Apur Sansar (Satyajit Ray, 1959)

A young man named Apurba Kumar Roy – or Apu – has recently graduated from school. Apu is encouraged by his teacher to attend university, but he cannot afford it. After having lost his entire family due to tragic circumstances, he tries to find a job. Though unemployed, he manages to get by providing private tutoring lessons. He seeks to write a novel based off of his own life with the intent to publish it one day. Things take a turn for the interesting when an old friend, Pulu, invites Apu to attend the wedding of his cousin.

Continue reading

Aparajito (Satyajit Ray, 1956)

In the year 1920, a young boy named Apurba Roy – or Apu – has left his home in rural Bengal with his parents, Harihar and Sarbajaya, settling into an apartment in the bustling city of Varanasi. Working as a priest, Harihar has been making a decent amount of money, and with the tragic death his first child weighing on his mind, he is determined to make as good of a life as possible for Apu. The family couldn’t possibly have known at the time exactly what plans fate had in store for them.

Continue reading

Godzilla (Ishirō Honda, 1954)

The Eiko-maru was sailing around Odo Island only for it to mysteriously sink. Another ship, the Bingo-maru, was sent to investigate but it too met the same fate with only a scant few survivors. A fishing boat is also destroyed shortly thereafter with only a single person surviving. Compounding matters is when the locals fail to catch any fish during their latest expeditions. An elder residing on Odo Island blames a sea creature that had supposedly terrorized the oceans for generations. That creature is known only as Godzilla.

Continue reading

Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955)

In the rural Bengal village of Nischindipur, Harihar Roy does whatever he can to provide for his family. He lives with his wife, daughter, and an elderly cousin – Sarbajaya, Durga, and Indir. Indir and Sarbajaya cannot stand one another, though Durga has a fondness for the former, often stealing fruit from a wealthy neighbor’s orchid for her. Harihar is especially determined to find work because his wife is pregnant with their second child. When he is born, they name him Apurba – or Apu.

Continue reading

Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)

Fear grips a Mexican border town when a time bomb planted in an automobile detonates shortly after entering the United States, killing an influential businessman. Among the people who witnessed the explosion are Miguel “Mike” Vargas, a Mexican drug enforcement officer, and his wife Susie. Police Chief Pete Gould and District Attorney Adair arrive on the scene shortly thereafter. They are then followed by a police captain named Hank Quinlan and his longtime partner, Pete Menzies. Realizing the gravity of a bomb from Mexico exploding on American soil, Vargas volunteers to help investigate the case. In doing so, he discovers a secret that may cause irreparably damage Menzies’s idolization of his superior.

Continue reading

Hiroshima mon amour (Alain Resnais, 1959)

A French actress hailing from Nevers has traveled to the city of Hiroshima to help shoot her latest film. While there, she meets a Japanese architect who hails from the city. As the film she is to star in is an anti-war piece, they proceed to have an intimate conversation in which they reflect on the devastating damage done to the city as a result of the atomic bomb. From there, they begin a brief, yet passionate affair. She is scheduled to return to France the next day, though the feelings she has developed for this man along with having experienced Hiroshima’s desolation through various museum exhibits and monuments may cause her to change her mind.

Continue reading

The Burmese Harp (Kon Ichikawa, 1956)

Captain Inouye leads a battalion of soldiers during the Burma Campaign in the Second World War. Among his group is Private Mizushima, a man fluent in Burmese who plays a harp (saung) to raise morale for his fellow troops. They are offered shelter, but quickly realize they are being watched by the opposing British and Indian soldiers. Spying the advancing force, Captain Inouye tells the men to sing to give the enemy the impression that they are unaware of their presence. To their surprise, the British soldiers begin singing the same melody. Shortly thereafter, they learn the war has ended with their own country having surrendered. Despite this, a group of soldiers secluded in a nearby mountain insist on fighting the war to the last man. A British captain asks Private Mizushima to convince the soldiers to stand down. Though he couldn’t have known it at the time, this simple mission will cause Mizushima to go on a spiritual journey of enlightenment.

Continue reading

The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

This story takes place in West Virginia during the Great Depression. Serial killer Reverend Harry Powell, a self-anointed preacher, flees the scene of his last murder. He rationalizes his murders by believing he is punishing sinful women and using their money to preach God’s word. To this end, he has the letters “L-O-V-E” tattooed on the fingers of his right hand and “H-A-T-E” on those of the opposite. His luck seemingly runs out when he is arrested for driving a stolen car. However, he soon finds himself sharing a cell with Ben Harper, a criminal who, in a bank robbery, killed two people. Ben is sentenced to death shortly thereafter while Powell makes his way to the Harper household. The executed criminal apparently got his kids to promise not to tell the authorities where he hid the stolen money.

Continue reading

Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)

It is the middle of the sixteenth century in Japan, and a horde of bandits have descended from the mountains. Though they contemplate raiding the village, the chief decides to wait until after their harvest because they had attacked it recently. A farmer overhears the message and the villagers ask Gisaku, the village elder, what they should do. He tells them of a village that once hired samurai. As this village has since remained untouched by the bandits, he declares that they should follow their example. Due to the bandits’ merciless attacks, the village is on the brink of starvation, and they are out of options. With nothing substantial to offer, they will need to find samurai willing to work for a paltry reward.

After a brief period of fruitless searching, the group happens upon a wandering rōnin named Kambei. He immediately demonstrates his skill when he rescues a young boy who had been taken hostage by a thief. A young samurai by the name of Katsushirō then asks to become Kambei’s disciple while the villagers ask for his assistance. Though reluctant at first, he eventually agrees. Kambei then enlists the help of Shichirōji, an old friend of his whom he believed to be dead. From there, they recruit three more samurai, including the wily Gorobei, the rough, yet good-natured Heihachi, and the silent Kyūzō. They eventually welcome Katsushirō himself into the group despite his inexperience because time is of the essence. Shortly thereafter, a drunken man who fancies himself a samurai and claims to be named Kikuchiyo asks to be in the group. The six reluctantly accept him, and they march back to the village. Outnumbered, these seven samurai will need to do everything they can to ensure the farmers’ survival.

Continue reading

On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954)

After having made the critically acclaimed A Streetcar Named Desire film adaptation in 1951, director Elia Kazan teamed up with Marlon Brando once again. This resulted in another beloved classic in the form of On the Waterfront in 1954.

Johnny Friendly is a Mob-connected union boss who prides himself over his iron-fisted rule of the waterfront in Hoboken, New Jersey. The police know that he is behind numerous murders, but because witnesses play “D and D”, which is to say “deaf and dumb”, they are wholly unable to mount a case against him. The people choose accept their subservient position rather than risk their lives to inform the authorities of Friendly’s rampant corruption. Terry Malloy, the younger brother of Friendly’s right-hand many, Charley the Gent, makes his living as a dockworker. He is used to coax Joey Doyle, who is slated to testify in court against Friendly into an ambush. Terry assumed Friendly’s enforces were going to coerce Joey into staying silent, but to his shock, they throw him off a roof instead. Now, with Joey’s sister, Edie, vowing to uncover anything she can about Joey’s murder, Terry finds himself in a precarious position when he begins developing feelings for her.

Continue reading