Zine Peek: Top Ten By Year: 1978 – The Shout

Two weeks ago the Top Ten By Year: 1978 zine became available to purchase on my etsy page. It is a variety of collage, illustration, and celebration of the films of 1978, including write-ups on my ten favorites. For both this and my previous issue (1943), my plan was to rewatch the films and revise what I’d originally written years ago when I chose these years for my Top Ten By Year project (in which I spend 6 months to over a year with a particular year in film). What I quickly found was that none of it was nearly good enough to include. In the end, a handful of thoughts remained, but almost everything I wrote for both zines is entirely new.

I want to give people a peek at what I wrote, and hopefully, if you like it and would like to see more, you’ll consider picking up a copy. I’ll post three write-ups from each. Here is the second I’m sharing from 1978, on Jerzy Skolimowski’s The Shout. It is my #10 of that year.


“Every word of what I’m going to tell you is true. Only I’m telling it in a different way. It’s always the same story…it’s always the same story but I…I change the sequence of events, and I vary the climaxes a little, because I like to keep it alive you see. I like to keep it alive”. 

Two men keep score of an asylum cricket game that unfolds with a kind of waiting-room menace, as if the world may end as soon as one team wins. One of the men tells the other a story, a story about aboriginal magicks in the English countryside, a story with unreliable layers of remove before we even begin. There is an air of Caligari to this framing device, the disturbed living in a limbo where the mix of delusion and reality exists in a beguiling muddle. Of course it’s a cricket game. Cricket makes no goddamn sense to the eye, but there is an order and logic to it we cannot see or know. I may as well be describing The Shout.

The central couple in Crossley’s (Alan Bates) tale are more placeholders than people. John Hurt is terminally aloof, and Suzannah York all-too soon becomes a symbol of sexual submission and the conqueror conquering. We meet them as they wake from a shared apparition of an aboriginal man in a tailcoat. The wife notices that her belt buckle is missing. They just woke up, and unbeknownst to them they’ve already lost the hearth and themselves. There are no clear motivations. Why them, why here? This is a reality where visions, the vessels of the inanimate, and especially the sonic, are what dictate will, power, and fate. Where everything may be a lie, or worse, everything may be true. Where people can be controlled as long as you have their belt buckle, or trap their soul in a stone.

Crossley claims to have obtained the “Terror Shout” from a shaman, a deafening scream that has the power to immediately kill anyone or anything within earshot. Anthony (Hurt) is a composer who spends his time experimenting with sound by manipulating electronics and everyday objects, unlocking what they hold within. An early sequence shows him recording various sounds, such as marbles and water rolling around together on an aluminum baking sheet. Throughout the film, there is an awareness of the potential for the extraordinary by what is put into and brought out of the ordinary. But in The Shout, the extraordinary uniformly manifests itself in the evils of the fantastic. We are thus trained to be more attuned to sound moving forward, to listen with a keen ear of curiosity and unease — to listen with the ears of a musician…or a wizard. The Shout weaves an aural tapestry for us, with an innovative 4-channel Dolby mix, one of the first of its kind, and an ambient and subdued synth score by Tony Banks and Michael Rutherford of Genesis.

There is a moment when, yanked down into position, Suzannah York recreates a Francis Bacon work seen on an inconspicuous clipping on Hurt’s studio wall. Director Jerzy Skolimowski doesn’t over-telegraph this recreation. He creates an uncanny familiarity, giving you just enough to know you’ve seen that pose somewhere before, and what the hell does it mean that you’re seeing it again? Is it part of Crossley’s power over the house that creates these mirror images, part of the film’s conveyances, or the inanimate’s surplus of energy? Any or all? These are the kind of patterns (this one more direct than the rest of the film) that make up the film. Watching it you feel first dislodged, then powerless. Even the opening credits, in which a man zig-zags his way through a shot grainy enough to be Bigfoot footage, are hazy and out of reach. The Shout leaves you engulfed in layers of suspicious supernatural uncertainty as you go off into the world acutely aware of your own corporeal limitations .

Zine Peek: Top Ten By Year: 1978 – The Fury

Two weeks ago the Top Ten By Year: 1978 zine became available to purchase on my etsy page. It is a variety of collage, illustration, and celebration of the films of 1978, including write-ups on my ten favorites. For both this and my previous issue (1943), my plan was to rewatch the films and revise what I’d originally written years ago when I chose these years for my Top Ten By Year project (in which I spend 6 months to over a year with a particular year in film). What I quickly found was that none of it was nearly good enough to include. In the end, a handful of thoughts remained, but almost everything I wrote for both zines is entirely new.

I want to give people a peek at what I wrote, and hopefully, if you like it and would like to see more, you’ll consider picking up a copy. I’ll post three write-ups from each. Here is the second I’m sharing from 1978, on Brian De Palma’s The Fury. It is my #3 of that year.

960_the_fury_blu-ray_08_The Fury is the best X-Men film ever made, and in an ideal world it’d be considered a model for what pop cinema can be. But as Brian De Palma’s follow-up to his masterpiece Carrie it was destined to disappoint, in part because of how much they have in common. Both are based on novels about a telekinetic girl. Both feature Amy Irving as an empath who tries and fails to save a peer-in-need. And both enjoy playing at an offbeat pitch; but while Carrie does so within an unmistakable horror designation, The Fury is an ice cream sundae of genres – a coming-of-age supernatural espionage government conspiracy horror-thriller. Got all that? Add an experimentally self-reflexive cherry on top, and you have a film that audiences and critics did not, and largely still don’t, know what to make of. But to De Palma devotees (and some film devotees) it is an essential work, and an irresistible opportunity for writers to intellectualize De Palma’s relationship with cinema through cinema. It’s an exercise that often, for all its worth, makes the film itself sound like a narrative thesis. There is often a clinical disconnect that obscures The Fury’s entertaining and emotional immediacy.

Watching The Fury, the main thing you notice is that even through its early slower section it is blisteringly alive, as if De Palma has some unspoken knowledge that this will be the last film he ever makes (spoiler alert: it wasn’t). It is so in tune with its own wavelength, and with the emotional stakes of its characters, that the preposterously schlocky story feels like it matters (this is greatly helped by John Williams’s momentous Herrmann-eqsue score, by turns eerie, epic, and playful. “For Gillian” is his Harry Potter before Harry Potter). It maintains the same two-fold hold on me every time I watch it — a mix of uncommonly strong investment in the characters and story, and a near-constant awe at its formal power. With an opening set-piece that involves a betrayal by way of (who else but?) John Cassavetes, a terrorist attack, a kidnapping, and a shirtless 62 year-old Kirk Douglas letting loose with a machine gun, an “all-aboard!” line is drawn in the sand. Either hop on or get ready for a long two hours.

That ice cream sundae also contains eccentric pockets of comic relief. Scenes open on oddball peripheral characters, whether it’s the cop who just got a brand new car, the little old lady who delights in helping out a trespasser, or the two security guards who pass the time by negotiating trades of Hershey bars and coffee (it also has the priceless reveal that the elderly Kirk Douglas’s ingenious disguise is to make himself look, wait for it, old!). All that Kirk and quirk gradually give way to the more sincerely executed dilemmas of the teenage Gillian (Amy Irving in a performance that belongs in my personal canon), a new student at the Paragon Institute coming to grips with her increasingly cataclysmic and all-seeing powers.

It’s trademark De Palma to toy around with the nature of cinema, and as The Fury unfolds it begins to self-engage, reaching back into itself in ways that are still hard to fully fathom. Gillian’s telekinetic link to the missing Robin (Andrew Stevens) is depicted visually, including us in the intimate and exclusive psychic link they share. Since Gillian’s visions are triggered by touch and experienced by sight, she acquires information by watching scenes play out in front of, or all around, her. She learns and we learn through her. She becomes submerged in cinema — part of the audience. Gillian experiences harrowing psychic access to Robin, and through the immediacy of the filmmaking we are given that same experiential access to Gillian. This is cinema as the ultimate form of communication, information (surveillance is a recurring theme here too, another De Palma favorite), and feeling, seen as capable of transcending the confines of the screen. As part of his brainwashing, Robin is even shown the first five minutes of the film. Cinema weaponized and all that jazz.

The tricks in De Palma’s formal playbook make all this possible. The editing (at times flickering in-and-out like a flip-book) and rear-screen projection are used to emphasize and envelop. Characters are brought together by overlapping space and sound. The camera often tracks conversation by circling around characters, knowing that the more an image changes, the more we can percieve. A bravura slow-motion sequence turns the notion of the escape scene into a cathartic reverie gone wrong. It isn’t until the end that we realize the slow-motion is in fact stretching out a character’s final moments. It is the perfect encapsulation of how De Palma, at his best, uses pure stylization to not only enhance, but become emotion. Gillian’s shake-ridden fright and confusion, Hester’s (Carrie Snodgress) heartache and longing, and Peter (Douglas) facing the consequences of his quest, are all deeply palpable through this fusion of performance and form.

The Fury carries the devastating punch of his most emotional works like Carrie, Blow Out, or Carlito’s Way, but without the ever-lingering bleak aftertaste. It hijacks the senseless loss that came before with a vengeful ascendance so absolute it can only be called the money shot to end all money shots. And it wouldn’t be The Fury if it didn’t replay from every imaginable angle — wiping our memory out with pure orgasmic vindication.

What I’ll Remember About the Films of 1949: A Love Letter

Previous What I’ll Remember posts:
1925, 1930, 1943, 1958, 1965, 1969, 1978, 1982, 1992, 2012, 2013, 2014

It’s that time again! The What I’ll Remember posts are a Top Ten By Year trademark; a fun, engaging, and personalized way of collecting movie memories that represent my time with the years chosen for this project. It’s something I work on gradually while making my way through the watchlist, whether it’s writing down observations, grabbing screencaps, or making notes of what to include. When I look back on these long afterwards, I find countless things I would have otherwise forgotten (despite the name of this feature!) and am always so grateful for having made them. What we take from movies should be more than the, understandably, ‘big picture’ way we tend to evaluate, enjoy, or talk about them. Hopefully this does a little to parse out all the different ways that film, whether taken individually or as a group, can be memorable!

I started 1949 one year ago. The Top Ten By Year: 1949 Poll Results went up in October (almost 300 people voted for ove 250 films!). You can also enjoy 100 (or so) Images from the Films of 1949 which went up last week. The Top Ten By Year: 1949 write-up should go up within a month’s time. And then after that: 1990!

(Note: I am posting this without having actually seen Le Silence de la Mer. It is the last one on my watchlist and I will update this post with anything I need to afterwards)

Raoul Walsh saying everything he needs to say with masterful shot compositions & blocking in Colorado Territory

Max Ophüls saying everything he needs to say with his masterful shot compositions & blocking, his fluid camera constantly recalibrating the characters & their relations to each other, in Caught & The Reckless Moment

UK murders done drolly
(The Hidden Room, Kind Hearts and Coronets)

The sandy desolation of Une si jolie petite plage (Such a Pretty Little Beach)

The peppy and shamelessly horny women of On the Town

Julien Duvivier’s Au royaume des cieux (The Sinners), so unseen & unavailable (only 39 votes on imdb & 13 views on letterboxd!), & so completely essential. The lost girls reformatory film of your dreams

The thrilling ball sequence in Madame Bovary, a 360 degree manifestation of delirium in which Emma’s inner ecstasy and social fantasy are externalized by a sudden & urgent call to “Smash the windows!”

Begone Dull Care” is really cool. Somewhat less cool: its flickers and sputters almost triggered a panic attack

Harry Lime’s self-satisfied entrance in The Third Man, even better when you realize he never meant to be seen and had seamlessly pivoted into it for the theatrics

Celeste Holm as the all-seeing yet unseen homewrecker Addie Ross in A Letter to Three Wives, an arsenal of sumptous half-whispered poison. The filmis good and all, but give me The Addie Ross story over drunk Jeanne Crain stressing about entering society life any day

Needing Gene Kelly to calm the fuck down in Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Level of Ham: Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins

In recent years, Joan Crawford has gone from someone I’ve always casually enjoyed to a pivotal personal icon. The very underrated Flamingo Road, part of her Mildred Pierce stretch of playing tenacious & sexually mature women, illustrates why. Through these roles, her gorgeously soft-lit turmoil & determination are a constant through the barrage of bad luck or bad choices her characters battle

The Fantasia-esque visuals of “Inspirace”, where droplets and the like morph into a transluscent fairy-tale

Post-WWII Americanization abroad (Late Spring, Bitter Rice, Rendezvous in July)

Joan Greenwood’s voice is like some majestic creature that is going to lull you into an eternal sleep. She is a kind of infuriating opiate in Kind Hearts and Coronets

The Secret Garden 1949 00009The Wizard of Oz-esque use of Technicolor for the garden sequences of The Secret Garden

Brunhilde Esterhazy: best character name or best character name? (and best character!) (On the Town)

The amusingly superficial posters on the walls of Dorothy Dale’s Charm School, such as the Personality Recipe (the components are appearance based), and the Which Shape Is Your Face? chart, filled with geometrics such as the very not face-shaped triangle (Caught)

Turns out that French films from 1949 with less than 300 views on letterboxd are my jam (Une si jolie petite plage, Rendezvous in July, Au royaume des cieux)

Four characters locked in by glares & jewels & power plays (oh my!) in Bitter Rice

madame fashion

tumblr_p52tb9wg1E1r7h84eo1_500Two show-stopping costumes presented as spectacles in their own right: Madame Bovary’s whimsical ballgown confection & Delilah’s opulent peacock ensemble (surely a greatest of all-time contender) (Madame Bovary, Samson & Delilah)

The sing-off turned brawl (recalling 1956’s “Lucy’s Italian Movie” which would use this film as inspiration) in Bitter Rice

The outré existence of Jose Ferrer’s astrologer/hypnotist character in Whirlpool. He casually outs a party guest as having recently tried to commit suicide (to the amusement of everyone including the man!), hypnotizes himself into post-surgery painlessness, warns his enemy of the alignment of Mars, and says things like “I bow to your abysmal scruples”

That huge plate of spaghetti in House of Strangers

The harrowing post-rape sequence in Bitter Rice. Rain, rice fields, and pain externalize the just-past

That all-too-brief moment when we’re treated to Jean Hagen & Judy Holliday looking really hot in drag in Adam’s Rib

A Letter to Three Wives basically invented auto-tune! (“Why th-hh-hh-ee bl–uuu–eeee ssuuuu-itttt?”) (Courtesy of Sonovox!)

The whip-pans of Au royaume des cieux

Coming around to Richard Conte in a big way with rewatches of Whirlpool and Thieves Highway, and a first-time viewing of House of Strangers

“Setting the Scene” opening narrations
(Beyond the Forest, Border Incident, Flamingo Road, A Letter to Three Wives, Abandoned, The Reckless Moment)

Title cards! Some favorites!

The ache of seeing Gene Tierney try to keep her projected congeniality together for her husband in the face of a murder charge & a muggy mind. She has never been more  available to us onscreen (Whirlpool)

The metaphoric horror show of Blood of the Beasts, catapulting me into a meltdown that can only be described as unhealthily distressing

Max Ophüls making 2 (TWO!) films that interrogate what it means to be an American woman. While Leonora has to face the worth of her ideals head-on, Lucia faces the challenge of remaining Steadfast Mother Hen in the midst of violent crisis
(Caught and The Reckless Moment)

The shot of the dam breaking in Au royaume des cieux

tumblr_p6g19lM7141vnek3io1_540The borderline surreal climactic heist-in-the-smoke of Criss Cross

The way James Cagney plays the I-talk-to-my-dead-mother confession to Edmund O’Brien. So intimate and watchful; a critical test that, if he passes, promises the rareness of trust (White Heat)

Semi-documentary trends popping up in films one wouldn’t entirely categorize as such (1949 is in the midst of the semi-documentary procedural craze yet there aren’t many any from this particular year)
(Border Incident, Follow Me Quietly, Abandoned)

The Third Man, a sweet spot masterpiece. How corny but true to say but every time you watch it it’s like “wow, people made this & now we have it & it’s a thing that exists, how beautiful is that?”

The terrible grotesquerie of Beyond the Forest which I can honestly say is one of the worst films I’ve seen (worth watching for how weirdly bad it is, I’ve never seen anything quite like it)

All those two shots with Francesca and Silvana in Bitter Rice

The famous sewer chase in The Third Man, even better than you remember, even greater than you know it to be. Cinema’s apex? Food for thought….

The central boxing match in The Set-Up. An absence of humanity, just hungry faces barking for blood, and one man’s committment to redemption

The canted & cluttered off-kilter world of post-war Vienna in The Third Man

The bold 1st act of Pinky which, Jeanne Crain casting aside, depicts remarkably honest dilemmas and scenarios about race that are actively confrontational towards white audiences, especially for its time. And then…it ends up being about the film’s one uninteresting story thread!

Seeing Setsuko Hara’s fortress beam of a smile disintegrate as Late Spring unfolds

The dead vigilant eye of Dame Edith Evans, in death her knowing glower locks onto Anton Walbrook for life in The Queen of Spades

I remember being a teenager when I saw White Heat for the first time, and being shocked by the emotion on display when Cody finds out his mother is dead (“She’s dead.” “She’s dead.” “She’s dead.” etc). It still shocks. A totally unrestrained feral piece of acting by James Cagney

The “ok byeeee” nature of Harry Lime’s exit (“So long Holly!”) immediately following the cuckoo clock speech in The Third Man. Also, Orson’s delivery of this speech and all of the rest of it. Nobody else would say Harry’s lines in his perfectly natural offhand way, with a rhythm that is its own kind of music. It makes you love the character. There is an urge to shout “No, wait, don’t go, you just got here!”

Geraldine Brooks in The Reckless Moment making me wish it didn’t take until the 50s for us to see teens with modern gumption onscreen

Elizabeth Taylor playing her first adult part (Conspirator), while still shaking off now-awkward kiddie roles like Amy in Little Women

The first halves of Tension and I Was a Male War Bride. Before the detective enters the scene, Tension is the best kind of lurid noir. And then there’s the sexy outdoors slapstick of I Was a Male War Bride, before it gives way to pleasant but ho-hum bureaucracy humor

Money destroys
(The Rocking Horse Winner, Too Late for Tears, Caught, Thieves Highway)

Anna’s forthright walk through the autumnal street; past Holly, past us. Through two funerals, she shuns the living through her loyalty to the dead
(The Third Man)

The height of the social problem film trend of the late 1940s, which would emerge as a mainstream trend in the 1950s
(Pinky, Intruder in the Dust, Home of the Brave, Lost Boundaries, The Lady Gambles, Never Fear, Not Wanted, Knock on Any Door)

The surrealist wall paintings in Audrey Totter’s apartment in Alias Nick Beal

Time, As a Factor
(On the Town, The Set-Up, D.O.A.)

Silvana Magnano’s face and body in Bitter Rice. Just go see for yourself.

Samson & Delilah: DeMille still kinking it up with incredible costumes, scope, & Technicolor. I loved it.

Flashback Fever:
(The Fan, The Accused, Beyond the Forest, Champion, Criss Cross, Knock on Any Door, Twelve O’ Clock High, Edward, My Son, A Woman’s Secret, Black Magic, House of Strangers, Not Wanted, Kind Hearts and Coronets. A Letter to Three Wives, The Passionate Friends). These last two feature particularly intricate flashback structures, which confused some audiences at the time

i shotThe beautiful and sensual closing scene of I Shot Jesse James. They are outside but you’d never know it. They are faces emerged from blackness, a woman soothing her man in his final moments

Francesca’s character arc in Bitter Rice, from tossed aside moll to solidarity among hard-working women

The dance-hall scene in Caught; freedom in a crowd. Ophüls’ roving camera canvasses the outskirts. Two characters connect with their guards down, making room for candid and infectious laughter

Claude Rains unmatched ability to humanize characters who might otherwise not have been (The Passionate Friends)

We don’t meet the son in Edward, My Son!? We don’t learn why the confession happened in A Woman’s Secret?! These might work if the films were any good but they aren’t so it’s just nonsensical and very frustrating

easy livingThis shot from Easy Living (1949, Tourneur), so full of longing. The film is barely regarded, even by Tourneur enthusiasts, in part because it was one a “one for them” of his.  But it’s got a Daisy Kenyon vibe in that it’s a refreshing drama from the late 40s about complicated adults with complicated adult problems

A hill of tumbling apples & a fiery truck. A man burns for capitalism, but capitalism doesn’t burn for him (Thieves Highway)

Women in conflict with their desire for the finer things in life and for true love. Two different choices are made in The Passionate Friends and Caught

Kirk Douglas’ final scene in Champion; some of the most nakedly raw pre-Brando acting out there. Between him & James Cagney’s similarly animalistic outbursts in White Heat, 1949 features really powerful moments showcasing the vulnerability of male monsters

The Tale of the Countess Ranevskaya in The Queen of Spades

This particularly hot Burt Lancaster look in Criss Cross

The way The Passionate Friends illuminates interior lives & times past

One of life’s great joys: watching Anton Walbrook become untethered onscreen (The Queen of Spades)

The German Professor Bhaer in Little Women being very obviously Italian (played by Rossano Brazzi). Actually, most Professor Bhaer’s aren’t German now that I think about it!

The end of Easy Living; a shocking, nakedly misogynistic action, and a truly bold storytelling choice. I’ve rarely felt this kind of disappointment in a character

Di1YuVxU0AA0GycFeeling immediate worship and loyalty for Audrey Totter based on this early moment from Tension (delivered like “Drrriiiffffffttttt”)

The remnants of an apple peel and their heartbreaking significance in Late Spring

Apartment life at the end of the Chinese Civil War in Crows and Sparrows, only released at the end of the Chinese Civil War because it dared to be in opposition of Chiang Kai-shek’s corrupt government

A special shout-out to Lt. Kitty Lawrence, a bit character in I Was a Male War Bride whose short time onscreen is used for explicit kink-wishing. (“He could leave marks on me anytime. I’d bring the stick!”)

Flights of Fantasy (films that break with reality in different ways)
On the Town, My Dream is Yours, The Passionate Friends, Alice in Wonderland

20190111_132013Rendezvous amphibian20190111_140233The funky car-boat in Rendezvous in July, whimsically floating down the Seine, and featuring eye illustrations that reappear on costumes & decor throughout the film

The stale taste left in my mouth as I watched scenes from The Shop Around the Corner (presumably from its source material) lifelessly recreated word-for-word by the cast of In the Good Old Summertime

Dan Duryea’s nickname for Lizabeth Scott in Too Late for Tears (“Don’t ever change, Tiger. I don’t think I’d like you with a heart”)

Adaptations using badly dated, and entirely invented, framing devices with the authors as characters (Black Magic, Madame Bovary, Alice in Wonderland)

Toshiro Mifune finally allowing himself to release all of his pent-up emotions in The Quiet Duel

tumblr_papn29Fchm1tqsk9wo3_540The faceless mannequin in Follow Me Quietly, and that chilling time we are fooled by it

With Jour de Fête as my 4th Tati, it might be time for me to admit he’s just not for me

Lizabeth Scott completely and unapologetically owning her roles as the most materialistic of women in both Too Late for Tears and Easy Living

Deborah Kerr’s bitter drunken hag performance in the last act of Edward, My Son. Is it good? Is it bad? Hell if I know, but it’s something

Hoping that one day Lou Bunin’s Alice in Wonderland can be seen in better condition. It’s not good, but the stop-motion animation & sets are quite imaginative. Fuck Disney for going out of its way to successfully squash this (they are even responsible for the subpar color film stock they ended up using)

Whirlpool & The Reckless Moment: two very different 1949 women’s noirs exploring the masks projected by married women at the sacrifice of themselves. In the former the turmoil is internal, about the psychology and relationship. In the latter, things spiral externally; noir and family are inextricable as Joan Bennett puts a brave face forward in juggling it all alone (the husband is away). They each even write letters to their respective spouses that are either thrown away or not completed

The # of films across genres from western to sports drama to fantasy to noir that are just about nuanced humans with palpable lived histories & relationships. These films transcend their genres & feel primarily identifiable and connceted by this instead
(Colorado Territory, Rope of Sand, Easy Living, The Set-Up, Alias Nick Beal, Caught)

Audrey Totter and the boxing ticket. To tear or not to tear? (The Set-Up)

Traces of gay!
(“Christmas USA”, “Puce Moment”, Such a Pretty Little Beach, Au Royaume des Cieux)

The evocative autumn backgrounds in the otherwise pretty dreadful The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad


David Brian aka: The Pits. As if Hollywood thrust a crusty newscaster into leading roles (romantic opposites with Joan & Bette, the nerve! Bette is cheating on Joseph Cotten with this bag of sand in Beyond the Forest) showing a total disregard for audiences everywhere
(Intruder in the Dust, Beyond the Forest, Flamingo Road)

The age of Pseudo Psychoanalytic films winds down with Whirlpool. Preminger’s characteristically sober touch makes an unconventional approach for this kind of story

The Set-Up as a collective conduit for all the souls who inhabit the film. Such vivid empathy and consideration for the various crushing predicaments and hopes of these characters

The unlikely focuses of Thieves Highway. A roadside breakdown patiently unfolds as a life is saved and a bond is formed. You expect it to have bearing on the plot. It doesn’t. But it has plenty on the story

Confirmation upon rewatch that I still don’t care for Adam’s Rib

Screenshot_20190320-130256_Message+“Puce Moment” becoming a literal aesthetic board when I got prints made of screenshots and now have them taped to my sides of my vanity

Montgomery Clift’s inherent tenderness complicating his performance & putting him intriguingly at-odds with his character in The Heiress

Van Helfin’s suppressed & then unstable guilt in Act of Violence, initiating the film’s left-turn segue into the underworld

Father and daughter on opposite sides of the road in Late Spring; change is already here

The deep affection I developed for Christine in Rendezvous in July. She is maligned by her friends for her mean streak & envy, but her actions, driven by insecurity & mediocrity, are easy to understand. The more unforgiving the film & its occupants are toward her, the more I came to empathize and love her

crissFacing imminent death straight-to-camera in the final moments of Criss Cross

Orson goes to Europe
(The Third Man, Black Magic)

The brutal historical noir of Reign of Terror, courtesy of Anthony Mann. Invasive close-ups, tight spaces, paranoia, double agents, and plenty of beheadings

The hypnotizing hypnotizing sequences of Black Magic!

The sympathetic eye that Ida Lupino lends Sally Forrest in her social issue melodrama Not Wanted. Nobody is an archetype, there is no “don’t do this & you’ll be fine” angle. It’s all refreshingly light on didactics

Amy - 5Adult Amy’s outfit entrance. Autumn-as-dress; magnificent (Little Women)

Favorite Performances of 1949:
Silvana Mangano in Bitter Rice, Doris Dowling in Bitter Rice, Joan Crawford in Flamingo Road, Gene Tierney in Whirlpool, Judy Holliday in Adam’s Rib, Claude Rains in The Passionate Friends, Audrey Totter in Tension, Virginia Mayo in Colorado Territory, Celeste Holm in A Letter to Three Wives, Juano Hernandez in Intruder in the Dust, John Ireland in I Shot Jesse James, Lucille Ball in Easy Living, Gerard Philipe in Such a Pretty Little Beach, Dan Duryea in Too Late for Tears, Orson Welles in The Third Man, Barbara Bel Geddes in Caught, Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress, Toshiro Mifune in The Quiet Duel, Setsuko Hara in Late Spring, Chishû Ryû in Late Spring, Richard Basehart in Reign of Terror, Anton Walbrook in The Queen of Spades, Doris Day in My Dream is Yours, Mary Astor in Act of Violence, Lee J. Cobb in Thieves Highway

Favorite Characters of 1949:
Lane Bellamy (Joan Crawford/Flamingo Road), Christine (Nicole Courcel/Rendezvous in July), Claire Huddesen (Ann Miller/On the Town), Brunhilde “Hildy” Esterhazy (Betty Garrett/On the Town), Francesca (Doris Dowling/Bitter Rice), Silvana (Silvana Mangano/Bitter Rice), Claire Quimby (Audrey Totter/Tension), Sadie Dugan (Thelma Ritter/A Letter to Three Wives), Jane Palmer (Lizabeth Scott/Too Late for Tears), Vivian Martin (Eve Arden/My Dream is Yours), Anne (Lucille Ball/Easy Living), 1st Lieu. Catherine Gates (Ann Sheridan/I Was a Male War Bride), Harry Lime (Orson Welles/The Third Man), Sgt. Paine (Bernard Lee/The Third Man), Connie (Arthur Kennedy/Champion), Addie Ross (Celeste Holm/A Letter to Three Wives), Martha Gibson (Doris Day/My Dream is Yours), Lt. Kitty Lawrence (Marion Marshal/I Was a Male War Bride), all the girls in Au Royaume des cieux, Rui Minegishi (Noriko Sengoku/The Quiet Duel), Beatrice ‘Bea’ Harper (Geraldine Brooks/The Reckless Moment), Fouché (Arnold Moss/Reign of Terror), Joe Parkson (Robert Ryan/Act of Violence), Ed Kinney (Millard Mitchell, Thieves Highway)

Least Favorite Characters of 1949:
Kip Lurie (David Wayne, Adam’s Rib), John Gavin Stevens (David Brian, Intruder in the Dust), Titus Semple (Sydney Greenstreet, Flamingo Road), Midge (Kirk Douglas, Champion), Walter (Vittorio Gassman, Bitter Rice), Eddie O’Brien (Gene Kelly, Take Me Out to the Ball Game), Hester Grahame (Valerie Hobson, The Rocking Horse Winner), Sibella (Joan Greenwood, Kind Hearts and Coronets), Andrew Delby Larkin (Van Johnson, In the Good Old Summertime), all the kids in The Secret Garden, Hon. Charles Adare (Michael Wilding, Under Capricorn), Lizaveta Ivanova (Yvonne Mitchell, The Queen of Spades), Mr. & Mrs. Manleigh (Florence Bates & Hobart Cavanaugh, A Letter to Three Wives) everyone watching the boxing match in The Set-Up, Arnold ‘Red’ Kluger (Charles McGraw, The Threat), Mademoiselle Chamblas (Suzy Prim, Au royaume des cieux), David Harper (David Bair, The Reckless Moment), Masa Taguchi (Haruko Sugimura, Late Spring), Robespierre (Richard Baseheart, Reign of Terror)

Actors I saw the Most in 1949:
Robert Ryan, Jeanne Crain, Janet Leigh, Richard Conte, Robert Mitchum, Van Johnson, James Mason, Audrey Totter, Joseph Cotten, Lizabeth Scott, Robert Mitchum, Burt Lancaster, Arthur Kennedy, James Mason, Victor Mature, Kirk Douglas, Margaret O’Brien, Claude Rains, Gene Kelly, Orson Welles, Virginia Mayo, David Brian, Sally Forrest, Barbara Lawrence, Van Helfin, Sydney Greenstreet, George Sanders, Dan Duryea, Doris Day, Jack Carson, Trevor Howard

The consistently gorgeous dissolves & compositions of Døden er et kjærtegn (Death Is a Caress)

The last major year of Margaret O’Brien’s career, capping at age 12 with lead roles in two major adaptations of beloved classics (Mary in The Secret Garden, Amy in Little Women). She’d appear in other films & TV, but there was no place made for her as an adolescent

Bette Davis saying “I’m Rosi Moline” over and over again in Beyond the Forest, while I just kept hearing Nomi Malone

Of Mankiewicz’s two films from 1949: House of Strangers > A Letter to Three Wives

Betty Garrett openly lusting after an atypically girl-shy Frank Sinatra in both Take Me Out to the Ball Game and On the Town

mother is a freshman 4mother is a freshman 5Mother is a Freshman 1mother is a freshman 3

Loretta Young’s wardrobe in the hyper-slight but genuinely pleasant Lloyd Bacon Technicolor comedy Mother is a Freshman, in which everybody wants…..Van Johnson…

The Miss Turnstiles Ballet sequence, the perfect example of my (and Kelly/Donen too!) penchant for abstract monochromatic sets from studio-era Hollywood. Vera Ellen gets to show off her talents and be the perfect hyper-faceted non-existent fantasy woman, all in just a few minutes.
The “Cool Girl” equivalent of its era.
(On the Town)

Dear Everyone,
How did it take me this long to love Doris Day?
Sincerely, A Former Fool
(My Dream is Yours & It’s a Great Feeling)

On the Town, the first musical shot (very much in-part) on-location, the bulk of which is the film’s opening number. It’s a thrill seeing these actors buoyantly hit every major tourist spot in the fantastical time-compress only the movies can provide

Finally having context for that oft-used all-timer Judy Garland gif
(In the Good Old Summertime)

🎶🎶”The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down”🎶🎶
(On the Town)

The bonkers part-animation dream sequence that comes out of nowhere in My Dream is Yours. Ever wanted to see Jack Carson hop around in a bunny costume? Well, here’s your chance

Loving three-strip Technicolor as much as Two-strip Technicolor!
(It’s a Great Feeling, In the Good Old Summertime, Little Women, Mother is a Freshman, My Dream is Yours, On the Town, Samson and Delilah, The Secret Garden, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Under Capricorn)

The screaming match between Mary (Margaret O’Brien) and Colin (baby Dean Stockwell) in The Secret Garden, two of the most abrasive minutes in cinema!

tumblr_nlpd3sZc901qz8c8to1_500Joseph Cotten’s in-the-moment choice not to give Ingrid Bergman the rubies in Under Capricorn. Such a sympathetic moment as he awkwardly hides them behind his back

The stone-cold hardening of Catherine’s (Olivia de Havilland) soul through heartbreak in The Heiress

Seeing one of the glass figurines that Karel Zeman used in his stop-motion short “Inspirace” at the Karel Zeman Museum, and finally getting around to watching it!

Joan Crawford giving Sydney Greenstreet what for in Flamingo Road with a couple of swift and much-deserved slaps…….an action she lampoons in It’s a Great Feeling, one of cinema’s best cameos!
(Jack Carson: [after being slapped]: What was that for?
Joan Crawford: Oh, I do that in all my pictures.)

S.Z. Sakall’s delivery of “and anyways she-she’s a dog” in My Dream is Yours


 *** QUOTES ***
(littered, of course, with The Third Man)

“Don’t be so gloomy. After all it’s not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly!”
(The Third Man)

Aunt Penniman: Can you be so cruel?
Catherine Sloper: Yes, I can be very cruel. I have been taught by masters.
(The Heiress)

“Hell is other people…”
(The Reckless Moment)

“I don’t want people to like me. Nothing pleases me more than when they don’t like me. It means I don’t belong.”
(Beyond the Forest)

Claire: How’d you feel if someone broke your dinosaur?
Ozzie: Never had one. We were too poor.
(On the Town)

“Men are no good. They’re devious. Before marriage they only show their good side, but once they have you, everything awful comes out. Even if you marry for love, you never know what you’re getting”
(Late Spring)

“Death’s at the bottom of everything Martins. Leave death to the professionals”
(The Third Man)

“I bow to your abysmal scruples”

“Smash the windows!”
(Madame Bovary)

“Mariah: bolt the door”
(The Heiress)

“No part of marriage is the exclusive province of any one sex.”
(Adam’s Rib)

Louis: [after murdering his cousin along with his cousin’s mistress] I was sorry about the girl, but found some relief in the reflection that she had presumably during the weekend already undergone a fate worse than death.
(Kind Hearts and Coronets)

Amanda Bonner: And after you shot your husband… how did you feel?
Doris Attinger: Hungry!
(Adam’s Rib)

“A person doesn’t change just because you find out more”
(The Third Man)

“This is it. I’ve been waiting for it, dreaming of it all my life – even when I was a kid. And it wasn’t because we were poor, not hungry poor at least. I suppose, in a way, it was far worse. We were white collar poor, middle-class poor. The kind of people who can’t quite keep up with the Joneses and die a little every day because they can’t.”
(Too Late for Tears)

“The most dangerous thing about completely immoral women is their tremendous unused and unpredictable reserve of honest feeling.”
(Rope of Sand)

“Do you think women live in vaccum-sealed containers like tennis balls?”
(House of Strangers)

“I’m being constantly disillusioned. Has money completely lost its power? Is everyone motivated now by love?”
(Rope of Sand)

Lucia: You don’t know how a family can surround you at times.
Martin: Do you never get away from your family?
Lucia: No.
(The Reckless Moment)

Martins: I was going to stay with him, but he died Thursday
Crabbin: Goodness, that’s awkward.
Martins: Is that what you say to people after death? “Goodness, that’s awkward”?
(The Third Man)

“If you ever tried to get away from me, I’d follow you ’til I wore the earth smooth.”
(Rope of Sand)

Alan Palmer: This money’s like poison, it’s changing you, it’s changing me.
Jane Palmer: I wish it were that easy, I’ve always been this way.
(Too Late for Tears)

Capt. Henri Rochard: My name is Rochard. You’ll think I’m a bride but actually I’m a husband. There’ll be a moment or two of confusion but, if we all keep our heads, everything will be fine.
(I Was a Male War Bride)

“You’ve rejected your place in the world and I hate untidiness”
(The Spider and the Fly)

Nobody thinks in terms of human beings. Governments don’t. Why should we? They talk about the people and the proletariat, I talk about the suckers and the mugs – it’s the same thing. They have their five-year plans, so have I.”
(The Third Man)

“I’ve been rich. And I couldn’t get a breath of fresh air or feel the ground under my feet” (Colorado Territory)

Deborah: Why is it that sooner or later no matter what we talk about… we wind up talking about Addie Ross?
Addie Ross: [voiceover] Maybe it’s because if you girls didn’t talk about me you wouldn’t talk at all.
(A Letter to Three Wives)

“Always looking for a new way to get hurt from a new man. Get smart, there hasn’t been a new man since Adam”
(House of Strangers)


“Even getting hit by Reno was all velvet”
(Colorado Territory)

“You were born to be murdered”
(The Third Man)

“You going legitimate is like a vulture going vegetarian”

Sheriff Titus Semple: Now me, I never forget anything.
Lane Bellamy: You know sheriff; we had an elephant in our carnival with a memory like that. He went after a keeper that he’d held a grudge against for almost 15 years. Had to be shot. You just wouldn’t believe how much trouble it is to dispose of a dead elephant.
(Flamingo Road)

“Right from the beginning you might say she had a–well, she just had a voice with hormones”
(A Woman’s Secret)