Every ten years since 1952, the British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound magazine has published its Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time. And every list published featured Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane as its top film. Until now.
The poll, which saw over 800 critics, academics and film industry personnel vote, has now picked a new number one: Alfred Hitchcock’s dark psychological thriller, Vertigo (1958), starring James Stewart and Kim Novak.
Now many will argue over the merits of the poll and endlessly debate why Welles’ reign finally ended. Perhaps Citizen Kane fatigue finally set in, or maybe people finally realized Citizen Kane is technically brilliant, but emotionally distant.
Of course, Hitchcock’s film has its share of detractors, namely among more feminist-minded critics who decry the film as flaunting male obsession with women. And there are those – including yours truly – who don’t even consider Vertigo to be Hitchcock’s best work, let alone the best film of all time (I’d vote for Rear Window myself).
Also included in Sight & Sound‘s top ten are Stanely Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), John Ford’s The Searchers (1956) and Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2 (1963).
Orson Welles in ‘Citizen Kane’ (1941)/Warner Bros.
James Stewart and Kim Novak in ‘Vertigo’ (1958)/Universal Pictures