1967 Movie Review: WHO’S THAT KNOCKING AT MY DOOR, 1967

WHOS THAT KNOCKING AT MY DOOR MOVIEWHO’S THAT KNOCKING AT MY DOOR, 1967
Movie Reviews

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Cast: Harvey Keitel, Zina Bethune, Anne Collette, Harry Northup, Lennard Kuras, Michael Scala, Robert Uricola
Review by Vinny Borocci

SYNOPSIS:

Three young men living on the New York City streets engage in trivial violence and unproductive activities. They enjoy hanging out at bars, watching movies, having parties, etc. Suddenly, one of the men, J.R., meets a girl and begins to have a relationship with her. The other men are skeptical not only because of J.R.’s unusual changes in his behavior, but the amount of time spent with her as opposed to hanging out with them. J.R. feels the pressure from both his friends and the girl. In the process, the strains become too much for J.R. to handle, where hostility and a sense of aggression result, along with making some very poor judgments. As a raised devout catholic, J.R. feels the only one to turn to is God.

CLICK HERE and watch TV SHOWS FOR FREE!

Take a look at what’s new today!

REVIEW:

During the 1960’s, Americans spent much time engaging in street protests, focusing on topics such as feminism and gay rights, events such as various political assassinations and anti-war messages, along with numerous public outbursts against racial and sexual intolerance. In other words, the Vietnam War came knocking on everyone’s doorstep. Fittingly, during this time, director Martin Scorsese provided the audience with his first feature film, Who’s That Knocking at My Door, which remarkably took almost 6 years to complete. During this public outcry and chaos, we see in this film Scorsese provide many delicate and subtle references which not only reveal his own views on the war, but specifically reflects the attitudes of the “student movement” taking place.

Even though the film has a look of a student film – the opening sequence is of a simple match-action sequence of a mother baking bread for children – we can clearly see his first utilizations with the camera to capture various shots in a very original and unique method. We can see his influence from the French New Wave as he includes various jump-cut shots and freeze frames, while also displaying his childhood love for Italian Neorealism films through the morality of his images, capturing closeup shots of assorted Christ-like images and statues, emphasizing the blood, scrapes, and cuts on the figures to reinforce the violence and suffering of the human condition. Despite his “European” visual style, Scorsese incorporates American rock music throughout the film, serving as a function to link the youth movement of the 1960’s.

‘Who’s That Knocking’ follows a trio of young men: J.R., Joey, and Sally “Ga-Ga.” The three spend time hanging out on the rugged streets of New York, getting into fights, lounging in bars, picking up girls, fooling around at each other’s apartments. While we see these men engage in their everyday pleasures, we also see J.R. begin to have a relationship with a woman. Scorsese was not shy about exposing his own unique direction and style, moving away from the traditional Hollywood Studio system. For instance, in the beginning of the film, we see J.R. hanging out at a bar with the other men juxtaposed with his first encounter with the woman. This contrast in scenes, showing men sitting around doing nothing productive, with images of beautiful women can serve as a representation of the attitude of young men who were on the verge of leaving for Vietnam.

As we see J.R. slip into deep thought, we see Scorsese blend a parallel of scenes involving the interactions between J.R. and the girl and J.R. sitting at a bar with his friends, cleverly suggesting that while J.R. is hanging out with his friends, he still cannot get this woman out of his mind. When Joey tries to get J.R.’s attention, we see a point of view shot from J.R. looking not at Joey’s face, but of his lower body, indicating that J.R. still has something else on his mind. Continuing his European style, Scorsese utilizes a similar element of the French New Wave as he expresses his youthful love for Hollywood, making specific references and even including images (through freeze frames and snap shots) of John Wayne films.

Clearly, these three men do not have jobs, and have no intentions in pursuing anything work-related. We see J.R. get upset with the woman when she continues to ask what he does. After he replies, “I’m in between jobs right now,” she does not seem to get the message and obliviously continues to ask, “Well, what do you do now?” Scorsese presents these men as highly uneducated with a lack of understanding for human and personal relationships and interactions. As J.R. and the woman continue to see each other, the only conversations taking place is about John Wayne movies (or actually going to see a John Wayne movie). Additionally, we can see J.R. and the woman hold different religious values. In the scene at the apartment of J.R.’s mother, as we see closeup images of the Catholic images of Christ and Holy Candles spread out on dressers, the two lie in bed making love. While the woman, who does not appear to hold any religious concerns, wanting to go further, does not understand when J.R. suddenly stops. Asking, “What’s wrong?” the woman thinks there is something wrong in how J.R. thinks of her, instead of understanding how J.R. was raised as a devout Catholic.

WHO'S THAT KNOCKING AT MY DOOR.jpg

1967 Movie Review: THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, 1967

THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, MOVIE POSTERTHOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, 1967
Movie Reviews

Directed by George Roy Hill
Starring: Julie Andrews, James Fox, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Channing, John Gavin, Jack Soo, Pat Morita
Review by Jayvibha Vaidya

SYNOPSIS:

Small-town girl Millie Dillmount arrives in New York City intent on finding a husband. But first she must become a modern city girl, befriend naïve Miss Dorothy, seduce her boss, stop a white slavery ring and decide between love and money when she meets smitten paper-clip salesman, Jimmy Smith.

WON an OSCAR – Best Music – Original Score.

 

REVIEW:

“I’m a modern!”

Opening with a suspenseful kidnapping which cuts to the wide-eyed Millie arriving in the big city, Thoroughly Modern Millie weaves together an evil plot to exploit young women with an amusing tale of a woman’s search for love and friendship. Spoofing the Roaring Twenties, Millie (Julie Andrews) transforms into a flapper or ‘modern’ in order to blend in and find herself a suitable husband. At the women’s hotel where she stays, Millie befriends Miss Dorothy (Mary Tyler Moore) as owner Mrs. Meers (Beatrice Lillie) sets her eye on Miss Dorothy for her next kidnapping victim.

See, Mrs. Meers is making some extra cash by selling young women with no family ties to the underground Chinese slavery business. In dark shadows lurk her two ‘oriental’ henchmen with their laundry basket of drugged bodies to smuggle into their lair. It’s a silly plot which turns Mrs. Meers into a caricature villainess, complete with poisonous apple and tranquilizer darts. But this plot is played for comedy and is thankfully balanced out with young Millie’s search for the perfect husband.

At a dance Millie meets Jimmy Smith (James Fox), a paper-clip salesman. After an energetic and well choreographed dance, she informs him that her intention is to find a handsome, single boss and become his stenographer. And eventually, his wife. Even after Jimmy proclaims his affections for her, she turns him down, intent on marrying her boss Mr. Graydon (John Gavin) who has no romantic feelings for her at all. Graydon only has eyes for Miss Dorothy who returns his affections but gets kidnapped before they can even have a first date. And to complicate it further, Millie sees Miss Dorothy running into Jimmy’s bedroom, causing her to believe they are having a torrid affair. Millie’s complications are eased when she meets eccentric Muzzy Van Hossmere (Carol Channing) who advises Millie to “Follow your heart, no raspberries!”

As all the players gather to save Miss Dorothy, a chase through Chinatown ends in an acrobatic showdown. The bad guys are defeated and Mrs. Meers sits drenched in a pool, her evil plan completely foiled. A twist at the end of the film reveal the secret identities of Millie’s friends as Muzzy clears away all confusion leaving two happy couples at the end of the film. Millie, despite becoming a modern finally finds love, exclaiming, “I don’t want to be your equal any more – I want to be a woman!” Well then! It appears that thoroughly modern Millie isn’t so modern after all.

Hilariously cutting to ‘20s-style title cards to represent Millie’s reactions to the city and people, the film contains many moments of humour expertly executed by Julie Andrews. Her looks at the camera display perfect comedic timing and a natural sweetness in her performance. She’s utterly adorable and her voice is exquisite, especially in “Trinkt le Chaim,” the Jewish wedding song. Mary Tyler Moore is sweet and naïve; especially charming in the scene when she calls snobby socialite Judith Tremaine a “bitch!” Andrews and Moore’s sensational tap number in a moving elevator is a real highlight, showcasing their chemistry and dancing skills.

The choreography and dance numbers are thoroughly entertaining, from the Tapioca Dance to the Jewish wedding. Carol Channing is wonderful in a bizarre and exhilarating acrobatic number. She’s fearless and steals scenes with her humour and personality. John Gavin as Mr. Graydon is in on the joke playing part playboy, part airhead, hilariously checking out of scenes due to a tranquilizer dart.

Winning an Oscar for original score, the film successfully maintains its comedic energy because of the music that runs through each of the scenes. The jaunty ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ tune plays repeatedly during the film, reminding Millie and the audience of her goals in the big city.

Although the last half of the film becomes cheesy and wraps up in a most bizarre fashion, Thoroughly Modern Millie is laugh-out-loud funny and entirely entertaining. The cast is delightful and the songs are fun, raised to a higher level by the talent of Julie Andrews. Finding love and friendship in New York City isn’t easy, but Millie gets a taste for what life is like for the ‘modern’ girl, taking the audience along on an exciting adventure.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE

1967 Movie Review: QUATERMASS AND THE PIT, 1967


QUATERMASS AND THE PIT, 1967
Movie Reviews

Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Starring: James Donald, Andrew Keir
Review by Ace Masters 

SYNOPSIS:

While digging a new subway line in London, a construction crew discovers first: a skeleton, then what they think is an old World War II German missle. Upon closer examination the “missle” appears to be not of this earth! This movie examines the age old question of how we came to be on this planet.

CLICK HERE and watch 2009 MOVIES FOR FREE!

REVIEW:

Hammer Films made great movies. They didn’t rely on special effects, blood and gore, but on mood, setting, acting and writing. After all they were a British film company and for all their accolades British film and TV have never been know for special effects – until recently.

And, when watching it, keep in mind this is a British film, it will make it easier to swallow the plot of Martians actually being giant, intelligent Locust.

Five Million Years to Earth is the American release name (and the more original, eye-catching name of the two) of the Hammer film Quatermass and the Pit, starring Andrew Keir as Professor Bernard Quatermass. Itself a film adaption of the original 1950’s BBC television serial Quatermass and the Pit.

When skeletal remains of potential human ancestors are found during a re-development dig at Hobb’s Lane, London the re-development is postponed for an archeological dig. Professor Quatermass and military weapons expert Colonel Breen become involved when a large object is found that is initially believed to be an unexploded Nazi bomb from World War II.

Quatermass soon discovers the truth. The object is not a bomb, but a Martian spaceship. Five Million Years ago Mars was dying; its population – a race of advanced, intelligent Locust – was in the midst of extinction. They turned to Earth for their salvation.

With the object disturbed and the military and government refusing to believe Quatermass, the human race is put into jeopardy, as the plans the Locusts had for colonizing Earth than, threaten us now.

Andrew Keir plays Quatermass perfectly with the right amount of intelligence, awe and anti-authority. He is at once part of the government buts disdain the government as well. He is a brilliant man in his field and in general, but doesn’t know everything and doesn’t act like he does. Like any good scientist, he researches, theorizes and wants to learn the truth, even if the truth may destroy him.

Like almost all Hammer films this one is beautifully filmed, with excellent settings and a mood that fits perfectly into its sci-fi story. The only thing that lacks is the physical remains of the locusts, which are obviously fake – but done as well as they could with their budget and the limitations of the day.Beyond Andrew Keir’s performance and the look of the film, the writing is the shinning gem. Characters are handled deftly and for the most part are three-dimensional. Even Colonel Breene shows a multitude of dimensions until he becomes convinced he is right and Quatermass is wrong, then he becomes one-dimensional and single minded.

The plot is not original – Aliens wanting to take over the Earth – but the twist is. The takeover, or “colonization,” was attempted Five Million Years ago and the left over artifact is threatening us now.

The best part of the film is the act of discovery. The film never reveals too much information to the viewer, nor does it talk down to them. We discover things and learn what is going on as the characters do. This sense of discovery integrates us more into the story, unlike films where we know what is going on and are waiting for the characters to play catch-up.

If you like Hammer Films or old sci-fi films in general, than Five Million Years to Earth (aka Quatermass and the Pit) should be right up your alley. It is the second of three Quatermass films from Hammer Films, all three adaptations of early BBC serials. After viewing this one, you’ll surely want to see the others.It is a shame that a full fledge revival of Quatermass has never truly taken place.

QUATERMASS AND THE PIT.jpg

1967 Movie Review: POINT BLANK, 1967


POINT BLANK, 1967
Movie Reviews

Directed by John Boorman
Starring: Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Keenan Wynn, Carroll O’Connor
Review by John Corcoran 

SYNOPSIS:

Later remade as PAYBACK, POINT BLANK follows an angry Lee Marvin through Angie Dickinson and most of California to get to John Vernon, who is defenestrated nude. The ostensible plot is the old saw of betrayal and vengeance, given life here by new-wave editing and pretty good acting.

 

REVIEW:

Lee Marvin was one of the premier Hollywood “tough guys” of the Sixties and Seventies. As the studio system faded into memory and the American popular consciousness became more jaded at large. He embodied the perfect transition from the John Wayne archetype of masculine power to the more conflicted figures on the screen today. Unfortunately, as time has passed, Marvin is increasingly remembered only as an outdated “action star.” This is a disservice to an actor who could provide remarkably layered performances, none more so than in Point Blank.

In Point Blank, Lee Marvin plays a thief known only as Walker (no indication is given whether that’s a first or last name). After hijacking a money shipment from a mysterious crime ring called The Organization at Alcatraz, Walker is betrayed by his partner Reese (a loathsome John Vernon) and his wife Lynne (Sharon Acker). A man convinces Walker to get his share of the heist and avenge his betrayal by Reese who now works for The Organization. Along the way Walker has a romance with his wife’s sister (Angie Dickinson).

Director John Boorman provides more nuance than the usual crime movie trappings. The film begins with Walker’s lowest moment as he is left for dead in a cell at the abandoned Alcatraz prison, trying to piece together what has happened, an opening that has influenced countless revenge films. Boorman maintains the free movement between past and present throughout the film, providing both a glimpse into Walker’s motivations and an existentialist quality to his quest. Boorman also transitions sharply from calm to sudden moments of violence so that the action sequences do not become routine. In fact, the great achievement of Boorman’s direction is to use the action to inform our understanding of the characters rather than merely breaking from the plot for a “set piece.”

Boorman uses the natural light of Los Angeles with to accentuate the bleakness of the film. At first glance, so many scenes in the glaring sun seem out of place in a film noir, which, as its name implies, relies on darker setting. But Point Blank definitively signals that moral ambiguity is no longer limited to coming out at night. Just as the code that demanded that villains be punished in Hollywood movies died, now outfits like The Organization can hide in plain sight. In the world of Los Angeles, where everything seems so obvious but in reality is an illusion, the sunlight can be as mysterious as the cover of darkness.

Point Blank also draws a connection between The Organization and the modern corporation. In most films, heroes are thwarted in their goals by the maliciousness of the antagonist. While there is certainly some of that here, Walker is equally frustrated by sheer logistics. Indeed, some of The Organization leaders (including a scene-stealing supporting role by Carroll O’Connor) are more than willing to pay Walker his share of the heist but their hands are tied because they are too far removed from day to day operations. These scenes are darkly comic, and anyone who has had trouble getting a refund from a major corporation can sympathize with Walker’s plight.

The real gem though is Marvin’s performance. While all the requisite fight scenes are there (including one that will make any male in the audience wince), it is the moments of silence in which Marvin has the greatest impact. There is no joy in his quest for revenge. His isolation drives the film, and Marvin plays a weariness that permeates even the action sequences and the ambiguous relationship with his wife’s sister. Walker is a solitary man living under his own code, and he realizes that he is out of place in the world of The Organization, with its hierarchies and procedures. Ultimately, he can only exist in the shadows.

Hollywood, never able to leave a good thing alone, remade Point Blank as Payback, starring Mel Gibson in 1999. Of course, the melancholy and social criticism of the original was deemed too dark for audiences, and so it became a by the numbers action flick. But Point Blank still should be required viewing for aspiring action directors and actors. In every genre – perhaps even more so in those that are familiar – there is an opportunity to challenge the audience.

 

POINT BLANK

1967 Movie Review: LE SAMOURAI, 1967

LE SAMOURAI, 1967
Thriller Movie Review
Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
Starring Alain Delon, Francois Perier, Cathy Rosier
Review by Alex Haight

Hitman Jef Costello is a perfectionist who always carefully plans his murders and who never gets caught. One night however, after killing a night-club owner, he’s seen by witnesses. His efforts to provide himself with an alibi fail and more and more he gets driven into a corner.SYNOPSIS:

REVIEW:

“There is not greater solitude than that of a Samourai, unless it’s that of a tiger in the jungle…perhaps.” -Bushido (Book of the Samourai)

Modeled on the notion that emotion shows weakness, Alain Delon’s eponymous role as a hired assassin plays as strong a performance than any other who have attempted to bring bravado and sleekness to the muscle persona.

Delon plays Jef Costello a minimalist, cold and precise gun for hire who’s on the run after botching his most recent job at a swanky French nightclub. While the subject doesn’t sound particularly striking, it plays out like an expansive avant-garde exercise in patience, technique and vulnerability.

Those who have seen the film , will know that the story is about process and a mans understanding of a solitary existence-that by choice we lead ourselves towards an inevitable end…what happens to us on our way there, cannot be stopped…but it can be persuaded.

This thinking bleeds out of Alain’ Jef. With a cold stare and equally frigid heart, Jef lives in a state of limbo throughout the picture. He is the human gray area. Not truly defined by earnest emotion, but rather a striking sense of arrogance and helplessness living between the role of citizen and killer. It’s when those characteristics meld that we see the efficient, and controlled mind of Le Samourai emerge.

“Never has a man put on a hat and coat so perfectly.”

Shot with immaculate precision by Henri Decae, the film truly defines the new wave/neo-noir style. Where once shadows existed to hide the brooding sinister beings looking to terrorize us, Melville strips away the dark and pushes them right in our face.The use of colour and tone really sets up the movie from the very first second. A two minute static shot of a lone gunman smoking inside his empty apartment while his pet bird chirps from inside his cage screams for the arthouse crowd. More importantly though rather than solely being eye candy this shot perhaps juxtaposes that inside Jef too is trapped and crying out? Perhaps this leads to his mis–calculation at the club?Maybe?

When one thinks of it, takes a pretty cold bast’d to be able to give you chills in broad daylight, and Melville understands this…making every shot, transition and cut logical and effective. The man is really painting here. Bold washed out stripes of fury and isolated blobs of colour- the summation of Le Samourai’ effectiveness as something much more than just 105 minutes of film. There is energy, and prowess, achieving something more than the traditional genre gazer would anticipate.

However, those expecting a taught, action based shoot ‘em up fraught with quips and womanizing- ala James Bond may be a little let down. Think of it as the art-house 007. A French Bourne, perhaps. Less hulk, more sulk.

Leading the way for such filmmakers as John Woo, Gus Van Zant, The Coen Brothers (view this, then screen the duo’s minimalist masterpiece NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN-eerie no?)…Melville fills the screen with many washed out, static shots, tracking the supposed arrogance of the title character, and the tumultuous existence he lives, displays and balances.

It is for all these reasons that I continue to re-watch this movie and turn people onto this otherwise unknown story, so that they too can experience one of the most calculated characters in modern cinema.3/5-AH

I also recommend these titles: Man Bites Dog, Un Flic, Les Diaboliques.

LE SAMOURAI

1967 Movie Review: I AM CURIOUS, 1967

 

I AM CURIOUS POSTERI AM CURIOUS, 1967
Movie Reviews

Directed by Vilgot Sjoman

Starring: Lena Nyman, Börje Ahlstedt, Vilgot Sjoman.
Review by Jordan Young


A film that revolves around Lena, a young Swedish sociologist, that is on a quest to find an answer to every question that her mind creates. These questions usually revolve around love, politics, sexuality, and Sweden’s current cultural taboos.SYNOPSIS:

 

REVIEW:

Sometimes a film makes headlines just because of the controversy that it creates. This is certainly the case with Vilgot Sjoman’s ” I Am Curious (Yellow)”. In this bizarre, pseudo-documentary, Lena interviews and investigates a myriad of people to try to determine answers to the hot button issues of that time.

This film was shot in the same fashion as the New Wave films. There are a lot of non-linear jump cuts that are very distracting, but nonetheless, some of the subjects explored are captivating topics. One of which, being sexuality, became a giant controversy and prevented the release of the film in the States. Sjoman was not reportedly not a fan of the policies of censorship in the States, or in his native Sweden.

Serious subject matter within this film is shown in a very light manner. On several occasions through out the film, the effects used, come off as campy and smarmy. Sjoman is telling us to not take his subject matter too seriously.

In addition to the “plot” of Lena investigating, there is an aspect of this film that focuses on the how this film is being made. There are some very interesting dynamics between the director and actress. This relationship only raises more questions for the viewer. How much of Lena’s role in the film is due to the director wanting to sleep with her? This is a nice addition to the already confusing sexual politics of the 1960’s.

Easily the most controversial scene in the film, the sex scene, is one of the most anti-climactic sex scenes in the history of the film. It is clear that Sjoman didn’t intend for this to be viewed as a “Showtime Red Shoe Diary” type of sex scene. As a viewer, you disconnect from all erotic aspects of this scene, and you view it almost from a sociological perspective.

It is just a sex scene, which is a nice change of pace from the over-stylized, big presentation type of sex scenes of films we are currently used to… there is no payoff. However, I was a little distracted by thinking about how Sjoman himself feels about filming a sex scene with a girl he wants to have sex with.

This film should be taken in as a time capsule of the 1960’s. There are many political causes that Lena is protesting. The film itself should just be viewed as one giant protest. It comes off as anything you would normally expect from a 60’s protest film, but it shows it in the styles of the French New Wave. This new ideology combined with these new aesthetics creates a really refreshing package as a whole. Also, a appearance and speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. makes this film a must see for budding sociologists, as well as anyone interested in activism.

1967 Movie Review: HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, 1967

HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, MOVIE POSTERHOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, 1967
Movie Reviews

Directed by David Swift
Starring: Robert Morse, Michele Lee, Rudy Vallee, Anthony ‘Scooter’ Teague, Maureen Arthur, John Myhers
Review by Jayvibha Vaidya

SYNOPSIS:

J. Pierpont Finch, a window washer, has dreams of rising up the corporate ladder. With the help of a little book, he follows all the instructions and finds himself exactly where he wants to be in a matter of days! But now he actually has to work – or pretend to.

 

REVIEW:

“Mediocrity is not a mortal sin.”

At a nearby newspaper stand, J. Pierpont Finch (Robert Morse) grabs a book titled “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Peeling off his window washing uniform, he strides into The World Wide Wicket Company and sings:

“In a three-button suit,
With that weary executive smile.
This book is all that I need:
How to, how to succeed!”

Based on a Pulitzer Prize winning play and Tony Award winning Broadway production, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying is a fast-paced, amusing satire about American corporate politics in the 1960s. Climbing his way to the top through a series of chance encounters, misunderstandings and blatant trickery, Finch travels from the mail room to an executive office in a rapidly short time. He’s unqualified and unprepared, except he’s got more guts, charisma and smarts than anyone in the company.

Finch charms his way to the president, Mr. Biggley (Rudy Vallee) by pretending to pull all-night shifts and sharing his favourite hobby: knitting. Exclaiming, “I feel sorry for men who don’t knit. They lead empty lives,” Finch grabs Mr. Biggley’s attention and favour. Instant promotion! Targeting the man whose job he wants, Finch finds his weakness and exposes it – sexual appetite, a rival alma mater, nepotism – and promptly steps into a new role – every few days! With all this back-stabbing and corporate shifting, no one really knows anyone in the world of business. But along comes Rosemary Pilkington (Michele Lee), a warm, helpful secretary who befriends Finch on his first day. She’s smart, level-headed and quick on her feet. And she’s sincere; taking the time to find out who Ponty Finch really is. In many ways she’s the stereo-typical ‘60s secretary; groped by sexist old men and crushing on the new employee, but she also shines as the only character that displays honesty and integrity.


“A secretary is not a thing
The musical numbers are delightfully tongue-in-cheek, commenting on company promotions, the role of secretaries and office rivalry. Legendary choreographer Bob Fosse’s original staging is kept intact for the film, showing up especially in “A Secretary is Not a Toy” where movements match the sounds of a typewriter or pencils scratching on notepads. Complex blocking utilizing a large group of dancers are coupled with lyrics like:

Wound by key, pulled by string.
Her pad is to write in
And not spend the night in.
A secretary is not …
A secretary is not a toy.”

It’s an amusing, satirical number; fascinating to watch decades after the Women’s Liberation movement. “Been A Long Day” also stands out as it is well-timed, sweet and fun to watch. Using tableau, blocking and voice-over, the songs are staged well and the lyrics hilarious with sharp touches of truth.

Robert Morse as Finch carries the film with consistent energy, infusing all his scenes with the right amount of comedy, smarm and goofiness so the audience roots for him despite his sneaky maneuvering. Reprising his role from the Broadway production, Morse displays excellent timing and a great voice. In her film debut, Michele Lee as Rosemary is fresh and sincere, showcasing a beautiful voice in “I Believe in You.” From Mr. Biggley to his bumbling nephew Bud (Anthony Teague) to Hedy LaRue (Maureen Arthur) the ditzy receptionist/mistress, the supporting characters are comic creations of personalities one may encounter in a corporate environment.

Regularly cutting to shots of New York City, gliding through busy streets or observing from a bird’s eye view, the film has a gorgeous look. Interiors are ‘60s mod; bright colours and unusual shapes. When Finch finally makes it to the very top – Chairman of the Board – his office has high ceilings, pillars and archways. Resembling a church, his final achievement is the ultimate corporate office; a place where power and money can be worshipped. And does he get the girl? Of course! But only when he displays some honesty, gaining the approval – and job! – of the Chairman. Such is “the company way.”

How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying is a musical poking fun at American corporate politics, ‘How-To’ books and office romances. Although at times it feels like the camera is merely capturing the stage production, using static shots to frame the musical performances, the actors bring a consistent energy that keeps the story moving at an enjoyable pace. With an ending that wraps up everything in a neat bow with a dash of cheesy fun, the film is a great look into the corporate game one must play to get to the top as rapidly as possible.

HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING

1967 Movie Review: COOL HAND LUKE, 1967

Cool Hand Luke,  1967, MOVIE POSTERCool Hand Luke, 1967
Movie Reviews

Directed by: Stuart Rosenberg

Cast: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin, J.D. Cannon, Morgan Woodward
Review by Jarred Thomas


SYNOPSIS:

A man refuses to conform to life in a rural prison and becomes a legend among the prisoners while a nuisance to the authority officials.

 

REVIEW:

One of the coolest characters ever in cinema history, Lucas Jackson (Newman) later dubbed Cool Hand Luke, refuses to bow to those who intend to restrain him from being free, or living his life the way he chooses. The 60’s were a time when adolescents challenged conformity, unwilling to submit to the corrupt oppressive adult world. Cool Hand Luke epitomized that notion of the rebellious youth.

After getting arrested, Luke in thrown in prison for two years where he has trouble adapting to the pecking order of the prisoners or even the rules established by officials. He gets into a scuffle with the head prisoner Dragline (Kennedy) and despite getting beaten severely; he continues to stand his ground, unwilling to submit. Impressed, Dragline and the rest of the inmates develop a mutual respect for the veteran war hero, and his new nickname Cool Hand Luke is donned after he wins a card game on a bluff.

Luke is charismatic, charming, and an opportunist. He looks at every moment as an opportunity to escape and he capitalizes on it, and his determination inspires others to follow. Dragline becomes a dependable and loyal ally, working with Luke in getting out of prison, despite his numerous failed attempts.

There’s a great scene that has been parodied in pop culture since the film; the boiled egg contest. Luke tries to inspire his inmates by performing a bet that requires him to eat 50 eggs in one hour, and he does. It’s a classic moment that has left a mark in pop culture.

 Newman gives an excellent performance one that has become one of his many iconic characters that the renowned actor has established in his long career. His strong performance is enhanced with the solid supporting cast who provide some interesting characters particularly George Kennedy who creates a tough convict with a compassionate and loyal side towards Luke. Both actors are giving some their best performances of their careers.

In 2005, the film was included in the United States National Film Registry considered to be culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. Luke is similar other characters refusing to conform. Randle McMurphy from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Number Six from The Prisoner, each one a representation of individuality. These are iconic characters with Luke now included in the litter.

While the prisoner guards came off a little too cartoony in which they were all one dimensional, director Rosenberg creates a terrific story with distinct characters that are fun to watch. Cool Hand Luke has become a popular film for its message and remarkable protagonist who inspires people to be free and independent. Luke reminds us that it’s cool to be different.

cool hand luke.jpg

1967 Movie Review: BONNIE AND CLYDE, 1967

BONNIE AND CLYDE, 1967
Movie Reviews

Directed by Arthur Penn

Cast: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Michael J. Pollard, Estelle Parsons, Gene Wilder
Review by Martyn Warren

SYNOPSIS:

Based on the true story on the famed bank robbers during the great depression, we see the life of Bonnie (Faye Dunaway) and Clyde (Warren Beatty) as they rob banks and become iconic in the newspapers. However, even with their exciting lifestyle, there’s always an obstacle to test the famed duo around every corner.

 

REVIEW:

Being recognised as one of the first films to inspire the ‘New Hollywood’ film movement that would change the industry drastically, Bonnie and Clyde (dir. Arthur Penn) still stands as being one of the best American films of all time and having one of Warren Beatty’s finest performances.

Based on the true story of the famed duo who robbed banks during the great depression, the film opens up with Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) and Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) having an encounter outside Bonnie’s family house and quickly become attached to one another. Their interests for one another deepens when Clyde reveals himself to be a robber, while Bonnie is tired of her boring job as a waitress.

The two young adults soon decide to both rob banks and lead an exciting life as people against the law, encountering new characters to be involved in their gang, including the innocent C.W. Moss (Michael J. Pollard) and Clyde’s older brother, Buck Barrow (Gene Hackman).

During the course of the story, we see how all these characters become highly recognised within the newspapers, how they each suffer with the different consequences of their actions and the police force getting closer in stopping their crime spree.

   With the cast being made up of actors and actresses who were famous and non-famous before the film’s release, they manage to bring together brilliant performances that reflect on each other.


Both Gene Hackman and Warren Beatty were very well known for the types of roles that they played during the time, with Hackman playing secondary characters while Beatty played the handsome leading man. Their performances both offer great characters that are very interesting to watch since they are equally great with the less familiar cast members show how this film managed to expand their horizons, especially with Hackman’s career in particular.

The remaining key cast members who were unfamiliar for audience members before this film all did a brilliant job in playing very human and individual characters. Faye Dunaway’s portrayal as the leading lady is absolutely superb in exploring the different challenges and emotions that she’s faced with, while Michel J. Pollard does a great job in playing the innocent-yet-unintelligent Moss. Also, look out for an early cameo by legendary comedic actor Gene Wilder!

Directed by Arthur Penn, his direction over everyone involved within the crew is done very interestingly to bring an original perspective on the screenplay.

Penn often refers to the guns used in the film as power and one very iconic scene is where Clyde shows Bonnie his gun secretly, which happens to be placed near his crotch area and Bonnie stares at it with such excitement and seduction towards such a dangerous object. Another key scene involving a gun is when Clyde actually uses it for the first time on a man that was trying to stop him and we see Clyde struggling with the fact that he actually used his weapon to kill rather then showing it off when doing a robbery.

The director also uses colour as a way to show off the emotions and the lifestyle of America during that time, as well as being used on the two main characters. For example, there’s a scene where Bonnie meets up with her family again after spending sometime doing crimes and it’s shown as a montage with a bronze filter over the shot to make it look like an old fashioned photo and preserve this precious moment for the troubled female character.

As one of the key films that started a new and exciting Hollywood movement, Bonnie and Clyde is one of the most important films in American history and one of the best films that is based on a true story. Creatively made with lovable characters, this is a film that everyone should really see if they truly appreciate American cinema.

BONNIE AND CLYDE

1967 Movie Review: BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, 1967

BAREFOOT IN THE PARK MOVIE POSTERBAREFOOT IN THE PARK, 1967
Movie Reviews

directed by Gene Saks

Starring: Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Mildred Natwick, Charles Boyer
Review by Virginia DeWitt

Paul and Corie Bratter are newlyweds in mid-’60s New York, who have just moved into a walk up in Greenwich Village and are trying to cope with all the problems that come with living in an old building in New York City, including the eccentric neighbors. Their biggest problem, though, is their distinctly different outlooks on life. Paul is a buttoned down attorney who insists that every problem must have a logical solution. Corie is a free spirit who insists that Paul has to learn to walk “barefoot in the park”.

REVIEW:

“Barefoot In The Park” was the first Neil Simon play to be made into a movie. It was a major success on Broadway in 1963 and Simon adapted the play for the screen himself. He worked with Gene Saks, who was better known as a television actor, and who made his feature film debut as a director with “Barefoot”. Saks would go on to direct other Simon adaptations such as “The Odd Couple” (1968), “The Last of the Red Hot Lovers” (1972) and “Brighton Beach Memoirs” (1986). Saks’ television background shows through in this film. His direction of the actors and the staging of the action are straightforward, with nothing original added to the concept of a filmed play. The look of the movie, its use of colour and lighting, is just marginally better than a TV show of the era.

 Saks is good at directing his actors for comedy, however. Pacing and timing is everything in delivering Simon’s dialogue. The repartee requires rapid fire delivery because, funny and sharp as he is, Simon’s effects are all on the surface. This exchange between Paul and Corie is a good example, beginning with Paul saying to her:

“You want me to be rich and famous don’t you?”

“During the day. At night, I want you here and sexy.

“I tell you what, tomorrow night – your night – we’ll do whatever you want.”

“Something wild and crazy and insane?”

“Fine”

“Like what?”

“I’ll come home early. We’ll wallpaper each other.”

Or, a later argument where Corie gets to air her feelings about Paul’s inability to loosen up:

“You’re always dressed right. You always look right. You always say the right thing. You’re very nearly perfect!”

“That’s a rotten thing to say.”

“Before we were married I thought you slept with a tie.”

“No, just for very formal sleeps.”

Over forty years later, the film still works well and it is largely due to the terrific chemistry between its two stars. A very young Robert Redford and Jane Fonda each exhibit a wonderful naturalness in their performances. Given their later, much more serious work, both Redford and Fonda are surprisingly funny and relaxed here and their handling of the verbal and physical comedy is expert. Redford makes the uptight, anxiety ridden Paul sympathetic. In the early scenes where he spars with Corie, his exasperated reactions to her often impossible demands are perfect. In the final scenes, where he is drunk and wandering barefoot through Washington Square Park, Redford matches Fonda’s earlier exuberance with ease. For her part, Fonda is fun, sexy and spontaneous as Corie. She makes Corie’s capriciousness and emotional immaturity attractive, which is no small feat.

The cast is completed by two well known character actors. Charles Boyer, a big star in an earlier era of the movies, makes for a charming eccentric as the upstairs neighbour, Victor Velasco. Mildred Natwick, as Ethel Banks, is endearing as Corie’s slightly confused mother, subject to the same kinds of anxieties which Paul suffers from. In fact, in the scene that is the centre piece of the film – a double date at an Albanian restaurant – Simon gets a lot mileage, and laughs, from pairing off Paul with his middle aged mother-in-law. Paul, born middle aged, and Ethel commiserate with each other over the crazy night they have had to endure at the hands of Corie and Victor, both maddening in their unpredictability. Nothing comes from any of this, of course, as the couples inevitably realign, each paired off appropriately and happily once again.

“Barefoot In The Park” is still a fun movie largely due to the highly successful casting of its two young stars and Neil Simon’s writing, which is both light hearted and sharp at the same time.