Tag Archives: 1965 Movie reviews

Do Not Disturb-1965

Do Not Disturb-1965

Director-Ralph Levy

Starring-Doris Day, Rod Taylor

Scott’s Review #917

Reviewed July 8, 2019

Grade: C+

Singer and actress Doris Day, in large part, put her stamp on the romantic comedy genre, such that it was, during the 1960’s becoming synonymous with wholesome film characters with spunk and charm but always wearing sensible shoes. Do Not Disturb (1965) is a lightweight, forgettable work that offers a silly premise and a juvenile script with meandering plot thrown in for good measure. The film is saved somewhat by the interesting locales of London and Kent England, but for those seeking better quality ought to seek out the gems The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) or Pillow Talk (1959).

Day and Rod Taylor star as Janet and Mike Harper, an American couple who relocate to England as part of a transfer for the company he works for. They immediately disagree over where to live; Mike prefers the excitement of London, but Janet favors the rustic quality of Kent. After she gets them a house thirty miles outside of London, the plan backfires when the couple grow further apart due to Mike’s need to commute to London every day. Lonesome and isolated, Janet worries incessantly that Mike is having an affair with his new secretary, Claire Hackett (Maureen McGiveney).

Prompted by her busybody landlord, Vanessa Courtwright (Hermione Baddeley), Janet meets an Italian antiques dealer, Paul Bellari (Sergio Fantoni), who she hires to redecorate her house. With Mike spending more time with Claire and Janet and Paul in equally close quarters, the hi-jinks begin. Janet and Mike may be innocent, but Paul and Claire could have designs on their potential mates especially as the foursome begin to face one compromising situation after another.

The heart of an authentic romantic comedy is good, old-fashioned chemistry between the leads and Taylor and Day exhibit adequate sparkle but hardly sizzle. Mediocrity in the setup and writing can be forgiven if other elements like crackling moments exist, but those are scarcities in Do Not Disturb. Some Like it Hot (1959) embodies a great comedy with romantic wrappings featuring fantastic leads Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe, but the former does not come anywhere close to finding its footing amid cliche after cliche.

To further on the above note, the film is plot driven and heavy on story-dictated situations rather than on character development, and the ending is predictable. With most of the jokes either falling completely flat or feeling distinctly canned and cheap the laughs never catch on. During a tepid sequence, Janet and Paul go to a remote town to check out antiques where she winds up drinking too much bubbly, becoming drunk and foolhardy. In what should have been the comic high point of the film instead does very little to further the plot or flesh out the characters.

Director, Ralph Levy makes little effort to steer the film anywhere other than a slick mainstream “affair” despite the release year being 1965 when more edgy works were replacing the polished and the tried and true. Rather than dare to go to a less than cheery place and perhaps decide to have Janet or Mike cheat on their significant others, Levy chooses not to go there instead attempting to satisfy those seeking a happily-ever-after wrapping.

Not to be over-saturated with negativity, Do Not Disturb features wonderful and stunning locale sequences of bustling metropolitan London and quaint English cottages and wilderness, oozing with as much culture and sophistication as down-home comforts and rich flavor. The combination of an American couple thrust into a different setting with a new set of rules and regulations to follow makes the film fun in this regard and offers a sprinkle of good scenery.

Do Not Disturb (1965) is a mid-1960’s mainstream release buried among nests of other similar themed but better written films. Even appealing and bankable stars of the time like Taylor and Day could not succeed in spicing up tired gimmicks and plot devices. The film will forever be relegated to the romantic comedy shelves teetering on the brink of obscurity.

The Sandpiper-1965

The Sandpiper-1965

Director-Vincente Minnelli

Starring-Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor

Scott’s Review #897

Reviewed May 12, 2019

Grade: B+

The Sandpiper (1965) is a film that stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, released at the very height of their fame.  It capitalized on their notoriety as one of the world’s most famous couples and their well-known romantic tribulations. Although they portrayed adulterous lovers, they were married shortly before filming began. The film’s theme of adultery closely mirrored their own personal lives at the time, as each very publicly conducted an affair with each other while married to other spouses.

The film is a lavish and sweeping production, one of the very few major studio pictures ever filmed in Big Sur, and the story is specifically set there. Big Sur is a rugged and mountainous section of the Central Coast of California between where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. It is frequently praised for its dramatic scenery and is the perfect location for a film with romance.

The Sandpiper is a romantic drama perfectly showcasing the two stars chemistry in a pure case of art mimicking real life, at least in some way. Fascinating is to watch the actors work off one another and think in wonderment what life would have been like on the set amidst the dreamlike and steamy locale and the fresh romance. The story is not a dynamic piece and quite sudsy and melodramatic and a case of the actors being the main reason to watch.

Taylor plays Laura Reynolds, a bohemian, free-spirited single mother who lives in Big Sur, California with her young son, Danny. Laura makes a living as an artist while home schooling her son, who has gotten into trouble with the law. When Danny is sent to an Episcopal boarding school, Laura meets the headmaster, Dr. Edward Hewitt (Burton) and the duo falls madly in love despite Edward being married to teacher Claire (Eva Marie Saint). The melodrama only escalates as those close to the pair catch on to their infidelity.

The gorgeous locale of Big Sur is second to none and exudes romance and sexual tension with the crashing waves against the mountainous terrain symbolic to the passionate love affair. As the characters capitulate to each other the lavish weather only infuses the titillating experience. Taylor is lovely to look at throughout the film and an erotic nude chest of the character plays a major role. I did have to wonder if the inclusion had the desired effect or resulted in unintended humor as the endowed sculpture is quite busty.

The film belongs to Taylor and Burton, but the supporting cast is deserving of mention creating robust characters that add flavor. Eva Marie Saint plays the amicable wife, at first distraught by her husband’s infidelity but later coming to an understanding. Charles Bronson plays Cos Erickson, the protective friend of Laura’s who despises Edward’s hypocrisy. Finally, Robert Webber is effective as Ward Hendricks, former beau of Laura, eager for another chance with the violet-eyed bombshell.

The title of the film represents a sandpiper with a broken wing that Laura nurses, as Edward looks on. The bird lives in her home until it is healed and then flies free, though it comes back occasionally. This sandpiper is used as a central symbol in the movie, illustrating the themes of growth and freedom. The element is sweet and true to the love story between Laura and Edward.

The Sandpiper is an entertaining film, not a great film. It suffers from mediocre writing and cliched storytelling, but a starring vehicle for Taylor and Burton. The fascination is watching the actors not for a great cinematic experience and the film is not remembered very well but for fans of the super-couple.

Amazing that the film was made only one year prior to the dreary yet brilliant Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) starring the same husband and wife duo as does The Sandpiper (1965). The roles of Laura and Edward are worlds apart from George and Martha and watched in close sequence to each other one can marvel at the acting chops of each star in comparison. The film won the coveted Academy Award for Best Original Song for the sentimental “The Shadow of Your Smile”.

Bunny Lake Is Missing-1965

Bunny Lake Is Missing-1965

Director-Otto Preminger

Starring-Keir Dullea, Carol Lynley

Scott’s Review #877

Reviewed March 13, 2019

Grade: B+

Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965) is a taut psychological thriller that feels fresh and unpredictable, containing a mysterious, almost haunting quality throughout its running time. The film focuses on one big question- whether the main character’s interpretation of events is real or imagined. The uncertainty makes the film intriguing to watch. Glimpses of London locales also make for fun viewing as is the chaotic and creepy children’s school that is the film’s main location. Though not remembered well the film is still worthy of a watch.

Ann (Carol Lynley) is a single mother, recently transplanted to London with her well-kept brother Stephen (Keir Dullea). When she hurriedly drops off her unseen daughter, Bunny, to her new preschool, and instructs the school cook to watch her, the girl soon disappears without a trace. When the police are called to investigate it is discovered that nobody on staff has lain eyes on the young girl. The plot thickens when it is revealed that all of Bunny’s belongings have been removed from Ann’s residence, and that Ann had an imaginary childhood friend named Bunny.  Has Ann concocted the entire scheme herself for attention or could she be harmful or psychotic?

The film offers several subtle nuances that either work or do not work. The opening credits are a lesson in cinematic creativity as the words present themselves as slivers of paper being torn down the middle. Though the musical score during this sequence is not necessarily eerie the complexity and the ferocity of the scene nonetheless presents an ominous and certainly an intriguing element. This point is a wise move because it sets the tone for such a thriller as the film presents itself as.

The black and white style that director Otto Preminger uses is also a positive to the overall look of the picture. The muted tones illicit an effective ghost-story style with an ambivalent chilling technique. As the mystery is ultimately resolved, the introduction of new and peculiar characters offset the tangled plot as the look of the film remains a constant. Noel Coward as Horatio Wilson, Ann’s landlord, and Martita Hunt as the retired school headmistress who now resides in the attic of the school, do wonders for the addition of creepy characters, but are they meant to be red herrings or key to the big reveal?

A few gripes are with the incorporation of English rock band The Zombies that serves little purpose and the addition is perplexing.  It’s not that I am opposed to the band’s music, but the songs themselves have nothing to do with the plot. Seen on the television during a pub scene and later heard on a janitor’s radio during an escape scene, the odd placing seems little more than a marketing tool product placement.

Another miss is with the casting of Sir Laurence Olivier as Superintendent Newhouse. His talents are largely wasted with little more than a throwaway role despite arguably being considered the lead. As the straight man handling the investigation, his performance is adequate but limiting, especially given the talents that the Shakespearean stage actor possesses. His performance is both phoned in and beneath the historic actor.

The other roles are well cast with highlights being actors Lindley and Dullea in key parts. For the first portion of the film I assumed the pair were husband and wife until it was revealed otherwise which is a nice unexpected nuance. Their chemistry is sweet and easy, and both perform their respective roles with poise and charisma. In 1965 both were relatively novice young actors on the brink of stardom, though sadly short-lived. Their acting chops are firmly in place with this film which is fun to witness.

For fans of psychological thrillers with an implied ghost story enveloped within its clutches Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965) is worthy and mysterious entertainment with a surprise ending. The film is not stellar all the way around with some weaknesses and lesser than a pure classic, more reminiscent of a good, solid Twilight Zone television episode.

Juliet Of The Spirits-1965

Juliet Of The Spirits-1965

Director-Federico Fellini

Starring-Giulietta Masina, Sandra Milo

Scott’s Review #725

Reviewed February 15, 2018

Grade: A

A true Fellini film in every sense and perhaps his most personal film of all, 1965’s Juliet of the Spirits is a colorful and masterful experience containing fluid art direction and stunning sets and costumes. As with most of his films, the story and its intricacies are odd and do not always make perfect sense, but the film is meant to be absorbed and felt and exhibits more of a central plot than some of his other works. Juliet of the Spirits is certainly not to be missed for fans of Fellini or any novice wanting an introduction to the great director.

In a compelling tidbit of background information, lead actress Giulietta Masina, wife and muse of director Fellini, and sometimes deemed the female Charlie Chaplin, plays a true to life character. In real life the woman suffered from her own bout with a philandering husband- Fellini himself! For this reason alone the film is interesting to watch as a true to life story leading the audience to empathize with Giulietta and her life of doldrums and turmoil.

Giulietta Boldrini (Masina) is an affluent woman living in Italy with her successful and dashing husband, Giorgio (Mario Pisu). Despite wealth, two housekeepers, and free time to do whatever she pleases, she is dissatisfied with her life and her surroundings. This occurs largely after hearing her husband mutter another woman’s name in his sleep. Concerned and intrigued, Giulietta hires investigators to unravel the mystery while at the same time spawning an adventure for her.

Instead of being a cookie-cutter film with a basic plot explained above, in true Fellini form, the character of Giulietta traverses on a journey into the dream-like and odd experience, tapping into her repressed desires and innermost thoughts, while being exposed to her larger than life and sexy neighbor, Suzy (Sandra Milo). The oversexed Suzy enlightens Giulietta to the joys of her mansion, her tree house, and her many dazzling, weird friends, and bubbling sensuality.

Juliet of the Spirits is a joy to watch and quite a bit more linear than other complex masterpieces such as 1960’s La Dolce Vita or 1969’s Fellini Satyricon. The plot is spelled out in a direct way- Giulietta is depressed and anxious for something new and exciting in her life. Her journey into this new life while wrestling with her demons and resistance makes this film so much fun to watch.

The styles and colors that Fellini creates are brilliant and lavishly loud. Take the gaudy and glamorous nest that Suzy calls home. With a built in underground swimming pool where she bathes after lovemaking, and velvety red walls and furniture, her palace is both tawdry and sophisticated. Fellini uses gorgeous reds, greens, and blues throughout the film to create dazzle and spectacles with larger than life characters.

To further focus on Suzy for a minute, the blonde bombshell frequently visits her very own tree house complete with a swing. She flirts with handsome young men who gaze up at the scantily dressed beauty as she tosses her high-heeled shoe down to them in a suggestive manor. When they come up to the top of the tree house by way of a mechanical basket, presumably for sex, this is too much for the overwhelmed Giulietta, who returns to the safety of her own home. But clearly she is as much titillated as she is scared.

The film belongs to Masina and we cannot help but wonder if Fellini created Juliet of the Spirits as a sort of apology to the actress for his reported years of cheating. Regardless, Masina plays a middle-aged, confident on the outside- insecure on the inside, woman flawlessly. With her expressive eyes and nice smile, Masina fully encompasses the role with enthusiasm- a perfect fit for a Fellini film.

Juliet of the Spirits also is great at mixing in several forms of film genre including fantasy, drama, and light comedy and contains a bevy of interesting supporting characters. Suzy’s seemingly clairvoyant mother is a great side character as she upon meeting Giulietta immediately sees that the woman is troubled. Giulietta’s father, whom we meet when she is a little girl appearing in a religious play, is boisterous and spirited.

Having been fortunate enough to stay at the Grand Hotel in Rome, a lavish yet strange establishment where Fellini spent many a night as a guest, I fantasized while watching Juliet of the Spirits, that he drew inspiration for this film from said hotel. The grand red textures appear in both hotel and the Fellini film so I could very well have experienced a true inspiring facility.

Stalwart, creative, and masterful director Fellini once again serves up a stylish film that must be thought about following a good, solid viewing. Too much analysis, however, will ruin the enchanting experience, as Juliet of the Spirits is best served up as a treat to be mesmerized by in glamorous fashion.

Repulsion-1965

Repulsion-1965

Director-Roman Polanski

Starring-Catherine Deneuve

Scott’s Review #554

Reviewed December 21, 2016

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!-1965

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!- 1965

Director-Russ Meyer

Starring-Tura Satana, Haji

Top 100 Films-#85

Scott’s Review #406

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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

Scott’s Review #364

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Reviewed January 9, 2016

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

Scott’s Review #256

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Reviewed July 11, 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

Scott’s Review #49

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Reviewed June 20, 2014

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

Scott’s Review #42

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Reviewed June 18, 2014

Grade: A

Doctor Zhivago is a great film to watch on a cold winter’s night or throughout the crisp winter or holiday season. The film 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. Nearly every scene could be a painting so the cinematography alone is reason enough to become enchanted with the work of art. Of course, the story is also a goldmine as a sprawling decades long love story unfolds amid the ravages of the bloody Bolshevik Revolution.

The film is set in the bitter cold of Russia (though in reality all scenes were shot in Spain) and the bitterness of the cold climate and the war are mixed perfectly with a doomed love story set against the backdrop of the many battles and wartime effects. Nearly all sequences are set in the winter so that the blustery and icy effects are nestled magnificently against numerous scenes of cozy, candlelit cabins or more extravagant glowing surroundings. In this way the viewer simply must be surrounded by a fire, flaming candles, or another form of warmth as a snowstorm or blizzard besets outdoors for a perfect viewing experience. And a large screen television or in a cinema is simply a must to watch this film as it is epic on the grandest scale.

Omar Sharif and Julie Christie (a gorgeous star in her day) are cast perfectly as Uri and Lara, young forbidden lovers enthralled with one another but involved with significant others. The film dissects their initial meeting and their story over the years, experiencing marriages, births, and deaths throughout the ravages of Russia in the early twentieth century. Despite their affairs neither is deemed unsympathetic- quite the contrary as audiences will fall in love with the pair and become enchanted as we watch their love-tortured adventures. Sharif and Christie are just magnificent and completely believable as a couple.

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. Doctor Zhivago is quite simply a brilliant film and perfect for a snowy, winter evening.