Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962)

Cleo from 5 to 7 (Cléo de 5 à 7)
Directed by Agnes Varda
Written by Agnes Varda
1962/France/Italy
Cine Tamaris/Rome Paris Films
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental
One of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. Joseph Campbell

The second time around seemed much funnier than the first but just as satisfying.

Cleo (Corrine Marchand) is a beautiful up-and-coming pop singer.  On this particular day, she is waiting to find out the results of medical tests that may show she has cancer.  The story plays out in almost real time over the last two hours before she is to get hold of her doctor.  Starting with a fortune teller, all signs point toward illness and death.  Cleo spends part of her remaining time making frivolous purchases, complaining, and otherwise indulging her ego and other vices.

Finally, she is so worried and fed up that she yanks off her hair piece, changes clothes, and heads off to see a girl friend.  The friend drops Cleo off in a park where she meets up with a young soldier who, though about to go off to war himself, is content to hear about the troubles of his new acquaintance.

I just love the sly way that Varda plays with expectations in this film!  I also liked the expose of the utter silliness that lies behind much feminine glamor and beauty.  I kept yelling at Cleo to do something about her hair.  When she did, my heart soared.  Another plus is the Michel LeGrand score.  I highly recommend this movie which puts the “new” in New Wave.

Trailer

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Directed by Vincente Minnelli
Written by Robert Ardrey and John Gay from a novel by Vicente Blasco Ibañez
1962/USA/Mexico
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Moctezuma Films/Olallo Rubio
First viewing/YouTube rental

“Poor Humanity, crazed with fear, was fleeing in all directions on hearing the thundering pace of the Plague, War, Hunger and Death.” ― Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

This movie is just too darned long … and miscast.

I’m not familiar with the source novel or the 1921 original.  The film updates the story from WWI to WWII and presumably changes the plot in other ways as well.

The story begins in 1938.  Anyway, Grandpa Julio Madariaga (Lee J. Cobb) is a life-loving Argentine and the patriarch of a large family.  One of his daughters married Frenchman Marcelo Desnoyers (Charles Boyer) and bore playboy Julio (Glenn Ford) and idealist Chi Chi (Yvette Mimeaux).  The other daughter married German Karl von Hartrott (Paul Lukas) who bore Heinrich (Karl Böhm), an early Nazi supporter.  The Desnoyers end up moving back to Paris while the Hartrotts relocate to Germany.  It doesn’t take a genius to see where this is going.

Upon arrival in Pairs, Julio takes up a paintbrush but actually spends most of his time in the high life.  That is until he begins a tempestuous love affair with Marguerite Lanier (Ingrid Thulin), who is married to idealistic newspaper publisher Etienne Laurier (Paul Heinreid).  After France is invaded, Etienne is conveniently taken out of the picture by his activities for the French Resistance.  He is eventually imprisoned and released home.  Marguerite calls it quits and Julio is moved to join the Resistance himself.  And so on …

This movie is almost three hours long.  It could have been cut to two hours without sacrificing much but likely still would have been dull.  It was a major flop at the box office.

For me, one of the main problems was Glenn Ford.  The hero of the silent version was Rudolph Valentino.  By this point in his career, Ford was much too stodgy to play a dashing and romantic leading man.  I read that the director was keen on Alain Delon who would have been perfect in the part but was vetoed by the producers.

Trailer

 

Il Sorpasso (1962)

Il Sorpasso  
Directed by Dino Risi
Written by Dino Risi, Ettore Scola, and Ruggero Maccarri
1962/Italy
Incei Film/Sancro Film/Fair Film
First viewing/Netflix rental

Bruno Cortona: Put this one on. Its Modugno. Poetry doesn’t do much for me. I like music. This song’s really great. Mystical. Really gets you thinking. Ah, music. I really like Modugno. This song really drives me crazy. It seems so simple, but it’s got everything – – loneliness, inability to communicate, and that stuff that’s all the rage now – – alienation, like in Antonioni’s films. Did you see “L’eclisse”?

Roberto Mariani: Yes

Bruno Cortona: I fell asleep. Had a nice nap. Great director, Antonioni. I saw him in his Flaminia Zagato once. I couldn’t stop gawking.

This is sort of a road movie in which a free-spirited Roman braggart drives a shy law student around the city and its environs.  Your opinion of the film will likely depend on your opinion of the braggart.  I couldn’t stand him.

The story begin when Bruno Cortona (Vittorio Gassman) talks his way into the apartment of law student Roberto Mariani to make a phone call.  It is a major holiday and the streets of Rome are deserted.  Bruno is not able to reach the people he was supposed to catch up with so he suggests that Roberto accompany him.  Roberto had set aside the time for studying but allows himself to be persuaded.  At first the idea is that the two will share a meal.  But once Bruno has Roberto in his clutches he decides that he must stay for the whole adventure.

Bruno is one of the least considerate most irresponsible drivers in movies.  He delights in driving at high speeds and feels compelled to pass anyone in front of him.  He also enjoys making insulting remarks and chatting up women.  Slowly Robert comes to admire Bruno’s life style and begins to loosen up a little himself.

I think the filmmakers mean us to believe Bruno has an admirable spontaneity and freedom that Roberto if not ourselves should immulate.  I disliked him thoroughly.  The ending of this film comes out of nowhere. It didn’t make me like the movie any more than I had but it made sense.

Opening Credits

All Night Long (1962)

All Night Long
Directed by Basil Dearden
Written by Nel King and Paul Jarrico
1962/UK
The Rank Organization
First viewing/Netflix rental

 

Johnnie Cousin: Me? Oh, I belong to that new minority group: white American jazz musicians. They’re going to hold a mass meeting in a phone booth. [laughs]

Here’s a decent version of Othello with a modern twist.

The setting is the first anniversary celebration of the marriage of black jazz band leader Aurelius Rex and white singer Delia Lane.  Delia retired from singing when she married Rex.  Drummer Johnnie Cousin (Patrick McGoohan) is jealous of Rex and wants to start his own band.  He can get backing but only with the promise that Delia will return to sing with his band.  He doesn’t let his financier know that he has not been able make a deal with Delia though.

So Johnnie plots to break up her marriage by making Rex jealous of Delia’s relationship with Cass Michaels.  He resorts to some pretty underhanded means of doing this.  With Richard Attenborough as a wealthy fan and jazz greats Dave Brubeck and Charles Mingus in Rex’s band.

This was good if not great.  McGoohan makes an evil Iago and does well with an American accent.  Nice music throughout

Trailer

Being Two Isn’t Easy (1962)

Being Two Isn’t Easy (Watashi wa nisai)
Directed by Kon Ichikawa
Written by Natto Wada from a novel by Michio Matsuda
1962/Japan
Daiei Studios
First viewing/FilmStruck

 

The fundamental job of a toddler is to rule the universe. Lawrence Kutner

This is a totally charming movie for baby lovers everywhere.

The film looks at the development of a baby boy named Taro from birth to his second birthday, with emphasis on his second year of life.  We hear Taro’s perspective but also see through the eyes of his parents and eventually his grandmother.  It’s mostly every day stuff with a couple of crises thrown in for dramatic effect.

You really wouldn’t expect this from Ichikawa whose previous films included The Burmese Harp and Fires on the Plain.  The director showed he also had mastered gentle comedy.  I was completely won over.  Recommended.

 

Merrill’s Marauders (1962)

Merrill’s Marauders
Directed by Samuel Fuller
Written by Samuel Fuller and Milton Sperling
1962/USA
Warner Bros./United States Pictures
First viewing/Netflix rental

 

Bannister: Do you know what I’m going to do after the war? I’m going to get married and have six kids. Then I’m going to line them up and tell them what Burma was like. And if they don’t cry, I’ll beat the hell out of them.

This may be one of Sam Fuller’s least Fuller-esque pictures.

This is based on the true story of an infantry unit that battled the Japanese in Burma.  Brig. Gen. Frank D. Merrill (Jeff Chandler) is given one impossible task after another.  All the grunts want to do is go home.  By the end, all they want is something to eat.

 

This is OK but is basically combat and explosions, only sporadically interrupted by story and dialogue.

Merrill’s Maraudes was Chandler’s last film.  He died at age 42 of blood poisoning shortly after production ended.

Trailer

L’Eclisse (1962)

L’Eclisse
Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
Written by Michelangelo Antonioni and Tonino Guerra
1962/Italy/France
Cineriz/Interopa Film/Paris Film
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental
One of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Piero: I feel like I’m in a foreign country.

Vittoria: Funny. That’s how I feel around you.

In which the “modern” dilemma seems to be an inability to articulate one’s reasons.

The setting is Rome.  As the story begins, Vittoria (Monica Vitti) is attempting to break up with her fiance Ricardo.  The scene is absolutely packed with pregnant pauses as Vittoria is determined to leave but cannot explain the necessity for doing so.  She only knows it is over.  She goes to the stock market to announce her decision to her mother, an investor, but mom is caught up in the frenzied buying and selling and Vittoria sadly cannot get through to her.  Here we briefly meet Piero (Alain Delon), the mother’s broker, who is also totally obsessed with the game.  Vittoria later fails to get any comfort from her girlfriends.

At lose ends, Vittoria allows Piero to pursue her.  Brief surrender to a love affair with the materialist can hardly satisfy her restlessness.

Using mostly non-verbal cues Antonioni perfectly captures the disgust and confusion of a chic young woman.  The process is interesting and beautiful but the film left me with an empty feeling and I doubt I will be watching it again.

Restoration Trailer

The Trial (1962)

The Trial
Directed by Orson Welles
Written by Orson Welles; adapted by Pierre Cholot from the novel by Franz Kafka
1962/France/West Germany/Italy
Paris-Europa Productions/Hisa-Film/Finaciaria Cinematografica Italia
First viewing/Netflix rental

Hastler: Do you think you can persuade the court that you’re not responsible by reason of lunacy?

Joseph K.: I think that’s what the court wants me to believe. Yes, that’s the conspiracy: to persuade us all that the whole world is crazy, formless, meaningless, absurd. That’s the dirty game. So I’ve lost my case. What of it? You, you’re losing too. It’s all lost, lost. So what? Does that sentence the entire universe to lunacy?

How did I wait so long to see one of Orson Welles’ best movies and one of Anthony Perkins’ great performances?

The “plot” takes the shape and logic of a nightmare.  As the movie begins, detectives burst into Joseph K’s (Perkins) room and arrest him.  They refuse to reveal the charges.  K spends the rest of the film trying to discover what he is supposedly guilty of and to defend himself against a fathomless system seemingly bent on convicting – perhaps killing – him.

Along the way K. encounters a number of women, many of whom seem ready to bed him, but none of whom offer any comfort.  The first of these is K’s boarding house neighbor played by Jeanne Moreau.  Eventually K. finds himself a defense attorney named Hastler (Welles).   But his advocate seems to be as out to get him as his prosecutors.

This is a gorgeous film and Perkins is brilliant in it.  I think Welles captures Kafka’s story as well as anyone could have.  It is both a condemnation of the legal system and a despairing reflection on man’s life here below.  Recommended.

Trailer

Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)

Mutiny on the Bounty
Directed by Lewis Milestone
Written by Charles Lederer from the novel by Charles Norhoff and James Norman Hall
1962/USA
Arcola Pictures
First viewing/Netflix rental

Fletcher Christian: [to Captain Bligh] You remarkable pig. You can thank whatever pig god you pray to that you haven’t turned me into a murderer.

Give me the Clark Gable-Charles Laughton version any day.

The story should be familiar to most of my readers.  The HMS Bounty sets sail for Tahiti to collect breadfruit plants for cultivation as a food staple in the Caribbean colonies under the sadistic Captain Bligh (Trevor Howard).  His second in command is the (in this version) effete Mr. Fletcher Christian (Marlon Brando).  At first, Christian turns a blind eye to the Bligh’s cruel treatment and brutal punishment of the crew.

After a horrible voyage, including near sinking when Bligh tries to round Cape Horn, officers and crew spend an idyllic couple of months in Tahiti while collecting breadfruit plants.  Christian has a love affair with the daughter of the chief.

On the return voyage, Bligh decides to ration water to the breadfruit rather than the men and the crew is moved to mutiny.  Christian finally is spurred to action.  He spares Bligh, who vows vengeance as he departs with some loyal crew on a long boat.  The rest of the film covers the mutineers’ careers as international fugitives from justice.  With Richard Harris as the most vocal of the mutineers.

This movie is over three hours long and I watched it in two parts over consecutive days.  It dragged badly for me.  I though it could have been improved by losing over half an hour of its running time.  The second problem for me was Marlon Brando’s performance. Christian is supposed to be the hero and Brando’s prissy take on his character made him quite unappealing.  Give me back my Clark Gable!  Trevor Howard is very good and even less likeable than Charles Laughton in the same role.

Mutiny on the Bounty was nominated for Academy Awards in the categories of Best Picture; Best Cinematography, Color; Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color; Best Film Editing; Best Effects, Special Effects; Best Music, Original Song (“Love Song from Mutiny on the Bounty” (Follow Me)); and Best Music, Score – Substantially Original.

 

Pressure Point (1962)

Pressure Point
Directed by Hubert Cornfield
Written by Hubert Cornfield and S. Lee Pogostin from a short story by Robert M. Lindner
1962/USA
Stanley Kramer Productions
First viewing/Amazon Prime

Doctor: For although psychopaths are a small minority, it seems significant that whenever organized and militant hate exist a psychopath is the leader, and if, for instance, one hundred disgruntled and frustrated individuals fall in line behind one psychopath then, in essence, we are concerned with the actions of one hundred and one psychopaths.

I don’t know what is more heavy-handed in this movie, the race relations part or the Freudian psychology part.

The story is framed by a conversation between a grey-haired prison head of psychiatry, known only in the movie as “Doctor” (Sidney Portier) and a young psychiatrist played by Peter Falk.  The young psychiatrist wants to quit treating a severely racist black inmate. The Doctor talks him out of this by relating the story of his treatment of a severely racist white inmate, known in the movie only as “Patient” (Bobby Darin), twenty years before.

The rest of the story explores the relationship between the Doctor and Patient, with copious flashbacks via hypnosis sequences and otherwise of the Patient’s sad childhood and psychopathic youth and adulthood.  These include the Patient’s ardent support of the German-American Bund, a pre-war White Supremacist organization.  There are plenty of racist tirades as well.

Stanley Kramer was a vocal supporter of many liberal causes, all of which I endorse. However, I have found that he usually drives his points home with the subtlety of a jackhammer.  This movie was no exception.  In fact, it was the most irritating of those I have seen to date.  I seem to disagree with the raters on IMDb on this so your mileage may vary.

Trailer