Stanley Kubrick: Ranking His Films From Worst To Best

Many great filmmakers have a type of film to which they might generally stick and are wonderful at making pictures…

Quinn Steers

Contributor

Stanley Kubrick

Many great filmmakers have a type of film to which they might generally stick and are wonderful at making pictures in those particular genres. Martin Scorsese has gangster/crime films, Billy Wilder did comedies, as does Woody Allen and then we have Stanley Kubrick, one of the most eclectic filmmakers of all time who has done crime, comedy, drama, war, sex, sci-fi, epic, historic and heist, to name a few. Kubrick is one of, if not the most fastidious filmmaker in history, with his cast and crew often attesting to his attention to the tiniest detail, often to their own annoyance but to his astounding success. He was a control freak and this would typically be a bad thing but in my own opinion, he never made a bad film.

Kubrick started out with short films and the occasional documentary, which have not appeared on this list for I have reserved the sacred spots for features. His influence is incalculable and the breadth of that stretches to pretty much every director working today including David Lynch, Paul Thomas Anderson, The Coen Brothers and of course, the Kubrick-devotee Steven Spielberg who is about to commit a grave sin in adapting Kubrick’s Napoleon – the greatest film never made – for a Television miniseries.

His films feature a melange of powerful performances, wonderful dialogue, incredible cinematography and visuals and of course, unforgettable music, particularly in 2001 and A Clockwork Orange. Woody Allen called him “one of the all time great motion picture makers”. He wasn’t a typical filmmaker who makes one film after the next, allowing the option to have the odd flop here and there. He took years between productions In order to perfect his work, allowing for masterpiece after masterpiece after masterpiece.

Unlike awaiting a new film from some random filmmaker, you were patient with Kubrick because you knew the final product would be great. After he finished Full Metal Jacket he retreated from public view for so long that an Englishman managed to impersonate him for many years because people had forgotten what Kubrick looked like. He returned in ’99 with Eyes Wide Shut, his final film before his death after he finished editing it. Right then, here we go:

 

13. Fear and Desire (1953)

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Fear and Desire was Kubrick’s first feature film, which he directed, produced, edited and provided the cinematography for. Fear and Desire is about a war between two unknown countries and a plane that crash lands behind the enemy line. The film then includes a girl who is kidnaped by the soldiers and held captive by a mentally disturbed man.

The plot isn’t that great, it lacks something and it is a generally unenjoyable film. Fear and Desire is more famous for Kubrick’s loathing of it, he is thought to have spent an awful lot of money acquiring as many copies as he could so that he could burn them all. In 1994 he said it was “a bumbling amateur film exercise”, which was probably a fair evaluation. As I’ve said, he directed it, produced it, shot it, edited it, did the cinematography and financed it primarily through his own sources, the only things he didn’t do was act and narrate.

But what is notable about the film also is Kubrick’s DIY attitude which may or may not be because of the small crew and the extra money It would’ve cost him to hire more crew. The film was produced on a estimated starting budget of 10 thousand dollars which reportedly stretched to 33 thousand, most of which was given to Kubrick by friends and family, in-particular from his uncle Martin Perveler, a wealthy pharmacist.