Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Project: 1950s Hollywood

Many years ago I read Peter Biskind’s book “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls” which was a fantastic warts and all account of film-making in Hollywood in the Sixties and Seventies. I enjoyed it so much I rushed out to buy another book of his “Seeing is Believing: How Hollywood taught us to stop worrying and love the fifties” (not the most snappy of titles).

I expected it to be similar to his previous book, but on an earlier period, but that wasn’t the case. It is an analysis of over 30 films and how they relate to ideology of the 1950s. Unfortunately of this 30+ films, I’d only seen one and the book has been languishing on my shelves unread.

This year, I’m determined to read it, but in order to appreciate it I obviously need to watch the films discussed. So my project (for I’m quite fond of such things) is to watch the films and read the accompanying chapters.

So far I’ve watched:

  • Twelve Angry Men – my favourite so far. Perhaps a little too neatly tied up for modern tastes but very well done.
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still – classic Sci-Fi. Surprisingly intelligent.
  • Attack – decent war film and not a world away from Generation Kill which I’m also currently watching.
  • From Here to Eternity – star-studded war and romance. Quite enjoyable considering I don’t really like war or romance films.
  • My Darling Clementine – the disc started to skip, so I didn’t finish it. I struggle with Westerns, which doesn't bode well for one section.

Tonight, I’m back to the Sci-Fi with “It Came From Outer Space”.

4 comments:

Claire said...

That sounds a really nice project! I've only seen two of those, but I agree about The Day the Earth Stood Still, it has very interesting ideas in it - timeless, really. I think when the actual films are low budget and don't have very fancy special effects, I tend to get more absorbed in the story. Is The Day the Earth Caught Fire on the list too (more sci-fi) or Douglas Sirk? He's great!!!

SandDancer said...

Yes, I thought The Day the Earth Stood Still was still relevant today and I notice it has recently been remade. The Day the Earth Caught Fire isn't on the list but I do like old sci-fi so may see if I can get that anyway.

There is one Douglas Sirk on the list "All that Heaven Allows".

M said...

Is 'Generation Kill' the series currently on HBO? I haven't watched it, but one of the main characters is based on the son of a business colleague who has been stationed in Iraq. He told me about it before the series aired and shared a few of the stories. I should watch it, but I don't care for the 'war as entertainment' genre.

SandDancer said...

Yes, it is the HBO series. I certainly wouldn't describe it as "war as entertainment" at all. It is quite difficult to watch at times and I think it is probably a very realistic portrayal of the situation. The people don't fall neatly into good & bad, people make bad decisions due to the circumstances and in a strange way it shows the monotony of the work on many days. There is one character in it who goes gets some good lines and there is some amusing dialogue but I think that too is quite natural because there is lots of time for conversations and trying to entertain yourself. I've only watched about three episodes so far, but am impressed with it. The pace is slow so a world away from most war films.