The ten best adventure films
Friday 08 October 2004
1 KING KONG Merian C Cooper, 1933
This is where modern adventure began; it was the film that woke me up to the notion of film-making in general, and has been a great influence ever since.
2 STAGECOACH John Ford, 1939
This was the first big action-adventure film, and so many films since have been derivative of it. Watching it now, it's almost like a cliché, until you realise that everything originated with this film - it's where the clichés come from. It was the film that opened up the modern style that we see today.
3 LAWRENCE OF ARABIA David Lean, 1962
This is one of my favourite films in terms of its sheer scope, in its setting and backdrop. And yet it's also an intimate film about one man who went through this larger-than-life adventure. Like all David Lean's films, it's really beautiful.
4 LOST HORIZON Frank Capra, 1937
A group of people crash-land in the Himalayas and find themselves in what is, essentially, Shangri-La, where no one ages but no one can leave. Capra's films are ultimately very much about the characters, and in this case it's about the dilemma the stranded characters face.
5 LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING Peter Jackson, 2003
This is the one recent film that I'd include. It's a tremendous adventure in terms of its scope, scale and ambitions, but it also has these important characters who lead you through it. It has taken everything leading up to it and advanced it - it raised the bar in terms of what you can do with an adventure film.
6 JAWS Steven Spielberg, 1975
I think this is one of the best films Steven Spielberg has made, and I hate it when people dismiss it as a simple horror film. The film-making is extraordinary. It is the story of the human beings - three men trapped on a boat, searching for a Great White Shark - that make the movie so fascinating.
7 BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID George Roy Hill, 1969
First and foremost this is just a great, great movie, and, in terms of adventure, there is probably none better. It is one of the most entertaining and satisfying films ever made. This is largely because the characters are the most well-conceived in the genre - it's something many people have tried to emulate but have fallen well short of.
8 THE WIZARD OF OZ Victor Fleming, 1939
This may not be as rollicking as the others but, in terms of whimsy, wonder and pure adventure in the world of imagination, it is unsurpassed. Anyone who has lived through the flying monkeys as a child doesn't forget the experience.
9 STAR WARS George Lucas, 1977
This breathed new life into a stagnant genre. I saw it at the cinema when I was young, and I felt as if I'd been transported to another place. From the very first images - the scrolling text, and then the ship that flies over you that you feel is never going to end - I knew something special was in store. That initial set-up is brilliant - you are captivated and brought into the film's world, so by the time you get to the very simple story, you are really with it.
10 RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK Steven Spielberg, 1981
As the advertising campaign used to say: "If adventure has a name, it must be Indiana Jones". This movie is innovative, too - it might have been represented as being like the old adventure serials, but they weren't anything like it in terms of the speed of their story and their action. The plot is like a Heath Robinson contraption, where once the action begins it is unrelenting and incredibly inventive. The characters are iconic and yet they are fully realised; they are not just people you want to know, you want to be them. It's the quintessential adventure film.
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 2 Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor David Dinsmore reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
- 3 Giorgio Armani criticises the way some gay men dress saying 'a man has to be a man'
- 4 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
- 5 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Star Wars 7: George Lucas admits he hasn't seen The Force Awakens trailer
Star Wars: Rogue One trailer: Watch the teaser for the Jedi-less Death Star heist film
Avengers Age of Ultron: 'After credits' scene leaks online days before public release
Groundhog Day musical to premiere at Old Vic from Matilda theatre director
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate