100 Greatest Films of all time – 9: Vertigo

Vertigo (1958)  Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock  Screenplay by: Alec Coopel and Samuel A Taylor Based on the Novel D’Entre Les Morts by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac  Produced by:  Herbert Coleman   Starring: James Stewart, Kim Novak, and Barbara Bel Geddes  Oscar Count: 0 (Nominated for Best Sound and Best Art Direction)

After the initial critical and box office failure of Vertigo, famed master of suspense, was never allowed to make another “film.”

Don’t get me wrong. Hitchcock made plenty of crowd pleasing films, that were successful critically and commercial. But except for Psycho, Hitchcock was never free to experiment again (and he only got away with that slasher shocker because it was cheap to make). The rest of his films were fairly standard, designed with the studio’s bottom line in mind. They also conform to the rigid standards of a thriller – good vs evil, intense action sequences, and the use of the Cold War or the media obsession with violent crime in the background. There was never an exploration of humanity or with analyzing what makes us tick.
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by Daniel Suddes

It’s a Wonderful Life (1933) – Director: Frank Capra  Original Screenplay: Frank Capra, Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett  Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore  OSCAR COUNT (0) – 5 nominations including Best Picture

It’s a Wonderful Life has become a quintessential piece of American art. Like Washington Crosses the Delaware, it is widely recognized, but seems to be examined less as time goes on.  It’s a classic, the mindset seems to go – any further mindset is beyond the point.

But people do forget that the film took decades to find its audience. When it came out, immediately after the end of World War II, people did not embrace the pessimism of small town American life. People wanted optimism – It’s A Wonderful Life, with discussions of suicide and trauma, is rather downbeat.

But the film also contains hope in what was a very downbeat time. It is not as though, immediately following World War II, that the U.S. became a sort of utopia.  There were still many residual effects, not only from the War, but also from the Great Depression. There were (and still are) plenty of Mr. Potters and George Baileys in existence today, even though each is always trying to claim to be the other. It’s also amazing how we pretty much are living in the world that had been previously outlined in this film – where individual existence is not seen as important on the surface and where people are re-evaluating their own priorities based on their loss of money. Continue reading