All right, back into the fray...
NO WAY OUT (Joseph L. Mankiewicz) -- one of the first films to deal with racial discrimination directly. Comes on strong with its message, but doesn't pull any punches when it comes to bigotry or violence. Notable for giving Sidney Poitier his first starring role. I thought Richard Widmark misfired a bit in his role as the bigot, but I've seen his performance praised elsewhere. Will caution that it's not really the noir it's made to be despite some swank photography. More of a social message, 50s melodrama. Probably more interesting as a pioneering film than a timeless classic.
THE HARDER THEY FALL (Mark Robson) -- Bogie's last film before he died and not a bad one to go out on. Boxing melodramas suit the film noir style to a tee and this one uses the Primo Camera scandal to expose the sordid underbelly of prizefighting. Bogie plays an out of work sportswriter hired by a bent promoter, Rod Steiger, to put over an Argentinian lump whose fights Steiger is fixing to create a draw card. Wrestling fans ought to identify with that immediately and Camera himself went into wrestling as I'm sure a few of you are aware. The contrast between Bogie and Steiger's acting styles is intensely fascinating whenever they're on screen together.
ATTACK (Robert Aldrich) -- I can't remember if I wrote about this on the old board, but a Robert Aldrich war film with Lee Marvin and Jack Palace? Totally B grade and doesn't really click, but fuck it if Palace doesn't have some cheesy monologues and he takes on a tank all by himself. Check out the trailer:
MURDER BY CONTRACT (Irving Lerner) -- existential hitman noir that's like French New Wave before the French New Wave. This was really fucking cool. Awesome soundtrack, awesome low budget, quirky noir. You must check this out.
MISTER ROBERTS (John Ford and Mervyn LeRoy) -- this is kind of disappointing given the cast of Henry Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell and Jack Lemmon, but once you get over that it's a decent enough story of life on a US Navy cargo ship during the waning days of the war. As a comedy-drama it didn't really hit all the buttons for me and how much you enjoy it depends on how much you like a really Henry Fonda, Henry Fonda performance, but It was pretty harmless and the ending was effective if not completely Hollywood-ish.
DEVDAS (Bimal Roy) -- continuing my journey through classic Bollywood. This was long. It took me a couple of weeks to finish it, to be honest, as I watched it in chunks. Probably the most interesting thing about 50s Bollywood is how unimportant the songs are compared to what Bollywood would become. This was more like classic Hollywood drama with a real focus on literary adaptions. The story here didn't really move me much, but the photography was gorgeous.
ASHES AND DIAMONDS (Andrzej Wajda) -- I watched this a long time ago when I was first introduced to foreign films through Bergman and Kurosawa and so on. Decided it needed a rewatch since I was wondering if it was top 10. I was kind of torn on this. It's interesting and exquisitely shot given the space it uses to tell its story, but without really understanding how the Polish people felt at the end of the war a lot of the prevailing sentiments were lost on me and the main relationship was Hiroshima Mon Amour in its distance and aloofness from the audience. But I still really liked it. That's a good thing, I guess.