01 February 2017

David Anderson's 12 Favourite European Films

One of the finest online places to read original and always well-written reviews of old and new films is Bunched Undies. We invited the film connaisseur behind this blog, David Anderson, for a guest post. For EFSP, he selected twelve of his favourite European films. Click on the film titles for David's reviews at Bunched Undies. And we added to each film a vintage postcard.

The Cigarette Girl of Mosselprom (1924)

David Anderson: "The Cigarette Girl of Mosselprom is about a group of men who are passionately, and somewhat perplexingly, attracted to the same woman. Whether it’s her beguiling personality, her trim figure or her budding mustache, cigarette vendor Zina (Yuliya Solntseva) finds herself hip deep in would-be suitors."

Yuliya Solntseva
Yuliya Solntseva. Russian postcard.

Metropolis (1927)

"The film is a triumph of art direction and set design. The various technical marvels of this futuristic society are rendered in a geometric Art Deco style that is as beautiful today as it was 90 years ago. It is no stretch to say that this film has, at one time or another, been ripped off by every director and set designer in the profession."

Brigitte Helm in Metropolis
Brigitte Helm. German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 71/12. Photo: Ufa / Parufamet. Publicity still for Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927). Collection: Didier Hanson.

People on Sunday (1930)

"Produced during a rare period of calm in Germany’s early 20th Century history, People on Sunday was created by a dream team of gifted young filmmakers – Curt and Robert Siodmak (directors), Edgar Ulmer (producer), Billy Wilder (screenplay), Eugene Shufftan (DP) and Fred Zinnemann (Assistant Director) – all of whom would eventually immigrate to America and find varying degrees of success in Hollywood."

Valeska Gert
Valeska Gert (who appears as herself in Menschen am Sonntag/People on Sunday). German card. Photo: Atelier Leopold, München (Munich). Collection: Didier Hanson.

The Four Feathers (1939)

"John Clements, often derided as a wooden performer, is convincing here as a sensitive man struggling in a privileged world devoid of nuance, while Ralph Richardson is excellent as the jilted lover who cunningly decides to wait it out."

Ralph Richardson
Ralph Richardson. British postcard by Show Parade Picture Service in The People series, no. P. 1100. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Organisation Ltd.

Beauty and the Beast (1946)

"Jean Cocteau’s retelling of the classic, familiar fable Beauty and the Beast is a perfect match of material and réalisateur. The Beast’s complex make-up, by Hagop Arakelian, is the film’s star special effect, and it compares favorably to today’s state of the art prosthetics. The Beast, played by Cocteau’s muse, protégé and long time lover Jean Marais, is still allowed a reasonable range of expressions despite Arakelian’s thick appliances."

Jean Marais in La belle et la bête (1946)
Jean Marais. German postcard by Filmbild. Photo: IFA. Publicity still for La belle et la bête/Beauty and the Beast (Jean Cocteau, 1946).

The Cranes are Flying (1951)

"A passionate love affair is torn apart by Hitler’s invasion of Russia in this Palme d’Or winner from director Mikhail Kalatozov. Veronica (Tatyana Samojlova) and Boris (Alesky Batalov) are young Muscovites fully enthralled with each other, and in the opening scenes we see them happily skip and frolic along the Volga and through a surreally deserted Red Square."

Tatyana Samoylova (1934-2014)
Tatyana Samojlova. Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. A 08345, 1969. This postcard was printed in an edition of 500,000 cards. Retail price was 6 kop. Photo: publicity still for Anna Karenina (Aleksandr Zarkhi, 1967).

The Wages of Fear (1953)

"The Wages of Fear starts as a flabby, dawdling tale of class struggle in a squalid South American village, then morphs into a primeval drama of survival; as lean and mean as Yves Montand's sweaty undershirt."

Yves Montand
Yves Montand. German postcard by Ufa (Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft), Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 658. Retail price: 25 Pfg. Photo: Sam Lévin, Paris. Publicity still for Le salaire de la peur/The Wages of Fear (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1953).

French Cancan (1954)

"In 1954, director Jean Renoir crafted French Cancan, a loving Technicolor tribute to a notorious nightclub. In this fictionalized account, we follow the twisting path of a down-on-his-luck impresario named Danglard (Jean Gabin) and his dream of creating a truly democratic dancehall; a place where rich and poor, banker and baker, could mingle and enjoy a night of bawdy entertainment."

Jean Gabin
Jean Gabin. French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 1094. Offered by Les Carbones Korès 'Carboplane'. Photo: Marcel Bougureau.

La Strada (1954)

"Giulietta Masina is often described as Fellini’s muse, yet somehow the term doesn’t seem sufficient. Under Fellini’s direction, Masina’s pixie-ish characters remained cheery and upbeat, drawing on deep wells of strength despite their dreadful circumstances. La Strada is a film open to several roads of interpretation, including a thinly disguised retelling of Italy’s rise and fall from fascism."

Giulietta Masina
Giulietta Masina. Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. 3381. Photo: N.V. Standaardfilms. Publicity still for La strada (1954).

Wild Strawberries (1957)

"Wild Strawberries’ intoxicating blend of the gleefully pastoral with the grimly Kafkaesque continues to confound, compel and enthrall. It is a journey that melds fantasy and reality, past and present with handcrafted directness. As Dr. Borg (Victor Sjöström) confronts his deepest flaws and innermost demons amid the glorious natural bounty of summer, viewers are treated to supernatural insights and spectral visions on the mysteries of existence."

Victor Sjöström in Thomas Graals bästa film
The young Victor Sjöström. Swedish postcard by Ed. Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 876/3. Postcard for the Swedish silent film comedy Thomas Graals bästa film/Thomas Graal's Best Film (Mauritz Stiller, 1917).

Zazie dans le metro (1960)

"12 year old Zazie (Catherine Demongeot) has come to Paris for the weekend with her free spirited, widowed mother (Odette Piquet). She is dropped off with her uncle Gabriel (Philippe Noiret) for safekeeping, while Mom visits with the most recent of her string of ne’er-do-well boyfriends. Young Zazie is a child prodigy in at least two skill sets: seeing through adult deceptions and the blatant use of foul language, and she plies both of these talents with the effortless flair of a true master."

Catherine Demongeot in Zazie dans le metro (1960)
Catherine Demongeot. French card. Photo: René Mansat. Publicity still for Zazie dans le métro/Zazie in the Metro (Louis Malle, 1960).

Breathless (1960)

"Weened on the imagery of American gangster movies, Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) spends his aimless days pursuing the twin pleasures of petty theft and venery; a fat Gauloise perpetually dangling from his lips. Michel seems unable to think more than two hours ahead - the typical length of a movie in other words - but one day his short sighted hedonism results in more than existential ennui."

Jean-Paul Belmondo
Jean-Paul Belmondo. German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. 559.

Thanks, David! Two more classics on my still-must-see list.

1 comment:

Bunched Undies said...

Thank you Bob! Great job finding images to illustrate the films. More to come soon.