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Limiting myself to one film per director (and listing them chronologically) my favorites are:
THE PAINTED LADY (1912)
THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC (1928)
UN CHIEN ANDALOU (1929)
ONE HOUR WITH YOU (1932)
THE AWFUL TRUTH (1937)
MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939)
THE RULES OF THE GAME (1939)
CITIZEN KANE (1941)
THE LADY EVE (1941)
MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944)
OPEN CITY (1945)
THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946)
LATE SPRING (1949)
THE THIRD MAN (1949)
ALL ABOUT EVE (1950)
MADAME DE... (1953)
SANSHO DAYU (1954)
SEVEN SAMURAI (1954)
NIGHT AND FOG (1955)
PATHER PANCHALI (1955)
A MAN ESCAPED (1956)
THE 400 BLOWS (1959)
THE INNOCENTS (1961)
8 1/2 (1963)
ANDREI RUBLEV (1966)
HIGH SCHOOL (1968)
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)
ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968)
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)
THE CONFORMIST (1970)
MEAN STREETS (1973)
THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE (1973)
ALI - FEAR EATS THE SOUL (1974)
ANNIE HALL (1977)
3 WOMEN (1977)
GATES OF HEAVEN (1978)
BLUE VELVET (1986)
A ROOM WITH A VIEW (1986)
DEAD RINGERS (1988)
THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING (1988)
THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE & HER LOVER (1989)
THE PIANO (1993)
PULP FICTION (1994)
THE GLEANERS AND I (2000)
IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (2000)
YI YI (2000)
LATE MARRIAGE (2001)
TALK TO HER (2002)
One Hour with You (1932)
One of the great films of the 1930's -- why isn't this available on DVD??
I first saw ONE HOUR WITH YOU (1932) one magical evening in the summer of 1987. I was 19 years old; I ditched work, and drove up to UCLA on the strength of an LA Times blurb. I knew very little about Lubitsch, and had pre-conceived notions about MacDonald and Chevalier. ONE HOUR WITH YOU was one half of a perfect double bill that night with Mamoulian's fantastic LOVE ME TONIGHT (also from 1932). Both films blew me away: they have the special, magical glow of other great Paramount films from that era; the humor is racy and modern; the songs are memorable and funny; and the playing by everyone is exquisite. I've always thought of that night as being one of the best nights at the movies that I've ever had. Both films are enchanting -- I can still remember people running to talk to each other after the screenings of how much they loved them... The audience's joy was palpable throughout.
Of course, as time has past, I've caught up with the rest of Lubitsch's work -- but this film for me is the tops. (TROUBLE IN PARADISE comes a very close second.) Jeannette MacDonald for me was such a revelation. She's both knowing and naive, sexy and sweet... her final confrontation with Chevalier ("...if you're a Don Juan... than I'm a Cleopatra!") is really extraordinary: she utterly transforms herself from a mousy housewife to a believably sexy and silly siren within the span of a few seconds. (Her performance here is similar to that of Mia Farrow's performance in ALICE (1990), when Farrow first comes on to Joe Mantegna's character...) Genevieve Tobin also deserves mention as the sexually insatiable Mitzi. Her first encounter with Chevalier where she is coming on to him in the back of the tax cab ("Let's put our newspapers away and let us face that facts!") is a fantastic bit of acting. And of course Maurice Chevalier is wonderful as the doctor. I especially love his shocked, mock-horror expressions when his two women are whispering to each other, looking at him ("He can...?" "No..." "I tell you he can!")
The film is interesting also for being an early musical, before the genre had the defining imprint of Busby Berkeley and Fred Astaire . It's a musical-comedy hybrid, and as such -- there's no other musical out there like it: the film employs rhyming verse, MacDonald's operatic trilling, playful double-entendres, and Chavalier's directly-addressing the audience. No musical numbers per se (in the traditional sense), but a barrage of musical elements that make this film unique.
The only time this film has been released on home video was in 1997 when Universal briefly released a laserdisc box set called "The Lubitsch Touch," along with other classics, such as THE LOVE PARADE (1929), MONTE CARLO (1930), THE SMILING LIEUTENANT (1931), and DESIGN FOR LIVING (1933). Universal needs to get on the stick and release this on DVD! Even though this film was nominated for Best Picture of 1931/32, it's barely known today. Lubitsch's TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1932) and Mamoulian's LOVE ME TONIGHT are revived more often than this. One reason for this critical oversight might hinge on the film's authorship: George Cukor began the film directing from Lubitsch's own ructions, only later to be replaced by Lubitsch himself, mid-way through the production. Cukor took Lubitsch to court and ultimately won a co-directing credit -- though it's next to impossible to tell who directed what: it's Lubitsch's picture, without a doubt.
Being such a huge fan of a film most people haven't seen or heard of has led me to one special meeting with a fellow enthusiast of ONE HOUR WITH YOU: I was working at a poster shop in San Francisco, selling some film posters to David Packard who owns the Stanford Theater in Palo Alto. His was going to be showing ONE HOUR WITH YOU in the upcoming month, and I mentioned to that it might be my favorite American film. He said (or sung to me): "Me too! Why don't we start singing right now!?" (And then he broke into a few bars of "Oh, That Mitzi!") He said that it was one of his all-time favorites, and also told me that he feels that it's his duty to show every person he knows or lives in the Bay area ONE HOUR WITH YOU before he dies!~ I wish that Universal Home Video felt the same way!
A Fine State This Is (2003)
Why isn't this film available on video???
I'm not sure if the filmmaker or other people involved with this film will read this -- but: with the success that this film at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, where it won Best Doc, why has no one picked this up for home video? This is a fantastic film, and I know there are so many this could touch and help....
Anyway -- I would just like more people to have an opportunity to see this.
At the screening we saw of this, both the director and Deborah Fargo (am I spelling this correctly?) were there and I found both of them very inspiring.
Does anyone have any info??? thanks, Matt
A rarely-seen masterpiece that deserves an audience.
I think "Menilmontant" is one of the great masterpieces of the silent era, and upon reading the comments posted, felt that it needed a little support. (If for nothing else than to encourage other people to seek it out, if not on video -- currently the only videos of this film have copied it at the wrong projection, thereby cranking up the film's speed and changing the running time from approximately 35 to 20 mins. -- than at a local museum or revival house; at least until someone puts out a definitive copy on video or DVD.)
Dimitri Kirsanoff's film centers on two young country girls who flee to the city after their parents are brutally murdered (we are given very few details as to who did this or why). The film's narrative is very sketchy, as there are no intertitles, and the two girls have similar features and are dressed similarly throughout most of the film. One of the girls, played by the wonderful Nadia Sibirskaia (Kirsanoff's wife), goes off with a man while her sister stays home in their tenement. When she returns home she soon has a baby, and her sister goes off (presumably as a prostitute) with the man. Sibirskaia presumably becomes homeless until she is ultimately reunited with her sister. The man they went away with earlier shows up again, only to be killed by a random criminal.
The film's slim and fragmented plot does nothing to convey the extraordinary and evocative world Kirsanoff creates through a barrage of disparate techniques lifted from German expressionism, Soviet montage, Hollywood melodrama, and the French avant-garde. The opening massacre is shown through a rapid Eisenstein-inspired montage; the compression of time and dreamlike waywardness of the girls' journey is presented through a series of lap dissolves; and the wintry, desolate atmosphere of Menilmontant (a poor, working class district on the eastern edge of Paris) is conveyed by an impressionistic use of documentary footage.
The film's most celebrated sequence occurs while Sibirskaia is wandering destitute on the streets of Paris (after contemplating drowning herself and her baby). Alone at night on a park bench, the young mother is cold and hungry, when an old man with a cane sits down on the bench next to her. The old man quietly shares some of his bread with her (never looking at her, he only lays the scraps and pieces on the bench separating them). The desperate girl tearfully accepts the food, and smiles, though the man barely looks her way. It's an extraordinarily sad and moving sequence that has echoes of Chaplin, but without that comedian's maudlin approach to sentiment. Sibirskaia's performance here is wonderfully nuanced and naturalistic -- there's very little of the histrionics usually associated with much silent film acting -- and she possesses a face that rivals Lillian Gish. The only comparable sequence I can think of is in Ozu's great 1935 silent film, An Inn in Tokyo.
In spite of its short length, this a film overflowing with riches. It ranks with the best films of any year.