Peeping Tom (1960)
Produced and directed by Michael Powell
Written by Leo Marks
Cinematography by Otto Heller
Edited by Noreen Ackland
Music by Brian Easdale
Studio Canal Vintage Classics/Optimum Home Entertainment 50th Anniversary Blu-ray (1:41)
(For more on the Blind Spot Series, please visit The Matinee.)
For many years, perhaps even as a child, I had heard of Peeping Tom discussed in hushed whispers among a handful of adults, although I’m not sure if any of them had actually seen the film, certainly not in central Mississippi where I grew up. It was never a film I had rigorously sought out, but the title (apart from the cultural phrase itself) drifted through the air from time to time, landing on my adolescent ears. Otherwise I knew little about the film, who starred in it, when it was released, and especially (to my disappointment) at what level of salaciousness it operated.
(To see more on the Blind Spot series, please visit The Matinee.)
I recently came to the realization that movie blind spots never entirely go away. The more films you see, the more films you realize you haven’t seen, especially those lesser-known or harder-to-find films you hear about, films that you make it your life’s quest to track down and see. All it takes is to listen to a movie podcast or two, read a book or two, and the quest begins again. If you continue down this treacherous road (as I frequently do), you find a few (or a few hundred, as the case may be) titles that you hear referenced over and over, films you really must see. I recently saw three such films, two from my unfinished 2016 list and one from my 2017 (which is nearly completed).
The Bad Seed (1956)
Directed and produced by Mervyn LeRoy
Screenplay by John Lee Mahin, based on a novel by William March and a play by Maxwell Anderson
Cinematography by Harold Rosson
Edited by Warren Low
Warner DVD (2:09)
The passage of fifty years can certainly lessen the impact of some movies once considered powerful at the time of their release. If any of the impact from a film’s initial run survives, there has to be something going for it. In many ways, the impact and power of The Bad Seed (1956) has certainly lessened. We’ve seen plenty of other evil children in the movies since 1956 (The Excorcist, The Omen, The Good Son, etc.) so watching one from 50 years ago may seem almost quaint. Yet Rhoda Penmark (Patty McCormack) still holds up as quite a hellion.
Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
Produced by Amato Pennasilico
Written by Michelangelo Antonioni, Elio Bartolini, Tonino Guerra
Cinematography by Aldo Scavarda
Edited by Eraldo Da Roma
Music by Giovanni Fusco
(For more about the Blind Spot series, please check out The Matinee.)
“Everything is becoming so hideously easy. Even forgetting pain.”
This line – delivered late in the film – summarizes what L’Avventura is all about. It is a revelatory line for the character who delivers it, a line that not only encapsulates everything about the film, but also barely scratches the surface of much bigger themes.
We’re only ten days into the new year and I’ve already seen at least five films that could be considered masterpieces. I’ve also knocked off two films from my Blind Spot 2017 series, one discussed here and another that I hope to write up soon.
Brief Encounter (1945)
Directed by David Lean
Written by Anthony Havelock-Allan, Ronald Neame, and David Lean
Based on the play Still Life by Noël Coward
Cinematography by Robert Krasker
Edited by Jack Harris
FilmStruck streaming (1:26)
(For more about the Blind Spot series, please check out The Matinee)
David Lean’s Brief Encounter is undeniably a great film, one that continues to resonate with audiences for many reasons: it depicts a forbidden romance, is superbly crafted, meticulously photographed, and refuses to descend to the level of sappy vapid romances that have plagued movies since their inception. Although the story is set in the prewar British suburbs of 1938, the film was released in November 1945, several months after the end of World War II. While Brief Encounter is not a film noir, it contains an undercurrent of dissatisfaction (in this case, with a marriage) and unease, elements that are common to both noir and the postwar era. The film also prompts us to examine our own lives, in effect asking – regardless of the differing mores of 1945 versus 2017 – “What would I do in a similar situation?” Brief Encounter hits us where we live.
Confession time: I utterly failed with my Blind Spot Series in 2016. Epic fail. Miserable. Terrible. Kick-me-out-of-the-classic-movie-lovers-club awful. But I’m here to make amends in 2017…