Tag Archives: 1967 Movie reviews

Reflections in a Golden Eye-1967

Reflections in a Golden Eye-1967

Director-John Huston

Starring-Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor

Reviewed September 3, 2017

Grade: A

Reflections in a Golden Eye is a film made during the beginning of a rich and creative time in cinema history (the latter part of the 1960’s and the beginning part of the 1970’s), where films were “created” rather than produced. Less studio influence meant more creative control for the director- in this case, John Huston, who cast the immeasurable talents of Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando in the key roles. Worth mentioning is that Montgomery Clift was the intended star, but died before shooting began. Richard Burton had turned the role down.

The film is an edgy and taboo story of lust, jealousy, and sexual repression set amid a southern military base. Novel for 1967, repressed homosexuality is explored in full detail, as well as heterosexual repression and voyeurism. Originally a flop at the box-office, the film has since become and admired and a cherished part of film history. Reflections in a Golden Eye is based on the classic 1941 novel, written by Carson McCullers.

Major Weldon Penderton (Brando) resides with his spoiled wife Leonora (Taylor) at a US Army post somewhere in the south during the 1940’s and 1950’s era. A neighboring couple, that of Lieutenant Colonel Morris Langdon (Brian Keith) and his depressed wife, Alison (Julie Harris) are also featured and the trials and tribulations of Army life are exposed. Playing key roles are the Langdon’s effeminate houseboy, Anacleto, and a mysterious Private Williams, played by a young and dashing Robert Forster.

Weldon is a repressed homosexual, rigid, and very unhappy with himself and his life, despite being successful professionally. To make matters worse, he is repeatedly needled and tormented by Leonora, who is having an affair with Morris. Leonora adores her prized horse Firebird, who becomes a major part of the story. When Weldon and Leonora spy Private Williams completely naked in the woods riding bareback, Weldon feigns disgust, but his secret desires for the young man are revealed. The two men then begin a secret cat and mouse game of spying and following each other around until a tragedy occurs.

Reflections in a Golden Eye is not a happy film, but rather a depressing piece of troubled lives and emotions. Passions are unfulfilled and repeatedly repressed as each character is able to be dissected in complex fashion. I am intrigued most of all by the character of Private Williams. A bit of an oddity, he mainly watches the action from afar learning Weldon and Leonora’s secrets- they keep separate bedrooms and repeatedly squabble. We wonder- is Williams obsessed with Weldon or Leonora? Or both? He sneaks into her room and rummages through her lingerie and perfume drawers. Would he, in a different time, consider himself to become transgender? Or merely intrigued by cross-dressing?

Weldon can also be carefully examined- he has fits of rage and violence frequently erupts. Poor Firebird suffers a violent beating at his hands to say nothing of a main characters fate at the end of the film. Having a macho and masculine exterior, his job is that of a leader, but the perception of a homosexual male during that time period- if it was thought of at all- was more like the femininity portrayed by Filipino male, Anacleto. Huston wisely casts both males well in this department as the men, along with Williams, could not be more different and nuanced.

A wise and telling aspect of the film is how it was originally shot with a muted yet distinguishable golden haze- appropriate to the film’s title- and much of the action seems to be viewed from the viewpoint of the horses. The color theme was reportedly changed because it confused audiences, but my copy has the intended golden haze and I find this tremendous and works brilliantly with capturing Huston’s original intentions.

The film is reminiscent of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf or Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the former made only one year earlier. Arguably Taylor’s character in that film is very similar to Leonora. In ways, Reflections of a Golden Eye could have been a stage production. One thing is clear- the film explores deeply the human psyche. I look forward to repeated viewings and further digging into the feelings and motivations of every principle character in a groundbreaking film by Huston.

Valley of the Dolls-1967

Valley of the Dolls-1967

Director-Mark Robson

Starring-Barbara Parkins, Patty Duke, Sharon Tate

Reviewed July 3, 2017

Grade: A-

Based on the best selling novel written by Jacqueline Susann a year earlier, the film version of Valley of the Dolls has become rather a cult classic in the years following release- it has earned the dubious description of “it’s so bad it’s good”.  The film dives head first into the soapy and dramatic world of Hollywood and Broadway and the trials and tribulations that three young women encounter as they try to “make it” in the back stabbing business. The film teeters on camp, but is a favorite of mine, as I love the theme of aspiring stars in La La land. The set design and groovy styles of the late 1960’s are also note-worthy.

Bored with her life in sleepy New England, Anne Welles decides to move to the bright lights of Manhattan seeking fame, fortune, and excitement. After she lands a secretarial job for an entertainment lawyer, who handles temperamental Broadway star Helen Lawson (Susan Hayward), Anne meets and befriends two other struggling young actresses. Neely O’Hara (Patty Duke) is a vivacious, gifted singer and Jennifer North (Sharon Tate) a gorgeous blonde with limited talent, but looks to die for.  The three women wrestle with their ups and downs of show business as they each achieve various levels of successes and failures.

The film centers on both the loves and the losses of each woman and at times the film is rather soap opera-like, especially the bitchy feud between Neely and Helen, but the film is a fun, entertaining experience.  Various men come in and out of the trios lives. The “dolls” referenced in the title are a nickname for pills that the girls readily pop and alcohol is also used in the film.

One interesting aspect to the film that I am fond of is that the three women are vastly different from one another.  Anne is the most sensible of the three and arguably the most intelligent. Neely is wild, reckless, and constantly battles drugs and alcohol, yet she is both the most successful and the most talented. Jennifer is gorgeous, but lacks the talent or the vigor to succeed in Hollywood. Two of the three women do not experience happy endings to their respective stories.

Some of the film is admittedly a bit uneven, especially the performance of Duke as Neely. She plays the role wildly over the top especially during her shrieking, drug saddled tirades, but rather than find the performance irritating (some certainly might), I find the role loud, bombastic, but yet sympathetic. We root for Neely because she has talent despite her personal shortcomings and she is a likable character to me as I want her to find happiness. Also playing up the camp is Hayward, as she fills Helen with fire, spite, and gusto, doing everything to make the audience view her as queen bitch. Helen was scheduled to be played by illustrious star Judy Garland (she would have been perfect!), but was reportedly fired for showing up for work drunk.

An enjoyable aspect to Valley of the Dolls is the humor, though sadly the laughs are not always intentional. The finale involves a cat-fight between Neely and Helen in the classy ladies room of a famed theater. With sheer delight, Neely yanks off Helen’s bright orange wig to reveal her natural head of hair. In campy fashion, Helen’s real hair is perfectly fine- more shocking would have been if she were bald or had thinning hair, but her hair is bleached blonde and full. In melodramatic fashion, Helen waltzes out of the theater sans wig.

Valley of the Dolls is a late-night treat that can be enjoyed and not taken overly seriously- the film differs vastly from the actual novel and even the time period (the 1960’s versus the 1940’s through the 1960’s) is changed. The film was followed by a much more campy and satirical film,  Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, made in 1970 and directed by Russ Meyer.

You Only Live Twice-1967

You Only Live Twice-1967

Director-Lewis Gilbert

Starring-Sean Connery, Akiko Wakabayashi

Reviewed April 23, 2017

Grade: B+

You Only Live Twice is the fifth in the James Bond film series franchise and also the fifth to star iconic Bond, Sean Connery, in the starring role. Reportedly growing bored with the role and eager to move on to meatier acting challenges, Sean Connery is not quite as mesmerizing in the role this time around, but is still indisputably charismatic and sexy with his delivery of one-liners and various affairs with women. You Only Live Twice is the last to feature Connery until he would be coaxed into returning to the role four years later with 1971’s Diamond Are Forever.

The film is not tops on my favorite Bond films of all time nor is it even top ten for that matter, but nonetheless still quite an enjoyable watch, and certainly the Japanese locales are the highlight. The film as a whole suffers from a silly story, dated special effects, and a completely lackluster villain, but it does have Connery to rescue it and a nice little romance between Bond and main girl, Aki, played by Japanese actress, Akiko Wakabayashi- that is until she is unceremoniously poisoned.

The plot involves the hijacking of an American NASA spacecraft by another mystery spacecraft. The Americans suspect the Russians of the action and the British suspect the Japanese since the aircraft landed in the Sea of Japan. MI6 (Bond) fakes his own death in Hong Kong and subsequently begins to investigate who is responsible. His search brings him to Tokyo where he investigates Osato Chemicals and stumbles upon evidence. He is aided by both Aki and Tiger Tanaka, Japanese Secret Service leader. Soon it is revealed that the mastermind is SPECTRE villain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld-in this installment played by Donald Pleasence. Bond must destroy his enemy and inevitably save the world from a global nuclear war.

Though a timely story-line since 1967 was in the midst of the Cold War, the plot seems somewhat forced and a bit uninteresting. The countries blame each other for the hijacked ship, but this comes across as extremely plot driven and secondary. The “swallowing” of the aircraft seems cheesy and preposterous even considering the year that the film was made and the writing is not as rich as some of the proceeding Bond films like From Russia With Love or Thunderball. The film also has an overall “cheap” look to it.

However, the film does have plenty of positives worth mentioning. The gadgets that James Bond fixture, Q (the MI6 technical wizard) creates are state of the art and fun. The mini flying helicopter that Bond uses is creative and allows for even more views to enjoy. Bond faking his death in the opening sequence is a treat (albeit having been done before) and ceremoniously being cast off into the sea in a coffin only to be wearing a suit and an oxygen mask inside the casket is clever and light.

Donald Pleasence, a storied, fantastic actor, is not well cast in the role of main villain Stavros and I am not entirely sure why. The fact that his face is not shown until the last act is not helpful and the character (though seen in other Bond films) is not compelling and is underutilized. I would have liked to have the character be a bit more visible, though surprisingly the character was highly influential in the 1990’s spoof Austin Powers films. Adorable yet creepy is Stavros only being seen clutching and stroking a gorgeous white cat.

As for the Bond women, the aforementioned Aki is the best of the bunch. Gone too soon in the story, she is replaced by Kissy Suzuki, who is rather unappealing. Mostly clad in a skimpy white bikini and heels, and appearing to wear a black wig, the character is forgettable and serves no purpose. Conversely, villainous Helga Brandt, SPECTRE assassin, is very well cast and shares good chemistry with Connery. After an unsuccessful attempt to kill Bond, she is fated with a date with killer piranhas as payment for her failure.

You Only Live Twice has a myriad of ups and downs, but is worth watching for fans of the franchise, and specifically, fans of the classic Bond films featuring Sean Connery. Some will argue that the film feels dated and is chauvinistic, and to some degree they are correct, but the film is a large part of a treasured franchise and a fun experience.

Bonnie and Clyde-1967

Bonnie and Clyde-1967

Director-Arthur Penn

Starring-Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway

Reviewed March 25, 2017

Grade: A

Bonnie and Clyde is an excellent 1967 crime drama that is not only a great film, but successfully, and surprisingly wound up influencing an entire generation, becoming somewhat of a rallying cry for the youth generation of the time. Released in a tumultuous period in history (the Vietnam war, the Sexual Revolution, and Civil Rights), the film fits the times and also was groundbreaking in its use of violence, blood, and sex. The film holds up tremendously well to this day and is beloved by intelligent film lovers everywhere.

The film begins with snapshots of the real Bonnie and Clyde- a duo of bank robbers who rampaged the southwest during the Great Depression.  Set in steamy Texas, circa 1930’s, the film tells their story. Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) meets Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) when he tries to steal her mother’s car one hot day. Instantly infatuated with each other, the steamy duo team up and become partners in crime. Over time they enlist the help of others and become more successful bank robbers with the stakes rising with each heist. Rounding out the crew of criminals are gas-station attendant, C.W. Moss, and Clyde’s older brother Buck, played by Gene Hackman, along with his wife, Blanche (Estelle Parsons), an innocent-minded, and sometimes hysterical, preacher’s wife.

Bonnie and Clyde is a unique film in many different ways- the quick-cut editing style influenced Sam Peckinpah in his films to come, and the film uses a fast paced rat-a- tat-tat style that symbolizes gunfire-a major element of the film. Blood spurts from victims bodies in a style never before seen on the big screen and led to many film makers comfort with using increased violence. You could say that Bonnie and Clyde took away the innocence of Hollywood films and shook all of the traditional elements inside out.

The conclusion of the film is one of the greatest in cinematic history. Far from an idyllic, happy ending, traditional with films in those days, the law finally catches up with Bonnie and Clyde with grim results for the pair, and their demise is gruesome, but true to form. We have fallen in love with the characters so their hasty exit from this world is tough to stomach and as they writhe and twitch with each gunshot wound, the bullets pummeling the bodies, the scene is a difficult one to watch.

The love story between Bonnie and Clyde is intense, yet sweet, and the casting of Beatty and Dunaway is spot on. Smoldering with sexuality- as Bonnie fondles Clyde’s gun who does not see this as a phallic symbol- their personal relationship is fraught with stamina and emotional energy. The two actors feed off of each other and fill the scenes with gusto. Their chemistry is part of what makes the film so great.

One of the best scenes is the shoot ’em up showdown at a ranch where the group of robbers is hiding out- the scene laden with intensity and violence. As Buck is mortally wounded, Blanche is blinded and captured, soon to make a grave mistake in revealing one of the others identities. Bonnie, Clyde, and C.W. barely escape with their lives and their antics from this point become bloodier and bloodier. The cat and mouse play during this scene make it the most suspenseful of them all.

Amid all of the violence, a wonderful scene exists when Bonnie and Clyde meet up at a secret location with Bonnie’s mother. A local townswoman and non-actress was cast in the pivotal role of Bonnie’s mother and the scene is an emotional experience. The woman’s kindness and sensibility and the sheer “regular person” she encompasses humanizes Bonnie and Clyde, and in ominous fashion, their downfall is soon to occur.

A heavily influential film, Bonnie and Clyde is a film that is still quite relevant, especially for those who appreciate good film, and rich, intelligently written characters, who are flawed, yet humanistic, layered with complexities. This is what director, Penn, carves out, and the film is an all time Hollywood classic.

Belle De Jour-1967

Belle De Jour-1967

Director-Luis Bunuel

Starring-Catherine Deneuve, Jean Sorel

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Reviewed September 22, 2016

Grade: A

Belle De Jour, the title translated to “lady of the day”, a French pun for “lady of the night”, a kind phrase for prostitution, is a fantastic art film. Stylish, sophisticated, and open to interpretation (at least in my opinion), Belle De Jour is a late 1960’s journey into eroticism, social norms, and sexual freedom. Gorgeous star Catherine Deneuve has never looked better and does mental conflict in a calm way. The film is directed by Luis Bunuel.

Severine is a wealthy young newlywed, seemingly who has it all. She is showered with love and affection, not to mention material items, by her handsome hubby, Pierre, played by dashing Jean Sorel. She wants for nothing as her husband is a doctor of great wealth. Yet she is unhappy and refuses to have physical relations with Pierre. She begins a secret life as a prostitute in a posh home, only working in the afternoons, to avoid being found out. She has no regrets, but is apprehensive about the clients she meets. Throughout the film Severine has secret fantasies about being kept in bondage and enduring various other sexual humiliations. All the while, the question asked is “Is this all Severine’s fantasy or reality”?  Or perhaps merely a portion is. The audience wonders.

Do we feel sorry for the character of Severine? Absolutely not. In fact, one could make the argument she is spoiled and selfish, but she is not evil, but rather confused. She is quite polite, and Deneuve fills her with kindness and even an angelic spirit. One cannot despise her even though on the surface one might be tempted to. What right does this woman have to rebuff her husband in lieu of sleazy clients? One particularly volatile client becomes obsessed with Severine and stalks her, going so far as exacting violence against her husband. But wait, is this Severine’s fantasy or reality? Is she imagining everything and merely obediently waiting at home for her husband to return each day or is she living this life?

Many shots of gorgeous Paris are used by Bunuel, including the famed Arc de Triomphe and many other interesting streets and sights, which is a treat for fans of culture. The use of these exteriors goes a long way to ensure that the film is clearly “French” from a visual perspective.

Certainly, in 1967, the sexual revolution was in full swing and Belle De Jour epitomized the revolution of the times. Yet, it does not feel dated or reduced to a film “of its time”. I find it more a character study than a genre film as Severine is an interesting study.

Belle De Jour challenges the viewer with an intense yet subtle story of a woman conflicted with sexual desire and repression- a film open to much interpretation and discussion. It does what an art film is supposed to do- makes us think and ponder.

The Graduate-1967

The Graduate-1967

Director-Mike Nichols

Starring-Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft

Top 100 Films-#48

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Reviewed January 9, 2016

Grade: A

The Graduate is an immeasurable success and highly influential comedy from 1967- a time when films were gaining in creative freedoms and really pushing the envelope in new, edgy ideas and risqué subject matters. Almost scandalous at the time of release, the film holds up exceptionally well after all of these years and remains fresh and cutting edge. It is slick, sophisticated, and quite funny, though peppered with dark humour. Thanks to Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, the film really works and is among my favorites of all-time.

Hoffman plays Benjamin Braddock, a nervous, insecure recent college graduate, who returns home to sunny California unsure of what his future will hold. His overbearing parents throw a lavish celebration at their home where Benjamin is flocked by well-wishers, most of whom have a materialistic edge to them. His parents live in a very affluent community where wealth and items are of great importance. All Benjamin wants to do is be by himself. At the party, Benjamin is pursued by the much older and glamourous Mrs. Robinson (Bancroft), who lives nearby and asks Benjamin for a ride home. Her attempted seduction of him kicks off the meat of the film and how their relationship progresses, especially when Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, Elaine (Katharine Ross), enters the picture and steals Benjamin’s heart.

Director Mike Nichols successfully sets the right tone for the film and we see the style and the sophistication of wealthy California in the 1960’s. Fashion, style, and glamour are prevalent, but they go against what Benjamin and Elaine, stand for. The film is also an exploration in generations. Benjamin’s parents and all of their friends are into material things-fancy cars, houses, and parties.

The triangle between Benjamin, Mrs. Robinson, and Elaine is clearly the heart of the film. At first, we find ourselves rooting for Benjamin and Mrs. Robinson. There is a sweet nature to their romance. She clearly is the aggressor- mature, in control, and confident whereas Benjamin is insecure and shy, yet enamored with Mrs. Robinson. Their awkward exchange in the hotel bar and their liaison in the hotel room are fantastic scenes. Slowly, once Elaine emerges, Mrs. Robinson becomes manipulative, more of a villain type character, as the youngsters love blooms and we begin to root for their happiness.

A fantastic aspect of The Graduate is of its musical soundtrack- completely done by Simon and Garfunkel, a major musical duo of the late 1960’s. From the opening chords of “The Sound of Silence”, to the appropriate “Mrs. Robinson”, the music adds much life and energy to the film, and was successful at attracting young viewers at the time. The featured soundtrack was highly influential to other films released after The Graduate.

Still fresh today, The Graduate launched the very successful career of Dustin Hoffman and emerged as an inspirational film that, controversial in its day, seems tame now, but the writing is as crisp as it ever was. A film to watch time and time again.  

Far from the Madding Crowd-1967

Far from the Madding Crowd-1967

Director-John Schlesinger

Starring-Julie Christie, Terence Stamp

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Reviewed January 1, 2016

Grade: A-

A sweeping, gorgeous epic from 1967, Far from the Madding Crowd is pure soap opera (this is not a negative), done very well, which features a woman with three male suitors and contains many similarities to another brilliant epic, Gone with the Wind. The cinematography, score, and writing is excellent, and, at close to three hours, is a lengthy experience. The film is based on the popular novel, written by Thomas Hardy.

The setting is lovely, rural England, the landscape green and lush- mostly farmland, where Bathsheba resides having recently inherited her Uncle’s enormous estate and is, frankly, overwhelmed with the heavy responsibility required to successfully run it. Three men appear in one form or another to lend a hand and each falls madly in love with her- she having her choice of any of them. Throughout the film each is given a chance to win her heart and the trials and tribulations of each occur. The wealthy neighbor, William Boldwood, is older and insecure. Frank Troy is a bad boy who is a cavalry sergeant, and Gabriel, a former farmer, who has lost all of his sheep.

Having only seen this film twice (so far), I notice more and more the similarities to Gone with the Wind. Both are set around the same time period (1860’s) and both films feature very strong, independent, gorgeous female characters with multiple male suitors. Unlike Gone with the Wind, though, Bathsheba is not self centered, but wholesome and honest.

Julie Christie was certainly the “it” girl during the time period in which the film was made, having recently starred in Darling, Doctor Zhivago, among others, and Far from the Madding Crowd is a perfect film for her, focusing on her beauty and earnestness. She is exceptionally cast.

What I enjoy most about the film is we do not know which of the men Bathsheba will wind up with….if any of them. Gabriel Alan Bates) is my personal favorite, but in the beginning of the film she rebuffs his marriage proposal. In a heartbreaking scene, one of his dogs goes mad and leads his entire flock of sheep to their death. He then is forced to work as her shepherd, a job beneath him. He is the most likable of the three men and it is fun to root for their ultimate union. But is he prone to bad luck?

Frank Troy is dashing- a clear ladies man, yet I did not root for him. A character, which I found to have strange motivations, having impregnated, and almost married a young lady named Fanny, only to turn her away based on a misunderstanding, then ultimately change his mind about Bathsheba. In one scene he manipulates his way into getting the townsmen drunk on brandy, which leads to a crisis. He is charismatic and used to getting his way.

Finally, Boldwood is wealthy and sophisticated and appealing to Bathsheba in a certain way (mainly stability), but there is also something I find “off” about the character throughout the film- unstable maybe, needy? I did not find his character likable either.

The overlap and the relationships between the men are also an interesting aspect to Far from the Madding Crowd. Will they become friends? Would they kill each other for Bathsheba’s affections? There are many emotions that run through all four characters, which makes the film rich in character development.

Grand, sweeping, and beautiful are words to describe Far from the Madding Crowd, a film that I enjoy exploring and evaluating upon each viewing.

Point Blank-1967

Point Blank-1967

Director-John Boorman

Starring-Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson

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Reviewed August 8, 2015

Grade: B+

Directed by John Boorman, (later made famous for the masterpiece Deliverance in 1974), and based on the novel The Hunter, by Donald E. Westlake, Point Blank is a tense crime drama starring Lee Marvin as a man seeking revenge on those who have wronged him. A criminal himself, and involved in the mob world of deals and drugs, he is double-crossed by his partner, who takes off with his wife. A rather obscure film, Point Blank, made in 1967, features obvious influences to classics it preceded (The Getaway, Chinatown, The French Connection, and Dirty Harry immediately spring to mind) and contains some dynamic camera work and art direction. In its day it must have been quite a groundbreaking film.

The film begins in a muddled, confusing way and catches the viewer off guard. We know nothing about any of the characters, who are suddenly introduced via flashbacks, interlaced with present and future scenes, so that immediately chaos and tension fills the story. We know that someone has stabbed someone in the back, but we do not know why or who the players are. The film is set partially at the deserted Alcatraz island (the meeting point for a money drop we later learn) and then moves to Los Angeles. Early on we realize that Marvin’s character (Walker) has been tricked, shot, and left for dead by his partner Mal (John Vernon), who takes off with Walker’s share of cash…and his troubled wife Lynne.

Hell-bent on seeking revenge (and his money) on Mal and his wife (Lynne), he attempts to track the duo down using any means necessary, leading to the introduction of pivotal and mysterious characters such as Lynne’s sister Chris (played by Angie Dickinson), and Crime Organization leaders Carter and Brewster (played by Lloyd Bochner and Carroll O’Connor, respectively).

With little blood or covert violence, the film instead uses tense action scenes, a great style, and is told in a non-linear way. One favorite scene involves Walker taking a new car for a test drive as a way of interrogating the salesman for information. As he terrorizes the salesman he repeatedly slams the car into a pole using the cars reverse and drive gears, increasing in intensity with each attempt by the salesman to avoid answering Walker’s questions.

Two other scenes that stand out to me and deserve mention are as follows- when a naked villain is non-chalantly tossed from a penthouse apartment to his death on the street and subsequently becomes wedges under a passing car the scene is as much startling as is well shot especially considering the year was only 1967. In another scene, Lynne is at the beauty salon having her makeup and hair done by a stylist. Her face is captured in the mirror and the camera allows the viewer to see a dozen or so images of the mirror layered on top of one another. This looks great, inventive, and is a good example of some superlative camera shots that occur throughout the film.

A few interesting tidbits that I pondered following the film. Was the elevator scene containing Angie Dickinson (almost meaningless to Point Blank) the inspiration for the very famous elevator scene from 1980’s Dressed to Kill? Only Dressed to Kill’s director, Brian De Palma, would know the answer to that question. How interesting to see Carroll O’Connor (later universally famous for portraying TV’s “Archie Bunker”) as a crime lord. Even though Point Blank was made before All in the Family premiered, it was tough to find him believable in this role. Finally, I loved the scenes set high atop Los Angeles, in a gorgeous high-rise apartment- the sophisticated living room furniture arrangement and colors are great visual treats.

Taut, intense, and interesting, though admittedly a plot not always made crystal clear nor easy to follow, the film came along at a time in film when edgier, more experimental films were beginning to be released, which makes Point Blank a groundbreaking and influential film that undoubtedly helped bring about other crime dramas to follow.

The Young Girls of Rochefort-1967

The Young Girls of Rochefort-1967

Director-Jacques Demy

Starring-Catherine Deneuve, George Chakiris

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Reviewed June 26, 2015

Grade: B

The Young Girls of Rochefort (Les Demoiselles de Rochefort) is a musical fantasy set in a small French town outside of Paris. The story focuses on a set of gorgeous twin sisters, Delphine and Solange, played by real life sisters Catherine Denueve and Francoise Dorleac, who yearn to escape their small town for the bright lights of Paris and hopes for romance in their lives. The twins can have any man they want, but enjoy the thrill and excitement of conquests and being chased and sought after by seemingly all available French men. They spend their spare time discussing and fretting over various loves.

The film is so French and pure musical fantasy and logic is really not the main focus. Much of it does not make much sense in fact, nor does it need to. It is pure fantasy. The film excels by being dreamlike, bright, and sunny. The vivid, bursting colors and lovely sets enhance the look of the film. In particular the coffee shop set is a dream. All of the central characters gravitate to the café for drinks, gossip, and song and dance. A great deal of the action takes place here, which is a major plus to the film. The Young Girls of Rochefort, which is made in 1967, is very state of the art in terms of art direction and colors.

The loose plot, which is not at all the reason to watch this film, is silly. The twins, longing for love, meet several men, all possible suitors, but at their true motivation is to get out of Rochefort and find real excitement in the big city of Paris. One cannot help but realize that the men are a means to an end for the girls. The heartfelt part of the story belongs to that of the twin’s mother, Yvonne, who also longs for love. Yvonne runs the café and still pines for a long lost love who she jilted because of a funny last name. She now regrets her decision and the audience roots for her to find happiness. She is a wholesome character whereas Delphine and Solange are selfish and are attempting to further their careers as musical artists.

My main criticism of the film is the casting of Gene Kelly as one of the love interests for the sisters. Far too old and well past his prime at this point, the casting just doesn’t work for me. Yes, he is an amazing dancer, but the age is too great to be believable.

In the end, the main reason to watch The Young Girls of Rochefort is to escape, let loose, and enjoy a bright, cheery, fantasy film. Certainly not to be analyzed, the film succeeds in providing good escapist cultured, French fare.

The Gruesome Twosome-1967

The Gruesome Twosome-1967

Director-H.G. Lewis

Starring-Elizabeth Davis, Gretchen Wells

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Reviewed April 25, 2014

Grade: B+

This offbeat treat is an incredibly strange, super-low budget horror film from influential director H.G. Lewis. This film is definitely an enjoyable, campy, midnight-movie type of experience. The acting is completely over-the-top and played for laughs, purposely. It felt like watching a horror version of a John Waters film and the atmosphere and acting style surely influenced Waters.

Apparently, shots were added to fill the running time to warrant a film release. KFC and Michelob product placed and one favorite scene is a sorority type slumber party as the girls danced while eating KFC.

The 7 minute intro of the talking foam heads is wonderfully strange and not to be missed. While campy, there is one intensely gruesome scene towards the beginning of the film and a must-see for cult horror and/or late night film fans.