1960: Movies Sorted By Tier
Submitted by jim on Mon, 08/23/2004 - 01:08
Psycho... I think this film has the honor of being the oldest movie that is able to make me jump. Not just once, but three times. And not just on the first viewing, but on subsequent viewings. As I've watched more Hitchcock, I've been surprised by how much broader his range was than I originally presumed, but of all his great movies I think this one is the centerpiece.
Elmer Gantry... A scathing indictment of Revivalism, or at least some of its practitioners. While this is true, the movie has quite a bit of meaty ambiguity to it. While Burt Lancaster plays a drinking, womanizing used car salesman for God, at the same time he seems to truly Believe, and he's never really evil, just lustily human. I found Jean Simmons much better suited to her role here than in Spartacus, and her character arc and Lancaster's are highly complimentary, as we get glimpses of what (possibly) lies beneath her piety and his earthiness. I've written this elsewhere, but I always had Lancaster pegged as the square-jawed hero type, but all I can find of him are anti-heros. Great stuff from him.
The Magnificent Seven
Spartacus... Kubrick's range never fails to impress. I can't believe he would direct Dr. Strangelove just four years later. To me, this movie seemed to straddle classic and modern acting styles. Jean Simmons' performance felt like it was out of the 40s, while Peter Ustinov's felt like it was out of the 70s. Everybody else was somewhere in the middle. While I enjoyed this movie, I think I would have loved it if Spartacus himself didn't seem rather one-dimensional.
Glad I Saw
The Apartment... While impressive (who could doubt it?), if I were to rank my half-dozen Billy Wilder movies, this would bring up the rear. Jack Lemmon is very good, and Shirley MacLaine is fan-damn-tastic, but I couldn't bring myself to really care if they got their acts together. I was irritated by Lemmon's rather spineless pandering to his sleazeball superiors, and by her actually going so ga-ga over king-sleazeball MacMurray (feels weird to write that, since MacMurray has this Ward Cleaver thing going on) that she'd actually. I understand that they are basically swimming in shark-infested waters, and are struggling in a world whose cynicism is about to be blown apart by the hippies, but it just didn't grab me. And god help me, I checked my watch at least twice. This review sounds MUCH more negative than I actually feel. I actually liked the movie, but I fell way short of loving it.Spoiler: Highlight to viewtry to kill herself! In Lemmon's apartment, no less!
Peeping Tom... It's no Psycho, but it has its moments. I understand the victims were supposed to be transfixed by fear, but it really seems like they could have evaded death quite easily. I don't know if I've seen a more cumbersome murder weapon. Let me put it this way: we'll play a game; I'll hold a pool cue up to my eye, gripping it at the base and about halfway up the shaft. I must keep the cue to my eye at all times. You, on the other hand, can grab the pool cue anywhere along its length except the absolute tip. If I manage to make a chalk mark on your neck or chest, you lose. If you manage to get out of the room with no such marks, I lose. I will have to reward myself a bonus point if I get through a round without a painful black eye. Now, what kind of odds will you give me? It's too bad I get hung up on details sometimes, as the characters and what motivates them is quite tantalizing and rich.
- None Yet
Could Have Missed
Breathless... Damn the French New Wave for exposing me as the cultureless lout that I am.
Should Have Missed
Ocean's Eleven... I almost gave this one up at various points, but after a loooong setup things finally picked up after the heist. And the ending (the very end, I mean) was great; it almost made me forget nearly turning it off during the first 90 minutes. In fact, the ending may be the most impressive redemption of a mediocre movie I've ever seen (of course, most mediocre movies stay mediocre right up to the closing credits). One other thing I have to say is that Frank Sinatra must have been awfully secure in his masculinity to agree to wear that sweater in his first scene. I replayed that scene for my wife and between peals of laughter she said "that has got to be the girliest sweater I've ever seen!"
El Sucko Grande
- None Yet
La Dolce Vita... Gave up after an hour. Bored senseless. Sure was pretty to look at though. I'll try it again when I've grown up some. And just this morning I sung the praises of Cellular. Tragic, really, my brains turning to oatmeal in the span of 48 hours.