The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
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Rayon Vert
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#451 Post by Rayon Vert » Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:50 pm

I like it well enough but it won't be on my list either (De Sica in general is no competition to Rossellini for my own tastes). It'll be interesting to see how high it charts this time (#17 last time).

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TMDaines
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#452 Post by TMDaines » Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:22 am

Ladri will be my number #1.

nitin
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#453 Post by nitin » Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:35 am

Currently sitting at 10 on mine.

I would like to thank TMDaines for not having my faith in humanity well and truly shaken.

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knives
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#454 Post by knives » Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:02 am

ntnon wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:57 pm
knives wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:01 pm
... on average I'd argue Neorealism and that whole period of Italian cinema is just as great as any other made cinematic movement such as the French New Wave. My tastes favour the Italians, but part of the problem as with anything like this is how ill defined the term is. I mean, non-professional actors gets put forth as a requirement all the time, but aside from de Sica how many films can honestly be described in those terms?
The definitions of "non-professional" can be interesting too - everyone begins their career somewhere.. is a first outing of a future face necessarily as non/un 'professional' as casting a so-called 'non-actor'..?
Given professional training schools and alternative acting places like the theater it's pretty easy to make that distinction even in this context.

ntnon
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#455 Post by ntnon » Wed Sep 11, 2019 9:20 am

knives wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:02 am
Given professional training schools and alternative acting places like the theater it's pretty easy to make that distinction even in this context.
True, but then you wind up with good/natural actors sans formal training being "non" and bad/stilted actors with schooling being "professional," and if one casts somebody to essentially act out scenes from their life.. degrees of professionalism may be irrelevant to their performance.

I think it's hazier - and possibly under-important - than it might appear.

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knives
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#456 Post by knives » Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:18 am

That's true, but so what? No one has ever argued about this in terms of stilted or binary qualities.

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swo17
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#457 Post by swo17 » Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:33 pm

I figure I should remind everyone that the deadline for this project is basically two months away. Thanks for all of the great discussion so far, everyone!

ntnon
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#458 Post by ntnon » Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:36 am

There's what appears to be a tiny (but potentially important) continuity error in The Ox-Bow Incident. About five minutes from the end, Major Tetley goes into his study and closes the door. Right before the scene changes, you can see the door begin to open... shave a second off, and it would be fine, but that second is contextually very wrong...

The maths may be off, but I think I recall someone referring to there being 28 people present. With seven dissenters, (and fudging Ma's presence) that'd make this a case for being 21 Angry Men... and a good side-by-side comparison case to another great Fonda film.
Last edited by ntnon on Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:54 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#459 Post by ntnon » Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:39 am

knives wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:18 am
That's true, but so what? No one has ever argued about this in terms of stilted or binary qualities.
Surely some critics do place an added weight on the increased 'realism' given to some fiction because of such elements - noting that definitions are hazy might perhaps help even the playing field and suggest some objective/subjective thinking is over-inflating certain films' legacies...?

ntnon
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#460 Post by ntnon » Thu Sep 12, 2019 4:48 pm

Anne says near the end of Gentleman's Agreement that "(i)f everybody acted it out just one day a year, it'd be curtains to the thing overnight." Seventy years later, one either concludes she's still right, but people generally flatly refuse to walk in each others' shoes, or the idea is painfully optimistic. The film remains powerful - even if it's a little hokey in some ways, the truth of it is devastatingly resonant.

"We all just sat there."
Last edited by ntnon on Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#461 Post by ntnon » Thu Sep 12, 2019 4:54 pm

Bambi and Pinocchio are clearly technically marvellous, but the plots of both are... questionable. The allegories and morals are clear: fear everyone, because Man is awful; behave yourself and stay in school or you'll be kidnapped and turned into a donkey... but beyond that, I can't find much of worth.

My memories of Bambi turned out to far more harrowing than the reality - my memories are of Death, destruction and the terror of abandonment; the reality was far more musical-animations and sex. Pinocchio at least lived up (down?) to my childhood memories of child abuse, exploitation and something very weird about a whale. The documentaries and addenda Disney put together for these - and most of their films - are just great, however. It's easy to overlook a lot of the technical marvels, innovations, abstractions and subtleties.

ntnon
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#462 Post by ntnon » Thu Sep 12, 2019 7:35 pm

A Matter of Life and Death deals admirably (if superficially) with all the existential questions surrounding religious and biological interpretations of the Meaning of Death. Conflating the Heavenly appeald process with the 'will to live' is fascinating and injects a great dose of absolute realism into the possibly-fantasy proceedings. Science and doctors say the will/desire can be/is as important as the medicine and treatment, and to see this treated relatively even-handedly in such a context is fascinating.

I don't like the overall film quite as much as the comparable (if different) Here Comes Mr. Jordan, but it's certainly very good. Of particular interest are the 'stopped time' scenes the very interesting - and extremely telling - choice that Purgatory/Heaven is visualised in b/w while the real world is in full technicolo(u)r.

nitin
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#463 Post by nitin » Thu Sep 12, 2019 9:31 pm

I have put together a rewatch list of films that I wanted to reassess before submitting my final list. So far it includes:

Ball of Fire
La Belle et la Bête
Dragonwyck
Fort Apache
Hangover Square
Man Hunt
A Matter of Life and Death
Miracle on 34th Street
My Darling Clementine
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
La Silence de la Mer

In addition, I also have these that I have not seen before at all but would like to before finalising a list:

Bitter Rice
The Great Dictator
Moonrise
Paisan
Shoeshine
They Made me A Fugitive
Last edited by nitin on Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#464 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Sep 12, 2019 9:48 pm

ntnon wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 7:35 pm
A Matter of Life and Death deals admirably (if superficially) with all the existential questions surrounding religious and biological interpretations of the Meaning of Death.
It’s funny because while you’re right that it deals with a seemingly existential problem on the surface, I feel that the film ignores that possible route to focus on the pure emotional power of love as being able to conquer all, including godly forces. It’s incredibly metaphorical for the solipsistic (in the best sense of the word) nature of being in that state, with the rest of the world revolving around that love and rendering all other details, and people, meaningless. I don’t think it works as an existentialist exercise (there are too many problematic areas that wouldn’t consistently figure - like the death of the doctor serving not as a loss despite him being likeable and developed, but as a gain for the main couple’s quest to preserve the man’s own life), but as an externalized expression of love and all its ‘magical’ wonders it works - and I say that as someone who tends to view many films through an existentialist-heavy perspective!

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#465 Post by ntnon » Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:18 pm

The Warner Night at the Movies packages are great. I hope they return in some form on the Warner/TCM/HBO service, and ideally on disc...

Treasure of the Sierra Madre is accompanied by So You Want to be a Detective?, which is great fun and Hot Cross Bunny which didn't impress me overmuch. The film itself is excellent. Walter Huston impresses me every time, and here is cast perfectly as a wise, decent and knowledgable prospector (who also doubles as a 'white saviour') who not only knows what he's talking about, but can also appreciate the humour in bleak turns of events. Bogart is as good as he ever was, and his descent into paranoia and madness through shame, humility and desperation is very well portrayed. Tim Holt plays second-fiddle to both of them, but his support is what makes the film as he tries to find a middle way. Everything about this film is great, and it doesn't seem nearly as long as it is.

The Internet says that their $105,000 would be the equivalent of nearly one and a half million nowadays... which certainly makes the paranoia more pointed.

ntnon
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#466 Post by ntnon » Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:21 pm

nitin wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 9:31 pm
I have put together a rewatch list of films that I wanted to reassess before submitting my final list...
I did much the same thing, only.. both my lists are about thirty times as long... so a) there aren't enough hours in the day, and b) I seem to have misplaced about a third of my DVDs....

ntnon
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#467 Post by ntnon » Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:31 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 9:48 pm
ntnon wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 7:35 pm
A Matter of Life and Death deals admirably (if superficially) with all the existential questions surrounding religious and biological interpretations of the Meaning of Death.
It’s funny because while you’re right that it deals with a seemingly existential problem on the surface, I feel that the film ignores that possible route to focus on the pure emotional power of love as being able to conquer all, including godly forces. It’s incredibly metaphorical for the solipsistic (in the best sense of the word) nature of being in that state, with the rest of the world revolving around that love and rendering all other details, and people, meaningless.
There are a lot of quietly powerful moments - inability to define love; claims of dying for another actually followed up on; the final 'twist' of the trial outcome - but there are just as many opportunities that fly by unnoticed, unaddressed or ignored. The Massey speech about how wonderful America is seemed set up for a counter-argument that never came, for instance, and even the focus on emotional responses (surely encapsulated in the evidential tear) went by the wayside too - did June's tear actually become anything more than a red herring..?
therewillbeblus wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 9:48 pm
I don’t think it works as an existentialist exercise (there are too many problematic areas that wouldn’t consistently figure - like the death of the doctor serving not as a loss despite him being likeable and developed, but as a gain for the main couple’s quest to preserve the man’s own life), but as an externalized expression of love and all its ‘magical’ wonders it works - and I say that as someone who tends to view many films through an existentialist-heavy perspective!
One could almost read the doctor's death as a deliberate sacrifice. (But that would entail him having a spiritual investment and belief in the truth of the situation.)

Ultimately, that Purgatory/Heaven's mistake immediately got overwritten by the question of whether love is real, relevant or redeeming is fascinating: the trial should surely have been about whether critical clerical errors must br fixed at someone else's cost and not even slightly to do with whether Peter 'deserved' to reap the rewards - nor yet whether novel romance makes him deserving...

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#468 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:27 am

ntnon wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:31 pm
Ultimately, that Purgatory/Heaven's mistake immediately got overwritten by the question of whether love is real, relevant or redeeming is fascinating: the trial should surely have been about whether critical clerical errors must br fixed at someone else's cost and not even slightly to do with whether Peter 'deserved' to reap the rewards - nor yet whether novel romance makes him deserving...
Exactly, but that’s the beauty of the entire trial: they’re trying to come at the issue with logic and yet can’t determine any common rules by which to measure or even define the moral or ethical value of love. The trial runs itself in circles with no clear agreement on the issue as if laws hold no bearings, which is completely sensical in its own way as reason has no place in emotional drives. That everyone involved eventually reaches a point where they must resign any fixed notions of grounded personal beliefs in the face of a power ungrounded by the most extreme emotional surge is the definition of faith, and ironically the ‘angels’ are the ones who must take the leap of faith. ‘God’ or the unknown higher power as it’s often defined is here defined as ‘love’ and so when all parties see the tear they collectively forfeit their aims to its power, finding common language not in country or creed but in the universal emotion of love, or god.
ntnon wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:31 pm
did June's tear actually become anything more than a red herring..?
It’s not a red herring as it’s the source of the entire metaphor upending all powers of reason for the sake of a spiritual awakening. This fulfills the prophecy of the film, is a visual manifestation of a physical offering in a symbol of love by which the angels can measure and yet basically resembles authenticity, an impossible measurement. The angels reveal that they’re just as lost as anyone in their ability to comprehend the message by what they see so they settle for authenticity, though this was the Truth they were looking for all along and they realize that (for the purposes of this story and metaphor) love/god is the only universal truth. It’s a twist because it’s not for our protagonists who already had such an awakening at the beginning of the film, but for the rest of the players who doubted its power, angels blind to god whilst in heaven who achieve spiritual experience from humans on earth. How powerful this love is: to not only cater heavenly beings to its focus but to provide a framework for angels to rediscover their faith!

ntnon
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#469 Post by ntnon » Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:30 am

They Drive By Night switches genres and plotpoints on the fly, but does fairly well at juggling all the pieces. You have the American Dream segueing fall the potential pitfalls befalling others into a success story straight into social tragedy. And then, straight past the socialite comedy into Full Noir. Very entertaining.

ntnon
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#470 Post by ntnon » Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:36 am

therewillbeblus wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:27 am
...that’s the beauty of the entire trial: they’re trying to come at the issue with logic and yet can’t determine any common rules by which to measure or even define the moral or ethical value of love. The trial runs itself in circles with no clear agreement on the issue as if laws hold no bearings, which is completely sensical in its own way as reason has no place in emotional drives. That everyone involved eventually reaches a point where they must resign any fixed notions of grounded personal beliefs in the face of a power ungrounded by the most extreme emotional surge is the definition of faith, and ironically the ‘angels’ are the ones who must take the leap of faith. ‘God’ or the unknown higher power as it’s often defined is here defined as ‘love’ and so when all parties see the tear they collectively forfeit their aims to its power, finding common language not in country or creed but in the universal emotion of love, or god.
You're right - the final message is "'God' is love" literally as well as metaphorically, isn't it..?

Although it's the literal leap (step) of faith when June sacrifices herself rather than the tear, surely..

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#471 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:42 am

ntnon wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:36 am
Although it's the literal leap (step) of faith when June sacrifices herself rather than the tear, surely..
Haha that’s a good point, but it still fits with the same notion of authenticity. They thought she was trying to bluff with physical voluntary action but then the involuntary tear signified truth that can’t be faked (in this world, where no one makes themselves cry to manipulate anyone of course...)
ntnon wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:18 pm
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Bogart is as good as he ever was, and his descent into paranoia and madness through shame, humility and desperation is very well portrayed.
I’m curious on your impression of Bogart’s “humility”- if he does show this it’s definitely brief and quickly buried by his own psychological defense mechanisms, as is his more clear ‘shame’ that’s a good observation and often overlooked by the louder acting of madness and paranoia. Do you have any examples of moments of this “humility” that come to mind? I can’t think of any from memory but that’s an interesting reading, and perhaps I’m due to for another rewatch.

ntnon
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#472 Post by ntnon » Fri Sep 13, 2019 8:47 pm

Two Tom & Jerry's today... Mouse Trouble and Quiet Please. QP was particularly inventive, I felt.

ntnon
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#473 Post by ntnon » Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:57 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:42 am
ntnon wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:18 pm
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Bogart is as good as he ever was, and his descent into paranoia and madness through shame, humility and desperation is very well portrayed.
I’m curious on your impression of Bogart’s “humility”- if he does show this it’s definitely brief and quickly buried by his own psychological defense mechanisms, as is his more clear ‘shame’ that’s a good observation and often overlooked by the louder acting of madness and paranoia. Do you have any examples of moments of this “humility” that come to mind? I can’t think of any from memory but that’s an interesting reading, and perhaps I’m due to for another rewatch.
I may be slightly mangling my definitions and conflating the linked (but broadly distinct) triptych of "humility," "humiliation" and (being) "humbled"... but there are a few instances that seem to walk the tightrope between them, and wherein I think his understated acting really brings a lot of nuances into play: finding Pyrites; not finding gol until Huston dances; when Huston explains some matter-of-fact truths; the two times he has his life saved by the friend he at first trusts implicitly and then is beginning to doubt; after his pushing to execute the stranger, having the condemned man save the three uneasy partners directly and indirectly; when Mix takes his gun and gives it back; learning his place when it's down to the two of them; the final ambush - drinking in relief and then recognising his fate and pushing against it half-heartedly.

He does an excellent job, I feel, of just-barely showing how emotions and mindsets bleed into each other and how people double-down, second-guess and channel self-recognition and self-loathing into the more (visibly) obvious paranoia, fear&loathing, jealousy, desperation and madness. Nobody likes being shown to be wrong, or 'less' or wanting.

There is a lot going on - and some of it's playing off his co-stars, and some of it is good direction (and some of it could be over-readin and/or coincidence), but there are many mixed emotions and churning feelings being communicated. By all three, but particularly the more corruptible and morally questionable Dobbs.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#474 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Sep 14, 2019 12:29 am

Great thoughts ntnon! I agree with pretty much all of that and would only add that by leaving that space for brief pockets of humility within humiliation (two different experiences, one spiritual the other psychological) embedded in the blurred lines between shame and morally questionable behavior, only highlights the complexity of the dynamic within his character. One could argue from this deep character study that the process has nothing to do with rigidly defined ‘moral’ pathology but rather relatable ego-infecting psychological damage that results in cognitive dissonance and the disintegration of the self. A sad portrait of the diffusion of identity from ruthless forces outside and within, and one that I believe doesn’t render Dobbs immoral but rather amoral; directionless, and stripped of any bearings on reality. That he becomes robbed of both the psychological and the spiritual values of his identity leaves him totally lost and thus your point on the nuances and flexibility of the terms, despite their distinct differences, rings true. As the film walks this hazy tightrope so does Dobbs, and when he falls, their distinction falls with him. As all these flooding existential experiences are revealed as elastic, they shatter any rigid confidence that existed in separating themselves into tangible forms, just like his own confidence in his psyche, reality, morality and meaning.

ntnon
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#475 Post by ntnon » Sat Sep 14, 2019 8:35 pm

"Nobody Ever REALLY Escapes."

Brute Force is a grim, bleak depiction of prison life, and life in general. You fight against the system... and you'll lose. You try, and you'll fail. Petty Dictators liie Munsey break you and beat you and keep you down. And any minor triumph comes at great cost. And what a cost! The extras in the prison scene were numerous... the death toll extensive, and the aftermath (presumably) awful.

And yet 'freedom' is such a goal as to cloud judgement and make people act in a way they deep-down know to be futile, or fear to be flawed. And even rosy memories of life outside can't help but be shot through with negativity and the brutality of The System.

This is a great film. Very 'Crime Does Not Pay' and very morally ambiguous in pitting hardened criminals afainst excessive authority ("brute force") but making them antiheroes with a better moral code than the guards - don't rat, keep your word, help your friends.

One thing struck me in passing - when the Doctor confronts Munsey (and utters The Title), there's a slight aside where it seems that Munsey's bad streak is subtly equated to irreligion and tacit atheism. I found that interesting, if fleeting.

I also feel like the quality of Brute Force could help popularise a Phrase. And I think that phrase should be something something "Next Tuesday."

Actually, is this the original source of "I never refuse a lady. (Especially when she's armed.)" as well..?
Last edited by ntnon on Sat Sep 14, 2019 10:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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