Sadko (1953, USSR, Ptushko)
I’ve seen the dubbed American release of this fantasy adventure on MST3K. It’s a mistake, but clearly much was lost in Coppola’s translation, for the original release is not bad at all, or at least a fair attempt at iron curtain escapism. Instead of a campy “Sinbad” going on yet another stupid voyage, it’s about a minstrel who launches a trade mission to improve the lives of the poor people of Novgorod. The visuals are unlike anything else I’ve seen. Watched it all.
The Caddy (1953, USA)
Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin are the only funny comedians of the 50s, and barely even that. So far they’ve only let themselves loose in At War With the Army. The rest reminds me mostly of [insert name of gifted comedian who remains strangely popular despite clearly not even trying any more]. Watched: 13 minutes.
Julius Caesar (1953, USA, Mankiewicz)
Lavish visuals and decadent banquet scenes don’t make a great toga epic. Look at HBO’s Rome, which (let’s admit it now) had style but no thoughts in its pretty little head. This does. It speaks with the voice of millennia. When you listen closely, you can hear the heartbeat of a civilization beneath these marble words. Watched it all.
Time Bomb (1953, UK)
A train filled with explosives is on its way to Portsmouth, where it is set to explode. The authorities decide to deal with the threat with the firm protrusion of their massive stiff upper lips. Watched: 18 minutes.