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top 100 greatest films

Channel 4 - November 2001

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Top 100 favourite films lists cause a lot of debate, but when you try to make a Top 100 greatest films, then you get real problems. Channel 4 (British TV) have made an "interesting" attempt. They started by having some "experts" create the initial, unordered 100 films they thought were the greatest, (by the following criteria and with reference to other such lists as well). Then voting was opened up to anyone visiting the Channel 4 website. The list was supposedly intended to include films that:

  • áare generally considered as classics of cinema
  • ábroke new ground in technique, subject matter, or ideas
  • áhad phenomenal popular appeal and a lasting impact on popular culture
  • árepresent the greatest work of cinema's most respected directors and performers

So, we start with a list of great films that is reasonably good, but has some obvious omissions and includes some populist choices, not to mention some very obviously biased choices! "Four Weddings and a Funeral"? - I don't think so. And how about the most overhyped film ever, "Titanic" - included because of popular appeal? Quite satisfying when viewing the programme to see the next film above "Titanic" being "The Jungle Book"! "The Matrix" was popular, but SFX move on quickly, so will it stand the test of time? And there are some odd choices on which films of particualar directors to include/exclude. Of course there are many individual favourites that will not make the initial list, but neither do some terrific films, like "Brazil", for instance. And note, the voting took place before the two biggest ever book-to-film movies were released, ("Harry Potter" and "Lord of the Rings".)

What about the voting? Did the people voting really choose their objective opinion of greatest films, or simply choose their favourites from the initial list? I'm sure a few would do the former, (remembering that "Citizen Kane" created many film-making techniques), but most would do the latter, in which case we have the bias of population grouping of those viewers. How many people do you think have seen all 100 films anyway? And it doesn't matter how influential a particular film was in changing film history, if it doesn't appeal to today's audience, how many will vote for it? Of course, who can argue with "Blade Runner" being voted a Top 10 movie yet again? Ridley Scott must be pleased with his "double" as the recent "Gladiatior" is also in the Top 10!

For those not familiar with Channel 4, they are a British TV channel who have a particular interest in Film and have produced some very good cinema-released films themselves although I don't think any should have been included on this list!

The final list, as broadcast on 24/25 November 2001 is as follows:

  1. Star Wars / The Empire Strikes Back (1977/80) - George Lucas / Irvin Kershner
  2. The Godfather / The Godfather Part II (1972/74) - Francis Ford Coppola
  3. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) - Frank Darabont
  4. Pulp Fiction (1994) - Quentin Tarantino
  5. Some Like It Hot (1959) - Billy Wilder
  6. Gladiator (2000) - Ridley Scott
  7. It's a Wonderful Life (1946) - Frank Capra
  8. Blade Runner (1982) - Ridley Scott
  9. Schindler's List (1993) - Steven Spielberg
  10. Goodfellas (1990) - Martin Scorsese
  11. Psycho (1960) - Alfred Hitchcock
  12. Jaws (1975) - Steven Spielberg
  13. Apocalypse Now (1979) - Francis Coppola
  14. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) - Milos Forman
  15. The Matrix (1999) - Andy and Larry Wachowski
  16. Casablanca (1942) - Michael Curtiz
  17. The Usual Suspects (1995) - Bryan Singer
  18. Wo hu cang long {Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon} (2000) - Ang Lee
  19. Citizen Kane (1941) - Orson Welles
  20. Raging Bull (1980) - Martin Scorsese
  21. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) - Steven Spielberg
  22. Taxi Driver (1976) - Martin Scorsese
  23. Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979) - Terry Jones
  24. Singin' in the Rain (1952) - Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen
  25. L.A. Confidential (1997) - Curtis Hanson
  26. The Wizard of Oz (1939) - Victor Fleming, King Vidor
  27. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - Stanley Kubrick
  28. Kes (1969) - Ken Loach
  29. Vertigo (1958) - Alfred Hitchcock
  30. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) - David Lean
  31. Fargo (1995) - Joel and Ethan Coen
  32. Gone with the Wind (1939) - Victor Fleming
  33. Trainspotting (1995) - Danny Boyle
  34. The Full Monty (1997) - Peter Cattaneo
  35. The Graduate (1967) - Mike Nichols
  36. Alien (1979) - Ridley Scott
  37. The Silence of the Lambs (1990) - Jonathan Demme
  38. Withnail and I (1986) - Bruce Robinson
  39. The Great Escape (1963) - John Sturges
  40. Toy Story (1995) - John Lasseter
  41. The Third Man (1949) - Carol Reed
  42. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) - Mike Newell
  43. The Sound of Music (1965) - Robert Wise
  44. Fitzcarraldo (1982) - Werner Herzog
  45. Deliverance (1972) - John Boorman
  46. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly ( 1966) - Sergio Leone
  47. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) - Robert Hamer
  48. Chinatown (1974) - Roman Polanski
  49. The Exorcist (1973) - William Friedkin
  50. Annie Hall (1977) - Woody Allen
  51. The Italian Job (1969) - Peter Collinson
  52. Sunset Boulevard (1950) - Billy Wilder
  53. The Jungle Book (1967) - Wolfgang Reitherman
  54. Titanic (1997) - James Cameron
  55. Jean de Florette / Manon des Sources (1986) - Claude Berri
  56. Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1963) - Stanley Kubrick
  57. Rebel Without a Cause (1955) - Nicholas Ray
  58. Shichinin no samurai {The Seven Samurai} (1954) - Akira Kurosawa
  59. A Matter of Life and Death (1946) - Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
  60. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) - George Roy Hill
  61. Secrets and Lies (1995) - Mike Leigh
  62. Blue Velvet (1986) - David Lynch
  63. La Dolce Vita (1960) - Federico Fellini
  64. Spartacus (1960) - Stanley Kubrick
  65. Metropolis (1926) - Fritz Lang
  66. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) - Arthur Penn
  67. King Kong (1933) - Merian C Cooper and Ernest B Schoedsack
  68. Get Carter (1971) - Mike Hodges
  69. The Searchers (1956) - John Ford
  70. Det Sjunde inseglet {The Seventh Seal} (1957) - Ingmar Bergman
  71. Don't Look Now (1973) - Nicolas Roeg
  72. Brief Encounter (1945) - David Lean
  73. MASH (1969) - Robert Altman
  74. The French Connection (1971) - William Friedkin
  75. Top Hat (1935) - Mark Sandrich
  76. The Producers (1968) - Mel Brooks
  77. Trois Couleurs Bleu/Blanc/Rouge {Three Colours trilogy} (1993-94) - Krzystof Kieslowski
  78. Cabaret (1972) - Bob Fosse
  79. Goldfinger (1964) - Guy Hamilton
  80. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) - David Hand
  81. The Gold Rush (1925) - Charles Chaplin
  82. High Noon (1952) - Fred Zinnemann
  83. Saturday Night Fever (1977) - John Badham
  84. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) - Michael Curtiz and William Keighley
  85. Enter the Dragon (1973) - Robert Clouse
  86. └ Bout de Souffle {Breathless} (1959) - Jean-Luc Godard
  87. Ice Cold in Alex (1958) - Lee Thompson
  88. Bronenosets Potyomkin {The Battleship Potemkin} (1925) - Sergei Eisenstein
  89. The African Queen (1951) - John Huston
  90. The General (1927) - Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton
  91. A Hard Day's Night (1964) - Richard Lester
  92. Way Out West (1937) - James W Horne
  93. Henry V (1944) - Laurence Olivier
  94. Easy Rider (1969) - Dennis Hopper
  95. My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) - Stephen Frears
  96. Belle de Jour (1967) - Luis Bu˝uel
  97. Bride of Frankenstein (1935) - James Whale
  98. The Terminator (1984) - James Cameron
  99. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) - Karel Reisz
  100. Do the Right Thing (1989) - Spike Lee

This list is published on the Film Four website, although we actually had the complete list up on the Web before they did! In fact, they initially published the list in a completely different order and took most of the next day fixing it. Also, other news services were all given the results with an error in, so for some time, this was about the only place you could find the correct list!

You may be interested in checking out the reports at BBC news or Sky News.

And if you don't like the list, (as many don't), Sisqua.com set up an alternative free vote in response to the Channel 4 list. The results make fascinating reading - see our report.

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