Monday, November 18, 2013

My Top 25 Films of the 1950's

Some friends & I have been (and will continue to be) counting down our favorite movies by decade... and I thought I'd share my lists with you, my faithful readers.
#25 - One Froggy Evening
'cuz I couldn't NOT recognize these two (spoiler!) great cartoons... and couldn't justify putting them higher than any of the movies.
#24 - What's Opera, Doc?
See the note with #25.
#23 -  A Streetcar Named Desire
Brando & Leigh are amazing here... probably my favorite filmed version of a Tennessee Williams play.
#22 - Kiss Me Kate
It's a very stage-y musical... but I like it a whole lot. It doesn't hurt that Howard Keel in his prime could blow the doors off the place with his huge voice/presence.
#21 - Oklahoma!
One of my best stage memories was playing the role of Ali Hakim (played in the film by Eddie Albert)... though the movie cuts his patter song from the stage version, it's still a lovely adaption.
#20 - White Christmas
I kinda feel bad about listing this one now, as I'll get to vote for the original (and better) film, Holiday Inn, when we do the pre-50s run. Still, it's got some wonderful songs. (I was strongly chastised for calling Holiday Inn the original film... but it is. So there.)
#19 - Invasion of the Body Snatchers
This movie creeps me the heck out.
#18 - To Catch a Thief
Classy & romantic... and I'm still a little in love w/Grace Kelly. (There's two more Grace Kelly movies in this countdown.)
#17 - The African Queen
A directing class in how to use your actors & show off their gifts and talents... in some ways, this is a hokey story/movie - but it still works like a charm.
#16 - Guys & Dolls
Frank Sinatra and the supporting cast of gangsters save this one from the miscasting of Brando... of course, you're starting with excellent musical & script material, so it's harder to screw it up.
#15 - Peter Pan (Disney)
An adventure film for every little boy who was irritated by the procession of Disney princesses... and it doesn't hurt that the Peter Pan ride at Disneyland is still one of the most magical experiences ever conceived.
#14 - 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Disney)
Another movie that creeped me out as a kid... saw it a few years ago & the practical FX are still pretty effective.
#13 - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Bless it's beautiful misogynist hide, this is actually a movie musical (not a film of a stage musical) and the dance sequences are wonderous.
#12 - Pillow Talk
It's like a Moliere play, filtered through the late 1950s... one of my mom's favorite films.
#11 - North by Northwest
Cary Grant sells what is, on the face, a ridiculous premise... and Hitchcock works his magic in some incredibly tense set pieces that - if you think about them - make little to no sense.
And it's still fun to watch.
#10 - Sleeping Beauty (Disney)
As a kid, I didn't like the unusual art style... as an adult, I've grown to appreciate what a cool experiment it was.
Another Disneyland "ride" that was recently (last 5 years or so) rescued from mothballs & updated - the Sleeping Beauty walkthrough. It's simple & charming & so very not-crowd-friendly... when you go through the castle gate, look to your left in the first courtyard.
#9 - Silk Stockings
Cyd Charisse in a musical remake of Ninochtka... which is a sort of spoiler for an upcoming countdown.
#8 - The Searchers
A gorgeous but much darker Western from John Ford... a meditation on race, family, revenge & grief.
#7 - High Society
A musical remake of The Philadelphia Story... with Grace Kelly, which gives it extra points for classy.
As a teenager, I was infatuated with Grace Kelly & Hayley Mills... well, the celluloid versions of them.
#6 - Lady & the Tramp (Disney)
This is here for many reasons, not the least of which is the "Bella Notte" sequence.
#5 - 12 Angry Men
I always wanted to be in this play when I was doing theater.
And serving jury duty (I was elected foreman) gave me that kind of vibe - well, not really. It was more like "12 people who liked each other & wanted to get it right" - which wouldn't make for a very good play but made for a pleasant judicial experience.
#4 - Some Like It Hot
Some of the finest performances in their careers from the entire cast - a perfectly pitched screwball comedy.
#3 - Harvey
Whimsical, sweet, and heartwarming... without being gooey. Jimmy Stewart does a splendid job with a role that can go wrong in so many ways.
#2 - Rear Window
Jimmy Stewart again - this time in a brilliant Hitchcock vehicle with a stunning Grace Kelly. The "we are all voyeurs" motif is claustrophobic and mesmerizing and ratchets up the suspense... I had the joy of seeing this for the first time when it was re-released with a fresh print in the mid-80s.
#1 - Singin' in the Rain
Gene Kelly at his charming, energetic best... given two perfect partners in Donald O'Connor & a very young Debbie Reynolds... mix in Jean Hagen & Cyd Charisse and enjoy.
BTW, I deeply love that the obligatory "ballet" number (Gotta Dance) is treated as, well, an obligatory ballet number. And that it's really, really great dancing.

No comments: