Category Archives: 1967 Films



Director Joshua Logan

Starring Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave, Franco Nero

Scott’s Review #1,370

Reviewed June 21, 2023

Grade: A-

Camelot (1967) is an adaptation of the well-known Broadway spectacle that explores the creation of the Knights of the Roundtable. It’s medieval times and King Arthur is the main character.

Original stage stars Richard Burton and Julie Andrews declined participation which is unfortunate but their replacements played by Richard Burton and Vanessa Redgrave are more than adequate in the main roles.

At an epic length of nearly three hours, not every moment is the edge of your seat and some lagging exists but the film does justice to the stage production only with a big budget to add extravagance.

The setting and experience are pure magic and not only because of the far-removed time either. The Shakespearean elements are strong as royalty and entitlement mesh with scheming, jealousy, and dangerous romance.

This makes for some juicy soap opera drama.

After the arranged marriage of Arthur (Harris) and Guinevere (Redgrave), the king gathers the noble knights of the realm to his Round Table. The dashing Lancelot (Franco Nero) joins but soon finds himself in love with Guinevere.

When Arthur’s illegitimate and conniving son, Mordred (David Hemmings), reappears in the kingdom and exposes the secret lovers, Arthur finds himself trapped by his own rules into taking action against his wife and closest friend.

There are some dull moments to face at epic length, especially in the first half. I tuned out once or twice but then was whisked back to the dramatic events.

The great moments are truly great with enough punch to pack a wallop emotionally speaking.

During a sequence when Lancelot is challenged to a game of jousting with some knights events turn deadly and one knight, Sir Dinadan, is critically injured. Horrified Lancelot pleads for Sir Dinadan to live, and as he lays hands on him, Dinadan miraculously recovers.

The scene is fraught with emotion as a powerful moment occurs between the men. It’s also pivotal to the storyline because it links Lancelot with Guenevere and sets off a romantic chain of events.

Guenevere is so overwhelmed and humbled that her feelings for Lancelot begin to change. Despite his vows of celibacy, Lancelot falls in love with Guenevere.

More than one song is lovely in Camelot and as the course of the production went on I yearned for more musical numbers.

My favorites are the coy  “The Lusty Month of May” appearing when Guinevere and the women frolic and gather flowers to celebrate the coming of spring. Later, Lancelot and Guenevere sing of their forbidden love and how wrong life has all gone in ‘I Loved You Once In Silence’.

The lovers in the eyes of the law are to be punished so they are aware they are not long for this world.

Visually, Camelot is a spectacle and rich with style and pizazz. Whimsical colors and a ton of vibrant and fragrant flowers appear regularly amid fields of greens and forests of trees.

The castles and battlefields also lend support to gothic structures and masculine power that perfectly balances the exquisiteness of other aspects.

This more than makes up for any drudgery the story might have. It’s nice to sit back and be fulfilled by the cinematic beauty. Especially keeping in mind the romance that is at the heart of the picture.

So when the story drags one can merely enjoy the visuals and escape for a moment.

Also impressive is the story of friendship and how two male friends can be torn apart over the affections of a woman.

Camelot (1967) is an epic of behemoth length and requires patience to sit through. Some parts flat-out drag. But the daring and compelling triangle between the three leads parlays the experience into an above-average thrill ride most of the time.

Oscar Nominations: 4 wins-Best Art Direction (won), Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design (won), Best Costume Design (won), Best Original Song Score or Adaptation Score (won), Best Sound

A Countess From Hong Kong-1967

A Countess From Hong Kong-1967

Director Charlie Chaplin

Starring Marlon Brando, Sophia Loren, Tippi Hedren

Scott’s Review #1,287

Reviewed August 8, 2022

Grade: B-

I hesitated even listing Tippi Hedren among the main cast above since she only appears in A Countess From Hong Kong’s (1967) final ten minutes. I then realized that her appearance also helped make the film better than it would have been without her so I decided to give her some deserved props.

A Countess From Hong Kong needs all the help it can get to lift it above mediocrity which it only does by a hair. This is surprising, given the directorial talents of Charlie Chaplin and the marquee name recognition of heavyweights like Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren.

Somehow the stars agreed to appear in the film. Maybe they hadn’t read the script before signing on the dotted line.

Perhaps the incessant door opening and shutting sequences that go on endlessly are symbolic of the stars attempting to flee from this film.

It’s not all drivel and doom as the set decoration is flawless in beauty and style and, of course, Miss Hedren’s appearance in the final act is splendid stuff.

The trivial storyline features a Russian countess named Natascha (Loren) who stows away in the stateroom of a married United States diplomat Ogden, (Brando) bound for New York. They must scheme to ensure she arrives safely and undetected in Hawaii by marrying her off to another man.

Predictably, Natascha and Ogden fall madly in love.

Let’s feature a couple of positives before delving into the shit.

Whoever dressed and decorated the sets for A Countess From Hong Kong practically deserves an Oscar nomination for their work. Brimming with relevant mid-1960s style and sophistication, the sets are right out of television’s Mad Men series.

The colorful yellows and navy blues pair perfectly with black and grey furniture and whatever costume Loren is wearing, especially when she is clad in an ill-fitting green getup during one hi-jink scene.

Especially noteworthy is any scene that takes place away from one of the ship’s cabins, completely overused to enhance the farcical elements.

The open-set ball sequence is like a breath of fresh air and it immediately flourishes with wide-open brightness. Easy to do (and recommended) is to forget the plot altogether and escape with pleasure into each artistic design of the dance number.

When Hedren appears dressed to the nines in glittery and royal outfits it showcases both her star power and the talent of the costume team. She is given little to do as Martha, Ogden’s suspicious wife, except to be jealous, but she knocks it out of the park with her bit of screen time.

Loren and Brando surprisingly have little chemistry even when Natascha and Ogden bark and banter with each other endlessly. Their characters are hardly developed and hers turns into a bitch before too long while he does enough fuming and pouting to last a lifetime.

Based on the title you’d expect Natascha to be Asian but instead, the character is Russian and being played by an Italian actress.

I understand the need for big Hollywood stars to be incorporated into a film to achieve solid box-office returns but Chaplin seems to be without a clue how to make the pair connect.

A feeble attempt to add sophistication by giving English actress Margaret Rutherford one scene as a dotty bed-ridden old woman does nothing other than waste the legendary actress’s time.

Though, I shudder at the thought of how poor the film would have been without these talented actors.

A Countess From Hong Kong (1967) is a botched effort at creating what undoubtedly was supposed to be a fun romantic comedy romp. The film might have worked in the silent film era but forty years later feels tired.

Instead, we must traverse the tedious story to find underlying glimpses of brightness, just bubbling beneath the surface.

The Witches-1967

The Witches-1967

Director Cyril Frankel

Starring Joan Fontaine, Kay Walsh

Scott’s Review #1,096

Reviewed December 29, 2020

Grade: B

Legendary film actress Joan Fontaine chose a Hammer horror film as her final role. While not high-brow art, these films are an entertaining treat for horror fans.

They are frequently macabre, clever, and make the most of a small budget.

In The Witches (1967), Fontaine leads the way adding class and huge star quality. The film is good, but not great, with an unfulfilling ending. The cinematography and Fontaine’s involvement are the best aspects.

Also worthy of mention in the acting department is Kay Walsh, a talented British actress, who is terrific as the seemingly kind woman turned crazed witch. She adds professionalism to a pivotal role. The other supporting actors play their parts well to ensure that the craft of acting is respected.

I adore the British flair that Hammer films always have.

Fontaine plays Gwen Mayfield, an English schoolteacher who accepts a new job as the headmistress of the local school in the quaint village of Heddaby. The quiet town is exactly what Gwen needs after suffering a nervous breakdown while residing in Africa.

She experiences a small flirtation with the Reverend Alan Bax (Alec McCowen), who confesses that he is not overly religious. Stephanie is his sister, played by Walsh.

Before long, Gwen becomes immersed in the worlds of two of her students, Ronnie (Martin Stephens) and Linda (Ingrid Brett). Ronnie insists that Linda is being abused, which prompts Gwen to investigate. Meanwhile, Gwen discovers a voodoo doll and sleuths to find out what is going on in the village.

Events lead her to a sanitarium, and finally to a coven of witches, intent on human sacrifice.

The Witches has a late 1960’s look and feel which gives some sophistication. Gwen is draped in stylish clothes and jewelry and wears a cute, trendy bob haircut.

The set design is cool with groovy, colorful furniture that enhances the tight budget to full advantage.  Alan and Stephanie’s estate is particularly impressive with modern furniture, drapes, and various trimmings.

Another positive is the hefty amount of exterior sequences offered.

Director, Cyril Frankel, who directed many episodes of the popular British television series, The Avengers, provides a similar production so The Witches feels like a long episodic series. The luxurious English village is sunny, calming, and atmospheric brightening the atmosphere of the film.

This counterbalances the themes of demons, voodoo, and witches, well.

Frankel builds the story momentum throughout The Witches at a good pace, but this is lost in the final act, which is way too abrupt. During the first three-quarters of the production, we are led to believe that Gwen is either crazy, imagining the strange events, or that one of the townspeople is gaslighting her.

It’s easy to deduce the latter is what is going on, and the fun is figuring out who or who is doing the dirty deeds.

When the culprit is revealed (and it’s displayed on the cover art!), the conclusion is underwhelming. An attempted cemetery human ritual to remove life from Linda and infuse it into Stephanie so that she can live forever is weak.

After an odd sequence of the townspeople dancing and writhing around like nutcases in an unintentionally laugh-out-loud example of overacting, Gwen foils Stephanie’s plan. The witch succumbs to death, a victim of her heinous plan backfiring.

It is hinted that Gwen and Alan (who are revealed to be good) will forge a romance in the future, but I would have liked it if we had gotten more of a taste of their budding attraction during the film. Still, it is likely the two will ride off into the sunset together in safety.

While not as gory as other Hammer films, The Witches (1967) instead casts exceptionally well and tells a decent story, interesting until the low-key finale.

I expected a bit more from the ending, which simmers out instead of electrifying.

Reflections in a Golden Eye-1967

Reflections in a Golden Eye-1967

Director John Huston

Starring Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor

Scott’s Review #678

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 1960s and the beginning part of the 1970s), 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 the 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. In the novel 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 an admired and 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 1940s and 1950s era.

A neighboring couple, 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 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 can be dissected in a 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 the main character’s 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- if it was thought of at all was more like the femininity portrayed by the 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 (1967) 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 principal 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

Scott’s Review #657

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 headfirst 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 backstabbing 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 1960s are also noteworthy.

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) is a gorgeous blonde with limited talent but looks to die for.

The three women wrestle with the ups and downs of show business as they each achieve various levels of success and failure.

The film centers on both the love 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 lives of the trio. 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 of 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 are 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, yet sympathetic.

We root for Neely because she has talent despite her 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 a 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 of Valley of the Dolls is the humor, though sadly the laughs are not always intentional. The finale involves a catfight 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 (the 1960s versus the 1940s through the 1960s) 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.

Oscar Nominations: Best Original Song Score or Adaptation Score

You Only Live Twice-1967

You Only Live Twice-1967

Director Lewis Gilbert

Starring Sean Connery, Akiko Wakabayashi

Scott’s Review #636

Reviewed April 23, 2017

Grade: B+

You Only Live Twice (1967) 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 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 the 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 mysterious 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 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 leaders. Soon it is revealed that the mastermind is SPECTRE villain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld-in this installment played by Donald Pleasence.

Mr. Bond must destroy his enemy and inevitably save the world from a global nuclear war.

Though a timely storyline 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 the 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 1990s 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

Scott’s Review #628

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 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 the 1930s, the film tells its 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 the 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 filmmakers’ 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 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 is 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 identities of the others.

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 makes 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 were 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 humanize Bonnie and Clyde, and ominously, 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 the 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.

Oscar Nominations: 2 wins-Best Picture, Best Director-Arthur Penn, Best Actor-Warren Beatty, Best Actress-Faye Dunaway, Best Supporting Actor-Gene Hackman, Michael J. Pollard, Best Supporting Actress-Estelle Parsons (won), Best Story and Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography (won)

Belle De Jour-1967

Belle De Jour-1967

Director Luis Bunuel

Starring Catherine Deneuve, Jean Sorel

Scott’s Review #486


Reviewed September 29, 2016

Grade: A

Belle De Jour, the title translates 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 calmly does mental conflict.

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? Not. 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 place 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

Scott’s Review #335


Reviewed January 9, 2016

Grade: A

The Graduate is an immeasurable success and highly influential comedy from 1967- a time when films were gaining creative freedoms and 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 these years and remains fresh and cutting edge.

It is slick, sophisticated, and quite funny, though peppered with dark humor.

Thanks to Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, the film 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 glamorous 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 1960s.

Fashion, style, and glamour are prevalent, but they go against what Benjamin and Elaine, stand for.

The film is also an exploration of generations. Benjamin’s parents and all of their friends are into material things cars, houses, and parties.

The triangle between Benjamin, Mrs. Robinson, and Elaine is 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 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 youngster’s love blooms and we begin to root for their happiness.

A fantastic aspect of The Graduate is its musical soundtrack- completely done by Simon and Garfunkel, a major musical duo of the late 1960s. From the opening chords of ‘The Sound of Silence’, to the appropriate ‘Mrs. Robinson’, 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 (1967) 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 over and over again.  

Oscar Nominations: 1 win– Best Picture, Best Director-Mike Nichols (won), Best Actor-Dustin Hoffman, Best Actress-Anne Bancroft, Best Supporting Actress-Katharine Ross, Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Cinematography

Far from the Madding Crowd-1967

Far from the Madding Crowd-1967

Director John Schlesinger

Starring Julie Christie, Terence Stamp, Alan Bates

Scott’s Review #315


Reviewed January 1, 2016

Grade: A-

A sweeping, gorgeous epic made in 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 are excellent, and, at close to three hours, are 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 had 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, 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 period (the 1860s) 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 in which the film was made, having recently starred in Darling, and 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 at 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 lady’s 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 (main 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 interesting aspects of Far from the Madding Crowd. Will they become friends? Would they kill each other for Bathsheba’s affection?

Many emotions 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.

Oscar Nominations: Best Original Music Score

Point Blank-1967

Point Blank-1967

Director John Boorman

Starring Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson

Scott’s Review #263


Reviewed August 8, 2015

Grade: B+

Directed by John Boorman, (later made famous for the masterpiece Deliverance in 1972), and based on the novel The Hunter, by Donald E. Westlake, Point Blank (1967) 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 features obvious influences of the 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 fill 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 car’s 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 and deserve mention are as follows- when a naked villain is nonchalantly tossed from a penthouse apartment to his death on the street and subsequently becomes wedged under a passing car the scene is as startling as is well shot, especially considering the year was 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, and 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 famous elevator scene from the 1980s 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 the 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

Scott’s Review #252


Reviewed June 30, 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 Deneuve and Francoise Dorleac, who yearn to escape their small town for the bright lights of Paris and hope 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 are 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 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 was 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 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 whom she jilted because of a funny last name. She now regrets her decision and the audience’s 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 of the sisters. Far too old and well past his prime at this point, the casting just doesn’t work. 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 (1967) 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.

Oscar Nominations: Best Score of a Musical Picture- Original or Adaptation

The Gruesome Twosome-1967

The Gruesome Twosome-1967

Director H.G. Lewis

Starring Elizabeth Davis, Gretchen Wells

Scott’s Review #8


Reviewed June 17, 2014

Grade: B+

This offbeat treat is an incredibly strange, super-low-budget horror film from influential director H.G. Lewis.

This film is 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.

Shots were added to fill the running time to warrant a film release. KFC and Michelob products are 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.