SASY Wrap #7 – Double-O SASY

Activity has been at a bit of an ebb tide at blog central of late, what with new jobs and a lot of traveling for work. So we’re dipping back quite a ways for this SASY Wrap, which covers yammers 61-70. This batch of 10 movies has pushed us over the 25% mark, and it feels great to know that we’re making headway even if things have been a bit slow on the movie yammer front (hey, we got up three posts in just two weeks recently, so we’re getting better!)

This latest round of 10 didn’t have any chronological oddities in it, so we stuck exclusively with films from 1946-1948, with a full seven of the entries coming from either Roberto Rossellini, Howard Hawks, or the wonderful duo of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. However, it was films by John Ford and Jacques Torneur that really rocked our worlds in this set of pictures. But before we break down our thoughts on this block of movies, as tradition demands, we will present our respective rankings of all 10 films in this SASY Wrap:

 S.

 J.

1. Out of the Past (1947) 1. Out of the Past (1947)
2. My Darling Clementine (1946) 2. My Darling Clementine (1946)
3. The Red Shoes (1948) 3. A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
4. The Big Sleep (1946) 4. The Big Sleep (1946)
5. Black Narcissus (1947) 5. Black Narcissus (1947)
6. A Matter of Life and Death (1946) 5. The Red Shoes (1948)
7. Notorious (1946) 7. Notorious (1946)
8. Paisá (1946) 8. Paisá (1946)
9. Germany, Year Zero (1948) 9. Red River (1948)
10. Red River (1948) 10. Germany, Year Zero (1948)

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#90 (tie) – A Matter of Life and Death (1946), dir. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger

Matter of Life and Death

Stairway to Heaven. The great figures of world history line the massive staircase connecting Earth and the afterlife in Powell & Pressburger’s giddily inventive fantasy romance A Matter of Life and Death.

We are now making our way into the second half of British filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s amazing run of films in the 1940s. A Matter of Life and Death (1946) is also the duo’s first movie made after World War II, but the war still heavily informs the film, which centers on the near-death experience of English bomber pilot Peter Carter (played by David Niven). The film also continues the explorations of Anglo-American relations that can be found in A Canterbury Tale and (to a lesser extent) Colonel Blimp, by having Peter’s love interest be June, an American girl serving as a military radio operator. But all of that sounds rather serious, when A Matter of Life and Death is really a fantasy romance, taking the whimsy of Powell & Pressburger’s previous efforts and ratcheting it up to 11. The basic plot is that Peter is forced to jump from a burning aircraft without a parachute. His death is certain, but due to a clerical error in the afterlife he doesn’t die. Heaven tries to correct its mistake, but Peter appeals his death on the grounds that he and June have fallen in love. But then again, this all might be in Peter’s head. With visual pizzazz that matches the fantastical plotting, A Matter of Life and Death is often considered the high water mark of Powell & Pressburger’s filmography, and is the highest ranked of their six Sight & Sound films. (104 min.) Continue reading