You are being redirected - hold on tight!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Film: The Best Movies of 1968 -- Final Installment

Here's the last installment of my flashback to the best movies of 1968. You can find Part One and Part Two here.

11. The Lion in Winter

In the previous post I wrote about the feminist message inherent in Rachel, Rachel, Rosemary’s Baby and Funny Girl. The Lion in Winter joins the parade led by the indomitable Katherine Hepburn as the scheming trophy Queen, up against Peter O’ Toole as her scheming King, young Timothy Dalton as a scheming pretender to the throne and young Anthony Hopkins as one of the scheming princes. Indeed Hepburn would get an Oscar for her performance. O’Toole is Henry II, convening a Christmas Eve family conclave to decide on an heir. Christmas With The Kranks this ain’t.

12. The Thomas Crown Affair

Though Bullitt gets all the action typical of a Steve McQueen flick in 1968, it’s little more than a spectacular car chase with a movie appended to the beginning. The Thomas Crown Affair is something else, with a cerebral McQueen masterminding a tense romance with Faye Dunaway and a daring caper. Mercurial director Norman Jewison is at his best along with editor and future director Hal Ashby (Harold and Maude, Shampoo) and cinematography wunderkind Haskell Wexler. The use of split-screen was groundbreaking and the trio throw every modish effect at the screen like a compendium of late 60s angles and tricks. Though it’s a film about brainy planning, it’s best enjoyed with the cerebellum in neutral.

13. Targets

Peter Bogdonavich however, approaches film with the proto-Tarantino-esque eye of a student of the form with a deep knowledge of its history. Targets, his first film, is one of those accidental works of art turned out by Roger Corman’s exploitation factory. Corman launched a lot of careers (Jack Nicholson’s being only one of the most notable) and he inaugurated Bogdonavich’s by gifting him 20 minutes of footage from a Boris Karloff film he had on the shelf and Karloff himself who still had two days left on his contract with Corman.

From this is launched the haunting story of a washed-up horror movie actor making a personal appearance to promote his latest schlock film, and the real-life horror of the all-American boy next door who seems to like guns a bit too much and people a bit too little. Karloff gives one of the best performances of his career.

14. Witchfinder General

British director Michael Reeves was just 29 when he died in 1969. Before dying he left one masterpiece starring another actor better known for schlock horror and like Targets released in the United States with Roger Corman’s help. Vincent Price is terrific, controlled and ham-free in the disturbing Witchfinder General, a film about the evil inherent in religious fanaticism. Dick Cheney ought to pay close attention to the undertones here where torture and brutality and the rightness of might all signify the work of the devil.

15. If…

Bad schoolboys! Lindsey Anderson’s dark satiric gem guts British society from the inside out, using a prestigious private school as it’s stand-in. Who better than young rebellious Malcolm MacDowell to lead a band of students in escalating acts of transgression which are met by increasingly outrageous punishments. The ending is shockingly prescient for today’s viewers though considered over-the-top at the time. Totally brilliant.

No comments: