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.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013


What a year - surely the best, the apogee of the 1960s ? (though 1960, 1962, 1968 are pretty terrific too ...). I was there at the time, all of 20 and fairly new in London - seeing all these on cinema screens, including several of my favourite movies:

Antonioni - BLOW-UP (though it was actually 1967 when it opened in London)
Losey - MODESTY BLAISE (I saw Dirk with Rosella Falk on his arm at the premiere, but no Monica!)
Lelouch - UN HOMME ET UNE FEMME - these were favourite soundtracks too per previous posts on these. while THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE was being filmed over in Hollywood ...

It was a year of several major arthouse movies, plus big American hits too as the new American cinema was getting underway (BONNIE & CLYDE would be next year in 1967...), and lots of in-between stuff. Looking back now it seems there was not that much distinction between highbrow stuff and movies at one's local cinema. We had lots of cinemas catering to all tastes with lots of crossovers. How about this lot:

Arthouse biggies:

Bergman - PERSONA / Bresson - AU HASARD BALTHAZAR (French label) / Welles - CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT / Kadar - THE SHOP ON MAIN STREET (An Oscar contender) / Pontecorvo - BATTLE OF ALGIERS / Tarkovsky - ANDREI RUBLEV / Menzel - CLOSELY OBSERVED TRAINS / Malle - VIVA MARIA (my pal Mike and I went to that; the cinema, The Curzon Mayfair, where I was recently, was sold out!) / Polanski - CUL DE SAC.

American biggies: 

Nichols - WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? / Preminger - HURRY SUNDOWN  / Penn - THE CHASE / Smight - HARPER (THE MOVING TARGET) - reviews of these 3 coming up soon.
Us young folk also loved Coppola's first feature YOU'RE A BIG BOY NOW, as per review here, 1966 label ... ditto Lumet's THE GROUP.

Best of British:

Narizzano - GEORGY GIRL / Reisz - MORGAN A SUITABLE CASE FOR TREATMENT / Davis - I WAS HAPPY HERE (filmed in Ireland in '65, see frequent posts at Sarah Miles label) / Gilbert - ALFIE / Zinnemann - A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS.


Less than successful:

Hitchcock - TORN CURTAIN (I never wanted to see it, but might sometime) / Frankenheimer: GRAND PRIX / Truffaut - FAHRENHEIT 451 (even Julie playing two roles could not make this something I'd want to see again) / Chaplin - THE COUNTESS FROM HONG KONG - I must have another look at this Loren, not seen since then, Chaplin's film was just so old-fashioned then, I remember being in the crowd at the premiere, seeing Brando and the Chaplin family arrive, no Sophia though! ... / Hill - HAWAII, and Dassin's 10/30 PM SUMMER despite the magic trio of Mercouri, Finch and Romy Schneider playing Duras. 


Something for everyone, and a lot for young movie buffs such as I was .... yes, a good year to be 20 in a swinging city ! We saw the popular stuff on general release at our local Odeon or ABC, and ventured uptown for the more highbrow stuff ... but movies were movies then, one wanted to see them all. I had turned 20 and was finding my feet in the swinging city, having spent 1964 and 1965 on my own in North London. Now I had friends and was moving, first to Baywater where I could walk up to Notting Hill for their Classic cinema late shows; then to West Kensington, near to the block where Julie Christie lived, and then down to Clapham for the first of flat-shares with my best friend, Stan. I was now a South London boy .....
It was also a good theatre year, (as well as the World Cup British win which I saw on black and white tv), seeing the young Streisand in FUNNY GIRL on stage from the front row, and that terrific Robert Stephens ROYAL HUNT OF THE SUN at the Old Vic.This was also my 'stage door year', where I had a lovely conversation with Jane Merrow (her boyfriend David Hemmings was filming BLOW-UP at the time), as well as the likes of Glynis Johns, Sheila Hancock, Michael Crawford etc. Miss Streisand proved more elusive though - we (my best friend Stan also tried) just could not pin her down, though her co-star Kay Medford proved more amenable ...

1 comment:

  1. Yes, 1966 was one of the apogees of the "new" cinema that was emerging. Someone like Bergman (who had seemed to have gone through a slump) reemerged with PERSONA, Antonioni connected with the mass audience internationally with BLOW-UP, AU HASARD BALTHAZAR inaugurated Bresson's most productive period ever (four films in five years, as opposed to six films in the preceding 20 years). It might not be so easy to remember, but in 1966, it wasn't so assured that Elizabeth Taylor would win her Oscar for VIRGINIA WOOLF: she had real competition from Lynn Redgrave in GEORGY GIRL (which was the performance of choice for all the hip critics) and when the New York Film Critics Circle made it a tie, there was real concern in Hollywood. (And the Golden Globes that year gave the Best Comedy Actress to Redgrave; the Best Dramatic Actress went to Anouk Aimee for A MAN AND A WOMAN.) I remember that was one of the big movie conversations of 1966 (i was on the side of Lynn Redgrave).

    In terms of other movies: i think you should give FAHRENHEIT 451 another shot. It's a marvelously designed movie, it has a wonderful score by Bernard Herrmann, and it was the movie which introduced Julie Christie to the cinematographer/director Nicolas Roeg. She looks wonderful in the movie, and Roeg would also work on FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD and PETULIA, before directing Christie in DON'T LOOK NOW. There are problems, Truffaut obviously was not in his element, but it's not as negligible as it seemed at the time.

    And A COUNTESS FROM HONG KONG isn't that bad. Brando is obviously ill-at-ease (there was no chance for his sudden bursts of inspiration, it's a very rote performance, as was Chaplin's choice), but Sophia Loren is very beautiful and she has such good humor that she's enchanting.