Live Poll: Ebert's Ten Greatest Films of All Time

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In 1991, Roger Ebert made a list of his personal "Ten Greatest Films of All Time". These are films that moved him deeply in one way or another, with the films being listed alphabetically rather than by rank.

Among his picks, which would you say is most deserving of their place on his list?


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Kyle Perez

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Posted 3 years ago

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Madolyn Barrigan

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Citizen Kane (1941)    
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15yearsIMDber aka ElMo

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I could have sworn Apocalypse Now was in the Top 10.
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Kyle Perez

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It's weird but I have found two different list titled "Ebert's 10 Greatest Films of All Time", the second one does in fact have Apocalypse Now, La Dolce Vita and a few others omitted from this one. Quite confused, maybe one is more updated than the other? There might have to be 2 parts with this one.
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I saw a documentary made around 2000 with Roger Ebert and Martin Scorsese. They each selected their top 10 films from the previous decade (from 1990-1999, inclusive). I forget Ebert's selections, but I remember the top 3 from Scorsese: His first 2 were films made by Japanese directors. His 3rd choice however, finally left me feeling vindicated. It was the NC-17(aka X) rated version of Abel Ferrara's brilliant film, "Bad Lieutenant", starring Harvey Keitel.  Keitel's performance was absolutely breathtaking. Coupled with Ferrara's overall direction, it was almost unwatchable. He pushed it to the limit.  Ebert didn't understand, but Scorsese did 100%. Since it was rated NC-17, only a few independent theaters were showing it. Fortunately, I lived within walking distance (about 5 blocks away) on Sullivan Street (Soho) in Manhattan, where it was showing at the best of all independent theaters, The Angelica, which had at least 4 screens. Even there, entire rows of people walked out, simply because they couldn't handle Ferrara's "darkness and the ferocity Keitel portrayed. It remains one of the darkest films ever made, and none of it is gratuitous. It only shows you how cowardly and puritanical the "Academy" is. If they were truly honest, Keitel would have won Best Actor. Because of the rating, not only was he not nominated, not a single person was selected for any nomination from the entire film! This is why I do not care what the academy thinks.

I have a lot to say about Steve McQueen, which follows.

I think Cagney was the greatest actor in the first half of the 20th Century. I also believe Steve McQueen was the greatest actor of the latter half of the 20th Century. I write this knowing what a truly brilliant guy he was. I saw "Bullitt" in 1968. I was 14 years old. He was the absolute "King of Cool' as the moniker goes. He was nominated once for "Best Actor" (he didn't win) for "The Sand Pebbles" (1966). The film had 8 nominations. There were no winners of any of them. McQueen didn't care! As Ali McGraw said (one of his ex-wives), "Every man wanted to be like him, every woman wanted to sleep with him, and every boy looked up to him". He would be out in public and women couldn't pu 3 words together they were so overwhelmed. He was constantly having women throw themselves on him while they were with their husbands or boyfriends. It is truly a shame he died so young (50 years old) in 1980. He had mesothelioma (the worst cancer), which he is sure he got while being punished in the US Marine Corp for some minimal transgression. He had to scrape clean the inner hulls of ships, which were coated with asbestos; the primary cause of mesothelioma (an incurable form of cancer). It typically is dormant for 20-30 years, then bang, you have a few weeks to live. He had joined up at age 17: A judge gave him a choice for a theft conviction (he had no father; his mother dumped him at "Boys Town", the West Coast version of "Boys Club". Consequently, he always wanted a father (which is what most people who were the closest to him said).

Regardless, he was and still is my favorite actor from the time I saw "Bullitt" until he passed away in 1980. As far as stunts, no one is even near the class he was in.
They talk about Tom Cruise and other people doing their own stunts. Trust me, McQueen was light years ahead of them all. He was an incredible car and motorcycle racer. Stunning. Other things as well. He did the 100+ foot cliff jump himself in "Papillon". They didn't even get a close up; it was a long distance shot. He simply loved living on the edge, and that says it all.

My (5) favorite films with him (in order) are:

(1)  "Bullitt" (1968)
(2)  "The Getaway" (1972)
(3)  "The Great Escape" (1963)
(4)  "Papillon" (1973)
(5)  "The Thomas Crown Affair" (1968)

Some of my favorite quotes of his are: "Racing is Everything", "Stardom equals freedom. It's the only equation that matters." / "I'm not sure whether I'm an actor who races or a racer who acts." / "To me, a woman's ass is important. Jane Fonda always works out and keeps her ass in A-1 condition." / "They call me a chauvinist pig. I am . . . and I don't give a damn!" / "I live for myself and I answer to nobody." / [His last words] "I did it."

I love these true stories:
He had an ongoing feud with his next door neighbor in Malibu, Keith Moon, the terrific (but nuts) rock drummer for The Who. Moon had a habit of leaving his bathroom light on at night. The light shone directly into McQueen's bedroom and kept him awake at night. After telling Moon repeatedly to turn it off without success, McQueen took out a shotgun, blew out the light and went back to bed.

A troublesome teenager, he spent five years in a California reformatory.

He ran away from home and worked on ships, as an oil field laborer and fairground barker.

Although he had problems with authority in the strict Marine Corps and served a tough 41 days in the brig for a 21-day AWOL incident, he was discharged honorably. He loved engines. While in the Marines, he said "We are going to have the fastest tank" in the Marines."

He did not like gratuitous violence, swearing or nudity in movies.

He also had 1st choice for almost every film made from 1968 on. Think about that a moment. "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid", 

At one point he approached playwright Samuel Beckett with an idea for filming the play "Waiting for Godot", but Becket had never heard of him.

He publicly threatened Howard Hughes if (Hughes) kept harassing Mamie van Doren (both men had affairs with her). Hughes left her alone.

He used to disappear in the desert in New Mexico or Arizona for days, wearing no shirt (he alway wore t-shirts and jeans). He would only have on a pair of blue jeans and motorcycle boots, riding for days in the desert going 70+ MPH on his dirt bike. 

These are some of the roles he specifically turned down; there were many more. Of course, he was offered the lead in all of them:

"Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961)

"Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice" (1969)

"Dirty Harry" (1971)

"The Godfather" (1973)

"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977)

"Apocalypse Now" (1979)

His favorite role was Detective Frank Bullitt in the film "Bullitt" (1968). Me, too.

I am leaving out many, many more. He loved to race motorcycles, especially dirt bikes; "scrambling". I did as well. I rode a Kawasaki 175 all the time when I was 15 (1969). Obviously, by all I have written, Steve McQueen was my idol. I think I saw Bullitt 5 times when it came out. See, there had never been a real car chase in a film until "Bullitt" came out.

These guys were driving heavy, steel and iron cars back in 1968. Anything could go wrong, like an axle breaking, a blown tire, and on and on. It's stunning how he eventually stops the car in "Bullitt"; it is all real; this is decades before CGI or wires or anything like that.

McQueen had a 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback, which had been tricked out with a rat motor, and Don Gordon, his close friend (and one of the greatest stunt drivers ever) was in a 1968 Charger, equally equipped. They had 25 blocks of downtown San Francisco shut down, along with 5 or 6 of the best stunt drivers in Hollywood in the other cars. They had police at each intersection to make sure no one might wander into an intersection. It was absolute guerilla filming.

McQueen's Mustang had (small) disc brakes in the front and drums in the rear. Gordon's car was about the same.The cinematographer, cameraman and the director were in their cars filming. These guys were driving in cars like I described 125-130 MPH with cameramen hanging outside the window! Director Peter Yates was in the car filming and said "Steve, how fast are we going" and McQueen said "well over 120MPH, but that isn't the problem; Yates said what is the problem" and McQueen replied, "we have no brakes left". If you watch closely, You can see McQueen (right about the point when he is shot at) driving from side to side, gearing down, to slow the car down. The finish was spectacular.  Stunt people today are blown away by what he did.

McQueen, besides being a great auto and motorcycle racer, collected some stunning and very rare cars. His estate's collection would easily make Jay Leno drool. On top of them being extremely rare, Steve McQueen had owned, driven and sometimes raced them. I think he has (6) Porsche 917s, which were outlawed at LeMans in the late 1960's or early 1970's (I forget) because they were so fast. They would easily cruise at 230 MPH. Hence, extremely dangerous. He had 1 particular Ferrari which without the provenance of McQueen owning it would easily fetch probably $10 million (probably more) at auction. When you add in the McQueen Provenance, it would get at least $15-$20 million. He paid almost nothing for it in the 1960's. I forget the model.

The best thing to do is either (A) watch the Bluray copy of Bullitt, which has a couple of hours of footage of him, other actors, directors, women, etc., or watch the film "I am Steve McQueen" which has a lot of the film I just mentioned and more.

Another amazing thing are his salaries, which start out as almost nothing, to many unheard of salaries, which included percentage deals; some as much as 25% of the net and (?) grosses. Several were for highly successful films. 

Lastly, I want to mention Colin Farrell, Kevin Costner, Pierce Brosnan and Bruce Willis have all listed McQueen as their hero and inspiration for being an actor.

That says it all. I own almost all his films, and watch them frequently.
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In fact, I had the same idea a couple of months ago. I prepared the list but wanted to post it a week before the 4th anniversary of Roger Ebert's death on 4 April 2017.

My list was established in 2013, one year before Ebert's death and it was called his last Top 10 testament. I think this is the last one he made. Basically we are talking about the same list which he updated in different phases of his life. The comments also vary depending on the year the list was issued.
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Someone who Wears Pants

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If we go with that one, I'd have to say Vertigo. What say you, OP?
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Kyle Perez

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I think if this gets published I will correct the title by when the list was published, year-wise and make a part 2 for his updated list. That way, there can be more of a variety spread across two polls.
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rubyfruit76, Champion

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Hey Kyle, 'Another great list. Could you make this clear on the list, as well as the thread, and not wait until a part two? ('Just noting the years the two different lists were compiled or published and which one this list is...) Could you also note the source? 
Thank you so much! :-)
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Kyle Perez

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Hey Sara,

I will do that right now, thanks for the suggestion. Regarding the source, it is actually already there as a hyper link on the following text in the intro: 

"Ten Greatest Films of All Time"

However, this text doesn't become observable (and thus clickable) until, or if, the list becomes published. So if it becomes a poll, the source will become evident in the introduction. Hope that makes sense :P
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Someone who Wears Pants

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I want to preface my vote with the tidbit that I think we would need a more recent list to be more accurate. I know we can't get a new list now, but didn't he have one a few years ago? I mean, there have been great films since, but I will vote on what's available all the same. 

I'd vote for Third Man.
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Kyle Perez

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See my previous comment above ^. I'll like make 2 parts with this one.
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I personally think that Ebert is one for simple tastes.  All the movies I ever seen in his top 10 picks or usually talks about during his show that he had in the mid 90's through the 2000's have either been movies that are completely drawn out or remain stuck in one emotion... and with very few exceptions.
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Stephen Atwood

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Ebert is live and well if only in this morning's live poll.

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Kyle Perez

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Since I see you went through the effort of making his latest list, I will delete my part 2 and perhaps you can now post the list you had previously made (Ebert's more recent "Top 10" list) in the GS thread. Maybe link my part 1 to yours? I will delete my newest suggestion and leave it up to you to create the Part 2!
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Thanks Kyle, very kind of you. I will do so.
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Congratulations pere-25366 on your 75th live poll!
As of 10-Apr-2017 9:21 PM Pacific your polls have 142,048 or more votes, for an average of 1,894 votes per poll.

5210th Live Poll:

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