• The Hollywood Reporter on LinkedIn
  • Follow THR on Pinterest

'Vertigo' Tops 'Citizen Kane' in Poll of Greatest Films of All Time

Kim Novak in Vertigo 1958
Evening Standard/Getty Images
"Vertigo"

The BFI's Sight & Sound magazine survey puts Hitchcock's psychological drama at the top of the charts in the once-a-decade international critics’ film poll, published since 1962.

LONDON – Orson Welles' Citizen Kane no longer enjoys the moniker of greatest film of all time, a plaudit it has held for 50 years.

The movie has occupied top billing in the British Film Institute-published magazine Sight & Sound's once-a-decade international critics’ film poll since 1962.

PHOTOS: Redbox's Top 10 Most-Rented Movies of 2011: THR Year in Review

But that crown, according to Sight & Sound's 2012 survey of 846 movie experts who participate, has now passed to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

Made in 1958, the psychological suspense drama first entered the Sight & Sound poll in 1982 in seventh place -- two years after its director died. Largely ignored by the critics for most of his career, its rise in the poll is testament to how Hitchcock’s reputation has steadily increased over time.

Starring James Stewart and Kim Novak, Vertigo trumped Citizen Kane by 34 votes this time around; it finished second 10 years ago, five votes shy of Kane.

And 1941's Kane, second in the survey, also missed out on the top spot in a separate poll of 358 film directors from all over the world -- including Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen and Mike Leigh -- whose survey chose Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story (1953) as its greatest.

The critics poll, first conducted in 1952, marks the magazine's seventh and its most ambitious to date.

The 10-yearly survey aims to rule out fluctuations in taste and asks participants to interpret "greatest" in any way they choose.

STORY: 'The Artist' Director Responds to Kim Novak Slam Over 'Vertigo' Music

That could mean whether the film was most important to film history, represented the aesthetic pinnacle of achievement or perhaps had a personal impact on their own view of cinema.

This year’s poll sample of 846 film critics, academics, distributors, writers and programmers from all corners of the globe was the biggest ever. They voted for 2,045 movie titles overall.

That compares with the 144 who were asked 10 years ago. The pollsters said the huge increase "reflects the impact of the Internet and proliferation and increased influence of film commentators using this new medium."

Another fallout from this year's top 10 is Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin, a 1925 film that has appeared in the top 10 for all of the poll's 60 years in various slots.

Three silent films make 2012's top 10: Dziga Vertov’s documentary Man With a Movie Camera (1929) is a new addition, while 1927's Sunrise, directed by F.W. Murnau, moves up to fifth and 1927's The Passion of Joan of Arc re-enters – ousting Potemkin.

Organizers said the changes might be explained by the availability of the films on DVD and the resurgence in popularity in recent years for different kinds of live accompaniment to the films, from The Alloy Orchestra and Michael Nyman to prog rock.

Ozu’s Tokyo Story is in third spot and Jean Renoir’s La Règle du jeu (1939) occupies fourth.

Vertov’s film is the first documentary to make the top 10 since 1952.

Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Passion of Joan of Arc is ninth, while the most recent film in the top 10 is Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) in sixth place. John Ford's The Searchers (1956) hits the seventh spot, while Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 (1963) lies 10th.

STORY: 'Vertigo' Star Kim Novak to Be Honored at TCM Classic Film Festival

The Critics’ Top 10 Greatest Films of All Time

1. Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)
2. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)
3. Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953)
4. La Règle du jeu (Renoir, 1939)
5. Sunrise: A Song for Two Humans (Murnau, 1927)
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)
7. The Searchers (Ford, 1956)
8. Man With a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)
9. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, 1927)
10. 8 ½ (Fellini, 1963)

STORY: Orson Welles' 'Citizen Kane' Oscar Sells for $861,542

The Directors’ Top 10 Greatest Films of All Time

1. Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953)
2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)
3. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)
4. 8 ½ (Fellini, 1963)
5. Taxi Driver (Scorsese, 1980)
6. Apocalypse Now (Coppola, 1979)
7. The Godfather (Coppola, 1972)
8. Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)
9. Mirror (Tarkovsky, 1974)
10. Bicycle Thieves (De Sica, 1948)