Raymond Bailly – L’étrange Monsieur Steve AKA Mr. Steve (1957)

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Synopsis:
‘Georges Villard is a modest bank employee who dreams of earning more money so that he can live more comfortably. When Monsieur Steve offers him a chance to do just that he accepts without a moment’s hesitation, partly because he wants to be near to Steve’s woman, Florence. However, Georges knows there will be a catch: what Steve wants is help to rob the bank where he works. When Georges refuses, he realises that his life is now in danger…’
– James Travers, Willems Henri Continue reading

Various – This Is Cinerama (1952)

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On the evening of September 30, 1952, the shape and sound of movies changed forever with the introduction of Cinerama. This unique widescreen process was launched when television was deemed as a major threat to US film exhibition. Fred Waller, Cinerama’s creator, had indeed labored that long on his dream of a motion picture experience that would recreate the full range of human vision. It used three cameras and three projectors on a curved screen 146° deep. In celebration of the 60th Anniversary of its premiere, Flicker Alley is proud to present THIS IS CINERAMA, exactly as seen by over 20,000,000 viewers in its original roadshow version. You will travel around the world with Cinerama, from Venice to Madrid, from Edinburgh Castle to the La Scala opera house in Milan, and concluding with a flight across America in the nose of a B-25 bomber. Continue reading

Don Siegel – Count the Hours (1953)

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SYNOPSIS: A defense lawyer risks his career to expose a killer no one else believes exists in this tense noir thriller.

When a farmer and his housekeeper are murdered by an intruder, the police arrest George Braden (John Craven), a hired hand who confesses to spare his pregnant wife Ellen (Teresa Wright) the stress of interrogation. Angering the tight-knit community by agreeing to defend the accused, attorney Doug Madison ( Macdonald Carey) tries but loses the case, and Braden is sentenced to die. With time running out and the execution just hours away, Madison races the clock to find the real killer and prove his client’s innocence. Eerily anticipating the 1959 killings that would later inspire In Cold Blood, Count the Hours was shot by John Alton, an Oscar-winning cinematographer whose credits include the classic noirs He Walked by Night, Raw Deal and T-Men. Continue reading

Federico Fellini – La Strada AKA The Road (1954)

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Quote:
La Strada is Federico Fellini’s moving masterpiece that explores the soul’s eternal conflict between the heart and mind. Zampano (Anthony Quinn) is a cruel, traveling carnival strongman who buys his assistant, a simple minded young woman named Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina), from her poverty-stricken family. Gelsomina is innocent and childlike (Masina’s exquisite performance is as comic as it is heartbreaking). She does Zampano’s bidding without question or resistance, even though he is abusive to her. He abandons her in the street to spend the night with a woman. He lashes her with a tree branch when she misquotes her introductory lines. He forces her to steal from a convent. Yet, she remains faithful and uncomplaining. Continue reading

Jerzy Kawalerowicz – Pociag AKA Night Train (1959)

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Quote:
Two strangers, Jerzy (Leon Niemczyk) and Marta (Lucyna Winnicka), accidentally end up holding tickets for the same sleeping chamber on an overnight train to the Baltic Sea coast. While handsome, well dressed and rather laconic, Jerzy seems ill at ease, while Marta is not talkative and would prefer to be alone. Staszek (Zbigniew Cybulski) is a student and Marta’s spurned lover, and will not leave her alone. When the police enter the train in search of a murderer on the lam, rumors fly and everything seems to point toward one of the main characters as the culprit. [spoiler removed from quote] Continue reading

Tadeusz Konwicki – Ostatni dzien lata AKA The Last Day of Summer (1958)

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Quote:
There is something vaguely mythical to the manner in which Konwicki introduces his characters, both to us and to each other, lapped as much by the ethereal eeriness of the score as by the seaside winds that send their hair aflutter. When they tend to speak to each other in whispers, it seems almost out of respect for the otherworldly aura of their locale, as though it is to their eyes as improbably beautiful as Konwicki’s camera renders it to us. They—referred to in the credits only as “He” and “She”, mysterious and mythical in themselves—do not whisper much; there’s a clear silent heritage at work here, conferring meaning to the motion of faces and the movement of the camera along this spectral shore. Continue reading

Ritwik Ghatak – Meghe Dhaka Tara AKA The Cloud-Caped Star (1960)

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Quote:
In an impoverished refugee village in Calcutta, an attractive and industrious young woman, Nita (Supriya Choudhury), breaks a sandal while passing through the market square, and without complaining, continues barefoot on the graveled street, unable to buy a replacement pair of sandals for the walk home. Patently aware that Nita has received her monthly salary, her talented, but indolent older brother Shankar (Anil Chatterjee) pays an unexpected visit, and encountering Nita absorbed in reading a personal letter from a suitor named Sanat (Niranjan Ray), playfully snatches the note and reads aloud its affectionate contents, before asking her for spending money. Meanwhile her younger sister, Gita (Gita Ghatak) and brother Mantu (Dwiju Bhawal) brazenly plead with their desperate and resourceless mother (Gita De) for new articles of clothing, before re-directing their vain and selfish entreaties to Nita. Having spent her entire salary on her burdensome, coddled siblings, her embittered and insecure mother then vociferously complains to her father (Bijon Bhattacharya), an underemployed school teacher, that Nita has squandered the monthly household budget. Bound by a selfless sense of familial duty, Nita has decided to postpone her marriage to Sanat until Shankar realizes his ambition to become a classical singer. However, as Nita perseveres in her sacrifice for her ungrateful and demanding family, her own prospects for happiness proves ever increasingly bleak. Continue reading