Top Ten 1958

1. Vertigo
2. The Hidden Fortress
3. Auntie Mame
4. Touch Of Evil
5. Ivan The Terrible Part II
6. A Night To Remember
7. The Lovers
8. The Music Room
9. Ashes and Diamonds
10. The Inn of the Sixth Happiness


Obsessive love? Or just plain necrophilia? Either way these are hardly the character traits we attribute to the cinematic image of James Stewart, but Hitchcock in his trademark perversity had no trouble exploring the awshucks movie star’s dark side. Vertigo is the master’s masterpiece, and one of Stewart’s most delicate and complicated performances; it’s also the last time the director and star would work together. The following year Hitchcock would recast Stewart in North By Northwest, claiming that Vertigo’s failure at the box office was due to the actor’s encroaching age (it’s really because, quite frankly, audiences were simply not ready for this level of psychological depth in a Hitchcock thriller–perhaps even Hitchcock himself wasn’t ready for it yet).

Honour Roll: Alec Guinness, The Horse’s Mouth; Toshiro Mifune, The Hidden Fortress; Paul Newman, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof; Sidney Poitier, The Defiant Ones


The feminine gem of 1958 is Rosalind Russell and her light-hearted, campy but wise and responsible turn as Auntie Mame, everyone’s favourite relative. It’s a wickedly fun film that has a lot of witty, political subversion in its plotting. I love how she has such a silly good time redecorating her apartment with each season, but when the Depression hits she has no trouble understand the importance of tightening her belt and making sure to take good care of her nephew.

Honour Roll: Deborah Kerr, Separate Tables; Kim Novak, Vertigo; Elizabeth Taylor,Cat On A Hot Tin Roof; Gwen Verdon, Damn Yankees


I suppose he’s more famous now for singing “Silver And Gold” in Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, but did you know that Burl Ives was also an Oscar-winning actor? He gave two wonderfully larger-than-life, Burly performances in 1958, one as the overbearing father to a star-making Paul Newman in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, and the other as a ruthless rancher who will do anything to swindle Jean Simmons out of her property in The Big Country (the latter earned him the gold).

Honour Roll: Theodore Bikel, The Defiant Ones; Marcello Mastroianni, Big Deal On Madonna Street; Gig Young, Teacher’s Pet


Jeanne Moreau declared that the greatest gift that the French New Wave ever gave her was the opportunity to be herself. After years of heavy makeup and careful lighting to make her look more like a regular screen beauty, Louis Malle scrubbed off the paint in his breakthrough film (and one of the milestones of the movement), Elevator To The Gallows. While her lover struggles in an enclosed space and faces the possibility of suffering for his crime, Moreau wanders the streets of Paris with her haunted eyes and tired gait, creating the template for one of the most glamorous figures of the years to come.

Honour Roll: Janet Leigh, Touch Of Evil; Shirley MacLaine, The Matchmaker; Kay Walsh, The Horse’s Mouth


Alfred Hitchcock,Vertigo

Honour Roll: Akira Kurosawa, The Hidden Fortress; Louis Malle, The Lovers; Nicholas Ray, Party Girl; Orson Welles, Touch Of Evil