Q:Oh right, the "ask" button. Mount Rushmore of 1940s American films (or anglophone if you prefer)?
Oh Lord. My thing about not having seen the acknowledged classics holds true here too: I haven’t, for instance, forced myself to sit down and turn on Citizen Kane or Double Indemnity or The Red Shoes. But the 40s is my second-favorite decade for movies (after the 30s), so I still have more to choose from than I did when answering Katherine.
Sullivan’s Travels (1941) is my favorite movie and, I’d make the argument, the greatest American movie. (Yeah, I’ll get right on watching every other movie ever made so that I can make the claim definitive.) The fact that it barely has anything to do with people except as abstractions is its strength: like the Swiftian satire it borrows its title from, it’s a work of ideas presented comically.
The Philadelphia Story (1940) gets more and more brittle and preposterous every year — one of these days I’m going to snap and start hating it for all the Sorkinian men-telling-women-the-unholy-truth-about-themselves in Philip Barry’s play, not to mention the snobbery. Until then, though, I’ll continue to adore it for its jewel-like form.
Fantasia (1940), mostly because 1) the sequences in which abstract imagery represents sounds has been forever burned into my subconscious as a form of low-simmer synaesthesia, and 2) the Pastoral Symphony sequence gave me Feelings as a teenager that actually had very little to do with the Classical Nudity.
Casablanca (1942), obviously. It’s so goddamn dumb, but it’s so goddamn glorious at the same time. Melodrama is decidedly not my area of interest, but it’s, again, structured so perfectly, and with that amazingly punchy script, and Ingrid Bergman being so very Ingrid Bergmanny… sigh.
But then scrolling through all the 40s movies I’ve downloaded but not watched yet makes me ashamed to pretend I know anything about film. Being a digital hoarder is somewhat more socially acceptable than the physical version, but it’s still guaranteed to make you feel you’ve wasted your life.
10 Notes/ Hide
- ley-lines said: I won’t browbeat you about your confessed gaps because I haven’t seen Philadelphia Story, but if you’ve seen no Powell&Pressburger you might try one of the more unsung ones. I Know Where I’m Going would suit you I think.
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- sallyo said: Don’t be put off by Citizen Kane’s rep! It’s legit entertaining, funny, clever and gorgeous. A life-changing experience when I saw it age 13 & my #1 fav for many yrs. Dub Ind good fun too. Red Shoes … eh.
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- nudewave said: Really good choices. I adore Sullivan’s Travels and wrote a crazy long paper on it for a Classic Hollywood Comedies class I took in undergrad. So underrated.
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