Category Archives: 1960s

Planet Of The Apes

Planet Of The Apes is one of those sci-fi films that everyone has seen or at least knows about. It is perhaps one of my favourite sci-fi films and I think that Charlton Heston is great in it. I especially like the ending where Chuck discovers… well that would be spoiling the film. This is so much better that the Tim Burton remake from a few years ago.

Yeah, I know that I haven’t really said much here, suffice to say that it is a very good film.


One Hundred and One Dalmatians

Directed by Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske & Wolfgang Reitherman
Produced by Walt Disney
Written by Bill Peet
& Dodie Smith (novel)
Starring Rod Taylor
Cate Bauer
Betty Lou Gerson
Ben Wright
Lisa Davis
Martha Wentworth
Music by George Bruns & Mel Leven
Studio Walt Disney Productions
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release date January 25, 1961
Running time 79 minutes
Language English

One Hundred and One Dalmatians is a good way to spend an hour and a bit. It is typical Disney fare from the 50s/60s period. It is not a masterpiece but just an enjoyable film. Cruella De Ville is an enjoyable villain but I feel that she could have been given a bit more screen-time, while her theme song is great. (Especially the Dr. John version that is not featured in the film but the 1996 live-action version of 101 Dalmatians!)

One thing that I was not too happy about was the amount of rotoscoping in this picture. For those who aren’t up to date on rotoscoping, it is basically when animators trace over live action film, frame by frame. Usually they do this to make a characters movement look more believable, although it does take away a lot of the cartoony-ness from animated films and to my eyes looks a bit out-of-place. This is just my opinion, but I feel that the rotoscope was used a little too much on One Hundred and One Dalmatians.


The Valley Of Gwangi

Directed by Jim O’Connolly
Produced by Charles H. Schneer & Ray Harryhausen
Starring James Franciscus
Gila Golan
Richard Carlson
Laurence Naismith
Freda Jackson
Gustavo Rojo
Music by Jerome Moross
Cinematography Erwin Hillier
Editing by Henry Richardson & Selwyn Petterson
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date September 3, 1969
Running time 96 minutes
Country United States
Language English

You would think that any movie that combines cowboys with dinosaurs would be the best film ever made, but that is not the case with Valley Of Gwangi. This is not to say that it is a bad movie, it just doesn’t live up to the potential of the premise of the film. It takes 45 minutes until Gwangi, an Allosaurus (not a T-rex), appears.

Despite all this the film is still pretty good. It is impossible to dislike anything that features the stop-motion magic of Ray Harryhausen, although he is not at the top of his game here. Some of the animation is a bit jerky and not as smooth as it should be, for example with the flight of the Pteradactyl or in the scenes where Gwangi battles the elephant. Despite this the film is still enjoyable.


First Men In The Moon

Directed by Nathan H. Juran
Produced by Charles H. Schneer
Written by Nigel Kneale (screenplay)
H.G. Wells (story)
Starring Lionel Jeffries
Edward Judd
Martha Hyer
Music by Laurie Johnson
Cinematography Wilkie Cooper
Editing by Maurice Rootes
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date November 20, 1964
Running time 103 mins
Country United Kingdom
Language English

First Men In The Moon is a 1864 adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel featuring the great stop motion animation of Ray Harryhausen. It is an exciting film, even though at times Lionel Jeffries overacts.

This is typical 1950s/60s sci-fi stuff, with the ending sort of pinched from War Of The Worlds. Harryhausen’s monsters are perhaps not as threatening as in the Sinbad movies or Jason and the Argonauts, with the only real threat being the brief scene with a giant caterpillar-like moon cow. The other creatures created by Harryhausen are the insect like moon people called the Selenites.

The film is interesting and entertaining and a faithful adaptation of H.G. Wells’ work, but it is a change of pace from Ray Harryhausen’s usual film making magic.


Robin And The Seven Hoods

Directed by Gordon Douglas
Produced by Frank Sinatra
Written by David R. Schwartz
Starring Frank Sinatra
Dean Martin
Sammy Davis, Jr.
Bing Crosby
Peter Falk
Edward G. Robinson
Music by Nelson Riddle
Cinematography William H. Daniels
Editing by Sam O’Steen
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date June 24, 1964 (U.S. release)
Running time 123 min.
Language English

Robin And The Seven Hoods is nothing more than a vanity project for Frank Sinatra and the ‘Rat Pack’ in which Frank gets to fulfil his fantasy on screen by playing a gangster.
This movie is supposed to be a musical comedy but it’s really not that funny and with the exception of Frank singing ‘My Kind Of Town’ the songs aren’t that great. The film is a bit of a mish-mash in that it doesn’t know whether it is a film for adults with the gangster theme and talk about people being killed, or a family film with songs and a kid-centric sub-plot that is very annoying. The movie is still interesting in its own way due to the charm and personality of its stars Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy David Jr., as well as Bing Crosby and Peter Falk. Like all ‘Rat Pack’ movies the guys basically just play themselves but here, with the exception of Frank, neither Dino or Sammy receive nearly enough screen time in my opinion. Peter Falk has more screen time as Dean and Sammy combined.

I guess that the really interesting story in regards to Robin And The Seven Hoods is what happened behind the scenes and why Peter Lawford was not a part of the film. He was scheduled to play the part that eventually went to Bing Crosby and was cut from the film by Sinatra because Frank felt that Lawford’s brothers’ in law, President John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy snubbed him by not staying at his house. The Kennedy’s were going to stay with Sinatra but got cold feet due to a few of Frank’s indiscretions and with him openly cavorting with real life Mafioso. Brother-in-Lawford was unofficially kicked out of the ‘Rat Pack’ and ostracised by Sinatra.

Overall the film is not great but it is watchable although it is probably half an hour too long.

Useless Trivia

  • Victor Buono who plays Deputy Sherriff Potts went on to play King Tut in the Batman TV series. Caesar Romero who starred in the previous ‘Rat Pack’ movie Oceans 11 also appeared in the Batman TV series as The Joker.
  • This film probably holds a record for having the most actors who have a ‘glass eye’. Sammy Davis Jr. lost his left eye as a result of a car accident in 1954, while Peter Falk had his right eye removed at the age of three because of a tumour.

Hatari

Directed by Howard Hawks
Produced by Howard Hawks & Paul Helmick
Written by Harry Kurnitz
Leigh Brackett
Starring John Wayne
Elsa Martinelli
Hardy Krüger
Red Buttons
Music by Henry Mancini
Cinematography Russell Harlan
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date October 6, 1962
Running time 157 min

Hatari is another manly John Wayne movie. It’s not as manly as The Quiet Man, but it is pretty close. Of course John Wayne is a man’s man, even if there are photos of him wearing women’s clothing which somehow hasn’t made it to the internet yet! (Perhaps he is so manly that the internet refuses to believe that he was into transvetitism!). Hatari is such a manly film that even the woman act manly, no matter how hot they are. In one scene that lasted about five minutes Elsa Martinelli smokes three cigarettes and drinks a beer. The film is just dripping with testosterone.

Seriously it is an enjoyable, although overlong, film. There are lots of exotic animals and dangers in the African savannah and there is also a lot of good-natured humour. With John Wayne you always know what you are going to get as he always plays the same type of character. Perhaps he didn’t need much of an acting range since he was so manly?!

I should also mention the music and that at the end of the film we are treated to Mancini’s Baby Elephant Walk and the sight of three cute baby elephants running amok.  All in all an enjoyable way to waste 2 1/2 hours and best thing is that you can get the DVD from Big W for less than ten bucks.


Cinderfella

Directed by Frank Tashlin
Produced by Jerry Lewis
Written by Frank Tashlin
Starring Jerry Lewis
Ed Wynn
Judith Anderson
Anna Maria Alberghetti
Editing by Arthur P. Schmidt
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date December 16, 1960
Running time 91 min.

I didn’t know that Jerry Lewis was in town when I bought this from Target on Sunday. All I knew was that I had been wanting it for a little while but was too stingy to pay $30 for it in JB Hifi. Currently this and some other Jerry Lewis films are on sale in Target for $7, which is a bargain.

I must make mention of the film’s director Frank Tashlin. He had quite an interesting career in Hollywood. He started out as an animator and a newspaper strip cartoonist and helped Warner Bros. develop the Looney Tunes brand of humour. He also briefly worked at Disney before going to Columbia briefly to head up their animation department. He returned to Warners where he directed some of the funniest cartoons of all time including the brilliant Puss ‘N’ Booty.

He then left animation for live action, becoming a gag man for Harpo Marx and Lucille Ball before directing movies starring Bob Hope, Doris Day and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. He was also an author and wrote a book on animating as well as another children’s book. Phew…

Cinderfella is a typical Jerry Lewis outing with Jerry playing the Cinderella role until his fairy godfather, Ed Wynn, pays him a visit. There are lots of silly gags and Jerry also gets to sing (his voice aint bad either). Overall it’s not a bad way to spend 80 minutes.