1952: 2 movies

(Last updated 8 June 2014)

Casque d'or
Directed by Jacques Becker
Written by Jacques Becker and Jacques Companéez
Produced by Raymond Hakim, Robert Hakim,
and André Paulvé
Music by Georges Van Parys
Cinematography by Robert Lefebvre
Editing by Marguerite Renoir 
Production design by Jean d'Eaubonne
Set decor by Maurice Barnathan
Costumes by Mayo
Starring Simone Signoret, Serge Reggiani,
Claude Dauphin, and Raymond Bussières

   Somewhere between pastoral romance, social critique, period drama, and gangster flick, this movie walks a fine, confident balance. The direction and the acting are superb, guiding the viewer through a journey of shifting tones and meanings encompassing corruption, justice, revenge, love, mob mentality, and imprisonment. Simone Signoret is the glue through it all. You can feel her character's fight to survive in an injust world, her struggle to avoid trouble, and her fight to maintain her goodness, her humanity, and her love in spite of her brutal surroundings. The image of the grim, silent faces is used powerfully and recurringly to show serious but shifting moods. In sum, this movie does not feel dated at all. In fact, it's so vibrant and passionate it doesn't even feel like a period piece.
   The title translates from French to "Golden Helmet".

High Noon
Directed by Fred Zinnemann
Written by Carl Foreman
Produced by Stanley Kramer
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Cinematography by Floyd Crosby
Editing by Elmo Williams
Production design by Rudolph Sternad
Art Direction by Ben Hayne
Set Decoration by Murray Waite
Costumes by Joe King and Ann Peck
Starring Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly,
Lee Van Cleef, Katy Jurado,
and Lloyd Bridges

   Suspenseful as all get-out! It's about corruption, and how getting rid of it is not always a team affair, but often relies on the moral fiber and the mental and physical tolerance of a single individual. The cinematography sometimes expansive and sometimes tight, but forever turning back to look at the time on the clock, communicates multiple things at once: the physical temperature, being lost and alone in a small desert community, and how sometimes the adversaries are closely-united while the forces of progress are scattered. In short, it's about a super-hero, and it encourages the super-hero in all of us.
   One of the best Westerns of all time, partly because of how the music and the tempo of the editing are so in synch!

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