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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Five Best: 1957

courtesy of
This past Sunday was my father's birthday, now at the ripe old age of 54. We always used to make fun of my mom for getting old, but always forgot about my dad. It's still weird to think of him in terms of age, since I don't do it much. Either way, I decided this week to look back on the year he was born, good old 1957. So, here are the five best films of my dad's birth year, in alphabetical order.

NOTE: Robin Williams on the right - my dad looked just like him when he was younger

Henry Fonda in "12 Angry Men" courtesy of

12 Angry Men

I talked about this movie last week as one of Sidney Lumet's greatest films. Lumet's debut film, he gives us Henry Fonda as the noble juror #8 who fights for the justice system by sticking to the "innocent until proven guily" stigma. Great performances all around in a heated, fascinating look at the world of the courtroom that we don't always see.

Scene from "The Bridge on the River Kwai" courtesy of

The Bridge on the River Kwai

The Best Picture winner of the year, David Lean's labor of love tells the story of a British colonel (Alec Guinness) overseeing his men's construction of a bridge as prisoners of war. Guinness instills a sense of British pride and morale in his men to finish the bridge, even if it means the bridge will eventually be destroyed. The film is a testament to Guinness and his performance, as a proud man who will stop at nothing to fulfill his own personal mission.

Scene from "The Seventh Seal" courtesy of

The Seventh Seal

Ingrmar Bergman directed this landmark film, telling the story of Anonius Block (Max von Sydow) returning home from the Crusades to find his land overrun with the Plague. In order to buy time so he can see his family, he challenges Death to a game of chess to try to stall his impending doom. The film is vastly existential in its criticism of organized religion in terms of the Holy Crusades and the acceptance of all people. Bergman's metaphor for the importance of our mortal time on Earth is breathtaking and equally dark throughout.

Burt Lancaster in "Sweet Smell of Success" courtesy of

Sweet Smell of Success

Burt Lancaster's fati accompli, he portrays J.J. Hensecker, a Broadway columnist and all around tyrant who constantly pushes his agenda to use the press to make or break anyone. The set piece for Ridley Scott's "Wall Street," it gives us a warped protege-mentor relationship in which Hensecker's new pulbicit Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) becomes enraptured in the lifestyle, only to be broken down. Shot in black and white, it's a gritty look at the press and paparazzi and how it can detroy you.

Joanne Woodward in "The Three Faces of Eve" courtesy of

The Three Faces of Eve

Joanne Woodward's three-tiered performance won her the Oscar as she plays Eve White, a quiet housewife and mother who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder. As she goes to therapy and gets hypnotized, her other personalities emerge, Eve Black (racy) and Jane (rational). The film wasn't nominated for any other Oscars, but Woodward's performance alone puts it in the conversation of best of the year.

So happy birthday Dad! Hope it's a great day - you were born in a pretty decent year for movies, so be happy about that.

Others to Check Out:

A Face in the Crowd
Jailhouse Rock
Paths of Glory
Peyton Place
Old Yeller


  1. Happy birthday to your Dad! Yeah, 1957 looks like a good year for the movie industry. My favorite from the the list would absolutely be 12 Angry Men. RIP, Sidney Lumet.

  2. Joshua "Film Minion" GaulApril 19, 2011 at 4:47 AM

    Thanks - yeah, it was a pretty solid year overall. Not 1939 or 1994, but still a memorable little year.