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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#154 (tie) – Black Narcissus (1947), dir. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger

Black Narcissus

Nun too difficult. You are almost contractual obliged to use a bell-ringing shot atop any article about Powell & Pressburger’s Black Narcissus. And there is little wonder why, as this movie about a group of nuns atop a mountain in India is a visual feast of extraordinary sumptuousness.

After four movies set firmly within wartime Britain, filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger finally put World War II behind and look to the outskirts of Britain’s colonial empire for their fifth entry on the Sight & Sound list, Black Narcissus (1947). Though set in the mountains of northern India, the film sticks with a predominantly white, English cast (unfortunately even for a number of Indian roles), presenting the trials and tribulations of a group of nuns attempting to set up a school and clinic in a mountaintop palace. Few in number and living in isolation, the nuns (led by Powell’s beloved Deborah Kerr) struggle with their living situation, the local people, and among themselves as they try to cope atop the mountain. The film uses the nuns to delve into questions of faith, duty, colonial attitudes, lust, love, and madness. But the treatment of these themes is generally superficial, with the movie preferring to work more as an exercise in tone and image. And in that regard Black Narcissus is a thrilling work of art channeling the compositions of Vermeer, a liberal dash of Orientalism, and a sinister Technicolor palette to create an unreal world where enlightenment and derangement sit side by side. (100 min.) Continue reading