1958: 3 movies

(Last updated 2 September 2014)

The Very Eye of Night
Writing, direction, editing,
and cinematography by Maya Deren
Choreography by Antony Tudor
Music by Teiji Ito
Starring Don Freisinger, Richard Sandifer,
Patricia Ferrier, Bud Bready,
Genaro Gomez, Barbara Levin,
Richard Englund, Rosemary Williams,
and Phillip Salem

   How lucky we are that we are alive and that we can watch this movie! There has been a on-going debate for a long time now about which is a better medium for art, animated movies or live-action. For many people, animation wins since it is liberated from physical laws. It can show a bear on a cloud. But then again, in live-action, you can paint a wall and floor like clouds, and set a bear on it. In animation, you can show the gods dancing and fighting and being awesome among the stars. But, as this movie shows, only in live-action can you have a world-class dance company recorded in negative monochrome as they perform a fearsome story of divinity, immortality, and love, all this while they float gravity-free and timeless among the stars. Add to that a great set of opening titles, and a magical soundtrack, and you have one for the ages!
   It is also Maya Deren's last completed movie. Now that's a hell of a way to go out!

Du côté de la côte

Written and directed by Agnès Varda
Produced by Anatole Dauman and Philippe Lifchitz
Original Music by Georges Delerue
Cinematography by Quinto Albicocco and Raymond Castel
Editing by Jasmine Chasney and Henri Colpi

   Brilliant color. A French New Wave travel brochure. Its ironic sense of humor is still fresh. The images flash by and spin around the screen until the avid movie-lover literally swoons, while the sobering message hits home that these used to be beautiful places where real and important communties lived, but have now been stolen away by the idle rich.
   The title translates from French to "Towards the coast".

Separate Tables
Directed by Delbert Mann
Written by Terence Rattigan and John Gay
Produced by Harold Hecht
Music by David Raksin
Cinematography by Charles Lang
Editing by Charles Ennis and Marjorie Fowler
Production design by Harry Horner
Art direction by Edward Carrere
Set decor by Edward G. Boyle
Starring David Niven, Wendy Hiller,
Deborah Kerr, Burt Lancaster,
and Gladys Cooper

   It builds rather slowly compared to a lot of movies on this list, and yet, it's very economical. My next complaint is that it's basically all talk, maybe better suited to the stage. My third complaint is that, half-way through, I got the feeling that it's a melodramatic soap opera that can't be watched more than once. My fourth complaint is regarding the studious boy and his girlfriend who don't really add much to the drama. But despite all this, it's very hard to turn away from this movie until the very satisfying end. If you watch and comprehend long enough, you will find yourself like I did, sobbing and shivering from the sheer emotion. I assume this to be from the brilliant direction, angles, editing, and acting, and of course from the brilliant screenplay by Rattigan. My feeling upon the last moments of the movie is that there is no way this movie can ever leave this list.
   It might help you to know that the Major's "crime" was actually code for his cruising for homosexual company.

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