Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Movie Clip Wednesdays: Favorite Fifties Flick

Oh, gosh, this is more like it. There are so many movies from the 1950s that I love that I had a difficult time deciding on just one. Some contenders: All About Eve, Suddenly Last Summer, The Searchers, Singing in the Rain, Giant, Some Like It Hot, A Place in the Sun, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof—the list climbs into infinity and beyond.

The Fifties are an interesting decade for film, mostly because this was the heyday of the Hollywood star-making machine, when actors and actresses achieved not just fame, but Olympian status as pop cultural icons. With few exceptions, the heyday of the director seemed to be waning, and it wouldn't be until the late 1960s, early 1970s, before filmmakers would fully shake off the yoke of the studio system and emerge as independent artists famous in their own right.

One of those exceptions was Alfred Hitchcock. He made nearly 70 movies in his 40+ year career, and if he had a stride, I'd say he hit it in the 1950s. This is the period in which he honed the conventions of the modern thriller (conventions he single-handedly invented, of course), giving them their highest expression in movies like Vertigo, North By Northwest, Strangers on a Train, and my favorite, Rear Window. This short clip pretty much sums up the plot of the movie, but you have to see the entire thing to get the full-on effect of Hitchcock's genius. It's a movie not only about the frustrations of a housebound man trying to draw attention to a murder, but also about the emotional and psychological confines of interpersonal relationships, with crafty little digs at the institution of marriage.

Once again, Milk River Madman serves as this Wednesday meme's host. Drop by and see who else loves the movies of the Fifties.


Pam said...

Love this movie. It isn't my favorite Hitchcock, but makes me wonder if my favorite Hitchcock was a 1950's movie. I bet it was. Maybe we should do this theme again! Happy MCW!

Karl said...

Good morning Moi,

Congratulations on your haiku win. It was well deserved.

Hitchcock was such an interesting talent. Who else could make a hero out of a peeping Tom. I always get a kick out of trying to find his cameo at the beginning of a movie.

It's interesting how many folks have listed several movie titles in their narration for today's post. Would any other decade produce such lists?

Anonymous said...

Great work from the Master. "The Searchers" would have been good too. The Duke's most complex role. Arguably.

To Karl's point, I typed in "best movies of the 50s" on the inner-webs to get ideas.

Incredibly, neither "Rear Window" nor "The Searchers" made the list.

Boxer said...

One of my all time favorites. I've always loved Jimmy Stewart but up until Hitchcock he was the nice guy.... this movie gave him a whole new dimension. And it's jus a great movie.

I'm not up. Yet, but Happy MCW!

moi said...

Pam: There you go; we should do favorite Hitchcock movie! His two scariest works—The Birds and Psycho—were made in 1960 and 1963 respectively, but they were more out-and-out horror than thriller.

Karl: The last decade of Hollywood's Golden Age, for sure. Oh, and make sure you haiku next week; I'm offering prizes.

Troll: I nearly picked The Searchers because it is such a strange and at times maddening flick. On the one hand, predictable, cliched, almost sinister in its racism. On the other, it deals with some pretty complex themes for the time.

Boxer: I love him in this primarily because he was so reluctant and irascible. And in a way, kinda sexy, which isn't the first word that usually comes to mind when thinking of Jimmy Stewart.

Milk River Madman said...

Hitchcock was on fire in the 50's. I'm always surprised that Stewart was in four of his films. Here's a little nugget "The director (Hitchcock) blamed the film's failure (Vertigo) on Stewart looking too old to still attract audiences, and replaced him with Cary Grant for "North by Northwest"

Happy MCW.

Roses said...

I agree there are too many classics to choose from.

What a great choice.

Happy MCW.

chickory said...

I just got back to the ATL out of the slush and freeze. wow. it was an all day affair.

anywhoo. great choice. I love that green suit grace wears. and she is such a great gal - jimmy stewarts a bit of a pain in the ass but i guess being in a cast is why.

good choice. You cant go wrong with Hitch - who storyboarded out his movies.

happy MCW i might get one out before midnight

NYD said...

You mentioned a lot of really great films-Some Like It Hot is as good today as it was the first time I saw it- and you chose a good one too, but I probably would have gone with Godzilla King of the Monsters. But that's me (^_^)

Buzz Kill said...

Raymond Burr with white hair always freaked me out. I always wondered why none of the other neighbors reported peeping Jimmy to the cops. And this movie was always fascinating to me because of the city-dweller aspect, which at the time I watched this (35 years ago?) was completely foreign to me as a suburban dweller. Good movie.

Hapy MCW!

moi said...

MRM: Oooo, good bit of trivia I didn't know.

Roses: Hitchcock was from your side of the pond, too.

Chickory: Edith Head did an amazing job with Kelly's wardrobe. But dang, girl, that trek is normally, what, two hours? Glad you're safe.

NYD: Hey, I get that! "Oh, no, there's goes Tokyo."

Buzz: It would make me crazy, having people able to peep into my place.