- Germany Year Zero (Roberto Rossellini)
- The Match Factory Girl (Aki Kaurismäki)
- I Shot Jesse James (Samuel Fuller)
- The Cars That Ate Paris (Peter Weir)
- Three Women (Ernst Lubitsch)
- Rio Grande (John Ford)
- Went The Day Well? (Michael Balcon)
- Spione (Fritz Lang)
- Hold Your Man (Sam Wood)
- Angel At My Table (Jane Campion)
1- I was always reluctant to get on the Sam Fuller bandwagon. It struck me as one of the excessive enthusiasms of the Cahiers du Cinema crowd. In their glee at tearing down French icons, they appeared too eager to praise what seemed like a bargain-counter director of solid B films. My feelings changed after I saw The Steel Helmet. What a solid, tightly-constructed picture. A comparison to John Ford would be excessive, but there is something similar in the concern for characterization. I Shot Jesse James is another satisfying film. The characterization of ‘the coward Bob Ford’ is fascinating and all the more noteworthy as the whole film lasts barely longer than 80 minutes. I found films like the much-lauded Shock Corridor overwrought, but these two are tremendous.
2- I was lucky to catch a rare screening of Lubitsch’s Three Women at the University of Chicago’s swell new Logan Center for the Arts. It was part of Professor Tom Gunning’s series ‘Screenings and Pallavers’. Interesting discussion by one of the grad students explaining how influential this film was in Asia, along with Lubitsch’s The Marriage Circle – a film I am longing to see, especially since it left a huge impression on Ozu.
3- I think I am done with Aki Kaurismäki. I grant that his films are powerful and well-made, but they are so relentlessly downbeat and present such an ugly world. I understand Le Havre is different, so maybe I’ll try that before I write him off completely.
4- I am constantly dazzled by John Ford. Like with Shakespeare, I keep asking myself ‘Is it really as good as it seems, or am I thinking it is as good as seems because it is by the great god John Ford?” The unequivocal answer is ‘It is as good as it seems – if not better’. I have viewed She Wore A Yellow Ribbon a lot in recent years, and have even written about it on this blog in relation to Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life (of all things!). I remembered Rio Grande fondly, but had not seen it in over 30 years. TCM to the rescue! It is as rich an experience as I thought it was. The Cavalry Trilogy, three very loosely connected films comprised of She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, Fort Apache and Rio Grande mark a high point in Ford’s oeuvre and a high point in American Film. Maureen O’Hara is a shamefully underrated actress.