Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 23 April 2010

'60s [1]

The start of the ‘60s was that great era of intelligent dramas, mainly in black and white (see my post on 1962), so I am just highlighting some here. [Others like ALL FALL DOWN, THE CHAPMAN REPORT, THE APARTMENT, STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET, THE CHILDREN'S HOUR and I WAS HAPPY HERE have been reviewed already here, as well as late 60s capers like DUFFY, OTLEY, SEBASTIAN, DAY THE FISH CAME OUT etc]. By the mid-‘60s Hollywood ‘product’ seemed more and more dumbed down as the studios grappled with the new morality of the Swinging decade before the new cinema of the late '60s. Some producers like Joe E Levine certainly turned out their share of schlock, which makes for fascinating viewing now. We will get on to those next ….

CONE OF SILENCE. This 1960 British airline thriller was just one of the many airline dramas of the time (others being THE CROWDED SKY, JET STORM, SOS PACIFIC). This is mainly courtroom based as an inquiry investigates the cause of pilot Bernard Lee’s crash. It’s a compelling drama about aircraft design flaws. The cast here though is the thing: Michael Craig at his most attractive teamed with that interesting dancer Elizabeth Seal, Peter Cushing and George Sanders in fine form in the courtroom, plus reliables like Marne Maitland, Charles Tingwell, Andre Morrell, Gordon Jackson, Noel Willman and Delphi Lawrence.

THE GREENGAGE SUMMER – this 1961 film from a Rumer Godden novel ("Loss of Innocence") is rarely seen now, but is an engaging drama by Ronald Neame, with Kenneth More and Danielle Darrieux as the adults, and a trio of youngsters left on their own at Darrieux’s hotel in France while their mother is ill. Teenager Susannah York becomes involved with the mysterious More who is involved with Darrieux who also seems to be involved with her (female) hotel partner. Young Jane Asher is terrific as York’s younger sister, and its intriguingly resolved. York is engaging here in her first role after her debut in TUNES OF GLORY.

GOODBYE AGAIN. A perfect early ‘60s film set in Paris by Anatole Litvak (who certainly got the best out of his actresses like Davis, De Havilland, Kerr etc). Ingrid Bergman stars here as Paula, the ‘40ish stylish woman who feels her lover Yves Montand takes her for granted and see other women on the side, which indeed he does. Enter young Anthony Perkins who falls for Bergman and their bittersweet romance ensues. There are nice scenes of Bergman and Perkins driving around Paris, Jessie Royce Landis is fun as Perkins’s mother. It is of course another Francoise Sagan story, from her AIMEZ VOUS BRAHMS? Bergman finally sends Perkins away with the risible line that she is too old, but marriage to Montand does not resolve her fears, as he still plays around. It certainly highlights the plight of the older woman, though Ingrid here is far from old!

FIVE MILES TO MIDNIGHT – another Litvak film set in Paris with Anthony Perkins! This 1962 thriller, scripted by Peter Viertel, was interesting to see recently, as I had never seen it before, despite it starring Sophia Loren! Any film that begins with Sophia dancing the twist in a Paris nightclub can’t be all bad … this one isn’t that good but holds the interest. Sophia is the centre of the film here playing an ordinary woman working in Paris but getting tired of petulant, demanding, jealous husband Perkins (his second teaming with Loren). She thinks he is killed in a plane crash, but he is the only survivor and secretly comes back with a plan to get the insurance money and forces her to play along, then of course things go wrong ……it’s a pleasant time-waster with that new look Loren for the ‘60s. Perkins had a good run in Europe in the early '60s, there was also Dassin's PHAEDRA with Mercouri, Welles' THE TRIAL with Moreau and Schneider among others. Carol Reed's THE RUNNING MAN the next year, '63, was another airline survivor insurance scam with Laurence Harvey, Lee Remick and Alan Bates. That plot also unravelled...

ADORABLE JULIA. I finally caught up with this 1962 Lilli Palmer film a while ago. A French-German production set in London theatreland of the early 60s, it is of course an earlier version of that Annette Bening film BEING JULIA from the Maugham story. Lilli though is much more suited to the material, as the ageless, eternally glamorous sophisticated actress deftly dealing with lover Jean Sorel and husband Charles Boyer. Sorel is good here as the demanding lover who has his own agenda (aiming to get his not very talented girlfriend into Lilli’s play) and its nicely played out. Top marks to Lilli.

WIVES AND LOVERS – This long unseen 1963 comedy is a lot of fun now, particularly with that cast. Its nice to see Janet Leigh in a leading role after PSYCHO and MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and she seems to be having a lot of fun here, as the wife of newly successful writer Van Johnson as they move to Connecticut, with Shelley Winters and Ray Walston as neighbours. Martha Hyer is Lucinda the glamorous agent who causes trouble. It should have been in colour though but it does seem a more adult variation on the Rock and Doris comedies. Shelley is not chewing the scenery for once, but Johnson is a dull one-note uncharismatic lead. It’s a Hal Wallis production competently directed by John Rich. Great theme tune of course.

A HOUSE IS NOT A HOME. Another great theme tune (sung by Brook Benton) here in this enjoyable farrago from 1964, also in black and white and starring Shelley Winters as famous madam Polly Adler. It’s a great role for Shelley but the movie is hiliariously awful – it must be set in the ‘20s or ‘30s but Edith Head dresses them all in early ‘60s ensembles. Shelley starts as the innocent soon involved in providing girls for parties for county hall bigwigs and assorted gangsters (Cesar Romero is Lucky Luciano) – Robert Taylor (looking bored throughout) is her mentor and the girls include Edy Williams and Raquel Welch (a silent role, glimpsed next to Robert Taylor in a bar scene). The girls just loll around in negligees or evening dresses – only two of them come to grief showing the downside of prostitution, as Shelley happily takes to being a madam, the men though are all creeps. It’s a typical studio piece of dross from the ’64-’65 era by producer Joe Levine [wait till I get around to the two HARLOW films, SYLVIA, THE OSCAR etc!]. Russell Rouse directs, Kaye Ballard and Broderick Crawford also feature. It at least gave us that classic Burt Bacharach-Hal David song that outlasted the film (like "The Shadow of Your Smile" is superior to the risible THE SANDPIPER, probably the Burtons' worst movie, though Minnelli gives it the required gloss).

Two European comedies, both with Monica Vitti and Jean Sorel: Vitti's delicious deadpan sense of comedy surfaced in two Italian compendium titles which were popular in the 60s, each containing 4 segments with 4 different stars, and directed by Bolognini, Risi, Rossi and Comencini. LE BAMBOLE (THE DOLLS), now on dvd, was a popular hit in 1965, featuring Gina Lollobrigida, Elke Sommer, Virna Lisi and Monica whose sequence is a hilarious tale of a working class woman trying to get rid of her slob of a husband. Gina is terrific too as the hotel owner’s wife trying to seduce the nephew (Sorel) of visiting cardinal Akim Tamiroff. This was a sensation at the time.

LE FATE (THE QUEENS or SEX QUARTET) in 1966 features Monica in a gaudy dress picking up various men in sports cars and driving them mad with her incessant chatter which is very funny and she looks adorable. Capucine (with Alberto Sordi), Claudia Cardinale and Raquel Welch (with Jean Sorel) also feature in this one.


1 comment:

  1. 'GOODBYE AGAIN' is my second favourite movie with Perkins. The last scene with Bergman sending him away is just excellent