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10 May, 2006

Most influential

Jim Emerson, editor of, proposes a list of the 102 most influential 'must-see' films in cinema history (from a US point-of-view, of course).  It must be stressed that these aren't supposed to be the 102 best films, or most enjoyable, but specifically the most influential: those one 'needs' to have seen in order to participate in an informed discussion of the topic, and to spot and understand references made in subsequent films.

They're the common cultural currency of our time, the basic cinematic texts that everyone should know, at minimum, to be somewhat 'movie-literate'. You can't fully understand a contemporary work of art or pop culture unless you know at least something about its heritage – just as Robert Altman's 'The Long Goodbye' would be meaningless without the classic private eye movies and films noir it invokes and subverts. It's like jazz: You have to know the notes Altman isn't playing to understand how he's riffing on and around the familiar melody of the generic private detective movie.
Those in bold are the ones I've seen. How about you?

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
The 400 Blows (1959)
8 1/2 (1963)
Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)
Alien (1979)
All About Eve (1950)
Annie Hall (1977)
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Bambi (1942)
The Battleship Potemkin (1925)
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
The Big Red One (1980)
The Bicycle Thief (1949)
The Big Sleep (1946)
Blade Runner (1982)
Blowup (1966)
Blue Velvet (1986)
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Breathless (1959)
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Carrie (1975)
Casablanca (1942)
Un Chien Andalou (1928)
Les Enfants du Paradis (1945)
Chinatown (1974)
Citizen Kane (1941)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
The Crying Game (1992)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Days of Heaven (1978)
Dirty Harry (1971)
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
Do the Right Thing (1989)
La Dolce Vita (1960)
Double Indemnity (1944)
Dr. Strangelove (1964)
Duck Soup (1933)
E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Easy Rider (1969)
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The Exorcist (1973)
Fargo (1995)
Fight Club (1999)
Frankenstein (1931)
The General (1927)
The Godfather, The Godfather, Part II (1972, 1974)
Gone With the Wind (1939)
GoodFellas (1990)
The Graduate (1967)
Halloween (1978)
A Hard Day's Night (1964)
Intolerance (1916)
It's a Gift (1934)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Jaws (1975)
The Lady Eve (1941)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
M (1931)
Mad Max 2 / The Road Warrior (1981)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Metropolis (1926)
Modern Times (1936)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Nashville (1975)
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
North by Northwest (1959)
Nosferatu (1922)
On the Waterfront (1954)
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
Out of the Past (1947)
Persona (1966)
Pink Flamingos (1972)
Psycho (1960)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Rashomon (1950)
Rear Window (1954)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Red River (1948)
Repulsion (1965)
The Rules of the Game (1939)
Scarface (1932)
The Scarlet Empress (1934)
Schindler's List (1993)
The Searchers (1956)
The Seven Samurai (1954)
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
A Star Is Born (1954)
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Taxi Driver (1976)
The Third Man (1949)
Tokyo Story (1953)
Touch of Evil (1958)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
Trouble in Paradise (1932)
Vertigo (1958)
West Side Story (1961)
The Wild Bunch (1969)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)

That's 33; not many, though I'm being fairly strict in only noting those I have seen and remember; I'm pretty sure another 5-6 have registered on my retinas without entering long-term memory.

Must try harder....


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