Category Archives: 1968 Films

Yellow Submarine-1968

Yellow Submarine-1968

Director George Dunning, Dick Emery

Starring John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney (*singing only)

Scott’s Review #1,291

Reviewed August 18, 2022

Grade: B+

By 1968 The Beatles, or the ‘Fab Four’, as they were commonly nicknamed, were household names and their music played all around the world.

Instead of their earlier 1960s pop and radio-ready songs, the band was beginning to branch out into far more daring and creative territory.

Yellow Submarine (1968), also a song, is a bright and colorful journey into the weird and wonderful psychedelic sensibilities the band had created. It’s fabulous and edgy though sometimes doesn’t make complete sense.

The target audience was likely adolescents but since ‘Yellow Submarine is a children’s song there is a Sesame Street educational factor to it which is hard to explain well but I felt that vibe.

A thought for adults might be to concoct a powerful libation for maximum enjoyment while watching Yellow Submarine. One’s mind must be kept open to the Blue Meanies and the odd world of Pepperland that are featured as the gang traverses the land in a Candy Land-like maze of events.

Adults might be best-suited foraging into the world of silly while watching.

The film is The Beatle’s only animated project.

The music-loving inhabitants of Pepperland are under siege by the Blue Meanies, an unpleasant group of music-hating creatures.

The Lord Mayor of Pepperland (Dick Emery) dispatches sailor Old Fred (Lance Percival) to Liverpool, England, where he is to recruit the help of the Beatles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr).

The sympathetic Beatles ride a yellow submarine to the occupied Pepperland, where the Blue Meanies have no chance against the Fab Four’s charisma and groovy tunes.

As bizarre as Yellow Submarine is to an adult’s frame of mind, I can only imagine the joy and energy a child would take from the film though perhaps not understanding completely. I tried to keep this in mind while watching it.

The colors are dazzling and vibrant one of the biggest strengths of the film. The delightful and vivid greens and blues mix well with the lighter pinks and yellows of the famous submarine.

I confess to having had a difficult time with the plot of Yellow Submarine in the beginning and I struggled to make sense of what was going on. This might have been because of the distraction of the beautiful animation and color direction.

I finally began to piece together clues and characters from Beatles songs and my realization turned into one of pleasure and anticipation.

Once the band meets the lonely Jeremy Hillary Boob Ph.D., also known as the ‘Nowhere Man, I got the point of the film. I began to look for other characters like Eleanor Rigby and Lucy from the song ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’.

The fun commences with salivation of what the famous Beatles tune could be next. Speaking of ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ this number is the trippiest and most interesting of them all as a spirit-like creature dances around with weird shapes and styles.

Other treats like the tremendous ‘All You Need Is Love, the charming ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’, and naturally ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and ‘Yellow Submarine’ are featured.

Yellow Submarine (1968) is a must-see for fans of The Beatles and those with an appreciation for the arthouse magic contained within the film. Intelligent kids allowed to be exposed to the project will surely fall in love with it and reminisce when watching it years later.



Director Lindsay Anderson

Starring Malcolm McDowell

Scott’s Review #1,178

Reviewed September 18, 2021

Grade: A

Malcolm McDowell fascinates me. The mere construction of his facial features astounds me, with his crystal blue eyes and sullen smirk it’s tough to tell what he is thinking.

He stars in If… (1968), a satire of the student experience amid a strict upper-class English public school.

It’s McDowell’s film debut which is worth noting.

McDowell, always associated with A Clockwork Orange (1971) first and foremost made several great films in just a few years.

The film follows a group of fed-up pupils, led by Mick Travis (McDowell) who ultimately stage a bloody insurrection at a boys’ boarding school. But is it real or imagined by Mick?

Mick is conflicted when he is caught between the sadistic older boys known as the Whips and the lowly first-year students, affectionately known as Scum, who are forced to do their bidding.

He and his two henchmen, Johnny (David Wood) and Wallace (Richard Warwick) rebel by exhibiting thefts and defiant behavior causing the ire of both the Whips and the school’s out-of-touch administration.

This conflict leads to an unexpected and bloody showdown.

If… was the subject of controversy in 1968 at the time of its release, receiving an X rating for its depictions of violence against school administration and grown-ups. The specific year was a juicy one in cinema as the more edgy and creative fare was being produced in anticipation of the 1970s.

I champion the film and director Lindsay Anderson for having the balls to make a film of this nature sure to piss off and shock the education system and those who simply don’t get what the film is expressing.

One wonders if English rock band Pink Floyd found inspiration in If… while creating their legendary song ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ from 1979.

The Whips are the villains and the school administrators are portrayed as complacent or incompetent so the finale is quite satisfying from a viewer’s perspective.

One will never forget the image of Mick fiendishly standing on a rooftop brandishing a gun and firing determinedly. His other cohorts join in the action to celebrate graduation ceremonies. For them, it’s a delightful moment since all the parents and family members are in attendance.

It’s only a film but I can’t help but wonder how differently the film is perceived by an audience in the post-Columbine era, a vicious school shooting that occurred in the United States, an incident that led to rashes of similar events.

To clarify, since Anderson made a follow-up film to If… with O Lucky Man! in 1973 and starring McDowell as the same character, we can rest easier in the knowledge that the events in If… are purely the imagination of Mick.

It’s a satire.

And what schoolboy or schoolgirl hasn’t fantasized at how delicious it would be to give bullies or other bastards their just deserts for making their lives miserable?

Another takeaway I got from If… is that it doesn’t have to draw the line at being about a prep school at all. Mick and his friends question conformity and rules. Why can’t the viewer do the same in the workplace or in life itself?

I’ve seen the film twice and can never account for the inexplicable changes from color to black and white in various scenes. Anderson claims that this was done for budget reasons but others have done a deeper dive and hypothesized that the color versus black and white has more to do with fantasy.

Whatever the reason it successfully offers a surrealistic measure.

If… (1968) is a wonderful film that is open to interpretation and much open dialogue after viewing it. Isn’t that what cinema is all about? A discussion of the merits and conclusions of a particular film?

Hot Summer-1968

Hot Summer-1968

Director Joachim Hasler

Starring Chris Doerk, Frank Schobel

Scott’s Review #1,173

Reviewed August 27, 2021

Grade: B

One of the strangest films I’ve ever watched Hot Summer (1968) deserves enormous accolades for even being filmed, produced, and in existence.

You see, it’s the only film (that I know of) to come out of East Germany before the wall came down in 1989 and unity garnered.

This is astounding in itself despite some warts the film contains.

The starkness and seriousness that envelope the German stereotype are shattered by the bubblegum musical nature of the film. This is an oddity in itself.

It’s patterned after the trite, summery United States beach movies of the 1950s and 1960s when teenage characters flocked to the sandy beaches looking for romance with their contemporaries.

In this film, they do so within song and dance numbers led by two East German pop idols of the time, Chris Doerk and Frank Schobel.

The genre of the film pretty much sucks and is not at all my favorite style of film but Hot Summer contains a liberal helping of sun, perfect smiles, and beach bodies to keep viewers at least interested.

The acting is not great nor is it expected to be.

As goofy as possible the musical comedy follows a group of teenage girls heading to the Baltic coast together for their summer vacation. Naturally, they wind up meeting a similar group of amorous teenage guys, giving way to quarrels and flirtatious competitions that are played out in lively song-and-dance numbers as the individuals hook up with each other.

Despite that the film was made during the Cold War period there are no political or like messages to be found which surprised me. If there were any subliminal intentions related to this, like the groups sticking together, they didn’t register with me. I think this is a positive.

Hot Summer is pure summer fun- nothing more and nothing less.

The songs are a major win and rather hummable, especially the title track. It stuck in my head for some time after the film had ended. One character performs a lovely ballad amid a campfire that is quite beautiful and incredibly atmospheric.

The numbers are professional largely because real-life pop stars Doerk and Schobel do the bulk of them.

Still, Hot Summer has a couple of negatives to mention. Why the decision was made to pattern a film, especially one as groundbreaking as being the sole East German film during the Cold War, by using a subject matter as hokey as the summer beach theme is beyond me.

Certainly, better genres exist to borrow from.

My hunch is that Joachim Hasler, who directed the film, desired a release from the bleakness of his own culture and saw America as the land of freedom and fun.

The choreography is a bit stiff, if not downright amateurish which adds to the bizarre nature of the overall product.

Certainly nothing like the exceptional choreography of say Oklahoma (1955) or West Side Story (1961) instead we get rigid dance numbers.

Kudos to the film for being made at all Hot Summer (1968) is hardly a great film but it does hold the viewer’s interest. It contains enough fun and frolics and good-looking young people to avoid being a snore.

Torture Garden-1968

Torture Garden-1968

Director Freddie Francis

Starring Burgess Meredith, Jack Palance, Peter Cushing

Scott’s Review #1,027

Reviewed May 28, 2020

Grade: B

A horror offering made up of multiple vignettes is a treat as we get numerous stories, especially with some late 1960s British sophistication peppered in.

Torture Garden (1968) contains four stories- Enoch, Terror over Hollywood, Mr. Steinway, and The Man Who Collected Poe, each with some intrigue. The structure may be most comparable to The Twilight Zone television series but in a British way.

The Terror over Hollywood is my personal favorite.

Burgess Meredith (yes, that Burgess Meredith of the Batman television series) stars as Doctor Diabolo, a sinister con artist who runs an attraction at a fairground sideshow.

Having shown them a handful of tepid haunted house-style gimmicks to whet their appetites, he promises them a frightening experience if they pay extra.

Of course, they are immediately taken, and when they follow him behind a curtain, one by one they view their fates through a transfixed female deity Atropos (Clytie Jessop).

The stories commence through a hallucinogenic method.

Below is a summary and review of each vignette.

In Enoch, Colin Williams (Michael Bryant) a greedy playboy with money troubles, takes advantage of his elderly uncle (Maurice Denham), by causing his death and falling under the spell of a man-eating cat.

Colin is determined to find his uncle’s riches, leading him to desperation. The plot is far-fetched but the black cat with glowing green eyes is memorable as are the be-headings of a homeless man, a nurse, and finally, the playboy himself.

When the cat finally puts another person under the spell the conclusion is satisfying.

Terror over Hollywood travels across the pond to the United States and introduces a tale of jealousy, schemes, and intrigue in La La Land.

The vignette most resembles Invasion of the Body Snatchers in theme and is quite compelling.

Carla Hayes (Beverley Adams) is a beautiful, aspiring actress intent on clawing her way to the top by any necessary means. After she ruins her roommate’s dress and steals her date, she embarks on a strange journey that leads her to a role in a film, but there is a price to pay.

Adams is a stellar star who brings life and energy to the story.

Providing the most bizarre of all the vignettes Mr. Steinway involves a possessed grand piano by the name of Euterpe who becomes jealous of its owner Leo’s (John Standing) new lover Dorothy (Barbara Ewing) and goes on the attack seeking revenge.

The story is about Dorothy, who is one of the sideshow patrons, so the events are shown from her perspective.

The story contains plenty of loopholes, but it’s fascinating to see the enormous and gorgeous piano come to life as a character and push Dorothy out the window plummeting to her death.

Finally, in The Man Who Collected Poe, a Poe collector (Jack Palance) murders another collector (Peter Cushing) over collectibles he refuses to show him, only to find that the keepsake is the real Edgar Allan Poe (Hedger Wallace).

Seeing both the esteemed real-life figure and horror legend Cushing makes this chapter enjoyable even though it is the least compelling of the bunch. Knowing that Torture Garden was originally meant to star Cushing and Christopher Lee detracts from the film just a bit.

One can only imagine the possibilities.

In the epilogue, which proves to be a clever twist, the mysterious fifth patron (Michael Ripper) scares the others into fleeing for their lives before revealing that he is a conspirator of Doctor Diabolos.

The group is proven to be merely gullible rubes, left with the belief that a murder has occurred and their fates will come true.

The film espouses black magic and the occult in a fun way but not a frightening way. This is both a positive and a negative since witchcraft never felt so family-friendly.

Torture Garden (1968) is not the best horror anthology ever created, nor is it the worst. The plots are uneven but entertaining and never dull.

The creative additions of a killer piano, a killer cat, and famed storyteller Edgar Allen Poe are worth the price of admission as is the centerpiece villain played by the great actor Burgess Meredith, who helps keep the plot moving along.

Funny Girl-1968

Funny Girl-1968

Director William Wyler

Starring Barbra Streisand, Omar Sharif

Scott’s Review #1,022

Reviewed May 11, 2020

Grade: B+

Barbra Streisand won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her outstanding portrayal of Fanny Brice in Funny Girl (1968). She reprises a role that she made famous on the Broadway stage, bringing her to the big screen.

The role is vitally important and presents a great message, teaching viewers that an unconventional woman with great talents can succeed in show biz, leaving prim and proper starlets salivating with jealousy.

Features the classic tunes “People” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade” as well as the title track.

Fanny (Streisand) is an unhappy Jewish New Yorker, living in semi-poverty and dreaming of the big time. Her mother (Kay Medford) and others in the community try to persuade Fanny to live a normal life far from the hot and judgmental lights of the stage, but she will have none of it.

Finding success on her terms in Ziegfeld Follies throughout World War I, she also finds love and passion with the suave Nick Arnstein (Sharif) following her debut performance.

The story is loosely based on the life and career of the real Fanny and her stormy relationship with entrepreneur and gambler, Nick.

Taking nothing away from Sharif, who is more than adequate, the film belongs to Streisand. Despite being a novice, producers wanted nobody other than Streisand in the role since she had hit a home run in the stage version.

A brief consideration to have Shirley MacLaine star in hindsight seems laughable and unimaginable.

Sharif’s suave and dangerous swarthy characterization balances perfectly with Streisand’s naivety and innocence. The Jewish female and the Muslim male also must have raised an eyebrow or two at the time.

Streisand is a breath of fresh air in a role that could be said to mimic real life and reflects film in 1968 and beyond. Glamour girls were the height of fashion throughout the 1950s and 1960s where looks sometimes usurped talent.

With the lifting of the Hollywood Code, grittier and dirtier roles were to be found for women. Streisand, as Fanny, proves that a self-proclaimed ugly duckling can rise to the top of the cream.

Refusing to get a nose job or otherwise alter her appearance or name, she mirrors Fanny in many ways, inspiring both women and men to be themselves to achieve truth.

Director William Wyler, no stranger to Hollywood success with pictures such as Mrs. Miniver (1942) and The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) knows how to pace and balance a film nicely and how to present a cheery and splendid offering nicely, careful not to make the film too lightweight either.

Comic scenes such as when Fanny upstages everyone and prances around the stage as a pregnant newlywed becoming the talk of the town are the best ones.

The film succeeds when it is fun.

Sharif does his best with a small role, surprising given the importance of the character, but the dramatic moments are not the best scenes. They are okay and certainly not overacted by the stars, but do not work as well as when Streisand belts out “People” on a lonely sidewalk.

The issue is that Streisand is Funny Girl and even prominent actors like Sharif never had a chance. The one exception is Medford who goes toe to toe with Streisand in every scene with gusto and humor.

Funny Girl (1968) may suffer from a few overly melodramatic moments that slow it down, especially concerning the main romance, but the prominent message is one of staying true to one’s colors.

Refusing to be influenced by elders or even her beau, Fanny is to be heralded as an inspiration to all viewers. With delightful musical numbers and zesty wardrobe pieces, the film has a cheery and fun veneer, but more lies beneath the surface.

Whether the intention is a sing-along experience or a deeper meaning, the film has something for everyone.

Oscar Nominations: 1 win-Best Picture, Best Actress-Barbra Streisand (won), Best Supporting Actress-Kay Medford, Best Score of a Musical Picture-Original or Adaptation, Best Song Original for the Picture-“Funny Girl”, Best Sound, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing

With Six You Get Eggroll-1968

With Six You Get Eggroll-1968

Director Howard Morris

Starring Doris Day, Brian Keith

Scott’s Review #931

Reviewed August 15, 2019

Grade: B

A film that influenced the creation of the iconic television series, The Brady Bunch (1969-1974), or the reverse depending on the timeline or who you ask, With Six You Get Eggroll (1968) is a cute family romantic comedy, hardly exceptional fare, and becoming too silly during the final act.

Featuring the merging of two families into one big blended family, the heart of the film is the romance between two middle-aged singles looking for new love despite their baggage.

Abby McClure (Doris Day) is a widow raising three boys somewhere in northern California. She dutifully runs her deceased husband’s lumberyard while feeling unfulfilled in the romance department.

When her overzealous sister, Maxine (Pat Carroll) tricks her into inviting widower Jake Iverson (Brian Keith) to her dinner party, the pair do not connect but are drawn to one another as they become better acquainted.

Predictable obstacles come their way including misunderstandings and backlash from their kids.

With Six You Get Eggroll is Day’s last film and certainly not one of her best offerings but is nonetheless moderately enjoyable.

The filmmaker intends to showcase a romance between Abby and Jake so that the elements are set up in a way that makes the characters likable, leaving a very predictable experience.

When Jake arrives at the party early and sees Abby at her disheveled worst, or after Jake makes up an excuse to leave the evening early but runs into Abby later at the supermarket, it’s the sort of film that has a happy ending.

As such, the chemistry is palpable between Day and Keith which makes the film charming. If they had no chemistry the film would be a bust, but their slow build fondness for each other works well for this genre of film.

They share a spontaneous evening of champagne and small talk at Abby’s house and excitedly plan a date for the next day only for Jake to make an excuse leaving Abby perplexed.

When Abby sees him with a much younger woman, we feel her disappointment. After all, Abby is well past forty in a world where middle-aged women are not the pick of the litter anymore, as sister Maxine annoyingly reminds her.

When the young woman turns out to be Jake’s daughter, we smile with relief, along with Abby, because we like the characters and want them to be together.

The children: Flip, Jason, Mitch, and Stacey (a young Barbara Hershey) add little to the film and are merely supporting characters. They dutifully add obstacles to their parent’s happiness by squabbling with each other over bathroom space or resenting one parent for taking the other away from them.

Conversely, Maxine and Abby’s housekeeper, Molly (Alice Ghostley) add wonderful comic relief, keeping the film from turning too melodramatic and providing natural humor.

The Brady Bunch comparisons are quite obvious to any viewer who has seen the television series, and who hasn’t. The blended families and the G-rated dramatic crises are the most certain and the period and clothes are almost identical.

Molly the maid could be Alice the housekeeper, and the actor (Allan Melvin) who plays Sam “the Butcher” from the television series appears as a Police Sergeant.

I half-expected the musical scores to mirror each other.

The film does have some mild flaws other than the predictability factor. The introduction of a band of hippies (though cool to see M*A*S*H alums Jamie Farr and William Christopher in early acting roles) and a speeding chicken truck resulting in arrests is way too juvenile and plot-driven.

A much better title could have been thought up for the film; With Six You Get Eggroll doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, nor does it have anything to do with the story.

Finally, Abby’s masculine profession is only shown in the opening scene and also has nothing to do with the story.

For a wholesome late 1960’s 1960s-themed evening, With Six You Get Eggroll (1968) is a moderate affair with cliches and a cheery tone, but also some genuine chemistry between its leads.

The sets and colors lend themselves well to the times and Day is always top-notch. Perhaps one could skip this film and watch a sampling of The Brady Bunch television reruns; the experience would almost be the same.

Witchfinder General-1968

Witchfinder General-1968

Director Michael Reeves

Starring Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy, Hilary Dwyer

Scott’s Review #904

Reviewed May 31, 2019

Grade: B+

Witchfinder General (1968) is a macabre horror film that provides an enormous atmosphere amid a gruesome story centering around the theme of witch-hunting.

By the late 1960’s violence and bloodletting in cinema had become more lenient and acceptable so the film takes full advantage of the timing with an unusual amount of torture, cruelty, and brutality.

The mid-seventeenth-century English period is highly effective as is the ghastly religious angle, making for effective film making.

Vincent Price is delicious in any film he appears in, having amassed over one-hundred cinematic credits alone, to say nothing of his television appearances.

Practically trademarking his over-the-top comic wittiness and campy performances, his role in Witchfinder General may be his best yet as he plays the character straight and deadly serious.

This succeeds in making his character chilling and maybe the best role of his career despite numerous disputes with the director, Michael Reeves, over motivation.

During the English Civil War, Mathew Hopkins (Price) took advantage of the unrest in the land, profiting from witch-hunting. He travels from town to town accusing the unfortunate of witchcraft until they are mercilessly executed after which he is paid handsomely.

Matthew is assisted in the accusations and torments by John Stearne (Robert Russell) a man his equal in brutality. The knowledge that these two men were real-life historical figures makes the action even more difficult to watch.

When he arrests and tortures Father Lowes (Rupert Davies), Lowes’s niece’s fiancé (Ian Ogilvy) decides to put an end to Hopkins’s sleazy practices and goes on a quest to seek vengeance.

The mixture of a romantic love story as Richard Marshall (Ogilvy) and Sara (Hilary Dwyer) marry and a revenge tale as Marshall vows to destroy Hopkins is a nice combination as are the numerous outdoor scenes.

Witchfinder General has much going on and the pieces all come together.

The most horrific moments of the film come during the death scenes as the victims, who logical viewers can ascertain are innocent. The characters are merely perceived as peculiar, therefore deemed to be up to witchcraft, and do not stand much of a chance despite their endless pleas and cries.

Before they are murdered they are typically tortured until they ultimately confess to crimes out of desperation and perceived relief. The common mode of death is either hanging or burning to death.

In one sickening scene, victims are assumed to be witches if they can swim and then are subsequently burned at the stake; if they drown they are innocent, but of course die anyway.

One unfortunate victim has her hands and legs bound and drowns, followed by one of the witch hunters professing how her death was unfortunate because she was innocent all along.

In horror films, the most frightening situations are the ones that can conceivably occur in real-life whether it be a home-invasion, a psycho with a knife, or burning at the stake in the 1600s.

The fact that witch-hunting did happen is shocking and resoundingly makes Witchfinder General creepier especially given that most scenes take place in the daytime. Anyone can create a studio monster, but the realism of the events is the key to the film’s power.

As an aside, while watching the film I was keen to keep in mind how many countries still treat certain classes and groups of people differently, or even oppress them in the name of God.

Food for thought and an additional component that makes Witchfinder General relevant.

The story and the screenplay are not brilliant, nor do they necessarily need to be given the treasures existing among the elements. The writing is your basic villains getting their comeuppance with a love story thrown in- standard fare and adequate.

While pointing out some negatives is “Witchfinder General” the best title that Reeves could come up with, or anyone else for that matter? The title does not exactly roll off the tongue nor does the renamed United States release, The Conqueror Worm sound much better.

Witchfinder General (1968) is not an easy watch and the faint of heart may want to avoid this one, but the realism and the rich atmosphere make it a success.

The lit candles, an old castle, potent red and blue costumes, and one of the greatest horror legends of all time make this a must-watch among horror fans.

Once Upon a Time in the West-1968

Once Upon a Time in the West-1968

Director Sergio Leone

Starring Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale

Scott’s Review #886

Reviewed April 17, 2019

Grade: A

At one time dismissed as either frivolous or cartoon-like, the derogatory genre classification “spaghetti western” originally played for goofs or contained a comical slant associated with bad lip-syncing.

Many of these films have aged tremendously well though and now have come to be appreciated more and ensconced in the cinematic study.

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) is a lesson in camp art that marinates like a fine steak drizzling with texture and good atmosphere across a sprawling two-hour and forty-six-minute landscape.

In a great sequence, the film begins with a mysterious harmonica-playing gunman (Charles Bronson), dubbed “Harmonica” for reasons eventually revealed shooting three men sent to kill him.

Meanwhile, to get his hands on prized railroad land in Sweetwater, crippled railroad baron Morton (Gabriele Ferzetti) hires killers, led by blue-eyed baddie Frank (Henry Fonda), who murders property owner Brett McBain (Frank Wolff) and his family.

Immediately, the film exudes intensity with a severe revenge theme.

The story develops further with romance mixed in Western style as McBain’s newly arrived bride, Jill (Claudia Cardinale), inherits the land instead.

Jill is a former prostitute who catches the eye of most of the men she encounters. Both outlaws Cheyenne (Jason Robards) and Harmonica take it upon themselves to look after Jill and thwart Frank’s plans to seize her land.

With standard Western flare, they are both attracted to Jill and yearn for her affection while also feeling protective over her.

Not professing to be enamored with the Western genre- the stereotypical Cowboys and Indians and token damsel in distress have their limitations- Once Upon a Time in the West is a feast for the eyes and the ears with cinematography on par with Lawrence of Arabia (1963) and a killer musical score.

While the story may have a traditional backbone, the nuances are astounding. The sweeping mountains of the western United States feature heavily, and the tension-infused music sets up every thrilling scene with gusto and foreboding tendencies.

Hot on the heels of another similarly themed masterpiece The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966) Leone delivers the goods at every turn most notably setting up each scene with sizzling elements that emit a clear sense of danger.

The audience knows trouble is about to transpire but not exactly when the shit will hit the fan. The family death scene is paced astoundingly well as the family merrily goes about preparing a delicious summer meal unaware that destruction is around the corner.

Sure, the cast is a mix of American and Italian actors with varying degrees of accents not exactly mirroring the Wild West. Yes, Jill wears heavy mascara and a hairstyle straight out of the 1960s and one character has brightly dyed red hair, but these intricacies give the film character rather than turn the production into a disheveled mess.

Forever known for heroic or everyman roles Fonda plays against type instead cast as the central and sadistic villain, and the result is superlative.

Leone’s ability to cast a legendary star in production with little expectations is quite a feat and Fonda seems to revel in role-playing him dangerously and straight. With his piercing blue eyes and a gaze sure to make children run away in terror, his brutal villainy is only wholly realized at the film’s conclusion.

Dozens of iconic comparisons to modern directing genius Quentin Tarantino’s style can be drawn. The director undoubtedly watched and studied this film repeatedly as numerous qualities mirror his films.

Viewers will delight at drawing these comparisons including a harmonica reference, the revenge story, and the climactic reveal at the end of the film via flashback pulling all the pieces together.

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) is a quality film that has finally gotten its due. Tremendous and compelling storytelling is combined with flavorful qualities and a dusty atmosphere.

The film is the sum of all its parts and while at first underappreciated has finally risen to the ranks of a high-quality masterpiece.

Influencing many great directors like Martin Scorsese and George Lucas and Tarantino is quite a testament to its staying power.



Director Peter Yates

Starring Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn

Scott’s Review #660

Reviewed July 7, 2017

Grade: B+

Bullitt (1968) is one of the ultimate “guy movies”, hardly a stretch considering it stars the “regular guy” hero of the time, Steve McQueen.

With his macho, tough-guy persona and his cool, confident swagger, he was a marquee hero during the late 1960s and into the 1970s.

While the film is rife with machismo stereotypes and is not exactly a women’s lib film, it is also a good old-fashioned action thriller with plenty of chase and fight scenes to make most guys  (and some girls) happy.

The story is not too thought-provoking, but the film works as escapist fare and is an example of good late 1960s cinema.

Set in San Francisco, Lieutenant Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) is assigned to watch a Chicago gangster, Johnny Ross, over a long weekend, before the criminal is set to testify against his brother on Monday morning.

Robert Vaughn plays ambitious politician, Walter Chalmers, who is determined to see the case go off without a hitch and see convictions in the organized crime syndicate.

Predictably, the weekend does not go as planned and  Ross is attacked by hitmen. This, in turn,  sets off a cat-and-mouse game of deception and intrigue. As expected, the action is virtually non-stop with many action sequences lighting up the screen.

The plot of Bullitt does not matter and, one does not need to completely understand what is going on to enjoy the film for what it is. The intent of a film like Bullitt is not good story-telling, but rather good action.

This is not meant as a put-down, but rather good, honest critiquing. One can simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the testosterone-laden affair.

Bullitt contains some riveting scenes that raise it above an average, middling, action flick. The muscle car chase involving a then state-of-the-art and flashy Ford Mustang and Dodge Charger is fantastic and one of the high points of the film.

The quick and edgy camera angles as the cars zip down the windy and narrow San Francisco roads make for compelling tension.

Will one of the cars careen off the side of the road or blow up in an explosion? Since one of the cars holds Frank Bullitt and the other car is the bad guy, it is not tough to guess how the sequence will end.

But it’s good fun all the same and well filmed.

The other spectacular sequence is the finale- as Frank and company overtake a busy San Francisco airport in pursuit of a baddie about to board a transcontinental flight, the chase sequence leads them throughout the airport, onto a taxiing plane, and finally onto the runway, as a plane is about to take off.

It is action at its finest and also a treat for the viewer in that it brings us back to airport days, pre-9/11 when airports were just different. The luxurious flight crew, the innocence, and the glamour- all a distant memory.

The scene is such that it shows all of the airport elements- the people, the employees, the airport, and the planes, giving it a slice-of-life feel, circa late 1960’s airport days.

Appealing is the period in which the film is made. 1968, was a great time for film, Bullitt capitalized on the newly liberal use of blood that films were able to show, so in this way, Bullitt is an influential action film.

Dozens of imitators (some admittedly with superior writing) followed, including classics Dirty Harry and The French Connection. These contain the same basic blueprint that Bullitt has.

A negative to Bullitt is the trite way in which women are portrayed. Female characters are written as dutiful nurses, gasping in fear and helplessly running away when an assailant runs rampant in the hospital, praying for a man to save the day.

Or, they are written, in the case of Bullitt’s girlfriend, as a gorgeous yet insignificant character, given a laughable scene in which she questions whether or not she knows Frank after witnessing the violence in his job- hello?

He is in the San Francisco Police Department after all.

Bullitt is a meat-and-potatoes kind of film-making. An early entry into what would become the raw 1970s and the slick formulaic 1980s action genre, the film deserves credit for being at the front of the pack in style and influence.

The story and character development are secondary to other aspects of the film and Bullitt (1968) is just fine as escapism fare.

Oscar Nominations: 1 win-Best Sound, Best Film Editing (won)

The Girls-1968

The Girls-1968

Director Mai Zetterling

Starring Bibi Andersson, Harriet Andersson

Scott’s Review #404


Reviewed May 11, 2016

Grade: B+

The Girls is a 1968 political-leaning, surreal, dream-like, feminist Swedish film. These may seem like too many adjectives to describe a film, but they all happen to be warranted and work to categorize it, which is tough- it is a complex film.

The film left me deep in thought about what I had just viewed- that is a positive for me.

Directed by a female, Mai Zetterling, the film is told from a female perspective and is quite difficult to follow, though the message portrayed is a thought compelling, and powerful women repressed- whether in reality or fantasy-by men.

In my attempt to describe The Girls accurately, it appears to contain the boys versus girls component throughout- told by the girls. The plot centers around three women: Liz (Bibi Andersson), Marianne (Harriet Andersson), and Gunilla (Gunnel Lindblom).

The women are hired to star in a touring production of Lysistrata and each faces conflict and concern over leaving their respective families, but for differing reasons.

Liz’s husband, who is having an affair, cannot get rid of her soon enough. Marianne has recently dumped her married boyfriend. Gunilla has four children and suffers from guilt.  All of the women are very friendly with each other.

All three principal actresses are familiar to eagle-eyed Ingmar Bergman fans as each of them has appeared in numerous films of his-in very different types of roles.

Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal feature these actresses.

The women go on tour and have various surreal experiences based on the play in which they are a star. The film, made in black and white, has very overexposed cinematography. The blacks and the whites are very sharp in look and this is no doubt purposely done.

On the surface, it would appear that the women hate men and yearn to be free of them. Is that the point of the film? It seems to go in other directions as well. Do they hate their lives and feel confined with men and free without them, when they are touring their play?

How do they feel about their children? Do they miss them on tour, love them, resent them, or perhaps a bit of each? They yearn to be free of restraint.

We are treated to numerous scenes that seem to be a dreamlike state or a fantasy of one of the women. One runs through the forest and comes upon a grizzled, dirty child on the ground. Is it hers? She then sees her husband sitting in a living room chair in the middle of the forest.

The symbolism resonating through The Girls is countless. We also see the women fantasize about a handsome, young man. Are they tired of the doldrums- looks and otherwise- that their husbands have caused them?

Many political scenes of protest occur throughout the film. In one, the women march in unison- Nazi-style and chant. In another, the women lead what appears to be a charge of women- suffragette style, until the women start attacking each other and punching and kicking each other in the streets.

These scenes and countless others are tough to analyze, but perhaps this is the point. I decided to simply escape into the film and not try to figure out what everything meant.

Fantastic to see is the exterior scenes shot in Stockholm, Sweden, which reminds us what a liberal, democratic city it is. Yet the women are repressed. Made in 1968, during the sexual revolution, the timing of the film is perfect.

The Girls left me pondering the story and the viewpoint and I will need further viewings for the film to more successfully sink in and for me to get it- if I ever do, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

The film is the kind of film that requires further viewing to understand. I look forward to watching this film again and that is high praise for it.

Planet of the Apes-1968

Planet of the Apes-1968

Director Franklin J. Shaffner

Starring Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall

Top 100 Films #97

Scott’s Review #363


Reviewed January 9, 2016

Grade: A

Planet of the Apes is a 1968 science-fiction, message movie, that stars one of the legendary greats, Charlton Heston.

At the time of release, the film was a great film and quite visionary- and the message still holds up well today. Since certainly everyone on the “planet” must know the “surprise” ending, the film speaks volumes about the destruction of the world we know and love.

Intelligently written, Planet of the Apes is memorable and was followed by a bunch of not-so-compelling or strong sequels, remakes, and reboots.

A group of astronauts crash land on a strange planet- in the distant future. The men have no idea where they are or what period it is.

The planet is inhabited by apes, who are highly intelligent and speak and act just like human beings. They are dominant and the real humans are largely mute and incapable of doing much- they are kept imprisoned.

George Taylor (played by Heston) is the lead astronaut who, the apes realize, is capable of speech and assumed to be brilliant. The ape leader wants him killed, but sympathetic scientist and archaeologist apes Cornelius and  Zira  (played by Roddy McDowell and Kim Hunter) are curious about Taylor and wish to experiment more.

To say nothing of the story, the prosthetic makeup and costumes are dynamic. The apes are played by human actors, but the creatures do not appear fake or phony in any way.

Furthermore, the sets look genuine and grand and hold up well in present times, nearly fifty years later. Nothing about the film appears to be remotely dated or losing its original appeal as some films inevitably do.

Planet of the Apes is a political film, and this message also holds up well in present times. How human beings have ruined their planet is the main point of the film, but this is wisely not revealed until the very end, with the now-famous scene of an escaped Taylor, running along the beach, only to realize in terror that the submerged and tattered Statue of Liberty is there.

With horror, he realizes that human beings have destroyed planet Earth and the astronauts never actually left their planet!

Fun and serious to watch all rolled up into one, Planet of the Apes (1968) is a film for the ages, with a distinct meaning and a story that audience members everywhere can absorb and relate to.

Oscar Nominations: Best Original Score for a Motion Picture (Not a Musical), Best Costume Design

2001: A Space Odyssey-1968

2001: A Space Odyssey-1968

Director Stanley Kubrick

Starring Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood

Top 100 Films #16

Scott’s Review #314


Reviewed December 31, 2015

Grade: A

In my mind, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is a masterpiece, pure and simple, and simply must be seen repeatedly to let the message and the experience sink in.

It is one of those films that is comparable to a fine wine- it just gets better and better with age is palpable with deep-thought and allows the viewer to experience the good taste in film art.

The delicious quality is meant to be savored and enjoyed- the slow pace and odd elements only enrich the film. Needless to say, it is one of my favorite Stanley Kubrick films.

Simply an epic journey through space.

Made in 1968, and the year 2001 way off, the film challenges and breaks down barriers and film, as Kubrick simply makes a film that he wants to make and the results are genius.

The film contains no dialogue during the first twenty or the last twenty minutes.

The film begins in the African desert millions of years ago as the evolution of man is apparent- two tribes of ape-men dispute over a watering hole. A black monolith appears and one of the tribes is guided to use bones as weapons.

Millions of years later, we meet a team of scientists- led by Dr. David Bowman and Dr. Frank Poole- as they embark on a mission aboard the United States spacecraft, Discovery One, on a mission to Jupiter.

The ship is mainly controlled by an intelligent talking computer named HAL 9000- nicknamed “Hal”. Hal boasts that he is “foolproof and incapable of error”. As events unfold, the film dives into a study of humans versus technology in a cerebral game of mental chess.

The film is very tough to review analytically as it is so intelligent and visually stimulating- it must be experienced. It challenges the viewer to think and absorb the events occurring.

Visually it is breathtaking and still holds up shockingly well from this perspective. The use of classical music throughout- especially in dramatic scenes is effective.

The stunning scene where David and Frank converse about their suspicions regarding “Hal”, as the intelligent computer system looks on, simply an orange light, but seemingly displaying a myriad of emotions (surprise, rage) in the viewer’s mind, is incredibly compelling.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is an enduring masterpiece.

Oscar Nominations: 1 win-Best Director-Stanley Kubrick, Best Story, and Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Best Art Direction, Best Special Visual Effects (won)

Les Biches (Bad Girls)-1968

Les Biches (Bad Girls)-1968

Director Claude Chabrol

Starring Stephane Audran, Jaqueline Sassard

Scott’s Review #292


Reviewed December 3, 2015

Grade: B+

Les Biches (translated to mean Bad Girls in English) is a French-Italian film from 1968 about a peculiar relationship between two women, one a wealthy, gorgeous, sophisticate named Frederique, and the other a poor, waif-like, struggling street artist named Why.

They embark on a tumultuous love affair marred by competition for handsome Paul Thomas, the local architect.

At its core, the film delves into the class struggle, lust, and violence.

The beginning of the film sets the tone as Frederique provides Why with a large sum of money as she stops to admire her art on the streets of Paris. She invites Why back to her lush villa in gorgeous Saint Tropez, where Frederique lets two outrageous gay men co-habitat with her.

The household is a circus of sorts as the men prance around wildly, but Frederique teaches Why about high society and good living.

Soon Paul is introduced to the story and takes a shine to Why. She calmly rejects him and Frederique then begins to fancy him, thereby emotionally rejecting Why and leaving her feeling out in the cold.

The film then takes a psychologically dramatic turn as the characters turn against one another.

I admire this film as it is an unorthodox story, especially for 1968. Same-sex stories are not the norm these days and the interesting key is that the classes are different.

Frederique has control and power over Why because she has money. Paul admires Why, but he cavorts with Frederique. Is he genuinely interested in her or does he value her money most of all?

The film never makes the distinction crystal clear, but one speculates it is the latter. Frederique uses her wealth (and beauty) to obtain what she wants- namely, Paul to spite Why.

Why is younger and fresher and has not been marred by the world…yet? The gay men are cartoon-like. It is not clear exactly who they are or why they live in the villa. Little background is known about any of the characters.

Foreign-language films, especially of the 1960s and 1970s are fascinating- filled with life and interesting facets and Les Biches is a prime example of interesting film-making.

A trip down the bi-sexuality lane with two gorgeous women at the forefront of the story, both struggling for power over the other, though one with a clear advantage.

Interesting to note that at the time of release is the film was touted as a lesbian skin-flick and humorously miss-thought to be entitled “Les Bitches” (perhaps to get audiences in the door), but is hardly a sex romp- quite the contrary as the psychological elements overtake everything else.

Les Biches (1968) is an odd little adventure, but one to be appreciated and traveled with an open mind if the mood is right. Stylish and interesting and certainly non-mainstream, it challenges the social norms of the day and provides certain Hitchcock-like elements, especially in the final chapter.



Director Pier Paolo Pasolini

Starring Terence Stamp, Silvana Mangano

Scott’s Review #234


Reviewed April 10, 2015

Grade: A-

Teorema is a 1968 Italian art film directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, who later would go on to direct the dark and disturbing 1975 masterpiece, Salo- 120 Days of Sodom.

If one is looking for a concise, mainstream plot with a fixed, to-the-point, beginning and ending, one will be disappointed. Rather, Teorema is an exhibition in artistic style and interpretation and succeeds in mesmerizing this viewer in thought and contemplation.

A mysterious stranger, simply known as “the visitor”, suddenly arrives to stay with an affluent, Italian family in their sprawling estate. The family consists of a father, mother, son, daughter, and maid, all with issues of loneliness, boredom, fear, rage, or repression.

The handsome stranger successfully beds all members of the family and just as suddenly as he arrives, he then disappears from the household leaving the family members with different thoughts, feelings, and actions upon his departure.

The film is highly interpretive and every character can be analyzed.

All of the characters are seduced by the stranger and the family’s wealth can be studied. Is Teorema (which translates to the theorem in Italian) a commentary on the bourgeois society? The father, Paolo, owns a factory and appears to be in turmoil- is he a repressed homosexual?

The conclusion of the father’s story is very interesting as he turns his factory over to the workers, strips naked, and roars with anger and frustration.

Is the mother simply a wealthy, bored housewife or much more than that? This character might have been explored more thoroughly.

The maid, devoutly religious, becomes suicidal after her tryst with the stranger. The others confide in the stranger about how they feel about themselves and, at times, the film is like watching a therapy session as each character delves more into their personal feelings.

Only the maid is a bit different than the others, but could this be because she is of working-class and the others affluent?

The daughter, Odessa, approximately, sixteen years old, becomes depressed after her liaison. The frightened, weak son appears to have a crisis and is consoled by the stranger in a loving, tender fashion.

Interestingly, the film at the time was resoundingly denounced by the Vatican, which took offense at the controversial tone of the film and its focus on “obscenity”.

Could this be because of some people’s interpretation of “the visitor” as being a Christ-like figure? One must argue the difference between “obscenity” and “art” after viewing this groundbreaking and visionary film. I viewed Teorema as a thought-provoking experience and did not feel as if the film was going for shock value. The film is lightweight in this regard compared to the hauntingly brutal Salo, which followed years later.

Teorema delves into the psychological abyss and portrays an Italian family as more than wealthy- they are people with emotions, fears, desires, and complexities.

Not for mainstream audiences, but meant for lovers of interpretive film, it can be debated and discussed for ages to come.

The Killing of Sister George-1968

The Killing of Sister George-1968

Director Robert Aldrich

Starring Beryl Reid, Susannah York

Scott’s Review #228


Reviewed March 13, 2015

Grade: A-

The Killing of Sister George is a British film drama, adapted from a 1964 stage production that was a risky subject matter to tackle for the times- lesbianism- in the late 1960s.

Directed by Robert Aldrich, well known for directing Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, The Killing of Sister George is a similarly dark tale of loneliness, desperation, and an actress falling from former grace and success to despair, confusion, and anguish.

It also has some witty, crackling, comedic moments to avoid being a true downer.

Sister George is a successful, well-regarded actress on a popular soap opera named Applehurst. Her character is the wholesome presence in a town fraught with manipulation and drama. She is the moral focal point of the show.

In real life, however, George (interestingly called by her character’s name), is troubled.

She is bitter, angry, an alcoholic, and frequently berates and even abuses her partner, Childie, played by Susannah York. A third central character in the film is TV Producer Mercy Croft, who is powerful and confused about her sexuality.

When the soap opera powers-that-be decide to kill off the beloved Sister George, the real George’s life begins to spiral out of control.

As interesting a film as it is and certainly featuring the competent talents of Beryl Reid in the title role, I cannot help but ponder and fantasize how wonderful the casting of Bette Davis- reportedly considered for the role and inexplicably not cast- would have been.

Davis, famous for playing grizzled, mean, unsympathetic characters, would have knocked this role out of the park and, sadly, she did not have the chance.

At its core, the film is a sad character study of one woman’s pain and anguish at being discarded. Presumably unable to be hired anywhere else, her soap opera character is her life.

She loves Childie but is not completely fulfilled by her either, and that relationship is threatened by the vibrant and polished Mercy.

This is an interesting triangle as George does not always treat Childie well, but loves her all the same. Childie is a simple character, childlike, and needs a strong mate to counter-balance the way she is- someone to take care of her.

Without a job or prospects, this would be difficult for George. Does Childie love George or simply want a meal ticket?

The film is understandably rated X for content, presumably for a very explicit sex scene between Mercy and Childie and when a drunken George molests two nuns in the back seat of a London taxi cab.

These scenes are both cutting-edge and admirable in their risk-taking.

The scene set at the real-life London lesbian club (the Gateway Club) and featuring mostly real-life lesbians is great and provides a real-life glimpse into the gay/lesbian world and lifestyle during the period.

A brave, groundbreaking, risk-taking film with and bravura direction from Aldrich, The Killing of Sister George (1968) is a forgotten gem that needs to be rediscovered by film fans everywhere and is an early journey into gay and lesbian cinema.


Oliver! -1968

Director Carol Reed

Starring Mark Lester, Oliver Reed

Top 100 Films #55

Scott’s Review #203


Reviewed December 10, 2014

Grade: A

Oliver! is a 1968 film based on the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist, which was then adapted into a successful stage musical. The film surprisingly won the Academy Award for Best Picture that year.

Surprising, not because Oliver! is poor, it is magnificent, but it was not predicted to take home the honor.

Telling the tale of the woeful orphan Oliver, the film wonderfully comes across as a dark musical with a wholesome happy ending feel, largely due to the musical compositions which inevitably make for a cheerier tone.

When the film begins, Oliver lives in a despicable orphanage outside of London. A drawing of straws forces meek Oliver to ask for more gruel.

After being deemed a problem child he is sold for cheap to an undertaker where he is bullied. Defeated, Oliver makes his way towards the big city in hopes of finding his fortunes.

He then meets sinister characters such as Fagin, the Artful Dodger, and Bill Sykes, as well as the sympathetic Nancy and Mr. Brownlow.

I love the musical numbers of the film and for me, it is the strongest aspect of Oliver. The film would have been much darker had it not been for the musical that it was.

Numbers such as “Consider Yourself”, “Food, Glorious Food”, and “As Long As He Needs Me” stick with audiences for days.

The entertaining songs lighten the somber moments- as noted earlier when meek Oliver dares to ask for more gruel, the enchanting “Food Glorious Food” cannot help but be hummed along to, which lightens the mood of the scene.

I also enjoy how the film contains the long-ago popular trend of containing two acts with an intermission in between- very grand and classy and an aspect of the film I wish would return in today’s movies.

The London art direction is magnificent, revealing a cold, industrial feel, mixed in with a warm, sunny atmosphere when Oliver stays at the palatial estate of Mr. Brownlow.

The bright and enchanting musical number “Who Will Buy?” is the perfect backdrop for this setting and my favorite number.

Nancy (Wallis) is one of the most complex characters- a prostitute, she happily sings, in denial about her life, in “It’s a Fine Life”, secretly wishing her life was better than it is.

Later, conflicted over helping Oliver or standing by her man she sings a melancholy number, “As Long As He Needs Me”, which cements her role as a tragic, sad character.

However, as she leads a drunken barroom in a dance of “Oom-Pah-Pah”, the drama is thick when she attempts to help Oliver at the risk of putting her own life in severe jeopardy.

Shani Wallis fills the character with heart and feeling.

Oliver! is a much darker film than one might imagine.

Curiously rated G, the film should have at least been rated PG. The film’s heart is that of a children’s movie- to me personally a turn-off, but the film is much stronger than that.

Some subject matters (like pedophilia) are toned down from Dicken’s novel, but not completely toned down.

Examples- the novel made clear overtones of child abuse by the thieves by Fagin, yet there is none of that in the film. Contrasting this, the film blatantly shows the beating death of Nancy- albeit out of camera range, but the audience gets enough of a glimpse to ascertain what is happening.

The shooting and swinging death of Bill Sykes border on brutality.

A glaring flaw of the film is that the voice of Oliver is dubbed by a female singer and not voiced by actor Mark Lester. To me, this seems quite obvious that the voice is not male.

The character of Bill Sykes is convincingly played by Oliver Reed, nephew of director Carol Reed.

Perfect around holiday time, Oliver! (1968) is a terrific musical drama, to be enjoyed for eons to come.

Oscar Nominations: 5 wins-Best Picture (won), Best Director-Carol Reed (won), Best Actor-Ron Moody, Best Supporting Actor-Jack Wild, Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Score of a Musical Picture-Original or Adaptation (won), Best Sound (won), Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction (won), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing

The Anniversary-1968

The Anniversary-1968

Director Roy Ward Baker

Starring Bette Davis

Scott’s Review #52


Reviewed June 21, 2014

Grade: B+

The Anniversary (1968) is a British film based on a play of the same name.

The story centers on the Taggert family reunion celebrating the anniversary of the matriarch (Bette Davis) and the deceased patriarch.

The film is set like a play and most of the action takes place inside the Taggert family mansion.

The film is all Davis and she gives a deliciously over-the-top performance as a vicious mother intent on controlling her son’s lives and terrorizing their wives or significant others with cutting remarks and insults.

Davis must have had fun with this role as her storied career was clearly on the downturn and this role allowed her to let loose. One must wonder if Davis chewed up the actors in the cast as much as the characters- rumor has it she was quite intimidating to her fellow actors and a terror to work with which adds to the macabre enjoyment.

Her physical appearance of an eye patch, wig, cigarette, and bright red lipstick all work in her favor. Her maniacal laugh is incredibly campy and wonderful to watch.

Bette Davis is one of the greats and this late-career romp is fun to watch.

Rosemary’s Baby-1968

Rosemary’s Baby-1968

Director Roman Polanski

Starring Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon

Top 100 Films #8     Top 20 Horror Films #4

Scott’s Review #9


Reviewed June 17, 2014

Grade: A

Rosemary’s Baby (1968) is not only a great film, it’s a masterpiece. Easily one of my favorites in the horror genre, it’s also towards the top of the list of my all-time favorite films.

The beauty of this film is the power of suggestion and subtleties. It has none of the blood, gore, or standard horror frights one might expect.

It doesn’t need them.

The audience knows something is off by clues that are given throughout the film. The closed-off room in the young couple’s apartment, the sweet, but a bit odd elderly neighbors, a strange suicide, a mysterious, horrid smelling, good luck charm. Rosemary’s due date (June 6, 1966- “666”).

The strange, dreamlike conception scene is intense and surreal. Her husband- claiming Rosemary passed out from too much alcohol- begins to become a suspicious man following the incident, but we are confused by his involvement- what are the neighbors up to, we wonder? Are they sinister or simply innocent and meddlers?

In a sinister scene, Rosemary gnaws on bloody raw meat, catches her reflections in the glass, and is horrified by her behavior.

Mia Farrow is frightfully good as the waifish, pregnant, Rosemary, who loses, instead of gains weight.

The film also has a couple of real-life eerie occurrences: the building setting (The Dakota) is where John Lennon was shot and killed, and Director Roman Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate, in a cameo, was murdered shortly after filming by Charles Manson.

Rosemary’s Baby is similar in theme to other devilish/demon films like The Exorcist (1973) and The Omen (1976).

This is a film that must be seen by everyone and only shines brighter with each subsequent viewing.

Oscar Nominations: 1 win-Best Supporting Actress-Ruth Gordon (won), Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium