Archive for September, 2014

A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1955 – Rebel Without a Cause

“You’re tearing me apart!”

Those words were pretty important in 1955. And pretty representative of the disconnect between the older generation and the younger generation. (Words that would also resonate just as loudly and beautifully when directed at Lisa in the iconic chamber drama and winner of seven Academy Awards The Room.)

Times were changing. Kids were listening to rock and roll and coming up with their own culture. The culture of the country was changing. This has been represented countless times in movies. I don’t need to get into that here. The landscape of the country and of film were both changing. And this film came at a very crucial time, and as such, has become one of the greatest and most iconic films of all time.

It’s rare to get a total package like this one. A film that represents actually everything going on in American culture at the time. (more…)


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Pic of the Day: “Is this where you live?” “Who lives?”

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A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1954 – On the Waterfront

I think I mentioned 1954 in the intro for these articles. I said how 1954 poses so many problems, given the incredible amount of choices out there.

To run down the serious choices: Seven Samurai, Rear Window, Godzilla. I can probably include a few more less serious ones (since they won’t top those three). And yet, Waterfront still seems like the choice over all of those. Because it is one of the most acclaimed films of all time, the most acclaimed film of the year, and is a huge film for the actual year of 1954, because it is ultimately about blacklisting and the House of Un-American Activities. It’s the perfect article.

Oh, and there’s that whole, “Coulda had class, coulda been a conteder” speech.

But who remembers that, right? (more…)


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Pic of the Day: “You’re getting on. You’re pushing 30. You know, it’s time to think about getting some ambition.” “I always figured I’d live a bit longer without it.”

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A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1953 – Roman Holiday

Colin was visiting earlier in the month. And I was telling him about the articles and such. And I was talking about this one, about how I felt unsure if this was the right choice for 1953, given the amount of great films that came out in 1953.

I said, “I feel like that’s gonna be a difficult one to justify given everything else from that year.”

And his response was, “No. It’s Roman Holiday. You don’t need any justification. Fuck that shit.”

So that’s how I’m going about this.

It’s Roman Holiday. Fuck that shit. (more…)


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Pic of the Day: “The best thing I know is to do exactly what you wish for a while.”

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A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1952 – Singin’ in the Rain

I mean… yeah.

One of the most iconic moments in all of cinema. Bar none.

So that’s why this is here.

Plus, 1952 is a pretty rough year. The highest grossing movie of the year, and Best Picture winner, The Greatest Show on Earth… well, yeah. Not exactly remembered quite that well. The Bad and the Beautiful also made a lot of money, and probably would have been a serious contender for a choice had I not already done All About Eve. They tread similar ground, and when you put that up against Singin’ in the Rain, it’s a no contest. The Quiet Man is an extremely enticing choice, but still… that movie doesn’t represent film history so much as it is just a beautiful movie that’s a major film in said history.

But again… we’re talking about Singin’ in the Rain as the choice, so what else do we need in the way of explanation and rationalization? (more…)


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Pic of the Day: ♫” Dancin’ in the rain / Dee-ah dee-ah dee-ah / Dee-ah dee-ah dee-ah / I’m happy again! / I’m singin’ and dancin’ in the rain!” ♫

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A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1951 – The Day the Earth Stood Still

A lot of people thought I was gonna go Streetcar here. But no. I’m going sci-fi.

Because what genre better represents the 50s, and everything going on in the world, than the sci-fi genre?

I had two real choices here: this or The Thing from Another World. (Technically I could have waited and went with Body Snatchers or something, but that’s a whole other argument.) And I feel like this one has more to offer, overall, than that one does. That one is a great movie, but the real thing to talk about there is the monologue at the end. This one, the message is throughout. And I think that’s more important for what the genre was doing during this decade. (more…)


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Pic of the Day: “Klaatu barada nikto!”

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A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1950 – All About Eve

Oh, this one is a tough one. Because at first glance, I’d want to go Sunset Boulevard. Because it’s really iconic. But I’ve done a few noirs, and, while it’s a really iconic film, I feel like it’s not the singular choice. It’s a choice, and certainly a right choice. But for this list, All About Eve is just as good a choice, and is about a subject I haven’t really broached yet: melodrama.

The other thing this film is about, which is a bit of a trend around this era, is show business. There are quite a few films that go behind the scenes of Broadway or Hollywood, and, in their own ways, are scathing critiques of the stuff that goes on behind closed doors there. I’m thinking about stuff like The Bad and the Beautiful. This is also one of those movies. Since it really is about those people who are desperate for fame and are willing to do anything and undercut anyone to get there.

But anyway, All About Eve is an iconic picture, a woman’s picture, and a great, great film. Now let’s get to talking about it. Or else it’ll be a bumpy night. (more…)


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Pic of the Day: “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!”

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A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1949 – The Third Man

Of course this was gonna be the choice for 1949. There was no alternative. Find me a film that had such a lasting impact on film and better represents 1949 better than this one.

You have David O. Selznick, top Hollywood producer, and Alexander Korda, top British producer, working together. You’re dealing with the realities of a post-war Vienna, divided into American, British, Russian and German sectors, as well as the classic noir tropes of American cinema. Add to that the brilliant work of Carol Reed and Robert Krasker, and you have an absolute perfect choice.

What, were you gonna choose Come to the Stable instead? (more…)


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Pic of the Day: “That’s a nice girl, that. But she ought to go careful in Vienna. Everybody ought to go careful in a city like this.”

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A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1948 – Bicycle Thieves

Took a bit of a left turn with this one. 1948 is a very strong year with a lot of contenders. I could have just as easily chose The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, or The Red Shoes. But I didn’t. I’m going with Bicycle Thieves. Because we need some international flair. And because it’s one of the greatest films ever made or whatever.

The real important thing here is that it’s an example of Italian Neorealism. Which was a movement after World War II tat strove to add a degree of realism to films that wasn’t previously there. It started with Rome Open City, but this feels like the one that really broke through.

I like this as the choice for 1948 because 1948 feels like the turning point for society where it started to demand a little more realism in their movies, seeing them as capable of more than just escapism. That’s why, over the next five years, you start to see the method actors popping up. A degree of realism starts to seep into the movies, and it really began with movies like this one. (more…)


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Pic of the Day: “You live and you suffer.”

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A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1947 – Gentleman’s Agreement

Jews.

That’s what this one is about.

Take that, Hitler.

I mean, granted, every year in film history is represented by Jews (right, Mel?), but this film really takes the cake on that.

This film is why I avoided a lot of social problem films thus far. Because this film is really the big one of them all. (more…)


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Pic of the Day: “I’ve been saying I’m Jewish, and it works.” “Why, you crazy fool! It’s working?” “It works too well. I’ve been having my nose rubbed in it, and I don’t like the smell.” “You’re not insulated yet, Phil. The impact must be quite a business on you.” “You mean you get indifferent to it in time?” “No, but you’re concentrating a lifetime into a few weeks. You’re not changing the facts, you’re just making them hurt more.”

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A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1946 – It’s a Wonderful Life

Technically I should have picked The Best Year of Our Lives here. Since that film actually is the film that represents 1946. But fuck it. Sometimes iconography wins out.

This film just represents cinema, and happens to have been released in 1946. Same with Citizen Kane. It’s not the year, it’s the film. And sometimes you just have to go with the film.

But make no mistake, the film that actually does represent 1946 is The Best Year of Our Lives.

Aside from that, this is a movie you cannot argue with. It’s… a wonderful movie.

The real interesting thing about this film is that it’s the last time Frank Capra achieved perfection. And maybe even the only time. All his other movies are really good… It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, You Can’t Take It With You, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington… only Mr. Smith gets even close to true perfection But this film really is just a perfect entity, to the point where we all watch it every year at 8 o’clock on Christmas Eve on NBC. It’s just what we do. (more…)


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Pic of the Day: “What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary.”

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A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1945 – Brief Encounter

Am I cheating? Probably. But what the hell. I’ve almost made it 50 years into this history so far. I think I’m allowed a freebie.

I had a hard time figuring out 1945. Because this is the end of the war. Right before the noir boom. Right before the post-war “coming home” films. There’s really not much to point out, aesthetically, in Hollywood, at the moment. The biggest film of the year was The Bells of St. Mary’s, which is just a giant piece of fluff. Spellbound was a huge hit, but there’s no need to throw Hitchcock on there for no reason. He’ll get his article. I love that Leave Her to Heaven made a lot of money, but even that’s not really a film you can talk about as representing a year. That’s more a great melodrama.

So, in looking for films that could represent the year that was 1945, I was left unimpressed. The Lost Weekend was a choice but that’s just a great film that talks about a social issue. And I have a few of those around here. Anchors Aweigh is a great classic Hollywood musical. But let’s face it… if I’m gonna choose one of those, there are better choices. I already did my noir, so Detour is out. I could do Rome Open City, but that’s Italy and not representing film. It’s a tough year.

And owing to that, I went with Brief Encounter because… well, it’s Brief Encounter. (more…)


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Pic of the Day: “I love you. I love your wide eyes, the way you smile, your shyness, and the way you laugh at my jokes.” “Please don’t.” “I love you. I love you. You love me too. It’s no use pretending it hasn’t happened cause it has.” “Yes it has. I don’t want to pretend anything either to you or to anyone else. But from now on, I shall have to. That’s what’s wrong. Don’t you see? That’s what spoils everything. That’s why we must stop, here and now, talking like this. We’re neither of us free to love each other. There’s too much in the way. There’s still time, if we control ourselves and behave like sensible human beings. There’s still time.”

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A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1944 – Double Indemnity

I was a little torn about this, but it’s Double Indemnity, and just saying that makes sense, so we’re good.

If I’m going by what the film that best represents 1944 culturally is… actually, it’s still kind of close. I was thinking about Since You Went Away here, since, in 1944, that was actually the choice, and the film that best represented that year. I’m actually going kind of light on war year films here, but I guess that’s what next time is for. Technically the biggest film of the year was Going My Way, which is just bizarre.

But, honestly, in terms of film history, Double Indemnity is really the total package. Noir and the history of noir is right in line with 1944, and, while this might not be the film that best represents 1944 from a 1944 perspective, in 2014, this film definitely represents 1944 from a film history perspective.

Plus it’s just awesome. (more…)


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Pic of the Day: “I think you’re rotten.” “I think you’re swell… so long as I’m not your husband. “Get out of here.” “You bet I’ll get out of here, baby. I’ll get out of here but quick.”

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