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  • Garrett Brodey

1958 Cinema

Updated: Apr 16



This past month I explored cinema from the year 1958. The thought came out of nowhere really but I’m overall happy that I decided to embark on this project. If you’re wondering why the year 1958, it’s because Home Before Dark, one of my all time favorite films, came out that year and I wanted to see what else that year had to offer.


I went on my Letterboxd account to make a list and to see if I already watched films from that year. I discovered I watched four already so I made a list and ranked those. I then went on google and searched films of 1958 and made myself a watchlist. I spent the entire past month watching twenty one films from that year.


One thing I wanted to explore was the Best Picture nominees for 1958. I wanted to see what was nominated over Home Before Dark, and what won. It was interesting to see what the Academy chose over the underrated masterpiece and I was not surprised with some of the choices and the winner of that year. Those five films are on my list and I’ll make sure to make note of them.


My ranking is now complete and I’d like to talk about each film in order. I’ll try and only write one paragraph for each film so this piece doesn’t become too long.


Home Before Dark:

This shouldn’t surprise anyone as I mentioned this above as one of my all time favorite films. Not only that, but I wrote an entire piece on this film a month ago and I constantly tweet about it. I’ll repeat myself again by saying this is one of the best films I’ve ever seen. All across the board, it’s perfect in every single way. Watch it!


My rating: 10/10



Ashes and Diamonds:

I was happy to see that a Polish film came out in 1958. My fiancée is Polish and I love watching films from her culture. I told her about this one and we watched it together and we both loved it! It’s beautifully shot with top notch performances, especially from Zbigniew Cybulski. I really liked the story and the tragic nature of it. My fiancée's dad, who’s from Poland, told me this film is a classic in Poland and was happy we watched it and loved it.


My rating: 10/10



The Bravados:

I am a fan of the western genre. My dad loves westerns so I watched plenty growing up. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed this film. It’s a tragic revenge tale about a stoic Gregory Peck going after four men who ruined his life. It felt different compared to other westerns and I liked that aspect. The story had numerous twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting. Even Curly Joe (Joe DeRita) and Lee Van Cleef star in this! Top tier western and an underrated gem.


My rating: 10/10



Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:

What a title. This is one of Best Picture nominees of that year and this is my favorite of the five films. This film has some of the best acting I've seen. Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, and Burl Ives deliver some amazing performances. The dialogue is top notch. It’s based on the play by Tennessee Williams. Like Home Before Dark, it’s all dialogue and it’s absolutely thrilling. This should’ve won Best Picture and I’m not surprised it didn’t win since the Academy never gets it right.


My rating: 10/10



The Defiant Ones:

One of my favorite aspects of cinema is when two opposing characters have a conversation and this film is full of that. Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier are riveting. Their chemistry is perfect. Every scene with them is compelling and full of amazing dialogue. This film has many brilliant moments of tension. The cinematography is gorgeous and the direction is stellar. Lon Chaney Jr. makes an appearance in this and he’s amazing. This was a Best Picture

nominee and my second favorite of the five.

My rating: 9/10



The Fly:

This is my favorite horror film of 1958. I found it to be really creepy. My favorite aspect is how the film used implied horror. We don’t see the creature until the very end and a lot of the horror comes from the character’s dialogue. Vincent Price is awesome, per usual. The ending is so goddamn unsettling. It will always stick out in my mind as one of the most unnerving endings for a horror film that I’ve seen.


My rating: 9/10



Elevator to the Gallows:

This is a French film noir with one of the best scores I’ve ever heard. Miles Davis improvised the score and it’s beautiful. It elevates the film into a whole other level. The story is not that interesting but the visuals and music really make the experience worthwhile.


My rating: 8/10





The Magician:

This is the first Bergman film I’ve seen and I definitely need to watch his other films. I enjoyed his poetic dialogue and the story of this magician character. The acting is great and the visuals are beautiful.


My rating: 8/10






Vertigo:

By far the most popular film of 1958. This Hitchcock classic lived up to expectations. What can I say that hasn’t already been said? Jimmy Stewart is awesome and I love when he teams up with Hitchcock. Great film.


My rating: 8/10





The Hidden Fortress:

What an epic film. This is the first Akira Kurosawa I've seen and just like Bergman, I definitely want to see Kurosawa’s other films. This is a beautifully shot film with an interesting story. The chemistry between the two leads felt believable. It’s great!


My rating: 8/10





Horror of Dracula:

Good ol Hammer horror. Christopher Lee is an awesome Dracula. His presence is intimidating. Like the original Dracula, this film has a slow pace but I did enjoy the gothic colored atmosphere. Peter Cushing is also a badass.


My rating: 8/10





Mon Oncle:

This was such a treat to watch. The technical aspects of this film are amazing. The production design, framing, and overall direction is so goddamn good. The story is small but I thought it worked well for what this film was going for. The score is really good as well!


My rating: 7/10





The Blob:

A classic 50s monster flick. It’s fun and Steve McQueen is really good in this film. The effects aren’t bad but the pacing is very slow. The 90 minutes feel like 3 hours. Overall, I prefer the awesome 80s remake but I can see why this version is regarded as a classic.


My rating: 7/10





Cairo Station:

A solid film that feels way ahead of its time. I really liked the story and the visuals. It has great tension and the film’s pacing is quick. I’d recommend this.


My rating: 7/10






Run Silent, Run Deep:

I respect any human being that steps foot on a submarine. That is so terrifying to me. This film really surprised me. I enjoyed the revenge-like story and the dynamic between the two leads. Burt Lancaster is so good in this film. A solid war picture.


My rating: 7/10





The Big Country:

I was excited to check this out when I saw the stacked cast. The story felt more like a traditional old western and I thought it was okay. This is the second Gregory Peck western and he’s good in this but not nearly as good in his role in The Bravados. Jean Simmons is the best part of this film. Overall, I liked the film but didn’t love it.


My rating: 7/10




Touch of Evil:

This film is a mess but I think that's the point? It's like an amusement park ride. Just sit back and have some fun. Charleston Heston's character is a moron and his decisions made my eyes roll. The fact that he plays a Mexican man is laughable because he’s playing it as a white dude with tan skin. The tone is all over the place. Orson Welles as Hank Quinlan is the best part of the film. I don't think I'd watch this one again.


My rating: 6/10



I Want to Live!:

Susan Hayward won Best Actress for her performance in this film. She's nowhere near the level of Jean Simmons in Home Before Dark. I couldn't stand her character. I found her to be really annoying. This film starts off so so strong. I loved the first 15 minutes. It's flashy and it has a lot of noir moments. The rest of the film tapers off & gets really slow which is really unfortunate.


My rating: 6/10



The Long, Hot Summer:

The second southern drama of 1958. This one isn’t nearly as interesting as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The acting is by far the best aspect of this film. I enjoyed seeing Paul Newman and Orson Welles interact on screen together.


My rating: 6/10




Separate Tables:

This is another Best Picture nominee and my third favorite of the five. However, it’s really boring. I didn’t like any of the stories this film offers. Rita Hayworth is the best part but she isn’t in this as much. How this film won best acting awards is beyond me because the acting is just fine. This whole film is just okay.


My rating: 5/10



Auntie Mame:

Another Best Picture nominee and look… I didn’t like this one. It’s very long and very boring. It’s a comedy but I didn’t laugh once. The performances are fine I guess. All I can say is, it’s not the worst film on this list.


My rating: 5/10




Thunder Road:

Robert Mitchum never fails. His cool and charismatic swagger always shines. Too bad the rest of the film doesn't match that. The scenes without Mitchum are boring and slow. This film feels like 3 hours even though it's 90 minutes. The story sounds interesting on paper but it's execution is mid at best. Dull is the best word to describe this film. Also I wouldn't consider this a film noir.


My rating: 4/10



The Old Man and the Sea:

This film has an amazing Spencer Tracy performance... which is unfortunate because this film had the same vibe as an old boring documentary. There were some great moments but I was bored throughout a majority of this film.


My rating: 4/10




Man of the West:

I really don’t have much to say about this one. I didn’t like it. Gary Cooper tries but he cannot carry this whole film.


My rating: 4/10






Gigi:

This won Best Picture…. This trash won the Best Picture of 1958. I wasn’t surprised a shitty musical was the Academy’s pick… Look, I’m not a fan of musicals but I still gave this a chance but it’s still an awful film. I didn't like the gross story or the ear bleeding music. This film aged like spoiled milk. I guess the costumes and sets are good but besides that everything else sucks and I hated every second of this piece of shit. Fuck this movie.


My rating: 1/10



Overall, I was happy with the outcome of this project. 1958 has a lot of good films to offer and I’m glad I watched a majority of these films! I’d recommend 1-19 but not the rest. I can’t wait to see what other year I’ll explore next!


Best Picture Nominees Ranked:


  1. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

  2. The Defiant Ones

  3. Separate Tables

  4. Auntie Mame

  5. Gigi

Here's the link of the list I made on my Letterboxd!

https://letterboxd.com/garrett_brodey/list/1958/



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