Saturday, January 04, 2014

Old Damage, New Challenges

Jesse Walker is now up (or down) to 1953 in his film lists.  It was a tricky time for Hollywood, where they were trying to maintain the old ways, but the studios were splitting up and television was a huge threat.  Meanwhile, countries like Italy, France and Japan, still rebuilding from WWII, were creating (or re-creating) interesting national cinema.

Here's Jesse's top ten list:

1. Glen or Glenda
2. Duck Amuck
3. The Naked Spur
4. Tokyo Story
5. Eaux d'Artifice
6. Ugetsu Monogatari
7. El
8. Niagara
9. Stalag 17
10. Summer with Monika

Interesting mix here.  Glen Or Glenda is Ed Wood's masterpiece, for what it's worth, but I'm not sure if it belongs on any list of this sort. But who knows?  Duck Amuck is also a masterpiece, but, as Jesse knows, I don't think shorts should be included.

I've differed before with Jesse over Anthony Mann westerns.  They're not bad--The Naked Spur, in fact, is pretty good--just not top ten good.  Tokyo Story is top ten (even if, like 8 1/2, it keeps making top ten of all time lists).  Eaux d'Artifice is a short.

Ugetsu Monogatari is also great.  I go back and forth over who my favorite Japanese director is, but right now I'm leaning toward Mizoguchi.  Unlike Jesse, I don't believe Bunuel did anything approaching his best work in Mexico, but he makes a lot out of a little with El.

Niagara is a potboiler, and fun in its way, but I wouldn't put it in the top ten or even twenty. Sorry, Charles Brackett, but old partner Billy Wilder has you beat with Stalag 17, one of his best. It's not generally considered one of his greatest, but once I start watching I keep going to the finish--I'd rank it over Sunset Boulevard and The Apartment.  It's gripping, and has comic relief that's actually funny.

Summer With Monika is a fascinating case of a film that was sold as hot stuff (and it is--when From Here To Eternity (which Jesse likes but is not on his list--I probably like it less) was considered as far as Hollywood could go, this features actual nudity), but is actually a pretty serious and even depressing--it is Bergman, after all--look at a relationship.

Here are the honorable mentions:

The Wages of Fear
12. The Big Heat
13. Pickup on South Street
14. The Band Wagon
15. Little Fugitive
16. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
17. Mr. Hulot's Holiday
18. Daybreak Express
19. The Tell-Tale Heart
20. I Vitelloni

This list is as good as his top ten.  11 I like but don't love.  15 and 18 I haven't seen.  19 is fine but a short.  12, 13 and 14 should definitely be top ten and 16, 17 and 20 should probably be top ten as well.

Other films that might make my top ten:

The 5000 Fingers Of Dr. T

Roman Holiday

Other films of 1953 I like:

Beat The Devil, The Caddy, Calamity Jane, Call Me Madam, The Earrings Of Madame De...,  Kiss Me Kate, Lili, The Wild One

Other films of note:

99 River Street, Abbott And Costello Go To Mars, Abbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, The Affairs Of Dobie Gillis, Appointment In London, Barabbas, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, The Beggar’s Opera, By The Light Of The Silvery Moon, The Captain’s Paradise, City That Never Sleeps, Dream Wife, Easy To Love, The Eddie Cantor Story, Escape By Night, The Farmer Takes A Wife, Fear And Desire, Here Come The Girls, Houdini, House Of Wax, How To Marry A Millionaire, I Confess, I Love Melvin, I The Jury, Invaders From Mars, Island In The Sky, It Came From Outer Space, It’s Never Too Late, The Joe Louis Story, Julius Caesar, Knights Of The Round Table, The Living Desert, Mogambo, The Moon Is Blue, No Escape, Peter Pan, Pony Express, The Robe, Robot Monster, Sawdust And Tinsel, Scared Stiff, Shane, The Story Of Gilbert And Sullivan, The Three Musketeers, Thunder Bay, Titanic, Tonight We Sing, The War Of The Worlds


Blogger Jesse said...

I must confess I've never seen Roman Holiday.

5:43 AM, January 04, 2014  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Quite a confession. What comes next? His Girl Friday?It's a Wonderful Life?The Dick Van Dyke Show?

Come to think of it, I have only LAGuy's word that you are a real person and not a machine . . .

7:25 AM, January 04, 2014  
Blogger Jesse said...

All right, all right. I am the Robot Monster.

7:39 AM, January 04, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love Ugetsu. I'd put it on my top ten all time. (I had some good company on this one back in the day.)

Not sure about Tokyo Story. I like it, but it's not even close to my favorite Ozu.

The odd thing about Tokyo Story is that I've been sold out of it on more than one occasion. My theory is that people know they are supposed to like it, but no one has ever been able to watch it on TV without falling asleep, which forces them to go see it when it plays in repertory.

9:35 AM, January 04, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

You've never seen Roman Holiday? I should have given you a spoiler alert.

10:52 AM, January 04, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you see the Sight And Sound top ten? At least half of it is films that got a reputation because the chattering classes talk amongst themselves, not because regular people love these films. In the 60's and 70's Ugetsu was considered the greatest Japanese film ever. Then in the 80's there was a brief flirtation with Seven Samurai. Now, for the last thirty years, Tokyo Story is considered practically the greatest film of all time. Who knows when Ozu will fall out of favor.

11:31 AM, January 04, 2014  
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