Monday, August 31, 2015

Cinema '65: A POW Camp and a Suicide Hotline

The nominees for Black-and-White Art Direction-Set Decoration (hyphen city over here) consist of a war film, a social drama, a Cold War thriller, a shipboard ensemble, and The Slender Thread.

In King Rat, a POW camp in Southeast Asia, more or less permitted to run itself with little interference from the Japanese camp commandants, becomes the setting for a dark comedy survival -- not just physical, but psychological. George Segal is the king of the title, a soldier who has never been more powerful and influential than he is as a hustler and black marketeer in the camp.

A Patch of Blue follows a blind white girl who lives with her perpetually drunk grandfather and abusive, shrill, racist mother. She escapes, when she can, to the park -- where she meets and falls for a black man, a writer, who treats her with kindness -- played by Sidney Poitier. It's the annual Film with a Social Conscience, but it's by no mean the only one -- look, too, to fellow nominee Ship of Fools, about passengers on a boat heading for Germany from Vera Cruz, which explores class, race, prejudice in general, Anti-Semitism in particular, sex...the whole human experience.

Poitier also stars in The Slender Thread, playing a student (!) working at a suicide prevention center in Seattle; Anne Bancroft plays a caller who has just taken an overdose of barbiturates. If memory serves, the film plays out in real time, and is quite thrilling to experience -- and it's always a pleasant surprise to see contemporary-set films nominated in craft categories. Apparently, it takes a Poitier to bring attention to such films.

Rounding out the list is The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, one of those sophisticated, slow, highly-watchable John le Carre Cold War thrillers in which spy Richard Burton goes over the Berlin Wall to...but no. Best to just watch the whole thing unfold yourself.

The nominees, after the jump....

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cinema '65: Here We Go

And so it's happening: our look back at 1965.

Over the past few months, I've caught up with 67 films released in 1965 -- the only nominated film I missed among the regular Oscar categories (non-doc, non-short, non-foreign) was Von Ryan's Express. I've watched several Beach Party movies, four Vincent Price flicks, three Japanese films, two documentaries, two Jean Harlow biopics (both titled Harlow), and four Russ Meyer experiences. Some of the films were reviewed; most will be looked at over the next month, as we go through Oscar's nominees in fifteen categories.

Yes, fifteen. For it's 1965, and categories like Art Direction-Set Decoration and Cinematography have separate awards for Color and Black-and-White -- a practice that will be discontinued for the 1967 Oscars.

After that, of course, I will name my own picks in eighteen categories for the Retro Hollmann Awards.

Tomorrow: a look at POW dark comedy King Rat, blind-white-girl-meets-black-man romance A Patch of Blue, suicide prevention drama The Slender Thread, and more! Until then...the total list of films screened follows:

The Agony and the Ecstasy

The Awful Dr. Orloff
Beach Blanket Bingo
The Beach Girls and the Monster
Bunny Lake is Missing
Casanova ‘70
Cat Ballou
The Collector
The Defilers
Devil Doll
Die! Die! My Darling!
Die, Monster, Die
Doctor Zhivago
Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine
Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors
The Eleanor Roosevelt Story
Fanny Hill
Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
The Flight of the Phoenix
Genghis Khan
Girl Happy
The Great Race
The Greatest Story Ever Told
Harlow (Carol Lynley version)
Harlow (Carroll Baker version)
How to Stuff a Wild Bikini
In Harm’s Way
Inside Daisy Clover
King Rat
Lord Jim
The Loved One
Mondo Pazzo
Murder Most Foul
The Nanny
None But the Brave
A Patch of Blue
The Pawnbroker
The Pleasure Seekers
A Rage to Live
The Sandpiper
Ship of Fools
Ski Party
The Slender Thread
The Sons of Katie Elder
The Sound of Music
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines
A Thousand Clowns
Tomb of Ligeia
The Train
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
War-Gods of the Deep
What’s New Pussycat?
Who Killed Teddy Bear?
Woman in the Dunes
Young Cassidy

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