400 Blows, starring Jean-Pierre Léaud. Directed by Francois Truffaut. (1959) Library Call Number: PN1995.9.F67F68 2009.
The first of Truffaut’s semi-autobiographical films starring Jean-Pierre Léaud as Antoine Doinel, the film follows a neglected boy who skips school, tells a lie, runs away from home and lands in reform school. Not a complex plot, yet the film is on virtually every list of top all-time films, because of the way it involves the viewer so completely in the boy’s life, without becoming maudlin or depressing. The plight of Doinel becomes all-important to the viewer, who rejoices in his path to adulthood.
La Strada, starring Giulietta Masina and Anthony Quinn. Directed by Fredrico Fellini.(1954.) Library Call Number: PN1995.9.F67S73 2003.
La Strada,(the road) is a Fellini masterpiece revolving around an innocent young girl, sold by her mother to a traveling strongman named Zampano (Quinn). Treated no better than a slave, she nonetheless falls in love with her companion until they fatefully join a small circus. Masina gives one of the best film performances in history, endearing and affecting. And Anthony Quinn is an incredible counterpoint as the brutal strongman with no control of his feelings.
The Seventh Seal, starring Max von Sydow, Bengt Ekerot and Gunnar Bjorkstrand. Directed by Ingmar Bergman. (1958.) Library Call Number: PN1995.9.F67S47x1994.
Von Sydow is magnificent as a Swedish knight , who returns home from ten years of fighting in the Crusades,to find the Plague ravaging towns and villages, religious fanaticism and terror all around. Seeking the meaning of life, he challenges Death to a chess match. Apocalyptic and allegorical, this is at the pinnacle of movie-making.