CRF Blog

List of the Day: The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time

by Bill Hayes

The British Film Institute has ranked The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time. From the list:

1. Vertigo, 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 monopolising 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 [more]