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The ones I've rated most highly:
La moglie più bella / The Most Beautiful Wife (1970) Per un pugno di dollari / A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
Barabbas (1961) Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo / The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) Corri uomo corri / Run, Man, Run (1968) Faccia a faccia / Face to Face (1967) Una lucertola con la pelle di donna / A Lizard in a Woman's Skin (1971) Non si sevizia un paperino / Don't Torture a Duckling (1972) Per qualche dollaro in più / For a Few Dollars More (1965) La resa dei conti / The Big Gundown (1966) Los cuatro salvajes / Ringo, il volto della vendetta / The Revenge of Ringo (1967)
Cani arrabbiati / Rabid Dogs a.k.a. Kidnapped (1974) La casa dalle finestre che ridono / The House with Laughing Windows (1976) Il medaglione insanguinato / The Night Child (1975) Milano calibro 9 (1972) Le orme / Footprints On the Moon (1975) Un posto ideale per uccidere / An Ideal Place to Kill (1971) Il prezzo del potere / The Price of Power (1969) I quattro dell'apocalisse / Four of the Apocalypse (1975) Quién sabe? / A Bullet for the General (1966) La regina di Saba / The Queen of Sheba (1952) Suspiria (1977) I tre volti della paura / Black Sabbath (1963) L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo / The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)
The 60s run of "spy films" began with the first James Bond films, which set the tone by completely copping-out from dealing with the realities of espionage and the Cold War, opting instead for ridiculous "super-villains" and infantile "evil plots". Many subsequent 60s "spy" films treated espionage as even more of a joke, while a few others seemed to react against the unreality and stupidity of Bond, Flint, Helm, etc. In the middle of this list are some 60s "nuclear crisis" and Cold War films that don't deal with espionage, but deal more closely with Cold War issues than most of the "spy" films. Like the "spy" films, but maybe to a lesser extent, they generally fall over themselves to remain apolitical.
After that, I list lesser known foreign (French, German, Italian, etc.) spy movies.
Scores out of ten for the ones I've seen.
This list doesn't differentiate between categories like "enjoyably bad", "despicably bad", "boringly bad", "pretentiously bad", "pathetically bad", etc. - they're all here on the basis of the overall score I gave them (1 or 2 out of 10)...
You can see I often ask for it with my viewing selection.
The English titles I use are the ones under which the films are most commonly available on DVD (in America/Britain).
[I've tried to only include "Gialli" with significant "Horror" elements - which ends up being nearly all of them anyway...]
The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Just walk slow, act dumb and look stupid.
"The Dirty Dozen" plays out as an increasingly perverse, puerile and pathetic male fantasy, taking us deeper and deeper into the twisted stupidity of a certain type of machismo which glorifies bullying, violence, misogyny and ego gratification in place of functional social relations. It achieves this quite efficiently, with a reasonable standard of acting and film-making. The first three quarters of the film could be defended as brainless fun for certain kinds of people, but the finale descends into an indefensible quagmire of incompetence which is even more offensive for its blasé justification of atrocity than for its utterly ludicrous depiction of military action. The patterns of male bonding and conflict depicted in the film are laughable in their combination of gratuitous nastiness and infantile naïveté.
Having no connection at all to the realities of the conflict depicted, the realities of conflict itself, nor the realities of any personal or cultural interaction at all may not make a "war movie" offensive in itself. However, when the result is as vacuous and idiotic as it is here, it can be argued that this sort of film insults anyone involved with or interested in any of the subjects it touches upon (hello "Inglourious Basterds"...).
Always san-chôme no yûhi (2005)
I went from cautiously liking this film in the first 40 minutes to despising it in the last hour or so. The schmaltzy sentimentality accumulates and creeps up on you, until towards the end you feel overdosed on insincerity to the point of nausea. The emotion portrayed is utterly hollow and manipulative in its dishonesty. By apparently trying to copy/compete with Hollywood at its most disingenuous, this film surpasses the worst of Hollywood hypocrisy.
There is plenty of style in the technical aspects of the film-making, but for all the "realistic" computer graphics recreating the city of Tokyo in 1958, no amount of vacuous slickness can give any honesty, reality or authenticity to the people and situations. The empty "rebirth symbolism" of the construction of the tower is an appropriate reflection of the empty film itself; is the film's soullessness symptomatic of the soullessness of the country's "rebirth" since the destruction of 60 years ago?
Concours Eurovision (1968)
Congratulations and lamentations
1968 was a pretty good year, the first in colour, featuring some lively performances, colourful outfits, and a reasonable ratio of OK to awful songs. Belgium's and Switzerland's songs won me, even if in Switzerland's case the song was almost overshadowed by the (Italian) singer's tight bright orange suit. The colour orange and polo necks were recurring motifs throughout. Yugoslavia provided some comic relief late in the piece, and Norway's Odd Borre lived up to his first name, but arguably not his second.
The "controversy" of the result seems to be basically sour grapes on the part of the English media and public that their Cliff's dreadful "Congratulations" was defeated at the last post by Spain's (marginally less dreadful) "La la la". Apart from the "star" attraction of Cliff himself, why was anyone assuming his vacuous song would win? I guess "Puppet on a string" had won the previous year, and it's not much better - the same songwriters, I think. The REAL controversy was kept for the following year...
Lost in Translation (2003)
Don't blame the translation
This is ultimately a fairly objectionable movie. It offers vacuousness poorly disguised as profundity, and stereotype poorly disguised as cultural commentary. The characters may be realistic in their emptiness, but I doubt this was the filmmakers' intention. The title itself seems to try to offer an excuse for the film's vacuousness; an excuse that seemed to pay off in terms of popular and critical praise. The film is not exactly boring, since it does keep you waiting for some insight or emotional pull, which is unfortunately never forthcoming. Scarlett Johansson is gorgeous (and talented), though, and fortunately usually does a better job in selecting roles.
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
Ridiculous, nauseating doggerel with terrible acting; ineptly, superficially, and condescendingly trawling all the most banal clichés about Tuscany and Italy, divorce and midlife. The main actor nervously grimaces her way through the film, struggling to portray the appropriate level of smug, self-congratulatory self-pity the worthless character and script call for. I'm sure the book was bad, but it can't have been this bad! The camera is permanently fitted with a vomit-yellow "Tuscan" lense filter (perhaps the Tuscan sun wasn't Tuscan enough?), which they forgot to remove when the scene shifts to Rome and (how imaginative!) the Amalfi coast. You've never seen the white marble of Rome's Vittorio Emmanuelle monument looking so yellow... I mean Tuscan. One of the worst movies ever, and therefore quite worth a look.
The Deer Hunter (1978)
The emperor's new clothes
Despite managing to give fleeting impressions of importance and quality, this film is a complete put-on. The long "set-piece" scenes (wedding, Russian roulette, etc.) are much discussed, usually either in the context of being "essential for character development" or "boring". In fact they're a delaying mechanism behind which the filmmaker attempts to hide his lack of storytelling skills. Once he does try to move things along, awkwardly jumping without explanation or exposition from one bloated set-piece to another, you can see the reason for his procrastination - despite being desperate to give the impression of profundity and truth, he really has nothing to say. The actors go a long way toward diverting attention from the film's awkward vacuousness, by giving false and short-lived impressions of character and narrative, but this falls apart whenever the filmmaker attempts to make anything "happen" narrative-wise.
De Niro, Walken and company deserve some recognition for some good acting, albeit for such a misguided cause. Ultimately, despite some controversy, many of the film's questionable portrayals of Vietnam, Vietnamese, America, Americans and war are to be condemned more for their cinematic silliness than for their historical inaccuracy.