They Shoot Pictures Don’t They has released their latest roundup of the 1,000 greatest movies as judged by ALL of the various polls taken around the world. This is by far the most comprehensive effort I know of but, alas, grave injustices still abound, so I’ve made a short list of six films I really don’t think any list of a thousand should be without (PLEASE NOTE: My complaint is not with TSPDT–they just collect the data, an invaluable and no doubt monumental task. The fault, as usual, is with the professionals who overlook the obvious when compiling their lists!):

1) The T.A.M.I. Show (1964, Steve Binder) I never trust any Top Ten that doesn’t include this, the greatest concert film ever made by miles and miles. Hence, I’ve never trusted any Top Ten that has ever been compiled by a professional critics’ or directors’ poll. You can imagine what I think about it being left out of the top freaking thousand!

2) The Miracle Worker (1962, Arthur Penn) Despite Penn’s considerable presence, an actor’s movie and therefore (at least unofficially) ineligible. That’s all I can figure. And, hey, I know some exceptions are still sneaking on there. But don’t worry. The way things are trending, they should have A Streetcar Named Desire booted from this list within a year or two. I think we all know the computers will win in the end.

3) 3:10 to Yuma (1957, Delmer Daves) Speaking of actor’s movies…

4) The Long Good Friday (1980, John MacKenzie) The greatest gangster picture ever made, with two of the finest performances (by Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren) ever caught on film–and, incidentally, that’s what they feel like…caught. It kicks the original Scarface and White Heat to pieces at the gut level, and beats the first two Godfather films rather handily as Shakespearan drama. Had it been made in America, where gangster classics are supposed to be made–and helmed by a pantheon director, the way classics of every sort are supposed to be–it would be resting comfortably in the top fifty at the very least.

5) WInchester ’73 (1950, Anthony Mann) Mann, who is certainly one of the dozen or so greatest American directors, and probably one of the top half-dozen, should have at least seven or eight on this list–most in the upper half. Instead, he barely scraped onto the list twice, and very near the bottom. Weird. Somebody should tell the world’s film critics that John Ford and Howard Hawks, incomparable and unassailable as they are, weren’t the only people in Golden Age Hollywood who made truly great films that happened to be westerns.

6) The Americanization of Emily (1966, Arthur Hiller) A writer’s movie (Paddy Chayevsky as it happens). They tend to get even less credit than actors. I mean, when you can’t make it onto a list of a thousand compiled almost entirely by liberals with a pitch-black anti-war comedy made just as the Vietnam War got going hot and heavy, (and with James Garner, Julie Andrews, James Coburn and especially Melvyn Douglas all at their very, very best) it really does make me wonder what this world is coming to!

Please do click through to the list and feel free to add your own comments here. TSPDT does a great job of breaking their lists down every which a way so it’s a feast for film buffs of every stripe.

And, oh, just one final thought:

William Wellman, William Wellman, wherefore art thou William Wellman?

I mean….not one? On a list of thousand? Seriously?

Whoo boy.



  1. I haven’t gone through the list, so I’ll confine myself to a few of the omissions you’ve mentioned.
    3:10 to Yuma, and Delmer Daves in general, is criminally underrated. Both the film and the director have their fans but never seem to get the credit they deserve.
    As someone who is into westerns, Winchester 73 immediately jumped out at me. Mann’s critical stock has risen over the years but, again, he’s nowhere near as celebrated as he ought to be.
    And Wellman? I feel this man really was an artist and yet few people are familiar with his name or his work.

    Generally, lists have ceased to annoy me. Their very nature means they will have to be limited and leave stuff out – having tried to make a few myself, I know how difficult it becomes once you a finite number of places and a near infinite number of choices. Still, one thousand is a big list, and glaring omissions do stand out once you expand the parameters.

    • I do try not to let lists annoy me either, but once in a while they still get under my skin! I wasn’t really surprised to find Daves ignored, much as I think that’s a terrible oversight. (Just watched The Last Wagon by the way and it’s terrific. Thanks very much for the recommendation!)…

      I was, however, surprised to find Mann barely mentioned and Wellman not at all, if only because of the number of times I’ve seen them mentioned by hardcore film buffs as some sort of “alternative” to Ford and/or Hawks. Then again, I should probably know better than to trust anyone who thinks we need alternatives to greatness!

      As for Wellman, I wonder if one of the reasons he’s so underrated is because he’s not entirely identifiable with a particular genre? Much as Hawks, for instance, is known for making some sort of masterpiece in virtually every genre, I think peoople still most strongly identify him with screwball comedies and/or westerns. With Wellman, I’m not so sure. But, as you say, a thousand is an awfully big list for someone of his caliber to left off of.

Leave a Reply