1959 in Movies

Movie reviews for movies released theatrically in 1959.

1. Hiroshima Mon Amour, directed by Alain Renais (10/10)

There are movies that words cannot do justice to. This is one of them. I am not exaggerating when I say that this is perhaps one of the 5-10 most important feature films of the 20th century. Sometimes the greatest of tragedies are incomprehensible on human terms and the only way to deal with them on human terms is obliquely.

2. North by Northwest, directed by Alfred Hitchcock (10/10)

One of Hitchock’s greatest films and one of Cary Grant’s greatest performances.

3. Anatomy of a Murder, directed by Otto Preminger (10*/10)

I watched this at 17. I cannot testify to whether or not it deserves such a high rating.

4. Shadows, directed by John Cassevettes (9/10)

I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that Cassevettes essentially birthed independent film in the United States and that this is the film that made other people realized the possibilities. The movie hasn’t exactly dated well, but it is an absolute landmark regardless.

5. The 400 Blows, directed by Francois Truffaut (9/10)

This is definitely a landmark film. It’s a completely different take on childhood than most movies of its day. It’s also very, very well directed. Some of the shots are just incredible. But the subject matter didn’t really strike a chord with me. I just didn’t get into it that much. Really, it was only the end that resonated (it’s a classic ending). By the way, this is the least insufferable of Truffaut’s Antoine movies, so you know.

6. The Human Condition I and II: No Greater Love and The Road to Eternity, directed by Masaki Kobayashi (8/10)

I have treated the 6 part/3 film movie as one film, as it was intended. These two films contain Parts 1 through 4. Read the review of The Human Condition.

7. Eyes without a Face, directed by Georges Franju (8/10)

This movie is quite odd, but it works, for the most part. Much of the movie is soundtrack-less, which is a little odd for a horror movie, and then, when there is music, much of it is (good) scary-silly theme music for one of the villains. That weird juxtaposition, as well as some great casting (the villains have evil faces) helps create the unsettling atmosphere that is evident in the title. Though not showing everything works well for the most part, the movie could have used a few more shots or scenes (one in particular, though I won’t spoil it) to flesh it out a little. The ending lacks subtlety but works for me anyway. It’s effective, but it’s no masterpiece.

8. Floating Weeds, directed by Yasujiro Ozu (8/10)

I failed to write down my comments for this, which actually happens to be a remake of a silent film he made in the ’30s.

9. Compulsion, directed by Richard Fleischer (8/10)

An outdated attempt at understanding sociopathy, it is still pretty damn good despite its attempts to blame Nietzsche for everything wrong with our century (okay, I exaggerate).

10. Apur Sansur, directed by Satyajit Ray (8/10)

I feel like this is the least of the three films, but it’s still fairly remarkable, especially if you compare it with Western films at the time. Read the review of Apur Sansar.

11. Imitation of Life, directed by Douglas Sirk (8/10)

If I had a gun to my head, I expect that I would rank this best among Sirk’s films. I have lost my review (even though I not only remember writing it, but remember discussing it with a friend).

12. Suddenly Last Summer, directed by Joseph L.Mankiewcz (8*/10)

Watched when I was likely too young to properly judge it.

13. Our Man in Havana, directed by Carol Reed (7*/10)

I watched this before I read the novel (perhaps my favourite Graham Greene novel), so take this with a grain of salt.

14. Some Like it Hot, directed by Billy Wilder (6/10)

This is an entertaining movie. The fact that it is quite entertaining in no way makes it great.

15. The House on Haunted Hill, directed by William Castle (6/10)

This is reasonably creepy for its era – my ex-girlfriend jumped once or twice! – but really it is only for fans of Price and Castle as most of the tricks are quite predictable to us and were even fairly transparent for a film of its vintage.

It’s fun, but it’s certainly not on a classic level compared to some of the great suspense and horror films of the 1950s.

16. Rio Bravo, directed by Howard Hawks (6*/10)

Seen, multiple times I might add, during my John Wayne phase.

17. Pork Chop Hill, directed by Lewis Milestone (6*/10)

Seen multiple times in my war movie phase.

18. Sleeping Beauty, directed by Clyde Geronimi (5*/10)

Seen as a child, multiple times.

19. Ben-Hur, directed by William (4*/10)

Seen as a teen.

20. Plan 9 from Outer Space, directed by Ed Wood (1/10)

I watched this because I was curious at how bad it truly was. You should not do the same.

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