1,000 Favorites (A Personal Canon), part two

This is the second part of the Appendix of my 2004 collection Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons. — J.R.


1000 Favorites (A Personal Canon), Part 2

The criteria I’ve used for inclusion on this list are pleasure and edification; I haven’t factored in any sense of historical importance that might exist  independently of these factors. I’ve incorporated shorts as  well as features, both animation and live-action, and  videos as well as some works made for television, but not anything made for a TV series.

Broadly speaking, this list would comprise what I’d want to have on a desert island were it not for the fact that I’d want to bring along many other things that I haven’t already seen — including some of my more conspicuous omissions. No one who claims to have seen all possible candidates for the greatest films ever made could possibly be telling the truth, even in relation to a single year, and many of the exclusions here are things I haven’t yet caught up with. Many others are absent simply because I don’t value them as much as those I’ve included, and the most obvious limitation of this list is that it won’t be apparent in most cases whether I’ve excluded something because I haven’t seen it or because I don’t rank it highly enough.

Though I’ve made a conscious effort to be exhaustive, oversights and unwitting omissions that I’ll eventually hate myself for having overlooked are inevitable, because I haven’t come up with any sure-fire method of recalling or tabulating everything I’ve seen or even everything I can remember seeing. I’ve undoubtedly seen more candidates during the late 40s and most of the 50s (when I had relatively easy access to all the films shown at the theaters operated by my grandfather), and during those subsequent periods when I’ve worked as a professional reviewer in London (1974-76), New York (1979-81), and Chicago (1987-2002), though I also saw a good many films during my five years in Paris preceding my first reviewing post (1969-74).

I’ve kept this list in (rough) chronological order and alphabetical order within each year simply as a matter of convenience, and connected a director or filmmaker to each title for the sake of easy identification, not because the name is necessarily that of the most important individual. With the exception of *Corpus Callosum, titles preceded by an asterisk belong to my hundred favorite films — la crème de la crème.

J.R., December 2003

As a partial guide to my extended commentaries on some of these films, the following abbreviations (updated in 2015) are employed:

Abbas Kiarostami (with Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa; Illinois University Press, 2003): AK; Chicago Reader (CR); Dead Man (BFI, 2001): DM; Discovering Orson Welles (University of California Press, 2007): DOW; Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004): EC; Film: The Critic’s Choice (edited by Geoff Andrew; Billboard Books, 2001): FTCC; Film: The Front Line 1983 (Arden Press, 1983): FTFL; Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia (University of Chicago Press, 2010): GCHC; Greed (BFI, 1992) G; jonathanrosenbaum.net: JRN; Midnight Movies (with J. Hoberman; Da Capo, 1991): MM; Monthly Film Bulletin: MFB; Movie Mutations: The Changing Face of World Cinephilia (coedited with Adrian Martin; BFI, 2003): MMCFWC; Movies as Politics (University of California Press, 1997): MAP; Movie Wars (a cappella, 2000): MW; Moving Places: A Life at the Movies (University of California Press, 1995): MP; Placing Movies: The Practice of Film Criticism (University of California Press, 1995): PM.


December 2002



The Adventures of Hajji Baba (Weis)

The Barefoot Contessa (Mankiewicz)

Chikamatsu Monogatari (The Crucified Lovers, Mizoguchi) (MFB, JRN)

Executive Suite (Wise)

It Should Happen To You (Cukor)

*Johnny Guitar (Ray) (MAP, EC, JRN)

Mr. Hulot’s Holiday (Tati) (JRN)

*Rear Window (Hitchcock) (EC, JRN)

Red Garters (Marshall) (JRN)

River of No Return (Preminger)

*The Saga of Anatahan (Sternberg) (PM, JRN)

*Sansho the Bailiff (Mizoguchi)

Senso (Visconti)

A Star is Born (Cukor) (GCHC, JRN)

*Track of the Cat (William Wellman) (JRN)

The Wages of Fear (Henri-Georges Clouzot) (CR, JRN)



Artists and Models (Tashlin) (EC, JRN)

Bad Day at Black Rock (John Sturges)

The Cobweb (Minnelli)

East of Eden (Kazan) (JRN)

The Eddy Duchin Story (Sidney) (JRN)

Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich)

The Lady Without Camelias (Antonioni) (MFB, JRN)

Land of the Pharaohs (Hawks)

Lola Montès (Ophüls)

The Long Gray Line (Ford)

The Man with the Golden Arm (Preminger) (CR, EC, JRN)

Moonfleet (Lang) (CR, JRN)

Mr. Arkadin (Welles) (MAP, DOW, JRN)

The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton)

*Ordet (Dreyer) (GCHC, JRN)

The Phenix City Story (Karlson) (EC, JRN)

Rebel Without a Cause (Ray) (MAP, EC, JRN)

Salt of the Earth (Herbert Biberman) (PM, JRN)

Sawdust and Tinsel (Bergman) (CR, JRN)

Shin Heike Monogatari (New Tales of the Taira Clan, Mizoguchi)

The Trouble with Harry (Hitchcock)

Wichita (J. Tourneur) (GCHC, JRN)



Aparajito (Satyajit Ray)

Baby Doll (Kazan) (MP, JRN)

Bhowani Junction (Cukor)

Bigger Than Life (1956)(Ray) (MAP, JRN)

Forbidden Planet (Fred McLeod Wilcox)

The Fountain of Youth (Welles) (PM, DOW, JRN)

The Girl Can’t Help It (Tashlin) (EC, JNR)

*Guys and Dolls (Mankiewicz) (JNR)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel)

*The Killing (Stanley Kubrick) (JNR)

*A Man Escaped (Bresson) (JNR)

The Searchers (Ford)

Toute la mémoire du monde (Resnais)

While the City Sleeps (Lang)



An Affair to Remember (McCarey) (JRN)

Bitter Victory (Ray) (GCHC, JRN)

Forty Guns (Fuller) (JRN)

The House of the Angel (Leopoldo Torre Nilsson)

A King in New York (Chaplin) (GCHC, JRN)

Kiss (Yasuzo Masumura) (MMCFWC, JRN)

Les Maîtres fous (Jean Rouch) (JRN)

Paths of Glory (Kubrick) (JRN)

Run of the Arrow (Fuller)

Saint Joan (Preminger) (CR, JRN)

Sweet Smell of Success (Alexander Mackendrick)

This Could Be the Night (Wise)

Twelve Angry Men (Sidney Lumet)

Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (Tashlin) (EC, CR, JRN)

The Wrong Man (Hitchcock) (JRN)



Ajantrik (Pathetic Fallacy, Ritwik Ghatak) (GCHC, JRN)

Ashes and Diamonds (Andrzej Wajda) (FTCC, JRN)

Curse of the Demon (J. Tourneur) (JRN)

Gigi (Minnelli)

*India (Rossellini) (CR, JRN)

Man of the West (Anthony Mann) (CR, EC, JRN)

Les mistons (François Truffaut)

Mon oncle (Tati) (JRN)

Murder by Contract (Irving Lerner) (JRN)

Party Girl (Ray) (MAP, EC, JRN)

Rock-a-bye Baby (Tashlin) (EC, JRN)

Une simple histoire (Marcel Hanoun) (JRN)

The Tarnished Angels (Sirk)

A Time to Love and a Time to Die (Sirk)

Touch of Evil (Welles) (DOW, JRN)

Vertigo (Hitchcock)

Wind Across the Everglades (Ray) (MAP, EC, CR, JRN )



Anatomy of a Murder (Preminger) (EC, CR, JRN)

L’avventura (Antonioni) (PM, JRN)

Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard) (JRN)

The 400 Blows (Truffaut)

*Good Morning (Ozu) (PM, MFB, JRN)

*Hiroshima, mon amour (Resnais) (JRN)

The Magician (Bergman) (JRN)

Nazarin (Buñuel)

North by Northwest (Hitchcock)

Peeping Tom (Powell)

Pickpocket (Bresson) (JRN)

Purple Noon (René Clément)

*Rio Bravo (Hawks)

La Testament d’Orphée (Cocteau)

*The Tiger of Eschnapur & The Indian Tomb (Lang) (EC, JRN)



The Bellboy (Jerry Lewis) (JRN)

Bells Are Ringing (Minnelli)

Les bonnes femmes (Chabrol) (FTCC, JRN)

*The Cloud-Capped Star (Ritwik Ghatak) (GCHC, JRN)

Devi (Satyajit Ray)

Elmer Gantry (Richard Brooks)

The False Student (Masumura) (MMCFWC, JRN)

Let’s Make Love (Cukor)

Psycho (Hitchcock)

The Savage Innocents (Ray) (MAP, EC, JRN)

Shadows (John Cassavetes) (PM, JRN)

Spartacus (Kubrick) (CR, JRN)

The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (Lang) (JRN)

Tirez sur la pianiste (Truffaut) (FTCC, JRN)

Wild River (Kazan) (JRN)

The Young One (Buñuel) (EC, CR, JRN)

Zazie dans le métro (Louis Malle) (JRN)



Accatone (Pier Paolo Pasolini)

Chronicle of a Summer (Rouch/Edgar Morin) (FTCC, JRN)

Cleo from 5 to 7 (Agnès Varda)

The Hustler (Robert Rossen)

The Ladies Man (Lewis) (JRN)

*Last Year at Marienbad (Resnais) (PM, FTCC, CR, JRN)

Lola (Jacques Demy) (EC, JRN)

Paris nous appartient (Jacques Rivette) (JRN)

Viridiana (Buñuel) (GCHC, JRN)

*A Wife Confesses (Masumura) (MMCFWC, JRN)



An Actor’s Revenge (Kon Ichikawa) (CR, JRN)

Confessions of an Opium Eater (Albert Zugsmith) (JRN)

*Eclipse (Antonioni) (PM, FTCC, JRN)

The Exterminating Angel (Buñuel)

*The House is Black (Forugh Farrokhzad) (AK, GCHC, JRN)

The Manchurian Candidate (John Frankenheimer) (PM, JRN)

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Ford)

Le Rendez-Vous de minuit (Roger Leenhardt)

Too Late Blues (Cassavetes) (PM, JRN)



About Something Else (Véra Chytilová)

Adieu Philippine (Jacqies Rozier)

Contempt (Godard) (EC, JRN)

8 ½ (Fellini)

Flaming Creatures (Jack Smith) (EC, JRN)

Méditerranée (Jean-Daniel Pollet) (EC)

Muriel (Resnais)

The Nutty Professor (Lewis) (JRN)

La ricotta (Pasolini)

Shock Corridor (Fuller) (PM, EC, JRN)

The Trial (Welles) (JRN)



Band of Outsiders (Godard) (CR, JRN)

The Battle of Culloden (Peter Watkins)

Before the Revolution (Bernardo Bertolucci) (FTCC, JRN)

Black God, White Devil (Glauber Rocha)

*Gertrud (Dreyer) (PM, JRN)

A Hard Day’s Night (Richard Lester)

I am Cuba (Mikhail Kalatozov) (EC, JRN)

La jetée (Chris Marker)

The Married Woman (Godard)

Noviciat (Noël Burch)

La peau douce (Truffaut)

Point of Order! (Emile De Antonio)

Red Desert (Antonioni)

Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors (Sergei Paradjanov) (JRN)

Zulu (Endfield) (MAP, JRN)



Alphaville (Godard) (PM, FTCC, JRN)

Brick and Mirror (Ebrahim Golestan) (CR, JRN)

The Enchanted Desna (Julia Solntseva) (EC, JRN)

Masculine Feminine (Godard) (CR, JRN)

Not Reconciled (Jean-Marie Straub/Danièle Huillet)  (MFB, JRN)

Red Line 7000 (Hawks)

Report (Bruce Conner)

Vinyl (Andy Warhol) (CR, JRN)



Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky)

*Au Hasard Balthasar (Bresson) (JRN)

*Black Girl (La noire de…, Ousmane Sembene) (MAP, JRN)

Daisies (Chytilová) (FTCC, JRN)

Le deuxième souffle (Melville)

Hawks and Sparrows (Pasolini)

Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (Kenneth Anger)

Lord Love a Duck (George Axelrod) (JRN)

Made in USA (Godard) (PM) (JRN)

Oedipus Rex (Pasolini)

Persona (Bergman)

Red Angel (Masumura) (MMCFWC, JRN)

2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (Godard) (PM, JRN)

The War Game (Watkins)

What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (Woody Allen) (MFB, JRN)



Anticipation (Godard) (JRN)

Belle de jour (Buñuel)

Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn)

China is Near (Marco Bellochio)

La chinoise (Godard)

David Holzman’s Diary (Jim McBride) (GCHC, JRN)

Le Horla (Pollet) (JRN)

Love Affair (Dušan Makavejev)

Mouchette (Bresson)

*Playtime (Tati) (PM, MAP, GCHC, JRN)

Point Blank (John Boorman) (JRN)

La Prise de Pouvoir par Louis XIV (Rossellini) (JRN)

Privilege (Watkins) (JRN)

The Red and the White (Miklós Jancsó) (JRN)

The Shooting (Monte Hellman)

*Wavelength (Michael Snow) (MFB, JRN)

Weekend (Godard) (JRN)

*The Young Girls of Rochefort (Demy) (FTCC, EC, JRN)



The Bridegoom, The Comedienne, and the Pimp (Straub/Huillet)

Death by Hanging (Nagisa Oshima) (GCHC, JRN)

Faces (Cassavetes) (PM, JRN)

Je t’aime, je t’aime (Resnais) (JRN)

The Party (Blake Edwards)

Petulia (Lester)

The Plot Against Harry (Michael Roemer) (MAP, JRN)

Sayat Nova (Paradjanov) (JRN)

The 17th Parallel (Ivens/Marceline Loridan) (CR, JRN)

Stolen Kisses (Truffaut)

Targets (Peter Bogdanovich)

Teorema (Pasolini) (FTCC, JRN)

2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick) (EC, JRN)



*L’amour fou (Rivette) (JRN)

Back and Forth (Snow) (MFB, JRN)

The Bed Sitting Room (Lester)

Boy (Oshima) (GCHC, JRN)

La femme infidèle (Chabrol)

Fuck (Blue Movie, Warhol)

The Grandmother (David Lynch) (MM)

Ice (Robert Kramer)

Katzelmacher (Rainer Werner Fassbinder) (JRN)

Ma nuit chez Maud (Eric Rohmer)

Mister Freedom (William Klein) (CR, JRN)

A Time for Dying (Budd Boetticher)

Tom Tom the Piper’s Son (Ken Jacobs) (JRN)

The Wild Bunch (Peckinpah)



Le cochon (Jean Eustache /Jean-Michel Barjol)

Cuadecuc-Vampir (Pere Portabella) (GCHC, JRN)

Days and Nights in the Forest (Satyajit Ray)

L’enfant sauvage (Truffaut)

Fata Morgana (Werner Herzog)

Performance (Nicolas Roeg/Donald Camell) (MM)

Le petit théâtre de Jean Renoir (Renoir)

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (Wilder)

Scenes from Under Childhood (Stan Brakhage)

The Spider’s Strategm (Bertolucci)

Tristana (Buñuel)

Woodstock (Michael Wadleigh) (CR, JRN)

Zabriskie Point (Antonioni) (PM, JRN)



The Act of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes (Brakhage)

The Death of Maria Malibrun (Werner Schroeter) (JRN)

Deux fois (Jackie Raynal) (FTFL, JRN)

Four Nights of a Dreamer (Bresson, JRN)

How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman (Nelson Pereira Dos Santos) (JRN)

McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman) (EC, JRN)

A New Leaf (Elaine May) (EC, JRN)

(nostalgia) (Hollis Frampton)

*Out 1 (Rivette) (MAP, JRN)

Petit à petit (Rouch)

Red Psalm (Jancsó) (FTCC, JRN)

*La Région Centrale (Snow)

Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (Jonas Mekas) (FTFL, JRN)

Trafic (Tati) (PM, JRN)

Two Lane Blacktop (Hellman) (EC)

Walkabout (Roeg)

Wanda (Barbara Loden)

W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (Makavejev) (FTCC, JRN)


1972 Aguirre, The Wrath of God (Werner Herzog)

*Avanti! (Wilder) (GCHC, JRN)

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Buñuel) (MAP, JRN)

Fat City (Huston) (JRN)

Fellini Roma (Fellini)

The Heartbreak Kid (May) (EC, JRN)

Last Tango in Paris (Bertolucci) (JRN)

*Out 1: Spectre (Rivette) (PM, JRN)

Solaris (Tarkovsky) (MAP, JRN)



Badlands (Terrence Malick) (MFB, JRN)

*F for Fake (Welles) (PM, DOW, JRN)

The Long Goodbye (Altman) (EC, JRN)

Martha (Fassbinder) (GCHC, JRN)

The Mongols (Parviz Kimiav)

The Mother and the Whore (Jean Eustache) (MAP, JRN)

*Narita: Heta Village (Shinsuke Ogawa)

Nathalie Granger (Marguerite Duras) (JRN)

*Parade (Tati) (MAP, GCHC, JRN)

Salome (Carmelo Bene) (PM, JRN)

Some Call it Loving (James B. Harris) (JRN)

Touki Bouki (Djibril Diop Mambéty)

What? (Polanski) (MAP, JRN)



Alice in the Cities (Wim Wenders)

Benilde ou a virgem-mãe (Manoel de Oliveira) (JRN)

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Peckinpah)

*Celine and Julie Go Boating (Rivette) (PM, FTCC, JRN)

Cockfighter (Hellman) (JRN)

The Conversation (Coppola) (JRN)

Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer (Thom Andersen) (JRN)

La gueule ouverte (Maurice Pialat) (JRN)

Lancelot du lac (Bresson) (MAP, JRN)

Occasional Work of a Female Slave (Alexander Kluge) (JRN)

The Phantom of Liberty (Buñuel)

Reason, Debate and a Tale (Ghatak)

Stavisky… (Resnais) (JRN)

*The Traveler (Abbas Kiarostami) (AK)

A Woman Under the Influence (Cassavetes) (MFB, PM, JRN)



Anatomie d’un rapport (Moullet) (GCHC, JRN)

*Barry Lyndon (Kubrick) (JRN)

India Song (Duras) (JRN)

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai de Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman) (PM, JRN)

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (Cassavetes) (PM, JRN)

Mikey and Nicky (May) (EC, JRN)

Night Moves (Penn) (MFB, JRN)

Numéro deux (Godard) (JRN)

The Passenger (Antonioni) (MFB, JRN)

Two Solutions for One Problem (Kiarostami) (AK)

Welfare (Frederick Wiseman)



Breakfast (Snow) (JRN)

Edvard Munch (Watkins)

11 x 14 (James Benning) (FTFL, JRN)

Family Plot (Hitchcock) (PM, JRN)

Ici et ailleurs (Godard) (JRN)

L’innocente (Visconti)

In the Realm of the Senses (Oshima) (GCHC, JRN)

Obsession (Brian De Palma) (MFB, JRN)

Wide Angle Saxon (George Landow)



Annie Hall (Allen)

Le camion (Duras) (JRN)

Citizen’s Band (Jonathan Demme)

Colloque des chiens (Dogs’ Dialogue, Raúl Ruiz) (JRN)

The Devil, Probably (Bresson)

Eraserhead (Lynch) (MM)

Hitler, A Film from Germany (Hans-Jürgen Syberberg)

Last Chants for a Slow Dance (Jon Jost)

One Way Boogie Woogie (Benning) (FTFL, JRN)

Passing Through (Larry Clark) (JRN)

*Providence (Resnais) (PM, JRN)

That Obscure Object of Desire (Buñuel)

Valse Triste (Conner)



La chambre verte (Truffaut) (JRN)

The Discipline of DE (Gus Van Sant)

*Doomed Love (de Oliveira) (PM, JRN)

Filming Othello (Welles) (PM, JRN)

France/tour/détour/deux/enfants (Godard/Miéville)

From the Cloud to the Resistance (Straub-Huillet) (FTFL, JRN)

Genèse d’un repas (Moullet) (GCHC, JRN)

Incontinence (Manuel De Landa) (FTFL, JRN)

Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett) (JRN)

LMNO (Robert Breer) (FTFL, JRN)

Martin (George Romero) (MM)

Mongoloid (Conner)

Les Rendez-vous d’Anna (Akerman) (FTFL, JRN)

The Scenic Route (Mark Rappaport) (FTFL, JRN)



All That Jazz (Bob Fosse)

Apocalypse Now (Coppola) (PM, JRN)

Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens (Russ Meyer)

1941 (Steven Spielberg)

*Percival le Gallois (Eric Rohmer) (FTCC, JRN)

Real Life (Albert Brooks) (JRN)

Richard Pryor–Live in Concert (Jeff Margolis) (JRN)                                                                                                                                                    *Stalker (Tarkovsky) (JRN)

Ticket of No Return (Ulrike Ottinger) (FTFL, JRN)

Wise Blood (Huston)

(to be continued)



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