(Public) Better than AFI's Top 100 - 2017
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NameYearDirectorStarring:Brief synopsisNotes2007 AFI (100)2012 Sight and Sound (250)2010 TIFF Essential 1002015 BBC Top 100 U.S. FilmsThey Shoot Pictures, Don't They? (Top 1000, 3/2017)Holllywood Reporter: Hollywood's 100 Favorites
The Great Train Robbery1903Edwin S. PorterJustus D. Barnes, Alfred C. AbadieSome bandits rob a train and get blown awayThe first movie to do just about everything...only 12 minutes, so not a true featureN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Gertie the Dinosaur1914Winsor McCayGertie the dinosaurA man gets a dinosaur to eat stuff, dance, etc.The first animated short...again, at about 13 minutes and change not really a featureN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The Merchant of Venice1914Lois WeberPhillips Smalley, Lois WeberIt's like the Shakespeare play...but without the words being spokenFirst U.S. feature directed by a woman...one of many lost filmsN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The Birth of a Nation1915D.W. GriffithLillian Gish, Henry B. WalthallThe Ku Klux Klan are the heroes in this movie featuring one Northern family and one SouthernLongest film in America at the time, rewriting what was possible in a feature... so influential everyone else copied the styleN/AN/A8139268N/A
Intolerance1916D.W. GriffithLillian Gish, Constance TalmadgeFour different historical stories are put on parallel tracks to make a point about racismLonger still than Birth of a Nation...massive narrative creativity and unheard of editing...training ground for future auteurs49T-93N/AN/A99N/A
Broken Blossoms1919D.W. GriffithLillian Gish, Richard BarthelmessBased on a short story called "The Chink and the Child," so that should tell you what you need to knowA straight, tighter romance for GriffithN/AN/AN/AN/A261N/A
Male and Female1920Cecil B. DeMilleGloria Swanson, Thomas MeighanA noblewoman's butler has an opportunity to woo her when, shipwrecked, he becomes the important oneThis movie would have an interesting take on class or gender roles one hundred years later, especially given the endingN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The Leopard Woman1920Wesley RugglesLouise Glaum, House PetersTwo rival empires fight over Africa using their special agentsVery early feature romanceN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Way Down East 1920D.W. GriffithLillian Gish, Richard BarthelmessA girl with a bad past alternately rejects people due to it and is herself rejectedLillian Gish gets rescued from an ice floe, so that's pretty coolN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The Last of the Mohicans1920Clarence Brown and Maurice TourneurWallace Beery, Barbara BedfordIt's the French and Indian War and one white guy in Indian drag is good at everythingA shorter feature with high notes for Beery, action plotN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The Kid1921Charlie ChaplinCharlie Chaplin, Jackie CooganThe Tramp takes care of a little childChaplin's first directorial effortN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse1921Rex IngramRudolph Valentino, Wallace Beery, Pomeroy CannonA family with German and French roots clashes over WWIValentino tangosN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The Sheik1921George MelfordRudolph Valentino, Agnes AyresStockholm Syndrome in the desertValentino seduces a woman with the power of saving her from trying to escape from himN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Orphans of the Storm1921D.W. GriffithLillian Gish, Dorothy GishA pair of sisters wind up knee-deep in the Reign of TerrorThe last great Griffith movieN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Down to the Sea in Ships1922Elmer CliftonWilliam Walcott, Clara Bow, Marguerite CourtotA tough Quaker whaler won't let anyone marry his daughterEarly family melodramaN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Foolish Wives1922Erich von StroheimErich von Stroheim, Maude GeorgeA man pretends to be rich to con rich women out of their money and modestyMost expensive film made up to this point...early von Stroheim experience in getting a major film cut downN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Safety Last1923Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam TaylorHarold Lloyd, Mildred DavisA guy tries to make some dough in New York...in a rather risky wayThe famous shot of a guy hanging from a clock above the streetN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The Ten Commandments1923Cecil B. DeMilleTheodore RobertsThe story of Moses segues into a modern day story about following said commandmentsOkay, so the idea for this movie was apparently "You cannot break the Ten Commandments - they will break you," which is what Yakov Smirnoff would have done if he had been born about a million years earlierN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Greed1924Erich von StroheimGibson Gowland, ZaSu PittsA dentist marries a woman who wins the lottery - everything goes wrong from thereUncut version eight hours long (and missing)...realistic sets and lighting...very early deep focusN/AT-84772288N/A
Sherlock Jr1924Buster KeatonBuster Keaton, Kathryn McGuireA projectionist with a crush falls asleep and dreams of being the detective on screenInventive double-plot and inventive gags...only 45 minutesN/A593144111N/A
The Thief of Baghdad1924Raoul WalshDouglas Fairbanks, Snitz Edwards, Charles BelcherA thief named Ahmed fights for the love of a beautiful princessThe magic carpet...one of Fairbanks' major performancesN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The Gold Rush1925Charlie ChaplinCharlie Chaplin, Georgie HaleThe Tramp does some shenanigans in the Klondike Gold RushSurprising mix of brilliant sight gags and a fairly dramatic finish58N/AN/A1769N/A
The Big Parade1925King VidorJohn Gilbert, Renee AdoreeWorld War I is fought, French ladies are wooedSome brief color...influential WWI movieN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The General1926Buster KeatonBuster Keaton, Marion MackA Confederate train engineer is like a one-man army against the encroaching Union forcesExplosive stunts and seriously advanced shots of multiple train chases...now considered Keaton's best1834N/AN/A37N/A
Sunrise1927F.W. MurnauJanet Gaynor, George O'Brian, Margaret LivingstonA man enraptured by a woman decides to murder his wifePlot depends heavily on camera and camera movement rather than title cards 8252568N/A
The Jazz Singer1927Alan Crosland and Gordon HollingsheadAl JolsonA nice Jewish boy decides to get into showbizThe first feature talkie in America...did we mention the blackface?N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
It1927Clarence G. BadgerClara Bow, Antonio MorenoA shopgirl decides to pick up the bossThe most flapper filmN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Seventh Heaven1927Frank BorzageJanet Gaynor, Charles FarrellA young woman and a young man fall in love in WWI FranceHelped win the first Best Actress and Best Director awardsN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Wings1927William A. WellmanBuddy Rogers, Clara Bow, Richard ArlenTwo rivals for the same girl become aviators together and face off in a highly dramatic twistOne of the twin Best Picture winners for '27N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The Crowd1928King VidorJames Murray, Eleanor BoardmanA man and a woman are forced to reckon with big city lifeEarly moving camera technique...came out at the wrong timeN/AN/AN/AN/A221N/A
Sadie Thompson1928Raoul WalshGloria Swanson, Lionel BarrymoreOne of them "fallen women" accidentally casts a spell on the man trying to fix herA last great moment for Swanson in the silent world...frequently adapted storyN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
In Old Arizona1928Irving Cummings, Raoul WalshWarner Baxter, Edmund LoweThe saga of the Cisco Kid beginsFirst outdoor talkie WesternN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The Cocoanuts1929Robert Florey, Joseph Santleythe Marx BrothersOne Marx brother run a hotel in Florida and everyone else is a con artistThe first Marx Bros. film and an early classic talkie comedyN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Queen Kelly1929Erich von StroheimGloria Swanson, Walter ByronA young woman gets in with the wrong royal crowdA bizarre, unknowing Sunset Blvd prequel...so scandalous they fired von StroheimN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Madame X1929Lionel BarrymoreRuth Chatterton, Raymond Hackett, Lewis StoneThe son of a fallen woman finds himself representing his mom in courtA strong and unusually dramatic piece for the '20sN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Disraeli1929Alfred E. GreenGeorge Arliss, Doris LloydDisraeli manages to make India the jewel in the British EmpireArliss gives one of the seminal biopic performancesN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
All Quiet on the Western Front1930Lewis MilestoneLew Ayres, Louis WolheimIt's hard to be German on the Western FrontHas influenced every war movie sinceN/AN/AN/AN/A689N/A
Anna Christie1930Clarence BrownGreta GarboA young woman reunites with her father and falls in loveGarbo talks!N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The Big House1930George W. HillWallace Beery, Chester Morris, Robert MontgomerySome poorly treated prisoners take matters into their own handsA conscious early entry into the prison genre of filmN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Morocco1930Josef von SternbergMarlene Dietrich, Gary CooperA soldier competes for the love of a performer against a rich fellowDietrich's most transgressive flick...the kind of movie one talks about in Hausmann's classN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Ingagi1930William CampbellCharlie GemoraA cult of Africans worships gorillas and gives over their women for sexCan you believe this ever got made? Also, it's "lost." Sure, it's "lost."N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Hell's Angels1930Howard HughesJean Harlow, Ben LyonWWI aces struggle in personal and war-related waysAn early sound spectacleN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Madam SatanI'm not actually suggesting that this is one of the top 400 American films of all time, but that name...attention must be paid.
Little Caesar1931Mervyn LeRoyEdward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Glenda FarrellRico rises through the ranks of the mobOne of the key gangster films which has far-reaching influencesN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The Champ1931King VidorWallace Beery. Jackie CooperA drunk boxer has to fight to earn some money for his familyIf this plot sounds familiar, then this is whyN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde1931Rouben MamoulianFredric MarchBasically the same as the novellaN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Dracula1931Tod BrowningBela LugosiBasically the same as the novelThe classic vampire film in America - Nosferatu isn't real!N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
A Free Soul1931Clarence BrownNorma Shearer, Lionel Barrymore, Clark GableThe mob, the law, and ex-boyfriends all combine in San FranciscoGable makes a star turn...Barrymore won Best Actor for thisN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Cimarron1931Wesley RugglesRichard Dix, Irene DunneA settler in Oklahoma keeps getting himself into trouble at the expense of his saintly wifeMaybe the hardest Best Picture winner to seeN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The Public Enemy1931William A. WellmanJames Cagney, Eddie WoodsA couple of hoods become notoriousAn early Cagney gangster flickN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Frankenstein1931James WhaleBoris KarloffSort of, ah, less modern prometheusy than the original textThe reason we think Frankenstein's monster looks and acts the way he doesN/AN/AN/AN/A507N/A
City Lights 1931Charlie ChaplinCharlie Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Harry MyersThe Tramp falls in love with a blind flower sellerChaplin's most touching work...maybe the penultimate great silent film in American history11T-50291827N/A
Trouble in Paradise1932Ernst LubitschMiriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, Herbert MarshallA pair of jewel thieves fall in love, but the woman can't tell if her man is just trying to charm a mark or has shifted his affectionAn early intelligent example of the American romantic comedyN/AN/AN/AN/A139N/A
Shanghai Express1932Josef von SternbergMarlene Dietrich, Clive BrookA train ride turns into a vehicle for memory as well as a Chinese warlord's sinister plansAbout a zillion years ahead of its time in terms of understanding race and womenN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Scarface1932Howard HawksPaul MuniAn incredibly violent gangster does violent things and leaves a trailAnother well-liked pre-Code gangster movieN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The Most Dangerous Game1932Ernest B. Schoedsack and Irving PichelJoel McCrea, Fay Wray, Leslie BanksA wealthy man hunts humans for sportIn terms of cast/sets/creatives, functions as a curious companion piece to King KongN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
I Am a Fugitive from the Chain Gang1932Mervyn LeRoyPaul Muni, Glenda FarrellA wrongfully convicted man runs again and again from his imprisonmentA classic Muni picture...frank about the effect of the penal systemN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Red Dust1932Victor FlemingClark Gable, Jean Harlow, Mary AstorA man en Indochine has to choose between the right girl and the wrong girlA pretty lusty Pre-Code romanceN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Freaks1932Tod BrowningOlga Baclanova, Leila Hyams, Henry VictorCarnival freaks - played by actual carnival freaks - are scorned by someone they'd accepted into their group and dole out fitting punishment.Cult classic which cannot be seen in original...manages to be unsettling and touching all at onceN/AN/AN/AN/A265N/A
Letty Lynton1932Clarence BrownJoan Crawford, Robert MontgomeryA socialite decides to get rid of her old man for a new man via poisonLost a lawsuit and now is very hard to see...might have the most iconic dress in Old Hollywood historyN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Grand Hotel1932Edmund GouldingGreta Garbo, Joan Crawford, John BarrymoreIntrigues and plots spin around a group of rivals in BerlinMassive all-star cast...weirdest Best Picture winner - not nominated for anything elseN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
42nd Street1933Lloyd BaconWarner Baxter, Ruby KeelerA producer needs to make a Broadway hit and can't get out of his wayA clear Busby Berkeley classic...contains the title song, "Shuffle Off to Buffalo"N/AN/AN/AN/A927N/A
Duck Soup1933Leo McCareythe Marx BrothersAn utterly unqualified boob becomes the leader of a nationAn all-time great political satire...best of the Marx Bros. movies60N/AN/A95161N/A
King Kong1933Merian Cooper and Ernest SchoedsackFay Wray, King KongMuch ape, such Empire State Building, wowStill the definitive movie monster41N/AN/AN/A156N/A
Queen Christina1933Rouben MamoulianGreta Garbo, John GilbertThe queen of Sweden gives up the throne for love, sort ofBarthes uses this movie to talk about Garbo, so...N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Gold Diggers of 19331933Mervyn LeRoyWarren William, Joan Blondell, Ruby KeelerFour Depression-era actresses vie for parts and loveAn apex Busby Berkeley movie...can we talk about this title for a second?N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Christopher Strong1933Dorothy ArznerKatharine Hepburn, Colin CliveA weird sex bet unfolds among bored BritsArzner's best-regarded filmN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Bright Eyes1934David ButlerShirley Temple, James DunnA pair of old dudes duke it out in the courts over a little girlA favorite Temple movie and "On the Good Ship Lollipop"N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The Barretts of Wimpole Street1934Sidney FranklinNorma Shearer, Fredric March, Charles LaughtonElizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning can't get her dad off their backBest reviewed picture of the yearN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Of Human Bondage1934John CromwellLeslie Howard, Bette DavisAn artistic dude with a clubfoot falls in love with a dumb waitressDavis' breakout picture...Howard is good tooN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The Gay Divorcee1934Mark SandrichFred Astaire, Ginger RogersThe first major Astaire-Rogers smashTwenty minute dance sequence to finish, and a bunch of Cole Porter songsN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The Thin Man1934W.S. Van DykeWilliam Powell, Myrna LoyA retired PI and his lovely wife accidentally get back into the gameClassic old-school favorite, spawned many sequelsN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
It Happened One Night1934Frank CapraClark Gable, Claudette ColbertAn heiress falls for a reporterClark Gable becomes CLARK GABLE...first movie to win Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay46N/AN/AN/A323N/A
The Lives of a Bengal Lancer1935Henry HathawayGary Cooper, Franchot Tone, Richard CromwellA unit of British troops fights IndiansMassive apologetics for the British Empire...a gung ho action flickN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Top Hat1935Mark SandrichFred Astaire, Ginger RogersAn American starring in a show overseas falls for a girl who can, you guessed it, also danceA classic Astaire-Rogers film, with the "Cheek to Cheek" sceneN/AN/AN/AN/A472N/A
No More Ladies1935Edward H. GriffithJoan Crawford, Robert MontgomeryA woman decides to make her husband jealous after expressing monogamistic preferencesA rich-people-envy film with Crawford doing CrawfordN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Bride of Frankenstein1935James WhaleBoris Karloff, Elsa LanchesterPeople try to make the Monster a lover, but...Somehow more iconic than the original movieN/AN/AN/AN/A306N/A
A Night at the Opera1935Sam Woodthe Marx BrothersMistaken identity reigns as an inept business manager negotiates with another inept businessman over tenorsLess politically astute than Duck Soup, significantly more demented85N/AN/AN/A447N/A
Becky Sharp1935Rouben MamoulianMiriam Hopkins, Frances Dee, Cedric HardwickeA girl of a lower-class helps to abet the destruction of the nobles she insinuates herself withProbably the most popular Vanity Fair filmN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Mutiny on the Bounty1935Frank LloydClark Gable, Charles LaughtonThere's a mutiny. On the Bounty.First movie with three Oscar nominations for actingN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Sylvia Scarlett1935George CukorKatharine Hepburn, Cary GrantA woman poses as a young man to escape the copsA famous early gender-bender which played into Hepburn's unusual star imageN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Swing Time1936George StevensFred Astaire, Ginger RogersA careening back-and-forth plot featuring a gambler and a dance instructorAnother favorite Astaire-Rogers bit...90N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Dodsworth1936William WylerWalter Huston, Mary Astor, Ruth ChattertonA longtime married couple recognize that their values diverge significantly while on a cruiseBest adaptation of Sinclair Lewis novel...still a great movie about the American character compared to EuropeansN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town1936Frank CapraGary Cooper, Jean ArthurA recent inheritor of a great fortune decides to start a well-meaning sharecropping exerciseOne of the most popular Capra flicksN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Camille1936George CukorGreta Garbo, Robert Taylor, Lionel BarrymoreA beautiful woman with a bad past falls for an innocent younger manA standout in the "I love you and I have tuberculosis" genreN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Modern Times1936Charlie ChaplinCharlie Chaplin, Paulette GoddardThe Tramp about dies in a factory, but in a funny wayStrong critique of capitalism...impressive sets and gags78T-63N/A6748N/A
Fury1936Fritz LangSpencer Tracy, Sylvia SidneyA man escapes a lynch mob and decides to take revengeA rare film about lynching and mob ruleN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Stella Dallas1937King VidorBarbara Stanwyck, Anne ShirleyAn ambitious mother has big plans for her daughterOne of the key "woman's films" of the 1930sN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The Good Earth1937Sidney FranklinLuise Rainer, Paul MuniIt's hard to be Chinese in ChinaA marvelous film epic which I'm not sure they could have made with white people even thirty years laterN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs1937everyonewho caresSnow White is the victim of a jealous evil queenFirst feature-length animated film (more or less)34N/AN/AN/A340N/A
Lost Horizon1937Frank CapraRonald Colman, Jane Wyatt, Sam JaffeSome whitefolks on a plane discover Shangri-LaExpensive, interesting setsN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Make Way for Tomorrow1937Leo McCareyVictor Moore, Beulah BondiThe parents of five children lose their house to the Depression but none of the kids will take in both parentsI read the synopsis and that made me sad, so I can't imagine what it's like to watch itN/AN/AN/AN/A330N/A
Captains Courageous1937Victor FlemingSpencer Tracy, Freddie BartholomewThe heir to a fortune is forced to become a sailor due to unusual circumstanceA breakout, Oscar winning film for TracyN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
The Awful Truth1937Leo McCareyCary Grant, Irene DunneA pair of hasty divorcees try to scuttle each other's future love affairsMcCarey won Best Director for this oneN/AN/AN/AN/A431N/A
The Life of Emile Zola1937William DieterlePaul Muni, Gloria Holden, Joseph SchildkrautZola's bohemian beginnings and his role in the Dreyfus trialFamous mostly for Muni's actingN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Angels with Dirty Faces1938Michael CurtizJames Cagney, Pat O'Brien, Ann SheridanA gangster picture with more emphasis on the gangster's emotional wellbeingOne of the iconic Cagney roles...one of the pre-star Bogart rolesN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
You Can't Take It with You1938Frank CapraJimmy Stewart, Jean Arthur, Lionel BarrymoreA have and have-not family are thrown together because of business and romanceWon Best Picture and was the highest-grossing movie of '38, so it must have struck a chord somewhereN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Bringing Up Baby1938Howard HawksCary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, a leopardA paleontolgist gets roped into helping an heiress track down an escaped leopard cubThe essential screwball comedy88N/A6183122N/A
Boys Town1938Norman TaurogSpencer Tracy, Mickey RooneyA priest helps a bunch of no-good kids turn their lives aroundAnother feel-good, "Spencer Tracy is your dad" moviesN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
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