Saturday, 10 December 2011

Movie rambling: Five

Years ago, the TNT Network (back when it ran the classic films now shown on TCM, which didn't exist then) showed the 1951 post-apocalypse movie Five, and I was impressed enough to include it on my list of top 100 films. I hadn't seen it in years, it's never run on TV anymore, and I couldn't find it on DVD. Recently, however, I picked up a DVD copy at a fairly reasonable price on the eBays. It came in a suspiciously generic-looking case, but the print of the film used for the transfer to disc doesn't seem that bad, considering.

A second viewing demonstrated that my top 100 ranking was maybe a little too generous, but it is better than most other atom war survivor movies. The film starts in the immediate aftermath of a nuclear war that has seemingly killed nearly everyone on earth, although who was fighting who over what is never discussed -- a nice touch actually. Five survivors gradually converge on a remote house (conveniently, it's writer/ director Arch Oboler's own Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house). The plot concentrates on the human element, rather than any possible science fiction aspects. The pace is slow at times, and it's a little on the talky side (Oboler's background was in radio) but the performances are superb, and some of the imagery stayed with me days after I watched it. (I'm becoming more inclined to view "imagery staying with me" as one of the more important criteria for evaluating a movie. I didn't think much, for instance, of the Japanese horror movies Ju-On and Dark Water when I first saw them a few months ago, but they both gave me nightmares afterwards, so as horror flicks they must've done something right.) There's a grim, gritty tone about Five that is unusual in a 50s American film; someone on the internet speculated that the look and feel of Five might have inspired that of George Romero's original Night of the Living Dead, and I can also see the similarities. I'd recommend this one to any movie buff if the opportunity to see it presents itself.

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