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1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

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1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Sáb Ene 03, 2009 4:12 pm

1001 films you must see before you die
Part VII: 1955-1959



284
Artists and models (Frank Tashlin, 1955)




Artists and Models is a 1955 Paramount musical comedy in VistaVision and marked Martin and Lewis's fourteenth feature together as a team. The film co-stars Dorothy Malone, Eva Gabor, Anita Ekberg, and Shirley MacLaine.
Rick Todd (Dean Martin) is a struggling painter. His roommate, Eugene Fullstack (Jerry Lewis), is an aspiring children's author. Fullstack has a passion for comic books, especially those of the "Bat Lady." However, each night he has nightmares which he describes aloud during his sleep. They are about "Vincent the Vulture," who is half-man, half-bird.



Última edición por JM el Vie Oct 30, 2009 1:41 pm, editado 2 veces

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Sáb Ene 03, 2009 9:03 pm

285
Guys and dolls (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1955)




Joseph Mankiewicz's brightly stylized film of Frank Loesser's classic musical (based on the stories of Damon Runyon) casts the criminal underworld as a harmless fantasy in this whimsical vision of the Big Apple. Nonsingers Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons acquit themselves fine in the lead roles as high-rolling gambler Sky Masterson and Salvation Army missionary Sarah Brown. It's odd casting, to say the least. Frank Sinatra, who plays the good old reliable Nathan Detroit (who runs "the oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York") is left with novelty tunes while husky Brando delivers the love songs and hits, including "Luck Be a Lady." But in the context of the colorful dialogue and comically affected speech patterns (a giddy gangster-speak straight out of Runyon's breezy stories) the song performances aren't the least out of place. Stubby Kaye, reprising his role as Nicely Nicely from the Broadway run, practically steals the show in his few scenes and his show-stopping solo "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat." The film is overlong at two and a half hours and somewhat stagily confined in the stylized, studio-bound sets--perhaps the mark of a director who had never helmed a musical before--but a terrific cast of eccentrics and Michael Kidd's high-energy choreography gives the film a memorable and enchanting character.



Última edición por JM el Vie Oct 30, 2009 1:43 pm, editado 1 vez

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Sáb Ene 03, 2009 10:27 pm

286
Pather panchali (Song of the little road) (Satyajit Ray, 1955)




Pather Panchali tells the story of a family inching slowly and irrevocably, over the course of several years, toward the edge of financial and emotional disaster. In a rural Bengali village, circa 1919, Harihar (Kanu Bannerjee) recites sacred texts and performs religious rites for a living. He dreams of being a playwright, but he must support his growing family.
His wife, Sarbajaya (Karuna Bannerjee) must suffer her husband's long absences as he searches for work and the hostile pity of extended family members who are better off financially and socially. Her daughter, Durga (Uma Das Gupta), has the bad habit of stealing mangoes from the neighboring orchard, which adds to her mother's shame. When a son, Apu (Subir Bannerjee), is born, things seem to be looking up for the family. But it is only a short-lived illusion.
First films don't come any better than Pather Panchali. Made in 1955 by Satyajit Ray, this truly remarkable feat of storytelling is a must-see kind of movie. Ray reveals a gift for presenting stories that unfold gently, one engaging scene at time. This film delivers an amazing emotional punch that will linger in your consciousness for some time, not in spite of, but because of its simplicity.
The story is based on the novel of the same title, written by Bibhutibhushan Banerjee. Shot in glorious black and white, it runs for 115 minutes. The script is by Satyajit Ray, the music by Ravi Shankar.



Última edición por JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 11:00 pm, editado 1 vez

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Sáb Ene 03, 2009 11:09 pm

287
Bad day at Black Rock (John Sturges, 1955)




One of the first Hollywood films to deal openly with white racism toward Japanese Americans during World War II, this drama directed by 1950s action maestro John Sturges (The Great Escape) stars Spencer Tracy as a one-armed stranger named MacReedy, who arrives in the tiny town of Black Rock on a hot day in 1945. Seeking a hotel room and the whereabouts of an ethnic Japanese farmer named Komoko, MacReedy runs smack into a wall of hostility that escalates into serious threats. In time it becomes apparent that Komoko has been murdered by a local, racist chieftain, Reno Smith (Robert Ryan), who also plans on dispensing with MacReedy. Tracy's hero is forced to fight his way past Smith's goons (among them Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin) and sundry allies (Anne Francis) to keep alive, setting the stage for memorable suspense crisply orchestrated by Sturges. Casting is the film's principal strength, however: Tracy, the indispensable icon of integrity, and Ryan, the indispensable noir image of spiritual blight, are as creatively unlikely a pairing as Sturges's shotgun marriage of Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen in The Magnificent Seven.



Última edición por JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 11:55 pm, editado 1 vez

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Dom Ene 04, 2009 2:16 pm


288
Les maîtres fous (The mad masters) (Jean Rouch, 1955)




Les Maîtres Fous (The Mad Masters – 1955) – is a short film directed by Jean Rouch, a well-known French film director and ethnologist. It is a docufiction, his first ethnofiction, genre of which he is considered to be the creator.
The subject of the film was the Hauka movement. The Hauka movement consisted of mimicry and dancing to become possessed by French Colonial administrators. The participants performed the same elaborate military ceremonies of their colonial occupiers, but in more of a trance than true recreation. Les Maitres Fous review.
The Hauka movement, according to some anthropologists was a form of resistance that began in Niger, but spread to other parts of Africa. According to some anthropologists, this pageant, though historic, was largely done to mock their authority by stealing their powers. Hauka members were not trying to emulate Europeans, but were trying to extract their life force – something “entirely African”.
This stance has been heavily criticized by anthropologist James G. Ferguson who finds this imitation not about importing colonialism into indigenous culture, but more a way to gain rights and status in the colonial society. The adoption of European customs was not so much a form of resistance, but to be “respected by the Europeans.”
Les Maîtres Fous offended both colonial authorities and African students alike. Indeed, the film was so controversial that it was banned first in Niger, and then in other British territories including Ghana. The film was considered offensive to colonial authorities because of the Africans' blatant attempts to mimic and mock the "white oppressors". On the other hand, African students, teachers, and directors found the film to perpetrate an "exotic racism" of the African people.



Última edición por JM el Miér Oct 28, 2009 1:38 pm, editado 1 vez

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Dom Ene 04, 2009 3:16 pm

289
Giv'a 24 eina ona (Hill 24 doesn't answer) (Thorold Dickinson, 1955)




Hill 24 Doesn't Answer takes place during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. It focuses on the personal stories of soldiers – an Irishman, an American Jew, and a Sabra - who are assigned to defend a strategic hill outside of Jerusalem. Through their diverse stories, Israel’s birth and struggle to survive are captured from a distinctly personal perspective.
On the way to their last mission – the defense of Hill 24 – the soldiers talk of their past battles and what influenced their Zionism. Through a series of flashbacks, the film reveals each soldier’s story, until they converge at the hill. There, during a nighttime battle, the significance of their mission becomes apparent as their allegiance and bravery undergo trial by fire.



Última edición por JM el Miér Oct 28, 2009 3:34 pm, editado 2 veces

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Dom Ene 04, 2009 3:49 pm

290
The ladykillers (Alexander Mackendrick, 1955)




In English comedy at its blackest (and funniest) pitch, this droll 1955 farce finds Alec Guinness in one of his typically deft, chameleon turns as would-be criminal mastermind Professor Marcus. When Marcus's grand plan to pull off a train heist leads him to a strategically situated house occupied by the genteel Mrs. Wilberforce (Katie Johnson), the ensuing masquerade triggers a mordant, even macabre comedy of manners. With Marcus and his rough-hewn cronies (Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers, and Danny Green) posing as a string quartet, and the dear lady's demise seen as the means to their larcenous end, the gang's sinister machinations are consistently, if unwittingly, foiled by the good-hearted, resourceful widow.



Última edición por JM el Jue Oct 29, 2009 1:21 pm, editado 1 vez

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Dom Ene 04, 2009 3:54 pm

291
Marty (Delbert Mann, 1955)




Originally broadcast as a 50-minute drama on Philco Television Playhouse in 1953, Marty ensured Paddy Chayefsky's status as one of the greatest writers of television's golden age. When Chayefsky, director Delbert Mann, and actor Ernest Borgnine reunited for this 90-minute film version, the play had been polished with extra scenes, further perfecting Chayefsky's timeless study of loneliness and heartbreak. And the film, in which Borgnine excels as the single, 35-year-old "fat and ugly" butcher Marty Pilletti, received well-deserved Oscars® for Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Screenplay. Although Chayefsky's central theme is the pain of being unwanted (as felt by Marty himself as well as his elderly Aunt Catherine, who's become a burden to her married daughter), the film is never somber or depressing, and achieves a rare quality of honesty, humor, and hopefulness without resorting to artifice or sentiment.
Marty's just about given up on love when he meets plain-looking Clara (Betsy Blair), a 29-year-old teacher who's endured similar cycles of rejection. Much of Marty explores the simple decency of these characters, their admirable qualities and mutual connection, and the slow escalation of self-esteem that will hold them together. Marty is a supremely compassionate film, but it's also an entertaining one, trimmed (like a good butcher's meat) of any dramatic fat. And although Blair (who earned an Oscar nomination) is superb in her role, it's worth noting that she's more conventionally "attractive" than Nancy Marchand (late of The Sopranos), who played Clara with arguably greater authenticity in the original 1953 telecast.



Última edición por JM el Vie Oct 30, 2009 1:27 pm, editado 1 vez

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Sáb Ene 10, 2009 9:59 pm

292
Ordet (The word) (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1955)




Ordet (The Word) is a 1955 Danish film, directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. It is based on a 1932 play by Kaj Munk, a Danish pastor who was killed by German Nazis.
The film centers around a family of farmers, who are part of a God-fearing community in West Jutland. In addition to the devout Morten, the father, there are his three sons: Mikkel, the eldest, who has no faith; Anders, who wants to marry the daughter of Peter (Ejner Federspiel), a tailor who refuses the marriage because of Anders' (Cay Kristiansen) religious beliefs; the third and youngest son is Johannes, who has lost his mind and believes himself to be Jesus Christ. Morten (Henrik Malberg) considers his religion (the 'Glad Christians' of Grunttvigism) to be about "life" and accuses Peter's faith (the 'Inner Mission') of being concerned with "death".



Última edición por JM el Vie Oct 30, 2009 1:40 pm, editado 1 vez

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 3:23 pm

293
Bob le flambeur (Bob the gambler) (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1956)




A singular masterpiece that served as a clarion call for the coming French New Wave, this 1955 love letter to the city of Paris and the American urban noir films of the 1930s and 1940s is precisely the sort of cinematic consideration of genre influences that became the soul of early works by Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, and Claude Chabrol. Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville (a filmmaker so enamored of American culture he adopted the name of Moby Dick's author), Bob le Flambeur (Bob the Gambler) concerns a courtly gangster who plans on robbing a casino. But the film is less about the trappings of a conventional heist tale than about Melville's embrace of the form and his wistful weavings within it. The title character (Roger Duchesne) is almost a knight errant, with a visible gallantry and code of loyalty suggesting Melville's own dreams of film tradition, reinvented into something both faithful and new. A terrific experience and an important sliver of film history.



Última edición por JM el Vie Oct 30, 2009 1:44 pm, editado 1 vez

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 3:26 pm

294
Kiss me deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955)




Kiss Me Deadly starts off with a bang--a young woman (Cloris Leachman) in bare feet and a trench coat runs along a highway, frantically trying to flag down help. In desperation, she finally throws herself into traffic, and the car she stops belongs to detective Mike Hammer. The pace never lets up--we're not even 15 minutes into the movie and there's already been a murder, a mysterious letter, an attempt to kill Hammer, and, of course, a warning to just stay out of it. Hammer, tired of lowlife divorce cases, smells something big and can't let it go. The film is exciting, about as dark as a noir can get, and full of skewed camera angles and mysterious whose-shoes-are-those shots. At the center, of course, is Mike Hammer, a detective so cool he can win a fight with nothing more than a box of popcorn as a weapon. Hammer knows his opera singers as well as his amateur prizefighters, and he makes the ladies swoon, but he's far from a conventional hero. In fact, he's rather emphatically not a nice guy; Hammer happily whores out his secretary-girlfriend Velma to cinch up those divorce cases and has a penchant for slamming other people's fingers in drawers. Even the bad guys know he's a sleazebag. ("What's it worth to you to turn your considerable talents back to the gutter you crawled out of?") Ralph Meeker plays Hammer's ambivalence brilliantly, swinging easily between sexy and just plain mean. Kiss Me Deadly is just terrific. Stop reading this review and watch it already.


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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 3:30 pm

295
The man from Laramie (Anthony Mann, 1955)




Only John Ford excelled Anthony Mann as a purveyor of eye-filling Western imagery, and Mann's best films are second to no one's when it comes to the fusion of dynamic action, rugged landscapes, and fierce psychological intensity. The Man from Laramie is the last of five remarkable Westerns the director made with James Stewart (starting with Winchester '73 and peaking with The Naked Spur). This collaboration marked virtually a whole new career for Stewart, whose characters are all haunted by the past and driven by obsession--here, to find whoever set his cavalry-officer brother in the path of warlike Indians.
The Man from Laramie aspires to an epic grandeur beyond its predecessors. It's the only one in CinemaScope, and Stewart's personal quest is subsumed in a larger drama--nothing less than a sagebrush version of King Lear, with a range baron on the verge of blindness (Donald Crisp), his weak and therefore vicious son (Alex Nicol), and another, apparently more solid "son," his Edmund-like foreman (Arthur Kennedy). There are a few too many subsidiary characters, and the reach for thematic complexity occasionally diminishes the impact. But no one will ever forget the scene on the salt flats between Nicol and Stewart--climaxing in the single most shocking act of violence in '50s cinema--or the final, mountaintop confrontation.
For decades, the film has been seen only in washed-out, pan-and-scan videos, with the characters playing visual hopscotch from one panel of the original composition to another. It's great to have this glorious DVD--razor-sharp, fully saturated (or as saturated as '50s Eastmancolor could be), and breathtaking in its CinemaScope sweep.


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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 3:36 pm

296
Rebel without a cause (Nicholas Ray, 1955)




When people think of James Dean, they probably think first of the troubled teen from Rebel Without a Cause: nervous, volatile, soulful, a kid lost in a world that does not understand him. Made between his only other starring roles, in East of Eden and Giant, Rebel sums up the jangly, alienated image of Dean, but also happens to be one of the key films of the 1950s. Director Nicholas Ray takes a strikingly sympathetic look at the teenagers standing outside the white-picket-fence '50s dream of America: juvenile delinquent (that's what they called them then) Jim Stark (Dean), fast girl Judy (Natalie Wood), lost boy Plato (Sal Mineo), slick hot-rodder Buzz (Corey Allen). At the time, it was unusual for a movie to endorse the point of view of teenagers, but Ray and screenwriter Stewart Stern captured the youthful angst that was erupting at the same time in rock & roll. Dean is heartbreaking, following the method acting style of Marlon Brando but staking out a nakedly emotional honesty of his own. Going too fast, in every way, he was killed in a car crash on September 30, 1955, a month before Rebel opened. He was no longer an actor, but an icon, and Rebel is a lasting monument.


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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 3:39 pm

297
The Phenix City story (Phil Karlson, 1955)




The Phenix City Story (1955) is a film noir directed by Phil Karlson and written by Daniel Mainwaring and Crane Wilbur. The drama features John McIntire, Richard Kiley, among others.
The drama depicts the real-life 1954 assassination of Alabama attorney general Albert Patterson in Phenix City, Alabama, a city controlled by organized crime, and the subsequent imposition of martial law. Some prints of the film include a 13-minute newsreel-style preface including interviews with the actual participants.


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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 3:42 pm

298
Sommarnattens leende (Smiles of a summer night) (Ingmar Bergman, 1955)




Ingmar Bergman achieved international stardom with this classic melancholy comedy about the romantic entanglements of three 19th-century couples during a weekend at a country estate. It's exactly what you'd expect from a bedroom farce filtered through the ideas and eyes of Bergman: sharp, serious, pensive, austerely sexy, and ultimately sobering. Still, anyone who thought the Swedish filmmaker was incapable of a little fun has only to watch Bergman's orchestrations of these dangerous liaisons. Prosperous lawyer Fredrik (Gunnar Björnstrand) is married to the comely young Anne (Ulla Jacobsson), who (despite his best efforts) remains a virgin. Henrik (Björn Bjelfvenstam), Fredrik's grown son from a previous marriage, is desperately in love with Anne--and having an affair with the maid (Harriet Andersson)--despite the torturings of his pious soul. When actress Desiree (Eva Dahlbeck), Fredrik's former mistress, breezes into town, Fredrick pays her a visit, only to find himself jealous of her relationship with the piggish Count Malcolm (Jarl Kulle), who just happens to be married to Anne's best friend, the depressed and suicidal Charlotte (Margit Carlqvist); both women have a decided bone to pick with Desiree. All convene at the estate of Desiree's mother for a weekend of confrontations, illicit romance, dinner, dueling, and eventual pairing with the right romantic partner. Bergman winningly conveys the aspects of love among both the young and the old--those who feel they'll live forever and those whose impending mortality colors their actions. Absolutely brilliant and heartfelt, a true cinematic masterpiece. The basis for Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music, of "Send in the Clowns" fame.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 3:45 pm

299
Nuit et brouillard (Night and fog) (Alain Resnais, 1955)




Though only a short subject, this groundbreaking documentary remains one of the most influential and powerful explorations of the Holocaust ever made. Director Alain Resnais bluntly presents an indictment not only of the Nazis but of the world community, and the film is all the more remarkable for its harsh judgment considering the time in which it was made, less than a decade after the end of the war, when questions of responsibility were not yet being addressed. Juxtaposing archival clips from the concentration camps across Germany and Poland with the present-day denials of the camps' existence, the film seeks to once and for all expose the horrifying truth of the Final Solution, as well as to address the continuing anti-Semitism and bigotry that existed long after the war's end. An invaluable resource and testament to history, this film was a profound influence on all films to address issues of the Holocaust, from Judgment at Nuremberg and Shoah to Schindler's List. Night and Fog remains an essential and indispensable document of the 20th century.

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 10:17 pm

300
The night of the hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)




In the entire history of American movies, The Night of the Hunter stands out as the rarest and most exotic of specimens. It is, to say the least, a masterpiece--and not just because it was the only movie directed by flamboyant actor Charles Laughton or the only produced solo screenplay by the legendary critic James Agee (who also cowrote The African Queen). The truth is, nobody has ever made anything approaching its phantasmagoric, overheated style in which German expressionism, religious hysteria, fairy-tale fantasy (of the Grimm-est variety), and stalker movie are brought together in a furious boil. Like a nightmarish premonition of stalker movies to come, Night of the Hunter tells the suspenseful tale of a demented preacher (Robert Mitchum, in a performance that prefigures his memorable villain in Cape Fear), who torments a boy and his little sister--even marries their mixed-up mother (Shelley Winters)--because he's certain the kids know where their late bank-robber father hid a stash of stolen money. So dramatic, primal, and unforgettable are its images--the preacher's shadow looming over the children in their bedroom, the magical boat ride down a river whose banks teem with fantastic wildlife, those tattoos of LOVE and HATE on the unholy man's knuckles, the golden locks of a drowned woman waving in the current along with the indigenous plant life in her watery grave--that they're still haunting audiences (and filmmakers) today.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 10:20 pm

301
Lola Montes (Max Ophuls, 1955)




Max Ophüls explores the scandalous life of dancer and courtesan Lola Montes with a bittersweet empathy that turns melodrama into a tragic melancholy masterpiece. Using the theatrical re-creation of Lola's life in a big-top pageant as a framing device, Ophüls contrasts the outrageous sensationalism of her reputation with poignant, poetic flashbacks that explore her many affairs, most notably with Franz Liszt (Will Quadflieg) and King Ludwig of Bavaria (Anton Walbrook). Lola's greatest tragedy is that she loved well, if not too wisely. If Martine Carol's central performance is lacking passion, as many critics have argued, her quiet, at times seemingly passive demeanor makes her a veritable prisoner of her society and her reputation. Swept along by Ophüls's sweeping camerawork, which glides through the film in a balance of intimacy and contemplative remove as if on the wings of angels, her life becomes like a cinematic ballet with Ophüls the choreographer and conductor. Peter Ustinov costars as the jaded circus ringmaster, who nightly narrates her exploits to a throng of scandal-hungry spectators, while she performs with a face hardened in indifference, resigned to her empty role as a figure of spectacle in a garish gilded cage. Shot in delicate color and impeccably composed widescreen compositions throughout by Ophüls's regular cinematographer Christian Matras, Lola Montes is his most beautiful and restrained film, a fitting swan song for one of the cinema's most sensitive directors.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 10:23 pm


302
Forbidden planet (Fred M. Wilcox, 1956)




This 1956 pop adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest is one of the best, most influential science fiction movies ever made. Its space explorers are the models for the crew of Star Trek's Enterprise, and the film's robot is clearly the prototype for Robby in Lost in Space. Walter Pidgeon is the Prospero figure, presiding over a paradisiacal world with his lovely young daughter and their servile droid. When the crew of a spaceship lands on the planet, they become aware of a sinister invisible force that threatens to destroy them. Great special effects and a bizarre electronic score help make this movie as fresh, imaginative, and fun as it was when first released.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 10:25 pm

303
Biruma no tategoto (The Burmese harp) (Kon Ichikawa, 1956)




Kon Ichikawa's Buddhist tale of peace, The Burmese Harp, is universally relevant in various eras and cultures, although it comments specifically on the destruction of Burma during World War II. Based on the novel by Michio Takeyama, The Burmese Harp stars a Japanese platoon stationed in Burma whose choir skills are inspired by their star musician, Private Mizushima (Rentaro Mikuni), who strums his harp to cheer the homesick soldiers. As the troop surrenders to the British and is interred in Mudon prison camp, Mizushima escapes to be faced with not only his imminent death, but also the deaths of thousands of other soldiers and civilians. Relinquishing his life as a military man, Mizushima retreats into a life of Buddhist prayer, dedicating himself to healing a wounded country. Filmed in black and white, strong visual contrasts heighten the divide between peace, war, life, and death in this highly symbolic film. Scenes in which the Japanese soldiers urge opposing forces to sing with them portray military men regardless of alliance as emotionally sensitive. Showing the humanistic aspects of war, such as the male bonding that occurs between soldiers, doesn't justify war as much as deepens its tragedy. This release includes interviews with the director and with Mikuni, further contextualizing its place in Japanese cinema. The Burmese Harp, with its lessons in compassion and selflessness, is so transformative that viewing it feels somewhat akin to a religious experience.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 10:31 pm

304
The searchers (John Ford, 1956)




A favorite film of some of the world's greatest filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, John Ford's The Searchers has earned its place in the legacy of great American films for a variety of reasons. Perhaps most notably, it's the definitive role for John Wayne as an icon of the classic Western--the hero (or antihero) who must stand alone according to the unwritten code of the West. The story takes place in Texas in 1868; Wayne plays Ethan Edwards, a Confederate veteran who visits his brother and sister-in-law at their ranch and is horrified when they are killed by marauding Comanches. Ethan's search for a surviving niece (played by young Natalie Wood) becomes an all-consuming obsession. With the help of a family friend (Jeffrey Hunter) who is himself part Cherokee, Ethan hits the trail on a five-year quest for revenge. At the peak of his masterful talent, director Ford crafts this classic tale as an embittered examination of racism and blind hatred, provoking Wayne to give one of the best performances of his career. As with many of Ford's classic Westerns, The Searchers must contend with revisionism in its stereotypical treatment of "savage" Native Americans, and the film's visual beauty (the final shot is one of the great images in all of Western culture) is compromised by some uneven performances and stilted dialogue. Still, this is undeniably one of the greatest Westerns ever made.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 10:35 pm

305
Un condamné à mort s'est échappé (A man escaped)
(Robert Bresson, 1956)




"This story is true," reads the opening statement of A Man Escaped. "I give it as it is, without embellishment." Based on the memoir by Andre Devigny, a member of the French Resistance imprisoned and sentenced to death by the Gestapo during the German occupation, Bresson (himself at one time a German POW) transforms Devigny's daring escape into an ascetic film of documentary detail. Kept in a tiny stone cell with a high window and a thick wooden door, the prisoner (renamed Fontaine in the film) makes himself intimate with his world--every surface of his room, every sound reverberating through the hall, and every detail of the prison's layout that he can absorb in brief sojourns from his cell. Bresson magnifies every detail with insistent close-ups and detailed examinations of every step of Fontaine's plan, from constructing and hiding ropes and hooks to painstakingly carving out an exit in the heavy cell door, and provides a sort of Greek chorus of fellow prisoners. This is Bresson's first film to feature a completely nonprofessional cast drilled to master precise movements and deliver lines without dramatic inflection. The effect is a drama where the slightest gesture carries the weight of a confession. Bresson's films are not for everybody, and this austere picture hardly carries the visceral punch of The Great Escape, but it's a drama of profound power, with a gripping climax that's as absorbing and tense as any high-energy action film.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 10:39 pm

306
Written on the wind (Douglas Sirk, 1956)




Douglas Sirk puts the opera back into soap opera in this exquisitely baroque melodrama, the epitome of Technicolor gloss. Rock Hudson (as wonderfully wooden as ever) and Lauren Bacall play stalwart examples of altruism, clean living, and good old American ambition, but Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone steal the film as white trash millionaire siblings stewing in self-pity. The plot reads like an episode of Dallas: Texas oil-baron playboy Stack steals good girl Bacall from best friend Hudson while Stack's sister Malone puts her slinky moves on Hudson, the strapping poor boy made good. Toss in impotence, jealousy, alcoholic binges, emotional blackmail, and backstabbing nastiness, mix vigorously with high style and expressionist flourishes, and you've got the most potent melodrama cocktail of the 1950s. Stack twists his arch delivery into the practiced bravado of a boozing womanizer nursing an inferiority complex while Malone sashays and flirts her way through an Oscar-winning performance as a slutty, sassy good-time girl. It's so over the top that it might seem kitschy at first glance, but former theater director Sirk subtly shades his vision in the shadows of film noir and uses the portentous angles and gaudy color to create a vivid, vivacious world of glossy surfaces and social masks cracking under the pressure of responsibility and the pain of lost love.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 10:41 pm

307
The man who knew too much (Alfred Hitchcock, 1956)




Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 remake of his own 1934 spy thriller is an exciting event in its own right, with several justifiably famous sequences. James Stewart and Doris Day play American tourists who discover more than they wanted to know about an assassination plot. When their son is kidnapped to keep them quiet, they are caught between concern for him and the terrible secret they hold. When asked about the difference between this version of the story and the one he made 22 years earlier, Hitchcock always said the first was the work of a talented amateur while the second was the act of a seasoned professional. Indeed, several extraordinary moments in this update represent consummate filmmaking, particularly a relentlessly exciting Albert Hall scene, with a blaring symphony, an assassin's gun, and Doris Day's scream. Along with Hitchcock's other films from the mid-1950s to 1960 (including Vertigo, Rear Window, and Psycho), The Man Who Knew Too Much is the work of a master in his prime.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 11:15 pm

308
Giant (George Stevens, 1956)




They call it Giant because everything in this picture is big, from the generous running time (more than 200 minutes) to the sprawling ranch location (a horizon-to-horizon plain with a lonely, modest mansion dropped in the middle) to the high-powered stars. Stocky Rock Hudson stars as the confident, stubborn young ranch baron Bick Benedict, who woos and wins the hand of Southern belle Elizabeth Taylor, a seemingly demure young beauty who proves to be Hudson's match after she settles into the family homestead. For many the film is chiefly remembered for James Dean's final performance, as poor former ranch hand Jett Rink, who strikes oil and transforms himself into a flamboyant millionaire playboy. Director George Stevens won his second Oscar for this ambitious, grandly realized (if sometimes slow moving) epic of the changing socioeconomic (and physical) landscape of modern Texas, based on Edna Ferber's bestselling novel. The talented supporting cast includes Mercedes McCambridge as Bick's frustrated sister, put out by the new "woman of the house"; Chill Wills as the Benedicts' garrulous rancher neighbor; Carroll Baker and Dennis Hopper as the Benedicts' rebellious children; and Earl Holliman and Sal Mineo as dedicated ranch hands.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die- Part VII: 1955-1959

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