Wednesday, December 21, 2005

2005: Ten Favorite Older Films



Seen for the first time this year, and arranged in alphabetical order by filmmaker:

  • 3 Women (Robert Altman, 1977)

  • The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970)

  • Three Comrades (Frank Borzage, 1938)

  • White Dog (Samuel Fuller, 1982)

  • Twentieth Century (Howard Hawks, 1934)

  • The Woman In The Moon (Fritz Lang, 1929)

  • Design For Living (Ernst Lubitsch, 1933)

  • La Signora Di Tutti (Max Ophuls, 1934)

  • The Lusty Men (Nicholas Ray, 1952)

  • Germany Year Zero (Roberto Rossellini, 1948)

Actually, I had seen The Conformist years ago, on a pan-scan/dubbed VHS tape, and it made no impression whatsoever. Encountering it this year in a new print on the big screen (with the restored "party of the blind" sequence), it felt utterly new.

27 Comments:

Blogger girish said...

Darren works up the Meme of Four.

December 21, 2005 6:54 AM  
Blogger girish said...

I was spurred to see 3 Women by Filmbrain's screen capture image of Shelley Duvall in her Pinto, a little bit of her skirt caught in the door. The Altman commentary track on the Criterion DVD is typically terrific.

December 21, 2005 7:12 AM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Tell me more about the version of White Dog that you saw. I have only seen the edited version that appeared on cable about twenty years ago. The guy in charge of the briefly existing Denver Cinematheque could have shown Fuller's version of White Dog with Fuller in attendance, but opted to present Pickup on South Street instead (sigh). At least I got Fuller to autograph my copy of his novel 144 Picadilly.

December 21, 2005 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Twenty-four Eyes Kinoshita Keisuke - 1954
Good Morning, Night Marco Bellochio - 2003
Face of Another Hiroshi Teshigahara - 1966
Clean Olivier Assayas - 2004
Le Parfum d’Yvonne Patrice Leconte - 1994
The Lady of Musashino Kenji Mizoguchi - 1951
Siberian Lady Macbeth Andrej Wajda - 1962
Venus in Furs Jesus Franco - 1970
Bitter Victory Nicholas Ray - 1958
Castle of Sand Nomura Yoshitaro

December 21, 2005 8:36 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Peter, I saw the cable version.
My friend Doug and I watched it the same weekend. He saw it on the big screen in L.A. and I watched it here at home. We chatted about the movie at length on the phone that weekend. There were a couple of small differences but for the most part, the versions didn't seem that different.
(Unless we're talking about a whole other version that I'm not aware of.)
Powerful movie.
And I wonder where Kristy McNichol is these days. She was terrific in it.

December 21, 2005 8:50 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Just realized, glancing at my list, how much I was into classic American cinema this year, even more so than usual.

December 21, 2005 8:59 AM  
Anonymous Filmbrain said...

Ah....Design for Living -- pure bliss. What screenwriter Ben Hecht did with Noel Coward's play is nothing short of briliant. Has that great Miriam Hopkins line, "I'm sick of being a trademark married to a slogan."

December 21, 2005 10:19 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Soon after I saw it, I discovered a really sharp analysis of the film by Molly Haskell in her book From Reverence To Rape. A fun read.

December 21, 2005 10:28 AM  
Blogger girish said...

My favorite Christgau consumer guide column each year: the holiday gift suggestion list.

December 21, 2005 12:17 PM  
Anonymous ju-osh: the paleface ghostface said...

Not that you asked, but...

Big Heat (Lang)
Big Combo (Lewis)
Detour (Ulmer)
Three Women (Altman)
Moon Over Harlem (Ulmer)
Ikiru (Kurosawa)
The entire Garbo box set

And I totally agree with you on Altman's commentaries - I think that he has made the best ones, most consistently.

December 22, 2005 11:51 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks for letting me know.
Had no idea that the Ulmer was on DVD and also at Netflix. Find of the day.

December 22, 2005 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Darren said...

You're all making me think I should give 3 Women another go. I loved Shelley Duvall but couldn't muster much interest in the film.

December 22, 2005 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Filmbrain said...

Darren -- please do. It's so very rewarding.

December 22, 2005 4:26 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Darren--
I liked its structure: the first half could almost be a sociological satire in its tremendous accumulation of little details and the slight exaggeratedness (and humorous, self-absorbed seriousness) of the Shelley Duvall character.
And then the second half suddenly turns radical, subjective cinema erasing the objective cinema of the first half--with the identities becoming permeable. I love that rupture in the film--and it seems pretty bold for its time, at least for Hollywood cinema.
I also like that it was inspired by Persona, which is probably my favorite Bergman film.

December 22, 2005 4:31 PM  
Blogger girish said...

"It seems pretty bold for its time, at least for Hollywood cinema."
Actually, I think: it's bold even today, and for any kind of cinema, not just Hollywood.
Perfecting the art of narcissism: Commenting on my own comment to my own post. Scary.

Filmbrain--Really enjoyed your take onMunich.
And David's comment on manipulation hits home with me--it's my single biggest beef with Spielberg.

December 22, 2005 4:39 PM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Ulmer's been on my Netflix queue. Hope you have room for Pirates of Capri. I'm currently reading J. Hoberman's book on Yiddish Cinema, and have learned a little bit more about EGU.

December 22, 2005 5:37 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Peter, I picked up that Hoberman book about a year ago but haven't gotten to it yet.
Do you know: do all of Ulmer's Hollywood films have a good reputation? Or is there a wide variability in the quality of his films?
I think Detour is the only one I've seen, and until today it was the only one I thought was on DVD.

December 22, 2005 8:51 PM  
Blogger Flickhead said...

Ulmer's Black Cat is highly recommended!

December 22, 2005 8:53 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Of course. Forgot all about that one.
Loved it. Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, the amazing Art Deco sets.
Quickly checked Netflix, and they have it.

December 22, 2005 8:59 PM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Ulmer's films are variable. Some films are for completists. I would recommend the Moon over Harlem/Strange Woman double feature disc. Bluebeard was also pretty interesting. All I can remember about Man from Planet X is that I saw it several times over 40 years ago back when the NYC local station would repeat movies for a week. I saw The Amazing Transparent Man on cable. You can take your sweet time with that one. I saw the last ten minutes or so of it in a theater when my grandmother took me to see The Time Machine (1960). In the book "Kings of the Bs", Ulmer said he also had a hand in several other films including Thunder Road.

December 22, 2005 10:18 PM  
Blogger Patry Francis said...

The only one of these I've seen is Three Women. So thanks for all the great suggestions! I frequently wander around the video store, disgusted with my options, then end up taking home something I don't like.

December 22, 2005 11:13 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Peter, thank you for all the suggestions.
And Patry, congratulations on the book.

December 23, 2005 8:03 AM  
Anonymous Filmbrain said...

Thanks for the comment about Munich.

Man, am I getting beat up in emails! Spielberg fans are a rabid bunch, or so it seems.

December 23, 2005 11:42 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Hmm. Which is odd because I'm guessing a lot of the people who might be writing in haven't even seen the film yet.

December 23, 2005 12:16 PM  
Blogger Campaspe said...

Girish, the happiest of holidays to you. This list points up nicely why we are so simpatico. I have not forgotten why I managed to see Design for Living this year, myself. My favorite moment is still Miriam's martyred look as she asks, Ïs it animal, vegetable or mineral?

Just screened A Scandal in Paris and loved it, btw.

Here's hoping 2006 brings you to town again, preferably when they are showing Sirk somewhere.

December 24, 2005 10:07 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, Campaspe.
And my warmest holiday wishes to la famille sirène.
I fully hope and expect to visit Toronto in the nxt few months, and will surely drop you a note before I do.

December 25, 2005 10:40 AM  
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