The Witches (1966 Britain)

There are things that keep you watching here, of course; there always are in a Hammer Horror. I particularly liked the depiction of rural village life in the 1960s; it’s picture postcard stuff, the sort of thing to make me nostalgic for a time I never actually knew. After a hell of a start, The Witches, which could indeed have used a more masterful director like Terence Fisher at the helm, slowly loses its grip. The screenplay is from Nigel Kneale, and he was dissatisfied with this film because he intended it to be a dark comedy that poked fun at witchcraft but Hammer wanted a serious horror movie so all comedic touches were removed.  [Read more…]

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The Sand Pebbles (1966 USA)

(There are many silly hat moments in The Sand Pebbles)

In 1911 China overthrew the Manchu dynasty, which in its weakened state, over the last century had sold off parcels of real estate outright controlled by European powers and later by Japan as well. The United States controlled no territory outright as other powers did, but the Americans did insist on extraterritoriality involving their citizens doing business there. What that meant was that US citizens were not subject to Chinese laws, civil or criminal. Matters involving them went to American courts. Other powers had those same treaties. That was resented. Westerners were resented. Japanese were resented most of all because they were fellow Asians doing it to the Chinese but this tale is only concerned with Americans. [Read more…]

A Man For All Seasons (1966 Britain)

This piece of classic cinema is an erudite example of the old Biblical maxim: a man cannot serve two masters. Sir Thomas More, a multi-talented man of letters and law, went to the executioner’s block because he would not recognize a temporal king as head of his country’s church. Though a friend of Henry VIII, and his chancellor, he was more afraid of offending God than the king. A man who took his Catholic faith quite seriously. Robert Bolt’s play ran for 637 performances in the 1961-1963 season on Broadway and the only two who came over from the Broadway cast were Paul Scofield as More and Leo McKern as Thomas Cromwell. [Read more…]

The Good The Bad And The Ugly (1966 Italy)

Proof that the simplest ideas are the best ones. The plot is fairly simple: three men try to reach a buried fortune of Army gold coins while the American Civil War erupts around them. The story is even simpler and yet the audience gets wrapped around in it and those 180 minutes just seem to whip by so fast that when it does end, we’re craving for more. The film is also evidence that the Western cannot be a dying genre, for this landmark film from Italian director Sergio Leone has aged like wine. Time has done nothing to varnish its style and authority. Spaghetti Westerns, which are low in budget and oftentimes flamboyant and over-the-top, can be art too. I urge women to give this a watch too. It will put hairs on their chest. Its hypnotic. It’s operatic. It’s sad. It’s funny. It’s gritty. Its the Psycho of Westerns. [Read more…]

Rosemary’s Baby (Ira Levin)

Rosemary's Baby by Ira LevinAn intriguing and enjoyable literary experience for me because this is like a social document from 1966 – which was a vastly different social, literary and cinematic age from what now exists. This is more low key and not as emotionally hard hitting as the film, but so what? You will feel like you have been to hell and back by the time this weird story has finished with you. [Read more…]

Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966 United Kingdom)

Dracula-Prince-Of-Darkness-036Every fan of retro/old school horror has seen this one, surely. If you haven’t seen it then shame on you! Just to wake any old fans up, I toyed with the idea of the above title reading Dracula: Ponce of Darkness. Enough silly banter, on with the show… [Read more…]

RASPUTIN THE MAD MONK (1966 Britain)

vlcsnap-2012-04-22-17h23m00s90My fave film company Hammer usually masked low production costs to present a picture with a rich look. Thus making the lack of cash a mere bagatelle. But they had that indefinable something to always make it watchable. Having the most beautiful woman (Barbara Shelley) to ever grace a cinema screen certainly helped with this one. [Read more…]

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