Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '66 - Sean Wicks ""

Monday, October 10, 2016

Underrated '66 - Sean Wicks

Sean is a good friend of mine and he runs the Cinema-Scope blog (http://cinemascope-blog.blogspot.com/) which is very much a sister blog to my own (we often do series in conjunction with each other). An all-around social media lover, he's very active on twitter (https://twitter.com/wixpix), tumblr (http://seanwicks.tumblr.com/) facebook (https://www.facebook.com/WicksFlicks), and letterboxd (http://letterboxd.com/wixpix/).

See his Underrated '76, '86, & '96 lists here:
http://www.rupertpupkinspeaks.com/2016/07/underrated-sean-wicks.html
http://www.rupertpupkinspeaks.com/2016/05/underrated-sean-wicks.html
http://www.rupertpupkinspeaks.com/2016/03/underrated-96-sean-wicks.html
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The more Rupert posts these lists, the more I find the older the years get, the more interesting the titles. Having not being alive in 1966, a lot of films from that year may have escaped my attention, so reading the lists so far, and what is to come, I have found that my list of must-see films has grown by leaps and bounds. Here is hoping I can do the same for someone else.
THE PROFESSIONALS (Directed by Richard Brooks)
In the 1980s as a youth, I was obsessed with The A-Team. Beyond the cartoony action (where nobody, it seemed, ever died even while being shot at or in crazy car crashes) the dynamics and personalities of the group (a crazy man, a smooth talking con-artist, an angry muscle head and a brilliant yet somewhat mad tactician/leader). I had always heard The A-Team being compared to The Seven Samurai, but once I saw Richard Brooks’ The Professionals, I felt like this movie had to be more of an inspiration.

A diverse group of gunfighters led by Lee Marvin (take a look at George Peppard and try not to see the similarities, it’s impossible) and Burt Lancaster are hired by a wealthy land baron (Ralph Bellamy) to rescue his wife (Claudia Cardinale) from a Mexican revolutionary (Jack Palance…yeah, I know) who has kidnapped her. Woody Strode (B.A. Baracus anyone?) and Robert Ryan round-out the group of heroes crossing the border on this mission.

This is a fun, action-packed western with Burt Lancaster and Lee Marvin chewing up the scenery as if they are having the time of their lives (and I believe they are). Just watching Lancaster throw dynamite around liberally almost makes the movie. This is a film that I go out of my way to visit annually.

HOW TO STEAL A MILLION (Directed by William Wyler)
Ahh the movies. Where thieves are all the best looking people on earth, and you find yourself hoping characters do things that in reality, you would probably call the police on.

How To Steal a Million has Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole planning a museum heist to help cover up Audrey’s father’s art forgeries.

Somehow it seems this movie gets lost in conversations about Audrey Hepburn’s work (which is usually dominated by Breakfast at Tiffany’s and My Fair Lady), but this is one of my favorites on her filmography, this and Two For The Roadwhich is truly a fantastic film.

The comedic interplay and on-screen sexual tension between she and Peter O’Toole is apparent, and again another fun movie that never takes itself or the premise too seriously, but just has a fun time being what it is.

THE GLASS BOTTOM BOAT (Directed by Frank Tashlin)
I have found myself very excited every time I experience a film I haven’t seen directed by Frank Tashlin. His background in animation shines through in these live-action cartoons. The Glass Bottom Boat is just that, a live action cartoon that while a bit on the long side (they could have easily cut out a good 30 minutes, especially a sequence involving a “modern” robot kitchen) is truly a funny picture.

Doris Day meets Rod Taylor and the sparks fly right from the beginning. It gets more complicated though when a series of unfortunate misunderstandings (the most common of movie problems) has Rod and her co-workers suspecting her of being a Russian spy. Cold war comedy, here we come!

The thing about these movies is that when you think about it, one conversation can end all the confusion. The genius of them though is that you believe that these characters don’t bother to try and have those conversations which of course leads to things being so out of control. Mind you, without that there wouldn’t be a conflict and the movie would be over in about 10 minutes.

While the first hour could use a lot of trimming, stick with this film because the final hour is completely worth the effort.

THE FORTUNE COOKIE (Directed by Billy Wilder)
Ok not sure this would be considered “underrated” or not, but probably given the other on-screen collaborations with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, and also given Billy Wilder’s filmography.

This mean-spirted picture has Jack Lemmon getting hurt at a football game (he’s a TV Cameraman) and Walter Matthau doing everything he can to turn a minor injury into a big lawsuit payoff. Things get really complicated – and depressing – when the player that hit him starts to get a HUGE guilt trip for thinking he has turned Lemmon into an invalid. That’s because Matthau has pulled out all the stops to make it seem as though Lemmon is now partially paralyzed.

This picture gets really dark, really fast. You find yourself laughing at very uncomfortable situations, and later on, you find yourself unsure if you should be laughing at all.

I love the tone on this, and the black-and-white widescreen just enhances it in a way that words cannot convey.

THE CHASE (Directed by Arthur Penn)
Ahh The Chase. What to say about this picture. Well, it’s a glorious mess, with a small town about to erupt into chaos when an escaped convict named Bubber (Robert Redford…so NOT someone you’d call Bubber) is believed to be headed back into town. The sheriff (Marlon Brando) has to keep things calm. Not as easy as it sounds.

Bubber never seems all that menacing, so the idea of him sending this town into a frenzy is very confusing. Every actor in this film seems to be eating up the scenery (Jane Fonda, James Fox, Angie Dickinson, Robert Duvall and E.G. Marshall included) but none more than Brando who plays this small town southern sheriff to the hilt.

Yes the picture is a mess, but a beautiful and entertaining mess that deserves to be seen.

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