Category Archives: 1960s

The Time Machine

Directed by George Pál
Produced by George Pál
Written by David Duncan
H. G. Wells (novel)
Starring
Rod Taylor
Alan Young
Yvette Mimieux
Sebastian Cabot
Whit Bissell
Music by Russell Garcia
Editing by George Tomasini
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date 17 August 1960
Running time 103 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Time Machine is a sci-fi film made in 1960 by George Pal and stars Robert Taylor. It roughly follows the plot of H.G. Wells’ novel from the late 19th century in which an inventor creates a time machine and goes into the future to discover that mankind has torn itself apart through war. It does of course deviate away from the novel as it features scenes of World War I, World War II and the possibility of nuclear annihilation, things that Wells could not have possibly predicted.

When Taylor’s character H. George Wells goes into the future (1966 to be exact) and discovers that the world has been destroyed in a nuclear holocaust, he then decides to go thousands of years into the future to see i anything could have survived this destruction. He discovers that the human race has split into two species, the surface dwelling Eloi who are beautiful and seemingly carefree and ignorant, and the underground Morlocks, who are ugly and beastly and cruel. The Eloi have everything that they need provided to them by the Morlocks, who breed them like cattle only to cannibalise on them once they reach an age of maturity.

George ends up saving the Eloi and destroying the Morlocks and in doing so falls in love with the beautiful Eloi girl Weena. He then goes back to his own time where he relates his tale but is not believed by his friends. Because of this he returns to the future at the conclusion of the film.

The film is a typical 1960s type sci-fi film, of which their were hundreds. It is a very good fantsy film but the special effects are not all that special by 21st century standards. The use of stop motion animation and time-lapse photography is very quant when compared to today’s CGI but it was state of the art for its time. All in all the film is quite enjoyable as there has been a lot of thought put into the plot and the feelings of Taylor’s character. While the acting is a bit over the top, which was standard for 1950s and 60s sci-fi I still liked the movie.

By the way you may recognise Alan Young who plays Wells’ friend Filby. You may even recognise the Scottish accent he uses throughout the film. At around the same time that the Time Machine was released he was appearing in the first season of TV’s Mr. Ed as Wilbur Post. Since the 1980s he has lent his voice and Scottish accent to Uncle Scrooge McDuck for Disney.

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Pollyanna

Directed by David Swift
Produced by Walt Disney (uncredited)
Associate Producer: George Golitzen
Written by Novel: Eleanor Porter
Screenplay: David Swift
Starring Hayley Mills
Jane Wyman
Karl Malden
Richard Egan
Adolphe Menjou
Agnes Moorehead
Music by Paul Smith
Cinematography Russell Harlan
Editing by Frank Gross
Distributed by Buena Vista
Distribution Release date May 19, 1960
Running time 134 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Pollyanna was released into cinemas 50 years ago last Monday. You would think that Disney would be making a big song and dance about this popular and well remembered film reaching the half century mark but it seems that the Walt Disney Company does not really value its past live action films. Heck, Disney doesn’t really value its animated classics either, and simply views them as a cash cow to be released on video or DVD every seven years. In fact it is pretty obvious that all Disney cares about these days is making horrendous live action teen comedies that can sell heaps of merchandise. I doubt that a film like Pollyanna would be made today as it would be difficult to fit in any fart jokes or sell merchandise with the sweet story.

One thing that I think needs to be said is that despite Disney’s reputation today as being just kids stuff, he could still get the biggest stars to appear in his films. Fine actors such as Jane Wyman and Karl Malden appear as do Agnes Moorehead and Ed Platt, who went on to play the Chief of Control in Get Smart but played supporting roles in a number of major films (including a brief part as Cary Grant‘s lawyer in Hitchcock’s North By Northwest). However the real star of the film is Hayley Mills, who played the little girl whose positive attitude brought a whole town together. She is really good in this film and went on to become a huge child star in the 1960s, mainly in other Disney films.

This is a very entertaining film, in the Disney tradition, it’s just a shame that Disney today doesn’t really care at all about it.


Rock ‘N’ Roll Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen

I am currently trying to write up a post on This Is Spinal Tap, which I watched the other day. This got me to thinking about the genre of Rock ‘N’ Roll movies and in particular those that for some reason or another you rarely get to see.

One movie that I have always been curious to see is The Beatles’ Let It Be, as this is a film that shows the greatest of all rock groups disintegrating on film. I’ve heard that the film isn’t that great but I have always been curious to see it. Unlike The Beatles’ other feature films, A Hard Days Night, Help! and Yellow Submarine and the TV special The Magical Mystery Tour, Let It Be has never been officially released on home video or DVD or screened on television. A DVD release was imminent a couple of years ago but this was vetoed by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr because it was thought that its release could tarnish The Beatles global image as well as reopening some old wounds. Apparently some bootlegs of the film are available but these are not official releases.

The Rolling StonesCocksucker Blues is a film that was made of their 1972 North American tour. It was going to be released to cinemas BUT as the finished film features lots of images of sex and drugs without the Rock ‘N’ Roll. There was no way that this film could ever be released and it can only be screened with director Robert Frank present. Naturally enough the censored version is available to view on Youtube.

Another Rolling Stones film that rarely is seen is the documentary Gimme Shelter, which focuses on their 1969 tour and the disastrous free concert at Altamont. This film captures the murder of Meredith Hunter by a member of the Hells’ Angels, who the Stones chose to be security, on film. Jagger has since said that he feared for his own life whilst performing that night as well.


The Nutty Professor

Directed by Jerry Lewis
Produced by Ernest D. Glucksman,  Arthur P. Schmidt & Jerry Lewis
Written by Robert Louis Stevenson (story)
Jerry Lewis & Bill Richmond (screenplay)
Starring Jerry Lewis
Stella Stevens
Del Moore
Kathleen Freeman
Music by Walter Scharf, Les Brown and His Band of Renown
Cinematography W. Wallace Kelley
Editing by John Woodcock
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date June 4, 1963
Running time 107 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Nutty Professor is Jerry Lewis’ masterpiece and undoubtedly his best known work. Many people think that the film and specifically the character of Buddy Love, is a stab at Dean Martin but Jerry has denied this vehemently. Instead he says that Buddy is a conglomeration of every nasty son of a bitch he’d ever met and that he loved Dino like a brother and would never do anything negative against him. Besides, Dean was a genuinely nice guy according to Jerry.

It is easy to forget just how brilliant that Jerry Lewis is. We take for granted the goofy, funny characters that he created as he made it all look so easy. He perhaps does not receive the acclaim that other screen comedians have received but he has always taken his comedy seriously. In fact this ambition to be a better comedian is the reason, partly, why he and Dean Martin broke up their successful partnership. Dino was happy just to turn up and for the two of them to do their thing whilst Jerry always wanted to do things better. Dean in fact apparently asked Jerry why he wanted to concentrate on that “Chaplin shit”, in that he thought that Jerry took his comedy a bit too seriously. That is not to say that Dean was not a professional, rather that he just wanted to turn up, do what was asked of him and then go home or to a party while Jerry wanted to be creative. This is the difference I suppose between an actor and a comedian.

One interesting scene is the transformation scene which takes its cues from the Frederic March version of Dr. Jeckyl & Mr. Hyde, although Jerry said that he was inspired by the Spencer Tracy version.

One of the things that I found striking about watching The Nutty Professor is the bright, vibrant colours that were used. There is quite a liberal use of purples, greens, reds and other colours that you don’t usually see in films. It showcases the Technicolor film process effectively and is one reason why I prefer films that have been made in Technicolor as opposed to the now standard Eastmancolor.

The Professor Kelp character that Lewis created for his film is iconic and has been imitated by The SimpsonsProfessor Frink. Unlike Eddie Murphy in the 1996 remake Jerry didn’t just put on a fat suit to play Kelp. Apparently Kelp is based on a real person that Jerry met one day. That this one character has become so memorable, like Sellers’ Clouseau or Chaplin’s Tramp, despite featuring in just one film, is a testament to Lewis’ work here. It may be a little dated now, but it is a fine piece of 60s film making.


Ocean’s 11

Directed by Lewis Milestone
Produced by Lewis Milestone
Written by Harry Brown & Charles Lederer
Story by:George Clayton Johnson & Jack Golden Russell
Starring
Frank Sinatra
Dean Martin
Sammy Davis, Jr.
Peter Lawford
Joey Bishop
Angie Dickinson
Music by Nelson Riddle
Cinematography William H. Daniels
Editing by Philip W. Anderson
Distributed by Warner Brothers
Release date(s) August, 10, 1960 (U.S. release)
Running time 127 minutes
Country United States

Firstly I must say that the original version of Ocean’s 11 is much cooler than the George Clooney/Brad Pitt franchise of movies from the 2000s. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, but Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. are just so much cooler than George, Brad and Matt Damon. Even Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford are sort of cool, but perhaps the only reason for that is because they hung around Frankie and Dino.

This is not to say that the original is a great movie… it’s not even a really good movie as I undoubtedly think that the remake from 2001 is a lot better, it’s just that the Rat Pack are so much cooler than anyone else. It could be because they were just mucking around during the filming of this film and spent most of their time partying, or that Sinatra was a part owner of The Sands or that he was hanging around real gangsters.

I think that this is such a cool film perhaps solely due to the mystique of the Rat Pack. This film is so cool that Quentin Taratino paid homage in Reservoir Dogs. George Clooney may be considered cool to some, but he is just play acting when compared to Sinatra. The finale of the film has also become so iconic and is an instant image of the coolness of the Rat Pack. Who else would have their characters walk past a huge sign featuring their own names? I think that if you want to see how cool a film can be, just watch Ocean’s 11.

It also features a couple of Dean and Sammy’s hit songs too.

The film is just one big party rather than a movie. And you better believe that, Charlie!


Battle of Britain

Directed by Guy Hamilton
Produced by Harry Saltzman & S. Benjamin Fisz
Written by James Kennaway,
Wilfred Greatorex
Starring Laurence Olivier
Hein Riess
Trevor Howard
Robert Shaw
Christopher Plummer
Michael Caine
Edward Fox
Susannah York
Ian McShane
Kenneth More
Ralph Richardson
Patrick Wymark
Michael Redgrave
Curt Jürgens
Nigel Patrick

Music by Ron Goodwin
William Walton
Cinematography Freddie Young
Editing by Bert Bates
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s) 15 September 1969 (UK)
Running time 133 minutes
Country UK
Language English
German
Polish
French

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few“.

Battle Of Britain features an all-star cast of fine British actors BUT their performance is not the major attraction here. The real reason for watching this film is for the terrific special effects and the great scenes filled of Spitfires and Hurricanes taking on (a whole mess of) Messerschmitts in a huge battle royal over London. The actors really have very screen time anyway as we go from one action scene to another. The dog fights are all chaotically brilliant and gives the viewer the feeling that they are in the midst of battle. No wonder that these scenes have influenced most dog fight movies since. This is purely plane porn, while the actors are just props in between the action scenes.


Texas Across the River

Directed by Michael Gordon
Produced by Harry Keller
Written by Wells Root, Harold Greene, and Ben Starr
Starring Dean Martin
Joey Bishop
Alain Delon
Rosemary Forsyth
Music by Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen
Cinematography Russell Metty
Editing by Gene Milford
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) 1966
Running time 101 min.
Country U.S.A.
Language English

Texas Across The River is an awful comedy western featuring two Rat-Packers in Dean Martin and Joey Bishop. It also features French superstar Alain Delon playing Spanish swashbuckler Don Andrea Baldazar, or Baldy as Dino dubs him. The film is just terrible, with Delon providing the only interest in it at all. I think the reason why I disliked this movie so much could be because of Joey Bishop’s performance as Kronk, an annoying Indian (native American) who is meant to be funny but like much of Bishop’s comedy is not. Dean as usual puts in as minimal effort as possible in his performance. Usually Dino is a really funny guy yet it seems obvious that this was nothing more than an easy pay check to him.