For me, the 1950’s can be considered as one of the best decades in film. With films like Sunset Blvd, From Here to Eternity, North by Northwest, Strangers on a Train, All About Eve, Rear Window (Hitchcock again!), On the Waterfront, Touch of Evil, High Noon, and so many others how could it not be? However, with the introduction of television in more and more American homes during this decade comedy seemed to have hit a bump in the road. There were not as many comedies, and they generally were not as funny as in the past. Of course, there were exceptions, Some Like it Hot is one of the greatest sound comedies. One thing that you will notice is that some of the films on the list are musical comedies. A style that at this point in time, television still could not emulate.
The previous entries in this series can be found here.
Big Deal on Madonna Street
Italian director Mario Monicelli delivers a quick and light satire of the classic caper film that pokes fun at films like The Asphalt Jungle and particularly Jules Dassin’s Rififi. The cast headed by Vittorio Gassman, Marcello Mastroianni, Carlo Pisacane and Claudia Cardinale are all terrific. The amateur thieves are so likable even if their plan is flawed from the beginning, you want to cheer them on.
Desk Set is a charming film thanks mostly to its charismatic and beloved stars. The film is also a look back at a time when computers, first entering the workplace, were so huge they required special rooms with specific climatic conditions. Today all that computer power is compacted into a laptop that you can carry anywhere. Read my review here.
Fred Astaire’s character, Dick Avery, is based on photographer Richard Avedon. The script was written by Leonard Gershe who based it on an unproduced musical he wrote, back in 1951 called, Wedding Days. Avedon was also a visual consultant on the film. the combination of the Paris locations, Gershwin classics, Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn make this a must see work of art. Read my complete take on this film here.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
- Roman Holiday
Singin’ in the Rain
Is there anything more exuberant than watching Gene Kelly singin’ and dancin’ in the rain? Generally considered one of, if not, the grandest of all musicals, and whom am I to argue, Singin’ in the Rain is a joyous delight, celebrating movies, music, dance and the talent of a cast and creators who rarely were better. You can read the rest of my review here.
Some Like it Hot
When someone ask what is my favorite film, I usually respond with Rear Window or Some Like it Hot. I love these two films. I have written about both twice over the years. Billy Wilder and Alfred Hitchcock were directors I admired since I first understood what a director’s function was. Wilder and I.A.L Diamonds’ script for Some Like it Hot is one of the funniest ever put on paper, executed perfectly by the cast. You read read both my articles here and here.
Son of Paleface
The Girl Can’t Help It
This is a guilty pleasure of a film, and that’s why it’s on the list. I could easily have selected Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Seven Year Itch, or How to Marry a Millionaire, but I enjoy this film for its historical, though lip-synced, rock and roll performances. Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, Fats Domino, Eddie Cochran and The Platters. It’s an anthropological dig into the soul of early rock and roll. For the lounge lizard set, there is also the gorgeous sultry, smokey Julie London. The film itself is a satire on the then changing music industry of the day. Frank Tashlin who wrote and directed the film about a music agent (Tom Ewell) hired by a gangster (Edmond O’Brien) to turn his talent-less girlfriend (Jayne Mansfield) into a rock and roll star. The film is condescending toward the music and considered it a passing fad. Still, it’s an interesting time capsule.