Critics vote Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo the greatest film of all time

Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo Photo: BFI Stills

Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 thriller Vertigo has come out top in a prestigious poll to decide the top 50 greatest films of all time.

The result is a coup since Orson Welles' Citizen Kane has dominated the top place for more than five decades.

More than 800 film critics and experts took part in the latest BFI Sight and Sound Poll which has been carried out every 10 years since 1952.

Orson Welles' Citizen Kane Credit: BFI Stills

Alfred Hitchcock has been steadily climbing the list since he first appeared two years after his death in 1982. He jumped from seventh place to fourth in 1992, and then second in 2002.

Vertigo is the 45th feature film that Hitchcock directed. It tells the story of a retired San Francisco detective who suffers from vertigo and his investigation into the activities of an old friend's wife.

Vertigo is the 45th film directed by Alfred Hitchcock Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The editor of Sight And Sound magazine, which conducted the poll with the BFI, said:

This result reflects changes in the culture of film criticism. The new cinephilia seems to be not so much about films that strive to be great art, such as Citizen Kane, and that use cinema's entire arsenal of effects to make a grand statement, but more about works that have personal meaning to the critic ... [Vertigo] is a makeover film full of spellbinding moments of awful poignancy that show how foolish, tender and cruel we can be when we're in love.

– Nick James, editor, Sight And Sound magazine
Ozu's Tokyo Story Credit: BFI Stills

A separate poll of 358 film directors including Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Francis Ford Coppola voted Tokyo Story the greatest film of all time ahead of Citizen Kane.

The Top Ten in the poll of 800 is as follows:

  • 1. Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)
  • 2. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)
  • 3. Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953)
  • 4. La Regle Du Jeu (Renoir, 1939)
  • 5. Sunrise: A Song For Two Humans (Murnau, 1927)
  • 6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)
  • 7. The Searchers (Ford, 1956)
  • 8. Man With A Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)
  • 9. The Passion Of Joan Of Arc (Dreyer, 1927)
  • 10. 8½ (Fellini, 1963)

But critics' choices are not to everyone's tastes. ITV News reader Michael King from Oxford commented on our Facebook page: "I certainly didn't vote for them. [There are] many better films with much better acting".

Linda Willis wrote: "I don't think it is possible to vote any movie the 'greatest film of all time'! They are all so different."