100. Inglourious Basterds (Scroll down for the top 100)
Story: In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a plan to assassinate Nazi leaders by a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers coincides with a theatre owner’s vengeful plans for the same. Details: Director – Quentin Tarantino, release – 2009, starring Brad Pit, Diane Kruger and Eli Roth .
Did You Know? In a roundtable discussion with Brad Pitt and Quentin Tarantino, Tarantino said that Til Schweiger, being born and raised in Germany, had always refused to put on a Nazi uniform for a film role. The only reason he agreed to for this film was because he got to kill Nazis.
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99. Toy Story
Story: A cowboy doll is profoundly threatened and jealous when a new spaceman figure supplants him as top toy in a boy’s room. Details: Director – John Lasseter, release – 1995, starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Don Rickles.
Did You Know? Billy Crystal was originally offered the chance to voice Buzz Lightyear, but declined. After seeing the finished film, he said the decision was the biggest mistake of his career. Upon learning this, John Lasseter telephoned Billy’s house to offer him the role of Mike Wazowski in Monsters, Inc. (2001). Billy’s wife answered the telephone and said “John Lasseter wants to speak to you.” Billy took the telephone from his wife and said “Yes”.
Test Yourself: How many of the best 100 movies ever have you watched?
98. For a Few Dollars More
Story: Two bounty hunters with the same intentions team up to track down a Western outlaw. Details: Director – Sergio Leone, release – 1965, starring Clint Eastwood.
Did You Know? Lee Van Cleef claimed to be faster on the draw than Clint Eastwood. He took three frames of film (one eighth of a second) to draw, cock and fire. Sergio Leone broke many 1960s Hollywood rules with this film, although he did not know any of them at the time. Among them: showing the shooter and the victim in the same shot, a horse being gunned down, marijuana use, and a rape scene.
Don’t miss the top 10 best movies ever towards the end of the list, you’d be surprised…
Story: A heinous crime and its aftermath are recalled from differing points of view. Details: Director – Akira Kurosawa, release – 1950, starring Tajômaru.
Did You Know? During shooting, the cast approached Kurosawa en masse with the script and asked him, “What does it mean?” The answer Akira Kurosawa gave at that time and also in his biography is that Rashomon (1950) is a reflection of life, and life does not always have clear meanings.
96. L.A. Confidential
Story: As corruption grows in 1950s LA, three policemen – one strait-laced, one brutal, and one sleazy – investigate a series of murders with their own brand of justice. Details: Director – Curtis Hanson, release – 1997, starring Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe.
Did You Know? At the time the film takes place no building in Los Angeles was allowed to be taller than city hall, so the cameras were placed at certain points so that any building taller than city hall would not be seen. James Ellroy described Kevin Spacey’s performance as Jack Vincennes “some of the best self-loathing I’ve ever seen on screen”.
95. The Kid
Story: The Tramp cares for an abandoned child, but events put that relationship in jeopardy. Details: Director – Charles Chaplin, release – 1921, starring Charlie Chaplin.
Did You Know? For the scene in which the Kid is taken from the Tramp and nearly carted away to a workhouse, Charles Chaplin stated in his autobiography that the young Jackie Coogan was made to cry by his father, who told him that if he would not cry in the scene, he would be sent to an actual workhouse. The main theme from Charles Chaplin’s score is based on a theme from Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony.
Story: Unscrupulous boxing promoters, violent bookmakers, a Russian gangster, incompetent amateur robbers, and supposedly Jewish jewelers fight to track down a priceless stolen diamond. Details: Director – Guy Ritchie, release – 2000, starring Benicio Del Toro and Brad Pitt.
Did You Know? Brad Pitt, who was a big fan of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), approached director Guy Ritchie and asked for a role in this film. When Ritchie found Pitt couldn’t master a London accent, he gave him the role of Mickey the Gypsy. When Ritchie told Pitt that he would be playing a boxer, Pitt became concerned because he had just finished shooting Fight Club (1999) and did not want to play the same type of role again. Pitt took the role anyway because he wanted to work with Ritchie so badly.
93. 2001: A Space Odyssey
Story: Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial, object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest. Details: Director – Stanley Kubrick, release – 1968, starring Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood.
Did You Know? In the premier screening of the film, 241 people walked out of the theater, including Rock Hudson who said “Will someone tell me what the hell this is about?” Arthur C. Clarke once said, “If you understand ‘2001’ completely, we failed. We wanted to raise far more questions than we answered.”
92. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Story: King Arthur and his knights embark on a low-budget search for the Grail, encountering many very silly obstacles. Details: Directors – Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, release – 1975, starring – Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam.
Did You Know? Funds earned by Pink Floyd’s album “The Dark Side of the Moon” went towards funding The Holy Grail. The band were such fans of the show they would halt recording sessions just to watch Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969). And still, the famous depiction of galloping horses by using coconut shells (a traditional radio-show sound effect) came about from the purely practical reason that the production simply couldn’t afford real horses.
91. Singin’ in the Rain
Story: A silent film production company and cast make a difficult transition to sound. Details: Directors – Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly, release – 1952, starring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds.
Did You Know? Only 19 when cast to play the film, Debbie Reynolds lived with her parents and commuted to the set. She had to wake up at 4:00 a.m. and ride three different buses to the studio; sometimes, to avoid the commute, she would just sleep on the set. It’s not wonder that when Kelly insulted Reynolds for not being able to dance, Fred Astaire, who was hanging around the studio, found her crying under a piano. He then helped her with her dancing.
90. Bicycle Thieves
Story: A man and his son search for a stolen bicycle vital for his job (released under the name The Bicycle Thief in the United States). Details: Director – Vittorio De Sica, release – 1948, starring Lamberto Maggiorani.
Did You Know? The movie director Sergio Leone worked as an assistant for Vittorio De Sica during the filming of this movie. He also has a short appearance as one of the priests that are standing next to Bruno and Antonio during the rainstorm. And also, there’s a scene later in the movie where Bruno is nearly run over twice while crossing the street. This was absolutely unrehearsed – it was filmed on location and the two cars happened to pass by at that time.
Story: The incredible story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, told by his peer and secret rival Antonio Salieri – now confined to an insane asylum. Details: Director – Milos Forman, release – 1984, starring Tom Hulce.
Did You Know? Several professors of music stated, after studying all of the musical keys struck on pianos throughout the film, that not one key is struck incorrectly when compared to what is heard at the exact same moment. In other words, what you see is exactly what you hear. And also, when the movie won Best Picture at The 57th Annual Academy Awards (1985), Sir Laurence Olivier was presenting the award. He went up to the podium, opened the envelope and said “Amadeus.” The problem was he forgot to read the nominees first.
88. The Sting
Story: In Chicago in September 1936, a young con man seeking revenge for his murdered partner teams up with a master of the big con to win a fortune from a criminal banker. Details: Director – George Roy Hill, release – 1973, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.
Did You Know? Robert Redford didn’t see the movie until June 2004. The movie was filmed on the backlot of Universal studios and the diner in which Hooker meets Lonnegan is the same diner interior used in Back to the Future (1985) in which Marty McFly first meets his father and calls Doc Brown.
87. Full Metal Jacket
Story: A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanizing effects the U.S.-Vietnam War has on his fellow recruits from their brutal boot camp training to the bloody street fighting in Hue. Details: Director – Stanley Kubrick, release – 1987, starring Matthew Modine and Adam Baldwin.
Did You Know? The videotape demonstration was not the only factor which got R. Lee Ermey the role as the drill instructor. Ermey went to Stanley Kubrick and asked for the part, as the actors on the set were, in his opinion, not up to snuff. When Kubrick declined, Ermey barked an order for Kubrick to stand up when he was spoken to, and the director instinctively obeyed. That sealed the matter, and Ermey won the part as Gunnery Sgt. Hartmann.
86. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Story: When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a procedure to have each other erased from their memories. But it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with. Details: Director: Michel Gondry, release – 2004, starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet.
Did You Know? When Joel is in his head and is visiting his session of the erasing process, no special effects were used to show the two Joels in the one scene. Jim Carrey had to take off his hat and jacket when he was not in shot and had to quickly sit down in the chair and visa-versa when he has to stand up.
85. Lawrence of Arabia
Story: Follows a brilliant, flamboyant and controversial British military figure and his conflicted loyalties during wartime service. Details: Director – David Lean, release – 1962, starring Peter O’Toole and Alec Guinness.
Did You Know? The late King Hussein of Jordan lent an entire brigade of his Arab Legion as extras for the film, so most of the “soldiers” are played by real soldiers. Hussein frequently visited the sets and became enamored of a young British secretary, Antoinette Gardiner, who became his second wife in 1962. Their eldest son, Abdullah II King Of Jordan, ascended to the throne in 1999.
84. To Kill a Mockingbird
Story: Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his kids against prejudice. Details: Director – Robert Mulligan, release – 1962, starring Gregory Peck.
Did You Know? The first scene that Gregory Peck shot showed him returning home from his character’s law office while his children ran to greet him. Author Harper Lee was a guest on the set that day, and Peck noticed her crying after the scene was filmed. “Why are you crying?” Peck asked. Peck had looked just like her late father, the model for Atticus, Lee explained; Peck even had a little round pot belly like her father’s. “That’s not a pot belly, Harper,” Peck told her, “That’s great acting.”
83. Requiem for a Dream
Story: The drug-induced utopias of four Coney Island people are shattered when their addictions become stronger. Details: Director – Darren Aronofsky, release – 2000, starring Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn and Jennifer Connelly.
Did You Know? During Ellen Burstyn’s impassioned monologue about how it feels to be old, cinematographer Matthew Libatique accidentally let the camera drift off-target. When director Darren Aronofsky called “cut” and confronted him about it, he realized the reason Libatique had let the camera drift was because he had been crying during the take and fogged up the camera’s eyepiece. This was the take used in the final print.
82. Double Indemnity
Story: An insurance representative lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator’s suspicions. Details: Director – Billy Wilder, release – 1944, starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck.
Did You Know? Author James M. Cain later admitted that if he had come up with some of the solutions to the plot that screenwriters Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler did, he would have employed them in his original novel. And also, the scene where Neff and Dietrichson can’t get their car started after the murder was added by Wilder after his car wouldn’t start at the end of a shooting day.
81. Taxi Driver
Story: A mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran works as a night-time taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge for violent action, attempting to save a pre-adolescent prostitute in the process. Details: Director – Martin Scorsese, release – 1976, starring Robert De Niro.
Did You Know? Robert De Niro worked fifteen hour days for a month driving cabs as preparation for this role. He also studied mental illness. Jodie Foster was 12 years old when the movie was filmed, so she could not do the more explicit scenes. (Her character was also 12 years old.) Connie Foster, Jodie’s 19-year-old sister when the film was produced, was cast as her body double for those scenes.
80. A Clockwork Orange
Story: In future Britain, charismatic delinquent Alex DeLarge is jailed and volunteers for an experimental aversion therapy developed by the government in an effort to solve society’s crime problem – but not all goes according to plan. Details: Director – Stanley Kubrick, release – 1971, starring Malcolm McDowell.
Did You Know? Alex performing “Singing in the Rain” as he attacks the writer and his wife was not scripted. Stanley Kubrick spent four days experimenting with this scene, finding it too conventional. Eventually he approached Malcolm McDowell and asked him if he could dance. They tried the scene again, this time with McDowell dancing and singing the only song he could remember. Kubrick was so amused that he swiftly bought the rights to “Singing in the Rain” for $10,000. When McDowell met Gene Kelly at a party several years later, the older star turned and walked away in disgust. Kelly was deeply upset about the way his signature from Singin’ in the Rain (1952) had been portrayed in A Clockwork Orange.
79. Toy Story 3
Story: The toys are mistakenly delivered to a day-care center instead of the attic right before Andy leaves for college, and it’s up to Woody to convince the other toys that they weren’t abandoned and to return home. Details: Director – Lee Unkrich, release – 2010, starring Tom Hanks.
Did You Know? For Big Baby’s one line for the entire movie (“Mama”), the crew had a lot of babies audition by recording them saying the line. The baby that was chosen was named Woody. In fact, the director joked that was the reason why they chose that baby. And also, Ken wears 21 different outfits.
Story: When his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier who tried to rape her, William Wallace begins a revolt and leads Scottish warriors against the cruel English tyrant who rules Scotland with an iron fist. Details: Director – Mel Gibson, release – 1995, starring Mel Gibson.
Did You Know? “Braveheart” was actually the nickname of Robert the Bruce, not William Wallace. And another nice story: One of the film’s weary extras reportedly mistook one of Gibson’s children on the set for an errand boy, and asked him to bring a cup of tea. Gibson was within earshot, and nodded and whispered to his son, “Go get it.”
77. Reservoir Dogs
Story: After a simple jewelery heist goes terribly wrong, the surviving criminals begin to suspect that one of them is a police informant. Details: Director – Quentin Tarantino, release – 1992, starring Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn and Steve Buscemi.
Did You Know? Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen)’s real name is Vic Vega. This is the same surname as Vince (John Travolta) from Quentin Tarantino’s other film, Pulp Fiction (1994). Tarantino has revealed that Vic and Vince are brothers. He also intended to do a prequel to both films called “Double V Vega”, which would star the Vega Brothers, but Madsen and Travolta eventually got too old to reprise their roles, and Tarantino has since abandoned it.
76. Witness for the Prosecution
Story: Leonard Vole is arrested on suspicion of murdering an elderly acquaintance. He employs an experienced but aging barrister as his defense attorney. Details: Director – Billy Wilder, release – 1957, starring Tyrone Power and Marlene Dietrich.
Did You Know? Marlene Dietrich was so certain she would be nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as Christine Vole that she recorded a new introduction to her Las Vegas show mentioning her nomination. She was not nominated, and was crushed. And also, the film was shown in London for a Royal Command Performance, but beforehand the Royal Family had to promise not to reveal the surprise ending to anyone else.
Story: Amelie is an innocent and naive girl in Paris with her own sense of justice. She decides to help those around her and, along the way, discovers love. Details: Director – Jean-Pierre Jeunet, released – 2001, starring Audrey Tautou.
Did You Know? Audrey Tautou doesn’t know how to skip stones; the stone-skipping scenes were made with special effects. Whenever this film was shot on location, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and the crew would clean the area of debris, grime, trash and graffiti, so that the film would match his fantasy more so. This was an especially difficult task when it came time to shoot at the huge train station.
74. Once Upon a Time in America
Story: A former Prohibition-era Jewish gangster returns to the Lower East Side of Manhattan over thirty years later, where he once again must confront the ghosts and regrets of his old life. Details: Director: Sergio Leone, release – 1984, starring Robert De Niro and James Woods.
Did You Know? According to James Woods, a critic dubbed the film (in its 144-minute version) the worst of 1984; years later that same critic watched the original 229-minute version and called it the best of the 1980s. And also, Robert De Niro requested a private meeting with renowned crime boss Meyer Lansky to prepare for his role as Noodles. The request was denied.
Story: When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt. Details: Director – Fritz Lang, release – 1931, starring Peter Lorre.
Did You Know? Fritz Lang’s cruelty to his actors was legendary. Peter Lorre was thrown down the stairs into the cellar over a dozen times. When Lang wanted to hire Lorre for Human Desire (1954) over two decades later, the actor refused. Lang asserts that he cast real criminals for the court scene in the end. According to biographer Paul Jensen, 24 cast members were arrested during filming.
72. Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
Story: After rescuing Han Solo from the palace of Jabba the Hutt, the rebels attempt to destroy the second Death Star, while Luke struggles to make Vader return from the dark side of the Force. Details: Director – Richard Marquand, release – 1983, starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.
Did You Know? When Leia gets wounded, if you look closely you can spot Han Solo accidentally grab her breast before correcting himself. Harrison Ford suggested that Han Solo sacrifice his life to save his friends, but George Lucas disagreed with him, as he wanted Han to play a heroic part at the end.
71. Das Boot
Story: The claustrophobic world of a WWII German U-boat; boredom, filth, and sheer terror. Details: Director – Wolfgang Petersen, release – 1981, starring Jürgen Prochnow and Herbert Grönemeyer.
Did You Know? To simulate the storm in the Atlantic, a model of the tower was splashed with water from a large tank. Actor Jan Fedder lost his grip on the railing and was washed off the model, breaking a few ribs in the fall, one of the other actors instantly shouted “Man Overboard”. At first Petersen didn’t realize it was an accident but enthusiastically yelled “Good idea, Jan. We’ll do that one more time!”. Peterson still kept the scene and rewrote Jan Fedder’s part in the film, so that his character spent a short portion of the movie in bed. The painful expression on his face is real and not acted.
Story: A retired San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend’s wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her. Details: Director – Alfred Hitchcock, release – 1958, starring James Stewart, Kim Novak and Barbara Bel Geddes.
Did You Know? The film was unavailable for decades because its rights (together with four other pictures of the same period) were bought back by Alfred Hitchcock and left as part of his legacy to his daughter. They’ve been known for long as the infamous “Five Lost Hitchcocks” amongst film buffs, and were re-released in theatres around 1984 after a 30-year absence.
Story: After being kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in 5 days. Details: Director – Chan-wook Park, release – 2003, starring Min-sik Choi and Ji-tae Yu.
Did You Know? Four live octopodes were eaten for the scene with Dae-su in the sushi bar, a scene which provoked some controversy abroad. Eating live octopus in Korea is commonplace although it is usually sliced first. When the film won the Grand Prix at Cannes, the director thanked the octopodes along with the cast and crew.
68. Princess Mononoke
Story: On a journey to find the cure for a Tatarigami’s curse, Ashitaka finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and Tatara, a mining colony. In this quest he also meets San, the Mononoke Hime. Details: Director – Hayao Miyazaki, release – 1997, starring Billy Crudup, Billy Bob Thornton and Minnie Driver.
Did You Know? Director Hayao Miyazaki personally corrected or redrew more than 80,000 of the film’s 144,000 animation cels. This is the last major animated motion picture to be filmed on plastic animation cels. With a runtime of 134 minutes (2 hour and 14 minutes), it is the second longest animated film ever made after Final Yamato (1983) (165 minutes).
67. North by Northwest
Story: A hapless New York advertising executive is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies, and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive. Details: Director – Alfred Hitchcock, release – 1959, starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint.
Did You Know? During the climactic Mt. Rushmore scene at the end of the film, the top of the mountain set, and equipment, are clearly visible for a number of seconds. And also, many of the autos used in the early scenes (the NY taxi, the Glen Cove police car and the county detectives car) are 1958 Ford sedans.
66. Citizen Kane
Story: Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance. Details: Director – Orson Welles, release – 1941, starring Joseph Cotten and Dorothy Comingore.
Did You Know? In the scene where Bernstein enters the Inquirer amidst a pile of boxes and luggage, some of the boxes are labeled “891” and “LOT 891.” Unit 891 was the WPA theater company Orson Welles directed for (and starred with) before shooting this picture. Have you noticed? One of the posters advertising Susan Alexander’s opera appearance shown in the newsreel misspells her first name “Suzan”.
Story: The planet from Alien (1979) has been colonized, but contact is lost. This time, the rescue team has impressive firepower, but will it be enough? Details: Director – James Cameron, release – 1986, starring Sigourney Weaver.
Did You Know? Sigourney Weaver’s Best Actress Academy Award nomination for this movie was the first ever for an actress in a role in an action movie. And also, in both the standard and special edition versions, the fifteen minute countdown at the end of the film is indeed fifteen minutes.
64. Grave of the Fireflies
Story: A tragic film covering a young boy and his little sister’s struggle to survive in Japan during World War II. Details: Director – Isao Takahata, release – 1988, starring Tsutomu Tatsumi and Ayano Shiraishi.
Did You Know? The film is based on a true story. Akiyuki Nosaka lost his little sister during the war to malnutrition and blamed himself for her death. Director Isao Takahata was the only living animator involved on the project who had survived bomb blasts. And also, this is the only Ghibili theatrical feature film to not be part of the Disney-Tokuma deal.
63. American Beauty
Story: A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter’s best friend. Details: Director – Sam Mendes, release – 1999, starring Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening.
Did You Know? The title of the film refers to a breed of roses that while pretty and appealing in appearance, is often prone to rot underneath at the roots and branches of the plant. Thus, the tagline “…look closer” tells the viewer that when they look beyond the “perfect suburban life” they will find something rancid at the root.
Story: In the distant future, a small waste collecting robot inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind. Details: Director – Andrew Stanton, release – 2008, starring Ben Burtt and Elissa Knight.
Did You Know? WALL-E stands for: Waste Allocation Load Lifter earth class. EVE stands for: Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator. The name of the ship that the humans are living on is “Axiom.” In logic and math, an axiom is something unquestionable or taken for granted. And also, the survival of both the Twinkie and the cockroach perpetuates the urban myth that even should the world end, both will survive indefinitely.
61. The Dark Knight Rises
Story: Eight years after the Joker’s reign of anarchy, the Dark Knight is forced to return from his imposed exile to save Gotham City from the brutal guerrilla terrorist Bane with the help of the enigmatic Catwoman. Details: Director – Christopher Nolan, release – 2012, starring Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway and Tom Hardy.
Did You Know? Christopher Nolan said that this film’s theme deals with “Pain”. For Batman Begins, it was on “Fear”, while The Dark Knight deals on “Chaos”. Had Heath Ledger not died, the film would have involved the Joker going on trial while Two-Face (who survived the last film) went on a rampage across Gotham.
60. Django Unchained
Story: With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner. Details: Director – Quentin Tarantino, release – 2012, starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Did You Know? When Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Calvin Candie smashes the palm of his hand on the dinner table, the actor accidentally struck a chunk of the plaster skull he had just broken and really began to bleed. DiCaprio ignored it, stayed in character, and continued with the scene. Tarantino was so impressed that he used this take in the final print, and when he called cut, the room erupted in a standing ovation. DiCaprio’s hand was bandaged and he suggested the idea of smearing blood onto the face of Kerry Washington. Tarantino and Washington both liked this, so Tarantino got some fake blood together.
59. Paths of Glory
Story: Based on the 1935 novel of the same name, it tells the story of an ill-fated assault on German forces by French soldiers, and the grippling consequences those soldiers face when they refuse to follow through with it. Details: Director – Stanley Kubrick, release – 1957, starring Kirk Douglas and Ralph Meeker.
Did You Know? Stanley Kubrick approached Kirk Douglas with the script. Douglas instantly fell in love with it, telling Kubrick “Stanley, I don’t think this picture will ever make a nickel, but we have to make it.” Douglas’s words proved to be quite prophetic – the film was not a success at the box office.
58. The Shining
Story: A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future. Details: Director – Stanley Kubrick, release – 1980, starring Jack Nicholson and Danny Lloyd.
Did You Know? Because Danny Lloyd was so young and since it was his first acting job, Stanley Kubrick was highly protective of the child. During the shooting of the movie, Lloyd was under the impression that the film he was making was a drama, not a horror movie. In fact, when Wendy carries Danny away while shouting at Jack in the Colorado Lounge, she is actually carrying a lifesize dummy so Lloyd would not have to be in the scene. He only realized the truth several years later, when he was shown a heavily edited version of the film. He did not see the uncut version of the film until he was 17 – eleven years after he had made it.
57. Cinema Paradiso
Story: A filmmaker recalls his childhood, when he fell in love with the movies at his village’s theater and formed a deep friendship with the theater’s projectionist. Details: Director – Giuseppe Tornatore, release – 1988, starring Enzo Cannavale, Antonella Attili and Isa Danieli.
Did You Know? By the end of 1956, it was Italy which had the largest network of cinemas in the whole of Europe. A total of 17,000. This was the highest ever reached in around that time. Director Giuseppe Tornatore’s intention was that this movie should serve as an obituary for traditional movie theatres (like the one on the film) and the movie industry in general. After the movie’s success he never mentioned this again.
56. Inside Out
Story: After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school. Details: Directors – Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen, release – 2015, starring Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black and Mindy Kaling.
Did You Know? Some of the memory balls in Riley’s mind contain scenes from other Pixar movies, such as Carl and Ellie’s wedding in Up (2009). According to director Pete Docter, each emotion is based on a shape: Joy is based on a star, Sadness is a teardrop, Anger is a fire brick, Fear is a raw nerve, and Disgust is broccoli. He noted that he likes broccoli very much, however.
55. The Great Dictator
Story: Dictator Adenoid Hynkel tries to expand his empire while a poor Jewish barber tries to avoid persecution from Hynkel’s regime. Details: Director – Charles Chaplin, release – 1940, starring Charlie Chaplin.
Did You Know? Adolf Hitler banned the film in Germany and in all countries occupied by the Nazis. Curiosity got the best of him, and he had a print brought in through Portugal. History records that he screened it twice, in private, but history did not record his reaction to the film. Charles Chaplin said, “I’d give anything to know what he thought of it.” For political reasons in Germany, the ban stayed after the end of WWII until 1958.
54. The Lives of Others
Story: In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives. Details: Director – Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, release – 2006, starring Martina Gedeck and Ulrich Mühe.
Did You Know? The entire budget of the film, about 2 million dollars (1.6 million Euro), was possible only because the actors were willing to work for 20% of their customary salary. The film set a record in 2006 for getting the most nominations (11) for the German Film Awards ever. Ironically, at the end of the film, years after the Berlin Wall is torn down, Wiesler buys a copy of Dreyman’s new book at the Karl Marx Buchhandlung, translation: Karl Marx Bookstore.
53. The Lion King
Story: Lion cub and future king Simba searches for his identity. His eagerness to please others and penchant for testing his boundaries sometimes gets him into trouble. Details: Directors – Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, release – 1994, starring Matthew Broderick, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, James Earl Jones, Jim Cummings and Jeremy Irons.
Did You Know? HIDDEN MICKEY: One of the bugs that Timon pulls out of a knothole during Hakuna Matata is wearing Mickey Mouse ears. When Mufasa tells Simba about the Great Kings of the Past if you look at the stars in the wide shot you can see Mickey Mouse. And also, unlike the other lions, Scar’s claws are always displayed throughout the movie.
Story: The commercial vessel Nostromo receives a distress call from an unexplored planet. After searching for survivors, the crew heads home only to realize that a deadly bioform has joined them. Details: Director – Ridley Scott, release 1979, starring Sigourney Weaver.
Did You Know? The blue laser lights that were used in the alien ship’s egg chamber were borrowed from The Who. The band was testing out the lasers for their stage show in the soundstage next door. The inside of the alien eggs as seen by Kane was composed of real organic material. Director Ridley Scott used cattle hearts and stomachs. The tail of the facehugger was sheep intestine.
51. The Prestige
Story: Two stage magicians engage in competitive one-upmanship in an attempt to create the ultimate stage illusion. Details: Director – Christopher Nolan, release – 2006, starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Piper Perabo.
Did You Know? Chung Ling Soo was a stage character created by a Caucasian American man, William Ellsworth Robinson, who disguised himself as a Chinese man to cash in on audiences’ enthusiasm for the exotic. Robinson lived as Chung, never breaking character while in public. He died in March 1918 when a bullet catch trick went wrong. “My God, I’ve been shot” were both his last words and the first English he had spoken on stage in 19 years.
50. Dr. Strangelove
Story: Full name: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically try to stop. Details: Director – Stanley Kubrick, release – 1964, starring Peter Sellers, George C. Scott and Sterling Hayden.
Did You Know? Peter Sellers was paid $1 million, 55% of the film’s budget. Stanley Kubrick famously quipped “I got three for the price of six”. It was worth is, since Sellers improvised most of his lines. The film led to actual changes in policy to ensure that the events depicted could never really occur in real life. And also, while shooting aerial footage over Greenland, the second unit camera crew accidentally filmed a secret US military base. Their plane was forced down, and the crew was suspected of being Soviet spies.
49. Sunset Blvd.
Story: A hack screenwriter writes a screenplay for a former silent-film star who has faded into Hollywood obscurity. Details: Director – Billy Wilder, release – 1950, starring William Holden and Gloria Swanson.
Did You Know? Upon seeing the film at a star-studded preview screening at Paramount, MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer screamed at director Billy Wilder that he should be tarred, feathered and horse-whipped for bringing his profession into such disrepute. Wilder’s response was a terse, “Fuck you.” And also, director Billy Wilder was frustrated with people assuming that the ending was meant to be ambiguous and asking him what happens to Norma after the final dissolve. “I have no idea! All I know is that she’s meshuggah, that’s all. That’s the end.”
48. Back to the Future
Story: A young man is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his friend, Dr. Emmett Brown, and must make sure his high-school-age parents unite in order to save his own existence. Details: Director: Robert Zemeckis, release – 1985, starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson.
Did You Know? Apparently Ronald Reagan was amused by Doc Brown’s disbelief that an actor like him could become president, so much so that he had the projectionist stop and replay the scene. He also seemed to enjoy it so much that he even made a direct reference of the film in his 1986 State of the Union address: “As they said in the film “Back to the Future”, ‘Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.'”
47. Apocalypse Now
Story: During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe. Details: Director – Francis Ford Coppola, release – 1979, starring Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen and Robert Duvall.
Did You Know? It took Francis Ford Coppola nearly three years to edit the footage. While working on his final edit, it became apparent to him that Martin Sheen would be needed to tape a number of additional narrative voice-overs. Coppola soon discovered that Sheen was busy and unable to perform these voice-overs. He then called in Sheen’s brother, Joe Estevez, whose voice sounds nearly identical to Sheen’s, to perform the new narrative tracks. Estevez was also used as a stand-in/double for Sheen when Sheen suffered a heart attack during the shoot in 1976. Estevez was not credited for his work as a stand-in or for his voice-over work.
Story: When a Roman general is betrayed and his family murdered by an emperor’s corrupt son, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge. Details: Director – Ridley Scott, release – 2000, starring Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix.
Did You Know? Over the course of the gladiatorial scenes, Russell Crowe broke bones in his foot and his hip, and injured both bicep tendons. Even the wounds on Crowe’s face after the opening battle scene are real, caused when his horse startled and backed him into tree branches. The stitches in his cheek are clearly visible when he is telling Commodus he intends to return home.
45. The Departed
Story: An undercover cop and a mole in the police attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in South Boston. Details: Director – Martin Scorsese, release – 2006, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen and Mark Wahlberg.
Did You Know? The scene where Frank Costello throws cocaine on hookers was one of many bizarre ideas contributed by Jack Nicholson, who also suggested wearing a strap-on for the scene with Matt Damon in the porn theater. Mark Wahlberg based his performance on the police officers who’d arrested him about two dozen times in his youth, and the reactions of his parents who had to come bail him out with their grocery money. And also, this is the movie with the most uses of the word “fuck” and its derivatives (237) to win the Best Picture Oscar.
Story: A man creates a strange system to help him remember things; so he can hunt for the murderer of his wife without his short-term memory loss being an obstacle. Details: Director – Christopher Nolan, release – 2000, starring Guy Pearce and Carrie-Anne Moss.
Did You Know? The medical condition experienced by Leonard in this film is a real condition called Anterograde Amnesia – the inability to form new memories after damage to the hippocampus. During the 1950s, doctors treated some forms of epilepsy by removing parts of the temporal lobe, resulting in the same memory problems. The film took 25 days to shoot.
43. The Pianist
Story: A Polish Jewish musician struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II. Details: Director – Roman Polanski, release – 2002, starring Adrien Brody and Emilia Fox.
Did You Know? During the shooting of the movie, while scouting locations in Krakow, Roman Polanski met a man who had helped Polanski’s family survive the war. Director Polanski himself experienced the Holocaust. His parents were sent to two different concentration camps: his father to Mauthausen-Gusen in Austria, where he survived the war, and his mother to Auschwitz where she was murdered.
42. The Green Mile
Story: The lives of guards on Death Row are affected by one of their charges: a black man accused of child murder and rape, yet who has a mysterious gift. Details: Director – Frank Darabont, release – 1999, starring Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan and David Morse.
Did You Know? Tom Hanks stayed in character as Paul Edgecomb whenever Stephen King visited the set. King asked him if he’d like to sit in Old Sparky but Hanks refused since he’s in charge of the block. The prison guards wear uniforms to give the movie a better feel, even though uniforms weren’t in use at the time in which the movie is set. And also, author Stephen King called this film *the* single most faithful adaptation of his work.
Story: A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential. Details: Director – Damien Chazelle, release – 2014, starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons.
Did You Know? During the more intense practice scenes, the director wouldn’t yell, “cut!” so that Miles Teller would keep drumming until he exhausted himself. J.K. Simmons suffered two cracked ribs when Miles Teller tackled him during the last two days of shooting. Simmons managed to continue working despite his injury. And also, although a visual double was used, all of Andrew’s drumming were performed by Miles Teller himself to pre-recorded tracks. About 40% of Teller’s drumming was used in the soundtrack.
40. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Story: A cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, must now protect her young son, John Connor, from a more advanced cyborg, made out of liquid metal.
Details: Director – James Cameron, release – 1991, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong.
Did You Know? In the audio commentary, James Cameron says that not only was the biker bar scene filmed across the street from where LAPD officers beat up Rodney King, but that they were filming the night of the beating. To date, this is the only sequel to win an Academy Award when the previous movie wasn’t even nominated. And also, given Arnold Schwarzenegger’s $15-million salary and his total of 700 words of dialog, he was paid $21,429 per word. “Hasta la vista, baby” cost $85,716.
39. Modern Times
Story: The Tramp struggles to live in modern industrial society with the help of a young homeless woman. Details: Director – Charles Chaplin, release – 1936, starring Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard and Henry Bergman.
Did You Know? Discounting later parodies and novelty films, this was the last major American film to make use of silent film conventions such as title cards for dialogue. The very last dialogue title card of this film (and thus, it can be said, the entire silent era) belongs to The Tramp, who says “Buck up – never say die! We’ll get along.” And also, a screening of the film closed out the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. A high point of the festival, an empty seat was illuminated by a spotlight to honor Charles Chaplin.
38. The Intouchables
Story: After he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an aristocrat hires a young man from the projects to be his caregiver. Details: Directors – Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, release – 2011, starring François Cluzet, Omar Sy and Anne Le Ny.
Did You Know? Although the real-life ‘Driss’ was a young Algerian man called Abdel, directors Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache changed the character’s nationality to West-African, as they had enjoyed working with Omar Sy on Tellement proches (2009), and really wanted him to play the part. Sy also had the experience of living in the impoverished French suburbs, just like Driss.
37. Rear Window
Story: A wheelchair bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder. Details: Director – Alfred Hitchcock, release – 1954, starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly and Wendell Corey.
Did You Know? The scene in which the man and woman on the fire escape struggle in their attempt to get in out of the rain can be attributed to a prank by Alfred Hitchcock. Each actor in the apartment complex facing Jeff’s rear window wore an earpiece through which they could receive Hitchcock’s directions. Hitchcock told the man to pull the mattress in one direction and told the woman to pull in the opposite direction. Unaware that they had received conflicting directions, the couple began to fight and struggle to get the mattress inside once the crew began filming the scene. The resulting mayhem in which one of the couple is tossed inside the window with the mattress provided humor and a sense of authenticity to the scene which Hitchcock liked. He was so pleased with the result that he did not order another take.
36. City Lights
Story: With the aid of a wealthy erratic tippler, a dewy-eyed tramp who has fallen in love with a sightless flower girl accumulates money to be able to help her medically. Details:Director – Charles Chaplin, release – 1931, starring Charlie Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill and Florence Lee.
Did You Know? At the beginning of the film, a town official and a woman dedicating the statue can be heard uttering nondescript words by way of a paper reed mouth instrument. The sounds were made by Charles Chaplin and this was the first time that his voice was heard on film. When the film opened on 31 January 1931, Albert Einstein joined Charles Chaplin at the theater. When the film opened in England, George Bernard Shaw joined him.
Story: A Phoenix secretary steals $40,000 from her employer’s client, goes on the run and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother. Details: Director – Alfred Hitchcock, release – 1960, starring Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh and Vera Miles.
Did You Know? Alfred Hitchcock was so pleased with the score written by Bernard Herrmann that he doubled the composer’s salary to $34,501. Hitchcock later said, “33% of the effect of Psycho was due to the music.” Ans also, although Janet Leigh was not bothered by the filming of the famous shower scene, seeing it on film profoundly moved her. She later remarked that it made her realize how vulnerable a woman was in a shower. To the end of her life, she always took baths.
34. Raiders of the Lost Ark
Story: Archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the US government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis. Details: Director – Steven Spielberg, release – 1981, starring Harrison Ford, Karen Allen and Paul Freeman.
Did You Know? Freeze-framing during the Well of Souls scene you can notice a golden pillar with a tiny engraving of R2D2 and C3PO from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). They are also on the wall behind Indy when they first approach the Ark. And also, Harrison Ford actually outran the boulder in the opening sequence. Because the scene was shot twice from five different angles, he had to outrun it ten times. Ford’s stumble in the scene was deemed to look authentic and was left in.
Story: Set in Casablanca, Morocco during the early days of World War II: An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications. Details: Director – Michael Curtiz, release – 1942, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid.
Did You Know? In the famous scene where the “Marseillaise” is sung over the German song “Watch on the Rhine”, many of the extras had real tears in their eyes; a large number of them were actual German Jews who had escaped from Nazi Germany and were overcome by the emotions the scene brought out. And also, Humphrey Bogart had to wear platform shoes to play alongside Ingrid Bergman.
32. American History X
Story: A former neo-nazi skinhead tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same wrong path that he did. Details: Director – Tony Kaye, release – 1998, starring Edward Norton, Edward Furlong and Beverly D’Angelo.
Did You Know? Edward Norton turned down Saving Private Ryan (1998) to do this film. Before filming began, Edward Norton and Edward Furlong shaved their heads for their roles. Norton also gained 30 pounds of muscle. This film uses the word “fuck” 214 times. Alternate ending: The original ending was of Derek standing in front of a mirror, shaving his head after Danny was shot. This was to make sense of the endless cycle of violence and tie the otherwise disjointed plot together but was removed after Edward Norton objected.
31. Spirited Away
Story: During her family’s move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and spirits, and where humans are changed into beasts. Details: Director – Hayao Miyazaki, release – 2001, starring Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette and Miyu Irino.
Did You Know? First anime film to be nominated for (and win) an Academy Award. It also has the longest runtime of any other film nominated or winning in that category (125 minutes). And also, the character No Face greatly resembles a silkworm, an important animal in Japanese culture. At the end of the movie, No Face goes with Sen to visit Zeniba. No Face stays with Zeniba spinning silk.
30. Saving Private Ryan
Story: Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action. Details: Director – Steven Spielberg, release – 1998, starring Tom Hanks, Matt Damon and Tom Sizemore.
Did You Know? Steven Spielberg cast Matt Damon as Ryan because he wanted an unknown actor with an All-American look. He didn’t know Damon would win an Oscar for Good Will Hunting (1997) and become an overnight star before the film was released. And also, the Omaha Beach scene cost $11 million to shoot and involved up to 1000 extras, some of whom were members of the Irish Army Reserve. Of those extras, 20-30 of them were amputees issued with prosthetic limbs to simulate soldiers having their limbs blown off.
Story: A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to ensure humanity’s survival. Details: Director – Christopher Nolan, release – 2014, starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain.
Did You Know? To create the wormhole and black hole, Dr. Kip Thorne collaborated VFX and the Double Negative team. Thorne provided pages of deeply sourced theoretical equations to the team, which then created new CGI software programs based on these equations to create accurate computer simulations of these phenomena. Some individual frames took up to 100 hours to render, and ultimately the whole CGI program reached to 800 terabytes of data. The resulting VFX provided Thorne with new insight into the effects of gravitational lensing and accretion disks surrounding black holes, and led to him writing two scientific papers–one for the astrophysics community and one for the computer graphics community.
28. Once Upon a Time in the West
Story: Epic story of a mysterious stranger with a harmonica who joins forces with a notorious desperado to protect a beautiful widow from a ruthless assassin working for the railroad. Details: Director – Sergio Leone, release – 1968, starring Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson and Claudia Cardinale.
Did You Know? Henry Fonda originally turned down a role in the picture. Director Sergio Leone flew to the United States and met with Fonda, who asked why he was wanted for the movie. Sergio replied, “Picture this: the camera shows a gunman from the waist down pulling his gun and shooting a running child. The camera pans up to the gunman’s face and… it’s Henry Fonda.” (Until then, and with one exception, Fonda had only been cast in “good guy” roles. Leone wanted the audience to be shocked.)
27. Léon: The Professional
Story: Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl, is reluctantly taken in by Léon, a professional assassin, after her family is murdered. Léon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship, as she becomes his protégée and learns the assassin’s trade. Details: Director – Luc Besson, release – 1994, starring Jean Reno, Gary Oldman and Natalie Portman.
Did You Know? During the filming involving all of the police cars on the street, a man ran from a store he had just robbed. When he encountered the movie set by accident, he saw all of the “police” and gave himself up to a bunch of uniformed extras. And of course, meet Natalie: This is Natalie Portman’s motion picture debut. She was 11 when she was cast.
26. Life Is Beautiful
Story: When an open-minded Jewish librarian and his son become victims of the Holocaust, he uses a perfect mixture of will, humor and imagination to protect his son from the dangers around their camp. Details: Director – Roberto Benigni, release – 1997, starring Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi and Giorgio Cantarini.
Did You Know? Guido’s wife, Dora, is played by Roberto Benigni’s real-life wife, Nicoletta Braschi. Roberto Benigni’s Oscar for best actor marked only the second time that an actor had directed himself in an Academy Award winning performance. The other was Laurence Olivier for Hamlet (1948). Benigni was so excited to receive his Academy Award for Best Foreign Film that he stood up in his chair and leaped across several more chairs to get to the stage.
25. It’s a Wonderful Life
Story: An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed. Details: Director – Frank Capra, release – 1946, starring James Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore.
Did You Know? As Uncle Billy is leaving George’s house drunk, it sounds as if he stumbles over some trash cans on the sidewalk. In fact, a crew member dropped some equipment right after Uncle Billy left the screen. Both actors continued with the scene (“I’m all right, I’m all right!”) and director Frank Capra decided to use it in the final cut. He gave the clumsy stagehand a $10 bonus for “improving the sound.”
24. The Usual Suspects
Story: A sole survivor tells of the twisty events leading up to a horrific gun battle on a boat, which begin when five criminals meet at a seemingly random police lineup. Details: Director – Bryan Singer, release – 1995, starring Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne and Chazz Palminteri.
Did You Know? The line-up scene was scripted as a serious scene, but after a full day of filming takes where the actors couldn’t keep a straight face, director Bryan Singer decided to use the funniest takes. A making-of documentary shows Singer becoming furious at the actors for the constant cracking-up. In an interview (on the Special Edition DVD), Kevin Pollak states that the hilarity came about when Benicio Del Toro “farted, like 12 takes in a row.” Del Toro himself said “somebody” farted, but no one knew who.
23. The Silence of the Lambs
Story: A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims. Details: Director – Jonathan Demme, release – 1991, starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins and Lawrence A. Bonney.
Did You Know? Jodie Foster claims that during the first meeting between Lecter and Starling, Anthony Hopkins’s mocking of her southern accent was improvised on the spot. Foster’s horrified reaction was genuine; she felt personally attacked. She later thanked Hopkins for generating such an honest reaction. In preparation for his role, Anthony Hopkins studied files of serial killers. Also, he visited prisons and studied convicted murderers and was present during some court hearings concerning serial killings.
Story: Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi. Details: Director – David Fincher, release – 1995, starring Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt and Kevin Spacey.
Did You Know? While filming the scene where Mills chases John Doe in the rain, Brad Pitt fell and his arm went through a car windscreen, requiring surgery. This accident was worked into the script of the film. Coincidentally, the original script did call for Pitt’s Det. Mills character to be injured during this sequence–but to something other than his hand.
21. City of God
Story: Two boys growing up in a violent neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro take different paths: one becomes a photographer, the other a drug dealer. Details: Director – Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, release – 2002, starring Alexandre Rodrigues, Matheus Nachtergaele and Leandro Firmino.
Did You Know? Leandro Firmino (Zé Pequeno) really was from the City of God and had no ambitions to be an actor, he only went to the audition to keep his friend company. The scene where the gang prays before the war was not scripted. During the shooting a young boy, who used to be on a real gang, asked director Fernando Meirelles if the group was not going to pray like they always did before any important confrontation with the enemies. Meirelles told him to lead the prayer as they shot the scene.
20. Seven Samurai
Story: A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves. Details: Director – Akira Kurosawa, release – 1954, starring Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura and Keiko Tsushima.
Did You Know? Akira Kurosawa’s original idea for the film was to make it about a day in the life of a samurai, beginning with him rising from bed and ending with him making some mistake that required him to kill himself to save face. Despite a good deal of research, he did not feel he had enough solid factual information to make the movie, but came across an anecdote about a village hiring samurai to protect them and decided to use that idea. Kurosawa wrote a complete dossier for each character with a speaking role. In it were details about what they wore, their favorite foods, their past history, their speaking habits and every other detail he could think of about them. No other Japanese director had ever done this before.
19. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
Story: Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a wookiee and two droids to save the universe from the Empire’s world-destroying battle-station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader. Details: Director – George Lucas, release – 1977, starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.
Did You Know? George Lucas was so sure the film would flop that instead of attending the premiere, he went on holiday to Hawaii with his good friend Steven Spielberg, where they came up with the idea for Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). And also, in early drafts of the script, R2-D2 could speak standard English, and had a rather foul vocabulary. Although all of R2’s English speech was removed, many of C-3PO’s reactions to it were left in.
18. The Matrix
Story: A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers. Details: Directors – The Wachowski Brothers, release – 1999, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss.
Did You Know? The Wachowskis approached Warner with the idea of the Matrix and Warner balked at the budget they had submitted, which was over $80 million. Warner instead agreed to give them $10 million. The Wachowskis took the money and filmed the first ten minutes of the movie (the opening scene with Carrie-Anne Moss) using the entire $10 million. They then showed the executives at Warner the opening scene. They were impressed, and green-lit the original asking budget.
Story: Henry Hill and his friends work their way up through the mob hierarchy. Details: Director – Martin Scorsese, release – 1990, starring Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci.
Did You Know? The “you think I’m funny?” scene was based on a story that Joe Pesci acted out for Martin Scorsese. While working in a restaurant as a young man, Pesci once told a mobster that he was funny and the mobster became very angry. Scorsese allowed Pesci and Ray Liotta to improvise the scene. He did not tell the other actors in the scene what would happen because he wanted their genuine surprised reactions.
16. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Story: While Frodo and Sam edge closer to Mordor with the help of the shifty Gollum, the divided fellowship makes a stand against Sauron’s new ally, Saruman, and his hordes of Isengard. Details: Director – Peter Jackson, release – 2002, starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen and Viggo Mortensen.
Did You Know? Viggo Mortensen broke two toes while kicking the steel helmet by the orc pyre, and that take is the one that actually appears in the movie. Peter Jackson said that he was really impressed with the shout of pain Aragorn cried out for the fate of the two hobbits, realizing only later that it was real pain for his toes. He was also impressed by the fact that Mortensen continued acting even while so seriously injured. Mortensen later remarked that the only reason it was even mentioned on the DVD release was because he was an actor and that the stunt crew were injured far worse and pushed through it.
15. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Story: Upon admittance to a mental institution, a brash rebel rallies the patients to take on the oppressive head nurse. Details: Director – Milos Forman, release – 1975, starring Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher and Michael Berryman.
Did You Know? Many extras were authentic mental patients. During filming, a crew member running cables left a second story window open at the Oregon State Mental Hospital and an actual patient climbed through the bars and fell to the ground, injuring himself. The next day The Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon reported the incident with the headline on the front page “One flew OUT of the cuckoo’s nest”.
Story: A thief who steals corporate secrets through use of dream-sharing technology is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a CEO. Details: Director – Christopher Nolan, release – 2010, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page.
Did You Know? If you take the first letters of the main characters’ names – Dom, Robert, Eames, Arthur, Mal and Saito – they spell “Dreams”. If you add Peter, Ariadne and Yusuf, the whole makes “Dreams Pay”, which is what they do for a mind thief. And also, Joseph Gordon-Levitt performed all but one of his own stunts during the fight scene in the spinning hallway.
13. Forrest Gump
Story: Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny Curran, eludes him. Details: Director – Robert Zemeckis, release – 1994, starring Tom Hanks, Robin Wright and Gary Sinise.
Did You Know? When Forrest gets up to talk at the Vietnam rally in Washington, the microphone plug is pulled and you cannot hear him. According to Tom Hanks, he says, “Sometimes when people go to Vietnam, they go home to their mommas without any legs. Sometimes they don’t go home at all. That’s a bad thing. That’s all I have to say about that.” And also, With every transition of Forrest’s age, one thing remains the same- in the first scene of each transition he wears a blue plaid shirt
12. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
Story: After the rebels have been brutally overpowered by the Empire on their newly established base, Luke Skywalker takes advanced Jedi training with Master Yoda, while his friends are pursued by Darth Vader as part of his plan to capture Luke. Details: Director – Irvin Kershner, release – 1980, starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.
Did You Know? The shots where Luke uses his Jedi powers to retrieve his lightsaber from a distance were achieved by having Mark Hamill throw the lightsaber away and then running the film in reverse. Han Solo is the only non-Jedi/Sith in the entire original trilogy to ever wield a lightsaber, which he used to cut open the tauntaun’s belly. And also, Darth Vader’s name comes from the following: “Darth” is a variation of the word “Dark” and “Vader” is the Dutch word for “Father”.
11. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Story: A meek hobbit of the Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring and the dark lord Sauron. Details: Director – Peter Jackson, release – 2001, starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen and Orlando Bloom.
Did You Know? Peter Jackson gave one of the rings used in the movies to both Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis as a gift when the shoot was finished. They both thought they had the only one. And also, Christopher Lee read “The Lord of the Rings” once a year until his death in 2015 and had done so since the year it was published, and is the only member of the cast and crew ever to have met J.R.R. Tolkien.
10. Fight Club
Story: An insomniac office worker, looking for a way to change his life, crosses paths with a devil-may-care soap maker, forming an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more… Details: Director – David Fincher, release – 1990, starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter.
Did You Know? After the copyright warning, there is another warning on the DVD. This warning is from Tyler Durden, and is only there for a second. “If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this is useless fine print is another second off your life. Don’t you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can’t think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all who claim it? Do you read everything you’re supposed to read? Do you think everything you’re supposed to think? Buy what you’re told you should want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you’re alive. If you don’t claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned… Tyler”
9. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Story: Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron’s army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring. Details: Director – Peter Jackson, release – 2003, starring Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen and Ian McKellen.
Did You Know? The final day of filming on the trilogy actually happened over a month after this movie was theatrically released, and three weeks after the 2004 Academy Awards. Peter Jackson arranged to film one final shot of skulls on the floor in the tunnel of the Paths of the Dead, which was included in the Extended Edition of The Return of the King. He thought it was funny to be doing filming on a movie that had already won the Best Picture Oscar.
8. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Story: A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery. Details: Director – Sergio Leone, release – 1966, starring Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef.
Did You Know? In the gun store, everything Eli Wallach does with the guns is completely unscripted. Eli knew little about the guns, so he was instructed to do whatever he wanted. Because Sergio Leone spoke barely any English and Eli Wallach spoke barely any Italian, the two communicated in French. And also, Clint Eastwood wore the same poncho through all three “Man with No Name” movies without replacement or cleaning.
7. Pulp Fiction
Story: The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption. Details: Director – Quentin Tarantino, release – 1994, starring John Travolta, Uma Thurman and Samuel L. Jackson.
Did You Know? The shot of Vincent plunging the syringe into Mia’s chest was filmed by having John Travolta pull the needle out, then running the film backwards. The word “fuck” is used 265 times. And also, Uma Thurman originally turned down the role of Mia Wallace. Quentin Tarantino was so desperate to have her as Mia, he ended up reading her the script over the phone, finally convincing her to take on the role.
6. Schindler’s List
Story: In Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazis. Details: Director – Steven Spielberg, release – 1993, starring Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Ben Kingsley.
Did You Know? When survivor Mila Pfefferberg was introduced to Ralph Fiennes on the set, she began shaking uncontrollably, as he reminded her too much of the real Amon Goeth. Steven Spielberg was not paid for this film. He refused to accept a salary, citing that it would be “blood money”. Instead, he gave the money to the Shoah Foundation. And also, when Steven Spielberg first showed composer John Williams a cut of the film, Williams was so moved he had to take a walk outside for several minutes to collect himself. Upon his return, Williams told Spielberg he deserved a better composer. Spielberg replied, “I know, but they’re all dead.”
5. 12 Angry Men
Story: A dissenting juror in a murder trial slowly manages to convince the others that the case is not as obviously clear as it seemed in court. Details: Director – Sidney Lumet, release – 1957, starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb and Martin Balsam.
Did You Know? At the beginning of the film, the cameras are all positioned above eye level and mounted with wide-angle lenses to give the appearance of greater distance between the subjects. As the film progresses the cameras slip down to eye level. By the end of the film, nearly all of it is shot below eye level, in close-up and with telephoto lenses to increase the encroaching sense of claustrophobia.
4. The Dark Knight
Story: When the menace known as the Joker wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham, the caped crusader must come to terms with one of the greatest psychological tests of his ability to fight injustice. Details: Director – Christopher Nolan, release – 2008, starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhart.
Did You Know? In Sir Michael Caine’s opinion, Heath Ledger beat the odds and topped Jack Nicholson’s Joker from Batman (1989): “Jack was like a clown figure, benign but wicked, maybe a killer old uncle. He could be funny and make you laugh. Heath’s gone in a completely different direction to Jack, he’s like a really scary psychopath. He’s a lovely guy and his Joker is going to be a hell of a revelation in this picture.” Caine bases this belief on a scene where the Joker pays a visit to Bruce Wayne’s penthouse. He’d never met Ledger before, so when Ledger arrived and performed he gave Caine such a fright he forgot his lines.
3. The Godfather: Part II
Story: The early life and career of Vito Corleone in 1920s New York is portrayed while his son, Michael, expands and tightens his grip on his crime syndicate stretching from Lake Tahoe, Nevada to pre-revolution 1958 Cuba. Details: Director – Francis Ford Coppola, release – 1974, starring Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Robert Duvall.
Did You Know? Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro are the only two actors to ever win separate Oscars for playing the same character. Brando won Best Actor for The Godfather (1972) and De Niro won Best Supporting Actor for this movie, both in the role of Vito Corleone. To prepare for his role, Robert De Niro lived in Sicily for three months where he learnt to speak the Sicilian dialect. Nearly all the dialogue that his character speaks in the film was in Sicilian.
2. The Godfather
Story: The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son. Details: Director – Francis Ford Coppola, release – 1972, starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and James Caan.
Did You Know? Marlon Brando wanted to make Don Corleone “look like a bulldog,” so he stuffed his cheeks with cotton wool for the audition. For the actual filming, he wore a mouthpiece made by a dentist. This appliance is on display in the American Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York. During an early shot of the scene where Vito Corleone returns home and his people carry him up the stairs, Brando put weights under his body on the bed as a prank, to make it harder to lift him.
1. The Shawshank Redemption
Story: Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency. Details: Director – Frank Darabont, release – 1994, starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.
Did You Know? Author Stephen King sold the film rights for his novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” for $5,000. He never cashed the check. Years after Shawshank came out, the author got the check framed and mailed it back to the director Frank Darabont with a note inscribed: “In case you ever need bail money. Love, Steve.”
The #1 Movie? Wow! We made it all the way here through the 100 top movies of all time. What made the top ranking movie so loved? You’re invited to read a special post here: The Shawshank Redemption: Secrets, Facts, Quotes and Rare Behind the Scenes Stories.
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