Top Fifty Films of the 50s — Number Forty-Five

#45 — Somebody Up There Likes Me (Robert Wise, 1956) No matter how many times the comparison is invoked by those trying to distract from the damage wrought by the sport, boxing isn’t poetry. It is instead angry prose slammed into place by harshly struck typewriter keys. The definitive cinematic statement of this truth is and will forever be Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull, though there are certainly predecessors to that masterpiece that make the same argument with similarly brutish authority, most notably Somebody Up There Likes Me. Based on the autobiography written by middleweight champion Rocky Graziano (with what was … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 50s — Number Forty-Five

Top Fifty Films of the 50s — Number Forty-Nine

#49 — The Day the Earth Stood Still (Robert Wise, 1951) Flying saucers raced across the movie screen with impunity in the early nineteen-fifties. In the first two years alone, there was Flying Disc Man from Mars, The Flying Saucer, The Man from Planet X and The Thing from Another World. That doesn’t even take into account all the movies dependent on more conventional rockets to get eager youngsters into the mayhem of their weekend matinees. Most of these sci-fi offerings (and “sci-fi” seems far more appropriate a term than “science fiction” in this instance) show off their dashed-off, cash-in … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 50s — Number Forty-Nine

Katzin, Kurosawa, Muschietti, Walsh, Wise

Colorado Territory (Raoul Walsh, 1949). This Raoul Walsh western both locks in on the form and offers a sort of sour, woozy commentary on its many tropes. Joel McRae plays a notorious outlaw who’s sprung from jail and gets himself enmeshed in the fabled “one last job,” a train heist that will net him and his conniving compatriots enough money to allow them to retire for good. Along the way, he also becomes enamored with a lady bandit, the wonderfully named Colorado Carson (Virginia Mayo). Walsh had used the exact same source material to make a film noir crime picture … Continue reading Katzin, Kurosawa, Muschietti, Walsh, Wise

Kubrick, Kurosawa, Robbins and Wise, Rydell, Wilder

Harry and Walter Go to New York (Mark Rydell, 1976). A colleague of mine at Spectrum Culture wrote about this nostalgic caper comedy a while back, calling it “a delightful farce of a film.” Not really, but it’s surely an oddball relic of the era when nineteen-seventies adventurism gave way to self-defeating excess. Clearly inspired by (and given its greenlight due to) the smashing success of George Roy Hill’s The Sting a few years earlier, the film casts Elliott Gould and James Caan as a pair of hackneyed vaudevillians in the late nineteenth century who get caught up in a … Continue reading Kubrick, Kurosawa, Robbins and Wise, Rydell, Wilder

I dreamed i was in a hollywood movie and that I was the star of the movie, this really blew my mind

Somebody Up There Likes Me (Robert Wise, 1956). By all accounts, this is the film that made Paul Newman a star. The most intriguing thing about that is that his performance here has little of the charismatic verve that drove later work in films like Hud or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It’s a thick, meaty character piece as Newman plays boxer Rocky Graziano as his pummels his way from backstreet destitution to the heavyweight championship of the world. Newman brings integrity to his character’s brutishness, subsuming his natural sparkle in favor of a honest portrayal of simpler man. … Continue reading I dreamed i was in a hollywood movie and that I was the star of the movie, this really blew my mind