1940s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol. 3)

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
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swo17
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#326 Post by swo17 » Sun Nov 20, 2011 12:15 pm

Ted Tetzlaff's The Window (only available in R1 on the Warner Archive) will air on TCM this Tuesday morning.

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domino harvey
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#327 Post by domino harvey » Sun Nov 20, 2011 1:27 pm

The Window is a great film, wish I'd seen it in time to vote for it in the Noir List

And re: Hold Back the Dawn, it's definitely getting a vote from me somewhere in the confines of my list. I think it's perhaps a little too vicious for me to simply relegate it to the soapier terminology of "melodrama," but I love the sniping energy of Boyer and particularly Goddard in what is probably her best dramatic role-- they play such wonderfully awful people and this is one of Wilder's scripts where his misanthropy benefits the end product.

And on the Goddard tip, my favorite film of hers, the Crystal Ball, is definitely making my list as well for this decade-- one of my personal fav screwball comedies, with Goddard imitating a medium in order to romance Ray Milland, with a very amusing supporting perf by William Bendix as Milland's harried driver. I don't know that there are even TCM rips floating around, but if you can see it, you should.

Jonathan S
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#328 Post by Jonathan S » Thu Nov 24, 2011 6:02 am

lubitsch wrote:Käutner made a nice Keller adaptation, Kleider machen Leute and an equally nice musical comedy, Wir machen Musik (both without subs) as well as a fluid comedy drama Auf Wiedersehn Franziska (for which subs exist)...
Yesterday I watched Auf Wiedersehn, Franziska! and was absolutely astonished by its sexual liberation for a film made anywhere in 1941, let alone the Third Reich. Franziska is portrayed as a respectable and sympathetic young woman yet (after being prim in the opening minutes) often takes the sexual initiative with Michael, telling him for instance to stop all the suggestions about going out together to the cinema etc. and just give the taxi-driver his home address. She stays the night with him, very much of her own volition and despite knowing Michael will disappear next day, which he does. Then she leaves her father (though she loves him) to live on her own and set up her own business. When she meets Michael a year later, she shows him around her flat, repeating the same words he used when she visited him, and they spend another night together. She ends up living in his house, and having a child by him, before they are married but her father doesn't really condemn them, and the film certainly doesn't, maintaining its light, almost comic touch at this point.

Meanwhile, Michael - a newsreel cameraman - travels around the world, picking up various women and sometimes visiting multi-ethnic bars, about which there's none of the overt moral judgements seen in other Third Reich films. He strikes up a relationship with a fellow camerawoman who is at least as liberated - both sexually and career-wise - as Franziska. But the film doesn't seem to condemn him - it simply states this is how relationships are, as Bergman would do 5-10 years later (in a more heavy-handed way at first). I find even the better Third Reich movies tend to be rather stodgy dramatically, but this film has an almost giddy forward momentum, particularly in the violent montages of newsreel stock-shots. In several ways, it feels almost like a 1960s film. I prefer it to Unter den Brücken and, at least in terms of gender politics, consider it one of the most remarkable films of the forties. This cries out for an official English-subbed release.

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Tommaso
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#329 Post by Tommaso » Thu Nov 24, 2011 1:05 pm

Yes, Franziska is a very nice film, even though the original ending with some sort of patriotic dialogue was forced on Käutner. Thankfully perhaps, it's cut from most later prints, probably with the director's consent.

But actually I have many Käutner films on my provisional list, and Franziska for whatever reason isn't my favourite of them. Apart from the gentle and poetic Unter den Brücken, a clear favourite is the famous Grosse Freiheit No.7 with its astonishingly rough and moody portrayal of the Hamburg harbour bars and also with one of Hans Albers' best performances. Here, as in many of those early Käutners, the director also makes use of the full potential of cinematic technique (superimpositions, occasionally strange camera angles etc.) which combined with the glorious Agfacolor always reminds me a little of Powell & Pressburger (not in content, but in effect). Another clear recommendation would be the musical Wir machen Musik with a wonderfully lively Ilse Werner, a surprisingly jazzy score for a German film of the time, and snappy dialogue with lots of irony. One really wonders how Käutner got away with it given the harmless stuff that made up a typical entertainment film in the late Third Reich era normally. Even the big stage scene at the end is a little better than similar German attempts at imitating the Hollywood musicals, though admittedly still less elegant. But give me this any time over the films with clumsy puszta girl Marika Rökk.

Then there's the melodrama Romanze in moll which some people regard as Käutner's best film from his early period. I remember it as very impressive, too, but it's too long since I've seen it so I'll have to rewatch it before I say something about it. And finally, In jenen Tagen, the first post-war Käutner film, should not be neglected. It tells the story of the people under the nazi regime by means of what happened to the several owners of a car (actually, using a somewhat contrived idea, it's the car itself which tells the story via voice-over). The film, though occasionally a bit didactic, is often genuinely touching and has Käutner's usual great acting and cinematography. An important film not least because it's one of the very first post-war attempts to come to terms with (or even only to tell) what happened during the Third Reich.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#330 Post by Jonathan S » Thu Nov 24, 2011 2:28 pm

Tommaso wrote:Yes, Franziska is a very nice film, even though the original ending with some sort of patriotic dialogue was forced on Käutner. Thankfully perhaps, it's cut from most later prints, probably with the director's consent.
I did notice two or three instances of what seemed like rough edits in the final wartime scenes, and wondered when the apparent cuts had been made. I think there are even a few frames of black spacing between some shots. What remains doesn't really go beyond objective description, though of course it's hard to take the scene of grandfather enthusiastically following the news about the invasion of Poland (if I recall correctly) that way. I suppose the final bits of propaganda were the price of getting away with so much subversive material elsewhere in the film.

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Tommaso
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#331 Post by Tommaso » Thu Nov 24, 2011 2:52 pm

The cut-out part is actually only about one minute long and consists of a dialogue in which Franziska intentionally sends Michael away again to go to war and do his 'duty' for the country, although he wants to stay with her. Brief as it is, it changes the whole meaning of the ending. But everything else is unchanged in the cut version, so the moments you mention were probably like this from the beginning.

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Bill Thompson
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#332 Post by Bill Thompson » Thu Nov 24, 2011 4:31 pm

Haven't seen as much as I would like from the 40s, but as of right now this would be my top 50 in order, if I do end up participating hopefully I'll get to at least a few more titles that would make my list.

Casablanca (1942)
Roma, Città Aperta (Rome, Open City, 1945)
Fantasia (1940)
The Best Years Of Our Lives (1946)
Great Expectations (1946)
Fort Apache (1948)
The Third Man (1949)
The Lost Weekend (1945)
Double Indemnity (1944)
The Cat Concerto (1947)
How Green Was My Valley (1941)
The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
Bad Luck Blackie (1949)
Red River (1948)
Begone Dull Care (1949)
The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (1948)
Mr. Mouse Takes A Trip (1940)
The Palm Beach Story (1942)
Citizen Kane (1941)
White Heat (1949)
Shadow Of A Doubt (1943)
Bambi (1942)
High Sierra (1941)
My Darling Clementine (1946)
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
Lifeboat (1944)
Arsenic And Old Lace (1944)
Laura (1944)
Gaslight (1940)
Mickey’s Birthday Party (1942)
Red Hot Riding Hood (1943)
King-Size Canary (1947)
To Have And Have Not (1944)
The Curse Of The Cat People (1944)
Gaslight (1944)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
The Big Sleep (Pre-Release Version, 1946)
Rebecca (1940)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
I Was A Male War Bride (1949)
Dumbo (1941)
Brief Encounter (1945)
They Were Expendable (1945)
The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
Ivan Groznyy I (Ivan The Terrible, Part One, 1944)
The Stranger (1946)
Pinocchio (1940)
Cat People (1942)
His Girl Friday (1940)
Les Enfants Du Paradis (Children Of Paradise, 1945)

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knives
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#333 Post by knives » Thu Nov 24, 2011 4:38 pm

Oh, you have to vote Lifeboat needs your help.

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domino harvey
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#334 Post by domino harvey » Thu Nov 24, 2011 4:42 pm

Ha, only six of those are on my provisional list, and that number can only go down! This is gonna be an interesting list...

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Tommaso
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#335 Post by Tommaso » Thu Nov 24, 2011 4:43 pm

All right, while I'm surely not giving away my list at this stage, l can at least say that among my Top 10 so far are three French films, three British films, two German ones and one from Japan. This may change, of course. What will not change is that my top three are all by the same director...

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knives
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#336 Post by knives » Thu Nov 24, 2011 4:53 pm

There's so many films I'm still trying to see that I doubt my provisional would look anything like my final at this point.

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swo17
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#337 Post by swo17 » Thu Nov 24, 2011 5:01 pm

Yes, perhaps this would be a good time for me to remind everyone that there are still 80 days left, on the nose, until the deadline. I could use that information to make a bad Around the World in 80 Days joke, but I'll spare you that until the '50s list.

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tojoed
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#338 Post by tojoed » Thu Nov 24, 2011 5:39 pm

Tommaso wrote: What will not change is that my top three are all by the same director...
Michael Powell, I'll say.

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Gregory
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#339 Post by Gregory » Thu Nov 24, 2011 6:39 pm

knives wrote:Oh, you have to vote Lifeboat needs your help.
Lifeboat will be in my top 20, but I think Under Capricorn will need even more help.

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#340 Post by matrixschmatrix » Thu Nov 24, 2011 7:06 pm

Haha, my list isn't anything like done, but I have at least three each from Tourneur, Welles, Powell/Pressburger, Preston Sturges, and Carol Reed right now. I'm actually going to try to keep that down and explore different filmmakers, instead of just leaning on my favorites.

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Tommaso
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#341 Post by Tommaso » Thu Nov 24, 2011 7:15 pm

tojoed wrote:
Tommaso wrote: What will not change is that my top three are all by the same director...
Michael Powell, I'll say.
I knew it wasn't difficult to guess :)

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#342 Post by matrixschmatrix » Thu Nov 24, 2011 7:17 pm

Which ones, Tommasso? My candidates right now are The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, A Canterbury Tale, and A Matter of Life and Death, though I suspect Colonel Blimp will get on if I watch it again.

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knives
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#343 Post by knives » Thu Nov 24, 2011 7:22 pm

No love for The Small Back Room. That and The Red Shoes are top ten contenders for me.

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Tommaso
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#344 Post by Tommaso » Thu Nov 24, 2011 7:31 pm

Well, The Red Shoes is the obvious number one for me, followed by A Canterbury Tale and IKWIG.

Most of the other major P&Ps are among the remaining 40 of my list. I find that a bit excessive myself, but then, I think that films like Black Narcissus, AMOLAD and Blimp really deserve it, as well as the wonderful Thief of Bagdad. I of course also like The Small Back Room and 49th Parallel very much, but after all we're making a 40s best-of, not a P&P best-of (though one could argue that's basically the same...)

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domino harvey
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#345 Post by domino harvey » Thu Nov 24, 2011 7:33 pm

The Life and Death of Col Blimp is easily where my 40s P+P vote goes-- vote splitting-o-rama

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Tommaso
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#346 Post by Tommaso » Thu Nov 24, 2011 7:38 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:Haha, my list isn't anything like done, but I have at least three each from Tourneur, [...]
Well, as long as it's Maurice Tourneur, it's a very good choice....

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knives
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#347 Post by knives » Thu Nov 24, 2011 7:42 pm

Tommaso wrote:Well, The Red Shoes is the obvious number one for me, followed by A Canterbury Tale and IKWIG.

Most of the other major P&Ps are among the remaining 40 of my list. I find that a bit excessive myself, but then, I think that films like Black Narcissus, AMOLAD and Blimp really deserve it, as well as the wonderful Thief of Bagdad. I of course also like The Small Back Room and 49th Parallel very much, but after all we're making a 40s best-of, not a P&P best-of (though one could argue that's basically the same...)
They are the best film maker of the decade after all. I'm shocked that you'd leave The Small Back Room alongside 49th Parallel which might be their worst period (not that that says much). I'd probably rank things:
The Small Back Room
The Red Shoes
A Matter of Life and Death
One of Our Aircraft is Missing
A Canterbury Tale
Black Narcissus
'I Know Where I'm Going!'
The Thief of Bagdad
Contraband
The Volunteer
49th Parallel

Still need to see one of the big ones naturally.

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#348 Post by matrixschmatrix » Thu Nov 24, 2011 7:45 pm

I've got Le Main du diable on my to-watch list- that's one that can only be found on the back channels, right? Are there any others I should make a specific effort to check out?

edit: I really need to see One of Our Aircraft, but I keep thinking it might get a Criterion release sooner or later and putting off importing it.
Last edited by matrixschmatrix on Thu Nov 24, 2011 8:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Tommaso
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#349 Post by Tommaso » Thu Nov 24, 2011 7:50 pm

knives wrote:They are the best film maker of the decade after all.
As far as consistent quality with a considerable output is concerned, certainly. But don't forget about Ophuls and Cocteau, for instance, both of whom made at least one film that is the equal of the best P&P films in this decade (Letter from an unknown woman and La belle et la bete, respectively).

matrixschmatrix wrote:I've got Le Main du diable on my to-watch list- that's one that can only be found on the back channels, right? Are there any others I should make a specific effort to check out?
I think you should also see Volpone and Le val d'enfer. And yes, backchannels only, at least with subs.

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domino harvey
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#350 Post by domino harvey » Thu Nov 24, 2011 7:53 pm

Right now I have five from Hawks, four from Preminger (3.5?) and Sturges, and three from Hitchcock, Lubitsch (2.5?), Mankiewicz, and Sam Wood

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