Blindspot Series 2016: Pickpocket (1959)

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As I mentioned last month, I hoped to start my own Blindspot Series in 2016: 12 classic films I’ve wanted to see but haven’t. I’m starting my series today with Pickpocket.

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Pickpocket (1959)
Directed by Robert Bresson
Produced by Agnès Delahaie
Screenplay by Robert Bresson
Cinematography by Léonce-Henri Burel
Edited by Raymond Lamy
(black-and-white; 1:16)
Hulu Plus streaming

I wonder what kind of direction Robert Bresson gave his actors. From what I gather, Bresson didn’t use professional actors and while that may have been trying at times, it was probably a stroke of genius. Did he just give them a situation and tell them things like “Behave like you think a pickpocket would behave just before attempting to lift a man’s wallet” or something like that? I have only seen  two of his films: this one and A Man Escaped (1956), which came right before Pickpocket. Both films have an almost documentary feel in places. Part of that is due to the “actors” and part is due to Bresson’s unconventional manner of filmmaking.

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Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957) John Huston

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Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)
Directed by John Huston
Produced by Buddy Alder, Eugene Frenke
Screenplay by John Lee Mahin, John Huston
Cinematography by Oswald Morris
Edited by Russell Lloyd
Music by Georges Auric
20th Century Fox
(color; 1:46)

The first seven minutes of John Huston’s Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison show an exhausted, haggard Robert Mitchum, bobbing up and down on a rubber raft, headed toward an island in the South Pacific in 1944. Upon reaching the shore, his physical turmoil might be over, but emotionally he’s in store for a real workout.

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Growing Up with Movies: Newspaper Ads and Other Movie-Nerd Activities

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If you ever saw this screen (or one very much like it) when you went to the movies, you’re either close to my age or your hometown theater held onto some really old promotional clips. I grew up watching most of my theatrical releases at The Town Theater in Forest, Mississippi in the 70s. (The excellent memoir Mississippi Sissy by Kevin Sessums – who also grew up in Forest and was a few grades ahead of me – has a fair amount to say about that movie house.) At the theater, they had, of course, the “Now Showing” and “Coming Attractions” posters, but they also had cool flyers, pocket-sized colored 8 1/2 x 11 pieces of paper folded, creating a nifty little booklet promoting the next four upcoming features. In my small town, they only showed R-rated movies Sunday through Wednesday and PG (GP back in the day) or G movies Thursday through Saturday. So with each of these flyers, kids my age would see two ads for movies we could actually see and two for movies we could only dream about seeing one day.

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