Saturday, June 4, 2011

1958 ... What a Year!

Following 1957 was going to be a struggle, so 1958 (personally) fails to live up to its predecessor. But, still ... 1958 ... what a year it was!

Outside cinemas Brazil was busy winning its first of a thousand World Cups, Britain was busy installing its parking-meters which subsequently led to a spike in murder rates throughout the country, and "Lolita" was published without any controversy.

Notable cinematic endeavours included Dracula returning to screens camper than ever, Max Von Sydow putting on a wig and some make-up to act dumb, and the inspiration for George Lucas's empire.

Yes, the obligatory 'didn't (quite) make the cut' list:
  • Dracula
  • The Magician
  • The Hidden Fortress
Frankly, with the exception of The Hidden Fortress, the top 3 are quite safe on their pedestal:

3- Touch of Evil (wri & dir: Orson Welles)
Is it really anything more than the opening shot? It is. If you can get over Charlton Heston playing a Mexican (and, frankly, who really can?), you can't dismiss the genius sleazy turn from Orson Welles. And, of course, there is the opening shot ...

2- Vertigo (dir: Alfred Hitchcock; wri: Alec Coppel & Samuel A. Taylor)
Wait ... this isn't number one? Yes and I have good reasons. Primarily, as amazing as Hitchcock's critically most celebrated film is, it is too clever for its own good ... even though it really isn't that clever. Secondly I just cannot stand Kim Novak - as far as bad actresses go, she is second only to Andie MacDowell. However, no other film in history is more open to psychoanalysis than Vertigo and of course it has scenes like this:

1- Handsome Serge (wri & dir: Claude Chabrol)
We can go on forever discussing which film kickstarted the French New Wave. Chabrol's debut is considered as one of them, but it is also unfairly overshadowed by more famous fare. Shame, because Handsome Serge is an incredibly emotional film about a man who returns to his hometown after 10 years only to find his best friend, Serge, turn into a pathetic drunk. The following video has no English subtitles, so if your French is non-existent like mine, just enjoy the scenery.

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