1950: 4 movies

(Last updated 21 May 2014)

Francesco, giullare di Dio
Directed by Roberto Rossellini
Written by Roberto Rossellini, Federico Fellini,
Antonio Lisandrini, and Félix Morlión
Produced by Giuseppe Amato and Angelo Rizzoli
Music by Renzo Rossellini
Cinematography by Otello Martelli
Editing by Jolanda Benvenuti
Production design by Virgilio Marchi
Set decoration by Giuseppe Rissone
Costume design by Marina Arcangeli
Starring Nazario Gerardi, Severino Pisacane,
Peparuolo, and Aldo Fabrizi

   A fantastic movie about the forming of an army, their training, their battles, victories, and their ultimate disbandment and dispersement into mercenaries. The acting is peerless, and so is the cinematography, the art direction, the lighting, direction, editing, and the music. It's a movie about an experiment in changing the world for the better. And don't miss the fantastic battle towards the end where a soldier single-handedly defeats a tyrant's whole force and burns their camp to the ground!
   The title translates from Italian to "Francis, God's Jester".

Gun Crazy
Directed by Joseph H. Lewis
Writen by MacKinlay Kantor and Dalton Trumbo
Produced by Frank King and Maurice King
Cinematography by Russell Harlan
Editing by Harry W. Gerstad
Production design by Gordon Wiles
Starring Peggy Cummins and John Dall

   It makes you want to watch it again and again. It starts like an out-dated old over-bearing morality tale on how easy it is to turn into a wanted killer. And then he meets the girl, sparks literally fly, and from there the movie explodes into something that feels as fresh as if it were in the dailies! As violent as any movie ought to be! Peggy Simmons will haunt you everafter! The strangest, most captivating eyes! The editing should be commended for not letting things ever get bogged down. We move from setup to the first heist to being fully entrenched in a Bonnie and Clyde escapade. The story is actually based on Bonnie and Clyde.
   Possibly an animal was hurt during the making, but this was before people really thought much of animal rights, and as the death has a significant effect on the lead character there seems to be some balance. Amazingly, after all the fun drama, the amazing cinematography and cutting edge direction, it's still a morality tale on how easy it is to become a wanted killer. 

La ronde
Directed by Max Ophüls
Written by Jacques Natanson and Max Ophüls
Produced by Ralph Baum and Sacha Gordine
Cinematography by Christian Matras
Editing by Léonide Azar
Production design by Jean d'Eaubonne
Starring Anton Walbrook, Simone Signoret,
Simone Simon, and Danielle Darrieux

   Scandalous! Sexy! But the first thing that grabs about this movie is the crisp picture and the swinging swirling camera movement. Then, it's Anton Walbrook in the role as the master of fate and time. His confident coolness, his humor, and enigmatic character all give us a warm and reliable confidant to lead us through the unique story. Thirdly, it's the novel techniques like the 2nd person perspective, (also known as directly addressing the audience or breaking the fourth wall), the sight of a camera and the calling out that we are watching a movie shot on a studio set that make us feel a bit disoriented but excitedly anticipating the adventures that lay in store for us. And the last thing that grabs our attention is the revolutionary structure of the story, with no set protagonist, only a whirling set of characters and the love or lust that passes between them. The underlying theme is how we are all more connected than we might sometimes think. In other words, it's a small world and we are all neighbors in it. Alternating between the male and female perspective, we get to see each character through two love affairs and we are witness to how each affair is different than the previous. A thoughtful display of love as it has never been studied before, and it is matched by innovative and playful form: Genius!
   The title translates from French to "The Round".

Directed and edited by Akira Kurosawa
Written by Akira Kurosawa and Shinobu Hashimoto
Produced by Minoru Jingo
Music by Fumio Hayasaka
Cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa
Production design by Takashi Matsuyama
Starring Noriko Honma, Machiko Kyô,
Toshirô Mifune, Kichijirô Ueda,
Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki,
and Masayuki Mori

   A husband and wife take a trip through a forest in feudal Japan when a wild bandit rapes the wife, the husband ends up dead. But who killed him? This is the premise. What makes it such an intriguing movie is that the premise becomes almost a throwaway detail since we are given three, or four, or five different versions of the story, each one with a completely different mood, motive. The framing story features a working-man, a scoundrel, and a priest who meet under a shelter during a storm to give the various accounts, discuss, and debate them. What they take from the story and what we take from the stories becomes the most central part of the movie. At times, it all feels like a brain-teaser puzzle, at other times like a prompt to decide on an ethics for ourselves, and at yet other times, like a forlorn, creepy ghost-story.
   Through it all, we are treated to fantastic acting and fantastic cinematography of both a rainy and a sultry, hot day. Demands multiple viewings, and each time will teach you something different! The title comes from the name of a city gate in Japan built in the first millenium C.E.

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