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My Student Tomato-Meter: 2013 Edition

A girl plays with tomato pulp during the annual Tomatina tomato fight fiesta.

Longtime readers of this blog know that, every year around this time, I post an updated “student tomato-meter,” showing the aggregated results of the ratings (on a scale from 1-10) that my students have given to every movie I’ve ever screened in my film studies classes. I’ve taught 48 classes and shown a total of 170 unique movies in the past four-and-a-half years. (While 170 titles might sound like a lot, I’m actually bothered by the fact that I’ve never presented anything by directors like Antonioni, Bava, Bergman, Cassavetes, Cronenberg, Fuller, Hou, Naruse, Ophuls, Tarkovsky, Tati, or Yang; nor have I ever shown anything from Bollywood.) Below is a list of all the films I have screened to date, presented in chronological order by original release date, along with the average ratings given by my students. Below that I’ve also included a list of the top 10 highest rated films. I’m always surprised at how much student ratings tend to fluctuate from one year to the next — as evidenced by a comparison between the current ratings with the 2012 and 2011 editions of the tomato-meter.

The complete list in chronological order:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Wiene, Germany, 1920) – 6.4
The Golem (Wegener/Boese, Germany, 1920) – 6.0
Nosferatu (Murnau, Germany, 1922) – 6.7
Our Hospitality (Keaton, USA, 1923) – 8.3
Sherlock Jr. (Keaton, USA, 1924) – 7.8
Waxworks (Leni, Germany, 1924) – 4.4
Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, Soviet Union, 1925) – 5.2
The Gold Rush (Chaplin, USA, 1925) – 8.0
The Last Laugh (Murnau, Germany, 1925) – 7.3
The Navigator (Keaton, USA, 1925) – 8.1
Seven Chances (Keaton, USA, 1925) – 8.2
The General (Keaton, USA, 1926) – 8.1
Faust (Murnau, Germany, 1926) – 6.9
Metropolis (Lang, Germany, 1927) – 6.2
Sunrise (Murnau, USA, 1927) – 7.0
Lonesome (Fejos, USA, 1928) – 6.5
The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, France, 1928) – 7.7
Man with the Movie Camera (Vertov, Soviet Union, 1929) – 6.0
L’age D’or (Bunuel, France, 1930) – 6.6
City Girl (Murnau, USA, 1930) – 6.5
Earth (Dovzhenko, Soviet Union, 1930) – 3.2
City Lights (Chaplin, USA, 1931) – 8.4
M (Lang, Germany, 1931) – 8.1
L’atalante (Vigo, France, 1934) – 6.7
The Awful Truth (McCarey, USA, 1937) – 8.5
Grand Illusion (Renoir, France, 1937) – 7.1
Alexander Nevsky (Eisenstein, Russia, 1938) – 4.6
Bringing Up Baby (Hawks, USA, 1938) – 8.5
The Roaring Twenties (Walsh, USA, 1939) – 8.1
Stagecoach (Ford, USA, 1939) – 7.2
The Rules of the Game (Renoir, France, 1939) – 7.1
His Girl Friday (Hawks, USA, 1940) – 8.5
The Shop Around the Corner (Lubitsch, USA, 1940) – 7.4
Citizen Kane (Welles, USA, 1941) – 8.3
How Green Was My Valley (Ford, USA, 1941) – 6.8
The Lady Eve (Sturges, USA, 1941) – 8.2
Casablanca (Curtiz, USA, 1942) – 8.5
Cat People (Tourneur, USA, 1942) – 5.0
The Palm Beach Story (Sturges, USA, 1942) – 7.5
The More the Merrier (Stevens, USA, 1943) – 8.5
Ossessione (Visconti, Italy, 1943) – 5.2
Double Indemnity (Wilder, USA, 1944) – 8.1
The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (Sturges, USA, 1944) – 8.0
To Have and Have Not (Hawks, USA, 1944) – 7.5
Brief Encounter (Lean, England, 1945) – 8.3
Detour (Ulmer, USA, 1945) – 7.2
Rome, Open City (Rossellini, Italy, 1945) – 7.2
My Darling Clementine (Ford, USA, 1946) – 7.3
The Big Sleep (Hawks, USA, 1946) – 6.0
The Lady from Shanghai (Welles, USA, 1947) – 8.1
Out of the Past (Tourneur, USA, 1947) – 7.4
Pursued (Walsh, USA, 1947) – 7.0
Bicycle Thieves (de Sica, Italy 1948) – 7.9
Fort Apache (Ford, USA, 1948) – 7.5
Germany Year Zero (Rossellini, Italy/Germany, 1948) – 6.8
The Red Shoes (Powell/Pressburger, UK, 1948) – 8.3
The Third Man (Reed, UK, 1949) – 8.0
White Heat (Walsh, USA, 1949) – 8.3
The African Queen (Huston, USA, 1951) – 8.3
Singin’ in the Rain (Donen/Kelly, USA, 1952) – 8.9
The Band Wagon (Minnelli, USA, 1953) – 8.0
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Hawks, USA, 1953) – 8.5
Strangers on a Train (Hitchcock, USA, 1953) – 7.8
Tokyo Story (Ozu, Japan, 1953) – 6.7
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, Japan, 1953) – 6.7
Rear Window (Hitchcock, USA, 1954) – 8.9
Seven Samurai (Kurosawa, Japan, 1954) – 8.3
Sansho the Bailiff (Mizoguchi, Japan, 1954) – 7.0
Pather Panchali (S. Ray, India, 1955) – 6.4
A Man Escaped (Bresson, France, 1956) – 8.0
All That Heaven Allows (Sirk, USA, 1956) – 7.5
Aparajito (S. Ray, India, 1956) – 6.6
Bigger Than Life (N. Ray, USA, 1956) – 6.8
The Searchers (John Ford, USA, 1956) – 7.4
Vertigo (Hitchcock, USA, 1958) – 8.9
Some Came Running (Minnelli, USA, 1958) – 7.7
Touch of Evil (Welles, USA, 1958) – 7.6
Some Like It Hot (Wilder, USA, 1959) – 9.2
The 400 Blows (Truffaut, France, 1959) – 8.7
North By Northwest (Hitchcock, USA, 1959) – 8.6
Rio Bravo (Hawks, USA, 1959) – 8.0
Pickpocket (Bresson, France, 1959) – 7.3
Hiroshima Mon Amour (Resnais, France, 1959) – 6.8
Psycho (Hitchcock, USA, 1960) – 8.9
Les Bonnes Femmes (Chabrol, France, 1960) – 6.4
Breathless (Godard, France, 1960) – 7.7
Viridiana (Bunuel, Spain, 1961) – 7.0
Cleo from 5 to 7 (Varda, France, 1962) – 7.3
Le Doulos (Melville, France, 1962) – 7.1
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Ford, USA, 1962) – 8.3
Contempt (Godard, France, 1963) – 8.3
8 1/2 (Fellini, Italy, 1963) – 6.5
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Demy, France, 1964) – 8.3
Onibaba (Shindo, Japan, 1964) – 8.0
Alphaville (Godard, France, 1965) – 6.0
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Leone, Italy, 1966) – 8.8
Point Blank (Boorman, USA, 1966) – 7.0
The Pornographers (Imamura, Japan, 1966) – 6.9
Le Samourai (Melville, France, 1967) – 8.0
2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, USA, 1968) – 7.6
Le Boucher (Chabrol, France, 1970) – 7.5
Two-Lane Blacktop (Hellman, USA, 1971) – 7.5
McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Altman, USA, 1971) – 7.0
Love in the Afternoon (Rohmer, France, 1972) – 8.6
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Fassbinder, Germany, 1973) – 7.8
Badlands (Malick, USA, 1973) – 7.6
The Long Goodbye (Altman, USA, 1973) – 7.6
Black Christmas (Clark, Canada, 1974) – 8.2
Chinatown (Polanski, USA, 1974) – 8.2
Young Frankenstein (Brooks, USA, 1974) – 7.6
The Irony of Fate: Or Enjoy Your Bath! (Ryazanov, Russia, 1975) – 8.5
Taxi Driver (Scorsese, USA, 1976) – 8.5
Annie Hall (Allen, USA, 1977) – 6.6
Days of Heaven (Malick, USA, 1978) – 7.2
Killer of Sheep (Burnett, USA, 1978) – 7.6
Raging Bull (Scorsese, USA, 1980) – 8.3
Popeye (Altman, USA, 1980) – 5.2
The Slumber Party Massacre (Jones, USA, 1982) – 6.8
Bad Blood (Carax, France, 1986) – 7.1
A Short Film About Love (Kieslowski, Poland, 1988) – 8.3
The Thin Blue Line (Morris, USA, 1988) – 7.8
Goodfellas (Scorsese, USA, 1990) – 8.9
The Lovers on the Bridge (Carax, France, 1991) – 8.0
Deep Cover (Duke, USA, 1992) – 8.7
The Player (Altman, USA, 1992) – 8.1
The Bride with White Hair (Yu, Hong Kong, 1993) – 5.1
Groundhog Day (Ramis, USA, 1993) – 8.1
Menace II Society (Hughes/Hughes, USA, 1993) – 8.0
Naked (Leigh, UK, 1993) – 6.3
The Piano (Campion, New Zealand, 1993) – 8.6
Chungking Express (Wong, Hong Kong, 1994) – 7.9
Ed Wood (Burton, USA, 1994) – 6.8
A Moment of Innocence (Makhmalbaf, Iran, 1996) – 5.8
The Taste of Cherry (Kiarostami, Iran, 1997) – 7.2
The Mirror (Panahi, Iran, 1997) – 5.1
The Bird People in China (Miike, Japan, 1998) – 6.6
Audition (Miike, Japan, 1999) – 7.6
Beau Travail (Denis, France/Djibouti, 1999) – 5.4
Nowhere to Hide (Lee, S. Korea, 1999) – 7.3
Ravenous (Bird, UK/USA, 1999) – 8.1
Dancer in the Dark (Von Trier, Denmark/Sweden, 2000) – 7.3
The Day I Became a Woman (Meshkini, Iran, 2000) – 7.5
Failan (Song, S. Korea, 2000) – 7.7
In the Mood for Love (Wong, Hong Kong, 2000) – 7.9
JSA: Joint Security Area (Park, S. Korea, 2000) – 8.2
Needing You (To, Hong Kong, 2000) – 7.1
Avalon (Oshii, Japan/Poland, 2001) – 7.6
The Devil’s Backbone (del Toro, Spain/Mexico, 2001) – 8.6
Mulholland Drive (Lynch, USA, 2001) – 7.7
Far From Heaven (Haynes, USA, 2002) – 7.2
Infernal Affairs (Lau/Mak, Hong Kong, 2002) – 7.8
The Tracker (de Heer, Australia, 2002) – 7.9
Save the Green Planet (Jang, S. Korea, 2003) – 6.8
3-Iron (Kim, S. Korea, 2004) – 8.5
Before Sunset (Linklater, USA, 2004) – 9.0
Dumplings (Chan, Hong Kong, 2004) – 6.4
Grizzly Man (Herzog, USA, 2004) – 8.1
Memories of Murder (Bong, S. Korea, 2004) – 8.7
Moolade (Sembene, Senegal, 2004) – 8.2
The Proposition (Hillcoat, Australia, 2005) – 8.1
The Host (Bong, South Korea, 2006) – 9.1
Offside (Panahi, Iran, 2006) – 7.8
Zodiac (Fincher, USA, 2007) – 9.1
The Social Network (Fincher, USA, 2010) – 8.5
The Hunter (Pitts, Iran, 2010) – 6.8
Drive (Refn, USA, 2011) – 8.1
Sleeping Sickness (Kohler, Germany, 2011) – 6.6
Holy Motors (Carax, France, 2012) – 8.6
Before Midnight (Linklater, USA, 2013) – 7.8

And a countdown of the current top 10 highest rated films:

10. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Leone, Italy, 1966) – 8.8
9. Psycho (Hitchcock, USA, 1960) – 8.9
8. Rear Window (Hitchcock, USA, 1954) – 8.9
7. Singin’ in the Rain (Donen/Kelly, USA, 1952) – 8.9
6. Vertigo (Hitchcock, USA, 1958) – 8.9
5. Goodfellas (Scorsese, USA, 1990) – 8.9
4. Before Sunset (Linklater, USA/France, 2004) – 9.0
3. Zodiac (Fincher, USA, 2007) – 9.1
2. The Host (Bong, South Korea, 2006) – 9.1
1. Some Like It Hot (Wilder, USA, 1959) – 9.2

some

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About michaelgloversmith

Filmmaker, author and Film Studies instructor. View all posts by michaelgloversmith

18 responses to “My Student Tomato-Meter: 2013 Edition

  • Susan Doll

    I showed The Tracker in my class this semester. I think it went over well as the discussion was very lively. I am showing Annie Hall this week. Did not go well last year because the students don’t understand the references in the jokes. But, I will try again this year.

    • michaelgloversmith

      The first time I tried showing Annie Hall it didn’t go over well either. I showed it a second time and the response was much better. I’ve learned to try and incorporate student criticisms of a film into my introduction of it the very next time I show it; that way, I can kind of tell them in advance what their objections might be and try to pre-emptively combat them.

  • vjmorton

    Minor thing: there doesn’t seem to be a grade attached to BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR

  • jilliemae

    Wow! “Some Like It Hot” gets number one! And I would bet that many of them wouldn’t have ever seen it without your guidance; w
    ay to enlighten.

    • michaelgloversmith

      Thanks! Some Like It Hot always goes over like gangbusters. One of my proudest moments as a teacher was when I got an e-mail from a student months after a class ended informing me that she had just shown Some Like It Hot to a friend of hers who had never seen a black and white movie and that her friend loved it. This is the kind of thing that occasionally happens where I’m reminded that what I do in the classroom can reverberate outside of the classroom walls.

  • Bruce Thiesen

    Very impressive – 170 DOES sound like a lot!

  • John Charet

    Very interesting. I had a feeling however that “Some Like it Hot” would be ranked number 1 in the student poll. I do love all the choices on the top 10. I also love the films on the chronological list as well. I saw on your comment in the last post that you are offering a class Thursday nights. Even If I can’t make it to any in the spring, I would be delighted to see the list of films that you will show:)

    • michaelgloversmith

      Here’s the tentative syllabus:

      1. The 400 Blows (Truffaut)
      2. Les Bonnes Femmes (Chabrol)
      3. Last Year at Marienbad (Resnais)
      4. Cleo from 5 to 7 (Varda)
      5. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Demy)
      6. Pierrot le Fou (Godard)
      7. My Night at Maud’s (Rohmer)
      8. ?!MYSTERY FILM?!
      9. David Holzman’s Diary (McBride)
      10. Night Moves (Penn)
      11. Stranger Than Paradise (Jarmusch)
      12. Simple Men (Hartley)
      13. Before Sunset (Linklater)
      14. The Color Wheel (Perry)
      15. Frances Ha (Baumbach)
      16. Spring Breakers (Korine)

  • joe johnson

    I always wonder why the searchers gets such a low rating?

    • michaelgloversmith

      Well, 7.4 is actually pretty good! I’ve had an interesting experience with that film. I’ve shown it exactly three times. The first two times I showed it via DVD projection and it didn’t go over so well. I took a third class to see it on a field trip in the theater and the ratings were much higher. A film as majestic as that really needs the biggest screen possible in order to work its magic. As far as why some students don’t like it, I think it mostly has to do with inherent prejudice against the western genre (and the Wayne persona in particular).

  • bookreaders2004

    I really don’t care for The Searchers, or most of Ford’s westerns, although I think Wayne was vastly underrated.

  • John Charet

    Sounds like a great list there. I noticed most of the films by the curriculum are either the works considered their breakthroughs (i.e. Truffaut’s The 400 Blows and Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise) or their most mainstream (Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers)

  • The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of November 22 | Parallax View

    […] you’re wary of the conventional wisdom that film students have universally awful taste in movies, some quantified pushback is offered by Michael Smith, who’s aggregated the grades his students have given the 170 movies he’s shown over the past […]

  • Mitchell

    Am I the only one that finds the rankings somewhat disheartening? It seems that being in English vastly improves the rating possibilities, which makes me wonder if there is some predisposition to viewing foreign-language films as homework and not as satisfying entertainment. Of course Seven Samurai and the Leone westerns always go over. But Some Like It Hot? Really?!?! I always feel guilty that I don’t find it all that funny. Sexist and tiresome maybe, but not that funny. Like most of Wilder’s oeuvre.

    • michaelgloversmith

      Keep in mind that these are mostly 18-20 year old suburban kids who are not used to watching films prior to when they were born, and most of them have never even a seen a “foreign film.” Considering that, I think the rankings are actually kind of encouraging.

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