Woody Allen Lists the Greatest Films of All Time: Includes Classics by Bergman, Truffaut & Fellini

woody allen clarinet

Image by Col­in Swan, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

We’ve looked this week at the favorite movies select­ed by such respect­ed film­mak­ers as Stan­ley Kubrick and Mar­tin Scors­ese. Today we round out this trio of emi­nent direc­tors with the great­est films of all time accord­ing to Woody Allen, vot­ing in the almighty Sight and Sound poll. The direc­tor of Annie Hall, Crimes and Mis­de­meanors, and Mid­night in Paris select­ed, in no par­tic­u­lar order, the fol­low­ing:

  • The 400 Blows (François Truf­faut, 1959)
  • (Fed­eri­co Felli­ni, 1963)
  • Amar­cord (Fed­eri­co Felli­ni, 1972)
  • The Bicy­cle Thieves (Vit­to­rio de Sica, 1948)
  • Cit­i­zen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
  • The Dis­creet Charm of the Bour­geoisie (Luis Buñuel, 1972)
  • Grand Illu­sion (Jean Renoir, 1937)
  • Paths of Glo­ry (Stan­ley Kubrick, 1957)
  • Rashomon (Aki­ra Kuro­sawa, 1950)
  • The Sev­enth Seal (Ing­mar Bergman, 1957)

It comes as no shock that Ing­mar Bergman makes the list, giv­en Allen’s well-doc­u­ment­ed and open­ly admit­ted enthu­si­asm for (and, in cas­es like Inte­ri­ors, direct imi­ta­tion of) the man who made The Sev­enth Seal. If that vote rep­re­sents Allen’s con­tem­pla­tive, moral­ly seri­ous side, then the vote for Luis Buñuel’s endur­ing­ly fun­ny sur­re­al­ist farce The Dis­creet Charm of the Bour­geoisie rep­re­sents his well-known predilec­tion for humor, often class-based, which occa­sion­al­ly melts into silli­ness.

Like Scors­ese, Allen includes Kubrick, though for his ear­ly Paths of Glo­ry rather than the more wide­ly-seen 2001. Like both Scors­ese and Kubrick, he picks a Felli­ni — two, in fact — and all three of their lists illus­trate that it would take a con­trar­i­an film­go­er indeed to deny Orson Welles’ Cit­i­zen Kane a vote. Kubrick, you’ll recall, also had great praise for Vit­to­rio de Sica and François Truf­faut, and their ear­ly pic­tures show up among Allen’s selec­tions. Take Kubrick, Scors­ese, and Allen’s lists togeth­er, and you have a few prin­ci­ples to guide your view­ing: con­cen­trate on the mid­cen­tu­ry mas­ters. Cit­i­zen Kane real­ly does mer­it all those acco­lades. And above all, make sure you watch your Felli­ni. But which films did Felli­ni love?

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mar­tin Scors­ese Reveals His 12 Favorite Movies (and Writes a New Essay on Film Preser­va­tion)

Stan­ley Kubrick’s List of Top 10 Films (The First and Only List He Ever Cre­at­ed)

How Woody Allen Dis­cov­ered Ing­mar Bergman, and How You Can Too

Woody Allen Answers 12 Uncon­ven­tion­al Ques­tions He Has Nev­er Been Asked Before

Meetin’ WA: Jean-Luc Godard Meets Woody Allen

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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Comments (27)
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  • Brian Denton says:

    This list mir­rors my own with the only excep­tion being that I would add a healthy dol­lop of Mr. Allen’s own pro­duc­tions.

    8 1/2 is my favorite Felli­ni film. Orches­tra Rehearsal is def­i­nite­ly his most under­rat­ed. Satyri­con is unwatch­able.

  • Tim Knights says:

    How about a top ten from a female direc­tor? x

  • beek says:

    What a bor­ing list, and cer­tain­ly too obvi­ous for such an eru­dite direc­tor.

    These are all great films of course, but real­ly? Two Felli­ni films? Noth­ing from the last 30 years nor the first 30 of the 20th cen­tu­ry?

  • Hooper says:

    Annie Hall, Crimes and Mis­de­meanors, and Mid­night in Paris??? What about his mas­ter­piece, Man­hat­tan?

  • Lynn says:

    The fourth movie on the list is “The Bicy­cle Thief”, not “The Bicy­cle Thieves”!

  • nash mascaro says:

    Every time I see a pho­to of good old Woody I remem­ber the scene in the film when he’s act­ing the lothario as he takes the record out of the sleeve and it flies across the room..classic clas­sic stuff.

  • val says:

    No Tarkovs­ki? what a list of igno­rance.

  • Krishna Pachegonker says:

    Undoubt­ed­ly the list­ing of all-time best films is in the order of their class is appro­pri­ate but it is dis­may­ing that no film from India is founf place in this list. Urguably the world’s finest fil­mak­er Gurudutt whose Pyaasa is appre­ci­at­ed even by Time mag is not men­tioned here! Shyam Bene­gal whose films are world class for their delin­eation of indi­an life are miss­ing!

  • Ludmilla says:

    What about Loves of a Blonde by Milos For­man, and what about Parad­janov’s Shad­ow of For­got­ten Ances­tors?

  • Alex Levy says:

    Cit­i­zen Kane may be the most over­rat­ed film of all time. I found it com­plete­ly bor­ing. I would replace it with Eisen­stein’s Potemkin. Much of what is admired in Kane is fore­shad­owed in Potemkin. And it is The Bicy­cle Thief, not Thieves.

  • claude says:

    always fun­ny. all these lists on the inter­net fol­lowed by all the com­plaints about what’s miss­ing. this isn’t god’s list of best films. just a fel­low human’s opin­ion. if crit­i­ciz­ing woody allen’s sub­jec­tiv­i­ty makes you feel bet­ter about your own…well…cool i guess

  • Andre says:

    @Alex: De Sica’s film has been dis­trib­uted in the US under both titles: The Bicy­cle Thief and Bicy­cle Thieves. The DCP ver­sion that’s in cur­rent dis­tri­b­u­tion uses the lat­ter title.

  • Coupe says:

    Inter­est­ing in that he is look­ing at unex­posed film. Well, I mean, it’s exposed now…

  • SFPaul says:

    To Lynn…
    It’s The Bicy­cle Thief for those that don’t speak Ital­ian. The Ital­ian title is most cer­tain­ly The Bicy­cle Thieves. Ladri di Bici­clette.

  • Evan says:

    Appar­ent­ly no great films were made after 1972…

  • vincenzo says:

    To SFPaul:
    if you trans­late lit­er­al­ly the ital­ian title “Ladri di Bici­clette” in eng­lish, it would sound “Bicy­cle Thieves” with­out “The”.
    “The Bicy­cle Thieves” is trans­lat­ed in ital­ian as: “I Ladri di Bici­clette”.

  • Matt says:

    Yeah, there aren’t many great movies in the last 30 years… There Will Be Blood, Amer­i­can Beau­ty, Full Met­al Jack­et.

  • Billy says:

    beek, believe it or not, but there were many great films made before the mod­ern era too! About 70 years of it in fact! Yes, cin­e­ma did­n’t start with the 1980’s :) And, believe it or not, they were pret­ty good too! And some­thing tells me you’ve nev­er watched many black and whites or even Felli­ni on your own accord, or at least not Amar­cord…

  • Yayai says:

    Peo­ple com­plain­ing about Allen select­ing old­er movies is kind of fun­ny. Those are the movies that inspired him, the movies that made him be the direc­tor he is. It is only nat­ur­al that he names movies released dur­ing his youth! Besides, although some mod­ern titles are real­ly sol­id, the clas­sics he lists are tru­ly hard to beat. And com’on, There will be blood? Amer­i­can Beau­ty? Let’s see where those movies are in 50 years from now!

  • The Great says:

    Woody Allen is a real fine film­mak­er who makes real fine films when­ev­er he can.

  • The Great says:

    Not true

  • Jen Pack says:

    Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” would def­i­nite­ly be on my list of favorite movies, so I trust his taste. I loved “The Dis­creet Charm of the Bour­geoisie” and “The Sev­enth Seal.” How­ev­er, I was a lit­tle under­whelmed by “The 400 Blows,” prob­a­bly because it has been par­o­died so much. The same goes for “The Sev­enth Seal,” but I pre­fer Bergman to Truf­faut.

  • Trey says:

    ‘the vote for Luis Buñuel’s endur­ing­ly fun­ny sur­re­al­ist farce The Dis­creet Charm of the Bour­geoisie rep­re­sents his well-known predilec­tion for humour’ …and the vote for the 400 Blows at #1 shows his predilec­tion for 13 year old boys!

  • Cathy Searfinowicz says:

    What about “Some Like It Hot” ?

  • Lawrence Cerf says:

    I say La Dolce Vita.

  • Steve Reilly says:

    Def­i­nite­ly not one of his favorites: https://youtu.be/hpniYxRjX3o?t=103

  • Jeff says:

    The orig­i­nal title in Ital­ian is “Bicy­cle Thieves”, not “Bicy­cle Thief” as it was known for­ev­er.

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