The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made

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9780812930016: The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made
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In The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made, the film critics of the Times have gathered the original reviews of their list of the best.  Covering every conceivable genre, from comedies, dramas, and science-fiction to foreign films, musicals, and others, this book provides the student with an essential resource.  How were Psycho or Fantasia originally received?  For movies that are often subsumed in their own legends,  the original review is a corrective lens for a hindsight that is often anything but 20/20.  This volume also includes and introductory essay by Janet Maslin and modern postscripts to movies that survived their original trashing to become classics.

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Review:

Everyone knows that a good canon debate doesn't get interesting until you reach the realm of the top 100. But by listing the top 1,000 movies, as the editors of The New York Times have done with this fat, readable collection of reviews, you get to skip all that huffing and puffing about quality and head straight for the fun. With a little elbow room, there's space for ineffable stuff like Mr. Hulot's Holiday and The Match Factory Girl. Room, too, for the nuance-free Mrs. Doubtfire and the free-falling Die Hard (which makes it, yep, right next to Diner). Pillow Talk squeezes in just one down from The Piano. What's really new about this book, though, is that the reviews have been culled from the Times's archive--reaching back to 1931. So you can read Vincent Canby reacting to Taxi Driver in 1976, just days after first seeing it: "The steam billowing up around the manhole cover in the street is a dead giveaway. Manhattan is a thin cement lid over the entrance to hell, and the lid is full of cracks." Not bad for a guy on deadline. Bosley Crowther, who preceded Canby, fares less well, waving off Rear Window as Hitchcock's "new melodrama, " and Psycho with, "It does seem slowly paced." By contrast, Janet Maslin's more recent reviews hum and gush, unraveling the merits of Pulp Fiction and Lone Star. At collected-Shakespeare size (999 pages), the title is probably too vast for schlepping around, but go ahead, try reading just one. With plenty of international selections, including usual suspects from France (Truffaut), Italy (Fellini), and Japan (Itami), as well as some unusual ones from Brazil, Mexico, India, and Czechoslovakia, there's enough canon fodder here for at least five "Top 100" books. --Lyall Bush

About the Author:

Vincent Canby was film critic for the New York Times from 1969 to 1993.  He now writes the "Stage View" column for the Times.  Janet Maslin has been a Times film critic since 1982.

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