The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Sunday, January 03, 2016

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looked back at 1945, it gave its Best Picture award to Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend. That is in no sense a bad movie, but it manages on the one hand to feel heavy-handed while on the other hand bowdlerizing its source material. I think it's one of Wilder's weaker efforts.

1. I Know Where I'm Going!
Written and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

A romantic comedy with something pagan simmering beneath it.

2. Ivan the Terrible, Part One
Written and directed by Sergei Eisenstein

Stalin had an infamously ambivalent attitude toward this film and its sequel: He endorsed the first installment, then suppressed the second when he realized the parallels to his career weren't so flattering after all. Both pictures are deliberately, grandly overstylized, like an opera or a superhero comic.

3. Scarlet Street
Directed by Fritz Lang
Written by Dudley Nichols, from a play by Andre Mouezy-Eon and a novel by Georges De La Fouchardiere

"Who do you think you are? My guardian angel?" "Not me, honey. I lost those wings a long time ago."

4. Open City
Directed by Roberto Rossellini
Written by Sergio Amidei and Federico Fellini

A ground-eye view of the resistance in World War II.

5. Isle of the Dead
Directed by Mark Robson
Written by Josef Mischel and Ardel Wray

As is often the case with Val Lewton's horror pictures, this illustrates the Thomas Theorem: "If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences."

6. Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne
Directed by Robert Bresson
Written by Bresson and Jean Cocteau

Apparently, if you combine Cocteau with Bresson you get a Buñuel melodrama.

7. The Spiral Staircase
Directed by Robert Siodmak
Written by Mel Dinelli, from a novel by Ethel Lina White

Siodmak kept pumping out these atmospheric noir thrillers in the '40s, and an awful lot of them hold up really well.

8. The Picture of Dorian Gray
Directed by Albert Lewin
Written by Lewin, from a novel by Oscar Wilde

Wilde inspired so many bad movies—delicate, middlebrow piles of reverence whose creators never forgot they were adapting a canonized Great Author. It's a special pleasure when someone actually does justice to one of his tales.

9. Children of Paradise
Directed by Marcel Carne
Written by Jacques Prevert

"Novelty is as old as the hills."

10. Detour
Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer
Written by Martin Goldsmith, from his novel

I like the theory that this whole delirious tale is one man's dubious alibi for crimes he really did commit, and that the film's inconsistencies and glitches are actually just the holes in his story.

Honorable mentions:

11. Fallen Angel (Otto Preminger)
12. The Body Snatcher (Robert Wise)
13. My Name Is Julia Ross (Joseph H. Lewis)
14. Draftee Daffy (Bob Clampett)
15. Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz)
16. Le Vampire (Jean Painleve)
17. Swing Shift Cinderella (Tex Avery)
18. Wonder Man (H. Bruce Humberstone)
19. The Screwy Truant (Tex Avery)
20. The Wicked Lady (Leslie Arliss)

Plus a shout-out to the concerto sequence in Hangover Square.

Of the films of 1945 that I haven't seen, I'm most interested in The Enchanted Cottage.

posted by Jesse 9:19 AM
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