Archive for the ‘1956’ Category

American guests have no idea who Sissi is when they visit Bavaria/Austria for the very first time. Much to the (somewhat acted) shock of local guides, who refer to her quite a lot and then dramatically shout: “You mean: you don’t know Sissiiiiii ?”

The classic Sissy trilogy is not known to American audiences. There’s an abbreviated English dubbed version which is terrible. So never – ever – watch Sissi: Forever My Love. Just watch the original trilogy, in German, with subtitles.

Growing up in Europe, this trilogy is shown almost every year on several tv channels around christmas. Its success is a bit like The Sound Of Music, which was never popular in Austria and Bavaria by the way. Maybe a new generation has never seen the movies, but if you’re over forty, you must have at least seen parts of it.

The first movie: Sissi *** is still a great joy to watch. Camp isn’t the correct term. It’s more cheesy and corny. It’s a idealized portrait of the future Austrian empress from the moment she first meets Franz Joseph to her wedding. It’s a romcom that still works well 7 decades later. There is some efficient slapstick humor, the acting is deliberately over the top, Romy Schneider looks gorgeous and it has all the elements of a fairytale: the bold and adventurous princess, the charming prince (well…) and the evil stepmother. It’s really not a bad movie at all.

In Sissi, die junge Kaiserin **(*), there’s less comedy (although there are attempts) and more drama. Sissi is empress now and has a hard time with the strict life at court. When her first-born is taken away from her, she flees home. Time for Franz Joseph to gain her back. No wedding at the end, no divorce either. But the (very long) crowning of the couple as king and queen of Hungary. Lots of patriotism in this episode. Lots of postcard settings in cities and nature. Lots of Romy looking exactly how everyone wants to remember the empress.

Sissi, Schicksalsjahre einer Kaiserin ** is the third installment and the worst. Even though the first two movies were also not historically correct, they weren’t so historically incorrect as this one. This is pure fiction at times. The comic relief is gone and it just basically shows Sissi abroad. First during her lengthy stay in Hungary, then her trips to Madeira and Corfu (to cure from a lung infection) and then her trip home via Milan and Venice. This must have been like watching the Travel Channel back in the fifties, but anno 2019 it’s not really fascinating. Especially since all these nationalities are introduced in the most stereotypical way possible. No. This is not a good one, but Romy Schneider is absolutely gorgeous in every single scene. So. Watch it while doing something else. Like reading online what really happened to Sissi and Franz Joseph.

 

 

Classic: Giant – ***

Posted: September 24, 2018 in 1956, Costume Drama, Drama, Romance, USA, XXX

Time for some Old Hollywood Classic!

The most remarkable thought after watching this 1956 epic, is that some of the issues addressed are still issues in 2018!

Elisabeth Taylor is absolutely stunning as Leslie, the daughter of an east coast horse breeder, who gets married to a Texan, who owns hundreds of thousands of acres of land. But apart from being gorgeous, her character is such a feminist voice! In 1956! When her husband and his men want to debate politics and want her to go drink tea with the other women, she just goes off at them. And there are more scenes like those. This is one hell of a strong female character. Wow. She also addresses the backward way of how the Mexicans are treated on the ranch and in the entire state. It’s really remarkable. When she meets the Texan for the first time, she reads up about the history of the state and then tells him the Texans stole it from the Mexicans. Wow. Bam. Also kudos for the director, who dared to show this segregation between the Texans and those ‘other kind of people’.

What if this movie would have been made in 2018? Would this be a hit? would this even be allowed to be shown in theaters? It would create controversy and Texans would still be offended about the way they are depicted.

It’s a good movie though. The direction is excellent. A lot is shown rather than explained. There are a lot of jumps forward in time, but it somehow works, thanks to the clever editing. George Stevens won the Oscar for best directing even though the movie itself lost big. But he really deserves the win. It makes you want to watch all of his work.

Rock Hudson is great as the macho Texan. James Dean is just okay (what’s the fuzz really?) as a former ranch worker discovering oil in his small piece of land. The feud between these two men on screen also existed off screen. There are hundreds of articles focussing on that rivalry between these two leading men. Which adds to the joy of watching this movie.

The last part of the movie doesn’t quite reach the same level as the first two hours (yes it’s a long movie), but persevere! It’s worth it. It’s all very entertaining. There are even some funny scenes (the thanksgiving scene with the kids, the diner fight at the end).