Monday, June 6, 2011

1959 ... What a Year!

Amother strong contender for the Greatest Year in Cinema, 1959 is not short on all-time classics. But before we celebrate 1959 the year in film, let's refresh our memory about some of the main events of 1959:

  • The US flag earns a couple of stars as Alaska and Hawaii become states. Good for them.
  • Cuban Revolution ends as Castro and his friends kick Batista out of the island once and for all.
  • Music dies on a January day
  • First Barbie dolls are rolled out to teach little girls how to conform to the gender role society has imposed on them.
  • Leakeys discover Australopithecus in Tanzania. This is the day god dies.
  • M1 opens in the UK. First gridlock occurs about 5 minutes later.
  • Antarctica is declared a military-free zone ... wait ... really? {runs to the bedroom to pack bags}
Meanwhile, audiences were blessed with a rather formidable year in film. Sadly, the list needed to be trimmed and 3 remained. But, before celebrating the best that 1959 offered, let's reveal who just couldn't quite make it:

  • Ben-Hur, in which Romans, slaves, Jesus, Heston and 11 Oscars mingle
  • North by Northwest, in which people hang from giant nostrils
  • Shadows, in which nothing really happens.
Strong line-up, yes. But not as strong as the following one. The top 3 films of 1959:

3- Imitation of Life (dir: Douglas Sirk; wri: Eleanore Griffin & Alan Scott)
A remake? Oh, yes. A weepie? Believe you me. A chick flick?! Why not? If you remember how you felt when Bambi's mom was killed, you will recognise the lump in your throat at the end of this classic melodrama. Probably the best film of Sirk's career, but more importantly it is a landmark film dealing with gender and race issues in contemporary America.

2- Some Like It Hot (dir: Billy Wilder; wri: Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond)
Regularly features near the very top of every greatest comedy of all time lists, Some Like It Hot lives up to its reputation. And more. The laughs never subside and it contains more than a handful of scenes that are embedded in every film lover's brain. On another year, this would be a shoo-in for number one. Alas.

1- The 400 Blows (dir: François Truffaut, wri: Marcel Moussy & François Truffaut)
The beginning of Truffaut's Antoine Duanel cycle, The 400 Blows is quite probably the best film to come out of the French New Wave. Wonderfully played by a young Jean-Pierre Léaud, Antoine's adventures on the streets is haunting, dreamy and incredibly funny at times. But, if The 400 Blows is remembered for one thing only, it is for the last shot of the film.


Anonymous said...

Another great blog... seems like you're really on a roll at the moment!

Sorry to see that N by NW didn't make it into the top three, though - gets my vote for most entertaining Hitchcock.

Also, Apartment better than Some Like It Hot...? Or is that just me?

The Bru said...

Thank you, kind sir! Much appreciated.

Yes, leaving N by NW out of top 3 was tough. I think it's his most entertaining pic too (along with Strangers on a Train). Alas ...

Also, no. It's not just you.


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