18 July 2006

How To Be A Film Buff

Andrew Collins, film critic for Radio Times magazine, has produced a list of twenty-five essential films, called How To Be A Film Buff. Each entry also has an alternative, making a total of fifty films. The full list is as follows:
  • Casablanca (or Citizen Kane)
  • The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari (or Nosferatu)
  • Blade Runner (or 2001: A Space Odyssey)
  • A Matter Of Life & Death (or The Red Shoes)
  • Out Of The Past (or The Big Sleep)
  • La Dolce Vita (or Bicycle Thieves)
  • High Noon (or The Searchers)
  • Rear Window (or Psycho)
  • The Hidden Fortress (or Rashomon)
  • Bonnie & Clyde (or Easy Rider)
  • Bringing Up Baby (or His Girl Friday)
  • The Hills Have Eyes (or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
  • Un Chien Andalou (or L'Age d'Or)
  • Armageddon (or Con Air)
  • Heaven's Gate (or Dances With Wolves)
  • Annie Hall (or Manhattan)
  • Singin' In The Rain (or An American In Paris)
  • Paths Of Glory (or A Few Good Men)
  • Performance (or Blow-Up)
  • Bride Of Frankenstein (or Dracula)
  • Blackboards (or The Apple)
  • The Day The Earth Stood Still (or Invasion Of The Body-Snatchers)
  • Pulp Fiction (or Reservoir Dogs)
  • Shoah (or Night & Fog)
  • Winter Light (or The Silence)
Mostly, the alternate choices are films of equal quality to their main counterparts, though not in all cases. Bride Of Frankenstein, for example, is paired with the much weaker Dracula. (Paths Of Glory has A Few Good Men as its alternate choice, but I think we all know that, in this case, no alternative is necessary, least of all A Few Good Men.) It's strange that La Dolce Vita and Bicycle Thieves are paired, as they seem more like opposites. There is a choice between Armageddon or Con Air - how about a third choice of 'neither'?

There is a distinct lack of epics here: no Gone With The Wind, no Metropolis, no Apocalypse Now, and no Lawrence Of Arabia. Unusual, and certainly regrettable, is the lack of The Godfather. The biggest surprise, though, is that Citizen Kane is one of the alternative choices and not on the main list: it's an essential film, especially in a list titled How To Be A Film Buff.