Hot 100 Films From the Past
Part 2

by San Francisco Chronicle Film Critics





Hot 100 Films From the Past
by San Francisco Chronicle Film Critics

(part 2, alphabetical)

51. It's a Gift (1934)
W.C. Fields' funniest comedy. One great bit after another, including the extended sequence in which Fields tries to get some sleep and is interrupted by a life insurance salesman in search of Carl LaFong.

52. JFK (1991)
Oliver Stone's exploration of the Kennedy assassination is an engrossing political speculation -- great entertainment, even if you believe the Warren Report.

53. Kids (1995)
Photographer Larry Clark's first film is a disturbing cautionary tale about drugs, easy sex and Manhattan teens who don't have much else in their lives. It's not a documentary, but the authentic, uncalculated performances make it feel like one.

54. King of Kings (1961)
The most stirring of the biblical epics of the late '50s and early '60s, starring a piercing-eyed Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus. Great holiday viewing.

55. King of the Hill (1993)
Steven Soderbergh adapted A.E. Hotchner's memoir for this charming fable about two brothers surviving the Depression, without their parents, in a St. Louis hotel. Magical and delicate.

56. Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
An apocalyptic noir that captures the anxieties lurking beneath the placid '50s veneer. Starring Ralph Meeker as a sleazy Mike Hammer.

57. La Belle Noiseuse (1991)
A painter (Michel Piccoli) is inspired out of a creative dry spell by a new model (Emmanuelle Beart). Four hours, but worth it.

58. The Lady Eve (1941)
Preston Sturges' brilliant screwball comedy stars Barbara Stanwyck as a gold digger who surprises herself by falling hard for a nerdy scientist played by Henry Fonda.

59. The Last Tycoon (1976)
Harold Pinter's moody adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's unfinished novel is both a stark character portrait and a somber evocation of '30s Hollywood. Robert De Niro plays an Irving Thalberg-like producer. Directed by Elia Kazan.

60. Lola (1961)
Jacques Demy's wistful, black-and-white romance stars Anouk Aimee as a starry-eyed dancer in a French port town, waiting for the right man to sweep her off her feet.

61. Malcolm X (1992)
Spike Lee's epic biography of the African American leader was too angry, impassioned and provocative for Hollywood -- and never received the awards or box office it deserved. With Denzel Washington and Angela Bassett, both superb as Malcolm X and his wife, Betty Shabazz.

62. McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
Robert Altman's best film is on one level an ode to the American West, on another a tribute to the movie's gorgeous stars, Warren Beatty and Julie Christie. But it's also a sad, exquisitely beautiful lament to lost dreams and the randomness of fate and violence.

63. The Member of the Wedding (1952)
Julie Harris gives a landmark performance as a lonely girl who spends the sweltering days with her housekeeper (Ethel Waters), her cousin (Brandon deWilde) and her crazy dreams. Based on Carson McCullers' book and play, with Fred Zinneman's direction.

64. Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
James Stewart plays a naive senator who finds himself fighting corruption. The defining performance of Stewart's prewar period, and director Frank Capra's greatest film.

65. Naked Killer (1994)
Hit women do battle against lesbian assassins in this wonderfully tasteless wallow in nonstop sex and violence. Made in Hong Kong.

66. Night of the Hunter (1955)
Charles Laughton's only film as a director is a one-of-a- kind Expressionist fairy tale about two children escaping an evil bogus preacher. Robert Mitchum is terrifying as the preacher, and Lillian Gish radiant as the children's stoic protector.

67. Nights of Cabiria (1955)
Giulietta Masina is perfection as Cabiria, a hard-luck Roman streetwalker whose swagger can't disguise her gullible heart. This is probably Fellini's warmest, most loving film.

68. Out of the Past (1947)
The premier 1940s noir, with Robert Mitchum as a decent guy who gets mixed up with the girlfriend (Jane Greer) of an obsessed mobster (Kirk Douglas).

69. Paris, Texas (1984)
German director Wim Wenders made this plaintive meditation on the American dream, starring Harry Dean Stanton as a man who's been lost for four years and Nastassja Kinski as his young wife.

70. Pather Panchali (1955)
Satyajit Ray's first film is one of the treasures of world cinema. It's a simple coming-of-age tale, about a poor boy growing up in rural Bengal, but Ray finds profundity and a lovely, overarching humanity in the smallest of gestures.

71. A Place in the Sun (1951)
Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor are breathtaking in George Stevens' translation of Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy.

72. Queen Christina (1933)
Greta Garbo plays a bisexual Swedish queen who dresses like a man and intends to remain a bachelor. Early Hollywood's best exploration of gender identity -- and a great love story.

73. Red (1994)
The late Polish master Krzysztof Kieslowski directed Irene Jacob and Jean-Louis Trintignant in this gorgeous celebration of friendship, redemption and mystical intervention.

74. Remember the Night (1938)
Barbara Stanwyck is radiant in this sentimental, beautifully calibrated romantic comedy from director Mitchell Leisen. She's a shoplifter and Fred McMurray is the prosecuting attorney who books her, then brings her home for Christmas.

75. Romeo and Juliet (1968)
Director Franco Zeffirelli's version is not only a great adaptation of Shakespeare's play -- it's the only screen R&J that's any good.

76. Saturday Night Fever (1977)
A film of fascinating contradictions: a surefire commercial hit with the soul -- and structure -- of an art film; a celebration of disco's vitality; and an indictment of its ethos.

77. Savage Nights (1994)
Cyril Collard was suffering from AIDS when he wrote, directed and starred in this shattering picture about sex and death, rage and futility in the age of AIDS. A clumsy masterpiece -- Collard didn't have time to make it smooth.

78. Scarface (1983)
Al Pacino goes way over the top as a Cuban cocaine lord in this irresistible gangster epic co-starring Michelle Pfeiffer.

79. Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Any one of Hitchcock's American films is a pretty safe bet, but this overlooked gem -- about a teenager and her serial killer uncle (Joseph Cotten) -- stands out.

80. Shampoo (1975)
The sexual games in this Los Angeles-based farce were supposed to symbolize American political hypocrisy, but the real treats are Robert Towne's biting script and the cast that director Hal Ashby steered so brilliantly, including Warren Beatty as a hairdresser and Julie Christie and Goldie Hawn as his girlfriends.

81. Shane (1953)
A retired gunfighter comes to the aid of homesteaders in this haunting Western, starring Alan Ladd.

82. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh deliver grand-scale performances in Tennessee Williams' cautionary tale about letting in-laws stay over.

83. The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927)
Ernst Lubitsch's heartrending silent film, with Ramon Novarro as a sheltered prince who finds companionship in fun-loving Heidelberg.

84. Sullivan's Travels (1941)
The finest film from writer-director Preston Sturges, with Joel McCrea as a comedy director who wants to switch to dramatic films.

85. Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Burt Lancaster is chilling as a powerful, ruthless Walter Winchell-like gossip columnist. A portrait of Broadway nightlife in the '50s.

86. A Thousand Clowns (1965)
It's dated and talky, but this ode to nonconformity is still noteworthy for Jason Robards as a stubborn dropout and sweet Barbara Harris as the social worker who falls for him.

87. Three Comrades (1938)
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the script, set in post-World War I Germany, and you can tell. A great romance starring the magical Margaret Sullavan.

88. The Times of Harvey Milk (1984)
Rob Epstein, San Francisco's double Oscar- winner, made this deeply affecting bio of the slain San Francisco politician, and showed a new generation of documentary filmmakers how to graft the emotion and muscularity of narrative film onto nonfiction.

89. To Be or Not to Be (1942)
A seamless blend of suspense and comedy, from director Ernst Lubitsch, about a Polish acting troupe's attempt to thwart the Nazis. Starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard (in her last role).

90. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
A widowed father's love for his children, a spooky recluse at the end of the road and the courtroom trial of an innocent black man are the elements in Robert Mulligan's film of Harper Lee's autobiographical novel. Gregory Peck is glorious as Atticus Finch, the role he was born to play.

91. True Stories (1986)
David Byrne's only foray as a film director is a deadpan scrapbook of American eccentricity.

92. Two English Girls (1972)
Jean-Pierre Leaud stars in Truffaut's tender, evocative film about a Frenchman's love for two English sisters.

93. Umberto D (1952)
Socialist realism from Vittoria De Sica about an aged pensioner and his dog. Devastating and transforming.

94. An Unmarried Woman (1978)
Jill Clayburgh is dumped by her cheating husband and has to make it on her own in this rare look at love from a woman's angle.

95. The Virgin Spring (1959)
This medieval allegory may be Ingmar Bergman's most startling, powerful film. With Max von Sydow as the father of a raped innocent, and Sven Nykvist's stark, black-and-white photography.

96. War and Peace (1967)
Sergei Bondarchuk directed and stars (as Pierre) in this 6 1/2-hour version of Tolstoy's mammoth novel. A towering masterpiece.

97. Wetherby (1985)
An uninvited guest shows up at a schoolteacher's (Vanessa Redgrave) dinner party, and everyone's life is changed. David Hare's film-directing debut.

98. What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom made this delicate reflection on family ties and the passing of small-town America.

99. The Wife (1996)
Writer-director Tom Noonan's overlooked gem about an encounter between two couples is a hilarious, scorching look at New Age mores -- a '90s time capsule.

100. A World Apart (1988)
Barbara Hershey is a revelation as a South African journalist whose anti-apartheid convictions play havoc with her young daughter's life.



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