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what i watched last week

Nights of Cabiria (Federico Fellini, 1957). Jeff had this at #37 on his Facebook list, and I hadn’t seen it, so I grabbed it off of Netflix streaming. I had seen La Strada for the first time a couple of months ago, so now I feel like I’ve had a primer on the acting style of Giulietta Masina. Jeff got to the core of Masina’s work when he said of one critic who had complained that Masina in Cabiria was “too Chaplinesque,” “They say that like it's a bad thing.” Your tolerance for Masina will likely mirror your tolerance for Chaplin’s brand of emotional mime. Me, I prefer the Chaplin of Modern Times and The Great Dictator to the Little Tramp. Masina does some lovely work in Nights of Cabiria … without having seen all of her films, I can believe this is her best performance, and I liked her more than I did in La Strada. My favorite Fellini probably remains his contribution to the Poe anthology, Spirits of the Dead. #167 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of all time. 7/10.

Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955). A return visit to a film that took up several pages of my dissertation. Aldrich makes an anti-Mike Hammer film. Hammer’s hard-boiled individualism gets him nowhere, or rather, worse than nowhere. The detective hero doesn’t bring order from chaos, but instead blunders his way into atomic apocalypse. Much is made of the restoration of the “real” ending, with Hammer and Velda escaping into the water to watch the beach house go up in nuclear flames, but the ending changes nothing … Pandora’s box has been opened, it can never be closed, and the fallout from the explosion likely means the end of Hammer and Velda, anyway. The fate of some of the actresses in the film holds interest. Cloris Leachman made her first screen appearance here. Maxine Cooper as Velda and Gaby Rodgers as Gabrielle are strong, as well, although in both cases, I wondered what had ever happened to them. Cooper married and mostly left the acting world, but worked for civil rights, and was part of the anti-Vietnam War movement. Rodgers, who knew Anne Frank as a child, married songwriter Jerry Leiber, who used her name as co-writer for the song “Jackson.” #302 on the TSPDT top 1000. 10/10.

Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960). #13 on my Facebook Fave Fifty list. #30 at TSPDT. 10/10.

Top Hat (Mark Sandrich, 1935). #12 on my Facebook list, #319 at TSPDT. 10/10.

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