- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Once Upon A Time In The West
- Rosemary’s Baby
- Stolen Kisses
- Rachel, Rachel
- Planet of the Apes
The Lion In Winter is not my favourite period drama ever made, but it is richly dramatic and full of terrific dialogue, which Peter O’Toole gets quite a lot of energetic mileage out of. A television remake made decades later with Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close, despite the perfection of the casting, would fizzle in comparison.
The role that I’m truly inspired by this year is the no-holds-barred work done by Vanessa Redgrave playing Isadora Duncan. Redgrave allows everything powerful, fascinating and frustrating about this woman to come alive on the big screen, aided by energetic direction by Karel Reisz and a terrific screenplay. It’s one of the great thespian’s finest achievements, and the highlight of her early career.
Mel Brooks has made a lot of funny movies in his time, but only a couple of them measure up to the mayhem and hilarity of his first, The Producers. “Springtime For Hitler” is a sequence that, in the original film, the Broadway musical or the film adaptation of that musical, never fails to have me rolling on the floor laughing. One of the greatest assets of the original film, and a perfect blend of manic comedy and painful desperation that has rarely been repeated, is the performance by Gene Wilder as the hapless accountant who is roped in by the gregarious Zero Mostel to produce the world’s greatest flop.
After a minor career as a character actress and a highly successful one as screenwriter (she was married to Garson Kanin, with whom she wrote, among others, the Hepburn-Tracy films Pat And Mike and Adam’s Rib), Ruth Gordon achieved late stardom when she took home the gold for her scene-stealing work in Rosemary’s Baby. Polanski’s adaptation of Ira Levin’s novel strikes the perfect note between horror and comedy and Gordon is right there to make it work: her Minnie Castavet is a hilariously ornery old woman, but the possibility that she could be doing the devil’s work is not at all impossible to imagine.
Considering that science-fiction up until this point mainly consisted of men in bubble helmets travelling to the moon and discovering aliens, it can be no surprise that Stanley Kubrick‘s phantasmagoric voyage into the universe, 2001: A Space Odyssey was among the most original and groundbreaking movies ever seen when originally released. Then again, it has yet to find its equal, and a recently struck, gorgeously restored 70MM print rerelease proved that it still has the power to leave a viewer dumbstruck with awe.