The American Film Institute's Top 100 Films
comments by David Rosse
1)The Top Ten
No problems with Numbers 1, 2, and 3. But...... (there's
that word again), Gone with the Wind at #4 and The
Wizard of Oz at #6? GWTW, although a technical marvel
considering its age, contains laughable acting and is, more or
less, a long soap opera. It deserves a place between 101
and 200, but NOT in the Top Ten. Same for WOZ--this
movie is legendary because nearly everyone grew up with it.
But, watch it again--is it masterful cinema? Sure, it's
pleasing to the eye, but let's face it--it's a kid's fantasy. It
does belong in the top 100, but definitely not at #6. The
Graduate is a landmark film, but, like Easy Rider, time has
not been too kind to this picture. I would rank it somewhere
between 80 and 90. On the Waterfront is wonderful, gritty
cinema, but then again, so is A Face in the Crowd, another
great Kazan film that did not make the list! No qualms
about Lawrence of Arabia and Singin' in the Rain. I'll get
to Schindler's List in a minute.
2) Not Enough Comedy
Someone else on your site said the same thing. Woody
Allen is only represented by Annie Hall. Where's
Manhattan? Hannah and Her Sisters? The Purple Rose
of Cairo (his best film of the '80s, in my opinion)? Also, if
you want to include Airplane, you must include a Mel
Brooks film--either Young Frankenstein or Blazing
Saddles. Finally, I'm going out on a limb here--The Blues
Brothers. Love him or hate him, John Landis made a
coherent, wonderfully entertaining movie out of a mishmash
of car wrecks and musical interludes.
3) Not Enough Horror
OK, Frankenstein is there. But how about Dracula? The
Exorcist? The Haunting (the scariest film ever made, in my
book)? Alien? Aliens? Invasion of the Body Snatchers
(either Don Siegel's or Phil Kaufman's version)?
Halloween? Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Freaks?
Science fiction and horror were not represented enough,
and there were far too many musicals (can you name a great
musical made after 1965?)
4) Too Much Spielberg, Not Enough Scorsese
The former is loved by the general public, but what would
die hard movie fans rather watch repeatedly-- E.T. or
Raging Bull? E.T. does not belong in the top 100, plain
and simple. It was good for a cry, but I find it predictable
and shamelessly manipulative. Take E.T. out, and Close
Encounters for that matter, move Schindler's List out of
the Top Ten, and that leaves Jaws, Schindler's, and
Raiders of the Lost Ark. If you must replace E.T. with
something, it should be The Color Purple, which I found a
hell of a lot more rewarding and heartfelt than E.T. But, they
might as well leave room for Saving Private Ryan, which
surely will grace the AFI's next ranking of the Top 100,
whenever they do it again. As far as Scorsese is concerned,
GoodFellas, Raging Bull and Taxi Driver should stay in
the list, and I would include Mean Streets and King of
Comedy, one of his most underrated films, in there as well.
5) Not Enough Indies
In 1997, indie films swept the Oscars, but you would never
know it from examining the list. The landmark Easy Rider is
in there, but it's dated and borderline laughable to today's
audiences. How about replacing it with Blood Simple or
Drugstore Cowboy? Too much to ask for, I'm sure.
Maybe some geniuses out there will do an "alternative top
100." I'll be first in line to subscribe to the Sundance
Channel if someone there were to take that ball and run with
Here then is the AFI List of top 100 films.
You might also want to check out Adam's comments and
Wendell's take on the same subject.