- Sweet Smell Of Success
- Wild Strawberries
- Throne Of Blood
- Nights Of Cabiria
- Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison
- Mother India
- The Seventh Seal
- 12 Angry Men
- The Cranes Are Flying
The most exciting and vital performance of the year comes from the scrappy Tony Curtis as the reporter with dubious morals in Alexander Mackendrick’s superb The Sweet Smell Of Success.
Federico Fellini had one of the most successful careers of any non-American director in the history of cinema, particularly for one who never made a single film in English. One of the jewels of his oeuvre is Nights Of Cabiria, in which the director gave his wife Giulietta Masina her most plum role as a feisty, optimistic and strangely asexual prostitute whose faith and hope constantly lead to her downfall. Oscar was yet to show much interest in non-English performances (even though the film won the award for Best Foreign-Language film, Fellini’s 2nd of a still-held record of 4), but she was justifiably touted at Cannes with a prize for her work.
Bring Lee J. Cobb back in to do his shouting and screaming and he once again gives a film such an injection of life. Twelve Angry Men features twelve terrific performances, the angriest being Cobb as a juror whose frustrations with his own personal life prevent his being impartial in his judgment of the young man on trial.
Funny Face is a silly distraction, mainly an excuse to sing Gershwin songs and watch Audrey Hepburn being gorgeous while swishing around in beautiful Givenchy dresses (and, inexplicably, giving her romantically to an aged Fred Astaire). One point of great inspiration, it has, however, is Kay Thompson‘s hilarious turn as the fashion magazine editor who encourages her readers to “Think Pink!” Thompson had quite the varied career as writer (including the “Eloise” stories), singing coach (to Judy Garland, among others) and sometimes actress, and Stanley Donen’s colourfully splashy musical is the best opportunity she had for the last of those talents.
John Huston is probably most famous for tough guy movies like The Maltese Falcon and The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, but he actually had a highly varied career that included adventures, comedies, a musical (Annie–yikes!) and literary adaptations. Somewhere between gung-ho war movies and female dramas was one of his most intelligent and sensitive films, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, about the unlikely romance between a grizzled soldier (Robert Mitchum) and a nun (Deborah Kerr) on a Pacific Island. It’s basically a reworking of African Queen, but it’s better.