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1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Lun Oct 26, 2009 1:43 pm

248
The bad and the beautiful (Vincente Minnelli, 1952)




In The Bad and the Beautiful, Kirk Douglas plays a tyrannical, manipulative producer fallen on hard times. To get back on his feet, he asks for help from three Hollywood giants whose careers he helped launch--a director (Barry Sullivan), an actress (Lana Turner), and a writer (Dick Powell). Unfortunately, they all hate him. Flashbacks explain why. Douglas had been close to all three at different points in his career: He and the director started out together making B-movies, he gave the wayward actress her first starring role, he turned the novelist into a successful screenwriter. Then in one way or another he stabbed each of them in the back, though not always deliberately. The script has a lot of backstage clichés, but Vincente Minnelli's sharp, energetic direction, the gorgeous black-and-white cinematography, and the topnotch performances--particularly Douglas and Gloria Grahame, who won an Oscar for her sweet role as the writer's cheerful Southern wife--flesh out the clichés with cutting details and convincing bile. Caustic, starry-eyed, and slyly funny, The Bad and the Beautiful is a strange and skillful blend of "If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere" pluck and poisonous cynicism, one of the great movies about making movies.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Lun Oct 26, 2009 1:46 pm

249
The big sky (Howard Hawks, 1952)




The Big Sky is a 1952 Western film directed by Howard Hawks, based on the novel of the same name. The cast includes Kirk Douglas, Arthur Hunnicutt, Dewey Martin and Elizabeth Threatt.
In 1832, Jim Deakins (Kirk Douglas) is traveling in the wilderness when he encounters an initially hostile Boone Caudill (Dewey Martin). However, they soon become good friends. They head to the Missouri River in search of Boone's uncle, Zeb Calloway (Arthur Hunnicutt). They find him when they are tossed in jail for brawling with fur traders of the Missouri River Company. When 'Frenchy' Jourdonnais (Steven Geray) comes to bail Zeb out, Zeb talks him into paying for Jim and Boone too.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Lun Oct 26, 2009 1:47 pm

250
High noon (Fred Zinnemann, 1952)




One of the greatest Westerns ever made gets the deluxe treatment on this superior disc from Republic Home Video's Silver Screen Classics line of special-edition DVDs. Written by Carl Foreman (who was later blacklisted during the anticommunist hearings of the '50s) and superbly directed by Fred Zinnemann, this 1952 classic stars Gary Cooper as just-married lawman Will Kane, who is about to retire as a small-town sheriff and begin a new life with his bride (Grace Kelly) when he learns that gunslinger Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald) is due to arrive at high noon to settle an old score. Kane seeks assistance from deputies and townsfolk, but soon realizes he'll have to stand alone in his showdown with Miller and his henchmen. Innovative for its time, the suspenseful story unfolds in approximate real time (from 10:40 a.m. to high noon in an 84-minute film), and many interpreted Foreman's drama as an allegorical reflection of apathy and passive acceptance of Senator Joseph McCarthy's anticommunist campaign. Political underpinnings aside, this remains a milestone of its genre (often referred to as the first "adult" Western), and Cooper is flawless in his Oscar-winning role.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Lun Oct 26, 2009 1:50 pm

251
Umberto D (Vittorio De Sica, 1952)




Umberto D. is one of the enduring masterpieces of Italian neorealism, considered by many to be one of the greatest films ever made. Everything that neorealism represents can be found in this simple, heartbreaking story of an aged Roman named Umberto (played by Carlo Battisti, non-professional actor and retired college professor) who struggles to survive in a city plagued by passive disregard for the post-World War II plight of the elderly. With his little dog, Flike, as his only companion, Umberto faces imminent eviction, and his insufficient pension and failed attempts to raise money lead him to contemplate suicide... if he can find a home for Flike. His dilemma--and director Vittorio De Sica's compassionate, unsentimental handling of it--results in a film of uncompromising grace and authenticity. Like De Sica's earlier masterpieces Shoeshine and The Bicycle Thief, Umberto D. earns its teardrops honestly; if this timeless classic doesn't make you smile and cry, you'd better check for a pulse.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Lun Oct 26, 2009 1:56 pm

252
Le carrosse d'or (The golden coach) (Jean Renoir, 1953)




The Golden Coach is a 1953 film directed by Jean Renoir that tells the story of a commedia dell'arte troupe in eighteenth century Peru. The screenplay was written by Renoir, Jack Kirkland, Renzo Avanzo and Giulio Macchi and is based on the play, Le Carrosse du Saint-Sacrement by Prosper Mérimée. It stars Anna Magnani, Odoardo Spadaro and Duncan Lamont.
An Italian commedia dell'arte troupe arrives in a small Peruvian town in the eighteenth century. The chief aristocrat in the town, the Viceroy, has acquired a fabulous golden coach from Europe. He is planning to give it to his mistress, but then falls in love with Camilla, leading actress of the troupe, and gives it to her instead. Camilla, enjoying the high life of being the Viceroy's mistress, is also loved by the leader of the troupe, and by the local star toreador. The Viceroy’s ministers are shocked by his profligacy, and threaten to depose him. Camilla eventually solves the problem by donating the coach to the Bishop of Lima. Camilla returns to the theatre troupe, and the film ends with a celebration of theatre's superiority over life.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Lun Oct 26, 2009 1:57 pm

253
The bigamist (Ida Lupino, 1953)




The title character is Edmond O'Brien, a lonely travelling salesman who ends up married to two women, Eve (Joan Fontaine)--and Phyllis (Ida Lupino). Eventually, of course, the truth comes out. Directed by costar Ida Lupino, The Bigamist manages to evoke a certain amount of sympathy for Edmond O'Brien, without in any way advocating or excusing his lifestyle. It's worth noting that an Italian film made around the same time, also titled The Bigamist, is a comedy.

The Bigamist - Trailer from xbbtv on Vimeo.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Lun Oct 26, 2009 2:00 pm

254
The band wagoon (Vincente Minnelli, 1953)




The Band Wagon (1953) marked the culmination of a series of near-autobiographical pictures Fred Astaire made for MGM following his return from premature retirement in the late '40s. Astaire plays Tony Hunter, a fading film star (his big hit: Flying Down to Panama) who decides to return to his former glory, the Broadway stage. (In 1931, Astaire had starred on Broadway with sister Adele in The Band Wagon, a revue that lent some of its songs to this film.) His playwright-songwriter friends (Nanette Fabray and Oscar Levant) hook him up with Broadway's hottest director, Jeffrey Cordova (a nicely hammy Jack Buchanan), who proves that the "new" theater traditions can be an awkward fit with the old. Hunter also finds himself at odds with his prima ballerina leading lady (Cyd Charisse), one of his chief worries being that she seems a little tall. Along the way, producer Arthur Freed, director Vincente Minnelli, choreographer Michael Kidd, and songwriters Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz treat us to some quintessential MGM numbers: Astaire's solo ode "By Myself," the flashy arcade romp "A Shine on Your Shoes," Astaire and Charisse's romantic duet "Dancing in the Dark," the faux-German drinking song "I Love Louisa," the manic trio "Triplets" (with Astaire, Fabray, and Buchanan in matching baby outfits), the Mickey Spillane-esque "Girl Hunt Ballet," and the classic show-biz anthem "That's Entertainment." Even if its ending and obligatory romance fall a little flat, The Band Wagon is one of the classic backstage musicals, a grandiose MGM spectacle that also manages to poke some fun at how grandiose MGM pictures had become.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Lun Oct 26, 2009 2:24 pm

255
Madame De... (The earrings of Madame De...)
(Max Ophuls, 1953)




The Earrings of Madame de... (French title: Madame de...) is a 1953 drama film directed by Max Ophüls.
An adaptation of Louise Leveque de Vilmorin's novel. A spoilt woman (Danielle Darrieux), married to a General (Charles Boyer), has an affair with an Italian baron (played by Vittorio De Sica).


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Lun Oct 26, 2009 2:25 pm

256
From here to eternity (Fred Zinnemann, 1953)




Here's a model for adapting a novel into a movie. The bestseller by James Jones, a frank and hard-hitting look at military life, could not possibly be made into a film in 1953 without considerably altering its length and bold subject matter. Yet screenwriter Daniel Taradash and director Fred Zinnemann (both of whom won Oscars for their work) pared it down and cleaned it up, without losing the essential texture of Jones's tapestry. The setting is an army base in Hawaii in 1941. Montgomery Clift, in a superb performance, plays a bugler who refuses to fight for the company boxing team; he has reasons for giving up the sport. His refusal results in harsh treatment from the company commander, whose bored wife (Deborah Kerr) is having an affair with the tough-but-fair sergeant (Burt Lancaster). You remember--the scene with the two of them embracing on the beach, as the surf crashes in. The supporting players are as good as the leads: Frank Sinatra and Donna Reed won Oscars (and Sinatra revitalized his entire career), and Ernest Borgnine entered the gallery of all-time movie villains, as the stockade sergeant who makes Sinatra miserable. Zinnemann's work is efficient but also evocative, capturing the time and place beautifully, the tropical breezes as well as the lazy prewar indulgence. This one is deservedly a classic.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Lun Oct 26, 2009 2:28 pm

257
Tokyo monogatari (Tokyo story) (Yaujiro Ozu, 1953)




Tokyo Story (東京物語, Tokyo monogatari) is a 1953 Japanese film directed by Yasujiro Ozu. It tells the story of a couple who travel to Tokyo to visit their grown children, but find their children are too absorbed in their own lives to spend much time with their parents. It is widely regarded as one of the best films ever made.
Like all of Ozu's sound films, Tokyo Story's pacing is slow (or, as David Bordwell prefers to describe it, "calm"). Important events are often not shown on screen, only being revealed later through dialogue; this technique is called ellipsis. For example, Ozu does not depict the mother and father's journey to Tokyo at all.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Lun Oct 26, 2009 2:31 pm

258
Roman holiday (William Wyler, 1953)




Maybe it doesn't quite live up to its sterling reputation, and maybe the leading man and director were slightly miscast. But who cares? Roman Holiday is the film that brought Audrey Hepburn to prominence, and the world movie audience went weak at the knees. The endlessly charming Hepburn had her first starring role in this sweet romance, playing a European princess on an official tour through Rome. Frustrated by her lack of connection to the real world, she slips away from her protective handlers and goes on a spree, aided by a tough-guy news reporter (Gregory Peck). Director William Wyler, more at home with such heavy-going, Oscar-winning classics as The Best Years of Our Lives and Ben- Hur, doesn't always keep the champagne bubbles afloat, and the Peck role would have fit Cary Grant like a silk glove. But the film is great fun, the location shooting is irresistible, and Hepburn embodies an image of chic style that would rule for the rest of the fifties. No coincidence: she won an Oscar, and so did veteran costume designer Edith Head.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Lun Oct 26, 2009 2:34 pm

259
Le salarie de la peur (Wages of fear) (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1953)




Henri-Georges Clouzot's gripping 1953 thriller throws four men into a primal struggle against the jungle armed with modern machinery and their own nerves and endurance. The squalid, isolated South American town of Las Piedras is a veritable refuge turned prison for criminals from all over the world. When an oil fire ignites 300 miles away, dozens of desperate volunteers apply for the dangerous job of driving highly volatile nitroglycerin across rugged jungle roads--for a $2,000 payday. The bulk of the film charts the slow, grueling trek over bumpy, pothole-dotted dirt roads and worse. A dangerous cutback forces the trucks to back over a rotting wooden platform built over a cliff, a boulder in the road must be blasted away, and a river of oil (gushing from a broken pipeline) must be forded--all with one ton of explosive nitro resting in the back of each truck. The ordeal forges a tough-guy trust between German Bimba (Peter Van Eyck) and Italian Luigi (Folco Lulli) but tears apart Frenchmen Mario (Yves Montand) and Jo (Charles Vanel). Former gangland hotshot Jo finds his once-fearless exterior cracked, while Mario discovers in himself a new grit and tenacity. Clouzot's stark, simple imagery and painstaking attention to detail create a riveting tension that never lets up, intensified by the ruthless drive of Mario, who proves he will do anything--anything--to get his truck through. William Freidkin remade the film in 1977 as the stylish Sorcerer.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Lun Oct 26, 2009 2:39 pm

260
The naked spur (Anthony Mann, 1953)




The Anthony Mann-Jimmy Stewart Westerns in the 1950s infused the genre with a psychological intensity and psychopathic edge. The brutal The Naked Spur, their third collaboration, is generally considered their best work together and one of the finest Westerns ever made. Stewart is a hard, angry bounty hunter tracking outlaw Robert Ryan in this lean five-character drama set in a deceptively beautiful mountain wilderness. Stewart finds himself saddled with two unwanted partners, sourdough prospector Millard Mitchell (his sidekick in the earlier Mann Western Winchester '73) and dishonorably discharged cavalry officer Ralph Meeker. Ryan's tomboyish sidekick Janet Leigh becomes increasingly torn between duty to her desperate guardian and her growing attraction to Stewart. The rugged landscape of jutting peaks, narrow passes, and torrential rivers is as gorgeous as it is dangerous: a well-protected plateau becomes a sniper's perch, an old mine turns from protective cave to dangerous cave-in. Stewart delivers the most ruthless performance of his career as a man haunted by betrayal, unwilling to trust and unable to love. Ryan's jovial banter and charm masks a cold-blooded savagery (he once remarked that it's his favorite performance). The tension stretches to the breaking point in this taut battle of wits, which culminates in a standoff next to the white water of a raging river, where Mann brilliantly uses the jagged landscape as a deadly battleground--nature itself becomes an enemy.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Lun Oct 26, 2009 2:41 pm

261
Pickup in South Street (Samuel Fuller, 1953)




Director Sam Fuller's biggest success of its time (and, superficially at least, his most conventional film) is the 1953 noir effort Pickup on South Street. Candy (Jean Peters) has her purse picked on the subway by small-time thief and ex-con Skip (Richard Widmark), neither of them realizing that the purse contains microfilm bound for Communist spies and that they are being watched the whole time by Federal agents. The New York police and the Feds catch up with Skip and try to cajole him into turning over the microfilm, but as he's one of Fuller's "outsider" antihero protagonists, the patriotic angle cuts no ice with him. He plays both sides against the middle when he finds out that the Communists are involved, hoping to make a big score off the deal, but eventually he comes around when he realizes that he's smitten with Candy. Finally Skip plays ball with the authorities, but is it out of his love for both his friend Moe and Candy, or is he swayed by the patriotic urgings of the FBI, or does it just come from some inner core of decency? You decide. When Skip is asked, "Do you know what treason is?" he smirks, "Who cares?"; when the Feds try to appeal to his patriotism, he sneers through several layers of Sinatra cool, "Are you waving the flag at me?" Pickup is set almost entirely in the garbage-strewn alleys, grimy subways, seedy waterfront dives, and gloomy streets of New York City; it's marked by extremely lengthy takes and fluid, mobile camera work. The closing scene when Skip tracks down another character in the subway and administers a brutal beating to him is one of the more violent scenes you'll find in '50s film noir.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Lun Oct 26, 2009 2:43 pm

262
Gentlemen prefer blondes (Howard Hawks, 1953)




Anita Loos's old story from the 1920s about a pair of single women in search of husbands gets a makeover in Howard Hawks's 1953 musical, starring Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe as friends who go to Paris looking for mates. The film is charged by Hawks's stylish snap, a famous set piece or two (Monroe descending that staircase while singing "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend"), Russell's wit, and songs by Leo Robin and Jule Styne. The film may largely be a fluff project best remembered as a showcase for its leading actresses, but then Monroe and Russell rarely got such extended opportunities to prove that they were more than cinematic icons.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Lun Oct 26, 2009 9:30 pm

263
The big heat (Fritz Lang, 1953)




There's a satisfying sense of closure to the definitive noir kick achieved in The Big Heat: its director, Fritz Lang, had forged early links from German expressionism to the emergence of film noir, so it's entirely logical that the expatriate director would help codify the genre with this brutal 1953 film. Visually, his scenes exemplify the bold contrasts, deep shadows, and heightened compositions that define the look of noir, and he matches that success with the darkly pessimistic themes of this revenge melodrama.
The story coheres around the suicide of a crooked cop, and the subsequent struggle of an honest detective, Dave Bannion (Glenn Ford), to navigate between a corrupt city government and a ruthless mobster to uncover the truth. Initially, the violence here seems almost timid by comparison to the more explicit carnage now commonplace in films, yet the story accelerates as its plot arcs toward Bannion's showdown with kingpin Lagana (Alexander Scourby) and his psychotic henchman, the sadistic Vince Stone, given an indelible nastiness by Lee Marvin. When Bannion's wife is killed by a car bomb intended for the detective, both the hero and the story go ballistic: suspended from the force, he embarks on a crusade of revenge that suggests a template for Charles Bronson's Death Wish films, each step pushing Lagana and Stone toward a showdown. Bodies drop, dominoes tumbled by the escalating war between the obsessed Bannion and his increasingly vicious adversaries.
Lang's disciplined visual design and the performances (especially those of Ford, Marvin, Jeanette Nolan as the dead cop's scheming widow, and Gloria Grahame as Marvin's girlfriend) enable the film to transcend formula, as do several memorable action scenes--when an enraged Marvin hurls scalding coffee at the feisty Debby (Grahame), we're both shattered by the violence of his attack, and aware that he's shifted the balance of power.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Lun Oct 26, 2009 9:39 pm

264
Les vacances de M. Hulot (Monsieur Hulot's holidays)
(Jacques Tati, 1953)




Forefather of Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean, Jacques Tati's Monsieur Hulot--a recurring character in several of his movies--is a blithely clumsy troublemaker, an insouciant twit who leaves uproar in his wake without being aware of it. Trying to describe this 1953 comedy is next to impossible except to say it is a series of vignettes at a vacation resort, with the distracted Hulot providing a lot of laughs. Tati directs, and in a way what that really means is that he composes this movie with a perfect eye and ear for the comic possibilities in everything: composition, lighting, minimal marble-mouth dialogue, certain sounds (a duck call, a door repeatedly opening and shutting). This is a superior work that ranks among all-time classic comedies.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Lun Oct 26, 2009 9:53 pm

265
Viaggio in Italia (Voyage to Italy) (Roberto Rossellini, 1953)




Journey to Italy (Italian: Viaggio in Italia) is a 1954 Italian drama film directed by Roberto Rossellini and starring his wife Ingrid Bergman. It was filmed in English. The Italian version was originally cut.
The Joyces, played by Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders, are a British couple that have gone on a trip to Italy. Upon their arrival in Naples, they suffer a crisis in their relationship. The feelings between them change even more on a visit to the city of Pompeii, where they witness an ancient statue being discovered.
Although it performed badly at the box office, French critics at the Cahiers du Cinéma, including François Truffaut, liked it and proclaimed it to be the first modern film.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 12:01 am

266
Ugetsu monogatari (Tales Of The Pale And Silvery Moon After The Rain)
(Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953)




Hailed by critics as one of the greatest films ever made, Kenji Mizoguchi's Ugetsu is an undisputed masterpiece of Japanese cinema, revealing greater depths of meaning and emotion with each successive viewing. Mizoguchi's exquisite "gender tragedy" is set during Japan's violent 16th-century civil wars, a historical context well-suited to the director's compassionate perspective on the plight of women and the foibles of men. The story focuses on two brothers, Genjuro (Masayuki Mori) and Tobei (Sakae Ozawa), whose dreams of glory (one as a wealthy potter, the other a would-be samurai) cause them to leave their wives for the promise of success in Kyoto. Both are led astray by their blind ambitions, and their wives suffer tragic fates in their absence, as Ugetsu evolves into a masterful mixture of brutal wartime realism and haunting ghost story. The way Mizoguchi weaves these elements so seamlessly together is what makes Ugetsu (masterfully derived from short stories by Akinari Ueda and Guy de Maupassant) so challenging and yet deeply rewarding as a timeless work of art. Featuring flawless performances by some of Japan's greatest actors (including Machiko Kyo, from Kurosawa's Rashomon), Ugetsu is essential viewing for any serious lover of film.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 12:05 am

267
Shane (George Stevens, 1953)




Consciously crafted by director George Stevens as a piece of American mythmaking, Shane is on nearly everyone's shortlist of great movie Westerns. A buckskin knight, Shane (Alan Ladd) rides into the middle of a range war between farmers and cattlemen, quickly siding with the "sod-busters." While helping a kindly farmer (Van Heflin), Shane falls platonically in love with the man's wife (Jean Arthur, in the last screen performance of a marvelous career). Though the showdowns are exciting, and the story simple but involving, what most people will remember about this movie is the friendship between the stoical Shane and the young son of the farmers. The kid is played by Brandon De Wilde, who gives one of the most amazing child performances in the movies; his parting scene with Shane is guaranteed to draw tears from even the most stonyhearted moviegoer. And speaking of stony hearts, Jack Palance made a sensational impression as the evil gunslinger sent to clean house--he has fewer lines of dialogue than he has lines in his magnificently craggy face, but he makes them count. The photography, highlighting the landscape near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, won an Oscar.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 12:07 am

268
Beat the devil (John Huston, 1953)




Beat the Devil is a 1953 film directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart. It was co-authored by Huston and Truman Capote, and loosely based upon a novel of the same name by British critic Claud Cockburn, writing under the pseudonym James Helvick. It was intended by Huston as a tongue-in-cheek spoof of his earlier masterpiece, The Maltese Falcon, and of films of its genre.
The script, which was written on a day-to-day basis as the film was being shot, concerns the adventures of a motley crew of swindlers and ne'er-do-wells trying to lay claim to land rich in uranium deposits in Kenya as they wait in a small Italian port of travel aboard an ill-fated tramp steamer en route to Mombasa. The all-star cast includes Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida, Robert Morley (playing the role that Sydney Greenstreet would have played had he still been acting), Peter Lorre and Bernard Lee (who was to gain widespread recognition with his appearances as "M" in the James Bond movies).
This Huston opus does not easily fit into the standard set of film categories; it has variously been classified as a "thriller," a "comedy," a "drama," a "crime" and a "romance" movie. It is above all else a parody of the Film Noir style that Huston himself had pioneered and as such has developed cult status in the ensuing years.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 12:11 am

269
Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954)




"I've never seen a woman who was more like a man," a character observes of Vienna (Joan Crawford), who has just opened a saloon that hasn't exactly endeared itself to the local townspeople. Emma (Mercedes McCambridge), the local sexually repressed, lynch-happy harpy, is particularly displeased. Vienna is wooed both by the Dancin' Kid (Scott Brady) and by Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayden), a peripatetic tough guy-turned-troubadour with whom she has a past.
When the Kid's gang (which includes Ernest Borgnine) decides to knock over the bank before heading to California, Emma wants just about everyone in sight on the business end of a rope. Nicolas Ray's 1954 epic was considered one of the downright strangest Westerns of all time--the women were far tougher than the men (Johnny watches on laconically during the bank robbery, not bothering with heroics), and some saw in the film a bizarre allegory for the McCarthy Red scare. A half-century later, it's still a curious, intriguing piece of moral ambiguity from a time when such a thing ostensibly didn't exist. Hayden is an enigmatic presence, and Crawford's commanding star turn is what you'd expect.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 12:23 am

270
On the waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954)




Marlon Brando's famous "I coulda been a contenda" speech is such a warhorse by now that a lot of people probably feel they've seen this picture already, even if they haven't. And many of those who have seen it may have forgotten how flat-out thrilling it is. For all its great dramatic and cinematic qualities, and its fiery social criticism, Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront is also one of the most gripping melodramas of political corruption and individual heroism ever made in the United States, a five-star gut-grabber. Shot on location around the docks of Hoboken, New Jersey, in the mid-1950s, it tells the fact-based story of a longshoreman (Brando's Terry Malloy) who is blackballed and savagely beaten for informing against the mobsters who have taken over his union and sold it out to the bosses. (Karl Malden has a more conventional stalwart-hero role, as an idealistic priest who nurtures Terry's pangs of conscience.) Lee J. Cobb, who created the role of Willy Loman in Death of Salesman under Kazan's direction on Broadway, makes a formidable foe as a greedy union leader.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 12:36 am

271
Seven brides for seven brothers (Stanley Donen, 1954)




Well, bless my beautiful hide! Director Stanley Donen invests this rollicking musical with a hearty exuberance. Howard Keel, with his big-as-all-outdoors baritone, stars as a bold "mountain man" living in the Oregon woods who brings home a bride (plucky songbird soprano Jane Powell) to his six slovenly brothers. Taming the rambunctious brood, Jane proceeds to make gentlemen of them so they can woo sweethearts of their own. But old habits die hard: their flirting gives way to fighting in the film's celebrated barn-raising scene, a lively acrobatic dance number exuberantly choreographed by Michael Kidd. Big brother chimes in with his own brand of advice--an old-fashioned kidnapping! Donen manages to get away with such a politically incorrect plot by investing the boys with a innocent sweetness, most notably the youngest brother played with genial earnestness by Rusty (Russ) Tamblyn (pre-West Side Story). This modest production became a huge hit and remains one of MGM's best-loved musical comedies, an energetic, high-kicking classic.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 12:43 am

272
Les diaboliques (Diabolique) (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1954)




Legend has it that Henri-Georges Clouzot beat out Alfred Hitchcock to secure the rights to this novel, which proved to be a veritable blueprint for an icy masterpiece of murder, mystery, and suspense. Véra Clouzot plays the sickly wife of a callous headmaster of a provincial boarding school going to seed, and the commanding Simone Signoret is the headmaster's mistreated mistress. Together they plot and carry out his murder, a brutal drowning that director Clouzot documents in chilly detail, but the corpse disappears, and a nosy detective starts sniffing around the grounds as threatening notes taunt the women. Clouzot's thriller is as precise and accomplished a work as anything in Hitchcock's canon, a film of grueling suspense and startling shocks in an overcast, gray world of decay, but his icy manipulations lack the human dimension and emotional resonance of the master of suspense. The film has been accused of being misanthropic by many critics, and Clouzot's attitude toward his characters is bitter at best, contemptuous at worst. The viewer is left on the outside looking in, but the razor precision and terrifying twists deliver a sleek, bleak spectacle worthy of attention.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VI: 1950-1954

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