Why are some films regarded as classics, worthy of entry into the canon of film history? Which sorts of films make the cut and why? Movie Greats questions how cinema is ranked and, in doing so, uncovers a history of critical conflict, with different aesthetic positions battling for dominance. The films examined range across the history of cinema: The Battleship Potemkin, The 39 Steps, Modern Times, Citizen Kane, It's a Wonderful Life, Black Narcissus, The Night of the Hunter, Lawrence of Arabia, 8*, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Godfather, Raging Bull, The Piano and Kill Bill: Vol. 1. Each chapter opens with a brief summary of the film's plot and goes on to discuss the historical context, the key individuals who made the film, and initial and subsequent popular and critical responses. Students studying the history of film, canon formation or film aesthetics will find this book relevant, provocative and absorbing.
Philip Gillett is an independent film critic and writer and author of The British Working Class in Postwar Film.
1. So Who Says It's Great? 2. The Celluloid Canon 3. The Battleship Potemkin (USSR, 1925): The Politics of the Cinema 4. The 39 Steps (UK, 1935): Romance on the Run 5. Modern Times (USA, 1936): A Tramp for All Seasons 6. Citizen Kane (USA, 1941): The Tragedy of Ambition 7. It's a Wonderful Life (USA, 1946): Seeking the American Hero 8. Black Narcissus (UK, 1947): Nuns in Exotic Places 9. The Night of the Hunter (USA, 1955): Return of the Big Bad Wolf 10. Lawrence of Arabia (UK, 1962): An Englishman in the Sun 11. 8 (Italy/France, 1963): The Director as Superstar 12. 2001: A Space Odyssey (UK/USA, 1968): The Long Voyage to Destiny 13. The Godfather (USA, 1972): Keeping It in the Family 14. Raging Bull (USA, 1980): The Drama of the Fight 15. The Piano (Australia/New Zealand/France, 1993): Love in a Rough Place 16. Kill Bill: Volume. 1 (USA, 2003): Violence as Art 17. The Tarnish on the Tinsel Notes Further Reading Bibliography Index