100 Favorite Films To Recommend Part 4: The 1950s

Luis A. Mendez

Luis A. Mendez

Published Author Of Both Fiction And Non-Fiction - Dealing In Fantastical Tales, Film Criticism, And U.S/UK Psephology

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13 Responses

  1. Avatar Doctor Jay
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    says:

    I’m pretty sure you meant to write ““Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” as sung by Marilyn Monroe.

    But doggone it, now I want to hear it sung by Marilyn Manson.Report

  2. Avatar Kristin Devine
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    says:

    For some reason I had never caught High Noon until about a month ago. It was AMAZING. It is always fascinating to me these old movies who have a deeper and more thought-provoking take on morality and humanity than newer films (Marty also falls into this category)Report

    • Avatar Pinky
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      says:

      I saw High Noon for the first time late in life. I think it’s easy to miss it, because there are a lot of westerns with good reputations. I wouldn’t say it’s the best movie of all time, but it is among the very few perfect films.

      I’ve never been able to figure out if Rashomon is a perfect movie or a long Twilight Zone episode.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling
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        says:

        The subtext of High Noon is McCarthyism and the failure to stand up to it; the screenwriter was later blacklisted for refusing to name names in front of HUAC. It compares interestingly with the 1954 On the Waterfront, in which the protagonist heroically informs on a group of gangsters that includes his brother; its director, Elia Kazan, did name names.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    The Ten Commandments has a handful of weird little speeches in there, though. I rewatched it a few years back and was struck by stuff like Moses’s speech about how “a man deserves a day’s pay for a day’s labor!” in the middle of the scene where it came out that the Hebrews would have to collect their own straw when making bricks. “Man… I guess the writers’ room *WAS* full of commies back then.”

    I don’t know how to put this take either… Moses consistently and constantly one-upped Ramses. The raising the obelisk scene, for example. Moses was better than Ramses at everything. “No wonder Ramses hated him”, I thought more than once.

    You watch the (relatively, I guess) new Prince of Egypt movie, you say “man, love and hate and you can see both between them”.

    In The Ten Commandments, it felt more like reading Beowulf. The story at the feast where the hero was great and those who would question how great he was were bad and had bad motives. Moses was great, good at everything, and those who opposed him did so out of jealousy.

    Which isn’t to say that the movie is *BAD*. Goodness no!

    But it’s of its time in a way that I didn’t expect to see, when I watched it again.Report

  4. Avatar J_A
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    says:

    I loved Rashomon, my first glimpse of Kurosawa. I’m happy to see it in this list.

    I hope there will be several foreign films in the decades to come. Hollywood’s manicheism (WE good, them BAD), and penchant for simple, unambiguous stories (*), tends to grate me

    (*) One of the worst cinematographic crimes was turning Wim Wenders magnificent “Heaven over Berlin” (USA title, because that’s also a thing, we need to change perfectly good titles: “Wings of Desire”) and “Faraway, so Close” into the detestable “City of Angels”Report

  5. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    “Rashomon”; AKA: “Rashōmon”

    The proper title is in the eye of the beholder.Report

  6. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was based on a 1949 stage play, and that was based on a bestselling 1925 book that was praised by a group as disparate as Edith Wharton, H. L. Mencken, and James Joyce. It’s still funny today.Report

  7. Avatar Kolohe
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    says:

    which has been re-created for half a century later across other films including the recent Birds Of Prey film released just this year.

    As well as the music video which arguably kickstarted Madonna’s careerReport

  8. Avatar Kristin Devine
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    says:

    Gotta toss Night of the Hunter into the mix for the 50’s too!Report

    • Avatar Aaron David
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      says:

      That is a great one! The weird set design mixed with excellent casting puts it at the height of Southern Gothic.Report

      • Avatar Kristin Devine
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        says:

        Also one of the few movies I’ve ever seen in which older women are allowed to be wise (an old woman tries to warn the kids’ mother about her new boyfriend early on) and heroic. I feel like we see a lot more stupid/evil/hypocritical old women in modern fare.Report

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