1950s 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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puxzkkx
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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#76 Post by puxzkkx » Fri Mar 02, 2012 1:23 am

I'm bored - I made a list of the pictures from the 50s that I would consider including in my final list. I haven't seen much (only 98 for the entire decade, so far) so this thread will be indispensable over the coming months:

1950
All About Eve [Mankiewicz]
In a Lonely Place [Ray]
Los olvidados [Buñuel]
Rashōmon [Kurosawa]
Stage Fright [Hitchcock]

1951
Diary of a Country Priest [Bresson]
Early Summer [Ozu]
Miracle in Milan [de Sica]
Summer Interlude [Bergman]
The Forbidden Christ [Malaparte]
The Red Inn [Autant-Lara]

1952
Forbidden Games [Clément]
Mandy [Mackendrick]
On Dangerous Ground [Ray]
Singin' in the Rain [Donen, Kelly]
The White Reindeer [Blomberg]

1953
Older Brother, Younger Sister [Naruse]
Pickup on South Street [Fuller]
Tokyo Story [Ozu]
Ugetsu monogatari [Mizoguchi]

1954
A Lesson in Love [Bergman]
Dial M for Murder [Hitchcock]
Johnny Guitar [Ray]
Sanshō the Bailiff [Mizoguchi]

1955
East of Eden [Kazan]
Kiss Me Deadly [Aldrich]
Les diaboliques [Clouzot]
Lola Montès [Ophüls]
Ordet [Dreyer]
Pather Panchali [Ray]
Rebel Without a Cause [Ray]
Smiles of a Summer Night [Bergman]
The Heart [Ichikawa]
The Night of the Hunter [Laughton]
The Phenix City Story [Karlson]

1956
A Man Escaped [Bresson]
Aparajito [Ray]
Flowing [Naruse]
Merry-Go-Round [Fábri]
The Wrong Man [Hitchcock]

1957
Nights of Cabiria [Fellini]
The Cranes Are Flying [Kalatozov]
Wild Strawberries [Bergman]

1958
Endless Desire [Imamura]
Sweet Anna [Fábri]
Touch of Evil [Welles]
Vertigo [Hitchcock]

1959
Floating Weeds [Ozu]
Hiroshima mon amour [Resnais]
Room at the Top [Clayton]
The 400 Blows [Truffaut]
The Savage Eye [Maddow, Meyers, Strick]
The World of Apu [Ray]

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antnield
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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#77 Post by antnield » Fri Mar 02, 2012 7:24 am

For those looking for some British contenders, I happened to put together this selection of ten of the best last month. All are (or have been) available on disc. The only one now out of print is the Margaret Tait, though it can be viewed in full - all four and a half minutes - here.

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Tommaso
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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#78 Post by Tommaso » Fri Mar 02, 2012 7:31 am

Good list, puxzkkx, but as "Singin' in the rain" shows that you're not averse to musicals, definitely watch Minnelli's 1953 The Band Wagon. Everything that ever defined the American film musical is in it, brought to the utmost and most dazzling perfection: the old - and at that time even somewhat outdated - plot idea of people coming together to set up a show, great tunes, and not least Fred Astaire, more than 50 years old and still the ultimate hipster of dancing. The film's praises have been sung often enough, so no need to enter into too much detail, but let me state that Fred's "Dancing in the dark" with Cyd Charisse might perhaps be even greater than anything he did with Ginger Rogers in the 30s, and the final big stage act, the "Girl Hunt" sequence, is probably the best adaptation of the unleashed cinematic techniques of P&P's "Red Shoes" ballet into a different context you're likely to come across.

While I'm at it, another recommendation would be Mamoulian's Silk Stockings (1957), the last great 'old style' musical, which again pairs Astaire and Charisse. The film, being a musical adaptation of "Ninotchka", is not as popular as it should be, probably because of the inevitable comparison with the Lubitsch film. But it has brilliant music and many ironic takes on the changes in the film industry in the 50s, Charisse is simply ravishing, and don't forget Peter Lorre's hilarious performance as one of the Russian commissars who begin to enjoy the 'decadent' western lifestyle. Great "technicolor, cinemascope and stereophonic sound"...

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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#79 Post by swo17 » Fri Mar 02, 2012 3:03 pm

Can anyone speak to the quality of the BFI vs. Madman releases of Journey to Italy?

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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#80 Post by domino harvey » Fri Mar 02, 2012 3:15 pm

Only in that I have the BFI and don't remember any problems when I watched it a few years back

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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#81 Post by PillowRock » Fri Mar 02, 2012 4:29 pm

antnield wrote:For those looking for some British contenders, I happened to put together this selection of ten of the best last month.
Another source of interesting / fun 1950s British movies beyond the Ealings is the filmography of Alastair Sim. He is most widely known among Americans for his version of Scrooge (often seen under the title A Christmas Carol), but I rather like a number of his movies. An Inspector Calls is worth a look to see him in another more dramatic production, though his performance keeps the proceedings from feeling so heavy that it bogs down.

Though opinions will probably vary widely according to personal tastes with respect to humor, I enjoyed The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950), Laughter in Paradise (1951), Folly to Be Wise (1953), and The Green Man (1956). My favorite of Sim's 1950s comedies, though, would be The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954) (but, hey, Sim gets to play two roles in that one); although I thought that the sequels dropped off pretty quickly (notwithstanding a couple fun bits like the spoof of Rififi in the first sequel).

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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#82 Post by puxzkkx » Fri Mar 02, 2012 5:10 pm

I love Alastair Sim but found some of the comedies you mentioned kind of a slog. I like An Inspector Calls a lot - although it is a wispy little thing that doesn't seem prepared to carry the kind of class metaphor it touches on. Great cast - Sim is wonderful, ghoulish but sad, but Jane Wenham as the girl who provides the film's throughline and Bryan Forbes (who would later direct films like Séance on a Wet Afternoon and The Whisperers) as the wild son were the standouts for me.

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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#83 Post by domino harvey » Fri Mar 02, 2012 6:59 pm

Auteur Guide Part Two: Same caveats as before, recommended titles in RED

JOHN CROMWELL

Caged (1950) R1 Warners (OOP)
the Company She Keeps (1951) No commercial release
the Racket (1951) R1 Warners
the Goddess (1958) R1 Sony MOD
the Scavengers (1959) R1 Fox Lorber (OOP)

Actor turned director Cromwell always delivers on two fronts: his films will focus on strong, overwhelming female characters, and they will look beautiful. Never were such things truer than in Caged (1950), one of the great (if not the greatest) Social Problem pics, one anchored around the one of the best female performance of the decade by Eleanor Parker as a young girl chewed up and spit out by the prison system. Like the best of the genre (I Am A Fugitive From a Chain Gang! comes closest), this is a film of continued impact and power. Everyone I conned into watching this for the Noir list, even if they didn't find it a perfect fit, was blown away, and now's the chance for all to vote this masterpiece into its rightful place. It's a shame that there's no DVD release of the Company She Keeps (1951), because it is very much the sister film to Caged, and while a lesser film in comparison, this look at the struggles of Jane Greer's ex-con to stay straight is still a worthwhile viewing, especially in tandem with the Parker pic. Though something of a mess in the Lady From Shanghai vein, I am fond of the Racket (1951), though the studio / Hughes interference makes it a little hard to attach much of Cromwell's hand. I'm not redding it, but there are worse ways to pass the time. Such as watching the Goddess (1958), a painfully "Actorly" deluge of the worst Method accoutrements. It looks fantastic, but Christ, everyone involved is projecting so hard that you're afraid the poor dears are going to break something. The tortuous script by Paddy Chayefsky doesn't help anything. Cromwell bottoms out this decade with the Scavengers (1959), a forgotten noir trifle filmed entirely in Hong Kong and the Philippines. It took noble strength of purpose to make it through all 78 minutes of this nonsense, and if for some reason you manage to do the same, I'll gladly buy you a drink in commiseration.


JOHN FORD

When Willie Comes Marching Home (1950) R1 Fox
Wagon Master (1950) R1 Warners
Rio Grande (1950) R1 Republic
the Quiet Man (1952) Public domain
What Price Glory? (1952) R1 Fox
the Sun Shines Bright (1953) No commercial release
Mogambo (1953) R1 Warners
the Long Gray Line (1955) R1 Sony
Mister Roberts (1955 w. Mervyn LeRoy) R1 Warners
the Searchers (1956) R1 Paramount
the Wings of Eagles (1957) R1 Warners
the Rising of the Moon (1957) No commercial release
Gideon of Scotland Yard (1958) No commercial release
the Last Hurrah (1958) R1 Columbia
the Horse Soldiers (1959) R1 MGM Blu-ray

Oh John Ford. When you go for the light touch of a comedy, as in When Willie Comes Marching Home (1950) or Wagon Master (1950), the results are uneven indeed. Willie at least has a very good idea, but it gets stretched out and Ford lets it die slowly on screen. Wagon Master is suddenly everyone's favorite Ford, but it's too loose and messy for my tastes-- this criticism is praise for others, so who knows where you'll come down. Rio Grande (1950) is handily the best of his Calvary Trilogy, though, because the looseness finally works with the film's narrative rather than against or in place of the grain. The Quiet Man (1952) is a charmer, a fetchingly filmed romance that can't be seen anywhere in the glory it deserves thanks to its public domain status, sadly. Even sadder is that What Price Glory? (1952) can-- the worst Ford film of the decade (and possibly ever), and this is the decade of Wings of Eagles! Fed from an inept narrative that can't wrangle the motivations of its characters, this unbelievably cheap looking WWI misfire is truly avoidable. Cue rampant defense. The Sun Shines Bright (1953) is anything but, though! While I'm not sure I'm quite sold on the hyperbolic claims that is the finest Ford film, it's certainly one of them. A remake of sorts of Ford's own Judge Priest, this ode to a time long since gone (and indeed, one that perhaps never was) is one of the decade's finest examinations of the mechanics of the South, and the message of community found in the funeral march is one of the most genuinely effecting moments in all of Ford. Emotions get the run-through on Mogambo (1953) as well, and it's well worth watching our board's own Tag Gallagher's video piece on the film which examines Ford's use of emotion in relation to Grace Kelly's performance. As far as the film on the whole goes, it's my favorite of the "on location" safari flicks, mostly for the melodramatic elements that give the expected animal adventure elements a darker undercurrent.

The rampant defenses for The Looooong Gray Line (1955), a rather middling but entertaining (for a spell at least-- the film doesn't know when to end) cadet biopic and Ford's first 'Scope pic, are pretty unconvincing, though they show that like Hawks or Hitchcock, every Ford film seems to have at least a couple well-informed protectors. Mister Roberts (1955, with Mervyn LeRoy) was nominated for Best Picture and won Jack Lemmon an Oscar over the single greatest performance of the decade. That alone is reason to hate it. The film itself makes a better argument for repulsion though. Like Vertigo, the Searchers (1956) is the Searchers. I can't imagine anyone hasn't seen it, but you don't have a choice. Sorry. Speaking of, I'm also sorry for anyone who sat through the Wings of Eagles (1957), a static biopic whose sole grace is an almost amusing performance by Ward Bond as Ford himself.

The Rising of the Moon (1957) gets a strong recommendation from me with one caveat, which is that the first of the three short films which comprise this Ireland-set and shot portmanteau flick is indeed as advertised by narrator Tyrone Power "about nothing," and not in the good way. The remaining segments are terrific though, especially the middle passage set on a train station, which finds Ford fully comfortable in a full-blown comedic situation for the first time I can recall. It's very fast paced, borderline screwball, and classic. The final sequence is a smartly shot and executed revolution-tinged short-con that puts a nice bow on the package. Gideon of Scotland Yard (1958) is a minor film, interesting only in as much as it fits in with the idea of Ford as auteur, as there's no way anyone would be talking about this rather old-fashioned (in relation to the time it was released) procedural otherwise. Ford's final two films of the decade, the Last Hurrah (1958) and the Horse Soldiers (1959) find Ford employing a disastrous short-hand in relation to its antagonists which renders the entire narrative impotent. Wayne's anti-doctor screed in Horse Soldiers is bizarre enough, but the cartoonish fop running against Spencer Tracy for office in Hurrah is one of the laziest, most offensive (in terms of being pandered to by the director) wrong turns any great director has ever made, and all the worse given that the film, while going on a good half-hour past its reasonable end, isn't too bad otherwise. But a drop of ink will spoil the whole jug.


GEORGE STEVENS

A Place in the Sun (1951) R1 Paramount (OOP)
Something to Live For (1952) No commercial release
Shane (1953) R1 Paramount
Giant (1956) R1 Warners
the Diary of Anne Frank (1959) R1 Fox Blu-ray

George Stevens went from helmer of light-weight comedies and dramas to heavy-handed overseer of Important Films sometime in the middle of the last decade, and this one is even less kind to him. Though you'd never know it, seeing as how all but one of the films he made in the fifties were nominated for Best Picture (and he won Best Director twice). Probably the best of Stevens' "prestige" pics is Dreiser adaptation A Place in the Sun (1951), which while as hamfisted as the rest of Stevens work, at the very least possesses good turns by Clift and especially Shelley Winters. Something to Live For (1952), Stevens' least-regarded film of the decade, strikes me unsurprisingly as his strongest, in part due to its overblown approach to Seriousness, which is so exaggerated and telegraphed that it sort of half-convinces me in the process. Casting Ray Milland as a recovering alcoholic is either bold or foolish in light of his most famous role, and in a decade of some truly horrendous drunk performances, Joan Fontaine's restrained and subtle take deserves special praise.

When I was back home for the holidays, I had lunch with my Aunt, a genuine Cattlewoman and rancher, and I once more steered (GET IT) her onto the topic of Westerns she found appealing or "authentic." This round she once more came up with Shane (1953)-- which is one of the four or five Westerns everyone seems to know, despite it not being anything more than a programmer that got lucky with its pedigree behind the camera-- but this time added her admiration for Giant (1956), which in retrospect is understandable given its ranching focus (and my Aunt could probably hold her own with Mercedes McCambridge). Certainly it's one of the films of the 50s that gives you a lot of film for your ticket, but to my non-ranching eyes, it's all so damn high-pitched and tedious. But all of the above films are better than the unfortunate the Diary of Anne Frank (1959), a film which utterly misunderstands the appeal and power of the story of Anne Frank. By making it universal via sitcomy characterization and cheap emotional ploys, it misses the truly universal elements that resonate so hard for so long: the dread of discovery, the tedium of hiding, the human capacity to endure and adapt. In the face of those and other themes, why is Shelley Winters yelling about a fucking coat?


Still to come: Joseph Anthony, Frank Capra, Melvin Frank & Norman Panama, John Huston, Anthony Mann, Daniel Mann, Vincente Minnelli, Otto Preminger, Mark Robson, and Fred Zinnemann (among others)

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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#84 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Mar 02, 2012 7:34 pm

Caged is an excellent film, one which I remember first seeing in a double bill with Victim as part of a season of films about depictions of homosexuality in the cinema which tied in with a television screening of The Celluloid Closet! Along with Caged I would like to add in two other excellent women in prison, 'social issue' films from the 1950s that focus on capital punishment - I Want To Live!, and one of the best performances by Diana Dors in Yield To The Night (there's no official trailer for that on Youtube, but here is a music video utilising the most famous scene from the film!)

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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#85 Post by domino harvey » Fri Mar 02, 2012 8:02 pm

Yield to the Night is indeed fantastic, and one of the things I strongly remember about it is how many different ways the filmmakers came up with to frame and shoot Dors and visitors within one of the simplest sets imaginable: a cot in a bare prison cell. It's surprisingly virtuoso!

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puxzkkx
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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#86 Post by puxzkkx » Fri Mar 02, 2012 9:12 pm

I received Yield to the Night on DVD a couple weeks ago but haven't seen it yet - might see it tonight.

I'm wondering what people think about Fuller's The Crimson Kimono? It probably won't make my list although it has merits aplenty. James Shigeta (what a sexy voice), probably the first Asian-American 'movie star', is very good in a surprisingly mature and down-to-earth riff on the 'buddy cop' film with Glenn Corbett. The Japanese community of LA is depicted with a tactful curiosity by Fuller, and the score is fantastic, incorporating Japanese influences in a way that is effective but never gimmicky. Here Shigeta and Corbett find their longstanding working and personal relationship disrupted when they both fall for a witness to a crime, played by Victoria Shaw. Some great examples of Fuller's famous tracking shots here. Ahead of its time with regards to race and multiculturalism - not a single stereotype is indulged - with a final scene that is surprising and refreshing given its 1959 production.

After seeing that film curiosity led me to blind-buy Etienne Périer's Bridge to the Sun from the 60s starring Carroll Baker and James Shigeta as Gwen and Hidenari Terasaki, which is pretty bad but similarly sensitive to themes of race, culture and interracial relationships (Périer didn't do his research as rigorously as Fuller, though). James Shigeta didn't have much range but he has a charismatic intensity and a poetic quality that makes his work worth seeking out as more than just curios.

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

I can't say I enjoyed Ikiru although I was expecting to. And I disagree with Mr Sausage about this being a sensitive and mature depiction of death - Kurosawa's lack of perspective showed through in the film's storybook conception of dying. This is a film where minor characters cease to have lives as soon as it becomes inconvenient for the script to focus on more than one narrative strand at once (there are exceptions that are well done - the ambiguous motivations of Yunosuke Ito's novelist, Watanabe leaving a restaurant to the strains of someone else's birthday serenade, or the shift to Kimura's subjectivity at the end), and the incessant wipes divide up the narrative progression in a way that emphasises the mechanics of its drama - the effect is something like a sitcom where the punchlines are engineered to make you cry instead of laugh. The flashback-laden final third seems like a lazy way to cram more of these 'special moments' into a hollow narrative construct, and its overwrought lauding of Watanabe's - and Kurosawa's, and our own - moral triumph over the bureaucrats hits with a hammer's force. Takashi Shimura's performance is simple, deep and effective but Watanabe is written to be the nicest guy on Earth. He dissolves into symbolism long before the film is done.

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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#87 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Mar 03, 2012 6:57 am

When I was writing that post earlier I was also trying to remember the name of the earlier prison film which is much closer in theme to Caged also directed by J. Lee Thompson and starring Diana Dors amongst the ensemble cast. It is The Weak and the Wicked from 1954 - one of my impossible dreams is that some company would release Weak and the Wicked and Yield To The Night together as they would make an extremely impressive double bill.

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Tommaso
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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#88 Post by Tommaso » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:51 am

So, the first film I watched specifically for this round of listmaking was Mizoguchi's Madame Yuki , a film that seems to have garnered quite a lot of praise here and elsewhere. I have to confess I'm somewhat underwhelmed, or at least it was not quite what I expected from Mizuguchi. To me, the film felt very much like an American melodrama, complete with 'dramatic' music everywhere, and some really overdone dialogue lines. While the idea of a woman not able to leave her abusive husband because of her sexual obsession with him is interesting, perhaps even provocative for the time, I really wonder about the talk about "the devil that I have inside" or something to this effect. The acting is great, and so is Mizo's sense of space and the visuals in general, but I would say the same about practically every Mizoguchi film from that era. But as a whole, the film seems pretty minor Mizoguchi to me, and far too sensationalistic for my taste.

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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#89 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat Mar 03, 2012 3:03 pm

Tommaso --

Madam Yuki is definitely sensationalistic and melodramatic -- I guess the visual beauty and performances are enough (for me) to elevate this beyond the "minor" level. In any event, I find nothing in this that annoys me in the way that the underwhelming performance of the male lead in Sansho or the poorly executed would-be samurai subplot in Ugetsu do. ;~}

puxzkkx --

Your reaction to Ikiru is pretty close to identical to mine. In terms of dealing with this sort of story, Kurosawa simply doesn't meet the standard of his contemporaries who specialized in this sort of contemporary "non-adventure" film. And some of the performances are sub-standard (e.g. Miki Odagiri as the young female co-worker -- note, she does fine in the roles she played for other directors during this period). My sense was that, in this film, AK couldn't choose between being being hyper-sarcastic or hyper-melodramatic, so he did both -- and the combination doesn't work. (I ultimately decided I liked the film much more if I viewed it from the hyper-sarcastic perspective). I much prefer the generally looked-down-upon Scandal. I found this visually much more appealing -- and the mixture of somewhat over-done melodrama and comedy worked better because the film had an over-all lighter feel. I didn't feel like I was being pushed around emotionally nearly as much as with Ikiru.

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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#90 Post by puxzkkx » Sat Mar 03, 2012 5:55 pm

I've only seen Rashomon and High and Low from Kurosawa - so I don't know where I stand on him. I like (respect?) Rashomon's arresting style a lot, but even trying to approach it with the mindset of one of its contemporary viewers it strikes me as a bit gimmicky and neat. High and Low I think I prefer, its sociopolitical allegory is mapped out a bit too dryly, but it is very effective (if long, IIRC). I own Seven Samurai but its length has always put me off.

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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#91 Post by matrixschmatrix » Sat Mar 03, 2012 6:13 pm

The first couple of times I tried to watch Kurosawa movies, they didn't do much for me, but after seeing Yojimbo and Sanjuro I had a much better grasp on his sense of humor and the way his movies were structured, and I've enjoyed more or less all of the ones I've seen since. I found The Seven Samurai hard to follow and dull the first time I tried to watch it, and incredibly involving and exciting when I rewatched it after seeing the other two (though the upgrade from crappy DVD to blu ray probably helped there, too.)

Of his movies from the 50s, I own but haven't seen a bunch of them- Ikiru, The Lower Depths, The Hidden Fortress, and the three from the Eclipse set- but the ones I have seen are all hands down classics. Throne of Blood in particular is an absolutely amazing movie- I agree with Sausage's praise of it, and I'd add that it also subtly critiques Shakespeare's work, in that it implies that the idea of a 'rightful' monarch is meaningless, makes the Banquo figure more or less morally equivalent ot the Macbeth figure, and democratizes elements that had previously been left to Great Men. It has an incredibly striking sense of atmosphere, too, one that amongst the Shakespeare adaptations I've seen, only Welles' have manged, and it has an incredibly chilling performance in the Lady Macbeth figure.

I think I generally like Shakespeare adaptations more than a lot of the board- I was the only one who voted for Olivier's Henry V and I wouldn't be surprised if I'm one of the major proponents of his Richard III- but even outside the Shakespeare connections, Throne of Blood is one of the most engaging Kurosawa works I've seen.

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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#92 Post by Tommaso » Sat Mar 03, 2012 6:15 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote: I guess the visual beauty and performances are enough (for me) to elevate this beyond the "minor" level. In any event, I find nothing in this that annoys me in the way that the underwhelming performance of the male lead in Sansho or the poorly executed would-be samurai subplot in Ugetsu do. ;~}
I personally think I'm unable to even discern a bad performance in Japanese films, because I'd probably simply assume that my dislike comes from cultural difference. So I can't say much about the male lead in Sansho in this respect. But it's far from my favourite Mizo, too.

On the other hand, I do feel confident enough to discern a good performance, and as such I again was very pleased by Hideko Takamine in Kinoshita's Carmen's True Love, which I've just watched. But I'm pretty uncertain what to make of this film. I did love Carmen Comes Home, not least for its lightness, the great music and that Fujicolor. This sequel, in black and white, exchanges the lightness and fun for farcical grotesque and a general hysterical attitude which definitely got on my nerves in the first 30 minutes, but then the film slowly began to reveal the darker side behind its proceedings, and it may well be that this is a rather scathing portrait of Japanese post-war society behind the over-excited surface: the plight of women always in danger of falling into prostitution, or the still imminent fear of further nuclear attacks or rearmament. It's a bit like proto-Fellini in places, but still it feels somewhat 'forced'. And whatever gave Kinoshita the idea to use that tilted camera almost throughout the whole of the movie, it was quite certainly NOT a good idea...

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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#93 Post by knives » Sat Mar 03, 2012 6:16 pm

I think Seven Samurai handles its length the best of all of Kurosawa's films and in fact utilizes it as part of it's exploration, or more accurately mapping out, of the traditional narrative format. I prefer High and Low, which at times feels like a lost Preminger, but Seven Samurai is the better film without question.

Edit: As to Shakespeare adaptations I have to agree with Schrek that Olivier's Richard III is probably the worst Shakespeare adaptation I've seen which is all the more shocking since it's been adapted so well in so many different ways otherwise.

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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#94 Post by matrixschmatrix » Sat Mar 03, 2012 6:48 pm

Richard definitely isn't as cinematically inventive as Olivier's movies from the 40s, but I don't find the mise-en-scene poisonous or whatever Schreck's objections were, and the performances are absolutely goddamn delightful- and they feel like fully realized filmic performances, not stage ones that someone stuck a camera in front of. However over the top Olivier's Richard may be, it's also tremendously entertaining- as is Richardson's Buckingham- and it foregrounds the dark comedy aspects of the play in a way that works far better than the leaden seriousness of a lot of other adaptations.

Reading through the thread for the Criterion release, it looks like a lot of people found it to have dull spots, or to feel like an overly prestige concerned BBC mounting of the thing, but I don't think I could disagree with that more strongly- though it takes the material seriously enough to have Richard's bullying of the circle of power into murdering his enemies feel self consciously reminiscent of the fascist era (a theme the McKellan version obviously ran with), Richard's endless delight in his own villainy isn't something I would expect to see in an overly reverent version, and it makes the movie for me.

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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#95 Post by swo17 » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:10 pm

domino harvey wrote:The in-print Guys and Dolls and the one in the set is actually non-anamorphic, the anamorphic reissue (with the grey stencil cover ala West Side Story) IS OOP.
Is the anamorphic reissue worth picking up if I already have the original release? The top customer review on Amazon suggests that it looks no better than just zooming in on the older release, and is cropped to boot, though this review of the reissue is rather favorable.

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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#96 Post by domino harvey » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:16 pm

I only have the one in the Sinatra set, so I don't know, but I imagine it's high up on the list for future Blu-ray treatment

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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#97 Post by swo17 » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:41 pm

In any case, it looks like this answers my question. Hopefully a future Blu-ray release will avoid that cropped transfer--yikes.

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

Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#98 Post by knives » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:43 pm

The Desperate Hours
Holy smokes, sorry Detective Story, but Wyler's got an even better film. I'm not even sure where to begin with this breath taking home invasion story with all the meanness of Anthony Mann. I guess I'll start with the first thing I picked up on, the use of the frame. This movie is absolutely suffocating and for probably the first time ever I was begging the film to open up to academy so as to breath free of this claustrophobia. The aspect ratio here is used as well as humanly possible to just build up tension and turn the audience with March who gives one of his best performances. The age and stress on his face is so perfect with the scene early on when he tries to comfort his son being the best moment of the whole film. That's not to say that Bogart doesn't do what he does best and boy does he ever. I could see why the age thing would bug some people, but it only makes him fit the title better. I could easily see him as someone who has spent too much time in the clink and is a little mad from it.

On the Riviera
This one's not so perfect though. I don't know why I think I like Walter Lang so much when his films are always such big disappointments. This no stakes Prisoner of Zenda is okay, but doesn't reach any further than Danny Kay's charm which thankfully is pretty extensive. Tierney's wasted, but does an alright job with everyone else soon forgotten. There are worse films out there, but more importantly there are better films out there too.

Umberto D.
I'll admit the faux pas of not being a fan of De Sica as director and even less so when he's not working with children, but this film manages to live up to it's reputation for the most part. I actually found the lead much more sympathetic than most admit to though this might just be a case of De Sica more sentimental side melding perfectly with a prickly protagonist. The relationship with the dog didn't hurt either in painting him under a reasonably complex light either.

Moby Dick
I'm a bit struck by this one even a few days later. This movie manages to take all the best parts of the novel and trim down the fat into a thoroughly cinematic vision to such a degree that I think it may actually top the novel. Hell the efforts of Bradbury and Huston are so strong that the utter miscasting of Peck doesn't even hurt the film (though I'd be more willing to call this Huston's masterpiece if he was Ahab instead). This film manages to be more frightening than most horror films I've ever seen especially in a tour de force cameo by Orson Welles that breathes wind onto the wood. speaking of wood the film has this gorgeous brown look like it was carved out of wood like those old illustrations you'd find in the Alice books. Another of the perfect translations to the screen is Royal Dano's Elijah. I'm sure I've seen him somewhere else, but even if I haven't this terrifying appearance is enough to sear him onto my brain forever. I just don't see how anyone would try this story again after this masterpiece.

Also if anyone can find it subtitled I'd love to see Alea's Esta Tierra Nuestra.

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domino harvey
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Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#99 Post by domino harvey » Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:13 pm

I have a proposal.

During the Western List Project, I was conversing with zedz about Ray's the True Story of Jesse James and he singled out Hope Lange's performance and even though I'd seen the film and hated it, several years had passed and I did not even remember that she was in the film. And it occurred to me, even though Ray is someone I hold very highly and take seriously, I'd dismissed this film so thoroughly that it'd almost completely slipped from my memory. This happens to all of us, of course-- when you see 500, 600, 700 movies a year, there's often not a lot of room in your mind for more than your immediate quality response and a few relevant details. But I've seen a lot of films in the interim. Would this, or any other disappointing film from an otherwise revered director, remain a failure when looked at again after the fact?

So I guess I'm proposing a "fun" tangent exercise for those participating (and those not, I guess!) to revisit any disliked film by a favorite director from this decade, reexamine it, and give an honest appraisal in this thread of its current value, looking at past objections and placing it within present expectations and realizations. This isn't going to yield much success if you just saw it a few months ago, but the longer the span between viewings, the more insight I think such behavior can accrue. Anyone interested in participating?

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tarpilot
Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:48 am

Re: 1950s List Discussion and Suggestions

#100 Post by tarpilot » Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:30 pm

Sure, sounds fun. No better time to re-examine Son of Paleface!

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