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         For one edition only (the 5th) LH devoted a page of his Guide to the BFI international film critics’ top ten best films, with his own favourites also included.  This is no longer included in the present Guide and so the page is reproduced here, slightly re-arranged, and I have also added the subsequent poll results LH never saw.

            Everybody plays the game of selecting his or her ten favourite films, but the results can be interesting only when a historical perspective is attempted.  The British Film Institute has now organised four polls of international critics, in 1952, 1962, 1972 and 1982, and the findings are given below, together with the number of votes cast for each film.  It does seem that even critics are unable to make absolute judgements, and that some of the earlier selections at least were merely fashionable.

Bicycle Thieves 25
City Lights 19
The Gold Rush 19
The Battleship Potemkin 16
Intolerance 12
Louisiana Story 12
Greed 11
Le Jour Se Lève 11
The Passion of Joan of Arc 11
Brief Encounter 10
Le Million 10
La Règle du Jeu 10
Citizen Kane 22
L’Avventura 20
La Règle du Jeu 19
Greed 17
Ugetsu Monogatari
Battleship Potemkin 16
Bicycle Thieves 16
Ivan the Terrible 16
La Terra Trema 14
Citizen Kane 32
La Règle du Jeu 28   
Battleship Potemkin 16   
Eight and a Half 15
L’Avventura 15   
Persona 12   
The Passion of Joan of Arc 11
The General 10   
The Magnificent Ambersons 10
Ugetsu Monogatari 9
Wild Strawberries 9
Citizen Kane
La Règle du Jeu 31
Seven Samurai 15
Singin’ in the Rain
Eight and a Half 14
The Battleship Potemkin 13
L’Avventura 12
The Magnificent Ambersons
Vertigo 12
The General 11
The Searchers 11

Thus the only films to appear in all four lists are The Battleship Potemkin and La Règle du Jeu; and some titles, such as Louisiana Story, La Terra Trema and Vertigo (unseen for many years)* are momentary aberrations.

I suppose it is only fair for the compiler to produce his own list.  Out of many hundreds of favourites, I suppose the following have come to be the films I can watch and re-watch very frequently with most pleasure and renewed application:

Citizen Kane
Trouble in Paradise
The Bride of Frankenstein
Le Million
A Matter of Life and Death
Lost Horizon (1937)
Sons of the Desert
The Philadelphia Story
The Maltese Falcon
The Lady Vanishes

The trouble is that even looking at the list makes me feel guilty about the ones I have had to leave out: The 39 Steps (1935), Oh Mr Porter, Gaslight (1940), Singin’ in the Rain, To Be or Not to Be (1942), Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1931), Orphée, Les Enfants du Paradis, The Old Dark House, Way Out West, All That Money Can Buy, Casablanca, The General, Miracle in Milan**, The Magnificent Ambersons...

The most recent two BFI top tens are listed below.  Potemkin and La Règle du Jeu keep their hundred percent appearance records, and whilst Kane isn’t quite an ever-present, its position at the top of the last five lists, and indeed Halliwell’s own, surely enshrines its reputation as the very best of all.  Note the bizarre coupling of both Godfather movies – when did these become one film?

Citizen Kane 43                                      
La Règle du Jeu 32                                           
Tokyo Story 22                                               
Vertigo 18                                                        
The Searchers 17
The Passion of Joan of Arc
Pather Panchali
Battleship Potemkin
2001: A Space Odyssey

Citizen Kane
La Règle du Jeu
The Godfather
and The Godfather part II 23
Tokyo Story
2001: A Space Odyssey
Battleship Potemkin
Eight and a Half
Singin' in the Rain
    In the book Halliwell's Harvest LH provides an essay on bad films, culminating in...

Halliwell’s Hall of Humility


Twenty films with plenty to be humble about:

Myra Breckinridge (Sarne)                                         Kiss Me Stupid (Wilder)
A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick)                                Reflections in a Golden Eye (Huston)
Straw Dogs (Peckinpah)                                              1941 (Spielberg)
Lisztomania (Russell)                                                   Zardoz (Boorman)
Zabriskie Point (Antonioni)                                       The Story of Mankind (Allen)
Casino Royale (various)                                              Dune (Lynch)
How I Won the War (Lester)                                     Looking For Mr Goodbar (Brooks)
The Madwoman of Chaillot (Forbes)                     Boom! (Losey)
Mame (Saks)                                                                     Can Heironymus Merkin Ever
Hammersmith is Out (Ustinov)                                                Forget Mercy Humppe and
At Long Last Love (Bogdanovich)                                           Find True Happiness? (Newley)



* Vertigo also made it into the next two lists, so it wasn't quite the fly-by-night LH suspected.

** Out of over five hundred four-star and three-star films to choose from, why LH put this title in the 'nearly' list when it only receives two stars in the actual Guide, has always mystified me.




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