The Late 60's (1966-1970) öö

by Nuwan_Sen | created - 19 Aug 2011 | updated - 02 Sep 2011 | Public

1966-1970 The flower power generation, the beginning of the hippie rebellion, the stone faced feminism, the black pride movement, the gay pride movement, the sacking of Henri Langlois, the youth rebellion in Paris and Germany, the invent of the mini skirt and London of swinging sixties; you name it. The 60’s was when the world changed and globalisation really took place, with Hindu (Indian) and African influences in the west and vice versa. It’s thanks to the 60’s we live the free lifestyle we do today. The 60’s is most probably the only decade from the 20th century that has vast difference between early 60’s and latter half of the decade. Here’s my Top 5 movies from the late 60’s. Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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1. Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)

PG | 145 min | Biography, Drama, History

King Henry VIII of England discards one wife, Catharine of Aragon, who has failed to produce a male heir, in favor of the young and beautiful Anne Boleyn.

Director: Charles Jarrott | Stars: Richard Burton, Geneviève Bujold, Irene Papas, Anthony Quayle

Votes: 7,703 | Gross: $2.07M

Most probably one of the most accurate historical accounts on the life of Anne Boleyn, Queen Consort and second wife of Henry VIII. I fell in love with this movie when I watched it as a teenager back in 1994 in New Delhi, six years after I had studied about the Tudor-Elizabethan period for history in school. Geneviève Bujold is fantastic in her introductory role as Anne Boleyn, the mother of Queen Elizabeth I, and no doubt her best role ever. Have seen her in just a few other movies like ‘Coma’ (1978), ‘Dead Innocent’ (1997) and ‘Eye of the Beholder’ (1999). Richard Burton having made himself look robust and unattractive as Henry VIII, is superb, as Burton always has been. This tragic movie flows beautifully, with not one dull moment. Even the almost unnoticeable guest appearance by the great Elizabeth Taylor is done in a way as not to break flow of the movie, so that she doesn’t steal the show even for those few seconds. A movie I’ve seen so many times now, and never got bored of watching. On the contrary I love it more each time I watch it. I’ve seen the television version of ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ (2003) with Natascha McElhone and Jodhi May, and it’s a terribly overtly fictionalised version of the story, based on the novel by Philippa Gregory, to the extent that it looks fake and bores the hell out of you. Why ruin history to this extent??? I haven’t even bothered watching the new version of ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ (2008) with Eric Bana, Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson. And I don’t see why Henry VIII has to be turned into sexy character (which he most definitely wasn’t, even his portrait as a youngster was that of round circular young man, and not in a chubby sweet manner, but in an unpleasant rough manner) by the likes of Eric Bana and Jonathan Rhys Meyers (i.e. in the TV series namely ‘The Tudors’ (2007-2010) which I haven‘t seen either), which makes Henry VIII look more like a modern day pop icon than the notorious English Monarch of the 16th Century. ‘Anne of a Thousand Days’ (1969), so far I am concerned, is among the great Oscar snubs for not winning the best picture award and loosing out to ‘Midnight Cowboy’ (1969), which definitely was a bold movie to come out in the late 60’s, but I don’t think it was better than this. With amazing costumes, ‘Anne of a Thousand Days’, won the Oscar for best costumes along with 10 nominations including for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Actor in a Supporting. My Favourite movie from the latter part of the 60’s and the 3rd best movie to come out of the 60’s after ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ (1961) and ‘Jules et Jim’ (1962).

  • Nuwan Sen’s pick of the late 60’s.

2. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Not Rated | 131 min | Drama

75 Metascore

A bitter, aging couple, with the help of alcohol, use their young houseguests to fuel anguish and emotional pain towards each other over the course of a distressing night.

Director: Mike Nichols | Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis

Votes: 76,432

I watched this movie almost a decade ago in England, as a film student, while doing my M.A. in International Cinema. No, this was not on my syllabus, but the fact I watched this while I was actually studying ‘Film Analysis’ helped me dissect this movie and delve deeper into the character study and outline of the play. This was pure Cinema Literature. Having always had a preference for the ‘Art house’ cinema as opposed to ‘Commercial’ cinema, this Hollywood’s answer to the French New Wave, is no doubt one of the greatest movies to come out at the height of Post-modernism along with many other great new movements in the art world. Definitely the best role of Elizabeth Taylor, who gained 30 pounds and made herself look old, eccentric and a washed out, miserable, middle-aged lady, yet with a seductive edge to her character. Sandy Dennis, who was pregnant in real life at the time and sadly suffered a miscarriage on the set, was superb as the meek and very vulnerable young ‘mousey’ wife of a newly appointed instructor (played brilliantly by George Segal). Richard Burton excelled playing the alcoholic professor, and husband to real life wife Taylor. Both the actresses, Taylor and Dennis, won Oscars for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively. With 13 nomination, ‘Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf ?’ (1966) till date is the only movie ever to be nominated for every eligible category at the Academy Awards. A very risqué movie at that time to be released in the year tagged ‘Nineteen Sexty Sex’, with the advent of the new sexual revolution (The original sexual revolution of America came during the Jazz age and the roaring 20’s), this was the first Hollywood movie to certify that ‘No one under 18 will be admitted unless accompanied by an adult’ mainly due to adult language used. The British movie ‘Blow-Up’ (1966) was the other movie to get that classification. ‘Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf ?’ is a play on the title of the Walt Disney song ‘Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf ?’, but here referring to one the greatest female authors of the early 20th Century, Virginia Woolf, and a copy of her 'To the Lighthouse' is shown in the movie as well, as a tribute to the great writer.

  • Nuwan Sen’s pick of the late 60’s.

3. Ryan's Daughter (1970)

R | 200 min | Drama, Romance

Set in the wake of the 1916 Easter Rising, a married woman in a small Irish village has an affair with a troubled British officer.

Director: David Lean | Stars: Robert Mitchum, Trevor Howard, John Mills, Christopher Jones

Votes: 10,064 | Gross: $30.85M

A story about a daughter that gets punished for what her father did. An epic tale of an extra-marital affair between a British Soldier and an Irish woman set during the first world war, is one great British gem by the veteran director David Lean, who has created nothing but excellence post second world war, from ‘Brief Encounter’ (1945) and ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ (1957), to ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ (1962) and ‘Doctor Zhivago’ (1965) finally ending his career by heading towards the orient with ‘A Passage to India’ (1984). I watched this on the small screen almost a decade ago, while living in Oslo. This is one of those great masterpieces, that was made long before I came into existence, I wish I could have seen on the big wide screen. Shot beautifully on the breathtaking Irish coast of Dingle Peninsula, this is a movie filmed with some stunning cinematography. A category for which it won an Oscar along with one for John Mills for his supporting role of a deaf mute. Paying tribute to his role, when he went on stage to collect the trophy, he didn’t utter one word and just bowed, making it the shortest acceptance speech ever at an Academy Awards ceremony. This adult movie most probably has one of the most beautiful love scenes I’ve ever witnessed in all it cinematic glory. The very aesthetically filmed sequence shot in the forest; with bluebells, the swaying cobwebs, pollen dust et al and the young couple secretly making love; is one of the greatest romantic moments I’ve ever seen on film. They aren’t having sex, but making love. A touching sequence that pulls at your heart strings. One of the most sophisticatedly handled, artistically brilliant, love making scenes ever, without turning it into something cheap, crude and vulgar. Quite relevant to a movie with an adult theme and not just having a sex scene for the sake of it; unlike some movies where the inclusion of sex and nudity are the only reason for it being rated ‘adults only’; this scene blends into the plot outline of not just an extra marital affair, but that of an Irish woman sleeping with the enemy, in this regard the British, as well. Worse, she is accused of being an informer, even though that’s actually her fathers crime. Another beautiful scene is the one with the entrance of the British soldier (played movingly well by Christopher Jones) into the pub. John Mills’ absent minded banging on the bench with his foot, Christopher Jones’ flashback sequences, his collapse, Sarah Miles to the rescue, the whole sequence has been shot so skilfully with the haunting score in the background, this is artistry at it’s highest. This is one modern classic and an epic love story that I’d compare to one of the greatest epics ever made, ‘Gone With The Wind’ (1939). Sarah Miles plays the titular character of Rosy Ryan, Robert Mitchum plays her husband, Leo McKern her father and Christopher Jones her lover. Trevor Howard plays the highly influential Father Hugh Collins. An amazing group of actors perfectly cast. The Best of David Lean.

  • Nuwan Sen’s pick of the late 60’s.

4. Funny Girl (1968)

G | 151 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama

89 Metascore

The life of Fanny Brice, famed comedienne and entertainer of the early 1900s. We see her rise to fame as a Ziegfeld girl, subsequent career, and her personal life, particularly her relationship with Nick Arnstein.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: Barbra Streisand, Omar Sharif, Kay Medford, Anne Francis

Votes: 23,553 | Gross: $58.50M

A musical based on the real life comedienne, Fanny Brice. Barbra Streisand at her best, acting vice as well as lending her vocals to the melodious music, in her debut role. That voice could just break you heart. Like the legendary Billie Holiday who sang her heart out, Streisand’s character sings straight from her soul. It’s a really sad story about a woman who made everyone around her laugh, but went through so much misery in her life. When I first watched this movie I was just a kid, yet it was one musical where I could feel the character’s sadness within. Even at that tender age, I was in tears towards the end of the movie. Years later when I re-watched it, I felt sadder, as by now I had found out that this was based on a real person. Yet it’s a movie that is sad without being depressing. Entertaining and enjoyable without being pathetically dull and miserable. A glamorised and beautified account of a woman who brought happiness to everyone yet suffered a lot in her life. Like they say about a clowns face; he has a big jovial smile, but he can’t hide the sadness in his eyes; much like Fanny Brice. The young Omar Sharif is terrific in the role of her weak willed husband (the real life notorious gambler and con artist Nicky Arnstein), who suffers an inferiority complex being the lesser-half of a rising star. She being the breadwinner and with his gambling debts and failed business ventures, Nicky Arnstein gets involved in a shady Bonds scam and ends up in prison. The movie actually starts with Fanny Brice waiting for her husband on the day he’s being released from prison, then the story goes back to her early slum days. The real life Nicky Arnstein, who had many pseudonyms as a con-man, was a great swindler and racketeer known for fixing the 1919 (Baseball) World Series, but was more famous for seducing and marrying funny girl Fanny Brice. He was immortalised by Omar Sharif in the movies ‘Funny Girl’ (1968) and ‘Funny Lady’ (1975). Nominated for 7 Oscars including Best Picture and Best supporting actress, Barbra Streisand bagged the best actress trophy. But not all to herself, as she had to share the award with Katharine Hepburn, who tied in the Best actress winner for ‘The Lion in Winter’ (1968). Being deaf in one ear, this was director William Wyler’s very first and only musical, which initially he refused to make. And he made this movie close to his retirement from the directors chair, making this his second last movie. Funny Girl ended up being the highest-grossing film of 1968. This is greatest musical bio-pic I’ve ever seen.

  • Nuwan Sen’s pick of the late 60’s.

5. Cactus Flower (1969)

M | 104 min | Comedy, Romance

67 Metascore

A dentist pretends to be married to avoid commitment, but when he falls for his girlfriend and proposes, he must recruit his lovelorn nurse to pose as his wife.

Director: Gene Saks | Stars: Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman, Goldie Hawn, Jack Weston

Votes: 11,150 | Gross: $25.89M

‘Cactus Flower has flower power’, thus reads the tagline for this movie. Made during the flower power generation and set during the flower power generation itself, this is one of the most hilarious comedies I’ve come across; along with gems like ‘The Philadelphia Story’ (1940), ‘His Girl Friday’ (1940), ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ (1944), ‘Annie Hall’ (1977), ‘Trading Places’ (1983) and more recently ‘I Heart Huckabees’ (2004) and ‘Thank you for Smoking’ (2005), to name a few; with a very high standard. These are some great comedies that don’t stoop down to cheap antics to make people laugh. The best part of the comedy is through the dialogues, with an excellent script and equally great concept. Goldie Hawn is just adorable in her debut performance as a lovable innocent dumb blonde, in her short boyish crop and even shorter attire. Being dubbed a natural ‘reactress’, she won her very first Oscar for best Supporting Actress. Ingrid Bergman, superb as she always has been, in a more mature role. After coming in some great serious roles from the noir period, be it in one of the most famous love stories ever, i.e. Michael Curtiz’s ‘Casablanca (1942), or my favourite film noir flick George Cukor’s ‘Gaslight’ (1944), to even darker noir director Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Spellbound’ (1945), ‘Notorious’ (1946) and ‘Under Capricorn’ (1949), to her husband Roberto Rossellini’s Italian neo-realism trip to Mount Vesuvius in ‘Viaggio in Italia’ (1954), here we see Bergman at her comical best. This is one movie we see her let loose and fancy free, and we have fun watching her have so much fun. But the icing on the cake is none other than comic veteran Walter Matthau. He is superb in this mature role, though he’s more famed for his role in ‘The Odd Couple’ (1968), I find this role so much more amusing, the way he get himself into a muddle. He plays a dentist, Dr. Julian Winston, who gets himself a girlfriend, Toni (Hawn), by lying to her about his marital status. He’s single, but he lets her believe he is a married man. She, being a somewhat dense dim-witted girl, in turn becomes his girlfriend, because of his honesty. As she tells her young neighbour Igor (played by Rick Lenz), who seems not to own many clothes except for a small towel round his waist each time the dentist bumps into him, that it’s not that easy to find an honest man you can trust now a days. Of course things go haywire when she wants proof of his wife’s existence, and Dr. Winston has to recruit his nurse, Stephanie Dickinson (Bergman) to pretend to be his wife and worse Stephanie has to pose with her two nephews as if the two boys were their kids. Jack Weston adds to the comedy as Dr. Winston patient and close friend. Never ending fun with things getting worse as one lie is used to cover another and then another and another and another and it goes on. The Mink coat plays a major part in this comedy. And that hilarious disco number which the whole cast is seen dancing to. What a great comedy this is.

  • Nuwan Sen’s pick of the late 60’s.

Except for two movies that happen to be set the 60’s itself, the others in my list are all set in different periods, yet they are all essential plots pertaining to the 60’s. At the height of modern day bra burners and equal rights feminism, we have ‘Anne of a Thousand Days’ (1969), which is about a very bold feminist living in a mans world 400 years before 60’s feminist movement. At the height of the Vietnam War we have ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ (1970), about a wounded soldier having affair with native from the land he is fighting against. And ‘Funny Girl’ (1968) about a more contemporary feminist from the 20th Century itself. As the world was changing we see some movies, though set in an earlier era, relevant to the 60’s. Here to my late 60’s Top-5. The Essential late 60’s. Love the swinging 60’s.

  • Nuwan Sen’s pick of the late 60’s.

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