Inspired by Dave Hicks’ excellent blog, I have decided to write about my favorite film for each year from 1926-2008.
1950: In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray)
This is one I didn’t see for the first time until about five years ago. When I finally got around to it, I wondered what the hell had taken me so long.
Like Double Indemnity and Out of the Past, In a Lonely Place is film noir of the highest order, with an incredible script, great acting, plot twists, wonderful direction and social commentary—a movie that fires on all cylinders.
I like art films that challenge more than they entertain, and I like mainstream movies that entertain more than they challenge. But most of all I like movies that challenge and entertain, by working vertically (depth) and horizontally (story charging ahead) at the same time.
Like almost everything else related to art, each audience member has their own opinion on whether a movie achieves this ideal mix. But when I watch In a Lonely Place I think I’m getting everything I could ever want in a movie. It’s mysterious, heartbreaking, scary, fun, sexy, beautiful, sensitive and smart.
What moviemakers can learn: Sometimes an urban setting can be your strongest character. Look at how Ray uses Los Angeles in this movie; it’s one of the best and expressive uses of the city in the history of the medium.
Other contenders for 1950: As with other years, I have gaps here that I still need to fill. These include Michael Curtiz’s The Breaking Point, Michael Powell’s Gone to Earth and Henry King’s The Gunfighter. At some point I need to revisit All About Eve, Sunset Boulevard and Joseph Lewis’ Gun Crazy, as none of them had the impact I expected upon first viewing. Meanwhile, there are a good number of films from this year that I do love. I’ll break them into two tiers: Films I love and films that are the closest runners-up. In the first group are Luis Buñuel’s Los Olvidados, Roberto Rossellini’s The Flowers of St. Francis and John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle. My closest runners-up, meanwhile, are all among my favorite films of all time: Jacques Tourneur’s Stars in My Crown, Anthony Mann’s Winchester ’73, Rossellini’s Stromboli and Jules Dassin’s Night and the City.
After living in Los Angeles for seven years, Jeffrey Goodman returned to his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana to direct The Last Lullaby. Co-written by the creator of Road to Perdition, and starring Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander, The Last Lullaby was filmed entirely in and around Shreveport and financed by 48 local investors. Goodman is now at work, raising money for his next feature, Peril.