Harry Watt – West Of Zanzibar (1954)

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Plot Synopsis by Hal Erickson:
No relation to the 1928 Lon Chaney vehicle of the same name, the British West of Zanzibar was filmed on location in East Africa. Game ranger Bob Payton (Anthony Steel) makes it his mission in life to capture the head of a vicious ivory-smuggling racket. Payton tracks his quarry through some of the most treacherous passages of the Zanzibar territory. Despite such obstacles as crocodiles and rhinos, Steel finally corners the villain, who turns out to be. . . Well, the ending needn’t be spoiled here. The most fascinating aspect of West of Zanzibar is its accuracy in depicting native customs and values. Continue reading

Ingmar Bergman – Sommaren med Monika AKA Summer with Monika (1953)

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“Harry Lund, 19 years old, works at a stock-room for glass and porcelain. In the vicinity works 17 year old Monika at a stock-room for vegetables. Monika is a cheerful and happy young woman and when she sees Harry at a cafe she starts to talk with him. They fall in love with each other. Because of their age, they are both harassed at their respective places of work. Monika has an argument with her father and leaves her home, Harry has an argument with his boss and quits. Since they have nothing that ties them to the city, they take Harry’s small boat to the archipelago to be alone for a few weeks.” Continue reading

Vera Stroyeva – Boris Godunov (1954)

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quote from Amazon user: A complement I say, as this not being complete (well, I’d better say severely truncated) it cannot be your sole Boris in a collection; necessary I add, because it preserved a sizable portion of the title part, as portrayed by one of its foremost exponents ever, the great russian bass Alexander Pirogov. This incompleteness is only implied but not clearly stated in the disc’s box, which should advise would-be purchasers. So what you get is some kind of “extended highlights” of this, arguably the greatest of russian operas and certainly the most popular. It is a film by Vera Stroieva, made in 1954 as part of a project dear to soviet authorities of putting into film both the lives of Russia’s greatest artists and adaptations of their works, to “educate the masses” and of course not being entirely without some ideological hints (or rather more than mere hints). Continue reading

Frank Tashlin – Artists and Models (1955)

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Rick Todd uses the dreams of his roommate Eugene as the basis for a successful comic book.

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky wrote:
There’s a meaty essay to be written about the lengths to which modern-day Americans will go to distance themselves from Jerry Lewis. Lewis represents the unrefined tastes of some earlier era of moviegoing, explained away through pejorative references to “slapstick” and “the French.” (Never mind that Lewis was never as popular abroad as he was in the U.S.) The truth, of course, is that though Lewis produced his share of dross, the gold remains pretty damn funny, and the stuff that isn’t funny tends to be strange and formally audacious in a way Hollywood comedies rarely are. It’s possible to be turned off by Lewis’ mugging (which is fairly relentless) and still appreciate the command of style displayed by his best films, whether it’s the ones he directed himself, or his collaborations with cartoonist-turned-director Frank Tashlin. Continue reading

Nikos Koundouros – Magiki polis AKA The Magic City (1954)

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Quote:
Early 50s. Young director Nikos Koundouros debuts with Magic City. He is a 28 year old art school graduate that has already spent time imprisoned for political reasons in the infamous “Correctional Facility for Political Dissidents” on the island of Makronisos. The script is by Margarita Limberaki, a modernist playwright living in Paris [she will also write the script for Z. Dussen’s Phaedra (1961)].

The film takes place in Dourgouti (Δουργούτι), an impoverished area next to the centre of Athens, where slum-like immigrant housing was built during the 30s. Open sewers, laundry hanging from house to house, children playing, streets without asphalt; This outcast urban setting and the world that inhabits it has interesting parallels to Evdokia (Damianos, 1970). The area is introduced by a commentator who will never reappear in the film. His short appearance sets the scene of the drama, as in a Tragedy. Continue reading

Jean-Luc Godard – Une femme coquette (1955)

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Wikipedia
Une femme coquette (A Flirtatious Woman) (1955) is the first of four short fiction films made by Jean-Luc Godard preceding his work in feature-length film.
The short film is based on the story Le Signe (The Signal), by Guy de Maupassant. It is a nine-minute story of a woman who decides to copy the gesture she has seen a prostitute make to passing men. Then a young man responds.
In Maupassant’s original tale the scene takes place indoors, the woman having signaled from her window, but in Godard’s revision the characters meet by a bench on the Ile Rousseau in Geneva. Continue reading