The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

The Manchurian Candidate. United Artists 1962.

Before watching the movie:

I think I’ve heard once or twice that Frank Sinatra stars in this, but I forgot it. It’s still strange to think about him as a legendary actor as well as a legendary singer.

There was a remake in 2004, which was probably the wrong time for a remake. I wonder if anyone with say-so is considering making it again. Some would argue it’s being remade right in front of us.

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Judgment at Nuremberg

Judgment at Nuremberg. Metro Goldwyn-Meyer 1961.

Before watching the movie:

I don’t really get why trying Nazi war crimes can fill a whole three hour courtroom drama, but the reason I don’t is probably why it needs that much time.

This film is indirectly responsible for my initial awareness of Spencer Tracy. In order to talk William Shatner into allowing himself to age publicly, Tracy was used as an example, and turned out to have been one of Shatner’s personal icons, having worked with him on this very movie. As much as I like Star Trek, I find Tracy’s performances very likeable for an entirely different reason from why Shatner is fun. Continue reading

Hello, Dolly!

Hello, Dolly! Chenault Productions 1969.
Hello, Dolly! Chenault Productions 1969.

Before watching the movie:

I’m sure there are other movies that reach this level of substanceless fame, and probably ones that I’ve reviewed here before, but while I know I’ve reviewed well-known movies nobody actually seems to discuss the content of before, I can’t think of one so big yet so mysterious.

I roughly know its time period, but mainly because Wall-E used some clips. Otherwise, it’s somehow the codifier of what a classic musical film is, to the point that it’s taken as a generic for “musical”. But it’s theoretically in that position because it’s good and because it’s influential. But the mold got overused and eventually musicals started defying it. Later on Broadway reinvented Disney reinvented Broadway, but that’s beyond the scope of a review of Hello, Dolly! Continue reading

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Breakfast at Tiffany's. Paramount Pictures 1961.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Paramount Pictures 1961.

Before watching the movie:

Apparently this is about a socialite falling in love with a writer. I don’t see from that description why this is one of Audrey Hepburn’s most iconic films. I expect that must be coming from the writing and the performances, because the synopses I’m seeing aren’t particularly persuasive, and nobody ever talks about why this is such an enduring movie, they just namedrop it and others are expected to know. The least glowing reference I can think of is the couple in the song of the same name agreeing that they “both kind of liked it” as the first common ground they can think of to save their relationship. And there’s an entire, very catchy song about that. Continue reading

Battle of the Worlds

Battle of the Worlds. Ultra Film 1961.
Battle of the Worlds. Ultra Film 1961.

Before watching the movie:

I found this while looking for b-movies for Movie Monster Month, but it didn’t look like it had a monster focus, so I left it. However, it looks like it makes up for it by having an insanity focus.

With a title that sounds like an H.G. Wells knockoff, this is a story about trying to avoid a planetary collision between Earth and a rogue planet headed right for it. Pretty much a “turn your brain off and have fun” concept. But then on top of that, this movie was filmed in Italian, but they cast Claude Rains in a prominent role, and his performance is in English. It’s probably going to be distracting having only one character not dubbed, and would be even if I hadn’t found out ahead of time.

I’m not certain if I’ve reviewed any foreign movies in the past (aside from the raw material making up What’s Up, Tiger Lilly?, which is a special case), but I can think of a few I’ve wanted to include but decided against for that reason. I guess that barrier is as broken as documentary film is now.

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Night of the Living Dead

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Night of the Living Dead. Image Ten 1968.
Night of the Living Dead. Image Ten 1968.

Before watching the movie:

I am really over zombies as a pop culture phenomenon. They’re here to stay because the only two kinds of enemies you can kill without offending people are Nazis and zombies, and you can justify modern-day or future zombies much more easily than explaining why there are Nazis in orbit around Regulus 9.

I’m more into vampires (kind of surprising, given my politics), but the thing is, I’m kind of attracted to the idea of being a vampire, while nobody wants to be a zombie. People want to be Survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse. I want no part of that scenario. I’m not entirely happy with my civilization, but I like it much better than none at all. Also I’d die in the first ten minutes of the movie.

However, this is the seminal zombie movie, and even Mister Rogers enjoyed it. Like last week’s movie defined vampires in cultural consciousness, this movie invented what we think of as zombies. Without even using that word. It hijacked the word in our culture, and now it means George Romero’s undead monsters. So that has to be of value.

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The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming!

The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming! Mirisch Corporation 1966.
The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming! Mirisch Corporation 1966.

Before watching the movie:

I’m pretty sure my father recommended this to me some time ago, but it wasn’t in a comment on the blog and if it was an email, I don’t have it anymore. In going through old comments I realized I’d been remiss in adding suggestions to the list, but I’ve updated it now. As a reminder, any reader can suggest movies to me for review. You don’t even have to be related to me! The regular format of this blog limits it to films I haven’t seen before, but if I get enough suggestions that I have seen, I may be able to put together a Reader-Request Rewatch month.

This appears to be Cold War satire/farce concerning a Soviet boat in distress in American waters and the attempt by an unfortunate officer to try to solicit help in a small town without starting World War III. It puts me in mind of 1941, only I think that was a real invasion. For pretty much no good reason, it’s also got me thinking of The Ship with the Flat Tire and Jaws.

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