Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

From my library: John Kobal's TOP 100 MOVIES

Here is a fascinating 1988 title: a landscape-sized book TOP 100 FILMS by John Kobal, who created The Kobal Collection, an archive of movie stills which is still in use now (I believe London's National Portrait Gallery are doing a new exhibition on it). This is an artier than usual collection, with a page or two on each film [as below, click to enlarge], and as these things go, better than most. It also contains the lists of each critic or movie person who was balloted (over 80 of them) with comments from each - several of whom are now no longer with us (Raymond Durgnat, Nestor Almendros, Lindsay Anderson, Sheridan Morley, Susan Sontag) as well as the likes of Leonard Maltin, John Francis Lane, Derek Malcolm and the like.

John Kobal was born Ivan Kobaly in 1940 in Austria, but his family moved to Canada when he was a child, when he discovered the movies and Rita Hayworth! - I still have his enjoyable biography on her "The Time, The Place and The Woman" packed away somewhere. His collection of stills and movie memorabilia grew and grew to become a well-used source, and he also wrote and co-authored several books. I have just been looking on Amazon and ordered "Movie Star Portraits of the 50s", a collection of interviews "People Will Talk", "English Film Star Portraits" and his book on musicals, with John Russell Taylor "Gotta Sing Gotta Dance" which I somehow missed back then! Kobal died of an Aids-related illness in 1991, aged 51, but the Collection is still there and growing, it is his memorial. His TOP 1OO MOVIES book is dedicated to Carlos Clarens (1930-1987) another great pioneering critic and movie writer.

The listing, 1 to 100: Citizen Kane / La Regle Du Jeu / Battleship Potemkin / 8 and a half / Singin in the Rain / Modern Times / Wild Strawberries / The Goldrush / Casablanca / Rashamon / Bicycle Thieves / City Lights / Les Enfants du Paradis / Sunrise / Madame De .. / La Grand Illusion / The Searchers / 2001 A Space Odyssey / Some Like It Hot / Ivan The Terrible / Jules et Jim / Stagecoach / Vertigo / Seven Samurai / Tokyo Story / Andrei Rublev / Fanny and Alexander / L'Atalante / Viridiana / Kind Hearts and Coronets / The Third Man / Ugetsu Monogatari / Zero De Conduite / Ikiru / Apu Trilogy / The Bandwagon / Gone With The Wind / The Maltese Falcon / La Dolce Vita / Hiroshima Mon Amour / Rome Open City / Touch of Evil / L'Age D'Or / Passion of Joan of Arc / The Seventh Seal / Amarcord / Sansho Dayu / L'Avventura / The General / Life of O-Haru / Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie / Napoleon / The Sacrifice / Nights of Cabiria / The Thief of Baghdad / Alexander Nevsky / East of Eden / The Lady Vanishes / The Navigator / Ordet / One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest / Ashes and Diamonds / Senso / Mirror / The Best Years of Our Lives / Claire's Knee / Earth / La Terra Trema / Cabinet of Dr Caligari / Paisa / Casque D'Or / Exterminating Angel / Manhattan / Last Year in Marienbad / My Darling Clementine / The Scarlet Empress / Greed / A Matter of Life and Death / The Wizard of Oz / The Bride of Frankenstein / Bringing up Baby / If / La Strada / Ai No Corrida / The African Queen / The Great Dictator / Heimat / Lawrence of Arabia / Signs of Life / To Be Or Not To Be / Meet Me In St Louis / Monsieur Verdoux / Brief Encounter / The Far Country / Freaks / Moonfleet / The Night of the Living Dead / Psycho / Rebecca / Voyage to Italy.

All the usual suspects then, but just as interesting is what is left out: hardly any classic noirs, no GILDA, LAURA, MILDRED PIERCE, ALL ABOUT EVE or DOUBLE INDEMNITY; no Garbo, Davis, Stanwyck, Cukor or Mankiewicz or Nick Ray or Sirk, no Truffaut nor Malle, just one Von Sternberg and one Antonioni. An interesting snapshot of the received orthodoxy over 20 years ago then ... too many Chaplins and Russian classics for today's tastes perhaps ? and there would surely be more Hitchcocks and Wilders, but an interesting companion to say the "Sight and Sound" top ten for each decade.

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