Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '66 - Gems from 50 Years Ago! ""

Monday, September 5, 2016

Underrated '66 - Gems from 50 Years Ago!

This is my second year running these "Underrated Year" lists and I feel like the 1960s ends up being an interestingly niche decade. It's pre-1970s (a very popular decade) and post the proper classic film era so it is a very interesting time for movies. This list reflects that...
THE GROUP (1966; Sidney Lumet)
I cannot fully explain my fascination with this soaper from Sidney Lumet, but a lot of it has to do with the remarkable female cast. Candice Bergen, Shirley Knight, Jessica Walter, Elizabeth Hartman and Joan Hackett make for one hell of an ensemble for sure. On top of that you have lots of fellas and they are mostly jerks - but well-played jerks from the likes of Richard Mulligan, Larry Hagman and Hal Holbrook. Danny Peary listed this as a cult movie in the back of his Guide For the Film Fanatic years ago and though I don't know how strong that cult is today - it definitely feels like the kind of movie that could have a cult behind it. So much high drama! I am dying for a Blu-ray on this one and I'm hoping that Kino Lorber Studio Classics or Twilight Time has it in their respective pipelines for very soon!
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7 WOMEN (1966; John Ford)
One of the most underrated John Ford films (and his last by the way) out there and talk about a powerhouse story. Seven missionary women are tasked with protecting themselves from the oncoming attack of a Mongolian warlord and his band of barbaric warriors in China circa 1935. It is as intense and harrowing as it sounds and the cast - led by Anne Bancroft and Sue Lyons is outstanding. John Ford could never do enough siege movies as far as I'm concerned -wish he'd made more like this. Really hoping for at least a Warner Archive DVD of this one very soon (it's a 2.35 to 1 picture in dire need of a remaster).

GRAND PRIX (1966; John Frankenheimer)
One of the best car racing films ever made and one that still feels pretty underseen even by cinephiles. It's Frankenheimer and James Garner folks, what more do you need to know? Oh, and as with THE GROUP, this one also features Jessica Walters.
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GAMBIT (1966; Ronald Neame)
Michael Caine, Shirley MacLaine and Herbert Lom in a heist movie from the director of THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE. Gimmicky but fun in that it has a certain kind of surprise structure that I won't reveal here. 
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FUNERAL IN BERLIN (1966; Guy Hamilton)
Another Michael Caine flick (he was quite busy in the 60s) - this one the second in the "Harry Palmer" series is the one I think that gets most overlooked (among THE IPCRESS FILE and BILLION DOLLAR BRAIN). The 60s is ripe with tons of spy films and this may be one of the best in my opinion. From the director of GOLDFINGER and some other Bond classics.
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WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE WAR, DADDY? (1966; Blake Edwards)
I had been wanting to see this film ever since screenwriter extraordinaire Larry Karaszewski made me aware of it via one of his informative Trailers From Hell commentariesThere were a bunch of things about the movie that caught my interest. First, the cast. James Coburn, Aldo Ray, Carroll O'Connor, Harry Morgan, and Dick Shawn. Good group and especially around 1966, James Coburn was firing on all the cylinders of his Coburn-ness. What we have here is a military farce wherein a ragtag bunch of soldiers led by an uptight, by-the-book commanding officer are sent to capture a village in Sicily only to find themselves caught up in a grand wine festival with the opposing soldiers. Lastly, it's Blake Edwards in his prime and that's a cool thing to partake in.
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MORGAN! (1966; Karel Reisz)
A.K.A. - MORGAN - A SUITABLE CASE FOR TREATMENT. I found this one via Danny Peary's Cult Movies books and it is one of my favorite tales of obsession from this period. After a man's wife leaves him, he basically obsessively stalks her to try to win her back. What is somehow charming and comedic in this film would play as pretty scary in the present day. That's one thing I love about the 60s. And frankly, we could all use more gorilla suits in movies these days.
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YOU'RE A BIG BOY NOW (1966; Francis Ford Coppola)
A much more freewheelin' and New Wave-esque Francis Ford Coppola than you are used to seeing. Think of this in terms of Richard Lester's comedies from around this time - I'm thinking of stuff like THE KNACK. Also - it has Karen Black so there's that. Also - gorrvy tunes by The Lovin' Spoonful! 
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THE BUBBLE (1966; Arch Oboler)
Equal parts Twilight Zone episode and classic period 3D showcase with a dash of WESTWORLD, THE BUBBLE is a pretty unique overall experience. I really couldn't be more pleased to see classic 3D films like this coming to 3D Blu-ray (Kino Lorber put this out last year) and this one is an oddball favorite for me.
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MISTER BUDDWING (1966; Delbert Mann)
Fractured narrative akin to stuff like PETULIA or POINT BLANK. More Twilight Zone-y stuff - which I adore. Interesting film that wouldn't be made these days. Also - more James Garner!
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