About Bea

I've been a classic movie fan for more years than I'd care to mention. I am on a mission to see as many movies as I can get my hands on for every year from 1929 to 1970. This blog will record my reviews and some articles about people, places, and things I meet along the way. I'm a retired Foreign Service Officer living in Indio, California. I read, knit and look at birds when I'm not watching movies.

The Counterfeit Traitor (1962)

The Counterfeit Traitor
Directed by George Seaton
Written by George Seaton based on the book by Alexander Klein
1962/US
Perlberg-Seaton Productions
First viewing/Amazon Prime

Eric Erickson: Suddenly, he becomes your brother.

William Holden has played the cynic forced against his will to do good many times.  This movie was not my favorite of these.

Erick Erickson is an American-born Swede who renounced his US citizenship when he moved permanently back to Sweden.  In neutral Sweden, his business is brokering oil refined in Germany.  He is “blacklisted” for this activity courtesy of some Allied spies who blackmail him into becoming an agent.  His cover is arranging for Germany to build a refinery in Sweden.  This requires him to travel back and forth frequently.  In order to establish himself as a Nazi sympathizer, Erick alienates his wife and all of his friends.

Erick’s spy contact in Germany is Marianne Möllendorf (Lily Palmer).  She is in the spy game as a committed Christian.  Naturally the two fall in love.  Erick eventually begins to see things her way.  Things get more dangerous from here.  With Hugh Griffith as Erick’s controller and Klaus Kinski as a dying Jew.

This movie is OK but didn’t wow me.  I felt like I had seen it several times before.  The IMDb rating is 7.6 out of 10 so your mileage may vary.

Trailer

Days of Wine and Roses (1962)

Days of Wine and Roses
Directed by Blake Edwards
Written by J.P. Miller
1962/USA
Jalem Productions
First viewing/Netflix rental

Joe Clay: Well, anything worth having is worth suffering for, isn’t it?

Love story meets horror story in this well-acted drama about alcoholism and its consequences.

Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon) works as a Public Relations man.  It is the age of Mad Men and business is conducted over plenty of martinis.  Joe is fonder of the booze than he is of his job.  One of his more distasteful duties is to line up “girls” to entertain clients.  When he meets Kirsten he assumes she is one of these.  She turns out to be the boss’s secretary and after a rocky start they fall in love.  Kirsten is a teetotaler.

Joe keeps getting deeper and deeper into the sauce.  As he grows more dependent and more frustrated with his life, he craves an at-home drinking buddy.  Thus Kirsten becomes hooked herself.  Things get worse and worse until they get better – at least for one of them.  With Charles Bickford as Kirsten’s father.

We are in Lost Weekend territory – complete with violent DTs – here but with a romance at its core.  Both leads are fantastic at every stage of their disease.  We like these people while they are destroying family and each other. Recommended.

Director Blake Edwards did the commentary on the DVD I rented.  One thing that made it particularly interesting was that he was watching it for the first time since it came out.  He was pleased with his handiwork.  We also hear about his own battle with the bottle.

Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer’s title tune won the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song.  Days of Wine and Roses was also nominated in the categories of Best Actor; Best Actress; Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White; and Best Costume Design, Black-and-White.

Trailer

Don’t Knock the Twist (1962)

Don’t Knock the Twist
Directed by Oscar Rudolph
Written by Robert E. Kent
1962/USA
Four Leaf Productions
First viewing/Netflix rental

 

I compare the twist to the electric light, the twist is me, and I’m it. I’m the electric light. – Chubby Checker

The story is dopey but a lot of the music and dancing are pretty good.

The head of a TV network has noticed that its rival is getting the ratings with its twist shows.  He challenges one of his executives to beat the rival by putting together a twist spectacular in only one month.  Fortunately, the executive is a friend of Chubby Checker’s!  We also get the obligatory love triangle between a money-hungry brunette fashion designer, a blonde teenage dancer (only dances to benefit an orphanage) and the executive.

I had low expectations going in but it turns out we get several sixties golden oldies and some good twisting, along with lots of rear views of ladies shaking their booties.

Clip – Gene Chandler sings “The Duke of Earl”

Still in great voice all these years later

Gigot (1962)

Gigot
Directed by Gene Kelly
Written by John Patrick; original story by Jackie Gleason
1962/USA
Seven Arts Productions
First viewing/YouTube

I have no use for humility. I am a fellow with an exceptional talent. — Jackie Gleason, AKA “The Great One”

Jackie Gleason, Paris, and Gene Kelly sound like a winning combination, right?  Unfortunately not for me.

Gigot (Gleason) is a mute who works as a janitor in a Paris apartment building and lives in the basement.  People believe him to be a simpleton.  Some think he should be locked up. Most use him as a source of fun.

Gigot’s life changes when he meets an ailing prostitute and her adorable daughter, who is perhaps five or six years old.  The daughter loves Gigot completely.  The mother is does not feel the same.  Gigot gets in numerous scrapes trying to keep the daughter with him.

I love Jackie Gleason, Gene Kelly, and Paris.  Many people apparently love this movie.  The problem is I do not find mocking the disabled funny and a lot of this movie turns on it. Also, for me, one of Jackie Gleason’s charms as an actor is his dignity, which he completely abandons here.  His style of comedy depends usually more on his personality than physical humor as well.  This struck me as Gleason’s attempt to throw a Chaplin-esque pity party. Your mileage may definitely vary.

Clip

Ring of Terror (1962)

Ring of Terror
Directed by Clark L. Paylow
Written by Lewis Simeon
1962/France
Playstar Productions
First viewing/Netflix rental

 

“True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.” ― Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

The poster gives away the only scare in this very bad movie.  It does not really matter since it is also telegraphed early in the film.

The story is framed by a dumb appearance by a cemetery custodian.  We find out all we really need to know about this movie when the first scare is created by his stepping on a cat’s tail – a scene dragged out to ridiculous lengths.  The main action concerns Lewis B. Moffat, a medical student, and hijinx at the college he attends.  His fate will be sealed by a hazing prank.

This movie fully deserves its 1.4/10 IMDb rating.  It contains much of the disconnected weird vibe of an Ed Wood movie but is much more boring.

Amazing trivia:  By the 1970’s, director Paylow managed to survive his shame and had became an assistant director and production manager, notably on Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and The Conversation (1974).

Clip – the custodian looks for his cat

Vive le tour (1962)

Vive le tour 
Directed by Louis Malle
Written by Louis Malle
1962/France
Nouvelles Editions de Films
First viewing/Netflix rental

 

Ride your bike, ride your bike, ride your bike – Fausto Coppi, when a reporter asked him what it takes to become such a great champion.

I don’t even follow the Tour de France.  I found this documentary short totally charming.

First we meet the crowd.  It seems like the entire population of France is out to view the race.  Malle gives us many great faces from a wide swathe of society.  My favorite was the nun giving a rider the thumbs up.  He goes on to the carnival aspect of the event, complete with floats.

We move on to the riders.  First, we take care of their basic necessities from food to drink to urination.  It is a different time, when riders go into bars to raid them of champagne and beer, often without paying and the crowd offers its own provisions.  We end with the grueling race itself.

A cyclist’s loot.

I was surprised that doping was an issue even in 1962.  Then it appeared to be amphetamines, something the filmmakers inform us does not add strength but dulls pain. Several athletes are shown paying the consequences when they collapse from over-exertion.  And can you imagine a time when the crowd is allowed to physically push cyclists up hill?!

Malle makes every one of the eighteen minutes a delight.  If you have any interest at all in the Tour, I would say this is a must see. The complete film is available on YouTube and on FilmStruck.

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The Longest Day (1962)

The Longest Day
Directed by Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton and Bernhard Wicki
Written by Cornelius Ryan et al from Ryan’s book
1962/USA
Darryl F. Zanuck Production/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
First viewing/Netflix Instant

Brigadier General Norman Cota: I don’t have to tell you the story. You all know it. Only two kinds of people are gonna stay on this beach: those that are already dead and those that are gonna die. Now get off your butts. You guys are the Fighting 29th.

Yet another 1962 movie for my “Ten Favorite New-to-Me Films of 2017” list!

The film tells the story of D-Day June 6, 1944 and the hours before the invasion of Occupied France by Allied forces.  Small personal stories and grand Cinemascope action scenes are combined.

We get the perspective of American, British, Free French, and German officers and soldiers.  There is a cast of thousands.  Prominent among them are Robert Mitchum, Eddie Albert, John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Jeffrey Hunter, Richard Burton, Red Buttons and Robert Ryan – many of these actors appear only in cameos.  Many French, German and British stars are also featured.

I don’t know how I avoided this one for so long – maybe it was the three hours length. Neither my husband nor I were bored for one second.  I absolutely loved it.  Some of the combat scenes are breathtaking.  One of my favorites is of the two remaining Luftwaffe planes strafing a beach which utilizes every bit of Cinemascope’s potential.  And Robert Mitchum saves the day!  What could be better.

My only niggle is that a lot of exposition is rather clumsily inserted into the dialogue.  On the other hand I can’t really think of a better way of telling the necessary history lesson. Highly recommended.

WARNING:  This film is famous for being the first in which various actors speak their own languages.  Subtitles were used for portions where the dialogue was not in the language of the country where it was shown.  An English-only version was also made.  It is the English-only version that is shown on Netflix Instant.  That said, I don’t know that it marred my enjoyment much.

The Longest Day won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White and Best Effects, Special Effects.  It was nominated in the categories of Best Picture; Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and White; and Best Film Editing.

Trailer

The Quare Fellow (1962)

The Quare Fellow
Directed by Arthur Dreifuss
Written by Arthur Dreifuss from a play by Brendan Behan
1962/UK
Liger
First viewing/Netflix rental

“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

This anti-death-penalty film provided an opportunity to appreciate the young Patrick McGoohan and enjoy an hour-and-a-half of Irish brogues.

McGoohan plays Thomas Crimmen, a naive idealistic new prison guard.  He has drawn the short end of the stick and been assigned to assist a veteran guard to oversee the last hours and hanging of a condemned man (“quare fellow” in Irish dialect).

During the few hours occupied by the story McGoohan finds himself sharing a boarding house with the widow-to-be (Sylvia Syms).  A revelation leads to the possibility of a stay of execution.

McGoohan was certainly quite a looker and gave a very good performance.  I could listen to Irish people talk for hours and had ample opportunity to here.  The movie and its cast are very solid even if the story lacks basic credibility.

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Eegah (1962)

Eegah
Directed by Arch Hall Sr.
Written by Bob Wehling and Arch Hall Sr.
1962/USA
Fairway International Pictures
First viewing/YouTube

Robert Miller: Watch out for snakes.

Mild “horror” and mildly entertaining.

Teenagers Tom (Arch Hall Jr.) and Roxy are driving through the desert when Roxy sees a giant (Richard “Jaws” Kiel).  At a pool party that night the only person who will believe she really did see at least something is her father (Arch Hall Sr.), a novelist.  He hires a helicopter which takes him to the site.

The helicopter breaks down and Tom and Roxy go to pick him up in Tom’s dune buggy. Eventually the gigantic caveman abducts Roxy and takes her to his cave where Dad has already made friends with the man he calls Eegah.  Only problem is that the giant is the last of his race and has his eye on Roxy.  Very tame mayhem ensues.  One may be sure that there are several opportunities for Tom to entertain with his guitar and pop ballads.

This seems to have been made to get the MST3K treatment and did.  It does not have all the goofy charm of the Halls’ Wild Guitar (1962) but there are a few smiles to be had.

Trailer

Dog Star Man (1962)

Dog Star Man
Directed by Stan Brakhage
First viewing/Netflix rental
One of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

 

There are a lot of movies made for nobody. – Stan Brakhage

I had hoped that Heaven and Earth Magic would be the nadir of 1962 films selected to be seen before I died.  My hopes were dashed by this mess.

There is no need for a plot summary.  The film contains neither plot, dialogue nor sound. There are brief shots of a man – possibly on drugs – and his dog staggering through a snowy mountain landscape.

I had been warned – correctly – in advance that this was missable but decided it was worth checking out for at least five minutes.  The Prologue appeared to be made from a reel of film that had been pulled from a fire at the last possible second.  It looked like clips from the salvaged film were edited together at random.  After ascertaining that there would be no sound, I continued with some work looking up every few minutes to verify that nothing interesting was happening.  For completists or those on LSD only.

Clip from the Prelude – the first minute is dedicated to a black screen