#82 Sunrise

Sunrise is included in this set.

Studio Classics - Best Picture Collection (Sunrise / How Green Was My Valley / Gentleman's Agreement / All About Eve)

Sunrise (1927)
There are those who rate Sunrise the greatest of all silent films. Then again, some consider it the finest film from any era. Such claims invite a backlash, but do yourself a favor and give it a look. At the very least, you'll know you've seen a movie of extraordinary visual beauty and emotional purity. This universal tale of a farm couple's journey from country to city and back again was the first American film for F.W. Murnau, the German director of Nosferatu and The Last Laugh whose everyday scenes seemed haunted by phantoms and whose most extravagant visions never lost touch with reality. Hollywood afforded him the technical resources to unleash his imagination, and in turn he opened up the power of camera movement and composition for a generation of American filmmakers. You'll never forget the walk in the swamp, the ripples on the lake, the trolley ride from forest to metropolis. This movie defines the cinema. --Richard T. Jameson

How Green Was My Valley (1941)
John Ford's beautiful, heartfelt drama about a close-knit family of Welsh coal miners is one of the greatest films of Hollywood's golden age--a gentle masterpiece that beat Citizen Kane in the Best Picture race for the 1941 Academy Awards. The picture also won Oscars for Best Director (Ford), Best Supporting Actor (Donald Crisp), Best Art Direction, and Best Cinematography; all of those awards were richly deserved, even if they came at the expense of Kane and Orson Welles. Based on the novel by Richard Llewellyn, the film focuses its eventful story on 10-year-old Huw (Roddy McDowall), youngest of seven children to Mr. and Mrs. Morgan (Donald Crisp, Sarah Allgood), a hardy couple who've seen the best and worst of times in their South Wales mining town. They're facing one of the worst times as Mr. Morgan refuses to join a miners union whose members have begun a long-term strike. Family tensions grow and Huw must learn many of life's harsher lessons under the tutelage of the local preacher (Walter Pidgeon), who has fallen in love with Huw's sister (Maureen O'Hara). As various crises are confronted and devastating losses endured, How Green Was My Valley unfolds as a rich, moving portrait of family strength and integrity. It's also a nod to a simpler, more innocent time--and to the preciousness of memory and the inevitable passage from youth to adulthood. An all-time classic, not to be missed. --Jeff Shannon

Gentleman's Agreement (1947)
Elia Kazan directed this sometimes powerful study of anti-Semitism in nicer circles, based on Laura Z. Hobson's post-World War II novel. Gregory Peck is a hotshot magazine writer who has been blind to the problem; to ferret it out, he passes himself off as Jewish and watches the WASPs squirm. Seen a half-century later, the attitudes seem quaint and dated: Could it really have been like this? Yet the truth of the story comes through, in the wounded dignity of John Garfield, the upright indignation of Peck, and the hidden ways bigotry and hatred can poison relationships. That's particularly true in the Oscar-winning performance of Celeste Holm, who finds more layers than you'd expect in what seems like a stock character. --Marshall Fine

All About Eve (1950)
Showered with Oscars, this wonderfully bitchy (and witty) comedy written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz concerns an aging theater star (Bette Davis) whose life is being supplanted by a wolf-in-sheep's-clothing ingenue (Anne Baxter) whom she helped. This is a film for a viewer to take in like a box of chocolates, packed with scene-for-scene delights that make the entire story even better than it really is. The film also gives deviously talented actors such as George Sanders and Thelma Ritter a chance to speak dazzling lines; Davis bites into her role and never lets go. A classic from Mankiewicz, a legendary screenwriter and the brilliant director of A Letter to Three Wives, The Barefoot Contessa, and Sleuth. --Tom Keogh

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