70. A Bout de Souffle (France 1959)

Ne'er do well Parisian kills a policeman and goes on the run with his scrawny American girlfriend.

 

An influential work which disregarded many of the conventions of narrative film to create its own (fairly) unique entity. A Bout de Souffle's influence can be seen to this day, in mainstream blockbusters, adverts and in the work of showoff documentary directors. The film can be a bit pretentious at times, but  originality  is always worth perseverance.

And by the way,  wanky, thieving Home Counties student Stephen Lake* stole my copy of this film. Not so bothered about A Bout (as we bohemians casually refer to it) but it also had my Everton v Wimbledon/Barry Horne/Staying up Match of the Day on the same tape.

*Richard O'Sullivan = Robin Tripp  Stephen Lake = Robin Twatt

71. Days of Heaven (US 1978)

A tragic love triangle develops on the wheat plains of mid west America in the late nineteenth century.

Possibly the best photography (by Nestor Almendros) of any film and a haunting score from Ennio Morricone.

Director Terence Malick disappeared from view for over 20 years after this film was made. One of the main things that upset him was that Richard 'Wanker' Gere refused to cut his hair once on the set of the film. Another reason to hate him (along with Pretty Woman, American Gigolo and Breathless. And An Officer and a Gentleman. Obviously).

 

72. Candyman (US 1994)

Unlikely academic Virginia Madsen falls victim to pre-ordained tragedy and disgrace when her studies take her to the 'projects' of Chicago.

David Cronenberg says that however bad a horror film is, "at least it's out there." This is pulp horror with a certain soul and something to say about the class divide.

Clive Barker's original story is set in Liverpool, but all big cities have universities and an underclass. There are elements of Hitchcock's 'wronged man' device and ideas about fate which date back to Greek drama, but the summoning of the eponymous Candyman from his netherworld is pure playground psychodrama.

An evocative performance from Madsen, and I felt so sorry for her that there was no way that I was going to look at her Rubensesque norks in the film's gratuitous bathing scene.

Virginia Madsen: Senior Home Ec 'lecturer' at Hugh Baird.

73. Brighton Rock (GB 1949)

Most people see Dicky Attenborough as the das luvvy of recent times, but forget that he has a small back catalogue of great film roles. His performance as teenage gangster Pinky in Brighton Rock is the highlight of this nasty (for its time) and untypical forties British film (which are nearly always terrible).

The standout moment is Pinky recording his voice on to an early shellac recording booth. His girlfriend thinks he is professing his undying love, but his actual words are:

"I suppose you think I'm in here saying 'I love you,'; well I don't. I 'ate you' you little slut."

74. Jason and the Argonauts (GB 1963)

Literate script (by classics scholar Beverley Cross, good Bernard Herrmann score and  impressive Ray Harryhausen monsters (particularly Talos, the man of bronze and the army of skeletons).

Patrick Troughton should have been a big star.

Honor Blackman: sees 'The Upper Hand' in the oracle.

 

Patrick Troughton unfortunately can't see that shitty sitcom he was to star in with Nicholas Lyndhurst.

 

Tasteless joke removed at last minute.......

65 White Heat (US 1947)

Oedipal gangster James Cagney finds an ironic method of becoming 'top of the world'.

A toss up between this and The Roaring Twenties for Cagney's best film, but this is more 'modern' in adopting a mostly unsympathetic anti-hero as its central character and it eschews sentimentality in favour of mania. Cagney's Cody Jarrett is believable in a way that (say) Harrison Ford's 'tough guys' are not.

The undercover cop who infiltrates Jarrett's gang is played by Edmond O'Brien, a man whose perpetually pained expression seems to suggest haemorrhoid suffering of immense magnitude.

Jimmy Cagney: fart lighter extraordinaire.

76. The Bofors Gun (GB 1968)

A motley collection of British National Servicemen spend an eventful night guarding an obsolete anti-aircraft gun in the desolate winter of northern Germany.

The Bofors Gun paints an unbelievably dismal picture of the human condition. Various English half stars (Ian Holm, Peter Vaughan, David Warner) aid, abet and thwart the antics and ruminations of drunken Irish fatalist Nicol Williamson as he prepares for his violent suicide on the eve of his 30th birthday.

Almost unwatchable in parts, but worth persevering with for Williamson's grande guignol performance, which like Patrick Dewaere's performance in Serie Noire, draws a fine line between acting and mania.

Nicol Williamson: even a new bird couldn't keep him away from the Brasso.

Possibly the first film to feature the word 'wank'. (Spoken by foul mouthed  and certainly, un-Morse-like squaddie, John Thaw).

77. Glengarry Glen Ross (US 1992)

A group of American real estate salesmen are given an ultimatum: 'complete' a certain number of sales or face dismissal..Some of the less successful salesmen claim to have been given poor quality 'leads' and plan a criminal act to save their jobs.

An even swearier and bleaker portrayal of the human condition than The Bofors Gun. David Mamet's screenplay band James Foley's direction create a claustrophobic, dog eat dog vision of hell on Earth, which takes Miller's Death of a Salesman to a higher plain.

Brilliant acting from a heavyweight cast (Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey and Ed Harris, the man Alex Cox reckoned was the world's greatest screen actor), but all are blown off screen by Alec Baldwin*, whose five minute performance as the real estate's trouble shooter with the box steak knives is the equal of Nicol Williamson's for screen presence and intensity.

*I couldn't believe it either and the only other people who believe it are those who have seen the film because Baldwin's CV suggests nothing else but unmitigated shite.

Jack Lemmon: another foul mouthed fucker.

78. The Long Weekend (US 1945) 

Great script and direction from Billy Wilder and a lifetime best performance from Ray Milland as the drunken writer seeking redemption from the bottle.

Bleak, but superb, and filled with memorable imagery. 

Too many good bits too mention, but Milland's DTs (a bat eating a blood soaked mouse), the mystic appearance of a hidden bottle in a light fitting, and the crowd of a trendy bar humiliating Milland by singing 'Somebody Stole My Purse' to the tune of 'Somebody Stole My Gal' are personal highlights.

79. After Hours (US 1985)

Computer programmer accidentally stumbles into the dangerous underbelly of Manhattan following a series of avoidable mishaps.

A strange film to say the least. Young Harry Dean Stanton lookalike, Griffin Dunne enters a New York variation of a Kafkaesque nightmare and is trapped by forces beyond his control.

An odd film for Scorsese, but a 100 times better than the execrable 'Gangs of New York' and lots better than Jonathan Demme's similarly styled 'Something Wild'.

And it's got Rosanna Arquette in it. Huzzah!