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Your Favourite Foreign Language Films


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The Captain From Kopenick by Germany's Helmut Kautner is a cute film.  Heinz Ruhmann plays a cobbler who has been jailed for 15 years for a very small offence.  When he is released he is denied a pass that is a requirement to enable one to work.  Caught in a Catch-22 he purchases a second-hand Captain's uniform and commandeers a guard on the street and orders them to accompany him to a nearby town.  Once there he puts all of the officials on house arrest for corruption and confiscates the treasury.

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Crazed Fruit is an interesting Japanese drama from Nikkatsu Studios and director Ko Nakahira. Two brothers vie for the same girl against a backdrop of ennui and disaffected youth. The movie was quite controversial in its home country, although it seems a bit quaint now. Japanese films get categorized into endless sub-genres, and this movie is considered a founding film in the "Sun Tribe" sub-genre, which is basically the equivalent of JD films in the US. In a strange bit of casting, one of the two male leads was the younger brother of the author of the film's source novel.


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The Railroad Man by Pietro Germi of Italy was number two on my list.  I visited the letterboxd web site to refresh my memory of the film and read a few reviews comparing the film rather unfavourably to De Sica's work.  Sure there are stylist similarities but it is rather a tall order to be compared with De Sica.  Germi directs and stars in this "Italian kitchen sink" drama of an older railroad worker who has trouble at home and on the job.


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River of the Night by Japan's Kozaburo Yoshimura is a well made film about a kimono maker who knowingly begins an affair with a married man.  I saw this years ago at the BFI Southbank and since have been unable to find a dvd copy with English subtitles.

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Vittorio De Sica's The Roof is about a poor newlywed couple who move out of a communal family dwelling due to an argument.  The dream then becomes to live in their own squat.  The film is about the hoops they must jump through to achieve this.  Each day the police arrive at an empty lot outside of the city to evict and tear town any abode that does not have a roof and a door.  The challenge then is build a house with both in just one night.  The magic of this film is the performances De Sica gets out of the non-professionals playing the young couple.


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The Forty First - a female sniper in the Red Army encounters White Army soldiers in the desert and tries to shoot one which would be her "forty first" kill. He surrenders and she is ordered to bring him back to headquarters but the ship they are on is shipwrecked. They grow to love each other but when the White Army ship arrives she shoots him as he tries to escape. This is a very good drama film.


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Merry-Go-Round is a Hungarian film by Zoltan Fabri.  Mari Torocsik (who is very good) plays a young girl who rebels against an impending marriage to an older man that her father has arranged.  She meets her true love at the fair.



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The Mystery of Picasso by Henri-George Clouzot offers a look at the great painter at work.


Clouzot films from the other side of a transparent canvas so that the painting is created before your very eyes without seeing the hands or brushes.  It's a n interesting film and the speed with which Picasso knocks these off is phenomenal.


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The winner of the 1956 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Best Picture Award was …


If All the Guys In the World … (1956) Christian-Jaque, France

The winner of the 1957 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Best Picture Award was …


Stay Awake (1956) Amit and Sombhu Mitra, India

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Deadlier Than the Male by Julien Duvivier is another good vehicle for Jean Gabin.  In this one he plays a gourmet chef/owner of a restaurant.  A young girl shows up on his doorstep claiming to be the daughter of his deceased ex-wife.  Gabin is smitten by her but the film isn't titled Deadler Than the Male for nothing.


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Flowing by Mikio Naruse is another look at the life of a geisha.  The performances make this well worth seeing.  Isuzu Yamada won the Mainichi Best Actress Award as the lead.


But the best performance is by Haruko Sugimura in support as an aging drunken geisha.


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Jonathan Rosenbaum in his book Essential Cinema made a list of his thousand favorite film (which includes short films) up to and including 2003.

Here's the first of them.  I should point out the dating may be a bit capricious



Les Fantomas Louis Feuillade, France


L'Enfant de Paris Leonce Perret, France


*Les Vampires Louis Feuillade, France


Judex Louis Feuillade, France


*Tih Minh Louis Feuillade, France


Barabbas Louis Feuillade, France

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Robert Weine, Germany

The Oyster Princess Ernst Lubitsch, Germany


The Parson's Widow Carl Theodor Dreyer, Denmark

The Doll Ernst Lubitsch, Germany


Destiny Fritz Lang, Germany


Dr. Mabuse Fritz Lang, Germany

Nosferatu F.W. Murnau, Germany

Raskolnikov Robert Weine, Germany


L'Inhumaine Marcel L'Herbier, France

The Last Laugh F.W. Murnau, Germany

Michael Carl Theodor Dreyer, Denmark

*Die Niebelungen Fritz Lang, Germany

Strike Sergei Eisenstein, Soviet Union

An asterisk (*) means that the movie is one of Rosenbaum's top 100 movies.

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Carnival in Moscow - A committee is supposed to put on a revue show for the New Year's but the actors find it boring and decide to improve it. Most of the movie just shows the various songs and acts as it counts down to the New Year. This is a fun musical comedy. Lyudmila Gurchenko stars in the main role.


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My top FF films of 1957 of the 20 that I have seen are ….


1.  Wild Strawberries (1957) Ingmar Bergman, Sweden

2.  The Seventh Seal (1957) Ingmar Bergman, Sweden

3.  Don Quixote (1957) Grigori Kozintsev, Russia

4.  Throne of Blood (1957) Akira Kurosawa, Japan

5.  Tokyo Twilight (1957) Yasujiro Ozu, Japan

6.  The Nights of Cabiria (1957) Federico Fellini, Italy

7.  He Who Must Die (1957) Jules Dassin, France

8.  The Cranes are Flying (1957) Mikhail Kalatozov, Russia

9.  Kanal (1957) Andrzej Wajda, Poland

10.  The Lower Depths (1957) Akira Kurosawa, Japan


White Nights (1957) Luchino Visconti, Italy

Il Grido (1957) Michaelangelo Antonioni, Italy

The Men of Tohoku (1957) Kon Ichikawa, Japan

The Wide Blue Road (1957) Gillo Pontecorvo, Italy

Confessions of Felix Krull (1957) Kurt Hoffman, Germany

Elegy of the North/Banka (1957) Heinosuke Gosho, Japan

The Blue Sky Maiden (1957) Yasuzo Masumura, Japan

and I’ve also seen …

El Vampiro (1957) Fernando Mendez, Mexico [dubbed]

A Full-Up Train, Kon Ichikawa, Japan

Edited by Bogie56
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  1. Wild Strawberries, Ingmar Bergman, Sweden
  2. The Nights of Cabiria, Federico Fellini, Italy
  3. The Seventh Seal, Ingmar Bergman, Sweden
  4. Throne of Blood, Akira Kurosawa, Japan
  5. Kanal, Andrzej Wajda, Poland
  6. The Cranes Are Flying, Mikhail Kalatozov, USSR
  7. The Lower Depths, Akira Kurosawa, Japan
  8. The Mysterians, Ishiro Honda, Japan
  9. El vampiro, Fernando Mendez, Mexico

This was a great year for world cinema, and I rank the top 6 on my list as a 9/10 or higher.

1001 Movies You Must See

  • The Cranes Are Flying, Mikhail Kalatozov
  • Mother India, Mehboob Khan, India
  • The Nights of Cabiria, Federico Fellini, Italy
  • The Seventh Seal, Ingmar Bergman, Sweden
  • Throne of Blood, Akira Kurosawa, Japan
  • Wild Strawberries, Ingmar Bergman, Sweden


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