Words Created The Movies That Live Forever

Did you see the news from the British Film Institute’s magazine Sight and Sound?

Every ten years the institute invites international film critics to vote on the greatest film of all time.

Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941) held the lead for the last fifty years.  In this year’s survey, critics voted Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) into first place.

If you haven’t figured out why I’m telling you this…someone wrote every word in these long-revered movies.  That’s right.  The writer or writers wrote such gripping, enthralling stories for the screen that their work has survived to this day.  Not only survived, but these stories have been feted by experts and critics time and again through the years.

Which of today’s movies do you think could begin to compete with these giants?  Frankly, I can’t think of even one worth nominating for this list.

It says something about the quality of film writing today, the plot and story, that in the critic’s list of the top ten movies of all time, the oldest movies on the list dates from 1927 (two) and the newest was filmed in 1968.  On the directors’ list of top ten movies, the oldest is dated 1941, with the newest showing up in 1980. (The first celluloid movie was filmed in 1878, but films moved from novelty to entertainment around the advent of The Jazz Singer in 1927.  The addition of sound to movies emphasized the work of the writers.)

A second article out today about the movie world declared that less than half the movies made this year are original material.  The majority are remakes of movies that may or may not have been worthwhile when they originally hit the theaters.  I’ve even noticed remakes of remakes.  How long can that go on?  Will we one day be choosing between the 13th remake of a buddy movie and the 20th remake of a frat boys flick?  Heaven preserve us!

The films voted The Critics’ Top 10 Greatest Films of All Time made the list because of their unique quality, a new approach to filming, characters who believed in something making us believe in them, a story we hadn’t heard before we walked into the cool darkness of the theater. 

When did we lose our appetite for originality and inventiveness?  When did we start accepting, even expecting, the same movie rehashed with new actors and directors, new titles, new fart jokes?

In the face of the current economy when did we learn to shrug our shoulders and hand over our hard-earned cash for less than stellar ideas and performances?

As writers will we one day find ourselves on the list of the Top Ten Books of All Time?  Will our work stand the scrutiny of future generations as well as do the movies on the list from the British Film Institute?  Are we continually working to be original and fresh, to be genuine in our desire to entertain our readers?

Maybe we all need a movie night to remind us how long great writing lives.  Here are the lists.  Which of these movies have you enjoyed in the past?  Which ones are you ready to take a good look at tonight?


The Critics’ Top 10 Greatest Films of All Time

Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)

Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)

Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953)

La Règle du jeu (Renoir, 1939)

Sunrise: A Song for Two Humans (Murnau, 1927)

2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)

The Searchers (Ford, 1956)

Man With a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)

The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, 1927)

8 ½ (Fellini, 1963)


The Directors’ Top 10 Greatest Films of All Time

Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953)

2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)

Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)

8 ½ (Fellini, 1963)

Taxi Driver (Scorsese, 1980)

Apocalypse Now (Coppola, 1979)

The Godfather (Coppola, 1972)

Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)

Mirror (Tarkovsky, 1974)

Bicycle Thieves (De Sica, 1948)

Thanks to The Hollywood Reporter for the lists of movies.


My personal favorites are Vertigo and The Searchers.  I’m going to find The Passion of Joan of Arc very soon, and know I’ll enjoy it immensely.

I’ll make the popcorn if you get the movies cued up for viewing.  Share your top three movies from these lists in the comments and we’ll all have a new list of classics to enjoy.


2 thoughts on “Words Created The Movies That Live Forever

  1. My daughter and I were just talking today about the lack or originality in movies. We hunt and hunt for a good one to enjoy at theaters, but are often sadly disappointed constantly. There are so many awesome stories out there, new and fresh, if only the movie world would start to realize their value and the public’s hunger for them.

    1. Hi T.C.

      I find myself going to children’s movies more than ever, just because there is more imagination and creativity in them. Turns out that I’m only moved to part with my cash for a movie once a year or so. It’s just not worth the time or money when there’s no depth or quality to the stories being made into movies. Sad to say, and discouraging as well. I used to love seeing how a writer and director collaborated to bring a wonderful story to life on the big screen.

      More than likely the movie studios will never make a change to the original and creative levels of the past – unless everyone just quits approving their work with our hard-earned cash and stays away from theaters in droves.

      Until the studio moguls catch on, I’ll be here reading exciting books by excellent authors. Bring your book – I’ll brew the tea.

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