Citizen Kane. Top Gun. The Hottie & The Nottie. The common thread? They’re all descendents of cine-pioneer Louis Lumière’s La Sortie Des Usines Lumière - no less than the first motion picture ever made.
Fifty seconds long, it captures in real time workers spilling from the gates of Lyon’s Lumiere Factory.
A precursor to everything, it particularly anticipates the work of George Lucas: there are three versions in existence – you can tell ’em apart by the number of horses (one, two or none).
Money Shot: The bit where men enter the factory. Plot hole!
A notorious event in French history, a 15-minute costume drama directed by André Calmettes – and, to provide the first ever specially composed orchestral movie score, the 73-year-old doyen of composers, Camille Saint-Saëns.
Money Shot: De Guise is stabbed by thugs as Saint-Saëns’ music rises to a frenzy.
DW Griffith’s Civil War epic is shockingly racist but it integrated formative film grammar into narrative like no movie before.
Here, America embraced a three-hour movie for the first time - one that tethered a thrusting story to close-ups, iris shots, historical authenticity, impressively mounted battle sequences and cross-cutting between parallel action.
Money Shot: Over to critic James Agee: “The most beautiful single shot I have seen in any movie is the battle charge…”
From magic carpets to invisibility cloaks, winged horses to giant spiders, Raoul Walsh’s ‘fantasy’ film used every single dollar of its then-unprecedented $1m budget to show silent audiences just how fantastical celluloid could be.
Every fantasy film since owes it a big debt.
Money Shot: The flying carpet ride over a fairytale Bagdad...
Influential, How? The first animated feature pioneer – and still unchallenged reigning queen – of silhouette animation, director Lotte Reiniger beat Disney to the punch by a dozen years or more.
Weaving together stories from the Arabian Nights and adding her own brand of wit and poetry, Reiniger set the template for telling fairy stories in a way that would enchant the kids, while packing in enough sophistication to keep grown-ups entertained.
Everyone from Disney and Chuck Jones to Hanna-Barbera and Pixar owes her a debt.
As for Achmed itself? “A masterpiece!” said Jean Renoir. Who could disagree?
Money Shot: The Spirit Battle of Waq Waq: Achmed does valiant battle with monsters and demons.
Bagging itself the top five Oscars, the Clarke Gable-Claudette Colbert sleeper hit not only spawned a generation of screwball comedies, but established the 'loathe at first sight' blueprint that three out of five Hollywood romcoms have been following ever since.
Money Shot: Grudgingly sharing a room together, the duo trade rapid-fire quips
The 26-year-old Orson Welles expertly marshalled theatrical influences, dazzling technique, innovations in cinematography and the latest technology to produce a film that showed his fellow (older) filmmakers the sheer scope of the medium.
Some of the staging might seem a little hammy today (hell, it is over 60 years old) but Kane's simple, universal subject (the tragedy of an all-powerful man who wants the one thing he can't have) hasn't aged a day.
François Truffaut said that Kane is less influential than it is inspirational. We say it's one of the few films that manages to be both.
Money Shot: The opening tracking shot: an immaculate temptation (“No trespassing”). Afterwards, there's an awful lot of shots - all bang the money...
Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski: maybe the single most influential performance in the history of American film and theatre.
This was the first production to emerge from Elia Kazan’s Actors' Studio, and its intensity rocked Broadway, before jumping to celluloid.
In Tennessee Williams’ play, Stanley is a working-class brute who resents the airs of his sister-inlaw, Blanche. Brando’s naturalism came as a shock to moviegoers, who weren’t used to seeing sweat, but it was his sexual magnetism that really scorched the screen.
Money Shot: “Stella!!!!” Brando howls into the night as his submissive wife folds into his arms.
Clunky Biblical epic? Yes. But also the first movie made in CinemaScope – using special lenses to squeeze and re-expand the image allowed cinema aspect ratios to rocket from 1.33:1 to an eye-slapping 2.55:1.
As a result, widescreen became the Hollywood way.
Money Shot: Four horses gallop straight at the camera in a spectacular chase scene.
The French New Wave found its most revolutionary expression in this debut feature from critic Jean-Luc Godard.
Francois Truffaut provided the basic story outline about a young hoodlum (Jean-Paul Belmondo) and his doomed relationship with an American girl (Jean Seberg) in Paris, but it was Godard who shook up the system with jerky jump-cut rhythms, handheld camera work and a penchant for mixing lofty dialogue with low-brow action.
For once, the artist didn’t hide behind the story – Godard invited the audience right behind the looking glass.
Money Shot: Belmondo draws his thumb across his lip in homage to Humphrey Bogart. Cinema enters its self-conscious stage.
Drive-in quickie Blood Feast's story about a cannibal Egyptian caterer broke messy new ground: no one had ever spilt so much claret, faked human organs by using sheep offal or chopped up so many actresses (actually hard-up strippers) before.
“It’s like a Walt Whitman poem,” claimed director Herschell Gordon Lewis. “It’s no good, but it’s the first of its type, and therefore deserves a certain position.”
Money Shot: A woman’s tongue being ripped out of her bloody gob.
It's hard to believe that no newsreel footage was used in Gillo Pontecorvo’s blistering docu-drama.
Shot on the same streets where, only a few years earlier, Algerian nationalists and French colonialists had battled it out, The Battle Of Algiers set the bar challengingly high for every docu-drama that followed.
Money Shot: Algerian women descending from the Casbah to bomb a French cafe.
Influential, How? Average schmoes could be leading men.
The casting of Hoffman changed Hollywood’s idea of what a 'movie star' could be. Even Hoffman took some convincing he was the man for the job.
Making an arse of himself at the audition and bringing an uncomfortable tension to his scenes, Hoffman left miserable but director Nichols was sold.
Hoffman picked up an Oscar nom for Best Actor for his misery, and casting logic was never the same again. Tom Hanks, Bill Murray, Tobey Maguire, Steve Carell, Michael Cera and Shia LaBeouf are just a few of Hollywood’s unconventional leads who’ve benefited from the Benjamin Braddock Effect.
Money Shot: “Are you trying to seduce me, Mrs Robinson?”
Hippies, LSD, motorbikes: Easy Rider is a cultural landmark. The defining movie of the ’60s.
Connecting with the long-haired kids (and earning millions for its trouble), Hopper and Fonda's crotch rocket-fetishising classic ushered in New Hollywood by breathing hip life into the square studio system.
“You guys are finished,” Hopper ranted at Oscar-winner George Cukor. “We are in now... It’s our time.”
Money Shot: Fonda and Hopper dropping acid in a New Orleans cemetery.
Taboos are obliterated as fat tranny Divine stamps (and pisses) all over common decency in John Waters’ no-budget shock-pic.
Critics fumed (“one of the most vile, stupid and repulsive films ever made” spat Variety, reaching for the smelling salts) as this outrageously camp attempt to show the forbidden featured turd-gobbling, sphincter-puckering and a sex act involving a live chicken.
It's an anarchic vom-com that makes the Farrelly Brothers’ gross-outs look like something from CBeebies.
Money Shot: Divine munching dog shit. The poodle poops, she scoops – for real.
“It ate the heart and soul of Hollywood,” grumped Paul Schrader.
OK, so Star Wars isn’t Raging Bull. But George Lucas' ubiquitous space-opera is the most popular film ever made - inspiring a whole generation to fall in love with the whole idea of Going To The Movies.
Capturing the heart and dazzling the senses, Star Wars revolutionised CG visual effects, practically invented immersive Dolby Stereo surround-sound and gave audiences something they’d never seen or heard before.
We’re betting Schrader secretly enjoyed it.
Money Shot: That unbelievable opening, as a deafening Imperial Starship engulfs the star-sprinkled vastness.