AFI again rates ‘Kane’ as top movie
LOS ANGELES – The years have been kind to “Citizen Kane,” including the last decade. The 1941 Orson Welles classic ó the story of a wealthy young idealist transformed by scandal and vice into a regretful old recluse ó was again rated the best movie ever Wednesday by the American Film Institute.
In the CBS special “AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movies ó 10th Anniversary Edition,” “Citizen Kane” held the same No. 1 billing it earned in the institute’s first top-100 ranking in 1998.
There were notable changes elsewhere, though, with Martin Scorsese’s 1980 masterpiece “Raging Bull” bounding upward from No. 24 in 1998 to No. 4 on the new list and Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 thriller “Vertigo” hurtling from No. 61 to No. 9 this time.
Charles Chaplin’s 1931 silent gem “City Lights” jumped from No. 76 to No. 11, while the 1956 John Ford-John Wayne Western “The Searchers” took the biggest leap, from No. 96 all the way to No. 12.
“The ones that made the huge jumps are really, really fascinating,” said Jean Picker Firstenberg, chief executive at AFI, which has done top-10 lists every year since 1998 showcasing best comedies, thrillers, love stories and other highlights in American cinema.
“I’d like to think this entire series has had a real influence on what people think about a film like `City Lights,’ `The Searchers,’ `Vertigo.’ Gotten them talking about these films and going back to watch them again, and if they’ve never seen them, to go watch them for the first time.”
Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 epic “The Godfather” ranked No. 2, up one notch from 1998, switching places with Michael Curtiz’s 1942 favorite “Casablanca,” which dipped from second-place to third.
Both 1967’s “The Graduate” and 1954’s “On the Waterfront,” which ranked Nos. 7 and 8 respectively in 1998, fell out of the top 10, “The Graduate” coming in at No. 17 and “On the Waterfront” finishing at No. 19.
The other five films in the new top 10 also were among the original 10 best, though they shuffled positions: 1952’s “Singin’ in the Rain (No. 5 now, No. 10 in 1998), 1939’s “Gone With the Wind” (No. 6 now, No. 4 in 1998), 1962’s “Lawrence of Arabia” (No. 7 now, No. 5 in 1998), 1993’s “Schindler’s List” (No. 8 now, No. 9 in 1998) and 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz” (No. 10 now, No. 6 in 1998).
The top-100 were chosen from ballots sent to 1,500 filmmakers, actors, writers, critics and others in Hollywood from a list of 400 nominated movies, 43 of which came from the decade since the first list was compiled.
Of those newer films, only four made the top-100: 2001’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (No. 50), 1998’s “Saving Private Ryan” (No. 71), 1997’s “Titanic” (No. 83) and 1999’s “The Sixth Sense” (No. 89).
Older films that did not make the cut on the 1998 list broke into the top-100 this time, led by Buster Keaton’s 1927 silent comedy “The General” at No. 18. Others included 1916’s “Intolerance” (No. 49), 1975’s “Nashville” (No. 59), 1960’s “Spartacus” (No. 81), 1989’s “Do the Right Thing” (No. 96) and 1995’s “Toy Story” (No. 99).
Some silent-era classics and other old films may have fared better this time because they are more readily available in good quality restorations in today’s DVD age as opposed to the VHS days.
Films that dropped out of the top-100 this time included 1965’s “Doctor Zhivago,” which had been No. 39 on the 1998 list; 1984’s “Amadeus,” which had been No. 53; 1977’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” which had been No. 64; 1990’s “Dances With Wolves,” which had been No. 75; and 1927’s “The Jazz Singer,” which had been No. 90.
“Close Encounters” director Steven Spielberg had the most films on the list with five, while Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and Billy Wilder each had four. James Stewart and Robert De Niro were the most-represented actors with five films apiece.
In interviews for Wednesday’s special, filmmakers and others in Hollywood told AFI they loved the behind-the-scenes story of “Citizen Kane” as much as the film itself, said Bob Gazzale, who produced the AFI show.
It was the first movie by Welles, who bucked studio and storytelling conventions to craft a landmark film about the rise and fall of a William Randolph Hearst-like newspaper publisher.
The film was ahead of its time, a dark tale whose brooding design, murky lighting, overlapping dialogue and ripped-from-true-life Hearst connection created an unnerving sense of realism.
“No one disputes it’s a great American film, but what you hear from the great artists of our day is the love they have for this ideal of a young maverick making a movie like this, that a 25-year-old Orson Welles changed the fabric of cinema, and that that ideal still holds today of this jewel everybody reaches for,” Gazzale said.
“It’s not only the movie, but the embodiment of the man who broke all the rules to tell his story.”
While AFI officials have not decided if they will continue the annual lists in coming years, Firstenberg said the institute will do a new list of all-time best American films every 10 years as a guide to changing tastes in future decades.
“With this new list, it became clearer the value of this program was to have five lists to chart rather than one 50-year-old list,” Gazzale said. “It’s not only celebrating the films again and driving people to see them again, but we get to see what’s gone up, what’s gone down.”
As it should be!!
AFI again rates ‘Kane’ as top movie