Showing posts with label 1957. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1957. Show all posts

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Charlie Chaplin - The United Artist Films and Beyond

Last year I watched and reviewed over forty films made by one of my cinematic heroes, Charlie Chaplin. It’s taken a while but after cataloguing all of his Essanay, Mutual and First National Films, I’ve come back to the tramp to look at the final portion of his career. Even as I write these words I realise how absurd ‘final portion’ sounds as the years I’m looking at cover over four decades and include his first dramatic film, his first talkie and his final British films following his exile from his adopted United States. This period also coincides with what is today, his most iconic era; the fifteen years between 1925’s The Gold Rush and 1940’s The Great Dictator. Despite having been one of the most famous men in the world for over a decade, 1925 marks the beginning of the era which still defines Chaplin’s motion picture career. It was between the years of 1925-40 that he created some of the most essential comedy moments in film history and all but one of his films from this period has been added to the US National Film Registry. For me and indeed many film fans these films are gems but as with many of the silent shorts that I reviewed last year, some of the films surrounding this golden period will be new to me.

Most of the films listed below were produced through United Artists, the company co-founded by Chaplin and fellow stars D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (pictured above). The company is still going strong today but lost its independence in 1967 and is now a subsidiary of MGM. I have, in the past year and a half, reviewed some of the films on this list already but I’ll be watching the rest in order and may decide to re-watch the ones I have seen anyway. As usual you can click on a film’s title to read my full review.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

12 Angry Men

"Prejudice always obscures the truth"

1957 – New York. A Jury of twelve men have finished hearing the trial of a young immigrant man accused of murdering his father by stabbing him to death. After a brief vote in a sweltering deliberation room the vote is 11/1 in favour of a guilty verdict. The jury have been informed by the Judge that they must reach a unanimous decision. Voices are raised and tempers fray as the twelve men debate the case that could send a man to the Electric Chair.

This film has one of the most compelling stories I have ever seen. I couldn’t take my eyes off it for a minute. I was afraid of blinking or turning my head to check the time in case I missed a vital detail. This really is masterful story telling. In the beginning it is just Henry Fonda’s ‘Juror number 8’ character who votes not guilty but as the film progresses he and others question statements and evidence until more and more of the jurors have doubts. It is fairly obvious from early on what the outcome is going to be but that doesn’t matter. How they reach the decision is fascinating.