Saturday, January 02, 2016

Running Scared

I usually put up just one item per day, but today you see two Jesse Walker posts in a row.  The one below I held off because I wanted my predictions for the year to stand alone.

Anyway, Jesse Walker now turns to 1955.  Hollywood wasn't happy.  TV had cut its audience in half.  Hollywood responded with spectacle--widescreen, color, a cast of thousands, etc.  Some people go for this florid era, but it's hardly my favorite decade.

At the same time, other nations were developing their own cinema and doing some interesting things.  Let's see what Jesse has to say.

His top ten:

1. One Froggy Evening
2. The Trouble with Harry
3. Smiles of a Summer Night
4. The Night of the Hunter
5. Kiss Me Deadly
6. Diabolique
7. East of Eden
8. Pather Panchali
9. Night and Fog
10. The Man from Laramie
I'm often the one who puts all those Hollywood titles on my top ten lists, but the foreign stuff stands out here.  The Hollywood stuff doesn't compare.
First we have "One Froggy Evening," which is great, but a seven-minute animated short, which I don't think should be on these lists.
The Trouble With Harry is an enjoyable dark comedy, but very minor Hitchcock.  The Night Of The Hunter is different, that's for sure, but I don't get its big reputation.  Kiss Me Deadly is a fascinating B-picture noir--maybe not as great as its cult says, but pretty good.  East Of Eden is another film with a reputation that's far outstripped its quality.  The Man From Laramie, one of those Anthony Mann/Jimmy Stewart Westerns of the 50s, is okay, but not much more.
On the other hand, Smiles Of A Summer Night, Pather Panchali, Night And Fog and Diabolique are classics.
Here are Jesse's honorable mentions:
11. Rebel Without a Cause
12. Ordet
13. Rififi 
14. Mama Don't Allow
15. Cellbound
16. The Far Country
17. Hare-Brush
18. The Criminal Life of Archibaldo De La Cruz
19. Gumbasia
20. Killer's Kiss
A bunch of shorts here.  They may be good, but you know how I feel.
Once again, the foreign films--Ordet, Rififi, The Criminal Life Of Archibaldo De La Cruz--are classic or near-classic.  The Hollywood stuff, not so much.
Rebel Without A Cause is the most famous of James Dean's three starring roles, but like so many movies of the time is too melodramatic.  The Far Country is about the same as the other Mann/Stewart Western listed above (though I thought it was from 1954).  Killer's Kiss is interesting, but mostly for historical reasons--Kubrick had something, but he was still learning.
By the way, I wasn't sure if Jesse was a Douglas Sirk fan, but I don't see All That Heaven Allows, so I'm guessing he's not.  For that matter, he's not a die hard Welles fan, since I don't see Mr. Arkadin.  And no Lola Montes, which Andrew Sarris called the greatest film of all time.
Here are some other films that might have made my top ten:
Cinerama Holiday (hey, spectacle isn't always bad)
It’s Always Fair Weather (the last classic musical from the Arthur Freed Unit, and the darkest)
Here are some films I like:
Artists And Models, Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy, The Big Combo, Blackboard Jungle,  Daddy Long Legs, Guys And Dolls (a weak version of the musical, but Marlon Brando is surprisingly good), House Of Bamboo, Lady And The Tramp, The Ladykillers, Lola Montes, Marty, Moonfleet, My Sister Eileen, Oklahoma!, The Phenix City Story, Richard III, The Seven Little Foys,  You're Never Too Young

Other films of note: 

Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops, The Adventures of Quentin Durward, All That Heaven Allows, The Americano, Bad Day at Black Rock, The Beast with a Million Eyes, The Big Knife, Blood Alley, The Cobweb, The Colditz Story, The Constant Husband, The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell, The Dam Busters, The Desperate Hours, Dreams, The Far Horizons, The Fast and the Furious, Foxfire, Francis in the Navy, The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing, Good Morning Miss Dove, Hell's Island, Hit the Deck, How to Be Very Very Popular, I Am a Camera, I Died a Thousand Times, I Live in Fear, I'll Cry Tomorrow, Illegal, Interrupted Melody, It Came from Beneath the Sea, Jupiter's Darling, The Kentuckian, Land Of The Pharoah’s (nice ending), The Last Frontier, The Last Ten Days, Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, Love Me or Leave Me, Mambo, A Man Alone, The Man with the Golden Arm,
Man with the Gun, Man Without a Star, Mister Roberts, Mr. Arkadin, My Sister Eileen, The Night of the Hunter, Not as a Stranger, Pete Kelly's Blues, Picnic, Prince of Players. The Prisoner, The Private War of Major Benson, The Quatermass Xperiment, The Racers, Rage at Dawn, The Rains of RanchipurThe Rose Tattoo, Scandal in Sorrento, The Sea ChaseThe Seven Year Itch, The Shrike, So This Is Paris, The Spoilers, Strategic Air Command, Summertime, The Swindle, Taira Clan Saga, Tall Man Riding, The Tall Men, The Tender Trap, This Island Earth (may I suggest the MST3K version), Three for the Show, Tight Spot, To Catch a Thief, To Hell and Back, Trial, Unchained, The Violent Men, The Virgin Queen, We're No Angels, White Feather, Wichita, Women's Prison

PS.  I just watched La Point Courte, the first film by Agnes Varda, and from 1955.  Would probably make my top twenty.


Blogger Jesse said...

I might qualify as a die-hard Welles fan, but I think Mr. Arkadin is his weakest movie. All That Heaven Allows didn't do much for me either. And as for Lola Montes...well, to borrow a phrase, it's "maybe not as great as its cult says, but pretty good."

I've never seen It’s Always Fair Weather but have heard good things about it. And I don't think I've heard of Cinerama Holiday.

6:56 AM, January 02, 2016  
Blogger Jesse said...

By the way, I liked Rebel Without a Cause a lot better the second time I saw it. Conversely, if I were just going by my memory of how I felt about East of Eden when I saw it in college, it would have been my #1 pick. Indeed, the last time I did this list, it was my #1 pick. Then I returned to it and realized just how over-the-top it is. That's not a bad thing in itself—over-the-top can be good—but it's gonna bump a bunch of other movies above it.

7:01 AM, January 02, 2016  
Blogger LAGuy said...

You may not have heard of Cinerama Holiday, but it was the biggest hit of 1955. I went to Dayton, Ohio to visit one of the few Cinerama screens still around. That's where I saw Cinerama Holiday. I doubt the experience would be the same on TV, DVD or any other system.

10:32 AM, January 02, 2016  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are a lot of major films you're both ignoring on your top twenty lists. For instance, Bad Day At Back Rock, To Catch A Thief, Summertime, and Mr. Roberts. They still show these films on TV and they still hold up.

11:15 AM, January 02, 2016  
Blogger Jesse said...

I'm not a fan of Mr. Roberts or of Bad Day at Black Rock, and I've never seen Summertime. But To Catch a Thief is good fun -- I wouldn't put it in the top class of Hitchcock movies, but I certainly like it.

11:20 AM, January 02, 2016  

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