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In Alfred Hitchcock’s most quick-witted and devilish comic thriller, a young woman finds herself drawn into a complex web of mystery and high adventure while traveling across Europe by train. The Lady Vanishes remains one of the master filmmaker’s purest delights.
The spectacular visions of enchantment, desire, and death in Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bête) have become timeless icons of cinematic wonder.
Much studied, imitated, even parodied, but never outdone, Bergman’s stunning allegory of man’s search for meaning was one of the benchmark foreign imports of America’s 1950s art house heyday, pushing cinema’s boundaries and ushering in a new era of moviegoing.
Peter Lorre stars as serial killer Hans Beckert in Fritz Lang’s harrowing masterwork M, a suspenseful panorama of private madness and public hysteria that to this day remains the blueprint for the psychological thriller.
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One of the great translations of literature into film, David Lean’s Great Expectations brings Charles Dickens’s masterpiece to robust on-screen life.
The Red Shoes, the singular fantasia from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, is cinema’s quintessential backstage drama, as well as one of the most glorious Technicolor feasts ever concocted for the screen.
In Herk Harvey’s macabre masterpiece, Mary Henry survives a drag race in a rural Kansas town, then takes a job as a church organist in Salt Lake City. En route, she becomes haunted by a bizarre apparition that compels her to an abandoned lakeside pavilion.
Kwaidan features four nightmarish tales in which terror thrives and demons lurk. Adapted from traditional Japanese ghost stories, this lavish, widescreen production drew extensively on Kobayashi’s own training as a student of painting and fine arts.
One of the great cult classics, The Blob melds ’50s schlock sci-fi and teen delinquency pics even as it transcends these genres with strong performances and ingenious special effects. The Blob helped launch the careers of superstud Steve McQueen and composer Burt Bacharach.
This explosive work about the conflict between the spirit and the flesh is the epitome of the sensuous style of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.
A profoundly felt film about class and conformity in small-town America, All That Heaven Allows is a pinnacle of expressionistic Hollywood melodrama.
In one of Sturges’s most clever and beloved romantic comedies, a conniving father and daughter meet up with the heir to a brewery fortune—a wealthy but naïve snake enthusiast—and attempt to bamboozle him at a cruise ship card table.
Stanley Kubrick directed a cast of screen legends—including Kirk Douglas as the indomitable gladiator that led a Roman slave revolt—in the sweeping epic that defined a genre and ushered in a new Hollywood era.
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Filmmaker-svengali Josef von Sternberg escalates his obsession with screen legend Marlene Dietrich in this lavish depiction of sex and deceit in the eighteenth-century Russian court, a self-proclaimed “relentless excursion into style.”
Hollywood director Joel McCrea, tired of churning out lightweight comedies, decides to make O Brother, Where Art Thou, a serious, socially responsible film about human suffering. After his producers point out that he knows nothing of hardship, he hits the road as a hobo.
Tom Courtenay is Billy Fisher, the underachieving undertaker’s assistant whose constant daydreams and truth-deficient stories earn him the nickname “Billy Liar.” Deftly veering from gritty realism to flamboyant fantasy, Billy Liar is a dazzling and uproarious classic.
Benjamin Christensen’s legendary silent film uses a series of dramatic vignettes to explore the scientific hypothesis that the witches of the Middle Ages suffered the same hysteria as turn-of-the-century psychiatric patients. Häxan is a witches’ brew of the scary, gross, and darkly humorous.
With its aching musical soundtrack and exquisitely abstract cinematography by Christopher Doyle and Mark Lee Ping-bin, this film has been a major stylistic influence on the past decade of cinema, and is a milestone in Wong’s redoubtable career.
One of the all-time comedy classics, René Clair’s À nous la liberté tells the story of Louis, an escaped convict who becomes a wealthy industrialist. Unfortunately, his past returns (in the form of old jail pal Emile) to upset his carefully laid plans.
When thief Gaston Monescu (Herbert Marshall) meets his true love in pickpocket Lily (Miriam Hopkins), they embark on a scam to rob lovely perfume company executive Mariette Colet (Kay Francis). Legendary director Ernst Lubitsch’s masterful touch is in full flower in Trouble in Paradise.
Considered by many to be the finest British film ever made, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, is a stirring masterpiece like no other.
A vivid, visceral Macbeth adaptation, Throne of Blood, directed by Akira Kurosawa, sets Shakespeare’s definitive tale of ambition and duplicity in a ghostly, fog-enshrouded landscape in feudal Japan.
A husband, a wife, a stranger, a knife: Roman Polanski sets them all adrift on a weekend filled with simmering resentments and gut-churning suspense in his seminal psychological thriller, still one of the greatest feature debuts in film history.
A profoundly stirring evocation of elemental humanity and universal heartbreak, Tokyo Story is the crowning achievement of the unparalleled Yasujiro Ozu.
An aging bureaucrat with stomach cancer decides to strip the veneer off his existence and find meaning in his final days. Considered by some to be Akira Kurosawa’s greatest achievement, Ikiru offers a multifaceted look at a life through a prism of perspectives.
At his secluded chateau in the French countryside, a brilliant, obsessive doctor (Pierre Brasseur) attempts a radical plastic surgery to restore the beauty of his daughter’s disfigured countenance—at a horrifying price.
River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves star in Gus Van Sant’s haunting tale of two young street hustlers: Mike Waters, a sensitive narcoleptic who dreams of the mother who abandoned him, and Scott Favor, the wayward son of the mayor of Portland and object of Mike’s desire.
The concluding chapter of Michelangelo Antonioni’s informal trilogy on contemporary malaise, L’eclisse tells the story of a young woman (Monica Vitti) who leaves one lover (Francisco Rabal) and drifts into a relationship with another (Alain Delon).
In Luchino Visconti’s exquisite Dostoyevsky adaptation, Marcello Mastroianni is a lonely city transplant and Maria Schell is a sheltered girl haunted by a lover’s promise who meet by chance on a canal bridge and begin a tentative romance that entangles them in a web of longing and self-delusion.
In a career-defining performance, Alain Delon plays a contract killer with samurai instincts. A razor-sharp cocktail of 1940s American gangster cinema and 1960s French pop culture, maverick director Jean-Pierre Melville’s masterpiece Le Samouraï defines cool.
A cornerstone in the career of this most economical and profoundly spiritual of filmmakers, Pickpocket is an elegantly crafted, tautly choreographed study of humanity in all its mischief and grace, the work of a director at the height of his powers.
One of the great American independent films of the 1990s, the surprise hit Metropolitan, by writer-director Whit Stillman, is a sparkling comedic chronicle of a young man’s romantic misadventures while trying to fit in to New York City’s debutante society.
Master noir craftsman Jules Dassin’s dazzling police procedural The Naked City was shot entirely on location in New York. As influenced by Italian neorealism as American crime fiction, this double Academy Award winner remains a benchmark for naturalism in noir.
One of the most influential, radical science-fiction films ever made and a mind-bending free-form travelogue, La Jetée and Sans Soleil couldn’t seem more different—yet they’re the twin pillars of an unparalleled and uncompromising career in cinema.
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Before Kubrick made his mischief iconic in A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell made a hell of an impression as the insouciant Mick Travis, who, along with his school chums, trumps authority at every turn, finally emerging as a violent savior.
With its delicate humor and dramatic nonchalance, Jim Jarmusch’s one-of-a-kind minimalist masterpiece, Stranger Than Paradise, forever transformed the landscape of American independent cinema.
One of the finest British films ever made, this benchmark of “kitchen-sink realism” follows the self-defeating professional and romantic pursuits of a miner turned rugby player eking out an existence in drab Yorkshire, played by an astonishing Richard Harris.
Swift, brutal, and black-hearted, Allen Baron’s New York City noir Blast of Silence is a sensational surprise, a low-budget, carefully crafted portrait of a hit man on assignment in Manhattan during Christmastime.
Playwright and novelist Yukio Mishima foreshadowed his own violent suicide with this ravishing short feature, which depicts the seppuku of an army officer.
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Starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek, Missing is political filmmaker extraordinaire Costa-Gavras’s compelling, controversial dramatization of the search for American filmmaker and journalist Charles Horman, who mysteriously disappeared during the 1973 coup in Chile.
Wes Anderson first illustrated his lovingly detailed, slightly surreal cinematic vision (with cowriter Owen Wilson) in this visually witty and warm portrait of three young misfits.
The mesmerizing, utterly unclassifiable science films of Jean Painlevé (1902-89) have to be seen to be believed: delightful, surrealist-influenced dream works that are also serious science. This anthology features twenty-three of Painlevé’s shorts.
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The Last Days of Disco, from director Whit Stillman, is a cleverly comic look at the early 1980s Manhattan party scene from the vantage point of the late nineties.
New German Cinema pioneer Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire) brings his keen eye for landscape to the American Southwest in Paris, Texas, a profoundly moving character study written by Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Sam Shepard.
Max Ophuls’s final film, Lola Montès is at once a magnificent romantic melodrama, a meditation on the lurid fascination with celebrity, and a one-of-a-kind movie spectacle.
This lush, Technicolor tragic romance from Luchino Visconti stars Alida Valli as a nineteenth-century Italian countess who, during the Austrian occupation of her country, puts her marriage and political principles on the line by engaging in a torrid affair with a dashing Austrian lieutenant.
Based on a popular novel by Raymond Queneau that had been considered unadaptable, Malle’s audacious Zazie dans le métro, made with flair on the cusp of the French New Wave, is a bit of stream-of-consciousness slapstick, wall-to-wall with visual gags, editing tricks, and effects.
An incandescent depiction of the clash between tradition and modernity, and a showcase for some of India’s most popular musicians of the day, The Music Room is a defining work by the great Bengali filmmaker.
Stanley Kubrick’s account of an ambitious racetrack robbery is one of Hollywood’s tautest, twistiest noirs.
Roman Polanski orchestrates a mental ménage à trois in this slyly absurd tale of paranoia from the director’s golden 1960s period.
Based on a novel by Nobel Prize winner Selma Lagerlöf, this extraordinarily rich and innovative silent classic (which inspired Ingmar Bergman to make movies) is a Dickensian ghost story and a deeply moving morality tale, as well as a showcase for groundbreaking special effects.
In Shallow Grave, three self-involved Edinburgh roommates take in a brooding boarder, and when he dies of an overdose, leaving a suitcase full of money, the trio embark on a series of very bad decisions, with extraordinarily grim consequences for all.
Sunday Bloody Sunday depicts the romantic lives of two Londoners, a middle-aged doctor and a prickly thirtysomething divorcée—played with great sensitivity by Peter Finch and Glenda Jackson—who are sleeping with the same handsome young artist.
A breathtaking depiction of the promise and perils of America’s western expansion, Heaven’s Gate, directed by Michael Cimino, is among Hollywood’s most ambitious and unorthodox epics.
This ripe, colorful adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s vicious novel The Talented Mr. Ripley, directed by the versatile René Clément, stars Delon as Tom Ripley, a duplicitous American charmer in Rome.
The comic genius of silent star Harold Lloyd is eternal. Chaplin is the sweet innocent, Keaton the stoic outsider, but Lloyd—the modern guy striving for success—is us. And with its torrent of perfectly executed gags and astonishing stunts, Safety Last! is the perfect introduction to him.
Over a decade in the making, Claude Lanzmann’s nine-hour-plus opus is a monumental investigation of the unthinkable: the murder of more than six million Jews by the Nazis.
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This epic portrait of an inexorable fall from grace, starring the astounding Kinuyo Tanaka as an imperial lady-in-waiting who gradually descends to street prostitution, was the movie that gained the director international attention, ushering in a new golden period for him.
Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau star as a novelist and his frustrated wife, who, over the course of one night, confront their alienation from each other and the achingly empty bourgeois Milan circles in which they travel.
29 Oct 2013
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