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`Star Wars' Tops Brits' Film Favorites

Movies* Critics deride the poll of Channel 4 viewers, which places `Citizen Kane' at No. 19.

November 27, 2001|From Reuters

LONDON — George Lucas' intergalactic spectacular "Star Wars" has been voted the greatest movie of all time by viewers of Britain's Channel 4.

The film, which revolutionized the sci-fi genre when it was released in 1977, and its 1980 sequel "The Empire Strikes Back," beat blockbusters such as "Gladiator" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" to gain the accolade.

But the poll, which attracted more than 20,000 votes from viewers, has been derided by film critics for ignoring the true classics of cinema history.

Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane," widely acknowledged by critics as the finest film ever made, scraped into the top 20 at No. 19, while the 1962 epic "Lawrence of Arabia" was at 30.

Film critic Peter Bradshaw said of the result: "It depresses me.

"When people are asked for their favorite film, they tend to go for something they view as a classic, and it's disturbing that people now think 'Star Wars' is a classic."

The result will also disappoint veteran British film critic Barry Norman, who says in this week's Radio Times magazine that he expected "Star Wars" to win the poll but would never have voted for it.

Defending the poll, Channel 4's head of film programming, Nick Jones, said it was representative of what people really like. "[It] is not the usual film buffs' list of titles most people have never heard of," he said in a statement.

Francis Ford Coppola's mobster movies "The Godfather" and "The Godfather, Part 2" came in second in the viewers' poll. At No.3 was "The Shawshank Redemption," starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins, followed by Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" at No. 4.

Billy Wilder's "Some Like It Hot," starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, came in at No. 5.

Channel 4, which unveiled the result in a three-hour show Sunday night, had asked viewers to pick their top 10 films from a list of 100 drawn up by industry experts and filmmakers.

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