Another decade down, another SASY Rank mini-post. With the 1940s now behind us it is time for the two of us to scrawl down the films that impressed us the most from the decade. There are 36 films from the 1940s on the Sight & Sound list, but as it happens we are largely on the same page with regard to our selections. Neither of us could resist throwing 11 films into our respective Top 10s and we share nine films. That’s a good indication of how strong these nine films were, because this was a particularly satisfying decade for the both of us. There were quite a few filmmakers boasting multiple list films during the decade (Powell & Pressburger, Howard Hawks, Roberto Rossellini, John Ford, Orson Welles) but nobody dominated our Top 10 lists the way that Jean Renoir did in the 1930s. No, we’ve spread the love around on this one and can’t wait to move into the 1950s with our next yammer.
We’ve already yammered about all of the films below, so we’ll leave the lists to speak for themselves. But if you want more, then click on a film title to be magically transported to our conversation.
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:
Like Dylan in the movies. Robert Mitchum stars as a former private detective whose old life comes back to haunt him in director Jacques Torneur’s noir thriller Out of the Past.
We’ve had a few list films of late that have latched onto the visual dynamics of film noir. But for all the canted angles and exaggerated shadows, the 1940s entries on the Sight & Sound list have been rather light on actual noir movies. Thankfully that changes with our latest viewing experience: Out of the Past (1947), a tale of devilish dames, compromised detectives, and the inescapable pull of fate. And also badass dialogue, with the film dropping a host of noir patter that should leave Phillip Marlowe green with envy. Out of the Past marks the sole entry on the list by director Jacques Torneur, a filmmaker otherwise best known for helming some early horror classics like The Cat People (1942) and I Walked With a Zombie (1943). This horror background serves him well in the noir genre, bringing a deeper darkness to the cinematography than most other such movies, but also finding the crowd-pleasing humor in the sudden violence and double dealing. Out of the Past also marks the first list appearance by actor Robert Mitchum, who brings a laconic cool to the role that seems like much less of an affectation than with most other noir anti-heroes. Throw in a spectacular femme fatale in Jane Greer and a wonderfully smarmy early performance by Kirk Douglas, and you get a crackerjack piece of entertainment that is as existential as it is exuberant. (97 min.) Continue reading