DIABOLIQUE (Henri-Georges Clouzot)
Hitchcock tried to buy the rights to the original novel, but Clouzot got there first. And then the great French director made a classic film of deceit, intrigue and horror.
EAST OF EDEN (Elia Kazan)
James Dean had done some television and had a few small roles in features when Elia Kazan cast him in the screen adaptation of John Steinbeck’s epic novel. I guess he figured “I knew what to do with Brando. I can work some magic with this kid.” The rest is cinema history.
NIGHT AND FOG (Alain Resnais)
When the Allies liberated the concentration camps in 1945, they shot film footage of the horrendous things they found there. In 1955, Alain Resnais went to the now-deserted camps and shot color footage of what remained. Juxtaposing the two filmed records with a careful, thoughtful narration and a haunting musical score, Resnais created one of the most passionate pleas for humanity ever made.
REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (Nicholas Ray)
The fact that this film is dated does not make it a relic. It is placed firmly in its time, yet you can feel the reverberations rippling through every teenager’s angst ever since. The performances of James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Dennis Hopper, the bright Warner Bros. color, and the confident direction of Nicholas Ray create a perfect storm, ripe for a classic in the making.
THE QUARTERMASS XPERIMENT (Val Guest)
The British entered the sci-fi film world with this genuinely creepy story of an astronaut who returns to Earth, only to find that he’s not quite right. Unfortunately, things only get worse.