1957: 3 movies

(Last updated 30 August 2014)

Love in the Afternoon 
Directed and produced by Billy Wilder
Written by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond
Cinematography by William C. Mellor
Editing by LĂ©onide Azar
Art Direction by Alexandre Trauner
Set decor by Oliver Emert
Costume Design by Jay A. Morley Jr.
Wardrobe by Hubert de Givenchy and Mary Tate
Starring Audrey Hepburn, Gary Cooper,
and Maurice Chevalier

   The genius of this movie is how it feels like a cute romantic comedy, while just under the surface are tons of burning emotions, pain, and longing. No one could have fit better than Audrey in her lead role as a young girl who is trying to follow her heart despite the odds. It may be her best role in that she is witty yet passionate, modest and yet determined. Some of the humor is at times dangerously close to corny territory, but the razor-sharp dialogue and the breathless editing is what keeps everything rolling along nicely. It may be Billy Wilder's best movie as well!
   Some people feel the age difference between Gary Cooper and Hepburn is too much, but it's essential in that it gives the characters a more fleshed-out psychology, and it fits in with the movie's style of walking along the edge of unbelievable. Daring is the word.

Letyat zhuravli
Directed and produced by Mikhail Kalatozov 
Writing by Viktor Rozov
Music by Moisey Vaynberg
Cinematography by Sergey Urusevskiy
Editing by Mariya Timofeeva
Production design by Evgeniy Svidetelev
Starring Tatyana Samoylova

   It's a long and painful epic, and yet it bursts with the urgency of life after all these years. The reason is the cinematography which may be the best of its kind ever. It combines with the art direction to make vistas stretch infinitely far into the distance. The world seems very big and lonely in these shots, but even the moments in tiny cramped rooms feel extraordinarily long and empty. This is possibly because of the slightly fish-eyed lens which, with the crisp black and white, creates a screen that draws the viewer in by the eyeballs. The editing which is long and flowing in the right spots and pounding quick like a hyper-ventilating heart in the right spots. The front-woman, Tatyana Samojlova, is excellently cast. As beautiful a subject as she is, she is also heart-wrenchingly amazing as an actress. Hers is more realistic in a way that feels ahead of its time in 1957.
   The topic is still unfortunately timely, focusing on war and the people left behind to wait for their loved ones. It's about how a love story can effortlessly transform into a prison-like tragedy because of hatred, greed, and stupidity. The title translates from Russian to "The Cranes Are Flying".


Le Notti Bianche
Directed by Luchino Visconti
Written by Suso Cecchi D'Amico and Luchino Visconti
Produced by Franco Cristaldi
Music by Nino Rota
Cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno
Editing by Mario Serandrei
Production design by Mario Chiari
Set decor by Enzo Eusepi
Costume design by Piero Tosi
Starring Maria Schell, Marcello Mastroianni,
and Jean Marais

   Afterwards, you feel like crap, but it's worth it for the beautiful production. The actors, the set, the editing, lighting, and story by Dostoyevsky are tremendous. It's about night-owls hungry for love, and about devotion, patience, and the bond between imagination and love. And during the masterly, operatic production, we also get a feel for life in an urban Italian city, apartment-dwelling, the streets, prostitutes, the homeless, and the restless young. All of these are real and important issues, which makes the movie valuable also as proof that socially-relevant movies can be beautiful entertainment.
   The title translates from Italian to "The white nights".

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