Top 15 Criterion Blu-rays to Buy During the Barnes & Noble 50% Off Sale

Offering up 15 of the best and plenty of alternatives

Top 15 Criterion Blu-rays to buy at Barnes and Noble's sale

8.) Diabolique

WHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? I love the work of Henri-Georges Clouzot and this is my second favorite film of his, third would be Le Corbeau, but Criterion hasn't released that on Blu-ray yet... So, we wait. Had I not intended to give this film a spot of its own it would have been my alternative to Repulsion, but to call it an alternative is to lessen it. This twisting thriller shows what it means to keep an audience at the edge of their seat and in the end leave you wanting more.

ALTERNATIVES: No alternatives

PRICE: $19.99 (regularly $39.99) [buy it here]

7.) Sweet Smell of Success

Sweet Smell of SuccessWHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? I'll let the opening paragraph of my review from last March do the talking here: "This is a nasty story of two loathsome characters who deserve everything they get and then some. It's one of those films that makes you feel dirty while watching it as you bask in the deplorable behavior on screen and Criterion has delivered a beautiful achromatic picture for the drama to play out on."

ALTERNATIVES: The Killing or Kiss Me Deadly

PRICE: $19.99 (regularly $39.99) [buy it here]

6.) The Night of the Hunter

The Night of the HunterWHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? When I received and reviewed The Night of the Hunter back in December 2010 I couldn't stop watching it. It was like I was in a trance. I'd seen the film once before and wasn't originally taken by it, but seeing it a second time it started to grow on me and the more I watched it I found I just couldn't stop. Robert Mitchum is terrifying in the lead role as a man posing as a preacher with villainous intent in his dark heart. For more on the release give my review a read.


PRICE: $24.99 (regularly $49.99) [buy it here]

5.) Seven Samurai

Seven SamuraiWHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? When it comes to the Criterion Collection one of the first films I think of is Seven Samurai. Perhaps that's because it was the second film introduced in the collection or because it is simply one of the most talked about foreign films... ever. In fact, what can you say about this film that hasn't already been said? Hell, I reviewed this specific Blu-ray in October 2010 (read that here) and wrote up an essay on the film after watching it for the first time back in 2007. In short, I love it and this release is a film that must be on your shelf.

ALTERNATIVES: Kagemusha and The Samurai Trilogy

PRICE: $24.99 (regularly $49.99) [buy it here]

4.) The Seventh Seal

The Seventh SealWHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? When it comes to films that were added to the collection early, spine number 11 is Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal, a film that changed the way I look at movies and what I expect from them. This was the first film from Bergman I had ever seen and in most cases when you start out with something this good there is nowhere to go but down. I could have listed several of his films in this top 15, but what would have been the point? Instead of alternatives I'll simply list other Bergman films you should consider because while The Seventh Seal is my undisputed favorite, there is so much more to explore.

You can read my review of this Blu-ray here.

ALTERNATIVES: Amarcord, Fanny and Alexander, Summer with Monika and Bergman's Trilogy is also on sale at B&N for $39.99, but it's only on DVD

PRICE: $19.99 (regularly $39.99) [buy it here]

3.) The Wages of Fear

The Wages of FearWHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? You'd never expect a two-and-a-half-hour film about four men driving trucks loaded with nitroglycerin over dangerous terrain could actually be as exhilarating as Henri-Georges Clouzot makes it out to be. For my money, The Wages of Fear is Clouzot's crowning achievement. At every turn in the narrative he keeps you guessing as to the men's fate and once all is revealed he goes no further and slaps "The End" on the frame and sends you home as if to say, "Suck on that!" He's a true master.

ALTERNATIVES: The Lady Vanishes

PRICE: $19.99 (regularly $39.99) [buy it here]

2.) 8 1/2

8 1/2WHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? Federico Fellini is one of my favorite filmmakers and it was all I could do not to include Amarcord on this list as well and had La Strada and Nights of Cabiria also been available on Blu-ray it would have been impossible to find room for them all. When it comes to this film, as I wrote in my review back in January 2010, "When I watch Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 it isn't so much a digestion of the content as much as it is a film that washes over me. It creates an atmosphere through visuals, circumstances and the wonderful score provided by Nino Rota."


PRICE: $19.99 (regularly $39.99) [buy it here]

1.) Breathless

BreathlessWHY SHOULD YOU BUY IT? If someone took a gun, held it to my head and said I needed to tell them my all-time favorite film or they would pull the trigger I'm quite certain the answer would be Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless. As far as I'm concerned it's a masterpiece and is one of the most oddly romantic films I've ever seen. I can't get enough of it and to describe why I like it is nearly impossible. I guess you can try my review of the Blu-ray right here if you'd like a little more context.

ALTERNATIVES (but only if you already own it): Vivre sa Vie, The 400 Blows and Au Revoir Les Enfants

PRICE: $19.99 (regularly $39.99) [buy it here]

So there you have that, a list of 15, but it feels so wrong to leave so many off and I was happy to fit Au Revoir Les Enfants in at the end there but frustrated I never found a place for Luis Bunuel's Belle de Jour, Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast, Godzilla, The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus or my lone documentary suggestion, Crumb.

There's also Akira Kurosawa's High and Low, Brian de Palma's Blow Out, Fritz Lang's M, Jim Jarmusch's Mystery Train and you can even preorder Whit Stillman's Metropolitan and The Last Days of Disco. And finally, Mike Leigh's Topsy-Turvy and Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory.

There are just so many and I love these moves so much, but I now leave the choice to you... hopefully you found this list slightly helpful as the Criterion sale lasts until July 16 so get in there and pick something up and if you have any suggestions be sure and add them in the comments below and to start shopping click here.

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  • Criterion10

    Great list... After picking up Repulsion and The Gold Rush yesterday, I own all the titles on this list (on Blu-Ray of course) except for The Seventh Seal, which I used to own but had to return to Borders a couple of years ago due to a defective disc

  • MWHollywood85

    The Third Man.
    If you're a fan of Orsen Welles or Film Noir you must have this. Just wish they had Carol Reed's "Odd Man Out" on Criterion.

    • Kevin Blumeyer

      Yeah, but good luck finding it at a reasonable price. You can't even find a used copy for under $90 on Amazon.

  • Kevin Blumeyer

    I picked up Being John Malkovich, Shallow Grave, Anatomy of a Murder, Diabolique, World on a Wire and Rushmore when they had the 50% off sale overlapping with the buy 2 get 1 free sale during the first night. I rule.

    • Jordan B.

      Did the same with Breathless, Charade, and Traffic. Now I just wish I'd had put in another order or two. Here's hoping that my BN store honors the "$8 off $40" member coupons with the sale prices.

  • maja

    Man do i wish Criterion didn't region lock their blu-rays!

  • Reza

    What about Le samourai? I believe that film is a masterpiece.

    • Kevin Blumeyer

      That one isn't on Blu yet. Great film though. I'm waiting to buy it because I know the minute I do they'll announce a Blu-ray upgrade.

  • Jordan B.

    Thank you for this! I was going to throw in a user question about this for Friday's podcast, but now it looks like I don't have to.

    I picked up Breathless (due partly to your suggestion in various reviews, articles, and podcasts), Traffic, and Charade a couple nights ago while the 50% sale and the B2G1 sale overlapped.

    Wish I would have ordered more during that overlap period, but I plan to get out to the store tonight to pick up a few. Right now I'm thinking Seven Samurai and Gold Rush for sure. Of the others I'm considering, there's also The Great Dictator, Broadcast News, The Double Life of Veronique, Belle de Jour, The Lady Vanishes, 8 1/2, and Stagecoach.

    Also, a quick correction, from what I've read, the sale lasts until July 30, not July 16.

  • Ian

    Curses, I didn't realize they had the one-day overlap between the two sales, or I'd have made my trip that day. Because yes, in addition to living in a city with no art house cinema, I also live in a city with no Barnes and Noble.

    The must-buys for me this time around are The Thin Red Line and Seven Samurai. Not sure what else I'll go for...I'm intrigued by Summer with Monika, and of course 8 1/2, Breathless, The Seventh Seal, 12 Angry Men, and Godzilla are all classics. What to do, what to do?

    • Jordan B.

      The overlap was online only and it was for only a few hours, something like 9 PM to 12 AM pacific time.

      IMO, you can't go wrong with 12 Angry Men. One of the best films of all time, and enjoyable every time I watch it.

    • Brad Brevet

      Wasn't a one day overlap, I think it was only a few hours and I believe it was an accident, so don't beat yourself up too much.

      • Jordan B.

        The overlap seems to lie in the fact that they allowed the B2G1 sale to go through 3AM ET (12 AM PT), and the 50% off sale started at 12 AM ET (9PM PT). So I don't even think it was an accident. According to the guys (and gals) on the forums, this has happened in the past, so if it has continually occurred, I find it hard to believe that they keep screwing up.

  • chewbaca69

    Stoked on already owning the top three :)

  • Owen

    I'm currently working my way through grad school so I don't have a ton of disposable income, but I think I can afford to pick up at least two of The Gold Rush, Breathless and The Killing.

  • AS

    My favorite Criterion titles (no particular order):

    The Third Man
    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    The Killing
    Paths of Glory
    Harold and Maude
    The Game (coming soon)

  • Snicket

    I really need to get 8 1/2...

  • Chris138

    I picked up The Last Temptation of Christ, Certified Copy and A Night To Remember all on Blu-ray last night. I plan on going back for more in the next couple of weeks. It's my favorite sale ever.

    The Thin Red Line is the best looking Criterion title I've seen on Blu-ray. Wings of Desire is also well worth checking out.

  • Jordan B.

    Also, no mention of Three Colors Trilogy anywhere? At the $39.99 price, I don't know if it doesn't get much better. Although I guess I did get it at Amazon for $37.XX in my gold box a month or so ago.

    • Jordan B.

      I gotta stop with these stupid grammatical errors on here, makes me look like an idiot.

      Any chance of an edit feature on posts at some point, Brad?

    • JJ

      I second this. Three Colors is a special trilogy. All 3 movies are excellent (White being the lesser of the 3 in my opinion) and an easy-ish/enjoyable watch.

  • Dale

    Superbly selected list, Brad.

  • Kliffoth

    Nice list I gotta agree, though I felt a dumb after I picked up 12 titles just a week before knowing about any 50 % safe, though they had the (buy 2 Get 1). The salesman could have tipped me off..
    Picked up first the Brazil 3-disc, Vampyr, Summer interlude/with Monika, Sweet Smell of Sucess, Identification of a woman, Orpheus, Cul-de-Sac & Replusion, Harakiri, Secret Sunshine and the Maikioka sisters.

    Then today I couldnt resist on buying the Seven Samurai, Battle of Algerie, Night of the hunter, My own private Idaho, The Magician, WAges of Fear, the 39 steps and Knife in the water (ess)
    Not bad indeed ;)


  • Francois

    Picked up Being John Malkovich, Bottle Rocket, World on a Wire, Mystery Train & Videodrome. I also tried to order Paris, Texas, but it seems to be back ordered for another two weeks. I love your inclusion of some of the great suspenpse films, as Clouzot's Diabolique is one of my favourite films. I have the previous two criterion releases though so I wasn't sure if the upgrade was worth it despite the great artwork. Hopefully someday we will get L'enfer on criterion.

  • Ryan

    Having checked out this list, most of them are on amazon for about 23 or so right now, so I went with the ones that are signifigantly cheaper:
    Yojimbo-Sanjuro (15 cheaper than Amazon; 35)
    Samurai Trilogy (14 cheaper than Amazon; 35)
    Certified Copy, Shallow Grave, John Malkovich, Playtime, Gold Rush, Last Metro, 39 Steps, Realm of the Senses (about 9-11 cheaper than Amazon; 20 each)
    Eclipse: Up All Night/Robert Downey Sr (13 cheaper; 20)
    You can also risk DVD Vampyr (save 10+), but I keep hearing rumors a Blu is coming.

  • marion



  • futurestar

    you don't know your shit from shineola. your list proves plus your weak support like everyone coming here was a complete novice.