Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Jim Healy ""

Friday, January 3, 2014

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Jim Healy

Jim Healy is Director of Programming at the Cinematheque at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, as well as Director of Programming of the Wisconsin Film Festival. From 2001-2010, he was Assistant Curator, Exhibitions in the Motion Picture Department at George Eastman House in Rochester, NY. Prior to that, he was a Film Programmer for the Chicago International Film Festival. Jim is also currently the American Programming Correspondent for the Torino Film Festival in Turin, Italy. 
UW Cinematheque is on Twitter here: 
Jim also did a discoveries list for this series last year:

OUR TIME (aka DEATH OF HER INNOCENCE, 1974, Peter Hyams)
This was Hyams’ second theatrical feature after the buddy cop movie Busting, and, like that genre exercise,Our Time never really makes a misstep as storytelling. His sophomore outing, however, is the more interesting and memorable film. It’s also unlike anything else Hyams made for the big screen. It’s a period (set in 1954) drama about two prep school girls (Pamela Sue Martin and Betsy Slade) who are both anxious to lose their virginity. Both are successful, but one of them suffers tragic consequences. There are no big stars and I’m guessing Warner Bros. put this into production hoping they’d have another Summer of ’42 on their hands, but one of the virtues of Hyams' film is that it is neither overly nostalgic or sentimental, even with a somewhat syrupy score by Michel Legrand. A sequence that involves a visit to an abortionist is virtuoso and features an unforgettable turn by Robert Walden (who later pops up as Elliott Gould’s buddy in Hyams' Capricorn One) as the “doctor”. It’s the most unsettling abortion scene since the one in End of the Road! Betsy Slade is quite good as Muffy. She did a lot of tv after this and never made it big as an actress but the frequently unreliable IMDB says she was Brian DePalma’s first choice to play the title character in Carrie!

I’ve slowly been discovering the terrific features of Pietrangeli. About six years ago, a friend in Italy gave me a dvd of La Visita and two years ago I got to see a 35mm print of his masterpiece, Io la conoscevo bene. Like those other two movies, this is another study of women who try to maintain their dignity despite suffering heaps of abuse from the men in their lives. Unlike those other two movies, Adua features a cast of European film superstars. Simone Signoret plays a prostitute who, along with her colleagues played by Emmanuelle Riva and Sandra Milo, decides to change careers and open up a restaurant just outside of Rome when the Italian government officially outlaws the oldest profession. Marcello Mastroianni has a nice part as Signoret’s not-to-be-trusted boyfriend and his character is one of several males who make it impossible for these ladies to make a life for themselves. The ending, like the one in Io la conoscevo bene, is heartbreaking, but before the final moments, Pietrangeli devises a scene that allows his heroines to express their outrage. I found it all very moving and I hope I can see more of Pietrangeli’s relatively small output. Sadly, he died before he turned 50 and there are only a handful of other movies that he directed. Adua and La Visita are both available on excellent DVDs from Raro.

SECOND CHANCE (1953, Rudolph Mate)
I got to see this in a very rare original 3-D print from UCLA Film & Television Archives at what will probably be the last World 3-D Film Expo at the Egyptian in Los Angeles this year. Like most 3-D, there’s not really much to say about it, but the movie is still a fun and special RKO thriller from the prime Howard Hughes years. The first half, before the necessary 3-D intermission, plays kind of like a Borzage movie, with two dreamers (Linda Darnell and Robert Mitchum) running away from their pasts and finding a romantic retreat in a tiny resort village atop a mountain in South America. The second half plays like a template for all of the classic disaster movies to come when the couple find themselves stranded in midair after a funicular cable car has a mechanical malfunction midway back down to the base of the mountain! On board are several other supporting characters we’ve been introduced to in the first half, including mobster Jack Palance who has his reasons for wanting to wipe out both Mitchum and Darnell!

I'm very grateful to David Bordwell for providing me with copies of Julien Duviver's American productions.LydiaTales of Manhattan (especially the Edward G. Robinson and Charles Laughton episodes) and The Impostorwere all revelations.

My mission to see as much of the over-sized filmography of Gordon Douglas as possible led me down some bad pathways (like to Harlow), but it also brought me to the great cavalry western Only the Valiant (1951) and its very fine semi-remakeChuka (1967).

Among pre-1990 movies, these were my other favorite discoveries:

AIR MAIL (1932, John Ford)
THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM (1966, Michael Anderson)
FOUR DAUGHTERS (1938, Michael Curtiz)

FASHIONS OF 1934 (1934, William Dieterle)
WELCOME HOME SOLDIER BOYS (1971, Richard Compton - thanks to Josh Olson for writing about this last year!)
BACK FROM ETERNITY (1956, John Farrow)
PASSAGE TO MARSEILLE (1944, Michael Curtiz)

CRASHOUT (1955, Lewis R. Foster - Kudos to Dave Kehr for his excellent NY Times piece on this one.)
THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS (1956, Ronald Neame)
MURPHY’S WAR (1971, Peter Yates)
CLOAK AND DAGGER (1946, Fritz Lang)

I also got a lot of enjoyment out of the following titles, all of which I saw for the first time in 2013:

DRIVE A CROOKED ROAD (1954, Richard Quine)
AUTUMN LEAVES (1956, Robert Aldrich)
TIGER ON BEAT (1988, Liu Chia-Liang - the final 15 minutes of this Hong Kong cop movie with Chow Yun Fatt is one of the greatest action set pieces ever committed to film)
THE RELUCTANT DRAGON (1941, Alfred Werker)
THE FILE ON THELMA JORDON (1949, Robert Siodmak)
THE CONFESSION (1970, Costa-Gavras)
MIAMI CONNECTION (1987, Richard Park)
PUNISHMENT PARK (1971, Peter Watkins)
THE CHARGE AT FEATHER RIVER (1953, Gordon Douglas)
BLOWING WILD (1953, Hugo Fregonese)
THE THREE CABALLEROS (1945, Norman Ferguson)
ONE ON ONE (1977, Lamont Johnson)

1900 (1976, Bernardo Bertolucci)
GREED IN THE SUN (1964, Henri Verneuil)
TRAPEZE (1956, Carol Reed)
TORCH SONG (1953, Charles Walters)
PORTRAIT OF JASON (1967, Shirley Clarke)
FACCIA A FACCIA (1967, Sergio Solllima)
IF YOU MEET SARTANA, PRAY FOR YOUR DEATH (1969, Gianfranco Parolini)
DADDY’S GONE-A-HUNTING (1969, Mark Robson)
THESE WILDER YEARS (1955, Roy Rowland - a great James Cagney performance!)
THE GUILT OF JANET AMES (1947, Henry Levin)
THE HAUNTED PALACE (1963, Roger Corman)

BANJO (1947, Richard Fleischer)
THE CLAY PIGEON (1949, Richard Fleischer)
THE STORY OF G.I. JOE (1945, William A. Wellman)
TEPEPA (1969, Giulio Petroni)
PARIS BLUES (1961, Martin Ritt)
NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH (1940, Carol Reed)
THE SPLIT (1968, Gordon Flemyng)
BODY AND SOUL (1925, Oscar Micheaux)
JERICHO (1937, Thornton Freeland)
THE SOUL OF YOUTH (1920, William Desmond Taylor)
MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (1962, Lewis Milestone)
WHERE ARE MY CHILDREN? (1916, Lois Weber)
LE GRAND AMOUR (1969, Pierre Étaix)
SOUTH PACIFIC (1958, Joshua Logan)
TWO MEN IN MANHATTAN (1959, Jean-Pierre Melville)
THE GODLESS GIRL (1928, Cecil B. DeMille)
WARRENDALE (1967, Allan King)
A MARRIED COUPLE (1969, Allan King)
CHAINS (1949, Raffaelo Mattarazzo)
SHANKS (1974, William Castle - maybe the weirdest movie I saw this year.)
MISTER 880 (1950, Edmund Goulding)

WINGS OF THE HAWK (1953, Budd Boetticher)
BADGE 373 (1973, Howard I. Koch)
THE PAPER CHASE (1973, James Bridges)
SEPTEMBER 30, 1955 (1978, James Bridges)
THE NIGHT DIGGER (1971, Alistair Reid - an adequate thriller with a first-rate Bernard Herrmann score!)
KID MILLIONS (1934, Roy Del Ruth)
ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT (1942, Vincent Sherman)
DARK CITY (1950, William Dieterle)
L’AMORE EN LA CITTA (1953, Antonioni/Fellini/Lizzani/Risi/Lattuada/Zavattini/Maselli)
CORRUPTION (1968, Robert Hartford-Davis)
HOMICIDAL (1961, William Castle)
LA TRAVERSEE DE PARIS (1956, Claude Autant-Lara)
OUR RELATIONS (1936, Harry Lachman)
TROIS PLACES POUR LE 26 (1988, Jacques Demy)

MOONTIDE (1942, Archie Mayo)
MAN ON A TIGHTROPE (1953, Elia Kazan)
INSERTS (1975, John Byrum)
VIVACIOUS LADY (1938, George Stevens)
TILL THE END OF TIME (1946, Edward Dmytryk)


Ned Merrill said...


Re: your photo...where were THE LEOPARD and THE BURGLARS playing together, or are those 2 distinctly yellow one-sheets in your personal collection?

Need to see that Hyams picture.

Unknown said...

Just two posters from my collection that the photographer chose.