Edge of the City - (1957) Directed by Martin Ritt
Starring John Cassavetes, Sidney Portier, and Jack Warden
Martin Ritt's first full feature film is a small story with big subjects, racism, labor, and military desertion. Shot in black and white and mostly on location, Edge of the City has a very gritty feel. There's a scene where Cassavetes is walking to an apartment building and on the sidewalk there are people, out and about with their business, a kid is bouncing a handball against a stoop; it looks so natural and real, more so than I'm used to seeing in the 50s. Also I enjoyed from where some of the shots were caught, a lot of time's the actors where on the other side of a gate or shot from farther away. I'm glad I saw this film because I've of Martin Ritt being mentioned as one of the "New York Directors" in addition to John Frankenheimer and Sidney lumet but I had never seen a Martin Ritt film that actually took place in New York.
As much as I enjoyed Edge of the City, I must add that I wasn't too crazy about the soundtrack, the jazz tracks were well chosen, but the other orchestra pieces seemed a bit over done, given the film, in my opinion, a layer of unintentional humor. This wasn't that major of an issue since the film held its own and that part of the soundtrack didn't appear too often but when it did I felt myself a bit aware of it.
Billy Liar - (1963) Directed by John Schlesinger
Starring Tom Courtney, Julie Christie
If Tom Courtney reminds you at all of Albert Finney in this film its because Courtney was Finney's understudy for the theatre production of Billy Liar. But that aside, Courtney gives a really great performance as the middle-class young man with a vivid imagination and less vivid practical sense for his ideas. He is a liar but only because his lies are a way of dressing up his mundane life among his contemporary Yorkshire. And although Billy means well and wants to leave for London to pursue his dream of becoming a script writer, he can't seem to build up the courage to actually sever himself from the town that grants his imagination its most use, escape.
This film was shot under the photographic direction of Denys Coop...who is proving to be one of my favorite cinematographers. This is evident within the first 3 minutes of the film.