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'Vertigo' Tops 'Kane' In Critics' Poll Of Greatest Films

"Vertigo" (1958) (credit: Paramount/Universal)

(CBS News) - For decades Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" has ruled as the greatest film ever made, according to various critics' polls, the granddaddy of them all being the poll conducted by the British Film Institute's Sight & Sound magazine.

Every 10 years critics are asked to list their top 10, and since 1962 when "Kane" topped the poll, no other film has been able to dislodge it.

Enter Alfred Hitchcock.

The 2012 poll results, announced Tuesday, now name Hitchcock's 1958 thriller "Vertigo" as the greatest film ever made, with "Citizen Kane" slipping to number 2.

Starring James Stewart, Kim Novak and Barbara Bel Geddes, "Vertigo" tells the story of a San Francisco detective who is hired by an old acquaintance to tail the man's wife. Scottie (Stewart) falls in love with his assignment, only to fail to save her from a suicide attempt because of his fear of heights.

But, as in most Hitchock tales, that's only the beginning of the twisting mystery.

Rule changes account for some other shifts in the lineup. Beginning this year, critics could not lump two or more films together, as had been done to land Francis Coppola's "The Godfather" and "The Godfather Part II" in the fourth position of the most recent poll, in 2002. With opinions obviously split about which of the two Academy Award-winning films is the better one, neither now makes the list.

The 2012 Sight & Sound Critics Poll

1. "Vertigo" (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
2. "Citizen Kane" (Orson Welles, 1941)
3. "Tokyo Story" (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)
4. "The Rules of the Game" (Jean Renoir, 1939)
5. "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans" (F.W. Murnau, 1927)
6. "2001: A Space Odyssey" (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
7. "The Searchers" (John Ford, 1956)
8. "Man With a Movie Camera" (Dziga Vertov, 1929)
9. "The Passion of Joan of Arc" (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928)
10. "8 1/2" (Federico Fellini, 1963)

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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