Category Archives: 1964 Films

The Naked Kiss-1964

The Naked Kiss-1964

Director Samuel Fuller

Starring Constance Towers, Michael Dante

Scott’s Review #1,346

Reviewed February 25, 2023

Grade: A

A pure treat for me is to see a film, especially a classic film, that exudes creativity and a left-of-center approach. In the 1960s cinema, films were starting to break away from the tried and true and safe, telling sinister stories of macabre and unusual human behavior.

Samuel Fuller bravely created The Naked Kiss (1964) a film that goes beyond well-meaning but straightforward offerings. Dusting off the film noir genre it is riddled with perfections like the tarnished glitter of small-town Americana and what secrets lie beneath the surface.

It also dares to delve into the lustful and perverse depths of abnormal human psychology which few films did in the old days.

The film has a B-movie and black-and-white filmmaking which only enhances its power and lurid nature.

Eager to start a new life, a prostitute named Kelly (Constance Towers) arrives in a small town but finds the sunny veneer and the residents’ cheery, wholesome dispositions to be a sham.

Kelly meets the handsome town sheriff Griff (Anthony Eisley) and eventual fiancé Grant (Michael Dante) but ultimately finds out that both men have something to hide.

Hard to believe but we do anyway is the haughty incorporation of a secret small-town brothel with one gorgeous prostitute after another. It is led by the evil madame, Candy, portrayed by Virginia Grey.

Constance Towers easily carries the film as Kelly. Towers did not make many films but later became well-known in theater circles before becoming a legendary villainess on the ABC daytime drama General Hospital.

Kelly is sultry yet highly learned and intelligent not afraid of using her smarts to get ahead. She calculates and wisely pursues opportunities to go the straight and narrow while using a man or two to get what she wants and needs.

Despite this, she is a kind human being and revels in caring for children of all colors and backgrounds. She also watches out for her fellow nurses. One of them, Buff, nearly stumbles into a life of prostitution if not for Kelly daringly describing what her new glamorous life would ultimately become.

Kelly, and thanks to Towers, relays every possible emotion to the audience from comedy to love, to horror, and controlled manipulation.

I don’t think I’ve seen any other projects by director, writer, and producer Fuller but I want to. Perhaps only a coincidence since the films were made in the same year but comparisons to Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie are noticed.

When Kelly briskly combs her blonde hair while looking into a mirror and smirking is reminiscent of Marnie doing more or less the same in Hitchcock’s classic. Both characters are tall and leggy blondes with a secret or two to hide and damaged psyches to preserve.

They also each arrive in a new town presumably to start over boldly carrying a suitcase while wearing a smart, grey business suit. Proudly walking down a suburban street with possibilities lying ahead.

The Naked Kiss is a very progressive and feminist film.

During the first scene, Fuller shows what few directors ever would- a female character with a shaved head. Kelly has been humiliated for the last time and takes her owed $75 from her pimp. In this scene, the honest personality of Kelly is revealed since she could have easily taken $900 from him and fled.

The cagey and spiteful underbelly of suburban life is exposed. A  pointed critique of small-town hypocrisy and the exploitation of women is nearly at every turn.

Another comparison to the masterpiece The Night of the Hunter (1955) is worth mentioning since the use of child characters in haunting form appears in both films.

The theme of pedophilia is powerful and sickening but portrayed with a warped sense of a fairy tale.

Finally, the cinematic use of harsh, glowing white light makes many characters appear to be angelic which works tremendously well.

Because of Fuller’s direction and Towers’s encompassing the character of Kelly so well with great acting, we get a character study to savor and a strong female character to root for. Both aggressively champion their respective areas of expertise.

The Naked Kiss (1964) challenges the rules of early 1960s filmmaking and storytelling with a brave journey through the dark nature of human beings, breaking every rule as it goes forward.

Viva Las Vegas-1964

Viva Las Vegas-1964

Director George Sidney

Starring Elvis Presley, Ann-Margret

Scott’s Review #1,280

Reviewed July 24, 2022

Grade: B

A lightweight romp created exclusively as a vehicle for superstar Elvis Presley and his lofty success, Viva Las Vegas (1964) is one of the better Elvis film entries.

This may not be saying much because he’s not the greatest actor in the world. He doesn’t need to be since he’s got enough charisma and chemistry with co-star Ann Margret to elicit a smile or two, and the musical numbers together and separately are entertaining.

That’s really what Viva Las Vegas is about.

Elvis was at his peak in 1964 both musically and physically so watching the hunky singer croon, dance, and writhe with style on the big screen is not the most daunting task in the world.

The silly story feels forced, obvious, and created on the fly to provide humor, hijinks, and a bit of drama for the leads. It’s not the most substantial part of the film.

Appealing are the opening camera shots of ‘old Las Vegas’ during the 1960s. The lights and glitter are colorful and appealing as is the Vegas setting, though disappointingly, most of the film is shot on a studio soundstage.

The sloppily conjured-up story involves a  musically gifted race car driver named Lucky Jackson (Presley, naturally) who arrives in Las Vegas to score enough money for a new car motor so he can win the upcoming Grand Prix race. He befriends a cagey racing rival named Elmo (Cesare Danova).

When he encounters sexy swimming instructor Rusty (Ann-Margret), he considers staying around longer to get better acquainted with the dame. After Lucky loses his winnings in the hotel pool, he’s forced to remain in Vegas working as a waiter.

He not only wants to recoup his financial losses, but he is now determined to win Rusty’s heart. Unfortunately, so does Elmo, setting off a chain of events that culminates with the Grand Prix race. Elmo and Lucky try to outwit each other.

To say the events in Viva Las Vegas are predictable is an understatement as a meager attempt at an invested triangle between Lucky, Rusty, and Elmo is laughable. There is no doubt that Lucky and Rusty will ride off into the sunset together.

Unintentionally I am sure, director George Sidney is no Alfred Hitchcock after all, there exists homoeroticism between Lucky and Elmo. As they lie side by side under the wheels of a broken-down greaser, a titillating thought is what if the men were to kiss?

Elvis’s enormous fan base was not ready for that scandal in 1964 so the result is a by-numbers boy meets girl, boy intends to conquer girl, a traditional love story.


The anticipation of a grand musical finale is disappointing because there isn’t one, only the race itself tepidly watched by Rusty and company from an overhead helicopter. The sequence is adequate with enough suspense and car wrecks to enthrall the viewer but unsurprisingly Lucky wins the race.

In a rushed final scene, Lucky and Rusty are seen happily emerging from a church on their wedding day whilst a bouquet sits in Rusty’s hand. Big smiles are on the faces of everyone.

The chemistry between Presley and Ann-Margret is strong and endearing. This is no surprise given the real-life affair the pair were reportedly having. Nonetheless, the sweetest number occurs early on when Lucky tries to convince Rusty, through song, that she is in love with him, but just doesn’t know it yet.

I gushed at the thought of Marilyn Monroe in the Rusty role which may have been the original intent. The blonde bombshell died less than two years before the film’s release, and likely after the idea was birthed.

No disrespect to Ann-Margret.

Of course, the main reason to watch Viva Las Vegas is for the tunes. The title track is a super-charged song about the enjoyment of the city of sin and a multitude of other numbers appear throughout the film at breakneck speed.

This is a relief since there is not much time to invest in the paper-thin plot.

Viva Las Vegas (1964) is a film recommended mostly for Elvis fans seeking a glimpse of the star in his heyday.

Mary Poppins-1964

Mary Poppins-1964

Director Robert Stevenson

Starring Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke

Scott’s Review #965

Reviewed December 9, 2019

Grade: A-

Mary Poppins (1964) is a lovely Walt Disney production that shines with zest and an ample supply of good, cheery tunes. A family affair, it will hardly disappoint, with sing-alongs and enchanting stories for miles.

It’s tough to knock a film that has it all, but it does border on sickeningly sweet wholesomeness at times with too much schmaltz mixed in.

This can easily be forgiven because of the robust music, dazzling visual effects, and perfect casting, making the film enjoyable entertainment for all to enjoy.

The Banks family resides in London, England, the foursome consists of George and Winifred Banks, along with children Jane and Michael. They live a comfortable and happy upper-middle-class existence.

When their nanny quits after the children run away to chase a kite, the panicked George requests a stern, no-nonsense nanny, while the children (now returned home) desire a kind, sweet one. Through the marvel of magic, a young nanny (Julie Andrews) descends from the sky using her umbrella.

Mary Poppins teaches the children to enjoy chores through tunes with the help of a kindly chimney sweep, Bert (Dick Van Dyke).

Mary Poppins cheerily takes the children on several adventures teaching them valuable lessons along the way. The drama created involves light situations such as the irritable George threatening to fire the nanny because she is too cheerful, or a mini-scandal at the bank where George works.

These side stories are trivial and non-threatening since the film is really about the antics of the magically odd nanny and her relationship with the children.

The film is unique in that it combines live-action with animation so that the result feels magical and inventive. This is most evident during sequences that feature animals, especially the superb scene where Mary Poppins transports Bert, Jane, and Michael into a picture where they ride a carousel and stroll the day away.

The appearance of horses and a fox makes the scene both beautifully crafted and filled with joy.

The casting could be no different and is flawless across the board. Standouts are Andrews and Van Dyke, the former appearing in her very first film role.

Not to be usurped by her most iconic role as Maria in the following year’s brilliant The Sound of Music (1965), Andrews possesses a benevolent and delightful spirit that works perfectly in the role, to say nothing of her powerful voice.

Van Dyke as the romantic interest is equally well-cast, and together the chemistry is easy and apparent.

Mary Poppins was met with critical acclaim when it was released, during a time when Disney ruled the roost and musicals were a dime a dozen.

It received a total of 13 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture – a record for any film released by Walt Disney Studios – and won five: Best Actress for Andrews, Best Film Editing, Best Original Music Score, Best Visual Effects, and Best Original Song for “Chim Chim Cher-ee”.

This was quite a feat as the film was up against My Fair Lady (1964), a similar film, which won the biggest prize of the year.

Rated G and box-office success, Mary Poppins (1964) is a legendary Walt Disney film that uses creative techniques and musical numbers to develop a finely finished product.

The song standouts are “A Spoonful of Sugar”, “Chim Chim Cher-ee”, and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, as each offers candy for the ears and immeasurable fun.

The classic songs and the cohesive sentimentality make this one easy to enjoy with repeated viewings.

Oscar Nominations: 5 wins-Best Picture, Best Director-Robert Stevenson, Best Actress-Julie Andrews (won), Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Song-“Chim Chim Cher-ee” (won), Best Music Score-Substantially Original (won), Best Scoring of Music-Adaptation or Treatment, Best Sound, Best Art Direction, Color, Best Cinematography, Color, Best Costume Design, Color, Best Film Editing (won), Best Special Visual Effects (won)

Dr. Strangelove-1964

Dr. Strangelove-1964

Director Stanley Kubrick

Starring Peter Sellers, George C. Scott

Scott’s Review #958

Reviewed November 13, 2019

Grade: A

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, more commonly known simply as Dr. Strangelove, is a 1964 political satire black comedy film that satirizes the Cold War and fears of a nuclear conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States.

The film, timely in the 1960s, is as relevant decades later amid the chaos that ensued during the 2016 United States Presidential election, and the tumultuous years to follow.

The film is powerful, brave, and important.

The story centers around an unhinged United States Air Force general (Sterling Hayden) who orders a first-strike nuclear attack on the Soviet Union.

The plot then follows the President of the United States, (Peter Sellers), the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a Royal Air Force (RAF) officer as they try to recall the bombers to prevent a nuclear apocalypse.

The film also follows the crew of one B-52 bomber as they try to deliver their payload.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was fresh in viewers’ minds when this film was released, and President John F. Kennedy was recently assassinated. The United States and the Soviet Union were hardly best buddies.

The film was a robust offering not just for the timing but also because the political satire in the film was fresh. Unintentionally clever is the ironic controversy that exists between the two leaders of the nation nearly sixty years after the film was released.

The acting is great. Peter Sellers plays three prominent roles, and each is quite different from the others. Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, a British RAF exchange officer, President Merkin Muffley (what a name!), the President of the United States, and Dr. Strangelove, the wheelchair-using nuclear war expert, and former Nazi.

Each glisten with goodness as the actor chomps at the bit, making them precise and unique, careful never to stray too far overboard into ridiculousness.

Director Stanley Kubrick wisely chooses black-and-white cinematography with stellar results and prominent filmmaking techniques.

The film, as creative and progressive as many 1960s films started to become as the decade blossomed, feels like it could have been made in the 1940s.

Kubrick, well known for masterpieces such as The Shining (1980) and 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) delivers perhaps the oddest film in his catalog with Dr. Strangelove.

The story does not feel dated and the dialogue remains crisp and razor-sharp in its delivery and meaning. With fast dialogue delivery and a monotone vocal style, the film is entertaining and humorous, not taking itself too seriously, yet offering a poignant and important idea come to life.

The film keeps gnawing at the viewers that as far-fetched as events seem, the possibility they could become real is more than a bit scary.

Who can forget the final sequence of the looming nightmare of the mushroom clouds, set to Vera Lynn’s hopeful We’ll Meet Again?

Since the film has hints of 1940s cinema style, the rude awakening that the 1960s produced in terms of nuclear weapons and insecurity hits home in this sequence.

Dr. Strangelove (1964) is pure satire but frightening in its realism and the uncertainty that one crazy leader could lead an entire nation to detrimental results.

The film highly influenced later satires and unique styles in filmmaking- Wes Anderson’s creations immediately spring to mind.

One can ruminate on the different possibilities the film offers- in a way the absurdity of the situation, and the unthinkable way the situation could easily become reality.

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director-Stanley Kubrick, Best Actor-Peter Sellers, Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium

My Fair Lady-1964

My Fair Lady-1964

Director George Cukor

Starring Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison

Scott’s Review #938

Reviewed September 6, 2019

Grade: A-

Winner of the Best Picture Academy Award (it would not have been my personal choice), My Fair Lady (1964) is a very good product that is based on the stage version, in turn, based on the famous 1913 stage play, Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.

The main negative to the musical is the casting choices; Hepburn and Harrison have only mediocre chemistry, and Hepburn does not sing, but the film is nonetheless enchanting and filled with lavish sets, colorful costumes, and earnest songs, making it entertainment for the whole family.

The iconic Eliza Doolittle (Hepburn) and Henry Higgins (Harrison) are household names to every fan of the musical genre.

Set in London, sophisticated and arrogant Professor Higgins, a scholar of phonetics, is intent on proving that the tone and accent of one’s voice determine one’s lot in society.

As an experiment, he chooses flower saleswoman Eliza, with her horrid Cockney accent, and is determined to crown her duchess of a ball.

Unaware of his scheme but soon to find out she has been had, romance eventually blooms as the song “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” becomes important.

My Fair Lady is quite the epic at a run-time of two hours and fifty- two minutes, lofty for a film.

The misty London setting adds layers of mystique and atmosphere and the cinematography drizzles with color and pizzazz, making the overall content look amazing.

Because of the length of the film and the magnificent trimmings, the production looks like a spectacle and of the elegant extravagance of the 1950s and 1960s when musicals made into films were grand and robust.

Little wonder is that this helped it win Best Picture, Best Director, and a smattering of other awards. It’s a film Hollywood loves.

When dissected and analyzed, social and class systems are a large part of the film, amid the cheery singing, dancing, and big-screen bombast. Social status and hints of socialism pepper the production rising way above the fluff that it could have been if just a “boy from the good side of the tracks meets girls from the wrong side of the tracks”.

Eliza’s father Alfred (Stanley Holloway), a waste collector, is also an opportunist, singing his story during “With a Little Bit of Luck”. The differences between the “haves” and the “have nots” are clear.

I never bought Harrison and Hepburn as a romantic duo and the chemistry between them is limited. The teacher/student angle somewhat works though always bothersome is Henry’s self-assured behavior and superior attitude making him tough to root for.

The controversy over the film includes the decision to dub nearly all of Hepburn’s singing with another singer’s voice, which devastated the actress and cost her an Academy Award nomination. Her snub is especially jarring given the dozen other nominations it received.

The story is heartwarming and in keeping with a like-minded theme of a hero rescuing the damsel in distress. Hints of Cinderella (1950) and even Pretty Woman (1990) glisten with only a mere hint of male chauvinism that does not ruin the experience or reduce the film to a dated guy film, certainly as is the case with Pretty Woman.

“I’m an Ordinary Man” describes how women ruin men’s lives and are not the most progressive or female-friendly of all the numbers.

My Fair Lady (1964) is a film of the past that begs to be viewed on the big screen so that all the qualities can be enjoyed. Like Lawrence of Arabia (1963), best viewed on a wide-angle enormous theater setting to ensure notice and enjoyment of all aspects of the scene is recommended.

It’s a Hollywood film done tremendously well. Young viewers would be wise to be exposed to this film to delight in the cinematic treats that await.

Oscar Nominations: 8 wins-Best Picture (won), Best Director-George Cukor (won), Best Actor-Rex Harrison (won), Best Supporting Actor-Stanley Holloway, Best Supporting Actress-Gladys Cooper, Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Scoring of Music-Adaptation or Treatment (won), Best Sound (won), Best Art Direction, Color (won), Best Cinematography, Color (won), Best Costume Design, Color (won), Best Film Editing

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg-1964

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg-1964

Director Jacques Demy

Starring Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo

Scott’s Review #911

Reviewed June 17, 2019

Grade: A

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), translated in French to mean Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, is a darling and daring film, unique like none other, consisting of all dialogue being sung recitative, like an opera or a stage musical.

But wait there’s more.

The film has an abundance of colorful and dazzling set designs that enrich the entire experience amid the lovely French culture and atmosphere. Interspersing one of the loveliest melodies imaginable and the result is a stoic treasure.

The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film and several other nominations.

The film is divided into three parts and moves along chronologically over six years. Part One is The Departure, Part Two is The Absence and Part Three is The Return, each title representing a meaningful part of the story.

Madame Emery (Anne Vernon) and her sixteen-year-old daughter Genevieve (Deneuve) own a struggling umbrella boutique in Cherbourg, France. Genevieve falls in love with Guy (Castelnuovo), a local mechanic, and they have sex the night before he is drafted to war, resulting in an unexpected pregnancy.

Madame Emery and Genevieve must decide what options are best when she is courted by wealthy jeweler Roland (Marc Michel), who is unaware of her pregnancy. Genevieve and Guy continue to write letters to each other as she softens towards Roland and a decision is made.

An injured Guy returns from the war and events kick into high gear as the love birds face an uncertain future amid surrounding barriers to their happiness.

To embrace the flavor and pacing of the film takes a few minutes of patience- like some viewers becoming accustomed to sub-titles in general, which the film also possesses, the singing is initially quite jarring but before long is to be embraced and appreciated for its unique nature.

To stress the point, the film is not a standard musical, with songs mixed in with conventional dialogue, and each line of the film is sung.

Deneuve, who with this role gained wider recognition beyond simply a French audience already familiar with her work, shines brightly in the lead role, never looking lovelier. The young lady, hardly appearing just sixteen (in truth she was twenty-one) carries the film with a chic and sophisticated style perfectly in tune with the 1960’s time-period.

Her magnificent grace and elegance make her the primary reason to tune in as she sings her lines flawlessly and with unforced precision.

The story is unequivocally a basic one of a girl meets a boy, the boy is drafted into the army, the girl becomes pregnant, the girl meets another suitor, and the boy returns home as conflict arises, but the magic is what director Jacques Demy does with the piece.

Everyday life is presented in situational scenes adding substance and commonalities. Genevieve and Guy are in love and face external as well as internal obstacles. At the same time Madeleine (Ellen Farner), a quiet young woman who looks after Guy’s aunt, is secretly in love with Guy, as she adds a secret weapon to the film.

The audience cares for the characters, especially Genevieve and Guy, but the supporting characters add a robust quality worthy of mention.

Anne Vernon is pivotal as Madame Emery, stylish and lavish, she is concerned for her daughter’s well-being, while slyly seeing opportunities to save her boutique. Guy’s sickly Aunt Elise provides security and love to those who heed her advice and is remarkably played by actress Mireille Perrey.

The vivid colors and sets make The Umbrellas of Cherbourg tough to forget. Stark and florescent painted pinks, greens, and blues, mainly on the walls, provide zest and flavor, a grand style all its own.

With bright and crisp designs, the result is reminiscent of a lavish Hollywood musical, but with a cultured French twist. The result is perfect, and one can easily immerse themselves in both the singing and the artistry.

The recurring main song “I Will Wait for You” (the main theme, also known as “Devant le garage”) is delicious and emotional as it appears in many poignant scenes.

Those seeking a charismatic and distinctive experience with nuances and a hint of experimentation will undoubtedly sink their teeth into this fruity and tasty treat.

With a French atmosphere for miles, the film is simply encompassing all that is good and cultured about French film.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) will entertain and unabashedly knock your socks off, with something grandiose and sizzling with flavor.

Oscar Nominations: Best Foreign Language Film, Best Story and Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Best Song-“I Will Wait for You”, Best Music Score-Substantially Original, Best Scoring of Music-Adaptation or Treatment



Director William Castle

Starring Joan Crawford, Diane Baker

Scott’s Review #650

Reviewed June 7, 2017

Grade: B

Strait-Jacket (1964) stars legendary Hollywood film star, Joan Crawford, on the heels of her successful “comeback” role in What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? circa 1962.

Following this film, older actresses achieved some semblance of success in camp-leaning B-horror films and Crawford led the pack.

Strait-Jacket is a perfect example of this sub-genre and glamorous Crawford sinks her teeth into this film with gusto, playing an ax-wielding former mental patient, now released to the outside world after a lengthy stay in an insane asylum.

William Castle, a popular director of the time, could churn out films quickly and for very little money, a talent marveled at by studios. In the cult vein, Castle created Strait-Jacket on a dime and with one of the biggest stars in the world- now slowly in decline.

Clearly, in “real life”, Crawford felt the role was beneath her, yet one would never know it by the brilliant performance she gives, a performance that makes Strait-Jacket better than it ordinarily would be.

We first meet Crawford’s Lucy Harbin (twenty years before present times) as she returns home very late one night, to a remote area, having spent the weekend out of town. Her husband is a philanderer and has picked up a cheap girl at a bar, making love to her while his young daughter, Carol, pretends to sleep.

In a fit of rage, Lucy decapitates them both while a horrified Carol watches. Years later, Carol (Diane Baker), now a grown woman,  prepares to introduce a recently released Lucy to her intended, Michael, and his affluent parents.

Living on a remote farm with Lucy’s brother and his wife, strange occurrences begin to happen to both Lucy and Carol- a dastardly child’s song, cut-out faces from a photo album, and “imagined” decapitated heads.

Castle wisely gives Lucy a makeover, from her graying, matronly appearance, to a sexy, youthful appearance reminiscent of her days when the murders occurred.

Soon, the film, short at one hour and thirty-two minutes, reaches a climax when Lucy appears to begin chopping new victims to bits. But is everything as it seems?

The appeal of Strait-Jacket, as a viewer, is watching Joan Crawford tackle the role. Talented beyond belief, and with expressive eyes and facial features, she owns the role and subsequently the entire film, though Diane Baker is no slouch either.

Crawford, never one to phone in a performance, at this time in her career was happy with any role she received. She gives Lucy both grit and vulnerability so that the audience roots for her.

As the film goes along, we slowly begin to wonder if Lucy is hallucinating, still unstable, or perhaps being set up by someone else.

Strait-Jacket is laced with several good scares- as both a grizzled farmhand and a vacationing doctor meet their fates in grisly fashion, the build-up to the kills is quite well done. A slamming door, a figure in the shadows, these elements are all used to wonderful effect to elicit suspense.

To Castle’s credit, he uses elements of fright to make the film better than the writing is.

The plot itself is fine, but certainly not high art, nor anything rather inventive. The “big reveal” at the end of the film is rather hokey and seemingly a play on the Alfred Hitchcock classic, Psycho, but lacking the high intensity- the ending of the film is also a tad abrupt.

Strait-Jacket (1964) is a cool little horror film featuring one of the legendary actresses of Hollywood film history- and that is more than enough for me to recommend this film to both Crawford fans and horror film fans, or ideally both.

Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte-1964

Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte-1964

Director Robert Aldrich

Starring Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland

Scott’s Review #632

Reviewed April 8, 2017

Grade: B+

The follow-up film, but not a direct sequel, to the surprise hit of 1962, What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte is a psychological thriller directed by Robert Aldrich.

The film was intended to reunite Aldrich with stars Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, and Crawford did film several scenes, but the tension between the stars proved too much and Crawford dropped out.

Olivia de Havilland took her place and reportedly the filmmakers had to scramble to re-shoot the film nearly from scratch.

Shot in black and white, just like What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?, the film is very similar in style and tone, and, rather than Los Angeles as the setting, the setting is now the sprawling southern landscape of the deep south- Louisiana to be exact, and a vast estate with a lavish mansion is the featured ominous setting.

The action begins in 1927 at a grand party taking place at the well-to-do Hollis family mansion.

The night is fraught with tension and secrets are harbored- most notably southern belle Charlotte (Davis) and her married beau, John (Bruce Dern), plan to elope and steal away into the night together.

When John is threatened by Charlotte’s father, Sam (Victor Buono), he regrettably breaks up with Charlotte, destroying her. Later, John is decapitated and his hand severed leaving all of the guests only to assume that Charlotte was murdered after she appears wearing a blood-soaked dress.

Due to a lack of evidence, Charlotte is set free.

The remainder of the film takes place during present times (1964) and in the same mansion- now rather decrepit and slated to be demolished by the town in favor of a highway.

Charlotte, now old and haggard, has lived a life of seclusion, her father long since dead, and her only company is her dedicated and faithful housekeeper, Velma (Agnes Moorehead).

Frantic at the thought of leaving the safety of her estate, Charlotte asks her cousin Miriam (de Havilland) to visit. Events then become stranger and stranger as past secrets and jealousies are revealed.

Taking nothing away from the talents of Olivia de Havilland, I cannot help but imagine how much better Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte would have been if Joan Crawford had settled into the role of cousin Miriam.

The real-life rivalry between Crawford and Davis is in large part what made What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? such compelling work and the angry emotions were so fresh and real.

Interestingly, the characters are reversed in this film- Davis plays the victimized Charlotte, Crawford would have played the villainous Miriam, and the results would have been delicious.

The plot of the film is decent, but nothing spectacular, and not nearly as splendid all around as What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? was, although certain similarities abound between the two films: a giant mansion, black and white cinematography, a mentally unstable (or assumed to be) character, a character being either drugged or victimized and two female characters who are related.

To compare the two films, which is impossible not to, What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? wins out in spades. It is the more compelling of the two films.

What does set Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte well above mediocrity (with lesser actors it may have been) is the casting of one of the greatest actresses ever to grace the big screen.

Bette Davis’s portrayal of the victimized Charlotte is fantastic. She encompasses vulnerability, anger, fear, and energy. Her facial expressions and those passionate eyes give so much to the character of Charlotte.

The clever resolution to the film and the plot twist after the film are quite well-written and surprising given that the characters assumed to be involved in the murder are not as guilty as one might think, or at least not in the way one might think, and by the time the credits roll, the story has a satisfying, hopeful ending.

Another success of the film is the use of two gruesome scenes- surprising since the film pre-dates the lifting of the film censorship rules.

When a severed head comes tumbling down the grand staircase of the mansion, it is frightening and not in the least campy or over-the-top. As John is hacked to death in the opening sequence, his hand is severed from his arm and it dramatically tumbles to the floor.

The scenes resonate because they were rarely done in mainstream film as early as 1964.

Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte is a fantastic companion piece to the superior What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? but watched back to back, will make for a fantastic late-night experience.

Successful to the film are top-notch talents such as de Havilland, Victor Buono, Bruce Dern, Agnes Moorehead, and the superior film queen herself, Bette Davis, which makes any film worth watching.

Oscar Nominations: Best Supporting Actress-Agnes Moorehead, Best Song-“Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte”, Best Music Score-Substantially Original, Best Art Direction, Black-and-White, Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, Best Costume Design, Black and White, Best Film Editing



Director Guy Hamilton

Starring Sean Connery, Gert Frobe

Top 100 Films #72

Scott’s Review #337


Reviewed January 9, 2016

Grade: A

By the time Goldfinger (1964) was released, the third in the James Bond franchise, the films were huge successes and the budget was not to be spared a dime.

The lavish sets are proof of this and Goldfinger is one of the best of all the Bond films- containing all of the necessary elements to make it successful- interesting villains, Bond girls, gadgets, and locales.

By 1964’s Goldfinger, Ian Fleming’s franchise had hit its stride and was achieving runaway success.

The intriguing premise immediately sets the tone- 007 is assigned to investigate a massive gold smuggling scheme. The conspirator is Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe), who hatches a plot to contaminate the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox.

His goal, naturally, is to control the world.!

The adventure takes Bond from the United Kingdom to Switzerland, and finally to the United States in  Kentucky and Florida.

The main Bond girl, a villain, is uniquely named, Pussy Galore. The film implies that the character is bisexual and she is very tough. James Bond becomes intrigued by and smitten with her.

Goldfinger has the honor of containing one of the greatest Bond villains of all time- the title character of Goldfinger. Big and burly, he is menacing-looking and actor Frobe is perfectly cast.

We first meet the man, cheating at gin rummy, poolside at a lavish Miami Beach hotel, whilst Bond looks on from dozens of floors up, with the assistance of Goldfinger’s moll, Jill Masterson.

In one of the greatest scenes in Bond history, a knocked-out Bond awakens to find Jill dead- and completely covered in gold paint! The fact that this scene occurs early on sets up the Bond/Goldfinger rivalry in an outstanding fashion.

Goldfinger’s henchman, Oddjob, is also a grand Bond villain- Asian, menacing, and wearing a trademark steel-rimmed hat, which he uses to kill his victims. Jill’s sister, Tilly, seeks revenge on Goldfinger only to find herself a victim of Oddjob’s infamous bowler hat as she flees for her life.

On the heels of an exceptional Bond film, 1962’s From Russia With Love, a stellar film itself with nary a flaw, Goldfinger excels slightly because it has got all the right ingredients for a perfect film, and was firing on all cylinders.

Everything simply flows with precision.

Unforgettable is the climax of Goldfinger at the legendary Fort Knox itself. Goldfinger’s private army, an atomic device, a countdown to destruction, and Oddjob, all make for a satisfying and riveting conclusion to one exceptional Bond entry.

Oscar Nominations: 1 win-Best Sound Effects (won)



Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Sean Connery, Tippi Hedren

Scott’s Review #180


Reviewed October 4, 2014

Grade: A

When evaluating a myriad of Alfred Hitchcock films,  Marnie (1964) certainly stands as one of the more complicated of his films, and in recent years has earned higher praise than at the time of release- a la Vertigo (1958).

It contains one of the most complex and psychological Hitchcock characters of all time and is as much a character study as a psychological thriller.

Tippi Hedren stars as Marnie Edgar, a troubled young woman who travels from one financial company to another using a false identity and her good looks to insinuate her way into a clerical job, without references- she then, over time, steals thousands from the companies when her trust is gained.

Eventually, she is caught by Mark Rutland, a handsome, wealthy widower and a client of one of the firms, played by Sean Connery. Infatuated with Marnie, he strikes a deal with her- marry him and he will not turn her over to the police.

Marnie gives most of her stolen money to her crippled mother, Bernice, in Baltimore- played by Louise Latham.

Why Bernice is crippled, avoids affection with Marnie, and why Marnie despises most men and is terrified of the color red make up the film’s mysterious nature. Diane Baker is compelling as Lil, the snoop, sister-in-law to Mark, and somewhat nemesis of Marnie.

The film features three scenes I am enamored with each time I watch- in one scene, Marnie hides and waits in the bathroom until all the employees have gone home for the night; she carefully steals money from her employer’s safe and prepares to leave- suddenly she notices an unaware cleaning woman with her back to Marnie yet blocking the exit.

How will Marnie escape unnoticed? The surprise in this scene is wonderful. Hitchcock plays the scene with no music, which adds to the level of tension- brilliant.

In an emotional scene later in the film, Marnie’s horse, Forio, is injured and a sobbing Marnie must choose between killing her beloved friend or letting him suffer until a veterinarian can be summoned.

It is a heart-wrenching scene.

The third scene takes place at a racetrack as Marnie and Mark are enjoying one of their first dates together before Mark learns the truth about Marnie- the date is ruined when a former victimized employer of Marnie’s recognizes and makes accusations towards her.

Marnie turns from sweet girl to ice queen seamlessly.

A huge controversial aspect of the film is that, while not shown, it is heavily implied that Mark rapes Marnie on their honeymoon. The next morning Marnie attempts suicide but is rescued by Mark.

This scene had to have been filmed carefully to not make Mark hated. Perhaps saving Marnie the next morning lessens what he did the night before in the eyes of the audience? This is open to debate.

Hedren is fantastic at showing the complexities of the character of Marnie throughout the entire film and does a wonderful job in a difficult role.

As excellent as Hedren is (and she is amazing), I have difficulty buying her as a poor, icy criminal and this comes up each time I view the film. Could this be a result of having identified Hedren as the sophisticated, glamorous, socialite in The Birds made a year earlier so many times? This is quite possibly so.

During the filming of Marnie, the set was reportedly fraught with tension, mainly between Hedren and Hitchcock, who refused to speak with each other throughout filming. This may have added to the overall tension the film has and Hedren appears anxious throughout.

Could this be art imitating life? As the ending nears, Marnie and Mark align together and form a team as they try to avoid the police altogether- Mark more or less becomes an accomplice.

The final reveal seems rushed, takes place mostly in flashbacks, and wraps up quickly as Marnie has blocked much of her childhood from her memory, which seems far-fetched.

Still, Marnie (1964) is a complex, psychological classic Hitchcock film from his heyday.

A Hard Day’s Night-1964

A Hard Day’s Night-1964

Director Richard Lester

Starring The Beatles

Scott’s Review #154


Reviewed August 18, 2014 

Grade: C

Why this rock documentary, day in the lifestyle film is considered among the Top 100 films of all time completely escapes me. I’m a huge fan of the Beatles but found the film a disappointment.

The segments consisting of musical numbers performed by the band are excellent and, humming along, I enjoyed the black and white filming of the “documentary” as well, but the film is not a documentary in the traditional sense and is very difficult to categorize.

Is it a rock opera?  Is it a comedy? Is it a documentary? Is it a musical? It is somewhat of a hybrid as the viewer journeys through a typical day in the life of a Beatle.

But all else seems fluff to the point of silliness. Countless scenes of the band running through the streets with adoring fans screaming and chasing after them become irritating. There is little plot to the film.

The Beatles were a huge band. We get it.

Paul, George, Ringo, and John do a capable job in the film, considering they are non-actors, but I’d much rather have been exposed to a straightforward documentary focusing on the background of some of the songs or the band members themselves instead of a lightweight tale of a day in the life of The Beatles with silly attempts at humor thrown in.

A Hard Day’s Night reportedly influenced the 1960s television comedy starring The Monkees.

Oscar Nominations: Best Story and Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Best Scoring of Music-Adaptation or Treatment

2000 Maniacs-1964

2000 Maniacs-1964

Director H.G.Lewis

Starring William Kerwin, Connie Mason

Scott’s Review #79


Reviewed June 28, 2014

Grade: B

Two Thousand Maniacs is a 1964 offering by gore director H.G. Lewis set in the South.

The premise of the film surrounds a southern town, ironically named Pleasant Valley, slaughtered and destroyed during the Civil War, and is resurrected every 100 years to enact revenge on northerners who are unlucky enough to stumble upon their town.

Five nice-looking, fashionable tourists, headed to Atlanta, are duped by local townspeople into making a wrong turn and given the hero’s welcome by the town folk for a festive centennial celebration.

The welcome is, of course, a guise for a sinister plot to dismember and barbeque the tourists as part of the feast of the celebration.

The film takes a bit to get going, there is no killing until 30 minutes into it but then kicks into high gear as some of the most graphic, brutal deaths ensue.

A woman is tied to a platform as one townsperson after another attempt to hit a bullseye so that an enormous boulder falls, carnival dunk-tank style, stoning her to death.

Another victim has each limb tied to a horse as they gallop in different directions, thus dismembering him.

Still, another is forced into a barrel laced with nails and sent rolling down a hill.

Another has her thumb and arm chopped off and served for dinner.

These are gruesome deaths.

Certainly, a film like this is done for fun, thus the term horror-comedy, but surely heavily influenced other macabre films that followed- The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and Deliverance (1972).

The southern rednecks are played to the hilt by mostly real townspeople and the cheerful song “The South will rise again” sticks in the viewer’s mind long after the film ends. The entire tone of the film is bright and cheerful, and the townspeople, on the surface, seem happy-go-lucky and warm. They even kill with charm.

Two Thousand Maniacs (1964) is a fun, splatter film from one of the genre’s most revered filmmakers.

Dead Ringer-1964

Dead Ringer-1964

Director Paul Henreid

Starring Bette Davis, Karl Malden

Scott’s Review #67


Reviewed June 24, 2014

Grade: B+

Dead Ringer (1964) is a black-and-white thriller from 1964 starring Bette Davis in her final leading role before she took on the character and supporting roles.

It’s an interesting dual role for Davis, and being a huge fan of hers, two are better than one.

The story centers on a wealthy widow and her twin sister, a struggling bar owner. The two have not spoken in decades and renewed their animosity at a funeral.

One of them schemes to cause the other’s death, which results in an entertaining game of mistaken identity.

Davis carries this film and is dynamic in every scene she is in- those eyes, facial expressions, and throaty voice. Her characteristic sexy pose with the cigarette is utilized often.

She is simply dynamic.

The story and plot are carefully crafted and the angles showing both characters are impressive for the time (1964).

The differing lifestyles of the characters also make for a more challenging performance by Davis.

Karl Malden is a treat as a love interest of one of the sisters.