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.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
puxzkkx
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2009 12:33 am

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#576 Post by puxzkkx » Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:55 pm

I saw The Lady Eve a few years ago and was cool on it - I've never found Stanwyck very interesting as an actress, and the only thing I can really remember from it was Fonda and Stanwyck's romantic scene that was constantly interrupted by the horse. However I loved The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, one of the best times I've ever had with a comedy, classic or otherwise. I'm not wholly comfortable with some of the subtext - the message seems to be a bit paternalistic, and once Norval emerges as a central character the film seems to become about the injustices done to men by the existence of women. Sturges apparently meant the film to be a 'cautionary tale for promiscuous young women' or something, considering the nature of the narrative focus shift from Trudy to Norval it makes one wonder if the misogynistic sentiments thrown out by otherwise sympathetic characters such as Officer Kockenlocker and Mr Johnson echo the director's own views. Still, this was hilarious and the most perfect slap in the face to the code - and I don't think I've seen a gamer comedic ensemble than Hutton, Bracken, Demarest and Lynn.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

I'm glad you're having a good time in yr 101 film class but

#577 Post by domino harvey » Sat Feb 11, 2012 10:02 pm

Between "Hitchcock didn't know how to end his movies" and "Preston Sturges was a misogynist," you have been furthering some bizarre fictions in this thread lately

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#578 Post by knives » Sun Feb 12, 2012 12:51 am

Going My Way is no where near as bad as I thought it would be based on reputation. It's not anywhere near McCarey's best (probably the worst I've seen from him in fact), but I thought it was a perfectly fine waste of two hours. Some of the funny bits were actually that. Even Crosby who I typically can't stand is enjoyable as this empty headed nobody. The performance kind of reminds me of Keaton actually though it's no where near that accomplished in that sense. should it have even been nominated, no; is it even in the bottom half of best picture winners, probably not.

User avatar
matrixschmatrix
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#579 Post by matrixschmatrix » Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:12 am

Late Spring (Yasujuro Ozu, 1949)

I watched Naruse's Sound of the Mountain before I watched this, and I was reminded irresistibly of it throughout this movie- both document a very warm and close (though utterly platonic) relationship between Setsuko Hara and an older man, and in both cases there is a sense that the relationship has to be sacrificed so that Hara's character can move on, crushing though that sacrifice is to both. Yet this seemed less of a tragedy than the Naruse: where in Naruse the dissolution of the relationship was due to callous violations which opposed and belied the pleasantness of the homelife we see, in Late Spring, the process seems to be an inevitable stage of growing up, and fits naturally into the rhythms of life.

It was difficult for me to get past the patriarchal structure of that life- presented with a situation in which a young woman is being pressured into an arranged marriage, I'm automatically going to think it a crime and that anyone applying such pressure is something of a monster. Yet, in the context of this movie, the point is not that Hara is being pushed into a life she wouldn't choose, it's that she must accept change- the key event being her father's discussion of how she must build a life for herself, and achieve happiness, and that such happiness was what truly defined a marriage. It's a powerful sentiment, and I think one that brought the movie to life for me. The note it ends on- Chishu Ryu's quiet pain, which makes it obvious how affected his seemingly absent minded acceptance of the situation was, and how difficult was the sacrifice he has made, is also an intensely (though quietly) powerful one.

As much as the actual drama, though, this movie is easy to love for the gorgeous, ritualistic lifestyle it depicts. In a strange way, it reminds me of Ford- I care about these people because of how much they care about what they're doing and the beauty of their life, even if I think they are upholding or reinforcing an evil structure. I'm going to have to watch the commentary and reflect on this movie some more, as it's still difficult for me to see how it placed at the top of last cycle's 40s vote- I think it would be in perhaps the 20s or 30s for me right now, but I probably missed any number of vital cultural signifiers.

edit: I was hoping the commentary would enlighten me, but it didn't. In the scene where Hara is talking to her father's assistant, she uses a metaphor about slicing pickled beets or something like that which I didn't understand at all. Does anyone know what that was about?

User avatar
Tommaso
Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#580 Post by Tommaso » Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:52 am

lubitsch wrote: Hungary had also a bit of genre production and there are fan subtitles for a pretty powerful melodrama Something is in the water which features Katalin Karady, a supremely charismatic femme fatale who lures unwillingly the men around her to destruction. Karady has a very distinctive velvety voice and while the film fizzles out a bit during the second half, she seems to be worth rediscovering, she also helped Jews to survive the Holocaust and was honored among the righteous at Yad Vashem, she survived a three months incarceration and torture by the Gestapo in 1944.
I've watched this recently and was pretty impressed, too, not just by Karady, but by the filmmaking in general. The film combines very intense performances with strikingly beautiful landscape photography, and curiously the overall impression reminded me much more of what I normally associate with early Scandinavian films than with Hungary. And while Karady's role may be that of the femme fatale, there's a certain non-judgmental quality to it, more 'observation' than playing on the emotional strings all the time, that made me think of Renoir (just a little bit). Very good, and it seems to be the only film from director Gustáv Oláh. One wonders why.

Totally unrelated: it seems that no-one has discussed the 40s films of Willi Forst yet, which seems surprising given that "Maskerade" made a surprisingly high entry (relatively speaking) on the 30s list, and surely Forst was one of the few German language filmmakers whose work was not too much compromised by the historical events of the time. Unfortunately, none of the four films he made in the 40s have received English fansubs yet, which probably reduces the chance of him making a stir on the list, but those who understand German should certainly not hesitate to seek those films out. The major body of his work in the 40s is formed by the so-called 'Viennese trilogy' consisting of Operette (1940), Wiener Blut (1942) and Wiener Mädeln (1945/49). These are all 'musical' films in the sense of two of them being centered around the Viennese musical world of the late 19th century and one of them at least containing much music from Johann Strauss. All films nostalgically, but never sentimentally look back on this old Viennese world and in the process question the 'image' of the city and its spirit in the popular imagination. What makes these films so great are not only the sumptuous sets (again, worthy of Ophuls) and the magnificent actors, but Forst's almost uncanny ability to re-create that world in a manner which is extremely 'beautiful' but strictly avoids any conventional sugarbakery. He walks a thin line, but succeeds on all ends. My favourite of these films is Wiener Mädeln, which will definitely be on my list. The film's fantastic use of colour and its gentle irony has caused some people to even compare it to Powell and Pressburger, "Blimp" in particular, but Forst is more 'romantic' in a good way. Add the four beautiful ladies of the title and Forst himself playing the main role of the operetta composer Ziehrer, plus a good-natured final competition between Ziehrer's musical band and a Yankee band on the Oslo world exhibition, and you have a very entertaining but also thoughtful film whose charme I simply can't resist.

User avatar
puxzkkx
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2009 12:33 am

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#581 Post by puxzkkx » Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:04 am

matrixschmatrix wrote:Late Spring (Yasujuro Ozu, 1949)
As much as the actual drama, though, this movie is easy to love for the gorgeous, ritualistic lifestyle it depicts. In a strange way, it reminds me of Ford- I care about these people because of how much they care about what they're doing and the beauty of their life, even if I think they are upholding or reinforcing an evil structure. I'm going to have to watch the commentary and reflect on this movie some more, as it's still difficult for me to see how it placed at the top of last cycle's 40s vote- I think it would be in perhaps the 20s or 30s for me right now, but I probably missed any number of vital cultural signifiers.
I'm glad that you liked it but I find it strange when criticism of Ozu takes the 'nice little movie' tack. I see this kind of thing in response to Renoir and Ford as well, where the tragedy and cynicism in their works is glossed over by an idea of them as proponents of an uncomplicated sort of humanism. I find Ozu to be deeply melancholy but definitely politically 'present' in his approaches to Japanese culture and its changes, especially in his postwar films. In films like Late Spring, Late Autumn and An Autumn Afternoon I think the use of silence, space and pause contribute to a view of social structures like omiai as outdated and as doing no real good to anyone, yet kept out of a parasitic sort of habit. I don't think Ozu presents all the Japanese customs he depicts with simple realism or a sense of pride. It's his bitter view of Japan's social present that makes the visions of immense loss at the end of Late Spring and An Autumn Afternoon so devastating, at least for me, as they show pain and the failure to attain happiness of an entire nation instead of just a single character.

User avatar
matrixschmatrix
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#582 Post by matrixschmatrix » Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:32 pm

In watching the commentary, I was made aware of a fair number of places where the ritual being presented actually had a double meaning in a way that had been opaque to me- I am frankly just not familiar enough with Japanese tradition to know, for instance, that the tea ceremony we see in the beginning of the movie is actually showing Western influence in the way the women are gathered to enjoy it without being told.

I still think the movie on the whole is more about the rhythms of life than it is about the actual plot- thus the enormous ellipses, which remove some of the material that most filmmakers would consider key (such as the wedding, or indeed any glimpse of the groom). Nor did I ever think that what we were seeing was strictly a celebration of traditionalism- I've seen enough Ozu at this point never to think he'd make anything so straightforward as that. It's true that I missed nuance in what the presentation of rituals actually means in context, but I was referring as much to seeing Chishu Ryu clip his nails and brush his teeth as I was to something like the tea ceremony- the rituals that comprise everyone's life, not just that of the Japanese. I think that is where Ozu's humanism lies, in his focus on the mundane activities of life, and the way in which he makes them beautiful.

User avatar
zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#583 Post by zedz » Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:50 pm

knives wrote:Time for more Tales of Disinterest!

Lassie Come Home and The Yearling
Children in the '40s had a tough time looking for entertainment if this load is really the best Hollywood could come up with.
I know what you mean, but don't forget about Disney and Pinocchio / Dumbo / Bambi. Those are the real kiddie-film monoliths of the era.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#584 Post by knives » Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:20 pm

While I think it has the best animation of the realist Disney style I actually don't like Bambi especially when compared to everything else Disney, Fleischer, Famous, Lantz, and termite terrace came out with in the decade.

User avatar
lubitsch
Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2005 4:20 pm

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#585 Post by lubitsch » Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:19 pm

Tommaso wrote:
lubitsch wrote: Hungary had also a bit of genre production and there are fan subtitles for a pretty powerful melodrama Something is in the water which features Katalin Karady, a supremely charismatic femme fatale who lures unwillingly the men around her to destruction. Karady has a very distinctive velvety voice and while the film fizzles out a bit during the second half, she seems to be worth rediscovering, she also helped Jews to survive the Holocaust and was honored among the righteous at Yad Vashem, she survived a three months incarceration and torture by the Gestapo in 1944.
I've watched this recently and was pretty impressed, too, not just by Karady, but by the filmmaking in general. The film combines very intense performances with strikingly beautiful landscape photography, and curiously the overall impression reminded me much more of what I normally associate with early Scandinavian films than with Hungary. And while Karady's role may be that of the femme fatale, there's a certain non-judgmental quality to it, more 'observation' than playing on the emotional strings all the time, that made me think of Renoir (just a little bit). Very good, and it seems to be the only film from director Gustáv Oláh. One wonders why.
I don't think Olah is the person to look out for but codirector and writer Lajos Zilahyho who seems to have been a successful theatre author as well as film producer. He apparently gave Karady a breakthrough debut role in 1939 in a very successful film and all three of his films star her, here's a bit of background http://epa.oszk.hu/00900/00960/00017/ka ... talin.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; . Anyway it's quite exciting to discover such a powerful leading lady and an unknown (to most Western viewers that is) group of films. The Radvanyi film as well as the Szöts are mentioned everywhere because they stick out of the usual commercial stuff, but this is smething along the libnes of genre auteurism. I agree with the assessment of the role, she's less an active femme fatale than a force of nature and arrives in an appropriate way.

User avatar
matrixschmatrix
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#586 Post by matrixschmatrix » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:25 am

Day of Wrath (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1943)

I normally try to write up my thoughts before listening to the commentary, as I find that commentaries often drive anything I had thought of for myself out of my mind, but while Day of Wrath is as stunning a movie as I'd hoped it would be, I felt like I needed contextualization to be able to say anything coherent about it- particularly as my thoughts on Late Spring had been so inchoate last night. I'm glad I did, as Casper Tybjerg's commentary is as good as his usually are, and has both clarified the movie and heightened it in my mind.

Though the depiction of witchcraft persecution seems at first to be specifically a commentary about patriarchal government, I think it's both more complex and more broad than that- witchcraft seems here to represent a form of self actualization, one that coincides with the awakening of Anna's adult sexuality and grants her the ability to resist Absolon's baleful mother. The suppression of it, then, seems to represent the suppression of all individual will which opposes itself to the unbearably conformist society- though the men are in all the positions of power, all those we see are too weak to oppose their will against their society or against the interpretation of religion they've been handed. Thus, Absolon- who seems in many ways to be a kindly and decent man- is unable either to stop his mother's rampant hatred or to achieve the epiphany of empathy that would allow him to see witchcraft trials for the horrors they are, but instead merely burdens himself with guilt and self hatred for everything that goes wrong. Likewise, his son is unable to take responsibility for his actions, and must deal with the guilt he feels through an accusation that allows him to blame supernatural interference.

The women, on the other hand, are all able to assert their individuality (though the only one to do so safely is asserting it in reinforcing the power of society, rather than opposing it)- and both Anna and the old witch show themselves to be far more honest with themselves than any of the men ever are, managing to acknowledge to themselves what they really want and what they really feel. Casting spells, in this context, seems to be any action by which one imposes one's will- and Absolon's mother is certainly as much a witch as anyone else, in that light.

Obviously, the fact that this was made under Nazi occupation is very germane- the whole movie is suffused with the unbearable shadow of a truly evil government, one that is enforced through petty hatred and mean spirited denunciations. The feeling of doom that so many of the elements of the movie work to evoke- the medievalism, the ominous hymns, the omnipresent looming shadows- those too seem appropriate for the apocalyptic experience of Nazi rule. Dreyer's movie conveys the feeling of being psychologically dominated, of being ruled by weakness and hatred, as well as Godzilla evokes the experience of being bombed- in many ways, the metaphor seems to get it across better than a literal representation would.

User avatar
matrixschmatrix
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#587 Post by matrixschmatrix » Mon Feb 13, 2012 5:56 am

Just watched The Naked City- I don't know that I have a huge amount to say about it, though. I can see the appeal of the documentary style it stuck to, and the sort of People on Sunday/city symphony thing that worked towards, but for me it just worked to sap the usually ferocious power of Dassin's work. It was fine, an engaging enough procedural, but I don't know that it seemed particularly remarkable as a movie (though I understand its influence is pretty widespread.)

User avatar
puxzkkx
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2009 12:33 am

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#588 Post by puxzkkx » Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:59 am

Watching Rebecca was a bit uncomfortable thanks to the microscopic detail of Hitchcock's dissection of Olivier and Fontaine's characters' unhealthy relationship. The vividness of Fontaine's feelings of doubt, insecurity and obsessive, needy love is almost aggressive. She does the character very well, or at least is used very well to express this kind of fragility, and Olivier portrays excellently the kind of magnetic aloofness that could draw in an inexperienced and romantically naive person like Fontaine. The film got a bit less interesting for me in its second half when it slipped into procedural and moved away from its examination of the ways Maxim's self-absorption lent itself to emotional blackmail - but at least that part has George Sanders who is always welcome. Judith Anderson was very scary - especially when she wasn't expressly asked by the script to be - and I loved Florence Bates' and Gladys Cooper's performances in small roles.

User avatar
matrixschmatrix
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#589 Post by matrixschmatrix » Tue Feb 14, 2012 4:17 am

The Seventh Victim (Mark Robson, 1943)

I think the oddest thing about this movie is that people seem to fall in love with each other so often, as it feels as though the fundamental message is that nobody understands anyone. It's a really strange movie- the evil gang of evil seems finally to be a bunch of silly rich people who take themselves way too seriously, our ostensible lead never really seems to develop any characteristics or feel anything for more than a few minutes (which seems to be intentional, and certainly isn't due to any failing's on Hunter's part), and people and plot points seem to wander in and out without any clear purpose or resolution. It doesn't work as story about mental illness, as we never spend enough time with anyone mentally ill to have any particular revelations about what it's like, it doesn't work as horror movie- there's a lot of suspense that does work, but the plot doesn't really point in that direction, though the atmosphere does-and I'm not sure that it's a noir- though there's certainly a sense of existential, war-related dread hanging about the whole thing. The ending closes off the movie and feels powerful in of itself, without necessarily making any damn sense in terms of resolving the plot.

I don't know, it's a movie I'm glad I watched, but it's not one that I feel hugely attracted to, and I have no idea of how to gauge it against other movies.
Last edited by matrixschmatrix on Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Cold Bishop
Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 9:45 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#590 Post by Cold Bishop » Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:02 am

I love this movie! It's going to be one of my highest ranking American features. I wrote about it here but such an appreciation only covers part of the appeal, trying as it does to draw out a coherent meaning. Everything that makes the film so inscrutable and so disheveled is also what makes it so exemplary. I don't have a handle on the film, and frankly I don't want one: it would only serve to disrupt the beautiful confusion that surrounds the narrative.

User avatar
matrixschmatrix
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#591 Post by matrixschmatrix » Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:10 am

Ah, I knew you had a long writeup somewhere, but I couldn't find it- thanks.

I think, as with They Made Me a Fugitive, that I largely agree with your analysis of how the movie is unique, and there's no question that both films embrace darkness in a distinctive and unusually thorough way. This is such a resolutely dissolute movie that I think the Hollywood surface level is distracting- were it made like a Nouvelle Vague movie, where the jags and plot splinters would seem natural, I think it might resolve more clearly for me.

I think one of the interesting things is that the movie seems as philosophically distanced from any outright notion of 'good' as it is from the Satanists- the Lord's Prayer quote seems consciously unconvincing in a world in which deliverance from evil leads directly back to death, and in which the whole concept of loving one's neighbor seems almost meaningless in the light of the distance it posits between love and understanding. I was fascinated to hear, in the commentary, that there's a deleted scene in which it's revealed that Jason's newly written poetry is unpublishable- like his philosophy, it's out of step with the times, unconvincing in a world of darkness.

I think this is still a movie I'm not attracted to- it seems more remarkable for its uniqueness than for its power, and though Lewton's skill with tension and atmosphere is certainly present, I think it pales next to I Walked With a Zombie for me.

User avatar
puxzkkx
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2009 12:33 am

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#592 Post by puxzkkx » Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:46 am

matrixschmatrix wrote:The Seventh Victim (Mark Robson, 1943)

I think the oddest thing about this movie is that people seem to fall in love with each other so often, as it feels as though the fundamental message is that nobody understands anyone. It's a really strange movie- the evil gang of evil seems finally to be a bunch of silly rich people who take themselves way too seriously, our ostensible lead never really seems to develop any characteristics or feel anything for more than a few minutes (which seems to be intentional, and certainly isn't due to any failing's on Hunter's part), and people and plot points seem to wander in and out without any clear purpose or resolution. It doesn't work as story about mental illness, as we never spend enough time with anyone mentally ill to have any particular revelations about what it's like, it doesn't work as horror movie- there's a lot of suspense that does work, but the plot doesn't really point in that direction, though the atmosphere does-and I'm not sure that it's a noir- though there's certainly a sense of existential, war-related dread hanging about the whole thing. The ending closes off the movie and feels powerful in of itself, without necessarily making any damn sense in terms of resolving the plot.

I don't know, it's a movie I'm glad I watched, but it's not one that I feel hugely attracted to, and I have no idea of how to gauge it against other movies.
This is pretty much how I feel about this movie. Separate parts are done with tremendous bravura (Jean Brooks' chase through the night?! Hunter and her chaperone explore that shadowy building?!) but some of the tonal and narrative shifts are so extreme that I felt like there must have been multiple lost reels! I did enjoy it though.

User avatar
matrixschmatrix
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#593 Post by matrixschmatrix » Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:53 am

From what the commentary was saying, it sounds as though the storyline went through enormous revisions from draft to draft and there was a lot cut out from the shooting script. Though some of what was cut out made the movie make more sense (such as scene where Tom Conway's character tells someone he knows to be part of the cult where Jacqueline has gone.)

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#594 Post by knives » Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:19 am

matrixschmatrix wrote:Ah, I knew you had a long writeup somewhere, but I couldn't find it- thanks.

I think, as with They Made Me a Fugitive, that I largely agree with your analysis of how the movie is unique, and there's no question that both films embrace darkness in a distinctive and unusually thorough way. This is such a resolutely dissolute movie that I think the Hollywood surface level is distracting- were it made like a Nouvelle Vague movie, where the jags and plot splinters would seem natural, I think it might resolve more clearly for me.
Funny you should say this as I've been doing a lot of reading lately intended to do some similar discomforts. With that in mind I think had the film gone Nouvelle Vague as you describe it would be significantly lesser with both it's comedy and it's tragedy. It sort of needs that Hollywood sheen to function as a horror movie rather than a detective film which it is rather poor at being and largely seems disinterested with. I think you'd agree that it's inability to be resolved forcing one to acknowledge it further than had it been a comfortable sit is it's biggest advantage. It's ultimately too clean and tidy considering how it ignores large sections of the plot. This gets even more shocking with Bedlam, my personal favorite Lewton, which even in it's most horrible scenes is shot like a Cukor romance. That dissonance whether deliberate or not causes every wart to be magnified tremendously in a way that would make the film fail completely if it were shot more traditionally to what the story needed and in general I think that's the unifying aspect of the Robson directed Lewton's. They need and utilize Hollywood grammar so as to pervert it's intended purpose for a shameful parody, here of noir and with Bedlam the social picture. Both are presented as failures because of the style. The entire commentary in fact would disappear with less conservative direction and then we'd be left with movies everyone would ignore.

User avatar
matrixschmatrix
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#595 Post by matrixschmatrix » Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:28 am

Well obviously The Seventh Victim wasn't commenting on noir tropes, as it was if anything a formative proto-noir, but I think I can see waht you're saying- and there's definitely something about the Hollywood crispness of shooting (and particularly and especially the Hollywood budget set design) that's essential to what Lewton was doing. I agree that Victim would be a less remarkable movie if it were the product of a conscious attempt to buck the system rather than working within it. It would be easier to place, but not in a way that would work in its favor.

Actually, I think the fact that the movie managed to get made and put out through the Hollywood system, albeit one of the darker and mustier corners, might be the most compelling thing about it.

User avatar
swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#596 Post by swo17 » Thu Feb 16, 2012 12:59 pm

SPOTLIGHT: Krakatit (Otakar Vávra)
lubitsch wrote:After the war Vavra made two other remarkable films...with Krakatit he delivered an absolute knockout following a story by Karel Capek (who coined the term roboter) and this mixture of mystery thriller and science-fiction film is shot in a hallucinatory style wrestling with films like Citizen Kane or Wozzeck for the most boldly stylized film of the decade.
This film was fantastic! Sort of in the vein of something like Lang's Ministry of Fear, only Krakatit goes one further by recognizing that the plot is like something out of your nightmares and so sets the film in the realm of dreams. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to call it all as stylized as Citizen Kane, or even Ivan the Terrible or The Black Book, but if the film is more restrained in this respect, it works to its benefit. It seems to progress following dream logic (the best indicator of this being how there is always some random romantic interest), at times lapsing into passages that would seem quite straightforward but for the fact that they don't really connect to what preceded them or what follows, and this makes the occasional use of more vivid nightmare imagery all the more disorienting. This one should be placing quite high on my list.

You can buy a DVD of the film for pretty cheap here (and if you order today, it should probably get to you just before the deadline). That version is supposed to have English subtitles. Confusingly, there is another version of the film available from the same company, packaged with two other films based on Capek stories, that does not come with English subs. (I learned this the hard way. Speaking of which :-" if any of you happen to speak Czech and would like my copy for practically nothing, shoot me a PM.)
Last edited by swo17 on Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#597 Post by knives » Sun Feb 19, 2012 3:07 am

How does Green Hell have such a bad reputation? It's legitimately one of Whale's best with great performances from everyone and a wicked humour on the level of The Old Dark House. In general I'm not a fan of this adventurer type of film, but hot dang does Whale make it work. Yes the script's not the strongest, but I think Whale's camp humour adds to it in a way that's very successful.

User avatar
swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#598 Post by swo17 » Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:30 pm

This is just a reminder that lists are due a week from today.

With eight in so far, the top 10 is presently only about half composed of the usual suspects. One interesting change: One film that nearly topped our prior list and another that barely cracked the top 100 have essentially switched places this time. Both are by the same director.

User avatar
swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#599 Post by swo17 » Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:34 pm

Another heads up: The More the Merrier, cited by me as the funniest film of the decade, will air on TCM early this Wednesday morning.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

#600 Post by domino harvey » Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:44 pm

swo17 wrote: One interesting change: One film that nearly topped our prior list and another that barely cracked the top 100 have essentially switched places this time. Both are by the same director.
Let's see how good I am at this: Notorious and Rebecca

Post Reply