The B+ Movie Guide: The New List (Part XXVIII)
I gave Colin a giant list of 500 movies, and he finished it. Of course I’m gonna come up with another list.
This one is for everyone, though. Not specifically for Colin. This is raw material for everybody, should they choose, to go out and see more movies. Not all of them are essential. Most of them are just awesome. I told Colin that once he finished this list, I’d give him another one that was more fun than work. Geared toward cool stuff that he’d enjoy.
I went through and found 1,000 more movies that I think either need to be seen (leftover “essential” films) or are just really great and would be enjoyed by most who see them. Here they are:
Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964)
This ones is great. Kim Stanley (nominated for the part) is a phony psychic who convinces her husband (Richard Attenborough) to kidnap a rich couple’s daughter, so that way she can use her “psychic” abilities to find her and collect the reward. It’s a great movie. You should see it.
Seven Days in May (1964)
Political thriller. About military leaders who try to overthrow the government. Inspired by real events (JFK and nuclear disarmament). John Frankenheimer directs. Here’s the cast: Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March, Ava Gardner, Edmond O’Brien (who was nominated for it), Martin Balsam, Hugh Marlowe, and John Houseman. I think the first two alone, and the fact that this is a political thriller should let you know to see it. The 60s political films are terrific. This was the first decade where we started dealing with politics as a subject. Everything before this was a nostalgic look at politicians. Here, it’s all thrillers and realistic looks at how fucked up the whole thing is, and commentary. It’s great.
Sex and the Single Girl (1964)
Great comedy. One of my favorites of the decade. Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Henry Fonda, Lauren Bacall and Mel Ferrer. Need more? Tony Curtis works for a tabloid, essentially. He writes an expose on Natalie Wood, who wrote a sex book for women. He thinks she’s never had sex before in her life. He pretends to have marital problems in order to interview her and get all the juicy details. Hilarity ensues. It’s great. It’s really great. You can’t go wrong with Tony Curtis. Plus Natalie Wood, Henry Fonda — you got the goods here. Ends in a madcap chase to the airport.
A Shot in the Dark (1964)
The first real Pink Panther film. That is to say — the first one is supposed to be about Niven, and Sellers ended up upstaging him. So now they continue on with Sellers as the focal point, and this is the first Inspector Clousseau movie. It doesn’t matter what this is about. It’s Sellers, it’s Clousseau, it’s Blake Edwards. You need to see it. All-time comedy. (Also, other Pink Panther movies: Return of the Pink Panther, Pink Panther Strikes Again, Revenge of the Pink Panther. All made a decade after this one.)
The T.A.M.I. Show (1964)
One of the great concert movies of all time. Not as well-known as the later ones. But just hear me out. They had a giant concert in the Santa Monica Auditorium just before Halloween in 1964. It’s hosted by Jan and Dean, who sing a theme song over the opening credits (“Here They Come (From All Over the World)”). And then the concert starts. Here’s the set list:
Opening act: Chuck Berry.
Then Gerry and the Pacemakers, who take over from Berry with their own version of “Maybellene.” Then they alternate alternate two more songs apiece.
After that — Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.
Then — Marvin Gaye. Already, this is the greatest concert you’ve ever seen.
After him, Lesley Gore.
Then Jan and Dean do two songs.
Then — ready? — the Beach Boys. Original Beach Boys. Original harmonies.
Then Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas.
Then — The Supremes. And we’re not even done.
The Barbarians come on to do a song, which leads into —
James Brown and the Famous Flames. This is the James Brown performance. The famous one. Where they told him he wasn’t closing the show and did everything he could to prove that no one could follow James Brown. When I say this is one of the greatest live performances ever committed to film, I’m not exaggerating. He’s so good here. And this all happened live, and they didn’t know what he was gonna do, so they shot it as it happened. It’s magical.
Oh, and then, closing the show — the Rolling Stones.
Incredible, incredible movie. Watch this as loud as you can. It’s one of the great concert films of all time.
The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964)
Famous title. I feel like people know what this is about without having seen it. (She was on the Titanic when it sunk. Hence the nickname. She was played by Kathy Bates in the Cameron movie, just FYI.) Debbie Reynolds got her only Oscar nomination for this, and it shows. She’s a force of nature in this movie. Might have won, had it not been for Mary Poppins. It honestly doesn’t even matter what the plot is. It’s Debbie Reynolds in a musical commanding the screen. That either sells you or it doesn’t.
What a Way to Go! (1964)
It’s a black comedy in full color. J. Lee Thompson directs. And when I say color, I mean color. Very strong palette in this. Shirley MacLaine is a woman who is married four times, and all her husbands ended up getting very rich and dying horrible deaths. And she feels it’s her fault. And we see as she recaps all four of these marriages. The four husbands are: Dick Van Dyke, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum and Gene Kelly. The movie is really smart and does a lot of cool things. (The Newman part, for example, is done as a spoof of a foreign art film.) Really entertaining, highly recommended.
Woman in the Dunes (1964)
I only saw this because it was nominated for Best Director, and I’m glad I did. It’s a very surreal film. But great. A guy is doing research in a small village. The villagers basically trap him in a sand quarry. He’s down in a house with a woman. And the way it works is, the house slowly fills with sand. And in order to not die, they have to keep digging themselves out. And the sand is then taken and sold. So it’s basically just a perpetual cycle. It’s basically Sisyphus. And he goes from trying to escape to adapting to it. It’s a beautifully weird film. Perfect, in its own way. It’s an incredible film and you should treat it as essential. Because I know you’ve likely not seen it, but it’s so worth it.
Viva Las Vegas (1964)
I’m not completely well-versed in the Elvis films. I’ve only seen a few of them so far, but I’m on my way to seeing a bunch more. That said — this gets Elvis on this list, and gets a fun 60s movie on the list. Plus, Ann-Margret… wow. Anyway, Elvis is gonna be in a Grand Prix race, but needs a new motor. There’s a series of comic interactions with Anne-Margret, and basically they fall in love and he races. Standard plot, Elvis songs, Ann-Margret being hot. You know what you’re getting with this.
Zorba the Greek (1964)
Opa! No, but seriously, Zorba the Greek is an insanely good movie and an essential movie and you need to see it right now. Anthony Quinn is the best and he’s so good here. It’s impossible not to love him in this. The final scene is perfection. You almost wish he won Best Actor for this (but that category was tough).
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Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965)
Otto Preminger thriller. A woman goes to pick her daughter up from school, but discovers her daughter has disappeared. And what’s worse — no one seems to know who the child is. All the evidence seems to point to the fact that this child has never existed. Is she crazy, or is something going on? That’s the premise of the movie. I first heard about it because Reese Witherspoon was gonna remake this ten years ago. Thankfully that never happened. But this movie is really good. Laurence Olivier is a cop who believes her and works to help her find her daughter. Classic thriller. Doesn’t go the way you’d expect. Typically when you find out what’s actually going on, it’s straightforward. Like, “Oh, the neighbor took her,” so now we have to find the neighbor, and there’s a shootout, and that’s the end, everyone’s reunited and happily ever after. This is not that. The reveal happens and there’s a whole jumble of psychological stuff happening. Way more than an average thriller.
Cat Ballou (1965)
It’s a fun comedy. Lee Marvin (somehow) won Best Actor for this, playing duel roles as the hero and the villain. Jane Fonda stars here, though. Also we have musical interludes by Nat King Cole (months before he died) and Stubby Kaye (which would be later adopted for There’s Something About Mary). The whole movie is a spoof movie. Bad Lee Marvin murders her father, so she hires good Lee Marvin, a famous gunman. Problem is, he’s a stumbling drunk. It’s a fun movie.
The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
Steve McQueen playing poker. He wants to be the best. To do that, he has to beat Edward G. Robinson. And the movie is his quest to do that. Ann-Margret, Karl Malden, Tuesday Weld, Joan Blondell and Rip Torn are also in it. Look, it’s a poker movie with Steve McQueen. What more do I need to say to convince you to see this?
The Collector (1965)
Now we’re getting into the great stuff. Not that we haven’t. But these are the movies I’ve been waiting to recommend to people. I actually had a bunch of these on my original list. Because I like them so much and want people to see them so bad, I actually had them on the original list of 500, because they’re so good and should have more audiences than they have that I wanted to make them essential. I ultimately didn’t, so here we are.
This movie is about a kidnapping. Told from the perspective of the kidnapper. It’s kind of like Peeping Tom, in that way. We follow Terence Stamp as his slowly plans and then executes the kidnapping of Samantha Eggar. And he’s developed this elaborate plot to make sure it works. The plan is to get her in the house and hopefully have her fall in love with him. And we watch as she tries to escape, and their interactions. It’s incredible. Seriously incredible. I didn’t know anything about this movie. I knew William Wyler was nominated for Best Director for it and Eggar was nominated for Best Actress. But I didn’t know what I was walking into when I put this on. Oh my god. This is one of the best movies I saw on the entire Oscar Quest. In-credible. You’ll thank me for this one.
Julie Christie won Best Actress for this. This might be my favorite movie nominated for Best Picture this year (against The Sound of Music, Doctor Zhivago, Ship of Fools and A Thousand Clowns). Julie Christie is perfect here. She’s a model who sleeps her way to the top, essentially. But the film is so much more than that. Frankenheimer directs the shit out of it, and it’s the perfect epitome of the 60s. It’s an incredible film. You should see this.
For a Few Dollars More (1965)
Nothing required to be said. Essential. See this. Spaghetti western. The best.
The Hill (1965)
What a great gem of a movie. Very underrated. It takes place in a military prison. And it’s about some new prisoners who clash with the guards, who are strict and cruel. That’s basically the gist of the movie. A prison movie. Most of it is outdoors in Africa. It’s terrific. Just see it. Sidney Lumet directs. Sean Connery, Harry Andrews, Ian Bannen, Ossie Davis, Roy Kinnear, Ian Hendry and Michael Redgrave star. Ian Hendry is incredible here. One of the great forgotten 60s movies, especially between Connery doing all the Bond movies. This holds up just as well as all the great Lumet films.
Inside Daisy Clover (1965)
This is a dark comedy about Hollywood. Natalie Wood plays Daisy Clover, a girl who lives in a trailer with her mother (Ruth Gordon). She wants to be famous. She ends up in Hollywood, and eventually all the execs change everything about her. Her look, her appearance, her backstory, all of it. She becomes friends with Robert Redford, an up and coming male actor (secretly gay). It’s an interesting movie. It deals with how fucked up studios used to be not 30 years before this. Pretty fucked up ending, too. Not as fucked up as the novel, I’m sure, but still. Robert Mulligan directs.
The Ipcress File (1965)
60s Cold War British spy movie. Michael Caine playing Harry Palmer. A bunch of Brit scientists are being kidnapped and brainwashed and he needs to look into it. Great movie. I’m pretty sure the six magic words to tell you this is gonna be good are “60s Cold War British Spy Movie.”
A Patch of Blue (1965)
What a great movie. I almost had this essential too. It should be. It’s about a blind girl who meets a black man and falls in love with him not knowing he’s black. And it’s a beautiful little story. Very progressive. And then all the people around think there’s something wrong with it, including her racist (prostitute) mother (Shelley Winters, who won an Oscar for the part). It’s a beautiful film that everyone should see.
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