• Karl Hartl – Mozart AKA The Life and Loves of Mozart (1955)

    1951-1960AustraliaDramaKarl HartlMusical

    If you agonized through “Amadeus”, cringing at the depiction of a giggling buffoon and his featherbrained Constanze, shuddering at the underlying premise that God gave the gift to the wrong man for reasons we just can’t understand, then this film may provide you with a pleasant antidote. Filmed in 1955, probably in anticipation of the bicentenary of his birth, it gives a totally different view of the composer, and recreates the last year of his life on a more intimate anti-blockbuster scale. But though it is an engaging effort with many fine points, it doesn’t succeed in redeeming Mozart from the fictions of Milos Forman’s travesty, because it is itself a fictionalization that distorts in its own way the character of the composer.Read More »

  • Ken Hughes – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

    1961-1970ComedyKen HughesMusicalUnited Kingdom

    While truant from school, young siblings Jeremy and Jemima meet the beautiful Truly Scrumptious (Sally Ann Howes), who falls for their widowed father, Caractacus Potts (Dick Van Dyke), and his various oddball inventions, including the family’s noisy rebuilt car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. One day at the beach, Caractacus tells Truly and the children a fanciful fable about the villainous Baron Bomburst (Gert Frobe) and his evil designs on the Potts family car.Read More »

  • Fritz Lang – You and Me (1938)

    1931-1940Film NoirFritz LangMusicalUSA

    The last installment of Lang’s “social trilogy,” You and Me (preceded by Fury and You Only Live Once) was an ambitious experiment but ultimately a box-office failure. A studied attempt to craft a socially conscious satire in the tradition of Brecht’s didactic plays, the film—produced by Lang himself for Paramount—presents the story of a progressive department-store owner who employs ex-convicts, some of whom have not quite reformed. Although Lang’s directorial sleight of hand is visible everywhere, the film slips between the registers of drama and comedy in ways that may have perplexed contemporary audiences.Read More »

  • Hui Shi – Tian xian pei AKA Fairy Couple (1955)

    1951-1960ChinaHui ShiMusicalRomance

    Based on the legendary story of Dong Yong and the Seventh Fairy Princess, Marriage of the Fairy Princess is a retelling of how a celestial maiden spies a dutiful young man and, taking pity on him, flies down from heaven and helps him pay back his debt to the local landlord. But their happy relationship is doomed when the Emperor of Heaven discovers his daughter’s absence.Read More »

  • Charles Walters – Spreadin’ the Jam (1945)

    1941-1950Charles WaltersMusicalShort FilmUSA

    A young woman who is unable to pay her rent gets some unexpected help when the other tenants throw a last-minute rent party in her apartment. In the process, they all charm the landlady out of a year’s rent. The entire story is told in song (swing music) and dance (Jitterbug, Lindy Hop etc.).Read More »

  • Becoming Traviata – Traviata et nous AKA Becoming Traviata (2012)

    2011-2020Becoming TraviataDocumentaryFranceMusical

    Natalie Dessay prepares to take on the role of Violetta in this documentary about the staging of Verdi’s masterwork at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in France.Read More »

  • Jirí Menzel – Zlocin v santánu aka Crime in the Night Club (1968)

    1961-1970CrimeCzech RepublicJirí MenzelMusical

    The charming singer Clara Regina has many admirers. Even the minister of justice fights for her favour, especially enchanted by Clara’s lullaby. Clara’s successes with men are watched with displeasure by her jealous husband, Ikaro Volante. The minister sends a bouquet and a pearl necklace to the singer. The juggler Piterman steals the pearls but frames her shy assistant Pepícek, who, along with inexperienced defence lawyer Vilém Bojanovský, falls victim to blind justice in an unfair world full of intrigue… The form of this outwardly noncommittal crime musical, featuring the songs of Šlitr and Suchý, is influenced by the dark atmosphere that pervaded society after the Prague Spring efforts at reform were crushed in August 1968: the two convicts, performed by this duo from Prague’s Semafor theatre, can now do nothing but sing.Read More »

  • Mark Robson – Valley of the Dolls (1967) (HD)

    1961-1970CampMark RobsonMusicalUSA

    Cutthroat careerism, wild sex, and fierce female protagonists are all on offer in this adaptation of Jacqueline Susann’s sensational and wildly popular novel. Patty Duke, Barbara Parkins, and Sharon Tate star as three friends attempting to navigate the glamorous, pressurized world of big-time show business—the “valley” is not a place but a narcotized state of mind, and the “dolls” are the pills that rouse them in the morning and knock them out at night. Blending old-fashioned gloss with Madison Avenue grooviness, director Mark Robson’s slick look at the early days of sexual liberation and an entertainment industry coming apart was a giant box-office hit, and has become an unforgettably campy time capsule of the 1960s.Read More »

  • Alberto Cavalcanti – Herr Puntila und sein Knecht Matti AKA Herr Puntila and his Servant Matti (1960)

    1951-1960Alberto CavalcantiComedyGermanyMusical

    This first film adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s play about class distinctions was made in 1955 in the Vienna Rosenhügel studios, but it was only premiered five years later. Curt Bois plays the rich capitalist Puntila who only becomes somewhat agreeable when he is drunk (which he is most of the time in this film). In his inebriated state, Puntila not only gets amorously involved with three different ladies but also suggests that his daughter Eva marries his chauffeur Matti. The chauffeur, however, doesn’t really agree…Read More »

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