Clyde Jeavons

Former Curator, National Film and Television Archive (BFI)

Voted for

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp1943Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Pather Panchali1955Satyajit Ray
Listen to Britain1942Humphrey Jennings, Stewart McAllister
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon1949John Ford
A Man Escaped1956Robert Bresson
Singin' in the Rain1951Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
The Godfather1972Francis Ford Coppola
The Producers1968Mel Brooks
Napoléon1927Abel Gance
The Wild Bunch1969Sam Peckinpah


The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

1943 United Kingdom

The Archers' finest hour: a masterly and wholly empathetic collaboration between the self-dubbed romantic Englishman and the cosmopolitan Jew in an epic, serio-satirical romp through the glorious absurdities of British military mores, with perfectly pitched performances by the inspired trio of P&P favourites, Roger Livesey, Anton Walbrook and Deborah Kerr.

Pather Panchali

1955 India

The brilliant debut and enduring masterpiece of one of the greatest exponents of cinema as an artform: a compassionate, microcosmic portrayal of the universal human condition.

Listen to Britain

1942 United Kingdom

One of the apogees of British nonfiction cinema, an exquisite chamber piece composed by the most lyrical of all filmmakers: a poetic and seductive blending of image and sound extolling Britain's impregnable values for wartime propaganda purposes.

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

1949 USA

The perfect Fordian Western, with director and star (John Wayne) both at their peak and working in close harmony. Ford's repertory company of actors at their best, and Technicolor cinematography which really is glorious.

A Man Escaped

1956 France

Bresson's purest distillation of the art of realism through simple story-telling, memorably making use of non-professional actors. One of cinema's most deceptively compelling artistic achievements by a supreme master of 'le septième art'.

Singin' in the Rain

1951 USA

The compleat movie musical; Arthur Freed's most memorable and timeless songs and Kelly's inspired choreography woven into an iconic comic satire about Hollywood and filmmaking. Never surpassed.

The Godfather

1972 USA

A masterly encapsulation of American values realised through Hollywood's favourite genre, the alluring depiction of criminal endeavour. Gripping, persuasive and epically engineered, with perfect ensemble casting and some of cinema's greatest set pieces, topped off by a towering performance from, arguably, the finest of all screen actors, Marlon Brando.

The Producers

1968 USA

Mel Brooks's – not to say cinema's – funniest and most enduringly satisfying comedy, a brilliant and outrageous satire on showbusiness ethics, with hilarious musical parodies, and definitive lead performances by two geniuses of the genre, Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder, ironically inspiring multiple successful stage versions.


1927 France

The film archivist's choice: Abel Gance's criminally mutilated and long-neglected culmination of the art of silent cinema, painstakingly and triumphantly restored by Kevin Brownlow over several decades. Epically conceived and replete with innovative camerawork, groundbreaking editing techniques and ambitious multiple imagery; and, as the eponymous Bonaparte, Albert Dieudonné, delivering one of the most charismatic performances in all cinema.

The Wild Bunch

1969 USA

Peckinpah's profoundly poignant, magisterial, violent, iconoclastic and hugely influential eulogy to the dying American West, employing groundbreaking balletically bloody, and controversial, special effects on a grand scale, has no equal among Hollywood's epic westerns. It boasts one of cinema's cleverest and most riveting credit sequences, and an impeccably chosen cast of Hollywood stalwarts led by two of the genre's finest and most dependable leading men, William Holden and Robert Ryan, at their mature best.

Further remarks

The Ten Greatest Films of All Time? An impossible – not to say invidious – task, of course. One could choose another completely different list of ten, then another, and another, ad infinitum, and they would all be equally valid. My criteria, therefore, have necessarily boiled down to the following: indisputable artistry, perfection of ambition and achievement, genre masterpieces, acknowledgment of the great directors, the genius of the actor, personal favourites, and, not least, pure enjoyment. If, as a result, the superlatives have become repetitive, then so be it.