Part 1


Top 100 Films of All-Time: Video Detective, a pocket-sized guide published in 1997 and written by Jim Riffel, suggested both its top 1000 films and 100 films of all-time for its readers, to provide advice on renting videos. The short descriptions of the unranked, top 100 films were taken from this guide.

by the Video Detective
(part 1, alphabetical)

The African Queen (1951)
Katharine Hepburn plays a missionary in Africa who needs a ride to safety and is offered one by an alcoholic sea captain (Bogart). As they slowly make their way down the river, they must battle the elements and each other, and their struggles give birth to a stubborn love. One of the all-time greats.

All About Eve (1950)
An all-time classic about a seemingly innocent young actress who becomes secretary to a veteran star (Bette Davis) and begins to use every connection available to quickly and shamelessly rise to the top, leaving the star flabbergasted. Razor sharp satire on the theater world.

Amadeus (1984)
The rivalry between composers Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Mozart is brought to the screen with stunning brilliance. Salieri, who desired the same admiration and respect bestowed on Mozart, must face the brutal realization that although he was talented, Mozart was a genius.

An American In Paris (1951)
An incredible 17 minute dance number (the longest ever filmed) is one of the highlights of this story about a soldier who stays in Paris after the war to paint and try to win the heart of a lovely girl. Lavishly produced. Songs include 'I Got Rhythm' and Embraceable You.'

Annie Hall (1977)
Woody Allen's favorite topic, the trials and tribulations of love and relationships, is taken to hilarious and poignant heights in this semi-autobiographical film about his union with Diane Keaton. Crammed with cameos from Paul Simon, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Walken, Carol Kane, Sigourney Weaver, and others.

Apocalypse Now (1979)
An almost surreal account of a captain's journey into the depths of the Vietnam jungle to assassinate a demented, decorated AWOL officer who started his own loyal tribe. Filled with stunning visuals, incredible battle scenes, and the famous helicopter raid.

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
Tracy gives one of his best performances as a stranger who drifts into town and uncovers a brutal secret. Marvin and Borgnine shine as two ruthless cronies.

Ben-Hur (1959)
A tyrannical Roman Governor reduces his wealthy childhood friend to a galley slave and imprisons his family. Years later the man returns seeking vengeance against the ruler. Includes one of the most famous scenes in the history of motion pictures, the 'Roman Chariot Race.'

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
The classic story of three veterans who return home, face a number of emotional conflicts, and try to put their lives back together. Released just after WWII ended, helping many deal with the massive problems the bloodshed caused. Russell is the only person ever to win two Oscars for the same role, being awarded an additional statue for the valor he brought to his wartime colleagues.

The Big Sleep (1946)
Private detective is hired by a young lady, falls in love with her sultry, older sister and gets knee deep in murder and mayhem. Stunning in its mood and feel, responsible for setting the 'noir' style, and considered one of the best films ever made.

Bonnie And Clyde (1967)
The fast, vicious lives of the infamous Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are detailed, from their first meeting through the string of bank hold-ups and cop shootouts to the gruesome violent ending. Warren Beatty produced and starred.

The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957)
Great war film about American and English prisoners who are ordered to build a bridge for Japanese Colonel Sessue Hayakawa. The British officer in charge uses this exercise to show the Japanese as inferior humans and soldiers. Holden plays an escaped POW who plans to level the bridge.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Based on the true story of the two legendary outlaws who robbed banks and trains, evaded the law, and their final confrontation in South America. Great screen chemistry between leads Newman and Redford.

The Caine Mutiny (1954)
The boat Captain Queeg commands is rocking and it's not because of the water. He's losing his mind and dishes his mental dirt out to his men. They've had enough, revolt, and a powerful court martial ensues.

Casablanca (1942)
One of the most famous films of all time has Bogart running a bar in Nazi-occupied Morocco. In walks old love Ingrid Bergman ('of all the gin joints...') and a bittersweet romantic tale unwinds. Beautifully engrossing with one of the best endings ever caught on film.

Chinatown (1974)
Jack Nicholson plays a private detective hired for what appears to be a routine infidelity (that's his specialty) case. Before long he's thrown into a chaotic world of deception, greed, and murder, spiraling through twists and turns, culminating in a thrilling shootout in Chinatown.

Citizen Kane (1941)
Orson Welles was 25 years old when he co-wrote, directed, and starred in this masterpiece which is based on the life of William Randolph Hearst (a fact denied but assumed). The film traces the newspaper tycoon from his simple beginnings to his ruthless peak and back down to his cold and lonely end. Hailed by most critics as the greatest film ever made.

City Lights (1931)
Chaplin, in his 'Little Tramp' character, falls in love with a blind girl who sells flowers on the street corner. He later befriends a rich drunk and uses this connection to illegally get the money the girl needs for an eye operation. When he's thrown in jail, all seems headed for tragedy. Beautiful comic/drama.

A Clockwork Orange (1971)
It's sometime in the future. A young violent gang member wreaks 'ultraviolence' until he is imprisoned. He is released after undergoing an experimental peace-inducing treatment. On the outside, he meets some of his victims, who serve up their own form of justice. A true masterpiece from Stanley Kubrick.

Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Paul Newman, in what some consider his greatest role, plays Luke, a young man sentenced to a long prison term on a southern chain gang. The more the ruthless warden comes down on him, the harder he tries to escape.

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
The moral dilemmas of two men are intertwined with a skillful mix of comedy and drama. One man, a documentary film-maker, can't handle his displeasure at chronicling the life of a conceited television star. The other, a highly respected doctor, must decide whether to have his family and career ruined or murder his mistress.

The Deer Hunter (1978)
Powerful story of three men (Walken, De Niro, Savage) from a poor steel town who go off to Vietnam and the devastating impact it has on their lives. De Niro is classic as the force that gets them out of a sadistic Vietnamese riverside prison and as a loyal friend returning to Vietnam to try to rescue Walken.

Deliverance (1972)
Four 'city boys' decide to spend their vacation tackling the treacherous waters of a wild river. Their exciting outing turns nightmarish when the river destroys their canoes and they're left to defend themselves against a few backwoodsmen. Realistically horrifying. Contains famous 'bow and arrow' scene.

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
A homosexual (Pacino) stages a daring bank robbery in order to pay for his lover's sex change operation. The heist is bungled, he's trapped inside with hostages, the media begins its field day, and his chances for a clean getaway fade with every passing minute. Based on a true story.

Double Indemnity (1944)
A thriller in every sense of the word, this pic centers around a woman and her lover who murder her husband to collect the insurance money. The policy states that if he dies accidentally from a moving train, the payout is doubled. They kill him and place the body on the tracks, thinking they've committed the perfect crime. They're wrong. Critically acclaimed, considered one of the best pictures ever made.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying... (1964)
Stanley Kubrick's brilliant satire on nuclear war centers around the government's crazed actions after a deranged general sends an A-bomb toward Russia. Contains some of the funniest scenes ever filmed.

Duck Soup (1933)
Groucho Marx plays the leader of a wacky country, Freedonia, and takes along his brothers, Chico and Harpo, employing them as spies. An endless stream of gags follows. One of the Marx Brothers' best.

E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
One of the most financially successful films ever made about a helpless alien who is stranded on Earth and taken in by a group of caring kids who hide the alien from their parents and try to help him find his way home. Debra Winger provides the friendly visitor's voice.

East of Eden (1955)
Dean delivers an unforgettable performance in this adaptation of John Steinbeck's classic novel about a strained communication between a father and son. Powerful, moving, and timeless.

The Exorcist (1973)
The first big-budget Hollywood horror film has Linda Blair as an innocent 11 year-old possessed by the devil. When a priest comes to perform an exorcism, her head spins around like a radar dish, she spews green slime, and begins to wreak havoc of biblical proportions.

Five Easy Pieces (1970)
Jack Nicholson gives a brilliant performance as a pianist who once showed great promise but chose to work in the oil fields. He returns home for one final attempt to reconcile with his father and comes to term with his demons. Known for the famous 'chicken sandwich in the diner' scene.

Frankenstein (1931)
A scientist and his assistant dig up graves, store the cadavers in their lab, and plan a ghoulish experiment of building a creature from different body parts. The experiment is a success ('It's Alive...It's Alive!') with only one problem: they gave the creature a criminal's brain. A classic among classics.

The French Connection (1971)
Two New York City narcotics detectives discover what could be the biggest drug ring of all time. This four star action film is based on a true story and contains one of the most famous car chases ever filmed.

Gandhi (1982)
The life of lawyer turned spiritual leader, Mahatma Gandhi, is brought to the screen with awe-inspiring results. From his humble beginning to his tragic assassination, the film magnificently shows how one man truly changed the world.

The General (1927)
Comedy genius Buster Keaton plays a locomotive engineer whose train has been stolen. The humor begins when he tries to get it back. Based on a true incident during the Civil War. Keaton amazingly did his own stunts.

The Godfather (1972)
Francis Ford Coppola's gripping portrait of a 1940s Mafia family is considered one of the greatest films ever made and deservedly so. The horror, rage, violence, and paranoia of being in the thick of organized crime is told with brutal realism. Includes the famous 'horse's head' scene.

The Godfather, Part II (1974)
This sequel is just as effective as its predecessor as it intertwines and compares the lives of its present day leader (Pacino) with the 'don' of old (De Niro), while continuing the story of the original.

The Gold Rush (1925)
It's the mid 1800's and Charlie Chaplin is looking for a fortune in gold and love in the Klondikes. One of Chaplin's best, containing the famous 'shoe for dinner' and 'dinner roll two step' scenes.

Gone With The Wind (1939)
Sweeping epic masterpiece follows the turbulent life of pretty Southern belle Scarlett O'Hara as she journeys through a beautiful upbringing on a sprawling plantation to the tragedy of the Civil War and her torrid love affairs with Rhett Butler and Ashley Wilkes. Filled with technically complicated scenes, like the burning of Atlanta which was amazingly done on the MGM lot. One of the all-time greats.

The Graduate (1967)
A lethargic, confused college graduate is snapped into action by an older woman's desire to seduce him and his own desire for the woman's daughter. His rescue of the daughter from her wedding is a classic scene.

The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
The poverty stricken Joad family leaves the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma and heads out west to find a better life in the grape fields of California. John Steinbeck's classic novel on the Great Depression contains great acting and an epic scale production.

Harold and Maude (1971)
Classic story of Harold, an 18 year-old obsessed with death, who makes a habit of attending strangers' funerals. While viewing a burial he meets Maude, an 87 year-old eccentric woman, who also frequents funerals of people she never knew. The two begin a relationship and Maude, whose own philosophy of life and death is far from morbid, changes Harold's life forever.

High Noon (1952)
Classic tale has Gary Cooper playing a sheriff who is getting married and retiring on the same day. It's also the day that the ruthless leader of a band of outlaws is coming to town to seek revenge against the sheriff. Told in real time with clocks in scenes counting down the minutes to the final confrontation.

How Green Was My Valley (1941)
Considered to be John Ford's masterpiece, this tells fifty years in the life of a family of miners and follows their hopes, dreams, and disappointments as mining goes from a hard, but honest way of making a living to a big, complicated unionized business.

It Happened One Night (1934)
Gable is a newspaper reporter who meets Colbert, a rich young lady who is trying to escape her wealthy life to find true happiness. A steamy battle of the sexes begins as both try to teach each other about life. Along the way, they fall in love. Classic Capra movie magic and one of the few films ever to sweep all the major categories at the Academy Awards.

It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
American classic about an average man in an average town who feels his life is worthless and decides to jump off a bridge. He's saved from the choppy water below by his guardian angel who shows him just how important he is to all the people around him. An uplifting magical film, worth all of the praise it's received. Based on a story which appeared on a Christmas card.

The King and I (1956)
A woman takes a job teaching the children of the King of Siam. She soon locks horns with the ruler, only to later fall in love with him. Based on Margaret Landon's novel Anna and The King of Siam. Songs include 'Getting to Know You' and 'I Have Dreamed.'

The Lady Eve (1941)
A Preston Sturges masterpiece about a hapless, snake-loving beer tycoon, and the con-lady who believes he's a simple-minded easy mark. Unforgettable performances by leads Fonda and Stanwyck.

Laura (1944)
A detective assigned to the murder case of a New York City female executive interviews her friends, and comes up with a long list of likely suspects. He also sees a portrait of the deceased and begins to fall in love, leading to a strange, classic thriller.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
A lavish biography of T.E. Lawrence, the complex, English military leader who helped the Arabs revolt against Turkey in World War I. Stunning in its scope with absolutely awesome photography. A film with no women.

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