- Le Samourai
- Belle De Jour
- War And Peace
- Bonnie And Clyde
- Samurai Rebellion
- The Graduate
- In Cold Blood
- Cool Hand Luke
- In The Heat Of The Night
It’s hard to find an actor cooler than Paul Newman, and 1967 saw him showing his incredible prowess in at least two excellent films. Newman always had a mischievous look in his eye; even when he was doing the right thing you always suspected that he was doing it for the wrong reasons, but with such good looks who was going to complain? In Cool Hand Luke he brings his sexy aloofness to bear upon the experience of doing hard time, while in Hombre, adapted from the story by Elmore Leonard, he enacts his anti-heroic persona in a western setting, and he is outstanding in both.
I don’t see how any choice could be more appropriate than the sexy, smart Anne Bancroft in The Graduate. Is there anything more fascinating than watching her enact middle-aged angst (when she was only 36) in the role of a woman as unreasonably frustrated as she is devilishly appealing: It’s a character and a performance that basically made the sixties happen, and women in film were never again the same.
What we have here is a failure to communicate: and what we also have is a character actor making quite the impressive name for himself, winning an Oscar and creating one of the most memorable bullies in cinema history, one he was not ever to outgrow. George Kennedy had a long, strong career in movies after Cool Hand Luke, but appearing in every single Airport movie did him no favours.
Warren Beatty enacts the upstart cockiness, Faye Dunaway the cool paranoia, Gene Hackman the reckless violence and Michael J. Pollard the quirky weirdness: with all these characters constantly creating this tension in an effort to make grownups of their infantile selves, isn’t it wonderful to have Estelle Parsons screaming unabashedly throughout all of Bonnie and Clyde? Parsons is a firebomb of insecure vulnerability throughout the film, constantly calling everyone on their foolishness and, in the end, being the inevitable lynch-pin of their destruction.
An unabashed lover of 1930s Hollywood gangster films, Jean-Pierre Melville went on to make some of the coolest, most stylish entries in the genre in France throughout his career. The best and most precise of them is the unforgettable Le Samourai, which capitalizes best on Alain Delon’s cold face and warm eyes, using sparse dialogue and razor-sharp editing to tell the story of a hit man living in the shadow of the angel of death.