Directed by Akira Kurosawa, this is often considered one of the greatest films of all time. The story begins in a small Japanese village that is constantly being tormented by marauders. The bandits are about to strike again but decide to return after the harvest. The village elder advises the people to find some samurai in the time they have. Although they have no money, several men go to a town to look for help. There they witness the skill of an experienced samurai. He agrees to help them and also gathers five other skilled men who have no allegiance. They are followed by a seventh, wild samurai. The rest of the film follows the difficult relations between the anxious villagers and their protectors. The samurai fortify the village and also train the farmers for combat. Three samurai make a raid on the enemy and then later the bandits attack. They are hindered by the fortifications but still wreak havoc. The following day the climatic battle takes place. After the showdown, the village is safe but only 3 of the 7 are still alive.
Starring two battling greats in Spencer Tracy and Frederic March, with Gene Kelly as well, the film chronicles a fictitious version of the controversial Scopes Monkey Trial which acted as an allegory for the McCarthy era. March is the prestigious prosecutor on the side of Creationism and Tracy is the famed defense attorney fighting for a young schoolteacher (Dick York). The two spar back and forth on the touchy subject while staying friends outside the courtroom. The whole town backs Brady, condemning Cates and Drummond as evil. However, despite all that is against them, Drumond saves the case by bringing Brady to the stand. The two stars have commendable performances if not their best. Gene Kelly proves he can be a serious actor, playing the cynical newspaper man. The cast is rounded out nicely by Harry Morgan and Claude Akins. Here Stanley Kramer puts together a respectable movie version of the stage play.
This French New Wave film directed by Francois Truffaut, more aptly titled The Wild One or Raising Hell, is about a young boy named Antoine. He comes from a working class family and his parents are struggling and frustrated. In school he gets poor grades and his teacher often punishes him. Annoyed with his life, he runs off for a time committing petty crimes and exploring the streets with a friend. That ends when he is caught stealing his father’s typewriter. Fed up for the last time his parents send him away to an observation center for boys. After he arrives Antoine escapes and runs to the ocean a sight he has never seen. With that the camera zooms in and we clearly see the face of this troubled, young boy. It is easy to appreciated this film because it does not glamorize the situation but tries to deal with it sensitively. Truffaut made a very good one here reflecting on his own experiences.