Donen. Donen has a unique case here. He has one bright shining star of a film (Singin’ in the Rain– just missing my top 100 by an eyelash) that he wouldn’t be here without. The resume is a little light after that in some respects. He does not have another top 500 film of all-time or a top 100 film the decade in fact. However, he has a trademark look (vibrant use of color) and genre (usually musicals—6 of the 9 archiveable movies) – so there is an undeniable trademark and consistency there.

Best film:  Singin’ in the Rain. This is a great film and what Donen does with the camera during the title scene shouldn’t be underestimated—the choice to elevate the camera takes that scene, and the entire film, to another level.

the choice to elevate the camera takes that scene, and the entire film, to another level

total archiveable films: 9

top 100 films:  0

top 500 films:  1 (Singin’ in the Rain)

top 100 films of the decade:  1 (Singin’ in the Rain)

most overrated:  Singin’ in the Rain. The TSPDT consensus has it #12 and I’m at #102. They also have On the Town at #932 and I wouldn’t have it in my top 1000.

most underrated: I think it’s probably Charade though I don’t have much as Singin’ in the Rain is the only film I would for sure have in my top 1000.

gem I want to spotlight:  Charade. Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn make for a dynamic pairing (and that supporting cast is just as good Matthau, Coburn, George Kennedy) but it is the gorgeous photography and moments like this below that make it more than just a good time at the movies from an artistic standpoint.

a breathtaking shot from Charade

stylistic innovations/traits:  Donen’s use of color influenced Jacques Demy and Damien Chazelle for sure. The shots below from Funny Face and Indiscreet are showcases of an auteur with an eye for bold color pops and designing the background (he usually had great actors like Gene Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, and Cary Grant in the foreground). Production design, costume work are the strengths of Donen’s style but as I said above when talking about Singin’ in the Rain his could move the camera as well and, with his signature moment, gave us one of the best 3-4 crane shot camera movements in cinema history.

vibrant color in Funny Face (above) and Indiscreet (below)
clearly an influence on Demy and Chazelle

top 10

  1. Singin’ in the Rain
  2. Charade
  3. Funny Face
  4. On the Town
  5. Two for the Road
  6. Indiscreet
  7. Royal Wedding
  8. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
  9. It’s Always Fair Weather

By year and grades

1949- On the Town R
1951- Royal Wedding R
1952- Singin’ In the Rain MP
1954- Seven Brides for Seven Brothers R
1955- It’s Always Fair Weather R
1957- Funny Face R
1958- Indiscreet R
1963- Charade R
1967- Two For the Road

*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