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1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

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1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Dom Dic 28, 2008 3:10 am

1001 films you must see before you die
Part V: 1945-1949




174
The battle of San Pietro (John Huston, 1945)




The Battle of San Pietro is a 1945 documentary film directed by John Huston about the Battle of San Pietro Infine during World War II.
The film is unflinching in its realism (showing people dying on the field) and was held up from being shown to the public by the United States Army. Huston quickly became unpopular with the Army, not only for the film but also for his response to the accusation that the film was anti-war. Huston responded that if he ever made a pro-war film, he should be shot.
General George Marshall came to the film's defense, stating that because of the film's gritty realism, it would make a good training film; subsequently the film was used for that purpose. Huston was no longer considered a pariah; he was decorated and made an honorary major.


Watch The Battle of San Pietro (1945) in Entertainment Videos  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com


Última edición por JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 10:12 pm, editado 2 veces

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Dom Dic 28, 2008 3:59 am

175
Spellbound (Alfred Hitchcock, 1945)




Alfred Hitchcock takes on Sigmund Freud in this thriller in which psychologist Ingrid Bergman tries to solve a murder by unlocking the clues hidden in the mind of amnesiac suspect Gregory Peck. Among the highlights is a bizarre dream sequence seemingly designed by Salvador Dali--complete with huge eyeballs and pointy scissors. Although the film is in black and white, the original release contained one subliminal blood-red frame, appearing when a gun pointed directly at the camera goes off. Spellbound is one of Hitchcock's strangest and most atmospheric films, providing the director with plenty of opportunities to explore what he called "pure cinema"--i.e., the power of pure visual associations. Miklós Rózsa's haunting score (which features a creepy theremin) won an Oscar, and the movie was nominated for best picture, director, supporting actor (Michael Chekhov), cinematography, and special visual effects.



Última edición por JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 1:06 am, editado 1 vez

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Dom Dic 28, 2008 1:29 pm

176
Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz, 1945)




For a full dose of pure, unfiltered Joan Crawford, look no further than this slab of scorching film noir. Crawford is in her element as the heroine of James M. Cain's pulp-fiction classic, a ditched wife and mother who is forced to become a waitress. On the strength of Crawford's steely willpower (and maybe those intimidating wide-wing shoulder pads), she constructs an empire of eateries, only to be disappointed by her rotten daughter (Ann Blyth) and a ferret-faced new husband (Zachary Scott). Director Michael Curtiz (Casablanca) whips up a storm of atmosphere, and the script is a series of tartly written exchanges. The best lines go to perennial wisecracker Eve Arden, as Crawford's acid-tongued pal--she earned her only Oscar nomination for the role. Commenting on the ungrateful daughter, Arden says, "Alligators have the right idea. They eat their young." Crawford herself took home the best actress Oscar, and the film was a triumphant personal comeback: her longtime studio MGM had released her from her contract before Mildred Pierce came along. Is this great acting? (Pauline Kael called it "heavy breathing.") Whatever Joan Crawford is doing in this movie, it's movie presence at its most formidable.



Última edición por JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 1:54 am, editado 1 vez

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Dom Dic 28, 2008 5:20 pm

177
Les enfants du paradis (Children of paradise)
(Marcel Carné, 1945)




A tragic French epic considered a classic romantic film, Children of Paradise takes as its setting a theater troupe in Paris during the 19th century, but was actually filmed during the last years of World War II. In the troupe, a mime (Jean-Louis Barrault) falls in love with an actress in the company, but must vie for her affections with others, including a thief, an actor, and an influential count. When the actress is accused of theft, the mime exonerates her with a bravura performance for the prefect. Eventually, though, the actress must flee Paris under protection of the count after being mixed up in a crime with the thief, leaving the smitten mime heartbroken. In the intervening years, both become involved with others, the actress with the count and the mime with the daughter of the theater owner, eventually having a child. Both couples are unhappy, and although the mime rises above the poverty-stricken neighborhood where he has honed his trade and becomes wildly successful, he still pines away for the love of his life. Eventually the two lovers are meant to meet again, but their storybook ending may yet elude them. The film boasts a picaresque squalor drawn from the time in which it was set, highlighting the tenacious romance at its core. Children of Paradise has a melancholy feeling both authentic and immediate, a romance with moments of pure magic.



Última edición por JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 12:03 pm, editado 1 vez

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Dom Dic 28, 2008 7:11 pm

178
Roma cittá aperta (Open city) (Roberto Rossellini, 1945)




The Allies had barely driven the Nazis out of Rome when Roberto Rosselini went to work on Open City, considered by most to be his greatest work. Shot on bits and short ends of scavenged film, this film helped define Italian neorealism. Audiences were convinced that the actors were all amateurs (they weren't) and the whole film was improvised (it wasn't; the three screenwriters included Federico Fellini). With its semidocumentary camera style and use of actual locations, the film does feel very real. Of course, so does the opening half-hour of Saving Private Ryan, and like that film Open City is at its heart a classic war yarn any Hollywood studio would feel at home with. The story involves members of the Italian underground trying to smuggle badly needed cash out of Nazi-occupied Rome to partisan fighters in the mountains, while the Nazis are hunting down one of the underground, a notorious freedom fighter and seditionist. Anna Magnani (an actor well established in her own country who became an international star with this film) is often singled out for her portrayal as the pregnant, unwed woman who gets caught up in the action on her wedding day, but the entire cast is topnotch. The sparse subtitles are both a blessing and a curse--there is less to read, which allows the viewer to concentrate on the visuals, but there are times when non-Italian-speakers will feel like they're missing out on some juicy dialogue.



Última edición por JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 5:49 pm, editado 1 vez

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Miér Dic 31, 2008 1:33 pm

179
The lost weekend (Billy Wilder, 1945)




"I'm not a drinker--I'm a drunk." These words, and the serious message behind them, were still potent enough in 1945 to shock audiences flocking to The Lost Weekend. The speaker is Don Birnam (Ray Milland), a handsome, talented, articulate alcoholic. The writing team of producer Charles Brackett and director Billy Wilder pull no punches in their depiction of Birnam's massive weekend bender, a tailspin that finds him reeling from his favorite watering hole to Bellevue Hospital. Location shooting in New York helps the street-level atmosphere, especially a sequence in which Birnam, a budding writer, tries to hock his typewriter for booze money. He desperately staggers past shuttered storefronts--it's Yom Kippur, and the pawnshops are closed. Milland, previously known as a lightweight leading man (he'd starred in Wilder's hilarious The Major and the Minor three years earlier), burrows convincingly under the skin of the character, whether waxing poetic about the escape of drinking or screaming his lungs out in the D.T.'s sequence. Wilder, having just made the ultra-noir Double Indemnity, brought a new kind of frankness and darkness to Hollywood's treatment of a social problem. At first the film may have seemed too bold; Paramount Pictures nearly killed the release of the picture after it tested poorly with preview audiences. But once in release, The Lost Weekend became a substantial hit, and won four Oscars: for picture, director, screenplay, and actor.



Última edición por JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 8:55 pm, editado 2 veces

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Miér Dic 31, 2008 1:40 pm

180
Detour (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1945)




Detour (1945) is a film noir cult classic that stars Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Claudia Drake, and Edmund MacDonald. The movie was adapted by Martin Goldsmith and Martin Mooney (uncredited) from Goldsmith's novel, and was directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. The 68-minute film was released by the Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC), one of the so-called "poverty row" film studios.
Although made on a small budget and containing only rudimentary sets and camera work, the film has garnered substantial praise through the years and is held in high regard.
A piano player, Al (Tom Neal), sets off hitchhiking his way to California to be with his fiancee. Along the way, a stranger in a convertible gives him a ride. While driving, Al stops to put the top up during a rainstorm. He discovers that the owner of the car has died in his sleep. Al panics and dumps the body in a gully, takes the stranger's money, clothes, and ID and then drives off in his expensive car. After spending the night in a motel, he picks up another hitchhiker, Vera (Ann Savage) (a femme fatale), who had earlier ridden with the stranger, threatens to turn him in for murdering the stranger unless he gives her all the money. In Hollywood, they rent an apartment and while trying to sell the car, learn from a newspaper that the stranger was about to collect a large inheritance. Vera demands that Al impersonate the stranger, but Al balks at this notion. When the two get drunk in the apartment and begin arguing, a snubbed Vera takes Al up on his earlier dare to call the police, whereupon Al accidentally strangles her with a telephone cord. Al starts hitchhiking east again, but is apprehended by the police near Reno.



Última edición por JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 10:10 pm, editado 2 veces

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Vie Oct 23, 2009 11:15 pm

181
I know where I'm going (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1945)


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Assured, headstrong Joan Webster (Wendy Hiller) knows exactly what she wants and how to get it, until she's stranded in a rough, windswept Scottish village--in sight but out of reach of an island where a rich fiancée, a lavish wedding, and a loveless marriage await. While a raging storm prevents her crossing, a quiet, modest, and penniless Scottish laird named Torquil (Roger Livesey) slowly wins her cheerfully mercenary heart and upsets her carefully arranged plans with messy emotions. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's much-loved romantic drama is a handsome work full of vivid, offbeat characters (Pamela Brown is especially striking as an earthy villager always accompanied by a pack of bloodhounds) living in a world that's part tradition and part myth. Villagers work and celebrate with the simple spirit of common folk ("We're not poor, we just haven't any money," Torquil admonishes the materialist Joan). Powell brings his lively manner and bold visual invention to the creation of his beautiful but harsh primal paradise, culminating in the awesome spectacle of a massive whirlpool that could be the work of the "legend of Corryvreckan" or the stormy embodiment of Joan's hysterical heart. Awash in mystic power of ancient castles and chanted legends, I Know Where I'm Going is one of the most romantic visions of Britain's most magical director.


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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Vie Oct 23, 2009 11:39 pm

182
The best years of our lives (William Wyler, 1946)




Winner of seven Academy Awards, including best picture, director, actor, and screenplay, William Wyler's brilliant drama about domestic life after World War II remains one of the all-time classics of American cinema. Inspired by a pictorial article about returning soldiers in Life magazine, the story focuses on three war veterans (Fredric March, Dana Andrews, and Harold Russell in unforgettable roles) and their rocky readjustment to civilian life in their Midwestern town of Boone City. Capturing the contradictory moods of America in the mid to late 1940s, this three-hour drama spans a complex range of honest emotions, from joyous celebration and happy reunion to deep-rooted ambivalence and reassessment of personal priorities. A movie milestone when released in 1946, The Best Years of Our Lives still packs a punch with powerful, timeless themes.


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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Vie Oct 23, 2009 11:48 pm

183
Brief encounter (David Lean, 1946)




To many, Brief Encounter may seem like a relic of more proper times--or, specifically, more properly British times--when the pressures of marital decorum and fidelity were perhaps more keenly felt. In truth, David Lean's fourth film remains a timeless study of true love (or, rather, the promise of it), and the aching desire for intimate connection that is often subdued by the obligations of marriage. And so it is that ordinary Londoners Alec (Trevor Howard), a married doctor, and contented housewife Laura (Celia Johnson) meet by chance one day in a train station, when he volunteers to remove a fleck of ash from her eye (a romantic gesture that, perhaps, inspired Robert Towne's "flaw in the iris" scene in Chinatown).
It so happens that their schedules coincide at the train station every Thursday, and their casual attraction grows, through quiet conversation and longing expressions, into the desperate recognition of mutual love. From this point forward, Lean turns this utterly precise, 85-minute film into a bracing study of romantic suspense, leading inevitably, and with the paranoid, furtive glances of a spy thriller, to the moment when this brief encounter must be consummated or abandoned altogether. Decades later, the outcome of this affair--both agonizing and rapturous--is subtle and yet powerful enough to draw tears from the numbest of souls, and spark debate regarding the tragedy or virtue of the choices made. A truly universal film, with meticulously controlled emotions revealed through the flawless performances of Howard and Johnson, and an enduring masterpiece that continued Lean on his course to cinematic greatness.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Vie Oct 23, 2009 11:52 pm

184
Paisa (Paisan) (Roberto Rossellini, 1946)




Paisà is a 1946 Italian film directed by Roberto Rossellini. It is divided into six episodes. They depict the Italian Campaign during World War II when Germany was losing the Second World War against the Allies, using themes such as the difficulty of communication between people who do not speak the same language, and how, at some point of their struggle for a conversation, they manage to understand each other.


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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 12:07 am

185
The postman always rings twice (Tay Garnett, 1946)




Even under the heavy censorship of 1946 Hollywood, Lana Turner and John Garfield's libidinous desires burn up the screen in Tay Garnett's adaptation of James M. Cain's torrid crime melodrama. Platinum blond Turner is Cora, a restless sexpot stuck in a roadside diner married to mundane middle-aged fry cook Nick Smith (Cecil Kellaway) when handsome drifter Frank (Garfield) blows her way. It's lust at first sight, a rapacious desire that neither can break off, and before long they're plotting his demise--but in the wicked world of Cain nothing is that easy. Garnett's visual approach is subdued compared to the more expressionistic film noir of the period, but he's at no loss when he films the luminous Turner in her milky-white wardrobe. She radiates repressed sexuality and uncontrollable passion while Garfield's smart-talking loner Frank mixes street-smart swagger and scrappy toughness with vulnerability and sincere intensity. Costar Hume Cronyn cuts a cold, calculating figure as their conniving lawyer, a chilly character that only increases our feelings for the murderous couple, victims of an all consuming amour fou that drives their passions to extremes.


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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 12:14 am


186
My darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)




The most famous and sublime treatment of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, John Ford's My Darling Clementine is by any measure one of the most classically perfect Westerns ever made. Henry Fonda plays a hard, serious Wyatt Earp leading a cattle drive west with his brothers when a stopover in the wild town of Tombstone ends in the murder of his youngest brother. Wyatt takes up the badge he had turned down earlier and tames the wide-open town with his brothers (Ward Bond and Tim Holt), all the while waiting for the wild Clantons (led by Walter Brennan's ruthless Old Man Clanton) to make a mistake. Victor Mature delivers perhaps his finest performance as the tubercular gambler Doc Holliday, an alcoholic Eastern doctor escaping civilization in the Wild West. Ford takes great liberties with history, bending the story to fit his ideal of the West, a balance of social law and pioneer spirit. Though the film reaches its climax in the legendary gunfight between the Earps (with Doc Holliday) and the Clantons, the most powerful moment is the moving Sunday morning church social played out on the floor of the unfinished church. As Earp dances with Clementine (Cathy Downs)--Fonda's stiff, self-conscious movements showing a man unaccustomed to such social interaction--Ford's camera frames them against the open sky: the town and the wilderness merge into the new Eden of the West for a brief moment.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 12:20 am

187
The stranger (Orson Welles, 1946)




The legendary story that hovers over Orson Welles's The Stranger is that he wanted Agnes Moorehead to star as the dogged Nazi hunter who trails a war criminal to a sleepy New England town. The part went to E.G. Robinson, who is marvelous, but it points out how many compromises Welles made on the film in an attempt to show Hollywood he could make a film on time, on budget, and on their own terms. He accomplished all three, turning out a stylish if unambitious film noir thriller, his only Hollywood film to turn a profit on its original release. Welles stars as unreformed fascist Franz Kindler, hiding as a schoolteacher in a New England prep school for boys and newly married to the headmaster's lovely if naive daughter (Loretta Young). Welles the director is in fine form for the opening sequences, casting a moody tension as agents shadow a twitchy low-level Nazi official skulking through South American ports and building up to dramatic crescendo as Kindler murders this little man, the lovely woods becoming a maelstrom of swirling leaves that expose the body he furiously tries to bury. The rest of film is a well-designed but conventional cat-and-mouse game featuring an eye-rolling performance by Welles and a thrilling conclusion played out in the dark clock tower that looms over the little village.

<a href="http://www.joost.com/05900k3/t/Orson-Welles-The-Stranger">Orson Welles: The Stranger</a>

JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 12:55 am

188
La belle et la bête (Beauty and the Beast) (Jean Cocteau, 1946)




This is definitely not the Disney version. While it remains faithful to the plot of the classic fairy tale by Leprince de Beaumont, Jean Cocteau's 1946 French romantic fantasy is the product of a sophisticated, mature sensibility in its tones and textures and, above all, in its surprising emotional power. With sparkling black-and-white imagery that, for once, is actually dreamlike rather than cute or kitschy, and with a Beast (Jean Marais) who is almost as glamorous with his silky blonde facial hair as he is clean shaven, the movie casts a seductive spell. It might actually be a little too rich and unsettling for kids. Even the costumes and the draperies are entrancingly ornate. Viewers intoxicated by this enveloping vision should consider moving on to Cocteau's even more aggressively other-worldly 1949 masterpiece Orpheus, in which Marais plays the doomed poet of ancient Greek legend, updated to a Parisian "punk" milieu of motorcycles and black leather.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 12:59 am

189
The big sleep (Howard Hawks, 1946)




Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall made screen history together more than once, but they were never more popular than in this 1946 adaptation of Raymond Chandler's novel, directed by Howard Hawks (To Have and Have Not). Bogart plays private eye Philip Marlowe, who is hired by a wealthy socialite (Bacall) to look into troubles stirred up by her wild, young sister (Martha Vickers). Legendarily complicated (so much so that even Chandler had trouble following the plot), the film is nonetheless hugely entertaining and atmospheric, an electrifying plunge into the exotica of detective fiction. William Faulkner wrote the screenplay.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 1:10 am

190
The killers (Robert Siodmak, 1946)




The Killers (1946) is an American film noir about the investigation of a mob murder. It is based in part on the short story of the same name by Ernest Hemingway. The film was directed by Robert Siodmak and features Burt Lancaster in his screen debut, as well as Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien, Sam Levene, among others. An uncredited John Huston co-wrote the screenplay.
The story is about two hit men assigned to find and kill a man, Ole Anderson aka "the Swede" (Burt Lancaster), at a small-town diner. Impatient for his arrival, they kill him instead at a boarding house where, resigned to his fate, he awaits their arrival.
Because Anderson's life was insured, Investigator Jim Reardon (Edmund O'Brien) is assigned to look into the murder for his company. Interviewing several people from Anderson's past, Reardon develops the theory that Anderson's murder stemmed from an unsolved payroll robbery years earlier.


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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 1:14 am

191
A matter of life and death (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1946)




A Matter of Life and Death (1946) is a film by the British writer-director-producer team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. The film was originally released in U.S. under the title Stairway to Heaven, which was derived from the film's most prominent special effect: a broad escalator linking the other world and Earth. Reversing the convention of The Wizard of Oz, the supernatural scenes are in black-and-white, while the ones on Earth are in Technicolor.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 1:19 am

192
Great expectations (David Lean, 1946)




David Lean's handsome adaptation of Charles Dickens's classic novel captures the warm humor and richness of character that so many filmmakers miss in their reverent recreations of Victorian England. From the nightmarish opening sequence on the windswept graveyard where young orphan Pip (Anthony Wager) meets the desperate escaped criminal Magwitch (Finlay Currie) to the shadowy, musty mansion of the widow Miss Haversham (Martita Hunt) where he first meets the impertinent young beauty Estella (Jean Simmons), Lean captures a childlike exaggeration of reality with his elegant expressionism. When Pip's sudden change in fortune sends him to London as a burgeoning gentleman in high society, Lean sketches a beautiful, bustling city. John Mills's performance as the adult Pip charts his change from the wide-eyed wonder and generous spirit of the child he was to the class snob transformed by money and social standing, an ugly flaw that Pip confronts when his mysterious benefactor is finally revealed. The outstanding cast also features Valerie Hobson as the grown-up Estella, now a beguiling enchantress, a bright young Alec Guinness in his film debut as Pip's jovial London roommate Herbert Pocket, and the imposing Francis L. Sullivan as the decidedly humorless lawyer Jaggers. Exquisitely photographed by Guy Green (who won an Oscar for his work). Lean and his collaborators effectively maintain the heart of Dickens's epic drama while cutting it to its essentials in this vivid, compelling film.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 1:22 am

193
Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946)




One of Alfred Hitchcock's classics, this romantic thriller features a cast to kill for: Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, and Claude Rains. Bergman plays the daughter of a disgraced father who is recruited by American agents to infiltrate a post-World War II spy ring in Brazil. Her control agent is Grant, who treats her with disdain while developing a deep romantic bond with her. Her assignment: to marry the suspected head of the ring (Rains) and get the goods on everyone involved. Danger, deceit, betrayal--and, yes, romance--all come together in a nearly perfect blend as the film builds to a terrific (and surprising) climax. Grant and Bergman rarely have been better.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 1:28 am

194
Black Narcissus (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1947)




Appropriately enough for a picture named for a flower, Black Narcissus exists in a color-drenched, hothouse atmosphere. The setting is a nunnery in the Himalayas, where sister Deborah Kerr has her hands full with an envious nun (the remarkable Kathleen Byron) and a sardonic Englishman (David Farrar). Director Michael Powell and screenwriter Emeric Pressburger, the team responsible for the mid-forties masterpieces A Stairway to Heaven and The Red Shoes, decided to shoot Black Narcissus entirely in the studio, so they could create their own controlled, slightly unreal world. The choice paid off, as both art director Alfred Junge and cinematographer Jack Cardiff won Oscars for their blazing Technicolor work. The climactic sequence--a murder attempt on the cliffs of the cloister--bears special attention, as Powell "set" the sequence to a preexisting musical track, staging it as though it were a piece of visual choreography. Adding a bit of behind-the-scenes tension to the production was the fact that Kerr was the director's ex-mistress, and Byron his current one. "It was a situation not uncommon in show business, I was told," he later wrote, "but it was new to me."


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 1:38 am

195
It's a wonderful life (Frank Capra, 1947)




Now perhaps the most beloved American film, It's a Wonderful Life was largely forgotten for years, due to a copyright quirk. Only in the late 1970s did it find its audience through repeated TV showings. Frank Capra's masterwork deserves its status as a feel-good communal event, but it is also one of the most fascinating films in the American cinema, a multilayered work of Dickensian density. George Bailey (played superbly by James Stewart) grows up in the small town of Bedford Falls, dreaming dreams of adventure and travel, but circumstances conspire to keep him enslaved to his home turf. Frustrated by his life, and haunted by an impending scandal, George prepares to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. A heavenly messenger (Henry Travers) arrives to show him a vision: what the world would have been like if George had never been born. The sequence is a vivid depiction of the American Dream gone bad, and probably the wildest thing Capra ever shot (the director's optimistic vision may have darkened during his experiences making military films in World War II). Capra's triumph is to acknowledge the difficulties and disappointments of life, while affirming--in the teary-eyed final reel--his cherished values of friendship and individual achievement. It's a Wonderful Life was not a big hit on its initial release, and it won no Oscars (Capra and Stewart were nominated); but it continues to weave a special magic.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 1:40 am

196
Gilda (Charles Vidor, 1946)




All film noirs need deceit, betrayal, dialogue hard as diamonds--and dames even harder than that. But Gilda is the only one with the dame front and center, and for good reason. Rita Hayworth shimmers in the 1946 classic, which spins on a tortured plot involving the title character (Hayworth); her imperious husband (George Macready), a ruthless casino owner and head of an Argentine tungsten cartel (!); and Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford), Gilda's ex-lover and now her husband's go-fer. But no one watches Gilda for the plot, except to learn that all the characters have secrets--perhaps even ones they would kill for. Hayworth captures Gilda's vulnerability beneath her devil-may-care front ("If I'd been a ranch, they would have named me the Bar Nothing"). Not to be missed: Hayworth's slinky striptease to "Put the Blame on Mame."


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 1:45 am

197
Monsieur Verdoux (Charles Chaplin, 1947)




This blistering little black comedy was well ahead of its time when released in 1947. Originally, Orson Welles had wanted Chaplin to star in his drama about a French mass murderer named Landru, but Chaplin was hesitant to act for another director, and used the idea himself. He plays a dapper gent named Henri Verdoux (who assumes a number of identities), a civilized monster who marries wealthy women, then murders them (as we meet him, he's gathering roses as an incinerator ominously bellows smoke in the background) and collects their money to support his real family. The Little Tramp is now a distant memory, though this was the first film not to feature Chaplin's beloved creation. Verdoux is largely viciously clever until it gets too heavy-handed, as evidenced when a woman he spares returns years later as the mistress of a munitions manufacturer. Ultimately, Chaplin breaks character (much as he did in The Great Dictator) to preach to the masses, declaring that against the machines of war that grip the planet, humble killer Verdoux is "an amateur by comparison."


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

Mensaje  JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 2:03 am

198
Out of the past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947)




"Build my gallows high, baby"--just one of the quintessentially noir sentiments expressed by Robert Mitchum in this classic of the genre. Mitchum, in absolute prime, sleepy-eyed form, relates a complicated flashback about getting hired by gangster Kirk Douglas to find femme fatale Jane Greer. The chain of film noir elements--love, money, lies--drags Mitchum into the lower depths. Director Jacques Tourneur gets the edgy negotiations between men and women as exactly right as he gets the inky shadows of the noir landscape (even the sunlit exteriors are fraught with doubt). This is Mitchum in excelsis, with his usual laid-back cool laced with great dialogue and tragic foreshadowing. As for his co-star, James Agee immortally opined that Jane Greer "can best be described, in an ancient idiom, as a hot number." Remade in 1984, unhappily, as Against All Odds (with Greer in a supporting role).


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part V: 1945-1949

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