John Kobal Presents the Top 100 Movies by John Kobal

"This list was compiled in a book called John Kobal Presents The Top 100 Movies, published in 1988. Kobal polled 81 international critics/filmmakers, the more famous of which include Nestor Almendros, Lindsay Anderson, Penelope Gilliatt, Leonard Maltin, Tony Rayns, Andrew Sarris, Susan Sontag, and Bertand Tavernier. Kobal used the typical point system where he solicited top 10 lists with #1 getting 10 points, and #10 getting 1, with films on unranked lists getting 5.5. I actually tallied the lists myself and found that Kobal wasn't too careful with his math. Dovzhenko's Earth at #67 shouldn't even be on the list, and a lot of the bottom 10 shouldn't be on there either. For those films that tied, [of] which there are several, Kobal ranked [them] alphabetically -- hardly a fair method."

- George C. Wu

Weight: 40


  1. Single author (-50)
  2. Limited to ~75 years or less (-10)

Films (100)

1. Citizen Kane

Directed by Orson Welles | 119 min | 1941

Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance.

2. The Rules of the Game

Directed by Jean Renoir | 110 min | 1939

A bourgeois life in France at the onset of World War II, as the rich and their poor servants meet up at a French chateau.


Directed by Federico Fellini | 138 min | 1963

A harried movie director retreats into his memories and fantasies.

4. Singin' in the Rain

Directed by Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly | 103 min | 1952

A silent film production company and cast make a difficult transition to sound.

5. Battleship Potemkin

Directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein | 66 min | 1925

A dramatized account of a great Russian naval mutiny and a resulting street demonstration which brought on a police massacre.

6. Modern Times

Directed by Charles Chaplin | Rated G | 87 min | 1936

The Tramp struggles to live in modern industrial society with the help of a young homeless woman.

7. Wild Strawberries

Directed by Ingmar Bergman | 91 min | 1957

After living a life marked by coldness, an aging professor is forced to confront the emptiness of his existence.

8. The Gold Rush

Directed by Charles Chaplin | 95 min | 1925

A prospector goes to the Klondike in search of gold and finds it and more.

9. Casablanca

Directed by Michael Curtiz | Rated PG | 102 min | 1942

In Casablanca, Morocco in December 1941, a cynical American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.

10. Rashomon

Directed by Akira Kurosawa | 88 min | 1950

A heinous crime and its aftermath are recalled from differing points of view.

11. Bicycle Thieves

Directed by Vittorio De Sica | 89 min | 1948

Set in Post-WWII Italy, a working class man's bicycle is stolen. He and his son set out to find it.

12. City Lights

Directed by Charles Chaplin | 87 min | 1931

With the aid of a wealthy erratic tippler, a dewy-eyed tramp who has fallen in love with a sightless flower girl accumulates money to be able to help her medically.

13. Children of Paradise

Directed by Marcel Carné | 190 min | 1945

The theatrical life of a beautiful courtesan and the four men who love her.

14. Sunrise

Directed by F.W. Murnau | 94 min | 1927

A married farmer falls under the spell of a slatternly woman from the city, who tries to convince him to drown his wife.

15. The Earrings of Madame de...

Directed by Max Ophüls | 105 min | 1953

In the Paris of the late 19th century, Louise, wife of a general, sells the earrings her husband gave her as a wedding gift: she needs money to cover her debts. The general secretly buys ...

16. La Grande Illusion

Directed by Jean Renoir | 114 min | 1937

During the first World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.

17. The Searchers

Directed by John Ford | 119 min | 1956

A Civil War veteran embarks on a journey to rescue his niece from an Indian tribe.

18. 2001: A Space Odyssey

Directed by Stanley Kubrick | Rated G | 149 min | 1968

Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest.

19. Some Like It Hot

Directed by Billy Wilder | 120 min | 1959

When two musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all-female band disguised as women, but further complications set in.

20. Ivan the Terrible, Part I

Directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein | 95 min | 1945

During the early part of his reign, Ivan the Terrible faces betrayal from the aristocracy and even his closest friends as he seeks to unite the Russian people.

21. Jules and Jim

Directed by François Truffaut | 105 min | 1962

Decades of a love triangle concerning two friends and an impulsive woman.

22. Stagecoach

Directed by John Ford | 96 min | 1939

A group of people traveling on a stagecoach find their journey complicated by the threat of Geronimo and learn something about each other in the process.

23. Vertigo

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | Rated PG | 128 min | 1958

A San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend's wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her.

24. Seven Samurai

Directed by Akira Kurosawa | 207 min | 1954

A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves.

25. Tokyo Story

Directed by Yasujirô Ozu | 136 min | 1953

An old couple visit their children and grandchildren in the city; but the children have little time for them.

26. Andrei Rublev

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky | 205 min | 1966

The life, times and afflictions of the fifteenth-century Russian iconographer.

27. Fanny and Alexander

Directed by Ingmar Bergman | Rated R | 188 min | 1982

Two young Swedish children experience the many comedies and tragedies of their family, the Ekdahls.

28. L'Atalante

Directed by Jean Vigo | 89 min | 1934

Newly married couple Juliette and a ship captain Jean struggle through marriage as they travel on the L'atalante along with the captain's first mate Le père Jules and a cabin boy.

29. Viridiana

Directed by Luis Buñuel | 90 min | 1961

Viridiana, a young nun about to take her final vows, pays a visit to her widowed uncle at the request of her Mother Superior.

30. Kind Hearts and Coronets

Directed by Robert Hamer | 106 min | 1949

A distant poor relative of the Duke of D'Ascoyne plots to inherit the title by murdering the eight other heirs who stand ahead of him in the line of succession.

31. The Third Man

Directed by Carol Reed | 93 min | 1949

Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime.

32. Ugetsu

Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi | 96 min | 1953

A fantastic tale of war, love, family and ambition set in the midst of the Japanese Civil Wars of the sixteenth century.

33. Zero for Conduct

Directed by Jean Vigo | 44 min | 1933

In a repressive boarding school with rigid rules of behavior, four boys decide to rebel against the direction on a celebration day.

34. Ikiru

Directed by Akira Kurosawa | 143 min | 1952

A bureaucrat tries to find a meaning in his life after he discovers he has terminal cancer.

35. Pather Panchali

Directed by Satyajit Ray | 125 min | 1955

Impoverished priest Harihar Ray, dreaming of a better life for himself and his family, leaves his rural Bengal village in search of work.

36. The Band Wagon

Directed by Vincente Minnelli | 112 min | 1953

A pretentiously artistic director is hired for a new Broadway musical and changes it beyond recognition.

37. Gone with the Wind

Directed by Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood | Rated G | 238 min | 1939

A manipulative Southern belle carries on a turbulent affair with a blockade runner during the American Civil War.

38. The Maltese Falcon

Directed by John Huston | 100 min | 1941

A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette.

39. La Dolce Vita

Directed by Federico Fellini | 174 min | 1960

A series of stories following a week in the life of a philandering paparazzo journalist living in Rome.

40. Hiroshima Mon Amour

Directed by Alain Resnais | 90 min | 1959

A French actress filming an anti-war film in Hiroshima has an affair with a married Japanese architect as they share their differing perspectives on war.

41. Rome, Open City

Directed by Roberto Rossellini | 103 min | 1945

During the Nazi occupation of Rome in 1944, resistance leader Giorgio Manfredi is chased by Nazis and he seeks refuge and escape.

42. Touch of Evil

Directed by Orson Welles | Rated PG-13 | 95 min | 1958

A stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping, and police corruption in a Mexican border town.

43. L'Age d'Or

Directed by Luis Buñuel | Rated N/A | 63 min | 1930

A surrealist tale of a man and a woman passionately in love with one another, but their attempts to consummate that passion are constantly thwarted by their families, the Church, and bourgeois society.

44. The Passion of Joan of Arc

Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer | 114 min | 1928

A chronicle of the trial of Jeanne d'Arc on charges of heresy, and the efforts of her ecclesiastical jurists to force Jeanne to recant her claims of holy visions.

45. The Seventh Seal

Directed by Ingmar Bergman | 96 min | 1957

A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.

46. Amarcord

Directed by Federico Fellini | Rated R | 123 min | 1973

A series of comedic and nostalgic vignettes set in a 1930s Italian coastal town.

47. Sansho the Bailiff

Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi | 124 min | 1954

In mediaeval Japan a compassionate governor is sent into exile. His wife and children try to join him, but are separated, and the children grow up amid suffering and oppression.

48. L'Avventura

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni | 143 min | 1960

A woman disappears during a Mediterranean boating trip. During the search, her lover and her best friend become attracted to each other.

49. The General

Directed by Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton | 67 min | 1926

When Union spies steal an engineer's beloved locomotive, he pursues it single-handedly and straight through enemy lines.

50. The Life of Oharu

Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi | 133 min | 1952

Follows a woman's fight and survival amid the vicissitudes of life and the cruelty of the society.

51. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

Directed by Luis Buñuel | Rated PG | 102 min | 1972

A surreal, virtually plotless series of dreams centered around six middle-class people and their consistently interrupted attempts to have a meal together.

52. Napoleon

Directed by Abel Gance | Rated N/A | 240 min | 1927

A film about the French Field Marshal's youth and early military career.

53. The Sacrifice

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky | Rated PG | 149 min | 1986

At the dawn of World War III, a man searches for a way to restore peace to the world and finds he must give something in return.

54. Nights of Cabiria

Directed by Federico Fellini | 110 min | 1957

A waifish prostitute wanders the streets of Rome looking for true love but finds only heartbreak.

55. The Thief of Bagdad

Directed by Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell, Tim Whelan, Alexander Korda, Zoltan Korda, William Cameron Menzies | 106 min | 1940

After being tricked and cast out of Bagdad by the evil Jaffar, King Ahmad joins forces with a thief named Abu to reclaim his throne, the city, and the Princess he loves.

56. Alexander Nevsky

Directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein, Dmitriy Vasilev | 112 min | 1938

The story of how a great Russian prince led a ragtag army to battle an invading force of Teutonic Knights.

57. East of Eden

Directed by Elia Kazan | Rated PG | 115 min | 1955

A wilful young man contends against his brother for the attention of their religious father while reconnecting with his estranged mother and falling for his brother's girlfriend.

58. The Lady Vanishes

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | 96 min | 1938

While traveling in continental Europe, a rich young playgirl realizes that an elderly lady seems to have disappeared from the train.

59. The Navigator

Directed by Donald Crisp, Buster Keaton | 59 min | 1924

Two spoiled rich people find themselves trapped on an empty passenger ship.

60. Ordet

Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer | 126 min | 1955

People believe in the dead Christ, but not in the living.

61. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Directed by Milos Forman | Rated R | 133 min | 1975

A criminal pleads insanity after getting into trouble again and once in the mental institution rebels against the oppressive nurse and rallies up the scared patients.

62. Ashes and Diamonds

Directed by Andrzej Wajda | 103 min | 1958

During the German occupation noble, bourgeois and worker's partisan groups lived in peace with another. On the first day of freedom they start to fight each other. In these fights is weaved a most tender love story.

63. Senso

Directed by Luchino Visconti | 118 min | 1954

A troubled and neurotic Italian Countess betrays her entire country for a self-destructive love affair with an Austrian Lieutenant.

64. The Mirror

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky | Rated N/A | 108 min | 1975

A dying man in his forties remembers his past. His childhood, his mother, the war, personal moments and things that tell of the recent history of all the Russian nation.

65. The Best Years of Our Lives

Directed by William Wyler | 172 min | 1946

Three World War II veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed.

66. Claire's Knee

Directed by Éric Rohmer | Rated GP | 105 min | 1970

On holiday, a conflicted man lusts after beautiful stepsisters despite his betrothal to a diplomat's daughter.

67. Earth

Directed by Aleksandr Dovzhenko | Rated N/A | 75 min | 1930

In the peaceful countryside, Vassily opposes the rich kulaks over the coming of collective farming.

68. La Terra Trema

Directed by Luchino Visconti | Rated N/A | 160 min | 1948

In rural Sicily, the fishermen live at the mercy of the greedy wholesalers. One family risks everything to buy their own boat and operate independently.

69. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Directed by Robert Wiene | 67 min | 1920

Hypnotist Dr. Caligari uses a somnambulist, Cesare, to commit murders.

70. Paisan

Directed by Roberto Rossellini | 120 min | 1946

Six vignettes follow the Allied invasion from July 1943 to winter 1944, from Sicily north to Venice. Communication is fragile. A woman leads an Allied patrol through a mine field; she dies ...

71. Casque d'Or

Directed by Jacques Becker | 94 min | 1952

In an open-air dance hall, the members of Leca's gang are relaxing with their ladies. One of them, Marie, aka "Casque d'Or" (Golden Helmet) meets Manda, a carpenter. Her man Roland belongs ...

72. The Exterminating Angel

Directed by Luis Buñuel | 95 min | 1962

The guests at an upper-class dinner party find themselves unable to leave.

73. Last Year at Marienbad

Directed by Alain Resnais | 94 min | 1961

In a strange chateau, a man insists to a woman that they have met before.

74. Manhattan

Directed by Woody Allen | Rated R | 96 min | 1979

The life of a divorced television writer dating a teenage girl is further complicated when he falls in love with his best friend's mistress.

75. My Darling Clementine

Directed by John Ford | 97 min | 1946

A Western retelling the tale of the Shoot-out at the OK Corral.

76. The Scarlet Empress

Directed by Josef von Sternberg | 104 min | 1934

Young Princess Sophia of Germany is taken to Russia to marry the half-wit Grand Duke Peter, son of the Empress. The domineering Empress hopes to improve the royal blood line. Sophia doesn't...

77. Greed

Directed by Erich von Stroheim | 140 min | 1924

The sudden fortune won from a lottery fans such destructive greed that it ruins the lives of the three people involved.

78. Stairway to Heaven

Directed by Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger | Rated PG | 104 min | 1946

A British wartime aviator who cheats death must argue for his life before a celestial court.

79. The Wizard of Oz

Directed by Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Mervyn LeRoy, Norman Taurog, King Vidor | 102 min | 1939

Dorothy Gale is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home.

80. The Bride of Frankenstein

Directed by James Whale | 75 min | 1935

Mary Shelley reveals the main characters of her novel survived: Dr. Frankenstein, goaded by an even madder scientist, builds his monster a mate.

81. Bringing Up Baby

Directed by Howard Hawks | 102 min | 1938

While trying to secure a $1 million donation for his museum, a befuddled paleontologist is pursued by a flighty and often irritating heiress and her pet leopard, Baby.

82. If....

Directed by Lindsay Anderson | Rated X | 111 min | 1968

In this allegorical story, a revolution led by pupil Mick Travis takes place at an old established private school in England.

83. La Strada

Directed by Federico Fellini | 108 min | 1954

A care-free girl is sold to a traveling entertainer, consequently enduring physical and emotional pain along the way.

84. In the Realm of the Senses

Directed by Nagisa Ôshima | Rated X | 109 min | 1976

A passionate telling of the story of Sada Abe, a woman whose affair with her master led to a sexual obsession which then came to a violent end.

85. The African Queen

Directed by John Huston | Rated PG | 105 min | 1951

In Africa during WWI, a gin-swilling riverboat captain is persuaded by a strait-laced missionary to use his boat to attack an enemy warship.

86. The Great Dictator

Directed by Charles Chaplin | 125 min | 1940

Dictator Adenoid Hynkel tries to expand his empire while a poor Jewish barber tries to avoid persecution from Hynkel's regime.

87. Heimat: A Chronicle of Germany

Directed by N/A | Rated N/A | 90 min | 1984

The series (11 episodes) tells the story of the village Schabbach, on the Hunsrueck in Germany through the years 1919-1982. Central person is Maria, who we see growing from a 17 year old ...

88. Lawrence of Arabia

Directed by David Lean | Rated PG | 216 min | 1962

The story of T.E. Lawrence, the English officer who successfully united and lead the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks.

89. Signs of Life

Directed by Werner Herzog | Rated N/A | 91 min | 1968

A wounded German paratrooper named Stroszek is sent to the quiet island of Kos with his wife Nora, a Greek nurse, and two other soldiers recovering from minor wounds. Billeted in a decaying...

90. To Be or Not to Be

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch | 99 min | 1942

During the Nazi occupation of Poland, an acting troupe becomes embroiled in a Polish soldier's efforts to track down a German spy.

91. Meet Me in St. Louis

Directed by Vincente Minnelli | 113 min | 1944

In the year before the 1904 St Louis World's Fair, the four Smith daughters learn lessons of life and love, even as they prepare for a reluctant move to New York.

92. Monsieur Verdoux

Directed by Charles Chaplin | 124 min | 1947

A suave but cynical man supports his family by marrying and murdering rich women for their money, but the job has some occupational hazards.

93. Brief Encounter

Directed by David Lean | 86 min | 1945

Meeting a stranger in a railway station, a woman is tempted to cheat on her husband.

94. The Far Country

Directed by Anthony Mann | 97 min | 1954

A self-minded adventurer (Jeff Webster) locks horns with a crooked lawman (Mr. Gannon) while driving cattle to Dawson.

95. Freaks

Directed by Tod Browning | 64 min | 1932

A circus' beautiful trapeze artist agrees to marry the leader of side-show performers, but his deformed friends discover she is only marrying him for his inheritance.

96. Moonfleet

Directed by Fritz Lang | 87 min | 1955

Moonfleet is set in Dorset, England. The Fleet refers to the land just west of Portland, Southern England.

97. Night of the Living Dead

Directed by George A. Romero | 96 min | 1968

A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse.

98. Psycho

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | Rated R | 109 min | 1960

A Phoenix secretary steals $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.

99. Rebecca

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | 130 min | 1940

A self-conscious bride is tormented by the memory of her husband's dead first wife.

100. Journey to Italy

Directed by Roberto Rossellini | 97 min | 1954

Catherine and Alexander, wealthy and sophisticated, drive to Naples to dispose of a deceased uncle's villa. There's a coolness in their relationship and aspects of Naples add to the strain....