My top 25 film list would probably be different if you asked me again next week, but I get asked about it a lot-- especially at the end of the year when so many "Best of..." lists run.
In teaching a lot of classes, on film noir, comedy, Hitchcock, etc-- I've encountered a LOT of film and had the pleasure of discovering some real gems. A lot of these aren't going to surprise anyone (Citizen Kane is in the top 5, but there is an occasional Huh? included as well).
There are also a lot of movies that should have, could have and ALMOST made the final list but for sake of trimming it down to 25 I had to leave them off. Clint Eastwood's DIRTY HARRY and Richard Roundtree's original SHAFT are two of my absolute favorite films, but I gave the criteria to make the list pretty rock solid; Well acted & directed. Entertaining story. Able to stand up for repeated viewings.
So here, starting from the bottom up;
21. KISS ME DEADLY (1955) Directed by Robert Aldrich. Ralph Meeker & Albert Dekker. Based on the book by Mickey Spillane and featuring the hardest of the hard boiled detectives--this movie is a lot like a punch in the face. It comes at you hard and never lets up. I dare you not to watch this one and not throw some punk down a flight of stairs afterwards.
22. WAGES OF FEAR (1953) Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot. Yves Montand. This french film came on one night on TCM at about 2am and I stayed up and watched the whole thing because I couldn't stop. It's about truck drivers delivering explosives to a mining site down a treacherous ride, so treacherous in fact that they send three trucks in the hopes that at least one will make it. The night I watched this I overslept and missed the beginning of a class I was teaching the next morning.
23. MY FAVORITE BRUNETTE (1947) Directed by Elliot Nugent. Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour. I love Bob Hope when he's running on all cylinders-- and he's in top form in this mystery/detective/film noir sendup. One of the first films I had on VHS and one that never gets old for me.
24. THE GHOST BREAKERS (1940) Directed by George Marshall. Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard. Prime Hope. He gets mixed up with a haunted house in Cuba as he tries to help Paulette Goddard out of trouble. Never a dull moment in this one.
25. ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948) Directed by Charles Barton. Bud Abbott, Lou Costello. My favorite movie as a kid, and it's still got a lot of charm. The monsters are treated with respect and the material is intelligently written so that it fits in with the previous entries in the Frankenstein Canon.
NEXT #'s 16-20