Lost in the Movies: The Wide View 1957 - 1959 • "32 Days of Movies" Day 12

The Wide View 1957 - 1959 • "32 Days of Movies" Day 12

The twelfth chapter in "32 Days of Movies", an audiovisual tour through 366 films.
(2015 update: included Vimeo embed after the jump)

The Wide View

"Are we kids here or what?" Increasingly, the answer was "No" - for better or worse. As the fifties rolled to a close, American cinema underwent its first stirrings of adolescence. Puberty would strike with full force by the mid-sixties, crippling the movies for a time with growing pains, failed attempts at worldliness, and alienated lassitude. Yet initially this onset of maturity offered many Hollywood films a valuable edge. Whether locking a steady gaze on the brutality of war, shining a harsh light on the cynical modern media, or nakedly exposing the sexual voyeurism of audience and auteur alike, today's selections show hints of the quantum leap in content and style which would seize a moribund industry in 1967.

While television, its brash younger sibling, competed for audience attention, the movies not only had to grow up, they had to grow bigger. This chapter is the first to contain a majority of widescreen clips - but it isn't only the image that grows, nor is it merely subject matter or even stylistic approach. It is, to a certain extent, a matter of consciousness. The final clip in Chapter 12 comes as a bit of an aesthetic shock, as we switch from a big-budget spectacle to the most intimate of cinematic expressions. It is a reminder that "wideness" comes in many forms, a surprise step outside of time - since embedded in its montage are short films which would not be released for another 40 years, and an abrupt shift in tone. Appropriate, since tomorrow we kick off the longest, strangest portion of our trip.

Spoiler alert: From about 3:10 - 3:18 and 3:28 - 4:00 there are "sort-of" spoilers. In the first case, you see a major event without quite knowing its ultimate outcome; in the second you see a character, or seem to see a character, that might indicate something about the second half of the movie. In both cases, the spoilers appear after the titles so you can start to watch the clips and then decide if you want to continue.

I have covered today's films here and here.

Tomorrow: Sixties Rising


Shubhajit said...

Yet another stellar collection, Joel. It seems I've watched 5 of the movies you've covered here.

Sweet Smell of Success - Arguably one of the most incredible film noirs, hell, one of the most incredible movies I've seen. Right from the powerhouse performances by Burt Lancaster & Tony Curtis to the terrific cinematography & score - everything was pitch-perfect for the film.

Paths of Glory - A fine anti-war movie. Though I wouldn't place it at the same level as some of other Kubrick films, it was a great work alright.

Wild Strawberries - Ah, what a beautiful movie this was! I consider this as my favourite of all the Bergman films that I've watched.

Vertigo - Its been a really long time since I saw this movie. I guess I need to watch it again in order to form a more conclusive opinion about it, and then review it at my blog :)

Ben-Hur - A really engrossing epic this was. And the chariot race sequence, well what more can I say about this iconic scene that hasn't already been written about innumerable times by everyone.

Rio Bravo has been lying with me for sometime now yet I haven't yet ended up watching it, and I don't know if I'll be watching it anytime soon. Apparently it was made as a retort to High Noon, a movie I quite loved.

Joel Bocko said...

Strawberries I like, especially for moments and a general mood, but sometimes feel it is a bit forced, especially in that Sjostrom is so charming as the old man we have a hard time wondering why everyone hates him! I usually recommend it though as a good intro to Bergman, but of the '57s I lean more toward 7th Seal.

Vertigo is probably one of my 3 favorite American films of all time - one of the most hypnotic movies I know (though I've heard from people who were "hypnotized" right into sleep haha, but heck if the visuals don't hold one the twisty plot should!)

I hope you do watch Rio Bravo soon, but then if a skimpy, fiery Angie Dickinson can't convince you, I'm afraid I won't be able to! ;)

Thanks as always for your feedback; though the audience for these clips tends to be small, it's good to know those who are watching are enjoying.

Joel Bocko said...

Also on Ben-Hur, did you get a chance to read Bob's NYFF report yet on Wonders? He did a nice job, I thought, advocating its qualities on the big screen where sadly I've never seen it. I grew up watching a brutally stretched VHS tape (which I still own for sentimental reasons) but still loved it. I think of a lot of the Biblical/historical epics, it has one of the most compelling stories, and I like its ending better than the silent version.

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