Citizen Kane, The Godfather, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Some Like It Hot. Could these be the four greatest American movies ever made? Orson Welles, Billy Wilder, Francis Ford Coppola, and Stanley Kubrick were all operating at the pinnacles of their respective talents when they created what many movie scholars and critics consider the greatest masterworks in the history of American Cinema. These revolutionary films not only defined the turbulent social and cultural eras in which they were made but successfully transcended those eras by casting a giant shadow of influence across the entire film industry that is still reflected on movie screens to this very day. Each film is noteworthy for its virtuoso directorial style, shrewd presentation of complex narrative structure, trail-blazing technical innovations, mesmerizing editing sequences, painstaking attention to period detail, intentional shattering of classical genre conventions, bold depictions of taboo sexual subject matter and deft handling of controversial political themes.
These four thought-provoking films are unequivocally without parallel in terms of the sheer scope of their ambition and the spellbinding potency of their poetic force. Citizen Kane (directed by Orson Welles, 1941), Some Like It Hot (directed by Billy Wilder, 1959), The Godfather (directed by Francis Ford Coppola, 1972), and 2001: A Space Odyssey (directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1968) have each, in their own visionary way, indelibly transformed the art of cinema by carving a monolithic impression in our cultural landscape, thus providing the yardstick whereby all other "Masterpieces of American Cinema" will be forever measured.
Marc Lapadula / Yale University
Marc Lapadula is a Senior Lecturer in the Film Studies Program at Yale University. He is a playwright, screenwriter and an award-winning film producer. In addition to Yale, Marc has taught at Columbia University's Graduate Film School, created the screenwriting programs at both The University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins where he won Outstanding Teaching awards and has lectured on film, playwriting and conducted highly-acclaimed screenwriting seminars all across the country at notable venues like The National Press Club, The Smithsonian Institution, The Commonwealth Club and The New York Historical Society.