The Third Secret (1964)

The Third Secret
Directed by Charles Crichton
Written by Robert L. Joseph
1964/UK
Hubris Productions
First viewing/YouTube

 Alex Stedman: It (complicated broadcasting equipment) saves people from having to think about what they’re really doing. They have to concentrate on how to do it.

Catherine Whitset: That’s therapy. It doesn’t really help.

This slightly ponderous and Freudian story has a pretty good mystery at its heart.

As the movie begins, psychoanalyst Leo Whitset is found dying of a bullet wound to the head.  He tells his housekeeper no one but himself is to blame.  After what they say has been an exhaustive investigation, police determine the death to have been a suicide.  This is devastating news to the doctor’s patients and colleagues because it goes against everything he stood for.

The doctor’s 14-year-old daughter Catherine (Pamela Franklin) approaches American journalist Alex Steadman (Stephen Boyd), a patient of her father, and wants him to investigate her theory that the death was a murder.  After initial reluctance, Steadman is on the case.  He and Catherine become fast friends in the process.  With Jack Hawkins, Richard Attenborough and Diane Cliento as former patients and a very young Judy Dench in a small role as a shop assistant.

 

This was OK, if a bit too contrived for my taste. I was pleasantly surprised than Boyd’s prerformance was so good – the only other thing I think I’ve seen him in is Jumbo. Disclaimer:  The sound went progressively more out of synch on YouTube video I watched, making it hard for me to understand – and there is a lot of talking.

Lemonade Joe (1964)

Lemonade Joe (Limonadovy Joe aneb konska opera)
Directed by Oldrich Lipsky
Written by Oldrich Lipsky and Jiri Brdecka from Brdecka’s novel
1964/Czechoslovakia
Filmove studio Barrandov
First viewing/Netflix rental

 

Lemonade Joe: [Lands on his feet after falling some 200 feet, right in front of the hostile band, taking them by surprise. Performs some thorough finger-spinning with his twin shooters, finally aiming them at the band] Understandably, hands up.

From behind the Iron Curtain comes a spoof of Westerns and capitalism.  Some of the jokes drag on too long but it’s basically good fun.

The style mimics silent and early talkie B Westerns complete with tinting and plenty of melodrama.  The story takes place in Stetson City where the hardscrabble inhabitants drink at the Trigger Whiskey Saloon operated by Doug Badman.  Eventually the lovely Winifred Goodman and her father come to town to preach temperance.  Immediately, thereafter we are introduced to Lemonade Joe, hero and spokesman for KolaLoka lemonade.  The remainder of the story deals with Joe’s efforts to protect Winifred from the nefarious advances of Doug Badman’s brother Horace and to avoid the advances of saloon singer Tornado Lou himself.

This is one silly gag after another.  Most of these are funny though some outstay their welcome causing the short movie to drag somewhat.  There are songs throughout.  Interesting that Capitalism triumphs!

Cerny Petr (1964)

Cerny Petr (Black Sheep; Black Peter)
Directed by Milos Forman
Written by Milos Forman and Jaroslav Papousek
1964/Czechoslovakia
Filmove studio Barrandov
First viewing/Netflix rental

 

I know this sounds so little, and not serious enough, but I believe that I have to have fun. We all have to have fun – me, the actors, the cameraman, everybody should feel as if we are making a home movie, because that is the only way to open the film to a certain kind of lightness. If everybody involved feels the seriousness, the heavy weight of money being stamped on movies, it somehow influences the result in a way which is anesthizing to life. – Milos Forman

Milos Forman’s first film is an enjoyably wry coming of age comedy.

Petr is just starting out in the world with his first job after graduating high school.  He proves to be a hugely inept floorwalker at a grocery store.  In his off-hours, he struggles with dating and his hectoring father.

Forman’s talent is obvious right out the gate.  It helps that we seem to share a similar sense of humor.  This is a a slice-of-life character study with a negligible plot but the teenagers keep things constantly lively.  They should be instantly relatable to anyone who has had growing pains.

 

Children of the Damned (1964)

Children of the Damned
Directed by Anton Leader
Written by John Briley
1964/UK
Lawrence P. Bachmann Productions for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer British Studios
First viewing/Netflix rental

Tagline: … even more eerie and unearthly than “Village of the Damned”!

Less the horror show that the poster promises and more a nifty little sci-fi thriller.

Psychologist Tom Llewellyn and geneticist Dave Neville have been asked by the UN to conduct intelligence tests of English children.  One of them, Paul,  proves to have a vastly superior IQ.  Through its program the UN has identified six children in the world with not only similar but identical abilities.The children represent a mini-UN, coming from the UK, USSR, China, India, Nigeria and USA.  The foreign children are all housed in their Embassies and the British MI-5 is trying to get its hands on Paul.

Through their special powers the children manage to escape the clutches of their governments and house themselves in an abandoned church.  In the meantime, a scientist theorizes that the cell structure of the children might represent that which could be reached by homo sapiens after 1 million years of evolution.  All the governments are interested in making the children secret weapons.  What to do?

I liked this a lot, better than its IMDb rating would indicate.  When finally pinned down and asked why they are here the only answer is “for the same reason you are.”  There’s lots of intriguing ideas here.  This is less a sequel of The Village of the Damned than a whole new story..

The DVD contained an OK commentary by the screenwriter who makes it clear that his intention was a Cold War allegory.

Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)

Mothra vs. Godzilla (Mosura tai Gojira)
Directed by Ishiro Honda
Written by Shin’ichi Sekizawa
1964/Japan
Toho Company
First viewing/FilmStruck

 

News Photographer Junko ‘Yoka’ Nakanishi: I’ve been trying to get a shot of the area, but the land is moving. Look, over there. [the earth moves, and out emerges a monster]

Mayor: Ah! Oh! Godzilla!

Super-hero monster Mothra flies to the rescue in another in Toho’s Godzilla series.

A huge egg washes up on a shore near Tokyo and is immediately snapped up by a greedy promoter.  This turns out to be one of Mothra’s eggs and the two tiny high priestesses of Infant Island reappear to beg for its return.  Greed prevails until Godzilla reemerges nearby and Mothra is needed to stop the total annihilation of the city.
By this time the miniature work in these things had taken a turn for the worse and the film is far from a must see.  Nevertheless, the little priestesses are cute and it’s cool to see Godzilla attacked by twin larvae.

FilmStruck has the subtitled version, which is a plus.

Clip – dubbed  version

The Killers (1964)

The Killers
Directed by Don Siegel
Written by Gene L. Coon from a story by Ernest Hemingway
1964/USA
Revue Studios
First viewing/Netflix rental

 

Charlie Strom: You see, the only man that’s not afraid to die is the man that’s dead already.

This remake is not bad but had me longing for the 1946 version.

Hit men Charlie (Lee Marvin) and Lee (Clu Gulager) arrive at a school for the blind to assassinate Johnny North (John Cassavetes), who is teaching there.  He puts up no resistance.  This intrigues Charlie and when he learns that there is also a missing $1 million involved the two investigate both the location of the money and the identity of the man who hired them.

The trail leads to flash backs of an elaborate series of double crosses involving crime boss Jack Browing (Ronald Reagan) and femme fatale Shiela Farr (Angie Dickinson).

I think the choice to eliminate the insurance adjuster angle in the 1946 film was pretty inspired.  Marvin’s intensity makes this version work.  On the other hand, Dickinson’s inherent perkiness had me longing for the infinitely more fatal Ava Gardner.  Reagan, in his final screen performance, makes a good villain by playing it straight.

 

Manji (1964)

Manji (Swastika)
Directed by Yasuzo Masumura
Written by Kaneto Shindo from a novel by Jun’ichiro Tanizaki
1964/Japan
Daiei Studios
First viewing/YouTube

 

I’m not lesbian; I’m not bisexual; I’m not straight. I’m just curious. Alice Walker

Strikingly shot movie about forbidden love.

A housewife becomes obsessed with the model posing as a nude Buddhist Goddess of Mercy in her art class.  Her feelings are reciprocated.  But the housewife’s husband and the model’s fiance make the romance a fraught love quadrangle.

This didn’t grab me but is quite OK.  The swastika must refer to the four points of the love quadrangle.  There is no specific reference to it in the film.

Trailer – no subtitles

1964

Theater admission numbers had dropped dramatically to below 1 billion. The trend started to reverse itself with the arrival of blockbusters and multi-plexes, but Hollywood would never get back to its glory days in the 1940s and 1950s.

Sony began marketing the first reel-to-reel video tape recorder designed specifically for home use in 1964 — however, widescale consumer use of video tape recorders didn’t really take off until the mid-1970s.

Alan Ladd died at the age of 50, due to a lethal combination of alcohol and drugs. Peter Lorre died of a heart attack/stroke at the age of 59.  Elizabeth Taylor married Richard Burton for the first time.

Ronald Reagan’s last feature film appearance before his retiring from the screen was in director Don Siegel’s The Killers (1964) in which he played a ‘heavy’ for the first time. Two years later, he would be elected governor of California.

After three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights act of 1964 but this did not stop the violence as it continued to increase in many American cities.  The Act outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It prohibited unequal application of voter registration requirements, racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations. Resistance to the public accommodation clause continued for years on the ground, especially in the South. Resistance by school boards continued into the next decade, with the most significant declines in black-white school segregation only occurring at the end of the 1960s and the start of the 1970s.  Lyndon Johnson was returned to office in a landslide victory over  Barry Goldwater.

A parent wrote to the US Attorney General complaining that the lyrics to “Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen were obscene. After 2 years of investigation, the FBI dismissed the complaint because the lyrics of that recording were “unintelligible at any speed”.

The great soul singer Sam Cooke was shot dead at a motel under disputed circumstances.

“I Want to Hold Your Hand “spent seven weeks atop the Billboard Charts, making it the number one single of the year.  At one point, songs by The Beatles occupied the top 5 places on the Billboard Top Ten.  Both Beatlemania and the British Invasion took Amereica by storm. Other  British groups also found success including The Rolling Stones and The Animals and together with the American talent of The Supremes and Bob Dylan many say this was one of the greatest years for music in the last century. Also one young loud talented boxer by the name of Cassius Clay won the Boxing World heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston. Time Magazine’s Man of the Year was Lyndon B. Johnson.   No Pulitzer Prize was awarded for either literature or drama in 1964.

Although the U.S. denied that it had combat soldiers in South Vietnam, U.S. soldiers routinely participated in combat operations against the Viet Cong. The number of U.S. soldiers in South Vietnam rose to more than 16,000 by year’s end with 122 combat deaths in just that year.

The President of South Vietnam Ngô Đình Diệm initiated a brutal crack-down on protests by Buddhists against his (largely Roman Catholic) government that caused consternation in the U.S. and concern that the Diệm government was failing. In November, Diệm was overthrown and killed in a coup d’état by his military, with the tacit acquiescence of the United States. A military junta headed by General Dương Văn Minh replaced Diệm.

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The movies I will choose from can be found here.

Montage of stills from 1964 Oscar Winners

Montage of stills from major 1964 Oscar Nominees

1963 Recap and 10 Favorites List

I have now watched 120 films that were released in 1963.  A complete list can be found here.  Despite my many complaints about the films on the List, it was a strong year and I had 18 films for my favorites list.   They could have been sliced and diced in any number of ways – I aimed for a balance between List and non-List films.  The  films I reluctantly left off my Top Ten were:  Shock Corridor; The Great Escape; Ingmar Bergman Makes a Movie; The Organizer; It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World; Billy Liar; Lilies of the Field; and High and Low.  I was unable to locate The Cool World or Mediterranee from The List.  My favorites are no particular order though 8 1/2  would remain at the top no matter how I compiled my list.

10.  An Actor’s Revenge – directed by Kon Ichikawa

9.  The Leopard – directed by Luccino Visconti

8.  America America – directed by Elia Kazan

7.  Judex – directed by Georges Franju

6.  Charade – directed by Stanley Donen

5.  The Servant – directed by Joseph Losey

4.  Hud – directed by Martin Ritt

3.  This Sporting Life – directed by Lindsay Anderson

2. Mahanagar (The Big City) – directed by Satyajit Ray

1. 8 1/2 – directed by Federico Fellini

The Leopard (1963)

The Leopard (Il gattopardo)
Directed by Luchino visconti
Written by Suso Cecchi d’Amico, Pasquale Festa Campanile, Luchino Visconti et al from a novel by Giuseppi Thomasi di Lampidusa
1963/Italy/France
Titanus; Societe Nouvelle Pathe Cinema; Society Generale de Cinematographie
Repeat viewing/Netlfix rental

Prince Don Fabrizio Salina: We were the leopards, the lions, those who take our place will be jackals and sheep, and the whole lot of us – leopards, lions, jackals and sheep – will continue to think ourselves the salt of the earth.

Beautiful people, beautiful scenery, beautiful things and a poignant story of change and mortality – what could be better?

Prince Don Fabrizio Salina (Burt Lancaster) is the patriarch of a family of hereditary princes drawing their legitimacy from the House of Savoy,  As story begins Garibaldi and his red shirts invade the island intending to claim it for King Victor Immanuel of a unified Italy.  Amidst the general panic, Dan Fabrizio does not intend to alter his behavior in any way.  And his prerogatives are largely respected due to his nephew Tancredi’s (Alain Delon) decision to fight with the red shirts.  Both the Prince and Tancredi are skilled at playing both sides against the middle.

The Prince continues to look out for his nephew and realizes that the key thing he will need for advancement is plenty of money. The problem is solved in the person of the beautiful Angelica (Claudia Cardinale) and her vulgar, nouveau riche father.  As the Prince cements this alliance his own mortality calls to him and he makes a graceful peace both with death and with the new age.

I am rarely in the mood for a three hour movie but I wasn’t checking the time through this one.  It’s a character study more than anything and I think the story needed space and time to give us such a round portrait of the prince.  All the acting, including several supporting characters, is first-rate.  And the production and camera work is simply amazing.  Highly recommendedl

The Leopard was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Color.

This ends my viewing of 1963 films.

Clip – the waltz – no subtitles but pure eye candy