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The 100 best French films: 60-51

Our definitive countdown of the finest French films – as chosen by industry experts


Une chambre en ville (1982)

Director: Jacques Demy

Although one of Jacques Demy’s final films, ‘Une chambre en ville’ had been in the works for several decades before it was finally produced in 1982... 

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The King and Mister Bird (1980)

Director: Paul Grimault

The result of a long collaboration (and tortured production history) between animator Grimault and the respected screenwriter Jacques Prévert, this animated cartoon tells of the downfall of the king and kingdom of Tachycardia...

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Delicatessen (1991)

Director: Marc Caro et Jean-Pierre Jeunet

The near future: taking a job and a bedsit at a shabby rooming-house above a butcher's shop, ex-clown Louison (Pinon) falls for the butcher's daughter. But her father, unhappy about the blossoming romance, deals in human flesh...

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The Cheat (1936)

Director: Sacha Guitry

At age 12, our hero is sent to bed supper-less for stealing eight sous. When he wakes up his entire family is dead from food poisoning, leading him to conclude that dishonesty and survival are intimately linked. We follow his subsequent career as thief and card sharp...

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La Grande Vadrouille (1966)

Director : Gérard Oury

Gerard Oury is the uncontested king of French popular comedy and, with 17 million tickets sold its opening weekend (a record that was only broken by Titanic in 1998), ‘La Grande Vadrouille’ is without doubt his greatest and most enduring work. Chock full of now classic scenes...

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The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

Director: Jacques Demy

In the garage where he works, Guy (Nino Castelnuovo) plans a trip to the opera. His colleague is unimpressed: ‘All that singing’s a pain – I prefer movies.’ ‘The Umbrellas of Cherbourg’, it’s safe to say, would not be for him...

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Pickpocket (1959)

Director: Robert Bresson

Released in the same year as Godard’s ‘Breathless’ (1959) and filmed on the same sun-dappled Parisian streets, Bresson’s mid-career tale of the mysterious operation of grace and redemption on the fate of a young thief is considered by many to be his masterpiece...

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Un chien andalou (1929)

Director: Luis Bunuel

Prelude: a young woman sits compliantly as Buñuel takes a razor and slices her eye open. What follows is a documentary rendering of the dream state, of dream logic; and/or a surrealist exposition involving, for example, a swarm of ants, underarm hair, a striped box...

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The Red Circle (1970)

Director: Jean-Pierre Melville

Melville's special achievement was to relocate the American gangster film in France, and to incorporate his own steely poetic and philosophical obsessions. He described this, his penultimate film, as a digest of the nineteen definitive underworld...

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Excellent list.