- Black Narcissus
- Out Of The Past
- Body And Soul
- Odd Man Out
- The Bishop’s Wife
- Record Of A Tenement Gentleman
- Miracle on 34th Street
- Quai Des Orfevres
- The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty
After his stunning debut in Four Daughters, the short-lived John Garfield garnered critical acclaim for two films in 1947 and an Oscar nomination for one of them, the boxing drama Body And Soul. Later films like Champion, Somebody Up There Likes Me, Rocky and Raging Bull have eclipsed this one in filmgoers’ memories, but it is one of the very best boxing dramas ever made and Garfield is a standout.
My attention is held rapt for two straight hours in my favourite Powell-Pressburger film, their masterpiece Black Narcissus by Deborah Kerr plays the Sister Superior who realizes, too late, that all the confidence of her religion can’t help but be torn apart by the mysterious atmosphere of the east. Kerr would develop into a much finer actress in the years to come (she had just signed with MGM when this film was released), but even in her greener stages she is compelling and composed in the most bewitching way.
Crossfire is fascinating thriller, based on a novel about homophobia whose core issue was impossible for a movie in the forties but whose actual plot was perfect for the era of film noir thrillers. Turning the story into one about anti-semitism, Edward Dmytryk created a thriller that no dark B-movie of the fifties could exist without its precedence, partly because of the terrific performance by Robert Ryan as the bad guy who you couldn’t stop watching. The role was a breakthrough for Ryan, earning him his only ever career nomination and defining his persona from that point on: you knew you couldn’t trust him but good Lord you could never stop watching him.
Loretta Young’s charms in The Farmer’s Daughter are given ample support by a wonderful Ethel Barrymore as the mother of the congressman for whom Young works as a maid and who supports her climb up her own career path. Barrymore was then enjoying a flush few years as a movie crone, including an Oscar in 1944 followed by plum roles in films like The Paradine Case and, among her finest, Elia Kazan’s Pinky.
BIL’S BEST DIRECTOR
Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, Black Narcissus