Albert Lamorisse – Le ballon rouge AKA The Red Balloon (1956)

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Quote:
The story of a boy and his toy, The Red Balloon is widely praised for its narrative and visual “purity,” but not enough is said about the movie’s delightful manipulation. A quasi-silent comedy with musical cues straight out of the Charlie Chaplin tradition, Albert Lamorisse’s film plays a game with its audience, just as the little boy (Pascal Lamorisse) and his glowing red orb cling to, fall away from, and chase each other throughout the 34-minute running time. With its many stairs and sloping alleyways, the blue-gray Ménilmontant neighborhood of Paris is like a maze, constantly threatening to come in between the boy and his new pal, but like a magnet or a dog starved for attention, the balloon always comes back to him. He lets go of it on his apartment balcony and watches it fall to him downstairs. He directs it to “wait here” while he buys a treat at the local bakery. A group of neighborhood bullies chase the balloon through a perilously narrow corridor, throwing rocks as it tries to escape. The honeymoon is short-lived, but Lamorisse suggests that kids are always keenly attuned to the objects of the world around them: After the boy loses his red friend, a montage of balloons across the city shows them flying to his side and, in the final shot, launching him into the sky. For Lamorisse, then, the pleasures of childhood are as fleeting as they are ecstatic. Continue reading

Aage Wiltrup – Lyntoget AKA Bullet Train (1951)

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Synopsis:
‘A dangerous prison escapee, a young Jutland woman and a bank clerk, who has just deprived his employer of some cash and is now headed abroad, meet on a lyntog (literally “lightning train”) from Arhus to Copenhagen. The prison escaper tries to deprive the bank clerk of what he’s carrying.’
– penseur Continue reading

Georg Wilhelm Pabst – Das Bekenntnis der Ina Kahr AKA The Confession of Ina Kahr (1954)

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Synopsis:
‘Told in flashback, the film recounts the events leading up to the killing of good-for-nothing Curt Jurgens. Warned by her friends and relatives that Jurgens is a bad job, impulsive Ina Kahr marries him anyway. His ceaseless philandering and abuse wears away at Ina to the point that she contemplates poisoning her husband…’
– MRQE Continue reading

Roberto Rossellini – Era notte a Roma AKA It Was Night in Rome [Long ver.] (1960)

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Quote:
In keeping with his previous film Il generale Della Rovere, filmmaker Roberto Rossellini pursues a wartime theme in this “personal epic” Era notte a Roma.
The film is set in Rome during the German occupation after the armistice on 8 September 1943.
The story concerns three Allied POWS, who escape from their camp and hide out in Rome. The trio is given shelter and aid by a beautiful young woman who deals with black market disguised as a nun, her partisan boyfriend and several other people.
The three prisoners (one is Russian, one English, one American) display a genuine warmth towards each other that probably is meant to reflect the three countries’ joint effort against Nazi Germany.
Just as the variety of Italians involved in their protection as well as in their pursuit seems to be meant to reflect the chaos and mistrust reigning in those dark days. Acts of courage alternate with acts of treachery.
For reasons that remain obscure, Era Notte a Roma was never initially given a widespread American release. Continue reading

Shûe Matsubayashi & Hugo Grimaldi – Hawai Middowei daikaikûsen: Taiheiyô no arashi AKA Storm Over the Pacific AKA I Bombed Pearl Harbor (1960)

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Synopsis:
On December 1, 1941, a Japanese fleet of 30 warships sails for Hawaii; when diplomatic negotiations in Washington fail, the task force commander, Adm. Isoroku Yamaguchi, receives orders to attack Pearl Harbor. Following the devastating aerial assault on December 7, flight navigator Koji Kitami returns to Japan and Keiko, his childhood sweetheart. Although deeply in love with the young woman, Koji fears that marriage will make him less worthy as a naval officer. During the next few months, he participates in many successful raids on U. S. and British ships and planes, but during the battle at Midway he becomes less certain of the invincibility of the Japanese fleet. While he is aboard the carrier Hiryu , the vessel is attacked by U. S. dive bombers and badly damaged. Officers order the ship abandoned, but rather than leave it as a prize of war, a Japanese destroyer is given instructions to sink the carrier. As the Hiryu goes down, Koji and others give a final salute.
— TCM.com Continue reading