Saturday, February 25, 2012

Well it's 1959 OK, all across the USA

1959: or The changing of the guard.

Obviously, a big transitional year for cinema with the emergence of the Nouvelle Vague, and the ending of the so-called “golden age” (perhaps a notion that Brandon’s 60s lists will refute and a notion that Jason refutes entirely). For me, while ’59 gives a taste of things to come, it is best remembered as a year where old hands continue to do what they do best. Ozu, Preminger, Hawks, Hitchcock, Wilder, Bresson, Sirk–all doing great work this year.

I brought this point up to Brandon a few weeks ago: he and Ed Gonzalez have BREATHLESS and EYES WITHOUT A FACE in their 1959 lists, but imdb lists them both as 1960 films. I have no idea which they are, but I’m going to stick with imdb for now. BREATHLESS probably wouldn’t make this ’59 list (not that I dislike it, but I haven’t seen it in a long time and have largely forgotten it), but EYES WITHOUT A FACE would with ease (great horror film).

Anyway, there are plenty of great films this year even without those two.

My fervant support of Ozu can’t be shaken, as I think he makes two beautiful masterpieces this year with GOOD MORNING and FLOATING WEEDS.

I love Preminger’s brilliant and methodical ANATOMY OF A MURDER. I was initially put off by it’s rather inordinate running time, but I’m really glad I gave it the chance it deserves. It earns every crucial minute of its 160 running time and completely lives up to its title. It’s probably the greatest court-room drama ever made. I bet David Fincher is a fan of this one. RIP Ben Gazzara.

I, like most of you, prefer Truffaut to Godard, and think that THE 400 BLOWS is one of the best debuts in history. It’s a deeply personal film that rings of love and authenticity.

Another of the best debuts is surely Cassavetes’ SHADOWS.

RIO BRAVO is maybe the ultimate Hawks film: a complete odyssey into camaraderie. And it's got my man Dean Martin!

NORTH BY NORTHWEST is pure Hitchcockian entertainment, extravagence, and thrill. Many classic set pieces and iconic images.

SOME LIKE IT HOT is perhaps overrated by the AFI, but still very funny and delightful in my book, and I remain a fan everytime I see it. Curtis is great for his Cary Grant impression, but Jack Lemon owns this film.

I’m going to watch PICKPOCKET again at some point because I haven’t seen it since my Bresson revival. It’ll probably go up the list once I do.

IMITATION OF LIFE has been refered to as a hilarious satire and a PoMo film disguised as a woman’s soap opera. It’s visually brilliant, no doubt, but I wonder if it slips so far down because I’m so irony-ed out. Still, a great example of melodrama and Sirk’s mastery of mise-en-scene (10 snob points right there).

1. Good Morning (Ozu)
2. Floating Weeds (Ozu)
3. Anatomy of a Murder (Preminger)
4. The 400 Blows (Truffaut)
5. Shadows (Cassavetes)
6. Rio Bravo (Hawks)
7. North By Northwest (Hitchcock)
8. Some Like It Hot (Wilder)
9. Pickpocket (Bresson)
10. Imitation of Life (Sirk)

HM: Les Cousins (Chabrol), Black Orpheus (Camus), Hiroshima Mon Amour (Resnais), Sleeping Beauty (lots of people), Ben-Hur (Wyler)

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