David Thompson

Film writer; arts documentary maker


Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for


Federico Fellini

Atalante, L'


Jean Vigo

Chimes at Midnight


Orson Welles

Conformist, The


Bernardo Bertolucci

Goto, Island of Love


Walerian Borowczyk

Pandora's Box


G W Pabst

Raging Bull


Martin Scorsese

Règle du jeu, La


Jean Renoir

Shanghai Express


Josef von Sternberg



Alfred Hitchcock


This is not so different from my list of 20 years ago. The few changes reflect what I have seen and reseen since and the research I did for documentaries I’ve made on filmmakers. Thus, Renoir steps in for Powell and Pressburger, Von Sternberg replaces Von Stroheim. But ten is too short a list – so many great filmmakers (Bresson, Mizoguchi, Ophüls, Kubrick, Hawks, Bergman, Buñuel, to name just a few) have to be left off, partly because it’s so hard to choose just one film from their complete works. Therefore a choice is impossibly selective, and in my case conceived perhaps with a nod to the dream element of cinema (and I could certainly dream about Louise Brooks for a long time). Chimes rather than Kane? It just has such a great heart (and Shakespeare). If I really have to choose one title, it remains the one by Vigo, for his deeply moving and poetic sense of just about everything cinema can offer. It’s also one of sexiest films ever made. Curiously, L’Atalante dropped off the ten greatest list last time round; I hope I can help return it to its rightful place.

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