Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Liz and Dick as Martha and George
in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
In my warehouse of famous plays that I’d like to direct in local theater, I’ve always thought that Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? would be at the top of my wish list. After viewing the famous movie version for the first time in years, I’m not so sure that would be a good idea. It’s so damn dark...this story of a middle-aged couple and younger couple caught up in a web of collegiate politics, emotional denial, bitter regrets and all-around drunkenness. Albee’s play is brilliant, and the film is a great way to become acquainted with it, if you can’t see it on stage. It also features what might be a career performance by Elizabeth Taylor going against type and Richard Burton, playing a part seemingly tailor-made for him. I loved the way Mike Nichols filmed this with it’s starkness and black and white photography. I'd still rate it a favorite, but after viewing, I’m currently too depressed to ever consider trying to put on a community theater version.

Pei-Pei Cheng fending off an army in Come Drink With Me
King Hu’s Come Drink With Me is one of the classics of Hong Kong cinema from this period of releases by the prolific studio run by the Shaw Brothers. This film involves a lot of cleverly stated fight scenes, some surprisingly placed mysticism, cool set designs featuring an ancient monastery and a rowdy local tavern, a sexy but deadly female lead warrior, and a drunken beggar who turns out to be a martial arts expert. You can also see the obvious influence this film had on Quentin Tarantino. 

I’m not sure it’s quite as good as Hu's A Touch of Zen, but is much better than some of the flicks I use to watch on late night telly during the 80's on Kung Fu classics!

Here are a list of some other films released in 1966 that I have seen that didn't quite make the 1001 movie cut.

1.  King of Hearts-This film about a World War I soldier that gets separated from his unit and gets stuck in a town where everyone has evacuated except residents of the local mental institution has always been one of my favorite cult movies. It seems to have lost favor over the years, but maybe that’s because there have been so many movies that could be seen at your theoretical midnight movie screen in the last three decades that this one might have gotten lost in the shuffle. That’s a shame because it’s really worth checking out.

Alan Bates running the asylum in King of Hearts

2. The Bible-This epic story of Genesis has some pretty dramatic scenes but also seems to go on indefinitely at times. I give this evaluation without having seen this in many years, but there you have it. You do gotta love the concept of John Huston as Noah.

3. Born Free-Movie about life among the lions was certainly popular in its day and one you could actually take a kid like me to see when it was fairly new...and now I've got to rev up the theme song because now it's bouncing around my head.

4. Morgan-Those wild sixties dark Brit comedies...I need to have a marathon of these films and see Morgan!, The Knack and How to Get It and Bedazzled for starters. I’ll take suggestions on where to go from there.

5. Thunderbirds Are Go!-I just loved me them exciting space exploring puppets! Apparently so did the creative team behind the comedy Team America!
Thunderbirds are always Go! in my book
6. Cul de Sac- This early Polanski is a pretty good psychological drama.

7. Farhrenheit 451- For more Truffaut appreciation..

Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451
8.  The Fortune Cookie-Matthau, Lemmon and Billy Wilder. Sounds like a plan.

9. The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini-I noticed I've listed a lot of movies on this blog that I’ve seen that would be categorized as "beach movies." I think the reason for this is that Ted Turner's Superstation use to show these all hours of the night back when I'd want to watch something…even a Tommy Kirk/Deborah Walley movie.

10.  One Million Years B. C., Fantastic Voyage-During the year of Welch, 1966 A. D., we had a choice between Raquel in her fur bikini battling dinosaurs in One Million Years, B. C or the more conservatively dressed Raquel in the cerebral sci-fi film Fantastic Voyage. Which do I prefer? Depends on which part of my brain you are asking.

The scantily clad Raquel from A Million Years B. C
hung on many a wall during the 60's and 70's
The more cerebral Raquel from
Fantastic Voyage

11.  Harper-Entertaining Paul Newman police procedural based on the Ross MacDonald novel and adapted for the screen by William Goldman. And with all films written by William Goldman, I recommend getting the commentary track on the DVD featuring the musings of this opinionated screenwriter.

12.  The Wild Angels-Hippie motorcycle movie with Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern, Nancy Sinatra, Michael J. Pollard and directed by Roger Corman. Sounds groovy to me, man!

13  A Man Called Flintstone-Yet another spy spoof featuring America's favorite Stone Age family. I know when I think of espionage films, the first names I think of are definitely Hanna and Barbera!

14. After the Fox-Criminal intrigue comedy with Peter Sellers that had a catchy title song from The Hollies. I was surprised to see that this film was directed by Vittorio De Sica.

15.  Batman, Munster Go Home-These two shows were popular enough during their two-year runs for a feature films to be made from them. I've probably seen every episode of both these series. Judge me how you will. Now I just have to figure out if I prefer the Beverly Owen or Pat Priest interpretation of Marilyn Munster. When, I'm done with that, I can try to figure out if I prefer the Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt or Lee Meriwether version of Catwoman.
Batman: The Movie

Munster, Go Home

16.  The Silencers, Murderers Row-There were two Matt Helm spy pictures starring Dean Martin released in 1966 to popular appeal and critical indifference. I've seen all the films in this series and do remember The Silencers as probably being my favorite.

17.  Boy, Did  I Get a Wrong Number!-Bob Hope's later film selection left a lot to be desired, but I guess Phylllis Diller is good for a few laughs if you’re in the right frame of mind. I do recommend Richard Zoglin's book Hope: Entertainer of the Century where the author makes a good argument that Hope was indeed the entertainer of the century.

18.  You’re a Big Boy Now-Pre-Godfather directoral effort from Francis Coppola that is basically a coming of age story and one that I remember really liking when I saw it years ago. This may be one to not watch again in fear of losing my good feelings about the film.

19.  Way, Way Out, Birds Do It-If you couldn't get your fill of Jerry Lewis movies like Way, Way, Out (With Jerry flying into space) you might try the Soupy Sales vehicle Birds Do It (With Soupy just flying.)

20. The Professionals-For full review...

The Professionals

I've seen all the 1966 films from the 1001 list, so it would be
most logical for me to proceed to a different year for my next post.

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