Thursday, January 05, 2017

Movies From The Swinging Sixties

1966 wasn't a great time for Hollywood.  Soon to being a period of great exploration, they were still stuck in the mire of the dying studio system with overblown epics and musicals, witless sex farce, childish adult drama and endless attempts to recreate Charade (which itself was faux Hitchcock).

But they still managed to make some good movies, as did the rest of the world.  Let's see what Jesse Walker claims are the top ten from that year:

1. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
2. Persona
3. Seconds
4. The Battle of Algiers
5. Punch and Judy
6. Death of a Bureaucrat
7. Le deuxième soufflé
8. Blowup
9. The Shooting
10. Andrei Rublev

A good list, but notice not much (any?) mainstream Hollywood product, as Jesse notes.

I'm not a big Leone fan, and I think TGTBATU is a bit overdone.  I like it, but don't consider it the classic that so many others do.  Persona I'd put on my list.  Seconds might make the list just because we get to see Rock Hudson in something this bizarre.

The Battle Of Algiers is very influential--it practically started the documentary look for film action (which is mostly a bad thing). But while influential, I wouldn't call it great. "Punch And Judy" is a short (even if by one of the greatest animators of our age).

Haven't seen Death Of A Bureaucrat, though I'd like to.  Haven't see Le Deuxieme Souffle, and I've seen almost everything by Melville.

Sometimes Antonioni is a bit much, but I do like Blowup--maybe even enough for the top ten.  The Shooting is okay, but not top ten, or twenty.  Andrei Rublev is a bit long, but a true classic (though I'm surprised Jesse, or anyone, doesn't think "The Bell" is the highlight of the movie).

11. A Man for All Seasons
12. Et Cetera
13. Who Wants to Kill Jessie?
14. Alfie
15. El Dorado
16. A Report on the Party and the Guests
17. Death of the Gorilla
18. The Cut-Ups
19. Lapis
20. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

A Man For All Seasons won the Oscar.  It has some bits of sharp writing, but overall doesn't impress me that much.  "Et Cetera" is another short by Vankmajer.  (Also shorts are 17, 18 and 19, none of which I've seen).

Haven't seen 13.  Alfie made Michael Caine, and is beloved, but not so much my me.  Maybe I should give it another chance.  El Dorado, a weird reboot of Rio Bravo where they're not good enough any more, would probably make my top ten.  A Report On The Party And The Guests is a decent political allegory.  Great Pumpkin is a TV special.

Other films that would make my top ten:

Endless Summer

The Fortune Cookie (Billy Wilder's last masterpiece, though it does have the problem of not knowing which character is the hero)

King Of Hearts (a little clichéd, but sweet and fun)

Lord Love A Duck (not great in a lot of ways, but few films fascinate me as much as this one)

Other films I like:

A Big Hand For The Little Lady, The Big T.N.T. Show, Buster Keaton Rides Again, Closely Watched Trains (considering how well the Czech's performed on Jesse's list, I was surprised not to see this one), A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (as an adaptation of the source material it's hopeless, but it works okay if you watch it as an original work), Georgy Girl, Walk Don't Run (because it's Cary Grant's goodbye), What Did You Do In The War Daddy?, What's Up Tiger Lily?

Films of interest:

7 Women, After The Fox, Alvarez Kelly, Any Wednesday, The Appaloosa, Arabesque, Batman, The Bible: In The Beginning..., The Blue Max, Born Free, Boy Did I Get The Wrong Number!, Carry On Screamming!, Cast A Giant Shadow, The Chase, Chimes At Midnight (some call this a 1966 film--does Jesse?), Daisies, Dead Heat On A Merry-Go-Round, Dr. Goldfoot And The Girl Bombs, Farhenheit 451, The Family Way, Fantastic Voyage, A Fine Madness, Frankie And Johnny, Gambit, The Ghost And Mr. Chicken, The Glass Bottom Boat, Grand Prix, The Group, Harper, Hawaii, Hotel Paradiso, How To Steal A Million, Is Paris Burning?, Judith, Kaleidoscope, Khartoum, Kiss Kiss...Bang Bang, Kiss The Girls And Make Them Die, Lt. Robin Crusoe U.S.N., Madame X, A Man And A Woman, A Man Called Flintstone, Masculin Feminin, Mister Buddwing, Modesty Blaise, Morgan—A Suitable Case For Treatment, Munster Go Home!, Navajo Joe, Nayak, Not With My Wife You Don’t, Once Before I Die, One Million Years B.C., One Of Our Spies Is Missing, The Oscar, Our Man Flint, Penelope, The Professionals, The Quiller Memorandum, Rage, Ride In The Whirlwind, The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming, The Sand Pebbles, The Silencers, The Singing Nun, This Property Is Condemned, Three On A Couch, Thunderbirds Are Go, Torn Curtain, The Trouble With Angels, The Ugly Dachsund (loved this as a kid, but haven't seen it since), Way...Way Out, Who Are You Polly Maggoo?, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, The Wild Angels, You're A Big Boy Now, Zatoichi’s Pilgrimage, Zatoichi’s Vengeance

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that these didn't make any of the lists: Masculin Feminin, Morgan (A Suitable Case For Treatment), The Russians Are Coming and especially Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf.

There are also some fun films that could have made it, like Harper, Fantastic Voyage, Our Man Flint and You're A Big Boy Now.

1:01 AM, January 05, 2017  
Blogger Jesse said...

Steve: Chimes at Midnight was on my 1965 list. (Then again, so was Battle of Algiers.)

So what do you think of After the Fox? I recall it as a mostly mediocre/forgettable comedy, of the sort that Peter Sellers spent too much time wasting his talents on, but the punchline gag is so good that I'm tempted to forgive the rest.

6:21 AM, January 05, 2017  
Blogger Jesse said...

Oh, and I definitely like The Fortune Cookie, and Billy Wilder is my favorite of the old Hollywood directors, but I wouldn't put that one in the "masterpiece" category. But maybe I'll change my mind if I watch it again—the last time I saw it was in the '90s...

Perhaps I just watched it on the wrong day, but Lord Love a Duck didn't do anything for me.

And yes, I do like Closely Watched Trains. And I enjoyed The Big TNT Show and What's Up Tiger Lily, though I wouldn't put either one on a top 20 list.

6:33 AM, January 05, 2017  
Blogger Bream Halibut said...

The Good the Bad and the Ugly makes my list, as does Blowup. Andrei Rublev would probably be more of an honorable mention. I never got into Tarkovsky as fully as I did Kalatazov/Urusevksiy. Or for that matter Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors from the previous year. Parts of The Mirror, Rublev and Nostalgia are impressive enough to make these films worth re-visiting every once in a while, though. Also worth mentioning the really great animated icon painting Battle of Kerzhenets [1971]).

If The Chimes at Midnight is a 1966 film it's at the top of my list, but I have it on my 1965 list for now.

Haven't seen Persona in almost 20 years and I barely remember it.

Same with The Report on the Party and the Guests, which I saw on a dodgy second or third-generation vhs copy in college.

Seconds could fill a space towards the bottom of my list, though I should probably see it again.

Other than that, my list would have to include Morgan! and Kill Baby, Kill, and would probably also have Endless Summer, Come Drink With Me, Batman: The Movie, Fighting Elegy and King of Hearts.

The Face of Another is a solid film, and I have room for it, but I have to admit I'm including it more as a footnote to the book than anything else. My favorites of the Abe movies are Pitfall (which is an original screenplay) and The Ruined Map. Woman in the Dunes is probably the best movie, but it's also the novel I've read the most and have the hardest time detaching myself from when I watch the adaptation.

A couple other Japanese directors I usually like a lot had movies out in 1966 but I don't think they'd make my top 10. The Pornographers is an honorable mention but it worked better as a book (by the same writer as Grave of Fireflies); and Violence at High Noon is one of my least-favorite Oshima films (Japanese Summer: Double Suicide, Death by Hanging, Three Resurrected Drunkards, Boy, The Sun's Burial, Ninja Bugeicho and Night and Fog in Japan are all better, just from his 60s output).

Cul-de-sac is another one from a big name that was kind of disappointing.

My least favorite film of the year would have to be Patriotism (a short). Mishima the novelist can be pretty good, but Mishima the auto-mythological cosplayer is insufferable.

I still need to see The Battle of Algiers.

8:44 AM, January 05, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I sort of like After The Fox, and almost put it on the "like" list. It's mostly a middling comedy, but it's got a good theme song, Sellers creates a memorable character and it does have that great gag at the end. (Neil Simon is the official screenwriter, but he claims the production was a mess and takes no credit for it.)

The Fortune Cookie has problems--it's not as well-shaped as the best of Billy Wilder. But that's because the Jack Lemmon character--the nominal star--is not one-tenth as interesting as Walter Matthau's Whiplash Willie. (Matthau deserved the Oscar he got, but it's as a supporting actor). But Matthau's character is so good, it makes up for any misgivings I otherwise have.

And I like Cul-de-sac. Did I forget to put that on the list?

9:14 AM, January 05, 2017  
Blogger Jesse said...

Whatever movie he's in, Matthau always steals the show.

Now that you've reminded me of After the Fox, I might add a note to the end of my post giving it a "best punchline" award or something like that.

9:40 AM, January 05, 2017  
Blogger Bream Halibut said...

I didn't see Cul-de-sac mentioned. Looking again I see I overlooked Our Man Flint, though. I liked both that and the sequel.

I'm enjoying comparing lists so I think I'll go look at last years set now.

11:42 AM, January 05, 2017  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

So does El Dorado violate three act script structure?

4:50 PM, January 06, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

In Howard Hawks' later career, he stopped caring about plot. As long as you had some good scenes with good characters (and no bad scenes) that was good enough. And "good enough" for Hawks is good, indeed. Admittedly, some of his later films, even the good ones, are a little bloated.

1:05 AM, January 07, 2017  

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