Friday, September 30, 2011

Top Ranked Films of Orson Welles

Orson Welles
[Tied for 24th in titles with only 6, but 14th in overall points with 27,246 - between Bunuel and the Coen Brothers, but they all made far more films than Welles. Others with six titles in the top 1000 include Woody Allen, Michelangelo Antonioni, David Lynch, Hayao Miyazaki, Roberto Rossellini, Krszystof Kieslowski, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, David Cronenberg. Welles leads this group in points, Allen is next with 22,541, then Antonioni]

I always thought Welles made a bigger name for himself than his body of work commanded. For years I preferred Ambersons to Kane, and have lately wavered with Touch of Evil – brilliant or just insane? Dennis Weaver’s performance alone put this question’s answer on the fence. One thing for certain, his films were always interesting, even if a bit sparse - likely because sadly he made little or no box office impact – in order to succeed in our system you have to generate huge dollars or you won’t get backed, so directors have learned to throw in the occasional romantic comedy or horror film. Even Spielberg said “I made films like Jaws so I could make films like Schindler’s List”

These are all the films of Welles’ that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of the Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls.

1. Citizen Kane (1941) bw) #11
2. Touch of Evil (1958) bw) #38
3. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) bw #132
4. F for Fake (1973) #469
5. Chimes at Midnight (1966) #538
6. Lady from Shanghai, The (1947) #622

Just out of the top 1000 (these are the only other two of his films to make any polls):
7. The Trial (1962) # 1090
8. Othello (1959) #1109

I can see the art of Citizen Kane, it’s just such a dreary film (and overanalyzed at this point), avoid it if you have suicidal thoughts. Magnificent Ambersons is a bit more congenial (but with its own touch of insanity), while Touch of Evil and Lady From Shanghai are his attempts at film noir, with mixed results. There are moments of brilliance amid uneven pacing, neither are as compelling as others in the genre, such as Elevator to the Gallows, Out of the Past, or Double Indemnity. F for Fake is a pseudo-documentary, not sure it belongs on this list (1000 films of all time? Who are these people?) Chimes at Midnight is not available on dvd, not sure how to see it, but its the only Welles film I haven't seen. The only one I generally want to rewatch is Ambersons, though Touch of Evil intrigues me about once per decade.

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

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