Red Scare, Television, Atom Age and Ike
2. Anne of the Indies (Jacques Tourneur, 1951)
3. Seven Days to Noon (John & Roy Boulting, 1950)
4. This Island Earth (Joseph M. Newman, 1955) (re-watch)
5. Indestructible Man (Jack Pollexfen, 1956)
6. Salome (William Dieterle, 1953)
7. Treasure of the Golden Condor (Delmer Daves/Otto Preminger, 1953)
8. Hong Kong Confidential (Edward L. Cahn, 1958)
9. The Prodigal (Richard Thorpe, 1955)
10. The Magical World of Disney: Mars and Beyond (Ward Kimball, 1957) (re-watch)
11. Tripoli (Will Price, 1950)
12. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (Fritz Lang, 1956) (re-watch)
13. Animal Farm (Joy Batchelor, John Halas, 1954)
14. 5 Steps to Danger (Henry S. Kesler, 1956)
15. Terror at Midnight (Franklin Adreon, 1956)
16. Passport to Shame (Alvin Rakoff, 1958)
17. TIger in the Smoke (Roy Ward Baker, 1956)
18. The Long Memory (Robert Hamer, 1953)
I think this was the Indian film on the highest number of official lists (9) that I hadn't seen, and I haven't seen all that many Hindi films from the classic era, so why not? It was a bad sign that the copy I had - which was sharp and with beautiful color - didn't have the songs subbed, but hey, I found a YT copy that did, even if the subs were hard to read and the color not so great. But then the subs cut out on that copy altogether at the halfway point to I had to switch back to my original copy. Why do I mention this? I suppose this frustration could be an element in my overall displeasure in the film, and it's certainly worth repeating to anybody who cares that SONGS SHOULD BE SUBBED ALSO. That said, I don't think the songs here are as important as plot elements or movers as they are in many musical films - though there are quite a lot of them, particularly in the first half. And I'm not sure anything could have made me really like this. I get that it's supposed to have some very particular meaning within Hindi culture and that there are some allegorical elements that I probably don't understand, but I have to go with my own instincts here, and this is just not a great experience. Nargis is pretty good I guess, at least in the first half, as the long-suffering Radha, who goes through every kind of awful experience that a poor woman can go through it seems, losing house and home, a child, etc, and as I said the color is quite brilliant - it's a nice-looking film overall. But the cartoonishness of the characters and action in the second half, particularly Sunil Dutt's monstrous Birju, just took me out of any kind of feeling I might have for the story or the broader social significance of it all. Not downright terrible or anything, and the music is if not memorable for me, not bad, but on the whole this has to be one of the worst films on the TSP main list, and one of those films that just seems - unlike the vast majority of Indian films I've seen from this era - a product of a culture I can't understand in the slightest.
20. Wicked Woman (Russell Rouse, 1953)
TCM. Always great to watch Eddie Muller on a Sunday morning, with that first (well, these days, second usually) cup of coffee, especially when he's introducing something I haven't seen, and don't really know much about, like this low-rent copy (for the first 2/3 anyway) of The Postman Always Rings Twice. If you count both official adaptations, unofficial rip-offs that hew fairly closely to the oriiginal James M. Cain novel - or the most famous early adaptation from Tay Garnett with Lana Turner and John Garfield, and films like this one that are clearly heavily "inspired" by earlier sources and versions, we must be up to at least a dozen interpretations of this noir classic by now. This ended up being better than I expected, though certainly not among the best. It does have a couple of major points of interest, the first being the gender-switching element - the drifter blowing through town and coming to work at the roadhouse (or just bar, in this film's case) is a woman, played by tall and hard Beverly Michaels; and the last third of the film is altered quite a bit, with a very different resolution that may be less typically "noir" but is perhaps more interesting for that. Michaels - who, based on this role and her two dynamite performances in two of Hugo Haas' early American films as writer-director, should have become a star - is clearly imitating Turner in her all-white attire throughout much of the film, and it's a tribute to the best qualities of film and star that she can stand the competition, but Richard Egan as the bartender/part-owner with his alcoholic wife (Evelyn Scott) is no match for Garfield, Nicholson or some of the other actors to play this role. Percy Helton, the diminutive character actor who can be seen in dozens of noirs and comedies from this period, has an atypical second-lead performance as the guy who holds something over Michaels' character, and he definitely adds a fun element of sleaze. It's a rather dull film visually - all cheap sets, and not that much of interest done with them, or the photography which is fairly flat and plain, but the basic story is good enough and Michaels, Helton and Scott all deliver solid work (and Egan isn't terrible or anything, he just doesn't have the juice of some of his competition), enough to make this worth a view for noir aficionados for sure.
21. The Gambler from Natchez (Henry Levin, 1954)
Watched out of undying lust for Debra Paget, one of the sexiest starlets of the 50s, another of the unending numbers of talents who never quite made it to the top tier, though she was close. But perhaps "talent" isn't the right word - much as I like watching her, and love many of the films she's in, I'm not sure she ever proved herself as a solid actress, as much more than a sex symbol, which is probably part of why she retired early, at just over 30 - marrying rich also helped I'm sure. At any rate, I always gravitate towards her films when I come across them, but not so much that I've made a real effort. This one just happened to be on Fox Movie Channel at the right time, so what the hell. It's a "southern" as Quentin Tarantino would call it, about card sharks and casinos and riverboats in the days just after the Civil War, and Paget is the daughter of riverboat captain Thomas Gomez, who befriends a young man back from the war (Dale Robertson, who I guess is the guy that was called when Burt Lancaster wasn't available or was too expensive) and soon gets involved in Robertson's attempts to find out who killed his father and avenge himself. Hokey stuff with a decent sword fight late in the film between Robertson and main bad guy Kevin McCarthy. Pretty good color though this copy was rather soft, and Woody Strode makes a brief but significant appearance.