Picks and Pans Review: Landmark Films

updated 01/21/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/21/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

by William Wolf with Lillian Kramer Wolf

The author, who teaches at New York University and St. John's University, has selected 38 movies, from 1915's Birth of a Nation to 1975's Nashville and Seven Beauties, as the medium's most influential. All the classics are included: GWTW, Duck Soup, Citizen Kane, Open City, Breathless, 2001, Easy Rider, etc. The only surprises are Melvin Van Peebles' Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, which Wolf chooses to represent the wave of black films in the early '70s, and Deep Throat. The choices can be quarreled with, but that's part of the fun. Wolf is especially good in analyzing the impact of such films as Bonnie and Clyde on the way we dress and the way foreigners perceive us through our movies. His essays are solid, without a trace of the arbitrariness that on occasion overtakes critics like Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris. (Paddington, $14.95)

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