All-Time 100 Best Movies

by Time Magazine

Part 4


Intro | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5


All-Time 100 Best Movies
(part 4, alphabetical)

Descriptions are excerpted from the copyrighted Time Magazine site.

Mon oncle d'Amérique (1980)
Directed By: Alain Resnais
Screenplay: Jean Gruault
Cast: Gérard Depardieu, Nicole Garcia
Mon oncle d'Amérique, written by Jean Gruault, is a science lesson, given by the biologist Henri Laborit, that is made lucid and entertaining by illustrative skits featuring three characters (Roger-Pierre, Gérard Depardieu, Nicole Garcia) and a lab full of white mice. Laborit's questions about the impact of behavioral codes in inhibiting man’s so-called free will dovetail elegantly with Resnais's and Gruault's mission to overthrow the codes of film behavior.

Mouchette (1967)
Directed By: Robert Bresson
Screenplay: Georges Bernanos (novel); Robert Bresson
Cast: Nadine Nortier, Jean-Claude Guilbert
Mouchette, one of the purest Bressons, is the story of a teenage outcast (Nadine Nortier) so abused by everyone in her village that death seems like God's caress, and so maladroit that she must try three times before she succeeds in drowning herself. Its effect as you watch it is beautifully unforgiving; as you recall it, brutally radiant.

Nayakan (1987)
Directed By: Mani Ratnam
Screenplay: Rajasri , Mani Ratnam
Cast: Kamal Hassan, Saranya, Janagaraj
Nayakan, an early, defining work in [Ratnam's] career, tells the Godfatherish tale of Velu, a boy who embraces a life of crime after his father is killed by the police. Velu (Kamal Hasan) has trouble juggling his family life with his life-and-death mob "family"; Ratnam has no such difficulty blending melodrama and music, violence and comedy, realism and delirium, into a two-and-a-half-hour demonstration that, when a gangster's miseries are mounting, the most natural solution is to go singin' in the rain.

Ninotchka (1939)
Directed By: Ernst Lubitsch
Screenplay: Melchior Lengyel (story); Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, Walter Reisch
Cast: Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas
Garbo's stern Soviet commissar understandably succumbs to the charms of Paris, less understandably to the more mysterious charms of louche Melvyn Douglas. "Garbo Laughs!" the ads proclaimed, and we were delighted to join in the fun.

Notorious (1946)
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: John Taintor Foote (story The Song of the Dragon); Ben Hecht (written by), Alfred Hitchcock (screenplay contributor); Clifford Odets
Cast: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains
The master's masterpiece. A government agent (Cary Grant) introduces the hard-drinking daughter of a Nazi war criminal into a nest of spies in post-war Rio. She is obliged to marry one of them (Claude Rains in one of his great performances). And Grant, of course, is obliged to fall in love with her. The result is dark romance, dark comedy and, finally, almost unbearable suspense.

Olympia, Parts 1 and 2 (1938)
Directed By: Leni Riefenstahl
A two-part summary of the 1936 Berlin Olympics - Riefenstahl gave the heroic treatment to Jesse Owens, the black American track star. Politics and politiques aside, Olympia is an amazing technical and artistic achievement. The film's innovations directly influenced all televised sports coverage. Its narrative ingenuity unearthed the human stories behind every back-page headline.

On the Waterfront (1954)
Directed By: Elia Kazan
Screenplay: Malcolm Johnson (suggested by articles); Budd Schulberg
Cast: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Eva Marie Saint
Brando gives his greatest performance as a young longshoreman who comes to political consciousness and helps oust a corrupt, mob-controlled union from the docks...the yearning love affair between Brando's roughneck and Eva Marie Saint's hesitant convent girl is as fresh and poignant as it was a half-century ago.

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
Directed By: Sergio Leone
Screenplay: Dario Argento, Bernardo Bertolucci, Sergio Leone (story); Sergio Leone and Sergio Donati (screenplay)
Cast: Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards, Charles Bronson
This is a story of the "civilizing" of the West through two agents: one coolly mechanical (the railroad), the other warmly human (Claudia Cardinale, representing womanhood at its most nurturing and radiant). Shooting in Italy, Spain and, for one spectacular moment, Monument Valley, Leone turned Charles Bronson into a leading man, and Henry Fonda into a sneering villain.

Out of the Past (1947)
Directed By: Jacques Tourneur
Screenplay: Daniel Mainwaring (novel Build My Gallows High) (as Geoffrey Homes); Daniel Mainwaring (as Geoffrey Homes), Frank Fenton (uncredited), James M. Cain (uncredited)
Cast: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas
It has the smartest dialogue and the most persuasively labyrinthine plot of any film noir. And Robert Mitchum gives a great performance as the tough, laconic guy in a trench coat, undone by his love for—or is it merely sexual obsession with?—Jane Greer's scheming bitch-goddess.

Persona (1966) - BEST FILM OF ITS DECADE
Directed By: Ingmar Bergman
Screenplay: Ingmar Bergman
Cast: Bibi Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Margaretha Krook, Gunnar Björnstrand
This story is presented as a film-within-an (unrealized)-film and it constitutes Bergman's most austere masterpiece—his camera placements and editing have a simple rightness that belies the complex and enigmatic psychologies he is exploring.

Pinocchio (1940)
Directed By: Hamilton Luske, Ben Sharpsteen
Screenplay: Aurelius Battaglia (story); Carlo Collodi (novel) William Cottrell, Otto Englander, Erdman Penner, Joseph Sabo, Ted Sears, Webb Smith (story adaptation)
Cast: Mel Blanc, Christian Rub, Dickie Jones
Pinocchio is tops for its blending of the animator's craft and a theme—that a child is not human until he can feel loss and act with spontaneous generosity—that can move viewers of every age, and for all ages.

Psycho (1960)
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: Robert Bloch (novel); Joseph Stefano (screenplay)
Cast: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh
The nut case managing the motel, the not-so innocent woman who takes refuge there one dark and stormy night, the inevitable murder and the deeply weird explanation of the crime that follows. History is less shocked by the doings at the old Bates place, appreciating Hitch's masterful technique, the formal elegance of his style and, above all, the way he toys with some of his favorite themes—guilt, obsession and the wayward ways they drive us all.

Pulp Fiction (1994) - BEST FILM OF ITS DECADE
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avary
Cast: Tim Roth, Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman
Tarantino's multipart murder comedy is (unquestionably) the most influential American movie of the 90s. It established the former video-store geek as the auteur of the decade, proved that the Weinsteins at Miramax could produce films as well as import them, sparked the third or fourth coming of John Travolta's career (while, sort of, killing him off in the middle of the movie) and gave directors not a tenth as gifted as Q.T. the license to daub their pictures with gaudy mayhem.

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
Directed By: Woody Allen
Screenplay: Woody Allen
Cast: Jeff Daniels, Mia Farrow, Danny Aiello
Leading man (Jeff Daniels) steps down off the movie screen to bring a touch of romance to the life of Mia Farrow's downtrodden waitress. Set in Depression-era America, this astonishing exercise in Magic Realism is both an arresting spin on romantic comedy conventions and a light, lovely meditation on the cost of surrendering our lives to commercialized fantasy.

Pyaasa (1957)
Directed By: Guru Dutt
Screenplay: Abrar Alvi
Cast: Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman
Vijay (Dutt) is an unpublished poet, dismissed by family and office colleagues but befriended by a prostitute (Waheeda Rehman). In a twist out of Sullivan's Travels, Vijay is believed dead and his poetry "posthumously" lionized.

Raging Bull (1980)
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Screenplay: Jake LaMotta, Joseph Carter & Peter Savage (book); Paul Schrader, Mardik Martin
Cast: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci
Boxer Jake LaMotta's brutal life becomes in Robert DeNiro’s towering performance, a study of blind fate driving a man to the edge of self-destruction. This brilliantly shot film finally does allow LaMotta a sliver of redemption and leaves us harrowed by its unblinking portrayal of a life lived essentially without conscience or useful consciousness.

Schindler's List (1993)
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: Thomas Keneally (book); Steven Zaillian (screenplay)
Cast: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes
Before the war, Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) was the Playboy of the Eastern World, a hard-drinking, womanizing wastrel. After the war, he was essentially a failure. But during the Holocaust a mysterious grace fell upon him and he bravely, cleverly schemed to save the Jews working in his factory from the Nazi death camps.

The Searchers (1956)
Directed By: John Ford
Screenplay: Alan LeMay, Frank Nugent
Cast: John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Natalie Wood
Though it has cowboys and Indians, and Monument Valley vistas shot in gorgeous color, this is at heart the grimmest film noir—the story of a man's obsession for the ravages done to his niece (Natalie Wood) by a Comanche chief. Conflicting impulses of race, sex and violence smolder throughout the Frank Nugent script, and on Wayne's implacable face, in an epic that spans five years of brutal winters and scalding summers.

Sherlock, Jr. (1924)
Directed By: Buster Keaton
Screenplay: Clyde Bruckman, Jean C. Havez, Joseph A. Mitchell
Cast: Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire, Joe Keaton, Ward Crane
Buster Keaton - the man with the flat hat and the dead pan has a night job as a movie theater projectionist but daydreams about becoming a famous (and natty) master detective. In real life he is falsely accused by a shameless cad of stealing a watch from his girlfriend's father. At work that evening he sleepwalks himself into the film he's projecting (its plot eerily mirrors his real-life problem) and solves the crime in a series of magnificently imaginative, physically perilous, perfectly orchestrated gags.

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Directed By: Ernst Lubitsch
Screenplay: Miklós László (play), Samson Raphaelson, Ben Hecht (uncredited)
Cast: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart
In far off, interwar Budapest, the intricately connected employees of an upscale shop live out their little, charmed lives. At the center of the story lives an Assistant Manager (James Stewart) who does not know that the woman with whom he is exchanging love letters is, in fact, his newest employee (Margaret Sullavan). Samson Raphaelson's perfectly plotted script is impeccably realized. The once-famous "Lubitsch touch" was a combination of wry observation, delicate sentiment and gently controlled romanticism.



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