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.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Back to: 1963

I love 1963. It was a transition year for me from my teenage years in Ireland to arriving in London in April 1964 when I was 18 and began catching up with all those movies (like LA DOLCE VITA which I could not see in Ireland). In 1963 though I was still, at 17, a “small town boy” – like Billy Liar I suppose. 1962 is one of my key movie years (its 50 years ago!) – I could do a top 20 favourite movies from that year which are still influential and favourites now, and 1964 was not too bad either! Here though is a dozen from 1963, almost 50 years ago too! – a key year in that transition from old Hollywood to new, and that developing British and European cinema. [Right: Tippi's Mattel Barbie BIRDS doll, complete with the green suit and pecking birds!]

1963's key movies now include Hitch and Tippi and the ever-fascinating THE BIRDS, Visconti’s sumptuous THE LEOPARD, Losey’s breakthrough with THE SERVANT – Bogarde’s best role to then too; the film of BILLY LIAR (it was a also a book I loved, and a play) introducing us to Tom Courtenay and Julie Christie – the swinging 60s arrived with her walking around those Northern streets! And I love its affectionate portrait of suburban life.

Glossy enduring entertainment too with Audrey dressed by Givenchy in CHARADE and Capucine by Balmain in THE PINK PANTHER delirious fashion treats as well as fabulous movies, art cinema favourites LE FEU FOLLET and BAY OF ANGELS showing Malle and Demy at their best; THE VICTORS that grim anti-war tract with its raft of rising European actresses (Schneider, Moreau, Mercouri etc), and Neame’s I COULD GO ON SINGING – Judy almost playing herself, with Bogarde again – I had the soundtrack album, as I did for CLEOPATRA and that stunning entry into Rome. (I actually did not see that until its general release in 1964 and it certainly was worth the wait).
Back to THE BIRDS and that lovely interplay between Mitch Brenner and Melanie Daniels, as the tension slowly builds; and she looking so soigne in the birdshop, dialling the telephone with her pencil. Hitch makes sure here that she has all the right accessories: the suit, the hair, the gloves, the handbag, the lovebirds... and then there is Annie Hayworth (Pleshette) at Bodega Bay, and that very complicated mother Lydia (Tandy), and then that first gull attacks ....

Other 1963 classics that live on: THE GREAT ESCAPE, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, Julie Harris and Claire Bloom excelled in THE HAUNTING, LORD OF THE FLIES, HUD, TOM JONES (film of the year), Rattigan ran up a little treat for the Burtons and Co in THE V.I.P.s, another Bronston spectacular 55 DAYS AT PEKING, and that amusing Doris comedy THE THRILL OF IT ALL!. Another one I did not catch until London in ’64 was Bergman’s controversial THE SILENCE… and BYE BYE BIRDIE, a recent discovery as per recent post on that!

A vintage year then for a movie-mad teenager with those "Films & Filming" magazines (where I would work for a year in the '70s) and as related before - see label, I had my own personal ad ["boy 17 seeks penfriends male or female under 21...!"] in its May 63 issue [this was before Facebook] and had replies from all over the world, and I am still in touch with one of them, who is now in San Francisco !
Then there were my first records: that first Beatles album, Francoise Hardy, Peggy Lee, soundtracks of WEST SIDE STORY, SOUTH PACIFIC and the Broadway cast MY FAIR LADY. I was playing records on my portable record player in my room in November 1963 when my mother rushed up stairs to tell me about events in Dallas...
Actors of the year: Dirk Bogarde, Maurice Ronet. Actress: Jeanne Moreau /
Directors: Joseph Losey, Luchino Visconti, Louis Malle, Jacques Demy.
See labels for more on all of these mentioned and those key films ..

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