Mark Duguid

senior curator (archive projects) BFI National Archive

Voted for

Sullivan's Travels1941Preston Sturges
Laura1944Otto Preminger
The Man in the White Suit1951Alexander Mackendrick
Le Salaire de la peur1953Henri-Georges Clouzot
The Night of the Hunter1955Charles Laughton
Home from the Hill1959Vincente Minnelli
Suna no onna1964Hiroshi Teshigahara
Daisies1966Věra Chytilová
Playtime1967Jacques Tati


Sullivan's Travels

1941 USA

I could have picked Palm Beach Story, or Hail the Conquering Hero, or The Lady Eve, or The Miracle of Morgan's Creek... but in the end, it had to be Sullivan's Travels, for its pricking of Hollywood pretension, for Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake, for its rare and perfect balance of cynicism and humanism.


1944 USA

The most repeatedly rewarding of all the first-generation noirs - if that's what Laura is. A flawless puzzle box of a film. As a study of necrophiliac obsession, it beats Vertigo by more than a decade - and can unlock at least some of the secrets of Lynch's Twin Peaks.

The Man in the White Suit

1951 United Kingdom

For its slippery moral ambivalence (where the more celebrated Kind Hearts and Coronets and Mackendrick's own The Ladykillers are more predictably amoral), and for its joyous generic blurring. Mad scientist movie, ethical parable, critique of modernity, state-of-the-nation satire, plague-on-both-houses anatomy of contemporary industrial relations, nuclear allegory... MITWS is all of these, and still finds room for a strikingly caustic analysis of sexual politics for 1951.

Le Salaire de la peur

1953 France, Italy

Even now, Clouzot's film is as taut and overwhelming an exercise in sustained suspense as anything Hollywood (and that includes Hitchcock) has offered before or since.

The Night of the Hunter

1955 USA

For its weird magic and its magical weirdness.


1955 Mexico

Wondrously unsettling, and the most fun of all of Bunuel's perverse masterworks.

Home from the Hill

1959 USA

For that I love Sirk, Minnelli's film has an unfair advantage: Robert Mitchum over Rock Hudson. That, and as a study of masculinity and patriarchy it's more compelling than anything by Tennessee Williams.

Suna no onna

1964 Japan

Almost a tie with Onibaba, from the same year, but Woman of the Dunes just wins as not just for its acutely unsettling film world, but for its impenetrable mystery, its stillness and its otherworldy score.


1966 Czechoslovakia

For the pure joy of its rebellion.


1967 France

In its comic overambition, Tati's film tops even Chaplin. The obsessive control freakery might have killed it, but instead every shot takes your breath away.

Further remarks

Ten films is not nearly enough! I couldn't even squeeze in a western... Chronological because I couldn't possibly rank by preference, but it makes me even more acutely aware that again I've not picked anything later than the year of my own birth... I love countless films from the 1980s, 90s, 2000s and beyond - honestly - but these are (some of) the films I keep returning to. Is that just what ageing does?