Tuesday, November 01, 2016

5 Off My Head - Siri Says 1949

Every week (or every week I get to it) on a Tuesday (or some other day if I feel like it) I take to my cellular telephone and I ask it to choose a number between one and one hundred, and then I list my five (or thereabouts) favorite movies from the year that corresponds with the number I have been given. It's true! I have done this several times now and you can scroll down and through them right here at this link here. And well, since it's Tuesday and all, I have done it again. Today my phone (or "cellular telephone" if that makes you more comfortable) has given me the number 49, and so here I give you in return...

My 5 Favorite Movies of 1949

(dir. Carol Reed)
-- released on August 31st 1949 --

(dir. Yasujirô Ozu)
-- released on September 13th 1949 --
(dir. William Wyler)
-- released on October 6th 1949 --

(dir. George Cukor)
-- released on November 18th 1949 --

(dir. Max Ophüls)
-- released on December 29th 1949 --


I don't really have any runners-up because 1949 
was not the greatest year for the movies,
but hey it did give us this gif...

... of Shelley Winters being hit by a car 
in The Great Gatsby, and that's not nothing.

But what are your favorite movies of 1949?


joel65913 said...

I haven't seen Late Spring but your other four choices are great. Can't agree though that 1949 wasn't a great movie year, it's one of my favorites.

Here's my top 5 and then some others from this year I love as well.

A Letter to Three Wives-My absolute favorite from the year
The Heiress-A very close second
The Reckless Moment
Criss Cross
White Heat

The others:
The Set-Up
Adam's Rib
Thieves Highway
The Third Man
Easy Living
I Was a Male War Bride
The Window
The Hasty Heart
Kind Hearts & Coronets
Intruder in the Dust
In the Good Old Summertime

JA said...

I guess I just haven't seen the right movies - I'm unfamiliar with several of your picks! As always thanks for the recs, Joel!

joel65913 said...

Yikes I can't believe I forget to included this year's version of The Great Gatsby especially with that crazy GIF of Shelley doing the curbway bounce you included. I just saw it for the first time a couple of months ago and while it's not perfect it's the closest to the book that I've seen. Not as beautiful looking as the Redford/Farrow version but dramatically truer. I thought the DiCaprio version was a disaster.

What it gets right:
Alan Ladd is the most natural Gatsby of the three I've seen perhaps because it was made closer to the time period he seemed more comfortable with the language and with careful shooting his height isn't a issue. Plus he wears the clothes effortlessly and embodies the conflicted soul of the character with great depth. Something that was a specialty of his.

Ruth Hussey is a terrific Jordan blending her somewhat butch qualities with a forthrightness and class that rounds the character out well.

And of course Shelley Winters is a perfect fit as the slatternly Mrytle. Her role is small but she mixes her alluring sexiness (at this point) with her more braying qualities. Just when you she gets to be too much she gets bounced through the hedges.

What doesn't work:

There are two major cases of miscasting.

While he's not terrible MacDonald Carey doesn't make much of an impression in the key role of Nick Carraway. It should have been William Holden, who was at the right level of stardom at the time just before Sunset Blvd. and a much more magnetic and capable actor.

The bigger problem is Betty Field as Daisy. Now I loves me some Betty Field, a wonderfully insightful under-known performer, but she was no Daisy. This is something every version has gotten wrong. It's a tricky part since Daisy isn't so much of a woman as an ideal but almost the first thing we learn about her in the book is that her voice sounds like money. Betty Field's nasally voice sounds nothing so much as a Bronx housewife. Gene Tierney was the original choice, and would have been an excellent choice though I've always thought Alexis Smith was ideal, she's who I envisioned when I read the book.

A more minor issue is that many of the scenes happen in locations that LOOK like sets rather than homes but that was common enough for this period of filmmaking.

retropian said...

Kind Heats and Coronets.