Movies of a Lifetime – Quibbles – 1958

This was a great year for wonderful movies.  It was not a great year for the Oscars, probably because good films split the votes and mediocre nominees won, except for Best Picture winner, Gigi, which remains a joyous musical to this day.

Your day at the movies could feature every possible genre:  Gigi, Cat on A Hot Tin Roof, The Defiant One, The Big Country, Vertigo, Auntie Mame, Some Came Running, Separate Tables, A Night To Remember, Indiscrete, the Long Hot Summer, The Old Man and the Sea, South Pacifc, Damn Yankees, The Big Country, Bell Book and Candle, Run Silent Run Deep, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, I Want To Live, The Brothers Karamazov, King Creole, The Last Hurrah, Teacher’s Pet, Thunder Road.

Mon Oncle in French and Bonjour Tristesse from a French novel.

Gigi – Best Picture – Written for the film by Lerner & Lowe and not put on Broadway until 1973.
David Niven – Best Actor, Separate Tables – Nominees Tony Curtis & Sidney Poitier (The Defiant Ones, Paul Newman (Cat on A Hot Tin Roof), and spencer Tracy (The Old Man and the Sea).
Susan Hayward – Best Actress, I Want To Live – This is one of those winners that though the role was good, the nominees must have split things because they were such a hard choice:  Deborah Kerr (Separate Tables), Shirley Maclaine (Some Came Running), Rosalind Russell (Auntie Mame) and Elizabeth Taylor (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof)
Burl Ives – Supporting Actor, The Big Country
Wendy Hiller – Supporting Actress, Separate Tables

My absolutely favorite Elvis Presley film.  It is a shame he was never allowed to grow as an actor, but he turned in one major role in a movie based on the book, “A Stone For Danny Fisher.”

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Movies of a Lifetime – A Year of Conflicts

Took a few days off from the movies, but 1957 was another jam-packed year for film.  1957 films had a quality of conflict.  Even in the musicals and comedies the songs and laughs, came from battles between countries, lovers, and war against business plus all the internal conflicts of trying to do the right thing for the wrong reasons.

The imports from Broadway were Pal Joey, The Pajama Game, and Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire did the honors for Silk Stockings.  Debby Reynolds sang Tammy.  Elvis brought two full musicals with Loving You and Jailhouse Rock.  Hepburn and Tracy delivered Desk Set with another war of words and a wall sized computer that would fit on your cell phone today.  Sayonara brought a combo of drama and comedy with Marlon Brando and two great supporting Oscar performances from Miyoshi Umeki and Red Buttons.

There were several great westerns, war dramas and performances with 12 Angry Men, A Face In The Crowd, Sweet Smell of Success, 3:10 to Yuma, Heaven Knows Mr. Allison, The Spirit of St. Louis, The Joker is Wild, Man of a Thousand Faces, and Wild is the Wind.  Joanne Woodward took home Best Actress Oscar for Three Faces of Eve, Alec Guiness was named Best Actor and The Bridge on the River Kwai received best picture accolades.

The great songs were themes from dramas rather than musicals.

 

 

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Movies of a Lifetime – What a Wonderful Year It Was

 

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 WindSomebody 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.

 

 

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Movies of A Lifetime – Another Very Good Year

We are now up to 1955 and I’m eleven years old and seeing about four movies every weekend (Remember the double bill).  The deal with my mother was that I got her Friday night tips for my allowance and movie money for Saturday and Sunday.

The Musical & Cartoon genres were represented by Lady & The Tramp, Guys & Dolls, Oklahoma, It’s Always Fair Weather, and Love Me Or Leave Me.

There was lots of comedy and romance with The Seven Year Itch, To Catch a Thief, The Trouble With Harry, The Court Jester, The Tender Trap, and Artists and Models.

The real heavy hitters were the dramas.  There are great ones that remain classics to this day.  For the first time movie goers saw James Dean in major movies with Rebel Without A Cause and East of Eden.  His death in September made him a legend.  In addition, you get Marty (Borgnine’s well deserved Oscar), The Man With The Golden Arm, Picnic, and Mr. Rogers are just a few in a truly hard hitting year.

This was also my first introduction to foreign films and subtitles with Ingemar Bergman’s Smiles of A Summer Night that eventually became the a musical with Sondheim’s A Little Night Music.

With so many musicals and theme songs to choose from, it’s hard pick, so I’ll go with two both of which come from dramas not musicals:  The Theme From Picnic and Doris Day in one of her best dramatic/musical roles as Ruth Etting in Love Me or Leave me with Ten Cents A Dance.

Vocal version by the McGuire Sisters

 

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Movies of a Lifetime – 1954

This decade is the home of so many incredible movies that will be on the 100 best films for ages and 1954 is no different.  Marilyn is in with two more:  “River of No Return” and “There’s No Business like Show Business”.  Among the other musicals:  “Brigadoon”, “The Glenn Miller Story”, “White Christmas”, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”, and best of all “A Star Is Born”.

The Dramas on offer were equally great:  “Rear Window”, “On The Waterfront”, “Dial M For Murder”, “The Caine Mutiny”, “The High and The Mighty”, and “The Bridges at Toko-Ri” but the comedies and romances we some of the bet ever with:  “Carmen Jones”, “Three Coins In The Fountain”, “The Barefoot Contessa”, “Magnificent Obsession”, “The Last Time I Saw Paris”, and my favorite choice “Sabrina”.

They never should have attempted a remake because this version is simply perfect.   It stars an effervescent Audrey Hepburn in the title role with Humphry Bogart and William Holden vying for her attentions.  Courtesy of Wikipedia

Sabrina Fairchild is the young daughter of the Larrabee family’s chauffeur , Thomas, and has been in love with David Larrabee all her life. David is a three-times-married playboy who has never paid attention to Sabrina because to him she was still a child. Eavesdropping on a party at the Larrabee mansion, as she has often done before, Sabrina notices David enticing yet another woman. Distraught, she leaves her father a suicide note and starts every car in the garage so as to kill herself. Instead she is interrupted by David’s older brother, Linus, who escorts her back to her quarters above the garage… More

All in all a magnificent year.  Now to draw on Marilyn for something extra

 

 

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