A programming alert for followers of Mid Century Cinema: on the occasion of his eightieth birthday (!), I have written an appreciation of the films of Woody Allen for Bright Lights Film Journal, which can be read here.
News and Commentary
So here they are, my top twenty-five from the seventies, (once again in order of domestic release date by country of origin). Obviously, this was the hardest list of all—looking back, it turns out this decade contributed TEN to my twenty-five greatest of all-time list; as always, those films noted by an asterisk.
Forging ahead with the “best of” lists . . .
Making lists is like watching movies by Ozu—once you start, it’s hard to stop.
What is your favorite movie? We are often asked that question here at Mid Century Cinema, and our stock response is to reject the question with a dismissive, even haughty wave of the hand. “Favorite”? “Best”? “The Greatest”? Just what are those words supposed to mean when talking about the movies? And to compare one to another? Impossible. Philistine! How can you even ask?
Worth seeking out is Francois Truffaut’s 1973 masterpiece Day for Night (La Nuit Americaine), just released in yet another characteristically marvelous special edition from the Criterion Collection. Day for Night is a movie that is in love with the movies—Roger Ebert called it “not only the best movie ever made about movies,” but also “a great entertainment.”
A visit to the Harvard Film Archive afforded an opportunity to see Robert Altman’s HealtH. The film, shot in 1979, was screened in 1980 but shelved by a hostile studio-in-transition, and not properly released until 1982. One of Altman’s most obscure films, it remains largely unavailable and so despite its modest reputation the chance to catch it in the theater was irresistible.
Noir week at MCC reached its conclusion with the pitch-perfect classic Out of the Past – one for the time capsule if you were looking to preserve the essence of noir for future generations – before wrapping up class with a consideration of neo-noir, and a very close read of Chinatown. (In Hollywood’s Last Golden Age I called Chinatown “the Citizen Kane of th
Noir week continues at Mid Century Cinema (and at Cornell’s Adult University) with two classics, The Big Sleep and Gilda. The justly beloved Big Sleep comes with a famous backstory—in the can in 1945, the film was shown to American servicemen overseas, but with distribution schedules juggled by the end of the war, Sleep was held back from general release until 1946. In the interim, Lauren Bacall’s second picture was poorly received (in contrast to her head-turning debut alongside Humphrey Bogart in Howard Hawks’ To Have and Have Not).