- La Dolce Vita
- The Apartment
- Rocco And His Brothers
- The Bad Sleep Well
- Adua And Her Friends
- Tunes Of Glory
Despite the fact that he was most famous as a matinee idol and heartthrob for young women (my senior citizen mother still turns into a soupy little girl whenever she sees him on screen), there was definitely a dark side to Alain Delon. Of course, anyone paying attention to him in his later years would never deny this, but watching him in the early 60s you might have been surprised to see just how well he pulled off Patricia Highsmith’s antiheroic Tom Ripley in Rene Clement’s terrific Purple Noon. Delon is predatory, sexy, sweet and irresistible, and it is possibly the most fascinating performance he ever gave.
People write about the brilliance of Billy Wilder’s The Apartment and it is all justified; its deconstruction of the American shift towards a corporate mindset, its bitter pill of loneliness amid its hilarity and romance are all wonderful. Talk then gets obsessed with celebrating the everyman qualities of Jack Lemmon’s wicked and wise turn in the lead role, and while Lemmon is great, he’s been better elsewhere; the real gem of the film is Shirley MacLaine as the complicated elevator gal who has trouble believing that she’s worth more than just being the other woman. MacLaine gave many terrific performances in her career, and this is without a doubt the finest of them.
I’m going to ham it up yet again, but I cannot resist Peter Ustinov and his Oscar-winning role in Spartacus. The film is the best of those big, junky Bible epics, in that it isn’t full of religious pomp and the dialogue is quite intelligent, but even with such an allowance, there is a breath of fresh air that hits the room whenever Ustinov and his wryly sarcastic intonations appear on screen. The others are wonderful recreations of men and women of that time period, but Ustinov’s humorous approach convinces you that this type would actually have existed back then.
Wild River is a film by Elia Kazan that has been quite largely forgotten among his works, and it’s a shame. While it is not his strongest piece (the message overpowers the madness a bit too much), it is a highly enjoyable melodrama with some fine performances. The best of them is the marvelous Jo Van Fleet taking her East Of Eden character much further into hardness. As an ornery old woman who refuses to get off her property even though her life is in danger, she is Eden‘s abandoning mother with a philosophical bent, and the film benefits greatly from her energy.
BIL’S BEST DIRECTOR
1960 provides me with so many of my favourites: Rocco And His Brothers, La Dolce Vita, Breathless, Never On Sunday…there’s such a bounty of riches to choose from. I wouldn’t regret choosing any of the above, but for Best Director I’ll choose the man whose sense of style and control was more tightly stamped on every frame of his film than all the rest. When Michelangelo Antonioni brought his masterpiece L’Avventura to Cannes, it was met with such controversy that the director and star Lea Massari left the screening room in tears thanks to the loud sounds of booing from the audience. A day later a press release was circulated by members of the jury and directors attending the festival in support of its fine qualities. Time has definitely been kind, and today it pretty much comes off the coolest movie ever made, right down to Monica Vitti’s icy stare.