|Twins meet for the first time...at a summer camp.|
|Mail-order bride Eleanor Parker.|
48. The Last Man on Earth - This first adaptation of Richard Matheson’s terrifying 1954 novel I Am Legend—about a single human in a world inhabited by vampires—was made in Italy on a shoestring budget. Vincent Price is the only English-language actor in the cast. But, despite its financial limitations, it remains an impressive work filled with compelling images. The scenes of the vampires pounding nightly on Price’s door foreshadow similar images in the better-known Night of the Living Dead (1968). There are also some genuinely frightening sequences, such as the one where Price’s character falls asleep in a church, only to awake at sunset and struggle to reach the safety of his fortress home. For a movie that doesn’t even rate as a cult film in most reference books, it’s amazing how many of my movie buff friends remember it as fondly as I do.
|Cushing made a fine Holmes.|
46. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – The most popular criticism of films adapted from stage plays is that the director fails to “open them up”—to transform them from theatrical productions to motion pictures. That always amuses me, for if a film is well-directed and performed, I don’t care if it all takes place in one room (which 12 Angry Men basically does and it’s a favorite, too). Richard Brooks’ adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ hit stage play is a perfect convergence of great acting and a director comfortable with enhancing, but not overpowering strong source material. Burl Ives recreates his masterful Broadway portrait as Big Daddy and Elizabeth Taylor gives what I consider to be her best performance. Williams purists quibble that some of the play’s content is watered down, but the result is still a first-rate film about (as Big Daddy would say) mendacity.
|Cary in Baby.|
44. Spartacus – Stanley Kubrick’s most atypical film is my favorite among his works. He masterfully interweaves strong character relationships with spectacle to create an action film that resonates on a deep emotional level. The justly famous “I am Spartacus” scene as well as the closing one between Jean Simmons and Kirk Douglas still carry a tremendous impact after repeated viewings. Interestingly, Kubrick said in a 1968 interview that Spartacus was the only one of his films he didn’t like. Certainly, he had less control over it, but I believe that working within the confines of a “Hollywood production” brought out the best in Kubrick and the result is an epic for the ages.
|Mifune as a helpful samurai.|
|Stewart in The Far Country.|
|Tippi wishes cell phones had|
Next month, I'll count another ten, including a Val Lewton classic, a Michael Crichton sci fi thriller, and two films each starring Sidney Poitier and William Holden.