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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domino harvey
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#251 Post by domino harvey » Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:23 pm

Round five of my walking tours through the complete '40s output for selected auteurs:

VINCENTE MINNELLI While he had a varied career output (to put it mildly), there are many bright spots in this debut decade of releases from Minnelli, even if none of his films are likely to make my list this round. His debut, Cabin in the Sky (1943), finds Minnelli turning what could have been a slum-job into one of the better all-colored musicals. Strong performances help this well-crafted niche product. I Dood It (1943), a wartime Red Skeleton vehicle, is also much better than it needed to be, especially since the base material is so ludicrous, but as far as breezy USO-ready fluff goes, it's not a half-bad musical at all. Minnelli came into the big leagues with Meet Me in St Louis (1944), a film that has charmed most of the population since its debut, but I must once again chime in with dissent, as to my eyes it suffers the same fate as most overly-nostalgic musicals. Much better is his followup Garland vehicle, the non-musical the Clock (1945), a cute romance and one of the wonderful New York pictures that captures a city which no longer exists. Yolanda and the Thief (1945) does one better (or worse, depending) by presenting a world which never existed, but the gaudy fantastical elements of this Astaire musical are overshadowed by the black hole of star presence Lucille Bremer brings to the proceedings. She guffs up the excruciating revue film Ziegfeld Follies (1946) as well, but the blame for the film on the whole can at least be spread among the five or six MGM directors who had a hand in this misfire. Minnelli is on the hook for Undercurrent (1946), though, a film that pairs up the rather unlikely combination of Katharine Hepburn and Robert Mitchum and manages to suck all screen presence from them. Robert Taylor, used to doing that all by his lonesome, is no better or worse for the wear in this silly thriller. Minnelli's one unqualified success this decade is the Pirate (1948), a lovely Garland/Kelly vehicle that uses its stars abilities and weaknesses wisely-- give Kelly the role of an intentional ham and you've insulated yourself from what he'd do anyway! And topping the decade off is Madame Bovary (1949), which was subject to deeper discussion earlier in the thread. The film is a technically proficient (and in one case, stunning) period adaptation that benefits from its novel approaches, but I remain unconvinced of the sudden claims in its favor.

ROBERT MONTGOMERY Despite starring in two of this decade's best films (Here Comes Mr Jordan and They Were Expendable), I admittedly don't think much of Robert Montgomery as an actor. But all three of his films as director this decade are, for all their rough patches and flaws, surprisingly adept, well-made flicks worth watching. First up is Lady in the Lake (1947), enjoyment of which depends entirely on the viewer's ability to buy into the first-person gimmick. While it's true that Delmer Daves' Dark Passage essentially does the same thing, only better and for the first act exclusively, I still cannot comprehend the dismissive vitriol extended toward this film then and now-- it's a cheekily novel oddity, and the film established some of Montgomery's more unusual directorial affectations, namely extensive use of long takes and striking visual flourishes coupled with overly-expositorial dialog and nearly-static pacing. Followup Ride the Pink Horse (1948) is handily Monrgomery's best received film as director, a south of the border-set noir that examines (a little too on-the-nose, perhaps) many of the underlying concerns of the post-war noir antihero. The film contrasts his prior noir film by gradually emasculating its protagonist (a tactic that is heightened in his next film), played by Montgomery (as-ever the weakest link in his own films), who in one memorable scene is even dressed-down by the baddie he's shaking down for not having the wherewithal to blackmail him for more money! The least-seen of Montgomery's features this decade, but of most interest, is the screwball comedy Once More, My Darling (1949), which goes to great lengths setting up what looks to be a trite premise: Montgomery's intentionally stiff actor character is commissioned by the government to seduce a Nazi villain's ex in order to draw him out of hiding. But Montgomery's film pulls a neat switch by making his target, the nineteen year old flibbertigibbet Ann Blyth, the masculine pursuer and Montgomery the passive female, leading to hilarious exchanges like Blyth trying to break it gently to Montgomery that even though it's every boy's dream to have a church wedding, they need to elope. Blyth's absurd romantic histrionics towards Montgomery are so over-the-top that they border on fanfic ego-pornography, and it's not hard to see the appeal for Montgomery, as the whole film at one point just devolves into Blyth telling him over and over how amazing he is. But the film has the same terrific visual sense that informs all of Montgomery's work this decade, and several of the set pieces are quite risqué, even now. Would make a good double-feature with Tashlin's not dissimilar Susan Slept Here.

ROBERT ROSSEN The decade is stuffed with screenwriters-turned-directors, and Rossen, as-always, seems to get lost in the shuffle. It doesn't help that his first film at the helm is the rather dull Johnny O'Clock (1947), a slow practice walk through the Rossen formula of a supremely talented but arrogant man incapable of handling his success and making things miserable for the poor women drawn into his orbit. Dick Powell's less convincing as the hard-ass noir antihero than he is elsewhere this decade, and Evelyn Keyes' histrionic good girl is poorly sketched at best. Far more befitting this unsung auteur's reputation is Body and Soul (1947), the best of the boxing pix that cropped up this decade post-City For Conquest. The rise and fall of John Garfield's boxing mug has few surprises, but it's the familiar done right. Rossen found wild success with All the Kings Men (1949), adapting the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and picking up an Oscar for producing the Best Picture winner. This isn't Rossen's finest hour, and I've discussed the film ad nauseum on the board already, but this remains perhaps the single most perverse (in a good way) and unexpected Best Pic winner in Oscar history, and as such it's a hard film to become overly critical over.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#252 Post by knives » Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:43 pm

Is there a good DVD for Ride the Pink Horse? It seems particularly deep in PD hell.

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domino harvey
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#253 Post by domino harvey » Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:14 pm

I don't believe it has any DVD release, PD or otherwise?

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knives
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#254 Post by knives » Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:20 pm

Ha, I misread Amazon. Even worse than.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#255 Post by tojoed » Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:40 pm

"Ride the Pink Horse" used to be available from Yammeringmagpie.com, but they don't seem to exist anymore. There are some copies on e.bay, which I think are the same.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#256 Post by Cold Bishop » Thu Sep 15, 2011 1:29 am

What I wrote in the Noir project:
Ride the Pink Horse (Robert Montgomery, 1947)
It's not quite able to stick its ending (one wonders about studio tampering) and there's still another great film to be made from Dorothy Hughes's novel, but for the majority of its running time, this is one of the toughest, meanest and most cynical of all film noirs. To call it a Western transplanted into a film noir isn't entirely off the mark: it has the oaters' sense of austerity and single-minded purpose. And just as the Western, emerging from the Civil War, was often preoccupied with redemption and rejuvenation, here we find Robert Montgomery, a crippled, racist, misanthropic WWII veteran who has his own dark night of the soul, rediscovering a faith in himself, in others and in his country which has long been stamped out by the war. And if the final climax, while interesting on paper, isn't quite able to come off convincingly, it makes up for it with a perfect epilogue that's as good as that of The Third Man.
Don't know if it'll make my decade list, but it's worth seeing, and it makes me sorry to see that Montgomery didn't make more films (although it's nice to hear that Once More, My Darling is worth tracking down; everything I've read about it has it pegged as inconsequential fluff).

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#257 Post by matrixschmatrix » Thu Sep 15, 2011 4:20 am

I've just watched A Canterbury Tale-

It's absolutely delightful, almost perversely so for a movie made during wartime. I found the American's accent a little trying, at first- it sounds like a ludicrous exaggeration of how an American sounds to an English person- but his character is so likable and so kindly portrayed that I got over it quickly enough. (It helped to find out that the actor donated his salary to the NAACP, which reinforces the image of him as an unbelievably friendly and decent man.) The rest of the cast were likable immediately (though it was strange seeing Dennis Price, as I only know him from Kind Hearts.)

The actual plot seemed like a pretext even within the movie- the characters seem to be interested in the glue man primarily as an excuse to spend time in the magical place they've found, and in company they obviously enjoy. It really does evoke the sense of magic it tries for, too- it helps that the photography is absolutely gorgeous, a strange hybrid of chiaroscuro lighting and pastoral landscapes that makes everything look like it's so full of wonder that it's going to explode. The series of miracles that end the movie could easily feel like a bullshitty Hollywood mega-happy ending, but the effect is instead to confirm the feeling of a world created by a sweeter God than ours has.

It falls shy of The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus for me, but it's up in the second tier of Archers films with A Matter of Life and Death- which it actually reminded me of, at points. I absolutely love it, and it reinforces my love of the Archers' take on Englishness, which is so strong and so likable that I can happily ignore the fact that I'm not convinced it has anything to do with reality.

(How weird was the reference to marijuana at the end, though?)

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#258 Post by knives » Thu Sep 15, 2011 1:14 pm

Not as weird as the whole glue thing basically being rape. There's a lot of odd sexual imagery thoughout the film which I guess means that the Archers beat Pasolini to the punch.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#259 Post by knives » Sat Sep 17, 2011 5:23 pm

In looks The Mortal Storm isn't top tier Borzage, but the way he wrings emotion from the actors and situations absolutely is. I was grooving along to the film, enjoying it as a throwaway attempt, when the Cabaret-esque salute song and was genuinely creeped out as Borzage's camera crawled through the setting heightening the atmosphere just with this behavior. The camera moves and changes, but the people do not. As the scene eventually comes to a head that tension rises to a perfect pitch to reach an anti-climax that makes the film all the more frightening than a big Hollywood scene would. The speech that follows is an obvious play to the anti-Nazi message, but it still works in part because it's Nazis. More importantly though it keeps up with that play on failed expectations throughout. The film teases the idea of catharsis, but at the most pleasing moments it let's our protagonists slink away with some measure of success even though they've actually failed.

The acting's also great and goes a long way to convincing that these characters are people. There's no serious standout as each of the performances and characters are so essential and greatly done that changing any of these beats would kill off the film. I would like to cite specific examples, but even the tiniest part gives it so much of their all that I'd hate to seem like I'm forgetting them. The heroes are all great, balanced out by the Nazis. Actually I should speak up for those characters because that's where an other part of the film's genius comes in. There are a few flat out monsters, but the key Nazi's and overall treatment almost makes you want to pity them. I suppose the professor's courage speech works best as a description on how it views these people, mostly young and all stupid. They're caught up in a comforting idea that they don't care how it isolates and destroys. The Nazi's almost become a universal figure that can stand in for any group of people that congregate out of their own sense of inferiority only to cause harm as a means of ensuring that insulation.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#260 Post by swo17 » Tue Sep 27, 2011 5:43 pm

A few recent viewings of note...

Spotlight: Begone Dull Care
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore Fischinger. But this makes his studies look like a child completing a connect-the-dots on a McDonalds placemat. We still have scribbles convulsing perfectly in rhythm with the soundtrack, but now they’re also swimming in a sea of colors, or else taking elegant ballet steps in a more robustly defined three-dimensional space. It seems my list is destined to be topped (or nearly topped) once again by an animated short.

(Note: While treating yourself to this, available on Disc 2 of the McLaren box, please do also watch the excellent A Little Phantasy on a Nineteenth Century Painting on the same disc.)

To Be or Not to Be
This is one of a handful of films that I saw several years ago when I was first getting into film, and that I've been slightly afraid to rewatch given how perfect I remember it being. This was my first Lubitsch too, and I believe someone here once said that your first Lubitsch is invariably your favorite. So the stakes were high going into a rewatch, but thankfully I had little to worry about of course. There are plenty of moments here that are as good as comedy gets, but I was also surprised to find stretches that didn't go for comedy at all, instead evoking the grave state of the world at the time. It must have been a fine line to walk, but the tone is pitch perfect every step of the way. Most importantly I think, the film earns its laughs without discounting the magnitude of the Nazi threat (which The Great Dictator does to some extent by portraying the Fuehrer as a cartoonish buffoon). Not that Chaplin's approach doesn't have its place, but I find Lubitsch's more deeply satisfying.

Heaven Can Wait
There are others here with more to say than me, but I will just add that this was another one like Kind Hearts and Coronets for me, where much of the wit and charm was apparently too subdued for me to catch it until a second viewing.

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knives
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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#261 Post by knives » Wed Sep 28, 2011 1:42 am

Should probably wait until I get to the last two, but I've gone through most of the Errol Flynn TCM set and much to my surprise the standout is the Milestone directed Rossen scripted Edge of Darkness. The plot is really tight with strange sense of character throughout. The most chilling part seems to be how the film foresees a lot of Holocaust films, I'm particularly thinking of this Arkin-Hauer joint I can't remember the name of, in it's oppressed people trying to find normalcy storyline. It's a slow burn to an explosive climax that is simply perfect. Whatever price they're asking for right now this film is worth the set.

Also the set has as extras a lot of shorts including a half dozen or so more Jean Negulesco films and while none of these in particular are contenders they still show an amazingly talented director who can take the worst concept and spring untold energy from it. This guy really belongs up there with all the Hawks and Minnelli's. Speaking of also got to see Undercurrent which is a fantastic love triangle horror romance. There's a sort of Bronte feel to Hepburn's anguish as expressed through her love of Robert Mitchum playing Mitchum. The more I think about the film the better it becomes for me and is a real standout as one of his best films I've seen so far. A lot of this rests on just how Hepburn communicates with the camera. Those silent frightened looks are knockouts and raised the tension extremely well. It's almost wrong just how giddy I got from feeling her oppression, but the whole film keeps together this sense of unnerving horror that climaxes just perfectly sort of like a B Hitchcock.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#262 Post by Tommaso » Sun Oct 02, 2011 7:10 am

Some of my 40s viewing from the last few weeks, mostly French films.

Let's start with two Tourneurs (Maurice, not Jacques):
Le val d'enfer (1943) is a quite impressive film about a middle-aged foreman of a quarry, a bachelor still living with his parents, falling in love with a much younger woman from the city (and with a past) and marrying her. But of course the lady isn't quite happy with the frugal life she's offered and starts an affair with a young man, and also gets into conflict with her husband's parents. The film suffers a little from a somewhat contrived and not always well developed plot, but Tourneur nicely manages to depict the generational conflict and the question of how much both 'sides' must change or adapt to newer times and circumstances, and he's helped by very fine performances by Ginette Leclerc and Gabriel Gabrio in the main roles. Quite convincing also in its portrayal of the hard life in the quarry.

But even better is Volpone (1941), a stand-out adaptation of Ben Jonson's play with an amazing Harry Baur (this might be his best role, really) in the title role of the sly and greedy schemer pretending to die in order to get more money from everyone around him. Although the film looks a little stagey at first glance, Tourneur's direction is subtle with a great feeling for space, the sets look fantastic, and all the cast is truly fine. But it's as a vehicle for Baur where the film really excels. He brings so much variation in voice and facial expression to his role that it's a joy to watch him even though his character of course isn't really likeable.

Apart from these two Tourneurs, Serge de Poligny's Le baron fantôme (1943) is at least worth a look, basically because of the Cocteau dialogues and also because of the mini-appearance of Cocteau himself (about 20 seconds) as the title character. The film seems to be a supernatural mystery at first, but actually Cocteau is much more interested in depicting the various and complicated relations and love affairs among the family that inherits the baron's fortune. As a film, it's interesting with some visually quite striking moments, but all in all I couldn't help finding Poligny's direction unsatisfying. For instance, right at the beginning we get an extended sequence entirely filmed with a tilted camera, apparently made this way to suggest a feeling of the 'uncanny'. But as Poligny never varies this, the whole sequence feels contrived and the tilt nothing more than a gimmick of which I very quickly tired. There are further moments throughout the film in which I felt that something was not quite right, wide shots where there should have been a close-up and vice versa etc. Not bad all in all, but I wished that Cocteau had taken the whole affair into his own hands.

Finally, some stuff from the Russians:
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. 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.
I couldn't agree more. I watched Dovzhenko's final two films, Michurin and the fragmentary Farewell, America and was terribly underwhelmed. While the first of these at least functions to some degree (although probably only Stalinist Russia could come up with the idea to turn the figure of biologist/geneticist into a hero of the people and the Soviet Union), what is available of Farewell, America is just plain bad, with the Americans at the Moscow embassy being nothing but overwrought caricatures who are deadly unfunny.

Ptushko's The Stone Flower is indeed a quite different affair, thankfully, and probably its historic importance as the model for the later fairy tale films from Russia or East Germany cannot be underestimated. But while it looks beautiful, I indeed found it rather slowgoing and even stiff, and I constantly wondered what a Minnelli would have made out of those sets and this story. Probably you need to have a real love for those Eastern-style fairytales to enjoy it thoroughly.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#263 Post by knives » Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:52 am

Finally got to Hideko the Bus Conductor and in a lot of ways it's like Naruse boiled down to his essence with the money problems and the way relations grow and stagnate. It's probably just the times tiring him out, but some of Naruse's grit seems dropped in favour for, I'm not sure the right word, Shimizu-esque optimism. Even the possible gangster of a boss seems unusually good natured. I suppose this contradicts with what I said earlier, but without affecting the tone of the film it's like there are two forces at play here and Naruse is just really conflicted. It's not one of his best films, but provides a lot to ponder over all the same.

Also caught Musume Dojoji which is Ichikawa's second film. I was shocked to find out that he was an animator and this little short follows a poem. The story is basically a Buddhist babel romance. For me the most interesting aspect is just how doomed and fatalistic it already is. I'm not sure exactly the timeline for making this was, but I have to assume the shooting at least was done after Hiroshima. There's one sequence in particular where the man looks down a volcano and the whole thing comes across like him getting engulfed in a nuclear blast. Of course this leads to the temporary death of his loved.

The copy I came across was unsubbed, but the only dialogue of importance was this song everyone was singing and fortunately the film came with a translation:
The great temple bell
Harbors myriad malices.
Struck at midnight,
The bell echoes
The evanescence
Of all things.

Struck at the ghost hour,
The bell echoes
The birth and death
Of all beings.

Struck at daybreak,
The bell echoes
Supreme enlightenment.
Struck at sunset,
The bell echoes
The gospel of Nirvana.

A bit more optimistic than the film comes across I must admit.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#264 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:19 pm

Hideko the Bus Conductor: Shimizu-esque optimism pops up from time in Naruse's earlier works -- but, in this case, the promised optimism is utterly subverted by the film's surprising ending. I'd say this IS among Naruse's (very many) best films. ;~}

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#265 Post by knives » Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:26 pm

Well me saying it's not one of his best is a bit of a none statement given how high quality he always tends to be.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#266 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Oct 04, 2011 3:40 pm

Hideko is almost the inverse of Arigato-san, a seemingly sunny film subverted by a very unsunny ending, whereas Shimizu's bus film had a solid undertone of sadness (albeit mixed with funny bits) but a bright and hopeful ending.

Naruse 40s must-sees, in addition to Hideko -- Traveling Actors, Song Lantern, Spring Awakens. Hearbreaker -- the lost 1949 "Bad Girl" (which was a box office success made by a short-lived minor studio).

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#267 Post by knives » Wed Oct 05, 2011 2:33 am

Is there a point to Knock on Any Door? I get the sense it's trying to say something with the central relationship, but it's very muddled. The performances are good, with some bizarre one lined characters that fill up the experience, but there's a lot of dead air from the plot which just comes across to me as confused. The energy from those performances and Ray's camera work almost make me believe I'm objectively wrong, but than I remember the story. Maybe if the film was just a single room discussion between the kid and Bogart the film would work, but as is the film's too incoherent to work for me.

Also went to the land of yellow face with Dragon Seed. Films like this are so weird to see nowadays even a little funny though at over two hours the joke is stretched a little thin. Thank god Walter Huston seems completely out of his mind then. Beyond that pleasant piece of insanity the whole movie is just a dull overly talkative affair that doesn't even manage to have the fun stereotypes. The work here by everyone is so stiff in an attempt to convey Asianness or something. No one except Huston lets themselves have fun since they're too concerned with portraying the Asians 'properly'. That's what I meant by weird. I don't think their goal was a racist one and the problems almost seem born out of a messed up form of reverence they have to the culture. In that sense it's the worst sort of Hollywood liberalism. Of course that probably shouldn't enter the equation since the film seems to have been made mostly as anti-Japanese propaganda. I get it already movie, in this case subtlety is fine. Everything seems born out of that racist bore which is really unfortunate because there are some really talented people behind and in front of the camera. Nobody will ever think either director is greatest of all time material, but they usually can muster up some fun rather than attempting to put me to sleep. It a prestige movie that desperately needs more crazy people in control to work. Actually I should admit that about 100 minutes in I turned off the movie temporarily to watch Fighters instead (great movie by the way) though I did begrudgingly finish this one afterward. This is easily Hepburn's worst film, but at least the DVD comes with the best Screwball Squirrel short.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#268 Post by zedz » Wed Oct 05, 2011 8:49 pm

knives wrote:Is there a point to Knock on Any Door? I get the sense it's trying to say something with the central relationship, but it's very muddled. The performances are good, with some bizarre one lined characters that fill up the experience, but there's a lot of dead air from the plot which just comes across to me as confused. The energy from those performances and Ray's camera work almost make me believe I'm objectively wrong, but than I remember the story. Maybe if the film was just a single room discussion between the kid and Bogart the film would work, but as is the film's too incoherent to work for me.
I thought this was pretty weak. It seemed like it was a film that was radically rewritten when they found out that Bogart was going to play the lawyer or something, so suddenly that role could no longer afford to be secondary, and the film becomes somewhat lumpy and overlong as a consequence, with neither of the duelling protagonists coming off as particularly interesting. The kid's rather bland as a performer and his story is generic; Bogart has the acting chops, but he can't transcend his character's afterthought status, and Ray is hamstrung by the problematic material and doesn't have the kind of thematic pungency that he responds to so well in his best films. You never feel like Ray's getting his teeth into anything here.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#269 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Thu Oct 06, 2011 6:19 am

My first experimental/short films for this project inevitably has been the Maya Deren films. Meshes in the Afternoon is the obvious standout, and reveals who influence Janelle Monae's video for Tightrope.

Also saw Kurosawa's One Wonderful Sunday though with Stray Dog/Drunken Angel also from this decade, I doubt it will make my final list.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#270 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Oct 06, 2011 10:29 am

My Kurosawa top 3 for the 40s would be Stray Dog, No Regrets and Quiet Duel (which I like a lot more than the also undeniably good Drunken Angel).

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#271 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Thu Oct 06, 2011 10:43 am

I'll try both of those - we also have Sanshiro Sugata and The men who tread on the tiger’s tail in our library. It's only the odd Mizoguchi/Ozu from the 40s otherwise.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#272 Post by knives » Thu Oct 06, 2011 11:37 am

I'm surprised you're listing No Regrets as I found that to be a very dry experience that ultimately felt like an appeasement to the US occupiers.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#273 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Oct 06, 2011 2:54 pm

knives wrote:I'm surprised you're listing No Regrets as I found that to be a very dry experience that ultimately felt like an appeasement to the US occupiers.
I'm surprised that you see so little in this. ;~{

Actually the main purpose of the film was probably to rehabilitate the image of the studio's biggest star actress, which had been damaged by her participation (at the studio's behest) in all sorts of very dodgy war-time propaganda films. Nonetheless -- Hara turns in a really fine performance here -- and the cinematography is first rate. And the story line is adquate, even if dutiful. Granted Kurosawa shows none of the genuine daring of Ozu (Tenement Gentleman, Hen in the Wind) and Shimizu (Children of the Beehive), but presumably Toho just wasn't that sort of studio.

This was the film, btw, that led me to re-try Kurosawa's films (due to Hara's presence) after my utter rejection of AK (and just about everything else relating to Japanese cinema) due to my anaphylactic reaction to Rashomon (in the late 70s or very early 80s).

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#274 Post by knives » Thu Oct 06, 2011 3:42 pm

I agree that Hara gives a great performance here though I prefer what she did with Kurosawa in The Idiot, Maybe it is like you are saying and it's just compared with what others were doing immediately post war the film seems less elegant in comparison. Though I'm glad it seems we agree on Rashomon.

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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#275 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Oct 06, 2011 5:17 pm

If I can find my copy of Shimizu's amazing Children of the Beehive (1948), will people want to borrow it? (Can't even remember if it's subtitled).

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