Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Decades: 1950s

The 1950s was a transformative decade in which film took its first steps into the future. The French New Wave rose to great significance and began an influence over the cinema that has not ended to this day. And a handful of film's greatest legends dominated my personal list, gobbling up spots with some of the most celebrated films of all-time.
And now, my personal take:
1. The 400 Blows (1959) -- The French New Wave's foremost filmmaker, Francois Truffaut, delivered his most famous and powerful film as the decade ended.
2. Some Like It Hot (1959) -- Probably the greatest comedy ever, from the most influential director of cheeky comedy, Billy Wilder.
3. Vertigo (1958) -- The extraordinary, hypnotic thriller from the cinema's master of fright, Alfred Hitchcock.
4. Sunset Boulevard (1950) -- More from Wilder, this one a darkly humorous and pristinely melodramatic look at Hollywood life.
5. Rashomon (1951) -- Akira Kurosawa bestowed an influential new form with this classic about conflicting points of view revolving a heinous crime.
6. Wild Strawberries (1957) -- Ingmar Bergman, the Swedish master of gloom and dread, tells his most bittersweet story of an aging man confronting the emptiness of his life.
7. The Seventh Seal (1957) -- More Bergman, this one a grand, boldly symbolic exploration of life and death, a literal chess game between a man and Death.
8. Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959) -- A bleak love story between a French actress and Japanese architect, who share a night of passion and stories of past loves in Hiroshima against the backdrop of looming destruction.
9. North by Northwest (1959) -- Hitchcock returns, one year after Vertigo delivering another legendary thriller -- this one, very simply, is pure, edge-of-your-seat fun with Cary Grant in cinema's most famous case of mistaken identity.
10. Rear Window (1954) -- Welcome back, Hitch. The master's greatest decade also included the iconic story of Jimmy Stewart's wheelchair-bound voyeur and the murders he thinks he witnesses in the apartment just across the courtyard.

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