1957: Men in War (Anthony Mann)

Inspired by Dave Hicks’ excellent blog, I have decided to write about my favorite film for each year from 1926-2008.

I’m a fan of Anthony Mann. Already at least four or five of his movies have shown up in this countdown. He had an amazing eye for framing landscapes, and his method of working by removal rather than addition made him one of cinema’s ultimate simplifiers.

However, this entry from Mann feels different from anything else I’ve ever seen of his. Normally, Mann keeps you at a distance and his movies (at least his westerns from this period) move in a very beautiful but leisurely manner. However, if I remember correctly, Men in War immediately thrusts you into the action. It feels among the most real, and certainly among the most visceral, war movies ever made.

It has great characters and incredible tension, and if anyone wants to dispute Mann’s raw talent as a director, this is the first one I’d send their way.

What moviemakers can learn: Movies can be emotional and cerebral, and having a nice dose of both is always a good thing. But movies can also be visceral. Take a page from Mann’s book: Look at your moments and see if there is an opportunity to create a visceral scene or two.

Other contenders for 1957: This year, as with others, I still have a few things to see, including Nicholas Ray’s Bitter Victory and Douglas Sirk’s The Tarnished Angels. I really need to revisit Alexander Mackendrick’s Sweet Smell of Success, Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries and David Lean’s The Bridge on the River Kwai, as it’s been too long since I have seen them to know where they would place on this list. I really like Jacques Tourneur’s Nightfall, François Truffaut’s Les Mistons, Raoul Walsh’s ultra-bizarre Band of Angels, Hubert Cornfield’s Plunder Road and Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood. I love Bergman’s The Seventh Seal and Federico Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria, but my closest runner-up is Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory.

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.