best film: lola montes at the top spot here again means an ophuls film has been my choice for two times in three years. Lola Montes is a stylistic explosion and is far ahead of the rest of the films from 1955. Sarris called it the greatest film ever made. Sadly, at age 53 it would be ophuls last film as he would fall ill and die in 1957.
most underrated: preminger’s the man with the golden arm is not one of 20 movies from 1955 in top 1000 according to TSPDT. That’s astonishing. It’s Preminger at his brashest.
most overrated:. I actually have plenty in 1955. The TSPDT consensus has ordet at 33, night of the hunter at 43 and pather panchali at 57. I don’t have any of those in my top 250 at this point. Just by the loftier ranking, I’ll have to single out dreyer’s ordet as the single most overrated—but I’ve only seen it once. I’m excited to revisit and see what I’m missing.
gem I want to spotlight: kiss me deadly is a gloriously dingy and pulpy (no wonder it influenced Tarantino) atomic film noir that is Aldrich’s best film. A mismatch of art and entertainment that is absolutely lovely; a key noir.
trends and notables: 1955 doesn’t have multiple masterpieces but we have a whopping 45 total films in the archives which is the most by any single year to date and one of the top 5 highest amongst any year still as of 2017. 1955 is important because we have the first archiveable film of Stanley Kubrick with killer’s kiss. It is the straight debut from Satyajit Ray- certainly amongst the greatest debuts of all-time. On top of those two towering auteurs and their breakthroughs, we have a remarkable year for acting debuts. We have the arrival of James Dean. He would give us 2 of his 3 overall films, die on September 30th of 1955, and take the cinematic world by storm (also clearly influenced by clift and brando). Sidney Poitier would have his first archiveable film here in 1955 as would Peter Sellers, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Lemmon. Oddly enough it would also be Walter Matthew’s first archiveable film and of course he and lemmon would be compared and paired together forever. What an amazing year for firsts! Henry Fonda would end a 7 year absence from the silver screen (fort apache- he was doing theater work) to return for mister Roberts and get into a famous fight with john ford (where ford punched him in the face). Sadly they’d never work together again.
best performance male: It surprises me even now but I think Frank Sinatra gave the best performance of the year in the man with the golden arm. Sure, now in 2017, an actor playing a person with addiction is an easy Oscar-baiting target but Sinatra is deglamorized and raw here—a real performance. Right there with Sinatra and the twin performances by Dean in both rebel without a cause and east of eden. Dean’s per performance quality of acting average would never be matched by any other actor in cinema history (even by Cazale or Daniel Day Lewis). Robert Mitchum is equal to Sinata and Dean’s performances with his work in night of the hunter- truly one of the great villains of all time.
best performance female: It’s a down year here. Forced to pick I’m going to go with Martine Carol in the title performance in ophuls’ lola montes. Natalie Wood’s work in Ray’s rebel without a cause is historically underrated as is the understated performance for Katharine Hepburn in david lean’s summertime. Hepburn’s work here gives a restraint and range that you wouldn’t see in many of her other standout performances. It also clearly adds depth for her as well. My last two performances worth recognizing are Magnani (who won the Oscar) for her work in rose tattoo and Grace Kelly in one of her last roles playing the epitome of chic and yes- grace- in to catch a thief.
- Lola Montes
- The Night of the Hunter
- The Man with the Golden Arm
- Pather Panchali
- All that Heaven Allows
- Rebel Without a Cause
- Kiss Me Deadly
- East of Eden
Archives, Directors, and Grades
|All that Heaven Allows- Sirk||MS|
|Bad Day at Black Rock- P. Sturges||R|
|Blackboard Jungle-R. Brooks||R|
|Blood Alley- Wellman||R|
|Desperate Hours- Wyler||R|
|East of Eden- Kazan|
|Guys and Dolls- Manzewitz||R|
|IL Bidone- Fellini||R|
|It’s Always Fair Weather- Donen||R|
|Killer’s Kiss- Kubrick||R|
|Kiss Me Deadly- Aldrich||HR/MS|
|La Pointe Courte||R|
|Land of the Pharaohs- Hawks||R|
|Lola Montes- Ophuls||MP|
|Love Me or Leave Me||HR|
|Mister Roberts- Ford||R|
|Mr. Arkardin- Welles||R|
|Panther Pantachi- S. Ray||MS|
|Rebel Without a Cause- N. Ray||MS|
|Richard III- Olivier||R|
|Run For Cover- N. Ray|
|Smiles of a Summer Night- Bergman||HR|
|The Big Combo- Jo. Lewis||R|
|The Big Knife- Aldrich||R|
|The Far Country- A. Mann||R|
|The Indian Fighter||R|
|The Lady and the Tramp||R|
|The Ladykillers- Mackendrick||HR|
|The Man From Laramie- A. Mann||R/HR|
|The Man With the Golden Arm- Preminger||MS|
|The Night of the Hunter||MS|
|The Phenix City Story||R|
|The Rose Tattoo||R|
|The Seven Year Itch- Wilder||R|
|To Catch a Thief- Hitchcock||R|
|We’re No Angels- Curtiz||R|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives