Filmsite has unique spin on top pix

Travis F. Smith
Jul 8, 2003

The wise minds of many august bodies of film criticism have pontificated on which are the greatest films of all time. However, Filmsite's list of 100 Greatest Movies, though selected by only one person, has something that other lists lack: hyper-detailed descriptions and historical analysis of each of the films so chosen, made available on a Web site that's easy to browse and read.

In fact, according to the site's author, Tim Dirks, writings from his site have been used in film studies courses -- impressive, considering that Dirks operates the site as a hobby and has no formal film background.

The site began in 1996 when Dirks had to develop classes on how to do HTML while he was working at The Tech Museum in San Jose. It's grown into a large collection of pages about various classic movies, famous actors and directors, and other "greatest" lists. The site is both extremely well-arranged, and at the same time quirky enough to surprise even the determined browsers with new links and information scattered throughout. The personality of the site's maker comes through without intruding, and you get the sense of his passion for cinema.

"I don't really like making lists. You'll notice I don't rank anything. I'm flexible," Dirks said.

The list of 100 itself has evolved slightly since Dirks first picked it (it was followed up almost immediately with a second list, called "100 More Greats"), and over time, new(er) films might emerge.

Unlike many polls of top films which tend to skew toward recent works, only seven of the 200 picks come from the 90s, and none is more recent than Fargo (1996). The prevalence of classic films reflects Dirks' own preference, as well as the reality of time constraints from managing a Web site like this. "If you write about classic films, you don't have to continually view every new film," Dirks said.

Don't spend all your time reading about the classics. There's a rich film history section, a new film glossary and a challenging game of movie quote identification -- Dirks quizzes you on the Greatest Film Quotes ever.

Copyright © 2003 Reed Business Information

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