AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movies – Reviewed!
AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movies – Reviewed!

“We will create an American Film Institute, bringing together leading artists of the film industry, outstanding educators and young men and women who wish to pursue the 20th-century art form as their life’s work.”

– President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965

 
 

The first edition of the American Film Institute’s “100 Years …100 Movies” is a list of the 100 greatest American films of all time, as voted upon by more than 1,500 leaders from across the American film community (including screenwriters, directors, actors, producers, cinematographers, editors, executives, film historians, and critics). It wasn’t designed to be a completely arbitrary construction based on democratic voting, however, as the participants were only allowed to choose from an already existing assemblage of 400 previously nominated, feature-length films, which was compiled by AFI beforehand. The list debuted as a CBS television special, complete with scene clips and blurbs from famous faces, which aired on June 16, 1998.

Right from the start, the titles were hotly contested. One of its greatest criticisms involved the exclusion of foreign films, though that would have required a starting list of far more than 400 selections. Plus, it would be difficult for those 1,500 professionals to have an appropriate knowledge of world cinema. And movies like “The Third Man” and “Lawrence of Arabia” were widely considered British pictures, which further raised eyebrows as to the specifications for strictly American selections. Nevertheless, the list proved to be a good thing, boosting discussions and debates about film, while also inspiring diehard movie enthusiasts and novices alike to broaden their horizons, contemplate what others consider to be masterpieces (and why), and even create lists of their own (like we did with our personal Top 100).

Across the country, the publication of the AFI list was enormously influential. It was instantly talked about and reached a level of fame never before seen with a list of movies. Numerous other publications and organizations released their own Top 100s in protest of AFI’s various inclusions and exclusions. For us, not only did it offer up a checklist of titles to seek out, but it also got us to think about ranking and sorting great films (many of which are incalculably, immeasurably different). Before AFI’s list, we never even thought about how so many different works could be compared, let alone of an organization that might possess a body of scholars worthy of compiling such a list. We certainly don’t agree with all of the titles that made the cut, but the mere existence of the list is spectacularly appealing.

We’ve always been fascinated by movies – long before we could analyze them beyond their basic entertainment value or star power. But AFI’s original list inspired us to take a look at productions in which we might not have otherwise found interest – including historically important pieces like “The Jazz Singer” and “The Birth of a Nation.”

In honor of the personal significance of AFI’s lists, as well as the prestige they brought to the general compilation of movie lists (they would also release, every couple of years, additional specials that featured their choices for the 100 greatest thrillers, romances, comedies, heroes & villains, and more), The Massie Twins have reviewed every single film! Whew!

 
 

AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movies (1998)

 
 

1. Citizen Kane (1941)

2. Casablanca (1942)

3. The Godfather (1972)

4. Gone With the Wind (1939)

5. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

6. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

7. The Graduate (1967)

8. On the Waterfront (1954)

9. Schindler’s List (1993)

10. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

11. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

12. Sunset Boulevard (1950)

13. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

14. Some Like it Hot (1959)

15. Star Wars (1977)

16. All About Eve (1950)

17. The African Queen (1951)

18. Psycho (1960)

19. Chinatown (1974)

20. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

21. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

22. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

23. The Maltese Falcon (1941)

24. Raging Bull (1980)

25. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

26. Dr. Strangelove (1964)

27. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

28. Apocalypse Now (1979)

29. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

30. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

31. Annie Hall (1977)

32. The Godfather Part II (1974)

33. High Noon (1952)

34. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

35. It Happened One Night (1934)

36. Midnight Cowboy (1969)

37. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

38. Double Indemnity (1944)

39. Doctor Zhivago (1965)

40. North by Northwest (1959)

41. West Side Story (1961)

42. Rear Window (1954)

43. King Kong (1933)

44. The Birth of a Nation (1915)

45. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

46. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

47. Taxi Driver (1976)

48. Jaws (1975)

49. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

50. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

51. The Philadelphia Story (1940)

52. From Here to Eternity (1953)

53. Amadeus (1984)

54. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

55. The Sound of Music (1965)

56. M*A*S*H (1970)

57. The Third Man (1949)

58. Fantasia (1940)

59. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

60. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

61. Vertigo (1958)

62. Tootsie (1982)

63. Stagecoach (1939)

64. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

65. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

66. Network (1976)

67. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

68. An American in Paris (1951)

69. Shane (1953)

70. The French Connection (1971)

71. Forrest Gump (1994)

72. Ben-Hur (1959)

73. Wuthering Heights (1939)

74. The Gold Rush (1925)

75. Dances With Wolves (1990)

76. City Lights (1931)

77. American Graffiti (1973)

78. Rocky (1976)

79. The Deer Hunter (1978)

80. The Wild Bunch (1969)

81. Modern Times (1936)

82. Giant (1956)

83. Platoon (1986)

84. Fargo (1996)

85. Duck Soup (1933)

86. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

87. Frankenstein (1931)

88. Easy Rider (1969)

89. Patton (1970)

90. The Jazz Singer (1927)

91. My Fair Lady (1964)

92. A Place in the Sun (1951)

93. The Apartment (1960)

94. Goodfellas (1990)

95. Pulp Fiction (1994)

96. The Searchers (1956)

97. Bringing Up Baby (1938)

98. Unforgiven (1992)

99. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)

100. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

 
 

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