomparable director Max Ophuls brings the art of film as close as it can get to the art of music in this story of a woman who is destroyed by her obsessive love for a glamorous pianist who trifles with her and later doesn't even remember her. What would seem pathetic and alien if envisioned by another director is tragic and personal here.
  46. The Lost Weekend (1945)
    A movie that still has the power to send you running into the arms of Bill W. The script, direction, acting, score, cinematography, and that freaky bat, are all aces.

  47. Love Affair (1939)
    Wit, charm and ideal performances keep this soaper afloat--and make it superior to any of its remakes. The movies' greatest unheralded female star, Irene Dunne, thought it was her best movie, and she was right.

  48. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
    A cool, precise primer in the political, familial, romantic and personal paranoia that has plagued the American psyche since this film was released. Angela Lansbury is not really a good-hearted mystery-writing sleuth, she's an evil bitch who feeds her own son to the wolves. Laurence Harvey isn't really an English dish with great cheekbones, he's a tortured wimp. Asians aren't our valued trading partners in the great new global economy, they're--well, you get the point.

  49. Manhattan (1979)
    Contemporary urban saga of mixed doubles and missed opportunities still strikes a nerve. The smooth, elegant production can't hope to gloss over all the heartfelt heartache in the writing, playing and direction.
  50. McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
    Sad spellbinder about how the West was settled by the losers who'd failed to score back East. Winners here are Warren Beatty and Julie Christie, cast as star-crossed lovers--neither one has ever been better.
  51. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
    Cornball costume period piece saved by director's neurotic interest in exposing the dark glints within a gaga American clan: imagine Blue Velvet made as a '40s MGM musical.

  52. Miller's Crossing (1990)
    A brainy gangster's simultaneous pursuit of integrity and self-destruction makes for verbal and visual combustion in Joel and Ethan Coen's most serious lyrical and artistically successful comedy.
  53. My Man Godfrey (1936)
    More than slightly unhinged direction and distinctly unhinged scriptwriting set up Carole Lombard and William Powell for a screwball feast.
  54. The Night of the Hunter (1955)
    Charles Laughton's only directorial effort--which was remarkable enough for putting Robert Mitchum and Lillian Gish together in the same universe, not to mention movie--was a huge box-office failure, but is a masterpiece about two kids in peril. If the Grimm brothers had made movies, they would have been life this.

  55. North by Northwest (1959)
    Ernest Lehman's great screenplay exposes the hazards of going out for a drink in Manhattan, and has a word-for-the-wise about traveling by bus, too.
  56. Notorious (1946)
    Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman give us a ravishing look at their darker sides in one of Hitchock's finest handbooks of cinematic eroticism and misogyny.
  57. The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
    This potent and plainspoken lesson about mob mentality is perhaps what you ought to have been watching instead of the O.J. trial on Court TV.

  58. The Palm Beach Story (1942)
    Divorce, Preston Sturges-style. This writer/director reached his purely farcical peak with a dream script, and a cast to match.
  59. Paths of Glory (1957)
    The insanity of war--straight up, no chaser. May well be Stanley Kubrick's best film.
  60. Peeping Tom (1960)
    Still shocking four decades on, and a creepy reminder of where moviemakers' voyeurism runs if unchecked.

  61. Petulia (1968)
    A precariously thin veneer of charm helps put over this frankly amoral tale of venal users who deserve--and, surprise, almost wind up with--each other. With no hit tunes, this is a bitter pill to swallow.

  62. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
    A recent biography revealed that Philip Barry moved into the Hepburn family home, penned what he saw and heard, and the result was the hit play that formed the basis of this movie. Interesting, sure, but not so surprising--when was Kate Hepburn ever playing anyone but herself?
  63. Psycho (1960)
    Genius married with such inspiration to cheese/horror that it rises above its own self-created campiness into a lasting tour de force of taxidermied screen terror.
  64. The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
    Before there was Prozac, people tolerated the Depression by going to the movies. If there were more movies like this, would fewer people need Prozac now?
  65. Queen Christina (1933)
    An eye-opener for anyone who believes censors caught even half of what Hollywood was up to in its heyday, this star vehicle reveals more about its star than its subject. Yes, Garbo was in on the joke.

  66. Raging Bull (1980)
    The cinematic record of the destruction of Robert De Niro's looks, and as a moving and beautiful film as anyone could make about an intolerably nasty, screwed-up man. Scorsese's best.
  67. Rear Window (1954)
    Hitchcock's suitably subversive tribute to the voyeur in every filmgoer provides plenty to ogle at, like a peak-gorgeous Grace Kelly and a sexy, curmudge only Jimmy Stewart stuck in a wheelchair with nothing to do but spy on his neighbors while we stare at him. That the pathetic view of the human community Hitchcock presents from Stewart's window does not squelch his or our desire to snoop says everything.
  68. Rebecca (1940)
    Hitchcock's brilliant argument that there's nothing spookier than marriage.
  69. The Road Warrior (1981)
    This fun, economical, smirk-free epic of heroic post-Apocalyptic individualism wasn't made in Hollywood because it couldn't have been. Director George Miller's renovation of the loner genre was so good it won't need a new coat of paint for a long time. Especially not from Kevin Costner.

  70. Schindler's List (1993)
    Who the hell would've thought that immature, moneybags director Steven Spielberg would make a movie that is (a) a serious, grown-up film, and (b) the best movie made by Hollywood in years?

  71. The Searchers (1956)
    This Western soaper cannot be dismissed (even by us). That door at the finale has reverberating echoes Ibsen only dreamt of.

  72. Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
    It may be Hitchcock, it may be black-and-white, it may be realistic in style, but it's still the original Blue Velvet.

  73. Shampoo (1975)
    A Beverly Hills black comedy/soaper closer to Judith Krantz than Moliere. Admirably lacerating self-portraits by the entire cast. An entertaining warning against taking Hollywood's political opinions seriously.

  74. Sherlock, Jr. (1924)
    You'd have selected Buster Keaton's other silent marvel, The General (1927)? We prefer this sweet romantic comedy, which provides stunning proof that just about every movie special effect--save morphing--was invented by Keaton back in '24.

  75. Singin' in the Rain (1952)
    In an extraordinarily happy accident, Gene Kelly's de rigueur forced sunniness fails to disguise his steely, "I'd-kill-to-get-ahead" megalomania, which adds a needed touch of truth, and ballast, to what otherwise might have merely been the most entertaining of all showbiz musicals.
  76. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
    The first of Disney's animated features remains unequaled in its charm, heart and pure terror--to this day, we've never taken an apple from a stranger.

  77. Some Like It Hot (1959)
    The "girls" in Tootsie, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar et al., cannot hope to match, let alone diminish, the stature of Billy Wilder's expertly constructed farce--nor do the latecomers have anything like this film's trio of generally uneven stars, each here at career-peak best.
  78. A Star Is Born (1954)
    Long, Tinseltown soaper closer to Sidney Sheldon than Euripides. Nevertheless, Moss Hart's screenplay makes you understand why Hollywood marriages don't ever work out. Judy Garland, James Mason and director George Cukor are all at the top of their game.
  79. Strangers on a Train (1951)
    A searing cautionary tale about the advisability of chatting with people whom one has not been properly introduced--it turns out your mother was right about that.
  80. Sullivan's Travels (1941)
    This film about a too-successful comedy director who decides to disguise himself as a bum to get the experience he needs for the big "important" movie he feels he must make indulges in its own seriousness and overly-good intentions, but it ends up coming down solidly on the side of laughs (thanks to writer/director Preston Sturges), beauty (thanks to Veronica Lake) and self-effacing modesty (thanks to Joel McCrea).

  81. Sunday, Bloody Sunday (1971)
    An incisive screenplay and excellent direction chillingly demonstrate why most gay relationships fail to last--straight and bi ones, too, for that matter.
  82. Sunrise (1927)
    Murnau's silent has just got to be more interesting than whatever you saw last weekend at the plex. The poetic cinematography by Oscar-winners Karl Struss and Charles Rosher makes Janet Gaynor's feat in ascending above a thankless role all the more amazing, and puts a definite thrill into George O'Brien's transformation from homicidal lout to reborn romantic.
  83. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
    Billy Wilder's valentine to the vagaries of who's up and who's down in the crapshoot that is Hollywood was dipped in acid, giving the black comedy an acrid air of hard-won home truths.

  84. Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
    Power-crazed media figure comes to regret helping assorted ungrateful unknowns to become stars. [Author comment: Not even a close summary!] A film so close to our own experience at Movieline magazine, we have to go lie down now.

  85. Swing Time (1936)
    Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Jerome Kern--all this, plus the art deco dream of the Big Apple. Sublime nonsense, but oh, that fancy footwork!
  86. The Third Man (1949)
    Carol Reed's vertiginous direction and Robert Krasker's eerie photography take the dark, Post-WWII story of a supposed good guy turned murderous war profiteer on the lam in Vienna, and make it so brilliantly black, it's like a one-film negation of Victory in Europe.
  87. The 39 Steps (1935)
    The deceptive speed with which this charming thriller races along remains a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock, yes, but also to two of the most charismatic players he ever worked with: Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll.
  88. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
    This story about how children look at and learn from the world around them, told through the lens of racial injustice in a Southern town, is proof that the best way for well-intentioned filmmakers to move audiences toward generosity is to curb Hollywood's natural inclinations--over-spending, oversimplification, and over-reliance on cheap emotion.
  89. Touch of Evil (1958)
    Well, more than a touch, actually. The whole subject is evil. Orson Welles, who plays a big, fat, corrupt cop, also directed. The result is a giant, baroque bad-mood piece in which everything is shot creepier-than-life. Certainly no other director would have dared to shoot Welles as unattractively as he appears here.
  90. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
    Greedy, seedy, badly dressed men behaving unforgivably in a desolate landscape. In other words, virtually our Bible on what to expect here in Hollywood. John Huston's finest hour, not least because he brooked no star nonsense from the cast.

  91. Trouble in Paradise (1932)
    Ernst Lubitsch's glittering gem about jewel thieves is perfection--the most sophisticated and the most comic of all sophisticated comedies.
  92. True Lies (1994)
    Go ahead, laugh, but 10 years ago, Blade Runner seemed like no one's idea of a classic, either. Give our divorce-torn times, this movie's downright radical message - that your dream mate is right there next to you in the partner you're taking for granted - is a daring and provocative theme which James Cameron has decorated with many of the greatest action set-pieces ever filmed. In years to come, True Lies will be studied not merely for its technical thrill-ride achievements, but to see how they were so deftly interwoven into a timely, pro-marriage update on Nick and Nora Charles.

  93. Two for the Road (1967)
    The reason most movies end at "and they lived happily ever after" is because marriage is so less upbeat a subject than romance. Here's the exception, however, the result of extraordinary contributions from writer Frederic Raphael, producer/director Stanley Donen, cinematographer Christopher Challis, composer Henry Mancini, and stars Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney.
  94. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
    Why is this cold, oddly optimistic, overreaching sci-fi poem so interesting? Because HAL, the computer onboard the spacecraft flying to Jupiter, has personal problems that make him a more engaging character than any of the humans in this or most other movies of the last few decades.
  95. The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)
    The personal problems of three little people do amount to considerable hill of beans back in the halcyon days of the soviet domination of Eastern Europe.
  96. Vertigo (1958)
    Hitchcock's autobiographical film about show business investigates the inherent psychological troubles of earthy brunettes who become ethereal blonde screen goddesses--and the attendant problems suffered by men who love the latter but not the former.
  97. West Side Story (1961)
    Compared with today's drive-by thugs, the '50s homeboys who dance through this musical version of Romeo and Juliet are suitable for taking home to Mom and Dad. But they still cause enough problems to jerk major tears and support hyperemotional musical numbers. Think Natalie Wood is miscast as the Puerto Rican Maria? Today you'd get Marisa Tomei, so shut up and enjoy it.
  98. The Wind (1928)
    One of the great silents, and the grandmother of all women's pictures. Lillian Gish delivers in this film alone a case-closed argument for her legendary status.
  99. Witness (1985)
    A police thriller that's really a throbbing romance between gruff urban cop Harrison Ford and Amish farm widow Kelly McGillis. Director Peter Weir had the good sense to go back to Hitchcock for inspiration on how to get soulfully erotic by taking a choreographed less-is-more approach to the sex, and going for the poetry of silence and close-ups.

  100. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
    Hopes, dreams and hallucinations in the original land of dysfunctionality. Flawless, even if you can't stand Judy Garland.

  101. The Year of Living Dangerously (1983)
    Director Peter Weir's sophisticated, uncynical view of love, romantic and otherwise, finds exotic expression in this story of an ambitious journalist in strife-torn Indonesia. The movie was taken to be a political thriller when it was released. It isn't.

Facts and Commentary About The List:

See also Movieline Magazine's 100 Greatest Foreign Films selections.


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