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

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

Mensaje  JM el Mar Oct 27, 2009 11:25 pm

309
All that heaven allows (Douglas Sirk, 1955)




Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman were so successful in Douglas Sirk's Magnificent Obsession that they reteamed for this, his first melodrama masterpiece. Young hunk Rock is a strapping son of mother nature, a gardener who woos middle-aged, middle class widow Wyman to the snooty disapproval of her conservative social circle and embarrassment of her self-centered children. Wyman discovers a new life with his open-armed friends and back-to-nature lifestyle, but struggles with life-changing decisions in the face of social pressure and vicious gossip. Living the Henry Thoreau dream, Rock inhabits his personal Walden in a rustic country cabin by a bubbling brook, a dream house lit by a giant picture window overlooking an idyllic countryside where deer pose just outside the window. Wyman's elegant but sterile suburban home transforms into a tomb when she sacrifices her love for the "good name" of her children, and the lonely widow sees her future in the pale, colorless reflection of her TV screen. But don't despair just yet: Sirk's heroines are dynamic and resourceful and no Sirk melodrama ends without a heart-tugging, over-the-top twist. German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who championed Sirk as a master and a mentor, remade the film as Ali: Fear Eats the Soul decades later.


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 11:27 pm

310
Invasion of the body snatchers (Don Siegel, 1956)




Something's wrong in the town of Santa Mira, California. At first, Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) is unconcerned when the townsfolk accuse their loved ones of acting like emotionless imposters. But soon the evidence is overwhelming--Santa Mira has been invaded by alien "pods" that are capable of replicating humans and taking possession of their identities. It's up to McCarthy to spread the word of warning, battling the alien invasion at the risk of his own life. Considered one of the best science fiction films of the 1950s and '60s, this classic paranoid thriller was widely interpreted as a criticism of the McCarthy era (that's Senator Joseph, not actor Kevin), which was characterized by anticommunist witch-hunts and fear of the dreaded blacklist. Some hailed it as an attack on the oppressive power of government as Big Brother. However viewers interpret it, this original 1956 version of Invaders of the Body Snatchers (based on Jack Finney's serialized novel The Body Snatchers) remains a milestone movie in its genre, directed by Don Siegel with an inventive intensity that continues to pack an entertaining wallop. Look closely and you'll find future director Sam Peckinpah (an uncredited cowriter of this film) making a cameo appearance as a meter reader!


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 11:29 pm

311
The wrong man (Alfred Hitchcock, 1956)




Alfred Hitchcock was fond of telling the story about how his father discouraged his son from even the slightest criminal impulse by having young Alfred locked in a police holding cell for a brief period--a terrifying experience Hitchcock never forgot. Much of the fear from that childhood incident resonates through The Wrong Man, which is unique among Hitchcock's films in that it is based entirely on a factual case that occurred in New York City in January 1953. As Hitchcock states in a shadowy prologue, authenticity was his primary goal--including the use of actual names and locations from the case--and the film gains considerable power from Hitchcock's semi-documentary approach (a film noir style that was still in vogue when Hitchcock shot this film in 1957).
Henry Fonda is perfectly cast as the financially struggling nightclub musician who is mistakenly identified as a robber when he attempts to cash in his wife's life-insurance policy to pay for her much-needed dental work. Vera Miles is equally superb as the suffering wife, who ultimately cracks under the pressure of her husband's wrongful accusation and the drawn-out process of proving his innocence. Through all of this, Hitchcock pays close attention to the mundane details of police procedure, intensifying Fonda's desperation and the narrative tension that was Hitchcock's directorial trademark. As it happens, the strict adherence to factual detail--no matter how absurd or incredible--also renders The Wrong Man somewhat weaker than Hitchcock's classic plots, since in this case truth is decidedly stranger than fiction. Nevertheless, this is still a riveting film that fits quite nicely alongside Hitchcock's better-known films of the 1950s. (Interesting trivia: Miles--who would later appear in Psycho, was Hitchcock's first choice for the Kim Novak role in Vertigo, and Hitchcock was vocally annoyed when Miles's pregnancy prevented her from taking the role that could have made her a star.)


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 11:33 pm

312
Bigger than life (Nicholas Ray, 1956)




Bigger Than Life is an American film made in 1956 directed by Nicholas Ray and starring James Mason, who also co-wrote and produced the film, about a school teacher and family man whose life spins out of control upon becoming addicted to cortisone. The film co-stars Barbara Rush as his wife and Walter Matthau as his closest friend, a fellow teacher. Though it was a box-office flop upon its initial release, many modern critics hail it as a masterpiece and a brilliant indictment of the conformist 1950s suburbia.


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 11:37 pm

313
High society (Charles Walters, 1956)




High Society (1956) is musical film made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in VistaVision and Technicolor with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. It was directed by Charles Walters and produced by Sol C. Siegel from a screenplay by John Patrick, based on the play The Philadelphia Story by Philip Barry. The cinematography was by Paul Vogel, the art direction by Cedric Gibbons and Hans Peters and the costume design by Helen Rose.
The successful jazz musician C.K. Dexter Haven (Bing Crosby) had married and divorced rich Tracy Samantha Lord (Grace Kelly), but remains in love with her. She, however, is about to get married to a bland gentleman of good standing, George Kittredge (John Lund). The intense and edgy reporter by the name of Mike Connor (Frank Sinatra) covers the nuptials for Spy Magazine, and falls for her as well. She must choose between the three very different men in a course of self-discovery.


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 11:43 pm

314
The Ten Commandments (Cecil B. De Mille, 1956)




Legendary silent film director Cecil B. DeMille didn't much alter the way he made movies after sound came in, and this 1956 biblical drama is proof of that. While graced with such 1950s niceties as VistaVision and Technicolor, The Ten Commandments (DeMille had already filmed an earlier version in 1923) has an anachronistic, impassioned style that finds lead actors Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner expressively posing while hundreds of extras writhe either in the presence of God's power or from orgiastic heat. DeMille, as always, plays both sides of the fence as far as sin goes, surrounding Heston's Moses with worshipful music and heavenly special effects while also making the sexy action around the cult of the Golden Calf look like fun. You have to see The Ten Commandments to understand its peculiar resonance as an old-new movie, complete with several still-impressive effects such as the parting of the Red Sea.


Watch The Ten Commandments, 1956, by Cecil B. De Mille in Entertainment Videos | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

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 11:44 pm

315
12 angry men (Sidney Lumet, 1957)




12 Angry Men is a 1957 American drama film adapted from the Reginald Rose play, Twelve Angry Men. Directed by first-time director Sidney Lumet, the film tells the story of a jury member who tries to persuade the other eleven members to acquit the suspect on trial on the basis of reasonable doubt. The film is notable for its almost exclusive use of one set: with the exception of three minutes of screen-time split between the beginning and the end on the steps of the court building and two short scenes in an adjoining washroom, the entire movie takes place in the jury room.
Apart from two of the jurors swapping names while leaving the courthouse, no names are used in the film: the defendant is referred to as "the boy" and the witnesses as the "old man" and "the lady across the street".


JM

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

Mensaje  JM el Miér Oct 28, 2009 12:01 am

316
Det sjunde inseglet (The seventh seal) (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)




Ingmar Bergman's 1956 film has been parodied by everyone from Woody Allen to Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, but it remains one of the strangest and richest classics of world cinema. Max Von Sydow plays a knight returning from the Crusades to encounter an apocalyptic scenario inspired by the Book of Genesis. He plays chess with Death (Bengt Ekerot), sees a manacled witch, watches a band of flagellants go by--all of it foretelling an inevitable end to life. Unabashedly allegorical and lyrical and existing in a world unto itself, the film is enormously mesmerizing no matter what one thinks of the weighty meanings Bergman has attached to it all.


JM

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

Mensaje  JM el Miér Oct 28, 2009 12:05 am

317
An affair to remember (Leo McCarey, 1957)




Get out your handkerchiefs for this four-star weepie, a 1957 remake of the 1939 Love Affair, directed by Leo McCarey, who also made the original. Grant and Kerr are strangers on an ocean liner, involved with other people, but who can't resist each other for a shipboard romance. They decide to test whether this is the real thing by agreeing to split up, then meet in six months atop the Empire State Building. Is there anyone who can resist that setup or the tragic romantic mishap that nearly splits them up? Can you keep dry eyes during the famous finale? Some prefer the original (with Charles Boyer); practically no one liked the underrated 1994 remake with Warren Beatty and Annette Bening. While occasionally a shade slow, this one soars on Grant's charm and Kerr's noble suffering.


JM

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

Mensaje  JM el Miér Oct 28, 2009 12:20 am

318
Smultronstället (Wild strawberries) (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)




An elderly college professor sets out in his car to receive an honorary degree--and takes a trip instead through his own past and subconscious--in this bittersweet but ultimately tender and understanding 1957 film by Swedish master Ingmar Bergman. Casting Swedish star Victor Sjöström in the lead, Bergman, then at the height of his powers as an international filmmaker, uses flashbacks and bright, lyrical storytelling to capture the full arc of one man's life: the successes that seem fleeting, the disappointments that linger in the memory, the regrets that never seem to let go. In some ways, it can be seen as a forerunner of Woody Allen's Deconstructing Harry, except that Bergman's sense of irony is always more profound.


JM

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

Mensaje  JM el Miér Oct 28, 2009 12:26 am

319
Le notti di Cabiria (Nights of Cabiria) (Federico Fellini, 1957)




A year after his international breakthrough film La Strada, Federico Fellini and his leading lady/wife Giulietta Masina collaborated on another masterpiece, a magical mix of neorealism and romantic optimism set on the streets of Rome. Masina's moon-faced and bright-eyed Cabiria is a passionate streetwalker with a heart as big as Italy and the emotional spontaneity of a child, a woman with a hearty passion for life whose constant weakness is falling in love with mercenary creeps. For a couple of hours we share the dreams and disillusionments of Cabiria as she rattles around Rome before once again losing her heart. The bittersweet heartbreak is tempered with a soaring celebration of the human spirit: no other Fellini film offers such honest hope in the face of such bitter devastation. Fellini left the poor and the working class to revel in the decadence of Rome's high society for his next film, La Dolce Vita, a film that could have sprung from Cabiria's hilarious chance interlude with a matinee idol (played by Amedeo Nazzari). Rambling and leisurely paced, Nights of Cabiria is a sweet film of warmth and simple grace. It became the basis of Neil Simon's American musical Sweet Charity, with Shirley Maclaine taking Masina's role in Bob Fosse's film version.


JM

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

Mensaje  JM el Miér Oct 28, 2009 11:52 am

320
Kumonosu-jō (Throne of blood) (Akira Kurosawa, 1957)




A champion of illumination and experimental shading, Kurosawa brings his unerring eye for indelible images to Shakespeare in this 1957 adaptation of Macbeth. By changing the locale from Birnam Wood to 16th-century Japan, Kurosawa makes an oddball argument for the trans-historicity of Shakespeare's narrative; and indeed, stripped to the bare mechanics of the plot, the tale of cutthroat ambition rewarded (and thwarted) feels infinitely adaptable. What's lost in the translation, of course, is the force and beauty of the language--much of the script of Throne of Blood is maddeningly repetitive or superfluous--but striking visual images (including the surreal Cobweb Forest and some extremely artful gore) replace the sublime poetry. Toshiro Mifune is theatrically intense as Washizu, the samurai fated to betray his friend and master in exchange for the prestige of nobility; he portrays the ill-fated warrior with a passion bordering on violence, and a barely concealed conviviality. Somewhat less successful is Isuzu Yamada as Washizu's scheming wife; her poise and creepy impassivity, chilling at first, soon grows tedious. Kurosawa himself is the star of the show, though, and his masterful use of black-and-white contrast-- not to mention his steady, dramatic hand with a battle scene--keeps the proceedings thrilling. A must-see for fans of Japanese cinema, as well as all you devotees of samurai weapons and armor.


JM

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

Mensaje  JM el Miér Oct 28, 2009 11:55 am

321
The incredible shrinking man (Jack Arnold, 1957)




The Incredible Shrinking Man is a 1957 science fiction film directed by Jack Arnold and adapted for the screen by Richard Matheson from his novel The Shrinking Man.
Scott Carey (Grant Williams) is contaminated by a radioactive cloud and pesticide, and he slowly begins shrinking. When he's three feet tall, he briefly becomes friends with a female circus midget but then continues to shrink, eventually being reduced to living in a dollhouse. After nearly being killed by a cat, he winds up trapped in a basement and has to battle a voracious spider, his own hunger, and the fear that he may eventually shrink down to nothing. After defeating the spider, the hero accepts his fate and (now so small he can escape the basement by walking through a space in a window screen) looks forward to seeing what awaits him in ever smaller realms.


JM

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

Mensaje  JM el Miér Oct 28, 2009 11:57 am

322
Aparajito (The Unvanquished) (Satyajit Ray, 1957)




In this, the second film in the Apu trilogy, Harihar (Kanu Bannerjee) takes his wife, Sarbajaya (Karuna Bannerjee), and his son, Apu, to live in the bustling city of Benares after the tragic death of his daughter, Durga, and the destruction of the family's home. Harihar ekes out a living reading sacred texts by the shores of the Ganges River. When he falls ill, Sarbajaya must learn to cope on her own and leaves the city to work as a cook for a wealthy family living in the country.
Apu, by now an adolescent (played by Smaran Ghosal), is extremely bright and hungry for knowledge. Good fortune befalls him, and he is able to attend school, eventually going to Calcutta to attend the university. Sarbajaya is reluctant to let her son go, but she is unable to stop him. She waits patiently for his return, but at the same time is growing weak from illness. When Apu learns of his mother's illness, he must decide if he's going to sacrifice his final exams and return to her side or take the exams and risk the chance she might die before he gets there.
As compelling as its predecessor, Pather Panchali, this film was made only one year later, in 1956. Karuna Bannerjee is riveting in her portrayal of a woman who has lost everything of value to her but her beloved son. The film was based on the novel Aparajito by Bibhutibhushan Banerjee, and the music was composed by Ravi Shankar.


JM

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

Mensaje  JM el Miér Oct 28, 2009 12:02 pm

323
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (John Sturges, 1957)




Novelist Leon Uris wrote the script for this Western directed by John Sturges (The Magnificent Seven) and based on the life and times of Wyatt Earp (Burt Lancaster) and his sickly companion, Doc Holliday (Kirk Douglas). The action inevitably leads to the legendary battle between the two heroes and the villainous Clanton gang, but the film is also very much about the conflicts each man faces with women, with one another, and with their own destinies. Lancaster is terrific as the downbeat Earp, and Douglas has one of his best roles as the consumptive Holliday. The thoughtfulness of the tale is matched by Sturges's captivating way with the dramatic duel. All in all, the film appeals both as a solid action piece and as a fascinating, two-character study.


JM

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

Mensaje  JM el Miér Oct 28, 2009 1:48 pm

324
The bridge over River Kwai (David Lean, 1957)




Director David Lean's masterful 1957 realization of Pierre Boulle's novel remains a benchmark for war films, and a deeply absorbing movie by any standard--like most of Lean's canon, The Bridge on the River Kwai achieves a richness in theme, narrative, and characterization that transcends genre.
The story centers on a Japanese prison camp isolated deep in the jungles of Southeast Asia, where the remorseless Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) has been charged with building a vitally important railway bridge. His clash of wills with a British prisoner, the charismatic Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness), escalates into a duel of honor, Nicholson defying his captor's demands to win concessions for his troops. How the two officers reach a compromise, and Nicholson becomes obsessed with building that bridge, provides the story's thematic spine; the parallel movement of a team of commandos dispatched to stop the project, led by a British major (Jack Hawkins) and guided by an American escapee (William Holden), supplies the story's suspense and forward momentum.
Shot on location in Sri Lanka, Kwai moves with a careful, even deliberate pace that survivors of latter-day, high-concept blockbusters might find lulling--Lean doesn't pander to attention deficit disorders with an explosion every 15 minutes. Instead, he guides us toward the intersection of the two plots, accruing remarkable character details through extraordinary performances. Hayakawa's cruel camp commander is gradually revealed as a victim of his own sense of honor, Holden's callow opportunist proves heroic without softening his nihilistic edge, and Guinness (who won a Best Actor Oscar, one of the production's seven wins) disappears as only he can into Nicholson's brittle, duty-driven, delusional psychosis. His final glimpse of self-knowledge remains an astonishing moment--story, character, and image coalescing with explosive impact.


JM

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

Mensaje  JM el Miér Oct 28, 2009 1:50 pm

325
भारत माता (Mother India) (Mehboob Khan, 1957)




Mother India is a 1957 Bollywood film directed by Mehboob Khan and starring Nargis, Sunil Dutt, Rajendra Kumar and Raj Kumar. The film was Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1958.
The film is a remake of Mehboob Khan's earlier film Aurat (1940).
The film begins with the finishing of a water canal to the village set in the present. Radha (Nargis), as the 'mother' of the village is asked to open the canal and remembers back to her past when she was newly married, mirroring the new independence of India.
The wedding between Radha and Shamu (Raaj Kumar) was paid for by Radha's mother-in-law who raised a loan from the moneylender, Sukhilala. This event starts the spiral of poverty and hardship which Radha endures. The conditions of the loan are disputed but the village elders decide in favour of the moneylender after which Shamu and Radha are forced to pay three quarters of their crop as interest on the loan of 500 rupees.


JM

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

Mensaje  JM el Miér Oct 28, 2009 1:53 pm

326
Letyat zhuravli (The cranes are flying) (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1957)




Mikhail Kalatozov's luscious portrait of love and loss during World War II stars almond-eyed beauty Tatyana Samojlova and handsome Aleksei Batalov as moony-eyed young lovers whose innocent romance is shattered by war. When the idealistic boy volunteers for service, his draft-dodging cousin steals the despondent girl by brute force, yet she never gives up on her true love, even when he's reported dead. Kalatozov's patriotic paean to fallen soldiers and home-front heroes is an undeniably sentimental melodrama suffused with lush images and lyrical sequences, a kind of cinematic poetry unseen in Soviet cinema since the experimentation and optimism of the silent days. Produced during the "thaw" following Stalin's repressive reign, it won the Palme d'Or prize at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival and set Kalatozov on the road to more ambitious expressions of Soviet idealism in the modern world, culminating in his masterpiece, I Am Cuba.


JM

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

Mensaje  JM el Miér Oct 28, 2009 1:55 pm

327
Paths of glory (Stanley Kubrick, 1957)




Stanley Kubrick had already made his talent known with the outstanding racetrack heist thriller The Killing, but it was the 1957 antiwar masterpiece Paths of Glory that catapulted Kubrick to international acclaim. Based on the novel by Humphrey Cobb, the film was initiated by Kirk Douglas, who chose the young Kubrick to direct what would become one of the most powerful films about the wasteful insanity of warfare. In one of his finest roles, Douglas plays Colonel Dax, commander of a battle-worn regiment of the French army along the western front during World War I. Held in their trenches under the threat of German artillery, the regiment is ordered on a suicidal mission to capture an enemy stronghold. When the mission inevitably fails, French generals order the selection of three soldiers to be tried and executed on the charge of cowardice. Dax is appointed as defense attorney for the chosen scapegoats, and what follows is a travesty of justice that has remained relevant and powerful for decades. In the wake of some of the most authentic and devastating battle sequences ever filmed, Kubrick brilliantly explores the political machinations and selfish personal ambitions that result in battlefield slaughter and senseless executions. The film is unflinching in its condemnation of war and the self-indulgence of military leaders who orchestrate the deaths of thousands from the comfort of their luxurious headquarters. For many years, Paths of Glory was banned in France as a slanderous attack on French honor, but it's clear that Kubrick's intense drama is aimed at all nations and all men. Though it touches on themes of courage and loyalty in the context of warfare, the film is specifically about the historical realities of World War I, but its impact and artistic achievement remain timeless and universal.


JM

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

Mensaje  JM el Miér Oct 28, 2009 3:17 pm

328
Sweet smell of success (Alexander Mackendrick, 1957)




A classic of the late 1950s, this film looks at the string-pulling behind-the-scenes action between desperate press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) and the ultimate power broker in that long-ago show-biz Manhattan: gossip columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster). Written by Ernest Lehman and Clifford Odets (who based the Hunsecker character on the similarly brutal and power-mad Walter Winchell), the film follows Falco's attempts to promote a client through Hunsecker's column--until he is forced to make a deal with the devil and help Hunsecker ruin a jazz musician who has the nerve to date Hunsecker's sister. Director Alexander MacKendrick and cinematographer James Wong Howe, shooting on location mostly at night, capture this New York demimonde in silky black and white, in which neon and shadows share a scarily symbiotic relationship--a near-match for the poisonous give-and-take between the edgy Curtis and the dismissive Lancaster.


JM

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

Mensaje  JM el Miér Oct 28, 2009 3:21 pm

329
Man of the West (Anthony Mann, 1958)




Man of the West is a 1958 western film directed by Anthony Mann in his last film in the genre. The screenplay, written by Reginald Rose, is based on the novel The Border Jumpers by Will C. Brown.
When first released, the film was largely ignored by American critics, though renowned French critic Jean-Luc Godard regarded it as the best one released that year. In the decades since the film's release, it has garnered a cult following as well as considerably greater acclaim. Some, such as The Guardian's Derek Malcolm consider the film Mann's best and a landmark in the western genre's canon.
Heading east to Fort Worth to hire a schoolteacher for his frontier town home, Link Jones (Gary Cooper) is stranded with saloon singer Billie Ellis (Julie London) and gambler Sam Beasley (Arthur O'Connell) when their train is held up. For shelter, Jones leads them to his nearby former home, where he was brought up an outlaw. Finding the gang still living in the shack--they were in fact the train robbers--Jones pretends to be ready to return to a life of crime. Only the gang's crazed leader, "Uncle" Dock Tobin (Lee J. Cobb), accepts Jones's story, and he decides to revive a long-planned robbery scheme. As Jones plays for time, he struggles with his background as a criminal, while Tobin's men turn increasingly abusive and violent. Cooper's love scenes with Julie London were cut, supposedly due to her inexperience as an actress.


JM

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

Mensaje  JM el Miér Oct 28, 2009 3:25 pm

330
Touch of evil (Orson Welles, 1958)




Considered by many to be the greatest B movie ever made, the original-release version of Orson Welles's film noir masterpiece Touch of Evil was, ironically, never intended as a B movie at all--it merely suffered that fate after it was taken away from writer-director Welles, then reedited and released in 1958 as the second half of a double feature. Time and critical acclaim would eventually elevate the film to classic status (and Welles's original vision was meticulously followed for the film's 1998 restoration), but for four decades this original version stood as a testament to Welles's directorial genius. From its astonishing, miraculously choreographed opening shot (lasting over three minutes) to Marlene Dietrich's classic final line of dialogue, this sordid tale of murder and police corruption is like a valentine for the cinematic medium, with Welles as its love-struck suitor. As the corpulent cop who may be involved in a border-town murder, Welles faces opposition from a narcotics officer (Charlton Heston) whose wife (Janet Leigh) is abducted and held as the pawn in a struggle between Heston's quest for truth and Welles's control of carefully hidden secrets. The twisting plot is wildly entertaining (even though it's harder to follow in this original version), but even greater pleasure is found in the pulpy dialogue and the sheer exuberance of the dazzling directorial style.


JM

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

Mensaje  JM el Miér Oct 28, 2009 3:27 pm

331
Bab el Hadid (Cairo Station) (Youssef Chahine, 1958)




Cairo Station—as Bab el Hadid is most widely known in English— is perhaps especially memorable for its rich visual content. It includes frequent long shots which place the main characters against the complex and busy background of the real railroad station of the title. It has occasional and highly effective sequences of complete silence, which contrast with the usual noise and bustle and place the weight of the story on visual explication alone. It also includes such powerful single images as the sight of living human beings dwarfed by a gigantic statue of the ancient ruler Rameses II. The fact that Youssef Chahine, who both directed the film and stars in it, was initially trained as a painter before turning to filmmaking comes as no surprise.


JM

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

Mensaje  JM el Miér Oct 28, 2009 3:37 pm

332
Gigi (Charles Walters, 1958)




Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's 1958 direct-to-screen follow-up to their My Fair Lady was--miraculously--every bit as memorable as that stage smash. Set in fin-de-siècle Paris and based on a Colette story, Gigi also is about a girl (Leslie Caron) on a lower rung of society who blossoms into Cinderellahood before our eyes and ears. Thank heaven for Hermione Gingold and Maurice Chevalier as her mentors, and Louis Jourdan as her prince. The screenplay writer and lyricist Lerner always said that Gigi's title song was his favorite of all he'd written, and it's easy to see why--"Gigi" is a transcendent anthem to being transformed by love from an unexpected source. The entire score, including "Say a Prayer" (which had been cut from My Fair Lady), "I Remember It Well," "The Night They Invented Champagne," and "Thank Heaven for Little Girls," comprise a sparkling, rare soundtrack recording that stands alone and can be enjoyed and understood by those who have not yet seen the movie, deprived souls that they are. The winner of nine Academy Awards (plus a special Oscar for Chevalier), including Best Picture, Gigi was the last great MGM movie musical and one of the best.


JM

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

Mensaje  JM el Miér Oct 28, 2009 3:40 pm

333
The defiant ones (Stanley Kramer, 1958)




This 1958 variation on Huck Finn's adventures with Jim finds a white convict (Tony Curtis) chained to a black convict (Sidney Poitier) as they both escape their captors. With each man literally stuck with the other, racial conflicts take a back seat to survival. Directed by Stanley Kramer (Guess Who's Coming to Dinner), the film's obvious consciousness-raising is mitigated by a pair of raw performances from the stars, memorable appearances by Lon Chaney Jr. and Cara Williams, and Kramer's strong storytelling abilities. The award-winning script was cowritten by blacklisted writer-actor Nedrick Young.


JM

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

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