Gary Crowdus

Editor-in-Chief, Cineaste Magazine

Voted for

The Battle of Algiers1966Gillo Pontecorvo
Bicycle Thieves1948Vittorio De Sica
JFK1991Oliver Stone
Lawrence of Arabia1962David Lean
Memories of Underdevelopment1968Tomás Gutiérrez Alea
The Miracle Worker1962Arthur Penn
Salvatore Giuliano1962Francesco Rosi
TIREZ SUR LE PIANISTE1960François Truffaut
Les DIMANCHES DE VILLE D'AVRAY1962Serge Bourguignon


The Battle of Algiers

1966 Italy, Algeria

One of the most politically sophisticated films ever made, due to the real-life experiences of its principal creators, producer Saadi Yacef, former head of the FLN in Algiers, who played himself in the film, and director Gillo Pontecorvo, former member of the antifascist Italian Resistance. The film’s portrayal of the Algerian War avoided propaganda in favor of chronicling the tragic human consequences of both terrorism and torture in the conflict. But, as Pontecorvo explained, “The birth of a nation happens with pain on both sides, although one side has cause and the other not.”


1991 USA

The most important political film ever made in America, with the impact of a fragmentation grenade thrown into the body politic. Incidents portrayed in the film are historically based, as annotated in the published script, and while it may overreach in trying to piece together a coherent explanation of the forces behind the assassination, it convincingly demonstrates a conspiracy to kill Kennedy and demolishes the official story of Lee Harvey Oswald as the “sole shooter.”

Lawrence of Arabia

1962 United Kingdom

Although the – cobbled together from an original, more political script by the blacklisted Michael Wilson and then dramatically reworked by playwright Robert Bolt (who relied far too much on Lawrence’s exaggerated self-portrait in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom) – plays fast and loose with both biography and the history of the WWI Middle Eeast campaign, it is without question one of the cinema’s supreme artistic achievements, characterised by its direction, cinematography, music, editing and performances.

Salvatore Giuliano

1962 Italy

It’s hard to pick a single Francesco Rosi film, but his innovative recreation of the postwar role of the bandit who became a tool of both the Sicilian independence movement, the Mafia and the Christian Democrats, before being eliminated as knowing too much, sets the template for Rosi’s later “documented histories” such as The Mattei Affair and Lucky Luciano.

Further remarks

My list of the "ten greatest films of all time", cited in alphabetical order, and according to the criteria outlined for the 2012 Sight and Sound poll, is based not on films I feel are most important to film history, or which represent aesthetic pinnacles of achievement, but is an idiosyncratic list of films which have had the biggest impact on me throughout many decades of viewing.