'Star Wars' tops list in TV poll of 100 best films

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The Independent Culture

Star Wars has been voted the greatest film of all time in a poll of film watchers which will have the more discerning critics squirming.

While the Orson Welles classic Citizen Kane and the Russian epic Battleship Potemkin may be the choice of the film buff, the top 10 selected by more than 20,000 viewers of Channel 4 is rather more multiplex than arthouse.

Star Wars and its sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, came in at number one, with The Godfather and its sequel in second place and the Tim Robbins prison melodrama The Shawshank Redemption in third.

But though Hollywood blockbusters dominate the top slots, there is still room for both the contemporary cult movie – Pulp Fiction – and old favourites like Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life.

Nick Jones, head of film programming for Channel 4, said: "We believe this list represents what the public really like and is not the usual film buffs' list of titles most people have never heard. The list is bound to stir debate but, hopefully, will encourage people to see more films that they don't know yet."

A list of 100 great movies was drawn up by a combination of industry experts, including the producer Ismail Merchant, critics and members of the public. This list was then put to public vote to produce the top 100 revealed by Graham Norton in two programmes shown over the weekend.

Interviewed for the programmes, Steven Spielberg, a close friend of the director of Star Wars, George Lucas, spoke warmly of how he had been "awestruck" by the film. He recalled: "When George invited me to see Star Wars for the first time, he said 'This is kind of in rough form', and he wasn't kidding. But the power of Star Wars to me was that at the end of that rough experience I loved the movie."

Citizen Kane scraped into the top 20, below The Matrix and Jaws, while Battleship Potemkin made 89th place in the listings, way behind films like The Full Monty.

The result will disappoint the veteran film critic Barry Norman. He predicted that Star Wars would top the poll but said in this week's Radio Times that he would never have voted for it.

The top ten films

1 Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back (1977/1980). George Lucas's sci-fi phenomenon

2 The Godfather and The Godfather (part II) (1972/1974). Francis Ford Coppola's Mafia saga

3 The Shawshank Redemption (1994). Tom Hanks in sentimental prison melodrama

4 Pulp Fiction (1994). Tarantino's slick, menacing gangster tale

5 Some Like It Hot (1959). Billy Wilder's cross-dressing comedy

6 Gladiator (2000). Ridley Scott's Roman epic

7 It's A Wonderful Life (1946). Frank Capra's goodhearted entertainment

8 Blade Runner (1982). Futuristic thriller directed by Ridley Scott

9 Schindler's List (1993). Spielberg's film of Holocaust heroism

10 Goodfellas (1990). Scorsese's portrayal of life with the Mob