The Kubrick Appreciation Project: Paths of Glory (1957)

The 1956 answer to Jules Dassin’s RififiThe Killing, is remembered as Stanley Kubrick’s first mature film. Although it failed at the box office, its artistic qualities didn’t go unnoticed by the critical community and inadvertently put Kubrick on the map; the film became his Hollywood CV of sorts. This is perhaps why he was able to convince Kirk Douglas to star in his next feature, Paths Of Glory, which is now widely referred to as his first masterpiece. And for a good reason. 

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The Kubrick Appreciation Project: The Killing (1956)

Stanley Kubrick referred to his 1956 noir caper The Killing as his first mature film. However, as Roger Ebert famously pointed out, it may be inappropriate to single it out as some kind of a fork in the road, let alone a watershed moment that set Kubrick on a trajectory to the pantheon of greatest filmmakers in history. Just as Ebert suggested, without the directing credit listed at the beginning of the movie, it would be very hard to trace it back to Kubrick. 

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The Kubrick Appreciation Project: Killer’s Kiss (1955)

There is an entire universe of difference between Fear And Desire, Kubrick’s feature debut, and Killer’s Kiss, his sophomore effort. Although one could see the filmmaker’s potential in the former film, especially exemplified in aggressive editing, confident staging of static shots and the way the narrative goes about exploring its central themes, many choose to see it as a failure whose reputation is solely derived from the eventual trajectory of Kubrick’s filmmaking career. In other words, it takes some real effort to see past the film’s blatant flaws in craftsmanship and occasional instances of narrative meandering marring the progression of the story in order to appreciate it as more than a stepping stone. 

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The Kubrick Appreciation Project: Fear and Desire (1953)

Released in 1953 and clocking in at just about one hour of running time, Fear And Desire is widely considered Stanley Kubrick’s directorial feature debut. This idea of trying to define whether it should still be considered a short film instead is a controversy one could devote an entire article to delineating, because there’s but a dozen of definitions out there devised with the intent to segregate films into shorts, featurettes and features. Since cinema isn’t really an exact science, a lot of it is rooted in opinion; and as we all know, opinions are like buttholes – everybody has one. So, in the interest of steering clear of any rectal explorations trying to make up my own mind on the subject, I will just agree with what looks like a consensus and instead focus my energy on discussing the film itself. 

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The Kubrick Appreciation Project: Flying Padre (1951) and The Seafarers (1953)

Flying Padre

Stanley Kubrick’s sophomore short documentary was an eight-minute-long human-interest piece titled Flying Padre about a priest living in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico and taking care of a parish so large that it required him to use an aeroplane to discharge his duties, such as performing funeral services, mediating between parishioners or even serving as an air ambulance. In spite of its brevity and perceived insignificance as a work of cinema, it is nonetheless an important milestone in Kubrick’s career, perhaps even the most crucial of all. 

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