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

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

Mensaje  JM el Sáb Oct 24, 2009 2:07 am

199
The ghost and Mrs. Muir (Joseph L. Makiewicz, 1947)




Joseph Mankiewicz's moody classic is less ghost story than romantic fantasy, a handsome 1947 drama of impossible love set on the picturesque turn-of-the-century New England coast. Independent young widow Lucy Muir (the luminous Gene Tierney), desperate to escape her uptight in-laws, falls in love with a grand seaside house and moves in, only to discover the cantankerous ghost of the hot-tempered Captain Gregg (a histrionically flamboyant performance by Rex Harrison). Lucy refuses to let the bombastic captain frighten her away, earning his respect, his friendship, and later his love. They team up to turn the captain's salty memoirs into a bestseller, but as his affection grows he fades away, leaving Lucy free to undertake a more worldly suitor, notably a charismatic children's author (George Sanders at his smarmy smoothest) with his own guarded secret. Charles Lang's melancholy black-and-white photography and Bernard Herrmann's haunting score set the tone for this sublime adult drama, and Tierney delivers one of her most understated performances as the resolute Mrs. Muir. Mankiewicz turns this ghost story into a refreshingly mature and down-to-earth romance.


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 2:12 am

200
Odd man out (Carol Reed, 1947)




Film noir is a term usually associated with American films of the 1940s and 1950s, but this British classic from 1947 fits the definition in almost every respect. It's one of the milestone films of its era, highlighted by what is arguably the best performance in the illustrious career of James Mason, here playing the leader of an underground Irish rebel organization who is seriously wounded when a payroll heist goes sour. Left for dead by his accomplices on the streets of Belfast, he's forced to hide wherever he can find shelter and refuge, and as his gunshot wound gradually drains his life away, his lover (Kathleen Ryan) struggles to locate him before it's too late. Although the IRA and Belfast are never mentioned by name, this film was a daring and morally complex examination of Northern Ireland's "troubles," and its compelling tragedy hasn't lost any of its impact. A study of conscience in crisis and the bitter aftermath of terrorism, this was one of the first films to address IRA activities on intimately human terms. Political potency is there for those who seek it, but the film is equally invigorating as a riveting story of a tragic figure on the run from the law, forced to confront the wrath of his own beliefs in the last hours of his life. It was this brilliant, unforgettable film that established the directorial prowess of Carol Reed, whose next two films (The Fallen Idol and The Third Man) were equally extraordinary.


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 2:16 am

201
Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle thieves) (Vittorio De Sica, 1948)




Vittorio De Sica's remarkable 1947 drama of desperation and survival in Italy's devastating post-war depression earned a special Oscar for its affecting power. Shot in the streets and alleys of Rome, De Sica uses the real-life environment of contemporary life to frame his moving drama of a desperate father whose new job delivering cinema posters is threatened when a street thief steals his bicycle. Too poor to buy another, he and his son take to the streets in an impossible search for his bike. Cast with nonactors and filled with the real street life of Rome, this landmark film helped define the Italian neorealist approach with its mix of real life details, poetic imagery, and warm sentimentality. De Sica uses the wandering pair to witness the lives of everyday folks, but ultimately he paints a quiet, poignant portrait of father and son, played by nonprofessionals Lamberto Maggiorani and Enzo Staiola, whose understated performances carry the heart of the film. De Sica and scenarist Cesare Zavattini also collaborated on Shoeshine, Miracle in Milan, and Umberto D, all classics in the neorealist vein, but none of which approach the simple poetry and quiet power achieved in The Bicycle Thief.


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 2:18 am

202
Letter from an unknown woman (Max Ophuls, 1948)




"By the time you read this letter, I may be dead," reads aging bon vivant Louis Jourdan from a letter found in his tiny hotel room. With tousled hair and a tux tired from yet another night of meaningless flirtation, he's startled by these opening lines and suspends his preparations to flee a duel in order to read the history of a love affair that he can't remember. For the rest of the film we're transported to the life of Joan Fontaine's awkward young Viennese woman, who has been hopelessly enthralled by the dashing pianist ever since adolescence. For a moment she was his lover, the emotional pinnacle of her life but for the philandering rogue simply another fling in a blur of women passing through his bedroom. This was Max Ophüls's first personal project in Hollywood, and he injects this exquisitely stylish romantic melodrama (based on a novel by Stefan Zweig) with his continental sensibility. Both lush and restrained, the endlessly moving camera tracks, cranes, and circles around the characters while maintaining a measured distance. Fontaine delivers one of the best performances of her career, vulnerable and yearning without lapsing into sentimentality--and ultimately showing a hidden strength as she risks all for one more moment with the love of her life. Jourdan is genial and callow, an empty figure faced with the meaningless of his life and shamed with self-discovery. It's a sensibility more European than American, right down the empty gesture that concludes this sad melodrama.


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 11:54 am

203
Secret beyond the door (Fritz Lang, 1948)




Secret Beyond the Door... (1948) is a psychological thriller and modern updating of the Bluebeard fairytale, directed by Fritz Lang, produced by Lang's Diana Productions, and released by Universal Pictures. The black-and-white film noir drama is about a woman who suspects her new husband, an architect, plans to kill her.


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 11:57 am

204
Force of evil (Abraham Polonsky, 1948)




Based on an obscure crime novel titled Tucker's People, Abraham Polonsky's Force of Evil has attained classic status since its release in 1948, when film noir was thriving on the fringes of the Hollywood studio system, where the shadowy attributes of noir were allowed their fullest expression. Which is to say, this gritty drama is drenched in greed, cynicism, and corruption of the soul, as embodied by John Garfield in one of his most memorable roles. He's perfectly cast as Joe Morse, a lawyer whose connection to a ruthless racketeer has nearly destroyed his sense of morality. His participation in a rigged numbers racket could prove disastrous for his high-strung older brother (superbly played by Thomas Gomez), whose small-time policy bank stands to go broke when the rigged numbers pay off--a financial windfall for Joe's powerful boss at everyone else's expense.
Joe's corruption is tempered only by remnants of guilt and his redeeming attraction to Edna (Marie Windsor), his brother's secretary, whose common decency gnaws at Joe's rotten conscience. But before Joe can rise from his self-made hell, Force of Evil takes him to the darkest pit of tragic humanity--a downward spiral perfectly expressed through George Barnes's exquisitely stark cinematography. In style and substance, this is quintessential noir, its plot unfolding with uncompromising toughness and intelligence. More's the pity, then, that director Polonsky was later victimized by the Hollywood blacklist, curtailing a promising career for two decades until Polonsky directed Robert Redford in 1969's Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here. It seems only fitting, then, that Polonsky's remarkable debut is now recognized as one of the finest dramas of its kind.


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 11:59 am

205
Xiǎochéng zhī chūn (Spring in a small town) (Fei Mu, 1948)




Spring in a Small Town (Xiǎochéng zhī chūn) was a Chinese film released in 1948 and directed by Fei Mu. The film was based on a short story by Li Tianji and was produced by the Wenhua Film Company.
Though its reputation suffered after 1949 in the mainland after the Communist revolution, within the last 20 years it had become known as one of the greatest Chinese films ever made.
Taking place in a ruined family compound after the war, the film tells the story of the once prosperous Dai family. The husband and patriarch, Dai Liyan (Shi Yu) is an invalid, and spends his days in the courtyard nostalgic for the past. His marriage to Zhou Yuwen (Wei Wei) has long been rendered loveless, though both still feel concern for the other. Liyan's young teenage sister Dai Xiu (Zhang Hongmei), meanwhile, is too young to remember the past, and stays cheerful and playful in the ruins of her home.
Into this dreary but unchanging existence comes Liyan's childhood friend Zhang Zhichen (Li Wei), a doctor from Shanghai and a former flame of Zhou Yuwen before she ever met her husband. The rest of the film details Zhou Yuwen's conflicting emotions between her love for Zhang, and her loyalty to her husband and his family.


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 3:42 pm

206
Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)




Any short list of the all-time greatest Westerns is bound to include this 1948 Howard Hawks classic about an epic cattle drive. Red River features one of John Wayne's greatest performances. Like his Ethan Edwards in John Ford's 1956 masterpiece The Searchers, the Duke plays an isolated and unsympathetic man who is possessed by bitterness. Wayne is Texas rancher Tom Dunson, who adopts a young boy orphaned in an Indian massacre. That boy, Matthew Garth (played as an adult by Montgomery Clift in his screen debut), becomes Dunson's assistant and heir apparent--until Dunson's temper gets out of control during a long cattle drive and Matt intervenes to stop him. From that moment on, Dunson swears he will kill Matt. Red River has everything a great Western ought to have: a sweeping sense of history, spectacular landscapes, stampedes, gunfights, Indian attacks, and, of course, Walter Brennan as Dunson's crusty old cook and comic sidekick, Nadine Groot. As a special bonus, the film also features the legendary Harry Carey (upon whom Wayne would base some of his gestures in The Searchers) and his son Harry Carey Jr., who became a fixture in Ford and Hawks Westerns. Red River is essential for anyone who loves Westerns, or movies in general. This one's a real beaut.


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 4:23 pm

207
Rope (Alfred Hitchcock, 1948)




An experimental film masquerading as a standard Hollywood thriller. The plot of Rope is simple and based on a successful stage play: two young men (John Dall and Farley Granger) commit murder, more or less as an intellectual exercise. They hide the body in their large apartment, then throw a dinner party. Will the body be discovered? Director Alfred Hitchcock, fascinated by the possibilities of the long-take style, decided to shoot this story as though it were happening in one long, uninterrupted shot. Since the camera can only hold one 10-minute reel at a time, Hitchcock had to be creative when it came time to change reels, disguising the switches as the camera passed behind someone's back or moved behind a lamp. In later years Hitchcock wrote off the approach as misguided, and Rope may not be one of Hitchcock's top movies, but it's still a nail-biter. They don't call him the Master of Suspense for nothing. James Stewart, as a suspicious professor, marks his first starring role for Hitchcock, a collaboration that would lead to the masterpieces Rear Window and Vertigo.


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 4:32 pm

208
The snake pit (Anatole Litvak, 1948)




The Snake Pit is a startling and stark drama about mental illness, anchored by Olivia de Havilland's extraordinary, Oscar-nominated performance as Virginia, a newlywed succumbing to emerging psychosis. Even by today's standards, this powerful 1948 film, based on an autobiographical novel by Mary Jane Ward and boldly directed by Anatole Litvak (Sorry, Wrong Number), is an unsettling vision of insanity and the horrifying conditions under which the mentally ill are sometimes confined. The script is typical of reductive notions of psychoanalysis found in 1940s American movies, in which enormous instability of the mind is directly linked to childhood repression and guilt. But even if one doesn't take Virginia's condition all that seriously, the actress's portrayal of agony and confusion, and that of scores of supporting players, is stunning to behold. The star is helped immeasurably by a sturdy performance from British actor Leo Genn as a sympathetic psychiatrist.


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 4:42 pm

209
The lady from Shanghai (Orson Welles, 1948)




Legend has it that Orson Welles more or less conned studio boss Harry Cohn over the phone into making this movie by grabbing the title from a nearby paperback. In any case, The Lady from Shanghai is one of Welles's most fascinating works, a bizarre tale of an Irish sailor (Welles) who accompanies a beautiful woman (Rita Hayworth) and her handicapped husband (Everett Sloane) on a cruise and becomes involved in a murder plot. But never mind all that (the aforementioned legend also claims that Cohn offered a reward to anyone who could explain the plot to him). The film is really a dream of Welles's driving preoccupations on- and offscreen at the time: the elusiveness of identity, the mystique of things lost, and most of all the director's faltering marriage to Hayworth. In the tradition of male filmmakers who indirectly tell the story of their love affairs with leading ladies, Welles tells his own, photographing Hayworth as a deconstructed star, an obvious cinematic creation, thus reflecting, perhaps, a never-satisfied yearning that leads us back to the mystery of Citizen Kane.


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 5:00 pm

210
The paleface (Norman Z. McLeod, 1948)




Bob Hope brings his own brand of laughing gas to the Wild West as a would-be "painless" dentist lassoed into marrying Jane Russell. She's a shapely outlaw turned undercover agent on the trail of some varmints selling guns to a hostile Indian tribe, and he's her unwitting cover. Hope cowers and cracks self-effacing jokes while bodies fall around him ("Brave men run in my family," he quips, then runs), but he's even funnier swaggering and sneering like a kid playing cowboy in a flamboyant costume apparently stolen from the Oklahoma! road show. The Paleface is one of his best films, and the unflappable Russell is a great match. Theme song "Buttons and Bows" (which Hope delivers with a clowning mock twang) won an Oscar®, and the 1948 film spawned a sequel (Son of Paleface, costarring Roy Rogers and Trigger) and a remake (The Shakiest Gun in the West with Don Knotts).


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 5:35 pm

211
The red shoes (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1948)




It's been said that this 1948 classic has been responsible for the ballet lessons of more young girls than any other film. It's not hard to understand why: Michael Powell and Emerich Pressburger's dark fairy tale presents the ballet as an exquisite, magical work of art; but under the theatrics and glory is an all-consuming lifestyle with the power to destroy those who love it perhaps too much. Moira Shearer practically glows as Victoria "Vicky" Page, a young woman consumed by a will to dance who is accepted into the highly prestigious ballet company run by perfectionist Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook). Meanwhile, a gifted young composer, Julian Craster (Marius Goring), is brought on board as an orchestra coach, and later conductor and composer of the ballet that will make Vicky's name: The Red Shoes, one of the most beautiful and dramatic dances ever captured on film. Professional and personal jealousies soon pull this creative team apart, however, and Vicky is torn between her love of Julian, her responsibility to Boris, and her need to dance. Powell and Pressburger recast Hans Christian Andersen's sad story as a modern romantic melodrama, highlighted by beautiful dances and shot, not as stage ballets, but rather as expressionist cinematic dramas on impossibly grand sets awash with bold color and beautifully captured in glorious Technicolor by cinematographer Jack Cardiff. It's a brilliant melding of dance and drama as Vicky's real life mirror's the tragic story she danced in the Red Shoes ballet.


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 5:39 pm

212
The treasure of Sierra Madre (John Huston, 1948)




Ranked at No. 30 on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 all-time greatest American films, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a genuine masterpiece that was, ironically, a box-office failure when released in 1948. At that time audiences didn't accept Humphrey Bogart in a role that was intentionally unappealing, but time has proven this to be one of Bogart's very best performances. It's a grand adventure and a superior character study built around the timeless themes of greed and moral corruption. As adapted by writer-director John Huston (from a novel by enigmatic author B. Traven) it became a definitive treatment of fate and futility in the obsessive pursuit of wealth. Bogart plays Fred C. Dobbs, a down-and-out wage-worker in Mexico who stakes his meager earnings on a gold-prospecting expedition to the Sierra mountains. He's joined by a grizzled old prospector (Walter Huston, the director's father) and a young, no-nonsense partner (Tim Holt), and when they strike a rich vein of gold, the movie becomes an observant study of wretched human behavior. Bogart is fiercely intense as his character grows increasingly paranoid and violent; Huston offers a compelling contrast as a weathered miner who's seen how gold can turn men into monsters.
From its lively opening scenes (featuring young Robert Blake as a boy selling lottery tickets) to its final, devastating image of fateful irony, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre tells an unforgettable story of tragedy and truth. With dialogue that has been etched into the cultural consciousness (who can forget the Mexican bandit who snarls "I don't have to show you any stinking badges!") and well-earned Oscars for John and Walter Huston, this is an American classic that still packs a punch.


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 5:42 pm

213
Louisiana story (Robert J. Flaherty, 1948)




Languid, raw, and majestic, Robert J. Flaherty's final documentary is something to behold. Shot in Cajun country in 1948, Louisiana Story is a tale of modernity intruding on an isolated river habitat for crocodiles, catfish, raccoons, and trappers. Within the setting's primitive and dangerous beauty we meet a shy young hero (played by a non-professional actor; a local river rat named Joseph Boudreaux), who spends lonely days steering his raft and padding along banks with feline authority. Into this rustic paradise comes a noisy oil derrick, pounding pipe through the riverbed toward subterranean pools of black goo. Funded by Standard Oil, Flaherty was accused of selling out and fabricating a pro-development "true story" about the boy's friendship with wildcat oilmen. But such complaints overshoot the poetic luster of Flaherty's nature visions: the mysterious interplay of moonlight, reflective waters, black currents, and swaying reeds. Superficially fact or fiction, this film is its own gorgeous truth.


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 5:58 pm

214
The heiress (William Wyler, 1949)




Olivia de Havilland's Oscar®-winning performance in The Heiress is so good that even hard-to-please critic Pauline Kael hailed it as de Havilland's "finest work ever." Like director William Wyler's previous masterpiece The Best Years of Our Lives, this tightly controlled drama is an all-time classic (it was added to the Library of Congress's National Film Registry in 1996), and as Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne observes in his DVD introduction, its reputation has steadily improved with the passage of time. It was de Havilland who sought the services of director William Wyler for this superlative film adaptation of Henry James' 1881 novel Washington Square, after director Lewis Milestone urged her to see the acclaimed stage adaptation by married playwrights Ruth and Augustus Goetz. De Havilland had already won her first Oscar (for her role in the 1946 drama To Each His Own), and recognized a prestigious opportunity when she saw one. Wyler enthusiastically agreed, and The Heiress was fast-tracked for production in early 1949. Released on October 6 of that year, the film eventually earned eight Academy Award nominations, winning the Oscar® for Best Actress, Art Direction, Costume Design, and Music (the last for Aaron Copland's splendid score). When Martin Scorsese was preparing to film The Age of Innocence in 1992, he cited Wyler's film as a primary influence. (Washington Square was filmed again in 1997, with its original title and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Catherine.)
De Havilland is heartbreaking, docile, victimized, and ultimately cruel as Catherine Sloper, a plain-looking aristocrat who stands to inherit a fortune from her ailing physician father (Ralph Richardson), as well as his well-meaning but cold-hearted demeanor. Dr. Sloper disapproves of Catherine's passionate suitor Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift, perfectly cast), certain that the penniless young man has proposed marriage to win Catherine's inheritance. Catherine's too much in love to consider this potential betrayal, and when circumstances lead her to misinterpret Morris's intentions, The Heiress reaches an unforgettable conclusion that brilliantly supports the richly psychological nuance that Wyler brings to the preceding romance. Universal's "Cinema Classics" DVD is skimpy on extras, but Osborne's introduction is informative (as always), and despite a grainy quality of some scenes (typical with films of this vintage), the DVD transfer impeccably captures the mood-setting excellence of Leo Tover's flawless cinematography. The film's original theatrical trailer is also included.


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 6:02 pm

215
Kind hearts and coronets (Robert Hamer, 1949)




Set in Victorian England, Robert Hamer's 1949 masterpiece Kind Hearts and Coronets remains the most gracefully mordant of the Ealing comedies. Dennis Price plays Louis D'Ascoyne, the would-be Duke of Chalfont whose mother was spurned by her noble family for marrying an Italian singer for love. Louis resolves to avenge his mother by murdering the relatives ahead of him in line for the dukedom, all of whom are played by Alec Guinness. Guinness's virtuoso performances have been justly celebrated, ranging from a youthful D'Ascoyne with a priggish wife to a brace of doomed uncles and one aunt. Miles Malleson is a splendid doggerel-spouting hangman, while Valerie Hobson and Joan Greenwood take advantage of unusually strong female roles. But the great joy of Kind Hearts and Coronets is the way in which its appallingly black subject matter (considered beyond the pale by many critics at the time) is conveyed in such elegantly ironic turns of phrase by Price's narrator/antihero. Serial murder has never been conducted with such exquisite manners and discreet charm.


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 6:16 pm

216
Gun crazy (Joseph H. Lewis, 1949)




One of the most vital of all film noir pictures, Gun Crazy has more cinematic gusto and sexual heat than almost any movie of its time. It's a variation on the Bonnie and Clyde story, but with a bizarre set-up: firearms enthusiasts John Dall and Peggy Cummins (neither of whom were ever this wild again) meet as sharpshooters in a carnival, then turn to crime. The direction, by Joseph H. Lewis, is like a spray of hot lead from a gun barrel, capped by an amazing sequence--shot in one long take--of a bank robbery seen from the backseat of the getaway car. (Billy Wilder himself called up Lewis to find out how he did it.) If most film noirs trace the anxieties of postwar America, Gun Crazy goes directly to sheer madness. Trivia note: the film had a title change, to Deadly Is the Female, for its original release, whereupon it was changed back.


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 6:20 pm

217
Adam's rib (George Cukor, 1949)




There are two great husband-wife teams (one on-screen, the other off) involved in this classic 1949 comedy. Not only do Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy throw comedic sparks as a married team of lawyers on opposing sides of a high-profile case, but their exquisite verbal jousting was scripted by the outstanding team of Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon. Leading all of this stellar talent was director George Cukor at the prime of his career. The result is one of Hollywood's greatest comedy classics, still packing a punch with its sophisticated gender politics. Arguably the best of the Tracy-Hepburn vehicles, Adam's Rib shows the stars at their finest in roles that not only made their off-screen love so entertainingly obvious, but also defined their timeless screen personas--she the intelligent, savvy, rebellious woman ahead of her time, he the easygoing but obstinate modern man who can't help but love her. Screen teams don't get any better than this.


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 6:31 pm

218
Whisky galore (Alexander Mackendrick, 1949)




Whisky Galore! (released in the US as Tight Little Island) was a 1949 Ealing comedy film based on the novel of the same name by Compton MacKenzie. Both the movie and the novel are based on the real-life 1941 shipwreck of the S.S. Politician and the unauthorized taking of its cargo of whisky. The plot deals with the attempts of Scottish islanders to take advantage of an unexpected windfall, despite opposition from British authorities. It starred Basil Radford, Bruce Seton, Joan Greenwood and Gordon Jackson. This was Alexander Mackendrick's directorial debut.
The inhabitants of the isolated Scottish island of Todday in the Outer Hebrides are largely unaffected by wartime rationing...that is until the supply of whisky runs out in 1943. Then gloom descends on the disconsolate natives.


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 6:34 pm

219
White heat (Raoul Walsh, 1949)




The intense character study of criminal insanity in Raoul Walsh's "White Heat" (1949) is most likely the other great Cagney performance that has endured the test of time in Warner's gangster genre. Cagney plays the psychotic and sadistic Arthur 'Cody' Jarrett, a ruthless gang leader with a penchant for deriving pleasure from the affliction of pain. Plagued by torturous headaches and a mother fixation with Freud written all over it, Cody revels in murdering his wounded accomplice during a jail break. Cody's 'ma' (Margaret Whycherly) has allowed herself the luxury to forget that she's given birth to the criminal anti-Christ. Meanwhile, Cody's wife, Verna (Virginia Mayo) flaunts her sexuality to every man she meets while enduring the brutality and neglect of her unstable husband. This, of course, ends badly for all concerned. The plot thickens when a henchman plots an 'accident' for Cody, that is foiled when an undercover cop, Vic Pardo (Edmund O'Brien) inflitrates the gang. The finale of this barn-burner will justly go down as one of the greatest in all crime films, as Cody - betrayed and about to die, shouts triumphantly, "Made it, ma! Top of the world!" against the backdrop of a burning chemical plant. "White Heat" may have been a remake twice removed, but neither the 26' nor the 34' versions come close to the immediate panic and raw hysteria of this great film classic.


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 6:37 pm

220
The reckless moment (Max Ophuls, 1949)




The Reckless Moment (1949) is a melodrama film directed by Max Ophüls, produced by Walter Wanger, and released by Columbia Pictures. Burnett Guffey served as the films cinematographer. The film is based upon "The Blank Wall", a 1947 short story written by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding. The film The Deep End (2001) is based upon the same story.
California housewife Lucia Harper (Joan Bennett) attempts to cover up her daughter's (Geraldine Brooks) accidental murder of an undesirable ex-lover (Shepperd Strudwick). Martin Donnelly (James Mason), a clean-shaven smooth-talker involved in organized crime, discovers the truth and tries to blackmail the family. Complications arise when he realizes his true feelings for Lucia. This was Mason's third U.S. film, after having appeared for director Ophüls in Caught, then Madame Bovary.


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 9:56 pm

221
The third man (Carol Reed, 1949)




The fractured Europe post-World War II is perfectly captured in Carol Reed's masterpiece thriller, set in a Vienna still shell-shocked from battle. Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) is an alcoholic pulp writer come to visit his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles). But when Cotton first arrives in Vienna, Lime's funeral is under way. From Lime's girlfriend and an occupying British officer, Martins learns of allegations of Lime's involvement in racketeering, which Martins vows to clear from his friend's reputation. As he is drawn deeper into postwar intrigue, Martins finds layer under layer of deception, which he desperately tries to sort out. Welles's long-delayed entrance in the film has become one of the hallmarks of modern cinematography, and it is just one of dozens of cockeyed camera angles that seem to mirror the off-kilter postwar society. Cotten and Welles give career-making performances, and the Anton Karas zither theme will haunt you.


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 10:01 pm

222
On the town (Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen, 1949)




New York, New York--it's a helluva town; the Bronx is up and the Battery's down; the people ride in a hole in the ground.... Well, you get the idea. Those lyrics (by Betty Comden and Adolph Green), set to Leonard Bernstein's music, have made On the Town a permanent part of the psychological landscape of New York City. The story (inspired by Jerome Robbins's ballet Fancy Free) is pretty slight: Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Jules Munshin play sailors with 24 hours' leave to take their bite out of the Big Apple. When they meet, and then lose, this month's Miss Turnstiles (Vera-Ellen), they scour the town in search of her, bumping into a lady anthropologist (Ann Miller) along the way. Shot mostly in the studio, but with location exteriors all over town, from Coney Island to the Statue of Liberty to Central Park, this 1949 gem was the first of three great musicals codirected by Kelly and Stanley Donen, followed by Singin' in the Rain (1952) and the underrated It's Always Fair Weather (1955).


JM

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

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