All-Time 100 Best Movies

by Time Magazine

Part 1

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

All-Time 100 Best Movies
(part 1, alphabetical)

Descriptions are excerpted or abridged
from the copyrighted Time Magazine site.

Aguirre: the Wrath of God (1972)
Directed By: Werner Herzog
Screenplay: Werner Herzog
Cast: Klaus Kinski, Helena Rojo
Aguirre is the prototype Herzog-Kinski collaboration, about a Spanish explorer who loses his mission, men and mind on an Amazon adventure. Answering only to the logic of Peru's natural beauty, the film seems an examination of madness from the inside. Sumptuous, spellbinding and immediately, eternally scary.

The Apu Trilogy (1955, 1956, 1959)
Directed By: Satyajit Ray
Screenplay: Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay (novel); Satyajit Ray
Comprising three films: Pather Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar. The story of a child growing to manhood in modern India. His triumphs are small, his tragedies large, but Ray's filmmaking is direct in manner, simple in its means and profound in its impact.

The Awful Truth (1937)
Directed By: Leo McCarey
Screenplay: Viña Delmar, Arthur Richman (play)
Cast: Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy
A divorcing couple (Cary Grant and Irene Dunne) squabble delightfully about custody of their dog, her lamebrained suitor (Ralph Bellamy), his waywardness and her career in what may be the most perfect romantic comedy ever made.

Baby Face (1933)
Directed By: Alfred E. Green
Screenplay: Darryl F. Zanuck (story) (as Mark Canfield); Gene Markey, Kathryn Scola
Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent
In this invigorating affront of a movie, Lily (Stanwyck) escapes to New York from an Erie, Pa., speakeasy where her father has rented her out to the customers. In a big-city bank, she sleeps her way to the top, leaving a heap of discarded men (and one or two corpses)...Baby Face was the definitive pre-Code statement of how the Depression created a new morality of no morality.

Bande à part (1964)
Directed By: Jean-Luc Godard
Screenplay: Jean-Luc Godard
Cast: Anna Karina, Danièle Girard
...This film, about some slackers who drop out of a dubious language school and retreat to the suburbs for a lazy frolic that turns into absurdist murder, is among [Godard's] most weirdly entertaining efforts to rewrite not just the grammar of cinema, but its ruling narrative conventions as well.

Barry Lyndon (1975)
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
Screenplay: William Makepeace Thackeray (novel); Stanley Kubrick (Screenplay)
Cast: Ryan O'Neal, Marisa Berenson
In 18th century England [Kubrick's] eponymous protagonist peers into the candle-lit dimness of stately homes, seeking clues to correct behavior. He learns enough to rise in society, but not enough to prevent his fall.

Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980)
Directed By: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Screenplay: Alfred Doblin (novel); Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Cast: Günter Lamprecht, Elisabeth Trissenaar
[Fassbinder's] biggest film, likely his masterpiece, is this 15-1/2 hr. made-for-TV adaptation of Alfred Doblin's 1929 novel, which had thrilled Fassbinder since his teen years. In the lumpen figure of Franz Biberkopf (Günter Lamprecht), the filmmaker found a passive, pathetic non-hero around whom dozens of predators and victims could swarm.

Blade Runner (1982)
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Screenplay: Philip K. Dick (novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?); Hampton Fancher, David Webb Peoples
Cast: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer
Blade Runner is set in the year 2019, in a big city that suggests a Tokyo gone daft. Androids (like the ones played by Rutger Hauer, Sean Young and Darryl Hannah) are so evolved they think they're human. They need a 1940s-style cop (Harrison Ford) to put a bullet through their delusion.

Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Directed By: Arthur Penn
Screenplay: David Newman, Robert Benton, Robert Towne (uncredited)
Cast: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman
Two beautiful idiots (Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway) find love, death and rollicking good humor as backroads bank robbers in 1930s America. And telling the story of their petty, bloody crime wave, director Arthur Penn creates a film that is both a signature work of its era (the troubled 60s) and one that is as joyously entrancing now as it was the day it was released.

Brazil (1985)
Directed By: Terry Gilliam
Screenplay: Terry Gilliam, Tom Stoppard, Charles McKeown
Cast: Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro Gilliam's complex comic fantasia, a mild-minded bureaucrat (Jonathan Pryce) gets run through a police state's inner workings, like Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times, while being manipulated by an insurgent (Robert De Niro) who flies into his life like a deranged Douglas Fairbanks.

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Directed By: James Whale
Screenplay: William Hurlbut, William Hurlbut, John L. Balderston (adaptation); Mary Shelley (novel)
Cast: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Elsa Lanchester
This is one of those rare sequels that is infinitely superior to its source. Boris Karloff is a perfect klutz as the monstrously eager lover of Elsa Lanchester, whose creator, the divinely hysterical Colin Clive, endowed her with virginity and attitude.

Camille (1936)
Directed By: George Cukor
Screenplay: Alexandre Dumas fils (novel); Zoe Akins, Frances Marion, James Hilton
Cast: Greta Garbo, Robert Taylor, Lionel Barrymore
In this romance of selfless renunciation and the nobility of the call-girl class, Garbo's achievement may strike younger viewers as odd, silly, for she is performing in a gestural language utterly remote from today's. Yet it is an elegant, eloquent tongue, and no one "spoke" it as brilliantly as Garbo did in this great and grand soap opera.

Casablanca (1942)
Directed By: Michael Curtiz
Screenplay: Murray Burnett, Joan Alison (play); Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid
Everyone, by now, has come to Rick's—and come away continuing to admire the film's doomy romance, political idealism, crackling dialogue and wonderful performances. It's a studio film that exemplifies (and even justifies) the studio system at its best: slick, efficient, and able to make some pretty stale clichés feel to us like high truth. This is populist movie-making transformed into something like art.

Charade (1963)
Directed By: Stanley Donen
Peter Stone , Marc Behm (story); Peter Stone (screenplay)
Cast: Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau, James Coburn
The great movie-star man, Cary Grant, meets the great movie-star lady, Audrey Hepburn, in a souffle-light thriller-romance-comedy whipped up by Donen, who did blithe American elegance as well as anyone, and writers Marc Behm and Peter Stone. Audrey is a Parisian thief's widow, now in ignorant possession of his loot, and Cary is a mystery man with a protective or pernicious interest in her. Walter Matthau plays an avuncular type over at the U.S. Treasury office, and James Coburn, George Kennedy and Ned Glass are bad guys whose consecutive demises were considered quite violent for the time.

Children of Paradise (1945)
Directed By: Marcel Carné
Screenplay: Jacques Prévert
Cast: Arletty, Jean-Louis Barrault
At 3hr. 9min. the film is an epic romance viewed through an ironic prism. Baptiste the ethereal mime (Jean-Louis Barrault), Garance the worldly-wise courtesan (Arletty) and a dozen other scapegraces and victims are creatures with the fullness and ambiguity of a Balzac novel, thanks to Jacques Prévert, the poet and screenwriter who more than anyone shaped French cinema in one of its richest periods.

Chinatown (1974) - BEST FILM OF ITS DECADE
Directed By: Roman Polanski
Screenplay: Robert Towne
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston
Set against the background of innocent, sun-splashed Los Angeles in the 1930s, this may be the movies' most resonant study of personal and political corruption. Robert Towne's great script is a high romantic tragedy, impeccably directed by Polanski and heart-breakingly played by Jack Nicholson as the private eye who falls and Faye Dunaway as the rich, mysterious and doomed dark lady with whom he falls in love in this perfect summary of the film noir spirit.

Chungking Express (1994)
Directed By: Wong Kar Wai
Screenplay: Wong Kar Wai
Cast: Brigitte Lin, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai
The film tells two stories: one of young Takeshi Kaneshiro falling for ageless Brigitte Lin, the other pairing Hong Kong cop Tony Leung Chiu-wai with the elfin beauty Faye Wong. With his two essential collaborators, cinematographer Christopher Doyle and designer William Chang, Wong weaves a tapestry of longing and seduction that puts both the characters and the audience in the mood for love.

Citizen Kane (1941) - BEST FILM OF ITS DECADE
Directed By: Orson Welles
Screenplay: Herman J. Mankiewicz, Orson Welles
Cast: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Dorothy Comingore, Agnes Moorehead
This crypto-biography of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst worked, fabulously, thanks to the insider's knowledge and narrative savvy of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, to cinematographer Gregg Toland's openness to experiment (he virtually created the film-noir style with this film) and, of course, to the boy-genius vigor the 25-year-old Welles brought to his first Hollywood enterprise.

City Lights (1931)
Directed By: Charles Chaplin
Screenplay: Charles Chaplin
Cast: Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill
The immortal tramp falls in love with a blind flower seller, with results that are both poignant and deeply comic. Chaplin's sentimental side was never more delicately stated. But his funny side, as he desperately tries to earn money for the operation that will restore the girl's sight, was never more hilariously deployed than it was in this spare, curiously haunting film.

City of God (2002)
Directed By: Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund
Screenplay: Paulo Lins (novel); Bráulio Mantovani (screenplay)
Cast: Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino
The Rio de Janeiro slum known as Cidade de Deus might be a Martian landscape, so remote in spirit is it from the smooth beaches where the rich work on their tans and lines of seduction. In the inner city the activity is life-and-death, mostly death, and the ruthless men who run the place are boys, some not yet adolescents. Boys their age elsewhere play with plastic guns; these kids shoot real bullets, kill people, for the love or the hell of it.

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