Inspired by Dave Hicks’ excellent blog, I have decided to write about my favorite film for each year from 1926-2008.
1954: The Barefoot Contessa (Joseph Mankiewicz)
I’m not sure I’ve met anyone who likes this movie as much as I do. I wish that weren’t the case, but what can you do?
I mentioned in an earlier post that two of my favorite themes on screen are friendship and loyalty, and those are what really get to me in The Barefoot Contessa. It’s the friendship that Humphrey Bogart shows Ava Gardner, and his loyalty towards her, that I find so deep and moving. In fact, it’s probably my favorite purely platonic male-female relationship in the history of film.
It’s Humphrey at the end of his career, wise and settled in a very powerful way, and Ava Gardner, whom I think is as beautiful as anyone I’ve ever seen. Also of note are the colors and the grand sense of tragedy that Mankiewicz creates around it all.
This is another one I’d take on a desert island with me. It would be a great one to have, too! If a stranger shows up, they probably wouldn’t even want it.
What moviemakers can learn: Look to cast against type. Here Mankiewicz takes Bogart, one of cinema’s most famous tough guys, and by having him play a wise, caring older man, gives him one of his most memorable roles.
Other contenders for 1954: A year, like any other, where I still have some things I need to see. These include: Luis Buñuel’s Wuthering Heights, Richard Quine’s Drive a Crooked Road, Nicholas Ray’s Johnny Guitar and Josef von Sternberg’s The Saga of Anatahan. I need to rewatch Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, as it’s been too long since I’ve seen it to know where it would place on a favorites list. Even with all these gaps, there are still some films to mention. I really like Otto Preminger’s River of No Return and Anthony Mann’s The Far Country. I love Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront, George Cukor’s A Star Is Born and Jacques Becker’s Touchez pas au grisbi, but my closest runner-up is Roberto Rossellini’s Journey to Italy.
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.