Top 20 of 1957

aparajito - mother and son 3

One major problem with using IMDB as the authority for determining film dates is that sometimes it can be inconsistent. IMDB will change the year of a film and then change it back. There have been occasions where we have prepared to include a film on a list, only to find out that it has been changed at the last minute. It actually happens often, but not usually with higher profile films. It happened for the 1956 list with Aparajito, which would have topped that list as it did this one. It changed from 1956 to 1957, and then in the months since we got back to the 1950s, it changed back. That’s just a convoluted excuse for why I have it at the top of my 1957 list. The film was released in 1956, not 1957, but I cannot leave it out. I know the system isn’t perfect, but IMDB, despite the flaws and inconsistencies, is usually the most accurate.

I’m a big fan of film in the 1950s, and it isn’t much of a surprise that Criterion is represented well here. The top seven on my list are on Criterion, as are 9-11 and a couple others in the teens. It is a good year for international and American films. Many of the films that just missed my list were American productions, mostly in genre films, many of which were not recognized at the time. That is the case for my second rated film, which was embarrassingly not nominated for a single Academy Award, yet a few stinkers that will remain nameless took home prizes.

International film was a juggernaut, and it is strange seeing acclaimed films from Bergman and Fellini low on my list. Six out of my top ten are international and are spread out pretty evenly among eastern and western films.

War was a major theme of many of these films, which makes sense. The late 1950s were a period of relative peace while the world was still reeling from major wars over the last couple of decades. I’m not often a fan of war films that come out of their own time (with some exceptions, notably The Best Years of Our Lives. Several of these films explore the horror and futility of war, and it is likely an underlying theme of some of the genre films that I have listed here.

1. Aparajito
2. Sweet Smell of Success
3. The Cranes Are Flying
4. Throne of Blood
5. Wild Strawberries
6. Paths of Glory
7. Tokyo Twilight
8. Men in War
9. 12 Angry Men
10. Kanal
11. 3:10 to Yuma
12. Bridge on the River Kwai
13. Witness for the Prosecution
14. Nights of Cabiria
15. Seventh Seal
16. A Face in the Crowd
17. The Tin Star
18. The Incredible Shrinking Man
19. Il Grido
20. 40 Guns

sweet smell

Posted on December 18, 2015, in Film, Lists. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Paths of Glory was my favorite movie for a few years in my teens, but I’d have to go with the one two punch of Wild Strawberries (my favorite Bergman) and Nights of Cabiria (my favorite Giulietta Masina) and then PoG.

    I have a hard time imagining someone sixty years from now looking at the top 20 of movies from 2015 and being able to marvel at the wide range of classics made within the span of a year like you can do so easily here, but maybe I’m just setting myself up to be a grumpy old man.

    Have you seen Le Notti Bianche? One of the more underrated Criterions.

    • Some friends and I have an ongoing project where we look at a year at a time and spend a few weeks revisiting films for the purpose of making a list. It is hardly scientific, but I try to put my lists in proper context of the times.

      Yes, I have seen the Visconti and am not as thrilled about it. I still like it, and it would easily make a top 30, but I remember there being some issues with the stage that bothered me and the romantic element didn’t resonate as being realistic. It is difficult to mount a defense of the film (especially three days after surgery with a fuzzy brain), but I prefer other Vistonti efforts.

      Absolutely agree that Masina is a force in Cabiria. That’s one that could climb back up on a rewatch. It has been a good while.

      • I think you misunderstand what I’m saying. I meant to say that it’s amazing how many absolute classics there were in 1957, and I have a hard time chalking it up to the simple passage of time. Certainly 2015 – or most other recent years – will not be able to measure up.

  2. I would use the Letterboxd as the main reference of the releasing year, and sometimes cross checked with IMDB. It’s a tricky thing really. I did put Aparajito in 1956 so. For me, I have to place two Ingmar Bergman films at the top of 1957 coz i love them so much, as well as Nights of Cabiria too!

  3. One of my favorite 1957 films that is not listed on your list is Nicholas Ray’s Bitter Victory This was one of Nicholas Ray’s last Hollywood films. It’s not available here in the U.S. on Blu-ray. I don’t think it has has an international Blu-ray release.

  4. One of my favorite 1957 films that is not listed on your list is Nicholas Ray’s Bitter Victory. This was one of Nicholas Ray’s last Hollywood films. It’s not available here in the U.S. on Blu-ray. I don’t think it has had an international Blu-ray release.

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