Thoughts and reactions on John LaRue's 50 Greatest French Films List

While I was on vacation, my dear blogger friend John LaRue at The Droid You’re Looking For published his annual list of the 50 Greatest French Films of All Time. Being a Francophile and a Francophone myself I couldn’t get more excited about his wonderful yearly achievement.

The first thing that pops right into my face this time is the amount of French films I still haven’t seen from his list. Being obsessed with other quests, I didn’t let myself sail onto outside territories than the list I’m currently working on. The infamous 1000 Greatest Films of All Time by TSPDT. What John threw involuntarily in my face was the fact that sometimes we need to dig a little deeper and appreciate more than just the canons we are told are great films. Out of his list I count 24 movies I’ve never seen. That’s almost half the damn list. I need to get some French treats!

Out of the 27 ones I actually seen I could easily add many French films not on the list and brag about the fact that I have seen almost all the films Eric Rohmer, Jean-Luc Godard, and François Truffaut made. It could be an easy task. However, I wanted to react in a better way to rank the ones I’ve seen and add my omissions.

It goes like this:

27. The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966)

26. The Red Ballon (Albert Lamorisse, 1956)

25. Un Chien Andalou (Luis Bunuel, 1929)

24. Shoot the Piano Player (François Truffaut, 1960)

23. Z (Costa-Grava, 1969)

22. Bande à Part (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964)

21. Day for Night (François Truffaut, 1973)

20. Zéro de Conduite (Jean Vigo, 1933)

19. A Trip to the Moon (Georges Méliès, 1902)

18. Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

17. The Phantom of Liberty (Luis Bunuel, 1974)

16. Weekend (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967)

15. Les Vacances de M. Hulot (Jacques Tati, 1953)

14. Children of Paradise (Marcel Carné, 1945)

13. Cleo From 5 to 7 (Agnès Varda, 1962)

12. Contempt (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963)

11. Mon Oncle (Jacques Tati, 1958)

10. Le Samouraï (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967)

9. Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

8. Grand Illusion (Jean Renoir, 1937)

7. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1928)

6. Night and Fog (Alain Resnais, 1955)

5. The 400 Blows (François Truffaut, 1959)

4. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Luis Bunuel, 1972)

3. L’Atalante (Jean Vigo, 1934)

2. À bout de souffle (Jean-Luc Godard, 1959)

1. La Règle du Jeu (Jean Renoir, 1939)

It may seem cliché to put La Règle du Jeu as the best French film but I do believe it is.
 Omissions (in no particular order) :
Ma Nuit Chez Maud (Eric Rohmer, 1969)
Love in the afternoon (Eric Rohmer, 1972)
Diaboliques (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1955)
The Wages of Fear (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1952)
Pierrot le fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965)
Jules and Jim (François Truffaut, 1961)
Eyes Without a Face (Georges Franju, 1960)
Mon Oncle d’Amérique (Alain Resnais, 1980)
A Man Escaped (Robert Bresson, 1956)
Au hazard Balthazar (Robert Bresson, 1966)
Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967)
La Jetée (Chris Marker, 1962)
Pickpocket (Robert Bresson, 1959)
Beauty and the Beast (Jean Cocteau, 1946)
The Crime of Monsieur Lange (Jean Renoir, 1936)
Lola Montès (Max Ophüls, 1956)
Lacombe, Lucien (Louis Malle, 1974)


  1. Thanks, I missed that post too while I was on vacation.

    1. You're welcome! What do you think of the original list?

    2. I actually don't feel qualified to really comment on it. There were actually quite a few I haven't seen yet too. Mostly the before the new wave films.

  2. Wait a second, there's stuff I've seen that you haven't?! Who's the native French speaker here?

    Thanks so much for this, Michael. Un Chien Andalou is a tough one to rank for me because I love it to pieces, but it's ultimately a short film, and I've seen more influential stuff in the last few years. I really need to see more of the more recent French films, more Rohmer, a few old Renoir films (including Monsieur Lange), and Mon Oncle d'Amerique.

    1. Sadly, I haven't seen as many as you did! I am planning to watch a bunch of Resnais in the future. I just don't get Abel Gance that much but I know he's been influential but I think I'm not that interested in experimental Cinema as I wish I would...

  3. Well, I've only seen 16 of them, and I haven't seen his number 1 yet (although I will eventually since it's on the 1,001 Movies list.)

    My pick for best among the ones I've seen would be Children of Paradise. I would have had Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring much higher.

    I completely agree that both Diaboliques and especially The Wages of Fear should be on the list.

    1. Children of Paradise stands as one of the greatest french films of the 1940's, a masterpiece.

      Clouzot is a great filmmaker if you ask me!


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