Top Tens (and Twenties, and Thirties...)


It behoves all film reviewers to account for their prejudices, and the time-honoured method is to list their personal Top Ten Movies.
Trouble was, once I set to work I realised that a list of just ten favourites was impossible. Even when allowing token choices (ie: one Marx Brothers film as representative of the half-dozen that really should be there; one Lugosi, one Capra, one Chaplin, one DeMille...) there was still no way I could possibly limit the list to fewer than twenty, so my Top Ten became my Top Twenty.
Then I realised I'd forgotten The Apartment. And who ever heard of a Top Twenty-One?
So here they are, my thirty favourite films. For today. I reserve the right to change them. And I will. Sometimes more than once a day. Or up the list to forty.


TOP TEN TWENTY THIRTY FAVOURITE FILMS 

An American Werewolf In London (1981) 
And Then There Were None (1945) 
Animal Crackers (1930) 
The Apartment (1960) 
The Beast of the City (1932) 
Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
Destry Rides Again (1939) 
George in Civvy Street (1946) 
Ghost World (2001) 
I Married a Witch (1942) 
It's a Gift (1933) 
Jaws (1975) 
The Lady Vanishes (1938) 
Limelight (1953) 
Madam Satan (1930) 
The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) 
A Man For All Seasons (1966)
Mystery of the Wax Museum (1932) 
Our Daily Bread (1934) 
The Phantom of the Opera (1925) 
Pointed Heels (1929) 
Portrait of Jennie (1948) 
Pranzo di Ferragosto (2008) 
Rat Pfink a Boo Boo (1966) 
The Raven (1935) 
The Seventh Victim (1943) 
Targets (1968) 
Viaggio in Italia (1954)
I Vitelloni (1953) 
The Wild Party (1929)


TOP TEN OTHER FAVOURITE FILMS OF 1931
For reasons outlined here, 1931 is my 1939, the year I believe to contain the highest concentration of world class movies in Hollywood history.
I could have easily listed thirty here, too, but ten will suffice.

City Lights 
Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde 
Dracula 
The Front Page 
Millie 
Monkey Business 
Night Nurse 
Platinum Blonde 
The Smiling Lieutenant 
24 Hours 

TOP TEN FAVOURITE DIRECTORS
Thus defined: These are the film-makers of whom I would, and do, have the most difficulty selecting just one, representative favourite film. In most cases, this is not merely because they made so many that were worthy of specific commendation, but also because they worked in so many differing moods. Eclecticism of subject and unobtrusiveness in technique have been favoured, and directors whose work may be highly skilled and enjoyable but much more uniform in themes and style, so that it is relatively easy to pick one sample title, have been shunted to the second eleven. No disrespect intended, Alfred, Orson, Woody et al, but what follows are the directors I have found to be the most reliable guarantors of a sublimely enjoyable, but also unpredictable night at the movies. Chaplin is only not included because the brilliance of his films - and I love his career probably more than any other - is not really attributable to their direction as such.

Frank Capra 
Cecil B. DeMille 
Federico Fellini 
Mitchell Leisen 
Rouben Mamoulian 
Paul Morrissey
Ray Dennis Steckler 
Frank Tuttle 
King Vidor 
Pete Walker 


TOP TEN FAVOURITE DEMILLE FILMS
DeMille is my favourite director, and limiting his presence in my top thirty films to just one title was almost as hard as restricting myself to one Marx Brothers movie. Here are my next ten favourite DeMilles, after Madam Satan, which makes the main list. As I've never seen a DeMille movie I didn't like, and I haven't seen anything like all of them, this list in particular is likely to change...

The Affairs of Anatol (1921) 
Cleopatra (1934) 
Don't Change Your Husband (1919) 
Dynamite (1929) 
Four Frightened People (1934) 
The Godless Girl (1929) 
Male and Female (1919) 
The Sign of the Cross (1932) 
This Day And Age (1933) 
Why Change Your Wife? (1920) 

TOP TWENTY FAVOURITE ACTRESSES
By which I mean leading actresses. Actresses who are predominantly character players get a list of their own, below. I've aimed for unusualness and talent, and I've prioritised great actresses who also made great movies, rather than actresses who merely happen to be great looking. The one arguable exception, I suppose, may be my pet cause, Irene Ware, who I couldn't bear to omit. But no Keiras or Scarletts: beautiful they may be, but they don't have the kind of careers that interest me.

Joan Blondell
Clara Bow 
Claudette Colbert 
Joan Crawford 
Bette Davis 
Kay Francis 
Jean Harlow 
Miriam Hopkins 
Helen Kane 
Veronica Lake 
Carole Lombard 
Sophia Loren
Anna Magnani
Lillian Roth 
Jane Russell 
Barbara Stanwyck 
Gloria Stuart 
Thelma Todd 
Irene Ware 
Fay Wray 


TOP TWENTY FAVOURITE ACTORS
Because you do need men in movies from time to time.

Charles Bickford 
Laird Cregar 
Clint Eastwood 
Wallace Ford 
Cary Grant 
Charlton Heston 
Walter Huston 
Charles Laughton 
Bela Lugosi 
Fredric March 
Tully Marshall 
Lester Matthews 
Adolphe Menjou 
Chester Morris 
Monroe Owsley 
Vincent Price 
George Sanders 
Tod Slaughter 
James Stewart 
Lee Tracy 


TOP TEN FAVOURITE CHARACTER ACTORS
Frank Albertson 
Robert Benchley 
Walter Catlett 
Harry Green 
Edward Everett Horton 
Cecil Kellaway 
Frank McHugh 
Mantan Moreland 
Charles Ruggles 
Roland Young 


TOP TEN FAVOURITE CHARACTER ACTRESSES
Glenda Farrell 
Patsy Kelly 
Elsa Lanchester
Ruth Lee 
Una Merkel 
Barbara Pepper 
Elizabeth Russell 
Gale Sondergaard 
Dame May Whitty 
Mary Wickes 


TOP TEN FAVOURITE ITALIAN MOVIES
I just can't get enough of 'em. Here are my ten favourites, in alphabetical order, not including I Vitelloni, Viaggio in Italia and Pranzo di Ferragosto, which made it into the overall 30, where I wish there was room for at least half of these, too.

L'Avventura (1960) 
Bellissima (1951) 
Cronaca di un Amore (1950)
Gianni e le Donne (2011) 
Luci del Varietà (1950) 
Matrimonio all'italiana (1964) 
Le Notti di Cabiria (1957) 
Pane e Tulipani (2000) 
Ricordati di Me (2003) 
Senso (1950)
L'Uccello dalle Piume di Cristallo (1970) 



TOP TWENTY FAVOURITE SHORT COMEDIES
Note that, even more than the other lists, this is purely an account of personal favourites. I'm not saying Never Weaken is necessarily Harold Lloyd's best short, merely the one I get most pleasure from. My choice of Laurel and Hardys is particularly idiosyncratic. Ask me what the best Laurel and Hardy shorts are and I'll make a more sober account of myself. But these are the ones I go to first when I want them to make me happy. And yes, there are more Robert Benchleys here than anything else...

Babes in the Goods (1934)
The Barber Shop (1933)
Blue Bottles (1928)
Disorder in the Court (1936)
Easy Street (1917)
The Fatal Glass of Beer (1933)
Going Bye-Bye! (1934)
How to Take a Vacation (1941)
The Immigrant (1917)
Me and My Pal (1933)
Men O'War (1929)
Mighty Like a Moose (1928)
Never Weaken (1921)
One AM (1916)
Opening Day (1938)
The Pip From Pittsburg (1931)
The Rink (1916)
That Inferior Feeling (1940)
Top Flat (1935)
The Trouble With Husbands (1940)