Monday, October 15, 2012

1950s Voting

And, the Wonders in the Dark yearly poll has finished another decade - the 1950s - a very impressive stretch of films. Here are my votes - I think - this is what I made for myself anyway. Plenty of these choices are capricious enough that I could very well have changed them between composition and hitting "post" over there...

PICTURE: Early Summer
DIRECTOR (Single Film): I think I will say Ozu, for Early Summer - though it is a very tight competition. But this film - overwhelms me when I see it. The precision of the construction of space, the mastery of story telling, the use of movement, the jokes and games he plays with the construction of the story - it is surprising and thrilling from start to finish.
DIRECTOR (Decade): Ozu, slam dunk.
LEAD ACTOR (Single Film): James Stewart, Vertigo
LEAD ACTOR (Overall): Toshiro Mifune
LEAD ACTRESS (Single film): Kinoyu Tanaka, probably in Life of Oharu
LEAD ACTRESS (Overall): I think this would be between Hideko Takamine (especially in all those Naruse films) and Setsuko Hara - probably Hara, but Takamine is a force.
SUPPORTING ACTOR (single): Takasahi Shimura, Seven Samurai
SUPPORTING ACTRESS (single): Thelma Ritter, Pickup on South Street
SHORT: Duck Amuck - pretty much top of the heap.
SCORE (Single): Bernard Herrmann, Vertigo - one of the all time greats
SCORE (Overall): Herrmann - he's in the running over and over...
CINEMATOGRAPHY (Single): Sergei Urevsevski, Cranes are Flying - as I said at the time, this is one of great tour de force moments in cinema...
CINEMATOGRAPHY (Overall): Russell Metty - all those Sirk films can't be denied.

Plus bonus picks::
Script: Sweet Smell of Success, I think, is going to have to win - damn, that's a clever piece of work. I'll do a quick run down, though, of the best of the decade - it's hard to separate script from film (the film, for me, tends to obliterate and encompass all the arts that go into it - separating them out is a bit artificial - in this case, it probably means something like the 5 I would most like to read, something like that...) I am, however, somewhat arbitrarily, going to eliminate the films that make the overall top 20...
2. Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?
3. Ace in the Hole
4. Good Morning
5. Beat the Devil

Editing: Ozu - this is, I think, the key to all his work. His construction of his films. He doesn't get credit, he's not as flashy as some, but he makes so much happen with the way one shot connects to another... Early Summer, in particular, is a film, like M and the Mabuses, and 20s Eisenstein, where I remember cuts and transitions, that give me chills.

1. Early Summer
2. Seven Samurai
3. Vertigo
4. Ugetsu Monagatari
5. Tokyo Story
6. Touch of Evil
7. Pather Panchali
8. Rear Window
9. The Searchers
10. Fires on the Plain
11. Late Chrysanthemums
12. Sweet Smell of Success
13. Night of the Hunter
14. Rebel Without a Cause
15. Imitation of Life
16. Sansho The Bailiff
17. A Man Escaped
18. Ordet
19. Rashomon
20. Life of Oharu


This is a very tough year for picks. It might lack the films at the very top (like Vertigo vs. A Touch of Evil, last year), but they just keep going.

PICTURE: Fires on the Plain
DIRECTOR: This one is painful - I am tempted to indulge myself in a tie, since I do not want to choose. Ozu at his most Tati-esque, playing all kinds of games with depth and space? or Sirk at his most Sirkian, playing all kinds of games with color and space and set design... I will not choose.
LEAD ACTOR: Cary Grant, North by Northwest - though it pains me not to vote for Lemmon or Curtis, or Funekoshi, or Leaud, or Nakadai, or John Wayne....
LEAD ACTRESS: Marilyn Monroe, Some Like it Hot
SUPPORTING ACTOR: James Mason, North by Northwest
SHORT: Pull My Daisy, almost by default.
SCORE: I shall be a bit perverse and go off the nominations to Toshiro Mayazumi, for Good Morning - it's a strange score on an Ozu film, but it works, contributing, I'd say, to that Tati-esque feel of the film... I should probably say, this is probably not Mayazumi's last appearance on one of my ballots. We're getting into Imamura territory now, and he's integral to those films.
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Metty, Imitation of Life

Plus bonus pick:
Script: Good Morning, Ozu and Noda

1. Fires on the Plain
2. Imitation of Life
3. Some Like it Hot
4. 400 Blows
5. Good Morning
6. North by Northwest
7. Pickpocket
8. World of Apu
9. The Key
10. Shadows


PICTURE: Vertigo
DIRECTOR: Hitchcock
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Joseph Calleia, Touch of Evil
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Kinuyo Tanaka, Equinox Flower (this is one where she actually gets to be happy! it's a gift.)
SHORT: A Movie, Bruce Conner
SCORE: Vertigo, obviously
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Robert Burks, Vertigo (though Shinsaku Himeda tempts me - he'll win most of the 60s, I suspect, whatever the competition - that fish ain't on top of my blog for nothing.)

Plus bonus pick:
Script: Giants and Toys. This is not an easy year for scripts - the films at the top seem to me to be there more because of their direction, photography, set designs, and acting than usual - whether those things are elevating less deserving scripts or obscuring the virtues of the scripts, I don't know. I just know I don't quite know what to make of Vertigo or Touch of Evil, or even Some Came Running... So - Giants and Toys is some kind of masterpiece, and since Masumura is a filmmaker I really like, but I doubt he'll be in the running for any top spots - I'll put in a plug for him here.

1. Vertigo
2. Touch of Evil
3. Some Came Running
4. Summer Clouds
5. Ashes and Diamonds
6. Endless Desire
7. Mon Oncle
8. Equinox Flower
9. Giants and Toys
10. Cairo Station


PICTURE: Sweet Smell of Success
DIRECTOR: Mikhail Kalatazov, Cranes Are Flying
LEAD ACTOR: Burt Lancaster, Sweet Smell of Success
LEAD ACTRESS: Tatiana Samoilova, Cranes Are Flying
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Niall McGinnis, Night of the Demon
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Isuzu Yamada, Tokyo Twilight
SHORT: What's Opera, Doc?
SCORE: Elmer Bernstein, Sweet Smell of Success
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Sergei Urevsevski, Cranes are Flying - this being one of the over the top extravaganzas of all time, after all - whether it adds up as art or not (and mostly it does), it has to be gazed on and marveled at.

Plus bonus picks::
Script: Sweet Smell of Success - this is another outsized tour de force; it's rather a shame it is so good - I have somehow managed not to get anything from Will Success Spoil Rock Hudson? on this ballot - it should be somewhere - it makes a good companion to Sweet Smell of Success - less self-important, less vicious, obviously less moving, but almost as sharp... "Wow - contains 'fallout'!"

1. Sweet Smell of Success
2. Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter
3. Cranes Are Flying
4. Tokyo Twilight
5. Throne of Blood
6. Seventh Seal
7. The Tall T
8. Paths of Glory
9. The Lower Depths
10. Full Up Train


PICTURE: The Searchers
DIRECTOR: Sirk, There's Always Tomorrow
LEAD ACTOR: James Mason, Bigger than Life
LEAD ACTRESS: Barbara Stanwyck, There's Always Tomorrow
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Lee Marvin. Seven Men From Now (my taste for hamming comes out, I admit it)
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Dorothy Malone, Written on the Wind
SHORT: I'm going off ballot for The Phantom Ship, a glorious cut-out animation from Japan I managed to see somehow...
SCORE: Steiner, The Searchers
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Russell Metty, Written on the Wind

Plus bonus picks:
Script: A Man Escaped

1. The Searchers
2. Written on the Wind
3. A Man Escaped
4. The Burmese Harp
5. The Killing
6. There's Always Tomorrow
7. Flowing
8. Early Spring
9. Seven Men from Now
10. Aparajito


PICTURE: Pather Panchali
DIRECTOR: Dreyer, Ordet
LEAD ACTOR: Robert Mitchum, Night of the Hunter
LEAD ACTRESS: Hideko Takamine, Floating Clouds
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Sal Mineo, Rebel Without a Cause
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Lillian Gish, Night of the Hunter
SHORT: Night and Fog
SCORE: Ravi Shankar, Pather Panchali
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Stanley Cortez, Night of the Hunter

Bonus pick:
Script: James Agee, Night of the Hunter

1. Pather Panchali
2. Night of the Hunter
3. Rebel Without a Cause
4. Ordet
5. The Man from Laramie
6. Floating Clouds
7. Rififi
8. All That Heaven Allows
9. Smiles of a Summer Night
10. Cobweb


PICTURE: Seven Samurai
DIRECTOR: Kurosawa
LEAD ACTOR: James Stewart, Rear Window
LEAD ACTRESS: Haruko Sugimura, Late Chrysanthemums
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Kinuyo Tanaka, Sansho Dayu
SHORT: Duck Dodgers in the 24th 1/2 Century
SCORE: Gojira
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Kazuo Miyagawa, Sansho the Bailiff

Plus bonus picks::
Script: Late Cshrysanthemums
Editing: LC - or SS

1. Seven Samurai
2. Rear Window
3. Late Chrysanthemums
4. Sansho the Bailiff
5. Sound of the Mountain
6. Twenty Four Eyes
7. A Billionaire
8. Magnificent Obsession
9. Voyage to Italy
10. The Maggie or Godzilla


PICTURE: Ugetsu Monogatari
DIRECTOR: Mizoguchi
LEAD ACTOR: Richard Widmark, Pickup on South Street
LEAD ACTRESS: Chieko Hagasiyama
SHORT: Duck Amuck
SCORE: Ugetsu Monogatari
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Kazuo Miyagawa, Ugetsu

Plus bonus picks::
Script: Beat the Devil ("I'm going upstairs to read my bible")

The top two films here are as close as they can be...

1. Ugetsu Monagatori
2. Tokyo Story
3. Beat the Devil
4. Little Fugitive
5. M Hulot's Holiday
6. Mr Pu
7. The Naked Spur
8. The Big Heat
9. Pickup on South Street
10. 5000 Fingers of Dr. T


PICTURE: Mother [I guess I can work a Naruse into the top spot! This year is more wide open, with a bunch of very good films, so the choice is just a bit more arbitrary than most, and that makes a fine opportunity to spread the wealth.]
DIRECTOR: Welles, Othello
LEAD ACTOR: Takashi Shimura, Ikiru
LEAD ACTRESS: Kinoyu Tanaka, um - pick em. Say Life of Oharu, for balance's sake.
SUPPORTING ACTOR: this is harder than it look - Michael MacLiammoir is superb, but I think I have to go with Arthur Kennedy in Bend on the River...
SUPPORTING ACTRESS:Gloria Grahame, Bad and the Beautiful
SHORT: Water, Water Every Hare
SCORE: Tiomkin, High Noon

Plus bonus picks::
Script: Ikiru

1. Mother
2. Life of Oharu
3. Ikiru
4. Othello
5. Singin' in the Rain
6. Le Plaisir
7. Lightning
8. Bend on the River
9. Flavor of Green Tea over Rice
10. The Bad and the Beautiful


PICTURE: Early Summer
LEAD ACTOR: Kirk Douglas, Ace in the Hole
LEAD ACTRESS: Setsuko Hara, Repast (competing with herself, but since the other is a bit more of an ensemble, I think this takes the prize.)
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Karl Malden, Streetcar
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Kim Hunter, Streetcar
SHORT: Rabbit Fire (these films are so deeply buried in my head, how can I not vote for them?)
SCORE: North, Streetcar Named Desire
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Claude Renoir, The River

Plus bonus picks::
Script: here, I would have to choose - the efficient perfection of Ozu/Noda? or the bitterness of Ace in the Hole? All things considered - has to be Early Summer
Editing: again, the Ozu of course - there are 3 or 4 cuts in this film that floor me as completely as anything in any film anywhere. And every cut (in just about every Ozu film) is so perfect... there's nothing like it.

1. Early Summer
2. The African Queen
3. Repast
4. An American In Paris
5. Ace in the hole
6. Strangers on a Train
7. The Lavender Hill Mob
8. Man in the White Suit
9. Diary of a COuntry Priest
10. The River


PICTURE: Rashomon
DIRECTOR: Kurosawa
LEAD ACTOR: Sterling Hayden
LEAD ACTRESS: Barbara Stanwyck, The Furies
SHORT: Rabbit of Seville
SCORE: (Rashomon?)
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Miyagawa, Rashomon

Plus bonus picks:
Script: Winchester 73

1. Rashomon
2. Asphalt Jungle
3. Winchester 73
4. Sunset Boulevard
5. Flowers of St. Francis
6. La Ronde
7. Orpheus
8. The Furies
9. In a Lonely Place
10. Three Came Home


Anonymous said...

Regarding your pick for 1956 short, The Phantom Ship by Noburo Ofuji (Ohfuji). You may want to seek out his 1952 The Whale, one of my favorites. (It does not appear to be online, but is on a DVD with The Phantom Ship and other shorts.)

weepingsam said...

I have seen it - yes, they are both wonderful films...