Tony Paley

Journalist and author of Capital Celluloid blog

Voted for

Remorques1939Jean Grémillon
Under Capricorn1949Alfred Hitchcock
The Exiles1961Kent Mackenzie
La BAIE DES ANGES1963Jacques Demy
Vinyl1965Andy Warhol
Spring Night Summer Night1967Joseph L. Anderson
Heroic Purgatory1970Yoshishige Yoshida
Straw Dogs1971Sam Peckinpah
White Dog1981Samuel Fuller


When the invite arrived to submit my top ten it was clear all those years trawling the previous decades’ choices with rapt fascination, reading the articles on the canon and the time spent keeping that running list of my ten all-time favourites, that were inevitably mixed up with the greatest in my head, had not been wasted. Others making their definitive lists were doing the same, prompting responses in the press and on social media varying widely from “it’s a bit of fun” to “it’s agony”. Prompted by an animated discussion on the subject with Damien Sanville, director of Close-Up Cinema in Shoreditch, I decided I wanted my contribution to be just that, a genuine heartfelt one, made up of the films I desperately wanted people to see but had not been considered in the previous voting, and modestly hoping for a re-evalution of those choices. I made two rules. All of the films would be ones I passionately believe deserve to be part of the Sight & Sound Greatest poll conversation and none would have received a single vote in the most recent poll of 2012. Some in this list, presented chronologically, are simply neglected favourites but in other cases there are very good reasons some of these films have been overlooked. Jean Grémillon, for instance, faded from view after an ill-fated directorial career, and has only resurfaced in the last decade with devoted retrospectives and DVD releases. The heartbreaking Remorques is one of his masterpieces. The Alfred Hitchcock melodrama, which quickly disappeared after bombing at the box office and the subsequent dissolving of the director’s production company, deserves high rank in the Master’s work but languishes in limbo, virtually only seen at major retrospectives. The Exiles and Spring Night, Summer Night are both once lost American independent classics only just receiving their due after recent rediscovery. White Dog, after a desultory release overshadowed by misguided accusations of racism, was not in circulation for many years. The Warhol film, based on Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, is very rarely seen but was shown in 2013 from (fortuitously I later discovered) a 16mm print in an ICA gallery and felt thrillingly authentic, the sound of the whirring projector and the artist’s singular framing combining to create a mesmeric experience. The ten should all ideally be seen at the cinema so watch this space, or should I say keep an eye on my Capital Celluloid blog or the listings at Close-Up for the forthcoming screenings dedicated to these selections.