Every decade “Sight & Sound,” a prestigious 40-year-old film magazine in Great Britain, polls the world’s leading film critics--from Great Britain to the United States to France, Italy, China, India and Japan--on what they believe are the 10 best movies ever. The last list came out in 1982. Still, the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art has adopted an “it’s better-late-than-never” attitude and has put these films together in a festival to see what the people think of the critics’ picks.
Starting tonight with one of the two movies tied for 10th place, Buster Keaton’s “The General,” the series continues with the other choice tied for tenth, John Ford’s “The Searchers” Feb. 17; the ninth choice, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo,” Feb. 24; the eighth, Orson Welles’ “The Magnificent Ambersons,” March 2; the seventh, Michelangelo Antonioni’s “L’Avventura,” March 9; the sixth, S.M. Eisenstein’s “Potemkin,” March 16; the fifth, Federico Fellini’s “8 1/2,” March 23; the fourth, Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly’s “Singin’ in the Rain,” March 30; the third, Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai,” April 6; the second, Jean Renoir’s “The Rules of the Game,” April 13; and the first for the third decade in a row, Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane,” April 20.
It’s a list that tells as much by omission as inclusion. Charlie Chaplin, once represented by two films at a time, is out and Keaton is in. Woody Allen’s favorites, Ingmar Bergman and “Bicycle Thief” are out (of course Allen has never made it on this list), but “The Rules of the Game” remains a standby from the first poll. Welles, whose “Citizen Kane” has ranked first for the last three decades, is represented by two films, the most of any director on this list. Interestingly, however, “Citizen Kane,” made in 1941, was ignored on the 1952 list. That may be because the film, then just 11 years old, was a bit of a babe by the standards of the films generally chosen. On this list, for instance, the newest entry is Fellini’s “8 1/2"--a mere 25 years old.
The showings cost $3.50 and run at the the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art at 7:30 p.m.