Category Archives: 1965 Movie reviews

Repulsion-1965

Repulsion-1965

Director-Roman Polanski

Starring-Catherine Deneuve

Reviewed November 25, 2010

Grade: A

Repulsion is an excellent British film, and an early film of great director, Roman Polanski- made in 1965. The film was shot on a low budget, and the action mainly takes place inside a small London apartment. Repulsion is part of Polanski’s “Apartment trio”, along with Rosemary’s Baby and The Tenant- all set inside apartments.

The film tells the story of Carol (Catherine Deneuve), a beautiful, young, woman who slowly goes insane over the course of a weekend, while left alone by her vacationing sister. Carol is a beauty parlor worker who seemingly is sweet and shy, but gradually becomes violent, volatile, and unbalanced. Carol experiences hallucinations and it is alluded to that she may have been sexually abused as a child. She loathes men.

The film is shot in black and white with eerie camera shots and background noises and very little music. This film has a claustrophobic entity that makes it all the more disturbing. All of these characteristics make the film a difficult experience to watch, but that is to its credit.

We see Carol unravel and are mystified by the aspects that make her this way. The bathtub scene and the scene with Carol’s landlord are highlights in their brutality.

Repulsion is difficult to watch, but a wonderful piece of cinema. An in-depth character study of an already unhinged woman reaching her psychological breaking point.

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!- 1965

Director-Russ Meyer

Starring-Tura Satana, Haji

Top 100 Films-#85

220px-Faster_pussycat_kill_kill_poster_(1)

Reviewed May 28, 2016

Grade: A

Shamefully, this cult masterpiece from 1965 has somehow alluded me for many years- largely due to its unavailability on Netflix- head shaking for sure. Finally, I decided to simply buy the newly released Blu-Ray edition, and I have immediately become a huge fan of this Russ Meyer work of art. Influential and intriguing, it is no surprise it is a camp classic. Several famous directors, most notably Quentin Tarantino, have paid homage to this film in their own later works- most notably, Death Proof. Fast cars, sexy women, and murder represent this unique film.

In comparison to other famous Meyer works, specifically the gregarious yet brilliant Supervixens (1975), Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is almost understated and quiet. He also directed the well known Beyond The Valley of the Dolls from 1970. Shot in black and white, several notable comparisons to Supervixens must be pointed out: a hot California desert, large breasted women, and gas stations are prevalent throughout. Unlike Supervixens, though, there is little or no nudity.

Three go-go dancers race through the desert in their sports cars. They have murder and kidnapping on their minds. The ring-leader, Varla (Tura Satana) is a vicious, sexy, Asian woman. Her two side-kicks are Billie (Lori Williams), and Rosie (Haji). While Billie and Rosie squabble and fight in a juvenile fashion, Varla is the serious one. The trio enjoy racing their cars and engaging in the game “chicken”. When they meet all-American couple, Tommy and Linda, out for a romantic drive, they have a dispute, and end up killing Tommy- drugging and kidnapping Linda. After stopping for gas, Varla hatches a plot to steal money from a crazy old man, his muscular-yet dimwitted son (known as the Vegetable), and the old man’s seemingly normal son, Kirk.

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is a groundbreaking film as it is gender bending. The women are hardly written as sex objects like most in films of that day were-far from it. They are ferocious, specifically Varla, as they do typically masculine things- race cars, fight, kill, yet do not sacrifice any of their femininity. All three women are sexy, busty, and wear stylish make-up. They are not trying to be like men, but are tough girls. This is part of what makes the film so wonderful to watch. Usually in Hollywood, these characters would be molls to even rougher men, or supporting the men in some way. These female characters are the film.

My favorite character is Varla. Sexy, fierce, and a minority, how often is a female villain this charismatic?  Perhaps in Bond films, but then she would be a conquest of Bond and not her own person. Varla makes up her own rules. The fact that she is Asian is superb and breaks many barriers in the way Asians are portrayed in film. Varla is more devious than the others characters- willing to kill anyone who stands in her way- even her own friends.  She is a character written very well by Russ Meyer, and pure femme fatale.

The male supporting characters are interesting. The old man, actor Stuart Lancaster, would later appear in Supervixens. He is a cripple, wacky, and as diabolical as the women. He has designs on innocent Linda and makes no bones about it. The Vegetable is hunky and fresh faced- an innocent victim of his father’s evil ways, so he is a character we root for. I enjoyed the brief romance between he and Billie. Lastly, Kirk is the “normal” son, also a victim of his father. When he and Linda run across the desert while being chased by Varla, we root for them to survive.

The black and white style, chosen in order to save money, actually adds to the unique cinematography,  with sharp edits, and gives the  film mystique. The 1960’s jazzy score adds to the film as well. In color, I wonder if the film would have had a more cartoonish quality. The black and white moves Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! into art film territory.

The debate over the film is, “Is the film exploiting women or empowering them”? To me, the film is answering the question of whether women can be tough, sexy, and complicated with a resounding yes. All three principal characters are layered- each develops feelings for other characters, and at one point Rosie’s sexuality is questioned by Billie. Still, the female characters are not monsters nor are they caricatures. They are complex with real emotions.

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is an influential art film/exploitation film that empowers female characters, questions gender categorizations, and takes hold of the viewer, never letting go.  A miraculous representation of the changing times in cinema during the 1960’s. It is brilliant.

Thunderball-1965

Thunderball-1965

Director-Terence Young

Starring-Sean Connery, Claudine Auger

1046268

Reviewed January 15, 2017

Grade: A

By 1965, the James Bond franchise was embarking on it’s fourth in the series, and the budget certainly reflected the success of the preceding films. Thunderball has the luxury of reaping the benefits of an enormous budget and as a result is a grand, epic film. The sheer lavish nature of the film make it one of my favorite Bond films simply for the look of it. The special effects are a marvel.

By this time Sean Connery had comfortably immersed himself into the role of bond with his charms and his ability to exude charisma into the role. In this story, two NATO atomic bombs have been stolen by SPECTRE and holds the world to ransom for millions in diamonds. They are threatening to detonate one of the bombs in a major city in either the United States or England. Bond must race against time to deter this from happening.

For starters, the opening sequence is one of my favorite. Bond attends the funeral of deceased SPECTRE agent (number 6) at a lavish chateau in France. The agent is disguised as his own widow, but Bond is not fooled. This sets the tone of the film as a dramatic fight scene ensues between the two “men”.

The main villain of Thunderball is Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi), a handsome, suave, SPECTRE agent (number 2). He is rich and sophisticated which mirrors the whole of the film. His grand estate is set and filmed in the Bahamas giving most of the film a steamy, posh, look, with blueish-green waters, and white crispy sand the most gorgeous of backdrops. Largo is a great Bond villain and on par with Bond. He also has charm, good looks, and charisma.

The main Bond girl is Domino, played by Claudine Auger, and she is Largo’s mistress. She is typically clad in black and/or white, hence her name. Auger has the perfect balance of beautiful looks, sophistication, and intelligence, and is a perfect match for Bond. The chemistry between Connery and Auger is apparent and a major part of the success of the film.

What sets Thunderball apart from some other Bond films is the major portion of the film, mostly in the second half, taking place underwater. In a clear example of showing off modern technology of the time (1965), some complained that these sequences went on too long and did not further the plot. These points may contain some validity, but oh are they so gorgeous to look at. The exotic underwater world is majestic.

Thunderball really has it all and is one of the most gorgeous of films. The film is big, bombastic, and filled with bright colors. It contains all of the elements of a great Bond film and why it holds up incredibly well all these years later.

The Nanny-1965

The Nanny-1965

Director-Seth Holt

Starring-Bette Davis

70089620

Reviewed July 8, 2015

Grade: B

The Nanny is a 1965 Hammer productions thriller starring legendary film icon Bette Davis as a mysterious nanny caring for a 10 year old boy named Joey. Joey has recently been released from a mental institution and returned home to resume normal life, but has he been “cured”? There is obvious tension between Joey and Nanny, but the audience at first does not know what that tension is exactly. Why do they dislike each other? Why is Joey afraid of her? As the plot unfolds the suspense and tension thickens as various events occur and Joey’s parents and Aunt Pen are further fleshed out to the plot. Past events are revisited and the story becomes thrilling.

At one point, long before Joey’s return home, his younger sister has drowned and the circumstances are vague. It has devastated the family, including Nanny. Clearly Joey has been blamed for her death though he insists that Nanny is the culprit. Nobody except the neighbor girl believes Joey and the audience is left to wonder who to believe and who to root for- Joey or Nanny? Davis, as Nanny, brings a warmness to her character, but is she sincere? Is it an act? Is Joey a sweet boy or maniacal? These questions race through the audiences mind as the film progresses. When the mother, Virginia eats tainted food, the obvious conclusion is that Nanny poisoned the food since she prepared it. But why? Did she actually do this? As the plot is slowly explained, there are a few chills, though the ending is not all too surprising.

Any film starring Bette Davis is a treasure in my mind, though admittedly it is not her finest. Still, her finest is awfully tough to match. The Nanny is a good film, though not a great film. It is shot in black and white which is a nice touch for a thriller. The main reason to watch is certainly for Davis’s performance, which is always mesmerizing. Traditionally playing gruff, mean, or bitchy parts (especially in her later years), The Nanny allows Davis to play a traditionally sympathetic role. She is seemingly sweet, proper, and well organized. A perfect nanny on paper.

The role of Virginia, played by Wendy Craig, is a bit too neurotic and slightly over-acted. She is rather one-note as the fretting mother worried about her son. The character of the father is also a bit one-dimensional.

The Nanny is more of a classic thriller from the 1960’s that is often lumped together with some of Bette Davis’s other films around the same time period (Dead Ringer, Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte, and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?), and the aforementioned films are in large part superior to The Nanny, but as a stand-alone it is a decent film.

The Sound of Music-1965

The Sound of Music-1965

Director-Robert Wise

Starring-Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer

Top 100 Films-#29

60001917

Reviewed December 13, 2015

Grade: A

The Sound of Music is a film that most everyone has seen over and over again- undoubtedly ingrained in most people’s childhood memories and, especially, around the holiday season, it is a treasure to watch. It is tough to be objective as I’ve probably seen the film dozens of times and continue to appreciate and love it with each repeated viewing.

Maria (Julie Andrews) is a pretty, young free-spirited woman living in the gorgeous hills of Austria. In fact, we first meet her on a lush hilltop where she sings with the birds and enjoys life. While very popular with other nuns, she does not quite fit in at the Nonnberg Abbey where she studies to become a nun. She is sent to discover herself as the governess to seven children living nearby. They are the children of well-known, and now retired, Georg von Trapp (played by Christopher Plumber). Since his wife died, no life or music exists inside the house. Maria brings life and music to all and transforms everyone to a happier existence. The threat of the powerful Nazis, wishing to recruit a disapproving von Trapp adds tension. In the midst of it all, Maria and von Trapp fall madly in love.

As a musical it is top notch and is the hallmark of all musicals. The songs are tough to get out of one’s head (“The Sound of Music”, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”, and “My Favorite Things” are personal favorites), but the list of gems goes on and on.

The political/Nazi story was lost on me as a child, but now I see the film does have a darker tone in the second half and becomes quite serious.  Surely, since it is a family film details are glossed over a bit, but so what? It is more the wonderful music that makes The Sound of Music so great and memorable.

The first half, of course, is wholesomely sugary sweet and safe and, from what I’ve read, extremely loosely based on the real von Trapp family, but this hardly matters as it is escapism galore and that is needed sometimes.

I hate to dissect and over analyze a film like this when clearly it is a fantasy/musical extravaganza meant to be enjoyed. Lighthearted and fun for everyone.

Doctor Zhivago-1965

Doctor Zhivago-1965

Director-David Lean

Starring-Julie Christie, Omar Sharif

Top 100 Films-#47

449931

Reviewed December 16, 2013

Grade: A

Doctor Zhivago is a great film to watch on a cold winter’s night. It is a classic masterpiece directed by the talented David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia, A Passage to India) whose perfectionism is evident in his epic films.

The film is set in the bitter cold of Russia (though in reality it was shot in Spain) and the bitterness of the climate and the Russian revolution are mixed perfectly with a doomed love story set against the backdrop of war.

Omar Sharif and Julie Christie (a gorgeous star in her day) are cast perfectly. The set pieces are magnificent and flawless in design and detail (my favorite is the ice palace). The cinematography is breathtaking and the content is very close to the obviously superior novel by Boris Pasternak and a feeling of “really being there” encompasses the viewer. It’s a brilliant film.