29. 29. Ran (1988) Earlier I wrote about Throne of Blood, which is Kurosawa’s Macbeth; in this film he adapts King Lear and I think it works even better. A gorgeous film, with hundreds of extras in scenes that would be done with CGI now, alas, if it were even attempted; visually stunning, and emotionally powerful.
27. The Rules of the Game (1929) This examination of power and class still resonates today, and Renoir’s deep focus camerawork has lost none of its power. I find myself having to skip the hunting scene these days…but this is a justly famous and renowned film.
26. The Big Sleep (1946) Howard Hawks again, from a Raymond Chandler novel, starring Bogey and Bacall. Incredible picture. For me, miles ahead of Casablanca in entertainment value. The story doesn't really make sense, but what the hell - every scene crackles.
25. To Have and Have Not (1941) Yep, Hawks. Bogey and Bacall. “You know how to whistle, don’t you?” Fantastic script, unbeatable chemistry, loose, funny, brilliant. Hawks had told Ernest Hemingway on a hunting trip that he could make a great movie "out of your worst novel." He did, with the help of screenwriters William Faulkner and Jules Furthman.
24. Blow Out (1981) Hitchcock for the paranoid generation – John Travolta, in his greatest role, plays a soundman who witnesses a Chappaquidick-like incident and quickly finds himself over his head. A stunning film, full of unforgettable images and poetic details, with an enormously appealing Nancy Allen as the girl Travolta saves – for a while.
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23. The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1974) This adaptation of Sam Greenlee’s novel is certainly one of the most radical American films ever made, and still holds up well despite a microbudget, guerilla-style presentation. The first black CIA agent appears to be happy with his token Sidney Poitier status, but he is secretly attaining the knowledge to unite street gangs to undertake a violent revolution. A little stiff in places, but overall an intelligent, thoughtful script and raw performances give this film enormous power.
21. The Shop Around the Corner (1939) A perfect Ernst Lubitsch concoction I find irresistible – my favorite Christmas film of all time. Gloriously entertaining.