The Best French Movies of the 20th Century ✓

by SeventhAr7 | created - 09 Jan 2019 | updated - 24 Mar 2019 | Public

France is known to be one of the European countries with a robust film culture. With a huge influence in European and world cinema, they provided us with great cinematographic works in the last century.

Here are some of the greatest French cinematographic works of the last century; which one do you consider the best?

Discuss here

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Live Poll: 21st Century

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1. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

Passed | 114 min | Biography, Drama, History

In 1431, Jeanne d'Arc is placed on trial on charges of heresy. The ecclesiastical jurists attempt to force Jeanne to recant her claims of holy visions.

Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer | Stars: Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, André Berley, Maurice Schutz

Votes: 48,159 | Gross: $0.02M

2. La Grande Illusion (1937)

Not Rated | 113 min | Drama, War

During WWI, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are eventually sent to a seemingly inescapable fortress.

Director: Jean Renoir | Stars: Jean Gabin, Dita Parlo, Pierre Fresnay, Erich von Stroheim

Votes: 33,973 | Gross: $0.17M

3. The Rules of the Game (1939)

Not Rated | 110 min | Comedy, Drama

A bourgeois life in France at the onset of World War II, as the rich and their poor servants meet up at a French chateau.

Director: Jean Renoir | Stars: Marcel Dalio, Nora Gregor, Paulette Dubost, Mila Parély

Votes: 26,835

4. Children of Paradise (1945)

Not Rated | 189 min | Drama, Romance

96 Metascore

The theatrical life of a beautiful courtesan and the four men who love her.

Director: Marcel Carné | Stars: Arletty, Jean-Louis Barrault, Pierre Brasseur, Pierre Renoir

Votes: 18,313

5. The Wages of Fear (1953)

Not Rated | 131 min | Adventure, Drama, Thriller

85 Metascore

In a decrepit South American village, four men are hired to transport an urgent nitroglycerine shipment without the equipment that would make it safe.

Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot | Stars: Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Peter van Eyck, Folco Lulli

Votes: 54,931

6. Rififi (1955)

Not Rated | 118 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

97 Metascore

Four men plan a technically perfect crime, but the human element intervenes...

Director: Jules Dassin | Stars: Jean Servais, Carl Möhner, Robert Manuel, Janine Darcey

Votes: 29,222 | Gross: $0.06M

Suggested by: MAthePA

7. Diabolique (1955)

Not Rated | 117 min | Crime, Drama, Horror

The wife and mistress of a loathed school principal plan to murder him with what they believe is the perfect alibi.

Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot | Stars: Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse, Charles Vanel

Votes: 61,693

8. Elevator to the Gallows (1958)

Not Rated | 91 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

94 Metascore

A self-assured businessman murders his employer, the husband of his mistress, which unintentionally provokes an ill-fated chain of events.

Director: Louis Malle | Stars: Jeanne Moreau, Maurice Ronet, Georges Poujouly, Yori Bertin

Votes: 22,319 | Gross: $0.11M

Suggested by: MAthePA

9. The 400 Blows (1959)

Not Rated | 99 min | Crime, Drama

A young boy, left without attention, delves into a life of petty crime.

Director: François Truffaut | Stars: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, Claire Maurier, Guy Decomble

Votes: 106,043

10. Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959)

Not Rated | 90 min | Drama, Romance

A French actress filming an anti-war film in Hiroshima has an affair with a married Japanese architect as they share their differing perspectives on war.

Director: Alain Resnais | Stars: Emmanuelle Riva, Eiji Okada, Stella Dassas, Pierre Barbaud

Votes: 28,607 | Gross: $0.09M

11. Le Trou (1960)

Not Rated | 131 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

In prison four long-sentence inmates planning an elaborate escape cautiously induct a new inmate to join in their scheme which leads to distrust and uncertainty.

Director: Jacques Becker | Stars: André Bervil, Jean Keraudy, Michel Constantin, Philippe Leroy

Votes: 15,541 | Gross: $0.03M

Suggested by: ELM.

12. Breathless (1960)

Not Rated | 90 min | Crime, Drama

A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.

Director: Jean-Luc Godard | Stars: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Daniel Boulanger, Henri-Jacques Huet

Votes: 73,636 | Gross: $0.34M

13. Jules and Jim (1962)

Not Rated | 105 min | Drama, Romance

97 Metascore

Decades of a love triangle concerning two friends and an impulsive woman.

Director: François Truffaut | Stars: Jeanne Moreau, Oskar Werner, Henri Serre, Vanna Urbino

Votes: 37,868

14. Contempt (1963)

Not Rated | 102 min | Drama, Romance

Screenwriter Paul Javal's marriage to his wife Camille disintegrates during movie production as she spends time with the producer. Layered conflicts between art and business ensue.

Director: Jean-Luc Godard | Stars: Brigitte Bardot, Jack Palance, Michel Piccoli, Giorgia Moll

Votes: 29,081 | Gross: $0.04M

15. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

Not Rated | 91 min | Drama, Musical, Romance

86 Metascore

A young woman separated from her lover by war faces a life-altering decision.

Director: Jacques Demy | Stars: Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo, Anne Vernon, Marc Michel

Votes: 23,931 | Gross: $0.03M

16. Belle de Jour (1967)

R | 100 min | Drama, Romance

A frigid young housewife decides to spend her midweek afternoons as a prostitute.

Director: Luis Buñuel | Stars: Catherine Deneuve, Jean Sorel, Michel Piccoli, Geneviève Page

Votes: 40,508 | Gross: $0.03M

17. Le Samouraï (1967)

GP | 101 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

After professional hitman Jef Costello is seen by witnesses his efforts to provide himself an alibi drive him further into a corner.

Director: Jean-Pierre Melville | Stars: Alain Delon, François Périer, Nathalie Delon, Cathy Rosier

Votes: 45,762 | Gross: $0.04M

Suggested by: Nikolay Yeriomin

18. Le Cercle Rouge (1970)

Not Rated | 140 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

91 Metascore

After leaving prison, master thief Corey crosses paths with a notorious escapee and an alcoholic former policeman. The trio proceed to plot an elaborate heist.

Director: Jean-Pierre Melville | Stars: Alain Delon, Bourvil, Gian Maria Volontè, Yves Montand

Votes: 22,613 | Gross: $0.37M

19. Day for Night (1973)

PG | 116 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A committed film director struggles to complete his movie while coping with a myriad of crises, personal and professional, among the cast and crew.

Director: François Truffaut | Stars: Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Léaud, François Truffaut, Valentina Cortese

Votes: 20,545 | Gross: $0.02M

Suggested by: ELM.

20. The Last Metro (1980)

PG | 131 min | Drama, Romance, War

In occupied Paris, an actress married to a Jewish theater owner must keep him hidden from the Nazis while doing both of their jobs.

Director: François Truffaut | Stars: Catherine Deneuve, Gérard Depardieu, Jean Poiret, Andréa Ferréol

Votes: 12,701

21. Jean de Florette (1986)

PG | 120 min | Comedy, Drama

A greedy landowner and his backward nephew conspire to block the only water source for an adjoining property in order to bankrupt the owner and force him to sell.

Director: Claude Berri | Stars: Yves Montand, Gérard Depardieu, Daniel Auteuil, Elisabeth Depardieu

Votes: 24,099 | Gross: $4.94M

22. Au Revoir les Enfants (1987)

PG | 104 min | Drama, War

88 Metascore

A French boarding school run by priests seems to be a haven from World War II until a new student arrives. He becomes the roommate of the top student in his class. Rivals at first, the roommates form a bond and share a secret.

Director: Louis Malle | Stars: Gaspard Manesse, Raphael Fejtö, Francine Racette, Stanislas Carré de Malberg

Votes: 31,299 | Gross: $4.54M

23. Cyrano de Bergerac (1990)

PG | 137 min | Comedy, Drama, History

79 Metascore

Famed swordsman and poet Cyrano de Bergerac is in love with his cousin Roxane. He has never expressed his love for her as he his large nose undermines his self-confidence. Then he finds a way to express his love to her, indirectly.

Director: Jean-Paul Rappeneau | Stars: Gérard Depardieu, Anne Brochet, Vincent Perez, Jacques Weber

Votes: 22,602 | Gross: $15.14M

Suggested by: ELM., MAthePA & Vincent Fournols

24. Delicatessen (1991)

R | 99 min | Comedy, Crime

66 Metascore

Post-apocalyptic surrealist black comedy about the landlord of an apartment building who occasionally prepares a delicacy for his odd tenants.

Directors: Marc Caro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet | Stars: Marie-Laure Dougnac, Dominique Pinon, Pascal Benezech, Jean-Claude Dreyfus

Votes: 80,778 | Gross: $1.79M

25. La Haine (1995)

Not Rated | 98 min | Crime, Drama

24 hours in the lives of three young men in the French suburbs the day after a violent riot.

Director: Mathieu Kassovitz | Stars: Vincent Cassel, Hubert Koundé, Saïd Taghmaoui, Abdel Ahmed Ghili

Votes: 151,529 | Gross: $0.31M



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