Entry Points

by Craig J. Clark

Created 01/04/13

Edit List

Everybody has to start somewhere. These films -- viewed over the course of a decade and change -- are among the ones that started me down the path to being the well-rounded film buff I am today.

  • Very probably the first foreign film I ever saw, even if it was dubbed. The Philly-area premium channel PRISM used to play this all the time for some reason and I watched it every chance I got. A film about the making of a film? I can't think of a better way to feed a young movie-lover's cinephilia.

  • Back when I was in high school I caught this one on PBS because I was intrigued by the notion of Shakespeare being adapted to another culture. (This was, of course, before I became aware that oftentimes that was the norm rather than the exception.) As an introduction to A) samurai films, B) Kurosawa, and C) Mifune, I probably couldn't have asked for better.

  • If it was good enough for Isaac and Tracy in Manhattan, then it was good enough for me.

  • Early in my collegiate career I found myself drawn to the campus Cinemateque, which programmed a mix of foreign films and Hollywood classics. These three films were among the ones I saw that made a deep impression on me. (As a matter of fact, I was the one who suggested The Seventh Seal, which I was desperate to see at the time.)

  • Here are three more I saw in college, all of them in the classroom. I don't remember too much about the course I saw 8 1/2 in, but I do recall the instructor who showed us Paris, Texas saying we were lucky he couldn't locate his copy of The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick. As for Night on Earth, it was my first hint that there was more to American cinema than what could be found at the local multiplex.

  • I spent my last semester of college studying abroad in England. Like my school, their university had its own film series, which introduced me to the glory of Godard's classic period. As a result, this will always be one of my favorites.

  • In a post-collegiate environment, the budding cinephile must chart his or her own course. Enter Martin Scorsese, whose championing of these two films convinced me they were worth checking out. It is strange to think, though, that my first Michael Powell film was one of his most divisive.

  • Buñuel had long been an intriguing figure to me, but it took this film being re-released in theaters (to mark the centennial of his birth) for me to be directly exposed to his work. Once I was bitten, there was no going back.

  • The re-release of this film was a similar revelation that turned me into a lifelong Melville fan. And if you're a Melville fan, you pretty much have to be Criterion fan because who else releases his movies?


  • By The Narrator Returns
    January 04, 2013
    10:47 PM

    Great list!
    • By Craig J. Clark
      January 06, 2013
      11:03 PM

      Thanks. I took my time whittling it down to a manageable length. It's just too bad Truffaut's Day for Night isn't in the Collection, otherwise it would also be in here.
  • By Nathan Cabaniss
    February 14, 2013
    06:50 PM

    Alphaville was my first Godard, too. Wish my school would've had their own theater - of course if they had, that probably would have been the end of my social life.
    • By Craig J. Clark
      February 21, 2013
      09:40 PM

      My one regret was that I was cast in a play the spring semester of my freshman year, so I had to miss most of the films that were shown at the Cinemateque since they conflicted with rehearsals. I did manage to convince the director to let me skip one so I could see The Seventh Seal, though.
  • By Davey32
    August 14, 2013
    05:46 PM

    Great list! 8 1/2 is one of my favorite films of all-time, and is probably the film that made me fall in love with movies.
    • By Craig J. Clark
      August 15, 2013
      03:51 PM

      8 1/2 has so much going on in it, I feel like I need to watch it at least six and a half more times before it all sinks in.
  • By Ryan C.
    January 02, 2014
    01:10 PM

    I agree completely with The 400 Blows! I have yet to see Peeping Tom, but I think I need to hunt down a copy.
    • By Craig J. Clark
      January 02, 2014
      02:25 PM

      If you can find it, Criterion's inclusion of Chris Rodley's documentary A Very British Psycho should make the investment more than worth it.
  • By JeffK.
    March 26, 2016
    08:56 PM

    Throne of Blood on PBS?? All my local station seems to show is old British TV shows and Red Green!
    • By Craig J. Clark
      March 29, 2016
      04:19 PM

      Well, this was a quarter of a century ago.
  • By loofrin
    December 10, 2016
    01:36 PM

    I think Seventh Seal was the first Criterion I ever watched. I was hooked by the extras, particularly, if I remember correctly there was a demonstration of how Criterion "cleaned up" the film. I worked at Barnes and Noble for a while and I became infatuated by Criterion, mainly because of the covers, I think the one the really got a hold of me wouldn't let go was Ikiru. What an amazing film. I haven't watched in a while, its so raw. Dazed and Confused and Slackers are two others that are great entry points into the collection.
    • By Craig J. Clark
      December 11, 2016
      06:01 PM

      I wish I'd seen Slacker when it was in theaters -- and Dazed, too.