Now this is a YEAR!!! It’s 1956; I’m 12 and seeing movies that I still watch regularly at 75. This year is so packed with great movies that any five of them could be the best offerings for a single year in modern movie going.
Let’s start with the Westerns and War: The Searchers with John Wayne with all of its themes of revenge and racism. Giant – The last of the James Dean films, part western part romance and all of the undercurrent themes of corporate greed, prejudice and empowered women. The gentle and funny but still powerful, Friendly Persuasion filled the screen as the battles of North and South meets Quaker pacifism. Seven Men from Now with an aging Randolph Scott and a young Lee Marvin. Again the theme is revenge but this time mixed with theft and possible marital infidelity. The year was topped off with the ultimate War and Peace.
Elvis first hits the screen to the sound of female screams in Love Me Tender. Is it a western, a romance, or almost a musical? It isn’t a great movie but it is definitely loved. On my wall there is the poster for what remains one of my favorite films The Man Who Never Was starring Clifton Webb and a spectacular Gloria Grahame that I still watch regularly. The video has disappeared from Amazon in all forms and I suspect it is because it is being remade as Operation Mincemeat starring Colin Firth in the Clifton Webb role.
As if the Western and War genres weren’t dramatic enough, the style of Action, Romance, and Drama in this year gave us a biblical extravaganza in The Ten Commandments, Helen of Troy, Lust for Life, and Robie the Robot featured in the science fiction film Forbidden Planet, a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Then throw in Written on the Wind, Somebody Up There Likes Me, Bus Stop, Anastasia (Ingrid Bergman, Best Actress) and Moby Dick.
For Romance, Comedy and Musicals it was a spectacular year: The Girl Can’t Help It, Teahouse of the August Moon, The Rainmaker, Bus Stop, Around The World in 80 Days (Best Picture), The King and I (Yul Brynner Best Actor), Carousel, and my favorite of the year a musical remake of The Philadelphia Story: High Society. High Society is something of a culture shock today. Was there ever a time so innocent, that a man considered an inebriated woman should just be put safely to bed without being molested?
For the musical selection the comedic duet of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby from High Society.