A free way to build your virtual collection, make lists, and share them. It’s your new home on Criterion.com.
Learn More »
Scorcese, Eastwood, Tarantino, Lee and many of today's finest filmmakers will attest to the fact that they learned a great deal of their craft and became inspired by some (if not most) of the films on this list:
This was the film that has been modeled and imitated by everyone from Ron Howard to Wes Anderson. It is an intimate, unscathing portrait of a childhood lost and not likely to be found.
Scorsese said that the opening sequence of this film was so jubilant and unique, that he realized Truffaut was not only breaking existing rules, but creating a whole new language. This is a film about idealism, romance, disappointments and dedication. Moreau and Werner add so much dimension to their characters, that you forget you are watching two actors performing and instead get drawn into two loving and flawed human beings' lives.
The last film (and only one in color) made by the late, great Max Ophuls. This story about a woman who became famous because of the men in her lives resonates today as much as ever. Pick a Kardashian - any Kardashian - fame is a circus and Ophuls weaves this metaphor throughout the film to get this point across.
This is "Spy Noir" at its best. John Le Carre's novels were the antidote for the gadget-heavy, special effects laden James Bond. Le Carre lived in the real world of spies and it shows. The black and white photography adds to the general bleakness of this tale of a burnt out spy (Richard Burton as Alex Leamas) who needs to get out of the spying trade. His last mission, however, proves to be his most difficult - repleat with double crosses and triple betrayals. The scenes with Burton and Oskar Werner (as Fiedler - the East German counterpart) are the stuff that film legend is made of. Their on screen chemistry adds extra sizzle to a movie filled with an exemplary cast of great character actors.
There was a horrible remake of this film called "City of Angels" with Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan. Watch this movie and decide for yourself whether or not Hollywood should have even bothered trying to tackle a remake. Berlin is as much a character in this movie as any of the actors are. Wenders tackles the problems of trying to find the soul of this post-war metropolis. Wenders also gets a performance out of Peter Falk in this picture that is one of his best.
Tarantino took a lot of his character ideas from this film when he made Inglorious Bastards. Post War Vienna (with its caved in buildings and shadow-laden cobblestone streets evokes another world where cynicism and corruption have taken hold (in the character of Harry Lyme - beautifully portrayed by Orson Welles). Joseph Cotten is wonderful as a hapless American writer who comes to Vienna to work for Lyme. Alida Valli is transcendent as the beautiful, loyal and spirited refuge who refuses to compromise her love for Lyme.
This was the film Hitchcock used to help create the mood and style he wanted for Psycho. Simone Signoret stands out as the mistress of a cold, manipulative school master who is trying to drive his wife insane. The acting is not over the top or sentimental. The plot twist at the end makes this thriller pitch perfect.
This war trilogy is a must see for anyone who wants to see what Italy and Germany looked like after World War II. Rossellini took his cameras in to post war Rome and Berlin and used local actors (who were actually still suffering from the deprivations of war) to tell their stories. It is sobering to see people living in apartment buildings where one whole side of it has been blown off and so their lives are visible for any passer by to see. Rossellini is unflinching in showing what defeat and despair does to the gradually unraveling family lives and neighborhoods.
A documentary on the chaotic production of Werner Herzog's epic Fitzcarraldo (1982), showing how the film managed to get made despite problems that would have floored a less obsessively driven director. Not only does he have major casting problems, losing both Jason Robards (health) and Mick Jagger (other commitments) halfway through shooting, but the crew gets caught up in a war between Peru and Ecuador, there are problems with the weather and the morale of cast and crew is falling rapidly
It's a masterpiece of unsentimental, yet genteel, humor, and features performances by some extraordinary actors. Sir Alec Guiness's eight different turns deserve every superlative they've received. Dennis Price is too little recognized--in the US, at least--for his gifts, as his work here proves. Valerie Hobson is wonderful, and Joyce Greenwood is...I would happily buy a recording of her reading the OED, just to hear that astonishing voice. If you have not seen this film, it's readily available. Give yourself a treat. None genuine without the Ealing Label.