I ought to warn you that these are by no means all from the Classic era. I’ve loved movies from every time and from many different places. Ten is so difficult. First of all some films I truly love that I’ve had to leave out. These include The Apartment, L’Armee des Ombres, Boudu Sauve des Eaux, The General, The Sweet Smell of Success, Tokyo Story, Vertigo and Written on the Wind. Some of the ones I have included may be more obscure; they are my own individual discoveries which I have taken to my heart. All of them have been seen on multiple occasions:
10 Eve’s Bayou (Kasi Lemmons 1997) Bewitching Louisiana voodoo with Samuel L. Jackson surrounded by a stellar cast of women.
9 The Fatal Glass of Beer (Clyde Bruckman 1933) Only a two reel short but it stars my favorite comedian, W.C. Fields, in a wonderfully madcap piece of cod melodrama.
8 Blade Runner (Ridley Scott 1982) Its stunning cinematography, elemental story line about what is to be human, and underlying warmth that gives a story and a point of view to everyone, human or android, makes this my favorite piece of sci-fi.
7 The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Tommy Lee Jones 2005) Modern-day Western about male friendship, about honor and promises made, and boasting and lies told to preserve machismo. Directed by and starring the man I regard as America’s greatest modern day film actor. Tommy Lee Jones just gets better and better.
6 South of St Louis (Ray Enright 1949) Traditional Western also about male friendship as it unravels in adversity, and three men who have known each other all their lives discover what they are like when the chips are down. Joel McCrea in the lead role is doggedly pragmatic and his soul, like TLJ’s in 7 above, is buried deep.
5 Point Blank (John Boorman 1967) Stunningly directed in a sort of 1960s modernist style. The violent tale of a gangster released from prison, a bravura performance from one of cinema’s best loved tough guys, the irreplaceable Lee Marvin.
4 Meet Me in St Louis (Vincente Minnelli 1944 ) A beautiful, gorgeous musical that brings tears to my soppy old eyes every time I see it. Judy Garland was never lovelier.
3 Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder 1944) THE great film noir. We know from the start who did it, why, how and where. This, like 6 above, is about human beings unravelling. Stanwyck’s riveting performance defines the femme fatale, and Edward G. shows just what a versatile and consummate actor he is.
2 Red Road (Andrea Arnold 2006) A latter day British directorial debut of great assurance about an ordinary young woman who operates CCTV cameras. What she sees one day at her work will send her on a hugely painful journey into her past. I really love this film.
And at Number One...................... 1 Quai des Brumes (Marcel Carne 1938) A beautiful and tragic Harlequinade by one of the old masters of French cinema. Jean Gabin, perhaps the greatest of all film stars, whose funeral in post-War Paris was the second largest after De Gaulle’s, arrives as an army deserter in Le Havre waiting for a ship to take him far away from France. While waiting he drinks with the demi-monde of the port and meet lovely seventeen year old Michele Morgan, held under the tyrannical rule of her old guardian Michel Simon (another great French actor) and pestered by cowardly hoodlum Pierre Brasseur. She falls madly in love with Gabin, and maybe he, in his understated way, does with her. He tries to protect her from her two persecutors. The final choice he makes between Morgan and a ship bound for Venezuela will end in tragedy. A truly magical film, at present unrivalled in my affections.