My Gleanings

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Prelude to a 10 best films list: Cahiers January 1957

This is a translation of the forward published for the "10 Best Films of the Year" for the year 1956, published in the January 1957 issue of Cahiers du Cinema.

The publications of these lists of the "10 Best Films of the Year" asks for a certain number of observations.
1. They are made up from films presented in Paris in the course of the year 1956, their date of production might be older.
2. They are not made up of either a list Cahiers, or a list Conseil des dix, or of a range of all reviews. The chosen mix is in keeping with the wish to attain a kind of objectivity in making several trends to the exclusion of those frankly anti-Cahiers. Thus, lists by friends, but often in disagreement with us...and among each other.
3. We beg pardon for not being able, due to space limitations, to publish all the responses received. Those omitted have only been so inasmuch as they duplicated others nearer at hand.
4. Just about every response cited the difficulty of keeping to only ten titles in a year particularly bounteous and were accompanied by supplementary titles which we can not publish for fear of bending a rule strictly observed by several others. That said, we acknowledge that this choice presents insoluble cases of conscience and we well know that it is with much soul-searching that many have had to fine-tune among films which they valued. The reader might amuse himself by locating the inevitable bias and the exact criterion which has lead a few to give to their list a significance of tendency rather than of classification. In the ensemble of supplementary responses, it emerges that most would have wished to utilize 20 to 25 selections.
5. Let's also report that several mentioned Night and Fog as "beyond competition"; this work, according to them, cannot, by its nature and its object, enter into competition with other films.
6. We urge our readers to address to us, before February 1st, their own lists whose results we will be happy to compare with the present list.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cahiers du Cinema 12 best films of all-time from 1958

In 1957, in preparation for an event at the Brussels World Fair of 1958 called the "Confrontation of the Best Films in the World", the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique sent out to 150 critics world-wide an invitation to submit their list of the 30 most important films in the history from the beginning of film till 1955. Cahiers du Cinema published a study of those lists and they also conducted an in-house survey of 17 regular Cahiers critics in their December 1958 issue. Their list of the 12 best films up until 1958 is as follows:

Sunrise (F W Murnau)
The Rules of the Game (Jean Renoir)
Journey to Italy (Roberto Rossellini)
Ivan the Terrible (Sergei Eisenstein)
The Birth of a Nation (D W Griffith)
Mr Arkadin (Orson Welles)
Ordet (Carl Theodor Dreyer)
Ugetsu (Kenji Mizoguchi)
L’Atalante (Jean Vigo)
The Wedding March (Erich Von Stroheim)
Under Capricorn (Alfred Hitchcock)
Monsieur Verdoux (Charles Chaplin)

They went on to explain:
We have adopted a method of balloting considerably different from that of Brussels. Before our choices were directed towards the work, a first ballot designated in order of importance 12 auteurs. We eliminated in the first vote:

13) Max Ophuls
14) Fritz Lang
15) Howard Hawks and Buster Keaton
17) Ingmar Bergman
18) Nicholas Ray
19) Norman McLaren and Robert Flaherty
21) Luis Bunuel and René Clair
23) Luchino Visconti and Alexander Dovchenko

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