8 items from 2015
(Billy Wilder, 1953; Eureka!, DVD/Blu-ray)
After the dissolution of his lengthy collaboration with producer Charles Brackett at Paramount Studios following one of their greatest successes with Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder became his own producer on what many regard as his finest film, that masterly piece of cynical Americana Ace in the Hole. It proved, however, to be a thundering box-office failure, and he was in urgent need of a popular success to restore his fortunes. He chose to film Stalag 17, a comedy-thriller by Donald Bevan and Edmund Trzcinski, then on its way to completing a triumphant run of 472 performances on Broadway.
Set in a German prisoner-of-war camp for air force sergeants (where the authors had themselves been interned), the play combines a deadly serious plot about a search for a German spy planted among the Americans with a knockabout tale of hungry, frustrated men digging escape tunnels, fighting among themselves, »
- Philip French
BBC Culture has this week unveiled a new list of the top 100 American films, as voted for by a pool of international film critics from across the globe. The format of the poll was that any film that would make the list had to have recieved funding from a Us source, and the directors of the films did not need to be from the USA, nor did the films voted for need to be filmed in the Us.
Critics were asked to submit their top 10 lists, which would try to find the top 100 American films that while “not necessarily the most important, but the greatest on an emotional level”. The list, as you may have guessed, is very different to the lists curated by say the BFI or AFI over the years, so there are certainly a few surprises on here, with Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave (2013), Terrence Malick »
- Scott J. Davis
First off, let's make one thing clear. We're not scratching our heads at Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing" making the BBC's 100 greatest American films. That movie, of which an image accompanies this post, not only made the list, but ranked appropriately at no. 25. It's the rest of the selections that have us scratching and, yes, shaking our heads in disbelief. A wonderful page view driver, these sorts of lists make great fodder for passionate movie fans no matter what their age or part of the world they hail from. There is nothing more entertaining than watching two critics from opposite ends of the globe try to debate whether "The Dark Knight" should have been nominated for best picture or make a list like this. Even in this age of short form content where Vines, Shapchats and Instagram videos have captured viewers attention, movies will continue to inspire because »
- Gregory Ellwood
Leave it to the Brits to compile a list of the best American films of all-time. BBC Culture has published a list of what it calls "The 100 Greatest American Films", as selected by 62 international film critics in order to "get a global perspective on American film." As BBC Culture notes, the critics polled represent a combination of broadcasters, book authors and reviewers at various newspapers and magazines across the world. As for what makes an American filmc "Any movie that received funding from a U.S. source," BBC Culture's publication states, which is to say the terminology was quite loose, but the list contains a majority of the staples you'd expect to see. Citizen Kane -- what elsec -- comes in at #1, and in typical fashion The Godfather follows at #2. Vertigo, which in 2012 topped Sight & Sound's list of the greatest films of all-time, comes in at #3 on BBC Culture's list. »
- Jordan Benesh
Every now and then a major publication or news organisation comes up with a top fifty or one hundred films of all time list - a list which always stirs up debate, discussion and often interesting arguments about the justifications of the list's inclusions, ordering and notable exclusions.
Today it's the turn of BBC Culture who consulted sixty-two international film critics including print reviews, bloggers, broadcasters and film academics to come up with what they consider the one-hundred greatest American films of all time. To qualify, the film had to be made by a U.S. studio or mostly funded by American money.
Usually when a list of this type is done it is by institutes or publications within the United States asking American critics their favourites. This time it's non-American critics born outside the culture what they think are the best representations of that culture. Specifically they were asked »
- Garth Franklin
The United States is “my country, right or wrong,” of course, and I consider myself a patriotic person, but I’ve never felt that patriotism meant blind fealty to the idea of America’s rightful dominance over global politics or culture, and certainly not to its alleged preferred status on God’s short list of favored nations, or that allegiance to said country was a license to justify or rationalize every instance of misguided, foolish, narrow-minded domestic or foreign policy.
And now more than ever we seem to be living in a country poised at the edge of some sort of transition, with all the attendant tension and conflict and intense conviction that can be expected on either side of the chasm that prevents us from a true state of national togetherness. Just last week we celebrated a Supreme Court decision that finally offered legality (and legal protection) to the »
- Dennis Cozzalio
Above: a theater advertising Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole (1951).If there’s one thing I love almost as much as movie posters (at least as far as the world of movie advertising goes) it is the movie theater marquee. I am particularly attracted to marquees in their more elaborately designed and outlandish incarnations, but I am also fond of photographs of marquees simply as a record of a moment in time when a particular film was out in the world. (One of my personal favorite Movie Poster of the Week posts was this examination of a 1930 photo of Times Square theater signs.)Over the past few years on Tumblr I have been collecting some of the best images of movie theater signage through the ages and today I am launching Movie Poster of the Day’s sister blog Movie Marquees. In Maggie Valentine’s The Show Starts on »
- Adrian Curry
Written by Andy Bellin
In Billy Wilder’s excellent 1951 drama Ace in the Hole, which is a classic showcase of media manipulation, ambitious city-slicker reporter Chuck Tatum (played by an enthusiastic Kirk Douglas) finds himself stuck in Albuquerque, New Mexico with hopes to find that one big story that will jettison him to the big-leagues again. Tatum lucks out when he is informed about a man trapped in a cave-in and uses this opportunity to break big. When Tatum’s photographer asks why this will make a big story, Tatum responds that it’s a “human interest” subject and that if you can get readers to sympathize with the narrative then you have the reader’s attention. But, he also elaborates that a human interest story has to focus on one person; if you focus on others involved with the story, »
- Christopher Koenig
8 items from 2015
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