Movie reviews for movies released theatrically in 1946.
1. Beauty and the Beast, directed by Jean Cocteau, Rene Clement (10/10)
Somebody was smoking something when they made this movie, and maybe that explains why the Beast was either on fire or had a smoke machine installed in his back throughout most of the movie. Arms stick out of walls and tables. There are human beings in the walls. Faces too. And then there’s the smoke. Everywhere. It’s like they just discovered how to make it or something. There are some pretty nutty shots. Oh yeah, then there’s the bizarre repetition of the “Belle” over and over and over again. The movie is, regrettably, hampered by the story itself, so the end doesn’t hold up to the insane middle section, but the middle section (i.e. the part in the Beast’s castle) is just so nuts that it’s worth seeing, if you like your movies weird. Seriously, for 1946, in particular for a 1946 romantic fairy-tale, this is mind-blowing. I found myself sitting there, many times wondering “what is going on?” And that’s a good thing.
2. The Killers, directed by Robert Siodmak (9/10)
The definitive version, though the remake isn’t bad either. I am a big Burt Lancaster fan, so I am slightly biased. Anyway, classic noir.
3. The Best Years of Our Lives, directed by William Wyler (9/10*)
The asterisk next to this rating should be gigantic. This was probably the first “dealing with the after effects of war” movie I ever saw. (I think it was the first Hollywood movie to cover this topic too.) And I saw it at 17 or 18. I have since seen tons of movies to cover this topic and I am sincerely concerned that this doesn’t hold up to my new standards. I doubt I will ever re-watch it, but I suspect it is nowhere near as risque as I think it should be.
4. The Blue Dahlia, directed by George Marshall (8/10)
A very good noir. Unfortunately I didn’t write down my thoughts at the time.
5. Gilda, directed by Charles Vidor (8/10)
I was really sceptical. But Jesus Christ, Rita Hayworth is…the living embodiment of charisma…was, I mean was. Otherwise, a really solid noir.
6. Great Expectations, directed by David Lean (8/10)
Well, I can’t say I was blown away by this. I guess that’s partly because a lot of the techniques in this movie have since become conventional. Also, I am not the world’s biggest Dickens fan,[Note: that has changed in the interim] so I am not really into whether or not such and such was a better characterization in one version or another. They skip over some stuff, as they have to in order to fit a running time. That’s okay, I guess. There are some neat moments with the sound (the talking cows!) and there’s one totally out of the blue artsy moment that works. It’s competent, it’s well made, it’s probably very good for its time.
7. My Darling Clementine, directed by John Ford (8/10*)
I saw this probably 15 years ago.
8. The Postman Always Rings Twice, directed by Tay Garnett (8/10)
I may be the only person in the world who thinks the remake is better. This is good, but it has some major flaws: Lana Turner is pimped out to look like a beauty queen through the whole movie. Yes, that happens in other noirs, but those femme fatales are rich. Turner is not. The male lead (John Garfield?) is basically a ’40s noir stereotype and brings nothing to it. Turner’s husband is basically an alcoholic Santa Claus, who is in no way threatening. And this is coming from someone who had a pretty major hard-on for Lana Turner at one point. I just think the remake deals with this better. This is still a good noir, but there are way better ones.
9. It’s a Wonderful Life, directed by Frank Capra (7/10)
At some point this has been shown too much. But anyway, I like it better than most Capra movies. It’s still overrated.
10. Notorious, directed by Alfred Hitchcock (7/10)
Seen during my Hitchcock phase.
11. Somewhere in the Night, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (7/10)
This is a mostly interesting movie, with some neat camera work, and a plot that is only predictable because we, in the 2000s, have seen far too many twists. I’m sure the twist was a surprise to many of the audience members at the time. I find both the leads are pretty weak. And some of the dialogue really is way too unnatural, way too expository (I think that’s the word). It could have been an outright classic with a better script and better actors. The direction is pretty good. Oh well.
12. Green for Danger, directed by Sidney Gilliat (7/10)
Almost Hitchcockian. A pleasant surprise. A little dated, but still entertaining.
13. The Big Sleep, directed by Howard Hawks (7/10*)
I seem to have not noted down why I feel this is a lesser Bogart-Bacall vehicle. Sorry.
14. Stairway to Heaven aka A Matter of Life and Death, directed by Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger (5/10)
I hated this movie. The story was ridiculous and the script was regularly terrible. They even break their own rules: there’s no time in Heaven, but the characters in Heaven talk about things in terms of time, go figure. The trial is such a joke. Would anyone ever put up with a trial like that? Even if it were possible? The whole thing is so ridiculous and so hokey and a horrible way to try to deal with the after-effects of World War 2. On the other hand, it is one innovative production; top to bottom. It’s quite amazing to think of all the neat tricks they tried. I would be quite impressed if the movie were any good.