Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '56 - Brandon Smith ""

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Underrated '56 - Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith is an avid collector of films that is on an endless quest for more shelf space. Chef by trade, one the the few, the proud, the AGFA interns, and plans to one day be able to train his cats to sit. New to Letterboxd with three followers at Bsmith8168. On Twitter @Bsmith8168.
Check out his Underrated '66, '76, and '86 lists here:
At first I was a little scared to try to find 1956's obscurities, but now I'm blown away.  So many titles I cut from the original list that I wrote.  Anyways this is what I think deserves a little more time in the spotlight than they were originally given.

IshirĂ´ Honda's second foray into the Godzilla universe almost captures the real life threat and horror of over nuclear exposure and the effects on nature as his Gojira does.  Rodan is a great monster film the acting is actually pretty decent and the story keeps the action flowing the entire time.  The monsters look good as does the destruction, unfortunately Rodan is one of the lesser loved creatures of the Kaiju genre and deserves to make a comeback.
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Bob le Flambeaur 
Early effort from Jean-Pierre Melville and the first of his gangster films that would later make him a household name.  Roger Duchesne makes a career making role as the title character Bob and his super suave goings on in the French criminal underground.  The stark B&W photography makes this film come alive and the French cityscapes look great.  Not an over abundance of action as the story is told more through the characters reactions, still the tension is always silently present like the latter made Melville gangster epics.
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The Silent World
Palme d'Or and Oscar winner for best documentary you'd think that this film would be more popular, but it is not.  Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Louis Malle team up for this gorgeously shot film that depicts multiple types of aquatic life and Cousteau's crews interaction with these animals.  Definitely not for everyone as some scenes depict a great deal of violence being dished out on some of the ocean's more notorious citizens.  Not only of interest for it's underwater photography, it's also a testament of how the treatment of wildlife has gotten much better in the present time.

The Animal World
I know what you're thinking, "Ugh another nature documentary?"  Yes, another nature documentary.  Much unlike the The Silent World this film is 100% focused on the animals with a pretty humorous and dated narration.  Somehow magically spinning evolution and creation into the same thing, The Animal World is feat of itself.  Starting at the dawn of time and featuring a extremely satisfying stop motion animation dinosaur sequence by none other than Ray Harryhausen and Willis O'Brien.  For me these older scientific documentaries are pretty entertaining in their depiction of facts that are now proven false, like how the Brontosaurus is shown as a menace to early man for it's insatiable hunger for flesh.  The rest of the film is about the modern day animals and the final warning in the narration is a nice touch.  Highly recommend hunting this title down for a viewing from yesteryears.
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Street of Shame
Kenji Mizoguchi's Street of Shame is a masterpiece.  From the opening title screen and eerie score you know you are in for something special.  The story follows the lives of a group of prostitutes that all work in the same brothel and the living hell that it their life and future.  Extremely depressing and effective in the film's multiple views of prostitution from the different interactions amongst many characters.  Has the feel of a large ensemble cast of a director like Robert Altman or Paul Thomas Anderson as well as it's freshness and being way ahead of it's time.
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The Weapon
The Weapon directed by Val Guest is a little slice of Noir from England that has enough going for it to deserve a little more respect.  The films follows a young boy that discovers a pistol is an old demolished building and shortly after an accidental shooting happens and the boy is on the run.  The bullet that is taken out of the boy's victim turns out to be a match for one involved with an unsolved crime of the past.  The hunt is on for the boy and the gun by both friends and foes.  The film has some great cinematography and is also filled with great shots of London.  The pacing and length of the film keep your interest sucked in through this lost little gem.
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1 comment:

john k said...

Great to see some love for the underrated THE WEAPON.
Nice also to see Cochran show his sensitive side and Lizabeth Scott's lone parent,
cafe waitress role was refreshingly downbeat for the era.
Never seen that poster (press ad?) before- it's a real goodie and hats off to Brian for
uncovering it.