Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 24 February 2011


1957! What a great year to be 11 and starting to going to movies on one's own or with friends and family. That whole decade 1954 - 1964 was my first decade of moviegoing [which nicely co-incides with that fascinating mid-century era of cinema as the modern movie world began circa 1960, or so it seems to me], which I started aged 8 in Ireland in '54 and then I was 18 in '64 newly arrived in London. As per my post on 1954 (label) JOHNNY GUITAR was the first movie I was taken to, which was so vivid and exciting for me, followed by various westerns and A STAR IS BORN. I was also taken during 55 and 56 by my parents to see those hits like THE KING AND I, AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS, TRAPEZE, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS etc, but 1957 marked the year I was allowed to start going on my own - our small town in Ireland had 2 local cinemas which changed programmes several times a week and had lots of revivals and double features. As we did not have television in Ireland then (it did not arrive until the early 60s) we saw lots of movies on the big screen. Ideal!

It was a great year for muscials and sophisticated entertainments. For me particularly those gems like Cukor's LES GIRLS, Donen's FUNNY FACE, Minnelli's DESIGNING WOMAN [Peck and Bacall above in that perfect 50s interior], and musicals like THE PYJAMA GAME (Doris at her peak and that sizzling "Steam Heat"), WHAT LOLA WANTS, PAL JOEY and Fred and Cyd in SILK STOCKINGS. I discovered Sophia Loren in BOY ON A DOLPHIN and LEGEND OF THE LOST where she and John Wayne were super in this sahara western, Gina in THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, Lee Remick made a terrific debut in A FACE IN THE CROWD. Deborah Kerr as Sister Angela and Robert Mitchum as the marine were terrific in Huston's HEAVEN KNOWS MR ALLISON and of course Kerr and Grant in AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER.

THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI was the big hit, and that western GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL with Burt and Kirk at their peak, Disney's OLD YELLER, Elvis in LOVING YOU and JAILHOUSE ROCK. I remember a particular Hollywood magazine I had with stories of the hit films RAINTREE COUNTY, THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL, TAMMY, FUNNY FACE, LOVING YOU and rushing to see those movies. It was that great era for stars like Doris Day, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak, Janet Leigh, Burt, Kirk, Rock, Tony Curtis, Peck, Clift, Deborah Kerr, Jean Simmons, Susan Hayward, Kay Kendall, Jeffrey and Tab Hunter, Natalie Wood, Sandra Dee, Joanne Woodward, Shirley McLaine, Anita Ekberg, Jayne Mansfield in WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER, James Stewart in a western I liked NIGHT PASSAGE with Audie Murphy and Brandon De Wilde, and of course anything with Audrey Hepburn or Marilyn.

It was also the year of those great dramas like 12 ANGRY MEN, SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, THE WRONG MAN and PATHS OF GLORY. I later discovered Anna Magnani's great performance in Cukor's WILD IS THE WIND and caught up with Antonioni's IL GRIDO, Fellini's CABIRIA and those two essential Bergmans: THE SEVENTH SEAL (bottom) and WILD STRAWBERRIES as well as finding out about films like KANAL or THE CRANES ARE FLYING with the arrival of magazines like "Films and Filming", more serious than the usual "Picture Show" or "Photoplay" or the Hollywood fan magazines (usually with Marilyn on the cover or the latest on Liz or Debbie).

The more rubbish movies of the year which we liked included the hilariously awful THE STORY OF MANKIND and Hedy Lamarr as THE FEMALE ANIMAL. Stanwyck had 2 good westerns TROOPER HOOK and 40 GUNS. (I have reviewed several of these on here already, 50s label). Jeff Hunter and Robert Wagner were the James Brothers for Nick Ray in THE TRUE STORY OF JESSE JAMES. Pat Boone starred in APRIL LOVE. Preminger offered SAINT JOAN which became a resounding failure. SOMETHING OF VALUE was a good Hudson drama set in Africa with Sidney Poitier, Dana Wyner and Wendy Hiller.

There was another SISSI film with Romy Schneider and English cinema came up trumps with dramas like WOMAN IN A DRESSING GOWN (that was Yvonne Mitchell, left above), Stanley Baker in the tough HELL DRIVERS with young Sean Connery and Patrick McGoohan on their way up, Peter Sellers scored in THE NAKED TRUTH, and the Rank Organisation came up with some hits: Dirk Bogarde and Baker again in CAMPBELL'S KINGDOM a Hammond Innes adventure set in Canada (but filmed in the Italian dolomites), Belinda Lee heading the cast of the period drama DANGEROUS EXILE, Stephen Boyd and Tony Wright in the wartime drama SEVEN THUNDERS, and Tyrone Power and that great cast (including Boyd again) in the Shepperton tank all at sea for SEVEN WAVES AWAY (or ABANDON SHIP!).

Fox also came up with some heavyweights from some best-sellers: Power, Ava and Flynn heading THE SUN ALSO RISES, Lana leading PEYTON PLACE and yes Boyd again, with Joan Collins in ISLAND IN THE SUN - Harry Belafonte's theme song was one of the hits of that great year!, and their great ensemble of contract players, led by Joanne Woodward, Jeff Hunter and Patricia Owens in NO DOWN PAYMENT. Fox also gave us the film of Steinbeck's THE WAYWARD BUS with Joan (Collins) and Jayne which is a very rare movie now, but I caught it a while ago. (1957 label)
It is probably heresy but one '57 movie that just does not do it for me is LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON which I finally saw a while ago; liking Audrey, Cooper and Wilder as I do I was looking forward to this but for me it was like a failed souffle, though I see Wilder's intention of re-creating 'the Lubitsch touch', and far too long too!

Soon: 1958, 1959, 1961, 1963, 1964 (I have already done 1954, 1960, 1962.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your memories of a great year. How nice to be young and seeing all these for the first time at the cinema during that great era.