31. Withnail and I (GB 1989)

Some of these choices are a bit populist, I know, but you can't help it if Joe Public finally gets his act together and learns from his mistakes. A brilliant script and a stunning mayfly performance from the otherwise reptilian and reprehensible Richard E. Grant.

32. Dirty Harry (US 1971)

Although in many ways a right wing wish fulfilment film, this makes in into the 'fifty' for many reasons, not least Andy Robinson's spiffing portrayal of Scorpio the twisted nemesis of Harry Callaghan. Particularly impressive is the shoeing he gives to Clint and his threat to kill all of the mothers of those on the school bus if they fail to sing 'Row, Row Your Boat'.

  

33. Taxi Driver (US 1976)

A bit of a penchant for psychologically damaged outsiders (as long as they're not played by Jeff Bridges) seems to be prevalent in this list. De Niro's second best performance and a great (but strangely anachronistic) score by Bernard Herrmann.

34. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (GB 1975)

The best Python film and often visually beautiful (not surprising considering that much of the imagery and framing were lifted from Polanski's Macbeth). After its initial theatrical run, the film gained a second lease of life as part of a double bill with various increasingly crappy tv spinoff films. Consequently, I have had to sit through such fare as 'Sweeney2', 'The Best of Benny Hill' and the hilarious 'Man About The House: The Movie' (probably not called that, actually).

35. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (US 1947)

Another psychologically unhinged gentleman to join the list. Bogart's Fred C.Dobbs is often matched by Walter Huston's grizzled (I'm sure there was a tv programme in the seventies called 'The Life and Times of Grizzly Arseholes') and uni-nomenclatured Howard.

John Huston's best film. It was a good job that he was such a good director because he looked like Steptoe's even more lascivious younger brother. Probably the only man in history to have shat his hat (True! Read his biography 'An Open Book'.)

John Huston: looker and hat shitter.

36. Election (US 1999)

A deceptive little film. A channel flicker would see all the signs of a teeny/college movie, but a closer examination would reveal a dowdified or downright ugly cast; a perceptive, witty and scathing script; good performances all round (especially Reece Witherspoon) and some of the foulest lines in the  unlikeliest of mouths and in the most incongruous of situations. A mini auterist gem.

37. Les Yeux Sans Visage (France 1959)

One of the few great horror films. Nightmarish and a genuine sense of dread. Stylish in all departments but incredibly sick entertainment when viewed with a non fan's objectivity.

 

38. 2001 (GB/US 1968)

Arthur C Clarke's 'The Sentinel' evolves into often unwatchable sci-fi art film. (Obviously) a landmark in the history of cinema/western art.

 

39. The Man Who Fell To Earth (GB 1973)

More Nicholas Roeg and even ruder than 'Don't Look Now'. Alien sex, Rip Torn's knob, Candy Clark pissing herself and lots of other sordid ghastliness. Roeg claimed that he was trying to change the grammar of film with 'The Man..., and it's difficult to make sense of its strange narrative structure and the lack of temporal cohesion. Bowie can't act (platitude of the month) but it's still a great film that's both visually beautiful and intellectually demanding.

Shitty music, though.

40. Through A Glass Darkly (Sweden 1955)

A group of Scandinavian tortured souls ruminate on life, death and metaphysics on the most miserable beach in the Northern Hemisphere. Nowhere near as cheery as it sounds, but a lot funnier than Woody Allen's 'Interiors'. Classic Ingmar Bergman and not one to watch if you're feeling vulnerable or if you've been taking anti-malarial tablets.

Brilliant car chase towards the end.