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1001 Movies in Chronological Order
66 years ago...

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Forbidden Games (1952)
Director: René Clément
Country: France
Length: 86 minutes
Type: War, Drama

A little girl is orphaned during the opening scene, depicting Luftwaffe planes strafing a column of fleeing Parisian refugees during the fall of France in June 1940. The 4:3 black & white aside, you'd think you were watching a modern war movie in the way this attack is shot and edited. The tragic girl cradling her dead puppy, stumbles into the farm of a peasant family and befriends their young son. 'Forbidden Games' ('Jeux Interdits') is about the random cruelties that war inflicts on innocent children and animals and how they try to make sense of the bewildering events. The child actor's faces and the sensitive Spanish-Guitar Score are heartbreaking. This is the only René Clément movie in the 1001 book but I shall have to check out some others.



A return to the Film-Noir Genre next.
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65 years ago...

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Angel Face (1953)
Director: Otto Preminger
Country: United States
Length: 91 minutes
Type: Film-Noir

'Angel Face' starts as a fairly typical Noir with Jean Simmons as the Femme-Fatale and Robert Mitchum in the role of the man drawn into her web. What sets it apart is how casually cynical Mitchum's character is, not caring if somebody is a murderer or not and Simmons plays a surprisingly sympathetic character. The plot also takes a turn down a less familiar path halfway through when the pair are on trial for murder and the audience has to decide if they'd prefer a guilty party to be punished, or an innocent party to be acquitted. The car crashes are some of the most violent looking I've seen on screen, mostly down to careful camerawork and good editing.



Another Gene Kelly film next.
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66 years ago...

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Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Director: Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen
Country: United States
Length: 103 minutes
Type: Musical

A few decades since it all started and we have a Hollywood film celebrating and mocking itself in equal measure. It opens with our hero Silent-Film star Don Lockwood (working for the fictional "Monumental Pictures" studio Big Grin ) answering questions on the red carpet, cheerfully telling lie after lie about his career through the most dazzling smile you've ever scene. The main plot is about the arrival of the Talkies and how Don and friends manage to adapt to the new medium by converting their latest doomed Silent movie into a hit sound Musical.



I first saw 'Singin' in the Rain' a good few years ago in London when it was re-released in a stunning new Digital restoration, seeing it on the big screen in an old-timey "Picture Palace" could not have been a better first experience. Gene Kelly's film is brimming with exuberant joy, catchy songs, romance, humour, jaw dropping dance choreography and radiating rainbow colour. A while back I showed the magical title-song dance sequence to my little niece and she seemed just as enthralled in 2019 as I'm sure kids (of all ages) were back in 1952. I defy anybody to not be in a better mood after viewing 'Singin' in the Rain'.



One of Kurosawa's non-Samurai films next.
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66 years ago...

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Ikiru (1952)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Country: Japan
Length: 143 minutes
Type: Drama

I think 'Ikiru' ("To Live") is the first Akira Kurosawa film I've seen that is not a period Samurai drama. Set in (then) present-day Tokyo, we witness the last days of a pointless Town-Hall bureaucratic (played by Kurosawa regular Takashi Shimura) who finds out that he has stomach-cancer and 6-months left to live. In the first-half he flails around for a few weeks trying to remember how to live and grasping for meaning. Then the film suddenly cuts to his wake and the second half is a series of flashback recollections by the mourners of what he did with his last months. It's an unusual structure but for this story, it works very well. The slow elegant camera constantly moves in to Shimura's sad crumpled face, barely speaking but saying so much with his eyes. At nearly 2.5-hours 'Ikiru' is probably too long for such a small intimate story but I found it powerful nonetheless.



Another Ingrid Bergman film next.
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66 years ago...

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Europe '51 (1952)
Director: Roberto Rossellini
Country: Italy
Length: 113 minutes
Type: Drama

Director Roberto Rossellini ponders how a real life "saint" would be received by post-war Rome. Ingrid Bergman plays a wealthy wife who is too preoccupied by entertaining party guests to notice her son's misery. He throws himself down the stairs to get her attention and subsequently dies. Utterly devastated, she finds solace in helping the poor of Rome's slums accompanied by her staunchly Communist cousin but she gradually becomes disillusioned with his ideas and due to her out-of-character behaviour, her "respectable" family have her committed.

Even a Catholic priest begins to stare at her in bewilderment when he realises she embodies true "Christian" values, looking on as if to say "You're not supposed to take all the stuff Jesus said about caring for the poor literally!?!". Since she neither associates herself with a political movement, or a religious doctrine she is rejected by everyone in society, except the poor and downtrodden that have fallen out of it. I found the film slow to get to it's point but it's very powerful when it does reach the conclusion of it's argument.



Another Kirk Douglas masterpiece next.
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I've reached the 250th film in the book!

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66 years ago...

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The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Country: United States
Length: 118 minutes
Type: Drama, Film-Noir

I first saw a 35mm print of Vincente Minnelli's masterpiece 'The Bad and the Beautiful' perhaps a decade ago and I've loved it ever since. I'm always amazed at how dark and nihilistic it is for a product of 1952 Hollywood. A 'Citizen Kane' style flashback structure is used to tell the life story of fictional movie Producer Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas) and how he helped create the careers of three industry stars and former friends (who now despise him). The whole cast from top to bottom is incredible but it's Douglas' manically-depressed tyrant that has the most impact (the scene where he is screaming is terrifying). 'The Bad and the Beautiful' puts the worst aspects of Hollywood on display, the egos, the betrayals, the sexism, the hubris but we also see loyalty and compassion, exemplified by Lana Turner's "Gus is still my agent" line.



Much fun can be had by trying to guess which real figures all the characters are based on. A Director couple is clearly the Hitchcocks, Shields is probably an amalgam of David O. Selznick (he considered suing the film for defamation) and Orson Welles, a monocled Director is close to Erich von Stroheim, a writer is maybe Dalton Trumbo and a dead silent star is reminiscent of John Gilbert. The lead actress is said to be based on Judy Garland (who was the ex-wife of Minnelli), complete with all the talent and all the alcoholic flaws. It's interesting how much Turner physically resembles the sexuality and tragedy of Marilyn Monroe, although of course Monroe was not yet a star in 1952. Two of Shield's films are clearly analogous with 'Cat People' and 'Gone with the Wind'.



Another Kirk Douglas film next.
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66 years ago...

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The Big Sky (1952)
Director: Howard Hawks
Country: United States
Length: 122 minutes
Type: Western

A group of determined fur trappers in the 1830s set out on a perilous venture 2,000 miles up river to trade with the Blackfoot tribe. Not the most flashy, dramatic, or action-packed Western but it still sucks you in with an ensemble of rich characters. Arthur Hunnicutt is the stand-out as one of the leaders of the expedition, a wise grizzled old gentleman of the trail. He delivers this beautiful and wistful camp-fire speech about his love for the Blackfoot country and it's people. By the standards of other Westerns of the period, the film is quite sympathetic and respectful of Native Americans and their culture.



A famous Gary Cooper film next.
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66 years ago...

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High Noon (1952)
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Country: United States
Length: 85 minutes
Type: Western

I'd never seen this iconic Western before but I had seen countless homages and parodies without knowing it. There is barely a shot that didn't make me think of Sergio Leone's films in particular (or other Westerns in general), not least because of the image of three gunmen waiting silently at a station... one of whom is a young Lee Van Cleef. It can be taken as either an allegorical repudiation of McCarthyism, or as just a damn fine Western about a lone small-town Sheriff facing up to a band of killers. Marshall Kane (Gary Cooper) learns that his nemesis is coming in on the noon train and then the film plays out in real-time as he makes his desperate preparations for the showdown. Everybody he turns to for aid shuns him, his closest friends, the old Marshall, his deputies, the town officials, the Judge, the church congregation and even his new bride. They all have their own good reasons for why they can't, or won't help, preferring to turn a blind eye. Cooper's careworn face constantly vacillates between determined courage and creeping terror (winning him the Academy Award in 1952).



Tex Ritter's Country song 'Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'' is the constant theme of the film, woven into the score in many subtle arrangements and even played on the saloon piano in the background of scenes:



Another Vittorio De Sica film next.
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(04-04-2019, 04:51 PM)TM2YC Wrote: 66 years ago...

[Image: 40450376123_b27ce16bcb_o.jpg]

High Noon (1952)
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Country: United States
Length: 85 minutes
Type: Western

I'd never seen this iconic Western before but I had seen countless homages and parodies without knowing it. There is barely a shot that didn't make me think of Sergio Leone's films in particular (or other Westerns in general), not least because of the image of three gunmen waiting silently at a station... one of whom is a young Lee Van Cleef. It can be taken as either an allegorical repudiation of McCarthyism, or as just a damn fine Western about a lone small-town Sheriff facing up to a band of killers. Marshall Kane (Gary Cooper) learns that his nemesis is coming in on the noon train and then the  film plays out in real-time as he makes his desperate preparations for the showdown. Everybody he turns to for aid shuns him, his closest friends, the old Marshall, his deputies, the town officials, the Judge, the church congregation and even his new bride. They all have their own good reasons for why they can't, or won't help, preferring to turn a blind eye. Cooper's careworn face constantly vacillates between determined courage and creeping terror (winning him the Academy Award in 1952).

LOVE this film.  I have watched it dozens of times and it has never grown old or tired.

By Bionic Hero did a tv sequel in 1980 written by none other than Elmore Leonard...



...and Tom Skerritt did a remake in 2000....


Big Grin
"... let's go exploring!" -- CALVIN.
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(04-04-2019, 05:51 PM)bionicbob Wrote:
(03-06-2019, 05:46 PM)TM2YC Wrote: High Noon (1952)

LOVE this film.  I have watched it dozens of times and it has never grown old or tired.

By Bionic Hero did a tv sequel in 1980 written by none other than Elmore Leonard...



...and Tom Skerritt did a remake in 2000....


Big Grin

How does a sequel work? I noticed there were a few remakes listed including the excellent Sean Connery Sci-Fi semi-rework 'Outland':



...and I finally get this reference from Red Dwarf:



^ I've laughed at that since I was kid but didn't know it was a specific reference to anything. I just thought that was the kind of song you played when a ship's computer must face a battle to the death with his backup computer Big Grin .
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