Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo Dethrones Citizen Kane as the Greatest Movie of All-Time

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James Stewart (L) and Kim Novak star in Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 thriller 'Vertigo'.

Move over, Orson Welles. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 thriller Vertigo has been named as the greatest film of all time by more than 800 international film critics and experts. The poll, carried out every 10 years by Sight & Sound, a magazine published by the British Film Institute, picked Hitchcock’s psychological drama as the best film ever made. For the past 50 years, Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane held the top spot, but this year, critics picked Hitchcock’s masterpiece over Citizen Kane, which has been relegated to second place.

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Vertigo, a thriller starring James Stewart and Kim Novak, is about a retired police detective with a fear of heights who is hired to follow the wife of an old friend. It’s “the ultimate critics’ film because it is a dreamlike film about people who are not sure who they are but who are busy reconstructing themselves and each other,” explains Sight & Sound editor Nick James in a statement. “In that sense, it’s a makeover film full of spellbinding moments of awful poignancy that show how foolish, tender, and cruel we can be when we’re in love.” BBC News also notes that Vertigo was Hitchcock’s most personal film in which he tackles “one of his recurring themes — love as a fetish that degrades women and deranges men.” Sight & Sound notes the film has steadily climbed the list over the decades, cracking the top 10 in 1982 after Hitchcock’s death two years earlier. Vertigo ranked second in 2002, the last time the survey was done, and this year switched places with Citizen Kane.

Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story was named as the third greatest film followed by Jean Renoir’s La Règle Du Jeu (The Rules of the Game) and F. W. Murnau’s Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. The list of the top 50 greatest films, compiled by Sight & Sound, can be found here.

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7 comments
Sasebo_kid
Sasebo_kid

Everyone will produce a different list of personal favorites:  mine include The Wild Bunch, The Best Years of Our Lives, Lawrence of Arabia, Chinatown, and Shane.  But I love these lists for their value in directing my attention to important movies I still need to see.  I have some work/pleasure cut out for me.

zaglossus
zaglossus

Some sort of backlash operating here against the long reign of the deposed Citizen Kane, I suspect. And Ozu, who made Japanese movies for Japanese audiences, might have been surprised by the international esteem, not only Tokyo Story, but almost his entire oeuvre is held in.