Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '65 - Everett Jones ""

Friday, July 10, 2015

Underrated '65 - Everett Jones

Everett is an avid movie watcher and user of Letterboxd like myself - follow him there: - I've gotten many good film recs this way.
Have a look at his Underrated '85 list as well:
and his Underrated '75:
THE HEROES OF TELEMARK (1965; Anthony Mann)
Anthony Mann’s last completed project (his next, A DANDY IN ASPIC, was taken over by star Laurence Harvey after Mann’s death during production.) Following the epic spectacles EL CID and FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, it’s a return to the tautness of his ‘50s Westerns, and an account--Hollywoodized, but less so than you’d expect--of how the Norwegian resistance sabotaged Nazi efforts to get the A-bomb. The near-total lack of Scandinavian flavor to the cast--aside from Swede and Ingmar Bergman vet Ulla Jacobsson--is a little distracting, as is aging star Kirk Douglas’s epic-scaled ego; even playing a middle-aged physicist recruited to help the fighters, he has to be a two-fisted ladykiller to match James Bond. But the movie also contains one of my favorite sequences in all of Mann’s work: a wordless, nearly soundless trek through snow and ice ending in a raid on the Germans’ mountain stronghold.

WHO KILLED TEDDY BEAR? (1965; Joseph Cates)
An indie, NYC-shot thriller that’s both campy and intriguingly ahead of its time in dealing with taboo sexuality. The cast includes Sal Mineo, as a busboy with voyeuristic tendencies; Juliet Prowse, as a wide-eyed innocent who comes to work at the same discotheque; Jan Murray, as a detective with an interest in his cases that goes beyond the professional; and, most delightfully, the recently deceased Elaine Stritch as the lesbian owner of the disco. Exploring themes that mainstream Hollywood would only later touch on, in movies like Klute and Dressed to Kill, it’s a kitschy but also genuinely eerie little B&W time capsule.

A HIGH WIND TO JAMAICA (1965; Alexander Mackendrick)
An adventure story featuring kids and pirates, but this film doesn’t otherwise have much in common with something like the Disney Swiss Family Robinson. Director Alexander Mackendrick didn’t make a lot of movies, but those he did make include the amazing Sweet Smell of Success and such classic British comedies as The Man in the White Coat and The Ladykillers. Rather than serving up broad comedy or improbable derring-do here, he gives a sophisticated look at how children perceive the world, and can find normalcy even in extraordinary circumstances, that’s lessTreasure Island than Empire of the Sun(though more successful than that Spielberg film, in my opinion.) Mackendrick even manages to get subtle, restrained work from Anthony Quinn and James Coburn, playing pirates no less, an achievement which should probably merit its own Honorary Oscar.

RETURN FROM THE ASHES (1965; J. Lee Thompson)
I’m a big fan of the British director J. Lee Thompson’s work up to the early ‘60s, but something seemed to change after the blockbuster The Guns of Navarone. Going Hollywood isn’t always a bad thing-look at Hitchcock-but Thompson’s last two-and-a-half decades of credits aren’t so great (though I do have a guilty love of his unhinged slasher movie, Happy Birthday to Me.) Return from the Ashes, though, is a return to the form of earlier movies likeYield to the Night, Ice Cold in AlexTiger Bay, and the original, superior Cape Fear: B&W, economical, and stylish. The story is of the type that, from Les Diaboliques toGone Girl, is always fun-a mystery in which almost no one is totally innocent. And the cast, a typically polyglot mid-’60s mix of accents and nationalities, is a good one: Maximilian Schell (as reliably slimy as his sister, Maria, was sweet); Herbert Lom (always a favorite for his role as Inspector Dreyfus, to me the true star of the Pink Panther movies); Ingrid Thulin (like Ulla Jacobsson, and all self-respecting Scandinavian actors of the time, an Ingrid Bergman vet); and Samantha Eggar (whose stunning red hair is a little wasted in monochrome.)

THAT DARN CAT! (1965; Robert Stevenson)
Even though the proprietor of this site already left the present series with this movie, I can’t not include it. Whether this particular film is under-, over-, or indeed correctly rated, there’s little doubt that the live-action output of midcentury Disney in general were that studio’s own sooty stepchildren, aside from a few obvious outliers like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Mary Poppins. But it’s also the case that, as a kid, if anything I preferred them to most of the celebrated animated films, whether it was something  like the relatively popular The Parent Trapor Bedknobs and Broomsticks, or a real deep cut like Blackbeard’s Ghost or Herbie Goes Bananas. There’s an uncapturable-again sense of innocence to these movies, particularly That Darn Cat, my favorite of the bunch.

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