Skip to comments.Hitchcock's "Vertigo", Edges Out "Citizen Kane" as the Greatest Movie Ever
Posted on 08/02/2012 7:46:04 AM PDT by OneVike
Ever since 1962, Orson Welles's, "Citizen Kane" has been voted the greatest movie of all time by the British Film Institute's much-respected Greatest Films poll, which it has been taken once every decade since 1952. Vertigo's (trailer below this article) recognition as the best movie ever may have happened because those allowed to participate for the first time are part of bigger and more international list of voters than ever before.
Using the internet for the first time as the main form of communication, 846 critics and 358 film directors all voted for their top 50 films of all time. The list differs between the two groups, because directors like Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen and Mike Leigh ranked "Vertigo" #7, while they voted for Yasujirō Ozu's movie,"Tokyo Story" the best of all time. The directors agreed however with the critics by putting "Citizen Kane" at #2. At the very end of the top 50 list I posted the top 10 directors choices.
You will be able to see the full list of the top 100 in the next issue of Sight & Sound when it hits the stands on Saturday. They will be celebrating their 80th birthday with a revamped look and a new digital edition archive available.
THE TOP 50
Alfred Hitchcock, 1958 (191 votes)
Hitchcock's supreme and most mysterious piece (as cinema and as an emblem of the art). Paranoia and obsession have never looked better--Marco Müller
After half a century of monopolizing the top spot, Citizen Kane was beginning to look smugly inviolable. Call it Schadenfreude, but let's rejoice that this now conventional and ritualised symbol of 'the greatest' has finally been taken down a peg. The accession of Vertigo is hardly in the nature of a coup d'état. Tying for 11th place in 1972, Hitchcock's masterpiece steadily inched up the poll over the next three decades, and by 2002 was clearly the heir apparent. Still, even ardent Wellesians should feel gratified at the modest revolution - if only for the proof that film canons (and the versions of history they legitimate) are not completely fossilised.
There may be no larger significance in the bare fact that a couple of films made in California 17 years apart have traded numerical rankings on a whimsically impressionistic list. Yet the human urge to interpret chance phenomena will not be denied, and Vertigo is a crafty, duplicitous machine for spinning meaning...--Peter Matthews' opening to his new essay on Vertigo in our September issue
2. Citizen Kane
Orson Welles, 1941 (157 votes)
Kane and Vertigo don't top the chart by divine right. But those two films are just still the best at doing what great cinema ought to do: extending the everyday into the visionary--Nigel Andrews
In the last decade I've watched this first feature many times, and each time, it reveals new treasures. Clearly, no single film is the greatest ever made. But if there were one, for me Kane would now be the strongest contender, bar none--Geoff Andrew
All celluloid life is present in Citizen Kane; seeing it for the first or umpteenth time remains a revelation--Trevor Johnston
3. Tokyo Story
Ozu Yasujiro, 1953 (107 votes)
Ozu used to liken himself to a "tofu-maker", in reference to the way his films - at least the post-war ones - were all variations on a small number of themes. So why is it Tokyo Story that is acclaimed by most as his masterpiece? DVD releases have made available such prewar films as I Was Born, But..., and yet the Ozu vote has not been split, and Tokyo Story has actually climbed two places since 2002. It may simply be that in Tokyo Story this most Japanese tofu-maker refined his art to the point of perfection, and crafted a truly universal film about family, time and loss--James Bell
Jean Renoir, 1939 (100 votes)
Only Renoir has managed to express on film the most elevated notion of naturalism, examining this world from a perspective that is dark, cruel but objective, before going on to achieve the serenity of the work of his old age. With him, one has no qualms about using superlatives: La Règle du jeu is quite simply the greatest French film by the greatest of French directors--Olivier Père
FW Murnau, 1927 (93 votes)
When F.W. Murnau left Germany for America in 1926, did cinema foresee what was coming? Did it sense that change was around the corner - that now was the time to fill up on fantasy, delirium and spectacle before talking actors wrenched the art form closer to reality? Many things make this film more than just a morality tale about temptation and lust, a fable about a young husband so crazy with desire for a city girl that he contemplates drowning his wife, an elemental but sweet story of a husband and wife rediscovering their love for each other. Sunrise was an example - perhaps never again repeated on the same scale - of unfettered imagination and the clout of the studio system working together rather than at cross purposes--Isabel Stevens
Stanley Kubrick, 1968 (90 votes)
2001: A Space Odyssey is a stand-along monument, a great visionary leap, unsurpassed in its vision of man and the universe. It was a statement that came at a time which now looks something like the peak of humanity's technological optimism--Roger Ebert
John Ford, 1956 (78 votes)
Do the fluctuations in popularity of John Ford's intimate revenge epic - no appearance in either critics' or directors' top tens in 2002, but fifth in the 1992 critics' poll - reflect the shifts in popularity of the western? It could be a case of this being a western for people who don't much care for them, but I suspect it's more to do with John Ford's stock having risen higher than ever this past decade and the citing of his influence in the unlikeliest of places in recent cinema--Kieron Corless
Dziga Vertov, 1939 (68 votes)
Is Dziga Vertov's cine-city symphony a film whose time has finally come? Ranked only no. 27 in our last critics' poll, it now displaces Eisenstein's erstwhile perennial Battleship Potemkin as the Constructivist Soviet silent of choice. Like Eisenstein's warhorse, it's an agit-experiment that sees montage as the means to a revolutionary consciousness; but rather than proceeding through fable and illusion, it's explicitly engaged both with recording the modern urban everyday (which makes it the top documentary in our poll) and with its representation back to its participant-subjects (thus the top meta-movie)--Nick Bradshaw
Carl Dreyer, 1927 (65 votes)
Joan was and remains an unassailable giant of early cinema, a transcendental film comprising tears, fire and madness that relies on extreme close-ups of the human face. Over the years it has often been a difficult film to see, but even during its lost years Joan has remained embedded in the critical consciousness, thanks to the strength of its early reception, the striking stills that appeared in film books, its presence in Godard's Vivre sa vie and recently a series of unforgettable live screenings. In 2010 it was designated the most influential film of all time in the Toronto International Film Festival's 'Essential 100' list, where Jonathan Rosenbaum described it as "the pinnacle of silent cinema - and perhaps of the cinema itself"--Jane Giles
Federico Fellini, 1963 (64 votes)
This article has been presented in full, unless you wishto
see the movie trailer for "Vertigo", there is no need to
visit my blog. However, a complimentary hit and maybe
a comment if you so desire would not be looked down upon.
space or two
“846 critics and 358 film directors all voted”
That’s all I needed to read.
Neither of them is on my list of good movies.
Yentl should have made the top 5. /s
And how is Apocalypse Now higher on the list? These people are on drugs.
Hey, that’s more than usually voted. So it would be more accurate than it was for the last 50 years when Citizen Kane won. Plus many of the new critics and directors are from America.
After all, we are talking about an institution that only cares what the movie critics think, not you. They just want your money, not your opinion.
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure? Hello!
If all “Conservatives” were as loathsome as Jimmy Stewart was as a human being, this would be a sorry world indeed.
I never got the fuss about “Citizen Kane”. I found it good, but not great, certainly not the “greatest”. Thought I might be missing something, and gave it a second and a third chance. Doesn’t work for me.
War and Peace, 1973 (TV series), based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy; John Howard Davies, director; Anthony Hopkins as PierreI also recommend all of the novels on which these movies are based.
Pride and Prejudice, 1995 (TV series), based on the novel by Jane Austen; Simon Langton, director; Jennifer Ehle; Colin Firth
Shichinin no samurai (Seven Samurai), 1954: Akira Kurosawa, director
I, Claudius, 1976 (TV series), based on the novel by Robert Graves; Herbert Wise, director; Derek Jacobi; Sian Phillips
Gone with the Wind, 1939, based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland
Tomorrow, 1972 (TV), based on the short story by William Faulkner; Joseph Anthony, II, director; Robert Duvall
Los Olvidados, 1950; Luis Bunuel, director
East of Eden, 1955, based on the novel by John Steinbeck; Elia Kazan, director; James Dean; Julie Harris
The Godfather, Part I, 1972, based on the novel by Mario Puzo: Francis Ford Coppola, director; Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall
The Godfather, Part II, 1974: Francis Ford Coppola, director; Al Pacino, Robert Duvall
My favorites didn’t make the list. Casablanca and High Noon.
Alfred Hitchcock was embittered at the critical and commercial failure of the film in 1958. He blamed this on James Stewart for "looking too old" to attract audiences any more. Hitchcock never worked with Stewart, previously one of his favorite collaborators, again.
It's good to see poor Jimmy Stewart vindicated.
Ridiculous. Vertigo isn’t even Hitchcock’s best film.
I think it’s hard to get the full impact of Kane if you weren’t around to see it when it came out. A lot of filmmaking techniques that were pioneered in CK are commonplace nowadays, so most people see it and don’t understand what the big deal is about.
James Stewart is my favorite actor and I’m always pretty keen on Hitchcock, but “Vertigo” was never particularly a favorite of mine. Been many years since I last saw it, but I always thought it a bit uneven and far-fetched.
As for “Citizen Kane,” well, it’s nowhere near the top in terms of entertainment, but I could always understand why the critics put it on a pedestal. Especially if one puts it in its historical context of 1941, when it would have seemed wildly innovative, in so many different ways, from structure (flashbacks) to little things like showing off ceilings, etc. You could just see how its influence started to affect films immediately.
All I remember about Vertigo as a kid in 1958 was the TV plug with the bulging staring eye that turned into the rotating vortex that got closer and closer and the creepy neenie noo nee music. Gave me nightmares (the worst ones ever since always involve one big eye).
Then I saw the movie as an adult. It was a letdown, I was expecting Vincent Price gooseflesh instead all I can recall is a series of anguished expressions and little action.
“I think its hard to get the full impact of Kane if you werent around to see it when it came out. A lot of filmmaking techniques that were pioneered in CK are commonplace nowadays, so most people see it and dont understand what the big deal is about.”
That part I get completely. But that was then; this is now. By that standard, “A Trip To The Moon” should be at the top, or very close to it.
If the Godfather isn't near the top, the list is bogus!
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