The eleventh chapter in "32 Days of Movies", an audiovisual tour through 366 films.
(2015 update: included Vimeo embed after the jump)
An International Era
In the late fifties, the Cold War cooled and from the Khrushchev speech to the kitchen sink debate, the era many had expected in the wake of World War II - one focused on the United Nations and at least talking about peaceful coexistence - had begun to emerge. After a decade of fiercely agonizing over who and what was and wasn't "American", the nation seemed to have a renewed hunger for the exotic, the different, the international. This was reflected on its movie screens, as a taste for foreign films serendipitously (or conveniently) coincided with the rise of several truly great auteurs.
There are only three American films this week - a cartoon (lovingly lampooning European forms), the first major film of a director who would go on to become international himself (American by birth, British by choice for a good thirty-five years), and then finally one film which is as unquestionably American as they come. It's the only selection in widescreen this week, and it takes beautiful advantage of that format in its opening shot. If one had to pick one film from these years to represent the U.S., in its romanticism, its violence, its restlessness, its beauty, its expansiveness, its quiet poetry - this would be it.
I have covered today's films here, here, here, and here.
Tomorrow: The Wide View
Yesterday: The Restless Fifties