Tuesday, May 03, 2011

1961: SOME FAVOURITE FILMS FROM 50 YEARS AGO. Once again it's time to present my ten fave films released half a century ago. As I've stated each year since beginning this foolishness, these aren't necessarily the best movies from the year but only my 10 favourite ones which I revisit again and again. Here they are in alphabetical ordre:
  1. BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S - Blake Edwards' adaptation of Truman Capote's (and this won't be the last time Tru appears on this list) novel starring an effervescent Audrey Hepburn as the iconic Holly Golightly. Also featuring a dewey George Peppard as the ho and Patricia Neal as his sugar mama, a touching Buddy Ebsen and an offensive Mickey Rooney (of course when ISN'T Mickey Rooney offensive?!?). A hollywood snapshot of a time long gone.
  2. EL CID - The height of the massive, overblown . . . I would use the word "turgid" Hollywood historical epic directed by Anthony Mann (in the 3rd phase of his career after his 1st noir period and 2nd western period). Starring the king of turgid Hollywood epic's: Charlton Heston as the legendary 11th century Spanish warlord whose biggest battle occurred while he was a dead'un. Famously starring Sophia Loren who refused to allow herself to be seen with "old age makeup" despite the passing of decades in the film; result being that Heston ages significantly while Loren stays fresh as a daisy. Also stars Michael Hordern, Hurd (Dorian Gray) Hatfield and Herbert Lom.
  3. THE INNOCENTS - Jack Clayton's masterful adaptation of Henry James' ghost story (or is it?) "Turn of the Screw" co-scripted by Truman Capote finds the magnificent Deborah Kerr starring as the repressed governess who suspects her two young charges (Martin Stephens and Pamela Franklin) are possessed by ghosts. Also features Peter Wyngarde, Megs Jenkins and a cameo by Sir Michael Redgrave.
  4. JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG - Typically overheated Stanley Kramer depiction of the 1948 trial of four Nazi judges for war crimes stars an all-star cast: Spencer Tracy, Maximilian Schell, Burt Lancaster, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, Richard Widmark, Montgomery Clift, Werner (Colonel Klink) Klemperer and it even has the Shat!
  5. LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD - Alain Resnais' lyrical, mysterious and puzzling masterpiece set in a huge otherworldly hotel starring the exquisite Delphine Seyrig as the married woman whom a stranger tries to convince to run away with him; insisting that they may (or may not) have had an affair last year. . .but she doesn't remember. Beautiful film.
  6. THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM - The second in Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe series for American International stars Vincent Price at his over-the-top best! The script once again by Richard Matheson has absolutely nothing to do with Poe but does anybody really care. Featuring a small role by the great Barbara Steele, the cast also includes Luana (DEMENTIA 13) Anders and Anthony (CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA) Carbone. The film also features one of the best "busses" in the entire Poe series.
  7. THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY - the first in Ingmar Bergman's so-called "God" trilogy tells the story of a mentally ill woman returning to her family home on a remote island. During the course of the film, her sanity slowly slips away. Harriet Anderssen gives one of the greatest performances by any actor or actress in any film ever! Also starring Max Von Sydow, Gunnar Bjornstrand and Lars Passgard in exceptional performances.
  8. VIRIDIANA - Luis Bunuel is at it again! The story of a young novice who visits her uncle before taking her final vows as a nun. Unfortunately, she resembles her uncle's late wife. And tragedy, as they say, ensues. Sylvia Pinal, Francisco Rabal and Fernando Rey star.
  9. WHAT A CARVE-UP! - I don't know why I love this movie but I do. A pair of bumbling nitwits visit a creepy old mansion when one of them inherits from a dead uncle. A British old dark house comedy which often is called a remake of THE GHOUL but I don't see it - except very loosely. Wonderful British character actors abound: Kenneth Connor, Sid James, Michael Gough, Donald Pleasance, Shirley Eaton, Dennis Price, George Woodbridge, Michael Gwynne, Valerie Taylor...and even an Adam Faith cameo.
  10. YOJIMBO - Akira Kurosawa's homage to American Westerns. A wandering ronin comes to town and finds two warring factions battling for control. He plays one against the other in order to free the town from mayhem. Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura star.

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