Philip Molloy

Presenter, The Picture Show, Newstalk Radio

Ireland

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

1963

Federico Fellini

Citizen Kane

1941

Orson Welles

Dr. Strangelove

1963

Stanley Kubrick

Godfather: Part II, The

1974

Francis Ford Coppola

Lawrence of Arabia

1962

David Lean

Raging Bull

1980

Martin Scorsese

Règle du jeu, La

1939

Jean Renoir

Searchers, The

1956

John Ford

Some Like It Hot

1959

Billy Wilder

Vertigo

1958

Alfred Hitchcock

Comments

Citizen Kane still feels, and seems, pitch perfect in every way. It epitomises all that cinema can be in terms of scope, ambition and narrative power. It shouldn’t make sense, it shouldn’t be such a complete film from such a young, inexperienced moviemaker, but it is. The Searchers is a movie that balances our sympathy for a murderous racist as he searches both a real and existential landscape for his niece and himself. Ford’s unerring eye for composition makes it the most strikingly beautiful Western in the whole cannon. It’s as if Ford and Wayne had been working up to it for decades. La règle du jeu is the most acutely observed and technically accomplished social comedy in cinema. In a rich tableaux, Renoir’s wide-ranging and passionately felt vision is filtered through the most delicious irony. Maybe it could only have been made by a Frenchman. If, as is said, 1939 is the greatest year in film history, this is a good part of the reason why. Dr. Strangelove is as harsh and dark an anti-war commentary as the cinema has produced. Moving back and forth between its three main locations, the comedy and suspense feed off each other as Kubrick builds a monumental treatise on the destiny of man. 8½ is the best of all films about filmmaking. Having set out to make something different and having found himself creatively blocked, Fellini noted the reaction – of collaborators, the media, producers and the public – and made it a richly resonant treatise on the artist’s relationship with his art. It is necessary to have a Hitchcock and Vertigo, that bleak, cynical examination of guilt and obsession, presents the Master Of Suspense at the top of his game. One of those great movies that was underappreciated on first release, it has since grown in stature and influence to such an extent that it now mocks that initial reception. Lawrence Of Arabia is, of course, the functioning definition of epic cinema, the idea of a personal story told with integrity and set against a background of social and political upheaval. As with all these films, it has measured itself positively against the harshest critic: time itself. “That’s my family, Kay, it’s not me.” When Michael Corleone utters these words to his WASP girlfriend at his sister’s wedding in The Godfather he is setting up the sequel as certainly as if it had all been pre-planned. The second movie is an answer to this line of dialogue, an operatic crime melodrama that seems to cover all the great themes of classical drama. Raging Bull is a ferocious examination of Scorsese’s constant theme – men and male values – delivered with a towering command of cinema. The scene in which Jake La Motta beats the prison cell wall and cries that he is not an animal is as poignant and dramatically powerful as anything we have seen in cinema. Some Like It Hot is a spritely farce and well-honed cross-dressing comedy, but most of all it is the ultimate star vehicle in which Marilyn Monroe and the film camera make love to one another.

Latest from the BFI

  • Latest from the BFI

    Latest news, features and opinion.

More information

Films, TV and people

  • Films, TV and people

    Film lists and highlights from BFI Player.

More information

Sight & Sound magazine

  • Sight & Sound magazine

    Reviews, interviews and features from the international film magazine.

More information

Back to the top