Spike's Favorite Films

Forget Brooklyn—Spike Lee's roots are in the film program at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. He made his first feature, Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop, for his graduate thesis there, and now he's on the faculty. "Fifteen years," he says. "I'm artistic director of the graduate program, too." Increasingly, his pupils are playing an important part in his filmmaking, nowhere more so than on Red Hook Summer: "A large part of the crew were my students—really key positions." Here, Professor Lee lists his 15 essential movies from the dozens he screens for aspiring directors.

1. The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorva, 1966)


2. The Last Detail (Hal Ashby, 1973)


3. West Side Story (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, 1961)


4. Stranger Than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch, 1984)


5. The Train (John Frankenheimer, 1964)


6. Black Orpheus (Marcel Camus, 1959)


7. Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973)


8. Blue Collar (Paul Schrader, 1978)


9. To Kill a Mockingbird (Robert Mulligan, 1962)


10. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)


11. Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet, 1975)


12. Hoop Dreams (Steve James, 1994)


13. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977)


14. Cool Hand Luke (Stuart Rosenberg, 1967)


15. The Bicycle Thief (Vittorio De Sica, 1948)


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