Mike’s Top Ten of 1962
My favorite year of the 60s. This is the year where legitimately the top ten is amongst the greatest films ever made, and the year where I can go 25 deep for great films. I don’t know how other people look at these lists, if they look at the top ten and ignore everything else. But here, you want to look through the top 20 and see them all, because this year is wonderful.
The great thing about 1962 is that you can go down the list, and pretty much one of the greatest (insert genre here) films was released. One of the greatest epics, one of the greatest westerns (two, for my money), one of the greatest courtroom films, one of the greatest prison fils, one of the greatest thrillers, one of the greatest spy films (which spawned the most successful spy franchise of all time), one of the greatest biopics, one of the greatest war films, and one of the greatest cult films of all time.
Top to bottom, this is hard year to beat.
Mike’s Top Ten of 1962
Birdman of Alcatraz
Days of Wine and Roses
How the West Was Won
Lawrence of Arabia
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
The Manchurian Candidate
The Miracle Worker
To Kill a Mockingbird
11-20: Advise & Consent, David and Lisa, Experiment in Terror, Ivan’s Childhood, The L-Shaped Room, Lolita, Lonely Are the Brave, The Longest Day, Requiem for a Heavyweight, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Tier two: Billy Budd, Billy Rose’s Jumbo, The Chapman Report, Cleo from 5 to 7, Gigot, Gypsy, Hell Is for Heroes, Ivan’s Childhood, Jules et Jim, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, The Music Man, Mutiny on the Bounty, The Notorious Landlady, Panic in Year Zero!, The Road to Hong Kong, Sweet Bird of Youth, Two for the Seesaw, Two Weeks in Another Town, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, Zotz!
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1. Lawrence of Arabia
“What is it, Major Lawrence, that attracts you personally to the desert?”
I would call this one of the ten greatest American films ever made. It’s one of my five favorite films of all time. This movie is a masterpiece on every conceivable level.
It’s a biopic of T.E. Lawrence, and it stars Peter O’Toole in his first, and greatest, role. It’s David Lean’s crowning achievement, and it’s one of those films that even people who aren’t really into film seem to like and acknowledge is an incredible piece of work. It’s nearly four hours long and there is not a wasted frame in the entire film. It’s true perfection.
If you ever — and I mean ever — get the chance to see this film projected in 70mm (NOT in DCP, because you can watch a 4K DCP at home), trust me when I say you need to take it. It’s one of the sacred filmgoing experiences that every true film buff needs to experience at least once in their lives.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird
“Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passing.”
One of the greatest novels ever written, turned into one of the greatest films ever written. Everything about this film is iconic, from Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch to Robert Duvall’s screen debut as Boo Radley.
I can talk about this film for hours. Mostly what I’d like to say is — the beauty of the novel and this film is that it represents childhood. Watching this movie and reading that book, it reminds you of what it’s like to be a kid. The book is told from the perspective of a child and puts you in that perspective quite wonderfully. And because childhood is when all of us see this movie and read the novel for the first time, every time you subsequently watch this as you get older, it only reminds you even more of your own childhood and puts you back in that frame of mind. That’s why it’s so beautiful.
I can’t start watching this movie, seeing the opening credits over that box of keepsakes and hearing the opening notes of Elmer Bernstein’s masterful score, without tearing up because it reminds me of the simplicity and beauty of my own childhood, and reminding me of all the wonderful feelings I have associated with this film and these characters.
There are few things I truly cannot wait to share with my own children, and this is near, if not at, the top of the list.
3. How the West Was Won
To me, the greatest Cinerama film they ever made. The remaster of this is one of the most gorgeous-looking films I have ever seen.
The film is an anthology western, basically telling the story of the frontier through various segments, all tied together through the thread of being related to a single family. It opens on the rivers, with a family traveling up the river to a new life, encountering rapids and river pirates. Then it’s the plains, about a woman traveling west to California to inherit a gold mine. Then it’s the Civil War, focused through a conversation between two Union officers as overheard by a Union soldier and an escaping Confederate soldier. Then it’s the railroads, about the former soldier who is hired to maintain peace between the railroad workers and the Native Americans. And finally, the outlaws, about a sheriff facing off with a man just out of prison who holds a grudge against him.
It’s an all-star cast: Carroll Baker, Lee J. Cobb, Henry Fonda, Carolyn Jones, Karl Malden, Gregory Peck, George Peppard, Robert Preston, Debbie Reynolds, Jimmy Stewart, Eli Wallach, John Wayne, Richard Widmark, Walter Brennan, Andy Devine, Raymond Massey, Agnes Moorehead, Harry Morgan, Thelma Ritter, Russ Tamblyn, Lee Van Cleef and narrated by Spencer Tracy. It had three great directors shooting the sequences — George Marshall, Henry Hathaway and John Ford.
It’s one of those movies that’s just a joy to watch. I got to see it in the original Cinerama, complete with seven projectionists handling the three projectors, and it was absolutely wonderful. Save that experience, I recommend seeing this in as high a quality as you can and enjoying the parade of stars and gorgeous production qualities all around. It’s not as thematically powerful as the next film, but man, is it one of my absolute favorites.
4. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
“You’re not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?”
“No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
You can’t list the ten greatest westerns of all time without naming this one. It’s a masterpiece through and through. Jimmy Stewart plays a senator arriving in town to the funeral of John Wayne. He is sat down for an interview and asked why he’d travel hundreds of miles to attend the funeral of some rancher no one had ever heard of. And he tells the story. The film flashes back to 25 years earlier (where Stewart and Wayne play themselves as young men, perhaps the film’s one suspension of disbelief) where Stewart is a young lawyer whose stagecoach is robbed by feared bandit Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). Wayne comes and finds him and brings him into town. Stewart ends up opening a law practice there and becoming friends with Wayne. Marvin, meanwhile, continues to terrorize the town, especially now that Stewart is there as “the law.” The story builds toward the inevitable climax, but its the end that’s beyond iconic, with the famous line quoted above.
This movie is near perfect. If you’re talking John Ford’s essential westerns, it’s this, The Searchers, Stagecoach, My Darling Clementine and probably one of the calvary trilogy films (I’m partial to Rio Grande). Everyone needs to see this movie if they haven’t. It’s an all time great.
5. Dr. No
“I admire your courage, Miss…?”
“Trench. Sylvia Trench. I admire your luck, Mr…?”
“Bond. James Bond.”
The movie that started it all. A franchise that’s still running to this day.
There’s nothing more I need to tell you except — James Bond. So we’ll discuss some specific aspects of this film that make it interesting among the other films of the franchise. First — Bond is pretty ruthless in this one. There’s not as much of the playfulness as he’d show in later films. Bond kills a man in cold blood in this movie. The film also, mid-credits, switches from the famous “James Bond theme” to Calypso music, introducing the film’s setting of Jamaica. The other thing this film sets up is the famous introduction of the character, as quoted above. Though if you look at it, it seems like the way he says it is to mimic the way Sylvia Trench said her name. And somehow that stuck and became one of the iconic lines of the franchise.
It also might be the best-looking of all the Bond movies. The cinematography and production design of this film are gorgeous.
It’s not the Bond film you recognize — those wouldn’t begin until Goldfinger — but for me (and I think a lot of people really into the franchise), that’s the beauty of it. I like that it’s its own thing. This is kind of like the pilot of a long-running show. It has a different feel because they’re just getting their legs under them and figuring out what everything’s going to be.
6. Days of Wine and Roses
“Well, anything worth having is worth suffering for, isn’t it?”
I fell in love with this film, hard. Directed by Blake Edwards, who made way better and more diverse films than you realize, directed this from a screenplay adapted from a teleplay (a lot of the great films of this era were originally TV films).
It stars Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick and, from the first act of the film, seems like it’s gonna be a nice romantic comedy. He’s a publicity agent and she’s a secretary. He’s hired by an executive to bring hot girls onto a boat for a party (with the implication of sex). He mistakes her for one of the “talent” and doesn’t realize she’s the executive’s secretary. Fascinated by her spunk, he asks her out on a date. And they hit it off from there. Though pretty soon, what the film actually is about is revealed. He introduces her to drinking — she never drinks and he’s a “two martini lunch” kinda guy — and pretty soon they both become desperate alcoholics. The film is incredible. Lemmon and Remick’s performances (while they may seem over the top by some) are astounding. I continue to go back to this film and be impressed by it.
7. The Miracle Worker
“It’s less trouble to feel sorry for her than it is to teach her anything better.”
Really terrific story of how that famous diary got written. The entire film is shot in the attic where the family was… what? Oh, right. I mean…
This is a biopic of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan. I feel like everyone reads this play in school and knows the story.
Anne Bancroft is terrific as Annie Sullivan and Patty Duke is beyond words as Helen. Both won Oscars, and rightfully so. The film was also directed by Arthur Penn, who carved out a few masterpieces and a handful of offbeat little gems throughout his career.
8. The Manchurian Candidate
“Why don’t you pass the time by playing a little solitaire?”
One of the best thrillers ever made and a classic in every regard.
The film is about brainwashed POWs that are a part of a vast communist conspiracy. It stars Frank Sinatra in one of his best performances, Laurence Harvey in perhaps his best-remembered role, and Angela Lansbury, who is just incredible as Shaw’s mother. It also features Janet Leigh in a cameo and one of the most fascinating scenes in a thriller, because no one knows just quite is going on in it.
This is one of those movies that, when you’re getting into film, you hear about really early on and you see pretty early on. Because everyone loves it. It’s that good.
9. Birdman of Alcatraz
“You know what they used to call Alcatraz in the old days?”
One of the great prison films of all time. One of Burt Lancaster’s three best performances, coming in a year with some of the most iconic performances ever given. If you love films like Shawshank, you will like this. The prison movie is one of the most watchable genres that can draw anyone in.
Burt Lancaster plays Robert Stroud, a real inmate of Alcatraz who was sentenced to life in prison after a murder. Even worse, it’s life in solitary. So he’s not allowed to have any contact with the other prisoners. The film details his life over several decades as he begins keeping birds as pets to overcome his boredom. He begins to learn about them and finds ways to care and treat them that modern science had yet to discover. There’s a fascinating sequence in the film where his birds start to get sick and die and he works until he finds a cure. It’s utterly fascinating and has great performances by Lancaster, Karl Malden as the warden, Telly Savalas as a fellow inmate and Thelma Ritter as Stroud’s mother.
This is a real classic, and — ready for this? — was also directed by John Frankenheimer along with The Manchurian Candidate. That dude had two top ten movies this year. How often does that happen? I’m not keeping track, but I bet it’s not often.
10. Cape Fear
“I got somethin’ planned for your wife and kid that they ain’t nevah gonna forget. They ain’t nevah gonna forget it… and neither will you, Counselor! Nevah!”
One of the great thrillers and one of the few films that has both a great original and a great remake. Everyone should know the story of this one. The only question is what parts you remember about this one vs. what you remember from the remake. Since both are largely the same, but very specific scenes differ, both versions of which are iconic. (And the Simpsons episode, “Cape Feare,” where Sideshow Bob chases down the family, borrows elements of both, further confusing the two.)
This is one of Robert Mitchum’s most iconic performances, which is impressive, since he already had one of the most iconic villainous performances in The Night of the Hunter back in 1955. That shows you just how versatile of an actor he was, since he was also known for his noir performances, played a romantic lead and was an accomplished dramatic actor.
This is one of those movies that everyone knows and everyone loves. And it’s also one where, the minute you hear the theme music, you’re there.
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Advise & Consent — This movie is so good you don’t know what you’re in for yet. Based on a Pulitzer Prize winner and directed by Otto Preminger. If you love trial movies, you’re gonna like this. Henry Fonda plays a nominee for Secretary of State, and the film is about the process by which he is investigated by the senate before he is approved. It’s like that movie The Contender, with Joan Allen. Or even Lincoln, in a way. It’s wonderful. Behind the scenes political dealings and committee hearings — I know that doesn’t sound amazing on paper, but trust me. It’s so good. I don’t steer you guys wrong. Plus, listen to this cast: aside from Fonda, you have Charles Laughton, Lew Ayres, Franchot Tone, Walter Pidgeon, Don Murray, Peter Lawford, Gene Tierney and Burgess Meredith. It’s awesome. Trust me when I say this is awesome and you need to see it immediately.
David and Lisa — Frank Perry’s directorial debut, beginning a string of films that are just wonderful and completely forgotten today. This got him nominated for Best Director in a year with all of those films above. The film is a love story set in a mental institution. Keir Dullea is a guy who has a fear of people touching him, and Janet Margolin is a girl with multiple personalities. One of them can only speak in rhyme, and the other is a mute. Despite this, they forge a connection. And the film is absolutely lovely. One of the real gems of the 60s and a film I implore everyone to watch. If the top ten weren’t as strong as it is, this would have made it. It is #11 on this list. I love it that much.
Experiment in Terror — I can almost guarantee you don’t know anything about this movie. Directed by Blake Edwards, coming off Breakfast at Tiffany’s and leading into Days of Wine and Roses and The Pink Panther (talk about versatile), this is one of the better thrillers I’ve seen. A man with a creepy voice (he’s got asthma, so the breathing is even more sinister) calls up a bank teller and says if she doesn’t steal $100,000 from her bank, he will kill her sister. She contacts the FBI, and the film is this wonderful game, leading to whether or not they will identify and catch the killer in time. It’s pretty great. Lee Remick stars as the bank teller and Glenn Ford is the FBI agent. This is one of those gems you need to see because you don’t know it exists and you’re gonna like it a lot.
Ivan’s Childhood — The first film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, and it’s still one of his three or four best films. It’s about a young orphan boy who works as a Soviet spy behind German lines during World War II. The film is presented in a dreamlike state, with a lot of flashbacks and things. It’s beautiful. It’s in that vein of Cranes Are Flying and Ballad of a Soldier, where they don’t glorify the soldiers and show the harsh realities of war. It’s a masterpiece. Absolute must see for anyone who loves film. It’s also probably Tarkovsky’s most accessible film to a regular audience. They don’t exactly get easier from here on out.
The L-Shaped Room — One of my favorite discoveries. A real hidden gem. Leslie Caron is a woman who arrives at a run down boarding house in search of a room. We discover that she’s pregnant, wants no part of marrying the father, and has taken up in the boarding house until she has the baby because society isn’t exactly kind to single, pregnant women. At the boarding house, she meets the residents there, who are all misfits in their own way. And the film is about all of them becoming a family of sorts. It’s a wonderful film. Caron was nominated for Best Actress for the film and is terrific in it. Also directed by Bryan Forbes, who had a run of hidden gems this decade. I cannot recommend this movie highly enough.
Lolita — Stanley Kubrick’s version of Nabokov’s famous novel. James Mason is Humbert Humbert, Sue Lion is Lolita, Shelley Winters is her mother, and Peter Sellers is Claire Quilty. They’re all wonderful, and the film is just amazing. It’s not as scandalous as it appeared at the time, though of course the film does involve an adult having feelings for an underage girl, so that’s always gonna be icky on some level. Still, it’s amazing. It’s Kubrick, so you know what you’re getting.
Lonely Are the Brave — One of my favorite westerns. It has one of the most famous opening scenes in film history. Kirk Douglas is seemingly out in the wilderness, like any other western. He gets on his horse and starts riding, and then he reaches a highway, with cars. And you realize this is taking place today, not in the old west like we’re used to. The film’s about Douglas as a guy rejecting modern society and still trying to live like a cowboy. He doesn’t have any ID or a home, he just sleeps wherever he decides to. He finds out his buddy has been thrown in jail, so he gets himself arrested so he can help his friend escape. But his friend’s like, “I have a wife and a mortgage, I can’t do that.” The whole movie’s about Douglas trying to adhere to outdated ways and no one understanding him. It’s beautiful. Highly, highly recommended, especially if you love westerns.
The Longest Day — An epic about D-Day. That’s really all you need. It’s epic, and it’s badass. It’s told from the American, British, German and French perspectives, had like four directors on it, and has an all-star cast. Here’s who’s in it: Eddie Albert, Paul Anka, Red Buttons, Mel Ferrer, Henry Fonda, Alexander Knox, Roddy McDowall, Sal Mineo, Robert Mitchum, Edmond O’Brien, Robert Ryan, George Segal, Rod Steiger, Robert Wagner, Stuart Whitman and John Wayne. And that’s just the Americans. There’s also Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Bernard Fox, Peter Lawford, Richard Todd, Gert Frobe,and Curt Jurgens. It’s an all-time classic, and based on the cast, why would you not see it?
Requiem for a Heavyweight — Based on a teleplay written by Rod Serling, this is a wonderful film and one of the best boxing movies ever made. Anthony Quinn stars as a punch-drunk boxer who is too over-the-hill to get anywhere anymore. After a fight in which he gets destroyed (fun fact: his opponent in the fight is actually Muhammad Ali), he reaches the end of the line. Mickey Rooney is his sympathetic cut man who tries to find him an actual job outside the ring. He ends up interviewing for a social worker position with Julie Harris, who starts to fall for Quinn. Meanwhile, Jackie Gleason is Quinn’s underhanded trainer, who schemes to put Quinn in another fight that he’s guaranteed to lose, getting himself a huge payday in the process. It’s wonderful. A must see. Quinn is at his absolute best, and all the other actors are wonderful. One of the best movies you likely have never seen but will love.
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? — This was always a cult film that I loved showing to people because of how batshit crazy it was. A lot about it has become iconic over the years, but it still didn’t quite get anything more than an ‘oddity’ status, until they did that Joan Crawford/Bette Davis miniseries that showed the making of this movie. That’s when, I think, interest in it picked up. It plays on the actual feud the two actresses had, and the fact that they’d never been in a movie before this and almost openly hated one another. They play sisters. In their younger days, Bette was a child star. Though as they reached their teenage years, Joan started to become the famous one, as Bette’s fame faded. After an incident where one of the two tried to run the other over with their car, Joan is left paralyzed. Cut to like forty years later, Joan is an invalid and Bette is caring for her, while also openly contemptuous of her. Though she’s starting to lose her mind and thinks she’s gonna have a comeback. She constantly tortures her sister in really fucked up ways, and the whole thing descends into campy madness. It’s the first in the subgenre of ‘psycho biddy’ films, which is just wonderful. A must for film fans, just because it’s so off-the-wall nuts and has a lot of great stories surrounding its production. It’s a classic.
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- Billy Rose’s Jumbo
- The Chapman Report
- Cleo from 5 to 7
- Hell Is for Heroes
- Ivan’s Childhood
- Jules et Jim
- Long Day’s Journey Into Night
- Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation
- The Music Man
- Mutiny on the Bounty
- The Notorious Landlady
- Panic in Year Zero!
- The Road to Hong Kong
- Sweet Bird of Youth
- Two for the Seesaw
- Two Weeks in Another Town
- The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm
Cleo from 5 to 7 is a movie that feels like it set the stage for every indie New York filmmaker working today. It’s an existentialist kind of film, about a woman who walks around for two hours, waiting to hear the results of a medical test. She wanders around the city, meeting random people and becoming increasingly despondent, becoming convinced that she will be diagnosed with cancer. It’s one of the great foreign masterpieces, and a film I cannot recommend highly enough. Two for the Seesaw is Robert Mitchum and Shirley MacLaine in a Robert Wise film. It’s about two lonely souls meeting one another and falling in love. That’s it, really. A beautiful, underrated little film.
Sweet Bird of Youth is a great drama and one of the good Tennessee Williams adaptations. Directed by Robert Brooks, who made one of the great Williams adaptations in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Paul Newman stars as a guy who left town a few years earlier to make it in Hollywood. He comes back with a Hollywood starlet, Geraldine Page, in tow. He acts like he’s a big shot, about to be in her next picture. Turns out she’s on a bender because her new picture looks like a flop and she’s worried her star is faded because she’s aging. He’s trying to keep her drunk until she signs a contract saying he’ll be the star of her new movie. Meanwhile, upon his return, he gets embroiled once again in the drama surrounding the town and his exit from it years earlier — which involves Ed Begley as the corrupt ‘boss’ of the town and Shirley Knight as Begley’s daughter, with whom Newman had a relationship. It’s really solid. Great performances all around. Begley won Best Supporting Actor for it.
The Music Man is one of the most famous musicals ever made. The film still mostly holds up. It’s solid. Everyone should know the story. Henry Hill, a con man, rolls into town and convinces them to buy a bunch of instruments and costumes for a boy’s band to march in their parade. Things get complicated when he falls for a local schoolteacher and now actually has to teach a bunch of kids how to play music. Good stuff. Long Day’s Journey Into Night is one of the most famous plays ever written. A masterpiece of a play. This might be the best screen version of it, owing to its cast. It takes place over a day, and deals with some family drama. Katharine Hepburn is the morphine-addicted mother, Ralph Richardson is the father, and Jason Robards and Dean Stockwell play the kids. Really solid film and one of Hepburns’ great mid-career performances (though when is she not good?).
Gigot is a weird little movie. A notorious bomb upon its release, it stars Jackie Gleason as a mute living in Paris. He works as a janitor and ekes out a meager existence, living in a cellar. Constantly the butt of jokes from the children and adults of the town, he’s generally happy-go-lucky and does no harm to anyone. One day, he finds a prostitute and her young daughter shivering in the cold and takes them in. And the film is about all the hijinks he gets into afterward. It’s a weird mix of drama and comedy, and I’m not quite sure what they’re going for at any particular time. It’s certainly a unique movie. I definitely like it a lot. Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation is basically Jimmy Stewart takes a vacation. The title is such because… well, you get it. It’s similar to those Fred MacMurray Disney movies. Stewart takes a vacation, and stuff goes comically wrong. It’s fun. The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm is a Cinerama movie, which is its main draw. It’s about the titular brothers and shows a bunch of their fairy tales throughout the film. Honestly, the reason to see this is the Cinerama.
Mutiny on the Bounty is a big budget, color version of the classic story. The ’35 version is the best, but this one is also pretty great. Shot on location in Tahiti, it looks gorgeous. And you have Trevor Howard as Captain Bligh, Marlon Brando as Fletcher Christian and also has Richard Harris and Hugh Griffith. If you like the original version, definitely check this one out. Panic in Year Zero! is a great sci fi movie. Directed by and starring Ray Milland. He goes on vacation with his family and, a few hours outside Los Angeles, they see a mushroom cloud over it. Turns out, nuclear war broke out and shit’s chaos. So, getting ahead of it, they travel through towns, trying to stock up on supplies before people get wind of it and jack the prices up and/or start looting. And it’s about this family trying to survive in the face of impending fallout.
The Road to Hong Kong is the final Hope/Crosby Road to… movie. Ten years after the previous entry, it’s the only one to not star Dorothy Lamour. Humorously, they thought she was too old. It spoofs the Cold War spy movies and has Joan Collins as the lead. Though Dorothy Lamour does show up (as herself) to help the boys out of a jam. It’s fun. Definitely a lesser effort by them, but it’s like the last Thin Man movie — be glad you’re still getting some of the greatness that was. Zotz! is another one of those crazy William Castle gimmick movies. This one’s about a magical amulet that gives its owner powers. Whoever holds the amulet and points at someone or something will cause that person to feel immense pain. If they hold the amulet and say the word “Zotz,” time will slow down for everyone except the person with the amulet. And if the person does both of these things — points and says the word “Zotz” — then things get fatal. The film is about a guy who finds the amulet, tries to alert the government to its existence (which they treat as a joke) and then becomes the interest of some communists. It’s a lot of fun. More of a comedy than anything else. A fun first half of a double feature.
The Notorious Landlady is fun. Jack Lemmon is a diplomat in London who rents part of Kim Novak’s house. He soon realizes that people think she murdered her husband. And pretty soon he falls in love with her, right as he starts to suspect that she may have done it. It’s a fun comedy. Fred Astaire plays Lemmon’s boss, in one of his “aging” roles. Worth it all around. The Chapman Report is a George Cukor drama with Claire Bloom, Shelley Winters, Jane Fonda and Glynis Johns. It’s about a Kinsey-like doctor who shows up in a town to take sexual surveys of the women there. And we follow the four women and their various dramas: Shelley Winters is having an affair with a younger man, Jane Fonda thinks she’s frigid, Glynis Johns wants to fuck a college student and Claire Bloom is a nymphomaniac. It’s pretty melodramatic and over the top, but I enjoyed it for what it was.
Gypsy is one of the great musicals of all time. Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood star. Wood is Gypsy Rose Lee, a famous stripper, and Russell is her overbearing stage mother. Has to be listed among the 25 or 30 greatest musicals ever made. At least in the studio era, for sure. Terrific film. Billy Rose’s Jumbo is a musical about a failing circus. The owner (Jimmy Durante) gambles away any of his profits, while his daughter (Doris Day) tries to save the farm, so to speak. The highlight of the movie is the Busby Berkeley musical numbers. Hell Is For Heroes is a Don Siegel-directed, Steve McQueen-starring war movie. An American platoon has to hold off the Germans for 48 hours until reinforcements can show up. It’s awesome. McQueen is great, and you have Bobby Darin, James Coburn, Nick Adams and Bob Newhart (!) in it.
Billy Budd is a Peter Ustinov film. He directs and co-stars. It’s the greatest of his directorial efforts. It’s about Terence Stamp as a young man on a ship who is subject to overly cruel and harsh treatment by one of the officers on the ship. The officer, one day, is killed, and Stamp is put on trial. It’s so good. A beautiful film with a great performance by Stamp. Highly recommended, this one. Jules et Jim is one of the foreign masterpieces of all time. People would have this in their top ten, and rightly so. For me, the year’s just too strong. François Truffaut directs and it’s a love triangle between two friends and a woman. Jeanne Moreau is the woman and Oskar Werner and Henri Serre are the friends. It’s a beautiful film. One of those that everyone needs to see. Two Weeks in Another Town is, a decade later, Vincente Minnelli basically going back to the Bad and the Beautiful well. The film openly references that one. Kirk Douglas plays an alcoholic, washed up movie star and Edward G. Robinson plays his washed-up mentor of a director. The pair reunite for a film shooting in Rome, which becomes a shot at redemption for both. It’s really good. It’s not great the way The Bad and the Beautiful is, but it’s solid, considering that no one really knows about it now. Cyd Charisse also co-stars, and I love her, so that’s another selling point as far as I’m concerned.
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