Nigel Algar

Senior curator, fiction film, BFI National Archive


Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Blue Velvet


David Lynch

Citizen Kane


Orson Welles

Johnny Guitar


Nicholas Ray

Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, The


Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger

Night of the Hunter, The


Charles Laughton

Once Upon a Time in the West


Sergio Leone

Port of Shadows


Marcel Carné

Sunset Blvd.


Billy Wilder

Third Man, The


Carol Reed

Tol'able David


Henry King


The ‘greatest’? That’s a stretch, but these are all films that have enjoyed an extended life both in the film culture at large and in my own mind, from the first time I saw them until today. What runs through all these films is the sheer pleasure of exploring the expressive possibilities of the medium. The predominant mood seems to be sadness and the spirit of noir hovers over many of them without definitively settling on a single title. Last week I might have chosen other films, tomorrow I could choose a different set, but I suspect that they would all share these characteristics.

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