Advertisements

The B+ Movie Guide: Part XXVI

In May of 2012, Colin said I should make a list of movies that need to be seen, because he felt there were huge gaps in what he’d seen, and wanted something to do. The idea was that I’d make up a list, as “homework” for him, and he’d use that as things to watch.

So we came up with a giant list of 500 movies that worked, and Colin went about finishing it. And now that it’s finished, we’re gonna write it up. Because you don’t watch a giant list of movies without documenting that you did it.

We’re going through the entire list, little by little, for posterity’s sake. And here’s the next set:

a-man-for-all-seasons-11

A Man for All Seasons (1966)

Mike:

There’s a nice run of these costume dramas in the 60s, and for the most part, they’re all good. Becket, this, The Lion in Winter, Anne of the Thousand Days. They’re all tangentially related because it’s England, and the lines of succession and all that. This one won Best Picture, so this is the one that takes precedence. Though personally Anne of the Thousand Days is my favorite, and The Lion in Winter is also great. This is about Sir Thomas More, who famously refused to let Henry VIII divorce his wife, so he was imprisoned, tried and ultimately killed for it. It’s terrific. Top notch writing here, and Paul Scofield is amazing. (3)

Colin:

This is the movie that people need to watch to understand how awesome Paul Scofield was. I’ve always felt as though he was this master of the craft who everyone in the industry recognized as a giant, and who went largely unnoticed by the average moviegoer over the years. This movie gave him the attention he deserved, and his performance is worth your two hours by itself. But, on top of that, you have other actors like Vanessa Redgrave as Anne Boleyn, Orson Welles as Cardinal Wolsey and Robert Shaw as Henry VIII. Just think about that. Robert Shaw as Henry VIII, and that’s still not the best performance in this movie. What a movie. Watch it and love Paul Scofield — and watch The Train, which was him and Burt Lancaster, and wasn’t on this list.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - 26

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Mike:

Burton and Taylor. Booze. Pulitzer Prize winning play, the two top stars of the time, married, playing a married couple. This is one of the greatest films of all time. The performances here — absolutely astounding. (2)

Colin:

The only thing that matters here is the performance you get from Taylor and Burton. And I say ‘performance’ and not ‘performances’ because these two are so in sync for this movie it was scary. They’re both on the edge of what they can deliver, and it devolves into a fever pitch. You’re watching it more from the perspective of the other couple who’s joining them for drinks, and it’s impossible to tell how things are going to go with Taylor and Burton. They fight, they yell, but they love each other. Staggering. 

Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

Mike:

(2)

Colin:

Faye Dunaway had the best bitch face in this movie. You guys know this movie. This is pretty much 1967. This is where things picked up and the movies got gritty. And real. And violent. And sexy. Audiences weren’t ready for this movie, but we are. 

Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Mike:

(2)

Colin:

This one was an old favorite. I knew Strother Martin from this and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. He’s evil in this movie. Paul Newman plays Jesus in jail (basically), who gets the nickname Cool Hand Luke. He wins at poker, escapes a few times, and becomes friends with George Kennedy. Then he does…more Jesus-like stuff. When people talk about 1967, they talk about this. And like 10 other amazing movies that happened during that incredible year.

The Graduate (1967)

Mike:

(2)

Colin:

So remember when I said that 1967 was an incredible year? Dustin effing Hoffman in this movie. And Anne Bancroft, because I think we were all dreaming of this when we saw The Miracle Worker. You know the story. Young guy, doesn’t know what he wants to do (hey, wait a second…), likes a girl, ends up sleeping with her mother repeatedly. It’s a lot more than that. It’s also hard to overstate just how huge this was as a moment in American cinema. Think about where we were even five years before this, and you have to recognize this film as a referendum on American masculinity. The leading man is no longer John Wayne, he’s Hoffman. That’s a pretty major switch, all of a sudden. Once again, this is Hollywood driving culture in a way that a lot of people might not have been ready for. Mike Nichols definitely had his finger on the pulse of America when he made this. 

guess-whos-coming-to-dinner

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)

Mike:

Sidney Poitier. Sidney Poitier is coming to dinner. (2)

Colin:

That was a great moment in our Western film class. The lecture was on Buck and the Preacher, and the professor is listing off movies Poitier had done. “Then in 1967, there was Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, in which Poitier… comes to dinner.”

Poitier is going to marry this white girl, so they’re in San Francisco to meet her parents, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. It’s a movie dealing with race and interracial marriage that was simultaneously ahead of its time and way overdue; Barack Obama was six when this came out, if that serves as any reference for the existence of interracial couples and multiracial children during this time. As representations of the Left, Tracy and Hepburn are pretty amazing. They support it in principle, but when it’s their daughter… yeah. The part of this that makes it still kind of safe is that Poitier’s character is a super high-class doctor who puts most white people to shame with his accomplishments and his career. So you have that element of, “Yeah, but he’s so well spoken!” Watching this now, you want to say, “Well to hell with his career and his accomplishments — do you have a problem with his race?” Because if you’re only allowing the black guy to marry your daughter because he has a respectable job, that’s still not much of a win. 

Yet another moment in American cinema that needs to be remembered for its gravitas and for the conversation it started. Let’s have dinner.

In the Heat of the Night (1967)

Mike:

(2)

Colin:

So, after having dinner, Sidney Poitier made this movie in which he plays a Philadelphia cop who’s visiting the South and gets picked up for a murder, which he then solves. Lots of prejudiced white people and some prejudice from Poitier, too. Like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, it might feel a bit on-the-nose now, but at the time, this was groundbreaking stuff. Racist white people learning to respect a black man. And it’s a great police procedural in the South, which generally creeps me the hell out. 

Point Blank (1967)

Mike:

You guys see Payback? I love that movie. This is based on that same book. So it’s the same story. Except it’s Lee Marvin, and it’s done in the late 60s. And John Boorman 70s’ the shit out of it. So many zooms and all this style on it. It’s a badass movie. (And ends way differently than the other version does.) (3)

Colin:

Lee Marvin is hard as fuck. Like, I knew him from Liberty Valance (again, what a difference five years can make…), but this is a new level of badass. When Michael Madsen has that line in Reservoir Dogs, “I bet you’re a big Lee Marvin fan, aren’t you?” I felt like he was probably going back to this. He just wears a suit for this whole movie and people die left and right. And Angie Dickinson’s in it, too, and hot. I can’t believe she was doing Rio Bravo only eight years before this. Man, how things change.

thoroughly-modern-millie-1

Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)

Mike:

I have to recommend them both because it’s a happy-go-lucky musical about white slavery. It doesn’t get any better than that. Forget the songs, I don’t even remember the songs. But the movie is fucking hilarious. You’re watching this going, “Holy shit, I can’t believe this is happening right now.” Plus Millie is directed by George Roy Hill, who tricked it out, technically, and made a very fucking funny movie. It’s actually one a film buff would go, “Wow, this is actually well done.” Plus the elevator number is iconic. But actually — this is about white slavery. You’ll thank me later on this one. (3)

Colin:

The Citizen Kane of musicals about white slavery. That’s all there is to it. 

Wait Until Dark (1967)

Mike:

Maybe not totally essential, but amazing. Audrey Hepburn is a blind woman whose husband is out of town. And while he’s gone, some guys show up trying to get a doll that’s in her apartment, because it has some stuff they want. And they try to trick her enough to sneak in and get it out so no one gets harmed… but things don’t quite go as expected. It’s great. The climax is amazing. Alan Arkin is a sadistic killer. Terrific movie. (3)

Colin:

See? This is what I’m talking about. I guarantee you that like 95 percent of people who rave about Breakfast at Tiffany’s and My Fair Lady haven’t seen this. Hell, 70 percent of them probably haven’t even heard of it. It was incredible to watch, because it all takes place in her apartment over the course of a day. She’s learning how to get around, since she’s only been blind a little while, and so you’re watching her figure out how to get from one side of the apartment to another and stuff like that. And then she’s in the apartment with these murderers, and you’re terrified because she’s a freaking blind lady! The final scene is so shocking I made noise, which doesn’t happen often. And Alan Arkin will never be the same to you again, no matter how many times you rewatch The In-Laws

– – – – – – – – – –

Final Thoughts:

Mike:

What do you say about half of those movies? Of course you need to see them. The rest are just fun as shit and close enough to essential that you can count them.

Colin:

This year. 1967 was a year. My god, was it a year. Just look at that and tell me which year you think was more transforming and insane than that. 

– – – – – – – – – –

More movies tomorrow.

http://bplusmovieblog.com

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.