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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Michael Kerpan
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#26 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Aug 09, 2011 11:19 pm

To knives --

Donald Richie admits that he mis-translated Nagaya shinshiroku -- due to mis-reading his kanji dictionary and not recognizing a compound word. ;~} (He translated "Nagaya shinshi roku" instead of "Nagaya shinshiroku").

There is no reason to use "conductress" rather than "conductor" in the title of the Naruse film.

I found One Wonderful Sunday to start out beautifully -- but thought it ran out of steam and then crashed and burned in the would-be-grand finale.

To Steven H --

I've kind of given up on Kinoshita -- but have not seen Broken drum. I've found the Yoshimura stuff I've seen so far (including Ball at Anjo House) to be a bit stilted and "stagey" (though it is still worth seeing).

Speaking of unknown noir, if I thought people had any chance att all of finding it, I'd recommend Oba's Typhoon Woman (with Setsuko Hara at her most sultry ever) .

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swo17
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#27 Post by swo17 » Tue Aug 09, 2011 11:35 pm

I watched my first film for the project last night: Robert Flaherty's Louisiana Story. I couldn't find it for rent on Netflix or Blockbuster, but Netflix has it streaming and I thought I should take advantage before my streaming access lapsed. This is one of those films where you can tell right from the start that you're in for a visual treat, with some absolutely stunning footage of a boy traversing the local swamplands. The streaming version didn't have subtitles (I assume the DVD does) which made it difficult to follow some of the scenes with Cajun dialogue. I'll definitely be picking this up on DVD though and watching it again on my big screen. This was a great way to start off the project.

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Siddon
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#28 Post by Siddon » Tue Aug 09, 2011 11:40 pm

I'm not to big on the 40's I thought it was to much of an era of sentimentality, coming up with 50 titles is going to be very hard. I look forward to some good recommendations because the normal paths I use to find quality films are lacking in this era.


My top ten which will likely move around a bit but will likely stay the same.

01. Citizen Kane
02. The Great Dictator
03. The Maltese Falcon
04. Gaslight
05. Devil and Daniel Webster
06. The Third Man
07. Beauty and the Beast
08. All the King's Men
09. Our Town
10. Germany Year Zero

Spotlight Titles

I Walked with a Zombie (1943) - People give White Zombie all the credit for being the first but where that film was clumsy this one was smooth. While most horror from this era looked and felt cheap, I Walked with a Zombie actually has production value and strong influences from the story Jane Erye. Yet the film still has a number of surprises and gives you room to think. For a decade where Horror was pretty much drowned out this stands head above heels over everything else....except for this one.

The Uninvited (1944) - Pops up on TCM, and I saw got a maybe for a future Criterion release. I think their is always something about a really good haunted house, something in you that just hits you a visceral level. I actually prefer this one over the later more popular Haunting because of the better pacing and more coherent story.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#29 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:00 am

Spotlight Title:

Hangover Square (1945) - The second of John Brahm's films with Laid Cregar, and while this doesn't get as much attention as The Lodger, it's even better. A visual and aural tour de force, with a Germanic style and extensively roaming camera that creates a number of vivid shots. The ending has this incredible attempt to communicate the emotional effect of the diagetic music on the characters purely through the extended and lyrical movements of the camera. A brilliant movie, one of the very best horror films ever made. The acting is uniformly excellent, especially from Cregar, and the subject--the way fear creates self-fulfilling prophecies--is handled deftly and without cliche.

See it. You'll find it in the first Fox Horror Classics set along with two other Brahm features: The Lodger (which should also be seen) and the Undying Monster (fun, but non-essential).

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zedz
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#30 Post by zedz » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:01 am

domino harvey wrote:06 Heaven Can Wait (Ernst Lubitsch 1943)
Well, blow me down with a feather! I didn't know (or didn't remember knowing) that you and me both liked this hotly contested film.

Predictably, I've only got one foot on the classic Hollywood bandwagon, though my previous - and possibly next - top two are both American, but they're experimental shorts:

Motion Painting No. 1 (Fischinger, 1947) - which is probably at the top because I have no way of explaining how beautiful and moving it is in words.

Ritual in Transfigured Time (Deren, 1946) - one of my absolute favourite dance films, mainly because so much of it exists in the charged grey zone between dance and everyday movement, particularly in that central section at the party, one of my all time favourite passages of experimental film. (Domino, you might even get something out of this one! YouTube)

Begone Dull Care, the Whitneys' second and third Film Exercises and Smith's Message from the Sun are also likely suspects in terms of experimental film. Maybe no Lye this time around, since I'll have to save space for all those 50s masterpieces.

My top French pick is likely to be Gremillon's Pattes Blanches (with Lumiere d'Ete and Le Ciel est a vous in with fighting chances as well), though La Silence de la Mer will be breathing down its neck. The only Italian who's likely to trouble my list is Visconti, but both his 40s features should do well for me.

British cinema is extremely strong this decade. It will be a challenge limiting the number of Powell / Pressburgers (with A Canterbury Tale easy top ten) and making room for Fires Were Started, It Always Rains on Sunday, Went the Day Well? and maybe The Fallen Idol. Plus, I'll need to refresh myself on the riches of all those BFI documentary sets that have come along since we compiled the last list.

Plus, if you haven't seen it recently, have another look at Pinocchio, which seems to me easily the peak of Disney's artistry. The final section, beginning where Pinocchio first goes underwater, is a tour-de-force of heavy firepower animation that I think has yet to be equalled.

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knives
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#31 Post by knives » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:06 am

zedz wrote: Ritual in Transfigured Time (Deren, 1946) - one of my absolute favourite dance films, mainly because so much of it exists in the charged grey zone between dance and everyday movement, particularly in that central section at the party, one of my all time favourite passages of experimental film. (Domino, you might even get something out of this one! YouTube)
This set the way to go?

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#32 Post by matrixschmatrix » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:10 am

zedz wrote: Motion Painting No. 1 (Fischinger, 1947) - which is probably at the top because I have no way of explaining how beautiful and moving it is in words.
I can't stress how amazing this one is enough- I preferred it even to Fischinger's 30s stuff. I think the key in watching it is not thinking of it as a film, necessarily, but taking the title at face value- it's a painting that's mutating and changing itself and intertwining itself with music in a way that feels like a totally unique artform, a painting that's come to life.

It's also one of those things I love that sometimes will just bore me, if I don't pay enough attention; you really have to force yourself to focus on it to find its rhythm, and if you don't it can just feel like a series of meaningless blocks and colors. So, basically, if you watch it and don't like it, it's your fault. Nyah.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#33 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:23 am

Is it my imagination, or is there not very much Russian cinema available from the 40s?

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#34 Post by roujin » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:26 am

I'm gonna try to participate more in these things. Hopefully the list will shake up a lot.

Provisional top 10

1. His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)
2. My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946
3. The Red Shoes (Archers, 1948)
4. The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940)
5. The Palm Beach Story (Preston Sturges, 1942)
6. Canyon Passage (Jacques Tourneur, 1946)
7. The Pirate (Vincente Minnelli, 1948)
8. They Live By Night (Nicholas Ray, 1948)
9. The Mortal Storm (Frank Borzage, 1940)
10. Force of Evil (Abraham Polonsky, 1948)

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knives
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#35 Post by knives » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:29 am

There are a pretty good number of films available in Kino's Animated Propaganda set, though all of the best films in it are from the '70s. Obviously there's also Ivan the Terrible. I'm not sure if they're available on DVD, but there's also Wings of Victory, The Turning Point, Girl No. 217, Spring, and Secret Agent to look out for.

By the way watching my first film for the list and I have to ask, who didn't work on ...One of Our Aircraft is Missing?

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tarpilot
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#36 Post by tarpilot » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:51 am

Mr Sausage wrote:Spotlight Title:

Hangover Square (1945) - The second of John Brahm's films with Laid Cregar, and while this doesn't get as much attention as The Lodger, it's even better. A visual and aural tour de force, with a Germanic style and extensively roaming camera that creates a number of vivid shots. The ending has this incredible attempt to communicate the emotional effect of the diagetic music on the characters purely through the extended and lyrical movements of the camera. A brilliant movie, one of the very best horror films ever made. The acting is uniformly excellent, especially from Cregar, and the subject--the way fear creates self-fulfilling prophecies--is handled deftly and without cliche.

See it. You'll find it in the first Fox Horror Classics set along with two other Brahm features: The Lodger (which should also be seen) and the Undying Monster (fun, but non-essential).
How sad is it that a set with nothing but Brahm films is saddled with such a nondescript title? Anyway, wholeheartedly agree with everything here. It may be sitting at #9 on my list but it also feels like the least likely to be kicked out of the top ten, simply for the effect the final sequence still has on me whenever I think about it or play Herrmann's score (which is quite often on both counts).

Cregar is also a bit of a pet favourite of mine, and the short documentary on him included with the Brahm set paints an effective picture of his rather tragic life. He's the main drawing point for me in the aforementioned This Gun for Hire (it's incredible how fun he can make such an otherwise routine villain), and is terrific in both The Black Swan and I Wake Up Screaming, the latter of which might make it onto the bottom reaches of my list.

EDIT: And of course Heaven Can Wait as well, in which he is certainly a top 5 Satan

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#37 Post by Tommaso » Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:22 am

knives wrote:By the way is there a good DVD in print of Maya Deren's stuff? Also put down Epstein's The Storm Tamer as my desperately seeking.
There was/is a fine dvd of the Maya Deren shorts from MysticFire Video. And the Epstein is out on Vol.1 of Kino's Avant-Garde sets.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#38 Post by knives » Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:55 am

Thanks, that seems to be going cheap right now and the library has that Kino set if I remember correctly.

Anyway, I couldn't help but think of 49th Parallel while watching One of Our Aircraft is missing and that makes it look all the better. Even without that unfortunate sibling though this ranks as an excellent example of the archers and really everyone involved. Lean's editing has never been better especially through the long credit sequence which ends explosively. Neame's cinematography is amazing too with inky blacks filling the screen and a sense of claustrophobia even in the most open of spots.

I really adore Pressburger's work here and this is an other one where he's the strongest presence which is probably why his name is right under the title. His typical sens of humour has never been better and the way he twists and turns the plot all to the advantage of several ideas of community is really effective. From this and a few other films including some away from Powell I get the sense that Pressburger would have been joy filled at the idea of the EU and the whole united Europe thing. The idea of community and the many bodies it takes is like a whirlwind through his work and there's a real love of all people here and elsewhere. That's not to decrease Powell's contribution which is very powerful especially in the early part of the film within the titular aircraft. Like Pressburger with community I think Powell was fascinated by spaces and the way he maps out each building we're introduced to is hypnotic and keeps the pace of the film strong.

I mentioned 49th before and while this film is like the mirror image of that one I think it is even closer as a precursor to Rossellini's Era Notte a Roma. This is especially true in how the native woman character occupies the film quietly becoming the lead of what at first appears to be an ensemble. One of Our Aircraft also uses distrust as a wall against community in a similar fashion. Just take a look at the villain who is only able to be defeated because his supposed allies don't trust him. At the same time our five RAF members are only safe because they earn the trust of the community. Before that they are essentially dead men doing everything wrong in a way that would lead to the perfect hellstorm.

I wouldn't list this film alongside The Small Back Room or The Red Shoes, but I might place it as an equal to Black Narcissus.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#39 Post by swo17 » Wed Aug 10, 2011 2:07 am

Tommaso wrote:
knives wrote:By the way is there a good DVD in print of Maya Deren's stuff? Also put down Epstein's The Storm Tamer as my desperately seeking.
And the Epstein is out on Vol.1 of Kino's Avant-Garde sets.
Ah yes, I know the film as La tempestaire. To further confuse matters, though it's a '40s film, it is included in the DVD set Avant-Garde: Experimental Cinema of the 1920s and '30s. :-k

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#40 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Wed Aug 10, 2011 2:12 am

For anyone still hungry for Duvivier after the feast of the 30's, Panique is a must. Even those with an aversion to Michel Simon who equips the character of Monsieur Hire with a complexity often lacking in his other roles. Looking and feeling like it belongs to the previous decade it's Duviv at his most misanthropic acidic.
On the subject of complexity of character topping the list for me will be Blimp. To echo A.L.Kennedy once more . I could never love anyone who does not love Blimp. Luckily for me it's my wife's film de choix every Xmas.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#41 Post by lubitsch » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:36 am

Michael Kerpan wrote:Is it my imagination, or is there not very much Russian cinema available from the 40s?
First there was a little war on which apparently saw a laxation of censorship but the effects seem to have appeared in the documentaries, e.g. Dovzhenko burned his career by stressing too much the Ukraine in one of his films. After the war in the last Stalinist years the censorship was so strict and complicated that the production dwindled down to 10 features each year thoroughly cleansed of any expression artistic or content wise.
So except for Eisenstein's Ivan which is also problematic enough there was no way people like Donskoy, Barnet, Pudovkin or Dovzhenko had any chance to express themselves. The one film I'd point out is Ptushko's The Stone Flower shot on robbed German Agfacolor. It's an important step towards the huge tradition of fairy tale and legend films in Eastern Europe and can be enjoyd without any propagandistic ballast though it's maybe a bit slow.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#42 Post by Wu.Qinghua » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:29 am

lubitsch wrote:So except for Eisenstein's Ivan which is also problematic enough there was no way people like Donskoy, Barnet, Pudovkin or Dovzhenko had any chance to express themselves.
I can't agree fully with this. In my eyes, at least Mark Donskoy's Selskaya uchitelnitsa / The Village Teacher (SSSR 1947) is well worth a look - and also available on a DVD with English subs. It's a poetic historical movie, spanning 50 years of Russian history, dramatising the life of a female teacher, who volunteers (?) to teach in a remote Siberian village, joins the Bolshevik ranks in their fight against the local kulaks etc. The film may not succeed entirely, but this is not at least due to its artistic conception. I could imagine, that at least members, who were fond of Shepitko's Wings and Trauberg & Kosinzew's Odna, may find interest in this movie because of its topical similarities.

Anyway, I've decided to put a special accent on exploring Soviet 40s cinema this time, so I'd be very happy, if someone could come out with further recommendations.

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knives
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#43 Post by knives » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:37 am

Wu.Qinghua wrote: Anyway, I've decided to put a special accent on exploring Soviet 40s cinema this time, so I'd be very happy, if someone could come out with further recommendations.
knives wrote:There are a pretty good number of films available in Kino's Animated Propaganda set, though all of the best films in it are from the '70s. Obviously there's also Ivan the Terrible. I'm not sure if they're available on DVD, but there's also Wings of Victory, The Turning Point, Girl No. 217, Spring, and Secret Agent to look out for.
I especially like Girl No. 217. Out of those The Turning Point is probably the worst ideologically, but it's actually kind of fun.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#44 Post by Wu.Qinghua » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:46 am

knives wrote:
Wu.Qinghua wrote: Anyway, I've decided to put a special accent on exploring Soviet 40s cinema this time, so I'd be very happy, if someone could come out with further recommendations.
knives wrote:There are a pretty good number of films available in Kino's Animated Propaganda set, though all of the best films in it are from the '70s. Obviously there's also Ivan the Terrible. I'm not sure if they're available on DVD, but there's also Wings of Victory, The Turning Point, Girl No. 217, Spring, and Secret Agent to look out for.
I especially like Girl No. 217. Out of those The Turning Point is probably the worst ideologically, but it's actually kind of fun.
Oh yes, the Soviet animation box. Thank you very much for reminding me of this wonderful set. I just realize, I haven't checked it out for 30s listmaking. I'll definitely watch those films again (though my favourite is Songs of the Years of Fire - :-# ).

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knives
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#45 Post by knives » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:59 am

Love that one too, though Shooting Gallery is my personal favorite. It's really annoying though that about half of the titles aren't on IMDB. I tried adding some of them, but they don't count cyrillic and I don't know the proper phonetics in this case.

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Cold Bishop
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#46 Post by Cold Bishop » Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:32 am

I guess I'll have to come out of the gate and say it: the 40s is one of my least favorite cinematic decades. Many people consider it the golden age of Golden Age Hollywood, but that's precisely my problem: Hollywood dominates the cinematic landscape almost completely. Not necessarily a bad decade, except I consider the two surrounding decades much more varied and interesting. There's something too glossy, too elegant, too smooth about the Hollywood cinema this decade. It may be the first decade of film noir and the rejuvenated Western, but after the Genre Project, it's clear that I prefer the 50s in both cases. Ditto the Musical, which seems to have been made for Technicolor Cinemascope. Except for Lewton, the horror film is in decline. There's plenty of great screwball and romantic comedies, sure, but I'm not sure if they best what we saw in the thirties. And beyond that? If the 30s were the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, W.C. Fields, then the 40s were Bob Hope, Red Skelton and Abbott & Costello. Eeek! And while I could put together a pretty strong list just going down my auteur checklist, I think most of my Hollywood favorites don't come into their own until the 50s.

But like I said, its not so much that Hollywood is making poor films in the 40s (that would be ridiculous to say) as the fact that they're left to carry the weight of world cinema. The War seemingly cripples, shuffles and stifles pretty much everything beyond our borders, and it's a loss that's felt. There are some exceptions: British cinema is perhaps at its high-point, and while it's less known to me, Mexican cinema is also at the height of its Golden Age at this point. And here's a dramatic contrast to the vast variety of the 1930s list: while I had many blindspots that decade, I at least knew where most of the blindspots were. In the 40s, I feel like there's more I need to see, but I really don't know what it is that I've missed and overlooked. Certainly, there are some clear blind spots: French cinema is underrated and forgotten by most modern cinephiles this decade, the first half stigmatized by the Occupation, the second half stigmatized as cinéma de papa. This goes double for the cinema of the Third Reich, which nonetheless still managed to make a few great films (one of which is a shoo-in for my top 10). Italian Neorealism? I'm not as enamored with the movement as everyone else, and I'm a bigger fan of what it lead to, but even if we try to move past the famed Rossellini/Visconti/De Sica trifecta, what do we have? Only Bitter Rice and Bandit seem to have much of a reputation. And lord knows where to begin looking at the non-Neorealist films of the period. Russian cinema? We pretty much have Ivan the Terrible, and a handful of Dovzhenkos and Barnets. Japanese cinema? It's problem has already been outlined. China has Spring in a Small Town, but the rest seems to be even less available and acclaimed than the scant remnants of the thirties. Spain? Portugal? Eastern Europe? Scandanavia? I've heard a few recommendations here and there (Tower of the Seven Hunchbacks, Aniki Bóbo, Distant Journey, The Way You Wanted Me), but otherwise it's a big question mark.

In fact, it's for this reason I'm looking forward to this decade's project: there has to be more that I need to see. And if he's not still suffering from sour grapes, I really hope lubitsch continues his "primers" on the decade's world cinema.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Spotlight #1: They Made Me a Fugitive (Alberto Cavalcanti, 1947)

If you participated in the Noir project you already heard an earful. But since none of you mugs voted for it, it's payback time, and now you have no excuse to miss the hard-boiled masterpiece of British film noir. This isn't just possibly the greatest British film of the decade, it's a strong contender for my #1 film of the 40s.

If you've seen the film and need convincing, I have this behemoth of a write-up ready, but for a more concise summation:
from the Noir Project wrote:I've said all I have to say about They Made Me a Fugitive, but despite being something of a ringer on my "strictly American" list, it captures something at the essence of film noir probably greater than any of its American counterparts: an ability to navigate the trauma and anxiety of a post-war society, but doing so completely behind the auspices of a pulp thriller. Call it showing-not-telling or Termite Art or what will you, but the movie seems to capture the zeitgeist without ever showing its hand: examining the psychic aftermath of WWII, sublimating post-traumatic stress and the shock of demobilization into a revenge thriller among gangsters and thieves.
And that's without mentioning Cavalcanti's morbid and perverse stylization, which links this film with Dead of Night as much as its "spiv film" contemporaries; Trevor Howard's brilliant performance, which has its share of unsettling parallels with what we know about the real-life Howard; Otto Heller's cinematography, which makes the film look like noir heaven (or hell, depending on how you look at it); the crackerjack script, with dialogue that would have made Sweet Smell of Success-era Clifford Odets red with envy.

It's on DVD from Kino (2003) and Odeon (2008). The screencaps make it look like the Odeon may come from a superior transfer, although I've been unable to verify this. Unfortunately, no one seems to have made use of the Film Foundation restoration that was toured last year. If Kino had any sense, they'd push this as a "lost noir masterpiece", dress it up as a prestige film, and put it out on Blu-Ray ASAP.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#47 Post by Wu.Qinghua » Wed Aug 10, 2011 7:12 am

I most likely share your opinion on 40s cinema in general, as I am still struggling to pull together a preliminary Top 10. But I think, there are quite a few beautiful, though forgotten films to be found.
In case of China, for example, there's Cai's magnum opus Spring River Flows East(1947) and Shen's Along the Sungari River(1947), a communist film in classic Soviet style, dramatising life under Japanese occupation in rural villages and in mining industry, which will most likely become one of my spotlight features and which I highly recommend especially to members, who loved Kobayashi's Human Condition, as it's opening up a completely different perspective. Btw, both films are easily available on DVD in the US.
And in case of Italy, I've just seen L'onorevole Angelina (Luigi Zampa 1947), a lovely neorealist movie, featuring a group of poor women struggling to survive in Post-War Italy and fighting for their as well as their families' social rights. I am pretty sure there are more and even better films to be found here, too, which is why Italy will become another major focus of myself.

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Tommaso
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#48 Post by Tommaso » Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:17 am

Cold Bishop wrote:I guess I'll have to come out of the gate and say it: the 40s is one of my least favorite cinematic decades. Many people consider it the golden age of Golden Age Hollywood, but that's precisely my problem: Hollywood dominates the cinematic landscape almost completely. Not necessarily a bad decade, except I consider the two surrounding decades much more varied and interesting. There's something too glossy, too elegant, too smooth about the Hollywood cinema this decade.
Couldn't agree more; it may all be a late result of the Hays Code, but there's little individualism in general although there were some highly individual filmmakers who made some of their best work in the period. I especially think of Ford and Minnelli here, also Hitchcock (though my favourite Hitchcock films tend to come from the 50s). But the one American film that will make my Top 10, probably even Top 5 is Ophuls' Letter from an Unknown Woman, and that's a totally 'European flavoured' film.
Cold Bishop wrote:There's plenty of great screwball and romantic comedies, sure, but I'm not sure if they best what we saw in the thirties. And beyond that? If the 30s were the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, W.C. Fields, then the 40s were Bob Hope, Red Skelton and Abbott & Costello. Eeek!
Ditto. And Garbo knew why she stopped making films, whereas Dietrich made mediocrities like "Pittsburgh". Astaire and Rogers continued separately, but rarely came close to their great films from the 30s (again, at least Astaire would return to form in the 50s).
Cold Bishop wrote: Certainly, there are some clear blind spots: French cinema is underrated and forgotten by most modern cinephiles this decade, the first half stigmatized by the Occupation, the second half stigmatized as cinéma de papa. This goes double for the cinema of the Third Reich, which nonetheless still managed to make a few great films (one of which is a shoo-in for my top 10).
I'll be trying to discover some of the little known French films of the period for this list, but so far I'm already surprised how good many of these French films are. Everything that Cocteau had his hand on, for instance (not just as a director, but also as a writer for other directors), or Clouzot and Carné.

As to the German (and Austrian!) cinema, the general quality, which was still rather high in the late 30s, definitely declined in the second half of the Third Reich, although indeed there are a few masterpieces to be found. But with two or three exceptions I'm far less passionate even about these than about the German films of the previous decade. And after 1945, the German cinema had very big problems to find back to its old standing. Even though there were some promising new starts, they were almost completely washed away in the 50s by an endless array of dull, commercial, and escapist films.

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lubitsch
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#49 Post by lubitsch » Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:59 am

Cold Bishop wrote:In fact, it's for this reason I'm looking forward to this decade's project: there has to be more that I need to see. And if he's not still suffering from sour grapes, I really hope lubitsch continues his "primers" on the decade's world cinema.
I a more personal way, I'll do so. I think on balance the 40s are neither a better nor a worse decade than the 30s. Some countries have a weaker decade, some a stronger, the USA is neither better or worse. I'd split US film history into an early pre-Hays code era with thematical and stylistic liberties (Sternberg, Mamoulian) until 1934/35, a conservative era 1935-45 (there are some exceptions, but on the whole it fits) and the increasing realism and complexity from 1946 onward of which film noir is the most famous expression. Obviously Japan declines to a certain degree as do the Soviet Union and China (from a low level), but Great Britain develops into a powerhouse and Italy steps in, admittedly with still a rather modest number of films. France declines slightly as does Germany but if you are willing to overlook the Tradition de qualite and Papas Kino verdicts which were coined for the 50s but also hit the late 40s films, you'll easily find enough interesting films. Sweden balances the losses of Czechoslovakia, India rises slowly while Mexico has his Golden Era though admittedly both countries enjoy a mixed reputation.
The first half of the decade is obviously affected by WWII and the propagandistic efforts affecting all cinemas, but the second half sees a creative explosion born out of the confusion and hopes immediately after the war. The first half of the 50s is again a period of entrenchment before the second half prepares us for the 60s.

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swo17
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#50 Post by swo17 » Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:07 am

knives wrote:Love that one too, though Shooting Gallery is my personal favorite. It's really annoying though that about half of the titles aren't on IMDB. I tried adding some of them, but they don't count cyrillic and I don't know the proper phonetics in this case.
Try copying the title in Cyrillic into Google Translate. In addition to translating it for you, it should produce the American transliteration just below your entry.

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