July 1, 2008

AFI's Top 100 (well, 50)

In 1998, the American Film Institute made a list of the 100 Greatest Movies of all time. They have since updated the list. For this post, I'm using the 1998 list rankings. I was originally going to do the whole 100, but it was getting pretty long. So, here's my take on movies 1-50 that I've seen:

1Citizen Kane 1941 – really? This is the greatest movie of all time? How many people reading this have actually seen this movie? My DH loves this movie, but I don't understand why. I suppose the ending is somewhat poignant, yet to me it seems expected. Perhaps that's because I saw too many movies that imitate this movie before I actually saw this movie. All that aside, I do think that Orson Wells was a good actor.

!!!SPOILER!!! 2Casablanca1942 – this is my favorite non-musical movie. I've seen it countless timeS, and I never fail to wish that Rick and Ilsa could have gone away together.

3The Godfather1972 – after hearing this movie referenced so many times by everyone, I finally saw the movie when I was 23. I liked it well enough, but I don't know if I'd rank it 3rd of all time. The first one is definitely better than the ones that follow.

4Gone with the Wind1939 – if you know the back story of this movie, it's a wonder that the movie turned out as well as it did. Numerous script rewrites, changing directors, mental and physical problems plaguing the cast all conspired to keep the movie from completing. Yet the movie was a smash success. My main problem with the movie, like all movies based on books, is that the movie doesn't follow the book. The book gives far more depth and insight into Scarlett's character and that of her sisters.

6The Wizard of Oz1939 – I've seen bits and pieces of this movie, yet I don't think I've ever sat and watched this all the way through. The flying monkeys kinda make me lose interest in the movie. I have, however, read the book. My DH remembers this fondly from his childhood.

7The Graduate1967 – I saw this movie a few years ago, mostly because of the Simon and Garfunkel song, “Mrs. Robinson.” Like Citizen Kane, I don't understand why so many people like this movie. To me, the aimless college graduate grates on my nerves.

9Schindler's List1993 – I saw this when it first came out on video, and then several years later when it was shown on TV. The first time I saw this movie, I didn't understand why so many people were moved by watching this movie. The second time, I understood. I wouldn't let kids watch this, but I think teenagers and older should see this movie. Never underestimate the power that one person can have.

10Singin' in the Rain1952 – my favorite movie of all time. Gene Kelley is wonderful, of course, but to me, Donald O'Conner steals the show.

11It's a Wonderful Life1946 – my friend Z's favorite movie. I only watch this at Christmas time.

12Sunset Boulevard1950 – Gloria Swanson is disturbingly fascinating in this movie. Similar to passing a train wreck, the viewer can't turn away as the characters self-destruct.

13The Bridge on the River Kwai1957 – DH and I saw this recently, and I think DH enjoyed this far more than I did. A definite guy's movie.

14Some Like It Hot1959 – a classic, and deservedly so. My favorite of Marilyn Monroe's films. I must say, however, that Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon make the ugliest women on the face of the planet

15Star Wars1977 – I personally prefer the third (now sixth) in the series, but this film sets the stage. Considering the technology available at the time, the special effects are impressive.

17The African Queen1951 – While I like Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, I don't like this movie. Perhaps if I had seen this movie before seeing so many their other respective films I would like this movie better. As it is, I felt that the actors were simply playing roles similar to roles that they had played before in other films.

18Psycho1960 – what a surprise I had when I saw this movie! I thought the shower scene was the big scare, and I couldn't understand why the big scene happened so early in the film. Quite the ending, I must say.

20One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest1975 – I had heard a lot about this film, so I saw the film expecting great things. I was sadly disappointed. The movie is very dark and depressing.

222001: A Space Odyssey1968 – I tried to watch this, I really did. I've never had much luck with Kubrick films.

23The Maltese Falcon1941 – One of my favorite Bogie films.

25E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial1982 – I suppose in terms of special effects, this movie is pretty good. Personally, the hospital scenes disturbed me out too much for me to enjoy the film.

26Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb1964 – Yet another Kubrick film I didn't enjoy.

27Bonnie and Clyde1967 – I've seen this several times, and each time I'm reminded how much I like this film.

29Mr. Smith Goes to Washington1939 – I saw this recently, and I was once again reminded what a fine actor Jimmy Stewart was.

32The Godfather Part II1974 – this movie is helpful in showing how “the family” began, and depressing as you realize that there is no escape from said family.

34To Kill a Mockingbird1962 – not as good as the book, but considering the time in which it was filmed and the content of the book, one can't be surprised.

35It Happened One Night1934 – did you know that this movie caused men's undershirt sales to plummet? An enjoyable movie, although not Clark Gable's best work. I found Claudette Colbert to be annoying in this film.

39Doctor Zhivago1965 – my grandmother's favorite film, and I can't understand why. The movie is entirely too long. I know that

40North by Northwest1959 – a Hitchcock classic, though I must confess it's been so long since I've seen this film that I don't remember a good portion of the film.

41West Side Story1961 – my favorite version of “Romeo and Juliet”(although Baz Luhrmann's version was also good). Some of the songs seem to drag on, and the attention given to supporting characters gets a big weary at times.

42Rear Window1954 – like all Hitchcock films, very well done. The modern re-makes pale in comparison to the master.

45A Streetcar Named Desire1951 – a decent (in terms of quality, not morality) film, although unless you know the play, there are parts of the movie that don't make sense.

49Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs1937 – my favorite Disney film

50Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid1969 – one of my favorite Paul Newman films, although I always wondered about the one woman/two men aspect of the film.


  1. It's quite telling that only one of those films was made in the 1990s!!

    I've only seen ten of them!! I can't tell whether that means my standards are too low or the AFI's standards are too high!!

  2. I've heard of all of them, but I've only seen 16! Shame on me!

  3. I've seen 10 of these. I am horrified that you've never watched Wizard of Oz from start to finish. You need to stop whatever you are doing and go watch it now. Great movie!!

    I tried watching West Side Story, but I just couldn't get through it. I know it is a lot of people's favorite but I just didn't love it.

  4. Well. I've seen 11 of these and parts of others. A few I "had" to watch in school...not sure if *any* of them would make it to my all-time fav list though :) (perhaps Star Wars...) Wizard of Oz is a must! Although, that one now qualifies as "seen too many times to really enjoy it any more."

  5. out of all these, i've only seen 5. that's pathetic... these are classics!

  6. I absolutely agree with your confusion at 'Citizen Kane' being the number 1 movie of all time. It simply shouldn't be at that spot.

  7. Oh Lord, Heather, I can't believe you don't LOVE Citizen Cane! Besides the deep storyline the camera work was ground breaking. Great movie. I didn't count exactly but I think I've seen over half of the ones you pointed out. I hated Bridge on the River Kwai but Steve, Josh and Daniel Dean love it. I think AFI did a great job at picking as far as I can tell from the ones you've seen.

  8. I'm surprised when I look through this list that I've only NOT seen two of them ("It Happened One Night" and "Streetcar Named Desire"). The next fifty on the list, I'm sure, is a different matter.

    As rearwindow said, "Bridge on the River Kwai" is one of my favorite movies. A number of them top my list, including Citizen Kane. The thing you've got to remember is that these are not AFI's "most enjoyable" movies (although I did enjoy most of them); rather, these are the ones most important, thematically or technically, in the history of American film-making, for which Citizen Kane is the hands-down winner on both counts.

  9. Keep in mind that this list is only the AFI picks 1-50 that I have seen; my posting actually only covers 32 of the top 50 movies. There are 18 of the movies that I have not seen, several of which I will never see (such as Clockwork Orange).


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