My Movie Year: 1957

Fandango Groovers Movie Blog is having a day were bloggers post about their favorite year in movies. It is not the “best” year as deemed by others, but rather it is my personal choice. I had a lot of fun participating and I think you’ll have fun reading!

Here goes nothing:

Being a very indecisive girl, picking just one year was really hard. I tossed and turned over the decision more than I should have. As if somehow the neglected years would be offended by my choice (I’m a bit odd at times). After much research and thinking about what I really like, it was clear, 1957 is the year for me. It has a little sample of everything I love about film. The following five movies really speak to me, all in very distinctive ways. Here I will post little mini reviews on these films (and link to my longer ones as I write them). Enjoy!

12 Angry Men, Sidney Lumet

12 Angry Men is not an “action-packed” film. 12 men basically just sit around a room and talk for the whole movie. And somehow you are still on the edge of your seat. The level of tension is equivalent to a Hitchcockian thriller. Our hero, Henry Fonda, plays a juror who feels that there is not sufficient evidence to put a defendant to death. The other 11 just want to get it over with and head home, but Fonda takes his duty seriously. Each juror has a distinct personality and justification for their decision. Fonda goes to great lengths to convince these men, performing monologue after amazing monologue. Lumet also does a great job with the direction. Every camera movement is so efficient and subtle that you almost don’t notice how brilliantly it’s done.

Throne of Blood, Akira Kurosawa

While 12 Angry Men is driven by witty and powerful dialogue, Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood does not put the same weight on the spoken word. This film’s visuals make it a masterpiece. Kurosawa took my favorite Shakespearian drama, Macbeth, and transported the narrative back to medieval Japan. He did not worry about translating every line perfectly or making it all in iambic pentameter, but rather he really captures the “feel” and emotion of the Scottish play. The cinematography and mis-en-scene are among the best that Kurosawa has ever done (and if you know his work, you know that is high praise). I love a film that embraces the fantastical and poetic, like Throne of Blood does.

Also, it has Toshiro Mifune in it, how can I not love it?

[My full review]

Witness for the Prosecution, Billy Wilder

This is probably my favorite movie ever. Along with Laurathis film is one of the reasons I am such a film buff today. I watched Witness for the Prosecution when I was little and it really stuck with me. It has a special place in my movie loving heart. It’s not an accurate portrayal of the British justice system, but who cares? Charles Laughton plays a crotchety, old lawyer. He was always a brilliant defense attorney, but now is ill and should not take difficult cases. Of course, that lasts all of 5 minutes and he ends up taking a fascinating murder trial where nothing is what it seems. The film is worth watching for Laughton alone. The rest of the stuff is just icing on the cake. (I do have to give kudos to Wilder, he got great performances out of all the actors, wrote the witty screenplay and captured it all wonderfully)

Seventh Seal, Ingmar Bergman

This is one of those “must see” films for any fan of cinema. Whenever people say things like that it just sounds like a boring, preachy, pretentious film. Seventh Seal, however, is anything but. Believe me, it will be one of the most profound and beautiful movies you will ever see. It is a story of the calamities of medieval Europe and the struggle to find peace between life and death. The visuals are so striking, you will remember them long after the credits roll. After watching it, the most interesting conversations will arise between you are your fellow viewers. You could talk about it for years and not run out of things to say. Even if it just consists of “I need to learn some chess, so I  can cheat death, y’all,” you will have a great time.

Nights of Cabiria, Federico Fellini

Guilietta Masina gives a brilliant performance as a naïve, optimistic prostitute in Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria. Her life is one tragic disaster after another, but she keeps moving on. She is so adorable and goofy in the film. You know the men are conning her, but you can’t help but hope that this time around it will be okay. The story will break your heart, yet is somehow inexplicably uplifting. Also, just look at the picture I put up there. It is so beautiful. When I was picking a screen cap I was having a horrible time. There are so many great shots it was overwhelming, in a good way :P! This is the only Fellini movie I’ve seen (I know, it’s bad), and this film makes me want to watch a whole lot more!

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36 comments

  1. Excellent post, and a very diverse, artistic list! I absolutely LOVE Witness for the Prosecution. I have yet to see the Bergman or Fellini films…have to rectify that some day soon.

    1957 was chock full of terrific movies of all genres. Some of my personal faves are The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Incredible Shrinking Man and Night of the Demon.

    Glad to see someone else chose a year pre-1980!

  2. Interesting !! Not only that I also chose the same year, I also chose almost the same movies as well. Nice to see someone who agrees. I went for Aparajito over Witness for Prosecution though witness deserves its place just for last 10 minutes and of course Billy Wilder.

    1. That’s amazing. It’s great to see someone else love this surprisingly great year. I need to watch Aparajito now and see if I agree!

      1. Ah, well here’s hoping you check it out soon. Awesome film. I haven’t seen any of the five you listed, which is unfortunate because they all look excellent.

  3. Great year, and great movies! Nice to see someone go back a little further in time. 🙂

    Wild Strawberries and White Nights are my own favorites from the same year.

  4. I’m ashamed to admit that the only movie I’ve seen is 12 Angry Men. You can be certain that I’ll make every effort to see some if not all of the movies you have listed. I’m a huge fan of MacBeth and am very interested in Kurosawa’s interpretation.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. I think you will like it! I wrote a long review on it, if you want to check it out (I link to it up there). I put a trailer on their, too 🙂

  5. 12 Angry Men is my favorite of all-time so I like seeing it at the top of the top year for you. I’ve been watching a lot of 1957 films lately and two that I really was surprised by were The Passionate Stranger and The Truth About Women, both directed by Muriel Box.

  6. Haha, haven’t seen any of these, but you make it sound like a great year. I especially want to check out Throne of Blood…

  7. Monica, I’ve seen, loved, and blogged about several of these films myself, and I applaud you for your terrific taste in movies! My favorites on your 1957 list include 12 ANGRY MEN and WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION, and I appreciate your reminder that I must catch up with THRONE OF BLOOD! Great post, Monica; I’m really enjoying your REEL SNOB blogsite!

    On a related note, my dear friend ClassicBecky and I are delighted that you’ll be participating with us in our BEST HITCHCOCK MOVIES (THAT HITCHCOCK NEVER MADE) Blogathon from July 7 through July 12th! I’m looking forward to each of us doing our own takes on Henri-Georges Clouzot’s DIABOLIQUE — I know we’re both have our own unique viewpoints about this stunning thriller! Welcome to the Blogathon, Monica!

    1. Thank you so much for the wonderful comment and feedback 🙂 I can’t wait to participate in BEST HITCHCOCK MOVIES (THAT HITCHCOCK NEVER MADE)! July could not come soon enough!

  8. 12 Angry Men in my opinion is one among the best films ever made. I have seen it umpteen times. Remember the scene where the casino enthusiast balls a sheet of paper and throws it towards the fan and it hits the old man’s head who in turn says “that was a stupid thing to do…” it definitely has a set of remarkable moment. Apart from Fonda, Cobb is brilliant in the movie too!

    Have only recently seen Witness for the….yeah quite liked it. You are right…as the old lawyer with an extra cautious nurse around, it is a beautiful performance by Laughton.

    Among the Fellini films, I have only seen 8 1/2. Will watch the others u have mentioned…they look interesting. I liked the post. Thanks for sharing.

    Have you seen “From Here to Eternity?”.wasnt 1957….i think earlier than that!

    1. Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment 🙂

      That is a great moment of 12 Angry Men. I was just re-watching it, too, and it really stood out to me. I just adore that film!

      I haven’t seen it, but everyone tells me I must! I think its from 1953?

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