Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fave Films: 1960s

So, the first decade of films that I might conceivably have seen when they were released: kids stuff like The Incredible Journey, The Love Bug, Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, 101 Dalmatians, Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, The Sound of Music and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, most of these probably at Chichester's one and only cinema, the Granada (which sadly closed in 1980 to become a, wait for it, McDonalds). I remember going to crappy double bills on Saturday mornings; for some reason I distinctly remember seeing The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. And then there were those Ray Harryhausen stop-motion minor epics like The Lost World, One Million Years BC, Jason and the Argonauts, and a few war movies like the classic The Great Escape - all of which would have been on TV.

But let's get on to the decent stuff, experienced of course much later on...

Of course there was Hollywood. Jack Lemmon in The Apartment and The Odd Couple, Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Hustler,  Lawrence of Arabia, Cape Fear, Lolita, The Manchurian Candidate, Mutiny on the Bounty, Cleopatra, It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Dr Strangelove, In the Heat of the Night, Bonnie & Clyde, Bullitt, Midnight Cowboy, Point Blank, The Producers... a couple of great Musicals (West Side Story and My Fair Lady); some decent Westerns (The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, A Fistful of Dollars [OK, Italian], The Magnificent Seven, The Wild Bunch, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid); a few good War films (Where Eagles Dare, The Longest Day, The Dirty Dozen);... some classic sci-fis (The Man with X-Ray Eyes, Planet of the Apes and of course 2001: A Space Odyssey); a handful of horrors (Psycho, The Birds, Night of the Living Dead, and if I had to choose one Roger Corman I suppose it would have to be The Pit and the Pendulum); a couple of early Woody Allens (What's New Pussycat and Take the Money and Run).... Oh, and not forgetting Russ Mayer's pneumatic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!... though that was hardly Hollywood.

And then there was the advent of James Bond: Dr No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Always been partial to Bond, even now.

Which brings us on to Brit films. I've read elsewhere that the British film industry was in a parlous state in the 60s. Possibly, but you can't argue with the quality of these 20 or so titles: Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Room at the Top, Powell's Peeping Tom, Dirk Bogarde in Victim and The Servant, A Kind of Loving, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, This Sporting Life, Tom Jones, Darling, Billy Liar, A Hard Day's Night (but not Help! or Magical Mystery Tour), The Knack... And How To Get It, Blow UpOliver!, Oh! What a Lovely War, If, Women in Love, Alfie, The Ipcress File, The Collector, Kes, The Italian Job... Although of course you could argue about whether some of them were actually, totally British. And actually The Italian Job is a silly jingoistic affair but it was my favourite film as a child. 

Across the Channel, Goddard continued to blaze away with My Life to Live, Woman is a Woman,  Alphaville etc; Truffaut with Shoot the Piano Player, Jules et Jim and Fahrenheit 451. And there was Resnais's very weird Last Year at Marienbad which I remember seeing at the Everyman in Hampstead, much later of course, and thinking 'What on earth...?'  Easier to understand and pleasing to the eye was Catherine Deneuve in Les Parapluies de Cherbourg and Les Demoiselles de Rochefort... but she was refreshingly stranger in Polanski's Repulsion and Bunuel's Belle de Jour. And finally, if we're talking sexy/weird, then pride of place must go to Jane Fonda's arousingly naieve heroine in the fabulously naff Barbarella, directed by Frenchman Roger Vadim - husband to not only Fonda (at the time) but also Deneuve, Brigitte Bardot,  Marie-Christine Barrault and (to counter accusations of favouring only beautiful French actresses), Danish actress Annette Stroyberg. Some guys etc... Oh, and Tati did Playtime.

A handful of great films from Japan: The End of Summer (Ozu), Woman of the Dunes, Tokyo Olympiad, Elegant Beast and Tokyo Drifter. Strangely I can think of only two decent German films from the 60s: Werner Herzog's Signs of Life and Fassbender's Love is Colder than Death, debut films for each. But there are plenty more 'others': Bunuel's Viridiana, Diary of a Chambermaid, Belle de Jour, Fellini's Eight and a Half and Satyricon, Mia Farrow in Polanski's Rosemary's Baby, Gillo Pontecorvo's Battle of Algiers, Bergman's Persona; I Am Curious Yellow and I Am Curious Blue. And if we're veering off into Art films then we have to mention Chris Marker's La Jetee, Warhol's Factory films (inc Chelsea Girls, Flesh and Vinyl), Stan Brakhage Dog Star Man, Kenneth Anger's Scorpio Rising...

But slimming it down to a Top 15:

- The Great Escape (Sturges)
- 2001 A Space Odyssey (Kubrick)
- The Graduate (Nichols)
- Billy Liar (Schlesinger)
- The End of Summer (Ozu)
- Belle de Jour (Bunuel)
- Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Reisz)
- The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Leone)
- Battle of Algiers (Pontecorvo)
- Lawrence of Arabia (Lean)
- From Russia with Love (Young)
- The Producers (Brookes)
- The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Richardson)
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Hill)
- The Italian Job (Collinson) - but only for Caine and the cars, you understand


  1. I'll just add "One Two Three" a wonderful Billy Wilder film set in a divided Berlin & shot just as the wall was going up. Very funny. (The film that is, not the wall going up).
    And the music used in the film was the very first music I heard the first time I went to Berlin. I got in a taxi at the station & the driver said did I mind him playing something, he pushed in the cassette & out of the speakers came "Sabre Dance" by Khachaturian. A true perfect moment a la Spalding Grey.