Here they are, the top 10 classic films watched for the first time in 2010. The list is truly an international one with five American, two French, one Italian, one Japanese and one German. Two of the films are silent works and two from the 1960’s, the most recent decade on the list. Anthony Mann was the only director to have more than one film in the top 10 (if you include the HM’s, Mann had three and Kurosawa had two). There are 15 honorable mentions all of which are worthy works in and of themselves and deserve to be seen. For easy access, I have provided links to the films on the list I have written about.
1 -High and Low (1963 – Akira Kurosawa) Based on American mystery writer Ed McBain’s novel, “King’s Ransom,” Kurosawa has created a brilliant vision of class distinction wrapped up in a unique combination of a morality play with a bit of Hitchcock tossed in.
2 – Metropolis The Restored Version - (1927 Fritz Lang) I have seen truncated versions of “Metropolis” before but this restored version with the recently discovered additional 25 minutes makes this the most complete version and nearest to Lang’s original vision.
3 -Make Way For Tomorrow – (1937 Leo McCarey) Unflinching, emotionally moving film about the elderly parents of five adults who have to move out of their home because they have failed on their mortgage payments. The children are selfish and uncaring; the parents victims of living too long. Beautifully directed by McCarey who paints a strong though sensitive portrait of old age. The last 20 minutes are poignant and the final shot of Beulah Bondi watching her husband leave knowing they will never see each other again is just unforgettable. Moving and great performances by all.
4 -The Man From Laramie ( Anthony Mann) – James Stewart gives another mesmeric performance as Will Lockhart, one more in the line of Anthony Mann’s obsessed cowboys on a revenge seeking mission. This was the final collaboration between Mann and James Stewart culminating a brilliant artistic partnership with one the finest westerns of all time.
5 – Pepe Le Moko (1937 Julien Duvivier) One of the great French crime films from the 1930’s with the magnifcent Jean Gabin as Pepe on the lam from both the law and from fellow gangsters. Safe while he hides in the Casbah he risks it all for the love of a woman. Crime, love and sleaze all combined into a poetic vision of doom. Filmed with stylistic themes that would become main stays in American film noir of the 1940’s.
6 – The Spiral Staircase (1945 Robert Siodmak) Taunt direction and eerie magnificent cinematography make this a most terrorizing film, perfect for a dark stormy evening.
7 – The Circus (1928 Charles Chaplin) Undeservedly not as well known as some of Chaplin’s other classic features but just as funny and poignant as the best.
8 – Le Doulos (1962 Jean Pierre Melville) One of the gems of French noir by one of the masters of the genre. The film is filled with allusions to Melville’s passionate love of American crime films. His characters act as if they came out of a 1930’s Warner Brothers gangster flick.
9 –I Vitelloni (1953 Federico Fellini) – Autobiographical in part, Fellini third film focuses on five young men whose life revolves around their tight friendship. Unemployed, womanizing, drinking, shunning any and all responsibility, Fellini gives us a superb slice of life at a transitional point in time in a country still recuperating from the war.
10 – Men in War (1957 Anthony Mann) Along with Sam Fuller’s “The Steel Helmet” and Robert Aldrich’s “Attack” this Anthony Mann film is one of the most unwavering works dealing with war. A stark, unflinching character driven film with Robert Ryan and Aldo Ray locked in their own personal conflict while in the mist of battle with the enemy. A film that at times is more reminiscent of the Vietnam War than the Korea conflict.
|Bigger Than Life||1956||Nick Ray|
|Casque d’or||1952||Jacques Becker|
|Classe Tous Risques||1960||Claude Sautete|
|Devil’s Doorway||1950||Anthony Mann|
|Diary of a Chambermaid||1964||Luis Bunnel|
|Four Days In November||1964||Mel Stuart|
|Hangover Square||1945||John Brahm|
|Il Posto||1961||Ermanno Ormi|
|Le Femme Infidele||1969||Claude Chabrol|
|Night Train to Munich||1940||Carol Reed|
|Stray Dog||1949||Akira Kurosawa|
|The Dead||1987||John Huston|
|The Mortal Storm||1940||Frank Borzage|