Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Favorite Films Before My Lifetime: 1964

Another year that had plenty to choose from.  Sorry folks, that Mary Poppins didn't make the list, but sometimes that's how the medicine goes down.  I'm also a My Fair Lady fan too, but only one Best Picture nominee made my list and its not a surprise at all.  Readers will probably also notice as long as there's a Kubrick film or Hitchcock movie that isn't Topaz, there's something I really, strongly enjoy from a given year.  They've been filmmakers that had me at hello and have been with me and influential on my film loving/knowledge/education/work my whole life.  So, you're stuck with me and them. haha

The Oscars seem to be "fair" this year

WINNER - My Fair Lady
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb
Mary Poppins
Zorba The Greek

My picks or how I sat here and had to pick favorites to represent 1964

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb

Here we have the one of the closest things Stanley Kubrick has in his roster when it comes to making a comedic.  Its a beautiful piece or dark humor that picks into the workings of the US government.  Its not just devious, its outright hilarious too.  Peter Sellers and Sterling Hayden both reteam with Kubrick.  For Sellers, the results here are much better and completely play to his strengths, giving us quite possible his pinnacle performance.  Hayden also turns in some really unique work for his caliber of roles he had played.  The photography in the film is also incredibly well framed and a nice visual palette going from shot to shot.  A film over 50 years old, but it still works and feels relevant in any age and climate.

A Fistful Of Dollars

While it will be the bottom for me of the Dollars movies, its still quite good.  For me, this introduced a hero aesthetic in the western that I'd never witnessed.  Our "hero" isn't all too good of a guy himself.  He has pretty much a blank background, but his methods and ways don't always seem the best of morals.  Its like "real" bad guys vs bad guys which is something I think would sort of have its influence on the cinema of the 70s.  By "real"  I mean, not just in name, but in their actions as well.  Clint Eastwood, who had just been a ho hum day player in cinema at this point, sky rockets to super stardom with his appearance here and his ability to command the screen with a squinty look, raspy voice and not much to say.


Here is what is considered the ultimate Bond movie.  And really, it is.  Its the one that introduced very much of what exactly unique James Bond movies would bring to the picture.  For many mooons after, this was the film that they kept returning to the well to replicate (as well as rival spy movies of the 1960s).  Prior to this film, Bond movies were just trying to be Hitchcock/North By Northwest knock offs. Bond would still go on to rip from what's popular throughout his career (still to this day), but here is where it stopped and started bringing its own ideas to the table.  This film was huge, and popular and made sure Bond was here to stay.  I wrote a piece on Goldfinger for my retrospective back in 2012 that was a little harsh on the film, but I'll stick by with some of my issues I had on with the film, but know that I still really enjoy the movie.

A Hard Day's Night

There's not a whole lot to say on the film other than that I love The Beatles and its a really fun, goofy film.  It paints to audiences who they are and gave viewers a look at them besides music and interviews that maybe not everyone has a chance to see.  What really stands out on this film is it was something to help usher in a new way to translate music into movies/television as you can see the origins of music video styles/tropes/techniques beginning in A Hard Day's Night.  And somehow, the Salkinds saw this and said..."Shit, brother, this guy who KILL directing Superman movies!"  I'm not sure if that's an actual quote or not.

The Last Man On Earth

This is a seminal film in this decade.  One of Price's finest.  It would go on to be remade into The Omega Man and I Am Legend.  More importantly though, it served as the inspiration for George Romero on Night Of The Living Dead as his zombies were a direct copy of the vampires in this movie.  Before you get mad at me about that comment, George will be the first to tell you he did so.  This movie still has some creepiness to it, and is a wonderful little, well, "last man on earth" after some apocalypse tale.  I always always am sucker for that kind of setup.  Also, in the league of those movies with memorable total bummer endings.  I just recently wrote about this one last October for Why So Blu which you can check out HERE.


One of Hitchcock's more unique films in the canon.  Done during his apparent weird unhealthy working relationship back-to-back film period with Tippi Hedren, I don't think this one was well received upon release.  And I believe only moreso in the last decade or so has it found a bit of a revival and defenders come out of the woodwork to truly appreciate this one.  For the most part this film is a bit of a drama, but don't worry, the suspense is there.  The centerpiece scene being the one pictured, that Hitchcock does an exercise in toying with the quiet and foley sounds.  Sean Connery was forced upon this movie from what I gather, but I think he's pretty solid.  Its Hedren's show and she truly commands the film and has some moments that should have been known and iconic, but it just didn't happen for some reason.  I don't think the movie was really ahead of its time at all, it just maybe wasn't the step they were looking for after the run of Vertigo to The Birds.  But it should definitely be seen and belongs with some of his best or more underappreciated work.

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