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

Monday, January 01, 2018
DOUBLE BERGMAN: Having covered the best movies of
2007, 1997, 1987, 1977, and 1967, we move now to the year of Sputnik and "Jailhouse Rock."

When the Motion Picture Academy looked back at 1957, it gave its Best Picture award to a David Lean epic called The Bridge on the River Kwai. That's a good movie, and you'll find it on my list—but not at the top:

1. What's Opera, Doc?
Directed by Chuck Jones
Written by Michael Maltese

With American efficiency, the Ring Cycle is gagged up and slimmed down to seven minutes of film.

2. Paths of Glory
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Written by Kubrick, Calder Willingham, and Jim Thompson, from a novel by Humphrey Cobb

Possibly the least sentimental antiwar movie ever made.

3. Wild Strawberries
Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman

"Me and my wife are dependent on each other. It is out of selfish reasons we haven't beaten each other to death a long time ago."

4. The Seventh Seal
Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman

Shortly after Bergman passed away, I was in an ER awaiting an appendectomy. A previous patient had left the room's soundless TV tuned to Turner Classic Movies, which was paying tribute to the director by broadcasting The Seventh Seal. So now I can tell people that when I went to the hospital, I saw Death hovering above my bed. And that I got a good laugh out of it.

5. Sweet Smell of Success
Directed by Alexander Mackendrick
Written by Ernest Lehman and Clifford Ordets, from a novelette by Lehman

This treats Walter Winchell with all the affection that Citizen Kane had for William Randolph Hearst.

6. Throne of Blood
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Written by Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Ryuzo Kikushima, and Hideo Oguni, from a play by William Shakespeare

The best of the celluloid Macbeths.

7. Witness for the Prosecution
Directed by Billy Wilder
Written by Wilder, Harry Kurtz, and Larry Marcus, from a play by Agatha Christie

I won't claim this as a libertarian movie, but libertarians should enjoy anything that allows the great Charles Laughton both to disobey doctor's orders and to battle the prosecutorial state.

8. The Bridge on the River Kwai
Directed by David Lean
Written by Michael Wilson and Carl Foreman, from a novel by Pierre Boulle

Another study in primate pack behavior from the man who wrote Planet of the Apes.

9. Night of the Demon
Directed by Jacques Tourneur
Written by Charles Bennett and Hal Chester

The American cut is called Curse of the Demon. Watch the British original if you can—both versions were damaged by the producer's oafish interference, but the American edition was mangled more.

10. Decision at Sundown
Directed by Budd Boetticher
Written by Charles G. Lang, from a novel by Vernon L. Fluharty

"If you'd been tending bar as long as I have, you wouldn't expect so much out of the human race."

Honorable mentions:

11. An Affair to Remember (Leo McCarey)
12. N.Y., N.Y.: A Day in New York (Francis Thompson)
13. Three Little Bops (Friz Freleng)
14. Bitter Victory (Nicholas Ray)
15. The Transposed Heads (Alejandro Jodorowsky)
16. The Bachelor Party (Delbert Mann)
17. The Curse of Frankenstein (Terence Fisher)
18. The Sound of Jazz (Jack Smight)
19. 3:10 to Yuma (Delmer Daves)
20. Rhythm (Len Lye)

Of the films of 1957 that I haven't seen, I'm most interested in I Am Waiting and The Devil Strikes at Night.

posted by Jesse 9:59 AM
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