The 50 greatest debut movies: part six
Yes, it's our choice for the number one first film: Orson Welles fans can direct their complaints to the usual address...
1. The Night of the Hunter (1955)Directed by Charles LaughtonThe twisted vision of a tragic genius, never to be repeatedCan a director’s one and only film really be considered a debut? If we made a list of the 50 greatest swansongs, could ‘The Night of the Hunter’ head that list, as well? Frankly, yes. Of all the diverse bodies of directorial work in the long history of cinema, Laughton’s stands as perhaps the most flawless and untouchable: no second-movie jitters, no mid-period slump, no slide into doddery obsolescence. One perfect film, one singular statement, achieving more in 92 minutes than most directors manage in a lifetime.
Watch the creepy 'everlasting arms' scene
Read the Time Out review here
Explore the list: 50-41 40-31 30-21 20-11 10-2
Author: Adam Lee Davies, David Jenkins, Tom Huddleston
Easy Rider at #50 and Bufallo 66 at #17.
Please stop. Just, stop. You're only going to hurt yourself in the end.
As good as people say Night of the Hunter it is, for me it lacks heavily when it comes to pacing and tone. The film is incredibly beautiful, and very well written, but that's mainly due to the cinematographer and writer respectively, neither of which was Laughton. The worst part of the movie, though, was the ending, joyful instead of even slightly sinister or regretful. I could accept the film in the top 10, but no way is it even slightly better than Citizen Kane, Blood Simple or The 400 Blows.
And leaving out Pi, Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf and 12 Angry Men is just an insult. This needs to be revised.
where is PI by darren aronofksy? where is american beauty, one of the greatest debuts and films of all time?
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Seeing as it is that I might be lucky enough to get a reply from the team, Amenabar's "Tesis"? Overlook or Spanish quota covered with Almodovar? Thanks;)
Two more great debuts. THIS SPORTING LIFE. Raging Bull was plainly influenced by this film's themes, construction and tone. THE UNINVITED (1944). Lewis Allen's eerie film is also Hollywood's first adult 'haunted house' story.
Citizen Kane should be number 1, but if they had to choose a less obvious choice, well, The Night of the Hunter is the right one. Too bad 12 Angry Men is missing.
I guess the writer didn't get the irony when insulting James Cameron about all the money he spent on Terminator when in fact The Terminator, a low budget film, is probably the best debut movie of all time! Cameron's 2 days on piranha 2 don't count.
Speaking of Burton, you forgot Pee Wee's Big Adventure...the REAL number 1 debut. And as others have mentioned, where in the world are Shawshank and 12 Angry Men???
Night of the hunter is a wonderful film. but is it better then Citizen Kane. Hardly! To me it seems that because Citizen kane gets all the the plaudits, somebody always wants to find something to beat it. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But, come on Night of the hunter, like many films, will always be behind Citizen Kane. Also where the f@ck is Donnie Darko?! your telling me it didnt deserve a top 50 place? B@llocks!!
The inclusion of 12 Angry Men and especially Ivan's Childhood is essential. But they're often overlooked, probably because Lumet got his start in television, and because Tarkovsky is so remembered for Andrei Rublev. Another great debut that was overlooked is Lukas Moodysson's Show Me Love (aka F--king Amal). Thanks for making a list of real movies and not including fanboy garbage like Pi, Donnie Darko and the phony beyond phony Dances With Wolves.
Adam (re Duel) That's kind of an arbitrary distinction. Duel is more appropriate for this list than Killer of Sheep which, like Duel, was not intended initially as a cinema release but was a student film. At least Duel was released, with additions, in cinemas in the 1970's and successfully; something which didn't happen with Killer of Sheep until this decade. Duel belongs in the top 50.
Jaycee, Spielberg directed 'Duel' for TV - it was an ABC Movie of the Week - so despite it being a lean, mean mother (that was eventually shown in some cinemas) we didn't think it really belonged on this particular list. Adam Lee Davies.
Night of the Hunter? It was an anachronism the second it was finished. But where the hell is "Ordinary People"? It's a stunning debut which Redford has never come close to surpassing.
I don't really mind that American Beauty and District 9, among others, weren't included, but I'm glad Being John Malkovich isn't on that list.
I can't wait for April 1st, when we'll get to see the "50 greatest Time Out lists played as practical jokes on its readership". I have a feeling this will be in the top five!
Good list. Citizen Kane and Maltese Falcon should have been the top 2. Reservoir Dogs should have been top 10 and Prime by Ben Younger should be on this list. But like i said, good list :)
PRIMER???? Good lord, I wasted a Sunday evening trying to figure out who thought a shoestring budget was any excuse for horrible writing. Five years later, I got my answer: YOU! If it were my list, I'd include Sam Mendes, Jason Reitman, Eli Roth and even David Fincher (Alien 3 was a masterwork of direction and a severely underrated movie, in my opinion). But, it's not my list. But still, PRIMER??? You must have gone to film school with a whole pile of dudes who learned how to make a movie but didn't know how to write a good script, something you can't learn how to do; you either have it or you don't. PRIMER???
BALLAST - Lance Hammer AMORES PERROS - Alejandro GonzÃ¡lez IÃ±Ã¡rritu Synecdoche, New York - Charlie Kaufman Delicatessen - Jean-Pierre Jeunet In The Bedroom - Todd Field Being John Malkovich - Spike Jonze Half Nelson - Ryan Fleck, Ana Boden Mean Creek, The Wackness, Frozen River, Thank You For Smoking, District 9, Donnie Darko, American Beauty, Human Nature, Slacker(?), Sex/Lies/Videotape, Following, Sidney, Pi, Citizen Ruth, Beavis&Butthead/Office Space... anything else?
Pi is overrated, it's a mediocre film that shows elements of a great director who revealed himself later. Although American Beauty and Donnie Darko are worthy of the list. Good list though.
No Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko or Darren Aronofsky's Pi in the top 50 makes this entire list pointless.
Simply god awful list. Why? Because Christopher Nolan's Following is not on this list. Why? I have no idea, but just watch it. The movie is fantastic with a turn at the end that is truly unmatched. Plus Darren Aaronofsky's Pi is not on this list. These are obviously the two greatest directorial debuts ever yet they gain no recognition! This is one disgusting list. It basically just gave typical favorites the top spots and left out the true gems of film.
eric, I lobbied to get sex lies and videotape in there, but was over-ruled by my colleagues who all seemed to have some crazed vendetta against it...c'est la vie!
Great list. I'd add District 9, first feature film from Neill Blomkamp that's easily the best Summer movie of the year? Gone, Baby Gone is also an impressive debut from Ben Affleck. Both are worthy enough to be on this list IMO.
I don't care what you say, Night of the Hunter, though it may have been good when released, does not live up to today's standards. Look at the films of the Coen Brothers and you will see many of the same elements of NOTH, only the Coens use them to better effect. Citizen Kane should have been #1, and Reservoir Dogs should have been in the top ten.
On a general note, perhaps a little too Eurocentric for those of us who didn't major in film at university. More specifically, how could you leave out Ordinary People or Dances With Wolves. Oscars right out of the gate, and Redford in particular took a book that many thought was unfilmable and not only rendered ti brilliantly but got career best performances from Mary Tyler Moore, Donald Sutherland, Judd Hirsch and Timothy Hutton.
I would have included "Pretty Poison" by Noel Black, and possibly Woody Allen's "Take the Money and Run". Also, Jerry Lewis's "The Bellboy".
The Usual Suspects was NOT Bryan Singer's debut. Neither was Shawshank Frank Darabont's. Besides, Shawshank sucks.
Poor show Tom. The list says "50 best" not "50 most interesting", therefore omitting The Shawshank Redemption & The Usual Suspects make the list irrelevant. Bryan Singer was only 24 when he made it!! Surely far superior to Night of the Hunter?????
Ben Affleck's Gone Baby Gone? He may be a crap actor but his visual style is memorable and that's a movie that sticks with you.
@Keyur D. Mehta Nolan's First film was actually Following, which was good, but maybe not to this list's level. Memento is my favourite Nolan movie, though, and if it were his debut, would land squarely in the top ten.
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