Other films for your consideration VII

I think it is probably fair to say that Stanley Kubrick was his supreme best in and around the 1960s. Let’s forget about “Spartacus”. Before this decade, Kubrick’s films were interesting but rather crude and lacked budget. After about the mid 1970s, despite the wonderful film “The Shining”, Kubrick was not productive and his last film, “Eyes Wide Shut” is disappointing.

But let’s remember some others:

“Paths Of Glory” from 1957 is included because it is a film that has gained respect over the years. Starring Kirk Douglas, it is the story of a French mission during the First World War.

After “Spartacus” came “Lolita”. James Mason stars and the script is by original author Nabokov.

Mason is excellent, and it’s played as a black comedy rather than any kind of sex film.

Peter Sellers is in this and also “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”, another black comedy about the destruction of the world. Sellers plays multiple parts and is not a reason for seeing this film.

Apart from “Spartacus”, Kubrick was still making black and white films but moved into colour with “2001: A Space Odyssey”.

So much has been written about this big screen epic from 1968. You do have to see it on a very big screen, and not a digital version either, to see the level of detail. It totally convinces, and many people put this in their top five films of all time.

By 1971, Kubrick needed to show he could make a film quickly and to a limited budget, and so “A Clockwork Orange” was adapted into a film.

Not shown in the UK for many years, the actual original version we saw at the Warner’s cinema in Leicester Square is not available, and some changes have been made to make it slightly more palatable. Malcolm McDowell does not stick his finger into Adrienne Corrie’s bum hole, for example. It’s a film of its time. Actually, it was supposed to be 1980.

“It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”

Heres another big screen classic, from 1963, the BIG American comedy.

Directed by Stanley Kramer, who was involved in the making of the wonderful “Inherit The Wind” and “High Noon”, it has a cast list of ‘comedians’ as long as your arm: Milton Berle, Phil Silvers, Mickey Rooney, Terry-Thomas, Ethel Merman… it goes on. There was also Spencer Tracy.

The story begins with Jimmy Durante driving off a cliff and hitting the bucket. Before he does, he tells a number of strangers in cars a clue to finding his hidden stolen money, under a big W. So they go off to find it. It’s a race.

It’s a long film (including interval), at over three hours, loud (everyone shouts all the time), coarse beyond belief (hey, American humour is not known for being subtle) and, once in a while, mildly funny. But there are great guests to see: Buster Keaton, Arnold Stang, Jerry Lewis etc.

There is one bit, though, that we love. Towards the very end, the money is being dug up (sorry, slight spoiler). They are all there, including Tracy as the policeman. No-one knows who he is. Buddy Hackett looks at Tracy and for a brief moment there is a sad smile, totally innocent.

It’s available on disc with missing scenes restored as best as possible. It was shot in Ultra Panavision 70 and released in Cinerama so it is best seen on the big screen.

“The Beatles: Get Back”

We mentioned The Beatles and films just recently, and we have “Yellow Submarine” to come soon, but here’s a slight diversion.

If you are a Beatles fan you will know all this and much more… Apologies.

At some point in 1968 it was decided that the Fab Four should have a new project. It began shooting in January 1969 in the barn-like and very cold Twickenham Studios. The plan was not totally clear: some kind of filmed rehearsal/tv special/live concert in the UK or elsewhere. Michael Lindsay-Hogg was the director.

The lads came with a few ideas, nothing reasonably completed, but with a deadline before the concert or whatever. Twickenham proved a dreadful place, so they moved to Apple in Savile Row, recruited Billy Preston and did the famous roof top concert. And the album, and an 80 minute film.

The film shows the band unhappy with each other, making little progress, Paul dominating and Yoko Ono everywhere. Having been seen around the world, and the album selling well (even though it’s many people’s least favourite) the film disappeared and got no official home media release, though poor quality copies can be found.