Friday, January 06, 2017

Rock And Roll And Movies

Jesse Walker has now gotten back to the top films of 1956.  Some love this decade, but to me, it was an era of Hollywood flailing, fighting against the onslaught of TV too often with questionable spectacle and florid melodrama.

Here's Jesse's top ten:

1.   Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
2.   Aparajito
3.   Baby Doll
4.   Night And Fog
5.   The Searchers
6.   Death In The Garden
7.   Crazed Fruit
8.   Bob Le Flambeur
9.   A Man Escaped
10. Number 10

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers is a pretty special film, and still holds up.  Aparajito (I never thought about it before, but the title sounds Spanish) is the middle section of Satyajit Ray's classic Apu Trilogy, and deserves to be on the list.

Elia Kazan is generally overrated as a filmmaker, and while Baby Doll is a sort of experiment, I wouldn't say it's a successful one.  Then there's The Searchers--the most overrated film of the 50s outside Vertigo.

Night And Fog is a classic, but also a short. Death In The Garden, while not top-tier Bunuel, is still pretty good.  Crazed Fruit I haven't seen.  Nor have I seen Number 10 (which is a short).

Bob Le Flambeur is one of Melville's best.  A Man Escaped is fine work from Bresson.

Here are Jesse's honorable mentions:

11. Seven Men from Now
12. Toute la mémoire du monde
13. Mirror Animations
14. The Man Who Knew Too Much
15. The Wormwood Star
16. The Silent World
17. O Dreamland
18. Symphonie Mécanique
19. Bigger Than Life
20. The Wrong Man

Haven't seen most of these, a number of which are shorts. (And if you like shorts, this is the year of The Red Balloon.  Also, is the Resnais film considered to be from 1956?)

Seven Men From Now isn't bad.  The two Hitchcock films--The Man Who Knew Too Much and The Wrong Man--are both relatively weak works.  Bigger Than Life--it's hard to know what to say.  I wouldn't call it a great film, or even a good one, but it's something that needs to be seen, because there's nothing else like it.

Other films that would make my top ten:

The Court Jester (a huge flop at the time, now considered the essential Danny Kaye film)

The Girl Can't Help It (for the rock and roll alone, plus you get a Tashlin movie)

The Mystery Of Picasso

On The Bowery

Other films I like:

The Bad Seed, The Best Things In Life Are Free, Beyond A Reasonable Doubt, Don't Knock the Rock, Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers, Forbidden Planet, Godzilla, King Of The Monsters!, High Society (mostly for Louie), Hollywood Or Bust, The Killing (thought this might make Jesse's list), Pardners, Rock Around The Clock, Rock Rock Rock, Shake Rattle & Rock, While The City Sleeps

Other films of interest:

1984, Alexander The Great, Anastasia, and god created woman, Anything Goes, Around The World In 80 Days (Oscar Winner), Autumn Leaves, The Benny Goodman Story, Bhowani Junction, The Bold And The Brave, Bundle Of Joy, Bus Stop, Carousel, The Catered Affair, The Eddy Duchin Story, The Fastest Gun Alive, The First Traveling Saleslady, Friendly Persuasion, Gaby, Giant, The Great Locomotive Chase, The Great Man, Gunslinger, The Harder They Fall, Helen Of Troy, Hot Shots, Inside Detroit (never seen it, love the title), The Intimate Stranger, Invitation To The Dance, The Iron Petticoat, It’s A Wonderful World, It’s Great To Be Young, It’s Never Too Late, The King And Four Queens, The King And I, A Kiss Before Dying, The Last Wagon, The Lieutenant Wore Skirts, Lisbon, Love Me Tender, Lum And Abner Abroad, Lust For Life, The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit, The Man Who Never Was, Meet Me In Las Vegas, Moby Dick, The Opposite Of Sex, Our Miss Brooks, Patterns, Pillars Of The Sky, The Proud Ones, The Rack, The Rainmaker, Ransom!, The She-Creature, The Silent World, The Solid Gold Cadillac, Swamp Women, The Swan, Tea And Sympathy, The Teahouse Of The August Moon, Teenage Rebel, The Ten Commandments (biggest hit of the year), That Certain Feeling, There’s Always Tomorrow, These Wilder Years, Three Men In A Boat, Trapeze, Tribute To A Bad Man, The Vagabond King, The Violent Years, War And Peace, While The City Sleeps, The Wild Party, World Without End, Written On The Wind, The Wrong Man, Yankee Dood It


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Ten Commandments can be tenth on your list.

Other good films are Bus Stop, Patterns, Trapeze and Written On The Wind.

1:39 PM, January 06, 2017  
Blogger Jesse said...

"I wouldn't call it a great film, or even a good one"

For the first 60% or so of that movie, I was thinking "This is beautifully shot, but other than that I can't see why this is considered a classic."

For the other 40%, I was thinking "Holy shit."

I wasn't sure whether to put it on the list, and on a stronger year I guess I would have left it out. But, you know, holy shit.

1:57 PM, January 06, 2017  
Blogger Jesse said...

Btw, I agree that Kazan tends to be overrated, but he's pretty much the best we ever had when it comes to putting Tennessee Williams on the screen. I know a lot of people don't care for Baby Doll, but I think it's a lot better than some of Kazan's more highly praised pictures.

2:00 PM, January 06, 2017  
Anonymous Eric Hanneken said...

The Bad Seed abruptly shifted back and forth between horror and comedy before the writers gave up and ended the film with divine intervention. It's not a good movie, but it is an interesting failure.

6:35 PM, January 06, 2017  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of the films listed are pretty decent. For instance, I've liked The Fastest Gun Alive, The King And I, Lust For Life and The Man In The Grey Flannel Suit. The 50s have a different pace and style, but once you get into it, it works pretty well.

12:44 AM, January 07, 2017  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The funny thing is all Hollywood got together back then to give Around The World In 80 Days its biggest honor, and today it's at best an afterthought. Meanwhile, people are still arguing about Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and Bigger Than Life, two film that were hardly noticed then.

11:52 AM, January 07, 2017  
Blogger New England Guy said...

Consensus is an ugly thing

9:49 AM, January 08, 2017  
Blogger Bream Halibut said...

Not a big fan of the 50s overall.

My top three are pretty easy: Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Forbidden Planet and The Girl Can't Help It. The Killing, Night and Fog, The Searchers, Aparajito, Bob le flambeaur are also top ten-worthy, though I don't love any of them. I'd have to fill out the rest of my list with stuff I thought was okay at least don't remember not liking: Moby-Dick (the Orson Welles scene), Crazed Fruit, and Samurai 3.

1:13 PM, January 09, 2017  

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