Showing posts with label 1960's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1960's. Show all posts

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Pumpkin Carving Watch: The Haunting (1963)




Watched:  10/29/2022
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Robert Wise

Every year, we carve a couple of Jack-o-Lanterns and this year is no exception.  And when we carve pumpkins, we put on a movie we know well so we only have to partially watch.  The Haunting (1963) was Jamie's suggestion for this year's carving.

It's been a little bit since I watched this Halloween favorite, and, dammit, is this movie good.  Having now read the novel upon which it is based, it's even better.  But what is in the movie has always been there, so take off your "spooky movies didn't get sophisticated until the 1970's" glasses and soak it in.

I like vampire movies, werewolf movies, etc...  I get the actual willies from haunted house movies and Michael Meyers.  Probably because The Shape is basically a stabby, unknowable ghost.  

Anyway - borrowing heavily from Shirley Jackson's text, leaning on stellar performances across the cast and Wise's smart direction and some off-kilter/ really creative camera and lighting work, it's just a delight to watch.  When I'm not gritting my teeth.  

Here's the jack-o-lanterns, by the way.  Jamie used a cookie cutter and hammer to get her pumpkin's eyes done.  I think it looks cool!



Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Halloween Watch: A Comedy of Terrors (1963)




Watched:  10/17/2022
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  First
Director:  Jacques Tourneur

After The Omen, Jamie requested something lighter for Halloween viewing.  When I read her the description and cast of A Comedy of Terrors (1963), we had our winner - and this was before I knew it was a Richard Matheson script and directed by the great Jacques Tourneur.

This movie feels distinctly like veteran Hollywood players dicking around in a comedic thriller/ horror film, and you're just sort of watching it happen.  The sense of comedy is *distinctly* of the 1960's variety (seemingly appealing to young adults who grew up on 1940's and 50's cartoons and earlier live-action screwball shorts like Three Stooges, I think), while also appealing to the faux literary pretentions of horror from its Poe-borrowing roots, and quoting of Shakespeare to get some credibility.  And, of course, well-endowed women around older men - the Hammer formula, but it's also just movies, I guess.*

The cast includes:  Vincent Price as a ne'er-do-well mortician, Peter Lorre as his blackmailed assistant, Boris Karloff as Price's senile father-in-law, Basil Rathbone as Price's landlord, lovely Joyce Jameson as Price's would-be-opera-star wife, and Joe E. Brown in a small role as a cemetery keeper.  Also credited:  Rhubarb the cat (who is in it throughout and plays absolutely no role) and Beverly Hills - who is some classic 1960's eye candy (think about how Bond uses women as props).

Was the movie funny?  Occasionally.  Shockingly, Rathbone kind of steals the show even as Price and Lorre had me at a low simmer of giggles all throughout.  Comedy is a weird beast in that it can age like old bread as readily as it ages like fine wine.  Some of it works great ten years later, some of it feels awkward and weird.  A lot of it you can see was fresh in the moment, but 60 years later, it's not quite as great.  Or funny.  

But I did enjoy the film, especially the second half.  

The plot is essentially that Price is an undertaker, a business that seems like it would do well no matter the economy, but he's clearly not the popular one in town, and rent is due, so he has to start making funerals happen - fast.  Comedy ensues.

This was, weirdly, roughly the plot of goof-around video JAL, a ragtag group of pals and I made Freshman year at UT.  So we were onto something, I guess (I played "the dude" and it's the worst part of the film, so you'll never see it.  Justin plays an FBI agent looking into the murders, and he's brilliant.).  

Anyway, if you're looking to see some classic horror stars have a grand time - maybe more than the one you're having watching the film - it's worth a view.  I thought it was all right and genuinely hilarious in several places.  It absolutely did the job for a Mid-October Halloween watch.  It's very AIP, but that's not a bug, it's a feature.

Frankly, I think Price's work a few years later in England fulfills the promise of what he's doing here even better.  But why not check this out?


*I'd argue 50's - 70's horror did this in a particular way so you weren't necessarily seeing the women as romantic interests for the leads, even if they were married it seemed companionate, but they were there nonetheless.  

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Vegas Watch: Viva Las Vegas (1964)




Watched:  06/17/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Director:  George Sidney

Confession:  I thought I had seen an Elvis movie all the way through, but looking at The King's IMDB profile, I hadn't. I've seen others in part (Blue Hawaii, Roustabout, etc..), but am not overly keen on jukebox musicals with a book thinner than a pamphlet.  However, Viva Las Vegas (1964) is kind of the high water mark for these kinds of films, and it co-stars perennial favorite, Ann-Margret.  

Part tourist boosterism for America's playland, part romantic comedy, and all boppin' musical, the film is about 85 minutes of rocket-sled plotting paired with Go-Go dancing, while absolutely nothing happens, and we basically watch plot points used a million times over by '64 to tell the story of Elvis and Ann-Margret falling in love.  And in the last ten minutes of the film, we suddenly have a massive bodycount.  Did not see that coming.

Did I like the film?  Yes.  It's charming, dumb and cute.  Ann-Margret is something else.  Was the film good?  By conventional standards, its a mess.  But it was intended to get teens out to cinemas, promote Ann-Margret and Elvis and sell some records, and by that standard it's Citizen Kane.  

Picture stolen from Jenifer's blog, but you can see Garr in white and Basil's backside in red



Sidenote - Teri Garr is briefly in the movie as a background dancer, and you can see how she got pulled out of the chorus for a leading position.  Also: I heard Toni Basil is in the movie, and you cannot miss her when she's on screen for maybe 4 seconds.




But, yeah, basically Elvis plays a would-be race car driver who is in Vegas to drop off his car for a big road rally before heading off to LA to pick up the new motor.  He meets, immediately, an Italian Count who is the definition of Frenemy, and Ann-Margret, who is a pool manager/ swimming teacher.  Trying to find Ann-Margret, Elvis and the Count go on an ogling expedition of the showgirl shows across Vegas, so, you too, can fill your spank bank and have an idea of what you can objectify for a few bucks if you come to Vegas.  Eventually Elvis finds Ann-Margret, they begin to date (having enormous fun with money we're told Elvis doesn't have), but she doesn't want him to race lest he crash.  So they kind of break up.  But then he goes to race, and she helps.   It makes no sense, as nothing in the movie makes any sense.   And then they show the race, and it's a reminder of how terrifyingly dangerous racing was in mid-Century America and how far we've come in not thinking motor sports should end in death.  

Anyway, it is exactly what I was expecting, except for the scene where Elvis hangs out with a bunch of drunk Texans and it suddenly feels like a documentary or how-to video about how to deal with drunk Texans that is accurate to this day.




Monday, April 11, 2022

Hammer Watch: Brides of Dracula (1960)




Watched:  04/11/2022
Format:  BluRay!
Viewing:  Second? 
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Terence Fisher 

It's my b-day tomorrow, and for my b-day, Dug and K sent me a couple of Hammer blurays I'd not picked up, and... I'm very excited.  Lots of extra features and whatnot and excellent picture quality. 

I wrote this one up in late 2020, so I'm not inclined to say a ton more.   I suppose this time it really struck me how much this movie seems to play with the idea of gothic romance novels, of the young woman entering a castle and uncovering a mystery - but in this case rather than a wrongly imprisoned prince or lord, she accidentally frees a Dracula.  It's kind of clever.

This is also a movie where we see Van Helsing continue on his arc as a bad-ass, fist-fighting Draculas and applying his anti-vampirism plan to himself.  It's crazy.  

I will also continue to contend that Andree Melly was very cute as a vampire.



Friday, January 7, 2022

PODCAST 178: "Zulu" (1964) - A SimonUK Cinema Series Episode w/ Ryan



Watched:  01/04/2021
Format:  Tubi
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Cy Endfield




SimonUK and Ryan hold their ground against impossible odds in a trap of their own making! We talk the 93rd ever best British film, bringing our tiny squad up against the overwhelming force that is a film epic all about Britain's red-coats and the sun never setting on the empire and whatnot. It's a movie of it's time in some ways, and maybe more progressive a film than you're figuring for 1964.




Music:
Zulu Suite - John Barry



SimonUK Cinema Series

Monday, December 20, 2021

PODCAST 175: "Cash On Demand" (1961) - Christmas 2021 w/ Jamie and Ryan




Watched:  12/13/2021
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Quentin Lawrence




Jamie and Ryan pull the perfect job of a half-baked podcast episode! The best laid plans of podcasters and men and all that as we do our best to get through the score, talking about a Christmas heist film from the renowned Hammer studios, starring some top-shelf talent! Join us, and let's see if we can't get away with it!




Music:
Money - Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon 


Christmas 2021 Playlist

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

PODCAST 174: "The Apartment" (1960) - Christmas 2021 w/ Maxwell and Ryan


Watched:  12/07/2021
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Billy Wilder




Just in time for Christmas, Maxwell steps off the elevator to join us for a discussion on a cinema classic by one of the great directors. Join us as we borrow a little time and space, and go over one of the best films in the filmography of one of the best directors of the mid-20th century. It may not have much to do with Santa, but it's a reflection of the holiday season from a certain POV!




Music:
The Apartment Theme - Adolph Deutsch


Christmas Playlist 2021

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Elvira Special Watch: City of the Dead (1960)




Watched:  10/24/2021
Format:  Shudder Elvira Special
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's
Director:  John Llewellyn Moxey

I am unfamiliar with this studio, Vulcan Productions, but it's out of Britain.  That said, in theory the movie takes place in Massachusetts, and is a witchy story about a small town where there's still witchy business afoot 400 years later.  

The movie stars a whole bunch of people I didn't know, and I think English people playing Americans, which would explain at least one guy's voice.  But it's got Christopher Lee!  So, super double bonus points.

The movie isn't bad!  It's mostly thriller as young people first try to do some research for a college course, and secondly when others go to look for the first person.  The sets, acting, etc... are all good stuff.  I particularly liked Patricia Jessel as a creepy inn owner.  

Anyway, I mostly watched it as past of Elvira's 4 movie hosting gig on Shudder, and she's terrific!  Good bits in there and what I believe to be a true story of her running into Christopher Lee in a window that I believe would have had to have been pre-Elvira.  Anyway, she has a kicky song at the end I very much enjoyed.


Monday, October 18, 2021

Vincent Price Watch: The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)




Watched:  10/17/2021
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Roger Corman

It is insane that I've never watched this movie.   With Corman directing, Vincent Price starring and a set-up that would become classic and - as Jamie pointed out - feels positively Bond-ian, it's a fun watch.  

It's a period piece, sometime during the Spanish inquisition (don't ask me when.  They're wearing those frilly collars I think of as 16th Century), and the events are around fallout of the Inquisition.  It's a genuinely screwed up story, maybe more thriller than horror, but there are genuine moments of creepiness and chills here and there, which I frankly wasn't expecting.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Hammer-Ween Watch: The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964)




Watched:  10/09/2021
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Michael Carreras

Hammer Horror!  That eventually gets scary!  If you really wait.

This first Mummy movie from Hammer is awesome, and so I figured even a xerox of a xerox would be fine.  And, it is.  

Mummy is dug up, Egyptians are actually okay with it  - sort of - except for killing the one British guy.  But then a big, dumb American showman (Fred Clark, who was in *everything* for like 20 years) decides that instead of taking it to the British Museum, they should take it on the road.  

Anyway, there's a whole lot of plot, and the leading lady seems like she's written by someone who really had some trouble with their last girlfriend, taking the usual 1960's Hammer misogyny to cool new levels.  The reason the Mummy shows up and the motivation of those bringing him back is all-new.  But we do get some decent Mummy-Terminator action.

For once, the Egyptians are given the benefit of the doubt - they're not the ones setting things in motion - at least not the official Egyptian government.  They're not thrilled Fred Clark is going to tour their dead pharaoh around Wisconsin, but aside from that...  

Anyhoo.  It's fine.  It's not my favorite, but it was a fun Hammer watch.




Monday, October 4, 2021

Halloween Hammer Watch: The Gorgon (1964)



Watched:  10/02/2021
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Terence Fisher

This particular film seems to get a lot of mentions as part of the non-Universal-remake horror output of Hammer Studios.  It's part of a 30-film set Jamie got me last Christmas that we haven't spent much time with - but Halloween seems like a fine time to do so.  

I was deeply curious what something as complicated as a Gorgon might look like on a Hammer budget, and now I know.  And now you know:

if you're trying to place it, it's "Mrs. Roper with snakes".  You're welcome.

Monday, July 12, 2021

60th Anniversary Watch: West Side Story (1961)




Watched:  07/10/2021
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Robert Wise/ Jerome Robbins

So...  it'd been a while since I'd seen West Side Story (1961).  No real new insight here, but... the re-make (by Spielberg, coming soon) is going to drive all sorts of discussions when The Kids figure out people have been aware of many of today's social issues for... ever.  And it's not comforting that we're not many steps forward from where we were in the 1950's when the play was written.

Also - expect people to freak out that the last 1/3rd of the musical, just as you may remember Romeo and Juliet, is just super depressing.  Like, no one is a hero in this thing.  Maybe Maria.  And even Anita's attempts to warn Tony almost lead to outright rape at the hands of the very guys she's momentarily holding blameless for her love's death.  

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Swingin' Spy Watch: The Silencers (1966)




Watched:  06/23/2021
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's (so very, very 1960's)
Director:  Phil Karlson

Thanks to a misfire of the Google Fiber TV television schedule - I've found it.  The most 1965-1968 movie ever made.

This is the second movie I've recorded by accident while trying to watch a recording of The Kissing Bandit as part of the Cyd Charisse month-long retrospective.  Last time I'd accidentally recorded Singin' In the Rain, and this time...

I'd heard of The Silencers (1966) a while back, but never stumbled across it or had reason to watch it.  It was always lumped in with movies that influenced Austin Powers about 30 years after this film arrived (and we're now almost as far from Austin Powers as this was from that!  WOW, are we getting old).  It stars Dean Martin as a sort of super-spy in a made-up NSA-type agency called "ICE".  

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Disney Watch: 101 Dalmatians (1961)



Watched:  06/09/2021
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  oh, man.  Who knows?
Decade:  1960's
Directors:  


You ever wonder what people from Dalmatia think about dogs being known better than people from their land?  Like, you live somewhere for thousands of years, and no one can find you on a map, but someone mentions a spotted dog and everyone gets really excited.

Anyway, I also get very excited thinking about spotted dogs, and growing up, this one was a favorite.  It had (a) talking dogs, (b) adventure, and (c) a very funny cat.   I found Cruella DeVil one of the better Disney villains, and since I'm not paying $30 to watch the new Cruella movie, I figured I'd rewatch this one and then maybe the Glenn Close movies.  

The movie is from the period at Disney in which Walt was still alive, but he wasn't really paying much attention to the animated films.  He had his amusement parks, some live action films going, and was letting animation just do its thing.  The Nine Old Men were running things, as near as I can tell.

If I'm being honest, as much as I love the film, you can feel that the story department was given a backseat to the animation department.  The movie is gorgeous, a huge technical achievement, and has phenomenal character animation.  But it's also got some bits that just go on too long and unneeded sequences that you can tell they just really enjoyed making.  The end result is a fairly brief film that has beats that can really drag.  

But, yeah, I still very much like it, but sometimes you do wonder "what is happening here?"  It's not as bad as The Aristocats, which I find unwatchably dull, but...  I do have notes.  

But if I ever get a cat again, I'm naming it Sgt. Tibbs.  

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

New Wave Watch: Breathless (1960)




Watched:  06/08/2021
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Godard

Sigh.  

Look, I don't dislike "New Wave" exactly, but the one time I watched a Godard movie previously it was so hilariously up it's own ass, it was pretty much unspoofable (for the record, it was Godard's King Lear).  

I've also been aware that thanks to Godard and his buddies, we even have the term "film noir".  They loved the same crime melodramas of the post-war period that I tend to enjoy.  They wrote about them and got people to think about that glut of crime movies in a different way.  

Monday, May 31, 2021

Parker Watch: Point Blank (1967)



Watched:  05/31/2021
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1960's
Director:  John Boorman

It's been some time since I'd revisited Point Blank (1967), and I'm glad I'd had a few years in between.  I'd seen the movie years ago while I was reading the Parker cycle of novels by Richard Stark - maybe the only series I've ever read in its entirety - and this movie is based on the first in the series, The Hunter.  

But it's been a while since I read The Hunter, a book that obviously left an impression on me as I did read the subsequent 20-odd books, and I was able to better separate Point Blank and Boorman's ideas versus constantly running a mental check of how the film and movie differed.  And they absolutely do differ, saying different things.  There's a reason Richard Stark (better known as Donald Westlake) wouldn't allow anyone to use the name "Parker" in a movie, even as he let them adapt the plot and use supporting character names.  Lee Marvin's "Walker" isn't Parker.  And that's fine... It's good, in fact.  

Now, one day I *want* a straight HBO-style treatment of the Parker novels by someone who *gets* it.  Each one is probably worth 3 episodes of something.  But I dig what Boorman did here - that rather than operating from pure rage and cold revenge, Walker may not be exactly sure why he's doing this.  Rather than coming to life and changing motivations after being shot and betrayed, he really did leave something at Alcatraz.

Maybe borrowing from the quasi-non-linear standard of both noir and the Parker novels, Boorman does some interesting stuff here with flash-forwards and flash-backs, maybe stepping it up a bit to do in shorthand what noir traditionally would do in extended scenes.  There's a lot of exposition that has to be delivered, and it's a smooth way to do it - but in the case of the film versus the book, Walker seems to have had warmth at one point and feelings for Lynn.  He attends things like "reunions" and seems to have had loyalties and friendships - all of which is not in him when he escapes death.  He may have been fearsome before, but now he's something else, unrecognizable even to himself. 

Anyway, I'm sure I've talked about Point Blank a few times.  Several years ago I attended Noir City in San Francisco where they'd invited up Angie Dickinson who spoke about the movie and Lee Marvin (and looked like a million bucks).   It's just a favorite at this point, and I definitely recommend it.


Monday, April 19, 2021

PODCAST: "Cool Hand Luke" (1967) - a Signal Watch Canon Episode w/ MRSHL and Ryan




Watched:  02/10/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Stuart Rosenberg


We're discussing our personal canon, and to that end, Marshall and Ryan do not fail to communicate about one of the best movies of the New Hollywood era. Join us as we talk prison movies, analogy, and using film to reflect upon the wider world. Come on! It's one of the greats of American cinema starring one of the greats of American cinema! Come give us a listen.


Music:
Main Title and End Title - Lalo Shifrin, Cool Hand Luke OST


Signal Watch Canon:

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Danger Diabolik (1968)




Watched 04/09/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Bava

I mean, man, you had to be there

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Watch Party Watch: They Came From Beyond Space (1967)




Watched:  03/30/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Freddie Francis


Meteors fall to Earth, specifically Britain.  Scientists are dispatched to check them out - minus an American who just happens to mention having a silver plate in his skull.  I *think* the story is that alien brain waves were living inside the rocks?  Anyway, the alien psychic waves transfer over to the brains of the science team and build a little fort from which they begin shuttling people to the moon to make more brain transfers with more aliens.  And there's a plague?

I fell asleep for part of this movie, but not much, and it's been a week, but I can't really piece it all back together.  I do know the heroes wind up wearing goofy helmets and going to the moon where a badly made-up Michael Gough awaits them (wearing a robe, because: alien).  

I can't recommend the movie as "good", I can recommend it as "this is whackadoodle".   It's Jenifer's selection from last week, so here's her words on the topic.

I will say - the poster promises something the movie absolutely refuses to deliver upon, but I have heard Amicus and Hammer both made the posters first to get financing, and then made the movies.  And, somewhere along the way, whatever they had in their heads about folks with sleek helmets, catsuits and space ray flamethrowers got turned into this.



Wednesday, January 13, 2021

WW2 Watch: Where Eagles Dare (1968)




Watched:  01/13/2021
Format:  TCM on my DVR (where it had been languishing)
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Brian G. Hutton

While these days certain people would raise their hands and complain this is cancel culture, sometimes it's a good move to just watch a movie where we blow up a bunch of Nazis.  

Seemingly torn from one of those men's adventure magazines of days of yore, When Eagles Dare (1968) follows the completely insane mission of Richard Burton in a rare action role as he pairs with a "in his prime" Clint Eastwood and with a handful of other people, invade a mountain castle Nazi fortress and then blow it the hell up.  

There's a hell of a lot more to the movie - it's really an espionage caper - but I don't want to spoil it if you've not seen it.  But expect lots of machineguns, an unreasonable amount of dynamite, and the unlikely prospect of Richard Burton physically outperforming a 1968 Clint Eastwood.  It had some astounding scenes on some cable cars, a bus ride you won't forget, and lots and lots of uses for a rope with a clip on one end.

In addition to Burton and Eastwood, the movie also stars Mary Ure, and has Ingrid Pitt in a smaller role.  In fact, Pitt appears on screen for several scenes in the back half of the movie, but for some reason, she has no lines and is given nothing to do.  It's honestly kind of weird.  I half think they forgot to write her character in, and then someone thought "we actually need to logically have her here, but we don't want to pay the writer for more scenes" or something.I've certainly heard of similar things happening.*

The *lack* of screentime for Ingrid Pitt in this movie is maybe my only real beef with it.  But that's a beef with all movies, but, like, two.

let the St. Pauli Girl speak!

Anyway - this movie is all plot and action with a minimum of character.  It's a super-tight thrill ride kind of flick, and delivers on its promise.  

*apparently a big driver for why you don't hear someone tell Capone about a character dying in Untouchables in one of the most famous scenes in that movie is not artistry - that's a glad happenstance.  Rather, they couldn't get David Mamet back to write that scene when they knew they needed it.