Friday, October 21, 2016

MARY POPPINS (1964), ZORBA THE GREEK (1964)

1964
An Interesting thing looking back at movies from the early to mid-60's is that a lot of the Award winning dramas from that era were still in black and white, whereas lighter musicals and comedies were in vibrant technicolor.

Mary Poppins
And you can't get more colorful than Mary Poppins, the Disney musical fantasy which I hadn't seen in many years, though I did see it on stage just last year. Seeing the movie again, I recognize how engaging Julie Andrews is as Mary. Dick Van Dyke is good too, despite his often criticized English accent. The songs, such as Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, have stayed with us all these years later. If you have kids, get the DVD, they'll watch it again and again I guarantee you!

The 2013 hit film Saving Mr. Banks was about the making of Mary Poppins, but I'd also recommend watching Harlan Ellison's commentary about this film on YouTube before you watch!

Zorba the Greek

Zorba the Greek is a black and white drama based on the Nikos Kazantzakis novel about an Englishman who begins a business in Greece aided by his bigger than life associate, Zorba (Anthony Quinn). There's a lot here about local Greek culture (much of which is very unpleasant) and the trials of starting a shaky business venture in a remote area...and then there's the dancing (pictured above)! Zorba is actually not in the 1001 book, but I like it enough to put it in mine. Here's to good ole' black and white cinematography!

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Like Zorba the Greek, there are many films from the year 1964 that didn't make the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list. Here are some that I've seen...

Seven Faces of Dr. Lao, The Incredible Mr. Limpet...Two of my childhood favorites.
Dr. Lao is the George Pal mystical adventure starring Tony Randall as the mysterious doctor and features Barbara Eden as the sexy librarian. And let us not forget these wise words: 
The whole world is a circus if you look at it the right way. Every time you pick up a handful of dust and see not the dust, but a mystery, a marvel, there in your hand, every time you stop and think, "I'm alive and being alive is fantastic!" Every time such a thin happens, Mike you are a part of the circus of Dr. Lao."
One of the 7 Faces of Dr. Lao
The Incredible Mr. Limpet is the one where the milquetoast  Don Knotts falls into the sea and turns into a cartoon fish! Well, I thought it was cool back in the day.
The cartoon face of
The Incredible Mr. Limpet
Becket, Hamlet
A couple of heavy dramas with the master of heavy thespians, Richard Burton. This version of Hamlet is basically a stage version of the play, but worthwhile for Hamlet completists. (But can one ever actually complete all film versions of Hamlet?)

Alas, Poor Yorick...Burton as Hamlet

The Best Man, Fail Safe, Black Like Me
More of those black and white dramas from the era. All three are worthy of a rewatch...

Fail-Safe, the nuclear Armageddon movie from 1964
that wasn't Dr. Strangelove

Disorderly Orderly, The Patsy
...whereas Jerry Lewis vehicles of the era were in living color.

Hey, Jerry! in The Disorderly Orderly

Viva Las Vegas, Kitten With A Whip, The Pleasure Seekers
Definitely a notable year for that saucy vixen, Ann-Margaret.

Anna and The King in Viva Las Vegas

World of Henry Orient, The Pink Panther, A Shot in the Dark
Good year for Peter Sellers as well

Inspector Closeau in the lead role in A Shot in the Dark

Flipper’s New Adventures, The Time Travelers
Movies that led to series...Ah, Flipper.I grew up watching the adventures of Bud, Sandy, Porter Ricks and the world's smartest dolphin!
I think Flipper's trying to tell us something!

The Time Travelers-It's a stretch to link this movie to the mid-60's series The Time Tunnel from Irwin Allen, but I so loved the Time Tunnel!...But enough TV remembrances for now...

Okay, this picture is actually from the series The Time Tunnel, 
but it really use to freak me out when they
went down that swirly thing!

For Those Who Think Young, Bikini Beach, Looking for Love
Some lighter beach entertainment with Frankie, Annette, Connie Francis and Bob Denver etc. I have to admit that sometimes I wasn't overly picky about movies I watched on television growing up. Oh, well. They were harmless enough and kinda fun.

For Those Who Think Young
I think during this period, Bob Denver was
sort of a weird transitional hybrid between
Maynard G. Krebs and Gilligan.

Hey There It’s Yogi Bear, Misadventures  of Merlin Jones, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Some more kid stuff. I really liked Yogi's feature film debut, though I have little motivation to revisit it at this point. As far as Merlin Jones, I'm pretty sure I watched this on the Sunday night Wonderful World of Disney and more than likely in two parts over two weekends. I had to include Rudolph on this list because it's only the greatest yearly Christmas special ever!

The inhabitants of the Island of Misfit Toys try to
keep the faith in Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer.

Hush , Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Lady in a Cage, Strait-Jacket
This was also a period of what was known as Grande Dame Guignol (and began with Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?) featuring a veteran actress (Joan Crawford, Bette Davis or Olivia de Havilland) either being tortured of being a torturer. I remember particularly being disturbed by Lady in a Cage on late night TV during the 70's

Olivia de Havilland contemplating kicking James Caan's ass
in Lady in a Cage

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Goodbye, 1964. Time to get my nose out of a
book and go parading!

5 comments:

  1. "Anna and the King". Good one.

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  2. That's a nice varied lineup of films all but one of which, Black Like Me, I've seen.

    Loved Mary Poppins when I was a kid and love it now when I have the opportunity to introduce to young kids all over again.

    Zorba was torture to get through, the photography was the only plus for me despite being a fan of Alan Bates.

    The Pleasure Seekers is such shiny junk, still fun in it's glossy way but Kitten with a Whip!!! What a crazy teen angst mashup that thing is.

    Love all the Baby Jane inspired films, at least the early ones like those mentioned.

    I NEVER missed The Time Tunnel when it was on, it recently started rerunning on one of the nostalgia stations and I've been watching again.

    There's a few others from this year that I love-Dear Heart, The Pumpkin Eater, The Chalk Garden and The Americanization of Emily that I don't know if they would make the top 1001 but are worthwhile.

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    Replies
    1. That's a good list of recommendations at the bottom. Still so many I haven't seen and may never see. Nice to have a fellow Time Travel watcher!

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  3. I was amazed at how many times my girls watched Mary Poppins. It's over two hours, and they sat glued to it each time. They've moved on to other movies lately, but it's definitely a draw. And it's actually good for adults too.

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