Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ike And The Like

The 50s was a tricky decade for film, with TV destroying the movie-going habit. Hollywood has never really recovered.  At the time, it responded with widescreen and color and epics and so on, but the hold movies had on the public was gone, never to return.  (Meanwhile, Europe and Japan had dug themselves out of the war and were doing imaginative work that Hollywood couldn't, often due to its self-censorship.)

I admit the florid, overdone films of the decade--especially after the sharp, snappy, confident Hollywood of the pre-WWII years--make it one of my least favorite decades, even as many critics try to reclaim the era.

And now Jesse Walker has returned to 1954.  Let's look at his top ten list:

1.  Rear Window
2.  Seven Samurai
3.  Johnny Guitar
4.  Wuthering Heights
5.  On The Waterfront
6.  Sansho The Bailiff
7.  Inauguration And The Pleasure Dome
8.  Illusion Travels By Streetcar
9.  Track Of The Cat
10.  La Strada

I should note that Jesse has no honorable mention list. Guess the year didn't offer up that much.

I like Rear Window, but don't love it. In general I find Hitchcock overrated, though Rear Window is a rare Hitchcock "experiment" that works.  Seven Samurai--maybe Kurosawa's greatest--should definitely be at or near the top of the list.  So should Sansho The Bailiff--quite a year for Japanese film.  Johnny Guitar is one of those auteurist classics which fills the 50s--I admit it's kind of fun because it's so bizarre, but not great.  Wuthering Heights (is that 1954?) and Illusion Travels by Streetcar should be here, but I disagree with Jesse that Bunuel's other film that year, Robinson Crusoe, doesn't make the top ten.  There he was in Mexico, doing low-budget films and trying to revive a career, and while this color film in English may be one of his more conventional works, I think it's the best thing he did in 1954. I know people who think On The Waterfront is the greatest film of all time.  I consider it--ignoring all the politics behind it--a passable melodrama with great acting.  Inauguration is an art film (and a short) that I haven't seen.  Same for Track Of The Cat, which is a Wellman feature.  La Strada ("granted, La Strada was a great film") is from Fellini before he went surreal, and is one of his best.

Other film (in addition to Robinson Crusoe) that would have made my top ten:

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (guess I like musicals more than Jesse does)

Top Banana (really a ridiculous choice, since it's pretty much a filmed stage musical, and not a great one at that, but it's a lot of fun and captures the live Phil Silvers as nothing else)

Other films I like:

Casanova's Big Night, Creature From The Black Lagoon, Dial M For Murder (not a big fan of Hitchcock, but apparently I like his two films this year), Doctor In The House, Godzilla (didn't I tell you it was a great year for Japanese films?), Hobson's Choice, Late Chrysanthemums, Living It Up, The Million Pound Note, Touchez Pas Au Grisbi, White Christmas (though it's no Holiday Inn),

Other films of note:

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, 3 Ring Circus, Alibaba And 40 Thieves, Apache, April In Portugla, The Atomic Kid, Bang! Your Dead, The Barefoot Contessa, The Beachcomber, Beau Brummell, Betrayed, The Black Knight, Black Widow, The Bob Mathias Story, The Bowery Boys Meet The Monsters, The Bridges At Toko-Ri, Brigadoon, The Caine Mutiny, Carmon Jones, The Count Of Monte Cristo, Dangerous Cargo, Demetrius And The Gladiators (do you like movies about gladiators?), Desiree, Destry, Dragnet, Drums Across The River, The Egyptian, Executive Suite, Father Brown, Fear, Forbidden Cargo, French Cancan, The Glenn Miller Story, Go Man Go!, Gorilla At Large, Hell And High Water, Hell's Half Acre, The High And The Mighty, Impulse, It Should Happen To You, Jail Bait, Journey To Italy, King Richard And The Crusaders, Knave Of Hearts, Knock On Wood, The Last Time I Saw Paris, Lost Continent, Ma And Pa Kettle At Home, Magnificent Obsession (Jesse has no love for Sirk?), The Men Of Sherwood Forest, Night People, Phffft, Prince Valiant, The Raid, Riot In Cell Block 11, River Of No Return, The Rocket Man, Sabrina (maybe should be in the like column, but elongated and so-so Wilder), Salt Of The Earth, The Silver Chalice, A Star Is Born (so neither Jesse nor I go for this one), Star Of India, The Student Prince, Susan Slept Here, Them!, There's No Business Like Show Business, Three Coins In A Fountain, Twist Of Fate, Valley Of The Kings, Young At Heart


Blogger Jesse said...

I like musicals but I never could get into Seven Brides. Though as I looked at the films of 1954, in preparation for my list, I had the sudden notion that someone should make a mashup called Seven Brides for Seven Samurai.

9:03 AM, December 30, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gorilla At Large wins for best title of the year.

9:38 AM, December 30, 2014  
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