41. Vertigo (US 1958)
After a good opening scene (the rooftop chase), Vertigo takes an age to get going. and some of the earlier parts of the film are just embarrassing (James Stewart's fall from the step ladder: what a big puff). The film starts to gel after about half an hour and then it's easy to see why its critical reputation is so high. A mesmerising and beautiful film with a haunting Bernard Herrmann score. It's a testament to Hitchcock's talents that he has his audience identifying with and caring for a lead character whose motives are so suspect.
42. Les Diaboliques (France 1959)
More Vera Clouzot for the connoisseur. Classy French thriller set in a seedy public school. Ripped off by the crappy Michael Caine film 'Deathtrap' and appallingly remade as a Sharon Stone 'vehicle'. Best use of bisected table tennis balls in a black and white French film. (Apart from 'La Haine'.)
43. Dead Ringers (Canada 1988)
I've always liked David Cronenberg's films. Some are terrible (Crash, Existenz), but the best of them are original, intense and usually disgusting. Dead Ringers is the story of obsessed and obsessive gynaecologist twins and involves the degeneration of the central characters (obviously) and the usual metaphysical and body horror concerns of the director. Cronenberg even manages to elicit a decent performance from the less than chameleon like Jeremy Irons.
One of the great fanny doctor films.
44. Vault of Horror (GB 1972)
British portmanteau pulp horror so beloved of all 70s kids who never, ever went to bed. Particular highlights include Anna and Daniel Massey in a vampire restaurant ("How were your clots, sir?")
Even better is houseproud Terry-Thomas being literally hammered and then storage jarred by slattern Glynis Johns:
"Can't you do anything neatly? Can't you do ANYTHING neatly?"
45. Kingpin (US 1997)
The Farrelly brothers 'Citizen Kane' according to one critic. A profane Pilgrim's Progress, charting the redemption of one armed bowling champ Roy Munton. Some of the most disgusting (but still funny, there is a difference) jokes in cinema history including the drinking of a bucket of bull semen, catapulted gum detritus and the pleasuring of the mintiest woman in Christendom.
Woody Harrelson's comedic performance is outstanding and there are incredible shifts in tone and levels of reality (particularly the black comedy/pathos/bathos swing when Munson's artificial hand is swept up by an uncaring bowling alley cleaner).
46. The Long Good Friday (GB 1979)
I saw this recently and it wasn't the film I remembered from the video nasty era of the early 80s (particular highlight: the whisky bottling of actor Charlie Casualty). Neither was it a higher quality Euston films adjunct. The Long Good Friday contains some over familiar faces, over used London locations and Sweeneyesque dialect, but that's where the similarity ends. An often hallucinatory film (especially with the elimination of diegetic sound and used to great effect in the two major through-London car journeys) more in line with Francesco Rosi's 'Illustrious Corpses' than the Loaded generation's pigeon holing. A brilliant film with a(n obvious) career best performance from Bob Hoskins.
Watch this film and then watch '51st State' to see the fine line between genius and total and utter abomination.
47. Black Narcissus (GB 1947)
Not a huge Powell and Pressburger fan, but this is scary. East v West, Catholicism v X number of oriental religions, chastity v indulgence and lots of other clever and not so clever counterpointing.
A visceral and spiritual work of art, and one of Deborah Kerr's few non-cack films.
48. Eureka (GB 1982)
One of those films that just seems to have disappeared (rather like Stacy Keach's 'Class of 1999', the only film I know of featuring belligerent android supply teachers) and thus gaining legendary status amongst those of us who watched it drunk the first time. Gene Hackman plays a gold/oil prospector who strikes rich too early and spends the rest of his time in a kind of living purgatory until the Grim Reaper arrives. Citizen Kane/Orson Welles imagery abounds and much like the career of Welles, all the best bits of this film (especially the explosive oil strike) are to be had early on.
49. The Wanderers
A bit of dog's breakfast this one. Philip Kaufmann can't decide if he's making a teenage nostalgia flick, a broad action comedy or a slice of tragic social realism. The switches in mood and genre can be disconcerting, but this is superior post-alehouse fare.
Writer Richard 's romanticised reminiscences gangs of early 60s Brooklyn (does no-one live in Queens or Staten Island?) provide the source material for an uneven and episodic film. There are many great sequences (best of which is the massed, climactic gang fight) and one or two disturbing, incongruous scenes, the strangest of which is the murder of Wanderer-cum-baldy Turkey (I know that doesn't sound good, but you'll have to watch it) at the hands of the sadistic, stereotyped Irish hoodlums, The Ducky Boys (a gang inspired by Dick Emery's legendary homosexual 'character').
But is it better than......
50. The Warriors (US 1979)
Sol Yurick's novel is rubbish; a two bob Clockwork Orange-style dystopian vision of America and New York. Walter Hill's film is much better with its allusions to ancient Greek and Persian literature and its barrel of absolutely corking fisticuffs.
rry the Dog, just before his unfortunate demise.)
Lots and lots of quotable dialogue and memorable set pieces, but my favourite shot is of a baseball uniform clad gang, (backlit and accompanied by an early synthesised power chord) appearing at the top of a steep street as they pursue Ajax (James Remar) and his mate.
Swann (Michael Beck, brother of Dad's Army's James) is a bit disappointing.