Nigel Algar

Senior curator, fiction film, BFI National Archive

UK

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Blue Velvet

1986

David Lynch

Citizen Kane

1941

Orson Welles

Johnny Guitar

1954

Nicholas Ray

Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, The

1943

Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger

Night of the Hunter, The

1955

Charles Laughton

Once Upon a Time in the West

1968

Sergio Leone

Port of Shadows

1938

Marcel Carné

Sunset Blvd.

1950

Billy Wilder

Third Man, The

1949

Carol Reed

Tol'able David

1921

Henry King

Comments

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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