MOVIE CLASSICS: 1960’S (PART 2)

I know you’ve been having sleepless nights.  Checking your Facebook and Instagram accounts.  Going mad, scratching and clawing for part 2, so you can continue down the winding tunnel of movie classics.  Well, no need to break the emergency glass and call for help.  Missing posters are unnecessary.  Call off the search, because here it is.  The wait is over.  Breathe.

A SHOT IN THE DARK (1964)

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Having very little screen time in The Pink Panther compared to this far superior sequel, Inspector Clouseau finally takes centre stage.  Moving on from cat burglars, the bumbling buffoon is now on the hunt for a killer, investigating just about everything from nudist camps to “burmps” on the head.  He suspects everyone… and he suspects no one.  This is truly Peter Seller’s greatest creation.  Wide eyed and utterly clueless, it’s all done with perfect comic timing.  Herbert Lom is also superb as the twitching Commissioner Dreyfus, suffering a nervous breakdown more and more with every idiotic move Clouseau makes.  Based on the play L’Idiot, surprisingly the movie adaption was not going to include Sellers.  That would’ve been a crime in itself.

GOLDFINGER (1964)

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Thinking of making a 007 picture? You only need to watch Goldfinger for research.  All the boxes are ticked to make the quintessential Bond classic.  The flash car: check.  The delightful little gadgets: check.  Exotic locations: check.  A villain with a strong accent and his mute sidekick: double check.  A glamorous femme fatale with an unfortunate name that screams double entendre: triple check!! It’s all here.  The third installment in a franchise of twenty-four films and counting is still widely considered to be the best of the bunch.  Topping most polls as the greatest incarnation of Her Majesty’s number one agent, Sean Connery simply IS Bond… James Bond.  Seducing you before he kills you and smooth talking his way out of peril, the films would not be as successful, nor would everyone keep going back to Goldfinger if it wasn’t for Connery.  Do we expect Mr. Bond to talk? No, we expect him to blow us away with amazing action and leave us shaken… but not stirred. (sorry, had to be done).

MARY POPPINS (1964)

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If only the solution to our problems could just come from up above in the clouds.  Falling gracefully with an umbrella and land right at our doorstep.  One lucky family receives this impossible wish, and their lives are changed forever with the introduction of a certain nanny we all wished we had growing up.  The delightful and wonderful Mary Poppins is a beloved Disney masterpiece, splendidly mixing musical numbers with charming animation.  Julie Andrews gives an unforgettable performance, and in her debut feature-length film too.  And the less said about Dick Van Dyke’s cockney accent the better.  Charming as ever though, his smile can help you see through it…  only slightly.  A whopping thirteen Academy Award nominations makes Mary Poppins, winning five, including best song for the jaunty Chim Chim Cher-ee.  Look at that, a paragraph about Mary Poppins and I didn’t even have to use the word Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious!!  Oh wait…

PLANET OF THE APES (1968)

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A trilogy of films with groundbreaking visual effects and tour de force acting from a certain Andy Serkis has just ended.  Before that was some hokey sequels and a disastrous reboot from Tim Burton.  Before all that though, was the original story of highly intelligent apes.  Dated now, bordering on hilarious (TAKE YOUR STINKING PAWS OFF ME YOU DAMN, DIRTY APE), but the look of the apes when first released must have been an incredible sight.  The first shot of an ape riding a horse and holding a semi automatic is jaw dropping.  The ending as well still sends shivers down your spine when Charlton Heston, an astronaut who thinks his crew has crash landed on another planet, realises he’s been on Earth all along.  Although time has not been kind to the original Planet Of The Apes, the legacy of the movie hasn’t wavered an inch, and people are still beating their chests for more primate goodness.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968)

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The sound of a harmonica and the wild west go hand in hand.  Thanks to this epic spaghetti western.  No film set in this era has even come close to the ingenious movie making of Once Upon A Time In The West.  Instead of cowboys chasing Indians and damsels tied to railroad tracks, it’s a darker approach, throwing the textbook in the air and gunning  it down with a six-shooter.  The Good, The Bad And The Ugly was kids stuff compared to this.  Scenes are slow but never dull.  With smooth camera work and the use of sound to rank up the tension (or not in one cases to signify there’s danger afoot), Sergio Leone lets the scene speak for itself, allowing us to take in every detail of the barren but beautiful setting.  Showdowns are even more effective too, with close-ups of the eyes, and the twitching of hands as they draw what could be their final shot.  Starring Henry Fonda, the cold-blooded killer who isn’t afraid of shooting little kids.  Alongside him is Charles Bronson, the mysterious Harmonica-playing cowboy that’s quick with a gun.  Last but not least, the irresistible Claudia Cardinale who looks like anything but a poor defenseless woman.   Incorporating the sweeping score of Ennio Morricone as we ride along Flagstone, all this helps cement this incredible film in the history pages as the finest western ever made.  Don’t believe me?  Ask legendary and influential directors Martin Scorcese, George Lucas and Quentin Tarantino.   All sing Leone’s movie praises.  You can’t watch a Tarantino film without it being a direct influence to Once Upon A Time.  If you walk in a Saloon bar and hear a harmonica in the corner, I suggest you turn back where you came from, partner.

Do you think these are the best films of the sixties?

What should be replaced?

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By George Millard

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