All-Time 100 Best Movies

by Time Magazine

Part 3

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

All-Time 100 Best Movies
(part 3, alphabetical)

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

A Hard Day's Night (1964)
Directed By: Richard Lester
Screenplay: Alun Owen
Cast: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr
They didn't have enough time to make an ordinary pop musical. A month or two for Alun Owen to write situations and dialogue for a quartet of non-actors, and for Lester to prepare his on-the-fly shoot; then four months from first day of filming to premiere.

His Girl Friday (1940)
Directed By: Howard Hawks
Screenplay: Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur (play The Front Page); Charles Lederer (screenplay)
Cast: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy
An adaptation of The Front Page, this may be the fastest- (and smartest-) talking romantic comedy ever made. With Cary Grant as a newspaper editor determined to win back his ex-wife (and best reporter), played by Rosalind Russell, who gives as good as she gets from her co-star. It is all heartless hilarity, directed in a mad but curiously logical rush by a great master of overlapping dialogue, vicious asides and over-the-shoulder put-downs.

Directed By: Akira Kurosawa
Screenplay: Shinobu Hashimoto, Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni
Cast: Takashi Shimura, Shinichi Himori
Ikiru, which means "to live," is about Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura), a Tokyo office chief whose stamp of disapproval falls on almost any project, regardless of merit. Gray and unemotional, he's less a man than a stolid piece of furniture, a bureaucrat who might as well be a bureau. Then he learns he has stomach cancer, and takes stock of all he has left undone.

In A Lonely Place (1950)
Directed By: Nicholas Ray
Screenplay: Dorothy B. Hughes (novel); Edmund H. North (adaptation); Andrew Solt
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame
Dixon Steele (Humphrey Bogart) is a paranoid screenwriter succumbing to a rage that may or may not be murderous...this sardonic portrayal of life on Hollywood’s fringes (the characters surrounding Steele are etched in acid). And we see him as a modern archetype—a talented, disappointed man surrendering to an anger he cannot govern, an existential blackness he cannot understand.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Directed By: Don Siegel
Screenplay: Richard Collins (uncredited); Jack Finney (novel); Daniel Mainwaring, Sam Peckinpah (uncredited)
Cast: Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter
You never see the alien invaders in what may be the best of the science fiction breed. They just quietly replace them with pod. They look the same, but they’re turned into them into smiling, completely passive conformists. Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter do their best to resist (with mixed results) in this parable about McCarthyism, which remains a suspenseful (and still relevant) icon of its era.

It's A Gift (1934)
Directed By: Norman Z. McLeod
Cast: W.C. Fields, Kathleen Howard
W.C. Fields, stringing together a succession of his best gag sequences. He plays the proprietor of a moribund grocery store, tormented by his awful wife and children, driven half-mad by every passer-by, registering victimization and misanthropy in his best, curiously minimalist, comic manner.

It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
Directed By: Frank Capra
Screenplay: Philip Van Doren Stern
Cast: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore
Capra traces the decline of a man driven to the edge of madness. George Bailey's life is not, in worldly terms, wonderful; he is Bedford Falls' designated saint, a suburban Job, for his fellow townsfolks' use as a friend or generous banker, through which they can exercise their weakness or meanness. It's a noir portrait with holly stuck in the frame, a sanity hearing in the form of a greeting card.

Kandahar (2001)
Directed By: Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Screenplay: Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Cast: Nelofer Pazira, Hassan Tantai
The Taliban-ruled Afghanistan - that is the setting for Makhmalbaf's masterpiece, with scenes of horrific beauty. At a Red Cross outpost, artificial legs rain from the sky in parachutes dropped from a plane, and the legless Afghani men race out of the tents to scavenge for them.

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
Directed By: Robert Hamer
Screenplay: Roy Horniman (novel Israel Rank); Robert Hamer, John Dighton
Cast: Dennis Price, Valerie Hobson, Joan Greenwood, Alec Guinness
Narrated by the fastidious Louis Mazzini (Dennis Price), who has plotted to murder eight members of an aristocratic family that had slighted his saintly mother, the film proceeds on tiptoe through the blackest of comedy. It's fun noir. Price and his fellow conniver Joan Greenwood, whose voice plays dark music over every seductive syllable, are splendid, as is Alec Guinness as all eight d'Ascoynes...Hamer's direction is a thing of dry delicacy, but it's the script that makes it the definitive Ealing Studio comedy.

King Kong (1933)
Directed By: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack
Screenplay: Merian C. Cooper, Edgar Wallace (story); James Ashmore Creelman, Ruth Rose
Cast: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot
This remains one of the movies' immortal tales of unrequited love. And the heartbroken, heartbreaking look in [the great ape's] eyes as the planes shoot him off the Empire State building remains the greatest single special effects shot ever made.

The Lady Eve (1941)
Directed By: Preston Sturges
Screenplay: Monckton Hoffe (story); Preston Sturges
Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda
Relocating the Garden of Eden to a cruise ship on the North Atlantic, Sturges tosses a gullible Adam (Henry Fonda as a balletically awkward rich boy) into the expert hands of a conniving Eve (Barbara Stanwyck as a card shark). Her toying seduction of him is as smoldering as it is funny. His revenge is that this superior woman finally falls for the pathetic lug in her cross hairs.

The Last Command (1928)
Directed By: Josef von Sternberg
Screenplay: Lajos Biró, Josef von Sternberg (story); John F. Goodrich, Herman J. Mankiewicz (titles)
Cast: Emil Jannings, Evelyn Brent, William Powell
White Russian general emigrates to Hollywood, finds work as an extra, then dies on a movie set—while portraying a White Russian general. The ironies are broad, but the emotions are authentic. Emil Jannings won the first screen acting Oscar for this portrayal but William Powell is equally good as the director—once his rival in Russia, now risen to auteur status—who viciously exploits the old man.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Directed By: David Lean
Screenplay: Robert Bolt
Cast: Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, Omar Sharif
Robert Bolt’s eloquent, epigrammatic script traced Lawrence’s career from mapmaking in the British army’s Cairo headquarters to masterminding Arab nationalism. Lean, a superb pictorial dramatizer, filled the wide screen with an endless desert occasionally peopled by passionate warriors (well played by Anthony Quinn, Alec Guinness and an actual Arab, Omar Sharif). Peter O’Toole’s swashbuckling incarnation made Lawrence a towering, tragic, high-camp sheik of Araby.

Léolo (1992)
Directed By: Jean-Claude Lauzon
Screenplay: Jean-Claude Lauzon
Cast: Gilbert Sicotte, Maxime Collin
Léo (Maxime Collin), his deranged Québecois brood mismanage their lives. He renames himself Léolo after determining that his mother had actually been impregnated by a Sicilian tomato. This is the first of Lauzon's extravagant fantasies and, like other, odder ones, it is cogently grounded in the solitude that can smother any child—anybody. Lurching from the everyday obscenities of Léo's home life to his rapturous dream life and back again, Léolo takes the elixir of Latin America’s magical realism and spikes it with the tartest French-Canadian satire.

The Lord of the Rings (2001-03)
Directed By: Peter Jackson
Screenplay: J.R.R. Tolkien (novels); Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson (screenplay)
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen
Conceived and executed as one gigantic, 9hr. 18min. film, this faithful, innovative adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy kept children and everyone else hanging on to the grand story, though it was released over three consecutive Decembers.

The Man With a Camera (1929)
Directed By: Dziga Vertov
Screenplay: Dziga Vertov
The director loved machinery—looms, trolley cars, speeding automobiles. He also loved cinematic tricks—freeze frames, superimpositions, speeded-up action and slo-mo. He put both of his obsessions together in this jazzy, delirious portrait of urban Russia, and his innovative film retains its power to stun and delight 76 years after its release. Technically it is a documentary, but really it is a poetic tribute to modernism's hopeful beginnings.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Directed By: John Frankenheimer
Screenplay: Richard Condon (novel); George Axelrod (screenplay)
Cast: Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury
The plot is preposterous: Brainwashed Korean War POW (Laurence Harvey) becomes a political assassin when he returns home to Momma (the divinely clutching Angela Lansbury). But who cares? The flash and conviction of Frankenheimer's filmmaking drives our commonsensical dubiousness right out of our heads, replacing it with high-energy paranoia. And sheer delight at this manic boldness.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Directed By: Vincente Minnelli
Screenplay: Sally Benson (novel); Irving Brecher, Fred F. Finklehoffe
Cast: Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien
It let real people burst into song in realistic settings—no backstage romances permitted. It had wonderful songs, a sweetly unneurotic performance by Judy Garland (the nutsiness in the piece was handled by Margaret O'Brien, as a little girl haunted by death). Despite its nostalgic charm, Minnelli infused the piece with a dreamy, occasionally surreal, darkness and it remains, for some of us, the greatest of American movie musicals.

Metropolis (1927) - BEST FILM OF ITS DECADE
Directed By: Fritz Lang
Screenplay: Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou
Cast: Alfred Abel, Gustav Frohlich, Brigitte Helm
It's an epic poem of urban dystopia (and class warfare) by a misanthropic director who, in his Weimar Republic phase, had a taste for spectacular imagery that, for all our modern digital wizardry, has not been aesthetically surpassed. And his imagined world remains, after all these years, eerily prescient.

Miller's Crossing (1990)
Directed By: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Screenplay: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, Albert Finney, John Turturro
In Miller's Crossing (a reworking of the social chicanery in Dashiell Hammett's novel Red Harvest), the antagonists are smart and out-smarter. Albert Finney runs a corrupt town in the 1920s, Gabriel Byrne is a brainy sort sometimes allied with Finney, and a stellar lineup of eccentrics (John Turturro, Steve Buscemi, Jon Polito) fills in the background of this marvelous, and pretty serious, fresco.

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