Everyone Thinks “Citizen Kane” Stinks

There’s a general rule of cinema: “Citizen Kane” is the greatest film ever. Every critic list, every film professor will shout this from on high. But, much like when “November Rain” finally ousted “Thriller” as the greatest video of all time, someone has done the bold deed. They knocked “Kane” off his perch.

Every 10 years Sight & Sound magazine, a respected industry rag out of Britain, polls a bunch of critics, academics and the like and creates a Top 50 list. And, every decade for 50 years “Citizen Kane” sat atop the list with the heft of Orson Wells and a burned up sled. No more.

What did they pick? It’s hardly important (although, they chose the excellent “Vertigo”). Best Film Ever?What’s important is the willingness to change. To pick something new(er). To challenge the status quo.

So, I’ll challenge it here as well. What’s really interesting about the Top 10 is how much I dislike so many of the films on it. I love “Vertigo” but, after that… I’m not a big “Citizen Kane” fan. I detest “8 1/2” (I wrote a paper about my dislike for it and my film professor gave me and F and wrote “either you failed to grasp it, or I failed to teach you. Either way, this is an F. Change your opinion”). I have little love for either “2001” or “The Searchers.”

So, out of the new Top 10, I’ve seen five and liked one. And I like arty films and classics. Seriously, “Bicycle Thieves” isn’t in the Top 10 (it was 33)? What the hell? “Godfather” doesn’t crack the Top 20 (21)? I want to respect this list for the sole reason that it doesn’t lead off with “Kane” but then it completely screws up the rest of the list.

So, I’m taking a page from Anthony’s book and putting up a poll. What’s the BEST FILM EVER? I’ve put down seven that I think should be in consideration (either from my viewpoint or as “standards”). What say you, dear reader?

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3 thoughts on “Everyone Thinks “Citizen Kane” Stinks

  1. Honestly, I call bullshit. Not on you, on the Sight & Sound list. Kinda seems like this:

    Hey Everybody, look! We at Sight & Sound have a list that doesn’t rank Citizen Kane as #1!! Now we’ll finally get the attention we deser… um, we mean… Vertigo deserves.

    I am skeptical of this entire list in terms of its importance. I believe most regular movie watchers/bloggers are not very familiar with Sight & Sound at all (regardless of how long it’s been around), and honestly if it had listed Citizen Kane as #1 then most people would’ve gone another decade without ever hearing or caring about their list. I had to look it up to know it was the publication of the British Film Institute.

    I don’t have any real love affair with Citizen Kane, but I believe it’s a better film than Vertigo (based solely on my memory of both – I haven’t seen either in at least 10 years). And I also think it’s better than anything you have on your poll although not necessarily more enjoyable than them all.

    And what, no Back to the Future as one of the voting options? I expected more from you.

    • Honestly, I agree that “Kane” > “Vertigo.” I like “Vertigo” a lot more. But the impact “Kane” had on cinema is too great. That being said, “Kane” still ranks 3rd on my list. “Bicycle Thieves” and “Godfather” are above it.

  2. Yes, I’ve seen “Citizen Kane” and enjoyed it. But how many times is the big question. Let’s just say, probably 1/10th as many times as I’ve seen “The Godfather,” “Airplane!,” “Animal House,” “Being There,” “Doctor Stranglove…” “Jaws” or for that matter, “Top Secret!”

    That’s to say, any film critic’s list of “TOP TEN FILMS OF ALL TIME!” that doesn’t include a comedy at least in the top 10 is a totally pretentious list. And yes, “Jaws” is a comedy, right? In the classic sense, the bad guy gets off’d? I’d opine longer, but it’s Summer and I gotta go “Skeet Surfin’.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaXOHCNgYrc

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