Monday, October 19, 2009

Gravybread's Amazing and Quite Ill Movie Top 10s

Film Top 10 Lists:
1853 - 2003

The movie on TV was "A High Wind in Jamaica." Sea adventure, kids kidnapped by pirates, great dramatic gravitas, adolescent stirrings. I was 9.

My eyes beheld the color TV in grandma’s apartment on a Saturday afternoon. Channel 11. Anthony Quinn was the main pirate, and I thought he was great; I didn’t yet know who Quinn was, but I didn’t care, because on the screen was a 10-year-old actress, Deborah Baxter, dominating the film and my heart. My love affair with cinema had begun.

(For the rest of the rambling essay, go to: By way of intro...)

In a nutshell: This is a listing of my favorite films out of the approximately 10,000 that I've seen over the past 30 - 40 years. It is year by year and in chronological order. Please understand, this list is not a "best films" listing --that would look very different; and I have that list stored elsewhere. These are my personal top 10s and runners up with notations on other films viewed or ones still to see. Essentially these are the films that gave me the most pleasure or which I admired the most. Also note that this is not a listing of every film I've ever seen; that would require more space or time than feasible. That is why I include a parenthetical number of films viewed next to each year. This is a work in progress, in more ways than one.
* indicates a favorite of the early cinema

LATEST ADDITIONS (Feb. 2010 / includes films relegated to “for the record” status): Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990/Paul Newman); Border Radio (1987/Allison Anders, et. al.); Kill! (Kiru) (1968/Kihachi Okamoto)

RECENT ADDITIONS (Jan. 2010 / includes films relegated to “for the record” status): Melo (1986/Alain Resnais); Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973/Sam Peckinpah); Ten (2002/Abbas Kiarostami); Harper (1966/Jack Smight); The Cool World (1964/Shirley Clarke); Skullduggery Part II (1961/Stan VanDerBeek); Science Friction (1959/Stan VanDerBeek); Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (1992/Nick Broomfield); Castro Street (1966/Bruce Baillie); Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970/Russ Meyer); Ringu (1998/Hideo Nakata); The Stranger's Return (1933/King Vidor); Girls About Town (1931/George Cukor); Report (1967/Bruce Conner); Joy of Living (1938/Tay Garnett); Madigan (1968/Don Siegel); Strange Interlude (1932/Robert Z. Leonard); It Should Happen to You (1954/George Cukor); Ko-Ko's Earth Control (1928/Dave Fleischer); Spiegel van Holland (Mirror of Holland) (1950/Bert Haanstra); Unaccustomed As We Are (1929/Lewis R. Foster, Hal Roach) (& several more Laurel & Hardy shorts); Pretty Poison (1968/Noel Black; second viewing; placement unchanged); Ivan the Terrible, Part II (1946/1958/Sergei Eisenstein); Fat Man and Little Boy (1989/Roland Joffe); The Bishop's Wife (1947/Henry Koster; second viewing); The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss (1936/Alfred Zeisler); Ben-Hur (1907/Sidney Olcott); Vanity Fair (2004/Mira Nair); Face/Off (1997/John Woo); Any Given Sunday (1999/Oliver Stone); I Was a Male War Bride (1949/Howard Hawks; second viewing); 6/64: Mama und Papa (Materialaktion Otto Mühl) (1964/Kurt Kren); Deseret (1995/James Benning); Meet the Parents (2000/Jay Roach); Chaos (1999/Hideo Nakata); Escape from New York (1981/John Carpenter); City for Conquest (1940/Anatole Litvak)

RECENT ADDITIONS (Dec. 2009 / includes films relegated to “for the record” status): Outrage (1950/Ida Lupino); Beyond the Forest (1949/King Vidor); Berlin Express (Jacques Tourneur); The Corn is Green (1945/Irving Rapper); Midnight Mary (1933/William Wellman); Possession (1981/Andrzej Zulawski); Angel (1982/Neil Jordan); Robin and Marian (1976/Richard Lester); Public Housing (1997/Frederick Wiseman); The Mayor of Hell (1933/Archie Mayo); The Constant Nymph (1943/Edmund Goulding); Christiane F. (1981/Uli Edel); The Hard Way (1943/Vincent Sherman); The Beach (2000/Danny Boyle); My Name is Julia Ross (1945/Joseph H. Lewis); Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991/Alek Keshishian, Mark Aldo Miceli); Bunny Lake is Missing (1965/Otto Preminger); A nos amours (1983/Maurice Pialat); Christopher Strong (1933/Dorothy Arzner); Penguin Pool Murder (1932/George Archainbaud); Casino Royale (2006/Martin Campbell); Kinsey (2004/Bill Condon); Boxing Helena (1993/Jennifer Chambers Lynch); Calle 54 (2000/Fernando Trueba); Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997/Werner Herzog); Une si jolie petite plage (Riptide) (1949/Yves Allégret); Russian Ark (2002/Aleksandr Sokurov); Fast Food Nation (2006/Richard Linklater); The Major and the Minor (1942/Billy Wilder; second viewing); Standing in the Shadows of Motown (2002/Paul Justman); Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960/Karel Reisz); Princess Mononoke (1997/Hayao Miyazaki); Steel Magnolias (1989/Herbert Ross); My Name is Joe (1998/Ken Loach); The Falcon and the Snowman (1985/John Schlesinger); Georgia (1995/Ulu Grosbard); The Waterdance (1992/Neal Jimenez, Michael Steinberg); Sommersby (1993/Jon Amiel); Urbania (2000/Jon Matthews, aka Jon Shear); The Cell (2000/Tarsem Singh); Ju-on (2002/Takashi Shimizu); Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005/Miranda July)

RECENT ADDITIONS (Oct.-Nov. '09 / Includes films relegated to "for the record" status): Swing High, Swing Low (1937/Mitchell Leisen); Fourteen Hours (1951/Henry Hathaway); The Tailor of Panama (2001/John Boorman); Dark Water (2002/Hideo Nakata); The Squid and the Whale (2005/Noah Baumbach); Akira (1988/Katsuhiro Otomo); Blade (1998/Stephen Norrington); Voyage of the Damned (1976/Stuart Rosenberg); Sex (1920/Fred Niblo); The First of the Few (Spitfire) (1942/Leslie Howard); Carrington (1995/Christopher Hampton); Fool for Love (1985/Robert Altman); In the Cut (2003/Jane Campion); Frantic (1988/Roman Polanski); Wild Things (1998/John McNaughton); Naked Killer (1992/Clarence Fok Yiu-leung); The Underneath (1995/Steven Soderbergh); I am Sam (2001/Jessie Nelson); Bolero (1934/Wesley Ruggles); Eye of Vichy (1993/Claude Chabrol); The Company (2003/Robert Altman); Joe (1970/John G. Avildsen); Shoot the Piano Player (Tirez sur le pianiste) (1960/Francois Truffaut - second viewing); Les Mistons (1957/Francois Truffaut); All the Boys are Called Patrick (1957/Jean-Luc Godard); The Truth About Charlie (2002/Jonathan Demme); The Informer (1935/John Ford - third viewing); The Running Man (1987/Paul Michael Glaser); Last Summer (1969/Frank Perry); Marie Antoinette (2006/Sofia Coppola); Gia (1998/Michael Cristofer); Broken Flowers (2005/Jim Jarmusch); Femme Fatale (2002/Brian De Palma); United 93 (2006/Paul Greengrass); Miami Vice (2006/Michael Mann); Cal (1984/Pat O'Connor); Bucktown (1975/Arthur Marks); Besieged (1998/Bernardo Bertolucci); Heart Like a Wheel (1983/Jonathan Kaplan); The Indian Runner (1991/Sean Penn); Black Caesar (1973/Larry Cohen); The League of Gentlemen (1960/Basil Dearden); The White Angel (1936/William Dieterle); Banjo on My Knee (1936/John Cromwell); Ask a Policeman (1938/Marcel Varnel); You and Me (1938/Fritz Lang); Three Songs About Lenin (Dziga Vertov); Beyond Rangoon (1995/John Boorman); Black Angel (1946/Roy William Neill); Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955/Henry King); The Golem (1915/Henrik Galeen, Paul Wegener; 4-minute surviving fragment); Battling Butler (1926/Buster Keaton); Topaze (1933/Harry d'Arrast/US version); Topaze (1933/Louis Gasnier/French version); Stolen Heaven (1931/George Abbott); The Crimson Kimono (1959/Samuel Fuller); Verboten! (1959/Samuel Fuller); The Steel Helmet (1951/Samuel Fuller/second viewing); Boule de Suif (Pyshka) (1934/Mikhail Romm); Attack (1956/Robert Aldrich); The Battle of Britain (1969/Guy Hamilton); Go West (Buster Keaton); If You Could Only Cook (1935/William A. Seiter); The Glass Key (1942/Stuart Heisler); The Young in Heart (1938/Richard Wallace); Diary of a Shinjuku Thief (1968/Nagisa Oshima); The Show of Shows (1929/John G. Adolphi); The Good Companions (1933/Victor Saville); House of Rothschild (1934/Alfred Werker); Viktor und Viktoria (1933/Reinhold Schunzel); They Had to See Paris (1929/Frank Borzage); Arsene Lupin (1932/Jack Conway); Faro Dokument 1979 (1979/Ingmar Bergman); The Rains Came (1939/Clarence Brown)

Current Projects: Updating my "films-owned list"; Samuel Fuller; Marlene Dietrich (films in Universal's "Glamour Collection" DVD set); Rare Soviet silents and early sound films and Stalin-era films through the '50s; 1930s comedies (always); lesser-known French classics of the '30s; Frank Borzage; Remaining films on the BFI/Sight & Sound 360 Film Classics list; Nagisa Oshima hard-to-get titles; Bill Douglas' autobiographical trilogy ("My Childhood," etc.); the ongoing fruitless search for films by Werner Hochbaum; etc. etc.

Newly inaugurated: Gravy's Movie Notes (some random impressions of random films)

Explanation of the List (truncated example):

1944 <<---year (103) <<---no. of films counted officially as seen
Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder) <<< --top 10+ fave movies, italicized RUNNERS UP: <<<----- more films I enjoyed
For the record: Sampling of some other films viewed, but not faves
To re-watch: = Films seen so long ago that a fresh viewing is needed for fair judgment
To see: Films not on hand yet to view
In the queue: Films I own/possess that are ready to view


Pre-cinema moving images (toward 1895)

1853 (1)
Daguerreotype self-portrait (Antoine Claudet)
(two photographic slides to mimic movement)

1865 (1)
Revolving self-portrait (Gaspard-Felix Tournachon; aka, Nadar) (sequential photographs; later animated)

1874 (1)
Du passage de Venus devant le soleil (The Transit of Venus Across the Sun) (Pierre Jules Cesar Janssen)

1878 (3) (Muybridge series photography using multiple still cameras to analyze motion)
Sallie Gardner at a Gallop (from the "Horse in Motion" card series) (Eadweard Muybridge)

1882 (2) (Marey single-camera chronophotography (on plates) to analyze motion)
Flight of a Gull (Etienne-Jules Marey)
Transit of Venus (David Peck Todd)

1884 (2)
J. Laurie Wallace walking (Thomas Eakins)

1885 (1)
Galloping horse (c. 1885) (Ottomar Anschutz)

1886 (1)
Man Walking Around a Corner (Louis Le Prince) (glass plate series)

1887 (106)
"Animal Locomotion" (series) (Eadweard Muybridge)
(have seen 100+ Muybridge motion studies, as transferred to film)

1888 (4) (first actual use of spooled photographic (paper) film, by Le Prince)
Leeds Bridge (Louis Le Prince)

1889 (2) (Development of celluloid roll film; key for cinema invention)
Mounted horse, canter (Etienne-Jules Marey) (chronophotography)
Mounted Horse, walk (Etienne-Jules Marey)

1890 (3) (Earliest Dickson/Edison experiments in filmmaking)
Trafalgar Square (Wordsworth Donisthorpe)
Monkeyshines (1 & 2) (W.K.L. Dickson, for Edison) (non-feasible system of tiny images on an Edison cylinder)

1891 (8)
Dickson Greeting (W.K.L. Dickson, for Edison)
Men Boxing (Dickson)
Newark Athlete (Dickson)

1892 (12)
Emil on the Roof (Max Skladanowsky)
Demeny Speaking ("Je vous aime") (Georges Demeny, E-J Marey)

1893 (6) (Edison publicly demonstrates kinetoscope film viewer)
Blacksmithing Scene (W.K.L. Dickson, Wm. Heise)
The Barber Shop (Dickson, Heise)

1894 (42+) (Edison kinetoscope parlors open to public; movies though a peephole)
Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze (Fred Ott's Sneeze)
(W.K.L. Dickson, Wm. Heise, for Edison)
Buffalo Dance (W.K.L. Dickson, William Heise)
Corbett and Courtney Before the Kinetograph (Dickson, Heise)
Carmencita (Dickson)
Chute du chat (Falling Cat) (Etienne-Jules Marey)
Caicedo, King of the Slack Wire (Dickson, Heise)
Luis Martinetti, Contortionist (Dickson, Heise)
Sandow (Dickson, Heise)
The Boxing Cats (Dickson, Heise)
Bucking Broncho (Dickson, Heise)
Sioux Ghost Dance (Dickson, Heise)
(mostly Edison actualities)


Generally accepted official birth of cinema
(projected film before paying audience)

1895 (41) (Lumiere brothers' Dec. 1895 projected public screening of 10 films in Paris)
Le Jardinier (aka L'Arroseur arrose) (The Sprayer Sprayed)
(Louis Lumiere)
Repas de bebe (The Baby's Meal) (Lumiere)
La Sortie des usines (Leaving the Lumiere Factory) (Lumiere)
The Execution of Mary Stuart (Alfred Clark)
Dickson Experimental Sound Film (WKL Dickson)
Querelle enfantine (Childish Quarrel) (Lumiere)
La Peche aux poissons (Fishing for Goldfish) (Lumiere)
Serpentinen Tanz (Max Skladanowsky)

1896 (53) (Note: Armat/Edison Vitascope, first public projections in U.S., April 1896)
The Kiss (William Heise)
Demolition of a Wall (Demolition d'un mur) (Louis Lumiere)
The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (Louis Lumiere)
Leaving Jerusalem by Railway (Alexander Promio, for Lumiere)
Escamotage d'une dame chez Robert-Houdin (Georges Melies)
Feeding the Doves (Wm. Heise, James White)
(mostly Lumiere and Edison actualities)

1897 (57)
Seminary Girls (Wm. Heise, James White)
What Demoralized the Barber Shop (William Heise)
Fisherman's Luck (Heise)
The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight (Enoch Rector)
Return of Lifeboat (James White, Frederick W. Blechynden)
(mostly Edison actualities)

1898 (28)
Four Troublesome Heads (Melies)
Ella Lola, a la Trilby (Unknown, for Edison)
The Miller and the Sweep (G.A. Smith)
Burial of the "Maine" Victims (Wm. Paley)
A Street Arab (Unknown, for Edison)
(mostly Edison actualities)

1899 (25)
Cripple Creek Bar-Room Scene (James White)
U.S. Infantry Supported by Rough Riders at El Caney (Paley, White)
The Kiss in the Tunnel (G.A. Smith)
(mostly Edison actualities)

1900 (42) (High point of the innovative British "Brighton School"; basic narrative film language)
L'Homme orchestre (The One-Man Band) (Georges Melies)*
Grandma's Reading Glass (Arthur Melbourne Cooper)
The Enchanted Drawing (J. Stuart Blackton)
As Seen Through a Telescope (G.A. Smith)
Uncle Josh's Nightmare (Edwin Porter)
Attack on a China Mission (James Williamson)
A Storm at Sea (James White)
The Mystic Swing (Melies? or Porter?)

1901 (28) (Rise of French Pathe to dominate world film production until 1914, WWI)
The Man with the India-Rubber Head (Georges Melies)*
The Big Swallow (James Williamson)*
The Story of a Crime (Ferdinand Zecca)
Martyred Presidents (Edwin Porter)
Fire! (James Williamson)
The Countryman and the Cinematograph (R.W. Paul)
Pan-American Exposition by Night ( Edwin S. Porter, James Blair Smith)
Panorama of Esplenade by Night (Porter, White)
The Artist's Dilemma (J. Stuart Blackton?)
What Happened on Twenty-Third Street, New York City (Porter)

1902 (21) (Height of the Melies tableaux spectacle fantasy film)
Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon) (Georges Melies)*
Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (Ferdinand Zecca)
Charleston Chain-gang
(Unknown, for Edison)
Jack and the Beanstalk
(Edwin Porter)
Star Theatre
(Frederick Armitage)
Les Victimes de l'alcoolisme
(Ferdinand Zecca)
Uncle Josh at the Moving Picture Show
(Edwin Porter)

1903 (53) (Porter's Great Train Robbery codifies basic filmic narrative technique; biggest hit of early cinema)
The Great Train Robbery (Edwin Porter)*
The Kingdom of the Fairies (Georges Melies)
Sky Scrapers of New York City, From the North River
(J.B. Smith)
A Daring Daylight Robbery
(Frank Mottershaw)
The Dude and the Burglars
(G.W. Bitzer)
Mary Jane's Mishap
(G.A. Smith)
Pickpocket - A Chase Through London
(Alf Collins)
Desperate Poaching Affray
(William Haggar)
A Search for Evidence
(G.W. Bitzer)
Sick Kitten
(G.A. Smith)
The Ballet Master's Dream
(Georges Melies)
Alice in Wonderland
(Percy Stowe)
La Vie et la passion de Jesus-Christ (Ferdinand Zecca)
The Life of an American Fireman
(Edwin Porter)

1904 (32)
The Impossible Voyage (Georges Melies)*
Westinghouse Works (series) (G.W. Bitzer)
The Untameable Whiskers (Melies)
Le Sirene (The Mermaid)
(Melies)
A Butterfly's Metamorphosis
(Melies)
The Wonderful Living Fan
(Melies)
The Ex-Convict
(Edwin Porter)
The Suburbanite
(Wallace McCutcheon)
How a French Nobleman Got a Wife Through
the New York Herald Personal Columns
(Porter)
The Widow and the Only Man (Wallace McCutcheon)

1905 (42) (Rescued by Rover apotheosis of 'chase film' craze, fast editing for suspense / Nickelodeons rise)
Rescued by Rover (Lewin Fitzhamon, Cecil Hepworth)*
Coney Island at Night
(Edwin Porter)*
The White Caps
(Edwin Porter, Wallace McCutcheon)*
The Kleptomaniac
(Porter, McCutcheon)
Interior N.Y. Subway, 14th St. to 42nd St.
(Billy Bitzer)
Tom, Tom the Piper's Son
(G.W. Bitzer)
Les cartes vivantes (The Living Playing Cards)
(Georges Melies)
The Watermelon Patch
(Porter, McCutcheon)
Willie and Tim in the Motor Car
(Percy Stow)

Note: Gypsies have stolen the baby. Rover to the rescue! Rover was actually Blair, the family dog of producer and co-director, Cecil Hepworth, and the canine gives the first great animal performance in movies. Oddly, because of the nature of early cinema, the version of ...Rover that we see today is not the one first screened in 1905, but a remake, perhaps even a remake of a remake. Few prints were struck back then, and when the film was a hit the prints wore out and the movie had to be filmed again. Whatever the case, the surviving version is impressive as a basic textbook example of suspense cutting and action.

1906 (27) ("Humorous Phases..." displays early animation techniques)

Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (J. Stuart Blackton)
Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (Edwin Porter, Wallace McCutcheon)*
The Hilarious Posters
(Georges Melies)*
The Terrible Kids
(Porter, McCutcheon)
The '?' Motorist
(Walter Booth)
Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp
(Albert Capellani)
Madam Has Her Cravings
(Alice Guy)
Arrival of Immigrants, Ellis Island
(Bitzer)
Farfalle (Butterflies)
(Unknown, for Cines)
Three American Beauties
(Porter, McCutcheon)
The Scheming Gambler's Paradise
(Melies)

1907 (26)
Le Scarabee d'or (The Golden Beetle) (Segundo de Chomon)
Le Spectre Rouge (The Red Spectre) (Ferdinand Zecca)
L'eclipse du soleil en pleine lune (The Eclipse: the
Courtship of Sun and Moon)
(Georges Melies)
That Fatal Sneeze (Lewin Fitzhamon)
The Policeman's Little Run (Ferdinand Zecca)

For the record: Ben Hur (Sidney Olcott)

1908 (33) (French Pathe's Physician of the Castle advances suspense cutting and close-ups)
The Physician of the Castle (Unknown; Ferdinand Zecca?)
The Song of the Shirt (D.W. Griffith)
The Thieving Hand
(J. Stuart Blackton)
Moscow Clad in Snow
(Unknown; Pathe Freres newsreel)
La Course aux potirons (The Pumpkin Race)
(Romeo Bosetti)
Le Cheval emballe (The Runaway Horse)
(Louis Gasnier)
La Photographie Electrique a distance (Long Distance
Wireless Photography)
(Georges Melies)
Fantasmagorie
(Emile Cohl)
El Hotel Electrico
(Segundo de Chomon)
The Adventures of Dollie
(Griffith)

1909 (52) (Second-year director D.W. Griffith raises quality of Biograph's productions)
A Corner in Wheat (D.W. Griffith)*
The Country Doctor (D.W. Griffith)
*
En evant la musique
(Segundo de Chomon)
The Lonely Villa
(Griffith)
Pippa Passes
(Griffith)
1776, or the Hessian Renegades
(Griffith)
The Light That Came
(Griffith)
The Curtain Pole
(Griffith)
The Romance of an Umbrella
(J. Stuart Blackton)
The Cord of Life
(Griffith)
At the Altar
(Griffith)
Princess Nicotine, or the Smoke Fairy
(Blackton)
The Sealed Room
(Griffith)
Lines of White on a Sullen Sea
(Griffith)
The Drunkard's Reformation
(Griffith)

1910 (33)
As it Is in Life (D.W. Griffith)
The Unchanging Sea
(Griffith)
The Fugitive
(Griffith)
Faithful
(Griffith)
The Usurer
(Griffith)
In the Border States
(Griffith)
The House With Closed Shutters
(Griffith)
The Informer
(Griffith)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
(Otis Turner)
A Child of the Ghetto
(Griffith)
King Lear
(Gerolamo Lo Savio)
The Hasher's Delirium
(Emile Cohl)
Frankenstein
(J.S. Dawley)

To see: Afgrunden (The Abyss) (Urban Gad)

1911 (20)
The Lonedale Operator (D.W. Griffith)
Max Sets the Style (Max lance la mode)
(Max Linder)*
The Battle
(Griffith)
His Trust
(Griffith)
Enoch Arden (Parts 1 & II)
(Griffith)
What Shall We Do With Our Old?
(Griffith)
The Miser's Heart
(Griffith)
Swords and Hearts
(Griffith)
L'Odissea (The Odyssey)
(Bertolini, Padovan, Liguoro)
L'Inferno
(Liguoro, Bertolini, Padovan)
The Last Drop of Water
(Griffith)
Richard III
(UK version; Will Barker)
Little Nemo
(Winsor McCay)

For the record: The Dream (George Loane Tucker); Romance with a Double Bass (Kai Hansen); Her Crowning Glory (Laurence Trimble); Max Takes Tonics (Max Linder)

In the queue: Temptations of a Great City (August Blom)

1912 (47) (Birth of Hollywood; rise of urban movie theatre 'palaces'; earliest features released)
The Cameraman's Revenge (Ladislaw Starewicz)*
The New York Hat
(D.W. Griffith)*
The Girl and Her Trust (Griffith)
An Unseen Enemy
(Griffith)
The Musketeers of Pig Alley
(Griffith)
The Lesser Evil
(Griffith)
The Painted Lady
(Griffith)
The Passer-by
(Oscar Apfel)
The Narrow Road
(Griffith)
The Confederate Ironclad
(Kenean Buel)
The Informer
(Griffith)
One is Business, the Other Crime
(Griffith)
The Sunbeam
(Griffith)
The Female of the Species
(Griffith)
The Burglar's Dilemma
(Griffith)
The Automatic Moving Company
(Romeo Bosetti)
Onesime horloger
(Jean Durand)
How a Mosquito Operates
(Winsor McCay)

For the record: Land Beyond the Sunset (Harold Shaw); Conquest of the Pole (Georges Melies); Richard III (Andre Calmettes, James Keane); Peasant's Lot (Vasili Goncharov); The Invaders (Francis Ford); From the Manger to the Cross (Sidney Olcott); Queen Elizabeth (Louis Mercanton); A Cure for Pokeritis (Laurence Trimble); Making an American Citizen (Alice Guy Blache); Max and the Statue (Max Linder); For His Son (D.W. Griffith); Iola's Promise (D.W. Griffith)

To see: Die Arme Jenny (Poor Jenny) (Urban Gad); Au pays des tenebres (The Great Mine Disaster) (Victorin Hippolyte-Jassett); Les Miserables (Albert Capellani)

In the queue: 1812 god (Kai Hansen, Vasili Goncharov); The Flying Circus (Alfred Lind); The Great Circus Catastrophe (Eduard Schnedler-Sorensen); Romeo e Giulietta (Ugo Falena)

1913 (33)
The Mothering Heart (D.W. Griffith)*
The Student of Prague (Stellan Rye)
Twilight of a Woman's Soul
(Yevgeny Bauer)
Death's Marathon
(Griffith)
The Drummer of the 8th
(Thomas Ince)
Matrimony's Speed Limit
(Alice Guy Blache)
A House Divided (Alice Guy Blache)
The Ambassador's Daughter
(Charles J. Brabin)
The Last Days of Pompeii
(Mario Caserini, E. Rudolfi)
Christmas Eve (Ladislaw Starewicz)
Traffic in Souls (George Loane Tucker)

For the record: Quo Vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni); The Bangville Police (Henry Lehrman); Little House in Kolomne (Pierre Charynin); Evidence of the Film (Lawrence Marston, Edwin Thanhouser); Suspense (Lois Weber, Phillips Smalley); How Men Propose (Lois Weber, Phillips Smalley); Just a Shabby Doll (unknown, for Thanhouser)

To see: The Child of Paris (Leonce Perret); Ingeborg Holm (Victor Sjostrom)

In the queue: Fantomas (Louis Feuillade)

1914 (26) (Italian film spectacles reach height with 'Cabiria.' Rise of fluid and lateral tracking shots)
The Massacre (D.W. Griffith; made 1912, released 1914)*
Cabiria
(Giovanni Pastrone)*
Kid Auto Races at Venice
(Charles Chaplin)
A Child of the Big City
(Yevgeny Bauer)
Gertie the Dinosaur
(Winsor McKay)
A Florida Enchantment
(Sidney Drew)
Judith of Bethulia
(D.W. Griffith)
Silent Witnesses
(Yevgeny Bauer)
The Wishing Ring
(Maurice Tourneur)
The Battle of Elderbush Gulch
(D.W. Griffith)
The Avenging Conscience
(D.W. Griffith)
Home Sweet Home
(D.W. Griffith)

For the record: Fantomas contre Fantomas (Louis Feuillade); In the Land of the Headhunters (Edward S. Curtis); The Patchwork Girl of Oz (J. Farrell MacDonald); The Hazards of Helen, episode 26 "The Wild Engine" (James Davis, J.P. McGowan); many Chaplin Keystone comedies including The Rounders (Chaplin), His New Profession (Chaplin), Tango Tangles (Sennett), Caught in a Cabaret (Mabel Norman), etc.

To re-watch: Tillie's Punctured Romance (Mack Sennett)

To see: The Wrath of the Gods (Reginald Barker); The Spoilers (Colin Campbell)

In the queue: The Mysterious X (Benjamin Christensen); The Squaw Man (Cecil B. DeMille, Oscar Apfel); The Call of the North (Cecil B. DeMille, Oscar Apfel)

VINTAGE RATING (1914): 5***

1915 (49) (Birth of a Nation proves viability of features; biggest film hit until 1939)
The Birth of a Nation (D.W. Griffith)*
Posle Smerti (After Death)
(Yevgeny Bauer)*
Les Vampires (Louis Feuillade)
Regeneration (Raoul Walsh)
Young Romance (George Melford)
A Night in the Show (Charles Chaplin)
The Cheat (Cecil B. DeMille)
The Tramp (Charles Chaplin)
Alias Jimmy Valentine (Maurice Tourneur)
The Portrait (Ladislaw Starewicz)
The Italian (Reginald Barker)
The Bank (Charles Chaplin)
The Coward (Reginald Barker, Thomas Ince)
A Fool There Was (Frank Powell)
Carmen (Cecil B. DeMille)

RUNNERS UP:
Assunta Spina (Francesca Bertini, Gustavo Serena)
Their One Love (Jack Harvey, for Thanhouser)
The Golem (Henrik Galeen, Paul Wegener) (4-minute surviving fragment)

For the Record: Trilby (Maurice Tourneur); Daydreams (Yevgeny Bauer); The 1002nd Ruse (Yevgeny Bauer); La Folie du Docteur Tube (Abel Gance); Dinosaur and the Missing Link (Willis O'Brien); The Lily of Belgium (Ladislaw Starewicz); Pool Sharks (Edwin Middleton); several Fatty Arbuckle Keystone comedies including Fatty's Tintype Tangle (Roscoe Arbuckle); many Charlie Chaplin Keystone films including The Bank/By the Sea/Carmen, etc. (Chaplin)

To see: The Juggernaut (Ralph Ince); Hypocrites (George Loane Tucker, Lois Weber); Chimmie Fadden (Cecil B. DeMille); Kindling (Cecil B. DeMille); Old Heidelberg (John Emerson); Rumpelstiltskin (Raymond B. West); The Second in Command (William J. Bowman); The Warrens of Virginia (Cecil B. DeMille)

In the queue: La signora della camelie (Gustavo Serena); Children of the Age (Deti Veka) (Yevgeny Bauer)

VINTAGE RATING (1915): 6.5****

1916 (26) (Chaplin begins to flower with his Mutual shorts)
Intolerance (D.W. Griffith)*
One A.M (Charles Chaplin)
The Rink
(Charles Chaplin)
The Pawnshop
(Charles Chaplin)
Civilization
(West, Barker, Ince)
The Count
(Charles Chaplin)
Hell's Hinges
(Wm. S. Hart)
Behind the Screen
(Charles Chaplin)
The Floorwalker (Charles Chaplin)
The Mystery of the Leaping Fish
(John Emerson)
The Queen of Spades
(Y. Protazanov)
Snow White
(J.S. Dawley)
Gretchen the Greenhorn
(Franklin brothers)

To see: Judex (Louis Feuillade); Where Are My Children? (Phillips Smalley, Lois Weber); Homunculus (Otto Rippert)

In the queue: Haevnens nat (Night of Revenge) (Benjamin Christensen); Shoe Palace Pinkus (Ernst Lubitsch)

VINTAGE RATING (1916): 5***

1917 (21)
The Adventurer (Charles Chaplin)*
The Cure (Charles Chaplin)
The Immigrant (Charles Chaplin)
Joan the Woman (Cecil B. DeMille)
Easy Street (Charles Chaplin)
The Butcher Boy (Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle)
The Rough House (Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle)
Wild and Woolly (John Emerson)
Coney Island (Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle)
His Wedding Night
(Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle)
A Girl's Folly (Maurice Tourneur)

To see: Thomas Graal's Best Film (Victor Sjostrom); A Marked Man (John Ford); Tom Sawyer (William Desmond Taylor); Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman (George Irving)

In the queue: Terje Vigen (Victor Sjostrom); Hilde Warren und der Tod (Joe May); The Little American (Cecil B. DeMille)

VINTAGE RATING (1917): 5***

1918 (20) (Ufa in Germany, Europe's biggest studio, formed at end of WWI)
The Outlaw and His Wife
(Victor Sjostrom)
A Dog's Life
(Charles Chaplin)*
The Cook (Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle)
Shoulder Arms
(Charles Chaplin)
Thomas Graal's Basta Barn (Victor Sjostrom)
Stella Maris
(Marshall Neilan)
Father Sergius (Yakov Protazanov)
Good Night, Nurse!
(Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle)
Out West (Arbuckle)
The Blue Bird
(Maurice Tourneur)
The Unbeliever (Alan Crosland)

For the record: Hearts of the World (D.W. Griffith)

To see: Tih Minh (Louis Feuillade); Shifting Sands (Albert Parker)

In the queue: Himmelskibet (Holger-Madsen); Carmen (Gypsy Blood) (Ernst Lubitsch); The Eyes of the Mummy (Ernst Lubitsch)

VINTAGE RATING (1918): 4.5**

1919 (24) (Pickford, et. al. form indie distributor United Artists to fight monopoly, control their own films)
Herr Arnes Pengar (Sir Arne's Treasure) (Mauritz Stiller)*
Broken Blossoms (D.W. Griffith)*
Blind Husbands (Erich von Stroheim)
Sunnyside
(Charles Chaplin)
True Heart Susie (D.W. Griffith)
South (Shackleton's Expedition to the Antarctic)
(Frank Hurley)
Die Austernprinzessin (Ernst Lubitsch)
Madame du Barry
(Ernst Lubitsch)
Hawthorne of the U.S.A. (James Cruze)
J'Accuse
(Abel Gance)
Die Spinnen (The Spiders) (Fritz Lang)
A Day's Pleasure
(Charles Chaplin)

For the record: Different From the Others (Richard Oswald); Die Puppe (The Doll) (Ernst Lubitsch)

To see: The Dragon Painter (William Worthington); Back to God's Country (David Hartford); Unheimliche Geschichten (Eerie Tales) (Richard Oswald); The Delicious Little Devil (Robert Z. Leonard); The Sentimental Bloke (Raymond Longford); When the Clouds Roll By (Victor Fleming, Theodore Reed); Harakiri (Fritz Lang); The Mother and the Law (D.W. Griffith)

In the queue: Mod Lyset (Towards the Light) (Holger-Madsen)

VINTAGE RATING (1919): 6***

RECAP--Favorite Films of the 1910s:

1.) The Birth of a Nation (Griffith/US/1915)
2.) The Cameraman's Revenge (Starewicz/Russia/1912)
3.) The Massacre (Griffith/US/1914)
4.) Posle smerti (After Death) (Bauer/Russia/1915)
5.) Cabiria (Pastrone/Italy/1914)
6.) A Dog's Life (Charles Chaplin/US/1918)
7.) The Adventurer (Charles Chaplin/US/1917)
8.) The New York Hat (Griffith/US/1912)
9.) The Mothering Heart (Griffith/US/1913)
10.) Herr Arnes Pengar (Stiller/Sweden/1919)
RUNNERS UP::
*Max Sets the Style (Max Linder/France/1911)
*Intolerance (Griffith/US/1916)
*Broken Blossoms (Griffith/US/1919)

1920 (27)
Way Down East (D.W. Griffith)*
The Last of the Mohicans
(Maurice Tourneur)
The Golem (Paul Wegener, Carl Boese)
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
(Robert Weine)
One Week (Buster Keaton)
Number, Please?
(Fred Newmeyer, Hal Roach)
High and Dizzy (Hal Roach)
The Grocery Clerk
(Larry Semon)
Convict 13 (Buster Keaton, Eddie Cline)
The Mark of Zorro (Fred Niblo)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (John S. Robertson)
The Penalty
(Wallace Worsley)
The Parson's Widow (Carl Dreyer)
Erotikon (Mauritz Stiller)

For the record: Leaves from Satan's Book (Carl Dreyer); The Toll Gate (Lambert Hillyer); Genuine (Robert Wiene); The Mollycoddle (Victor Fleming); Nomads of the North (David Hartford); Pollyanna (Paul Powell); The Saphead (Herbert Blache); Sumurun (One Arabian Night) (Ernst Lubitsch); Within Our Gates (Oscar Micheaux); Neighbors (Buster Keaton, Edward Cline); The Great Cheese Robbery (Vernon Stallings); Sex (Fred Niblo)

To see: Karin Ingmarsdotter (Victor Sjostrom); Masterman (Victor Sjostrom); I Don't Want to Be a Man (Ernst Lubitsch); The Flapper (Alan Crosland); The Wandering Image (Fritz Lang); Something New (Nell Shipman, Bert Van Tuyle); The Symbol of the Unconquered (Oscar Micheaux)

In the queue: Monastery of Sendomir (Victor Sjostrom); L'Homme du large (Marcel L'Herbier); Von Morgen bis Mitternachts (From Morn to Midnight) (Karl Heinz Martin); Anna Boleyn (Ernst Lubitsch); Romeo and Juliet in the Snow (Ernst Lubitsch); Why Change Your Wife? (Cecil B. DeMille); Kohlhiesel's Daughters (Ernst Lubitsch); The Jack-Knife Man (King Vidor)

VINTAGE RATING (1920): 4**

Note: A weak year worldwide; immediate postwar fare was pretty formulaic except for the anomaly of 'Caligari.'

1921 (35)
El Dorado (Marcel L'Herbier)*
The Blot (Lois Weber)*
Seven Years Bad Luck (Max Linder)
The Kid (Charles Chaplin)
Hail the Woman
(John Griffith Wray)
La Terre (Andre Antoine)
Der Mude Tod (Destiny) (Fritz Lang)
The Playhouse (Buster Keaton)
The Phantom Chariot (Victor Sjostrom)
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Rex Ingram)
The High Sign (Eddie Cline, Buster Keaton)
Little Lord Fauntleroy (Alfred E. Green, Jack Pickford)
The Affairs of Anatol (Cecil B. DeMille)

For the record (other notable films seen): Scherben (Shattered) (Lupu Pick); Tol'able David (Henry King); The Ace of Hearts (Wallace Worsley); Too Wise Wives (Lois Weber); L'Uomo Meccanico (The Mechanical Man) (Andre Deed); The Sheik (George Melford); Schloss Vogelod (The Haunted Castle) (F.W. Murnau); Outside the Law (Tod Browning); Orphans of the Storm (D.W. Griffith); The Conquering Power (Rex Ingram); Manhatta (Charles Sheeler, Paul Strand); The Love Light (Frances Marion); The Indian Tomb (Joe May); The Idle Class (Charles Chaplin); Die Hintertreppe (Backstairs) (Leopold Jessner); The Three Musketeers (Fred Niblo); Dream Street (D.W. Griffith); Danton (Dimitri Buchowetzki); Lichtspiel Opus 1 (Walter Ruttmann); Rhythmus 21 (Hans Richter); several Buster Keaton shorts including The Haunted House/The Boat/The Goat/Hard Luck (Buster Keaton, Edward Cline); Never Weaken (Fred Newmeyer)

To see: Johan (Mauritz Stiller); L'Atlantide (Jacques Feyder); Rojo no Reikon (Souls on the Road) (Minoru Murata); The Three Musketeers (Henri Diamant-Berger); A Small Town Idol (Erle C. Kenton); Molly O' (F. Richard Jones); Miss Lulu Bett (William C. de Mille); Growth of the Soil (Markens grode) (Gunnar Sommerfeldt); Die Geierwally (E.A. Dupont); Fievre (Fever) (Louis Delluc); Peck's Bad Boy (Sam Wood); Camille (Ray C. Smallwood); Janosik (Jaroslav Siakel); My Boy (Albert Austin, Victor Heerman); Leap Year (Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, James Cruze); The Dark Road (F.W. Murnau); Love Never Dies (King Vidor); The Adventures of Tarzan (Robert F. Hill, Scott Sidney); The Nut (Theodore Reed); Jackie (John Ford); Through the Back Door (Alfred E. Green, Jack Pickford); Appearances (Donald Crisp); Dangerous Lies (Paul Powell); The Bonnie Brier Bush (Donald Crisp)

In the queue: Die Bergkatze (The Wildcat) (Ernst Lubitsch); Hamlet (Sven Gade, Heinz Schall); Be My Wife (Max Linder); Vier um die Frau (Four Around a Woman) (Fritz Lang); A Sailor-Made Man (Fred Newmeyer)

VINTAGE RATING (1921): 6.5***
Note: Marcel l'Herbier's astonishingly beautiful psychological melodrama 'El Dorado' is probably the greatest unknown movie of the silent era.

1922 (30) (Thalberg fires Stroheim from "Merry Go Round'; ends Hollywood's "age of the director")
Haxan (Witchcraft Through the Ages) (Benjamin Christensen)*
Foolish Wives (Erich von Stroheim)*
Nanook of the North (Robert Flaherty)*
Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau)
Grandma's Boy (Fred Newmeyer)*
Tess of the Storm Country (John S. Robertson)
Crainquebille (Jacques Feyder)
The Light in the Dark (Clarence Brown)
Cops (Buster Keaton)
Dr. Jack (Fred Newmeyer)
Robin Hood (Allan Dwan)
Shadows (Tom Forman)
Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (Fritz Lang)
The Toll of the Sea (Chester Franklin)
Othello (Dimitri Buchowetzki)
Lorna Doone (Maurice Tourneur)

For the record: Der Brennende Acker (The Burning Soil) (F.W. Murnau); Blood and Sand (Fred Niblo); Down to the Sea in Ships (Elmer Clifton); Oliver Twist (Frank Lloyd); Merry-Go-Round (released 1925) (Rupert Julian, Erich von Stroheim); Manslaughter (Cecil B. DeMille); Fulta Fisher's Boarding House (Frank Capra); Beyond the Rocks (Sam Wood); The Blacksmith (Buster Keaton, Malcolm St. Clair); Day Dreams (Buster Keaton, Edward Cline); Les Grenouilles qui demandent un roi (Frogland) (Ladislaw Starewicz); The Sawmill (Larry Semon, Norman Taurog); Sky High (Lynn Reynolds); The Village Blacksmith (extant reel) (John Ford)

To see: Vem domer (Love's Crucible) (Victor Sjostrom); Das Weib des Pharao (The Loves of Pharaoh) (Ernst Lubitsch); Rob Roy (W.P. (Will) Kellino); Saturday Night (Cecil B. DeMille); The Man From Beyond (Burton King); La Femme de nulle part (The Woman From Nowhere) (Louis Delluc); David Copperfield (Anders Wilhelm Sandberg); Lucrezia Borgia (Richard Oswald); Moran of the Lady Letty (George Melford); Smilin' Through (Sidney Franklin); When Knighthood Was in Flower (Robert A Vignola); Der var engang (Once Upon a Time) (Carl Theodor Dreyer); Beauty's Worth (Robert G. Vignola); The Young Rajah (Phil Rosen); The Primitive Lover (Sidney Franklin); Nathan der Weise (Manfred Noa); Samson und Delila (Alexander Korda)

In the queue: The Prisoner of Zenda (Rex Ingram); Phantom (F.W. Murnau); Die Gezeichneten (Love One Another) (Carl Theodor Dreyer); Polikushka (Aleksandr Sanin); The Three Must-Get-Theres (Max Linder); Peg O' My Heart (King Vidor)

VINTAGE RATING (1922): 8****

1923 (28)
Our Hospitality (Buster Keaton, John Blystone)*
A Woman of Paris
(Charles Chaplin)*
Safety Last
(Fred Newmeyer, Sam Taylor)
The Smiling Madame Beudet
(Germaine Dulac)
The Pilgrim
(Charles Chaplin)
Why Worry?
(Fred Newmeyer, Sam Taylor)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
(Wallace Worsley)
The Covered Wagon
(James Cruze)
Anna Christie
(John Griffith Ray)
Schatten
(Warning Shadows) (Arthur Robison)
Die Strasse (The Street) (Karl Grune)

RUNNERS UP:
The Ten Commandments (Cecil B. DeMille)
Salome (Charles Bryant)
Cirano di Bergerac (Cyrano de Bergerac) (Augusto Genina)

For the record: Adam's Rib (Cecil B. DeMille); Amour noir et blanc (Love in Black and White) (Ladislaw Starewicz); Modeling (Dave Fleischer); Le Retour a la raison (Return to Reason) (Man Ray); The Shock (Lambert Hillyer); Au Secours! (Abel Gance); The White Rose (D.W. Griffith); several Buster Keaton shorts including The Balloonatic, The Love Nest (Buster Keaton, Edward Cline)

To re-watch: The Three Ages (Buster Keaton, Edward Cline)

To see: Le Brasier ardent (Ivan Mozzhukhin); L'Auberge rouge (The Red Inn) (Jean Epstein); Bella Donna (George Fitzmaurice); Erdgeist (Loulou) (Leopold Jessner); The Extra Girl (F. Richard Jones); The Green Goddess (Sidney Olcott); Der Steinerne Reiter (The Stone Rider) (Fritz Wendhausen); Suzanna (F. Richard Jones); Der Verlorene Schuh (Cinderella) (Ludwig Berger); Little Old New York (Sidney Olcott); The Christian (Maurice Tourneur); Trail of the Lonesome Pine (Charles Maigne); Souls for Sale (Rupert Hughes); White Tiger (Tod Browning); The Net (J. Gordon Edwards); Fire on Board (Victor Sjöström); The White Sister (Henry King); Woman to Woman (Graham Cutts); Der Kaufmann von Venedig (The Jew of Mestri) (Peter Paul Felner)

In the queue: La roue (Abel Gance); Gunnar Hedes Saga (Mauritz Stiller); Coeur fidele (The Faithful Heart) (Jean Epstein); Raskolnikow (Robert Wiene); Rosita (Ernst Lubitsch); Scaramouche (Rex Ingram); La Belle Nivernaise (Jean Epstein); Cameo Kirby (John Ford); Der Schatz (The Treasure) (G.W. Pabst)

VINTAGE RATING (1923): 7***

1924 (37) (Murnau's 'Last Laugh' advances visual storytelling, influencing filmmakers worldwide)
Sherlock Jr. (Buster Keaton)*
The Last Laugh (F.W. Murnau)*
The Navigator (Buster Keaton, Donald Crisp)
The Marriage Circle (Ernst Lubitsch)
HE Who Gets Slapped (Victor Sjostrom)
Symphonie diagonale (Viking Eggeling)
Girl Shy (Fred Newmeyer, Sam Taylor)
Peter Pan (Herbert Brenon)
The Thief of Bagdad (Raoul Walsh)
Ballet mecanique (Fernand Leger, Dudley Murphy; with 1999 reconstructed original score)
Gosta Berlings Saga (Mauritz Stiller)
Nibelungen: Siegfried (and) Kriemhild's Revenge (Fritz Lang)
The Iron Horse (John Ford)

For the record: L'Inhumaine (Marcel L'Herbier); Das Wachsfigurenkabinett (Waxworks); (Paul Leni); Hot Water (Fred C. Newmeyer, Sam Taylor); The Chechahcos (Lewis H. Moomaw); The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks (Lev Kuleshov); Kino-Eye (Dziga Vertov); Isn't Life Wonderful? (D.W. Griffith); America (D.W. Griffith); Aelita (Yakov Protazanov); Entr'acte (Rene Clair); The Cigarette Girl of Mosselprom (Yuri Zhelyabuzhsky); Romola (Henry King); The Hands of Orlac (Robert Wiene)

To see: Sylvester (Lupu Pick); Beau Brummel (Harry Beaumont); Der Berg des Schicksals (Mountain of Destiny) (Arnold Fanck); Forbidden Paradise (Ernst Lubitsch); La Fille de l'eau (Whirlpool of Fate) (Jean Renoir); Kean (Alexandre Volkoff); Le Lion des Mogols (Jean Epstein); Manhandled (Allan Dwan); Monsieur Beaucaire (Sidney Olcott); Wild Oranges (King Vidor); The Red Lily (Fred Niblo); Manhandled (Allan Dwan); The Beautiful Rebel (E. Mason Hopper); Helen's Babies (William A. Seiter); Open All Night (Paul Bern); Helena (Helen of Troy) (Manfred Noa); Captain January (Edward F. Cline); Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall (Marshall Neilan); The Enchanted Cottage (John S. Robertson); The Age of Innocence (Wesley Ruggles); The Prude's Fall (Graham Cutts); Backbiters (Albert Dieudonné, Jean Renoir); Name the Man (Victor Sjostrom); Nju (Husbands or Lovers) (Paul Czinner); Dante’s Inferno (Henry Otto); Le miracle des loups (The Miracle of the Wolves) (Raymond Bernard); Reveille (George Pearson); L'affiche (The Poster) (Jean Epstein); La Briere (Leon Poirier); Le diable dans la Ville (The Devil in the Town) (Germaine Dulac)

In the queue: The Sea Hawk (Frank Lloyd); Mikael (Michael) (Carl Dreyer); The Finances of the Grand Duke (F.W. Murnau); Lady of the Night (Monta Bell)

VINTAGE RATING (1924): 8.5****

1925 (41) (Golden age of Soviet cinema begins with premiere of two Eisenstein films)
Strike (Sergei Eisenstein)*
Greed (4-hour restoration, 1999)
(Erich von Stroheim)*
Variety
(E.A. Dupont)
Master of the House
(Carl Dreyer)
The Big Parade
(King Vidor)
Seven Chances
(Buster Keaton)
The Gold Rush
(Charles Chaplin)
The Freshman
(Fred Newmeyer, Sam Taylor)
Go West (Buster Keaton)
Ben-Hur
(Fred Niblo)
Potemkin
(Sergei Eisenstein)
Don Q., Son of Zorro
(Donald Crisp)

RUNNERS UP:
The Phantom of the Opera (Rupert Julian)
Paris qui dort (Crazy Ray) (Rene Clair)
Smouldering Fires (Clarence Brown)
Clash of the Wolves (Noel Mason Smith)
The Unholy Three (Tod Browning)
Cockeyed: Gems From the Memory of a Nutty Cameraman (Unknown; Pathe)
Merry-Go-Round (Rupert Julian, Erich von Stroheim)
The Lost World (Harry O. Hoyt)
The Eagle (Clarence Brown)
The Vanishing American (George B. Seitz)
The Joyless Street (Georg W. Pabst)
Paths to Paradise (Clarence Badger)
In Youth, Beside the Lonely Sea (creators unknown)
Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life (Merian C. Cooper, Ernest Schoedsack)
Lady Windermere's Fan (Ernst Lubitsch)
Little Annie Rooney (William Beaudine)
Tumbleweeds (King Baggott, William S. Hart)
Beggar on Horseback (James Cruze) (surviving dream sequence)

For the record : Cobra (Joseph Henabery); Parisian Love (Louis Gasnier)

To see: Stella Dallas (Henry King); The Chronicles of the Gray House (Arthur von Gerlach); A Kiss for Cinderella (Herbert Brenon); Die Verrufenen (The Slums of Berlin) (Gerhard Lamprecht); Wege zu Kraft und Schönheit (Ways to Strength and Beauty) (Wilhelm Prager); The Merry Widow (Erich Von Stroheim); Whirlpool of Fate (Jean Renoir); The Rag Man (Edward F. Cline); Bravheart (Alan Hale); Zander the Great (George W. Hill); Les Miserables (Henri Fescourt); Poil de Carotte (Julien Duvivier); Quo Vadis? (Gabriel d’Annunzio, Georg Jacoby); Der Rosenkavalier (Robert Wiene); The Salvation Hunters (Josef von Sternberg); Aitare da Praia (Gentil Roiz); Are Parents People? (Malcolm St. Clair); Les Aventures de Robert Macaire (The Adventures of Robert Macaire) (Jean Epstein); The Best Bad Man (John G. Blystone); The Calgary Stampede (Herbert Blache); California Straight Ahead (Harry Pollard); La cavalcata ardente (The Fiery Foray) (Carmine Gallone); Charley's Aunt (Scott Sidney); The Coming Of Amos (Paul Sloane); Dick Turpin (John G. Blystone);

El Husar de la muerte (Death's Hussar) (Pedro Sienna); Le fantome du Moulin-Rouge (The Phantom of the Moulin Rouge) (Rene Clair); Free to Love (Frank O'Connor); The Golden Bed (Cecil B. DeMille); The Goose Woman (Clarence Brown); Her Sister from Paris (Sidney Franklin); His People (Edward Sloman); Ingmarsarvet (Gustaf Molander); Jidische Glickn (Jewish Luck) (Alexandr Granowsky); Karl XII (John W. Brunius); The King on Main Street (Monta Bell); The Lady (Frank Borzage); Luch smerti (The Death Ray) (Lev Kuleshov); The Mad Whirl (William A. Seiter); Miss Bluebeard (Frank Tuttle); The Mystic (Tod Browning); Orochi (Buntaro Futagawa); The Pony Express (James Cruze); Prem Sanyas (Light of Asia) (Franz Osten, Himansu Rai); The Rat (Graham Cutts); Riders of the Purple Sage (Lynn Reynolds); The Road to Yesterday (Cecil B. DeMille); She (Leander De Cordova, G.B. Samuelson); Shore Leave (John S. Robertson); Skargardskavaljerer (Theodor Berthels); Soul-Fire (John S. Robertson); The Sporting Venus (Marshall Neilan); Stage Struck (Allan Dwan); The Street of Forgotten Men (Herbert Brenon); The Swan (Dimitri Buchowetzki); The Thundering Herd (William K. Howard); The Unchastened Woman (James Young); Le voyage imaginaire (Rene Clair); Waking Up the Town (James Cruze); The Way of a Girl (Robert G. Vignola); Wild Horse Mesa (George B. Seitz); A Woman of the World (Malcolm St. Clair); Ypres (Walter Summers)

In the queue: Visages d'enfants (Faces of Children) (Jacques Feyder); Lazybones (Frank Borzage); The Monster (Roland West); Body and Soul (Oscar Micheaux); Sally of the Sawdust (D.W. Griffith); The Wizard of Oz (Larry Semon); The Case of the Three Million (Yakov Protazanov); Tailor from Torzhok (Yakov Protazanov); The Pleasure Garden (Alfred Hitchcock); Lightnin’ (John Ford); The Red Kimona (Walter Lang); The Plastic Age (Wesley Ruggles)

VINTAGE RATING (1925): 9.5*****

Note: If you read film history texts you'd think that Soviet artsy masterworks such as 'Strike' and 'Potemkin,' or Erich von Stroheim's 'Greed' were representative of their time, but in fact cowboys like Tom Mix and dogs such as Rin Tin Tin were the biggest things at the box office (and yes, there were literally dozens of canine stars). But diamond-collared "Rinty" was the box office king, and fast-moving, exciting vehicles such as 'Clash of the Wolves' (runner up) (in which the star plays a wolf!) make it easy to understand why. It begins with a spectacular forest fire and ends with Rinty and his pack chasing down and mauling the baddie.The film is impossible not to like and disarmingly moving in its anthropomorphism. 'Don Q., Son of Zorro,' Douglas Fairbanks' belated sequel to his 1920 classic, 'The Mark of Zorro,' ups the production values on the earlier picture and is a better film overall despite some slow patches. I was never keen on the 2+-hour mutilated theatrical release version of Stroheim's "Greed," but the 1999 "restoration," creatively using ample production stills, following the shooting script and inserting narrative titles, makes it clear how much of the rich plot and character development was lost under MGM's scissors. Frank Norris' novel examined its theme via comparison and contrast of a broad cross-section of characters, returned herein. In lieu of ever finding the long-lost footage, this four-hour version is both revelatory and sad.

1926 (60)
Mother (V.I. Pudovkin)*
For Heaven's Sake
(Sam Taylor)*
A Page of Madness (Tienosuke Kinugasa)
Menilmontant (Dmitri Kirsanoff)
The Holy Mountain (Arnold Fanck)
Don Juan (Alan Crosland)
Old Ironsides (James Cruze)
The Black Pirate (Alan Parker)
The Strong Man (Frank Capra)
La Boheme (King Vidor)
Maciste in Hell (Guido Brignone)
Faust (F.W. Murnau)

RUNNERS UP:
Hands Up! (Clarence Badger)
Now You Tell One (Charles Bowers)
By the Law (Dura Lex) (Lev Kuleshov)
Battling Butler (Buster Keaton)
Exit Smiling (Sam Taylor)
So's Your Old Man (Gregory La Cava)
The Great K & A Train Robbery (Lewis Seiler)
Flesh and the Devil (Clarence Brown)
What Price Glory (Raoul Walsh)
Moana (Robert Flaherty)
The Show Off (Malcolm St. Clair)
Sparrows (William Beaudine)
The Son of the Sheik (George Fitzmaurice)
Ella Cinders (Alfred E. Green)
The Flute of Krishna (J.G. Capstaff)
Tell it to the Marines (George W. Hill)
It's the Old Army Game (A. Edward Sutherland)
3 Bad Men (John Ford)
Filmstudie (Hans Richter)
The Scarlet Letter (Victor Seastrom)
Tramp, Tramp, Tramp (Harry Edwards)

For the record: The Sorrows of Satan (D.W. Griffith); The Student of Prague (Henrik Galeen); The Adventures of Prince Achmed (Lotte Reiniger); Tartuffe (F.W. Murnau); Secrets of a Soul (G.W. Pabst); Mantrap (Victor Fleming); The Bells (James Young)

To re-watch: Rien que les heures (Alberto Cavalcanti); Saturday Afternoon (Harry Edwards)

To see: Skinner's Dress Suit (William A Seiter); The Overcoat (Shinel) (Grigori Kozintsev, Leonid Trauberg); Feu Mathias Pascal (Marcel L'Herbier); Michel Strogoff (Victor Toujansky); Miss Mend (Fyodor Otsep); Beau Geste (Herbert Brenon); The Temptress (Fred Niblo); Carmen (Jacques Feyder); Brown of Harvard (Jack Conway); The Boob (William Wellman); The Blackbird (Tod Browning); Bardelys the Magnificent (King Vidor); Behind the Front (A. Edward Sutherland); Garras de oro (P.P. Jambrina); Kreuzzug des Weibes (Unwelcome Children) (Martin Berger); Brudeferden i Hardanger (The Wedding at Hardanger) (Rasmus Breistein); Chyortovo koleso (The Devil’s Wheel) (Grigori Kozintsev, Leonid Trauberg); Dobry vojak Svejk (The Good Soldier Schweik) (Karel Lamac); Gli ultimi giorni di Pompeii (The Last Days of Pompeii) (Amleto Palermi, Carmine Gallone); Glomdalsbruden (The Bride of Glomdal) (Carl Dreyer); The Magician (Rex Ingram); Nell Gwynn (Herbert Wilcox); The Open Road (Claude Friese-Greene); A Filha do Advogado (Jota Soares); April Fool (Nat Ross); Der Bastard (Gennaro Righelli); The Better 'Ole (Charles Reisner); The Black Bird (Tod Browning); The Canadian (William Beaudine); The Cat's Pajamas (William A. Wellman); The Clinging Vine (Cecil B. DeMille); The Devil's Circus (Benjamin Christensen); The Duchess of Buffalo (Sidney Franklin); Fig Leaves (Howard Hawks); Fine Manners (Richard Rosson); The Fire Brigade (William Nigh); The Flag Lieutenant (Maurice Elvey); The Flaming Frontier (Edward Sedgwick); Going Crooked (George Melford); The Grand Duchess and the Waiter (Malcolm St. Clair); Gribiche (Mother of Mine) (Jacques Feyder); Irene (Alfred E. Green); The Johnstown Flood (Irving Cummings); Katka-bumazhnyy ranet (Katka's Reinette Apples) (Fridrikh Ermler, Eduard Johanson); Kid Boots (Frank Tuttle); Krylya kholopa (Wings of a Serf) (Yuri Tarich); Love 'Em and Leave 'Em (Frank Tuttle); Malvaloca (Benito Perojo); Manon Lescaut (Arthur Robison); Married? (George Terwilliger); Medvezhya svadba (The Bear's Wedding) (Vladimir Gardin, Konstantin Eggert); Mekhanika golovnogo mozga (Mechanics of the Brain) (Vsevolod I. Pudovkin); Menschen Untereinander (Gerhard Lamprecht); The Night Cry (Herman C. Raymaker); Ranson's Folly (Sidney Olcott); The Road to Mandalay (Tod Browning); The Sea Beast (Millard Webb); Shagaj, sovyet! / Shagai, Soviet (Forward, Soviet!) (Dziga Vertov); The Third Degree (Michael Curtiz); Die Unehelichen (Children of No Importance) (Gerhard Lamprecht); Up In Mabel's Room (E. Mason Hopper); Upstage (Monta Bell); The Volga Boatman (Cecil B. DeMille); Yichuan Zhenzhu (A String of Pearls) (Li Zeyuan); You Never Know Women (William A. Wellman); You'd Be Surprised (Arthur Rosson)

In the queue: So This is Paris (Ernst Lubitsch); The Winning of Barbara Worth (Henry King); A Sixth of the World (Dziga Vertov); Nana (Jean Renoir); Dancing Mothers (Herbert Brenon); The Bat (Roland West); Torrent Monta Bell); The Shamrock Handicap (John Ford); The Blue Eagle (John Ford); Mare Nostrum (Rex Ingram);

VINTAGE RATING (1926): 7.5****

Note: 'The Great K & A Train Robbery' (runner up) is a mostly thrilling action western breathtakingly shot in a Colorado gorge, and a good entre into the work of star Tom Mix, though his glamorized cowboy duds and some of the derring-do, especially the formulaic serial b-movie-style finale, don't survive well. The Italian fantasy epic, 'Maciste in Hell' has a laughable plot that makes no sense, but it does have burly grinning Maciste kicking demon ass in a stunningly conceived Hades that the cinema has never bettered. Lillian Gish had to pull a lot of strings to get Hawthorne's "Scarlet Letter" (runner up) on the screen in opposition to a skittish Hollywood, pulling a full dog and pony show across the hinterlands to get the clergy on her side. Starstruck, they backed her and it was made, earning critical plaudits and even now is regarded as something of a classic. It's respectable and faithful, more or less, and Gish gives it her all, but it's ever so slightly dull.
'For Heaven's Sake' is, IMO, Harold Lloyd's best film.

1927 (52) (G.W. Pabst perfects seamless 'cutting-on-action' in films like 'Love of Jeanne Ney')
October (Ten Days that Shook the World) (Sergei Eisenstein)*
Bed and Sofa (Abram Room)*
The General (Buster Keaton)*
Berlin--Symphony of a Great City (Walter Ruttman)*
The Kid Brother (J.A. Howe, Ted Wilde)
Uncle Tom's Cabin (Harry Pollard)*
The Gaucho (F. Richard Jones)*
An Italian Straw Hat (Rene Clair)
Metropolis (Fritz Lang)
The Love of Jeanne Ney (G.W. Pabst)
Sunrise (F.W. Murnau)
It (Clarence Badger)
The Lodger (Alfred Hitchcock)

HONORABLE MENTION:
The Jazz Singer (Alan Crosland) -PART TALKIE
Wings (William Wellman)
Ghosts Before Breakfast (Hans Richter)
The End of St. Petersburg (V.I. Pudovkin)
My Best Girl (Sam Taylor)
College (Buster Keaton)
Napoleon (Abel Gance)
The Unknown (Tod Browning)
7th Heaven (Frank Borzage)
The Second 100 Years (Fred Guiol/w Laurel & Hardy)
Chang (Cooper, Schoedsack)
Underworld (Josef von Sternberg)
Hindle Wakes (Maurice Elvey)
Putting Pants on Philip (Clyde Bruckman)
The Battle of the Century (Clyde Bruckman)

For the record: The Chess Player (Raymond Bernard); London After Midnight (Tod Browning) (stills reconstruction); Running Wild (Gregory La Cava); Hotel Imperial (Mauritz Stiller); The Cat and the Canary (Paul Leni); The Beloved Rogue (Alan Crosland); The Girl With the Hat Box (Boris Barnet)

To re-watch: La glace a trois faces (Jean Epstein)

To see: Stark Love (Karl Brown); Barbed Wire (Rowland V. Lee); Casanova (Alexander Volkoff); Shooting Stars (Anthony Asquith); Two Arabian Nights (Lewis Milestone); The Love of Sunya (Albert Parker); For the Term of His Natural Life (Norman Dawn); Annie Laurie (John S. Robertson); Chuji Tabi Nikki (Daisuke Ito/surviving parts); Dekabristy (The Decembrists) (Aleksandr Ivanovsky); Der Geisterzug (The Ghost Train) (Geza von Bolvary); Man, Woman and Sin (Monta Bell); Mockery (Benjamin Christensen); The Night of Love (George Fitzmaurice); Poet i tsar (Vladimir Gardin); Potseluj Meri Pikford (A Kiss From Mary Pickford) (Sergei Komarov); Prostitutka (The Prostitute) (Oleg Frelikh); Quality Street (Sidney Franklin); The Scar of Shame (Frank Peregini); Senorita (Clarence Badger); Six et demi onze (Jean Epstein); Sorok pervyj (The Forty-First) (Yakov Protazanov); Surrender (Edward Sloman); S.V.D. - Soyuz velikogo dela (The Club of the Big Deed) (Grigori Kozintsev, Leonid Trauberg); Tesouro Perdido (Lost Treasure) (Humberto Mauro); Three's A Crowd (Harry Langdon); The Valley of the Giants (Charles Brabin); When a Man Loves (Alan Crosland); White Gold (William K. Howard); Xi Xiang Ji (Tale of the Western Chamber) (Hou Yao); Dva dnya (Two Days) (Grigori Stobovoi); Sumka dipkuryera (Diplomatic Pouch) (Aleksandr Dovzhenko); Chelovek iz restorana (The Man From the Restaurant) (Yakov Protazanov); Old San Francisco (Alan Crosland); The Patent Leather Kid (Alfred Santell); Hula (Victor Fleming); The Girl in the Pullman (Erle C. Kenton); Mr. Wu (William Nigh); Rubber Tires (Alan Hale); The Notorious Lady (King Baggot); Getting Gertie's Garter (E. Mason Hopper); The Fighting Eagle (Donald Crisp); Tracked By the Police (Ray Enright); A Gentleman of Paris (Harry d'Abbadie D'Arrast); Ritzy (Richard Rosson); The First Auto (Roy Del Ruth); Parizhskiy sapozhnik (The Parisian Cobbler) (Friedrich Ermler); Baby ryazanskie (Women of Ryazan) (Olga Preobrazhenskaya, Ivan Pravov); Kreutzerova sonata (The Kreutzer Sonata) (Gustav Machaty); The Somme (M.A. Wetherell); Le Vertige (Marcel L'Herbier)

In the queue: L'Invitation au voyage (Germaine Dulac); Downhill (Alfred Hitchcock); The Ring (Alfred Hitchcock); The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (Ernst Lubitsch); The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty (Esfir Shub); The King of Kings (Cecil B. DeMille); Love (Edmund Goulding/to re-watch); Slipping Wives (Fred Guiol)

VINTAGE RATING (1927): 10*****

Notes: One of the cinema's greatest years.
'October' is, IMO, Eisenstein's greatest film; a tour-de-force experimental visual treatment of the Revolution. In contrast, another Soviet film, 'Bed and Sofa' is the most realistic, unaffected and naturalistic movie of the silent era: dirty clothes, live-in unisex cohabs, abortion, and an emancipated woman; there's nothing else like it from this period. 'The Gaucho' is Douglas Fairbanks' oddest vehicle from his prime period, with one of the sexiest dance scenes ever and lavish production values. It's my favorite among his films. 'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' one of the most expensive flops of the silent era, is an impressive epic melodrama that, despite racist elements, is a moving anti-slavery tale and an exciting, well-paced film that deserves critical re-evaluation. Many buffs regard 'Sunrise' as the greatest of all silent pictures. It impresses me quite a bit less, and then only for its visual schemes and Janet Gaynor's performance. Its hoary redemption plot and depiction of the evil city woman's temptations is as hokey as anything in Griffith, all the while pretending to be something more significant than the standard melodrama it is. I'd rather watch the flapper girl mantease drama, 'It', starring saucy Clara Bow, any day.

1928 (63+) (Release of first all-talking feature films)
The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Dreyer)*
The Wedding March (Erich von Stroheim)*
The Crowd (King Vidor)*
Abwege (G.W. Pabst)*
Fall of the House of Usher (US version) (Watson & Webber)
Fall of the House of Usher (French version) (Jean Epstein)
Moulin Rouge (E.A. Dupont)
The Docks of New York (Josef von Sternberg)
Arsenal (Alexander Dovzhenko)
The Seashell and the Clergyman (Germaine Dulac)
Show People (King Vidor)
The Circus (Charles Chaplin)
Speedy (Ted Wilde)

RUNNERS UP:
Steamboat Bill Jr. (Charles Reisner, Buster Keaton)
Limousine Love (Fred Guiol)
Street Angel (Frank Borzage)
Storm Over Asia (V.I. Pudovkin)
White Shadows in the South Seas (W.S. Van Dyke)
The Finishing Touch (Clyde Bruckman, Leo McCarey)
Sex in Chains (William Dieterle)
There It Is (H.L. Muller, Charles Bowers)
The Last Command (Josef von Sternberg)
From Soup to Nuts (Edgar Kennedy/w Laurel and Hardy)
Two Tars (James Parrott/w Laurel & Hardy)
Uberfall (Erno Metzner)
Steamboat Willie (Disney, Iwerks)
The Man Who Laughs (Paul Leni)
The Wind (Victor Sjostrom)
The Matinee Idol (Frank Capra)
Ko-Ko's Earth Control (Dave Fleischer)
Laugh Clown Laugh (Herbert Brenon)
Their Purple Moment (James Parrott, Fred Guiol/w Laurel & Hardy)
You're Darn Tootin' (Edgar Kennedy/w Laurel and Hardy)
Lights of New York (Bryan Foy) -TALKIE (first all-talking feature)
The Singing Fool (Lloyd Bacon) -TALKIE

For the record: Zvenigora (Alexander Dovzhenko); Alraune (Henrik Galeen); The Cameraman (Edward Sedgwick); That Certain Thing (Frank Capra); Tempest (Sam Taylor); West of Zanzibar (Tod Browning); Beggars of Life (William A. Wellman); Sadie Thompson (Raoul Walsh); The Farmer's Wife (Alfred Hitchcock); Lilac Time (George Fitzmaurice); The Life and Death of 9413, A Hollywood Extra (Robert Florey, Slavko Vorkapich); The Bridge (Joris Ivens); The Sex Life of the Polyp (Thomas Chalmers); Should Married Men Go Home? (Leo McCarey, James Parrott); Interference (Lothar Mendes, Roy Pomeroy)

To re-watch: Heimkehr (Joe May); Spies (Spione) (Fritz Lang); A Woman of Affairs (Clarence Brown); The Spieler (Tay Garnett)

To see: Maldone (Jean Gremillon); Crossroads (Jujiro) (Teinosuke Kinugasa); The Divine Woman (Victor Sjöström); Underground (Anthony Asquith); Noah's Ark (Michael Curtiz); Across to Singapore (William Nigh); The Battle of the Sexes (D.W. Griffith); West Point (Edward Sedgwick); The Garden of Eden (Lewis Milestone); Balaclava (Maurice Elvey); Q-Ships (Geoffrey Barkas); The Way of the Strong (Frank Capra); Submarine (Frank Capra); The Power of The Press (Frank Capra); La Borrachera Del Tango (Edmo Cominetti); The Constant Nymph (Adrian Brunel); Les Deux Timides (Rene Clair); Dressed to Kill (Irving Cummings); Eliso (Nikolai Shengelaya); En rade (Alberto Cavalcanti); Geheimnisse des Orients (Secrets of the Orient) (Alexandre Volkoff); Jitsuroku Chushingura (Shozo Makino); Kruzheva / Krusheva (Lace) (Sergei Yutkevich); Kukla s millionami (The Doll with Millions) (Sergei Komarov); Kurama Tengu (Teppei Yamaguchi); News Parade (David Butler); Odinnadtsatyj / Odinnadtsatyi (The Eleventh Year) (Dziga Vertov); The Red Dance (Raoul Walsh); The River Pirate (William K. Howard); Rossiya Nikolaya II i Lev Tolstoy (Esfir Shub); Scampolo (Augusto Genina); Schmutziges Geld (Richard Eichberg); Shanhkayskiy dokument / Shangkhaiskij dokument (The Shanghai Document) (Yakov Bliokh); Le Tourbillon de Paris (Julien Duvivier); The Trail of '98 (Clarence Brown); While the City Sleeps (Jack Conway); Yvette (Alberto Cavalcanti); Zuflucht (Carl Froelich); Golf Widows (Erle C. Kenton); The First Born (Miles Mander); L'equipage (Maurice Tourneur); Palais de Danse (Maurice Elvey); Don Diego i Pelage (Yakov Protazanov); A Ship Comes In (William K. Howard); Let 'Er Go Gallegher (Elmer Clifton); Captain Swagger (Edward H. Griffith); The Circus Kid (George B. Seitz); The Cossacks (George Hill); Her Cardboard Lover (Robert Z. Leonard); The Lady of Chance (Robert Z. Leonard); The Mysterious Lady (Fred Niblo); Walking Back (Rupert Julian); Burning Daylight (Charles J. Brabin); The Race Symphony (Rennsymphonie) (Hans Richter); Le tournoi dans la cite (Tournament) (Jean Renoir); Die Heilige und ihr Narr (The Saint and Her Fool) (William Dieterle); Huo shao hong lian si (The Burning of the Red Lotus Temple) (Zhang Shichuan); Le Diable au Coeur (Little Devil May Care) (Marcel l’Herbier); The Three Passions (Rex Ingram)

In the queue: Tire au flanc (Jean Renoir); The Little Match Girl (Jean Renoir); Lonesome (Paul Fejos); Brasa Dormida (Humberto Mauro); A Girl in Every Port (Howard Hawks); The Viking (Roy William Neill); The Patsy (King Vidor); The Racket (Lewis Milestone); Champagne (Alfred Hitchcock); Four Sons (John Ford); Hangman's House (John Ford); Riley the Cop (John Ford); The House on Trubnaya (Dom na Trubnoy) (Boris Barnet); Our Dancing Daughters (Harry Beaumont); In Old Arizona (Raoul Walsh, Irving Cummings)

VINTAGE RATING (1928): 9.5*****

Note: The silent era's swansong; another great year...
'Lights of New York' (runner up), the cinema's first all-talkie is charmingly bad, but there's a delightful musical number thrown into the middle, a vivid period sense and the certain frisson one feels when seeing an historic landmark and archival rarity. The same feeling comes to a lesser degree with Al Jolson's first all-talking vehicle, the exceedlingly schmaltzy and somewhat embarassing 'The Singing Fool,' the first monster hit of the talking age (grossing about twice the box office as 'The Jazz Singer'). It's the 'Kramer vs. Kramer' of its day, with the saintly dad (sometimes in black face) losing custody of his boy to the despicable two-timing wife. I had the feeling I might be watching a minor masterwork in Joe May's "Heimkehr," but the video dupe was so atrocious that I simply couldn't tell. A re-viewing, via another copy I'm securing is in the offing.

1929 (64) (Last year of silent cinema dominance)
Pandora's Box (G.W. Pabst)*
Big Business
(James Horne, Leo McCarey/w Laurel & Hardy)*
Un Chien Andalou (Luis Bunuel, Salvador Dali)
Piccadilly
(E.A. Dupont)
Dynamite
(Cecil B. DeMille) -TALKIE
Blackmail (Alfred Hitchcock) -TALKIE
The Man With the Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov)
Liberty
(Leo McCarey)
The Kiss
(Jacques Feyder)

RUNNERS UP:
The White Hell of Pitz Palu (Georg W. Pabst, Arnold Fanck)
Bulldog Drummond (F. Richard Jones) -TALKIE
The Love Parade (Ernst Lubitsch) -TALKIE
The Love Trap (William Wyler) -PART-TALKIE
Turksib (Victor Turin)
Erotikon (Gustav Machaty)
Bacon Grabbers (Lewis R. Foster)
Double Whoopee (Lewis R. Foster)
Unaccustomed As We Are (Lewis R. Foster, Hal Roach)
The Four Feathers (Merian C. Cooper, Ernest Schoedsack)
The Virginian (Victor Fleming) -TALKIE
Diary of a Lost Girl (Georg W. Pabst)
The Broadway Melody (Harry Beaumont) - TALKIE
Old and New (The General Line) (Sergei Eisenstein)
Hallelujah! (King Vidor) -TALKIE
Applause (Rouben Mamoulian) - TALKIE
The Cocoanuts (Robert Florey) -TALKIE
Sunny Side Up (David Butler) -TALKIE
L'Argent (Marcel L'Herbier)
Regen (Rain) (Mannus Franken, Joris Ivens)
The Skeleton Dance (Walt Disney)
They Had to See Paris (Frank Borzage)
Seven Footprints to Satan (Benjamin Christensen)
The Show of Shows (John G. Adolphi)
Eveready Harton in Buried Treasure (E. Hardon)

For the record: Hollywood Revue of 1929 (Charles Reisner); The Letter (Jean de Limur); The Single Standard (John S. Robertson); The Iron Mask (Allan Dwan); Drifters (John Grierson): Coquette (Sam Taylor); Asphalt (Joe May); Spite Marriage (Edward Sedgwick, Buster Keaton); Disraeli (Alfred E. Green); The Mysterious Island (Lucien Hubbard, Benjamin Christensen, Maurice Tourneur); Wild Orchids (Sidney Franklin); The Woman in the Moon (Fritz Lang); The Great Gabbo (James Cruze, Erich von Stroheim); Tusalava (Len Lye); Madame X (Lionel Barrymore); Black and Tan (Dudley Murphy)

To re-watch (in the queue): Queen Kelly (Erich von Stroheim); Alibi (Roland West); Salute (John Ford); Flight (Frank Capra; queued); Novyj Vavilon (The New Babylon) (Grigori Kozintsev, Leonid Trauberg); Wrong Again (Leo McCarey)

To see: Eternal Love (Ernst Lubitsch); A Cottage on Dartmoor (Anthony Asquith); The Cock-eyed World (Raoul Walsh); Kitty (Victor Saville); Chinatown Nights (William Wellman); Welcome Danger (Clyde Bruckman, Malcolm St. Clair); Our Modern Maidens (Jack Conway); Dans La Nuit (Charles Vanel); Thunderbolt (Josef von Sternberg); The Last Warning (Paul Leni); The Wild Party (Dorothy Arzner); Their Own Desire (E. Mason Hopper); The Thirteenth Chair (Tod Browning); The Ship of Lost Men (Das Schiff der verlorenen Menschen) (Maurice Tourneur); The Case of Lena Smith (surviving 4 minutes) (Josef von Sternberg); Gentlemen of the Press (Millard Webb); High Treason (Maurice Elvey); Barro Humano (Adhemar Gonzaga); Thunderbolt (Josef von Sternberg); Atlantic / Atlantis (E.A. Dupont); L'arpete (The Seamstress) (E. B. Donatien); The Battle of Paris (Robert Florey); Le Bled (Jean Renoir); Broadway (Pal Fejos); The Charlatan (George Melford); Chiny i lyudi (Ranks and People) (Yakov Protazanov); Desert Nights (William Nigh); Evangeline (Edwin Carewe); La femme et le pantin (The Woman and the Puppet (Jacques de Baroncelli); Finis Terrae (Jean Epstein); Fragmentos da vida (Life's Fragments) (Jose Medina); Gardiens de Phare (Jean Gremillon); Goluboj express (Goluboi Ekspress) (Ilya Trauberg); His Glorious Night (Lionel Barrymore); Histoire de detective (Charles Dekeukeleire); The Hole in the Wall (Robert Florey); The Informer (Arthur Robison); Laila (George Schneevoigt); Linda (Dorothy Davenport); Marianne (Robert Z. Leonard); La Merveilleuse vie de Jeanne d'Arc (Marco de Gastyne); Monte Cristo (Henri Fescourt); Mutter Krausens Fahrt ins Gluck (Mother Krause's Journey Into Happiness) (Piel Jutzi); Nogent, Eldorado du dimanche (Marcel Carne); Les Nouveaux messieurs (The Gentlemen) (Jacques Feyder); The Pagan (W.S. Van Dyke); Paris Bound (Edward H. Griffith); Prapancha Pash (A Throw of Dice) (Franz Osten); Redskin (Victor Schertzinger); The River (Frank Borzage); Rotaie (Rails) (Mario Camerini); Seven Keys to Baldpate (Reginald Barker); The Shakedown (William Wyler); Sled pozara u Rusija / Sled pozhara nad Rusiya (After the Fire Over Russia) (Boris Grezhov); Sole (Sun) (Alessandro Blasetti/surviving 15 minutes); Den Starkaste (The Stronger) (Alf Sjoberg); Thru Different Eyes (John G. Blystone); The Trial of Mary Dugan (Bayard Veiller); The Vagabond Queen (Geza von Bolvary); The Valiant (William K. Howard); Varhanik u sv. Vita (The Organist of St Vitus) (Martin Fric); Vesnoj (Vesnoy / Springtime) (Mikhail Kaufman); Where East is East (Tod Browning); Wild Blood (Henry MacRae); Would You Believe It! (Walter Forde); The Younger Generation (Frank Capra); Zhivoj trup / Zhivoi trup (The Living Corpse) (Fyodor Otsep)

In the queue: Fragment of an Empire (Fridrikh Ermler); Manxman (Alfred Hitchcock); Verdun (Leon Poirier); The Woman Men Yearn For (Curtis Bernhardt); I Kiss Your Hand, Madame (Robert Land); The Wonderful Lies of Nina Petrovna (Hans Schwartz); Die Melodie der Welt (Walter Ruttmann); The Racketeer (Howard Higgin); The Canary Murder Case (Malcolm St. Clair, Frank Tuttle); The Ghost that Never Returns (Abram Room); The Godless Girl (Cecil B. DeMille); Lucky Star (Frank Borzage); The Taming of the Shrew (Sam Taylor); I Graduated, But... (Yasujiro Ozu); Tokyo March (Yasujiro Ozu); Days of Youth (Yasujiro Ozu); Rio Rita (Luther Reed); Show Boat (Harry Pollard); The Divine Lady (Frank Lloyd); Perfect Day (James Parrott); Men o' War (Lewis Foster); Wrong Again (Leo McCarey)

VINTAGE RATING (1929): 7.5****

Note: 'Big Business' is probably the quintessential Laurel and Hardy short comedy; pure destructive slapstick done in their sublime way. Luis Bunuel's surreal 'Un Chien Andalou' is slapstick of another kind, the director's middle finger thrust to an easily shocked public, delightfully grotesque from beginning to end. 'Dynamite' is an outlandish deco melodrama; Cecil B. DeMille's first talking film. It revels in the notion of a society woman brought down to size after her greedy exploitation of a prole, who is himself not so admirable a character. It has a crazy, ingenious plot, and is probably the liveliest talking film yet made; a window on the dusk of the Jazz Age before The Crash. Vertov's 'Man With a Movie Camera' is a cool idea that runs out of steam well before its end--(and Walter Ruttmann's more disciplined 1927 'Berlin--Symphony of a Great City' is arguably a better way to do this kind of visual "city symphony")--but it's invigorating and historically important enough to recommend. William Wyler's delightful romantic comedy-drama, 'The Love Trap' (runner up) is an interesting example of a type of movie that for decades had fallen off the face of the Earth in terms of film scholarship, the half-silent and half-talkie 'transition' film. Through some effort I was able to see an admittedly dismal video dupe of the legendary (for its scarceness, mostly) Jeanne Eagels' vehicle, "The Letter" (For the record). The good news is that there's a good film version of the story; that was made in 1940 by William Wyler, with Bette Davis. You'll do well to go no further than that.
AA winner "The Broadway Melody" can be hardgoing for audiences today but it's actually not half bad as a Tin Pan Alley meller (more a drama with musical interludes, with a sincere turn by Bessie Love as the mothering sister), and is practically of The Bard when stacked against the straight-up and godawful stagey musical revues: Warner's "The Show of Shows" (runner up) and MGM's "The Hollywood Revue of 1929" (for the record). ...Shows in particular gets a bad rap, and probably deserves it; it can get excruciating. Still, I watch these curios with a kind of fascinated disbelief, and once in awhile an act or an out-of-place celebrity or an interesting effect (2-color Technicolor sequences in both cases) make the going fun. Winnie Lightner in ...Shows, for instance, belts it out through two production numbers to really capture the electric spirit of vaudeville, and the dance finale is eye-poppingly manic.
Marcel L'Herbier brings similar deco grandiosity to the theme of greed in his "L'Argent," a film about the comeuppance of a ruthless speculator. Ironically, it was made for a mountain of money - and looks it - and lost a mountain of it, because, looking at it, it's dull as hell.

Favorite Films of the 1920s:

1.) The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Dreyer/France/1928)

The rest in chronological order:
Way Down East (D.W. Griffith/US/1920)
El Dorado (Marcel L'Herbier/France/1921)
The Blot (Lois Weber/US/1921)
Seven Years Bad Luck (Max Linder/US/1921)
Haxan (Witchcraft Through the Ages) (Christensen/Sweden/1922)
Foolish Wives (Erich von Stroheim/US/1922)
Nanook of the North (Robert Flaherty/US/1922)
Grandma's Boy (Fred Newmeyer/US/1922)
Our Hospitality (Buster Keaton, Blystone/US/1923)
A Woman of Paris (Charles Chaplin/US/1923)
Sherlock Jr. (Buster Keaton/US/1924)
The Last Laugh (F.W. Murnau/Germany/1924)
Strike (Sergei Eisenstein/USSR/1925)
Greed (4-hour restoration) (Erich von Stroheim/US/1925)
Mother (V.I. Pudovkin/USSR/1926)
For Heaven's Sake (Sam Taylor/US/1926)
October (Sergei Eisenstein/USSR/1927)
Bed and Sofa (Abram Room/USSR/1927)
The General (Buster Keaton/US/1927)
Berlin--Symphony of a Great City (Walter Ruttman/Germany/1927)
Uncle Tom's Cabin (Harry Pollard/US/1927)
The Gaucho (F. Richard Jones/US/1927)
The Wedding March (Erich von Stroheim/US/1928)
The Crowd (King Vidor/US/1928)
Abwege (G.W. Pabst/Germany/1928)
Pandora's Box (G.W. Pabst/Germany/1929)
Big Business (James Horne, Leo McCarey/US/1929)

1930 (72) (Silent cinema dead; beginning of talkie 'Pre-Code' era; studio system solidified)
All Quiet On the Western Front (Lewis Milestone)
L'Age d'or (Luis Bunuel)
The Blue Angel (German-language version) (Josef von Sternberg)
A Propos de Nice
(Jean Vigo)
Salt for Svanetia (Mikhail Kalatozov)
Morocco
(Josef von Sternberg)
Menschen Am Sonntag (B. Wilder, Siodmak, Ulmer, Zinneman,etc)
Le Roman de Renard
(Tale of the Fox) (Ladislaw Starewicz)
Ladies of Leisure (sound version) (Frank Capra)
Hell's Angels
(Howard Hughes)

HONORABLE Mention:
Laughter (Harry D'Arrast)
The Devil to Pay (George Fitzmaurice)
The Bat Whispers (Roland West)
Hell's Heroes (William Wyler)
The Big Trail (widescreen version/Raoul Walsh)
Animal Crackers (Victor Heerman)
Half Shot at Sunrise (Paul Sloane)
The Dawn Patrol (Howard Hawks)
Holiday (Edward H. Griffith)
Westfront 1918 (G.W. Pabst)
King of Jazz (John Murray Anderson)
Elstree Calling (Alfred Hitchcock,et, al.)
It's a Bird (Harold Muller, Charles Bowers)
The Silent Enemy (H.P. Carver)
Night Owls (James Parrott)
The Royal Family of Broadway (George Cukor)
Journey's End (James Whale)
The Golf Specialist (Monte Brice)
Earth (Alexander Dovzhenko)
Little Caesar (Mervyn LeRoy)
Teacher's Pet (Robert McGowan)
The Divorcee (Robert Z. Leonard)
Aimless Walk (Bezucelna Prochazka) (Alexander Hammid)
Min and Bill (George W. Hill)
Madam Satan (Cecil B. DeMille)

For the Record (other famous or interesting flicks viewed): Under the Roofs of Paris (Rene Clair); Blood of a Poet (Jean Cocteau); City Girl (F.W. Murnau); Prix de beaute (Augusto Genina); Abraham Lincoln (D.W. Griffith); The Big House (George W. Hill); Monte Carlo (Ernst Lubitsch); Murder! (Alfred Hitchcock); With Byrd at the South Pole (Rucker and Van der Veer), Whoopee! (Thornton Freeland), Just Imagine (David Butler); etc.

To see: Abschied (Robert Siodmak); The Green Goddess (Alfred E. Green); Outward Bound (Robert Milton); Rain or Shine (Frank Capra); Street of Chance (John Cromwell); Wild Flower (China/Sun Yu); The March of Time (surviving fragments of MGM's aborted musical extravaganza); The Devil's Holiday (Edmund Goulding); Die Drei von der Tankstelle (Three of the Filling Station) (Wilhelm Thiele); Dreyfus (Richard Oswald); Ingagi (William Campbell); Are You There? (Exit Laughing) (Hamilton MacFadden); Men Without Women (John Ford); Tom Sawyer (John Cromwell); Free and Easy (Edward Sedgwick); Our Blushing Brides (Harry Beaumont); The Pay-Off (Lowell Sherman); School for Scandal (Maurice Elvey); Tom Sawyer (John Cromwell); Sin Takes a Holiday (Paul L. Stein); Au bonheur des dames (Julien Duvivier); Sangue Mineiro (Blood of Minas) (Humberto Mauro); Sweethearts on Parade (Marshall Neilan); Takovy je zivot (So ist das Leben / Such is Life) (Carl Junghans)

In the queue: La Aldea Maldita (Florian Rey); Holiday of St. Jorgen (Yakov Protazanov); Juno and the Paycock (Alfred Hitchcock); Feet First (Clyde Bruckman; to re-watch); The Unholy Three (Tod Browning); Anna Christie (Clarence Brown/re-watch); Up the River (John Ford); Raffles (George Fitzmaurice); The Doorway To Hell (Archie Mayo)

VINTAGE RATING (1930): 8****

Notes: 'Laughter' (runner up) is an embryonic screwball comedy that lacks the mile-a-minute pacing that marked the genre's maturity later in the decade. So is 'The Devil to Pay' (runner up), with a wonderfully witty Ronald Colman and refreshing pre-Code touches. 'The Bat Whispers' is a stylish 'so-bad-it's-good' old dark house drawing room thriller, especially fascinating to see in its early widescreen 65-millimeter format. Although William Wyler's 'Hell's Heroes' (runner up) eventually becomes an idealized redemption tale, it is probably the most realistic western of its time, a pre-Code gem with a real sense of the desert heat, dust and authentic grubby characters. John Ford's beautiful 1948 color remake ('3 Godfathers') is actually much more sentimental and religious. It was easy to see from a screening in college film class in 1983 why Alexander Dovzhenko's 'Earth' (runner up) was a world cinema masterwork, but in subsequent video viewings its impact is drastically minimized (and its Stalinist messages harder to stomach).

1931 (81) (Depression hits Hollywood hard)
City Lights (Charles Chaplin)
M (Fritz Lang)
The Front Page (Lewis Milestone)
Five Star Final (Mervyn LeRoy)
Platinum Blonde (Frank Capra)
The Public Enemy (William Wellman)
The Last Flight (William Dieterle)
Maedchen in Uniform (Leontine Sagan)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Rouben Mamoulian)
Filmstudie No. 8 (Oskar Fischinger)
A Nous la Liberte (Rene Clair)

RUNNERS UP:
Frankenstein (James Whale)
Le Million (Rene Clair)
Monkey Business (Norman Z. McLeod)
Blonde Crazy (Roy del Ruth)
City Streets (Rouben Mamoulian)
Street Scene (King Vidor)
Bad Girl (Frank Borzage)
Niemandsland (No Man's Land) (Victor Trivas)
La Chienne (Jean Renoir)
Studie no. 7 (Oskar Fischinger)
The Smiling Lieutenant (Ernst Lubitsch)
The Maltese Falcon (Dangerous Female) (Roy del Ruth)
Girls About Town (George Cukor)
Private Lives (Sidney Franklin)
Susan Lenox, Her Fall and Rise (Robert Z. Leonard)
Tabu (Robert Flaherty)
The Champ (King Vidor)
Millie (John Francis Dillon)
Dracula (Spanish version) (George Melford)
The Miracle Woman (Frank Capra)
Dishonored (Josef Von Sternberg)
Stolen Heaven (George Abbott)
Mata Hari (Rouben Mamoulian)
Trader Horn (W.S. Van Dyke)
The Criminal Code (Howard Hawks)
Waterloo Bridge (James Whale)
The Skin Game (Alfred Hitchcock)
Man of the World (Richard Wallace)
Arrowsmith (John Ford)

For the Record (other famous or interesting flicks viewed): Enthusiasm (Simfoniya Donbassa) (A. Dovzhenko); Marius (Alexander Korda); Kameradschaft (G.W. Pabst); The Threepenny Opera (G.W. Pabst); Dracula (Tod Browning); The Road to Life (Nikolai Ekk); Cimarron (Wesley Ruggles); A Connecticut Yankee (David Butler); Dirigible (Frank Capra); A Free Soul (Clarence Brown); The Guardsman (Sidney Franklin); Congress Dances (Erik Charell); Huckleberry Finn (Norman Taurog); Night Nurse (William Wellman); Possessed (Clarence Brown); The Sin of Madelon Claudet (Edgar Selwyn); The Struggle (D.W. Griffith); Svengali (Archie Mayo); The Common Law (Paul L. Stein); East of Borneo (George Melford), The Easiest Way (Jack Conway); etc.

To re-watch: The Miracle Woman (Frank Capra) (in the queue)

To see: Emil und die detektive (Gerhard Lamprecht); Odna (Grigori Kozintsev, Leonid Trauberg); The Peach Girl (Bu Wancang); Ariane (Paul Czinner); The Ghost Train (Walter Forde); Der Morder Dimitri Karamasoff (Fyodor Otsep); Over the Hill (Henry King); Quick Millions (Rowland Brown); Der Raub der Mona Lisa (Geza von Bolvary); Tell England (Anthony Asquith); Transatlantic (William K. Howard); The Captain from Kopenick (Richard Oswald); Alam Ara (India/Ardeshir Irani); Die Andere Seite (Heinz Paul); Bezkrustni grobove (Graves Without Crosses) (Boris Grezov); East Lynne (Frank Lloyd); Figaro e la sua gran giornata (Figaro and His Great Day) (Mario Camerini); Itel a Balaton (Pal Fejos); Love and Duty (Bu Wancang); Madamu to nyobo (The Neighbor's Wife and Mine) (Heinosuke Gosho); Le Parfum de la dame en noir (Marcel L'Herbier); Taris (Jean Vigo); Zlatiye gory (Golden Mountains) (Sergei Yutkevich); This Modern Age (Nick Grinde); Laugh and Get Rich (Gregory La Cava); Safe in Hell (William A. Wellman); Lonely Wives (Russell Mack)

In the queue: Limite (Mario Peixoto); Berlin-Alexanderplatz (Piel Jutzi); La Fin du Monde (Abel Gance); On Purge Bebe (Jean Renoir); Smart Money (Alfred E. Green); Douro, Faina, Fluvial (Manoel de Oliveira); Hippolyte the Lackey (Steve Sekely); Marius (Alexander Korda); Tokyo Chorus (Japan/Yasujiro Ozu); Other Men's Women (William Wellman); Murder by the Clock (Edward Sloman); The Secret Six (George W. Hill); Skippy (Norman Taurog); The Mad Genius (Michael Curtiz); Inspiration (Clarence Brown); The Black Camel (Hamilton McFadden); Tonight or Never (Mervyn LeRoy)

VINTAGE RATING (1931): 8.5****

Notes: I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Alfred Hitchcock's stagey 'The Skin Game' (runner up)--often rated as one of his worst and most boring films. The film grabbed me at the outset with some trademark Hitch sound and visual flourishes and kept me interested through its tale of class envy and nasty double-crosses among England's new and old gentry (along with having an interesting environmental angle predicated mostly on the now-lost ideal of noblesse oblige).

1932 (96) (Stalin's mandate for 'socialist-realist' films ends Soviet art-film golden age)
I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (Mervyn LeRoy)
Las Hurdes (Land Without Bread) (Luis Bunuel)
Love Me Tonight (Rouben Mamoulian)
Trouble in Paradise (Ernst Lubitsch)
Scarface (Howard Hawks)
Kuhle Wampe (Slatan Dudow)
The Fatal Glass of Beer (Clyde Bruckman)
Horse Feathers (Norman Z. McLeod)
The Sign of the Cross (Cecil B. DeMille)
The Old Dark House (James Whale)
Movie Crazy (Clyde Bruckman)

RUNNERS UP:
Blessed Event (Roy Del Ruth)
American Madness (Frank Capra)
The Dentist (Leslie Pearce)
Grand Hotel (Edmund Goulding)
Night After Night (Archie Mayo)
Call Her Savage (John Francis Dillon)
One Hour With You (Ernst Lubitsch)
The Most Dangerous Game (Irving Pichel, Ernest Schoedsack)
The Music Box (James Parrott)
Million Dollar Legs (Eddie Cline)
Red Dust (Victor Fleming)
20,000 Years in Sing Sing (Michael Curtiz)
Rome Express (Walter Forde)
What Price Hollywood? (George Cukor)
Arsene Lupin (Jack Conway)
Scram! (Ray McCarey)
Airmail (John Ford)
Chandu the Magician (Marcel Varnel, William Cameron Menzies)
White Zombie (Victor Halperin)
Cabin in the Cotton (Michael Curtiz)
Skyscraper Souls (Edgar Selwyn)
Red-Headed Woman (Jack Conway)
Jewel Robbery (William Dieterle)
One Way Passage (Tay Garnett)
Shanghai Express (Josef Von Sternberg)
Crazy Inventions (Dave Fleischer)
Vampyr (Carl Dreyer)
I Was Born, But... (Yasujiro Ozu)
Freaks (Tod Browning)
The Animal Kingdom (Edward H. Griffith)
Emma (Clarence Brown)
Rain (Lewis Milestone)
Smilin' Through (Sidney Franklin)
Que Viva Mexico! (Sergei Eisenstein)
Poil de Carotte (Julien Duvivier)
Back Street (John M. Stahl)
L'Atlantide (G.W. Pabst)
Bird of Paradise (King Vidor)
Murders in the Rue Morgue (Robert Florey)
Strange Interlude (Robert Z. Leonard)
Flowers and Trees (Burt Gillett)
Penguin Pool Murder (George Archainbaud)

For the Record (other famous or interesting flicks I've seen): The Blue Light (Leni Riefenstahl); Boudu Saved From Drowning (Jean Renoir): If I Had a Million (Ernst Lubitsch, et. al); A Farewell to Arms (Frank Borzage); The Mask of Fu Manchu (Charles Brabin); The Mummy (Karl Freund); A Bill of Divorcement (George Cukor); The Big Broadcast (Frank Tuttle); Blonde Venus (Josef von Sternberg); Doctor X (Michael Curtiz); Number Seventeen (Alfred Hitchcock); Three on a Match (Mervyn LeRoy); Two Seconds (Mervyn LeRoy); Street of Women (Archie Mayo); The Last Mile (Sam Bischoff)

To see: L'Affaire est dans le sac (Pierre Prevert); Razzia in St. Pauli (Werner Hochbaum); Der Rebell (Curtis Bernhardt/Luis Trenker); Wild Rose (China/Sun Yu); The Mouthpiece (Elliot Nugent/James Flood); Forbidden (Frank Capra); Okay America! (Tay Garnett); It's Tough to Be Famous (Alfred E. Green); The Half Naked Truth (Gregory La Cava); Hell's Highway (Rowland Brown); Hot Saturday (William Seiter): Make Me a Star (William Beaudine); The Bartered Bride (Max Ophuls); End of the Trail (D. Ross Lederman); Ivan (Aleksandr Dovzhenko); Tavaszi zapor (Marie, a Hungarian Legend) (Pal Fejos); Chandidas (Debaki Bose); Law and Order (Edward L. Cahn); Unheimliche Geschichten (Unholy Tales) (Richard Oswald); Uomini, che mascalzoni! (Mario Camerini); The Trial of Vivienne Ware (William K. Howard); State's Attorney (George Archainbaud); As You Desire Me (George Fitzmaurice); So Big! (William Wellman); Cynara (King Vidor); Madame Racketeer (Alexander Hall); Service for Ladies (Alexander Korda); This Is the Night (Frank Tuttle)

In the queue: La Nuit du carrefour (Jean Renoir); Where are the Dreams of Youth? (Yasujiro Ozu); Wooden Crosses (Les Croix de bois) (Raymond Bernard); Tiger Shark (Howard Hawks); Downstairs (Monta Bell); Symphony of Six Million (Gregory La Cava); Night World (Hobart Henley); Young America (Frank Borzage); Letty Lynton (Clarence Brown); L'Idee (Berthold Bartosch); The Crowd Roars (Howard Hawks); No Man of Her Own (Wesley Ruggles); Me and My Gal (Raoul Walsh/to re-watch); Taxi (Roy del Ruth); Counterplan (Fridrikh Ermler, Sergei Yutkevich)

VINTAGE RATING (1932): 9****

Note: King Vidor's 'Bird of Paradise' (runner up) is strictly third rate, but Dolores del Rio is so hot looking in her breast-covering lais and sucking tropical fruit juices and dribbling them into her man's mouth that I had to list it. 'Kuhle Wampe' (koo-lay vomp-uh) is a remarkable film--an unjustly unknown German masterwork--made by leftists before the rising tide of Nazism; the film presciently reels in horror at the complacency and acceptance of bourgeoise Berlin and has some amazingly frank, thoroughly natural scenes of domestic life. Clara Bow is just goddamned awesome wielding a whip and attitude in the zesty pre-Code, "Call Her Savage" (runner up).

1933 (114)
Duck Soup (Leo McCarey)
King Kong (Ernest Schoedsack, Merian Cooper)
Bombshell (Victor Fleming)
Gold Diggers of 1933 (Mervyn LeRoy)
Design for Living (Ernst Lubitsch)
She Done Him Wrong (Lowell Sherman)
The Invisible Man (James Whale)
42nd Street (Lloyd Bacon)
Viktor und Viktoria (Reinhold Schunzel)
The Bitter Tea of General Yen (Frank Capra)
Zero de conduite (Zero for Conduct) (Jean Vigo)
Lady Killer (Roy Del Ruth)
Queen Christina (Rouben Mamoulian)
Patriots (Okraina) (Boris Barnet)

RUNNERS UP:
Night on Bald Mountain (Alexieff and Parker)
The Private Life of Henry VIII (Alexander Korda)
90 Degrees South (Herbert Ponting)
Quatorze Juillet (Rene Clair)
Little Women (George Cukor)
Footlight Parade (Lloyd Bacon)
Counsellor at Law (William Wyler)
Zoo in Budapest (Rowland V. Lee)
Lady for a Day (Frank Capra)
Dinner at Eight (George Cukor)
Penthouse (W.S. Van Dyke)
Employees' Entrance (Roy del Ruth)
The Mystery of the Wax Museum (Michael Curtiz)
Three-Cornered Moon (Elliott Nugent)
Man's Castle (Frank Borzage)
Midnight Mary (William Wellman)
The Kennel Murder Case (Michael Curtiz)
Ecstasy (Gustav Machaty)
Female (Michael Curtiz)
Heroes For Sale (William Wellman)
Bureau of Missing Persons (Roy Del Ruth)
La Maternelle (Jean Benoit-Levy, Marie Epstein)
The Good Companions (Victor Saville)
Sons of the Desert (William A. Seiter)
I'm No Angel (Wesley Ruggles)
Wild Boys of the Road (William Wellman)
Picture Snatcher (Lloyd Bacon)
The Barber Shop (Arthur Ripley)
Liebelei (Max Ophuls)
The Mayor of Hell (Archie Mayo)
International House (A. Edward Sutherland)
The Stranger's Return (King Vidor)
Island of Lost Souls (Erle C. Kenton)
Baby Face (Alfred E. Green)
I Cover the Waterfront (James Cruze)
Deserter (V.I. Pudovkin)
Berkeley Square (Frank Lloyd)
Cavalcade (Frank Lloyd)
Gabriel Over the White House (Gregory La Cava)
Murders in the Zoo (A. Edward Sutherland)
Hallelujah I'm a Bum! (Lewis Milestone)
Lot in Sodom (James Sibley Watson, Melville Webber)
Christopher Strong (Dorothy Arzner)
1860 (Alessandro Blasetti)
Dawn to Dawn (Josef Berne)
Roman Scandals (Frank Tuttle)
Topaze (Harry d'Arrast)
Corruption (Charles Roberts)

For the Record (other famous or interesting flicks viewed): The Story of Temple Drake (John Cromwell); The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (Fritz Lang); The Ghoul (T. Hayes Hunter); Hitlerjunge quex (Hans Steinhoff); Industrial Britain (Robert Flaherty); Mauvaise Graine (Billy Wilder); The Little Giant (Roy del Ruth); Madame Bovary (Jean Renoir); Morgenrot (Gustav Ucicky); Morning Glory (Lowell Sherman); The Power and the Glory (William K. Howard); Reunion in Vienna (Sidney Franklin); Sweepings (John Cromwell); Flying Down to Rio (Thornton Freeland); Topaze (Louis Gasnier); Diplomaniacs (William A. Seiter); The Devil's Brother (Hal Roach, Charles Rogers); Ladies They Talk About (William Keighley, Howard Bretherton)

To re-watch: The Power and the Glory (William K. Howard); Hello, Sister (Eric Von Stroheim)

To see: Chuncan (Spring Silkworms) (Cheng Bugao); Tianming (Daybreak) (Sun Yu); Ganga Bruta (Humberto Mauro); Little Toys (Sun Yu); Another Language (Edward H. Griffith); Hard to Handle (Mervyn LeRoy); Only Yesterday (John M. Stahl); The Sin of Nora Moran (Phil Goldstone); This Day and Age (Cecil B. DeMille); Kimi To Wakarete (Apart From You) (Mikio Naruse); This Nude World (Michael Mindlin); Destination Unknown (Tay Garnett); Eagle and the Hawk (Stuart Walker); Eskimo (W.S. Van Dyke); Izu no Odoriko (The Dancer of Izu) (Heinosuke Gosho); Knock ou le Triomphe de la medecine (Dr. Knock) (Louis Jouvet); Minato no nihon musume (Japanese Girls at the Harbor) (Hiroshi Shimizu); Sonnenstrahl (Pal Fejos); State Fair (Henry King); Taki no shiraito (The Water Magician) (Kenji Mizoguchi); Tango (Luis Moglia Barth); Velikii Uteshitel (The Great Consoler) (Lev Kuleshov); Zem spieva (The Earth Sings) (Karel Plicka); Today We Live (Howard Hawks); Mama Loves Papa (Norman Z. McLeod); Herthas Erwachen (Gerhard Lamprecht); Misere au Borinage (Joris Ivens, Henri Storck); Secrets (Frank Borzage); Ever in My Heart (Archie Mayo); The Silver Cord (John Cromwell); Our Betters (George Cukor); Voltaire (John G. Adolfi)

In the queue: Dekigokoro (Passing Fancy) (Ozu); Pilgrimage (John Ford); Stoopnocracy (Dave Fleischer); Dragnet Girl (Yasujiro Ozu); S.O.S. Eisberg (Arnold Fanck); Jofroi (Marcel Pagnol); Tokyo no Onna (A Woman of Tokyo) (Yasujiro Ozu); Peg O' My Heart (Robert Z. Leonard); Ann Vickers (John Cromwell); Bed of Roses (Gregory La Cava); The Vampire Bat (Frank Strayer)

VINTAGE RATING (1933): 10*****

Note: So many classics; so many second-tier obscure delights...
It's impossible not to list scads of flicks here because 1933's films are so hugely enjoyable, and there seems to be an endless supply of them. On the whole, this is probably my very favorite year in movies. Even several listed in 'For the Record' and many others I've not listed have their worthwhile moments.
There's no better example of a classic that's electric on the big screen and lifeless and slow on the TV screen than the famous Greta Garbo vehicle, 'Queen Christina.' The obscure 'b'-movie indie, 'Corruption' (runner up) is a vigorous if obvious swipe at political rot, but makes the list for an astonishing pre-Code moment: a flamboyantly flourished middle finger thrust by a reporter at the film's main political goon. "I Cover the Waterfront" (runner up) is not a topnotch newspaper pre-Code but it has a game young Claudette Colbert and a wonderful pre-Code scene of Ben Lyon kinkily clamping her in stockade irons (she likes it!) to steal kisses, much to the shock of several old ladies. Two interesting 'zoo' flicks this year. First is 'Zoo in Budapest' (runner up), a lyrical little winsome romance being something of a spawn of F.W. Murnau's 'Sunrise' and Pal Fejos' 'Lonesome,' and looking forward to contemporary classics such as 'A Little Romance' and 'Before Sunrise.' It's also one of the most visually lovely movies of the '30s. The other, 'Murders in the Zoo' (runner up) looks like an A-minus programmer, an implausible but gleefully and irresistibly nasty horror thriller about an insanely jealous adventurer who uses zoo animals in the commission of perfect murders against his perceived enemies (usually those he wrongly suspects of screwing his wife.) Charlie Ruggles' comic relief has a pre-Code edge; particularly when he has a frightening animal encounter and then asks of no one in particular: "Does anyone know I can find the nearest laundry?"

1934 (106) (Strict Production Code enforcement kicks in, June 1934; 'Pre-Code' era ends; screwball comedies born)
Man of Aran (Robert Flaherty)
Ukigusa Monogatari (A Story of Floating Weeds) (Yasujiro Ozu)
It Happened One Night (Frank Capra)
It's a Gift (Norman Z. McLeod)
Twentieth Century (Howard Hawks)
The Thin Man
(W.S. Van Dyke)
The Old-Fashioned Way (William Beaudine)
The Mascot (Fetiche) (Ladislaw Starewicz)
Wonder Bar (Lloyd Bacon)
Murder at the Vanities (Mitchell Leisen)
La Joie de Vivre (Hector Hoppin)
The House of Rothschild (Alfred Werker)
The Scarlet Pimpernel (Harold Young)
Fog Over Frisco (William Dieterle)

RUNNERS UP:
The New Earth (Joris Ivens)
The Song of Ceylon (Basil Wright)
Chapayev (Vasiliev brothers)
L'Atalante (Jean Vigo)
Fashions of 1934 (William Dieterle)
Bolero (Wesley Ruggles)
Boule de Suif (Pyshka) (Mikhail Romm)
Tarzan and His Mate (Cedric Gibbons)
The Lost Patrol (John Ford)
Treasure Island (Victor Fleming)
You're Telling Me (Erle Kenton)
The Black Cat (Edgar Ulmer)
The Scarlet Empress (Josef von Sternberg)
Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back (Roy Del Ruth)
Evergreen (Victor Saville)
Judge Priest (John Ford)
Belle of the Nineties (Leo McCary)
Imitation of Life (John M. Stahl)
Hi'-Neighbor! (Gus Meins; feat. Our Gang)
Six of a Kind (Leo McCarey)
Little Man, What Now? (Frank Borzage)
The Gay Divorcee (Mark Sandrich)
Death Takes a Holiday (Mitchell Leisen)
Manhattan Melodrama (W.S. Van Dyke)
Le Grand jeu (Jacques Feyder)
Bulldog Jack (Walter Forde)
Devil Dogs of the Air (Lloyd Bacon)
Kid Millions (Roy Del Ruth)
Poor Cinderella (Dave Fleischer)
Cleopatra (Cecil B. DeMille)
The Merry Widow (Ernst Lubitsch)
Dames (Ray Enright, Busby Berkeley)
Three Songs About Lenin (Dziga Vertov)
The Jolly Fellows/Jazz Comedy (Grigory Alexandrov)
Our Daily Bread (irrigation-trench-digging sequence) (King Vidor)

For the record: The Goddess (Shen nu/Wu Yonggang); Liliom (Fritz Lang); Toni (Jean Renoir); La Signora di Tutti (Max Ophuls); Maria Chapdelaine (Julien Duvivier); The Man Who Knew Too Much (Alfred Hitchcock); Waltzes from Vienna (Alfred Hitchcock); One Night of Love (Victor Schertzinger); Of Human Bondage (John Cromwell); Happiness (Alexander Medvedkin); We're Not Dressing (Norman Taurog); The Count of Monte Cristo (Rowland V. Lee); (others)

To see: Der Verlorene Sohn (Luis Trenker); I'll Tell (Edwin J. Burke); Chu Chin Chow (Walter Forde); Crime Without Passion (Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur); Le Dernier Milliardaire (The Last Millionaire) (Rene Clair); Groza (The Storm) (Vladimir Petrov); The Little Minister) (Richard Wallace); Les Miserables (Raymond Bernard); Mlody las (The Young Trees) (Jozef Lejtes); La Mujer del Puerto (Arcady Boytler, Rafael Sevilla); No Greater Glory (Frank Borzage); Return of the Terror (Howard Bretherton); Seeta (Debaki Bose); So ein Flegel (Robert A. Stemmle); Tonari no Yae-chan (Our Neighbour, Miss Yae) (Yasujiro Shimazu); Vosstaniye rybakov (Revolt of the Fishermen) (Erwin Piscator); What Every Woman Knows (Gregory LaCava); The White Parade (Irving Cummings); The World Moves On (John Ford); Yu guang qu (Song of the Fisherman) (Cai Chusheng); One More River (James Whale); Sadie McKee (Clarence Brown); Hips Hips Hooray! (Mark Sandrich); Mills of the Gods (Roy William Neill); 6 Day Bike Rider (Lloyd Bacon); Plunder of Peach and Plum (Ying Yunwei); We Live Again (Rouben Mamoulian); Hollywood Party (Roy Rowland)

In the queue: The Youth of Maxim (Maxim Trilogy Pt. 1) (Grigory Kozintsev); Angele (Marcel Pagnol); The Barrets of Wimpole Street (Sidney Franklin); Nana (Dorothy Arzner); Zou Zou (Marc Allegret); The Mystery of Edwin Drood, (Maurice Elvey); The Clairvoyant (Maurice Elvey); Evelyn Prentice (William K. Howard); The Affairs of Cellini (Gregory La Cava); The Cat’s Paw (Sam Taylor); The Painted Veil (Richard Boleslawski)

VINTAGE RATING (1934): 9.5****

Notes: I struggled a bit with the top slots here; the old art-vs.-entertainment tug of war favored the art ('Man of Aran' and "Ukigusa monogatari') for the top two slots over all of the more easily 'entertaining' films listed below them. Ozu's film in particular is so impressive for its unadorned naturalness that it makes everything else look artificial. Still, Flaherty's hardscrabble visual poetry in "Man of Aran' wins by a hair.
Released just days before the full enforcement of the Production Code, Mitchell Leisen's spicy and funny backstage musical-comedy-mystery 'Murder at the Vanities' was probably the fleshiest movie Hollywood ever made up to its time (apart from jungle pictures such as 'Trader Horn,' 'Tarzan and His Mate' and 'Legong: Dance of the Virgins' which all have full nude or topless scenes). The jiggle factor is high, filled with half-naked chorus girls or simulated full nudes (in body suits), and much risque' patter between hilariously feuding Victor McLaglen and Jack Oakie. The movie revels in ways to show women's legs spread apart (a la Berkeley). Oakie's final come-on ("Let's do it!") to blonde hottie Toby Wing would be completely off limits by the rules just a week or so later. As a bonus, there's also a musical number singing the praises of "Sweet Marijuana!" (The whole thing was banned in Detroit, apparently). Similarly Warner's Al Jolson vehicle, 'Wonder Bar' is filled with delightful Pre-Code innuendo and vivid showbiz milieu, including an amazingly direct gay joke on the dance floor. The finale sequence is a jawdroppingly racist dance number, in which Busby Berkely enshrines nearly every black stereotype known (including giant watermelons!) into a massive--and admittedly, impressive--choreographic melange. There's impressive choreography of a sort also in King Vidor's 'Our Daily Bread', an otherwise confused social-problem melodrama, that has a rhythmically dynamic and iconic irrigation-trench-digging scene in the finale that blends Soviet-inspired montage with smooth Hollywood technical execution.

1935 (95) (Hollywood rises from Depression ahead of general economy; First full-color feature released)
The 39 Steps (Alfred Hitchcock)
Triumph of the Will (Leni Riefenstahl)
Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale)
Top Hat (Mark Sandrich)
Peter Ibbetson (Henry Hathaway)
A Night at the Opera (Sam Wood)
The Man on the Flying Trapeze (Clyde Bruckman)
La Bandera (Julien Duvivier)
Steamboat Round the Bend (John Ford)
Front Page Woman (Michael Curtiz)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (Max Reinhardt)
Hands Across the Table (Mitchell Leisen)

RUNNERS UP:
Mutiny on the Bounty (Frank Lloyd)
Kaleidoscope (Len Lye)
A Colour Box (Len Lye)
The Good Fairy (William Wyler)
The Devil is a Woman (Josef von Sternberg)
Broadway Melody of 1936 (Roy del Ruth)
The Scoundrel (Ben Hecht)
Carnival in Flanders (Jacques Feyder)
The Informer (John Ford)
Crime and Punishment (Josef von Sternberg)
The Story of Louis Pasteur (William Dieterle)
Lucrèce Borgia (Lucrezia Borgia) (Abel Gance)
An Inn in Tokyo (Tokyo No Yado) (Yasujiro Ozu)
Alice Adams (George Stevens)
Barbary Coast (Howard Hawks)
The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (Henry Hathaway)
Star of Midnight (Stephen Roberts)
Ruggles of Red Gap (Leo McCarey)
Dangerous (Alfred E. Green)
The Band Concert (Wilfred Jackson)
Captain Blood (Michael Curtiz)
David Copperfield (George Cukor)
First a Girl (Victor Saville)
Naughty Marietta (W.S. Van Dyke)
Gold Diggers of 1935 (Busby Berkeley)
The Whole Town's Talking (John Ford)
'G' Men (William Keighley)
The Raven (Lew Landers)
China Seas (Tay Garnett)
If You Could Only Cook (William A. Seiter)
The Story of Louis Pasteur (William Dieterle)

For the record: Annie Oakley (George Stevens); Sylvia Scarlett (George Cukor); Becky Sharp (Rouben Mamoulian); Roberta (William A. Seiter); Anna Karenina (Clarence Brown); Mad Love (Karl Freund)

To re-watch: Folies Bergere (Roy Del Ruth); Bonnie Scotland (James W. Horne)

To see: Ah, Wilderness! (Clarence Brown); Wife, Be Like a Rose! (Mikio Naruse); Amphitryon (Reinhold Schunzel); Bonne chance (Sacha Guitry); Black Fury (Michael Curtiz); Chandrasena (Rajaram Vankudre Shantaram); Cigalon (Marcel Pagnol); Devdas (P.C. Barua); Four Hours to Kill! (Mitchell Leisen); The Gilded Lily (Wesley Ruggles); It's a Small World (Irving Cummings); Janosik (Martin Fric); King of the Damned (Walter Forde); Krestyane (Peasants) (Fridrikh Ermler); The Last Journey (Bernard Vorhaus); Lazybones (Michael Powell); Magnificent Obsession (John M. Stahl); Merlusse (Marcel Pagnol); No Limit (Monty Banks); Orizuru Osen (The Downfall of Osen) (Kenji Mizoguchi); Palos brudefaerd (The Wedding of Palo) (Friedrich Dahlsheim, Knud Rasmussen); Podrugi (The Girl Friends/The Song of Potemkin,) (Lev Arnstam); Princess Tam Tam (Edmond T. Greville); Remember Last Night? (James Whale); Stutzen der Gesellschaft (Pillars of Society) (Douglas Sirk); Swedenhielms (Gustaf Molander); Uwasa no musume (The Girl on Everyone's Lips) (Mikio Naruse); The Passing of the Third Floor Back (Berthold Viertel); After Office Hours (Robert Z. Leonard); Dr. Socrates (William Dieterle); Goin' to Town (Alexander Hall); The Phantom Light (Michael Powell); Go Into Your Dance (Archie Mayo); Clive of India (Richard Boleslawski)

In the queue: La Belle Equipe (Julien Duvivier); Aerograd (Alexander Dovzhenko); The New Gulliver (Alexander Ptushko); Youth of Maxim (the Maxim Trilogy) (Grigory Kozintsev); The Wedding Night (King Vidor); Pension Mimosas (Jacques Feyder); Earthworm Tractors (Ray Enright); Golgotha (Julien Duvivier); The Big Road (Dalu) (Yu Sun); Tange Sazen and the Pot Worth a Million Ryo (Sadao Yamanaka); The Tunnel (Transatlantic Tunnel) (Maurice Elvey); She (Irving Pichel, Lansing Holden); The Black Room (Roy William Neill); Crime and Punishment (Pierre Chenal); Dante's Inferno (Harry Lachman); A Tale of Two Cities (Jack Conway); Stranded (Frank Borzage); The Last Days of Pompeii (Ernest Schoedsack); No More Ladies (Edward H. Griffith, George Cukor); Legong: Dance of the Virgins (Henri de la Falaise)

VINTAGE RATING (1935): 8****

Note: In a response to the restrictions of the Production Code, Hollywood turned to the literary classics as the basis for big, dazzling productions to make up for the lack of spicy original material. Most of Tinseltown had weathered the Depression, but only MGM was sufficiently capitalized to display the kind of moxy and risk to undertake two epics based on Dickens: 'David Copperfield' (runner up) and 'A Tale of Two Cities' (seen, but not listed here). On top of that, the studio had Hollywood's most expensive production of the year, "Mutiny on the Bounty' (runner up) a still entertaining yarn that plays best when Charles Laughton's Captain Bligh is onscreen but less well in the more arid and lifeless patches resulting from Frank Lloyd's staid direction. As it happened, MGM had a hit with all three films. Less prestigious Warner Bros. even managed to undertake a lavish Shakespearean project, 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' which earns big points for being one of the most beautifully staged and photographed movies ever, even though the acting and narrative direction are very strange indeed.

1936 (131) (Jean Renoir directs four features, beginning his greatest period)
A Day in the Country (Jean Renoir)
Night Mail (Basil Wright, Harry Watt)
Rainbow Dance (Len Lye)
Allegretto (Oskar Fischinger)
Mayerling (Anatole Litvak)
The Crime of Monsieur Lange (Jean Renoir)
Modern Times (Charles Chaplin)
Rembrandt (Alexander Korda)
Sisters of the Gion (Kenji Mizoguchi)
Page Miss Glory (Tex Avery)
Libeled Lady (Jack Conway)
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (Frank Capra)
Craig's Wife (Dorothy Arzner)
Born to Dance (Roy del Ruth)

RUNNERS UP:
Der Kaiser von Kalifornian (Luis Trenker)
Intermezzo (Gustaf Molander)
Things to Come (William Cameron Menzies)
The Green Pastures (William Keighley)
Dodsworth (William Wyler)
Swing Time (George Stevens)
Bullets or Ballots (William Keighley)
The Petrified Forest (Archie Mayo)
My Man Godfrey (Gregory La Cava)
Three Smart Girls (Henry Koster)
The Prisoner of Shark Island (John Ford)
Come and Get It (William Wyler, Howard Hawks)
The Moon’s Our Home (William A. Seiter)
Wife vs. Secretary (Clarence Brown)
I Love to Singa (Tex Avery)
Show Boat (James Whale)
Osaka Elegy (Kenji Mizoguchi)
Our Relations (Harry Lachman)
Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad (Dave Fleischer)
The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (Henry Hathaway)
The Story of a Cheat (Sacha Guitry)
Winterset (Alfred Santell)
Fury (Fritz Lang)
As You Like It (Paul Czinner)
The Devil-Doll (Tod Browning)
Rose-Marie (W.S. Van Dyke)
Love Before Breakfast (Walter Lang)
Banjo on My Knee (John Cromwell)
The White Angel (William Dieterle)
Ceiling Zero (Howard Hawks)
Follow the Fleet (Mark Sandrich)
Sabotage (Alfred Hitchcock)
The Gay Desperado (Rouben Mamoulian)

For the record: We are From Kronstadt (Efim Dzigan); Les bas-fonds (Jean Renoir); Circus (Tsirk) (Grigori Alexandrov); The Princess Comes Across (William K. Howard); Yiddle with His Fiddle (Joseph Green, Jan Nowina-Przybylski); The Secret Agent (Alfred Hitchcock); Rose Hobart (Joseph Cornell); Dracula's Daughter (Lambert Hillyer); The Milky Way (Leo McCarey); After the Thin Man (W.S. Van Dyke); The Plainsman (Cecile B. DeMille); San Francisco (W.S. Van Dyke); These Three (William Wyler); Theodora Goes Wild (Richard Boleslawski); The Garden of Allah (Richard Boleslawski); The Road to Glory (Howard Hawks); The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss (Alfred Zeisler); The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (Stephen Roberts)

To re-watch: These Three (William Wyler); The Man Who Could Work Miracles (Lothar Mendes); Mary of Scotland (John Ford)

To see: Die Ewige Maske (Werner Hochbaum); Anything Goes (Lewis Milestone); Daro un milione (Mario Camerini); Fahrmann Maria (Frank Wisbar); La Guerre des gosses (Generals Without Buttons) (Jacques Daroy); Hortobagy (Georg Hollering); Jenny (Marcel Carne); Komedie om Geld (Max Ophuls); Lumpacivagabundus (Lumpaci the Vagabond) (Geza von Bolvary); Redes (The Wave) (Emilio Gomez Muriel, Fred Zinnemann); Sant Tukaram (Vishnupant Govind Damle, Sheikh Fattelal); Syn Mongolij (Son of Mongolia) (Ilya Trauberg); La Tendre ennemie (Max Ophuls); The Man Who Could Work Miracles (Lothar Mendes); Mary of Scotland (John Ford); It's Love Again (Victor Saville); Woman of Osaka (Kenji Mizoguchi); Three Godfathers (Richard Boleslawski); Small Town Girl (William A. Wellman); Club de femmes (Girls' Club) (Jacques Deval); The Man Who Changed His Mind (aka, The Man Who Lived Again) (Robert Stevenson); etc

In the queue: Cesar (Marcel Pagnol); By the Bluest of Seas (Boris Barnet); La Belle Equipe (Julien Duvivier); The Only Son (Yasujiro Ozu); Lenochka i Vinograd (Antonina Kudryavtseva); Soigne ton gauche (Jacques Tati); Seven Brave Ones (Sergei Gerasimov); Desire (Ernst Lubitsch); Arigato-san (Mr. Thank You) (Hiroshi Shimizu); Un grand amour de Beethoven (Abel Gance); Lloyds of London (Henry King); Anthony Adverse (Mervyn LeRoy); Allotria (Willi Forst)

VINTAGE RATING (1936): 8****

Note: Tex Avery's charming and funny cartoons 'I Love to Singa' (a spoof of 'The Jazz Singer') and "Page Miss Glory" are the first really good Warner Brothers animated shorts. Of Renoir's four features this year, the unfinished yet complete and perfect 'A Day in the Country' is the most lyrical and haunting; 'The Crime of Monsieur Lange' the most fun and vigorous. 'Night Mail' is one of the masterworks of the British documentary school; it somehow finds visual and aural excitement in the mundane subject of postal delivery. For a brief time, Alexander Korda's London Film company makes Britain the behemoth of Euro production (his Denham studio marks the first, and last, time the UK had Europe's largest film production facility) with two excellent prestige pictures, the exceptional biopic 'Rembrandt' with the great Charles Laughton and the fascinating sci-fi epic 'Things to Come' (runner up). MGM's 'Libeled Lady' assembles a dream cast (Spencer Tracy, Myrna Loy, William Powell, and Jean Harlow) for a classic screwball comedy. The Germans make an unexpectedly vivid and exciting Western biopic of John Sutter--'Der Kaiser von Kalifornien' (runner up)--about the man who unwittingly set off the California gold rush.

1937 (114+) (Disney's Snow White--a massive hit--proves viability of feature animation)
La Grande illusion (Jean Renoir)
Pepe-le-Moko
(Julien Duvivier)
Humanity and Paper Balloons
(Sadao Yamanaka)
Nothing Sacred
(William Wellman)
The Awful Truth
(Leo McCarey)
Easy Living
(Mitchell Leisen)
Lost Horizon
(Frank Capra)
The River
(Pare Lorentz)
They Won't Forget
(Mervyn LeRoy)
The Old Mill
(Wilfred Jackson)
Stage Door
(Gregory La Cava)
Gueule d'amour
(Julien Duvivier)
Dead End
(William Wyler)

RUNNERS UP:
The Life of Emile Zola (William Dieterle)
Camille (George Cukor)
History Is Made at Night (Frank Borzage)
The Prisoner of Zenda (John Cromwell)
Swing High, Swing Low (Mitchell Leisen)
Way Out West (James W. Horne)
Make Way For Tomorrow (Leo McCarey)
Stand-In (Tay Garnett)
Shall We Dance? (Mark Sandrich)
Un Carnet de bal (Julien Duvivier)
Wise Girl (Leigh Jason)
Doctor Syn (Roy William Neill)
True Confession (Wesley Ruggles)
Kid Galahad (Michael Curtiz)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (David Hand)
You Only Live Once (Fritz Lang)
The Pearls of the Crown (Christian-Jaque, Sacha Guitry)
Trade Tattoo (Len Lye)
Clock Cleaners (Ben Sharpsteen)
Fire Over England (William K. Howard)
Night Must Fall (Richard Thorpe)
Dark Journey (Victor Saville)
A Star is Born (William Wellman)
A Day at the Races (Sam Wood)
Marked Woman (Lloyd Bacon)
Tovarich (Anatole Litvak)
Young and Innocent (Alfred Hitchcock)
Captains Courageous (Victor Fleming)
The Prince and the Pauper (William Keighley)
A Damsel in Distress (Astaire's dance scenes) (George Stevens)
100 Men and a Girl (Henry Koster)
Stella Dallas (King Vidor)
Peter the First (Vladimir Petrov)
Broadway Melody of 1938 (Roy del Ruth)
The Broken Jug (Der Zerbrochene Krug) Gustav Ucicky

For the Record: The Baltic Deputy (Zharki and Heifetz); It's Love I'm After (Archie Mayo); Black Legion (Archie Mayo); The Dybbuk (Michal Waszynski); Hollywood Hotel (Busby Berkeley); Conquest (Clarence Brown); The Good Earth (Sidney Franklin); The Hurricane (John Ford); Topper (Norman Z. McLeod); Wee Willie Winkie (John Ford); Bizarre, Bizarre (Marcel Carné)

To re-watch: The Toast of New York (Rowland V. Lee)

To see: Smart Blonde (Frank McDonald); Mannequin (Frank Borzage); The Last of Mrs. Cheney (Richard Boleslawski); To New Shores (Douglas Sirk); Confession (Joe May); Artists & Models (Raoul Walsh); Ali Baba Goes to Town (David Butler); Victoria The Great (Herbert Wilcox); Mukti (P.C. Barua); L'Etrange Monsieur Victor (The Strange Monsieur Victor (Jean Gremillon); Double Wedding (Richard Thorpe); The Great Garrick (James Whale)

In the queue: Angel (Ernst Lubitsch); Straits of Love and Hate (Aien Kyo) (Kenji Mizoguchi); Lenin in October (Mikhail Romm); Street Angel (Malu tianshi) (Mu-jih Yuan); What Did the Lady Forget? (Yasujiro Ozu); Crossroads (Xiling Shen); Lone White Sail (Vladimir Legoshin); Josette (Christian-Jaque); Harvest (Marcel Pagnol); Good Morning, Boys (Marcel Varnel); Knight Without Armour (Jacques Feyder); Kaze no naka no kodomo (Children in the Wind) (Hiroshi Shimizu); Song at Midnight (Weibang Ma-Xu)

VINTAGE RATING (1937): 9****

Note: 'The Awful Truth' is the year's best comedy, but I'm giving a slight edge to 'Nothing Sacred' for its subversive acerbic tone as it trashes journalism, fame and public gullibility. It also has an unbeatable screwball trio in Carole Lombard, Fredric March and Walter Connolly. 'They Won't Forget' is one of the more vigorous liberal social dramas to come in the wake of 1932's 'I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang' and 1936's 'Fury.' Once again, the ignorance of Southern lynch mobs was on trial, and Claude Rains chews the scenery gloriously as a Dixie-loving prosecutor. Disney's AA-winning 'The Old Mill' is possibly the most beautiful short cartoon the studio ever made; it put the newly developed multi-plane camera to expert use to create a striking illusion of image depth. This, along with the great achievement this year of 'Snow White..' (runner up), proved that there was no serious rival to Disney's animation hegemony. Frank Capra's 'Lost Horizon' is yet another example of a classic that desperately needs a proper movie-theater screening for full visual and emotional impact. Of the famous Warner biopics of the '30s, 'The Life of Emile Zola' (runner up) is the most enjoyable. My somewhat unfair aversion to 'Captains Courageous' (runner up)--which, to be fair, is a highly enjoyable Kipling adventure--mostly derives from the knowledge that Spencer Tracy won the best-actor AA for a pretty routine performance; he merely seems ridiculous as a Portuguese with a cobbled accent and Harpo Marx hair.

1938 (118+)
The Lady Vanishes (Alfred Hitchcock)
The Adventures of Robin Hood (Michael Curtiz, Wm. Keighley)
Pygmalion (Anthony Asquith)
Three Comrades (Frank Borzage)
Holiday
(George Cukor)
Bringing Up Baby
(Howard Hawks)
The Young in Heart
(Richard Wallace)
Block-Heads
(John Blystone)
La Bete humaine
(Jean Renoir)
Port of Shadows (Quai des Brumes)
(Marcel Carne)
Angels With Dirty Faces
(Michael Curtiz)
Alexander's Ragtime Band
(Henry King)

RUNNERS UP:
The Dawn Patrol (Edmund Goulding)
Olympia (Leni Riefenstahl)
Alexander Nevsky (Sergei Eisenstein)
The Shining Hour (Frank Borzage)
Porky in Wackyland (Robert Clampett)
You Can't Take It With You (Frank Capra)
The Citadel (King Vidor)
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Norman Taurog)
The Mad Miss Manton (Leigh Jason)
South Riding (Victor Saville)
You and Me (Fritz Lang)
Joy of Living (Tay Garnett)
In Old Chicago (Henry King)
St. Martin's Lane (Tim Whelan)
A Slight Case of Murder (Lloyd Bacon)
A Christmas Carol (Edwin L. Marin)
The Goldwyn Follies (George Marshall)
White Banners (Edmund Goulding)
Four Men and a Prayer (John Ford)
Ask a Policeman (Marcel Varnel)
Volga-Volga (Grigory Alexandrov)

For the record: The Childhood of Maxim Gorky (Mark Donskoi; this is probably better than I thought, re-watch); Too Hot to Handle (Jack Conway); The Great Waltz (Julien Duvivier); The Baker's Wife (Marcel Pagnol); Room Service (William A. Seiter); Swiss Miss (John G. Blystone); The Shopworn Angel (H.C. Potter); J'accuse! (Abel Gance); Yellow Jack (George B. Seitz); Algiers (John Cromwell); The Big Broadcast of 1938 (Mitchell Leisen); Boys Town (Norman Taurog); Four Daughters (Michael Curtiz); En kvinnas ansikte (A Woman's Face) (Gustaf Molander); Prison Train (Gordon Wiles); A Yank at Oxford (Jack Conway)

To re-watch: The Baker's Wife (Marcel Pagnol); The Buccaneer (Cecil B. DeMille); Jezebel (William Wyler)

To see: King of Alcatraz (Robert Florey); The Drum (Drums) (Zoltan Korda); Vessel of Wrath (The Beachcomber) (Erich Pommer); Varastettu kuolema (Stolen Death) (Nyrki Tapiovaara); Mad About Music (Norman Taurog); Hana chirinu (Flowers Have Fallen) (Tamizo Ishida); La Vuelta al nido (Return to the Nest) (Leopoldo Torres Rios); Heimat (Carl Froelich); Professor Mamlock (Adolf Minkin, Gerbert Rappaport); Katia (Maurice Tourneur); Farinet (Max Haufler); 13 Stuhle (EW Emo); Aa kokyo (Kenji Mizoguchi); L'Affaire Lafarge (Pierre Chenal); Artists and Models Abroad (Mitchell Leisen); Ba bai zhuang shi (800 Heroes) (Yunwei Ying); Bank Holiday (Carol Reed); Blockade (William Dieterle); Entree des artistes (Marc Allegret); Heiratsschwindler (Herbert Selpin); It's in the Air (Anthony Kimmins); Komsomolsk (Sergei Gerasimov); La Maison du Maltais (Pierre Chenal); Mujeres que trabajan (Manuel Romero); Orage (Marc Allegret); Remontons les Champs-Elysees (Sacha Guitry); Robo no ishi (A Pebble By the Wayside) (Tomotaka Tasaka); Sotto la croce del sud (Under the Southern Cross) (Guido Brignone); Sweethearts (W.S. Van Dyke); Werther (Max Ophuls)

In the queue: Hotel du Nord (Marcel Carne); Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (Ernst Lubitsch); If I Were King (Frank Lloyd); Elephant Boy (Robert Flaherty, Zoltan Korda); Le Schpountz (Heartbeat) (Marcel Pagnol); The Great Citizen (Fridrikh Ermler); Masseurs and the Woman (Hiroshi Shimizu); Les Disparus de St. Agil (Boys School) (Christian-Jaque); The Return of Maxim (Maxim Trilogy part 2) (Kozintzev & Trauberg); The Vyborg Side (Maxim Trilogy part 3) (Kozintzev & Trauberg); La Marseillaise (Jean Renoir); The Sisters (Anatole Litvak); Little Miss Broadway (Irving Cummings); Men Are Such Fools (Busby Berkeley); Love Finds Andy Hardy (George B Seitz); Joy of Living (Tay Garnett); Carefree (Mark Sandrich)

VINTAGE RATING (1938): 8.5****

Note: There's hardly a more lumpen musical-comedy than 'The Goldwyn Follies' (runner up), an outrageously expensive and fairly embarassing fiasco flop from producer Sam Goldwyn. To me, it's an endearing mess; a Technicolored train wreck of a movie, with forced comedy and hokum galore. I can't explain why, but I like it. The year's two great European art films, Leni Riefenstahl's 'Olympia' and Sergei Eisenstein's 'Alexander Nevsky' (both runners up) have to take a back seat to the best Hollywood fare on the enjoyment scale. Both are visually stunning, yet almost wholly dependent on big-screen viewing for watchability and impact. King Vidor's 'The Citadel' (runner up)--an UK/US MGM co-production--also needs the big screen to raise it from its humble dramatic mis-en-scene. It joins the long list of old A-rank Hollywood classics that have undeservedly slipped into the obscure margins of auteurist-driven movie history. John Ford's 'Four Men and a Prayer' (runners up) is pretty superficial among the director's films, and yet it is vigorously entertaining, and the chemistry among the male leads (Richard Greene, George Sanders, David Niven, C. Aubrey Smith) so good that it's a mystery why the film didn't spawn a sequel. French fatalistic poetic realism emerges full force in Jean Renoir's 'La bete humaine' and Marcel Carne's brooding 'Quai des brumes' (runner up). Laurel and Hardy's 'Block-Heads' has always seemed to me their funniest and best-paced film; in that judgment I constitute a minority among fans of "the Boys." By all accounts, Fox's musical drama, 'Alexander's Ragtime Band' should be minor tin-pan alley fluff, and yet there's a certain earnestness and dark edge to it that makes it special of its type. 'Three Comrades,' with a script by F. Scott Fitzgerald, universalizes the tragedy emerging in Nazi Germany, then shifts into a superb melodrama with a heartbreaking performance by Margaret Sullavan. Hepburn and Grant score in two classic comedies, 'Bringing Up Baby' and the drawing room semi-screwballer, 'Holiday,' the latter a sort of run-through for Cukor's 'The Philadelphia Story'. Fox's 'In Old Chicago' (runner up) tried to duplicate the formula of MGM's 1936 smash hit, 'San Francisco', with a blend of historical costume drama, humor, musical interludes, romantic triangle, and spectacular disaster finale. Less popular and less famous, the Fox film nonetheless is the superior one; less staid, better paced and far more watchable today, with impressive Chicago fire special effects and a much more palatable songstress in Alice Faye.

1939 (115) (Massive hit 'Gone with the Wind' released; apex of Hollywood's 'golden age)
La Regle du jeu (The Rules of the Game) (Jean Renoir)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
(Frank Capra)
Stagecoach (John Ford)
The Women
(George Cukor)
Drums Along the Mohawk
(John Ford)
Bachelor Mother
(Garson Kanin)
Only Angels Have Wings
(Howard Hawks)
The Wizard of Oz
(Victor Fleming)
The Roaring Twenties
(Raoul Walsh)
The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum
(Kenji Mizoguchi)

RUNNERS UP:
The Four Feathers (Zoltan Korda)
Ninotchka (Ernst Lubitsch)
Young Mr. Lincoln (John Ford)
Of Mice and Men (Lewis Milestone)
Love Affair (Leo McCarey)
Shchors (Alexander Dovzhenko)
Gunga Din (George Stevens)
Jitterbug Follies (Milt Gross)
Goodbye, Mr. Chips (Sam Wood)
The Saint Strikes Back (John Farrow)
Midnight (Mitchell Leisen)
The Man in the Iron Mask (James Whale)
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (Michael Curtiz)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (William Dieterle)
Jesse James (Henry King)
Beau Geste (William Wellman)
The Spy in Black (U-Boat 29) (Michael Powell)
Union Pacific (Cecil B. DeMille)
The Little Princess (Walter Lang)
The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (Irving Cummings)
Five Came Back (John Farrow)
Son of Frankenstein (Rowland V. Lee)
Intermezzo (Gregory Ratoff)
Rose of Washington Square (Gregory Ratoff)
Idiot's Delight (Clarence Brown)
The Oklahoma Kid (Lloyd Bacon)
Dodge City (Michael Curtiz)
The Rains Came (Clarence Brown)

For the record: Gone With the Wind (Victor Fleming); Stanley and Livingstone (Henry King); The Cat and the Canary (Elliot Nugent); Dark Victory (Edmund Goulding); The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Alfred L. Werker); We Are Not Alone (Edmund Goulding); The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sidney Lanfield); The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (H.C. Potter); Another Thin Man (WS Van Dyke); Wuthering Heights (William Wyler); Confessions of a Nazi Spy (Anatole Litvak); Made for Each Other (John Cromwell); At the Circus (Edward Buzzell); The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Richard Thorpe); Vassilisa the Beautiful (Alexander Row); Babes in Arms (Busby Berkeley); The Flying Deuces (A. Edward Sutherland); The Real Glory (Henry Hathaway); The Gorilla (Allan Dwan); The Three Musketeers (Allan Dwan); Eternally Yours (Tay Garnett); The Dark Eyes of London (Walter Summers); You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (George Marshall); Tevye (Maurice Schwartz); etc.

To re-watch: Each Dawn I Die (William Keighley); Destry Rides Again (George Marshall); The Great Man Votes (Garson Kanin); Juarez (William Dieterle); Le jour se leve (Daybreak) (Marcel Carne)

To see: My Apprenticeship (Gorky Trilogy II) (Mark Donskoi); 5th Ave. Girl (Gregory La Cava); Remember? (Norman Z. McLeod); The 400 Million (Joris Ivens); Ils etaient neuf celibataires (They Were Nine Bachelors) (Sacha Guitry); Fric-Frac (Claude Autant-Lara); Der Florentiner Hut (The Florentine Hat) (Wolfgang Liebeneiner); The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (Anatole Litvak); Back Door to Heaven (William K. Howard); Raffles (Sam Wood); Sans lendemain (Max Ophuls); Ani to song imoto (A Brother and His Younger Sister) (Yasujiro Shimazu); El Azima (Kamal Selim); Blind Alley (Charles Vidor); La charrette fantome (Julien Duvivier); Le dernier tournant (Pierre Chenal); Die Geliebte (Gerhard Lamprecht); Gu dao tian tang (Orphan Island Paradise) (Cai Chusheng); In Name Only (John Cromwell); Jeunes filles en detresse (G.W. Pabst); Ket lany az utcan (Two Girls in the Street) (Andre de Toth); Kodomo no shiki (Four Seasons of Children) (Hiroshi Shimizu); Kristian (Martin Fric); The Light Ahead (Di Klyatshe) (Edgar G. Ulmer); The Mikado (Victor Schertzinger); Pieges (Robert Siodmak); Prisioneros de la tierra (Mario Soffici); Pukar (Sohrab Modi); Skilsmissens born (Children of Divorce) (Benjamin Christensen); Tsuchi (Earth) (Tomu Uchida); Uchitel (The Teacher) (Sergei Gerasimov); Die Unheimlichen Wunsche (The Unholy Wish) (Heinz Hilpert); Zolotoy klyuchik (The Golden Key) (Aleksandr Ptushko)

In the queue: It's a Wonderful World (W.S. Van Dyke); La fin du jour (Julien Duvivier); Lenin in 1918 (Mikhail Romm); Tractor Drivers (Ivan Pyriev); Sixty Glorious Years (Herbert Wilcox); Man with the Gun (Chelovek s ruzhyom) (Sergei Yutkevich); Jamaica Inn (Alfred Hitchcock); Frontier Marshal (Allan Dwan); Q Planes (Tim Whelan)

VINTAGE RATING (1939): 10****

Note: 1939 is rightfully regarded as the preeminent Hollywood yearÑthe number of large-scale, self-important prestige pictures would never again be equaled. It's not listed here, but in its defense 'Gone With the Wind' is a rattling good flick; possibly the best realization of a middlebrow literary epic. Having respectfully sat through its four hours a couple of times, though, the replay factor for me is now nil. 'Wuthering Heights', 'Stanley and Livingstone' and several other sporadically interesting but staid prestige classics also are missing here. The former dishonors a fine novel and the latter looks more disconcertingly artificial (too much back projection) than I once thought. MGM's 'Jitterbug Follies' (runner up) is probably the wildest and funniest short cartoon to date. No doubt Tex Avery and Bob Clampett learned a thing or two from it. Director Milt Gross was only allowed to make this and one other subversive cartoon featuring Count Screwloose and J.R. the Wonder Dog before MGM pulled the plug. Gross's lampooning of a "Citizen's Fair Play Committee" was probably seen by skittish studio honchos as a mockery of MGM's core white-bread patrons. I was on the fence about adding Fox's spit-and-polished disaster epic, 'The Rains Came' (runners up) as it is on the whole unmemorable, but there's something intriguing about such a bloated movie hinging all its drama on almost no plot and rather on the petty intrigues of a small group of isolated colonials. And the effects, when they come, are still the best ever.

1940 (137)
His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks)
The Philadelphia Story
(George Cukor)
The Letter
(William Wyler)
Fantasia
(Ben Sharpsteen, et. al.)
Rebecca
(Alfred Hitchcock)
Angels Over Broadway
(Ben Hecht)
Contraband
(Michael Powell)
The Stars Look Down
(Carol Reed)
Foreign Correspondent
(Alfred Hitchcock)
The Grapes of Wrath
(John Ford)
The Shop Around the Corner
(Ernst Lubitsch)
Northwest Passage
(King Vidor)
Waterloo Bridge
(Mervyn LeRoy)

RUNNERS UP:
The Bank Dick (Eddie Cline)
The Great McGinty (Preston Sturges)
Strange Cargo (Frank Borzage)
Pinocchio (Hamilton Luske, Ben Sharpsteen)
Gaslight (Thorold Dickinson)
The Long Voyage Home (John Ford)
The Thief of Bagdad (Ludwig Berger, Tim Whelan)
The Sea Hawk (Michael Curtiz)
The Mark of Zorro (Rouben Mamoulian)
Night Train to Munich (Carol Reed)
My Little Chickadee (Eddie Cline)
Remember the Night (Mitchell Leisen)
Christmas in July (Preston Sturges)
Dance, Girl, Dance (Dorothy Arzner)
The Blue Bird (Walter Lang)
Kitty Foyle (Sam Wood)
The Great Dictator (Charles Chaplin)
They Drive By Night (Raoul Walsh)
Abe Lincoln in Illinois (John Cromwell)
Lillian Russell (Irving Cummings)
City for Conquest (Anatole Litvak)
Broadway Melody of 1940 (Eleanor Powell dance sequences) (Norman Taurog)
Stranger on the Third Floor (Boris Ingster)
The House of the Seven Gables (Joe May)
Wild Oysters (Charles Bowers)
London Can Take It (Humphrey Jennings)
Santa Fe Trail (Michael Curtiz)
The Son of Monte Cristo (Rowland V. Lee)
Composition No. 1: Themis (Dwinell Grant)
Tarantella (Mary Ellen Bute, Ted Nemeth)
Edison the Man (Clarence Brown)
The Howards of Virginia (Frank Lloyd)
Chad Hanna (Henry King)

For the record: All This, and Heaven Too (Anatole Litvak); Ahi esta en detalle (Juan Bustillo Oro); De Mayerling a Sarajevo (Max Ophuls); A Chump at Oxford (Alfred J. Goulding); Dr. Cyclops (Ernest Schoedsack); Escape (Mervyn LeRoy); Der Ewige Jude (Fritz Hippler); The Ghost Breakers (George Marshall); Go West (Edward Buzzell); I Love You Again (W. S. Van Dyke); Jud Suss (Veit Harlan); June Night (Per Lindberg); Knute Rockne, All American (Lloyd Bacon); The Mortal Storm (Frank Borzage); My Favorite Wife (Garson Kanin); One Million B.C. (Hal Roach, Hal Roach Jr.); Our Town (Sam Wood); Power and the Land (Joris Ivens); Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse (Barney Elliot); Torrid Zone (William Keighley); The Westerner (William Wyler); Strike Up the Band (Busby Berkeley); The Return of Frank James (Fritz Lang); Johnny Apollo (Henry Hathaway); Hudson's Bay (Irving Pichel)

To see: My Universities (Gorky Trilogy III) (Mark Donskoi); Member of the Government (Chlen pravitelstva) (Iosif Kheifits, Aleksandr Zarkhi); Argila (Clay) (Humberto Mauro); The Biscuit Eater (Stuart Heisler); Pastor Hall (Roy Boulting); Der Postmeister (Gustav Ucicky); Svetlyj put (The Shining Path) (Grigori Aleksandrov); A Dispatch from Reuters (William Dieterle); They Knew What They Wanted (Garson Kanin); Med livet som insats (They Staked Their Lives) (Alf Sjoberg); Paradiso terrestre (Luciano Emmer); La fille du puisatier (The Well-Digger's Daughter) (Marcel Pagnol); Primrose Path (Gregory La Cava); The Lady in Question (Charles Vidor); Nishizumi senshacho-den (The Story of Tank Commander Nishizumi) (Kozaburo Yoshimura); more...

In the queue: Seven Sinners (Tay Garnett); A Great Life (Leonid Lukov); La Fille du puisatier (The Well-Digger's Daughter) (Marcel Pagnol); New Moon (Robert Z. Leonard); Black Friday (Arthur Lubin); The Mortal Storm (Frank Borzage; to re-watch); Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (Wm. Dieterle; to re-watch); Christmas in July (Preston Sturges; to re-watch): Pride and Prejudice (Robert Z. Leonard; to re-watch); Vigil in the Night (George Stevens); Arise, My Love (Mitchell Leisen); Where's That Fire? (Marcel Varnel); Brother Orchid (Lloyd Bacon); Johnny Apollo (Henry Hathaway; re-watch); Chad Hanna (Henry King; re-watch)

VINTAGE RATING (1940): 10***** (arguably better than the vaunted 1939, though these two years really should be considered as an organic whole)

Note: The runners up list here could go on and on for this incredible year, so I had to stop. "The Howards of Virginia" on the "runners up" list is possibly the first feature-length drama (excluding Disney stuff) that I ever sat through in its entirety. I recall seeing this Revolutionary War period flick in a third-grade history class, which I think would put it around 1970 or 1971 (so long ago!). I saw the movie a few years later and still thought it was OK. Most critics don't. They're probably right.

1941 (124) (Citizen Kane pushes and inventively plays with existing narrative techniques, thematic depth)
Citizen Kane (Orson Welles)
The Maltese Falcon (John Huston)
The Little Foxes (William Wyler)
Major Barbara (Gabriel Pascal)
Here Comes Mr. Jordan
(Alexander Hall)
The Lady Eve
(Preston Sturges)
The Devil and Daniel Webster
(William Dieterle)
How Green Was My Valley
(John Ford)
Hellzapoppin
(H.C. Potter)
High Sierra
(Raoul Walsh)
Dumbo
(Ben Sharpsteen)

RUNNERS UP:
Pimpernel Smith (Leslie Howard)
The Devil and Miss Jones (Sam Wood)
The Sea Wolf (Michael Curtiz)
Meet John Doe (Frank Capra)
The Strawberry Blonde (Raoul Walsh)
Ball of Fire (Howard Hawks)
Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (Eddie Cline)
Dangerous Moonlight (Brian Desmond Hurst)
The Shanghai Gesture (Josef Von Sternberg)
Ladies in Retirement (Charles Vidor)
Tortoise Beats Hare (Tex Avery)
The 49th Parallel (Michael Powell)
That Hamilton Woman (Alexander Korda)
Man Hunt (Fritz Lang)
Blossoms in the Dust (Mervyn Leroy)
Sun Valley Serenade (H. Bruce Humberstone)
The Shepherd of the Hills (Henry Hathaway)
Lydia (Julien Duvivier)
The Great Lie (Edmund Goulding)
I Wake Up Screaming (H. Bruce Humberstone)
A Woman's Face (George Cukor)
That Uncertain Feeling (Ernst Lubitsch)
Sex Hygiene (Otto Brower, John Ford, for U.S. Signal Corps)
Composition No. 2: Contrathemis (Dwinell Grant)
Love Crazy (Jack Conway)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Victor Fleming)
Volpone (Maurice Tourneur)
Footsteps in the Dark (Lloyd Bacon)
All Through the Night (Vincent Sherman)
The Ghost Train (Walter Forde)
Dive Bomber (Michael Curtiz)
Lady Be Good (Eleanor Powell dance sequences) (Norman McLeod)

For the record: Sergeant York (Howard Hawks); Scrub me Mamma with a Boogie Beat (Walter Lantz); Tobacco Road (John Ford); The 47 Ronin (Kenji Mizoguchi); Suspicion (Alfred Hitchcock); Swamp Water (Jean Renoir); A Yank in the R.A.F. (Henry King); Ziegfeld Girl (Robert Z. Leonard, Busby Berkeley)

To re-watch: Hold Back the Dawn (Mitchell Leisen); Remorques (Stormy Waters) (Jean Gremillon); Footsteps in the Dark (Lloyd Bacon); Tom Dick and Harry (Garson Kanin)

To see: Venus aveugle (Abel Gance); Skylark (Mark Sandrich); Hold Back the Dawn (Mitchell Leisen); Kanzashi (Ornamental Hairpin) (Hiroshi Shimizu); Back Street (Robert Stevenson); Blues in the Night (Anatole Litvak); Dead Men Tell (Harry Lachman); Smilin' Through (Frank Borzage); It Started With Eve (Henry Koster); O Pai Tirano (Antonio Lopes Ribeiro); Ohm Kruger (Hans Steinhoff); Piccolo Mondo Antico (Mario Soldati); The Reluctant Dragon (Forde Beebe, Hamilton Luske, et. al); Turned Out Nice Again (Marcel Varnel); Uma (Horse) (Kajiro Yamamoto); En sommarsaga (Arne Sucksdorff)

In the queue: Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family (Yasujiro Ozu); Princess Iron Fan (Wan Guchan); Two-Faced Woman (George Cukor); Swineherd and Shepherd (Ivan Pyriev); Love on the Dole (John Baxter); L'Assassinat du Pere Noel (Christian-Jaque); Kipps (Carol Reed); The Flame of New Orleans (Rene Clair); Manpower (Raoul Walsh); Shadow of the Thin Man (W.S. Van Dyke); H.M. Pulham, Esq. (King Vidor); The Iron Crown (Alessandro Blasseti); Out of the Fog (Anatole Litvak); Tom Dick and Harry (Garson Kanin/re-watch)

VINTAGE RATING (1941): 9.5*****

Note: Guilty pleasure 'Sun Valley Serenade' (runner up) is a typical 20th-Century Fox entertainment of the wartime years, just the right amount of light comedy, inconsequential plot and lots of musical numbers--all taking place in a Hollywood-conceived ski lodge to up the warm-and-cozy factor. Sonja Henie skates, Glenn Miller's orchestra plays, and the incomparable Nicholas Brothers perform their eyepopping acrobatic dancing. 'Lady Be Good' (runner up) is a prime example of the critical dilemma regarding most MGM musicals: great dance sequences stuck inside plodding, banal narratives. In this case, it's Eleanor Powell's fancy stepping through the glitzy 'Fascinatin' Rhythm" sequence. 'Pimpernel Smith' (runner up) is a tour-de-force for English actor-director Leslie Howard, updating his earlier 1934 'Scarlet Pimpernel' success by placing his unassuming English spy hero into Nazi Germany. It gets off to a wobbly start, but becomes deliciously witty and exciting, capped by a mysterious, inspiring ending. There are no similar compensations weighty enough to offset the idealized hokum of Howard Hawks' biopic flagwaver, 'Sergeant York' (not listed). Not a bad film, per se, but one that leaves a sour taste: York's ignorance seems to be heralded as an ideal American trait; not coincidentally, one that always gets us into stupid wars.

1942 (114)
Listen to Britain (Humphrey Jennings)
The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles)
Casablanca (Michael Curtiz)
The Man Who Came to Dinner (William Keighley)
In Which We Serve
(Noel Coward, David Lean)
The Dover Boys at Pimento University or The Rivals of
Roquefort Hall
(Chuck Jones)
Noi Vivi (We the Living)
(Goffredo Alessandrini)
Woman of the Year
(George Stevens)
Sullivan's Travels
(Preston Sturges)
Roxie Hart
(William Wellman)
Random Harvest (Mervyn LeRoy)
Native Land (Paul Strand, Leo Hurwitz)

RUNNERS UP:
The Palm Beach Story (Preston Sturges)
To Be or Not to Be (Ernst Lubitsch)
The Talk of the Town (George Stevens)
One of Our Aircraft is Missing (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger)
The Moon and Sixpence (Albert Lewin)
Mrs. Miniver (William Wyler)
Yankee Doodle Dandy (Michael Curtiz)
Bambi (David Hand)
Razgrom nemetskikh voysk pod Moskvoy (Defeat of the German Armies Near Moscow/Moscow Strikes Back) (Leonid Varlamov, Ilya Kopalin)
Journey Into Fear (Norman Foster)
Aniki-Bobo (Manoel de Oliveira)
The Glass Key (Stuart Heisler)
The Black Swan (Henry King)
Tales of Manhattan (Julien Duvivier)
For Me and My Gal (Busby Berkeley)
My Sister Eileen (Alexander Hall)
Saboteur (Alfred Hitchcock)
The Major and the Minor (Billy Wilder)
Across the Pacific (John Huston)
This Gun For Hire (Frank Tuttle)
Hold the Lion, Please (Chuck Jones)
Tarzan's New York Adventure (Richard Thorpe)
I Married a Witch (Rene Clair)
Charley's Aunt (Archie Mayo)
The First of the Few (Spitfire) (Leslie Howard)
Holiday Inn (Mark Sandrich)
Horton Hatches the Egg (Robert Clampett)
Joan of Paris (Robert Stevenson)

For the record: The Male Animal (Elliot Nugent); King's Row (Sam Wood); My Favorite Blonde (Sidney Lanfield); The Night Has Eyes (Leslie Arliss); Now, Voyager (Irving Rapper); Les visiteurs du soir (Marcel Carne); Wake Island (John Farrow); Went the Day Well? (Alberto Cavalcanti); Gentleman Jim (Raoul Walsh); Reap the Wild Wind (Cecil B. DeMille); Road to Morocco (David Butler); Keeper of the Flame (George Cukor); Kid Glove Killer (Fred Zinnemann); Tortilla Flat (Victor Fleming); Take a Letter, Darling (Mitchell Liesen); Orchestra Wives (Archie Mayo); The Pied Piper (Irving Pichel); Pardon My Sarong (Erle C. Kenton); You Were Never Lovelier (William Seiter)

To re-watch: Take a Letter, Darling (Mitchell Leisen)

To see: Thunder Rock (Roy Boulting); The Falcon Takes Over (Irving Reis); L'Assassin Habite au 21 (The Murderer Lives at Number 21) (Henri-Georges Clouzot); The Next of Kin (Thorold Dickinson); The Adventures of Martin Eden (Sidney Salkow); Son of Fury (John Cromwell); Once Upon a Honeymoon (Leo McCarey); The Foreman Went to France (Charles Frend); Castle in the Desert (Harry Lachman); Fari nella nebbia (Gianni Franciolini); Un Colpo di pistola (A Pistol Shot) (Renato Castellani); Die Goldene Stadt (The Golden City (Veit Harlan); Himlaspelet (Alf Sjoberg); Malombra (Mario Soldati); O Patio das Cantigas (Francisco Ribeiro)

In the queue: There was a Father (Chichi ariki) (Yasujiro Ozu); Mashenka (Yuli Raizman); The Lady is Willing (Mitchell Leisen); Johnny Eager (Mervyn LeRoy); In This Our Life (John Huston); My Gal Sal (Irving Cummings); Larceny Inc. (Lloyd Bacon); Reunion in France (Jules Dassin); The Land (Paul Strand, Leo Hurwitz); La symphonie fantastique (Christian-Jaque)

VINTAGE RATING (1942): 9****

Note: Chuck Jones' innovative 'The Dover Boys' presages postwar mimimalist animation techniques and bids fair to be the funniest cartoon ever made. Orson Welles' 'The Magnificent Ambersons' topped this list until I saw Humphrey Jennings' overwhelming work of documentary art, 'Listen to Britain'--a non-narrated view of wartime England blending ambient sounds and masterfully selected images to evoke Brit pride without the usual pedantic bombast. The Welles film is a mutilated masterwork, the Jennings film is a fully realized one. The best picture winner 'Mrs. Miniver' (runner up) is essentially Hollywood artifice and wartime propaganda, yet works better than expected, offering deft storytelling and great chemistry between its stars. That much of it sounds silly on paper but works so well in execution is to director William Wyler's credit. Leftist artists Paul Strand and Leo Hurwitz's 'Native Land' is brave domestic dissent to come from wartime America, vividly depicting a right-wing conspiracy against labor, minorities and civil libertarians.

1943 (121) (Meshes of the Afternoon advances art of avant-garde, independent film)
Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren)
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
(Powell, Pressburger)
Day of Wrath
(Carl Dreyer)
The Gang's All Here
(Busby Berkeley)
The More the Merrier
(George Stevens)
The Ox-Bow Incident
(William Wellman)
Shadow of a Doubt (Alfred Hitchcock)
Victory Through Air Power
(H.C. Potter, et. al.)
Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarfs (Robert Clampett)
The Seventh Victim (Mark Robson)
I Walked with a Zombie
(Jacques Tourneur)
Heaven Can Wait (Ernst Lubitsch)
Le Corbeau (The Raven) (H.G. Clouzot)
Sahara (Zoltan Korda)
Romanze in Moll (Romance in a Minor Key)
(Helmut Kautner)

RUNNERS UP:
The Song of Bernadette (Henry King)
Five Graves to Cairo (Billy Wilder)
A Lady Takes A Chance (William Seiter)
Desert Victory (Roy Boulting)
Prelude to War (Frank Capra)
Air Force (Howard Hawks)
Destination Tokyo (Delmer Daves)
Porky Pig's Feat (Frank Tashlin)
An Itch in Time (Robert Clampett)
Red Hot Riding Hood (Tex Avery)
This Land is Mine (Jean Renoir)
The Man in Grey (Leslie Arliss)
No Greater Love (Fridrikh Ermler)
Crazy House (Eddie Cline)
The Cross of Lorraine (Tay Garnett)
My Learned Friend (Basil Dearden, Will Hay)
Private Snafu: Spies (Chuck Jones)
Hangmen Also Die (Fritz Lang)
L'éternel retour (The Eternal Return) (Jean Delannoy)
The Hard Way (Vincent Sherman)
The Constant Nymph (Edmund Goulding)
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (opening scene) (Roy William Neill)
Thank Your Lucky Stars (David Butler)
Bataan (Tay Garnett)
Old Acquaintance (Vincent Sherman)
Crash Dive (Archie Mayo)
Hitler's Children (Edward Dmytryk)
The Leopard Man (Jacques Tourneur)
Madame Curie (Mervyn LeRoy)
Ossessione (Luchino Visconti)
Action in the North Atlantic (Lloyd Bacon)
We Dive at Dawn (Anthony Asquith)
Hit the Ice (Charles Lamont)

For the record: The Demi-Paradise (Anthony Asquith); The Human Comedy (Clarence Brown); Guadalcanal Diary (Lewis Seiler); Watch on the Rhine (Herman Shumlin); The Outlaw (Howard Hughes); Titanic (Herbert Selpin); Munchhausen (Josef von Baky); Behind the Rising Sun (Edward Dmytryk); Stage Door Canteen (Frank Borzage); Fires Were Started (Humphrey Jennings); Girl Crazy (Norman Taurog, Busby Berkeley); Background to Danger (Raoul Walsh); Cabin in the Sky (Vincente Minnelli); Forever and a Day (Rene Clair, and many more); So Proudly We Hail! (Mark Sandrich); Stormy Weather (Andrew L. Stone); Best Foot Forward (Edward Buzzell); Above Suspicion (Richard Thorpe); The Canterville Ghost (Jules Dassin); Gung Ho! (Ray Enright); The North Star (Lewis Milestone)

Lumpy Gravy Award for Worst Film of the Century (1943 edition): The North Star (Lewis Milestone)

To see: Millions Like Us (Sidney Gilliat, Frank Launder); Douce (Love Story) (Claude Autant-Lara); Mr. Lucky (H.C. Potter); Edge of Darkness (Lewis Milestone); The Desperados (Charles Vidor); Flor silvestre (Emilio Fernandez); Kismet (Gyan Mukherjee); Nine Men (Harry Watt); The Bells Go Down (Basil Dearden)

In the queue: La Main du Diable (Maurice Tourneur); Les Anges du Peche (Robert Bresson); Gente del Po (Michelangelo Antonioni); Secretary of the Communist Party (Ivan Pyriev); Holy Matrimony (John M. Stahl); The Ghost Ship (Mark Robson); The Dream (Mechta) (Mikhail Romm); Corvette K-225 (Richard Rosson); The Phantom of the Opera (Arthur Lubin); Sanshiro Sugata (Akira Kurosawa); San Demetrio London (Charles Frend); Goupi mains rouges (It Happened at the Inn) (Jacques Becker); Lassie Come Home (Fred M. Wilcox); Lumiere d'ete (Jean Gremillon)

VINTAGE RATING (1943): 8.5****

Note: OK, Busby Berkeley's 'The Gang's All Here' is an embarassing guilty pleasure, yet there's some indefinable moment when this routinely plotted, unwieldy wartime Technicolor musical goes from the silly to the sublime; it might be when the film turns into a completely abstract kaleidoscope in the last minute with the orchestra going full blast. It's possibly Hollywood's only moment of pure visual abstraction, unrelated to the narrative or to movie-musical conventions. There are a million things I love in this whole kitschy fiasco, not to mention the unbridled enthusiasm and energy put into some horrific songs and choreography, as well as the first sequence, which is probably the longest unbroken tracking crane shot in movies up to its time. Because Berkeley was able to get his artistic vision largely unencumbered onto the screen -- no matter how looney it may be -- this film is his masterpiece. Two surprises this year are the darkly resonant German romance, 'Romanze in Moll,' which made Josef Goebbels bristle at its frank depiction of adultery (he had to knuckle under and let it pass to appease the popular taste and low morale of the battle-weary populace); and Fox's 'The Song of Bernadette,' a surprisingly balanced and steely depiction of the miracle of Lourdes, not saccharine in the way most '40s Hollywood religious pictures are. 'Victory Through Air Power' is the Disney studio's major contribution to the war effort and one of its best features ever; a long-unseen documentary that was completely vaulted until its DVD release in 2004. It uses extensive animation and expert presentations to propagandize very effectively for the expansion of an air-based offensive strategy. Another long-unseen animated work, 'Coal Black...' is likely to stay that wayÑwhich is too bad because it's the brassiest and most energetic cartoon to come out of Warner's 'Termite Terrace" at its wartime artistic peak. Where most people see malicious racism in it, I see a good deal of charm. Another Clampett cartoon, 'An Itch in Time' (Robert Clampett) has a fleabitten male dog grinding his itchy ass across the ground and stopping suddenly to tell the audience, "Hey, I'm starting to like this!" A rare concession from the time to the joys of masturbatory friction. No Freudian segue intended: Delmer Daves' 'Destination Tokyo' (runner up) is probably the best submarine warfare movie made during WWII. By comparison, 'Crash Dive' (runner up) is a pretty standard submarine war actioner with lots of throwaway love stuff, but the Technicolor is great, the special-effects model work cool, and the entertainment value high. Jean Renoir's 'This Land is Mine' (runner up) is a problemmatic film that never escapes its Hollywood artifice, yet is very moving; seething with earnest anger and a palpable sense of both hope and helplessness about occupied France that must have reflected its expatriate director's own feelings. Fritz Lang's compelling 'Hangmen Also Die' (runner up) does pretty much the same thing for occupied Czechoslovakia--and has virtually the same problems in overcoming its artifice and narrative holes. Also angry, but considerably weirder, is the anti-Nazi propaganda drama, 'Hitler's Children' (runner up); perhaps not good, but something not forgotten once seen. Its tale suggesting the forced insemination of Aryan women was sensational stuff in its day; making it one of the year's biggest hits.

1944 (105) ('Double Indemnity' on 'film noir' cusp)
Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder)
Arsenic and Old Lace
(Frank Capra)
The Memphis Belle (William Wyler)
To Have and Have Not
(Howard Hawks)
Torment (Hets) (Alf Sjoberg)
Laura
(Otto Preminger)
On Approval (Clive Brook)
The Miracle of Morgan's Creek
(Preston Sturges)
Cover Girl (Charles Vidor)
The Mask of Dimitrios
(Jean Negulesco)
The Woman in the Window (Fritz Lang)
Lifeboat
(Alfred Hitchcock)

RUNNERS UP:
Murder My Sweet (Edward Dmytryk)
Brother Brat (Frank Tashlin)
Meet Me in St. Louis (Vincente Minnelli)
This Happy Breed (David Lean)
Henry V (Laurence Olivier)
Hail the Conquering Hero (Preston Sturges)
The Children Are Watching Us (Vittorio De Sica)
It Happened Tomorrow (Rene Clair)
The Seventh Cross (Fred Zinnemann)
Tick Tock Tuckered (Robert Clampett)
Desert Victory (Roy Boulting)
Maria Candelaria (Emilio Fernandez)
At Land (Maya Deren)
The Sullivans (Lloyd Bacon)
Jane Eyre (Robert Stevenson)
The White Cliffs of Dover (Clarence Brown)
The Pearl of Death (Roy William Neill)
Phantom Lady (Robert Siodmak)
Ministry of Fear (Fritz Lang)
A Canterbury Tale (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger)
Since You Went Away (John Cromwell)
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (Mervyn LeRoy)
Going My Way (Leo McCarey)
Booby Traps (Robert Clampett)
Hell-Bent For Election (Chuck Jones)
The Three Caballeros (Norman Ferguson)
The Adventures of Mark Twain (Irving Rapper)
Buffalo Bill (William Wellman)

For the record: A Bell for Adano (Henry King); The Scarlet Claw (Roy William Neill); Gaslight (George Cukor); Tomorrow the World (Leslie Fenton); A Wing and a Prayer (Henry Hathaway); The Keys of the Kingdom (John M. Stahl)

To re-watch (all in the queue): The Curse of the Cat People (Gunther von Fritsch, Robert Wise); Mr. Skeffington (Vincent Sherman); The Negro Soldier (Frank Capra); Passage to Marseilles (Michael Curtiz); The Purple Heart (Lewis Milestone); The Suspect (Robert Siodmak); The Way Ahead (Carol Reed); The Uninvited (Lewis Allen)

To see: Le ciel est a vous (Jean Gremillon); Raduga (The Rainbow) (Mark Donskoi); Las Abandonadas (Emilio Fernandez); Address Unknown (William Cameron Menzies); The Lodger (John Brahm); Dark Waters (Andre de Toth); The Great Moment (Preston Sturges); None Shall Escape (Andre de Toth); Youth Runs Wild (Mark Robson); Bluebeard (Edgar G. Ulmer); Mademoiselle Fifi (Robert Wise); An American Romance (King Vidor); Block Busters (Wallace Fox); Winged Victory (George Cukor); 2,000 Women (Frank Launder); Grosse Freiheit Nr. 7 (Helmut Kautner); Opfergang (The Great Sacrifice (Veit Harlan); Western Approaches (Pat Jackson)

In the queue: Six p.m. (Ivan Pyriev); Die Frau meiner Traume (Georg Jacoby); Wilson (Henry King); Champagne Charlie (Alberto Cavalcanti); The Thin Man Goes Home (Richard Thorpe); National Velvet (Clarence Brown); Negro Soldier (Stuart Heisler); Frenchman's Creek (Mitchell Leisen); Between Two Worlds (Edward Blatt); Die Feuerzangenbowle (Helmut Weiss); When Strangers Marry (aka Betrayed) (William Castle)

VINTAGE RATING (1944): 8****

Note: I can think of a lot worse ways to spend a couple of hours than watching Leo McCarey's warm and fuzzy best-picture winner, 'Going My Way' (runner up) with Bing Crosby, though today it's hard to justify this langorously paced schmaltz that perpetrates popularly held myths as film art. McCarey makes the sugar go down easy though, thanks to his penchant for faux cynicism and Irish good spirits and for Barry Fitzgerald's skills at balancing the irascible, slightly seedy and the charming. In the middle of WWII, it's easy to see how it wrapped war-weary audiences in psychological blankets of assurance and cultural validation.

1945 (91) (Rossellini's Open City introduces neorealism and redefines films in rawer terms)
Brief Encounter (David Lean)
Dead of Night
(Alberto Cavalcanti, et. al.)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
(Elia Kazan)
The True Glory
(Carol Reed, Garson Kanin)
Open City
(Roberto Rossellini)
Kitty (Mitchell Leisen)
Isle of the Dead
(Mark Robson)
Blithe Spirit
(David Lean)
Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz)
And Then There Were None (Rene Clair)
The Body Snatcher (Robert Wise)
The Battle of San Pietro
(John Huston)
The Story of G.I. Joe
(William Wellman)
Scarlet Street
(Fritz Lang)
The Picture of Dorian Gray
(Albert Lewin)
Herr Meets Hare
(Friz Freleng)

RUNNERS UP:
I Know Where I'm Going (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger)
The House on 92nd Street (Henry Hathaway)
The Clock (Vincente Minnelli)
Detour (Edgar G. Ulmer)
Fallen Angel (Otto Preminger)
A Walk in the Sun (Lewis Milestone)
Wonder Man (H. Bruce Humberstone)
The Valley of Decision (Tay Garnett)
Murder, He Says (George Marshall)
My Name is Julia Ross (Joseph H. Lewis)
The Corn is Green (Irving Rapper)
Rhapsody in Blue (Irving Rapper)
It's in the Bag (Richard Wallace)
Ivan the Terrible, Part One (Sergei Eisenstein) (for its visuals)
The Way to the Stars (Anthony Asquith)
Les Enfants du paradis (Children of Paradise) (Marcel Carne)
Hockey Homicide (Jack Kinney)

For the record: The Lost Weekend (Billy Wilder); Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne (Robert Bresson); They Were Expendable (John Ford); The Southerner (Jean Renoir); L'espoir (Man's Hope) (Andre Malraux, Boris Peskine); The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail (Akira Kurosawa); Objective, Burma! (Raoul Walsh); L'espoir (André Malraux, Boris Peskine); The Bells of St. Mary's (Leo McCarey); Kolberg (Veit Harlan); Yolanda and the Thief (Vincente Minnelli); Along Came Jones (Stuart Heisler); Le Vampire (Jean Painleve)

To re-watch: Fallen Angel (Otto Preminger) (in the queue); Leave Her to Heaven (John M. Stahl); The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (Robert Siodmak); The Southerner (Jean Renoir); Cornered (Edward Dmytryk); Confidential Agent (Herman Shumlin)

To see: Die Letzte Chance (Leopold Lindtberg); Sortileges (Christian-Jaque); Wonder Man (H. Bruce Humberstone; re-watch); Mom and Dad (William Beaudine); The Enchanted Cottage (John Cromwell); The Affairs of Susan (William A. Seiter); La Barraca (Roberto Gavaldon); Chelovek No. 217 (Mikhail Romm); Falbalas (Jacques Becker); Love Letters (William Dieterle); A Medal for Benny (Irving Pichel); Nepokorennye (Mark Donskoi); Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (Roy Rowland); De røde enge (Bodil Ipsen, Lau Lauritzen); Velikij perelom (The Turning Point) (Fridrikh Ermler); Waterloo Road (Sidney Gilliat); Johnny Angel (Edwin L. Marin); Saratoga Trunk (Sam Wood);Week-End at the Waldorf (Robert Z. Leonard)

In the queue: Unter den Bruecken (Helmut Kautner); Son of Lassie (S. Sylvan Simon); Blood on the Sun (Frank Lloyd; to re-watch); Fallen Angel (Otto Preminger); The White Gorilla (H.L. Fraser); Tsogt taij (Yuri Tarich, D. Jigjid, M. Luvsanjamts); A Royal Scandal (Ernst Lubitsch)

VINTAGE RATING (1945): 7.5***

NOTE: A relatively weak year (for its time) with no genuine consensus masterpieces except for Lean's 'Brief Encounter,' Rossellini's 'Open City' and part of the Brit omnibus thriller 'Dead of Night'--and 'Les Enfants du paradis' (runner up), which is one of the great cinematic classics that I can't seem to bring myself to like or appreciate. As much as I admire its big-scaled historical settings and pseudo-artistic pretensions, it seems to me like nothing more than a garish soaper. Duty binds me to list it. Then there's Eisenstein's "Ivan the Terrible," an unmatched visual tour de force ruined by laughable eye-rolling acting that apologists refer to as "operatic." Still, its epic visual palette is something ravishing to see. Elia Kazan's 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn' is Hollywood literary storytelling at its best, and features one of the greatest child performances, by Peggy Ann Garner.

1946 (95) (Hollywood's most profitable year; most attendance ever)
Beauty and the Beast (Jean Cocteau)
The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler)
Great Expectations (David Lean)
The Big Sleep (Howard Hawks)
Notorious
(Alfred Hitchcock)
It's a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra)
Green for Danger (Sidney Gilliat)
A Matter of Life and Death (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger)
Glen Falls Sequence (experimental short) (Douglass Crockwell)
My Darling Clementine (John Ford)
Ivan the Terrible, Part II (Sergei Eisenstein) (released 1958)
The Seventh Veil (Compton Bennett)
Gilda (Charles Vidor)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (Tay Garnett)
The Jolson Story (Alfred E. Green)

RUNNERS UP:
Humoresque (Jean Negulesco)
Caesar and Cleopatra (Gabriel Pascal)
Margie (Henry King)
The Great Piggy Bank Robbery (Robert Clampett)
The Spiral Staircase (Robert Siodmak)
To Each His Own (Mitchell Leisen)
Shoeshine (Vittorio de Sica)
The Killers (Robert Siodmak)
The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (Lewis Milestone)
The Time of their Lives (Charles Barton)
Dragonwyck (Joseph Mankiewicz)
Ziegfeld Follies (Vincente Minnelli)
No Regrets For My Youth (Akira Kurosawa)
Cluny Brown (Ernst Lubitsch)
Let There Be Light (John Huston)
I See a Dark Stranger (The Adventuress) (Frank Launder)
La Symphonie Pastorale (Jean Delannoy)
Paisan (Roberto Rossellini)
The Dark Corner (Henry Hathaway)
Holiday for Shoestrings (Friz Freleng)

For the record: The Stranger (Orson Welles); Black Angel (Roy William Neill); The Dark Mirror (Robert Siodmak); Undercurrent (Vincente Minnelli); Bedlam (Mark Robson); The Overlanders (Harry Watt); Murderers are Among Us (Wolfgang Staudte); The Yearling (Clarence Brown); A Scandal in Paris (Douglas Sirk); Song of the South (Harve Foster, Wilfred Jackson); Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani (The Journey of Dr Kotnis (Rajaram Vankudre Shantaram); Till the End of Time (Edward Dmytryk); Monsieur Beaucaire (George Marshall); A Night in Casablanca (Archie Mayo); Sister Kenny (Dudley Nichols); Lady in the Lake (Robert Montgomery); Till the Clouds Roll by (Richard Whorf); Angel on My Shoulder (Archie Mayo); Crack Up (Irving Reis); The Harvey Girls (George Sidney); The Kid from Brooklyn (Norman Z. McLeod)

To re-watch: Devotion (Curtis Bernhardt); Deception (Irving Rapper)

To see: Ditte, Child of Man (Ditte Menneskebarn) (Bjarne Jensen-Henning); Seeds of Destiny (David Miller); The Diary of a Chambermaid (Jean Renoir); Blue Skies (Stuart Heisler); The Verdict (Don Siegel); Devotion (Curtis Bernhardt); Duel in the Sun (King Vidor); Dharti Ke Lal (Children of the Earth) (Khwaja Ahmad Abbas); Il Bandito (The Bandit) (Alberto Lattuada); From This Day Forward (John Berry); Morning for the Osone Family (Keisuke Kinoshita); Neecha Nagar (Chetan Anand); Osone-ke no ashita (Morning for the Osone Family (Keisuke Kinoshita); Les Portes de la nuit (Gates of the Night) (Marcel Carne); The Potted Psalm (James Broughton, Sidney Peterson); Le Retour (The Return) (Henri-Cartier Bresson); So Dark the Night (Joseph H. Lewis); Somewhere in the Night (Joseph L. Mankiewicz); Sotto il sole di Roma (Under the Sun of Rome) (Renato Castellani); Three Strangers (Jean Negulesco); La Naissance du cinema (Roger Leenhardt); Decoy (Jack Bernhard); Tomorrow is Forever (Irving Pichel); Dangerous Money (Terry O. Morse); Dear Alibi (Phil Karlson); Blue Skies (Stuart Heisler); Wanted for Murder (Lawrence Huntington); Enamorada (Emilio Fernandez); Somewhere in Berlin (Irgendwo in Berlin) (Gerhard Lamprecht)

In the queue: The Stone Flower (Alexander Ptushko); Diary of a Chambermaid (Jean Renoir); La Bataille du Rail (Rene Clement); Un Revenant (Christian-Jacque); Utamaro and His Five Women (Kenji Mizoguchi); The Blue Dahlia (George Marshall); Sylvia and the Phantom (Claude Autant-Lara); Anna and the King of Siam (John Cromwell); The Captive Heart (Basil Dearden); The Razor's Edge (Edmund Goulding); She Wolf of London (Jean Yarbrough); Deception (Irving Rapper/re-watch)

VINTAGE RATING (1946): 10*****

NOTES: What a year! All those young GI couples had a voracious appetite for flicks. The first year after the war is the most profitable in Hollywood history, logging the highest film attendance ever: an incredible 100 million tickets sold a week. IMO, it's the best year ever in terms of the number of great classics released.) As an example of a superior French art film, Jean Cocteau's 'Beauty and the Beast' fills the gaps of emotion, mystery and profundity that I felt lacking in the previous year's French prestige art picture 'Les enfants du paradis.' After talking to people and reading various film journals on the internet, it appears that 'The Best Years of Our Lives' remains one of the least-seen classics by younger film buffs. That's too bad, because it's a great American film, but it's also one that really needs a movie theater screen (I saw it at the Vogue long ago). Gregg Toland's sharp, deep-focus camerawork contributes greatly to its epic feel. It's a self important picture, but it's also earnest, bittersweet, sincere and very much what postwar audiences needed to help them salve wounds, make up for lost time, and move forward to build the industrial behemoth of the '50s. 'The Seventh Veil' from England and 'Humoresque' from Hollywood are two dark, psychological soapers with classical-music backdrops, both extremely well done to make for guilt-free pleasure.

1947 (92)
Black Narcissus (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger)
Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur)
Le Diable au corps (Devil in the Flesh) (Claude Autant-Lara)
Monsieur Verdoux (Charles Chaplin)
The Record of a Tenement Gentleman (Yasujiro Ozu)
Crossfire (Edward Dmytryk)
Dead Reckoning (John Cromwell)
Monsieur Vincent (Maurice Cloche)
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (Joseph L. Mankiewicz)
Nightmare Alley (Edmund Goulding)
Angel and the Badman (James Edward Grant)
Life With Father (Michael Curtiz)

RUNNERS UP:
The Hucksters (Jack Conway)
Kiss of Death (Henry Hathaway)
Miracle on 34th Street (George Seaton)
Dark Passage (Delmer Daves)
Odd Man Out (Carol Reed)
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Norman Z. McLeod)
Body and Soul (Robert Rossen)
Born to Kill (Robert Wise)
T-Men (Anthony Mann)
Boomerang! (Elia Kazan)
Quai des Orfevres (Henri-Georges Clouzot)
The Pearl (Emilio Fernandez)
Brute Force (Jules Dassin)
The Private Life of a Cat (Alexander Hammid)
The Senator Was Indiscreet (George S. Kaufman)
Nicholas Nickleby (Cavalcanti)
Captain from Castile (Henry King)
The Farmer's Daughter (H.C. Potter)
The Red House (Delmer Daves)
Panique (Julien Duvivier)
Brighton Rock (John Boulting)

For the record: Antoine et Antionette (Jacques Becker); The Fugitive (John Ford); The Long Night (Anatole Litvak); Private Affairs of Bel Ami (Albert Lewin); Pursued (Raoul Walsh); Possessed (Curtis Bernhardt); The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (Irving Reis); A Double Life (George Cukor); The Egg and I (Chester Erskine); Railroaded! (Anthony Mann); They Made Me a Fugitive (Alberto Cavalcanti); Gentleman's Agreement (Elia Kazan); The Paradine Case (Alfred Hitchcock); A Double Life (George Cukor); The Bishop's Wife (Henry Koster); Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman (Stuart Heisler); Ride the Pink Horse (Robert Montgomery); etc.

To re-watch: They Made Me a Fugitive (Alberto Cavalcanti)

To see: Farrebique (Georges Rouquier); The Love of Sumako the Actress (Kenji Mizoguchi); Les Maudits (Rene Clement); Caccia tragica (The Tragic Hunt (Giuseppe De Santis); The Cage (Sidney Peterson); Vivere in pace (To Live in Peace) (Luigi Zampa); Spalicek (Jiri Trnka); The Unsuspected (Michael Curtiz); The Woman on the Beach (Jean Renoir); The Macomber Affair (Zoltan Korda); The Voice of the Turtle (Irving Rapper); Anjo-ke no butokai (Kozaburo Yoshimura); Joyu (Actress) (Teinosuke Kinugasa); Mad Wednesday (Preston Sturges); One Wonderful Sunday (Akira Kurosawa); Desperate (Anthony Mann); Lured (Douglas Sirk); Valahol Europaban (Geza von Radvanyi); Vesna (Spring) (Grigori Aleksandrov); Ba qian li lu yun he yue (Eight Thousand Li of Cloud and Moon) (Shi Dongshan)

In the queue: The Spring River Flows East (Chusheng Cai); Hue and Cry (Charles Crichton); Daisy Kenyon (Otto Preminger); Mourning Becomes Elektra (Dudley Nichols); The Bishop's Wife (Henry Koster; to re-watch)

VINTAGE RATING (1947): 8.5****

Note: Despite some A-class John Ford productions, Republic Studios will always be thought of as the maker of serials and 'b'-westerns. Among its A-/B+ ones, 'Angel and the Badman' with John Wayne and Gail Russell is undoubtedly the most intelligent and enjoyable. 'Monsieur Verdoux' and 'Monsieur Vincent' regrettably have titles so similar as to be confusing, yet both are exceptional and very different films. The first is Chaplin's famous black comedy about a widow murderer; the second is one of the best religious movies ever made, a serious but unsentimental French-made biopic about a few years in the life of St. Vincent De Paul. 'The Hucksters' (runner up) is a fun dig at the advertising game, though as a satire it suffers under the timid conventions of its studio, MGM. Nonetheless, it has Sydney Greenstreet at his most despicable, hocking a loogie to the disgust of all present to prove an advertising point. Claude Autant-Lara's 'Le Diable au corps' (Devil in the Flesh) reintroduces bedroom sex to the motion picture.

1948 (121) (Supreme Court's 'Paramount Decree' ends studio monopolies, hastens end of studio era)
The Red Shoes (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger)
The Bicycle Thief (Vittorio De Sica)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (John Huston)
Portrait of Jennie (William Dieterle)
Key Largo (John Huston)
Raw Deal (Anthony Mann)
The Winslow Boy (Anthony Asquith)
The Emperor's Nightingale (Jiri Trnka)
Fort Apache (John Ford)
Letter From an Unknown Woman (Max Ophuls)
Force of Evil (Abraham Polonsky)
Yellow Sky (William Wellman)
A Foreign Affair (Billy Wilder)
Apartment for Peggy (George Seaton)
Scott of the Antarctic (Charles Frend)

RUNNERS UP:
The Fallen Idol (Carol Reed)
Oliver Twist (David Lean)
The Lady from Shanghai (Orson Welles)
Rope (Alfred Hitchcock)
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (H.C. Potter)
Sitting Pretty (Walter Lang)
I Remember Mama (George Stevens)
Red River (Howard Hawks)
Wake of the Red Witch (Edward Ludwig)
Affaire Blum (The Blum Affair) (Erich Engel)
The Adventures of Don Juan (Vincent Sherman)
Pitfall (Andre de Toth)
La Terra Trema (Luchino Visconti)
State of the Union (Frank Capra)
They Live By Night (Nicholas Ray)
Louisiana Story (Robert Flaherty)
The Search (Fred Zinnemann)
The Naked City (Jules Dassin)
Hamlet (Laurence Olivier)
The Pirate (Vincente Minnelli)
He Walked By Night (Alfred L. Werker)
Berlin Express (Jacques Tourneur)
The Three Musketeers (George Sidney)
Words and Music (Norman Taurog)
Johnny Belinda (Jan Negulesco)
La Chartreuse de Parme (Charterhouse of Parma) (Christian-Jaque)
Act of Violence (Fred Zinnemann)
The Quiet One (Sidney Meyers)

For the record: Sleep, My Love (Douglas Sirk); Moonrise (Frank Borzage); The Big Clock (John Farrow); Call Northside 777 (Henry Hathaway); Drunken Angel (Akira Kurosawa); The Man From Colorado (Henry Levin); Germany Year Zero (Roberto Rossellini); Unfaithfully Yours (Preston Sturges); L'Amore (Roberto Rossellini); To the Ends of the Earth (Robert Stevenson); Border Street (Aleksander Ford)

To re-watch: Les Parents Terribles (Jean Cocteau)

To see: The Boy With Green Hair (Joseph Losey); Clochemerle (Pierre Chenal); L'Armoire volante (Carlo Rim); Le Diable boiteux (Sacha Guitry); Hachi No Su No Kodomo (Children of the Beehive) (Hiroshi Shimizu); Kalpana (Uday Shanka); Maclovia (Emilio Fernandez); Manniskor i stad (Arne Sucksdorff); Michurin (Aleksandr Dovzhenko); Molodaya gvardija (The Young Guard) (Sergei Gerasimov): The Village Teacher (Selskaya uchitelnitsa) (Mark Donskoi); Mother's Day (James Broughton); Der Apfel ist ab (Helmut Kautner); I Walk Alone (Byron Haskin); It Always Rains on Sunday (Robert Hamer); Rio escondido (Emilio Fernandez); Pueblerina (Emilio Fernandez); Senza pietà (Alberto Lattuada); Strange Victory (Leo Hurwitz); The Secret Beyond the Door (Fritz Lang); A Woman's Vengeance (Zoltan Korda); My Girl Tisa (Elliott Nugent); No Orchids for Miss Blandish (St. John Legh Clowes); Ostatni etap (The Last Stage) (Wanda Jakubowska); The Woman in White (Peter Godfrey)

In the queue: A Hen in the Wind (Yasujiro Ozu); Spring in a Small Town (Mu Fei); Women of the Night (Kenji Mizoguchi); The Street with No Name (William Keighley); On an Island with You (Richard Thorpe); Port of Call (Ingmar Bergman); The Time of Your Life (H.C.Potter); Bill and Coo (Dean Riesner); Dedee D'Anvers (Yves Allegret); Against the Wind (Charles Crichton); London Belongs to Me (Sidney Gilliat)

VINTAGE RATING (1948): 9.5*****

Note: I've reluctantly stuck some cinematic masterpieces into the runners-up list: Luchino Visconti's 'La terra trema' and David Lean's 'Oliver Twist.' These are two great films, worthy of the top list, but enjoyment plays a role in these rankings, and Visconti's film especially (a gritty neorealist docudrama about exploited Italian fisherman) could hardly be said to be "enjoyable."

1949 (111)
The Third Man (Carol Reed)
The Set-Up (Robert Wise)
Beyond the Forest (King Vidor)
Le Silence de la mer (Jean-Pierre Melville)
Kind Hearts and Coronets (Robert Hamer)
Twelve O'Clock High (Henry King)
Whisky Galore! (Alexander Mackendrick)
White Heat (Raoul Walsh)
Gun Crazy (Joseph H. Lewis)
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (John Ford)
Stray Dog (Akira Kurosawa)
On the Town (Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen)
The Heiress (William Wyler)
Song of the Prairie (Aire Prerie) (Jiri Trnka)

RUNNERS UP:
Champion (Mark Robson)
Thieves' Highway (Jules Dassin)
Under Capricorn (Alfred Hitchcock)
Christ in Concrete (Give Us This Day) (Edward Dmytryk)
The Big Steal (Don Siegel)
3 Godfathers (John Ford)
The Queen of Spades (Thorold Dickinson)
Manon (Henri-Georges Clouzot)
Passport to Pimlico (Henry Cornelius)
Une si jolie petite plage (Riptide) (Yves Allégret)
Dough for the Do-Do (Friz Freleng)
Jour de Fete (Jacques Tati)
The Small Back Room (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger)
Intruder in the Dust (Clarence Brown)
Home of the Brave (Mark Robson)
Adam's Rib (George Cukor)
Battleground (William Wellman)
I Was a Male War Bride (Howard Hawks)
The Inspector General (Henry Koster)
Jolson Sings Again (Henry Levin)
A Letter to Three Wives (Joseph Mankiewicz)
Trapped (Richard Fleischer)
Criss Cross (Robert Siodmak)
All the King's Men (Robert Rossen)
Pattes Blanches (Jean Gremillon)
Caught (Max Ophuls)
House of Strangers (Joseph L. Mankiewicz)
Le Sang des betes (Blood of the Beasts) (Georges Franju)
Prince of Foxes (Henry King)
Pinky (Elia Kazan)
The Stratton Story (Sam Wood)
The Window (Ted Tetzlaff)

For the record: Fabiola (Alessandro Blasetti); The Walls of Malapaga (Rene Clement); A Run for Your Money (Charles Frend); Crows and Sparrows (Junli Zheng); Flamingo Road (Michael Curtiz); Sands of Iwo Jima (Allan Dwan); Bitter Rice (Riso Amaro) (Giuseppe de Santis); Madame Bovary (Vincente Minnelli); I Was a Male War Bride (Howard Hawks); Christopher Columbus (David MacDonald); The Barkleys of Broadway (Charles Walters); The Adventures of Don Juan (Vincent Sherman); The Lead Shoes (Sidney Peterson); Pacific 231 (Jean Mitry); Christmas USA (Gregory Markopoulos)

To see: Le point du jour (Louis Daquin); Occupe-toi d'Amelie (Claude Autant-Lara); Follow Me Quietly (Richard Fleischer); The Great Madcap (Luis Buñuel); Andaz (Mehboob Khan); Barsaat (Raj Kapoor); Whirlpool (Otto Preminger); Border Incident (Anthony Mann); Come to the Stable (Henry Koster); Everybody Does It (Edmund Goulding); The Secret Garden (Fred M. Wilcox); Colorado Territory (Raoul Walsh); The Green Promise (William D. Russell); It Happens Every Spring (Lloyd Bacon); Amants de Verone (Andre Cayatte); Maneges (Yves Allegret); Rendez-vous de juillet (Jacques Becker); Bara en mor (Only a Mother) (Alf Sjoberg); In nome della legge (In the Name of the Law) (Pietro Germi); La Balandra Isabel llego esta tarde (Carlos Hugo Christensen); Il Mulino del Po (The Mill on the Po) (Alberto Lattuada); Cossacks of the Kuban (Ivan Pyryev); La vie commence demain (Nicole Vedres); Sons of Matthew (Charles Chauvel); Padeniye Berlina (The Fall of Berlin (Mikheil Chiaureli); The Last Days of Dolwyn (Emlyn Williams); Lost Boundaries (Alfred L. Werker); Obsession (The Hidden Room) (Edward Dmytryk); The Threat (Felix E. Feist); The Beautiful Blonde From Bashful Bend (Preston Sturges); Portrait d'un assassin (Bernard-Roland); Akademik Ivan Pavlov (Grigori Roshal); Dom na pustkowiu (House of the Wastelands) (Jan Rybkowski)

In the queue: The Reckless Moment (Max Ophuls); Flame of My Love (Kenji Mizoguchi); The Quiet Duel (Akira Kurosawa); The Hasty Heart (Vincent Sherman); Late Spring (Yasujiro Ozu; to re-watch); Reign of Terror (Anthony Mann); Quartet (Ken Annakin, et. al./to re-watch); Alias Nick Beal (John Farrow)

VINTAGE RATING (1949): 9****

Note: 'Song of the Prairie' is a hilarious short spoof of singing-cowbody westerns, using puppet animation by the Czech master Jiri Trnka. 'Fabiola' ('I saw it, but...) was a long-time wish-list item that disappointed on recent viewing, though not because of its impressive art direction, convincing brutality and colisseum atrocities. The film's labyrithine, trudgingly slow plot intrigues are self defeating and wearying. Joseph Mankiewicz's cleverly structured adultery tale, 'A Letter to Three Wives,' is strangely hard to engage--maybe too smart for its own good--yet fascinating with its overly intelligent dialogue that plays like practice for his upcoming 'All About Eve'. Olivia De Havilland's revelatory acting in the latter half of 'The Heiress', in my opinion, marks the beginning of 'modern', understated film performance styles. You have to give Hollywood some credit as a force for good in 1949, releasing at least three major studio films attacking racial prejudice in the USA: 'Pinky,' 'Intruder in the Dust' and 'Home of the Brave' (all runners up). The first, closer to a traditional soaper like 'Imitation of Life,' is the least interesting, but the latter two, IMO, are better than 1962's feted 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' All three films feature possibly the first truly dignified, three-dimensional roles for African-Americans in Hollywood film: for Ethel Waters, Juano Hernandez and James Edwards. Baseball and Hollywood, America's favorite pastimes, were ahead of the rest of society.

1950 (97) (Kurosawa's Rashomon introduces Japanese cinema to West; Eastmancolor introduced)
All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz)
Sunset Blvd.
(Billy Wilder)
The Gunfighter
(Henry King)
Rashomon
(Akira Kurosawa)
In a Lonely Place
(Nicholas Ray)
The Asphalt Jungle
(John Huston)
Night and the City
(Jules Dassin)
Story of a Love Affair (Cronaca di un amore)
(Michelangelo Antonioni)
Los Olvidados
(Luis Bunuel)
Orpheus
(Jean Cocteau)
The Happiest Days of Your Life
(Frank Launder)

RUNNERS UP:
Flowers of St. Francis (Roberto Rossellini)
Spiegel van Holland (Mirror of Holland) (Bert Haanstra)
Broken Arrow (Delmer Daves)
Born Yesterday (George Cukor)
Aventurera (Alberto Gout)
Les enfants terribles (Jean-Pierre Melville)
The Rocking Horse Winner (Anthony Pelissier)
Cyrano de Bergerac (Michael Gordon)
The Breaking Point (Michael Curtiz)
Union Station (Rudolph Mate)
Champagne for Caesar (Richard Whorf)
The Blue Lamp (Basil Dearden)
Caged (John Cromwell)
Young Man with a Horn (Michael Curtiz)
Father of the Bride (Vincente Minnelli)
The Wooden Horse (Jack Lee)
Three Little Words (Richard Thorpe)
The Men (Fred Zinnemann)
Winchester '73 (Anthony Mann)
Mister 880 (Edmund Goulding)
Panic in the Streets (Elia Kazan)
To Joy (Ingmar Bergman)
La Ronde (Max Ophuls)
Stars in My Crown (Jacques Tourneur)

For the record: Le beaute du diable (Rene Clair); Outrage (Ida Lupino); Summer Stock (Charles Walters); King Solomon’s Mines (Compton Bennett); Three Came Home (Jean Negulesco); Crisis (Richard Brooks); Key to the City (George Sidney); Cinderella (Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Clyde Geronimi); Destination Moon (Irving Pichel); D.O.A. (Rudolph Mate); Kon-Tiki (Thor Heyerdahl, Olle Nordemar); Harvey (Henry Koster); Annie Get Your Gun (George Sidney); Treasure Island (Byron Haskin)

To re-watch: Stromboli (Roberto Rossellini); Wagonmaster (John Ford); No Way Out (Joseph L. Mankiewicz); Seven Days to Noon (John & Roy Boulting); Scandal (Akira Kurosawa); Kim (Victor Saville); Stage Fright (Alfred Hitchcock)

To see: No Sad Songs for Me (Rudolph Maté); Domenica d'agosto (Luciano Emmer); Scandal (Akira Kurosawa); Side Street (Anthony Mann); House by the River (Fritz Lang); Try and Get Me! (The Sound and the Fury) (Cy Endfield); The Damned Don't Cry (Vincent Sherman); No Man of Her Own (Mitchell Leisen); Mussorgsky (Musorgskiy) (Grigori Roshal); Justice est faite (André Cayatte); The Angel with the Trumpet (Anthony Bushell); Bajaja (Prince Bayaya) (Jiri Trnka); Chinnamul (The Uprooted) (Nemai Ghosh); Darah dan Doa (The Long March) (Usmar Ismail); Dieu a besoin des hommes (Jean Delannoy); Dona Perfecta (Alejandro Galindo); Flicka och hyacinter (Hasse Ekman); The Lawless (Joseph Losey); The Magnet (Charles Frend); Mata au hi made (Tadashi Imai); Miquette (Henri-Georges Clouzot); Morning Departure (Roy Ward Baker); Non c'e pace tra gli ulivi (No Peace Among the Olives) (Giuseppe De Santis); Por la puerta falsa (Fernando de Fuentes); Prelude to Fame (Fergus McDonnell); Prima comunione (Alessandro Blasetti); El Rey del barrio (Gilberto Martinez Solares); The Titan: Story of Michelangelo (Curt Oertel (original footage), Robert Flaherty); Trio (Ken Annakin, Harold French); Wabash Avenue (Henry Koster); Wu Xun zhuan (The Life of Wu Xun (Sun Yu); Miasto nieujarzmione (Unvanquished City) (Jerzy Zarzycki)

In the queue: The Furies (Anthony Mann); Un Chant d'Armour (Jean Genet); Distant Journey (Daleka cesta) (Alfred Radok); The Muneketa Sisters (Yasujiro Ozu); Portrait of Madame Yuki (Kenji Mizoguchi); Flame and the Arrow (Jacques Tourneur); Variety Lights (Federico Fellini, Alberto Lattuada); The Last Holiday (Henry Cass); Where the Sidewalk Ends (Otto Preminger); So Long at the Fair (Antony Darnborough, Terence Fisher); The Woman in Question (Anthony Asquith); Madeleine (David Lean); Mystery Street (John Sturges); The Mudlark (Jean Negulesco); Daleka cesta (Distant Journey) (Alfred Radok); Odette (Herbert Wilcox)

VINTAGE RATING (1950): 9.5*****

Note: Two international landmarks: 'Rashomon' and 'Los Olivdados,' each marking the beginning of world fame for two directorial greats (Kurosawa and Bunuel) and three of Hollywood's best ('All About Eve,' 'Sunset Blvd.,' and 'The Asphalt Jungle') as well as many strong cult favorites round out an eclectic and very strong year. Roberto Rossellini's 'Flowers of St. Francis' (runner up) threatens to be one of those earthy, austere foreign dramas that everyone dreads, but eventually wins you over by rounding out its religious characters with humor and moments of slice-of-life honesty--leading to one of the most beautiful endings in all of cinema. It's sure as hell a lot more fun than Robert Bresson's dispassionate and challenging 'Diary of a Country Priest,' which is nonetheless also one of the greatest of all religious-themed movies.

1951 (96)
Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock)
The Lavender Hill Mob (Charles Crichton)
Ace in the Hole (The Big Carnival) (Billy Wilder)
Death of a Salesman (Laslo Benedek)
Miss Julie (Alf Sjoberg)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (Robert Wise)
The Red Badge of Courage (John Huston)
Royal Wedding (Stanley Donen)
Susana (Luis Bunuel)
Bullfighter and the Lady (Budd Boetticher)

RUNNERS UP:
The Man in the White Suit (Alexander Mackendrick)
A Streetcar Named Desire (Elia Kazan)
An American in Paris (Vincente Minnelli)
The River (Jean Renoir)
The Steel Helmet (Samuel Fuller)
Diary of a Country Priest (Robert Bresson)
Fourteen Hours (Henry Hathaway)
The African Queen (John Huston)
Hakuchi (The Idiot) (Akira Kurosawa)
Detective Story (William Wyler)
The Enforcer (Bretaigne Windust, Raoul Walsh)
Pandora and the Flying Duchman (Albert Lewin)
A Place in the Sun (George Stevens)
Symphony in Slang (Tex Avery)
Vesely cirkus (A Merry Circus) (Jiri Trnka)
Early Summer (Yasujiro Ozu)
Quo Vadis (Mervyn LeRoy)
The Tall Target (Anthony Mann)
The Desert Fox (Henry Hathaway)
Der Untertan (Wolfgang Staudte)
Fixed Bayonets! (Samuel Fuller)
Summer Interlude (Ingmar Bergman)
Awaara (Raj Kapoor)
Cry Danger (Robert Parrish)
Scrooge (Brian Desmond Hurst)
When Worlds Collide (liftoff scene) (Rudolph Mate)

For the record: The Browning Version (Anthony Asquith); Miracle in Milan (Vittorio De Sica); Alice in Wonderland (Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske); The Medium (Gian Carlo Menotti); Show Boat (George Sidney); The Tales of Hoffmann (Michael Powell; Emeric Pressburger); Der Verlorene (The Lost One) (Peter Lorre); The Thing From Another World (Christian Nyby); Father's Little Dividend (Vincente Minnelli); The Great Caruso (Richard Thorpe)

To see: Edouard et Caroline (Jacques Becker); Olivia (The Pit of Loneliness) (Jacqueline Audry); Four in a Jeep (Die Vier im Jeep) Leopold Lindtberg, Elizabeth Montagu); Hard, Fast and Beautiful (Ida Lupino); Circle of Danger (Jacques Tourneur); He Ran All the Way (John Berry); The Prowler (Joseph Losey); His Kind of Woman (John Farrow); Baazi (Guru Dutt); The Brave Bulls (Robert Rossen); La Citte si difende (Pietro Germi); Crimen y castigo (Fernando de Fuentes); Decision Before Dawn (Anatole Litvak); Dokkoi ikiteiru (And Yet We Live) (Tadashi Imai); Guardie e ladri (Cops and Robbers) (Mario Monicelli); Genji monogatari (Kozaburo Yoshimura); Hon dansade en sommar (One Summer of Happiness) (Arne Mattsson); Karumen kokyo ni kaeru (Carmen Comes Home) (Keisuke Kinoshita); Dr. Knock (Guy Lefranc); The Mating Season (Mitchell Leisen); Patala Bhairavi (Kadri Venkata Reddy); People Will Talk (Joseph L. Mankiewicz); Sensualidad (Alberto Gout); El Suavecito (Fernando Mendez); Surcos (Jose Antonio Nieves Conde); Topaze (Marcel Pagnol); Taras Shevchenko (Aleksandr Alov, et. al.); Teresa (Fred Zinnemann); Tom Brown's Schooldays (Gordon Parry); Victimas del pecado (Emilio Fernandez); The Well (Leo C. Popkin, Russell Rouse); Die Sunderin (Willi Forst)

In the queue: The Red Inn (L'auberge rouge) (Claude Autant-Lara); Miss Oyu (Kenji Mizoguchi); La nuit est mon royaume (Night is my Kingdom) (Georges Lacombe); Meshi (Repast) (Mikio Naruse); The Lady of Musashino (Mushashino fujin) (Kenji Mizoguchi); Bellissima (Luchino Visconti); Laughter in Paradise (Mario Zampi); On the Riviera (Walter Lang); The White Sheik (Federico Fellini); Five (Arch Oboler); Vengeance Valley (Richard Thorpe); Follow the Sun (Sidney Lanfield); Distant Drums (Raoul Walsh); Il Cristo proibito (The Forbidden Christ (Curzio Malaparte); Day of the Fight (Stanley Kubrick)

VINTAGE RATING (1951): 8.5****

Notes: I can't honestly say I enjoyed Wolfgang Staudte's astute postwar German satire 'Der Untertan' (runner up) as much as I greatly admired it. Yet that admiration is substantial, the film subtly and mercilessly satirizes the nationalistic, opportunistic and hypocritical German Right-wing mindset that led to the disasters of WWs I and II. And it's very frank in the process about its protagonist's mercenary sexuality. Similarly, honesty forces me to admit fidgetyness while sitting through Yasujiro Ozu's meticulous family portrait, 'Early Summer' (runner up), even though it may be the year's most sublime film. Billy Wilder's 'Ace in the Hole' (aka, 'The Big Carnival')--long inexplicably MIA (though I had seen it on late-night TV ages ago)--finally comes to home video (DVD). Based on the Floyd Collins cave tragedy of the '20s, it is one of the cinema's most acid-laced attacks on cynical journalism, and one of the handful of Hollywood movies ('Patterns,' 'A Face in the Crowd,' 'A King in New York', etc.) made during the capitalistic go-go '50s that questioned public tastes and the ethos of the almighty dollar. Appropriately, its desert setting mirrors the reporter's aimlessless moral compass and arid bankruptcy of the soul. Overreliance on studio back projection swamps John Huston's 'The African Queen' (runner up); even so, the film's fine script, humor and chemistry between Bogie and K. Hepburn help sustain its reputation as a classic. A sea of all-white folks board the spaceship ark to save the human race in the dodgy sci-fi entry 'When Worlds Collide,' which must make it a KKKer's dream film. The liftoff scene (where the baddie gets his) is great, though.

1952 (94)
Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa)
Umberto D (Vittorio De Sica)
Singin' in the Rain
(Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen)
The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (Yasujiro Ozu)
5 Fingers
(Joseph Mankiewicz)
The Marrying Kind (George Cukor)
The Life of Oharu
(Kenji Mizoguchi)
Carrie (William Wyler)
The Tragedy of Othello (Orson Welles)
Limelight (Charles Chaplin)
The Importance of Being Earnest (Anthony Asquith)
Feed the Kitty (Chuck Jones)

RUNNERS UP:
The Happy Time (Richard Fleischer)
The Quiet Man (John Ford)
The Big Sky (Howard Hawks)
The Member of the Wedding (Fred Zinnemann)
Outcast of the Islands (Carol Reed)
Operation: Rabbit (Chuck Jones)
Million Dollar Mermaid (Mervyn Leroy)
Mother (Okasan) (Mikio Naruse)
The Bad and the Beautiful (Vincente Minnelli)
Neighbours (Norman McLaren)
Children of Hiroshima (Children of the Atom Bomb) (Kaneto Shindo)
Come Back, Little Sheba (Daniel Mann)
Angel Face (Otto Preminger)
On Dangerous Ground (Nicholas Ray)
High Noon (Fred Zinnemann)
The Crimson Pirate (Robert Siodmak)
Beware, My Lovely (Harry Horner)
Viva Zapata! (Elia Kazan)
Moulin Rouge (John Huston)

For the record: Le Plaisir (Max Ophuls); The Greatest Show on Earth (Cecil B. DeMille); Ivanhoe (Richard Thorpe); Moulin Rouge (John Huston); Pat and Mike (George Cukor); Fanfan la Tulipe (Christian-Jaque); Europa '51 (Roberto Rossellini); Bend of the River (Anthony Mann); Androcles and the Lion (Chester Erskine); Son of Paleface (Frank Tashlin); The Thief (Russell Rouse); Lovely to Look At (Mervyn LeRoy); Belles on Their Toes (Henry Levin); Plymouth Adventure (Clarence Brown); The Belle of New York (Charles Walters); Bells of Atlantis (Ian Hugo)

To re-watch: The Outcast of the Islands (Carol Reed); Casque d'or (Jacques Becker); The Golden Coach (Le carrosse d'or) (Jean Renoir); Ivanhoe (Richard Thorpe); Forbidden Games (Rene Clement); O. Henry's Full House (Henry Hathaway, Howard Hawks, et. al.); Scaramouche (George Sidney); Cry the Beloved Country (Zoltan Korda)

To see: The Four-Poster (Irving Reis); The White Reindeer (Erik Blomberg); Ruby Gentry (King Vidor); Due soldi di speranza (Two Cents Worth of Hope) (Renato Castellani); Hotel des Invalides (Georges Franju); Mexican Bus Ride (Luis Bunuel); Processo alla citta (The City Stands Trial) (Luigi Zampa); Waiting Women (Ingmar Bergman); Scandal Sheet (Phil Karlson); The Overcoat (Alberto Lattuada); Rimsky-Korsakov (Grigori Roshal); Glinka (Grigori Aleksandrov); Nous sommes tous des assassins (We Are All Murderers) (Andre Cayatte); Aan (Savage Princess)(Mehboob Khan); Las aguas bajan turbias (Dark River) (Hugo del Carril); Amei um bicheiro (Jorge Ileli, Paulo Wanderley); Amore rosso (Aldo Vergano); The Shepherdess and the Chimneysweep (Paul Grimault); O Canto da Saudade (The Longing Corner) (Humberto Mauro); Carnaval Atlantida (Jose Carlos Burle); Daibutsu Kaigen (Teinosuke Kinugasa); Diplomatic Courier (Henry Hathaway); Frauenschicksale (The Destinies of Women) (Slatan Dudow); Jaal (The Net) (Guru Dutt); Karumen junjo su (Carmen's Pure Love) (Keisuke Kinoshita); Liuhao men (Gate No. 6) (Liu Pan); La Macchina Ammazzacattivi (The Machine That Kills Bad People) (Roberto Rossellini); Mandy (Alexander Mackendrick); Manon des sources (Marcel Pagnol); Meet Me Tonight (Tonight at 8:30) (Anthony Pelissier); Mlodosc Chopina (Aleksander Ford); Nagarik (The Citizen) (Ritwik Ghatak); Nishijin no shimai (Sisters of Nishijin) (Kozaburo Yoshimura); Parasakthi (The Goddess) (Krishnan-Panju); The Pickwick Papers (Noel Langley); El Rebozo de Soledad (Roberto Gavaldon): Un Rincon cerca del cielo (Rogelio A. Gonzalez); Rome, Eleven O'Clock (Giuseppe De Santis); The Seven Deadly Sins (Yves Allegret, et. al.); Snegurochka (The Snow Maiden) (Ivan Ivanov-Vano); La verite sur Bebe Donge (The Truth of Our Marriage) (Henri Decoin); The Return of Vasili Bortnikov (V.I. Pudovkin); Where's Charley? (David Butler); With a Song in My Heart (Walter Lang); Without Warning! (Arnold Laven); Yi ban zhi ge (The Dividing Wall) (Zhu Shilin); O Canto do Mar (Song of the Sea) (Alberto Cavalcanti)

In the queue: The Lusty Men (Nicholas Ray); Park Row (Samuel Fuller); Fanfan la tulipe (Christian-Jaque); Don Camillo (Julien Duvivier); Il Cappotto (Alberto Lattuada); Two Cents Worth of Hope (Renato Castellani); Le Fruit defendu (Forbidden Fruit) (Henri Verneuil); Rancho Notorious (Fritz Lang); A Woman Without Love (Luis Bunuel); The Card (Ronald Neame); Secrets of Women (Ingmar Bergman); Sudden Fear (David Miller); The Sniper (Edward Dmytryk); Down Among the Z Men (Maclean Rogers); Forbidden Games (Rene Clement); The Narrow Margin (Richard Fleischer; to re-watch); The Magic Box (John Boulting); Clash By Night (Fritz Lang); Monkey Business (Howard Hawks); The Sound Barrier (David Lean); Hunted (Charles Crichton)

VINTAGE RATING (1952): 8.5****

Note: Akira Kurosawa's 'Ikiru' and Vittorio De Sica's 'Umberto D' are devastating humanist masterpieces about the loneliness and hardships of old age. They are cinematic mountains to climb, very heavy stuff, but tremendously rewarding and certain to make a dent in anyone's Kleenex box. Almost as touching, and a lot more funny, is 'Feed the Kitty,' the Chuck Jones classic cartoon about Marc Antony the bulldog and his irresistibly adorable kitten.
'Carrie'--William Wyler's overlooked adaptation of Theodore Dreiser's novel 'Sister Carrie'--is something of a revelation. The skittish studio--too afraid to show anything critical of life in the USA during the height of McCarthyite hysteria--cut a scene in which Lawrence Olivier's downtrodden character flops for the night in a mission house. The scene since has been restored and the movie is a powerful corrective to all the "love conquers all" movie myths; in fact, love here is shown as self destructive when pitted against more powerful societal expectations. It ends perfectly--unresolved, and without a sense of hope. 'Operation: Rabbit' (runner up) brings Bugs Bunny and Wile E. Coyote together for one of the more formidable faceoffs in Warner cartoons; the coyote's arrogant spoken boasts and Mel Blanc's exceptional vocal acting make this one of the funniest of Chuck Jones' Warner cartoons. Carol Reed's 'Outcast of the Islands' used to air all the time on Channel 15 and is now impossible to find. The haunting ending is etched in my brain but the rest of the film was too sophisticated for me at the time; I suspect a full viewing today would be rewarding. 'Viva Zapata!'--a film I used to be crazy about--took a tumble in a recent viewing. I find my tolerance lessened for Marlon Brando in the miscast central role; thinking his robust, ethnically flexible co-star Anthony Quinn would have been better as Zapata.

1953 (105) (MGM musicals reach quality peak with The Band Wagon; widescreen era begins)
The Wages of Fear (Le Salaire de la peur) (H.G. Clouzot)
Gan (The Mistress)
(Shiro Toyoda)
Det Stora Aventyret (The Great Adventure)
(Arne Sucksdorff)
The Band Wagon
(Vincente Minnelli)
El (Luis Bunuel)
A Geisha (Gion bayashi) (Kenji Mizoguchi)
The Cruel Sea
(Charles Frend)
Genevieve
(Henry Cornelius)
I Vitelloni
(Federico Fellini)
Stalag 17
(Billy Wilder)
Martin Luther
(Irving Pichel)
The Big Heat
(Fritz Lang)
Roman Holiday
(William Wyler)
Tokyo Story
(Yasujiro Ozu)

RUNNERS UP:
The Titfield Thunderbolt (Charles Crichton)
Sawdust and Tinsel (Ingmar Bergman)
Ugetsu monogatari (Kenji Mizoguchi)
Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2th Century (Chuck Jones)
Kiss Me Kate (George Sidney)
Lili (Charles Walters)
Beat the Devil (John Huston)
Grisbi (Jacques Becker)
Gate of Hell (Teinosuke Kinugasa)
Hondo (John Farrow)
O Dreamland (Lindsay Anderson)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Howard Hawks)
The Naked Spur (Anthony Mann)
The Moon is Blue (Otto Preminger)
The Little Fugitive (Morris Engel)
Inferno (Roy Ward Baker)
Shane (George Stevens)
Peter Pan (Hamilton Luske, et. al.)
Pickup on South Street (Samuel Fuller)
Sadko (Alexander Ptushko)
House of Wax (Andre de Toth)
The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (Roy Rowland)
Niagara (Henry Hathaway)
Julius Caesar (Joseph Mankiewicz)
The Bigamist (Ida Lupino)
It Came From Outer Space (Jack Arnold)
The Sun Shines Bright (John Ford)
The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (Eugene Lourie)

For the record: Madame De (Max Ophuls); Les Orgueilleux (The Proud Ones) (Yves Allegret); From Here to Eternity (Fred Zinnemann); I Confess (Alfred Hitchcock); Monsieur Hulot's Holiday (Jacques Tati); The Hitch-Hiker (Ida Lupino); The Blue Gardenia (Fritz Lang); The Wild One (Laslo Benedek); Invaders From Mars (William Cameron Menzies); How to Marry a Millionaire (Jean Negulesco); The Man Between (Carol Reed); Crin-Blanc (White Mane) (Albert Lamorisse); The Robe (Henry Koster); Battle Circus (Richard Brooks); Battle Circus (Richard Brooks); Houdini (George Marshall); The War of the Worlds (Byron Haskin); Mogambo (John Ford); Calamity Jane (David Butler); The Captain's Paradise (Anthony Kimmins); Salome (William Dieterle); Robot Monster (Phil Tucker); Glen or Glenda (Ed Wood); The Magnetic Monster (Curt Siodmak); The Living Desert (James Algar); The Long, Long Trailer (Vincente Minnelli)

To re-watch: Voyage in Italy (Roberto Rossellini); Inferno (Roy Ward Baker); Call Me Madam (Walter Lang)

To see: The Conquest of Everest (George Lowe); O Cangaceiro (The Bandit) (Lima Barreto); Dos tipos de cuidado (Ismael Rodriguez); The Glass Web (Jack Arnold); The Actress (George Cukor); Take Me to Town (Douglas Sirk); All I Desire (Douglas Sirk); 99 River Street (Phil Karlson); Aah (Raja Nawathe); Agulha no Palheiro (Needle in the Haystack) (Alex Viany); All My Babies (George Stoney); Anatahan (Josef Von Sternberg); Avvaiyyar (Kothamangalam Subbu); The Beggar's Opera (Peter Brook); The End (Christopher Maclaine); Entotsu no mieru basho (Where Chimneys are Seen) (Heinosuke Gosho); Espaldas mojadas (Alejandro Galindo); Harimau Tjampa (The Tiger From Tjampa) (D. Djajakusuma); Himeyuri no to (The Tower of Lilies) (Tadashi Imai); I, the Jury (Harry Essex); Karlekens brod (The Bread of Love) (Arne Mattsson); Kanikosen (The Crab-Canning Ship) (So Yamamura); Kidnappers (The Little Kidnappers) (Philip Leacock); Murder Without Tears (William Beaudine); Nihon no higeki (A Japanese Tragedy) (Keisuke Kinoshita); Onna hitori daichi o iku (A Woman Walks the Earth Alone) (Fumio Kamei); Pane, amore e fantasia (Bread, Love and Dreams) (Luigi Comencini); The Pleasure Garden (James Broughton); La Provinciale (The Wayward Wife) (Mario Soldati); Pu-san (Kon Ichikawa); La Red (Emilio Fernandez); Le Rideau cramoisi (The Crimson Curtain) (Alexandre Astruc); Rue de l'estrapade (Francoise Steps Out) (Jacques Becker); Sie fanden eine Heimat (Leopold Lindtberg); La signora senze camelie (The Lady Without Camelias) (Michelangelo Antonioni); Sinha Moca (Tom Payne, Oswaldo Sampaio); Summer With Monika (Ingmar Bergman); Stare Povesti Ceske (Old Czech Legends) (Jiri Trnka); The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan (Sidney Gilliat); The Sword and the Rose (Ken Annakin); Therese Raquin (Marcel Carne); Tsuma (Wife) (Mikio Naruse); Weilou chunxiao (In the Face of Demolition) (Lee Tit); World Without End (Paul Rotha, Basil Wright); Yoake mae (Before Dawn) (Kozaburo Yoshimura); The Heart of the Matter (George More O'Ferrall); L'amour d'une femme (The Love of a Woman) (Jean Gremillon); Lewat Djam Malam (After the Curfew) (Usmar Ismail); Nigorie (Muddy Waters) (Tadashi Imai)

In the queue: L'amore in citta (Fellini, Antonioni, Lattuada, Risi, etc); Bienvenido Mister Marshall (Luis Garcia Berlanga); Older Brother, Younger Sister (Ani Imoto) (Mikio Naruse); El Bruto (Luis Bunuel); Titanic (Jean Negulesco); Bo Bigha Zamin (Two Acres of Land) (Bimal Roy); The Tell-Tale Heart (Ted Parmelee)

VINTAGE RATING (1953): 8.5****

Note: There's hardly anything more enjoyable than a good British naval drama, and 'The Cruel Sea'--set in the Atlantic in WWII--is arguably the best (and certainly my favorite). In another Brit classic, 'Genevieve', marital spats punctuate a genteel cross-country road race. The result is a whimsical, lovely comedy that put the Rank Organisation in the same artistic league as the Ealing studios.
A cruel sea stirred by an atomic blast spit a thawed monster onto the streets of New York in 'The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms' (runner up), the first of the '50s giant-monsters pics and a cherished memory from the days of TV's "Fright Night." 'House of Wax' and 'It Came From Outer Space,' which I saw at the Showcase Cinemas and Vogue Theatre respectively in the late '70s in revivals in the original 3-D process, proved the lameness of simple color filter '3-D' as an effect and the headache-inducing annoyance of the glasses themselves. The films work fairly well without the process, though both are much better on the big screen. 'Hondo' with John Wayne is a virtual copycat of 'Shane' in several key ways. Even so I prefer the Farrow film over the more famous Stevens classic, probably because it's less self important and because the kid in the Wayne film is less annoying than Brandon DeWilde. It pains me to put something as great as Ingmar Bergman's dark, pessimistic circus-set character drama, 'Sawdust and Tinsel,' into the runners-up listing, but we're dealing in miniscule delineations of preference here, and the cutoff has to begin somewhere. Needless to say, it's not the feel-good movie of the year. Most criticism of Otto Preminger's notorious 'The Moon is Blue' (runner up) (first movie to joke (mildly) about virginity) seems to focus on people's disappointment when they find it's not really saucy at all. Still, it's a good, breezy modern romantic comedy. The glaring omission here is 'From Here to Eternity,' a soaper that now seems to me to be unimpressively ordinary. I still find myself trying to warm up to Samuel Fuller's 'Pickup on South Street' (runner up), a good noirish thriller that nonetheless creeps me out for its unabashed anti-commie paranoia (even an apolitical slimey street thug can be a good American as long as he parrots the McCarthyite line by the last reel). Or maybe Fuller is making a darker statement about the American mentality. I'll have to cogitate on it.

1954 (113)
The Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa)
Sansho the Bailiff (Kenji Mizoguchi)
Hobson's Choice (David Lean)
A Star is Born (George Cukor)
Samurai I (Miyamoto Musashi) (Hiroshi Inagaki)
Salt of the Earth (Herbert Biberman)
Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock)
Sabrina (Billy Wilder)
Crime Wave
(Andre de Toth)
Executive Suite (Robert Wise)
A Time Out of War (Denis Sanders)
The Devil's General (Des Teufels General) (Helmut Kautner)

RUNNERS UP:
La Strada (Federico Fellini)
Demetrius and the Gladiators (Delmer Daves)
Chikamatsu monogatari (The Crucified Lovers) (Kenji Mizoguchi)
On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan)
Magnificent Obsession (Douglas Sirk)
An Inspector Calls (Guy Hamilton)
Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray)
Apache (Robert Aldrich)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Stanley Donen)
Father Brown, Detective (Robert Hamer)
Twenty-Four Eyes (Keisuke Kinoshita)
The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (Luis Bunuel)
The Miracle of Marcelino (Ladislao Vajda)
A Generation (Andrzej Wajda)
Animal Farm (Joy Batchelor, John Halas)
Beau Brummell (Curtis Bernhardt)
Richard III (Laurence Olivier)
The Caine Mutiny (Edward Dmytryk)
The Maggie (Alexander Mackendrick)
Susan Slept Here (Frank Tashlin)
It Should Happen to You (George Cukor)
Them! (Gordon Douglas)
The Barefoot Contessa (Joseph L. Mankiewicz)
Track of the Cat (William Wellman)
Doctor in the House (Ralph Thomas)

For the record: Broken Lance (Edward Dymtryk); The Country Girl (George Seaton); The Dam Busters (Michael Anderson); This Island Earth (Joseph M. Newman); Tiefland (Leni Riefenstahl); Vera Cruz (Robert Aldrich); Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (Richard Fleischer); Dial M For Murder (Alfred Hitchcock); Godzilla (Ishirô Honda); Riot in Cell Block 11 (Don Siegel); Suddenly (Lewis Allen); The Bridges at Toko-Ri (Mark Robson); There's No Business Like Show Business (Walter Lang); Five Boys From Barska Street (Aleksander Ford); Die Letzte Brucke (The Last Bridge) (Helmut Kautner); Brigadoon (Vincente Minnelli); Creature from the Black Lagoon (Jack Arnold); The Far Country (Anthony Mann); Three Coins in the Fountain (Jean Negulesco); Ulysses (Mario Camerini); White Christmas (Michael Curtiz); Desistfilm (Stan Brakhage); A Lesson in Love (Ingmar Bergman); River of No Return (Otto Preminger); The Glenn Miller Story (Anthony Mann); Knock On Wood (Norman Panama, Melvin Frank)

To re-watch: Golden Demon (Koji Shima); Carmen Jones (Otto Preminger); The High and the Mighty (William Wellman); Knock On Wood (Norman Panama, Melvin Frank)

To see: Fear (La paura) (Roberto Rossellini); Thursday's Children (Lindsay Anderson); The Divided Heart (Charles Crichton); Black Tuesday (Hugo Fregonese); Illusion Travels by Streetcar (Luis Buñuel); Pushover (Richard Quine); The Woman in the Rumor (Kenji Mizoguchi); Sleeping Tiger (Joseph Losey); Private Hell 36 (Don Siegel); Taza, Son of Cochise (Douglas Sirk); Rogue Cop (Roy Rowland); Aar Paar (Guru Dutt); Amar (Mehboob Khan); El wahsh (The Monster) (Salah Abouseif); Anna Na Shee (Anna Around the Neck) (Isidor Annensky); Avant le deluge (Before the Deluge) (Andre Cayatte); Il Cardinale Lambertini (Giorgio Pastina); Carosello napoletano (Ettore Giannini); Celuloza (A Night of Remembrance) (Jerzy Kawalerowicz); Cronache di poveri amanti (Chronicle of Poor Lovers) (Carlo Lizzani); Le defroque (Leo Joannon); Eletjel (Fourteen Lives) (Zoltan Fabri); Forever Female (Irving Rapper); Hendes store aften (Annelise Reenberg); Les impures (Pierre Chevalier); Jagriti (The Awakening) (Satyen Bose); Kyriakatiko xypnima (Windfall in Athens) (Michael Cacoyannis); Letters from My Windmill (Marcel Pagnol); Liang Shanba yu Zhu Yingtai (Sang Hu, Hu Sha); Das Lied der Strome (Song of the Rivers) (Joris Ivens); Matar ou Correr (To Kill or to Run) (Carlos Manga); Monsieur Ripois (Knave of Hearts) (Rene Clement); Le mouton a cinq pattes (The Sheep Has Five Legs) (Henri Verneuil); La mujer de las camelias (Ernesto Arancibia); Munna (The Lost Child) (Khwaja Ahmad Abbas); The Naked Jungle (Byron Haskin); L'oro di Napoli (Gold of Naples) (Vittorio De Sica); Osaka no yado (An Inn at Osaka) (Heinosuke Gosho); Pod gwiazda frygijska (Under the Phrygian Star) (Jerzy Kawalerowicz); Qiao qian zhi xi (The House-warming) (Shilin Zhu); Raices (Roots) (Benito Alazraki); The Raid (Hugo Fregonese); Romeo and Juliet (Renato Castellani); Si Versailles m'etait conte (Affairs in Versailles) (Sacha Guitry); Siraa Fil-Wadi (Struggle in the Valley) (Youssef Chahine); Starker als die Nacht (Stronger Than the Night) (Slatan Dudow); Taiyo no nai Machi (The Sunless Street) (Satsuo Yamamoto); The Unconquered (Helen Keller in Her Story) (Nancy Hamilton)

In the queue: The Big Family (Bolshaya semya) (Josif Kheifits); Boot Polish (Prakash Arora); Sound of the Mountain (Yama no oto) (Mikio Naruse); Human Desire (Fritz Lang); Wuthering Heights (Abismos de pasion) (Luis Bunuel); The Belles of St. Trinians (Frank Launder); Late Chrysanthemums (Mikio Naruse); Young at Heart (Gordon Douglas); Three Cases of Murder (David Eady, et al); Senso (The Wanton Countess); The Red and the Black (Claude Autant-Lara); Silver Lode (Allan Dwan); Jail Bait (Ed Wood); The High and the Mighty (William Wellman/re-watch)

VINTAGE RATING (1954): 9****

Note: Many great ones this year, but a not-so-great one, 'Demetrius and the Gladiators' (runner up) is this year's guilty pleasure. Because it at least moves, it's a superior sequel to 1953's boring 'The Robe', largely due to Jay Robinson's flamboyant turn as Caligula. I admire 'On the Waterfront' more than I like it, thus the runner-up placement. The notion of the priest as the locus of community morality--and the film's melodramatic notions--makes it seem to me like an old James Cagney/Pat O'Brien meller dressed up in new 'realistic' duds. 'Them!', in which giant ants threaten LA, is probably the classiest, best-looking and least hysterical of the '50s giant monster flicks. It's probably best to see Federico Fellini's "La Strada" (runner up) before you see any of the director's other movies (which is how I saw it); otherwise its sentimental, mawkish elements could seem unbearable when stacked against Fellini's later, more detached and less manipulative works. 'Susan Slept Here' (runner up) is a testament to how effevescent young Debbie Reynolds could transform a minor romantic comedy into something special. Frank Tashlin's outrageously beautiful color schemes don't hurt either.

1955 (101) (Hollywood's last 3-strip Technicolor film ('Foxfire') released; 'Marty' shows TV's influence on Hollywood)
Bob le Flambeur (Bob the Gambler) (Jean-Pierre Melville)
Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich)
All That Heaven Allows (Douglas Sirk)
Death of a Cyclist (Muerte de un ciclista) (Juan Antonio Bardem)
Summertime (David Lean)
East of Eden (Elia Kazan)
The Colditz Story (Guy Hamilton)
Pather Panchali (Apu Trilogy, 1) (Satyajit Ray)
Picnic (Joshua Logan)
Rififi (Du rififi chez les hommes) (Jules Dassin)
I Am a Camera (Henry Cornelius)
One Froggy Evening (Chuck Jones)
Miyamoto Musashi: Ichijoji no ketto (Samurai II) (Hiroshi Inagaki)
Shack Out on 101 (Edward Dein)

RUNNERS UP:
Artists and Models (Frank Tashlin)
The Prisoner (Peter Glenville)
Diabolique (Les diaboliques) (H.G. Clouzot)
The Night My Number Came Up (Leslie Norman)
Les Grandes Manoeuvers (Rene Clair)
Ordet (Carl Dreyer)
Smiles of a Summer Night (Ingmar Bergman)
The Trouble With Harry (Alfred Hitchcock)
The Big Combo (Joseph H. Lewis)
The Big Knife (Robert Aldrich)
Momma Don't Allow (Karel Reisz)
Love Me or Leave Me (Charles Vidor)
The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton)
Marty (Delbert Mann)
The Seven Year Itch (Billy Wilder)
The Phenix City Story (Phil Karlson)
Mr. Arkadin (Orson Welles)
Cast a Dark Shadow (Lewis Gilbert)
Man Without a Star (King Vidor)
Bad Day at Black Rock (John Sturges)
Guys and Dolls (Joseph Mankiewicz)
French Cancan (Jean Renoir)
Nuit et brouillard (Night and Fog) (Alain Resnais)
To Catch a Thief (Alfred Hitchcock)
Lola Montes (Max Ophuls)
Lady and the Tramp (Hamilton Luske, Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson)
The Ladykillers (Alexander Mackendrick)

For the record: Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (Henry King); Hill 24 Doesn't Answer (Thorold Dickinson); Land of the Pharaohs (Howard Hawks); Wee Geordie (Frank Launder); Rebel Without a Cause (Nicholas Ray); The Man with the Golden Arm (Otto Preminger); The African Lion (James Algar); To Hell and Back (Jesse Hibbs); The Rose Tattoo (Daniel Mann); The Long Gray Line (John Ford); Oklahoma! (Fred Zinnemann); The Blackboard Jungle (Richard Brooks); I'll Cry Tomorrow (Daniel Mann); I Live in Fear (Akira Kurosawa); The Man From Laramie (Anthony Mann); Mister Roberts (John Ford, Mervyn LeRoy); Trial (Mark Robson); Daddy Long Legs (Jean Negulesco); Conquest of Space (Byron Haskin); It Came from Beneath the Sea (Robert Gordon); The Cockleshell Heroes (Jose Ferrer); Tarantula (Jack Arnold); I Died a Thousand Times (Stuart Heisler); 8 X 8 (Hans Richter); The Quatermass Xperiment (Val Guest)

To re-watch (in the queue): Man Without a Star (King Vidor); Shin heike monogatari (Taira Clan Saga) (Kenjo Mizoguchi); The Tender Trap (Charles Walters)

To see: Shree 420 (Raj Kapoor); Floating Clouds (Ukigumo) (Mikio Naruse); It's Always Fair Weather (Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly/to re-watch); Stella (Michael Cacoyannis); Don Quixote (Orson Welles/unfinished); House of Bamboo (Samuel Fuller); Captain Lightfoot (Douglas Sirk); The Indian Fighter (Andre de Toth); Murder is My Beat (Edgar G. Ulmer); Mr. & Mrs. '55 (Guru Dutt); Run for Cover (Nicholas Ray); Shin heike monogatari (Taira Clan Saga) (Kenjo Mizoguchi); The Seven Little Foys (Melville Shavelson); Heroes of Shipka (Sergei Vasilyev); A 9-es korterem (Ward no. 9) (Karoly Makk; Altid ballade (Gabriel Axel); Amici per la pelle (Friends for Life) (Franco Rossi); Budapesti tavasz (Spring in Budapest (Felix Mariassy); Chuzhaya rodnya (Other People's Relatives) (Mikhail Shvejtser); Ciske de Rat (Wolfgang Staudte); The Cobweb (Vincente Minelli); Continente perduto (The Lost Continent) (Enrico Gras, Giorgio Moser); Delo Rumyantseva (The Rumyantsev Case) (Iosif Khejfits); Dementia (Daughter of Horror) (John Parker); Despues de la tormenta (Roberto Gavaldon); Devdas (Bimal Roy); Dvenadtsataya noch (Twelfth Night) (Yan Frid); Egy pikolo vilagos (A Glass of Beer) (Felix Mariassy); Es geschah am 20. Juli (The Jackboot Mutiny) (Georg Wilhelm Pabst); Herr uber Leben und Tod (Victor Vicas); Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (Rajaram Vankudre Shantaram); Istoria mias kalpikis liras (The False Coin) (Giorgos Javellas); A Kid for Two Farthings (Carol Reed); Kinder, Mutter und ein General (Children, Mother, and the General) (Laszlo Benedek); Kokoro (The Heart) (Kon Ichikawa); Lourdes et ses miracles (Georges Rouquier); Lurdzha Magdany (Magda's Donkey) (Tengiz Abuladze, Revaz Chkeidze); Les Mauvaises rencontres (Alexandre Astruc); Meoto zenzai (Marital Relations) (Shiro Toyoda); Nem Sansao Nem Dalila (Neither Samson Nor Delilah) (Carlos Manga); Neokonchennaya povest (An Unfinished Story) (Fridrikh Ermler); Nicht mehr fliehen (No More Fleeing) (Herbert Vesely); Nogiku no gotoki kimi nariki (She Was Like a Wild Chrysanthemum) (Keisuke Kinoshita); Ovod (The Gadfly) (Aleksandr Faintsimmer); Paris la nuit (Jacques Baratier); Die Ratten (The Rats) (Robert Siodmak); Razzia sur la chnouf (Henri Decoin); Romeo i Dzhulyetta (Romeo and Juliet) (Lev Arnshtam, Leonid Lavrovsky); Simba (Brian Desmond Hurst); La Sospechosa (Alberto Gout); Strijd zonder einde (The Rival World) (Bert Haanstra); Takekurabe (Adolescence) (Heinosuke Gosho); Tamu Agung (Exalted Guest) (Usmar Ismail); Tight Spot (Phil Karlson); Toto e Carolina (Mario Monicelli); Tuntematon sotilas (The Unknown Soldier) (Edvin Laine)

In the queue: Princess Yang Kwei Fei (Kenji Mizoguchi); Les Maitre Fous (The Mad Masters) (Jean Rouch); Korhinta (Merry Go Round) (Zoltan Fabri); Moonfleet (Fritz Lang): Le Amiche (The Girl Friends) (Michelangelo Antonioni); Rio 40 Graus (Rio 40 Degrees) (Nelson Pereira dos Santos); Otello (Sergei Yutkevich); The Grasshopper (Poprygunya) (Samson Samsonov); Il Bidone (Federico Fellini); Dreams (Ingmar Bergman); Killer's Kiss (Stanley Kubrick); We're No Angels (Michael Curtiz); The Private Life of Major Benson (Jerry Hopper); The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (Luis Bunuel); My Sister Eileen (Richard Quine); The Tender Trap (Charles Walters)

VINTAGE RATING (1955): 8.5****

NOTES: 'Picnic'--with William Holden at his best--is one of the better examples of the many "handsome-drifters-cause-upheaval-in-small-town" movies of the 1950s. It's also the only Joshua Logan film that's any good. I almost omitted Alain Resnais' famed Holocaust documentary "Night and Fog' (runner up) simply because so many more interesting films have been made on the subject since; it has the advantage of being closer to the horrific events. In addition to having the coolest title of all time, 'Shack Out on 101' is the best of all commie paranoia movies of the '50s--mainly for its shaggy dog plot and characters and the credible atmosphere it evokes of a remote Pacific Coast highway diner. It's easy to see why the widescreen, color Euro-art movie 'Lola Montes' is so admired, yet it's still mystifying why leading auteurist critic Andrew Sarris once called it the greatest movie ever made. The Ealing Studios' classic 'The Ladykillers' I find not terribly funny and full of squandered opportunities, but it should be seen for its clever premise, charm and vivid view of London in the '50s. Missing here is 'Rebel Without a Cause', which from my viewpoint traffics in teen angst in fairly hokey fashion. Juan Antonio Bardem's Spanish masterpiece, "Death of a Cyclist," was finally released after decades of hiding (by good ole Criterion, on DVD), and it is splendid.

1956 (89+)
A Man Escaped (Robert Bresson)
The Red Balloon (Albert Lamorisse)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel)
Street of Shame (Kenji Mizoguchi)
La Pointe-Courte (Agnes Varda)
Miyamoto Musashi: Ketto Ganryu-jima (Samurai III) (Hiroshi Inagaki)
Patterns (Fielder Cook)
The Railroad Man (Il Ferroviere) (Pietro Germi)
The Harder They Fall (Mark Robson)
The Ten Commandments (Cecil B. DeMille)
Written on the Wind (Douglas Sirk)
The Killing (Stanley Kubrick)

RUNNERS UP:
Crazed Fruit (Ko Nakahira)
Baby Doll (Elia Kazan)
Attack (Robert Aldrich)
7 Men From Now (Budd Boetticher)
Forbidden Planet (Fred M. Wilcox)
The Searchers (John Ford)
The Man Who Never Was (Ronald Neame)
Friendly Persuasion (William Wyler)
High Society (Charles Walters)
Aparajito (Apu Trilogy II) (Satyajit Ray)
The Great Man (Jose Ferrer)
The Court Jester (Norman Panama)
Jagte Raho (Shanbhu Mitra, Amit Maitra)
The Wrong Man (Alfred Hitchcock)
To Koritsi me ta mavra (A Girl in Black) (Michael Cacoyannis)
The Desperate Hours (William Wyler)
Design for Dreaming (Unknown, for General Motors)
And God Created Woman... (mambo scene) (Roger Vadim)
The Captain from Kopenick (Helmut Kautner)

For the record: Anastasia (Anatole Litvak); Around the World in 80 Days (Michael Anderson); Giant (George Stevens); Bigger Than Life (Nicholas Ray); Bus Stop (Joshua Logan); Gervaise (Rene Clement); The King & I (Walter Lang); Lust for Life (Vincente Minnelli); Moby Dick (John Huston); Teahouse of the August Moon (Daniel Mann); The Silent World (Louis Malle, Jacques-Yves Cousteau), Autumn Leaves (Robert Aldrich), The Burmese Harp (Kon Ichikawa); The Girl Can't Help It (Frank Tashlin); Death in the Garden (Luis Bunuel); The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (Nunnally Johnson); The Mystery of Picasso (Henri-Georges Clouzot); Four Bags Full (Claude Autant-Lara); A Kiss Before Dying (Gerd Oswald); Alexander the Great (Robert Rossen); The Bad Seed (Mervyn LeRoy); Carousel (Henry King); The Man Who Knew Too Much (Alfred Hitchcock); Ilya Muromets (The Sword and the Dragon) (Aleksandr Ptushko); Starik Khottabych (Old Khottabych) (Gennadi Kazansky); The Rainmaker (Joseph Anthony); Rock Around the Clock (Fred F. Sears); Love Me Tender (Robert D. Webb); Bride of the Monster (Ed Wood); The Conquerer (Dick Powell); etc.

To re-watch: The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (Nunnally Johnson); Private's Progress (John Boulting); Somebody Up There Likes Me (Robert Wise)

To see: Between Time and Eternity (Zwischen Zeit und Ewigkeit) (Arthur Maria Rabenalt); Hannibal tanar ur (Professor Hannibal) (Zoltan Fabri); A Town Like Alice (Jack Lee); The Killer Is Loose (Budd Boetticher); Slightly Scarlet (Allan Dwan); There's Always Tomorrow (Douglas Sirk); War and Peace (King Vidor); Bhowani Junction (George Cukor); Intimate Stranger (Joseph Losey); Tea and Sympathy (Vincente Minnelli); Hollywood or Bust (Frank Tashlin); Early Spring (Yasujiro Ozu); Voici le temps des assassins (Julien Duvivier); Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (Fritz Lang); Eine Berliner Romanze (A Berlin Romance) (Gerhard Klein); Bessmertnyy garnizon (The Immortal Garrison) (Zakhar Agranenko, Eduard Tisse); Calabuch (Luis Garcia Berlanga); Cela s'appelle l'aurore (Luis Bunuel); Chelovek rodilsya (A Man is Born) (Vasili Ordynsky); Chori Chori (Anant Thakur); Crime et chatiment (Crime and Punishment) (Georges Lampin); Dolina miru (The Valley of Peace) (France Stiglic); O Drakos (The Ogre of Athens) (Nikos Koundouros); En Dag i Staden (A Day in Town) (Pontus Hulten, Hans Nordenstrom); La escondida (Roberto Gavaldon); Die Halbstarken (Georg Tressler); Kein Platz fur wilde Tiere (Bernhard Grzimek, Michael Grzimek); The Last Hunt (Richard Brooks); Mahiru no ankoku (Darkness at Noon) (Tadashi Imai); Malva (Vladimir Braun); Mas alla del olvido (Beyond Oblivion) (Hugo del Carril); Mi tio Jacinto (Ladislao Vajda); Modesta (Benjamin Doniger); Neko to shozo to futari no onna (A Cat, Shozo, and Two Women) (Shiro Toyoda); Nightfall (Jacques Tourneur); Pervyj eshelon/Pervyy eshelon (The First Echelon) (Mikheil Kalatozishvili / Kalatazov); Private's Progress (John Boulting); Prolog (Efim Dzigan); Rekava (The Line of Destiny) (Lester James Peiris); Secrets of Life (James Algar); Shokei no heya (Punishment Room) (Kon Ichikawa); Taiyo to bara (The Rose on His Arm) (Keisuke Kinoshita); There's Always Tomorrow (Douglas Sirk); Torero (Carlos Velo); Toto, Peppino e la malafemmina (Camillo Mastrocinque); Vesna na Zarechnoj ulitse (Spring on Zarechnaya Street) (Marlen Khutsiyev, Feliks Mironer); Viva Revolution (Roberto Gavaldon); Vor Sonnenuntergang (Before Sundown) (Gottfried Reinhardt); War and Peace (King Vidor); Wushi Guan (Fifteen Strings of Cash) (Tao Chin); Zhu Fu (New Year's Sacrifice) (Sang Hu); Yield To The Night (J. Lee Thompson)

In the queue: While the City Sleeps (Fritz Lang); The Forty First (Grigori Chukrai); Fernandel the Dressmaker (Jean Boyer); The Twisted Cross (Henry Solomon); Flowing (Mikio Naruse); Together (Lorenza Mazzetti); Carnival Night (Karnavalnaya Noch) (Eldar Ryazanov); 1984 (Michael Anderson); Elena and Her Men (Jean Renoir); Invitation to the Dance (Gene Kelly); The Roof (Il Tetto) (Vittorio de Sica); Calle Mayor (Juan Antonio Bardem); Great Day in the Morning (Jacques Tourneur); The Battle of the River Plate (aka, Pursuit of the Graf Spee) (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger); The Green Man (Robert Day)

VINTAGE RATING (1956): 7***

Note: Although a lot of famous movies were released in 1956, I find most of them full of hot air (see: 'For the Record'). 1956 is a sort of nadir for old Hollywood; its products were more formulaic and artificial than ever, and most foreign films weren't faring much better--largely being commercially oriented, slick international co-productions. Signs of life, though, continued to come from Japan, and low-budget cult classics with attitude from Stanley Kubrick and Don Siegel showed that subversion and imagination were still around. Probably no film says more about 1956, though, than a 10-minute industrial advertising film, 'Design for Dreaming,' (runner up) highlighting GM's cars, Frigidaire appliances, homes of the future, etc. It's probably the strangest and most memorable filmic paean to materialism ever made. An ode to more transcendent things, 'A Man Escaped' by Robert Bresson, examines the human will to freedom perhaps more movingly than any other film--and does it within the watchable framework of a prison escape plot. Revered and protected as Mother by patriarchal censorship, the cinematic Woman was about to be ravished by emerging patriarchal prurience. Roger Vadim's cinematic gaze on not-quite-nude Brigitte Bardot in 'And God Created Woman' (runner up) opened the floodgates on cinematic sex. The film itself is a bore, watchable only for its Eastmancolor widescreen Mediterranean scenery and for Bardot -- whose girl-woman look was entirely new to the cinema and has pretty much defined the film-beauty aesthetic since. The only scene that approaches greatness is Bardot's mad mambo near the end, and it's nearly as iconic as Marilyn Monroe's blown upskirt scene in the previous year's 'The Seven Year Itch.' Ironically, sexual 'freedom' meant the loss of empowered women roles with the acceptance of the ogled Bimbo. For now, the pleasures of the movies' new sexual freedom were all men's.

1957 (106) (Claude Chabrol's 'Le Beau Serge' first film of French New Wave; Ingmar Bergman emerges)

Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Bergman)
Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa)
Nights of Cabiria (Federico Fellini)
Paths of Glory (Stanley Kubrick)
Sweet Smell of Success (Alexander Mackendrick)
La Casa del angel (The House of the Angel) (Leopoldo Torre-Nilsson)
12 Angry Men (Sidney Lumet)
A Face in the Crowd (Elia Kazan)
A Matter of Dignity (To Telefteo psemma)
(Michael Cacoyannis)
The Bachelor Party
(Delbert Mann)
On the Bowery (Lionel Rogosin)
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (Frank Tashlin)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (David Lean)

RUNNERS UP:
The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman)
Witness For the Prosecution (Billy Wilder)
What's Opera, Doc? (Chuck Jones)
Yantra (James Whitney)
Man on the Tracks (Czlowiek na torze) (Andrzej Munk)
Love in the Afternoon (Billy Wilder)
Funny Face (Stanley Donen)
Les Girls (George Cukor)
The Spirit of St. Louis (Billy Wilder)
Peyton Place (Mark Robson)
Kanal (Andrzej Wajda)
The Lower Depths (Akira Kurosawa)
The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov)
3:10 to Yuma (Delmer Daves)
Forty Guns (Samuel Fuller)
A King in New York (Charles Chaplin)
Seven Waves Away (Abandon Ship!) (Richard Sale)
The Incredible Shrinking Man (Jack Arnold)
A Hatful of Rain (Fred Zinnemann)
The Tin Star (Anthony Mann)
The Ride Back (Allen H. Miner)
Heaven Knows Mr. Allison (John Huston)
Le Beau Serge (Claude Chabrol)
All the Boys are Called Patrick (Jean-Luc Godard)
Fear Strikes Out (Robert Mulligan)
Les Mistons (Francois Truffaut)

For the record: The Tall T (Budd Boetticher); Il Grido (Michelangelo Antonioni); The Three Faces of Eve (Nunnally Johnson); Desk Set (Walter Lang); The Pajama Game (George Abbott, Stanley Donen); Bitter Victory (Nicholas Ray); The Wide Blue Road (Gillo Pontecorvo); Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (John Sturges); Jailhouse Rock (Richard Thorpe); Man of a Thousand Faces (Joseph Pevney); Old Yeller (Robert Stevenson); Sayonara (Joshua Logan); Silk Stockings (Rouben Mamoulian); Les Sorcieres de Salem (The Crucible) (Raymond Rouleau); The Strange One (Jack Garfein); Woman in a Dressing Gown (J. Lee Thompson); Something of Value (Richard Brooks); Stage Struck (Sidney Lumet); Night Passage (James Neilson); and LOTS of really bad sci-fi monster movies

To re-watch: Curse of the Demon (Night of the Demon) (Jacques Tourneur); Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (John Sturges); Time Without Pity (Joseph Losey); The Golden Age of Comedy (Robert Youngson); Operation Mad Ball (Richard Quine); City of Gold (Wolf Koenig, Colin Low)

To see: The Man in the Raincoat (Julien Duvivier); Buye Cheng (City Without Night) (Tang Ziaodan); Wolf Trap (Vlci jama) (Jiri Weiss); Le cas du Dr Laurent (The Case of Dr. Laurent) (Jean-Paul Le Chanois); Lettre de Siberie (Chris Marker); The River's Edge (Allan Dwan); Decision at Sundown (Budd Boetticher); The Devil Strikes at Night (Richard Siodmak); Nine Lives (Arne Skouen); Barnacle Bill (Charles Frend); Jeanne Eagels (George Sidney); Absolutamente Certo (Absolutely Right) (Anselmo Duarte); Assassins et voleurs (Murderers and Thieves) (Sacha Guitry); Les aventures d'Arsene Lupin (Jacques Becker); Bakaruhaban (A Sunday Romance) (Imre Feher); Bakumatsu taiyoden (The Sun's Legend) (Yuzo Kawashima); Berlin - Ecke Schoenhauser (Berlin - Schoenhauser Corner) (Gerhard Klein); Devushka bez adresa (Girl Without an Address) (Eldar Ryazanov); Do Ankhen Barah Haath (Two Eyes, Twelve Hands) (Rajaram Vankudre Shantaram); Dom v kotoromu ya zhivu (The House I Live In) (Lev Kulidzhanov, Yakov Segel); Les espions (Henri-Georges Clouzot); Ila ayn (Whither?) (George Nasr); Jun'ai monogatari (A Story of Pure Love) (Tadashi Imai); Los Jueves, milagro (Every Thursday, a Miracle) (Luis Garcia Berlanga); Kiiroi karasu (Yellow Crow) (Heinosuke Gosho); Musafir (Traveller) (Hrishikesh Mukherjee); Nachts, Wenn der Teufel kam (The Devil Strikes at Night) (Robert Siodmak); The Naked Truth (Mario Zampi); Ni liv (Nine Lives) (Arne Skouen); Le notti bianche (White Nights) (Luchino Visconti); The One That Got Away (Roy Ward Baker); Pavel Korchagin (Aleksandr Alov, Vladimir Naumov); Perri (Paul Kenworthy Jr, Ralph Wright); Porte des Lilas (The Gates of Paris) (Rene Clair); Sait-on Jamais (Roger Vadim); Le Seine a rencontre Paris (The Seine Meets Paris) (Joris Ivens); Si qian jin (Our Sister Hedy) (Tao Qin); Snezhnaya koroleva (The Snow Queen)(Lev Atamanov); Tiger In The Smoke (Roy Baker); Time Limit (Karl Malden); Tizoc (Ismael Rodriguez); Tohoku no zunmu-tachi (Men of Tohoku) (Kon Ichikawa); Tokyo boshoku (Tokyo Twilight) (Yasujiro Ozu); El Ultimo cuple (The Last Song) (Juan de Orduna); Urok istorii (A Lesson in History) (Lev Arnshtam, Hristo Piskov, Mikhail Romm); El Vampiro (Fernando Mendez); Die Zurcher Verlobung (The Affairs of Julie) (Helmut Kautner)

In the queue: And Quiet Flows the Don (Sergei Gerasimov); Don Quixote (Grigori Kozintsev); Four Bags Full (Traversee de Paris) (Claude Autant-Lara); Every Day Except Christmas (Linday Anderson); Pot-Bouille (Julien Duvivier); Run of the Arrow (Samuel Fuller); He Who Must Die (Jules Dassin); Edge of the City (Martin Ritt); Mother India (Mehboob Khan); Pyaasa (Guru Dutt); Brothers In Law (Roy Boulting); Lucky Jim (John and Roy Boulting); Snow Country (Shiro Toyoda); The Passionate Stranger (Muriel Box); Teacher's Pet (George Seaton); An Affair to Remember (Leo McCarey); The Enemy Below (Dick Powell); Night Passage (James Neilson); The Story of Esther Costello (David Miller); Pyaasa (Guru Dutt); Time Without Pity (Joseph Losey); Band of Angels (Raoul Walsh); Operation Mad Ball (Richard Quine)

VINTAGE RATING (1957): 10*****

Note: After the dullness of 1956, a lot of pent-up creativity explodes in 1957. An incredible year internationally, with arthouse masterpieces in amazing abundance. Hollywood, too, offered up darker and edgy entertainment--noirs, crime films, and sharp satires--of the highest order. And a little thing called the "Nouvelle vague" had just been born in France. The most egregious MIA film never released on video in the US is Leopoldo Torre-Nilsson's exquisite 'La casa del angel,' a dark, brooding coming-of-age film set in a sexually repressed bourgeoise home in Argentina in the 1920s (I located a bootleg DVD online). At 70 minutes, the film is near perfection; its brevity and its young heroine's weary resignation in the unresolved finale only strengthen its quiet power. Finally available on video is Sam Fuller's baroque western 'Forty Guns,' probably the slickest A-calibre studio film he ever made. It turns out to be a pretty essential '50s western, shot with great elan in widescreen by Joseph Biroc and full of outrageous phallic innuendo involving the hero's gun (Barbara Stanwyck frequently expresses a desire to the hero to 'touch it.'). Still, I prefer Delmer Daves' simpler, less pretentious '3:10 to Yuma,' one of the better westerns with the old plot involving a lawman transporting a dangerous criminal across harsh terrain. 'Heaven Knows Mr. Allsion' (runner up) is John Huston essentially copycatting his own 'The African Queen,' except that I like this later picture better.

1958 (97) ('Look Back in Anger' signals birth of English 'kitchen-sink' new wave)
Touch of Evil (Orson Welles)
The Hidden Fortress (Akira Kurosawa)
Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock)
Jalsaghar (The Music Room) (Satyajit Ray)
Ashes and Diamonds
(Andrzej Wajda)
Giants & Toys
(Yasuzo Masumura)
Some Came Running
(Vincente Minnelli)
A Night to Remember (Roy Baker)
A Time to Love and a Time to Die (Douglas Sirk)
The Left Handed Gun (Arthur Penn)
Murder by Contract (Irving Lerner)
The Vikings (Richard Fleischer)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Richard Brooks)

RUNNERS UP:
I Was Monty's Double (John Guillerman)
I Soliti ignoti (Big Deal on Madonna Street) (Mario Monicelli)
Ansiktet (The Magician) (Ingmar Bergman)
Ascenseur pour l'echafaud (Elevator to the Gallows) (Louis Malle)
The Tarnished Angels (Douglas Sirk)
Nazarin (Luis Bunuel)
The Horse's Mouth (Ronald Neame)
Danger Within (Breakout) (Don Chaffey)
The Last Hurrah (John Ford)
The Goddess (John Cromwell)
Eroica (Andrzej Munk)
A Movie (Bruce Conner)
The Rickshaw Man (Hiroshi Inagaki)
The Defiant Ones (Stanley Kramer)
Run Silent Run Deep (Robert Wise)
Bonjour Tristesse (Otto Preminger)
Damn Yankees! (George Abbott, Stanley Donen)
Dracula (Horror of Dracula) (Terence Fisher)
Auntie Mame (Morton DaCosta)

For the record: Ballad of Narayama (Keisuke Kinoshita); Bell, Book and Candle (Richard Quine); Carve Her Name With Pride (Lewis Gilbert); Chibideka monogatari (Skinny and Fatty) (N. Terao); Desire Under the Elms (Delbert Mann); Enjo (Kon Ichikawa); Gigi (Vincente Minnelli); God's Little Acre (Anthony Mann); Houseboat (Melville Shavelson); I Want to Live! (Robert Wise); Indiscreet (Stanley Donen); Le Beau Serge (Claude Chabrol); Les Amants (Louis Malle); Man of the West (Anthony Mann); Marjorie Morningstar (Irving Rapper); Mon Oncle (Jacques Tati); Naked and the Dead (Raoul Walsh); No Time for Sergeants (Mervyn LeRoy); Separate Tables (Delbert Mann); South Pacific (Joshua Logan); The Big Country (William Wyler); The Blob (Irvin S. Yeaworth); The Buccaneer (Anthony Quinn); The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (Karel Zeman); The Fly (Kurt Neumann); The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (Mark Robson); The Light in the Forest (Herschel Daugherty); The Long, Hot Summer (Martin Ritt); The Naked and the Dead (Raoul Walsh); The Old Man and the Sea (John Sturges); The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (Nathan Juran); The Young Lions (Edward Dmytryk); Thunder Road (Arthur Ripley); Too Many Crooks (Mario Zampi); Wind Across the Everglades (Nicholas Ray); Winter Carousel (Ladislaw Starewicz)

To see: Ajantrik (Pathetic Fallacy) (Ritwik Ghatak); L'eau vive (Girl and the River) (Francois Villiers); Fiend Without a Face (Arthur Crabtree); It Happened in Broad Daylight (Ladislao Vajda); Underworld Beauty (Seijun Suzuki); China Doll (Frank Borzage); Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! (Leo McCarey); The Gentleman and the Gypsy (Joseph Losey); Machine-Gun Kelly (Roger Corman); Terror in a Texas Town (Joseph H. Lewis); The Lineup (Don Siegel); Buchanan Rides Alone (Budd Boetticher); Saddle the Wind (Robert Parrish); The Idiot (Ivan Pyryev); Les tricheurs (Marcel Carne); La Cesta Duga Godinu... (The Road a Year Long) (Giuseppe De Santis); Ciulinii Baraganului (Baragan Thistles) (Louis Daquin, Gheorghe Vitanidis); De Dodes tjern (Kare Bergstrom); Dorp aan de rivier (Village on the River) (Fons Rademakers); En cas de malheur (Love is My Profession) (Claude Autant-Lara); O Grande Momento (The Great Moment) (Roberto Pires, Roberto Santos); Hakuja den (Panda and the Magic Serpent) (Kazuhiko Okabe, Taiji Yabushita); Haz a sziklak alatt (The House Under the Rocks) (Karoly Makk); Helden (Arms and the Man) (Franz Peter Wirth); El Jefe (The Boss) (Fernando Ayala); Das Madchen Rosemarie (The Girl Rosemarie) (Rolf Thiele); Madhumati (Bimal Roy); Manbo guniang (Mambo Girl) (Yi Wen); Moi un noir Treichville (Jean Rouch); Motyli Tady Neziji (Butterflies Do Not Live Here) (Miro Bernat); Orders to Kill (Anthony Asquith); Osmy dzien tygodnia (The Eighth Day of the Week) (Aleksander Ford); Ostatni dzien lata (The Last Day of Summer) (Tadeusz Konwicki); The Philosopher's Stone (Satyajit Ray); Rosaura a las 10 (Rosaura at 10 O'Clock) (Mario Soffici); La Sfida (Francesco Rosi); Shirasagi (The White Heron) (Teinosuke Kinugasa); Shiroka Strana Moya Rodnaya (Great is My Country) (Roman Karmen); Sonnensucher (Sun Seekers) (Konrad Wolf); La tete contre les murs (The Keepers) (Georges Franju); Tjambuk Api (Whipfire) (D. Djajakusuma); Tom Thumb (George Pal); Une vie End of Desire (One Life) (Alexandre Astruc); L'uomo di paglia (Man of Straw) (Pietro Germi); La Venganza (Vengeance) (Juan Antonio Bardem); La vida por delante (Your Life Before You) (Fernando Fernan Gomez); Weddings and Babies (Morris Engel); Windjammer: The Voyage of the Christian Radich (Bill Colleran, Louis De Rochemont); Wir Wunderkinder (Aren't We Wonderful?) (Kurt Hoffmann); Yoru no tsuzumi (The Adulteress) (Tadashi Imai); Ah Q (The True Story of Ah Q)(Yuen Yang-an); Amore e chiacchiere (Alessandro Blasetti); Ewa chce spac (Eve Wants to Sleep) (Tadeusz Chmielewski); Goha (Jacques Baratier); The Hunters (Robert Gardner, John Marshall)

In the queue: Maigret Sets a Trap (Maigret tend un piege) (Jean Delannoy); The Square Peg (John Paddy Carstairs); Brink of Life (Nara Livet) (Ingmar Bergman); Montparnasse 19 (Jacques Becker); Equinox Flower (Yaujiro Ozu); Mirror Has Two Faces (Andre Cayatte); The Silent Enemy (William Fairchild); Desire Under the Elms (Delbert Mann); Cairo Station (Youssef Chahine); Party Girl (Nicholas Ray); Cowboy (Delmer Daves)

VINTAGE RATING (1958): 8.5****

Note: Filmmakers coast a bit after the explosion of 1957; it's a nice interlude with several high points (Hitchcock, Welles, Kurosawa, Wajda, etc.)--before the building magma dome explodes again in 1959 and 1960. The kindred-spirit productions 'Some Came Running' and 'The Tarnished Angels' (runner up) are sweeping character dramas with downbeat sensibilities in depicting Americana, both made by two of Hollywood's greatest masters of melodrama. Yasuzo Masumura's 'Giants & Toys" is a supercynical take on malicious corporate culture, and its ultracool style, made me think it was made around 1966. I was downright shocked to find it was made in 1958. No other 1950s film attacks the pathology of capitalism with as much gusto or acid vigor. Luis Bunuel's 'Nazarin' (runner up) is undoubtedly a masterwork; I wasn't in the mood when I saw it at a screening in college, so another viewing's due.

1959 (99) (Cassavetes' raw, pioneering indie 'Shadows' challenges slick commercial cinema)
Hiroshima mon amour (Alain Resnais)
The Human Condition (parts I and II) (Masaki Kobayashi)
I'm All Right, Jack (John Boulting)
Nobi (Fires on the Plain) (Kon Ichikawa)
North By Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock)
Destiny of a Man (Sergei Bondarchuk)
Les Cousins (Claude Chabrol)
Imitation of Life
(Douglas Sirk)
Room at the Top (Jack Clayton)
Anatomy of a Murder (Otto Preminger)
The 400 Blows (Francois Truffaut)
Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks)
Ballad of a Soldier (Grigori Chukrai)
The Nun's Story (Fred Zinnemann)
Window Water Baby Moving (Stan Brakhage)
The World of Apu (Apur Sansar) (Satyajit Ray)

RUNNERS UP:
Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder)
Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro) (Marcel Camus)
La Grande Guerra (The Great War) (Mario Monicelli)
Shinel (The Overcoat) (Aleksei Batalov)
Science Friction (Stan VanDerBeek)
The Bridge (Die Brucke) (Bernhard Wicki)
Look Back in Anger (Tony Richardson)
Kapo (Gillo Pontecorvo)
The Horse Soldiers (John Ford)
Pociag (Night Train) (Jerzy Kawalerowicz)
Darby O'Gill and the Little People (Robert Stevenson)
Middle of the Night (Delbert Mann)
The Diary of Anne Frank (George Stevens)
Shadows (John Cassavetes)
Come Back Africa (Lionel Rogosin)
El Lazarillo de Tormes (Cesar Fernandez Ardavin)
Shake Hands With the Devil (Michael Anderson)
Odd Obsession (Kon Ichikawa)
Sapphire (Basil Dearden)
Samurai Saga (Hiroshi Inagaki)
The Devil's Disciple (Guy Hamilton)
Ohayo (Good Morning) (Yasujiro Ozu)
The Crimson Kimono (Samuel Fuller)
Porgy and Bess (Otto Preminger)
Plan 9 From Outer Space (Ed Wood)

For the record: Ben-Hur (William Wyler); Pickpocket (Robert Bresson); Verboten! (Samuel Fuller); Pull My Daisy (Robert Frank, Alfred Leslie); Warlock (Edward Dmytryk); Compulsion (Richard Fleischer); Eyes Without a Face (Georges Franju); Pillow Talk (Michael Gordon); Nazarín (Luis Bunuel); Ride Lonesome (Budd Boetticher); The Mouse That Roared (Jack Arnold); On the Beach (Stanley Krammer); Tiger Bay (J. Lee Thompson); Sleeping Beauty (Clyde Geronimi); Carlton-Browne of the F.O. (Roy Boulting); The Mummy (Terence Fisher); The Savage Innocents (Nicholas Ray); Suddenly Last Summer (Joseph L. Mankiewicz); Odds Against Tomorrow (Robert Wise); Operation Petticoat (Blake Edwards); The Tingler (William Castle); Journey to the Center of the Earth (Henry Levin); Blue Denim (Philip Dunne); The World, the Flesh and the Devil (Ranald MacDougall); Man on a String (Andre De Toth); A Hole in the Head (Frank Capra); Moonbird (John & Faith Hubley); The Testament of Doctor Cordelier (Jean Renoir)

To re-watch: Floating Weeds (Ukigusa) (Yasujiro Ozu); The Lovers (Les amants) (Louis Malle); Nazarin (Luis Bunuel); Middle of the Night (Delbert Mann)

To see: Araya (Margot Benacerraf); Picnic on the Grass (Jean Renoir); La Caida (The Fall) (Leopoldo Torre Nilsson); Kaagaz Ke Phool (Guru Dutt); La Legge (The Law) (Jules Dassin); Lin jia pu zi (The Lin Family Shop) (Choui Khoua, aka Shui Hua); The Scapegoat (Robert Hamer); Our Man in Havana (Carol Reed); The Cow and I (Henri Verneuil); Day of the Outlaw (Andre de Toth); Face of a Fugitive (Paul Wendkos); Al Capone (Richard Wilson); Ai To Kibo No Machi (A Town of Love and Hope) (Nagisa Oshima); Baza ludzi umarlych (Damned Roads) (Czeslaw Petelski); Le Bel age (Love Is When You Make It) (Pierre Kast); Belye nochi (White Nights) (Ivan Pyriev); Blind Date (Chance Meeting) (Joseph Losey); The Bridal Path (Frank Launder); Deux hommes dans Manhattan (Jean-Pierre Melville); Les Dragueurs (The Chasers) (Jean-Pierre Mocky); Feng-bao (Storm) (Jin Shan); En Fremmed banker pa (A Stranger Knocks) (Johan Jacobsen); Kazabana (Snow Flurry) (Keisuke Kinoshita); Kiku to Isamu (Tadashi Imai); Lin Zexu (The Opium Wars) (Zheng Junli, Qin Fan); Lotna (Andrzej Wajda); Un Maledetto imbroglio (The Facts of Murder) (Pietro Germi); Nianchan (My Second Brother) (Shohei Imamura); North West Frontier (Flame Over India) (J. Lee Thompson); Paw (Boy of Two Worlds) (Astrid Henning-Jensen); El Pisito (The Little Flat) (Marco Ferreri, Isidoro M. Ferry); Poema o more (Poem of the Sea) (Yuliya Solntseva, Alexander Dovzhenko); Rosen fur den Staatsanwalt (Roses for the Prosecutor) (Wolfgang Staudte); Sen noci svatojanske (A Midsummer Night's Dream) (Jiri Trnka); Serengeti Shall Not Die (Bernhard Grzimek); Shonen sarutobi sasuke (The Adventures of Little Samurai) (Taiji Yabushita, Akira Daikuhara); Sterne (Stars) (Rangel Vulchanov, Konrad Wolf); Sujata (Bimal Roy); Il Tempo si e fermato (Time Stood Still) (Ermanno Olmi); Waga ai (When a Woman Loves (Heinosuke Gosho); Hao men ye yan (Feast of a Rich Family) (Lee Tit, et. al.); Jago Hua Savera (Day Shall Dawn) (A.J. Kardar); Zamach (Answer to Violence) (Jerzy Passendorfer);

In the queue: The Sign of Leo (Signe du Lion) (Eric Rohmer); La Grande Guerra (Mario Monicelli); We are the Lambeth Boys (Karel Reisz); The Tiger of Eschnapur (and) The Indian Tomb (Fritz Lang); The Letter that Was Never Sent (Mikhail Kalatazov); Street of Love and Hope (Nagisa Oshima); Leda (A Double Tour/Web of Passion) (Claude Chabrol); Marie-Octobre (Julien Duvivier); Les liaisons dangereuses (Roger Vadim); Beloved Infidel (Henry King); Libel (Anthony Asquith); The Hanging Tree (Delmer Daves)

VINTAGE RATING (1959): 10*****

Notes: 'Window Water Baby Moving,' a poetic home movie about childbirth, is probably the only film of true worth from Stan Brakhage, who made hundreds of acclaimed but obscure avant-garde shorts from the 1950s to the 1990s, some of them skillful but most of them forgettable and undone by their home-movie amateurishness. Ed Wood's 'Plan 9 From Outer Space' (runner up) is inept in a different way, but not entirely from a production standpoint; the film actually has a professional Hollywood photographic sheen (Ed Wood's cameraman is probably the only person on the set who actually knows what he's doing). Although just a typical grade Z drive-in product of its era, its capturing of the zeitgeist and sheer fun-inducing hilarity make it irresistible. 1959, is one of the movies' greatest years, brimming with accomplished works--yet 'Plan 9...', one of its least accomplished, has captured our hearts (or maybe a smug need to mock and feel superior to the past). 'I'm All Right, Jack' is probably the first truly modern movie comedy, the first to brazenly skewer sacred cows of English society with an irreverence that would influence 'Dr. Strangelove,' 'MASH,' 'The Ruling Class' and more. The Japanese anti-war films 'The Human Condition' (a 3-part, 9-hour marathon) and 'Nobi' ('Fires on the Plain') are unrelentingly grim WWII epics in which the Japanese turn a severely critical eye on themselves. These monumental films are rewarding and unforgettable, once endured. David Shipman, author of The Story of Cinema, makes a good case for 'The Human Condition' being the greatest film ever made. The memories of WWII in Alain Renais' groundbreaking French New Wave masterwork 'Hiroshima Mon Amour' show that the war's pains were still very much alive in 1959; there were a slew of superior films about the epochal conflict during the year, including the two Japanese films already mentioned as well as Sergei Beondarchuk's immensely moving Soviet epic 'Destiny of a Man' and his compatriot's international hit 'Ballad of a Soldier.' The war also intercedes (offscreen) in Fred Zinnemann's remarkable study of a young nun, 'The Nun's Story,' which is probably Audrey Hepburn's finest work. Berhnard Wicki's 'The Bridge' (runner up) shows the final desperation of Nazi Germany in throwing its male children into the breech; 'Kapo' (runner up) is a dramatically interesting look at the concentration camps; and 'The Diary of Anne Frank' (runner up) is a good if obvious Hollywood treatment of the famous wartime diary.
Claude Chabrol's 'Les Cousins' has a silly moralistic/ironic ending, but up to that point it's the most purely fun film of the French New Wave. But the really essential films of that movement this year are the Resnais film and Francois Truffaut's 'The 400 Blows.' I list Otto Preminger's "Porgy and Bess" (runner up) not because it's a great film, but because it's nearly impossible to see, and if my having seen it tortures someone else then that's enough.

1960 (106) (Cinema verite born in 'Primary'; Euro art cinema reaches pinnacle)
Rocco and His Brothers (Luchino Visconti)
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Mikio Naruse)
La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini)
The Lady With the Dog (Joseph Heifetz)
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Karel Reisz)
Breathless (A bout de souffle) (Jean-Luc Godard)
L'avventura
(Michelangelo Antonioni)
Le Trou (Jacques Becker)
The Apartment
(Billy Wilder)
The Virgin Spring (Ingmar Bergman)
Primary (Robert Drew)
Tunes of Glory (Ronald Neame)
The Cloud-Capped Star
(Ritwik Ghatak)
General Della Rovere (Roberto Rossellini)
The League of Gentlemen (Basil Dearden)
The Entertainer
(Tony Richardson)
Inherit the Wind (Stanley Kramer)

RUNNERS UP:
Two Women (Vittorio De Sica)
Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock)
Sons and Lovers (Jack Cardiff)
Les Bonnes Femmes (Claude Chabrol)
Jazz on a Summer's Day (Bert Stern)
Elmer Gantry (Richard Brooks)
The Bad Sleep Well (Akira Kurosawa)
The Island (Hadaka no shima) (Kaneto Shindo)
The Trials of Oscar Wilde (Ken Hughes)
The Angry Silence (Guy Green)
Afraid to Die (Yasuzo Masumura)
The Sky Above, the Mud Below (Pierre-Dominique Gaisseau)
Jigoku (Hell) (Nobuo Nakagawa)
Shoot the Piano Player (Tirez sur le pianiste) (Francois Truffaut)
Never On Sunday (Jules Dassin)
The Criminal (The Concrete Jungle) (Joseph Losey)
Zazie dans le metro (Louis Malle)
Devi (Satyajit Ray)
The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (Delbert Mann)
The Bellboy (Jerry Lewis)
Romeo, Juliet and Darkness (aka, Sweet Light in a Dark Room) (Jiri Weiss)
A Summer to Remember (Georgi Daneliya, Igor Talankin)
The Magnificent Seven (John Sturges)
Spartacus (Stanley Kubrick)
Expresso Bongo (Val Guest)
Macario (Roberto Gavaldon)

For the record: Sergeant Rutledge (John Ford); El Cochecito (Marco Ferreri); Peeping Tom (Michael Powell); Sink the Bismarck (Lewis Gilbert); The Young One (Luis Buñuel); Little Shop of Horrors (Roger Corman); Paris is Ours (Jacques Rivette); The Sundowners (Fred Zinnemann)

To re-watch: Cruel Story of Youth (Nagisa Oshima); The Testament of Orpheus (Jean Cocteau); The Savage Innocents (Nicholas Ray)

To see: Hand in Hand (Philip Leacock); Purple Noon (Rene Clement); Steamroller and the Violin (Andrei Tarkovsky); The Approach of Autumn (Mikio Naruse); The Housemaid (Kim Ki-young); Pollyanna (David Swift); The Savage Innocents (Nicholas Ray); The 1,000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (Fritz Lang); Mysterious Case of the Rygseck Murders (Matti Kassila); The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (Budd Boetticher); Los Golfos (Hooligans) (Carlos Saura); Classe tous risques (Claude Sautet); El Esqueleto de la senora Morales (Rogelio A. Gonzalez); L'Amerique insolite (America Through the Keyhole) (Francois Reichenbach); Herr Puntila und sein Knecht Matti (Herr Puntila and His Servant Matti) (Alberto Cavalcanti)

In the queue: Knights of the Teutonic Order (Aleksander Ford); La Verite (Henri-Georges Clouzot); Bad Luck (Zezowate szczescie) (Andrzej Munk); A Simple Story (Prostaja Istorija) (Yuri Yegorov); Love and the Frenchwoman (Jean Delannoy); Bandits of Orgosolo (Vittorio de Seta); Ocean’s 11 (Lewis Milestone); Black Sunday (Mario Bava; to re-watch)

VINTAGE RATING (1960): 10****

Notes: 'La Dolce Vita,' 'Breathless,' 'L'avventura,' 'Primary'--this is the birth of a new cinema on all fronts. And the other films rounding out the list are of equal calibre. A year with an impact that can never again be duplicated... Luchino Visconti's 'Rocco and His Brothers' is the kind of Italian family saga that Martin Scorsese has tried to make through the years, but hasn't quite surpassed. 'Le Trou' is one the greatest of all prison-breakout movies. 'Tunes of Glory' is a personal fave, a tour de force by Alec Guinness as a bastard Scotsman. The Soviet romance, 'The Lady With the Dog,' is one of the cinema's great love stories, on par with Lean's "Brief Encounter,' and far more frankly erotic. It's fashionable to bash the preachiness of old liberal Hollywood, but Tinseltown certainly had more guts than it does now when it came to deflating podunk yahoos and religious pigheadedness in films like 'Inherit the Wind,' a conventional but thrilling dramatic reenactment of the Scopes 'Monkey Trial.' Spencer Tracy as Clarence Darrow for the defense... Grab a beer and enjoy.

1961 (79+)
Yojimbo (Akira Kurosawa)
Viridiana (Luis Bunuel)
Mother Joan of the Angels (Jerzy Kawalerowicz)
Lola (Jacques Demy)
Through a Glass Darkly (Ingmar Bergman)
Divorzio all'italiana (Divorce--Italian Style) (Pietro Germi)
Chronique d'un ete (Chronicle of a Summer) (Jean Rouch)
The Hustler (Robert Rossen)
The Human Condition Part III
(Masaki Kobayashi)
Victim (Basil Dearden)
A Taste of Honey
(Tony Richardson)
Cleo from 5 to 7 (Agnes Varda)
Judgment at Nuremburg
(Stanley Kramer)
The Ladies' Man (Jerry Lewis)
Skullduggery Part II (Stan VanDerBeek)
Summer and Smoke
(Peter Glenville)

RUNNERS UP:
La notte (Michelangelo Antonioni)
One, Two, Three (Billy Wilder)
The Mark (Guy Green)
Catalog (James Whitney)
The Innocents (Jack Clayton)
The Connection (Shirley Clarke)
A Raisin in the Sun (Daniel Petrie)
West Side Story (Robert Wise)
A View From the Bridge (Sidney Lumet)
Splendor in the Grass (Elia Kazan)
The Girl with a Suitcase (La ragazza con la vaglia) Valerio Zurlini
Accatone (Pier Paolo Pasolini)
The Errand Boy (Jerry Lewis)
Il Posto (Ermanno Olmi)
Surogat (Dusan Vukotic)
Very Nice, Very Nice (Arthur Lipsett)
Pit and the Pendulum (Roger Corman)

For the record: Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais); Breakfast at Tiffany's (Blake Edwards); The Guns of Navarone (J. Lee Thompson); Two Daughters (Satyajit Ray); A Woman Is a Woman (Jean-Luc Godard); King of Kings (Nicholas Ray); El Cid (Anthony Mann)

To see: La mano en la trampa (Leopoldo Torre Nilsson); The Exiles (Kent Mackenzie); Alyonka (Boris Barnet); Two Daughters (Satyajit Ray/to re-watch); Underworld U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller); Pigs and Battleships (Shohei Imamura); The Misfits (John Huston); My Mother and Her Guest (Shin Sang-ok); Placido (Luis García Berlanga); Blast of Silence (Allen Baron)

In the queue: The Life of Adolph Hitler (Paul Rotha); Les Godelureaux (Claude Chabrol); Peace to Him Who Enters (Aleksandr Alov, Vladimir Naumov); Clear Sky (Chistoe Nebo) (Grigori Chukrai); Paris Blues (Martin Ritt); Too Late Blues (John Cassavetes); Leon Morin, Priest (Jean-Pierre Melville); A Siberian Lady Macbeth (Andrzej Wajda); Whistle Down the Wind (Bryan Forbes); Vanina Vanini (Roberto Rossellini); No Love for Johnnie (Ralph Thomas); The Hand in the Trap (La mano en la trampa) (Leopoldo Torre Nilsson); The Greengage Summer (Loss of Innocence) (Lewis Gilbert)

VINTAGE RATING (1961): 8***

Note: The French were right all along?! Jerry Lewis's famous handyman halfwit stumbles and bumbles through 'The Ladies Man' and 'The Errand Boy,' and somehow the sums of these films' parts are greater than their wholes. Every once in awhile there's some geniunely hilarious stuff, especially the Buddy Lester hat scene in the former; and Lewis' sense of the absurd elevates the films somewhat unexpectedly above standard slapstick fare.
As for French whimsy, albeit with a dark edge, there's Francois Truffaut's New Wave romantic triangle, 'Jules and Jim' (runner up), a film I've always felt to be artificially whimsical and calculated in its tragic arc. I include it on the 'runners up' list because of its general skillfulness, several memorable moments. Jacques Demy's beautifully shot 'Lola' seems to me a better French souffle meditating on modern woman. The Polish film 'Mother Joan of the Angels' is one of the cinema's most realistic evocations of the remote past and is probably the best film ever made about demonic possession, yet it never resorts to Hollywood horror pyrotechnics, leaving it to the viewer to decide if the cause is madness due to isolation, sexual frustration, mass hysteria, actual supernatural forces, or all of these. Ermanno Olmi's 'Il Posto' (runner up) retooled Italian neorealism in the wake of the French New Wave and looks forward to the Polish New Wave. I'm not sure if I liked it, but list it anyway for reconsideration. I found its companion piece 'I Fidanzati' (not listed) nearly unwatchable. Revamping neorealism too was Pier Paolo Pasolini in his brutish and sometimes melodramatic study of a street thug, 'Accatone,' (runner up) which at least shows a little more flair than Olmi's flick and makes you almost taste the blowing road dust in your nostrils. "West Side Story' (runner up) makes the cut for music and dance, not for plot, wax dummy leads (Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer), or for gang members who say, "Gloriosky."

1962 (91)
The Exterminating Angel (Luis Bunuel)
Harakiri (Seppuku)
(Masaki Kobayashi)
Chushingura (Hiroshi Inagaki)
Lawrence of Arabia
(David Lean)
Knife in the Water (Roman Polanski)
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
(Robert Enrico)
L'Eclisse (Eclipse) (Michelangelo Antonioni)
Il Sorpasso (The Easy Life)
(Dino Risi)
The Trial (Le Proces) (Orson Welles)
Carnival of Souls (Herk Harvey)
Sanjuro
(Akira Kurosawa)
Sundays and Cybele (Serge Bourguignon)
Only Two Can Play
(Sidney Gilliat)
Lonely Are the Brave (David Miller)
Billy Budd
(Peter Ustinov)
Damn the Defiant! (H.M.S. Defiant) (Lewis Gilbert)
Long Day's Journey into Night
(Sidney Lumet)
A Kind of Loving (John Schlesinger)

RUNNERS UP:
Lolita (Stanley Kubrick)
Cape Fear (J. Lee Thompson)
Advise and Consent (Otto Preminger)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford)
Le Doulos (Jean-Pierre Melville)
The Longest Day (Ken Annakin, et. al.)
La Jetee (Chris Marker)
Le Joli mai (Chris Marker)
Nine Days of One Year (Mikhail Romm)
David and Lisa (Frank Perry)
Ride the High Country (Sam Peckinpah)
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Tony Richardson)
The Wall (Walter de Hoog)
Being Two Isn't Easy (Watashi wa Nisai) (Kon Ichikawa)
The Counterfeit Traitor (George Seaton)
Playboy of the Western World (Brian Desmond Hurst)
The Miracle Worker (Arthur Penn)
Days of Wine and Roses (Blake Edwards)
Black Fox: The True Story of Adolf Hitler (Louis Clyde Stoumen)
Experiment in Terror (Blake Edwards)
The Manchurian Candidate (John Frankenheimer)
To Kill a Mockingbird (Robert Mulligan)
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (Robert Aldrich)
The War Lover (Philip Leacock)
The Quare Fellow (Arthur Dreifuss)
Jules et Jim (Francois Truffaut)
Dr. No (Terence Young)
La commare secca (Bernardo Bertolucci)
Transport from Paradise (Zbynek Brynych)
The Music Man (Morton Dacosta)

For the record: Mondo Cane (Gualtiero Jacopetti); Confessions of an Opium Eater (Albert Zugsmith); Gypsy (Mervyn LeRoy); Mamma Roma (Pier Paolo Pasolini); Birdman of Alcatraz (John Frankenheimer)

To re-watch: My Name is Ivan (Andrei Tarkovsky); The L-Shaped Room (Bryan Forbes)

To see: Tonight for Sure (Francis Ford Coppola); The Four Days of Naples (Le quattro giornate di Napoli (Nanni Loy); The Twelve Chairs (Tomas Gutierrez Alea); The Intruder (Roger Corman); Night of the Eagle (Sidney Hayers); Hell Is for Heroes (Don Siegel); A Monkey in Winter (Henri Verneuil); Dimka (Ilya Frez); Jigsaw (Val Guest)

In the queue: O Pagador de Promessas (Anselmo Duarte); Os Cafajestes (The Unscrupulous Ones) (Ruy Guerra); Abhijaan (Satyajit Ray); The Amphibian Man (Gennadi Kazansky); La Guerre des boutons (Yves Robert); Barravento (The Turning Wind) (Glauber Rocha); Two Weeks in Another Town (Vincente Minnelli); Salvatore Giuliano (Francesco Rosi); Adieu Philippine (Jacques Rozier); Requiem for a Heavyweight (Ralph Nelson); An Autumn Afternoon (Yasujiro Ozu); The Elusive Corporal (Jean Renoir); Cartouche (Philippe de Broca); Freud (John Huston); Phaedra (Jules Dassin); Le Soupirant (Pierre Etaix); Proces de Jean d’Arc (Robert Bresson); My Life to Live (Jean-Luc Godard); The L-Shaped Room (Bryan Forbes); Heaven and Earth Magic (Harry Smith)

VINTAGE RATING (1962): 8.5****

NOTES: It's heresy, but I'm not a big fan of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' or 'The Manchurian Candidate.' I'm listing them as runners up for their various strengths. The latter in particular always felt to me like a mechanical thriller, as robotic as its central character. '...Mockingbird' is a nice little movie that's unfortunately been overhyped as the emblemmatic great American anti-racist statement. Discussions of Peter Sellers' career invariably overlook 'Only Two Can Play,' in which he gives his finest, most understated dramatic performance. The film is a subtle, wry comedy with serious tones about a shy middle-aged librarian who imagines himself a lothario. The British Academy rightly nominated Sellers for best actor. The first three runners up here show Hollywood's new boldness in sexual themes (pedophilia, casual sex, rape, homosexuality). The two Blake Edwards films (runner up) are dark, bold dramas, interesting if not wholly successful. Walter de Hoog's powerful 'The Wall' (runner up), a short documentary about Berlin Wall atrocities, is possibly the most effective propaganda movie ever produced by the U.S. government. Robert Aldrich's campy, grotesque, distasteful 'Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?' is not exactly a favorite, but it is entertaining and recommendable; in any case, it must be seen to be believed. Any serious cinematic snob would rake me over the coals for preferring the all-star war epic 'The Longest Day' over Chris Marker's arthouse masterpieces 'La Jolie Mai' and 'La Jetee.' Indeed, it's so indefensible that I won't even bother.

1963 (90)
The Silence (Ingmar Bergman)
Passenger (Pasazerka) (Andrzej Munk)
Le Feu Follet (The Fire Within) (Louis Malle)
This Sporting Life (Lindsay Anderson)
Hands Over the City (Francesco Rosi)
Youth of the Beast (Seijun Suzuki)
The Servant
(Joseph Losey)
Winter Light (Ingmar Bergman)
Mahanagar
(The Big City) (Satyajit Ray)
Cleopatra (Joseph L. Mankiewicz)
Death is Called Engelchen (Jan Kadar, Elmar Klos)
High and Low
(Akira Kurosawa)
8 1/2 (Federico Fellini)
Hud
(Martin Ritt)
The Great Escape (John Sturges)
Les Carabiniers
(Jean-Luc Godard)

RUNNERS UP:
An Actor's Revenge (Kon Ichikawa)
The Leopard (Luchino Visconti)
Vidas Secas (Nelson Pereira dos Santos)
Irma la Douce (Billy Wilder)
Alone on the Pacific (Kon Ichikawa)
Mothlight (Stan Brakhage)
Billy Liar (John Schlesinger)
The Critic (Ernest Pintoff)
Eva (Joseph Losey)
Crisis: Behind A Presidential Commitment (D.A. Pennebaker, et. al.)
A Child is Waiting (John Cassavetes)
These are the Damned (The Damned) (Joseph Losey)
Any Number Can Win (Henri Verneuil)
The Haunting (Robert Wise)
The Balcony (Joseph Strick)
Lord of the Flies (Peter Brook)
Contempt (Le mepris) (Jean-Luc Godard)
Tom Jones (Tony Richardson)
Young Aphrodites (Nikos Koundouros)
Towers Open Fire (Antony Balch, William S. Burroughs)
From Russia With Love (Terence Young)
The Raven (Roger Corman)
The Nutty Professor (Jerry Lewis)
Jason and the Argonauts (Don Chaffey)

For the record: Flaming Creatures (Jack Smith); Muriel (Alain Resnais); The Insect Woman (Shohei Imamura); The Organizer (Mario Monicelli); The Boxer and Death (Peter Solan); Heavens Above! (John and Roy Boulting); It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (Stanley Kramer); The Victors (Carl Foreman); Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Vittorio De Sica); The Great Chase (no director credit); Charade (Stanley Donen); I Fidanzati (The Fiances) (Ermanno Olmi); Shock Corridor (Samuel Fuller); The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock); Scotch Tape (Jack Smith)

To see: La baie des anges (Bay of Angels) (Jacques Demy); Le Petit Soldat (Jean-Luc Godard); The Whip and the Body (Mario Bava); Suzanne's Career (Eric Rohmer); Who's Minding the Store? (Frank Tashlin); I Step Through Moscow (Georgi Daneliya); Donovan's Reef (John Ford); 55 Days at Peking (Nicholas Ray); The Ugly American (George Englund); The Virgin of Nuremberg (Antonio Margheritti); Raven's End (Bo Widerberg); Gun Hawk (Edward Ludwig); 4 for Texas (Robert Aldrich); Monsieur Gangster (Georges Lautner); 15 From Rome (Dino Rosi)

In the queue: Landru (Claude Chabrol); El Verdugo (Luis Garcia Berlanga); Josef Kilian (Pavel Juracek); L'Immortelle (Alain Robbe-Grillet); Under the Yum Yum Tree (David Swift); America, America (Elia Kazan); Judex (Georges Franju); Kiss of the Vampire (Don Sharp); The V.I.P.s (Anthony Asquith); The List of Adrian Messenger (John Huston/to re-watch); Blonde Cobra (Ken Jacobs)

VINTAGE RATING (1963): 8.5****

Note: If the labyrinthine plot of Kon Ichikawa's "An Actor's Revenge" (runner up) were more accessible it would make the top list. As it is, it's one of the most beautiful examples of the Japanese mastery of the art of widescreen composition.
Counter to critical opinion I prefer the rough, tossed-off impertinence of Jean-Luc Godard's 'Les Caribiniers' to his slick, morose study of moviemaking and marriage, 'Contempt' ('Les mepris') (runner up). 'The Nutty Professor' may be Jerry Lewis' most admired film; but it's also his least funny. Still, I like the color, Lewis's self-reflexive incarnation as the arrogant Buddy Love and his downright-edible co-star Stella Stevens. I'm less interested in the James Bond movies lately, but it must be acknowledged that 'From Russia With Love' is the least outlandish of them; too bad the rest weren't like it. I'm pretty sure that in my more clinical "official" list of cinema greats (not listed here) Alain Resnais' "Muriel" (For the record), places highly, but you gotta remember, this blog list is about my favorites -- and it ain't one.

1964 (106)
Charulata (Satyajit Ray)
Hamlet (Gamlet)
(Grigori Kozintsev)
Dr. Strangelove...
(Stanley Kubrick)
Point of Order
(Emile de Antonio)
The Fifth Horseman Is Fear (Zbynek Brynych)
Becket
(Peter Glenville)
Red Desert
(Michelangelo Antonioni)
Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock)
6/64: Mama und Papa (Materialaktion Otto Mühl) (Kurt Kren)
Lilith (Robert Rossen)
Onibaba
(Kaneto Shindo)
The Night of the Iguana (John Huston)
The Caretaker
(Clive Donner)
The Pumpkin Eater
(Jack Clayton)
King and Country (Joseph Losey)
I Am Cuba (Soy Cuba)
(Mikhail Kalatozov)
The Leather Boys (Sidney J. Furie)
The Masque of the Red Death (Roger Corman)

RUNNERS UP:
Kwaidan (Masaki Kobayashi)
A Hard Day's Night (Richard Lester)
The Cool World (Shirley Clarke)
Topkapi (Jules Dassin)
The System (The Girl-Getters) (Michael Winner)
The Best Man (Franklin Schaffner)
Father of a Soldier (Rezo Chkheidze)
Seance on a Wet Afternoon (Bryan Forbes)
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy)
Dairy of a Chambermaid (Luis Bunuel)
Fail-Safe (Sidney Lumet)
The Killers (Don Siegel)
The Naked Kiss (Samuel Fuller)
The Americanization of Emily (Arthur Hiller)
Seven Days in May (John Frankenheimer)
My Fair Lady (George Cukor)
Zorba the Greek (Michael Cacoyannis)
The Chalk Garden (Ronald Neame)
Woman in the Dunes (Hiroshi Teshigahara)
The Luck of Ginger Coffey (Irvin Kershner)
Nothing But a Man (Michael Roemer)
That Man from Rio (Philippe de Broca)
Manji (Yasuzo Masumura)
The Girl With Green Eyes (Desmond Davis)
Mary Poppins (Robert Stevenson)
Zulu (Cy Endfield)
The Gospel According to St. Matthew (Pier Paolo Pasolini)
Gertrud (Carl Dreyer)
The Brig (Jonas Mekas)
The Train (John Frankenheimer)
The Disorderly Orderly (Frank Tashlin)
A Shot in the Dark (Blake Edwards)

For the record: Lady in a Cage (Walter Grauman); Man's Favorite Sport? (Howard Hawks); Dog Star Man (Stan Brakhage); Band of Outsiders (Jean-Luc Godard); Blow Job (Andy Warhol); Diamonds of the Night (Jan Nemec); The World of Henry Orient (George Roy Hill); Life Upside Down (Alain Jessua); The Last Man on Earth (Sidney Salkow); A Fistful of Dollars (Sergio Leone); Before the Revolution (Bernardo Bertolucci); The Strangler (Burt Topper)

To re-watch: Scorpio Rising (Kenneth Anger); Seduced and Abandoned (Pietro Germi); Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Sergei Paradjanov); Woman in the Dunes (Hiroshi Teshigahara)

To see: Nothing But the Best (Clive Donner); Pale Flower (Masahiro Shinoda); Black Peter (Cerny Petr) (Milos Forman); Yearning (Mikio Naruse); Tonio Kroger (Rolf Thiele); Intentions of Murder (Shohei Imamura); Blood and Black Lace (Mario Bava); Seven Up! (Paul Almond); The Enchanted Desna (Yuliya Solntseva); Marriage, Italian Style (Vittorio De Sica); Three Sisters (Tri sestry) (Samson Samsonov)

In the queue: Games of Angels (Walerian Borowczyk); I Am Twenty (Marlen Khutsiyev); Culloden (Peter Watkin); Ordinary Fascism (Mikhail Romm); Black God, White Devil (Glauber Rocha); Sangam (Raj Kapoor); Kiss Me Stupid (Billy Wilder); Robin and the Seven Hoods (Gordon Douglas); Dry Summer (Susuz yaz) (Metin Erksan); Send Me No Flowers (Norman Jewison); A Married Woman (Une femme mariee) (Jean-Luc Godard/to re-watch); Les jeux des anges (Walerian Borowczyk); The Cage (Shuji Terayama)

VINTAGE RATING (1964): 9.5*****

Note: By almost any standard, this is a '10' year, but fear of grade inflation prevents it. It is thus, perhaps, because only one of the masterworks in this formidable bunch--'Dr. Strangelove'--can truly be said to be well known. Lots of famous ones listed in the runners up, though. Upon great reflection, it now seems to me that Satyajit Ray's 'Charulata,' the study of a lonely upper-middle-class Indian wife, is one of the most perfect movies ever made and arguably the artistic superior of anything in this incredible year. That means I had to drop down the list one spot my former favorite, Grigori Kozintsev's moody, visually stunning version of Shakespeare's 'Hamlet,' maybe the best of all Bard film adaptations despite being in Russian! 'The Masque of the Red Death ' is rightly by wide consensus the best of Roger Corman's cheapie adaptations of Poe, with Vincent Price perfect as the satanic Prince Propero. 'The Gospel According to St. Matthew' (runner up) is undoubtedly a great film; I saw it once on the big screen in college, and am grateful to have seen it that way because I can't imagine having to sit through it again on a living room TV. It's a very minimalist, down-to-earth, Bresson-like view of Christ's life, and you can almost smell the donkey manure. Historically important for being the first, and maybe still the only, Jesus movie to shed itself of all histrionics and biased phony piety (maybe because Pasolini was a Marxist...) I'm wrestling with the notion of Carl Dreyer's 'Gertrud' being a great film--it's as uncompromising as its central heroine. The whole movie is a handful of static scenes of a woman basically explaining to several male suitors why she won't compromise her principles and wed or date any of them. The film has a certain integrity and seems greater in throughtful retrospect than while you're watching it.
Robert Shaw gives superb performances in two small-scaled kitchen-sink dramas: 'The Caretaker' and 'The Luck of Ginger Coffey' (runner up). My changing sensibilities have caused an old favorite, 'Goldfinger,' to drop off the list. It all seems so superficial, brainless and cheesy to me now.

1965 (100)
Simon of the Desert (Luis Bunuel)
Chronicle of a Boy Alone
(Leonardo Favio)
The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo)
The Hill
(Sidney Lumet)
Loves of a Blonde (Milos Forman)
Fists in the Pocket
(Marco Bellocchio)
A Thousand Clowns (Fred Coe)
Now
(Santiago Alvarez)
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (Martin Ritt)
The Shop on Main Street (Jan Kadar, Elmar Klos)
Darling (John Schlesinger)
Chimes at Midnight (Orson Welles)
Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (Russ Meyer)
Help! (Richard Lester)
The Pawnbroker (Sidney Lumet)
The Epic That Never Was
(Bill Duncalf/BBC)

RUNNERS UP:
Red Beard (Akira Kurosawa)
Tokyo Olympiad (Kon Ichikawa)
Repulsion (Roman Polanski)
Juliet of the Spirits (Federico Fellini)
The 317th Platoon (Pierre Schoendoerffer)
Dead Birds (Robert Gardner)
Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard)
Morituri (Bernhard Wicki)
Bunny Lake is Missing (Otto Preminger)
Mickey One (Arthur Penn)
The Sound of Music (Robert Wise)
King Rat (Bryan Forbes)
A High Wind in Jamaica (Alexander Mackendrick)
Von Ryan's Express (Mark Robson)
Le Bonheur (Agnes Varda)
The Tomb of Ligeia (Roger Corman)
The Collector (William Wyler)
The Cincinnati Kid (Norman Jewison)
It Happened Here (Kevin Brownlow, Andrew Mollo)
Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman & the Chess Expert (Kenji Misumi)
The Loved One (Tony Richardson)
The Sand Pebbles (Robert Wise)
The War Game (Peter Watkins)
The Ipcress File (Sidney J. Furie)
The Flight of the Phoenix (Robert Aldrich)
Two Stage Sisters (Wutai jiemei) (Jin Xie)
The Agony and the Ecstasy (Carol Reed)

For the record: Pierrot le fou (Jean-Luc Godard); The Saragossa Manuscript (Wojciech Has); Cat Ballou (Elliot Silverstein); Doctor Zhivago (David Lean); The Knack and How to Get It (Richard Lester); The Great Race (Black Edwards); The Bedford Incident (James B. Harris); Battle of the Bulge (Ken Annakin); For a Few Dollars More (Sergio Leone); The Family Jewels (Jerry Lewis); A Patch of Blue (Guy Green); Oh Dem Watermelons (Robert Nelson)

Need to re-watch: Viva Maria! (Louis Malle); Thunderball (Terence Young)

To see: Rapture (John Guillermin); The Shameless Old Lady (La vieille dame indigne) (Rene Allio); Yoyo (Pierre Etaix); Gumnaam (Raja Nawathe); Incubus (Leslie Stevens); Samurai Spy (Ibun Sarutobi Sasuke) (Masahiro Shinoda); My Hustler (Andy Warhol); I, A Woman (Jag - en kvinna) (Mac Ahlberg); Ride in the Whirlwind (Monte Hellman); Sandra of a Thousand Delights (Luchino Visconti); Young Cassidy (Jack Cardiff); Samurai (Kihachi Okamoto); What's New, Pussycat? (Clive Donner); There Was an Old Couple (Grigori Chukhrai); Tri (Three) (Aleksandar Petrovic)

In the queue: Come Drink with Me (King Hu); My Way Home (Miklos Jancso); Le Mystere Koumiko (Chris Marker); Subarnarekha (Ritwik Ghatak); The Adventures of Werner Holt (Joachim Kuner); Shakespeare-Wallah (James Ivory); 36 Hours (George Seaton); The Nanny (Seth Holt); Vinyl (Andy Warhol); The Tenth Victim (Elio Petri); The Sandpiper (Vincente Minnelli); The Man Who Had His Hair Cut Short (Andre Delvaux); Story Of A Prostitute (Seijun Suzuki)

VINTAGE RATING (1965): 7.5***

Note: Arthur Penn's 'Mickey One' is an semi-surreal feature that used to show up on TV and now has fallen into that vast, deep pit of lost, worthy movies unavailable on video. All I can remember about it now are images of Warren Beatty running and running, and running some more, from an unseen menace; then being subjected to some sort of claustrophic cross examination. During the formative years when I was developing a 'cinematic eye,' the film's flashy style bowled me over. Hard to know how it would play today. I used to swear by 'The Loved One' (runner up), a post-Dr. Strangelove bit of satirical irreverence poking fun at the funeral industry, but a recent re-viewing disappointed. Now it seems merely like a series of flamboyant star cameos (some of them quite funny). 'A High Wind in Jamaica' (runner up)--never available on video until its DVD reissue this past year--will be worthy of a re-screening. I saw it around 1970 on TV at my grandma's house and the film has remained in my memory. Because it had to do with kids kidnapped by pirates and facing tough life-and-death decisions it disturbed my 9-year-old psyche. I'm pretty sure too I had a prepubescent crush on same-aged actress Deborah Baxter at the time, who by all corroborating accounts gives an incredible performance as the little English gal who charms everything but the pants off the pirates. Another shipboard yarn that once seemed better but now strikes me as less accomplished is 'The Sand Pebbles' (runner up) with Steve McQueen, but Robert Wise's epic images still please. I remember being very impressed in college film class with Peter Watkins' nuclear-war-scare pseudo-documentary, 'The War Game' (runner up). Its impact was abetted by the then-palpable Cold-War angst. May have to give it another view someday. It took me two tries before I "got" Marco Bellochio's unique twisted Italian family psycho-drama 'Fists in the Pocket.' Now I can't wait to see it again.

1966 (100)
Daisies (Vera Chytilova)
Rise of Louis XIV
(Roberto Rossellini)
Lapis
(James Whitney)
La Caza (The Hunt)
(Carlos Saura)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Mike Nichols)
Seconds (John Frankenheimer)
Dutchman
(Anthony Harvey)
Persona
(Ingmar Bergman)
Closely Watched Trains
(Jiri Menzel)
Lord Love a Duck
(George Axelrod)
Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment
(Karel Reisz)
A Man for All Seasons (Fred Zinnemann)
The Endless Summer
(Bruce Brown)
Masculin-Feminin (Jean-Luc Godard)
Sword of Doom
(Kihachi Okamoto)
Black Girl (La noire de...) (Ousmane Sembene)

RUNNERS UP:
Khartoum (Basil Dearden)
The Trap (Sidney Hayers)
The Professionals (Richard Brooks)
The Family Way (Roy Boulting)
Charlie is My Darling (Peter Whitehead)
Georgy Girl (Silvio Narizzano)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Sergio Leone)
Hunger (Henning Carlsen)
A Big Hand for the Little Lady (Fielder Cook)
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Richard Lester)
Alfie (Lewis Gilbert)
Young Torless (Volker Schlondorff)
La Guerre est finie (Alain Resnais)
Cul-de-sac (Roman Polanski)
Blow Up (Michelangelo Antonioni)
Harper (Jack Smight)
King of Hearts (Philippe de Broca)
The Fortune Cookie (Billy Wilder)
Castro Street (Bruce Baillie)
The Group (Sidney Lumet)
Au Hasard Balthazar (final scene/Robert Bresson)
Hare Krishna (Jonas Mekas)
The Naked Prey (Cornel Wilde)
The Silencers (Phil Karlson)

For the record: A Report on the Party and the Guests (Jan Nemec); A Man and a Woman (Claude Lelouch); The Pornographers (Shohei Imamura); Africa Addio (Gualtiero Jacopetti, Franco Prosperi); Tokyo Drifter (Seijun Suzuki); The Face of Another (Hiroshi Teshigahara); The Chelsea Girls (Andy Warhol); The Nun (Jacques Rivette); El Dorado (Howard Hawks)

To re-watch: The Round-Up (Miklos Jancso); The Wrong Box (Bryan Forbes)

To see: Violence at Noon (Nagisa Oshima); The Crazy-Quilt (John Korty); Black Tight Killers (Yasuharu Hasebe); Pearls of the Deep (Perlicky na dne) (Vera Chytilova, et. al.); Kill, Baby...Kill! (Mario Bava); Santa Claus Has Blue Eyes (Jean Eustache); Made in U.S.A. (Jean-Luc Godard); The Glass Bottom Boat (Frank Tashlin); Watch Out for the Automobile (aka, Uncommon Thief) (Eldar Ryazanov)

In the queue: Artists at the Top of the Big Top (Alexander Kluge): Long Happy Life (Dolgaya schastlivaya..) (Gennadi Shpalikov); Yesterday Girl (Alexander Kluge); Pharoah (Faraon) (Jerzy Kawalerowicz); Second Breath (Le deuxieme souffle) (Jean-Pierre Melville); Dragon Gate Inn (King Hu); Asya's Happiness (Andrei Konchalovsky); The First Teacher (Andrei Konchalovsky); Who are You Polly Maggoo? (William Klein); Trans-Europ-Express (Alain Robbe-Grillet); Syskonbadd 1782 (My Sister, My Love) (Vilgot Sjoman); Father (Diary of One Week) (Istvan Szabo); Funeral in Berlin (Guy Hamilton); Hawks and Sparrows (Pier Paolo Pasolini); John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightning, Day of Drums (Bruce Herschensohn); The Plague of the Zombies (John Gilling); Man is Not a Bird (Dusan Makavejev); 7 Women (John Ford); One Million Years B.C. (Don Chaffey); The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery (Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat); The Wrong Box (Bryan Forbes); Hold Me While I'm Naked (George Kuchar)

VINTAGE RATING (1966): 7***

Note: Roy Boulting's 'The Family Way' (runner up) stars ex-Disney starlet Hayley Mills, but beyond that fact and the innocuous title the film is as far away from Disney as a mainstream movie from 1966 could get. It is a surprisingly frank kitchen-sink drama of middle-class British tensions surrounding premarital sex and pregnancy. 'The Silencers' (runner up)--a Bond spoof with Dean Martin's loungy superspy Matt Helm--would not be included if not for Stella Stevens' inspired comic performance as a klutzy eye-candy bimbo. In 'Blow Up' Michelangelo Antonioni wants to explore the ambiguities of perception and reality, but by setting his study in swinging London and making his protagonist an interesting freewheeling photographer he makes me more interested in these latter aspects than in his overarching philosophical pretenses; and the film gets weaker as it goes because of it. As for swinging London films, I prefer the quirky comedy 'Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment' and the bittersweet 'Georgy Girl' (runner up).

1967 (90)
Accident (Joseph Losey)
The Young Girls of Rochefort
(Jacques Demy)
Titicut Follies (Frederick Wiseman)
Two or Three Things I Know About Her (Jean-Luc Godard)
Week End (Jean-Luc Godard)
Playtime (Jacques Tati)
Belle de Jour (Luis Bunuel)
Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn)
Don't Look Back (D.A. Pennebaker)
The Graduate (Mike Nichols)
Ulysses (Joseph Strick)

RUNNERS UP:
Dita Saxova (Antonin Moskalyk)
The Two of Us (Claude Berri)
David Holzman's Diary (Jim McBride)
Report (Bruce Conner)
The Comedians (Peter Glenville)
Far From the Madding Crowd (John Schlesinger)
The Anderson Platoon (Pierre Schoendoerffer)
I'll Never Forget What's 'Isname (Michael Winner)
Portrait of Jason (Shirley Clarke)
Two for the Road (Stanley Donen)
Samurai Rebellion (Masaki Kobayashi)
Komissar (Aleksandr Askoldov)
The Jokers (Michael Winner)
Robbery (Peter Yates)
Le Samourai (Jean-Pierre Melville)
I Am Curious (Yellow) (Vilgot Sjoman)
Cool Hand Luke (Stuart Rosenberg)
The Dirty Dozen (Robert Aldrich)
War and Peace (Sergei Bondarchuk)
The Taming of the Shrew (Franco Zeffirelli)
Point Blank (John Boorman)
Marat/Sade (Peter Brook)
The Incident (Larry Peerce)
Viy (Vij) (Georgi Kropachyov, Konstantin Yershov)
Elvira Madigan (Bo Widerberg)
A Guide For the Married Man (Gene Kelly)
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (David Swift)
The Flim-Flam Man (Irvin Kershner)
Wait Until Dark (Terence Young)

For the record: The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (Roger Corman); Mouchette (Robert Bresson); The Red and the White (Miklos Jancso); To Sir With Love (James Clavell); Wavelength (Michael Snow); Smashing Time (Desmond Davis); The Fireman’s Ball (Milos Forman); The Night of the Generals (Anatole Litvak)

To re-watch: The Fearless Vampire Killers (Roman Polanski); Hombre (Martin Ritt); Love Affair: or, The Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator (Dusan Makavejev)

To see: Kojiro (Hiroshi Inagaki); Violated Angels (Koji Wakamatsu); Scattered Clouds (Mikio Naruse); La Collectionneuse (Eric Rohmer); Peppermint Frappe (Carlos Saura); Bedazzled (Stanley Donen)The Thief of Paris (Louis Malle); Oedipus Rex (Pier Paolo Pasolini); Bedazzled (Stanley Donen); One-Armed Swordsman (Cheh Chang); The Stranger (Luchino Visconti); Funnyman (John Korty)

In the queue: Marketa Lazarova (Frantisek Vlasil); Happy Gypsies (Aleksandar Petrovic); Silence and Cry (Miklos Jancso); La Chinoise (Jean-Luc Godard); The Plea (Tengiz Abuladze); The Boys of Paul Street (Zoltan Fabri); Loin du Vietnam (Jean-Luc Godard, Joris Ivens, et. al.); A Countess from Hong Kong (Charles Chaplin); Hombre (Martin Ritt); The Shooting (Monte Hellman); The President's Analyst (Theodore J. Flicker/to re-watch); Charlie Bubbles (Albert Finney); Terra em transe (Glauber Rocha)

VINTAGE RATING (1967): 7.5***

Note: There are a handful of very strong films at the top, but then the quality drops and the pickings become sparse, thus the relatively low ranking. Joseph Losey's time-shifting, middle-age crisis chamber drama 'Accident' is a penetrating work, probably the best thing this fine director ever did. Jacques Demy's 'The Young Girls of Rochefort' has surpassed 'Singin' in the Rain' as my favorite film musical, not because the French movie is technically better (it isn't; see the choreography), but because it pushes the musical to its purest fantasy plane, choreographs color brilliantly and has one of the loveliest scores in film history, via Michel Legrand. Also using the widescreen ingeniously is Jacques Tati's pantomimic comedy, 'Playtime', a sort of musical in a different sense, choreographing complex movement and form to subtle comic effect. My two favorite Jean-Luc Godard epics 'Two or Three Things...' and 'Week End' use widescreen to great effect also. Perhaps the year's most formidable masterwork is Frederick Wiseman's 'Titicut Follies,' an unflinching cinema verite documentary shot inside a hellish mental hospital. 'The Flim-Flam Man' (runner up) probably shouldn't be on this list, yet I can't think of a more fondly remembered late-night TV memory than watching and enjoying the hell out of it back in the '70s. George C. Scott is memorable as a fast-talking con man, and my adolescent stirrings for cute Sue Lyon probably had a lot to do with my interest.

1968 (104)
Memories of Underdevelopment (Tomas Gutierrez Alea)
The Hour of the Furnaces (Octavio Getino, Fernando Solanas)
Faces (John Cassavetes)
Petulia (Richard Lester)
Shame (Skammen) (Ingmar Bergman)
High School
(Frederick Wiseman)
2001: A Space Odyssey
(Stanley Kubrick)
If... ( Lindsay Anderson)
A Face of War (Eugene S. Jones)
The Lion In Winter (Anthony Harvey)
Hour of the Wolf (Vargtimmen)
(Ingmar Bergman)
Night of the Living Dead (George Romero)
Pretty Poison
(Noel Black)
Targets
(Peter Bogdanovich)
Once Upon A Time in the West (Sergio Leone)
Sympathy for the Devil (Jean-Luc Godard)

RUNNERS UP:
The Killing of Sister George (Robert Aldrich)
The Story of a Three-Day Pass (La permission) (Melvin Van Peebles)
The Party (Blake Edwards)
The Producers (Mel Brooks)
Rosemary's Baby (Roman Polanski)
Oliver! (Carol Reed)
Monterey Pop (D.A. Pennebaker)
Therese and Isabelle (Radley Metzger)
I Was Nineteen (Ich war neunzehn) (Konrad Wolf)
The Swimmer (Frank Perry)
The Night They Raided Minsky's (William Friedkin)
The Birthday Party (William Friedkin)
Madigan (Don Siegel)
The Dove (De Duva: The Dove) (George Coe, Anthony Lover)
The Charge of the Light Brigade (Tony Richardson)
Romeo and Juliet (Franco Zeffirelli)
Rachel, Rachel (Paul Newman)
Who's That Knocking At My Door? (Martin Scorsese)
Isadora (Karel Reisz)
The Immortal Story (Orson Welles)
Stolen Kisses (Baisers voles) (Francois Truffaut)
Les Biches (Claude Chabrol)
Kuroneko (Kaneto Shindo)
Diary of a Shinjuku Thief (Nagisa Oshma)
Bullitt (Peter Yates)
I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (Hy Averback)
Planet of the Apes (Franklin J. Schaffner)
Where Eagles Dare (Brian Hutton)

For the record: Kill! (Kiru) (Kihachi Okamoto); Capricious Summer (Jiri Menzel); The Color of Pomegranates (Sergei Parajanov); The Thomas Crown Affair (Norman Jewison); Witchfinder General (Michael Reeves); Lucia (Humberto Solas); Flesh (Paul Morrissey); Funny Girl (William Wyler); Hell in the Pacific (John Boorman); The Devil Rides Out (Terence Fisher)

To re-watch: Head (Bob Rafelson); The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (Robert Ellis Miller); Greetings (Brian De Palma)

To see: Inadmissible Evidence (Anthony Page); Interlude (Kevin Billington); Countdown (Robert Altman); Black Lizard (Kuro tokage) (Kinji Fukasaku); Fando and Lis (Alejandro Jodorowsky); Secret Ceremony (Joseph Losey); Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (William Greaves); Mandabi (Ousmane Sembene); Le Révélateur (Philippe Garrel); Nanami: The Inferno of Lost Love (Sasumu Hani); Partner (Bernardo Bertolucci); The Legend of Lylah Clare (Robert Aldrich); Me (Maurice Pialat); Play Dirty (Andre de Toth); Innocence Unprotected (Dusan Makavejev); J'taime, j'taime (Alain Resnais); Profound Desire of the Gods (Shohei Imamura)

In the queue: Death by Hanging (Koshikei) (Nagisa Oshima); Candy (Christian Marquand); The Bride Wore Black (Francois Truffaut; to re-watch); Teorema (Pier Paolo Pasolini); The Ramparts of Clay (Jean-Louis Bertucelli); The Fox (Mark Rydell); The Girl (Marta Meszaros); Diabolik (Mario Bava); The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (Jean-Marie Straub, Daniele Huillet); Psych-Out (Richard Rush); Anzio (Edward Dmytryk, Duilio Coletti); The Brotherhood (Martin Ritt); Je t'aime Je t'aime (Alain Resnais); The Bed (James Broughton)

VINTAGE RATING (1968): 9****

Note: "Memories of Underdevelopment' -- perhaps the finest Latin American film -- is one of the triumphs of cinematic art, one of the few movies that truly understands the longings and loneliness of being a man; especially one with an ambiguous political POV -- in addition to being an engrossing verite-style view of post-revolutionary Cuba. Robert Aldrich's 'The Killing of Sister George' brusquely examines the differences between public and private image as it follows the downfall of a snarling lesbian actress about to be killed off in her pastoral English TV soap opera. It also has the screen's first nude (bare-breasted) lesbian sex scene. The film is kindred in spirit to Fassbinder's 1975 film 'Fox and His Friends.'

1969 (79)
Salesman (Albert and David Maysles)
The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah)
The Milky Way (La Voie lactee) (Luis Bunuel)
Double Suicide (Masahiro Shinoda)
In the Year of the Pig (Emile De Antonio)
Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper)
Medium Cool (Haskell Wexler)
They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (Sydney Pollack)
The Damned (Luchino Visconti)
Women in Love (Ken Russell)
Midnight Cowboy (John Schlesinger)
Putney Swope (Robert Downey Sr.)
Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky)

RUNNERS UP:
Go, Go Second Time Virgin (Koji Wakamatsu)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (George Roy Hill)
Z (Costa-Gavras)
Fellini Satyricon (Federico Fellini)
Goodbye, Columbus (Larry Peerce)
My Night at Maud's (Eric Rohmer)
The Passion of Anna (Ingmar Bergman)
Downhill Racer (Michael Ritchie)
This Man Must Die (Claude Chabrol)
A Married Couple (Allan King)
Last Summer (Frank Perry)
The Battle of Britain (Guy Hamilton)
Age of Consent (Michael Powell)
The Learning Tree (Gordon Parks)
Zert (The Joke) (Jaromil Jires)
Take the Money and Run (Woody Allen)

For the record: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Ronald Neame); The Plot Against Harry (Michael Roemer; released 1989); Topaz (Alfred Hitchcock); Alice's Restaurant (Arthur Penn); A Touch of Zen (King Hu); The Cow (Gaav) (Dariush Mehrjui); Tchaikovsky (Igor Talankin); On Her Majesty's Secret Service (Peter R. Hunt); La femme infidèle (Claude Chabrol); Burn! (Gillo Pontecorvo); The Reivers (Mark Rydell); King Lear (Grigori Kozintsev and Iosif Shapiro); Une femme douce (Robert Bresson); Support Your Local Sheriff! (Burt Kennedy); True Grit (Henry Hathaway); Paint Your Wagon (Joshua Logan); Hello Dolly! (Gene Kelly); Cactus Flower (Gene Saks); Sweet Charity (Bob Fosse); Blind Beast (Yasuzo Masumura); Mondo Trasho (John Waters); Visual Training (Franz Zwartjes)

To re-watch: The Oblong Box (Gordon Hessler)

To see: Antonio das Mortes (Glauber Rocha); Calcutta (Louis Malle); Phantom India (L'inde fantome) (Louis Malle); The Honeymoon Killers (Leonard Kastle); The Italian Job (Peter Collinson); Diaries, Notebooks and Sketches (Jonas Mekas); Katzelmacher (Rainer Werner Fassbinder); Medea (Pier Paolo Pasolini); The Gypsy Moths (John Frankenheimer); The Rain People (Francis Ford Coppola); The Secret of Santa Vittoria (Stanley Kramer); The Witness (Peter Bacsó); The Sicilian Clan (Henri Verneuil); Mississippi Mermaid (Francois Truffaut); The Boys of Paul Street (Zoltan Fabri); Ådalen '31 (Bo Widerberg); Goodbye, Mr. Chips (Herbert Ross); A Walk With Love and Death (John Huston); Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (Paul Mazursky); Macunaíma (Joaquim Pedro de Andrade); Dong fu ren (The Arch) (Shu Shuen Tong)

In the queue: Boy (Nagisa Oshima); The Cremator (Juraj Herz); Army of Shadows (Jean-Pierre Melville); La choses de la vie (Claude Sautet); The Rite (Riten) (Ingmar Bergman); Dillinger is Dead (Marco Ferreri); The Structure of Crystals (Krzysztof Zanussi); That Cold Day in the Park (Robert Altman); Law and Order (Frederick Wiseman); All My Good Countrymen (Vojtech Jasny); The Bed Sitting Room (Richard Lester); Hamlet (Tony Richardson)

VINTAGE RATING (1969): 8.5****

NOTE: Haskell Wexler's 'Medium Cool' is alternately inept and brilliant, an invaluable time-capsule with a vivid, viseceral documentary feel that captures both the confusions of the age and the general uneasiness of filmmakers with the new modes of narrative filmmaking. Quite a number of critics put Tarkovsky's black-and-white medievel epic 'Andrei Rublev' among the greatest of all films, though I have to admit mostly puzzlement and boredom--except for the exquisite finale of art works shown in color. Many of its images have stuck with me, though. It's too substantial to ignore, so a second viewing is due.

1970 (86+)
Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson)
Woodstock (Michael Wadleigh)
Days and Nights in the Forest (Satyajit Ray)
Tristana (Luis Bunuel)
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Vittorio De Sica)
Trash (Paul Morrissey)
Joe (John G. Avildsen)
The Wild Child (Francois Truffaut)
M*A*S*H (Robert Altman)
Gimme Shelter (Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin)
Claire's Knee (Eric Rohmer)
The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci)
The Spider's Strategem (Bernardo Bertolucci)
Diary of a Mad Housewife (Frank Perry)

RUNNERS UP:
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Jaromil Jires)
Little Big Man (Arthur Penn)
The Twelve Chairs (Mel Brooks)
Loving (Irvin Kershner)
Elvis: That's the Way It Is (Denis Sanders) (original version; not re-edit)
Quiet Days in Clichy (Jens-Jorgen Thorsen)
Patton (Franklin Schaffner)
Le Cercle Rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville)
Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx (Waris Hussein)
The Out of Towners (Arthur Hiller)
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (Russ Meyer)
Let It Be (Michael Lindsay-Hogg)
A Man Called Horse (Elliot Silverstein)
Husbands (John Cassavetes)
I Never Sang For My Father (Gilbert Cates)
The Lickerish Quartet (Radley Metzger)
Scrooge (Ronald Neame)
Viva la muerte (Fernando Arrabal)
La Rupture (Claude Chabrol)
Four Clowns (Robert Youngson)
Performance (Nicolas Roeg, Donald Cammell)

For the record: Even Dwarfs Started Small (Werner Herzog); Landcape After Battle (Andrzej Wajda); Le Boucher (Claude Chabrol); Dodes'ka-den (Akira Kurosawa); The Garden of Delights (Carlos Saura); Why Does Herr R. Run Amok? (Rainer Werner Fassbinder); The Watermelon Man (Melvin Van Peebles); Start the Revolution Without Me (Bud Yorkin); Multiple Maniacs (John Waters); Sodoma (Otto Muhl)

To re-watch: The Landlord (Hal Ashby)

To see: End of the Road (Aram Avakian); The Niklashausen Journey (RW Fassbinder); Cromwell (Ken Hughes); Love Film (Szerelmesfilm) (István Szabó); Ice (Robert Kramer); Four Moods (Hsi nou ai lueh) (King Hu); Zabriskie Point (Michelangelo Antonioni); Zorn's Lemma (Hollis Frampton); Goin' Down the Road (Donald Shebib); Cotton Comes to Harlem (Ossie Davis); Three Sisters (Laurence Olivier); Brewster McCloud (Robert Altman); The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (Dario Argento); Hatchet for a Honeymoon (Mario Bava); Five Dolls for an August Moon (Mario Bava); 14 Up (7 Plus Seven) (Michael Apted); Last Known Address (José Giovanni); Fast Company (David Cronenberg); Cotton Comes to Harlem (Ossie Davis); The Confession (Costa-Gavras); The Ballad of Cable Hogue (Sam Peckinpah); Something For Everyone (Harold Prince); Eden and After (L'éden et après) (Alain Robbe-Grillet)

In the queue: Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (Elio Petri); Once Upon a Time There was a Singing Blackbird (Otar Iosseliani); Kes (Ken Loach); Red Detachment of Women (uncredited); Eros Plus Massacre (Yoshishige Yoshida); Ucho (The Ear) (Karel Kachyna); Umut (Hope) (Yilmaz Guney); Mona the Virgin Nymph (Michael Benveniste, Howard Ziehm); Hi Mom! (Brian de Palma); The Boys in the Band (William Friedkin); Darling Lili (Blake Edwards); The Green Wall (Armando Robles Godoy); The Molly Macguires (Martin Ritt); One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Caspar Wrede); Where's Poppa? (Carl Reiner); Hospital (Frederick Wiseman); The Vampire Lovers (Roy Ward Baker); Kelly's Heroes (Brian G. Hutton); Chisum (Andrew McLaglen)

VINTAGE RATING (1970): 8.5***

NOTE: Some clueless slacker on the internet claims that 1970 is one of the worst years in cinema history--which might be true if money was the only factor. Hollywood was in a commercial dumpster in 1970, to be sure, but the year's arthouse and commercial fare is pretty impressive. A year that produced 'Five Easy Pieces,' 'MASH', 'Woodstock' and 'Patton'--not to mention several exceptional foreign and indie works--could hardly be considered lower echelon. The rollicking arthouse Europorn 'Quiet Days in Clichy' (runner up) suffers from excessive repetition of Country Joe's title theme on the soundtrack but visually and in raucous spirit comes closest to the raw misogyny of Henry Miller's source prose. It remains one of the more interesting underground, cult, taboo films of its time. I've made my peace with the anachronisms of 'M*A*S*H'; I fully realize the necessity at the time of ramrodding a Vietnam satire through channels by pretending it takes place in Korea. The film's sexism, though, is a little dicey. All the females seem to be regarded no more highly than the toilet-paper supply requisitions hustled up by Radar O'Reilly.

1971 (88+)
Love (Szerelem) (Karoly Makk)
The Sorrow and the Pity (Marcel Ophuls)
The Devils (Ken Russell)
The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich)
Two English Girls (Francois Truffaut)
Carnal Knowledge (Mike Nichols)
La Salamandre (Alain Tanner)
Death in Venice (Luchino Visconti)
A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick)
Duel (Steven Spielberg)
Wintersoldier (Winterfilm Collective)
The French Connection (William Friedkin)
Johnny Got His Gun (Dalton Trumbo)
Harold and Maude (Hal Ashby)
Klute (Alan J. Pakula)
WR: Mysteries of the Organism (Dusan Makavejev)
McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman)
The Music Lovers (Ken Russell)

RUNNERS UP:
Millhouse: A White Comedy (Emile De Antonio)
Murmur of the Heart (Louis Malle)
Little Murders (Alan Arkin)
The Boy Friend (Ken Russell)
Vanishing Point (Richard C. Sarafian)
Taking Off (Milos Forman)
The Go-Between (Joseph Losey)
Dirty Harry (Don Siegel)
Silent Running (Douglas Trumbull)
The Omega Man (Boris Sagal)
The Beguiled (Don Siegel)
El Topo (Alejandro Jodorowsky)
Get Carter (Mike Hodges)
Wanda (Barbara Loden)
Bananas (Woody Allen)
Fiddler on the Roof (Norman Jewison)
Minnie and Moskowitz (John Cassavetes)
Walkabout (Nicolas Roeg)
Sunday Bloody Sunday (John Schlesinger)
Daughters of Darkness (Harry Kumel)
Summer of '42 (Robert Mulligan)
The Emigrants (Utvandrarna) (Jan Troell)
Mon oncle Antoine (Claude Jutra)
Nostalgia (Hollis Frampton)
The Abominable Dr. Phibes (Robert Fuest)
Shaft (opening credits w/Isaac Hayes' theme music) (Gordon Parks)

For the record: Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (Melvin Van Peebles); Beware of a Holy Whore (R.W. Fassbinder); Pink Narcissus (James Bidgood); The Hired Hand (Peter Fonda); Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (Mel Stuart); Fata Morgana (Werner Herzog); Two-Lane Blacktop (Monte Hellman); The Clowns (Federico Fellini); Macbeth (Roman Polanski)

To re-watch: The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick (Wim Wenders); The Hospital (Arthur Hiller); They Might Be Giants (Anthony Harvey); Desperate Characters (Frank D. Gilroy)

To see: See No Evil (Blind Terror) (Richard Fleischer); Women in Revolt (Paul Morrissey); Just Before Nightfall (Juste avant la nuit) (Claude Chabrol); The Projectionist (Harry Hurwitz); Such Good Friends (Otto Preminger); Carriage Trade (Warren Sonbert); Play Misty for Me (Clint Eastwood); Whity (Rainer Werner Fassbiner); La Région Centrale (Michael Snow); The Cat o' Nine Tails (Dario Argento); Land of Silence and Darkness (Werner Herzog); Bay of Blood (Mario Bava); Vampyros Lesbos (Jesus Franco); The Touch (Ingmar Bergman); Bleak Moments (Mike Leigh); Nostalgia (Hollis Frampton)

In the queue: Le Chat (Pierre Granier-Deferre); How Tasty was My Little Frenchman (Nelson Pereira dos Santos); The Working Class Goes to Paradise (Elio Petri); Four Nights of a Dreamer (Robert Bresson); New One Armed Swordsman (Chang Cheh); One Armed Boxer (Chinese Professionals) (Yu Wang); Deep End (Jerzy Skolimowski); Le Mans (Lee H. Katzin); Wild Rovers (Blake Edwards); Who is Harry Kellerman...? (Ulu Grosbard); Raid on Rommel (Henry Hathaway); Basic Training (Frederick Wiseman); Family Life (Ken Loach); Blanche (Walerian Borowczyk); The Ceremony (Nagisha Oshima); Man in the Wilderness (Richard Sarafian); Big Jake (George Sherman); Don't Deliver Us From Evil (Joel Seria); A Safe Place (Henry Jaglom)

VINTAGE RATING (1971): 8.5***

Note: Of the year's two famous existentialist gearhead movies, I have to admit a critically incorrect preference for 'Vanishing Point' (runner up) over the more vaunted 'Two-Lane Blacktop' (not listed) In the latter case, Monte Hellman evidently filtered the car-chase movie through an Andrei Tarkovsky sensibility, with tepid results apart from memorable imagery (though it seems to resonate with a lot of aesthetes). 'Love' by Karoly Makk and 'La Salamandre' by Alain Tanner are two beautiful, little-known foreign gems. The Makk film in particular strikes me as one of the few truly perfect films ever made. 'The Sorrow and the Pity' is a pitiless, probing, epic talking-heads documentary burrowing into the core of the shame of French collaboration during WWII. It's an ordeal to be sure, but something worth seeing at least once. It's a good year for Ken Russell, who released three of his best films; 'The Devils' being the best of these, and arguably his masterpiece. Emile de Antonio's 'Millhouse: A White Comedy' (runner up) -- despite the title and the filmmaker's leftist bent -- is a surprisingly unbiased examination of Nixon's political rise; memorable partly for including most of his masterstroke "Checkers" speech. 'The Omega Man' (runner up) is strictly a guilty pleasure: Gun-toting Chuck Heston practicing what he preaches on Afro-pated zombies. Kidding aside, its vision of the apocalypse (the deserted streets of LA, circa 1970) captures the mood of the time of its making as well as any film ever made. So does the wonderful opening of 'Shaft', which begins promisingly with telephoto shots of Richard Roundtree walking around the city, set to Isaac Hayes' famous ultracool, funky earworm theme-music. Despite this fine opening, the rest of the movie is a standard, and fairly undistinguished policier. A similar disillusionment followed a recent viewing of an old childhood favorite, 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory' (not listed). Somehow, the magic was gone--which is my fault, not the film's.

1972 (93+)
Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Werner Herzog)
The Ruling Class (Peter Medak)
Cries and Whispers (Ingmar Bergman)
Payday (Daryl Duke)
Fat City (John Huston)
The Godfather (Francis Coppola)
Baby Cart at the River Styx (Sword of Vengeance, part II) (Kenji Misumi)
Deliverance (John Boorman)
Junior Bonner (Sam Peckinpah)
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Luis Bunuel)
Superfly (Gordon Parks Jr.)
Images (Robert Altman)
The Getaway (Sam Peckinpah)
Frenzy (Alfred Hitchcock)

RUNNERS UP:
Sleuth (Joseph L. Mankiewicz)
The Merchant of Four Seasons (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Cabaret (Bob Fosse)
The Candidate (Michael Ritchie)
Chloe in the Afternoon (Eric Rohmer)
Sword of Vengeance (Lone Wolf and Cub, part 1) (Kenji Misumi)
Baby Cart in Hades (Lone Wolf and Cub, part 3) (Kenji Misumi)
Baby Cart in Peril (Lone Wolf and Cub, part 4) (Buichi Saito)
Avanti! (Billy Wilder)
JW Coop (Cliff Robertson)
Savage Messiah (Ken Russell)
Slaughterhouse-Five (George Roy Hill)
Last Tango in Paris (Bernardo Bertolucci)
The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (Philip Kaufman)
A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (Peter Medak)
Across 110th Street (Barry Shear)
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (John Huston)
Fellini's Roma (Federico Fellini)
And Now For Something Completely Different (Ian McNaughton)
Tout va bien (Jean-Luc Godard)
The Heartbreak Kid (Elaine May)
Tomorrow (Joseph Anthony)
Jeremiah Johnson (Sidney Pollack)
The Hot Rock (Peter Yates)
What's Up Doc? (Peter Bogdanovich)
The Cowboys (Mark Rydell)
Prime Cut (Michael Ritchie)

For the record: The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (R.W. Fassbinder); Marjoe (Sarah Kernochan, Howard Smith); Butterflies are Free (Milton Katselas); Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky); Heat (Paul Morrissey); The Score (Radley Metzger); Last House on the Left (Wes Craven); Sounder (Martin Ritt); Ciao Manhattan (John Palmer, David Weisman); The King of Marvin Gardens (Bob Rafelson); Pink Flamingos (John Waters)

To re-watch: Cat's Play (Karoly Makk); A Sense of Loss (Marcel Ophuls); Bad Company (Robert Benton); Play it Again, Sam (Herbert Ross)

To see: The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (Bruce Beresford); The Glass House (Tom Gries); The Valley Obscured by Clouds (La vallee) (Barbet Schroeder); Letter to Jane (Jean-Luc Godard); Bad Company (Robert Benton); Fritz the Cat (Ralph Bakshi); Bone (Larry Cohen); Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (Jonas Mekas); The Assassination of Trotsky (Joseph Losey); The Carey Treatment (Blake Edwards); Tales from the Crypt (Freddie Francis); Lucifer Rising (Kenneth Anger); We Will Not Grow Old Together (Maurice Pialat); The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (Paul Newman)

In the queue: The Goat Horn (Metodi Andonov); Female Convict Scorpion Jailhouse 41 (Shunya Ito); Ulzana's Raid (Robert Aldrich): Il Caso Mattei (Francesco Rosi); The Other (Robert Mulligan); The Seduction of Mimi (Lina Wertmuller); The Nightcomers (Michael Winner); Travels with My Aunt (George Cukor); Essene (Frederick Wiseman); My Childhood (Bill Douglas); Behind the Green Door (Artie and Jim Mitchell); Man of La Mancha (Arthur Hiller); Evil Roy Slade (Jerry Paris); Come Together (Tony Anthony); Red Psalm (Miklos Jancso); Ecstasy Of The Angels (Koji Wakamatsu)

VINTAGE RATING (1972): 9****

NOTE: In Rip Torn's career of mostly cult-film tours de force, 'Payday' could be the actor's ultimate explosion of 'fuck-everybody' rebellious energy as a road-calloused country singer. Ingmar Bergman's cancer-deathwatch family study 'Cries and Whispers' is the most profound film of the year and possibly the greatest, but, man, it's a difficult and disturbing watch. Not disimilar to one another are 'Aguirre..." and 'Deliverance,' two tales of descent into the leafy-green heart of darkness. 'The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean' (runner up) is a bit of a mess, but is full of funny, memorable scenes. Meat, misogyny and murderous revenge make up the deliciously weird cult item, "Prime Cut," (runner up) with Lee Marvin as the cold mob hit man with a soft spot and Gene Hackman as the ultimate chauvinist pig agri-capitalist (who likes raw entrails), a rivalry that seems to be going somewhere but peters out in conventional gunplay.

1973 (97+)
The Mother and the Whore (Jean Eustache)
Frank Film (Caroline & Frank Mouris)
A Brief Vacation (Vittorio De Sica)
Heavy Traffic (Ralph Bakshi)
Badlands (Terrence Malick)
The Last Detail (Hal Ashby)
The Long Goodbye (Robert Altman)
Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese)
The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Peter Yates)
Scenes from a Marriage (Ingmar Bergman)
O Lucky Man! (Lindsay Anderson)
American Graffiti (George Lucas)
Catholics (Jack Gold)
Day of the Jackal (Fred Zinnemann)
Scarecrow (Jerry Schatzberg)
Bobby (Raj Kapoor)
Spirit of the Beehive (Victor Erice)

RUNNERS UP:
Paper Moon (Peter Bogdanovich)
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Sam Peckinpah)
Don't Look Now (Nicolas Roeg)
The Harder They Come (Perry Henzell)
Charley Varrick (Don Siegel)
Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (Sword of Vengeance, part 5) (Kenji Misumi)
La Nuit Americaine (Day for Night) (Francois Truffaut)
The Iceman Cometh (John Frankenheimer)
Save the Tiger (John G. Avildsen)
Emperor of the North (Robert Aldrich)
The Three Musketeers (Richard Lester)
Jesus Christ Superstar (Norman Jewison)
Westworld (Michael Crichton)
The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy)
Serpico (Sidney Lumet)
Siddhartha (Conrad Rooks)
The Laughing Policeman (Stuart Rosenberg)
Dillinger (John Milius)
The Girl Most Likely to... (Lee Philips, TV movie)
Theatre of Blood (Douglas Hickox)
Harry in Your Pocket (Bruce Geller)
The Legend of Paul and Paula (Heiner Carow)
Papillon (Franklin Schaffner)
Black Caesar (Larry Cohen)
Soylent Green (Richard Fleischer)
Sleeper (Woody Allen)
Enter the Dragon (Robert Clouse)
Cinderella Liberty (Mark Rydell)

For the record: The Exorcist (William Friedkin); Chronicle of the Burning Years (Mohammed Lakhdar Hamina); The Fantastic Planet (Rene Laloux); The Last of Sheila (Herbert Ross)

To re-watch: Sisters (Brian de Palma); Cops and Robbers (Aram Avakian); Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams (Gilbert Cates); Coffy (Jack Hill)

To see: Love and Anarchy (Lina Wertmuller); Wattstax (Mel Stuart); Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street (Samuel Fuller); Three Wishes for Cinderella (Tri orísky pro Popelku) (Vaclav Vorlícek); Casual Relations (Mark Rappaport); Some Call it Loving (James B. Harris); Reed: Insurgent Mexico (Paul Leduc); Season of the Witch (George A. Romero); Lisa and the Devil (Mario Bava); Flesh for Frankenstein (Paul Morrissey); The Hour-Glass Sanatorium (Wojciech Has); Battles Without Honor & Humanity (Kinji Fukasaku); Kid Blue (James Frawley); Allonsanfan (Paolo and Vittorio Taviani); State of Siege (Costa-Gravas); The Mackintosh Man (John Huston); Detroit 9000 (Arthur Marks); The Spook Who Sat by the Door (Ivan Dixon); The Mack (Michael Campus); Malizia (Salvatore Samperi); The Scarlet Letter (Wim Wenders); Blood Brothers (Cheh Chang); Snow of Blood (Toshiya Fujita); The Homecoming (Peter Hall); The Fate of Lee Khan (King Hu)

In the queue: Il n'y pas de fumee san feu (Where There's Smoke) (Andre Cayatte); Distant Thunder (Satyajit Ray); Can Dialectics Break Bricks? (Rene Vienet); L'emmerdeur (A Pain in the A) (Eduardo Molinaro); Wedding in Blood (Les Noces Rouges) (Claude Chabrol); Turkish Delight (Turks Fruit) (Paul Verhoeven); Themroc (Claude Faraldo); Society of the Spectacle (Guy Debord); Le Magnifique (Phillipe de Broca); The Invitation (Claude Goretta); My Name is Nobody (Tonino Valerii); Riddance (Marta Meszaros); Juvenile Court (Frederick Wiseman); The Asphyx (Peter Newbrook); Blume in Love (Paul Mazursky); The Holy Mountain (Alejandro Jodorowsky)

VINTAGE RATING (1973): 8.5****

NOTE: There's a great tendency among many critics now to overrate the 1970s, now that the decade looks like such a classical period for auteur filmmaking. That tendency is understandable because, in many ways, the achievements of the 1970s are still underestimated. Looking at gritty indies and low-budget studio-backed fare such as 'Scarecrow,' 'Mean Streets,' and 'The Friends of Eddie Coyle' bespeaks the untold richness of the early half of the decade and is doubly impressive considering how slick and dumbed-down much of the current cinema (including the so-called 'indie' sector that was so promising in the '90s) has become.
'Bobby' is one of my favorite Bollywood movies, with plenty of cheese, energetic musical numbers and a useless plot stolen from Love Story; it has everything that makes Indian commercial films frivolous fun. Dimple Kapadia, in her debut, looks like a younger, cuter Indian version of Sandra Bullock. The epic chamber piece 'Mother and the Whore' is the non plus ultra of French jabbermouth marathons, four hours of Parisian pseudo-Bohemian ennui. It's a highly rewarding journey, if you can hang on. 'Frank Film' is a 9-minute experimental film, probably the most impressive ever made, using thousands of elaborately animated magazine cutouts and two soundtracks with different information to tell a guy's life story. It's pretty amazing stuff. And it won an Oscar, one of the few times the Academy actually honored an artistically deserving film. 'A Brief Vacation'--about a downtrodden, tubucular Milanese wife who literally blooms after being sent to a sanitarium--has typically been written off unfairly as a lesser, later Vittorio de Sica film, even though it's one of his most mature, exquisite works. Earthy beauty Florinda Bolkan is one of De Sica's great feminist heroines; her performance is uncommonly moving and brilliant. In retrospect, the film is near perfection.

1974 (94+)
The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser (Werner Herzog)
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
(Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
White Heaven in Hell (Baby Cart 6: Go to Hell, Daigoro!)
(Yoshiyuki Kuroda)
Edvard Munch
(Peter Watkins)
Xala
(Ousmane Sembene)
Chinatown
(Roman Polanski)
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Sam Peckinpah)
Martha (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
The Godfather Part II (Francis Coppola)
Hearts and Minds (Peter Davis)
The Phantom of Liberty (Luis Bunuel)
California Split (Robert Altman)
Sandakan 8 (Kei Kumai)
Thieves Like Us (Robert Altman)
Amarcord (Federico Fellini)
Mahler (Ken Russell)
Dersu Uzala (Akira Kurosawa)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones)

RUNNERS UP:
The Sugarland Express (Steven Spielberg)
Lacombe Lucien (Louis Malle)
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (Ted Kotcheff)
The Conversation (Francis Coppola)
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (Michael Cimino)
The Parallax View (Alan Pakula)
Italianamerican (Martin Scorsese)
That's Entertainment! (Jack Haley Jr.)
Effi Briest (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes)
Butley (Harold Pinter)
Zardoz (John Boorman)
Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks)
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (Joseph Sargent)
Dark Star (John Carpenter)

For the Record: Celine and Julie Go Boating (Jacques Rivette); Arabian Nights (Pier Paolo Pasolini); Murder on the Orient Express (Sidney Lumet); Toute une vie (And Now My Love) (Claude Lelouch); The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper); Sweet Movie (Dusan Makavejev); The Missiles of October (Anthony Page/TV)

To re-watch: Going Places (Les valseuses) (Bertrand Blier); Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (Martin Scorsese); Harry and Tonto (Paul Mazursky); Death Wish (Michael Winner)

To see: 11 Harrowhouse (Aram Avakian); At Home Among Strangers (Nikita Mikhalkov); Gone in 60 Seconds (HB Halicki); The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner (Werner Herzog); Death Dream (Dead of Night) (Bob Clark); Place de la République (Louis Malle); Black Christmas (Bob Clark); Blood for Dracula (Paul Morrissey); Mes Petites Amoureuses (Jean Eustache); Rabid Dogs (Mario Bava); Orderers (Michel Brault); Jacob the Liar (Frank Beyer); We All Loved Each Other So Much (Ettore Scola); Stavisky... (Alain Resnais); Ankur (Shyam Benegal); Nada (Claude Chabrol); The Fierce One (Tolomush Okeyev); Scent of a Woman (Dino Risi); The Tamarind Seed (Blake Edwards); Nightmare Circus (Alan Rudolph); Penthesilea (Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen); Juggernaut (Richard Lester); Female Trouble (John Waters/to re-watch)

In the queue: Lancelot du Lac (Robert Bresson); Immoral Tales (Walerian Borowczyk); The Deluge (Potop) (Jerzy Hoffman); The Street Fighter (Shigehiro Ozawa); The Clockmaker (Bertrand Tavernier); Conversation Piece (Luchino Visconti); Vincent, Francois, Paul and the Others (Claude Sautet); Truck Turner (Jonathan Kaplan); It's Alive (Larry Cohen); Harry and Tonto (Paul Mazursky); Cat’s Play (Karoly Makk/to re-watch); Elektra, My Love (Szerelmem, Elektra) (Miklos Jancso); Double Agent 73 (Doris Wishman) (1974)

VINTAGE RATING (1974): 9

NOTE: 'Xala,' a sharp satire on machismo and modernization from Senegal, is the best African film I've seen--and the only one that has kept my full attention from beginning to end.

1975 (75+)
The Battle of Chile, Part I (Patricio Guzman)
Farewell, My Lovely (Dick Richards)
Fox and His Friends (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet)
Rancho Deluxe (Frank Perry)
F for Fake (Orson Welles)
The Day of the Locust (John Schlesinger)
Nashville (Robert Altman)
Winstanley (Kevin Brownlow)
Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven (R.W. Fassbinder)
Mirror (Zerkalo) (Andrei Tarkovsky)
Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick)
Jaws (Steven Spielberg)
Sholay (Ramesh Sippy)
The Story of Adele H. (Francois Truffaut)
Love and Death (Woody Allen)
Swept Away... (Lina Wertmuller)

RUNNERS UP:
The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (Volker Schlondorff)
The Man Who Would Be King (John Huston)
Grey Gardens (Albert Maysles, et. al.)
Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir)
Overlord (Stuart Cooper)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Milos Forman)
The Naked Civil Servant (Jack Gold)
Shampoo (Hal Ashby)
Hester Street (Joan Micklin Silver)
Three Days of the Condor (Sydney Pollack)
Hearts of the West (Howard Zieff)
Rollerball (Norman Jewison)
A Boy and His Dog (L.Q. Jones)
The Stepford Wives (Bryan Forbes)
Innocents with Dirty Hands (Claude Chabrol)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Jim Sharman)
The Switchblade Sisters (Jack Hill)
The Prisoner of Second Avenue (Melvin Frank)
Salo, or 120 Days of Sodom (Pier Paolo Pasolini)
Bucktown (Arthur Marks)
Smile (Michael Ritchie)

For the record: The Killer Elite (Sam Peckinpah): El Muerto (Hector Olivera); Cousin, Cousine (Jean-Charles Tachella); The Wind and the Lion (John Milius); Deewar (Yash Chopra); Friday Foster (Arthur Marks); Shivers (David Cronenberg); Seven Beauties (Lina Wertmüller); Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (Denis Heroux)

To re-watch: The Passenger (Professione: reporter) (Michelangelo Antonioni)

To see: Los ninos abandonados (Danny Lyon); Chac: The Rain God (Rolando Klein); Let Joy Reign Supreme (Bertrand Tavernier); Milestones (Robert Kramer); A Woman's Decision (Bilans kwartalny) (Krzysztof Zanussi); Thundercrack! (Curt McDowell); Promised Land (Andrzej Wajda); Fear of Fear (Rainer Werner Fassbinder); Hustle (Robert Aldrich); Crazy Mama (Jonathan Demme); French Connection II (John Frankenheimer); Wrong Move (Wim Wenders); Une Partie de Plaisir (Claude Chabrol); The Old Gun (Robert Enrico); Fear Over the City (Henri Verneuil); Mandingo (Richard Fleischer); The Magic Flute (Trollflojten) (Ingmar Bergman)

In the queue: Manila, in the Claws of Neon (Lino Brocka); Jeanne Dielman... (Chantal Akerman); India Song (Marguerite Duras); The Most Important Thing is to Love (Andrzej Zulawski); Story of a Sin (Walerian Borowczyk); Breaking with Old Ideas (Wenhua Li); Atilla 74, The Rape of Cyprus (Michael Cacoyannis); The Valiant Ones (King Hu); Pinchcliffe Grand Prix (Ivo Caprino); Slade in Flame (Richard Loncraine); Lisztomania (Ken Russell); Cat and Mouse (Claude Lelouch); La Bete (The Beast) (Walerian Borowczyk); Welfare (Frederick Wiseman); Deep Red (Dario Argento); Keetje Tippel (Paul Verhoeven); Numero deux (Jean-Luc Godard); A Woman Called Sada Abe (Noboru Tanaka)

VINTAGE RATING (1975): 8.5****

NOTES: Andrei Tarkovsky's 'Mirror' is the Soviet director's most personal and possibly least accessible film. Even so, it's a beautiful puzzle of familial memory, and the finale is arguably the most poetic ever filmed--recognizable to anyone who dimly remembers a childhood picnic; capturing the elusive but universal qualities of a million lost summers. 'Salo' (runner up) is a Pandora's Box; nobody should open it. It may not even be a good film to begin with. But curiosity got the best of me and what I encountered was a uncompromising depiction of evil's banal face that made me feel nauseous, uneasy, voyeuristic and truly disturbed about violence and the idea of violence as entertainment. Whether art or exploitative trash, a film that elicits such feelings and reflection just might be important. The multi-part 'The Battle of Chile' is possibly the greatest piece of documentary reportage ever assembled, a massive coverage of the events before and after the Nixon-assisted coup of Chile's popularly elected socialist government. Like most Latin American verites, its POV is angry and pointedly left wing, and its cast of eyewitnesses is vast. Its crew shows an uncanny knack for being at the right places at the right times in capturing living history. Its 1977 and 1979 sequels (parts II and III) are not not listed under those years as I've decided to treat the three films as an organic whole (they should be viewed that way). 'Sholay" is the quintessential Bollywood epic, a so-called "curry western," tagged thusly for combining Sergio Leone's spaghetti western style with comedy, melodrama and musical numbers! Even more of a guilty pleasure is 'The Switchblade Sisters,' revived for video thanks to Quentin Tarantino, and therefore garnering far more attention the second-time around than it did on initial release. It's girl-gang exploitation trash with pretensions to Shakespeare--of its time but also foreshadowing Troma and other '80s cheese. It's not good, but the "train wreck" factor is high and main starlet Robbie Lee carries it without ever showing signs of acting talent. Far less dated--indeed, not dated at all--is Steven Spielberg's 'Jaws,' which, even with its no-longer-surprising shocks, still holds up nicely. Roy Scheider's harried cop/family man and his motley band of shark hunters (Shaw and Dreyfuss) seem more more fun and fascinating now as refreshing correctives to the cardboard heroes of our present age.

1976 (76+)
Harlan County, U.S.A. (Barbara Kopple)
Satan's Brew (Satansbratan) (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Network (Sidney Lumet)
Don's Party (Bruce Beresford)
The Tenant (Le Locataire) (Roman Polanski)
Mikey and Nicky (Elaine May)
The Last Supper (La ultima cena) (Tomas Gutierrez Alea)
The Shootist (Don Siegel)
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (John Cassavetes)
Eraserhead (David Lynch)
The Street (Caroline Leaf; National Film Board of Canada short)
In the Realm of the Senses (Nagisa Oshima)

RUNNERS UP:
Bound for Glory (Hal Ashby)
Jana Aranya (The Middleman) (Satyajit Ray)
All the President's Men (Alan Pakula)
Stay Hungry (Bob Rafelson)
A Sunday in Hell (Jorgen Leth)
Cadaveri Eccellenti (Illustrious Corpses) (Francesco Rosi)
Small Change (L'argent de poche) (Francois Truffaut)
Mr. Klein (Joseph Losey)
Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese)
Max Havelaar (Fons Rademakers)
Underground (Emile de Antonio, et. al.)
That's Entertainment Part II (Gene Kelly)
The Last Tycoon (Elia Kazan)
Robin and Marian (Richard Lester)
Obsession (Brian De Palma)
Silent Movie (Mel Brooks)
Cannonball (Paul Bartel)
Meat (Frederick Wiseman)
The Ascent (Larisa Shepitko)
The Front (Martin Ritt)
The Eagle Has Landed (John Sturges)
Silver Streak (Arthur Hiller)
The Opening of Misty Beethoven (Radley Metzger)

For the record: Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 (Alain Tanner); Heart of Glass (Werner Herzog); Voyage of the Damned (Stuart Rosenberg); Assault on Precinct 13 (John Carpenter); Cria Cuervos (Carlos Saura); Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (Bruno Barreto); The Innocent (Luchino Visconti); Seven Beauties (Lina Wertmuller); Carrie (Brian De Palma); Chinese Roulette (Rainer Werner Fassbinder); 1900 (Bernardo Bertolucci); Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (Bruno Barreto); Down and Dirty (Ugly, Dirty and Bad) (Ettore Scola); Buffalo Bill and the Indians (Robert Altman); Breakfast (Table Top Dolly) (Michael Snow)

To re-watch: The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (Herbert Ross)

To see: Leadbelly (Gordon Parks); Coup de Grace (Volker Schlondorff); I Only Want You To Love Me (Rainer Werner Fassbinder); God Told Me To (Larry Cohen); Insiang (Lino Brocka); Alice, Sweet Alice (Alfred Sole); The Marquise of O (Eric Rohmer); The Message (Moustapha Akkad); The Missouri Breaks (Arthur Penn); The Context (Francesco Rosi); A Matter of Time (Vincente Minnelli); Personel (Krzysztof Kieslowski); Barocco (Andre Techine); Hollywood Boulevard (Allan Arkush, Joe Dante); The Last Woman (Marco Ferreri); Face to Face (Ingmar Bergman); Private Eyes (Ban jin ba liang) (Michael Hui)

In the queue: Je t'aime moi no plus (Serge Gainsbourg); A Real Young Girl (Catherine Breillat); Shaolin Temple (Death Chamber) (Chang Cheh); Man on the Roof (Mannen pa taket) (Bo Widerberg); Duelle (une quarantaine) (Jacques Rivette); Kings of the Road (Wim Wenders; to re-watch); A Slave of Love (Nikita Mikhalkov); Xica (Carlo Diegues); The Outlaw Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood); Monkey Hustle (Arthur Marks); Bugsy Malone (Alan Parker)

VINTAGE RATING (1976): 7.5

NOTE: The critical side of me insists that David Lynch's relentlessly grim 'Eraserhead' is the year's most formidable work of art. As with many such things, engage at your own risk. Also weird but a lot more fun is Fassbinder's outlandish 'Satan's Brew,' the director's most outre bit of grotesque camp--impossible to forget once seen. OK, 'Taxi Driver' is only on the runners up list. So, I'm a heretic. This year's guilty pleasure is the cheese-laden but wry Roger-Corman-produced cross-country car-race comedy, 'Cannonball' (runner up), written and directed by cult fave actor-director Paul Bartel (and not to be confused with Burt Reynolds' 'The Cannonball Run'). I'm not sure how Francois Truffaut's 'Small Change' (runner up) would play for me today; I suspect it might be more cloying than I remember. I just know that it was a delightful view back around 1979 when I saw it at the old Vogue. Larisa Sheptiko's grim Soviet war film 'The Ascent' (runner up) has attained the sort of patina of legend that clings to major prize-winning (Berlin Golden Bear) films that subsequently become hard to find, thus making all debate the province of a privileged few vocal admirers. I just obtained a copy and found it curiously uninvolving and unmoving despite its admirably vivid, realistic depiction of wartime strife. I just felt I'd seen all this before in more dramatically interesting movies, including Soviet ones such as 'Come and See' (1985) and 'Komissar' (1967). The religious symbolism brings to mind better films also, such as Carl Dreyer's 'Ordet' (1955). I list it as a runner up to ponder. For most of the way Francesco Rosi's touted but obscure "Illustrious Corpses" (runner up) is a delicious enigma but then gets too literal and tidy near the end with an Evil One behind the conspiracy; I would have preferred it remain enigmatic.

1977 (64+)
Annie Hall (Woody Allen)
3 Women (Robert Altman)
Providence (Alain Resnais)
Abigail's Party (Mike Leigh)
That Obscure Object of Desire (Luis Bunuel)
Cross of Iron (Sam Peckinpah)
The Sand Castle (Le Chateau de sable) (Co Hoedeman)
Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett)
The Last Wave (Peter Weir)
Man of Marble (Andrzej Wajda)
The Chess Players (Satyajit Ray)
The Getting of Wisdom (Bruce Beresford)
Short Eyes (Robert M. Young)
Suspiria (Dario Argento)

RUNNERS UP:
Julia (Fred Zinnemann)
Pumping Iron (George Butler, Robert Fiore)
The Metamorphosis of Mr. Samsa (Caroline Leaf; NFB short)
High Anxiety (Mel Brooks)
Saturday Night Fever (John Badham)
Exorcist II: The Heretic (John Boorman)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg)
Perfumed Nightmare (Kidlat Tahimik)
Stroszek (Werner Herzog)
Opening Night (John Cassavetes)
The Turning Point (Herbert Ross)
Star Wars (George Lucas)
Amar Akbar Anthony (Manmohan Desai)
The Lacemaker (Claude Goretta)
The Late Show (Robert Benton)
Hardware Wars (Ernie Fossellius)
Sorcerer (William Friedkin)

For the record: The Devil, Probably (Robert Bresson); Allegro Non Troppo (Bruno Bozzetto); Martin (George A. Romero); The American Friend (Wim Wenders); Citizen's Band (Jonathan Demme); Outrageous! (Richard Benner)

To re-watch: Looking for Mr. Goodbar (Richard Brooks) (in the queue); The Duellists (Ridley Scott); Soldier of Orange (Paul Verhoeven)

To see: Why Shoot the Teacher? (Silvio Narizzano); News from Home (Chantal Akerman); 21 Up (Michael Apted); Tracks (Henry Jaglom); Local Color (Mark Rappaport); The Stationmaster's Wife (Rainer Werner Fassbinder); Rabid (David Cronenberg); The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (Larry Cohen); Alambrista! (Robert M. Young); A Grin Without a Cat (Chris Marker); Twilight's Last Gleaming (Robert Aldrich); The Choirboys (Robert Aldrich); Desperate Living (John Waters/to re-watch); Rolling Thunder (John Flynn)

In the queue: Camouflage (Krzysztof Zanussi); The Man Who Loved Women (Francois Truffaut); Peppermint Soda (Diane Kurys); Le Crabe Tambour (Pierre Schoendoerffer); An Unfinished Piece for Player Piano (Nikita Mikhalkov); Padre Padrone (Paola & Vittorio Taviani); New York, New York (Martin Scorsese); Invisible Adversaries (Valie Export); Last Chants for a Slow Dance (Jon Jost)

VINTAGE RATING (1977): 8***

NOTE: Bunuel's last film, 'That Obscure Object of Desire,' (the story of a luscious, merciless man-tease) did not quite register on first view. But then I recently saw two earlier film versions of the story ("The Woman and the Puppet") on which it was based. The opportunity for comparison made the story more interesting, and Bunuel's version is the most explicit and wickedly ironic. Interestingly Robert Altman's '3 Women' and Mike Leigh's 'Abigail's Party' share the common thread of fantasist central characters who want glamor and order in their worlds despite the fact that everyone else won't cooperate. 'The Sand Castle' is a beautiful clay-animation short from the National Film Board of Canada that won an AA. My inner 15-year-old is just about dead, so it's hard to work up my old enthusiasm for 'Star Wars.' It's listed among the runners up in honor of those pre-jaded days of innocence. 'The Turning Point' (runner up) is silly women's tosh; an entertaining guilty pleasure. The Italian slasher film 'Suspiria' is an embarassment in the story and acting departments, yet visually it's one of the most strikingly stylish films of the '70s. (As it happens, it was the last film in the entire Western World made with an old three-strip Technicolor camera---and to its credit, looks it.) Far less colorful and more realistically violent is 'Short Eyes' (runner up) which, while not quite overcoming some of its theatrical origins, is probably the most shattering and grim prison film ever made (and no, I'm not forgetting 'Midnight Express,' 'Papillon' or Yilmaz Guney's 'The Wall'). Thanks to interlibrary loan I was able to snare Charles Burnett's 'Killer of Sheep,' a landmark of the African-American indie cinema and one of the most quietly devastating studies of a family man's desperation that I've ever seen. 'Sorcerer' (runner up) is a travesty as a remake of the 1953 French classic, 'The Wages of Fear;' lots of money thrown into it to mostly murky effect, but the bridge-crossing scene is harrowing and masterfully shot, enough to make the film a must-see for that alone.

1978 (67+)
Dawn of the Dead (George Romero)
Days of Heaven
(Terence Malick)
Gates of Heaven (Errol Morris)
The Tree of Wooden Clogs (Ermanno Olmi)
Hitler - A Film from Germany (Our Hitler) (Hans-Jurgen Syberberg)
The Driver (Walter Hill)
Go Tell the Spartans (Ted Post)
The Last Waltz (Martin Scorsese)
A Wedding (Robert Altman)
Despair (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Interiors (Woody Allen)
Blue Collar
(Paul Schrader)
Fingers (James Toback)
Northern Lights (John Hanson, Rob Nilsson)
The Silent Partner (Daryl Duke)
American Hot Wax (Floyd Mutrux)

RUNNERS UP:
Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (Bertrand Blier)
The Shout (Jerzy Skolimowski)
Autumn Sonata (Ingmar Bergman)
A Dream of Passion (Jules Dassin)
Who'll Stop the Rain (Karel Reisz)
Pretty Baby (Louis Malle)
Stevie (Robert Enders)
The Cheap Detective (Robert Moore)
An Unmarried Woman (Paul Mazursky)
Coma (Michael Crichton)
Heaven Can Wait (Warren Beatty, Buck Henry)
Convoy (Sam Peckinpah)
Halloween (John Carpenter)
Superman (Richard Donner)
Drunken Master (Yuen Woo-ping)
Movie Movie (Stanley Donen)
House Calls (Howard Zieff)

For the record: The Place Without Limits (Arturo Ripstein); Coming Home (Hal Ashby): The Deer Hunter (Michael Cimino); Orchestra Rehearsal (Federico Fellini); The Buddy Holly Story (Steve Rash); Five Deadly Venoms (Cheh Chang); Scared Straight! (Arnold Shapiro)

To re-watch: In the Realm of Passion (Nagisa Oshima); The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (Fred Schepisi); Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Philip Kaufman)

To see: Top Dog (Wodzirej) (Feliks Falk); China 9, Liberty 37 (Monte Hellman); Divided Loyalties (Warren Sonbert); The Scenic Route (Mark Rappaport); Girlfriends (Claudia Weill); The Fury (Brian De Palma); California Suite (Herbert Ross); The Green Room (Francois Truffaut); Deutschland im Herbst (Germany in Autumn) (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, et. al.); Backyard (Ross McElwee); You Are Not Alone (Ernst Johansen and Lasse Nielsen); Alexandria, Why? (Youssef Chahine); The Medusa Touch (Jack Gold); Meetings with Anna (Chantal Akerman); Le Dossier 51 (Michel Deville); The Second Awakening of Christa Klages (Margarethe von Trotta); Remember My Name (Alan Rudolph); Knife in the Head (Reinhard Hauff); Can que (Crippled Avengers/Return of the 5 Deady Venoms) (Cheh Chang); The Master Killer (The 36th Chamber of Shaolin) (Chia-Liang Liu)

In the queue: Suru (The Herd) (Zeki Okten, Yilmaz Guney); Straight Time (Ulu Grosbard); L'immoralita (Massimo Pirri); Violette Noziere (Claude Chabrol); In a Year of 13 Moons (Rainer Werner Fassbinder); One Night Stand (Allan King); Revenge of the Pink Panther (Blake Edwards); Grease (Randal Kleiser); In the Realm of Passion (Empire of Passion) (Empire of Passion) (Nagisa Oshima/to re-watch); Newsfront (Phillip Noyce)

VINTAGE RATING (1978): 7***

NOTES: 1978 was a fairly dreary year for the movies, the mood seemed aimless and a sense of decline is evident. In addition, 1977's 'Star Wars' seemed to signal a new shift toward comic-book blockbusters. All the way down the list, the best movies are willfully dark and gloomy. 'Our Hitler' is one of the most ambitious performance-art films ever made, an exercise in non-narrative biography and broad visual essay that attempts to link Hitler's spirit to ongoing evils, including multinational capitalism. It's a grueling 8 hours long, but full of rewarding insights. If pure art were the measure, then it easily could be considered the year's greatest film. Getting through it earns a completists' badge of honor. 'The Tree of Wooden Clogs' is a documentary-like depiction of Italian peasant life. I only saw it once, in a theater in 1979, and found it an enriching experience. I'm afraid if I tried to watch it today on a little TV screen it would bore me. On the fun side, 'The Silent Partner' is a grimy '70s thriller with Christopher Plummer as one of the scariest villains in movie history. 'Northern Lights' is a fine indie film, shot stunningly in black and white, about the struggles of Scandinavian farm immigrants in North Dakota. It used to show up on PBS all the time back in the '80's and hasn't been seen since. 'The Deer Hunter' is not here; never liked it apart from Walken and the opening wedding sequence. Same for the melodramatic 'Coming Home.' Voigt and Dern good, though.

1979 (79+)
Apocalypse Now (Francis Coppola)
Wise Blood (John Huston)
Christ Stopped at Eboli (Francesco Rosi)
Being There (Hal Ashby)
Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky)
The Black Stallion (Carroll Ballard)
Manhattan (Woody Allen)
Nosferatu the Vampyre (Werner Herzog)
The In-Laws (Arthur Hiller)
My Brilliant Career (Gillian Armstrong)
A Little Romance (George Roy Hill)
Escape From Alcatraz (Don Siegel)
Saint Jack
(Peter Bogdanovich)
Alien (Ridley Scott)
Quintet
(Robert Altman)

RUNNERS UP:
Tess (Roman Polanski)
The China Syndrome (James Bridges)
Norma Rae (Martin Ritt)
Monty Python's Life of Brian (Terry Jones)
The Tin Drum (Volker Schlondorff)
Bye Bye Brasil (Carlos Diegues)
All That Jazz (Bob Fosse)
Breaking Away (Peter Yates)
Winter Kills (William Richert)
The Great Train Robbery (Michael Crichton)
Time After Time (Nicholas Meyer)
...And Justice for All (Norman Jewison)
Hair (Milos Forman)
The Warriors (Walter Hill)
Head Over Heels (Chilly Scenes of Winter) (Joan Micklin Silver)
The Lady Vanishes (Anthony Page)
Faro Dokument 1979 (Ingmar Bergman)
Hardcore (Paul Schrader)

For the record: Woyzeck (Werner Herzog); Vengeance is Mine (Shohei Imamura); Rock 'n' Roll High School (Allan Arkush); Siberiade (Andrei Konchalovsky); When a Stranger Calls (Fred Walton); Real Life (Albert Brooks); Best Boy (Ira Wohl); Quadrophenia (Franc Roddam); The Brood (David Cronenberg); The Jerk (Carl Reiner); Laura (David Hamilton)

To re-watch: Buffet Froid (Bertrand Blier); The Marriage of Maria Braun (R.W. Fassbinder); Gal Young 'Un (Victor Nunez)

To see: Young Girls of Wilko (Andrzej Wajda); Plae kao (The Scar) (Cherd Songsri); Angi Vera (Pal Gabor); Mary My Dearest (María de mi corazón) (Jaime Humberto Hermosillo); The Driller Killer (Abel Ferrara); The Perfect Couple (Robert Altman); Scum (Alan Clarke/BBC version 77/theatrical: 79); We Were One Man (Nous etions un seul homme) (Philippe Vallois); Perceval (Eric Rohmer); Phantasm (Don Coscarelli); The Third Generation (Rainer Werner Fassbinder); Sympathy for a Sinner (George Kuchar); Sunstone (Ed Emshwiller); Bloody Kiss (Stephen Frears); Without Anesthesia (Andrzej Wajda); The Europeans (James Ivory); Fung gip (The Secret) (Ann Hui); Amor de Perdicao (Doomed Love) (Manoel de Oliveira)

In the queue: Mad Monkey Kung Fu (Chia-Liang Liu); The Butterfly Murders (Tsui Hark); Messidor (Alain Tanner); La Luna (Bernardo Bertolucci); Camera Buff (Krzysztof Kieslowski); City of Women (Federico Fellini); El Super (Leon Ichaso, Orlando Jimenez Leal); To Forget Venice (Franco Brusati); The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting (Raoul Ruiz); Dracula (John Badham); The Crippled Masters (Joe Law); Amor Bandido (Bruno Barreto); Buffet Froid (Bertrand Blier)

VINTAGE RATING (1979): 8.5***

NOTE: This was the year I got serious enough about flicks that I started writing reviews for the high school paper. Several of these made my 'published' top 10 list in early 1980. I'm kind of surprised by the low list count for this year because I went to the movies a lot in 1979. Then again, I was getting much more selective about what I went to see (and was seeing a lot of older classics).

1980 (78+)
Mon Oncle d'Amerique (Alain Resnais)
Breaker Morant (Bruce Beresford)
Deathwatch (La mort en direct) (Bertrand Tavernier)
Heartland (Richard Pearce)
The Stunt Man (Richard Rush)
The Long Good Friday (John Mackenzie)
Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese)
The Elephant Man (David Lynch)
Airplane! (Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker)
The Big Red One (Samuel Fuller)
Used Cars (Robert Zemeckis)
The Ninth Configuration (William Peter Blatty)
Stardust Memories (Woody Allen)
Inside Moves (Richard Donner)
Bronco Billy (Clint Eastwood)

RUNNERS UP:
The Long Riders (Walter Hill)
Coal Miner's Daughter (Michael Apted)
From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China (Murray Lerner)
Dressed to Kill (Brian DePalma)
Hopscotch (Ronald Neame)
The Return of the Secaucus Seven (John Sayles)
On Company Business (Inside the CIA: On Company Business) (Allan Francovich)
Atlantic City (Louis Malle)
Lightning Over Water (Wim Wenders, Nicholas Ray)
Altered States (Ken Russell)
The Last Metro (Le dernier metro) (Francois Truffaut)
Bad Timing (Nicolas Roeg)
Loulou (Maurice Pialat)
The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter (Connie Field)
The Lathe of Heaven (Fred Barzyk, David R. Loxton/TV)
The Blues Brothers (John Landis)
The Shining (Stanley Kubrick)
The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner)
Caddyshack (Harold Ramis)
My Bodyguard (Tony Bill)
The Sea Wolves (Andrew V. McLaglen)
The Competition (Joel Oliansky)

HONORABLE MENTION:
Hollywood (UK miniseries on silent cinema) (Kevin Brownlow, David Gill)

For the record: From the Life of the Marionettes (Ingmar Bergman); Kagemusha (Akira Kurosawa); McVicar (Tom Clegg); Melvin and Howard (Jonathan Demme); Popeye (Robert Altman); Carny (Robert Kaylor); The Gods Must Be Crazy (Jamie Uys); Out of the Blue (Dennis Hopper); Hardly Working (Jerry Lewis); Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (Vladimir Menshov); Young Master (Jackie Chan)

To see: Contract (Krzysztof Zanussi); The Fog (John Carpenter); The Hunter (Buzz Kulik); Stir (Stephen Wallace); Guns (Robert Kramer); Berlin Alexanderplatz (Rainer Werner Fassbinder); Maniac (William Lustig); The Changeling (Peter Medak); Voyage en Douce (Michel Deville); Pepi, Luci, Bom (Pedro Almodóvar); Inferno (Dario Argento); The Fog (John Carpenter); God's Angry Man (Werner Herzog); Health (Robert Altman); Every Man for Himself (Jean-Luc Godard); The Great Rock 'n Roll Swindle (Julien Temple); Shogun Assassin (Robert Houston); Solo Sunny (Konrad Wolf); La cicala (The Cricket) (Alberto Lattuada)

In the queue: Cruising (William Friedkin); Jupiter's Thigh (Philippe de Broca); Model (Frederick Wiseman); Tanya's Island (Alfred Sole); American Gigolo (Paul Schrader)

VINTAGE RATING (1980): 7.5***

Note: I vacillated on William Peter Blatty's cult movie, 'The Ninth Configuration'--moving it back and forth into the top list, down into the runners up, and back up again. It's been 20 years since I've seen it; I remember it being unconventional and intriguing, but also remember being confounded by it all at the end. Maybe another view would make me better understand the revelations about Stacey Keach's enigmatic army psychiatrist character.

1981 (114)
Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior) (George Miller)
Das Boot
(Wolfgang Petersen)
Cutter's Way (Ivan Passer)
Marianne and Juliane (Die Bleierne Zeit) (Margarethe von Trotta)
Man of Iron
(Andrzej Wajda)
Gallipoli (Peter Weir)
Diva
(Jean-Jacques Beineix)
Montenegro (Dusan Makavejev)
Thief (Michael Mann)
Tre Fratelli (Three Brothers) (Francesco Rosi)
Christiane F. (Uli Edel)
The French Lieutenant's Woman (Karel Reisz)
Excalibur (John Boorman
Mephisto (Istvan Szabo)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg)
Lola (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Reds (Warren Beatty)
My Dinner With Andre (Louis Malle)
Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography (Bonnie Sherr Klein)

RUNNERS UP:
Ragtime (Milos Forman)
Four Friends (Arthur Penn)
Escape from New York (John Carpenter)
Pennies From Heaven (Herbert Ross)
Prince of the City (Sidney Lumet)
Fort Apache, the Bronx (Daniel Petrie)
Whose Life Is It Anyway? (John Badham)
The Boat is Full (Markus Imhoof)
Gregory's Girl (Bill Forsythe)
Smash Palace (Roger Donaldson)
Coup de Torchon (Bertrand Tavernier)
Blow Out (Brian De Palma)
Eye of the Needle (Richard Marquand)
True Confessions (Ulu Grosbard)
Passione d'amore (Ettore Scola)
Possession (Andrzej Zulawski) (mainly for Adjani's mad miscarriage)
Clash of the Titans (Desmond Davis)
Chariots of Fire (Hugh Hudson)
Tattoo (Bob Brooks)
Polyester (John Waters)
Circle of Deceit (Volker Schlondorff)
Roadgames (Richard Franklin)

For the record: Ms. 45 (Abel Ferrara); Pixote (Hector Babenco); Stripes (Ivan Reitman); Body Heat (Lawrence Kasdan); Taxi Zum Klo (Frank Ripploh); Agony (Elem Klimov); The Aviator's Wife (Eric Rohmer); Southern Comfort (Walter Hill); All the Marbles (Robert Aldrich); Rich and Famous (George Cukor); Modern Romance (Albert Brooks); They All Laughed (Peter Bogdanovich); The Evil Dead (Sam Raimi); Mommie Dearest (Frank Perry); An American Werewolf in London (Landis)

To see: Birgit Haas Must Be Killed (Laurent Heynemann); Vernon, Florida (Errol Morris); Scanners (David Cronenberg); Tree of Knowledge (Nils Malmros); Assassination Attempt (Aleksandr Alov, Vladimir Naumov); The Professional (Georges Lautner); Do You Remember Dolly Bell? (Emir Kusturica); Full Moon High (Larry Cohen); Eijanaika (Shohei Imamura); Bian yuen ren (Man on the Brink) (Gwok-Ming Cheung); Foo ji ching (Father and Son) (Allen Fong); Le pont du nord (Jacques Rivette); The Day After Trinity (Jon Else)

In the queue: Garde a vue (Claude Miller); Beau Pere (Bertrand Blier)

VINTAGE RATING (1981): 7.5***

Note: I was stuck in the post of 'second-string' movie critic for "The Marquette Tribune" in 1980-1982, which meant that editor Chris Foran got first dibs on the good stuff while I saw a lot of bad flicks--some of them among the worst ever made, including 'Inchon,' 'Monsignor,' 'Parsifal,' 'Q--the Winged Serpent,' and one I actually liked at the time, a Michael Crichton 'Coma'-rehash thriller called 'Looker.' If it wasn't so handsome looking I might be tempted to throw into the disappointment category 'Chariots of Fire' (runner up), in which 'Rocky' and MTV meet 'Masterpiece Theatre. As best picture winners go, it's at least not the suckiest. "Clash of the Titans' (runner up) has a fairly high cheese quotient but I give it a lot of credit for charm and sincerity, being true to the wonder of Greek legends. Yes, Bob Brooks' "Tattoo" is trash and not fair to the tattoo industry, but it has Bruce Dern as yet another nutcase, which is inherently fun, and Maud Adams in a red, white and blue bikini, and that's something I cannot forget.

1982 (to count)
Yol (Serif Goren, Yilmaz Guney)
Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman)
Sophie's Choice (Alan J. Pakula)
Victor/Victoria (Blake Edwards)
Blade Runner
(Ridley Scott)
The Atomic Cafe (Kevin Rafferty, Jayne Loader, Pierce Rafferty)
Burden of Dreams (Les Blank)
Heatwave (Phillip Noyce)
The Return of Martin Guerre (Daniel Vigne)
The Verdict (Sidney Lumet)
Angel (Neil Jordan)
Dimensions of Dialogue (Jan Svankmajer)
Diner (Barry Levinson)
My Favorite Year (Richard Benjamin)
Missing (Costa-Gavras)
Eating Raoul (Paul Bartel)
The Grey Fox (Phillip Borsos)
La Balance (Bob Swaim)
Vice Squad (Gary Sherman)

RUNNERS UP:
The Year of Living Dangerously (Peter Weir)
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (Carl Reiner)
Moonlighting (Jerzy Skolimowski)
The Draughtsman's Contract (Peter Greenaway)
The World According to Garp (George Roy Hill)
The Weavers: Wasn't That a Time (Jim Brown)
Veronika Voss (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
The Thing (John Carpenter)
Lonely Hearts (Paul Cox)
The Plague Dogs (Martin Rosen)
Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip (Joe Layton)
Cat People (Paul Schrader)
The Dark Crystal (Jim Henson, Frank Oz)
Gandhi (Richard Attenborough)
Fitzcarraldo (Werner Herzog)
White Dog (Samuel Fuller)
A Question of Silence (Marleen Gorris)
The Secret of NIMH (Don Bluth)
Tootsie (Sydney Pollack)
Pink Floyd The Wall (Alan Parker)
Conan the Barbarian (John Milius)

For the record: E.T., the Extraterrestrial (Steven Spielberg); Poltergeist (Tobe Hooper); Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Amy Heckerling); Night of the Shooting Stars (Paolo and Vittorio Taviani); Liquid Sky (Slava Tsuckerman); Poltergeist (Tobe Hooper); Le beau mariage (Eric Rohmer); Identification of a Woman (Michelangelo Antonioni); Shoot the Moon (Alan Parker); One From the Heart (Francis Ford Coppola)

To see: Invitation au voyage (Peter Del Monte); Frances (Graeme Clifford); Cecilia (Humberto Solas); Time Stands Still (Megall az ido) (Peter Gothar); Labyrinth of Passion (Pedro Almodóvar); Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (Robert Altman); Passion (Jean-Luc Godard); On Top of the Whale (Raoul Ruiz); So Is This (Michael Snow); Barbarosa (Fred Schepisi); Shaolin si (The Shaolin Temple; not to be confused with 1976 same titled, see) (Xinyan Zhang); Legendary Weapons of China (Shi ba ban wu yi) (Chia-Liang Liu); Boat People (Tau ban no hoi) (Ann Hui); Chinese Super Ninjas (Ren zhe wu di) (Cheh Chang)

In the queue: Tenebre (Dario Argento); Made in Britain (Alan Clarke); Chan is Missing (Wayne Wang); The Go Masters (Ji-shun Duan, Junya Sato); Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die (Laurence Jarvik); Querelle (R.W. Fassbinder); The State of Things (Wim Wenders); Alsino and the Condor (Miguel Littin); Wend Kuuni (Gaston Kabore); Lookin' to Get Out (Hal Ashby); Hammet (Wim Wenders); The Entity (Sidney Furie); The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Colin Higgins); Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (Lou Adler); Too Early, Too Late (Trop tot, trop tard) (Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub); La Truite (Joseph Losey)

VINTAGE RATING (1982): 7.5***

Note: Despite my bias against the '80s, 1982 is a pretty eclectic year by the look of this list. The ringer here is Gary Sherman's trash exploitation 'b'-crime picture, 'Vice Squad,' kind of an amalgamation of all the sleazy R-rated grindhouse fare of the late '70s and early '80s (police recruit a hooker with a heart of gold to catch a psycho killer pimp). It's pretty nasty, compellingly earnest stuff, despite an ever-lingering cheese odor; a guilty pleasure enhanced greatly by topnotch gritty cinematography by Stanley Kubick's cameraman, John Alcott. Sam Fuller's 'White Dog' (runner up) shows the director again as perhaps the foremost American primitive, making a perplexingly disturbing movie about a rascist dog(!)out of a cheesy mis-en scene, heavy-handed mixed messages and exploitative subject matter. I'm not a big fan of 'Tootsie,' but I did like its mockery of daytime television and of gender double standards, even if the message was pounded home with a sledgehammer bigger than Tootsie's fake boobs. Spielberg's supremely manipulative kidshow 'E.T.' seemed to me to be a triumph of product placement, and little else. It ain't here. So call me Scrooge...

1983 (to count)
Sans Soleil (Chris Marker)
The Dresser (Peter Yates)
Scarface (Brian De Palma)
Videodrome (David Cronenberg)
Betrayal (David Hugh Jones)
Local Hero (Bill Forsythe)
The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese)
Pauline at the Beach (Eric Rohmer)
Never Cry Wolf (Carroll Ballard)
Educating Rita (Lewis Gilbert)
Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio)
Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain (Tsui Hark)
Duvar (The Wall) (Yilmaz Guney)

RUNNERS UP:
The Dead Zone (David Cronenberg)
A nos amours (Maurice Pialat)
Zelig (Woody Allen)
The Big Chill (Lawrence Kasdan)
Tender Mercies (Bruce Beresford)
The Store (Frederick Wiseman)
A Christmas Story (Bob Clark)
In the White City (Alain Tanner)
Another Time, Another Place (Michael Radford)
Lianna (John Sayles)
Under Fire (Roger Spottiswoode)
The Fourth Man (Paul Verhoeven)
One Deadly Summer (Jean Becker)
Nostalghia (Andrei Tarkovsky)
Heart Like a Wheel (Jonathan Kaplan)
Trading Places (John Landis)
And the Ship Sails On (Federico Fellini)
Star 80 (Bob Fosse)
Strange Brew (Dave Thomas, Rick Moranis)
Project A (Jackie Chan)
Risky Business (Paul Brickman)
Terms of Endearment (James Brooks)

For the record: L'Argent (Robert Bresson); Le dernier combat (The Last Battle) (Luc Besson); Ballad of Narayama (Shohei Imamura); Testament (Lynne Littman); Carmen (Carlos Saura); El Norte (Gregory Nava); Entre Nous (Diane Kurys); First Name: Carmen (Jean-Luc Godard); Sudden Impact (Clint Eastwood); Cracking Up (Jerry Lewis)

To re-watch: Personal Best (Robert Towne); Basileus Quartet (Fabio Carpi); A Woman in Flames (Die flambierte Frau) (Robert van Ackeren); The Meaning of Life (Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam)

To see: Spring Symphony (Frühlingssinfonie) (Peter Schamoni); Dark Habits (Pedro Almodovar); Can She Bake a Cherry Pie? (Henry Jaglom); Christine (John Carpenter); A Brutal Game (Jean-Claude Brisseau); Three Crowns of the Sailor (Raoul Ruiz); Faux-Fuyants (Alain Bergala and Jean-Pierre Limosin); Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (Nagisa Oshima); Exposed (James Toback); Life Is a Bed of Roses (Alain Resnais); Sugar Cane Alley (Euzhan Palcy); Abuse (Arthur J. Bressan Jr.); Boon bin yen (Ah Ying) (Allen Fong); La Traviata (Franco Zeffirelli); The Hunger (Tony Scott)

In the queue: Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (Gordon Liu); El Sur (Victor Erice); Streamers (Robert Altman); Danton (Andrzej Wajda); Tchao Pantin (Claude Berri); Le Bal (Ettore Scola); The Store (Frederick Wiseman; to re-watch); Utu (Geoff Murphy); Valley Girl (Martha Coolidge); Threshold (Richard Pearce); The Outsiders (Francis Ford Coppola); A Funny Dirty Little War (Hector Olivera); Confidentially Yours (Francois Truffaut)

VINTAGE RATING (1983): 5*

Note: 1983 is, in my opinion, the weakest year in modern film history (at least up to the 2000s), and one of the weakest ever. (Watch virtually any Hollywood hit from this year and notice the cheese smell). On the other hand, Chris Marker's multi-leveled essay film on the nature of time, memory, geographic place and culture, 'Sans Soleil,' is one of the most enriching and profound movies ever made. But it doesn't become that until you make it past the first 20 minutes and get your bearings. Among the flicks I actually screened at the time, though, Peter Yates' British backstage comedy-drama 'The Dresser' was my favorite picture of the year, sparked by two deliciously flamboyant performances by Albert Finney, as a provincial Shakespearean ham, and Tom Courtenay as his prissy manservant and protector--who defines his role in life in relation to an actor who defines his role in sheer fantasy.

1984 (to count)
Once Upon a Time in America (Sergio Leone)
The Wannsee Conference (Heinz Schirk)
Antonio Gaudi (Hiroshi Teshigahara)
The Terminator (James Cameron)
Amadeus (Milos Forman)
Marlene (Maximillian Schell)
The Hit (Stephen Frears)
Blood Simple (Joel Coen)
A Soldier's Story (Norman Jewison)
Tightrope (Richard Tuggle)
The Times of Harvey Milk (Robert Epstein)
This is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner)
Under the Volcano (John Huston)

RUNNERS UP:
The Element of Crime (Lars von Trier)
Cal (Pat O'Connor)
Body Double (Brian De Palma)
Stranger Than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch)
Dangerous Moves (Richard Dembo)
Places in the Heart (Robert Benton)
The NeverEnding Story (Wolfgang Petersen)
The Cotton Club (Francis Ford Coppola)
Dune (David Lynch)
Broadway Danny Rose (Woody Allen)
Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders)
Stop Making Sense (Jonathan Demme)
A Sunday in the Country (Bertrand Tavernier)
Wheels on Meals (Sammo Hung Kam-bo)
The Bounty (Roger Donaldson)
Crimes of Passion (Ken Russell)
Lulu in Berlin (Richard Leacock)
The Natural (Barry Levinson)
The Killing Fields (Roland Joffe)

For the record: Love Streams (John Cassavetes); The Brother from Another Planet (John Sayles); In the Company of Wolves (Neil Jordan); The Funeral (Juzo Itami); All of Me (Carl Reiner); Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman)

To re-watch: Choose Me (Alan Rudolph); Repo Man (Alex Cox); The Long Arm of the Law (Johnny Mak); Iceman (Fred Schepisi)

To see: Next of Kin (Atom Egoyan); Before Stonewall (Greta Schiller, Robert Rosenberg); Carmen (Francesco Rosi); After the Rehearsal (Ingmar Bergman); What Have I Done to Deserve This? (Pedro Almodóvar); Full Moon in Paris; My Summer at Grandpa's (Hou Hsiao-hsien); Starman (John Carpenter); Kaos (Paolo and Vittorio Taviani); Gremlins (Joe Dante); Boy Meets Girl (Leos Carax); Fear City (Abel Ferrara); Ballad of the Little Soldier (Werner Herzog); Streetwise (Martin Bell); Threads (Mick Jackson); Eureka (Nicolas Roeg); Micki & Maude (Blake Edwards); Improper Conduct (Néstor Almendros and Orlando Jiménez Leal); Diary for My Children (Márta Mészáros); Der Riese (Michael Klier); Class Relations (Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub); The Legend of the Suram Fortress (Sergei Parajanov); Shanghai Blues (Tsui Hark); Homecoming (Si shui liu nian) (Ho Yim)

In the queue: My Friend Ivan Lapshin (Alexei Germain); Rendez-vous (Andre Techine): Repentence (Tengiz Abuladze); Cal (Pat O'Connor); Yellow Earth (Chen Kaige); The Family Game (Yoshimitsu Morita); Quilombo (Carlos Diegues); A Private Function (Malcolm Mowbray); Purple Rain (Albert Magnoli); Savage Streets (Danny Steinman); Secret Places (Zelda Barron); The Goodbye People (Herb Gardner); Dance with a Stranger (Mike Newell); Secret Honor (Robert Altman); The Home and the World (Satyajit Ray)

VINTAGE RATING (1984): 6.5**

NOTE: This year is a considerable improvement over 1983, and much more eclectic--yet virtually none of the movies could fairly be called a breathless masterpiece (except Leone's). 'The Wannsee Conference' was a German TV movie that received limited arthouse release in the U.S. a few years later. It's a real-time look at petty Nazi politics, a banal meeting over coffee and krullers in which the fates of 6-million+ doomed humans were sealed. 'Antonio Gaudi' is a hypnotic documentary using brilliantly fluid camerawork to track in, around, and through the stunningly conceived architecture of the Spanish master Gaudi. 'Marlene' is Maximillian Schell's ingenious attempt to make lemonade out of lemons after the subject of his documentary--Marlene Dietrich--backed out of her agreement to talk on camera. The resulting blend of her audiotaped bitter, venomous tirades and Schell's clever visual strategies offers a more revealing and ironic character study than the film's original conception would have allowed. 'Tightrope' is an under-the-radar Clint Eastwood vehicle that was perhaps too dark for the mainstream, probing the idea of a cop getting off on the dark side of his nature while on the beat in the city's underbelly. To call him merely corrupt or evil would be too simplistic; the film--among other things--ponders the law's relation to human desires. Both 'Dune' and 'The Cotton Club' (both runners up) are lavish messes, but also guilty pleasures. The intriguing opening sequences of 'Dune' promise a better film than the one that actually happens.

1985 (to count)
Ran (Akira Kurosawa)
Memory of the Camps
(Sidney Bernstein; footage from Hitchcock, et al.)
Plenty (Fred Schepisi)
Vagabond (San toit ni loi) (Agnes Varda)
Shoah (Claude Lanzmann)
Runaway Train (Andrei Konchalovsky)
Tokyo-Ga (Wim Wenders)
Brazil (Terry Gilliam)
A Zed and Two Noughts (Peter Greenaway)
Prizzi's Honor (John Huston)
Police Story (Ging chaat goo si) (Jackie Chan)
Mr. Vampire (Ricky Lau)
The Official Story (Luis Puenzo)
Come and See (Elem Klimov)
Police (Maurice Pialat)
Mishima (Paul Schrader)
Kiss of the Spider Woman (Hector Babenco)
Pee-wee's Big Adventure (Tim Burton)
L'effrontee (Claude Miller)

HONORABLE MENTION:
The Emerald Forest (John Boorman)
The Shooting Party (Alan Bridges)
The Falcon and the Snowman (John Schlesinger)
Defence of the Realm (David Drury)
My Beautiful Laundrette (Stephen Frears)
Day of the Dead (George Romero)
Year of the Dragon (Michael Cimino)
To Live and Die in L.A. (William Friedkin)
Fool for Love (Robert Altman)
Lost in America (Albert Brooks)
The Time to Live and the Time to Die (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Dreamchild (Gavin Millar)
Spices (Mirch Masala) (Ketan Mehta)
Dust (Marion Hansel)
Smooth Talk (Joyce Chopra)
A View to a Kill (John Glen)
The Breakfast Club (John Hughes)
The Bride (Franc Roddam)

For the record: St. Elmo's Fire (Joel Schumacher); The Color Purple (Steven Spielberg); Hail Mary (Jean-Luc Godard); Himatsuri (Mitsuo Yanagimachi); After Hours (Martin Scorsese); Mask (Peter Bogdanovich); Re-Animator (Stuart Gordon); Blunt: The Fourth Man (John Glenister)

To see: 1919 (Hugh Brody); Saagar (Ramesh Sippy); 28 Up (Michael Apted); Always (Henry Jaglom); Chain Letters (Mark Rappaport); Mala Noche (Gus Van Sant); The Angelic Conversation (Derek Jarman); Desperately Seeking Susan (Susan Seidelman); Phenomena (Dario Argento); Flesh & Blood (Paul Verhoeven); Boycott (Mohsen Makhmalbaf); The Runner (Amir Naderi); Wuthering Heights (Jacques Rivette); Real Genius (Martha Coolidge); Angel's Egg (Mamoru Oshii); Sweet Dreams (Karel Reisz); Wetherby (David Hare); Taipei Story (Edward Yang); Insignificance (Nicolas Roeg); The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Jiri Barta); Hard Choices (Rick King)

In the queue: When Father Was Away on Business (Emir Kusturica); Colonel Redl (Istvan Szabo); Vampire Hunter D (Toyoo Ashida); Hour of the Star (Suzana Amaral); Silverado (Lawrence Kasdan); Letter to Brezhnev (Chris Bernard); Joshua Then and Now (Ted Kotcheff); Jagged Edge (Richard Marquand); Into the Night (John Landis); Dona Herlinda and Her Son (Jaime Humberto Hermosillo); The Coca Cola Kid (Dusan Makavejev); No Surrender (Pater Smith); Repo Man (Alex Cox/re-watch); The Shooting Party (Alan Bridges/re-watch)

VINTAGE RATING (1985): 5.5**

Note: 1985 is another weak movie year, yet it produced two of the best films ever about the Holocaust. Claude Lanzmann's 'Shoah' seems more like a workprint for a great documentary than a disciplined, honed work. At 9 hours, it's unreasonably long and padded. Inside the footage is a great movie wanting to get out; one that would do greater honor to the victims of the Holocaust than one that forces the audience to walk out and miss their testimonials. One man's poetry is another man's sleeping pill, yet it's too important a movie to dismiss. In contrast, the more stylistically conventional documentary 'Memory of the Camps' takes a pithier, impersonal and even more detached approach--exemplified in Trevor Howard's humorously ironic narration of newsreel footage. It is also the better film of the two. Akira Kurosawa's 'Ran,' his visually overwhelming rendering of "King Lear," is possibly the only true cinematic masterpiece of the decade, at least in conventional terms. It's the sure creation of a mature master in deep sync with the thematic meaning of the source text and an understanding of effectively placed spectacle. Fred Schepisi's "Plenty," starring Meryl Streep as an Englishwoman whose life peaks too early, is one of the finest overlooked films of the decade. Overlooked initially by me was Agnes Varda's uncompromising study of a homeless young woman, 'Vagabond,' but a second viewing put that right. What was closed and inaccessible to me on first viewing blossomed out on the second go-round. The austere film allows the audience its own conclusions: one of which must be that unpleasant compromises and hardships mark human existence, even if (like the young woman) we achieve seemingly complete freedom.
"Mr. Vampire' is a guilty pleasure; a kooky Hong Kong horror comedy with bouncing, kung-fu fighting vampires. Fun from first to last, and pretty darn scary at times--it's a perfect example of the energetic multi-genre hodepodge entertainments of HK's '80s golden age. The Cimino and Friedkin policiers I thought were good at the time, but not great; I think now they'd probably hold up nicely if given another viewing (partly because I've never forgotten them). And what would cable TV in the 80's have been without ad infinitum repeats of 'The Breakfast Club' (runner up)?' A Brat Pack guilty pleasure...

1986 (to count)
Jean de Florette (Claude Berri)
Manon of the Spring
(Claude Berri)
'Round Midnight (Bertrand Tavernier)
Sid and Nancy (Alex Cox)
Down By Law
(Jim Jarmusch)
Sherman's March (Ross McElwee)
Hannah and Her Sisters (Woody Allen)
Peking Opera Blues (Tsui Hark)
Tampopo (Juzo Itami)
She's Gotta Have It (Spike Lee)
Betty Blue (37.2 le matin) (Jean-Jacques Beineix)
Menage (Tenue de soiree) (Bertrand Blier)
Blue Velvet (David Lynch)
The Sacrifice (Andrei Tarkovsky)
Desert Bloom (Eugene Corr)
The Color of Money
(Martin Scorsese)
Working Girls (Lizzie Borden)

RUNNERS UP:
A Room with a View (James Ivory)
Le rayon vert (Summer) (Eric Rohmer)
A Little Princess (Carol Wiseman)
A Better Tomorrow (John Woo)
Absolute Beginners (Julien Temple)
Manhunter (Michael Mann)
84 Charing Cross Road (David Hugh Jones)
Salvador (Oliver Stone)
The Decline of the American Empire (Denys Arcand)
The Fly (David Cronenberg)
Ruthless People (Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker)
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (John Hughes)
Something Wild (Jonathan Demme)
Aliens (James Cameron)

For the record: Melo (Alain Resnais); Children of a Lesser God (Randa Haines); A Girl from Hunan (U Lan, Fei Xie); The Lightship (Jerzy Skolimowski); The Hitcher (Robert Harmon); Platoon (Oliver Stone); The Horse Thief (Tian Zhuangzhuang); Two Friends (Jane Campion); Angry Harvest (Agnieszka Holland); Devil in the Flesh (Marco Bellocchio); Trouble in Mind (Alan Rudolph); The Mission (Roland Joffe)

To re-watch: Mona Lisa (Neil Jordan); Rosa Luxemburg (Margarethe von Trotta); The Mosquito Coast (Peter Weir); Two Friends (Jane Campion); Bliss (Ray Lawrence)

To see: Golden Eighties (aka, Window Shopping) (Chantal Akerman); Matador (Pedro Almodovar); Rita, Sue and Bob Too (Alan Clarke); Mauvais Sang (Leos Carax); Laputa: Castle in the Sky (Hayao Miyazaki); Shadows in Paradise (Aki Kaurismaki); Scene of the Crime (Andre Techine); Big Trouble in Little China (John Carpenter); Mona Lisa (Neil Jordan); God's Country (Louis Malle); The Terrorizer (Edward Yang); Therese (Alain Cavalier); Landscape Suicide (James Benning); Lucas (David Seltzer); Dei ha ching (Love Unto Waste) (Stanley Kwan)

In the queue: Charlotte For Ever (Serge Gainsbourg); Castaway (Nicolas Roeg); The Wolf at the Door (Henning Carlsen); Caravaggio (Derek Jarman); Comrades (Bill Douglas); Hey Babu Riba (Jovan Acin); The Clan of the Cave Bear (Michael Chapman); Gonza the Spearman (Masahiro Shinoda); Crimes of the Heart (Bruce Beresford); Bandits (Claude Lelouch); The Dead Father (Guy Maddin)

VINTAGE RATING (1986): 7**

NOTE: There's some life in this year's fulsome offerings; quite a bit of enjoyment, in fact. Claude Berri's two-part epic ("Jean de Florette" and "Manon of the Spring') reinvigorated the French commercial cinema internationally and made the dubiously charming Provence tales of Marcel Pagnol actually watchable. Lots of good indies from the likes of Alex Cox, Jim Jarmusch and others put the kick into this year, as do some spirited films from Japan and Hong Kong. Only the Hollywood '80s high-cheese quotient dragged this year down. Otherwise there's much to admire.
Andrei Tarkovsky's 'The Sacrifice' is filled with unforgettable images, but the "sacrifice" alluded to in the title turns out to be a pretty silly one. I'm still struggling with this film. Similarly, I'm not sure what I think about Lynch's 'Blue Velvet' anymore. I'm leaving it on the list until I can reconcile my conflicted thoughts. Lizzie Borden's 'Working Girls'--an ultra low-budget indie study of a New York prostitution loft--manages to leave in the dust most other films about hookers and their johns (despite some iffy acting and dialogue). It is not to be confused with the almost same-titled Mike Nichols film of 1988. 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' is the John Hughes guilty pleasure for this year, pandering and preachy it becomes, but breezy and funny along the way.

1987 (to count)
The Dead (John Huston)
Rouge (Stanley Kwan)
The Cyclist (Mohsen Makhmalbaf)
Withnail & I
(Bruce Robinson)
Broadcast News (James L. Brooks)
Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story
(Todd Haynes)
Gardens of Stone
(Francis Ford Coppola)
Raising Arizona
(Joel Coen)
Matewan (John Sayles)
Radio Bikini (Robert Stone)
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (Jack Clayton)
Drowning By Numbers (Peter Greenaway)
A Chinese Ghost Story (Ching Siu-tung)
Wings of Desire (Der Himmel uber Berlin) (Wim Wenders)

RUNNERS UP:
Prick Up Your Ears (Stephen Frears)
House of Games (David Mamet)
Moonstruck (Norman Jewison)
Babette's Feast (Gabriel Axel)
Barfly (Barbet Schroeder)
Boyfriends and Girlfriends (L'ami de mon amie) (Eric Rohmer)
Full Metal Jacket (Stanley Kubrick)
Conspiracy: The Trial of the Chicago 8 (Jeremy Kagan/TV)
An Autumn's Tale (Chou tin dik tong wah) (Mabel Cheung)
The Big Easy (Jim McBride)
Swimming to Cambodia (Jonathan Demme)
La Vie est belle (Benoit Lamy, Mweze Ngangura)
Kangaroo (Tim Burstall)
The Last Emperor (Bernardo Bertolucci)
The Untouchables (Brian De Palma)
Eastern Condors (Sammo Hung Kam-Bo)
Project A, Part II (Jackie Chan)
Anna (Yurek Bogayevicz)
The Peddler (Dasforoush) (Mohsen Makhmalbaf)
Wall Street (Oliver Stone)
Border Radio (Allison Anders, et. al.)

For the record: Yeelen (Souleyman Cisse); The Running Man (Paul Michael Glaser); Cry Freedom (Richard Attenborough); Gaby: A True Story (Luis Mandoki); Intervista (Federico Fellini); Empire of the Sun (Steven Spielberg); Hope and Glory (John Boorman); RoboCop (Paul Verhoeven); Radio Days (Woody Allen); Under Satan's Sun (Maurice Pialat); A Taxing Woman (Juzo Itami); Lethal Weapon (Richard Donner)

To re-watch: Housekeeping (Bill Forsythe); Wish You Were Here (David Leland); Red Sorghum (Zhang Yimou)

To see: Good Morning, Babylon (Taviani brothers); Opera (Dario Argento); Law of Desire (Pedro Almodóvar); Where Is the Friend's House? (Abbas Kiarostami); Near Dark (Kathryn Bigelow); Someone to Love (Henry Jaglom); The Kitchen Toto (Harry Hook); The Stepfather (Joseph Ruben); O.C. & Stiggs (Robert Altman); Dark Eyes (Nikita Mikhalkov); Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle (Eric Rohmer); The Cry of the Owl (Claude Chabrol); The Camp at Thiaroye (Ousmane Sembene, Thierno Faty Sow); The Belly of an Architect (Peter Greenaway); Made in Heaven (Alan Rudolph); Winter Ade (Helke Misselwitz); Shy People (Andrei Konchalovsky); The Sicilian (Michael Cimino)

In the queue: The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On (Kazuo Hara); Blind Chance (Krzysztof Kieslowski); Au revoir les enfants (Louis Malle); Maurice (James Ivory); Missile (Frederick Wiseman); High Tide (Gilliam Armstrong); The Ten-Year Lunch (Aviva Slesin); Planes, Trains and Automobiles (John Hughes); Dead of Winter (Arthur Penn); Black Widow (Bob Rafelson)

VINTAGE RATING (1987): 6.5**

NOTES: Wim Wenders' 'Wings of Desire' is every hipster's favorite art film of the year--sort of like Capra filtered through German angst and Rainer Maria Rilke's poetry. It's a grand folly, a mess, but full of memorable images and moments. I'm still wrestling with it. Similarly, I've had mixed feelings about John Huston's adaptation of James Joyce's 'The Dead,' which seemed a bit tedious at first until the devastatingly haunting final scenes. The final scenes of the ghostly Hong Kong art film 'Rouge' leave nearly as deep a resonance. 'Gardens of Stone,' Francis Coppola's flipside to 'Apocalypse Now,' is perhaps the director's quietest, most delicate film. 'Radio Bikini' is an engrossing, powerful documentary about the tragic costs of America's nuke bomb tests in the Pacific in the '40s and '50s. Part-docudrama and essay, Todd Haynes' brilliantly multilayered 'Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story' wryly comments on consumerism, public and self image, pop culture and even film form and biopic conventions--with a cast of Barbie dolls. It proves that a few dollars and imagination can beat a $100-million Hollywood piece of tripe any day.

1988 (to count)
The Vanishing (Spoorloos) (George Sluizer)
The Thin Blue Line (Errol Morris)
The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorsese)
Salaam, Bombay! (Mira Nair)
Grave of the Fireflies (Isao Takahata)
Tetsuo: The Iron Man (Shinya Tsukamoto)
Bird (Clint Eastwood)
Story of Women (Claude Chabrol)
A World Apart (Chris Menges)
A Fish Called Wanda (Charles Crichton)
Talk Radio (Oliver Stone)
Dead Ringers
(David Cronenberg)
Haunted Summer (Ivan Passer)
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
(Philip Kaufman)

RUNNERS UP:
The Accidental Tourist (Lawrence Kasdan)
Akira (Katsuhiro Otomo)
Dangerous Liaisons (Stephen Frears)
Hotel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie (Marcel Ophuls)
Eight Men Out (John Sayles)
My Neighbor Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki)
The Naked Gun (David Zucker)
Another Woman (Woody Allen)
Ariel (Aki Kaurismaki)
Distant Voices, Still Lives (Terence Davies)
A Handful of Dust (Charles Sturridge)
Bull Durham (Ron Shelton)
Running on Empty (Sidney Lumet)
A Cry in the Dark (Fred Schepisi)
Hairspray (John Waters)
Cane Toads: An Unnatural History (Mark Lewis)
Tucker: The Man and His Dream (Francis Ford Coppola)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (Robert Zemeckis)
Gorillas in the Mist (Michael Apted)
Torch Song Trilogy (Paul Bogart)
Frantic (Roman Polanski)
The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey (Vincent Ward)

For the record: Alice (Jan Svankmajer); 36 Fillette (Catherine Breillat); School Daze (Spike Lee); Mississippi Burning (Alan Parker); The Legend of the Holy Drinker (Ermanno Olmi); Miracle Mile (Steve De Jarnatt); Working Girl (Mike Nichols); Alice (Jan Svankmajer); Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar)

To re-watch: Time of the Gypsies (Emir Kusturica); Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar); A Short Film About Killing (Krzysztof Kieslowski); A Short Film About Love (Krzysztof Kieslowski); As Tears Go By (Wong kar-wai)

To see: Medea (Lars Von Trier); Landscape in the Mist (Theo Angelopoulos); Days of Eclipse (Aleksandr Sokurov); Hanussen (István Szabó); Candy Mountain (Robert Frank and Rudy Wurlitzer); Cannibal Tours (Dennis O'Rourke); Ashik Kerib (Sergei Parajanov); Little Dorrit (Christine Edzard); Dragons Forever (Sammo Hung Kam-bo); Painted Faces (Alex Law); The Big Heat (Johnny To)

In the queue: Bagdad Cafe (Percy Adlon); Little Vera (Vasili Pichul); Chocolat (Claire Denis); The Moderns (Alan Rudolph); Pascali's Island (James Dearden); Pelle the Conquerer (Bille August); The Last of England (Derek Jarman); The Wizard of Loneliness (Jenny Bowen); Lady in White (Frank LaLoggia); Hawks (Robert Ellis Miller); Emma's Shadow (Soeren Kragh-Jacobsen); Blood Relations (Graeme Campbell); Beaches (Garry Marshall); Without a Clue (Thom Eberhardt); Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Frank Oz); The Big Blue (Luc Besson); The Lair Of The White Worm (Ken Russell)

VINTAGE RATING (1988): 6.5**

Note: I've only read about the travesty that apparently is George Sluizer's Hollywood remake of his eerie, disturbing and masterful European thriller 'The Vanishing.' The original is an uncompromising and bleak examination of a killer's slow preparation for a gruesome crime and the subsequent mindgames he plays with the victim's lover. Where the first ends darkly, the remake apparently ties up all the knots for the happy ending. Counterintuitively, Sluizer's sell-out evidently didn't help his subsequent career. I find something slightly shallow, mechanical and emotionally hollow about Philip Kaufman's movies; his painterly distance seems more suited to commercials, but 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being' has a certain ersatz poetic pizzaz that balances the self importance. The South African apartheid period drama 'A World Apart' has electrifying performances by Barbara Hershey and Jodhi May, as mother and daughter, respectively.

1989 (to count)
Roger and Me (Michael Moore)
Drugstore Cowboy
(Gus Van Sant)
Dekalog (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen)
Enemies, a Love Story (Paul Mazursky)
Leningrad Cowboys Go America (Aki Kaurismaki)
Mystery Train (Jim Jarmusch)
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Terry Gilliam)
Santa sangre (Alejandro Jodorowski)
sex, lies, and videotape (Steven Soderbergh)
The Architecture of Doom (Peter Cohen)
Central Park (Frederick Wiseman)

RUNNERS UP:
Glory (Edward Zwick)
The Killer (John Woo)
Kiki's Delivery Service (Hayao Miyazaki)
Jesus of Montreal (Denys Arcand)
Henry V (Kenneth Branagh)
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (John McNaughton)
Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee)
Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (Charlotte Zwerin)
The Icicle Thief (Ladri di Saponette) (Maurizio Nichetti)
Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore)
Riki-Oh (The Story of Ricky) (Ngai Kai Lam)
Freeze, Die, Come To Life (Vitali Kanevsky)
My Left Foot (Jim Sheridan)
God of Gamblers (Shen nu) (Jing Wong)
Born on the 4th of July (Oliver Stone)
Licence to Kill (John Glen)
Driving Miss Daisy (Bruce Beresford
Last Exit to Brooklyn (Ulrich Edel)

For the record: Rain Man (Barry Levinson); Monsieur Hire (Patrice Leconte); The War of the Roses (Danny DeVito); Sex and Buttered Popcorn (Sam Harrison); Steel Magnolias (Herbert Ross); Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman); Batman (Tim Burton); Sea of Love (Harold Becker); A Better Tomorrow III: Love and Death in Saigon (Tsui Hark); The Music Teacher (Gerard Corbiau); Fat Man and Little Boy (Roland Joffe)

To re-watch: The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (Peter Greenaway); Speaking Parts (Atom Egoyan); Sweetie (Jane Campion)

To see: Route One USA (Robert Kramer); Casualties of War (Brian De Palma); New Year's Day (Henry Jaglom); La Chiesa (Michele Soavi); Heathers (Michael Lehmann); How to Get Ahead in Advertising (Bruce Robinson); Cat Chaser (Abel Ferrara); Violent Cop (Takeshi Kitano); The Mighty Quinn (Carl Schenkel); The Seventh Continent (Michael Haneke); The Reincarnation of Golden Lotus (Clara Law); Pedicab Driver (Sammo Hung Kam-bo)

In the queue: The Asthenic Syndrome (Kira Muratova); Triumph of the Spirit (Robert M. Young); She-Devil (Susan Seidelman); Eat a Bowl of Tea (Wayne Wang); The Fabulous Baker Boys (Steve Kloves); Black Rain (Shohei Imamura); Valmont (Milos Forman); Scandal (Michael Caton-Jones); My Twentieth Century (Ildiko Enyedi); My Nights Are More Beautiful Than Your Days (Andrzej Zulawski); Sweetie (Jane Campion) 1989; Cheap Shots (Jeff Ureles, Jerry Stoeffhaas); That's Adequate (Harry Hurwitz); Look Back in Anger (Judi Dench/TV); Heavy Petting (Obie Benz, Joshua Waletzky); The Fabulous Baker Boys (Steve Kloves); Dead Calm (Phillip Noyce)

VINTAGE RATING (1989): 7**

Note: 'Last Exit to Brooklyn' (runner up) is one of the grimiest and grimmest films I've ever seen--relentless, uncompromising and depressing. I'm pretty sure I hated it, but have never shaken it from my head. It made many top ten lists including Ebert's, and still holds much critical cred, so I haven't given up on it yet. A second viewing could be the breakthrough, though Edel reminds me a little too much of another filmmaker I find hard to stomach: Abel Ferrara. Giuseppe Tornatore's easy-to-take bit of nostalgia and movie worship 'Cinema Paradiso' became the template for the ideal Miramax foreign import of the '90s--intelligent, painterly, cute and wistful without being too cerebral. Many confused it for a cinematic masterpiece, as they would with the similarly beloved 'Life is Beautiful' nearly 10 years later. The success of it and of similar spawn more or less killed the chances for American distribution of challenging or innovative foreign fare thereafter. Kindred spirits Jim Jarmusch and Aki Kaurismaki share an uncannily mutual artistic aesthetic, so not surprisingly each made funny and haunting homages to the spirit of rock n' roll: 'Mystery Train' and 'Leningrad Cowboys Go America,' each presenting a skewed and vivid eye on the American scene. Another eye on America was offered by Frederick Wiseman, continuing his prolific four-decade career effort to document the nation in 'Central Park,' a three-hour, detached cinema verite' of unnarrated sights and sounds of New York City. Most people will bail on any Wiseman film after a few minutes, and this one may be his slowest ever. It's also a beautiful record that will probably be cherished 100 years from now.

1990 (88)
American Dream (Barbara Kopple)
The Nasty Girl
(Michael Verhoeven)
An Angel at My Table (Jane Campion)
Paris is Burning (Jennie Livingston)
La Discrete (Christian Vincent)
Reversal of Fortune (Barbet Schroeder)
Metropolitan
(Whit Stillman)
The Match Factory Girl (Aki Kaurismaki)
The Russia House
(Fred Schepisi)
Miller's Crossing (Joel Coen)
White Hunter, Black Heart
(Clint Eastwood)

RUNNERS UP (alphabetical order):
Agneepath (Mukul Anand)
Avalon (Barry Levinson)
Awakenings Penny Marshall)
Ay, Carmela! (Carlos Saura)
Begotten (E. Elias Merhige)
Bullet in the Head (Die xue jie tou) (John Woo)
The Comfort of Strangers (Paul Schrader)
Cyrano de Bergerac (Jean-Paul Rappeneau)
The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia (Jan Svankmajer)
Europa, Europa (Agnieszka Holland)
Dick Tracy (Warren Beatty)
The Garden (Derek Jarman)
Ghayal (Rajkumar Santoshi)
The Godfather, Part III (Francis Coppola)
Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese)
The Grifters (Stephen Frears)
The Handmaid's Tale (Volker Schlondorff)
Henry and June (Philip Kaufman)
Ju Dou (Zhang Yimou, Yang Fengliang)
The Last Butterfly (Karel Kachyna)
Life is Sweet (Mike Leigh)
Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (Paul Newman)
My Mother's Castle (Yves Robert)
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Tom Stoppard)
Sure Fire (Jon Jost)
A Tale of Springtime (Conte de printemps) (Eric Rohmer)
Vincent and Theo (Robert Altman)
Wild at Heart (David Lynch)

Honorable Mention: The Civil War (Ken Burns) (TV)

For the record: Dances with Wolves (Kevin Costner); Edward Scissorhands (Tim Burton); Jacob's Ladder (Adrian Lyne); Sink or Swim (Su Friedrich); Pretty Woman (Garry Marshall); Dreams (Akira Kurosawa); After Dark, My Sweet (James Foley); La Femme Nikita (Luc Besson); All the Vermeers in New York (Jon Jost); Farewell China (Clara Law); Total Recall (Paul Verhoeven); Tongues Untied (Marlon Riggs); To Sleep With Anger (Charles Burnett); The Disenchanted (Benoît Jacquot); (many more)

To re-watch: King of New York (Abel Ferrara)

To see: Strangers in Good Company (Cynthia Scott); Trust (Hal Hartley); Close Up (Abbas Kiarostami); Eating (Henry Jaglom); Daddy Nostalgia (Bertrand Tavernier); Berkeley in the Sixties (Mark Kitchell); Bonfire of the Vanities (Brian De Palma); The Hot Spot (Dennis Hopper); Texasville (Peter Bogdanovich); Nouvelle Vague (Jean Luc Godard); Queen of Temple Street (Lawrence Ah Mon); The Little Gangster (Jacques Doillon); Miami Blues (George Armitage); No, Or The Vain Glory Of Command (Manoel de Oliveira); The Second Circle (Krug vtoroy) (Aleksandr Sokurov); Journey of Hope (Xavier Koller)

In the queue: The Ages of Lulu (Bigas Luna); Toto le heros (Jaco van Dormeal); Without You I'm Nothing (John Boskovich); May Fools (Louis Malle); Everybody's Fine (Giuseppe Tornatore); My Father's Glory (Yves Robert); Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (Pedro Almodovar); Postcards From the Edge (Mike Nichols); The Reflecting Skin (Philip Ridley); A Shock to the System (Jan Egleson); Joe vs. the Volcano (John Patrick Shanley); Dark Man (Sam Raimi)

VINTAGE RATING (1990): 8.5***

Note: Overall film quality seemed already on the upswing in 1989, and 1990 followed the trend, thanks to the Disney company's renewed vigor as well as the powerful emergence of Sundance and the indie scene and strong prestige productions from Hollywood. An eclectic and strong body of international work also bode well for the coming decade. The big omission here is 'Dances With Wolves.' I didn't care for it (contemporary attitudes overlaid on the past often bothers me), but may have to give it another viewing just to be fair. On the other end, we have E. Elias Merhige's uber-weird art movie, Begotten; which I can't describe, but which gets points for making an indelible mark.

1991 (83)
Black Robe (Bruce Beresford)
A Woman's Tale (Paul Cox)
Slacker (Richard Linklater)
Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (Fax Bahr,
Eleanor Coppola, George Hickenlooper)
Delicatessen (Marc Caro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
JFK (Oliver Stone)
Jacquot (Jacquot de Nantes) (Agnes Varda)
The Man in the Moon (Robert Mulligan)
Impromptu (James Lapine)
Rambling Rose (Martha Coolidge)
The Indian Runner (Sean Penn)

RUNNERS UP:
City of Hope (John Sayles)
Agantuk (The Stranger) (Satyajit Ray)
Madonna: Truth or Dare (Alek Keshishian, Mark Aldo Miceli)
Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio (Ken Burns)
All the Mornings of the World (Alain Corneau)
Barton Fink (Joel Cohen)
Beauty and the Beast (Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise)
The Fisher King (Terry Gilliam)
Deadly Currents (Simcha Jacobovici)
The Prince of Tides (Barbra Streisand)
Europa (Zentropa) (Lars Von Trier)
Dogfight (Nancy Savoca)
Night on Earth (Jim Jarmusch)
Once a Thief (John Woo)
Kafka (Steven Soderbergh)
Edward II (Derek Jarman)
Highway Patrolman (Alex Cox)
Whore (Ken Russell)
Once Around (Lasse Hallstrom)
Flirting (John Duigan)
A Little Stiff (Caveh Zahedi)
Prospero's Books (Peter Greenaway)
A Midnight Clear (Stuart Gordon)
Chameleon Street (Wendell B. Harris Jr.)
Niaz (The Need) (Alireza Davoudnejad)
The Doors (Oliver Stone)

For the record: La Belle Noiseuse (Jacques Rivette); Dead Again (Kenneth Branagh); Cape Fear (Martin Scorsese); The Lovers on the Bridge (Les Amants du Pont-Neuf) (Leos Carax); My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant); The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme); Thelma and Louise (Ridley Scott); Terminator 2: Judgement Day (James Cameron); Boyz N the Hood (John Singleton), Night and Day (Chantal Ackerman); The Rapture (Michael Tolkin); Until the End of the World (Wim Wenders); Days of Being Wild (Wong Kar Wai); Bugsy (Barry Levison); Homicide (David Mamet); Oscar (John Landis); New Jack City (Mario Van Peebles); Defending Your Life (Albert Brooks); etc.

To re-watch: Raise the Red Lantern (Zhang Yimou)

To see: Life on a String (Chen Kaige); 35 Up (Michael Apted); Toto le heros (Jaco van Dormael); Proof (Jocelyn Moorhouse); Rhapsody in August (Akira Kurosawa); Idiot (Mani Kaul); La Mujer del puerto (Woman of the Port) (Arturo Ripstein); Hangin' With the Homeboys (Joseph P. Vasquez); And Life Goes On... (Abbas Kiarostami); Van Gogh (Maurice Pialat); High Heels (Pedro Almodóvar); Urga (Close to Eden) (Nikita Mikhalkov); A Scene at the Sea (Takeshi Kitano); J' entends plus la guitare (Philippe Garrel); Paris s'eveille (Olivier Assayas); Surviving Desire (Hal Hartley); Kasba (Kumar Shahani); The Commitments (Alan Parker); The Other (Bernard Giraudeau); Swordsman II (Siu-Tung Ching and Stanley Tong); The Fall of Otar (Ardak Amirkulov); Antonia and Jane (Beeban Kidron); Billy Bathgate (Robert Benton); Mississippi Masala (Mira Nair); Rush (Lili Fini Zanuck); Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash); Vacas (Cows) (Julio Medem); Sango Malo (Bassek Ba Kobhio); North on Evers (James Benning); Lamhe (Yash Chopra); Once Upon a Time in China (Tsui Hark); L.A. Story (Mick Jackson); Lyrical Nitrate (Peter Delpeut); Hear My Song (Peter Chelsom); Alias 'La Gringa' (Alberto Durant)

In the queue: A Brighter Summer Day (Edward Yang); Homo Faber (Volker Schlondorff); Merci la vie (Bertrand Blier); Volere Volare (Maurizio Nichetti, Guido Manuli); Mediterraneo (Gabriele Salvatores); The Double Life of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieslowski); What About Bob? (Frank Oz); Switch (Blake Edwards); Liebestraum (Mike Figgis); London Kills Me (Hanif Kureishi); Regarding Henry (Mike Nichols); Shattered (Wolfgang Petersen); A Kiss Before Dying (James Dearden); Flight of the Intruder (John Milius); The Conviction (Marco Bellocchio); Point Break (Kathryn Bigelow); Poison (Todd Haynes); Johnny Stecchino (Roberto Benigni)

VINTAGE RATING (1991): 7.5

Note: 'Black Robe' is one of the finest movies of the last quarter century, certainly the best I've ever seen about the colonizing of the continent and the sense of mystery and danger of the first contacts between whites and Indians. Perhaps someday the critics and scholars who set the cinema canon will come to realize it. Paul Cox's profoundly moving examination of a dying woman, 'A Woman's Tale,' is one of the bravest films I've ever seen. Both of these films, coincidentally, are made by two of Australia's best directors. It's really a toss-up between them for my top spot. Fuck Jacques Rivette for making me sit through a four-hour movie ("La Belle Noiseuse"/For the record) about the creation of a painting and not letting me see it. (I know I miss the point; so what? It's still four hours of my life.)

1992 (92)
The Crying Game (Neil Jordan)
Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media
(Mark Achbar, Peter Wintonick)
Husbands and Wives (Woody Allen)
Centre Stage (The Actress) (Stanley Kwan)
The Lover (Jean-Jacques Annaud)
Brother's Keeper (Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky)
A Brief History of Time (Errol Morris)
These Hands (Flora M'mbugu-Schelling)
Howards End (James Ivory)
Glengarry Glen Ross (James Foley)
Naked Killer (Clarence Fok Yiu-leung)
Red Rock West (John Dahl)

RUNNERS UP:
Bitter Moon (Roman Polanski)
Jamon, Jamon (Bigas Luna)
Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography (Arnold Glassman, Todd McCarthy)
The Hours and Times (Christopher Munch)
Hard Boiled (John Woo)
Tito and Me (Goran Markovic)
Enchanted April (Mike Newell)
Passion Fish (John Sayles)
Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood)
Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino)
The Player (Robert Altman)
Man Bites Dog (Remy Belvaux, Andre Bonzel, Benoit Poelvoorde)
Singles (Cameron Crowe)
Rock Hudson's Home Movies (Mark Rappaport)
The Last of the Mohicans (Michael Mann)
Conte d'hiver (A Tale of Winter) (Eric Rohmer)
A Few Good Men (Rob Reiner)
Careful (Guy Maddin)
The Panama Deception (Barbara Trent)
Strictly Ballroom (Baz Luhrmann)
The Long Day Closes (Terence Davies)
Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (Nick Broomfield)
Daens (Stijn Coninx)
Police Story 3 (aka, Supercop) (Stanley Tong)
One False Move (Carl Franklin)
Bad Lieutenant (Abel Ferrara)
Indochine (Regis Wargnier)

For the record: Lessons of Darkness (Werner Herzog); Rebels of the Neon God (Ming-liang Tsai); Under Siege (Andrew Davis); Wayne's World (Penelope Spheeris); The Hairdresser's Husband (Patrice Leconte); Like Water for Chocolate (Alfonso Arau); A River Runs Through It (Robert Redford); The Waterdance (Neal Jimenez, Michael Steinberg); The Living End (Gregg Araki); Savage Nights (Cyril Collard); The Oak (Lucian Pintilie); The Best Intentions (Bille August); The Last Days of Chez Nous (Gillian Armstrong); Gas, Food Lodging (Allison Anders)

To re-watch: Damage (Louis Malle); Luna Park (Pavel Lungin); Romper Stomper (Geoffrey Wright)

To see: Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America (Craig Baldwin); Another Girl Another Planet (Michael Almereyda); El sol del membrillo (The Dream of Light/The Quince Tree Sun) (Victor Erice); In the Land of the Deaf (Nicolas Philibert); Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (David Lynch); Venice/Venice (Henry Jaglom); Little Noises (Jane Spencer); Baraka (Ron Fricke); Raising Cain (Brian De Palma); The Stolen Children (Gianni Amelio); Dead Alive (Peter Jackson); The Second Heimat (Edgar Reitz); A Heart in Winter (Claude Sautet); Kairat (Darezhan Omirbayev); The Last Bolshevik (Chris Marker); Guelwaar (Ousmane Sembene); Laws of Gravity (Nick Gomez); The Public Eye (Howard Franklin); Deep Cover (Bill Duke); Benny's Video (Michael Haneke); Betty (Claude Chabrol); Tetsuo II: Body Hammer (Shinya Tsukamoto); Swoon (Tom Kalin); A Place in the World (Un lugar en el mundo) (Adolfo Aristarain); 89 mm od Europy (89mm from Europe) (Marcel Lozinski)

In the queue: Lorenzo's Oil (George Miller); Tokyo Decadence (Ryu Murakami); Quartier Mozart (Jean-Pierre Bekolo); Olivier Olivier (Agnieszka Holland); The Long Day Closes (Terence Davies; to re-watch); La Vie de Boheme (Aki Kaurismaki)

VINTAGE RATING (1992): 7.5

Notes: 'These Hands' is an African documentary about the worst kind of Third World drudgery, done with slow pans a la Andrei Tarkovsky. Simple, but poetic and powerful. No, "My Cousin Vinny" is not on here. Yes, I've seen it. Yes, Marisa Tomei was cute. I'm not sure who Regis Wargnier is, or why he gets such big budgets, but so far I haven't been too impressed by his lovely but conventional trans-hemispheric epics, including "Indochine" (runner up), but it's good enough as such things go and won a lot of awards, including an AA.

1993 (89)
Time Indefinite (Ross McElwee)
Naked (Mike Leigh)
Calendar (Atom Egoyan)
The Remains of the Day (James Ivory)
Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater)
32 Short Films About Glenn Gould (Francois Girard)
Menace II Society (Allen and Albert Hughes)
Blue (Three Colors: Blue) (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
King of the Hill (Steven Soderbergh)
Carlito's Way (Brian De Palma)
Six Degrees of Separation
(Fred Schepisi)
Iron Monkey (Yuen Woo-ping)
The Age of Innocence (Martin Scorsese)

RUNNERS UP:
The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (Ray Muller)
Backbeat (Iain Softley)
In the Name of the Father (Jim Sheridan)
Blue (Derek Jarman)
The Cement Garden (Andrew Birkin)
Ruby In Paradise (Victor Nunez)
Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis)
Farewell My Concubine (Chen Kaige)
My Favorite Season (Andre Techine)
Shadowlands (Richard Attenborough)
Mein Krieg (Harriet Eder, Thomas Kufus)
Eye of Vichy (Claude Chabrol)
Fong Sai-Yuk (Corey Yuen)
What's Eating Gilbert Grape (Lasse Hallstrom)
The War Room (Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker)
Short Cuts (Robert Altman)
Manhattan Murder Mystery (Woody Allen)
A Perfect World (Clint Eastwood)
It's All True (Bill Krohn, Myron Meisel w/Orson Welles' footage)
Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey (Steven M. Martin)
The Blue Kite (Zhuangzhuang Tian)
The Piano (Jane Campion)
Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg)
Rocking Poponguine (Twist a Popenguine) (Moussa Sene Absa)
Kalifornia (Dominic Sena)
Helas pour moi (Jean-Luc Godard)
In the Line of Fire (Wolfgang Petersen)
The Bride with White Hair (Ronny Yu)
True Romance (Tony Scott)
Wallace & Gromit in The Wrong Trousers (Nick Park)
Gettysburg (Ronald F. Maxwell)

For the record: Boxing Helena (Jennifer Chambers Lynch); My Life and Times with Antonin Artaud (Gerard Mordillat); Cafe au lait (Matthieu Kassovitz); Stalingrad (Joseph Vilsmaier); Sommersby (Jon Amiel); Matinee (Joe Dante); Sonatine (Takeshi Kitano); The Snapper (Stephen Frears); Remains of a Woman (Clarence Ford (Fok Yiu-Leung); Ethan Frome (John Madden); Caro Diario (Nanni Moretti); The Untold Story: Human Meat Roast Pork Buns (Danny Lee, Herman Yau)

To re-watch: The Scent of Green Papaya (Tran Anh Hung); Love & Human Remains (Denys Arcand)

To see: The Bed You Sleep In (Jon Jost); Bad Behaviour (Les Blair); Dangerous Game (Abel Ferrara); Mercedes (Yousry Nasrallah); Latcho Drom (Tony Gatlif); Totally F***ed Up (Gregg Araki); Being Human (Bill Forsyth); Bhaji on the Beach (Gurinder Chadha); What's Love Got to Do With It (Brian Gibson); Map of the Human Heart (Vincent Ward); The Red Squirrel (Julio Medem); Dottie Gets Spanked (Todd Haynes); Cronos (Guillermo del Toro); Madadayo (Akira Kurosawa); Executioners (Ching Siu-Tung, Johnny To); Once a Cop (Stanley Tong); Germinal (Claude Berri); Anna (Nikita Mikhalkov); Body of Evidence (Uli Edel)

In the queue: D'Est (Chantal Akerman); Le Journal de Lady M (Alain Tanner); Raining Stones (Ken Loach); Mi Vida Loca (Allison Anders); The Joy Luck Club (Wayne Wang); Kika (Pedro Almodovar); Sliver (Phillip Noyce); Alive (Frank Marshall); Little Buddha (Bernardo Bertolucci)

VINTAGE RATING (1993): 8.5***

Note: There are two films named 'Blue' this year, and both -- to say the least -- are not for all tastes. Chen Kaige's robust period epic of the Chinese opera, 'Farewell My Concubine' is probably the most accessible of the acclaimed '90s dramas to come from China. Spielberg's "Schindler's List" is not by any stretch the best film of the year. I'd say there at least 20 movies ahead of it. And Eastern European filmmakers covered this ground, better, in the 1960s.

1994 (98)
Crumb (Terry Zwigoff)
Hoop Dreams
(Steve James)
The Mao Years (1949-1976) (Sue Williams)
Chungking Express (Wong Kar-wai)
Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino)
The Kingdom (Riget) (Lars Von Trier)
Wild Reeds (Les roseaux sauvage) (Andre Techine)
Red (Trois coleurs: Rouge) (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
Ed Wood (Tim Burton)
Bullets Over Broadway (Woody Allen)
The Last Seduction (John Dahl)

RUNNERS UP:
Death and the Maiden (Roman Polanski)
That's Entertainment III (Bud Friedgen, Michael J. Sheridan)
Nadja (Michael Almereyda)
Once Were Warriors (Lee Tamahori)
Fresh (Boaz Yakin)
Ladybird Ladybird (Ken Loach)
Exotica (Atom Egoyan)
Vive L'Amour (Tsai Ming-Liang)
High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music (Rachel Liebling)
Little Women (Gillian Armstrong)
Heavenly Creatures (Peter Jackson)
Nobody's Fool (Robert Benton)
Barcelona (Whit Stillman)
Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (Alan Rudolph)
VuKovar (Boro Draskovic)
Clerks (Kevin Smith)
Lamerica (Gianni Amelio)
Three Colors: White (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
Vanya on 42nd St. (Louis Malle)
Before the Rain (Milcho Manchevski)
The New Age (Michael Tolkin)
Priest (Antonia Bird)
Quiz Show (Robert Redford)
The Secret of Roan Inish (John Sayles)
Mina Tannenbaum (Martine Dugowson)
The Hudsucker Proxy (Joel Coen)
Queen Margot (Patrice Chereau)
Cold Fever (Fridrik Thor Fridriksson)
Interview With the Vampire (Neil Jordan)
Dolores Clairborne (Taylor Hackford)
The Legend of Drunken Master (Drunken Master II) (Liu Chia-Liang)
Fun (Rafal Zielinski)
Floundering (Peter McCarthy)
Immortal Beloved (Bernard Rose)
A Man of No Importance (Suri Krishnamma)
La Separation (Christian Vincent)
Two Deaths (Nicolas Roeg)
Ermo (Zhou Xiaowen)
To Live (Zhang Yimou)
Ashes of Time (Wong Kar-wai)
C’est la vie, mon cherie (Tung-Shing Yee)
Speed (Jan de Bont)
Cobb (Ron Shelton)

For the record: Through the Olive Trees (Abbas Kiarostami); The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont); Blue Sky (Tony Richardson); Farinelli (Gerard Corbiau); Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis); Natural Born Killers (Oliver Stone); Nell (Michael Apted); Oleanna (David Mamet); L'Enfer (Claude Chabrol); Blue Sky (Tony Richardson); I Can't Sleep (Claire Denis); Amateur (Hal Hartley)

To see: Starting Place/Point de départ (Robert Kramer); Serial Mom (John Waters); Casa de Lava (Pedro Costa); Crooklyn (Spike Lee); Boy Meets Girl (Ray Brady); Wing Chun (Yuen Woo-Ping); Cold Water (Olivier Assayas); An Unforgettable Summer (Lucian Pintilie); Faust (Jan Svankmajer); He's a Woman, She's a Man (Peter Chan, Chi Lee); The Day the Sun Turned Cold (Yim Ho); Burnt By the Sun (Nikita Mikhalkov); Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (Ang Lee); Lisbon Story (Wim Wenders); The Cow (Krava) (Karel Kachyna); Joan the Maid (parts 1 & 2) (Jacques Rivette); Keita! Voice of the Griot (Keita! L'héritage du griot) (Dani Kouyate); Three Tales from Senegal (compilation of shorts: Le Franc; Picc Mi; Fary l'Anesse) (Djibril Diop Mambety, Mansour Sora Wade)

In the queue: Satantango (Bela Tarr); The Tit and the Moon (Bigas Luna); The Mystery of Rampo (Rintaro Mayuzumi, Kazuyoshi Okuyama); Red Firecracker, Green Firecracker (Ping He); In the Mouth of Madness (John Carpenter); Il Postino (Michael Radford); The Low Life (George Hickenlooper); Clear and Present Danger (Phillip Noyce); The Great Conqueror's Concubine (Stephen Shin, Clara Law); Disclosure (Barry Levinson); Color of Night (Richard Rush); China Moon (John Bailey)

VINTAGE RATING (1994): 9

Note: 1994 is the best film year of the decade, and one of the best in a generation. Wonderful indies all up and down the board -- Tarantino's especially -- give Hollywood a needed kick in the pants. As per the usual cycle, though, Tinseltown would overreact, backing all kinds of young directors offering pseudo-edgy violent fare in an attempt to regenerate the Tarantino electricity. Wong kar-wai's "Ashes of Time' (runner up, bottom) is hopelessly confusing, but is arguably the decade's most beautifully photographed film.

1995 (100)
The Gate of Heavenly Peace (Richard Gordon, Carma Hinton)
Spin (Brian Springer)
Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch)
Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater)
Hate (La Haine) (Mathieu Kassovitz)
Kicking and Screaming (Noah Baumbach)
Fallen Angels (Duoluo tianshi) (Wong Kar-wai)
Se7en (David Fincher)
A Single Girl (La Fille seule) (Benoit Jacquot)
Welcome to the Dollhouse (Todd Solondz)
Dead Man Walking (Tim Robbins)

RUNNERS UP:
Persuasion (Roger Michell)
The Bridges of Madison County (Clint Eastwood)
Nixon (Oliver Stone)
A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (Martin Scorsese)
Casino (Martin Scorsese)
Murder of the Century (Carl Charlson/TV)
From the Journals of Jean Seberg (Mark Rappaport)
Living in Oblivion (Tom DeCillo)
Rendezvous in Paris (Eric Rohmer)
To Die For (Gus Van Sant)
The Underneath (Steven Soderbergh)
Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud (Claude Sautet)
Smoke (Wayne Wang)
Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam (Nick Broomfield)
Get Shorty (Barry Sonnenfeld)
12 Monkeys (Terry Gilliam)
Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii)
Angels and Insects (Philip Haas)
Notes from Underground (Gary Walkow)
Toy Story (John Lasseter)
Clockers (Spike Lee)
Sense and Sensibility (Ang Lee)
Mighty Aphrodite (Woody Allen)
I Just Wasn't Made For These Times (Don Was)
A Little Princess (Alfonso Cuaron)
Land and Freedom (Kenneth Loach)
Heat (Michael Mann)
Kids (Larry Clark)
The White Balloon (Jafar Panahi)
Babe (Chris Noonan)
Georgia (Ulu Grosbard)
Dolores Claiborne (Taylor Hackford)
Rumble in the Bronx (Hong faan kui) (Stanley Tong)
Beyond Rangoon (John Boorman)
Apollo 13 (Ron Howard)
Deseret (James Benning)

For the record: An Awfully Big Adventure (Mike Newell); Braveheart (Mel Gibson); Devil in a Blue Dress (Carl Franklin); Empire Records (Allan Moyle); Carrington (Christopher Hampton); Leaving Las Vegas (Mike Figgis); Heavy (James Mangold); Antonia's Line (Marleen Gorris); The Convent (Manoel de Oliveira); La Ceremonie (Claude Chabrol); Jefferson in Paris (James Ivory); A Walk in the Clouds (Alfonso Arau); Restoration (Michael Hoffman); The Usual Suspects (Bryan Singer); Outbreak (Wolfgang Peterson); Funny Bones (Peter Chelsom); Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam (Nick Broomfield); Jupiter's Wife (Michel Negroponte); Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe (Shusuke Kaneko); Underground (Emir Kusturica); Safe (Todd Haynes); Showgirls (Paul Verhoeven); The Addiction (Abel Ferrara); Antonia's Line (Marleen Gorris); The Brothers McMullen (Edward Burns); Dead Presidents (Albert and Allen Hughes); etc.

To re-watch: Safe (Todd Haynes); The Addiction (Abel Ferrara)

Lumpy Gravy Award for Worst Movie of the Century (1995 edition): The Convent (Manoel de Oliveira)

To see: Good Men, Good Women (Hou Hsiao-hsien); Whisper of the Heart (Yoshifumi Kondo); Waati (Souleymane Cissé); Love Letter (Shunji Iwai); American Job (Chris Smith); Les Miserables (Claude Lelouch); Up Down Fragile (Jacques Rivette); JLG/JLG (Jean-Luc Godard); Salaam Cinema (Mohsen Makhmalbaf), Like Grains of Sand (Ryosuke Hashiguchi); Wild Bill (Walter Hill); L'Appat (Bertrand Tavernier), Getting Any? (Takeshi Kitano); Rangeela (Ram Gopal Varma); Spiritual Voices (Aleksandr Sokurov); Le Garcu (Maurice Pialat); Institute Benjamenta... (Quay Brothers); The Young Poisoner's Handbook (Benjamin Ross); The Flor Contemplacion Story (Joel Lamangan)

In the queue: The Neon Bible (Terence Davies); Picture Bride (Kayo Hatta); Bombay (Mani Ratnam); To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar (Beeban Kidron); TenBenny (Nothing to Lose) (Eric Bross); Open Season (Robert Wuhl); My Family (Gregory Nava); The Prophecy (Gregory Widen);`Species (Roger Donaldson); Indictment: The McMartin Trial (Mick Jackson); Flirt (Hal Hartley); The Doom Generation (Gregg Araki)

VINTAGE RATING (1995): 7.5****

1996 (113)
Big Night (Stanley Tucci, Campbell Scott)
My Sex Life...or How I Got Into An Argument (Arnaud Desplechin)
When We Were Kings (Leon Gast)
Lone Star (John Sayles)
The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century
(Carl Byker, Lyn Goldfarb, et. al., TV)
Les Voleurs (Thieves) (Andre Techine)
Bound (Andy & Larry Wachowski)
Everyone Says I Love You (Woody Allen)
I Shot Andy Warhol
(Mary Harron)
Secrets and Lies (Mike Leigh)
Citizen Ruth
(Alexander Payne)

RUNNERS UP:
Waiting For Guffman (Christopher Guest)
The West (Stephen Ives/TV)
Box of Moonlight (Tom DeCillo)
Shall We Dansu? (Shall We Dance?) (Masayuki Suo)
Female Perversions (Susan Strietfield)
The Cable Guy (Ben Stiller)
The Daytrippers (Greg Mottola)
Freeway (Matthew Bright)
Chronicle of a Disappearance (Elia Suleiman)
Bottle Rocket (Wes Anderson)
The Portrait of a Lady (Jane Campion)
Swingers (Doug Liman)
Fear and Favor in the Newsroom (Beth Sanders)
Trainspotting (Danny Boyle)
When the Cat's Away (Cedric Klapisch)
Trees Lounge (Steve Buscemi
The Frighteners (Peter Jackson)
Conspirators of Pleasure (Jan Svankmajer)
The People vs. Larry Flynt (Milos Forman)
The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story (Susan Warms Dryfoos)
The Crucible (Nicholas Hytner)
Kingpin (Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly)
La Promesse (Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne)
Hamsun (Jan Troell)
Prisoner of the Mountains (Sergei Bodrov)
Capitaine Conan (Bertrand Tavernier)
Microcosmos (Claude Nuridsany, Marie Perennou)
Jude (Michael Winterbottom)
Mother (Albert Brooks)
Jazz '34 (Robert Altman's Jazz '34) (Robert Altman)
Flirting With Disaster (David O. Russell)
Hard Eight (Paul Thomas Anderson)
A Time to Kill (Joel Schumacher)
The English Patient (Anthony Minghella)
Looking for Richard (Al Pacino)
Breaking the Waves (Lars von Trier)
Beaumarchais the Scoundrel (Edouard Molinaro)
Gray's Anatomy (Steven Soderbergh)
The Ogre (Volker Schlondorff)
City Hall (Harold Becker
Children of the Revolution (Peter Duncan)
Small Faces (Gilles McKinnon)
Basquiat (Julian Schnabel)
Hype! (Doug Pray)

For the record: Will it Snow for Christmas? (Sandrine Veysset); Ransom (Ron Howard); Bastard Out of Carolina (Anjelica Huston); Irma Vep (Olivier Assayas); Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky); Mission: Impossible (Brian De Palma); Good Will Hunting (Gus Van Sant); Fargo (Joel Coen); Kansas City (Robert Altman); Kolya (Jan Sverak); Sling Blade (Billy Bob Thornton); Black Mask (Daniel Lee); The Funeral (Abel Ferrara); Nenette et Boni (Claire Denis); Lumiere and Company (David Lynch, et. al); Gabbeh (Mohsen Makhmalbaf); Crash (David Cronenberg); The Pillow Book (Peter Greenaway)

To re-watch: Mon homme (My Man) (Bertrand Blier); The Funeral (Abel Ferrara); Crash (David Cronenberg); Schizopolis (Steven Soderbergh); Ponette (Jacques Doillon)

To see: Beyond Silence (Jenseits der Stille) (Caroline Link); Bitter Sugar (Leon Ichaso); Carla's Song (Ken Loach); Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day (Christopher Munch); The Delicate Art of the Rifle (D.W. Harper); The Delta (Ira Sachs); Drifting Clouds (Aki Kaurismäki); Eastern Elegy (Aleksandr Sokurov); Encore (Pascal Bonitzer); Forgotten Silver (Peter Jackson); Get on the Bus (Spike Lee); A Girl Called Rosemarie (Das Mädchen Rosemarie) (Bernd Eichinger); God of Cookery (Stephen Chow and Lik-Chi Lee); Killer Condom (Martin Walz); Kissed (Lynne Stopkewich); Lilies (John Grayson); Mahjong (Edward Yang); Mahjong (Edward Yang); A Moment of Innocence (Mohsen Makhmalbaf); Non-Stop (Hiroyuki Tanaka); Perfect Love (Catherine Breillat); A Summer’s Tale (Eric Rohmer); Three Lives & Only One Death (Raul Ruiz)

In the queue: That Thing You Do! (Tom Hanks); Tierra (Julio Medem); The Long Kiss Goodnight (Renny Harlin); Michael Collins (Neil Jordan); Moll Flanders (Pen Densham); Night Falls on Manhattan (Sidney Lumet); My Fellow Americans (Peter Segal); Broken Arrow (John Woo); Evita (Alan Parker); Bad Moon (Eric Red)

VINTAGE RATING (1996): 6.5****

Note: 1996 continues the decline in overall quality that began in 1995, and is one of the weakest years of the decade. Still, there's plenty to enjoy, and the American indie scene is still vibrant, as evinced by audacious films like Alexander Payne's 'Citizen Ruth' and a slew of similarly quirky low-budget comedies such as 'Waiting for Guffman, 'Bottle Rocket,' 'The Daytrippers,' 'Box of Moonlight,' 'Swingers' and 'Flirting With Disaster.'
'My Sex Life...' is a bit of a train wreck as far as three-hour epic French talkfests go, but the flavorful moments are tasty and numerous enough to add up a memorable evening's viewing. Think 'Mother and the Whore' meets 'Metropolitan' and you get some idea of what to expect. It was at the top of my list until I fessed up and admitted that 'Big Night' is vastly more fun.

1997 (129)
Hands on a Hardbody, the Documentary (S.R. Bindler)
Public Housing (Frederick Wiseman);
Love and Death on Long Island
(Richard Kwietniowski)
Affliction
(Paul Schrader)
Little Dieter Needs to Fly (Werner Herzog)
The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers'
Struggle
(Rick Tejada-Flores, Ray Telles)
Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist
(Kirby Dick)
Career Girls
(Mike Leigh)
The Butcher Boy (Neil Jordan)
Happy Together
(Wong Kar-wai)
Fireworks (Hana-bi)
(Takeshi Kitano)
Donnie Brasco
(Mike Newell)
Deconstructing Harry
(Woody Allen)
Gummo
(Harmony Korine)
The Sweet Hereafter
(Atom Egoyan)

RUNNERS UP:
Lost Highway (David Lynch)
Lolita (Adrian Lyne)
Face/Off (John Woo)
Destiny (Youssef Chahine)
The Apostle (Robert Duvall)
Fast, Cheap and Out of Control (Errol Morris)
Who the Hell Is Juliette? (Carlos Marcovich)
The Boxer (Jim Sheridan)
Cadillac Desert (Jon Else, Linda Harrar/TV)
Clockwatchers (Jill Sprecher)
The Tango Lesson (Sally Potter)
Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Festival (Murray Lerner)
Jackie Brown (Quentin Tarantino)
Waco: The Rules of Engagement (William Gazecki)
Unmade Beds (Nicholas Barker)
I Went Down (Paddy Breathnach)
The Crazy Stranger (Tony Gatlif)
The Big One (Michael Moore)
In the Company of Men (Neil LaBute)
Chasing Amy (Kevin Smith)
Blood and Wine (Bob Rafelson)
Fairytale: A True Story (Charles Sturridge)
4 Little Girls (Spike Lee)
Bad Manners (Jonathan Kaufer)
Soul in the Hole (Danielle Gardner)
Eye of God (Tim Blake Nelson)
The Ad and the Ego (Harold Boihem)
Contact (Robert Zemeckis)
Afterglow (Alan Rudolph)
East Side Story (Dana Ranga)
U-Turn (Oliver Stone)
Amistad (Steven Spielberg)
Ma vie en rose (Alain Berliner)
Mrs. Brown (John Madden)
The River (Tsai Ming-liang)
Henry Fool (Hal Hartley)
Mother and Son (Aleksandr Sokurov)
George Wallace (John Frankenheimer/TV)
Welcome to Sarajevo (Michael Winterbottom)
The Wings of the Dove (Iain Softley)
Four Days in September (Bruno Barreto)
Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Conspiracy Theory (Richard Donner)
Insomnia (Erik Skjoldbjaerg)
The Eel (Shohei Imamura)
Bent (Sean Mathias)
Private Parts (Betty Thomas)
Smilla's Sense of Snow (Bille August)
Gattaca (Andrew Niccol)
I Know What You Did Last Summer (Jim Gillespie)

For the record: She's So Lovely (Nick Cassavetes); Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami); Absolute Power (Clint Eastwood); As Good as it Gets (James L. Brooks); L.A. Confidential (Curtis Hanson); The Full Monty (Peter Cattaneo); The Spanish Prisoner (David Mamet); Washington Square (Agnieszka Holland); Wag the Dog (Barry Levinson); Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki); Eve’s Bayou (Kasi Lemmons); Pretty as a Picture: The Art of David Lynch (Toby Keeler); Starship Troopers (Paul Verhoeven); more

To see: Cure (Kiyoshi Kurosawa); Men with Guns (John Sayles); Ulee's Gold (Victor Nunez); Deja Vu (Henry Jaglom); Histoire(s) du cinéma (Jean-Luc Godard); Life of Jesus (Bruno Dumont); Live Flesh (Pedro Almodovar); The Mirror (Jafar Panahi); Nowhere (Gregg Araki); Oscar and Lucinda (Gillian Armstrong); Regeneration (Gillies MacKinnon); The Silver Screen: Color Me Lavender (Mark Rappaport); Mumia Abu-Jamal: A Case for Reasonable Doubt? (John Edginton); Same Old Song (Alain Resnais); Winter Sleepers (Tom Tykwer); Fragments: Jerusalem (Ron Havilio); Love Walked In (Juan Jose Campanella)

In the queue: Open Your Eyes (Abre los ojos) (Alejandro Amenabar); The Fruit is Swelling (Chin Man Kei); The Winter Guest (Alan Rickman); The End of Violence (Wim Wenders); Mrs. Dalloway (Marleen Gorris); Sudden Manhattan (Adrienne Shelly); A Life Less Ordinary (Danny Boyle); The Relic (Peter Hyams); Seven Years in Tibet (Jean-Jacques Annaud); Face/Off (John Woo); The Devil's Advocate (Taylor Hackford); Bandits (Katja von Garnier)

Note: 1997 is a fantastic year for indies, especially documentaries. 'The Sweet Hereafter' is an emotionally ambitious townie epic about a community seemingly frozen in grief. I'm not sure where I stand on it, but have listed it while I work through the issues in my head. There's no clearly superior film this year, but the video-film home-movie documentary 'Hands on a Hardbody' provided me the most intensely memorable experience in this bunch--though its impact now may be blunted by the glut of competitive-style reality TV shows. It, and Harmony Korine's 'Gummo' are just about the only movies of recent vintage that provide disturbingly accurate views of Bible Belt mindsets. 'Gattaca' (runner up) was on pace to be a great sci-fi film, but blew it by trying to peddle off as poetic an audience-pandering ending. "I Know What You Did Last Summer" was my guilty pleasure of the year. I was actually moved by the kids' feelings of guilt.

VINTAGE RATING (1997): 8****

1998 (90)
Human Remains (Jay Rosenblatt)
Richter the Enigma
(Bruno Monsaingeon)
The Celebration (Festen)
(Thomas Vinterberg)
The Hole (Dong)
(Tsai Ming-liang)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
(Terry Gilliam)
A Simple Plan
(Sam Raimi)
The General
(John Boorman)
Your Friends & Neighbors
(Neil LaBute)
Bulworth
(Warren Beatty)
Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train
(Patrice Chereau)
The Cruise
(Bennett Miller)

RUNNERS UP:
The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (Aviva Kempner)
Surviving the Dust Bowl (Chana Ghazit/TV)
Conte d'automne (Autumn Tale) (Eric Rohmer)
Show Me Love (Fucking Amal) (Lukas Moodysson)
My Name is Joe (Ken Loach)
The Opposite of Sex (Don Roos)
A Place Called Chiapas (Nettie Wild)
A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries (James Ivory)
Trance (The Eternal) (Michael Almereyda)
Primary Colors (Mike Nichols)
Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg)
Croupier (Mike Hodges)
Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu (Hugh Munro Neely)
Celebrity (Woody Allen)
Shakespeare in Love (John Madden)
Run Lola Run (Tom Tykwer)
Last Night (Don McKellar)
Velvet Goldmine (Todd Haynes)
The Big Lebowski (Joel Coen)
pi (Darren Aronofsky)
Dark City (Alex Proyas)
The Last Days of Disco (Whit Stillman)
The Mask of Zorro (Martin Campbell)
Out of Sight (Steven Soderbergh)
Living Out Loud (Richard LaGravenese)
The Impostors (Stanley Tucci)
High Art (Lisa Cholodenko)
Illuminata (John Turturro)
American History X (Tony Kaye)
There's Something About Mary (Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly)
The Apple (Samira Makmalbaf)
After Life (Kirokazu Kore-eda)
I Stand Alone (Gaspar Noe)
Gia (Michael Cristofer)
Wild Things (John McNaughton)
Ringu (Hideo Nakata)
Windhorse (Tony Wagner)

For the record: Besieged (Bernardo Bertolucci); The Dreamlife of Angels (Erick Zonca); Rushmore (Wes Anderson); Late August, Early September (Olivier Assayas); Buffalo '66 (Vincent Gallo); Babe: Pig in the City (George Miller); Pleasantville (Gary Ross); Happiness (Tod Solondz); The Truman Show (Peter Weir); The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick); Flowers Of Shanghai (Hou Hsiao-hsien); Gods And Monsters (Bill Condon); Central Do Brasil (Walter Salles); Blade (Stephen Norrington); Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (Guy Ritchie); The Horse Whisperer (Robert Redford); The Gingerbread Man (Robert Altman); Elizabeth (Shekhar Kepur); Provocateur (Jim Donovan); Star Trek Insurrection (Jonathan Frakes); etc.

To re-watch: The Book of Life (Hal Hartley)

To see: 42 Up (Michael Apted); All the Little Animals (Jeremy Thomas); Another Day in Paradise (Larry Clark); Antz (Eric Darnell); A Bug's Life (John Lasseter); Dr. Akagi (Shohei Imamura); Hideous Kinky (Gilles MacKinnon); The Idiots (Idioterne) (Lars von Trier); The Inheritors (Stefan Ruzowitzky); Inquietude (Manoel de Oliveira); The Last Days (James Moll); The Legend of 1900 (Giuseppe Tornatore); Life on Earth (La vie sur terre) (Abderrahmane Sissako); Lovers of the Arctic Circle (Julio Medem); The Power of Kangwon Province (Hong Sang-soo); Sitcom (Francois Ozon); The Silence (Mohsen Makhmalbaf)

In the queue: Khrustalyov, My Car! (Alexei Germain); The Third Reich in Color (Michael Kloft); A Bright Shining Lie (Terry George); Such a Long Journey (Sturla Gunnarsson); My Name is Joe (Ken Loach); Black Cat, White Cat (Emir Kusturica); The Newton Boys (Richard Linklater); Palmetto (Volker Schlondorff); Wadd: The Life & Times of John C. Holmes (Wesley Emerson, Alan Smithee)

VINTAGE RATING (1998): 8****

Note: Spielberg's 'Saving Private Ryan' proves again the director's mastery of emotional manipulation, thus very powerful while it's on but not very resonant--for me, anyway--once over. I feel cheated too when it turns out all that hardship was endured to rescue smarmy Matt Damon. Conversely, all the films listed above it turned out to have special, lasting merit (again, for me, anyway). 'The Cruise' is an indie gem documentary about an eccentric New York bus-tour guide, with an eerie premonition in the finale about the fate of the World Trade Center. This year's quirky treasure is the Taiwanese film, 'The Hole,' yet another bleak Tsai Ming-liang urban alienation study, except that this one is helped by its wryly humorous visual ideas, charming daydream musical scenes and its vivid sense of place and mood. Jay Rosenblatt's indie avant-garde documentary essay, 'Human Remains' is novel, too, looking at the lives of Hitler, Stalin and other dictators from a wholly original perspective--humanizing them via their own bodily failings (constipation, insomnia, etc.). Stephen Soderbergh's 'Out of Sight' (runner up) might be the smartest and best-made commercial film of the year, and it probably ought to be ranked higher, but the replay factor is less to me than with the other titles listed. Personal preference...

1999 (102)
Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick)
American Movie
(Chris Smith)
Topsy-Turvy
(Mike Leigh)
New York: A Documentary Film
(Ric Burns)
Fight Club
(David Fincher)
The Straight Story
(David Lynch)
eXistenZ
(David Cronenberg)
American Beauty
(Sam Mendes)
Go
(Doug Liman)
The Sixth Sense
(M. Night Shyamalan)
Sound and Fury
(Josh Aronson)

RUNNERS UP:
The Winslow Boy (David Mamet)
My Voyage to Italy (Martin Scorsese)
My Best Fiend (Werner Herzog)
Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (Errol Morris)
The Thomas Crown Affair (John McTiernan)
Jesus' Son (Alison Maclean)
Felicia's Journey (Atom Egoyan)
The Iron Giant (Brad Bird)
The Limey (Steven Soderbergh)
Sing Faster: The Stagehands' Ring Cycle (Jon Else)
The Virgin Suicides (Sofia Coppola)
Tumbleweeds (Gavin O'Connor
The Insider (Michael Mann)
The End of the Affair (Neil Jordan)
Human Resources (Laurent Cantet)
Clara Bow: Discovering the It Girl (Hugh Munro Neely)
Buena Vista Social Club (Wim Wenders)
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Jim Jarmusch)
Girl, Interrupted (James Mangold)
Chaos (Hideo Nakata)
Limbo (John Sayles)
Dogma (Kevin Smith)
Sweet and Lowdown (Woody Allen)
Kikujiro (Takeshi Kitano)
Ravenous (Antonia Bird)
Toy Story 2 (John Lasseter)
Audition (Takashi Miike)
Any Given Sunday (Oliver Stone)
Election (Alexander Payne)
Three Kings (David O. Russell)
Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (George Lucas)

Honorable mention:
The four-hour restoration of Erich von Stroheim's "Greed" (1925)

For the record: Beau Travail (Claire Denis); Une liaison pornographique (An Affair of Love) Frederic Fonteyne); Lies (Sun-Woo Jang); East-West (Regis Wargnier); The Cider House Rules (Lasse Hallstrom); Holy Smoke (Jane Campion); Titus (Julie Taymor); American Pie (Paul Weitz); Boys Don't Cry (Kimberly Peirce); Adrenaline Drive (Shinobu Yaguchi); Tell Me Something (Yoon-Hyun Chang); Shiri (Je-gyu Kang); Me Myself I (Pip Karmel); L'Humanite (Bruno Dumont); Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze); All About My Mother (Pedro Almodovar); Rosetta (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne); Bringing Out the Dead (Martin Scorsese); Rated X - A Journey Through Porn (Dag Yngvesson); etc.

To see: Black and White (James Toback); The Book of Stars (Michael Miner); El coronel no tiene quien le escriba (No One Writes to the Colonel (Arturo Ripstein); The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun (Djibril Diop Mambety); The Loss of Sexual Innocence (Mike Figgis); My Neighbors the Yamadas (Isao Takahata); New Waterford Girl (Allan Moyle); One Day in September (Kevin Macdonald); Peppermint Candy (Lee Chang-dong); Pola X (Leos Carax); Ringu 2 (Hideo Nakata); Time Regained (Raoul Ruiz); Treasure Island (Scott King); Tuvalu (Veit Helmer); The Wind Will Carry Us (Abbas Kiarostami)

In the queue: Mifune (Soren Kragh-Jacobsen); Mansfield Park (Patricia Rozema); Taboo (Nagisa Oshima); Snow Falling on Cedars (Scott Hicks); Judy Berlin (Eric Mendelsohn); Not One Less (Zhang Yimou); Aimee and Jaguar (Max Farberbock); Jealousy (Celos) (Vicente Aranda); Twenty Four Hour Woman (Nancy Savoca); Mansfield Park (Patricia Rozema); Mystery Men (Kinka Usher); Office Space (Mike Judge); Music of the Heart (Wes Craven); The Haunting (Jan de Bont); Galaxy Quest (Dean Parisot); Sex: The Annabel Chong Story (Gough Lewis); The Girl Next Door (Christine Fugate); Attack the Gas Station! (Sang-Jin Kim)

VINTAGE RATING (1999): 8.5****

Note: A good movie decade closes out strongly, helped by increasingly corporate (but still good) 'indies.' Yes, I saw Claire Denis' "Beau Travail." No, I didn't get it.

The 2000s
(I'm very far behind on the current decade, after 2001 I haven't seen enough to make valid top 10 lists, and after 2003 I've seen little at all as of this writing. I haven't liked much of what is being offered out there; too much comic book puff on the one end and unpromising esoterica on the other. For now I remain committed to continuing my pursuit of the films of the 20th century; there are still too many of those I've missed, so occasionally I'll sprinkle in some newer fare, maybe. Newer films aren't going anywhere, so what's the hurry? Too many so-called cineastes waste time on newer stuff when they don't have sufficient grounding in the classics. In any case, a high percentage of the "art" films (and commercial ones) of this decade I've found insufferable. I start to wonder if people know how to make good movies anymore. My idea is to go back then move forward. It just makes more sense that way; knowing where things came from and how the art and craft has developed.)

Favorite film of the decade so far: The New World (Terrence Malick/2005)

2000 (to count)
The Circle (Dayereh) (Jafar Panahi)
The Greeks (The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization) (Cassian Harrison) (TV)
Yi Yi (Yi yi: A One and a Two) (Edward Yang)
State and Main (David Mamet)
Amores Perros (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)
The House of Mirth (Terence Davies)
The Heart of the World (Guy Maddin)
Joe Gould's Secret (Stanley Tucci)
Ginger Snaps (John Fawcett)
In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai)

RUNNERS UP:
Maelstrom (Denis Villeneuve)
The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato)
La Veuve de Saint-Pierre (The Widow of Saint-Pierre) (Patrice Leconte)
Gladiator (Ridley Scott)
The Filth and the Fury (Julien Temple)
Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe)
You Can Count on Me (Kenneth Lonergan)
Innocence (Paul Cox)
Memento (Christopher Nolan)
Bread and Roses (Ken Loach)
Lumumba (Raoul Peck)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee)
Wonder Boys (Curtis Hanson)
Urbania (Jon Matthews, aka Jon Shear)
Calle 54 (Fernando Trueba)
The Beach (Danny Boyle)
Sexy Beast (Jonathan Glazer)
Aberdeen (Hans Petter Moland)
The Claim (Michael Winterbottom)
Pollock (Ed Harris)
Meet the Parents (Jay Roach)

For the record: Code Unknown (Michael Haneke); Songs from the Second Floor (Roy Andersson); Faithless (Liv Ullmann); Battle Royale (Kenji Fukasaku); Dancer in the Dark (Lars Von Trier); Erin Brockovich (Steven Soderbergh); O Brother Where Art Thou? (Joel Coen); Platform (Zhang-Ke Jia); Quills (Philip Kaufman); Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky); Traffic (Steven Soderbergh); George Washington (David Gordon Green); Shadow of the Vampire (E. Elias Merhige); U-571 (Jonathan Mostow); The Perfect Storm (Wolfgang Petersen); Pitch Black (David Twohy); Songcatcher (Maggie Greenwald); The Cell (Tarsem Singh); J.S.A. (Joint Security Area) (Chan-Wook Park); Cast Away (Robert Zemeckis); Chuck & Buck (Miguel Arteta), High Fidelity (Stephen Frears), Before Night Falls (Julian Schnabel), Unbreakable (M. Night Shyamalan); Best in Show (Christopher Guest); Waking the Dead (Keith Gordon); X-Men (Bryan Singer); Titan A.E. (Don Bluth); Girls Can't Swim (Anne-Sophie Birot); etc.

To see: Anatomie (Stefan Ruzowitzky); At the Height of Summer (Tran Anh-Hung); The Big Animal (Jerzy Stuhr); Blackboards (Iran/Samira Makhmalbaf); Boesman and Lena (John Berry); ); The Captive (Chantal Akerman); Charlie's Angels (McG); Chicken Run (Peter Lord, Nick Park); The Child and the Soldier (Seyyed Reza Mir-Karimi); Chunhyang (Im Kwon-Taek); The City of Lost Souls (Takashi Miike); Common Wealth (Alex de la Iglesia); The Day I Became a Woman (Marzieh Makhmalbaf); Devils on the Doorstep (Jiang Wen); Dinner Rush (Bob Giraldi); Esther Kahn (Arnaud Desplechin); Fighter (Amir Bar-Lev); The Gleaners and I (Agnes Varda); Gormenghast (Andy Wilson); Gulag (Angus MacQueen); Happy Accidents (Brad Anderson); Hollow Man (Paul Verhoeven); I'm The One That I Want (Lionel Coleman); La Commune (Paris 1871) (Peter Watkins); Land of the Wandering Souls (Rithy Panh); Le Gout des Autres (Agnès Jaoui); Litte Otik (Jan Svankmajer); Malèna (Italy/Giuseppe Tornatore); Merci Pour Le Chocolat (Claude Chabrol); Mission To Mars (Brian De Palma); Mysterious Object at Noon (Thailand/Apichatpong Weerasethakul); O Fantasma (Joao Pedro Rodrigues); 101 Reykjavík (Baltasar Kormakur); Paragraph 175 (Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman); Paris Commune, 1871 (Peter Watkins); The Ruination of Men (Arturo Ripstein); The Smell of Camphor, the Scent of Jasmine (Bahman Farmanara); Soldiers in the Army of God (Marc Levin, Daphne Pinkerson); Suzhou River (Lou Ye); Tears of the Black Tiger (Thailand/Wisit Sasanatieng); A Time for Drunken Horses (Bahman Ghobadi); Together (Lukas Moodysson); Vengo (Tony Gatlif)

In the queue: Billy Elliot (Stephen Daldry); Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors (Sang-soo Hong); Werckmeister Harmonies (Bela Tarr); Baise Moi! (Virginie Despentes, Coralie Trinh Thi); Vampire Hunter D (Yoshiaki Kawajiri); Vertical Ray of the Sun (Tran anh Hung); Our Lady of the Assassins (Barbet Schroeder); Pandaemonium (Julien Temple); Eureka (Shinji Aoyama); Happenstance (Le battement d'ailes du papillon) (Laurent Firode); The Golden Bowl (James Ivory); Loser (Amy Heckerling); Coyote Ugly (David McNally); Pauline and Paulette (Lieven Debrauwer); Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (Joe Berlinger); Freeze Me (Takashi Ishii); An Everlasting Piece (Barry Levinson); Divided We Fall (Jan Hrebejk)

VINTAGE RATING (2000): 7****

Note: OK, so maybe I cheat a little putting a PBS documentary mini-series (The Greeks) on the list, but there was nothing better I saw all year. It proved that ancient Greek history could be presented in a fascinating and sensible way. 'Maelstrom' (runner up) is a creepy, weird Canadian indie that bears some resemblence to Herk Harvey's 1962 cult classic 'Carnival of Souls.' I'm not sure what I think about it, or even if I understood it, or whether the Cronenberg-like bloody talking fish really works as a linking device. But it's the movie equivalent of an earworm -- I can't quite get it outta my head. Yes, I saw "Requiem for a Dream" and "Dancer in the Dark" and a lot of other nose-in-shitters I don't care to revisit.

2001 (62+)
Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff)
All About Lily Chou-Chou (Shunji Iwai)
Waking Life (Richard Linklater)
A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg)
Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch)
The Man Who Wasn't There (Joel Coen)
Amélie (Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain)
(Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
Last Orders (Fred Schepisi)
Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly)
Dogtown and Z-Boys (Stacy Peralta)
The Others
(Alejandro Amenabar)
Series 7: The Contenders (Daniel Minahan)
Tape (Richard Linklater)
Black Hawk Down (Ridley Scott)
Late Marriage (Dover Koshashvili)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell)
I'm Going Home (Manoel de Oliveira)

RUNNERS UP:
No Man's Land (Danis Tanovic)
What Time Is It There? (Tsai Ming-liang)
Time Out (L'emploi du temps) (Laurent Cantet)
Kandahar (Mohsen Makhmalbaf)
The Anniversary Party (Alan Cumming, Jennifer Jason Leigh)
The Son's Room (La stanza del figlio) (Nanni Moretti)
Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (Shusuke Kaneko)
Ocean's 11 (Steven Soderbergh)
Startup.com (Chris Hegedus, Jehane Noujaim)
The Lady and the Duke (Eric Rohmer)
Storytelling (Todd Solondz)
Lovely and Amazing (Nicole Holofcener)
The Tailor of Panama (John Boorman)
L.I.E. (Michael Cuesta)
Heartbreakers (David Mirkin)
No Such Thing (Hal Hartley)

Not sure what the fuss was about: Y tu mama tambien (Alfonso Cuaron); The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson): Training Day (Antoine Fuqua): The Piano Teacher (Michael Haneke): Gosford Park (Robert Altman): In the Bedroom (Todd Field); The Pledge (Sean Penn); Fat Girl (Catherine Breillat): Fast and the Furious (Rob Cohen); Vanilla Sky (Cameron Crowe); A Beautiful Mind (Ron Howard); Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Peter Jackson); Moulin Rouge! (Baz Luhrmann); Shallow Hal (Bobby & Peter Farrelly); Monster's Ball (Marc Foster)

For the record: Shrek (Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson); My Wife is an Actress (Yvan Attal); The Accountant (Ray McKinnon); The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (Woody Allen); Bully (Larry Clark); The Score (Frank Oz); From Hell (Albert & Allen Hughes); I am Sam (Jessie Nelson); Enemy at the Gates (Jean-Jacques Annaud); Bandits (Barry Levinson); My First Mister (Christine Lahti); Queen of the Damned (Michael Rymer); Under the Sand (Francois Ozon); The Cat's Meow (Peter Bogdanovich)

To see: Pulse (Kairo) (Kiyoshi Kurosawa); ABC Africa (Abbas Kiarostami); Ali (Michael Mann); Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (Zacharias Kunuk); Band of Brothers (various); The Believer (Henry Bean); Brief Crossing (Catherine Breillat); Le cas Pinochet (The Pinochet Case) (Patricio Guzman); Children Underground (Edel Belzberg); CQ (Roman Coppola); The Deep End (Scott McGehee, David Siegel); The Devil's Backbone (Guillermo Del Toro); Domestic Violence (Frederick Wiseman); Éloge de l’Amour (Jean-Luc Godard); Hell House (George Ratliff); Home Movie (Chris Smith); In a Land of Plenty (David Moore, Hattie MacDonald); Intacto (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo); Intimacy (Patrice Chereau); Invincible (Werner Herzog); La Cienaga (Lucrecia Martel); Lagaan (Ashutosh Gowariker); The Lawless Heart (Neil Hunter, Tom Hunsinger); Lost and Delirious (Léa Pool); The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein (John Gianvito); Millennium Actress (Satoshi Kon); Nowhere in Africa (Caroline Link); Ou git votre sourire enfoui? (Where Lies Your Hidden Smile?) (Pedro Costa); Oui, mais (Yves Lavandier); Perfect Strangers (Stephen Poliakoff); Pistol Opera (Seijun Suzuki); Pulse (Kiyoshi Kurosawa); Quo Vadis? (Jerzy Kawalerowicz); 'R Xmas (Abel Ferrara); Read My Lips (Sur Mes Levres) (Jacques Audiard); Roberto Succo (Cédric Kahn); Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies (Ray Greene); Session 9 (Brad Anderson); Silence…on tourne (Youssef Chahine); Sobibor, Oct. 14, 1943, 4 p.m. (Claude Lanzmann); Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki); 13 Conversations About One Thing (Jill Sprecher); Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (Shohei Imamura)

In the queue: Sex and Lucia (Julio Medem); Festival in Cannes (Henry Jaglom); Pinero (Leon Ichaso); Lantana (Ray Lawrence); Spy Kids (Robert Rodriguez); Visitor Q (Takeshi Miike); Trouble Every Day (Claire Denis); Millenium Mambo (Hsiao-hsien Hou); Pinero (Leon Ichaso); Josie and the Pussycats (Harry Elfont); Get Over It! (Tommy O‘Haver); Baran (Majid Majidi); Alias Betty (Claude Miller); Angel Eyes (Luis Mandoki); Dil Chata Hai (Farhan Akhtar); Pornstar: The Legend of Ron Jeremy (Scott J. Gill); Life and Debt (Stephanie Black)

Note: For more than half the way I'm loving Gosford Park as a rich class study and then it degenerates into a Hercule Poirot mystery. Sigh.

2002 (to count)
Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes)
Bowling for Columbine (Michael Moore)
The Man Without a Past (Aki Kaurismaki)
Solaris (Steven Soderbergh)
City of God (Fernando Meirelles)
25th Hour (Spike Lee)
Irréversible (Gaspar Noe)
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Peter Jackson)
Bloody Sunday (Paul Greengrass)
The Quiet American (Phillip Noyce)
24 Hour Party People (Michael Winterbottom)
About Schmidt (Alexander Payne)
Rabbit-Proof Fence (Phillip Noyce)
Talk to Her (Hable con ella)
(Pedro Almodovar)
Insomnia (Christopher Nolan)
Minority Report (Steven Spielberg)
Road to Perdition (Sam Mendes)
The Rules of Attraction (Roger Avary)
The Kid Stays in the Picture (Nanette Burstein, Brett Morgen)
The Weather Underground (Sam Green, Bill Siegel)

RUNNERS UP:
The Pianist (Roman Polanski)
Russian Ark (Alexander Sokurov)
Gerry (Gus Van Sant)
Amen (Costa-Gavras)
Roger Dodger (Dylan Kidd)
The Secret Lives of Dentists (Alan Rudolph)
Adaptation (Spike Jonze)
Sunshine State (John Sayles)
The Trials of Henry Kissinger (Eugene Jarecki)
Blind Spot. Hitler's Secretary (Andre Heller, Othmar Schmiderer)
Dark Water (Hideo Nakata)
demonlover (Olivier Assayas)
The Mothman Prophecies (Mark Pellington)
28 Days Later. . . (Danny Boyle)
Secretary (Steven Shainberg)
Dirty Pretty Things (Stephen Frears)
Ju-on (Takashi Shimizu)

For the record: Ten (Abbas Kiarostami); Panic Room (David Fincher); Gangs of New York (Martin Scorsese); Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson); Signs (M. Night Shyamalan); Frida (Julie Taymor); Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones (George Lucas); Chicago (Bill Condon); Hero (Zhang Yimou); Queen of the Damned (Michael Rymer); Daughter From Danang (Gail Dolgin, Vicente Franco); Femme Fatale (Brian De Palma); Unfaithful (Adrian Lyne); Spider (David Cronenberg); Jackass the Movie (Jeff Tremaine); Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (George Clooney); Auto Focus (Paul Schrader); The Truth About Charlie (Jonathan Demme); Assassination Tango (Robert Duvall); Standing in the Shadows of Motown (Paul Justman); Better Luck Tomorrow (Justin Lin); Searching for Debra Winger (Rosanna Arquette); etc.

Lumpy Gravy Award for Worst Movie of All Time (2002 edition): Gangs of New York (Martin Scorsese)

In the queue: The Sea (Baltasar Kormakur); The Ring (Gore Verbinski); Together (Chen Kaige); 8 Mile (Curtis Hanson); Empire (Franc Reyes); Maid in Manhattan (Wayne Wang); My Big Fat Greek Wedding (Joel Zwick)

To see: Abouna (Mahamat-Saleh Haroun); All or Nothing (Mike Leigh); Balseros (Carlos Bosch and José María Doménech); Bend It Like Beckham (Gurinder Chadha); Blissfully Yours (Apichatpong Weerasethakul); Blue Car (Karen Moncrieff); Bus 174 (Jose Padilha); Cabin Fever (Eli Roth); The Century Of The Self (Adam Curtis); Chihwaseon (Im Kwon-taek); Choses secretes (Secret Things) (Jean-Claude Brisseau); Cremaster 2 (Matthew Barney); Cremaster 3 (Matthew Barney); Daniel Deronda (Tom Hooper); The Decay of Fiction (Pat O'Neill); The Decomposition of the Soul (Nina Toussaint, Massimo Iannetta); Derrida (Kirby Dick); Distant (Turkey/Nuri Bilge Ceylan); Divine Intervention (Elia Suleiman); Dracula: Pages From a Virgin's Diary (Guy Maddin); Etre et avoir (To Be and To Have) (Nicolas Philibert); The Good Girl (Miguel Arteta); Heaven (Tom Tykwer); Heremakono (Waiting for Happiness) (Abderrahmane Sissako); ); The Hours (Stephen Daldry); House Of Fools (Andrei Konchalovsky); Hukkle (Gyorgy Palfi); In America (Jim Sheridan); In the Mirror of Maya Deren (Martina Kudlacek); In This World (Michael Winterbottom); Kannathil Muthamittal (Mani Ratnam); Ken Park (Larry Clark, Ed Lachman); Le Fils (Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne); Lilya 4-Ever (Lukas Moodysson); Love and Diane (Jennifer Dworkin); Love and Diane (Jennifer Dworkin); The Magdalene Sisters (Peter Mullan); Marooned in Iraq (Bahman Ghobadi); Morvern Callar (Lynne Ramsay); Open Hearts (Susanne Bier); Out of Control (Dominic Savage); Process (C.S.Leigh); Raising Victor Vargas (Peter Sollett); Springtime in a Small Town (Xiao cheng zhi chun); Sweet Sixteen (Ken Loach); Sympathy for Mr Vengeance (Park Chan-wook); Tipping the Velvet (Geoffrey Sax); Trilogy: On the Run, An Amazing Couple, After Life (Lucas Belvaux); The Uncertainty Principle (Manoel de Oliveira); Unknown Pleasures (Zhang-Ke Jia); Vendredi Soir (Claire Denis); We Were Soldiers (Randall Wallace); Whale Rider (Niki Caro)

2003 (to count)
Dogville (Lars Von Trier)
Lost in Translation
(Sofia Coppola)
Capturing the Friedmans
(Andrew Jarecki)
American Splendor
(Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini)
The Company (Robert Altman)
Down With Love
(Peyton Reed)
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (Chavez: Inside the Coup) (Kim Bartley, Donnacha O'Briain)
Kill Bill, Vol. 1 (Quentin Tarantino)
Intolerable Cruelty
(Joel Coen)
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
(Peter Weir)

RUNNERS UP:
Thirteen (Catherine Hardwicke)
The Barbarian Invasions (Denys Arcand)
Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter…and Spring (Kim Ki-Duk)
Gods and Generals (Ronald F. Maxwell)
Tarnation (Jonathan Caouette)
Monster (Patty Jenkins)
In the Cut (Jane Campion)

For the record: Mystic River (Clint Eastwood); The Dreamers (Bernardo Bertolucci); Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Gore Verbinski); The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Peter Jackson); Matchstick Men (Ridley Scott); The Station Agent (Thomas McCarthy); Owning Mahowny (Richard Kwietniowski); Pieces of April (Peter Hedges); Out of Time (Carl Franklin); Identity (James Mangold); The School of Rock (Richard Linklater); Open Range (Kevin Costner); The Cooler (Wayne Kramer)

I really tried, but..: The Saddest Music in the World (Guy Maddin)

To see: Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (Nick Broomfield, Joan Churchill); All the Real Girls (David Gordon Green); Ana and the Others (Celina Murga); At Five in the Afternoon (Samira Makhmalbaf); BAADASSSSS! (Mario Van Peebles); Bad Santa (Terry Zwigoff); The Best of Youth (Marco Tullio Giordano); Big Fish (Tim Burton); The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi (Takeshi Kitano); Bright Leaves (Ross McElwee); The Brown Bunny (Vincent Gallo); Café Lumière (Hou Hsiao-Hsien); Coffee and Cigarettes (Jim Jarmusch); Cowards Bend the Knee (Guy Maddin); Doppelganger (Kiyoshi Kurosawa); Elephant (Gus van Sant); Festival Express (Bob Smeaton); Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich); The Fog of War (Errol Morris); Girl With a Pearl Earring (Peter Webber); The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai (Mitsuru Meike); Goodbye Dragon Inn (Tsai Ming-liang); Goodbye, Dragon Inn (Tsai Ming-Liang); Goodbye, Lenin! (Wolfgang Becker); Histoire de Marie et Julien (Jacques Rivette); The Last Letter (Frederick Wiseman); Los Angeles Plays Itself (Thom Andersen); L’Esquive (Abdel Kechiche); Masked and Anonymous (Larry Charles); Memories of Murder (Joon-ho Bong); My Architect (Nathaniel Kahn); My Architect: A Son's Journey (Nathaniel Kahn); Oldboy (Park Chan-wook); Osama (Siddiq Barmak); The Same River Twice (Robb Moss); Saraband (Ingmar Bergman); Schultze Gets the Blues (Michael Schorr); Seabiscuit (Gary Ross); The Shape of Things (Neil LaBute); Since Otar Left (Julie Bertucelli); Son Frere (Patrice Chereau); State of Play (David Yates); The Story of Marie and Julien (Jacques Rivette); Swimming Pool (François Ozon); A Talking Picture (Manoel de Oliveira); The Triplets of Belleville (Sylvain Chomet); Tokyo Godfathers (Satoshi Kon); Touching the Void (Kevin MacDonald); Twentynine Palms (Bruno Dumont); Veronica Guerin (Joel Schumacher); Young Adam (David Mackenzie); Zatoichi (Takeshi Kitano); Zero Day (Ben Coccio)

In the queue: Cold Mountain (Anthony Minghella); Crimson Gold (Jafar Panahi); 21 Grams (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu); The Last Samurai (Edward Zwick); Confidence (James Foley); The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Marcus Nispel)

2004
Downfall (Oliver Hirschbiegel)
Fahrenheit 9/11
(Michael Moore)
I Heart Huckabees (David O. Russell)
Before Sunset (Richard Linklater)
The Passion of the Christ (Mel Gibson)
Kinsey (Bill Condon)

RUNNERS UP:
Super Size Me (Morgan Spurlock)
Ray (Taylor Hackford)
Vanity Fair (Mira Nair)
Sideways (Alexander Payne)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michael Gondry)
Hidalgo (Joe Johnston)
Dawn of the Dead (Zack Snyder)
2046 (Wong Kar Wai)
Troy (Wolfgang Petersen)
Hotel Rwanda (Terry George)
Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (Alexandra Cassavetes)
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (Kerry Conran)

Eh, whatever (for the record): The Aviator (Martin Scorsese); Hero (Zhang Yimou); Kill Bill Vol 2 (Quentin Tarantino); Spider Man 2 (Sam Raimi); Maria Full of Grace (Joshua Marston); Spartan (David Mamet); Man on Fire (Tony Scott)

To see: Aftermath (Denmark/Paprika Steen); Anatomy of Hell (Catherine Breillat); The Assassination Of Richard Nixon (Niels Mueller); Bad Education (Pedro Almodóvar); The Bourne Supremacy (Paul Greengrass); Brotherhood (South Korea/Kang Ge-Gyu); Brothers (Denmark/Susanne Bier); Cellular (David R. Ellis); Closer (Mike Nichols); The Consequences of Love (Paolo Sorrentino); Control Room (Jehane Noujaim); Crash (Paul Haggis); Crimen Ferpecto (Álex de la Iglesia); Darwin's Nightmare (Hupert Sauper); The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream (Gregory Greene); Finding Neverland (Marc Forster); Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (Mamoru Oshii); Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Alfonso Cuaron); Head-On (Fatih Akin); Head-On (Fatih Akin); Heimat 3 (Edgar Reitz); HellBent (Paul Etheredge); Henri Langlois: The Phantom of the Cinematheque (Jacques Richard); A Hole in My Heart (Lukas Moodysson); The House of Flying Daggers (China/Zhang Yimou); Howl’s Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki); The Incredibles (Brad Bird); Intimate Strangers (Patrice Leconte); The Ister (Australia/David Barison, Daniel Ross); Kekexili: Mountain Patrol (Lu Chuan); The Keys to the House (Gianni Amelio); Kinsey (Bill Condon); Kontroll (Hungary/Nimrod Antal); Kung Fu Hustle (Stephen Chow); La Nina Santa (Argentina/Lucrecia Martel); Layer Cake (Matthew Vaughn); Le Porte du Soleil (Yousry Nasrallah); The Libertine (Lawrence Dunmore); Look at Me (Agnès Jaoui); Los Muertos (Lisandro Alonso); Machuca (Andrés Wood); The Manchurian Candidate (Jonathan Demme); Michelangelo Eye to Eye (Michelangelo Antonioni); Mila from Mars (Bulgaria/Sophia Zornitsa); Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood); Millions (Danny Boyle); Moolaadé (Ousmane Sembene); The Motorcycle Diaries (Walter Salles); My Summer of Love (Pawel Pawlikowski); Mysterious Skin (Gregg Araki); Nobody Knows (Hirokazu Kore-Eda); North & South (Brian Percival); Notre Musique (Jean-Luc Godard); Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism (Robert Greenwald); Private (Saverio Costanzo); The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear (Adam Curtis); Raja (Jacques Doillon); Rois et Reine (Arnaud Despletchen); Rois et reine (Kings and Queen) (Arnaud Desplechin); The Sea Inside (Alejandro Aménabar); Sex Traffic (David Yates); Star Spangled To Death (Ken Jacobs); The Terminal (Steven Spielberg); 13 Lakes (James Benning); Three Rooms of Melancholia (Pirko Honkasalo); Tropical Malady (Thailand/Apichatpong Weerasethakul); Turtles Can Fly (Iran/Bahman Ghobadi); Undertow (David Gordon Green); Vera Drake (Mike Leigh); A Very Long Engagement (Jean-Pierre Jeunet); When Will I Be Loved (James Toback); The White Diamond (Werner Herzog); WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception (Danny Schechter); The World (South Korea/Zhang Ke-Jia); Yes (Sally Potter)

In the queue: Innocence (Lucile Hadzilhalilovic); 9 Songs (M Winterbottom); Collateral (Michael Mann); De-Lovely (Irwin Winkler); The Sisters (Tiwa Moeithaisong); L'intrus (The Intruder) (Claire Denis)

2005
The New World
(Terrence Malick)
Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog)
Land of the Dead (George Romero)
Good Night and Good Luck (George Clooney)
No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (Martin Scorsese)
The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach)
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005/Alex Gibney)

RUNNERS UP:
Walk the Line (James Mangold)
March of the Penguins (Luc Jacquet)
The Producers (Susan Stroman)
Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch)
The World of Tomorrow (Kerry Conran's original 6-minute short; see 2004's Sky Captain...)

Eh, Whatever (for the record): Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee); Match Point (Woody Allen); A History of Violence (David Cronenberg); Capote (Bennett Miller); King Kong (Peter Jackson); Munich (Steven Spielberg); Jarhead (Sam Mendes); Me and You and Everyone We Know (Miranda July)

In the queue: Syriana (Stephen Gaghan); Joyeux Noel (Christian Carion); The Interpreter (Sydney Pollack); The Aristocrats (Paul Provenza)

To see: Adam's Apple (Anders Thomas Jensen); Au dela de la haine (Beyond Hatred) (Olivier Meyrou); Ballets Russes (Daniel Keller, Dayna Goldfine); Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan); Battle in Heaven (Carlos Reygadas); Bleak House (Justin Chadwick, Susanna White); Caché (Michael Haneke); The Constant Gardener (Fernando Meirelles); Corpse Bride (Tim Burton); Days of Glory (Rachid Bouchareb); The Death of Mr Lazarescu (Romania/Cristi Puiu); Duma (Carroll Ballard); Fateless (Hungary/Lajos Koltai); Fever Pitch (Bobby and Peter Farrelly); 51 Birch Street (Doug Block); Fratricide (Yilmaz Arslan); Funland (Dearbhla Walsh, Susan Tully, Brian Kirk); Gabrielle (Patrice Chéreau); The Girl from Monday (Hal Hartley); Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Mike Newell); Hustle & Flow (Craig Brewer); I for India (Sandhya Suri); Into Great Silence (Die grosse Stille) (Philip Groning); Joy of Madness (Hana Makhmalbaf); Junebug (Phil Morrison); The King (James Marsh); Kingdom of Heaven (Ridley Scott); Last Days (Gus Van Sant); Linda Linda Linda (Nobuhiro Yamashita); Longing (Valeska Grisebach); L’Enfant (Jean-Luc Dardenne, Pierre Dardenne); Man Push Cart (Ramin Bahrani); Manderlay (Lars Von Trier); The Midnight Pilgrims (Kankuro Kudo); Mongolian Ping Pong (Ning Hao); Murderball (Henry Alex Rubin); Nine Lives (Rodrigo García); Odete (Two Drifters) (João Pedro Rodrigues); Our Daily Bread (Nikolaus Geyrhalter); Pride & Prejudice (Joe Wright); Red Eye (Wes Craven); Regular Lovers (Philippe Garrel); Romantico (Mark Becker); The Secret Life of Words (Isabel Coixet); Sin City (Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller, Quentin Tarantino); Sir! No Sir! (David Zeiger); Sophie Scholl: The Last Days (Marc Rothemund); Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith (George Lucas); Street Fight (Marshall Curry); The Sun (Aleksandr Sokurov); Syriana (Stephen Gaghan); Tale of Cinema (Hong Sang-soo); 13 Tzameti (Gela Babluani); The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Tommy Lee Jones); Three Times (Hou Hsiao-Hsien); Twenty-Thousand Streets Under the Sky (Simon Curtis); V for Vendetta (James McTeague); Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Nick Park); Wolf Creek (Greg McLean); Yaji and Kita: Don't Come Knocking (Wim Wenders)

2006
Marie Antoinette (Sofia Coppola)
Factory Girl
(George Hickenlooper)
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Larry Charles)
Miami Vice (Michael Mann)
United 93 (Paul Greengrass)
Dreamgirls (Bill Condon)

RUNNERS UP:
An Inconvenient Truth (Davis Guggenheim)
Fast Food Nation (Richard Linklater)

Eh, whatever (for the record): The Departed (Martin Scorsese); Casino Royale (Martin Campbell); Scoop (Woody Allen)

In the queue: Black Snake Moan (Craig Brewer); Pulse (Jim Sonzero); Idiocracy (Mike Judge); Find Me Guilty (Sidney Lumet)

To see: Absolute Wilson (Katharina Otto-Bernstein); Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film (Ric Burns); Ask the Dust (Robert Towne); Away from Her (Sarah Polley); Babel (Mexico/Alejandro González Iñárritu); Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako); The Banquet (China/Feng Xiaogang); Black Book (Netherlands/Paul Verhoeven); The Black Dahlia (Brian de Palma); Blood Diamond (Edward Zwick); Bobby (Emilio Estevez); The Bridge (Eric Steel); The Bubble (Eytan Fox); Bug (William Friedkin); Children of Men (UK/Alfonso Cuarón); Citadel (Atom Egoyan); Climates (Nuri Bilge Ceylan); The Dead Girl (Karen Moncrieff); Deja Vu (Tony Scott); Deliver Us from Evil (Amy Berg); The Fall (Tarsem Singh); Flags of our Fathers (Clint Eastwood); Fong juk (Exiled) (Johnnie To); Forever (Heddy Honigmann); The Fountain (Darren Aronofsky); Ghosts (Nick Broomfield); Half Nelson (Ryan Fleck); The Golden Door (Italy/Emanuele Crialese); Happy Feet (George Miller); High School Musical (Kenny Ortega); Hollywoodland (Allen Coulter); The Host (South Korea/Bong Joon-ho); I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (Malaysia/Taiwan/Tsai Ming-Liang); I Served the King of England (Czech Republic/Jiri Menzel); The Illusionist (Neil Burger); Inland Empire (David Lynch); Inside Man (Spike Lee); Iraq in Fragments (James Longley); Jane Eyre (Susanna White); Jesus Camp (Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady); Jindabyne (Australia/Ray Lawrence); Knocked Up (Judd Apatow); Kodak (Tacita Dean); La Morte Rouge (Victor Erice); Lady Chatterley (Pascale Ferran); The Last King of Scotland (Kevin MacDonald); Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood); The Life of Reilly (Barry Poltermann, Frank Anderson); Little Children (Todd Field); Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris); The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck); Longford (Tom Hooper); Monster House (Gil Kenan); Mukhsin (Yasmin Ahmed); Neil Young: Heart of Gold (Jonathan Demme); Notes on a Scandal (Richard Eyre); Offside (Iran/Jafar Penahi); Once (Ireland/John Carney); Once (John Carney); Opera Jawa (Garin Nugroho); The Page Turner (Denis Dercourt); The Painted Veil (John Curran); Pan’s Labyrinth (Mexico/Guillermo del Toro); Paprika (Satoshi Kon); Paris Je T'Aime (Olivier Assayas); Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (Tom Tykwer); A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman); The Prestige (Christopher Nolan); Private Fears in Public Places (Alain Resnais); The Queen (Stephen Frears); Quinceanera (Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland); Razone (Denmark/Christian Christiansen); Red Road (Andrea Arnold); Reprise (Norway/Joachim Trier); Requiem (Hans-Christian Schmid); Rescue Dawn (Werner Herzog); A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater); The Science of Sleep (Michel Gondry); Shortbus (John Cameron Mitchell); The Singer (Xavier Giannoli); Southland Tales (Richard Kelly); Still Life (Hong Kong/China/Zhang-Ke Jia); Stranger Than Fiction (Marc Forster); Summer '04 (Stefan Krohmer); Summer Palace (Ye Lou); Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul); Taxidermia (Gyorgy Palfi); Tell No One (Guillaume Canet); This Film Is Not Yet Rated (Kirby Dick); This is England (Shane Meadows); Triad Election (Johnnie To); The Trials of Daryl Hunt (Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg); 12:08 East of Bucharest (Corneliu Porumboiu); Volver (Pedro Almodóvar); The War Tapes (Deborah Scranton); When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (Spike Lee); Where the Truth Lies (Atom Egoyan); Who Killed the Electric Car? (Chris Paine); The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach)

2007

Viewed (list placement to be determined):
American Gangster (Ridley Scott)
Into the Wild (Sean Penn)
No Country for Old Men (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen)
Ratatouille (Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava)

For the record: Zodiac (David Fincher); Albert Fish:In Sin He Found Salvation (John Borowski)

In the queue: There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)

To see: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Romania/Cristian Mungiu); A Girl Cut in Two (Claude Chabrol); A Secret (Claude Miller); Across the Universe (Julie Taymor); Alexandra (Russia/Aleksandr Sokurov); The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik); Atonement (Joe Wright); Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (Sidney Lumet); Beowulf (Robert Zemeckis); The Bourne Ultimatum (Paul Greengrass); Boy A (John Crowley); Breach (Billy Ray); Broken English (Zoe Cassavetes); California Dreamin' (Cristian Nemescu); Cargo 200 (Aleksey Balabanov); Chop Shop (Ramin Bahrani); Chouga (Darezhan Omirbaev); Chris & Don: A Love Story (Tina Mascara, Guido Santi); Control (Anton Corbijn); The Counterfeitors (Stefan Ruzawitsky); The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson); Descent (Talia Lugacy); The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel); Don’t Touch the Axe (Jacques Rivette); The Duchess of Langeais (Jacques Rivette); Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg); The Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin); En la ciudad de Sylvia (In the City of Sylvia) (José Luis Guerín); Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog); Fados (Carlos Saura); Fengming: A Chinese Memoir (Wang Bing); The Flight of the Red Balloon (Hou Hsiao-Hsien); Forbidden Lie$ (Anna Broinowski); Ghosts of the Cité Soleil (Asger Leth); Gone Baby Gone (Ben Affleck); The Great Debaters (Denzel Washington); Grindhouse (Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino); Hallam Foe (David McKenzie); Honeydripper (John Sayles); Import/Export (Ulrich Seidl); In the Shadow of the Moon (David Sington); In the Valley of Elah (Paul Haggis); I’m Not There (Todd Haynes); Jimmy Carter Man from Plains (Jonathan Demme); Juno (Jason Reitman); Juventude Em Marcha (Colossal Youth) (Pedro Costa); Katyn (Andrzej Wajda); La Vie en Rose (Olivier Dahan); The Last Mistress (Catherine Breillat); The Lookout (Scott Frank); Lost in Beijing (Li Yu); Love in the Time of Cholera (Mike Newell); Lust, Caution (Ang Lee); Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy); Mongol (Sergei Bodrov); Munyurangabo (Lee Isaac Chung); My Father My Lord (David Volach); My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin); Nightwatching (Peter Greenaway); No End in Sight (Charles Ferguson); Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant); Persepolis (Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Strapi); Rendition (Gavin Hood); Roman de Gare (Claude Lelouch); The Romance of Astrea and Celadon (Eric Rohmer); RR (James Benning); The Savages (Tamara Jenkins); The Secret of the Grain (Abdellatif Kechiche); Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong); Sicko (Michael Moore); The Silence Before Bach (Pere Portabella); Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas); The Simpsons Movie (David Silverman); Superbad (Greg Mottola); Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Tim Burton); Taxi to the Dark Side (Alex Gibney); Terror's Advocate (Barbet Schroeder); There Will be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson); United Red Army (Koji Wakamatsu); Up the Yangtse (Yung Chang); Up the Yangtze (Yung Chang); The Visitor (Thomas McCarthy); Waitress (Adrienne Shelly); The Witnesses (André Téchine); Yasukuni (Ying Li); You, the Living (Roy Andersson); Young@Heart (Stephen Walker)

2008
Religulous (Larry Charles)

Viewed: Valkyrie (Bryan Singer); Taken (Pierre Morel)

To see: The Baader Meinhof Complex (Uli Edel); Ballast (Lance Hammer); Bathory (Juraj Jakubisko); Be Kind Rewind (Michel Gondry); The Beaches of Agnes (Agnès Varda); Bronson (Nicolas Winding Refn); Changeling (Clint Eastwood); Che: Parts I & II (Steven Soderbergh); A Christmas Tale (Arnaud Desplechin); The Class (Laurent Cantet); The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher); The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan); Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About his Father (Kurt Kuenne); Defiance (Edward Zwick); The Devil’s Whore (Marc Munden); The End of Poverty? (Philippe Diaz); Flame and Citron (Denmark/Ole Christian Madsen); Frost Nixon (Ron Howard); Frozen River (Courtney Hunt); Fuel (Joshua Tickell); Gomorrah (Matteo Garrone); Goodbye Solo (Iran/Rahmin Bahrani); Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood); Great Speeches from a Dying World (Linas Phillips); Happy-Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh); The Headless Woman (Argentina/Lucrecia Martel); Hunger (Steve McQueen); The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow); Il Divo (Paolo Sorrentino); In Bruges (Martin McDonagh); Iron Man (Jon Favreau); Jerichow (Christian Petzold); Julia (Erick Zonca); Kisses (Ireland/Lance Daly); Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (Patricia Rozema); Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson); Let’s Talk About the Rain (Agnès Jaoui); Linha de Passe (Walter Salles, Daniela Thomas); Lithuania and the Collapse of the USSR (Jonas Mekas); Little Dorrit (Adam Smith, Dearbhla Walsh, Diarmuid Lawrence); Liverpool (Lisandro Alonso); Lorna's Silence (Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne); Man on Wire (James Marsh); Mesrine: Parts I & II (Jean-François Richet); Milk (Gus Van Sant); Momma's Man (Azazel Jacobs); Night and Day (Bam gua nat) (Sang-soo Hong); Of Time and the City (Terence Davies); Ponyo (Hayao Miyazaki); Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme); The Reader (Stephen Daldry); Revanche (Gotz Spielmann); Revolutionary Road (Sam Mendes); Seraphine (Martin Provost); Serbis (Brillante Mendoza); Sex Positive (Daryl Wein); Shine a Light (Martin Scorsese); Shirin (Abbas Kiarostami); The Silence of Lorna (Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne); Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle); Standard Operating Procedure (Errol Morris); Still Walking (Hirokazu Kore-Eda); Stop-Loss (Kimberly Pierce); The Strangers (Bryan Bertino); Sugar (Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck); Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas); Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman); 35 Shots of Rum (Claire Denis); Three Monkeys (Turkey/Nuri Bilge Ceylan); Tokyo Sonata (Kiyoshi Kurosawa); Tony Manero (Pablo Larrain); Treeless Mountain (So Yong Kim); Trouble the Water (Tia Lessin and Carl Deal); Tulpan (Sergei Dvortsevoy); Tulpan (Sergei Dvortsevoy); 24 City (Zhang Ke Jia); Two Lovers (James Gray); Tyson (James Toback); Una vida mejor (Andrew James); Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen); W. (Oliver Stone); Wall-E (Andrew Stanton); Waltz with Bashir (Ari Folman); Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt); The Window (La ventana) (Carlos Sorin); The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky)

2009

Viewed:
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
Watchmen (Zack Snyder)

In the queue: Antichrist (Lars Von Trier); Knowing (Alex Proyas)

To see: Agora (Alejandro Aménabar); American Casino (Leslie Cockburn); Avatar (James Cameron); Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog); Big Fan (Robert D. Siegel); The Box (Richard Kelly); Bright Star (Jane Campion); Broken Embraces (Pedro Almodóvar); A Call to Arms (Scott Miller); Capitalism: A Love Story (Michael Moore); Coraline (Henry Selick); Crazy Heart (Scott Cooper); Drag Me to Hell (Sam Raimi); Drag Me to Hell (Sam Raimi); Face (Tsai Ming-Liang); An Education (Lone Scherfig); Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson); Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold); Five Minutes of Heaven (Oliver Hirschbiegel); The Girlfriend Experience (Steven Soderbergh); Halloween II (Rob Zombie); Les Herbes Folles (Alain Resnais); Home (Yann Arthus-Bertrand); The House of the Devil (Ti Wes); In the Beginning (Xavier Giannoli); In the Loop (Armando Iannucci); La Danse (Frederick Wiseman); The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch); Looking for Eric (Ken Loach); Loren Cass (Chris Fuller); The Lovely Bones (Peter Jackson); The Messenger (Oren Moverman); Min Ye (Souleymane Cissé); Moon (Duncan Jones); 1939 (Stephen Poliakoff); Passing Strange (Spike Lee); A Perfect Getaway (David Twohy); Police, Adjective (Corneliu Porumboiu); A Prophet (Jacques Audiard); Public Enemies (Michael Mann); Red Riding: 1974, 1980 & 1983 (Julian Jerrold, James Marsh, Anand Tucker); A Serious Man (Ethan Coen); Sherlock Holmes (Guy Ritchie); Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese); Star Trek (J.J.Abrams); Tetro (Francis Ford Coppola); That Evening Sun (Scott Teems); Thirst (Park Chan-wook); Tree of Life (Terrence Malick); The Unloved (Samantha Morton); Up (Pete Docter, Bob Peterson); Up in the Air (Jason Reitman); Where the Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze); The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke)

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Further Reading:

Other REALLY GOOD film lists:

Ed Gonzalez Top 10s/Slant Magazine -- On the auteurist side. An eclectic selection, more or less in the vein of what I'm trying to do with mine. I can learn from this one.

Eric C. Johnson/Behold, the Mutants Shall Wither -- Johnson's own extensive viewing lists plus the top 10s of a lot of major critics. This has been one of the best on the 'net for a long time.

Theo's Century of Movies -- Another stalwart of the web. Good pithy viewing notes and ratings of newer and older fare. And some lists of critics not found at Eric C. Johnson's site.

Mike D'Angelo/The Man Who Viewed Too Much -- Another widely bookmarked vet of the cybercinema scene. Tons of viewing lists of recent and old stuff, including top 10s.

The Life Cinematic -- Lauren catalogs an obsession, obsessively. This sounds all too familiar.

Ten Best Films (Tativille's All Film List Resource): I'm directing you to his link of 10 best lists of 1930 to the present because his entire blog takes too long to load. Highly esoteric lists; not a lot of joy in Mudville here; he touts a number of directors whose films I cannot stand (Rivette, Oliveira, Kiarostami, etc.). But it's fun to compare.

Carmelo's Top 25 + 100 (at The Life Cinematic): For perspective, an interesting list from an ardent avant-gardist. I've only seen about 30 of the films on this guy's list.

Movie Timelines (at Wonders in the Dark): A good series of chronological year-by-year checklists here. All of the timelines can be accessed about three-quarters down the page on the blogroll at right, but one wishes that at the end of each timeline the structurally more sensible and easier option of being able to go forward or backward to the next or previous decade was offered. Good lists, though.

Metacritic -- This one's slick and not too adventurous, but should serve as a good checklist.

Mark Pittillo (Fireman Save My Child) -- (LINK DOWN CURRENTLY) Impeccable taste. Thousands of films in total, with year-by-year rankings. Since the late '90s I've used his list as my primary checklist for recent films. (LINK DOWN; will post update when available.)


For the Record: My 50+ Favorite Movies
These are the ones I could watch at a moment's notice, without hesitation. Not too much heavy lifting on most of these -- just plain fun. Please realize this is not a best films listing; I realize Bergman's Wild Strawberries, for instance, is a greater film than The Gang's All Here. In fact, a lot of the films on my top 10/100 of all time do not mirror what is on this list. This is purely my pleasure list. Listing is chronological.

* The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
* All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
* The Fatal Glass of Beer (1932)
* Duck Soup (1933)
* King Kong (1933)
* She Done Him Wrong (1933)
* Bombshell (1933)
* Design for Living (1933)
* It's a Gift (1934)
* The Old-Fashioned Way (1934)
* Twentieth Century (1934)
* The 39 Steps (1935)
* Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935)
* Pygmalion (1938)
* Rules of the Game (1939)
* Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
* His Girl Friday (1940)
* The Maltese Falcon (1941)
* Citizen Kane (1941)
* Casablanca (1942)
* The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
* The Gang's All Here (1943)
* The More the Merrier (1943)
* Isle of the Dead (1945)
* The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
* The Red Shoes (1948)
* Key Largo (1948)
* Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
* The Third Man (1949)
* On the Town (1949)
* The Set Up (1949)
* Beyond the Forest (1949)
* The Gunfighter (1950)
* Royal Wedding (1951)
* The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)
* Singin' in the Rain (1952)
* The Seven Samurai (1954)
* Samurai 1 (Miyamoto Musashi) (1954)
* Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
* Bob le flambeur (1955)
* Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
* Touch of Evil (1958)
* The Hidden Fortress (1958)
* Giants and Toys (1958)
* The Ladies Man (1961)
* The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967)
* Accident (1967)
* Memories of Underdevelopment (1968)
* The Wild Bunch (1969)
* The Driver (1978)
* Apocalypse Now (1979)
* Dawn of the Dead (1979)
* Victor Victoria (1982)
* 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993)
* Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

7 comments:

  1. I have no idea how many movies I've watched in my lifetime, nor do I recall exact titles or any titles of many that I have seen, nor, frankly, do I care to, but I am amazed at your mnemonic prowess, and wonder if you have been taking notes of what you've watched, even in a random fashion, in order to come up with these lists.

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  2. Hey E.C.!
    I've been keeping this list going for 31 years. Yes I have two banker's boxes filled with notes and scraps as well as hundreds of electronic files on computer and discs with chronological notes and so on. I had a crazy notion of turning this into a book. But it all got out of hand and took too much of my life. I have been very methodical and persistent in trying to see every movie of critical or scholarly importance and have combed the literature extensively to make my viewing lists. I've never been satisfied with the lists in books or on the web (they have huge gaps) so I've absorbed input from as many sources as possible to come up with one I think is definitive. This blog list is not that; this is just personal favorites. The actual year by year lists I keep on discs are vastly more inclusive. But they could never be posted here unless I had a staff working on it 24/7. Or I got a multi-year grant to make it happen. Or became rich. In which case I would not spend another moment on this. I'd be off chasing women.

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  3. Wow! You're recollection is impressive. I might be able to help you out with some of the movies you want to see still. Are you a collector? Drop me an email: snuhmcsnort@hotmail.com

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