Greatest Films of All Time

Greatest Films of All Time

The General (1926 film)

 Greatest Films of All Time                                             

The General is a 1926 American silent comedy film released by United Artists. It was inspired by the Great Locomotive Chase, a true story of an event that occurred during the American Civil War. The story was adapted from the 1889 memoir The Great Locomotive Chase by William Pittenger. The film stars Buster Keaton who co-directed it with Clyde Bruckman.

At the time of its initial release, The General, an action-adventure-comedy made toward the end of the silent era, was not well received by critics and audiences, resulting in mediocre box office returns (about half a million dollars domestically, and approximately one million worldwide). Because of its then-huge budget ($750,000 supplied by Metro chief Joseph Schenck) and failure to turn a significant profit, Keaton lost his independence as a filmmaker and was forced into a restrictive deal with MGM.

In 1954 the film entered the public domain in the United States because its claimant did not renew its copyright registration in the 28th year after publication.[2]

The General has since been reevaluated, and is now often ranked among the greatest American films ever made. In 1989, it was selected by the Library of Congress to be included in the first class of films for preservation in the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

 

Directed by Clyde Bruckman
Buster Keaton
Produced by Joseph Schenck
Buster Keaton
Screenplay by Al Boasberg
Clyde Bruckman
Buster Keaton
Charles Henry Smith
Paul Gerard Smith
Based on The Great Locomotive Chase
by William Pittenger
Starring Buster Keaton
Marion Mack
Music by William P. Perry (1926)
Carl Davis (1987)
Robert Israel (1995)
Baudime Jam (1999)
Joe Hisaishi (2004)
Timothy Brock (2005)
Angelin Fonda (2017)
Cinematography Bert Haines
Devereaux Jennings
Edited by Buster Keaton
Sherman Kell
Production
companies
Buster Keaton Productions
Joseph M. Schenck Productions
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • December 31, 1926

[1] (Tokyo)

  • February 5, 1927

(New York City)

Running time
75 minutes (8 reels) (times vary with different versions)
Country United States
Languages Silent film
English intertitles
Budget $750,000
Box office $1 million

 

  • Rashomon (1950)

Rashomon (1950)                                                      Rashomon (1950)

 

Rashomon (羅生門Rashōmon) is a 1950 Jidaigeki psychological thriller/crime film directed by Akira Kurosawa, working in close collaboration with cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa.[2] It stars Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyō, Masayuki Mori, and Takashi Shimura. The plot of the story and characters are based upon Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s short story “In a Grove”, with the title and framing story being based on “Rashomon”, another short story by Akutagawa. Every element is largely identical, from the murdered samurai speaking through a Shinto psychic, the bandit in the forest, the monk, the rape of the wife and the dishonest retelling of the events in which everyone shows his or her ideal self by lying.[3]

The film is known for a plot device that involves various characters providing subjective, alternative, self-serving, and contradictory versions of the same incident. Rashomon was the first Japanese film to receive a significant international reception;[4][5] it won several awards, including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1951, and an Academy Honorary Award at the 24th Academy Awards in 1952, and is considered one of the greatest films ever made. The Rashomon effect is named after the film.

Original Japanese poster from 1962 re-release
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Produced by Minoru Jingo
Screenplay by
Based on In a Grove
by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa
Starring
Music by Fumio Hayasaka
Cinematography Kazuo Miyagawa
Edited by Akira Kurosawa
Production
company
Distributed by Daiei Film
Release date
  • August 25, 1950
Running time
88 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Budget $250,000
Box office $96,568 (US)[1]
  • Rear Window (1954)

                                                         

Rear Window is a 1954 American mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and written by John Michael Hayes based on Cornell Woolrich’s 1942 short story “It Had to Be Murder”. Originally released by Paramount Pictures, the film stars James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, and Raymond Burr. It was screened at the 1954 Venice Film Festival.

The film is considered by many filmgoers, critics, and scholars to be one of Hitchcock’s best[4] and one of the greatest films ever made. It received four Academy Award nominations and was ranked number 42 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies list and number 48 on the 10th-anniversary edition, and in 1997 was added to the United States National Film Registry in the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.[5][6]

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Produced by Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay by John Michael Hayes
Based on “It Had to Be Murder”
by Cornell Woolrich
Starring
Music by Franz Waxman
Cinematography Robert Burks
Edited by George Tomasini
Production
company
Patron Inc.
Distributed by Paramount Pictures[N 1]
Release date
  • September 1, 1954 (US)
Running time
112 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1 million
Box office $36.8 million[3]
  • Ikiru (1952)

                                        Greatest Films of All Time                                           Greatest Films of All Time

Ikiru (生きる, “To Live”) is a 1952 Japanese drama film directed and co-written by Akira Kurosawa and starring Takashi Shimura. The film examines the struggles of a terminally ill Tokyo bureaucrat and his final quest for meaning. The screenplay was partly inspired by Leo Tolstoy’s 1886 novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich.

The major themes of the film include learning how to live, the inefficiency of bureaucracy, and decaying family life in Japan, which have been the subject of analysis by academics and critics. The film has received widespread critical acclaim, and in Japan won awards for Best Film at the Kinema Junpo and Mainichi Film Awards. It was remade as a television film in 2007.

Kanji Watanabe has worked in the same monotonous bureaucratic position for thirty years and is near his retirement. His wife is dead and his son and daughter-in-law, who live with him, seem to care mainly about Watanabe’s pension and their future inheritance. At work, he’s a party to constant bureaucratic inaction. In one case, a group of parents are seemingly endlessly referred to one department after another when they want a cesspool cleared out and replaced by a playground. After learning he has stomach cancer and less than a year to live, Watanabe attempts to come to terms with his impending death. He plans to tell his son about the cancer, but decides against it when his son does not pay attention to him. He then tries to find escape in the pleasures of Tokyo’s nightlife, guided by an eccentric novelist whom he has just met. In a nightclub, Watanabe requests a song from the piano player, and sings “Gondola no Uta” with great sadness. His singing greatly affects those watching him. After one night submerged in the nightlife, he realizes this is not the solution.

The following day, Watanabe encounters a young female subordinate, Toyo, who needs his signature on her resignation. He takes comfort in observing her joyous love of life and enthusiasm and tries to spend as much time as possible with her. She eventually becomes suspicious of his intentions and grows weary of him. After convincing her to join him for the last time, he opens up and asks for the secret to her love of life. She says that she does not know, but that she found happiness in her new job making toys, which makes her feel like she is playing with all the children of Japan. Inspired by her, Watanabe realizes that it is not too late for him to do something significant. Like Toyo, he wants to make something, but is unsure what he can do within the city bureaucracy until he remembers the lobbying for a playground. He surprises everyone by returning to work after a long absence, and begins pushing for a playground despite concerns he is intruding on the jurisdiction of other departments.

Watanabe dies, and at his wake, his former co-workers gather, after the opening of the playground, and try to figure out what caused such a dramatic change in his behavior. His transformation from listless bureaucrat to passionate advocate puzzles them. As the co-workers drink, they slowly realize that Watanabe must have known he was dying, even when his son denies this, as he was unaware of his father’s condition. They also hear from a witness that in the last few moments in Watanabe’s life, he sat on the swing at the park he built. As the snow fell, he sang “Gondola no Uta”. The bureaucrats vow to live their lives with the same dedication and passion as he did. But back at work, they lack the courage of their newfound conviction.

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Produced by Sōjirō Motoki
Screenplay by
Starring
Music by Fumio Hayasaka
Cinematography Asakazu Nakai
Edited by Kōichi Iwashita
Distributed by Toho
Release date
  • October 9, 1952
Running time
143 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese
  • Paris, Texas (1984)

                                             

Paris, Texas is a 1984 road movie directed by Wim Wenders and starring Harry Dean Stanton, Dean Stockwell, Nastassja Kinski, and Hunter Carson. The screenplay was written by L. M. Kit Carson and playwright Sam Shepard, while the musical score was composed by Ry Cooder. The film was a co-production between companies in France and West Germany, and was shot in the United States by Robby Müller.

The plot focuses on a vagabond named Travis (Stanton) who, after mysteriously wandering out of the desert in a dissociative fugue, attempts to reunite with his brother (Stockwell) and seven-year-old son (Carson). After reconnecting with his son, Travis and the boy end up embarking on a voyage through the American Southwest to track down Travis’ long-missing wife (Kinski).

At the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, the film won the Palme d’Or from the official jury, as well as the FIPRESCI Prize and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. It went on to win other honors and critical acclaim.

Travis Henderson walks alone through the West Texas desert in a fugue state, before stumbling into a bar and losing consciousness. A German doctor examines him and determines he is mute, but discovers he possesses a telephone number and calls it. The call is answered by Walt Henderson, Travis’ brother from Los Angeles. Walt has not seen or had contact with Travis for four years, and agrees to travel to Terlingua, Texas, to retrieve him. His French wife, Anne, is concerned about the matter, as they have adopted Travis’ son Hunter, with Hunter’s biological mother Jane also missing. Walt reaches Terlingua, and finds Travis wandering from the clinic where he was found. The two brothers begin driving back to Los Angeles. With Walt becoming increasingly frustrated with Travis’ muteness, Travis finally utters the name “Paris”, asking to go there. Walt mistakenly assumes he means Paris, France. Farther down the road, Travis shows Walt a photograph of empty property in Paris, Texas, which he had purchased, believing he was conceived in that town.

The brothers reach Los Angeles where Travis is reunited with Anne and Hunter. Hunter, aged seven, has very little memory of his father, and is wary of Travis until the family watches home movies from days when they were all together. Hunter realizes that Travis still loves Jane. As Hunter and Travis become reacquainted, Anne reveals to Travis that Jane has had contact with her, and makes monthly deposits into a bank account for Hunter. Anne has traced the deposits to a bank in Houston. Travis realizes he can possibly see Jane if he is at the Houston bank on the day of the next deposit, only a few days away. He acquires a cheap vehicle and borrows money from Walt. When he tells Hunter he is leaving, Hunter wishes to go with him, though he does not have Walt or Anne’s permission.

Travis and Hunter drive to Houston, while Hunter recounts the Big Bang and the origins of Earth. A couple of hours after arriving at the Houston bank, Hunter identifies his mother in a car, making a drive-in deposit. He calls for Travis via walkie-talkie, and they follow her car to a peep-show club where she works. While Hunter waits outside, Travis goes in, finding the business has rooms with one-way mirrors, where clients converse with strippers via telephone. He eventually sees Jane, though she cannot see him, and leaves.

The next day, Travis leaves Hunter at the Méridien Hotel in downtown Houston, with a message that he feels obliged to reunite mother and son, as he feels responsible for separating them in the first place. Travis returns to the peep show. Seeing Jane again, and with her seemingly unaware of who he is, he tells her a story, ostensibly about other people.

He describes a man and younger girl who meet, marry and have a child. When the child is born, the wife suffers from postpartum blues and dreams of escaping from the family. The husband descends into alcoholism and becomes abusive, imprisoning her in the trailer they live in. After a failed attempt to escape, the man ties the woman to the trailer stove and goes to bed, dreaming of withdrawing to an unknown place “without language or streets” while his wife and child scream from the kitchen. He wakes up to find the trailer on fire and his family gone, and in despair runs for five days until leaving civilization entirely.

Jane realizes she is speaking with Travis, and that he is recounting the story of their relationship. He tells her that Hunter is in Houston and needs his mother. Jane has longed to be reunited with her boy, and that night, enters the hotel room where Hunter is waiting, while Travis watches from the parking lot. As Jane embraces Hunter, Travis climbs into his vehicle and drives away.

Directed by Wim Wenders
Produced by
Written by
Starring
Music by Ry Cooder
Cinematography Robby Müller
Edited by Peter Przygodda
Production
companies
  • Road Movies Filmproduktion GmbH
  • Argos Films S.A.[1]
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
Running time
147 minutes[2]
Countries
  • West Germany
  • France[1]
Language English
Budget $1.8 million
Box office $2.2 million[3]

 

  • American Beauty (1999)

                                                                     

American Beauty is a 1999 American black comedy-drama film written by Alan Ball and directed by Sam Mendes. Kevin Spacey stars as Lester Burnham, an advertising executive who has a midlife crisis when he becomes infatuated with his teenage daughter’s best friend, played by Mena Suvari. Annette Bening stars as Lester’s materialistic wife, Carolyn, and Thora Birch plays their insecure daughter, Jane. Wes Bentley, Chris Cooper, and Allison Janney also feature. Academics have described the film as a satire of American middle class notions of beauty and personal satisfaction; further analysis has focused on the film’s explorations of romantic and paternal love, sexuality, materialism, self-liberation, and redemption.

Ball began writing American Beauty as a play in the early 1990s, partly inspired by the media circus that accompanied the Amy Fisher trial in 1992. He shelved the play after deciding that the story would not work on stage. After several years as a television screenwriter, Ball revived the idea in 1997 when attempting to break into the film industry. The rewritten script had a cynical outlook influenced by Ball’s frustrating tenures writing for several sitcoms. Producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen took the script for American Beauty to the fledgling DreamWorks studio, which bought it for $250,000, outbidding several other production bodies. DreamWorks financed the $15-million production and served as its North American distributor. American Beauty marked acclaimed theater director Mendes’ film debut; courted after his successful productions of the musicals Oliver! and Cabaret, Mendes was nevertheless only given the job after twenty others were considered and several A-list directors reportedly turned down the opportunity.

Spacey was Mendes’ first choice for the role of Lester, though DreamWorks urged him to consider better-known actors. Similarly, the studio suggested several actresses for the role of Carolyn until Mendes offered the part to Bening without the studio’s knowledge. Principal photography took place between December 1998 and February 1999 on sound stages at the Warner Bros. backlot in Burbank, California and on location in Los Angeles. Mendes’ dominant directorial style was deliberate and composed; he made extensive use of static shots and slow pans and zooms to generate tension. Cinematographer Conrad Hall complemented Mendes’ style with peaceful shot compositions to contrast with the turbulent on-screen events. During editing, Mendes made several changes that softened the cynical tone of Ball’s script.

Released in North America on September 17, 1999, American Beauty was widely acclaimed by critics and audiences; it was the best-reviewed American film of the year and grossed over $350 million worldwide against its $15-million budget. Reviewers praised most aspects of the production, with particular emphasis on Mendes, Spacey and Ball; criticism tended to focus on the familiarity of the characters and setting. DreamWorks launched a major campaign to increase American Beautys chances of Oscar success; at the 2000 ceremony the film won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (for Spacey), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. The film was nominated for and won many other awards and honors, mainly for directing, writing and acting.

Directed by Sam Mendes
Produced by
Written by Alan Ball
Starring
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography Conrad L. Hall
Edited by
Production
company
Jinks/Cohen Company
Distributed by DreamWorks Pictures
Release date
Running time
122 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million[2]
Box office $356.3 million[2]
  • Lost in Translation (2003)

Lost in Translation is a 2003 romantic comedy-drama film[note 1] written and directed by Sofia Coppola. Bill Murray stars as Bob Harris, a fading American movie star who is having a midlife crisis when he travels to Tokyo to promote Suntory whisky. There, he befriends another estranged American named Charlotte, a young woman and recent college graduate played by Scarlett Johansson. Giovanni Ribisi and Anna Faris also feature. The film explores themes of alienation and disconnection against a backdrop of cultural displacement in Japan. Further analysis by critics and scholars has focused on the film’s defiance of mainstream narrative conventions and its atypical depiction of romance.

Coppola started writing the film after spending time in Tokyo and becoming fond of the city. She began forming a story about two characters experiencing a “romantic melancholy”[4] in the Park Hyatt Tokyo, where she stayed while promoting her first feature film, the 1999 drama The Virgin Suicides. Coppola envisioned Murray playing the role of Bob Harris from the beginning and tried to recruit him for up to a year, relentlessly sending him telephone messages and letters. While Murray eventually agreed to play the part, he did not sign a contract; Coppola spent a quarter of the film’s $4 million budget without knowing if he would appear in Tokyo for shooting. When Murray finally arrived, Coppola described feelings of significant relief.

Principal photography began on September 29, 2002, and lasted 27 days. Coppola kept a flexible schedule during filming with a small crew and minimal equipment. The screenplay was short and Coppola often allowed a significant amount of improvisation during filming. The film’s director of photography, Lance Acord, used available light as often as possible and many Japanese places of business and public areas were used as locations for shooting. After 10 weeks of editing, Coppola sold distribution rights for the United States and Canada to Focus Features, and the company promoted the film by generating positive word of mouth before its theatrical release.

The film premiered on August 29, 2003, at the Telluride Film Festival and was a major critical and commercial success. Critics praised the performances of Murray and Johansson, as well as the writing and direction of Coppola; limited criticism was given to the film’s depiction of Japan. At the 76th Academy Awards, Lost in Translation won Coppola Best Original Screenplay, and the film was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Coppola), and Best Actor (Murray). Other accolades won include three Golden Globe Awards and three British Academy Film Awards.

Directed by Sofia Coppola
Produced by
Written by Sofia Coppola
Starring
Music by See § Soundtrack
Cinematography Lance Acord
Edited by Sarah Flack
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release date
Running time
102 minutes[2]
Countries
Language English[2]
Budget $4 million
Box office $118.7 million

 

  • Apocalypse Now (1979)

                                         

Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic psychological[5] war film directed and produced by Francis Ford Coppola. It stars Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall, Sam Bottoms, Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford, and Dennis Hopper. The screenplay, co-written by Coppola and John Milius with narration written by Michael Herr, is loosely based on the 1899 novella Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, with the setting changed from late 19th-century Congo to the Vietnam War. The film follows a river journey from South Vietnam into Cambodia undertaken by Captain Benjamin L. Willard (Sheen), who is on a secret mission to assassinate Colonel Kurtz (Brando), a renegade Army Special Forces officer accused of murder and who is presumed insane.

Milius became interested in adapting Heart of Darkness for a Vietnam War setting in the late 1960s, and initially began developing the film with Coppola as producer and George Lucas as director. After Lucas became unavailable, Coppola took over directorial control, and was influenced by Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) in his approach to the material.[6] Initially set to be a five-month shoot, the film became noted for the problems encountered while making it for over a year, as chronicled in the documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991). These problems included expensive sets being destroyed by severe weather, Brando showing up on set overweight and completely unprepared, and Sheen having a breakdown and suffering a near-fatal heart attack while on location. Problems continued after production as the release was postponed several times while Coppola edited over a million feet of film.[7]

Apocalypse Now was honored with the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, where it premiered unfinished before it was finally released on August 15, 1979, by United Artists. The film performed well at the box office, grossing $78 million domestically and going on to gross over $150 million worldwide. Initial reviews were mixed; while Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography was widely acclaimed, several critics found Coppola’s handling of the story’s major themes to be anticlimactic and intellectually disappointing.

Apocalypse Now is today widely considered one of the greatest films ever made. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards at the 52nd Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Coppola), and Best Supporting Actor for Duvall, and went on to win for Best Cinematography and Best Sound. It ranked No. 14 in Sight & Sounds greatest films poll in 2012,[8] and No. 6 in the Director’s Poll of greatest films of all time.[9] Roger Ebert also included it in his top 10 list of greatest films ever in 2012.[10] In 2000, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”.[11][12]

Directed by Francis Coppola
Produced by Francis Coppola
Written by
Narration by Michael Herr
Starring
Music by
Cinematography Vittorio Storaro
Edited by
Production
company
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • May 19, 1979 (Cannes)[1]
  • August 15, 1979 (United States)
Running time
153 minutes[2]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $31 million[3]
Box office $150 million[4]

 

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