Very interesting idea GXG. Although the rules made it hard for me to choose my picks, here they are:
- Godzilla (1954). I don't think I need to explain why I chose the original. Even though it's my second favorite of the series, it is the best and most important one. This is where the daikaiju genre was really born, even if there had been a couple of attempts at it before (the lost Japanese King Kong movies). Pretty much everything blends well together: Ishiro Honda's stellar directing, the brilliant cast performances, Akira Ifukube's iconic music and Eiji Tsuburaya's excellent special effects.
- Seven Samurai (1954). I just had to include the other Japanese classic of this year. Again, it is not my personal favorite Akira Kurosawa movie, but I do believe that it is his greatest movie, and one of the all-time cinema classics. The story is pretty basic and simple, but the movie manages to be engaging all the way through its 200-minute runtime. That's another great thing about this film: even though it runs for over three hours, it really doesn't feel that long at all, thanks to the superb editing. Add to that Kurosawa's masterful director's skills, the magnificent cast and great cinematography, and you have classic Japanese cinema at its best.
- The Unknown Soldier (1955). Perhaps the most famous classic Finnish film. Based on the book of the same name by Väinö Linna (which I haven't read yet), the movie tells the story of soldiers that are ordered to fight in the Continuation War against the Soviet Union. I don't know how often this movie is seen outside Finland, but it truly deserves more recognition. The true strength of it lies in the characters. They're all different from one another and quite relatable.
- Rear Window (1954). Of course I had to include a movie by Alfred Hitchcock. This one actually is my personal favorite. To this day it manages to be an extremely good thriller. James Stewart and Grace Kelly have great chemistry, the cinematography is gorgeous, and the tension keeps building up brilliantly until the climax.
- Bambi (1942). I felt the need to add one animated movie to the list. This is undoubtedly one of the best of the classic Disney movies. In fact, that's the right word to describe it in general: the whole movie just screams "classic". The touching story, all the memorable characters, the beautiful animation and the enchanting music... Do I need to say more?