best film:  The Graduate from Mike Nichols is the sole 1967 film on my top 100 of all-time. I’m often asked if I have a bias against comedies (I’m lower on Chaplin, Wilder, Duck Soup relative to their positions on the TSPDT) and if it isn’t Wes Anderson- it is The Graduate that I often bring up as a counterpoint. It is simply one of the most ambitiously directed comedies of all-time.  It opens on the famous long take in the airport (even Tarantino pays homage in his opening of Jackie Brown), some of the editing sequences are spectacular (the montage of the Hoffman/Bancroft affair set to Simon and Garfunkel is a standout) and telephoto lens camerawork from The Graduate is the example I use most often when talking about that stylistic choice tied to technology (whether it be used in The Wild Bunch or Tootsie- both coming later).

The Graduate opens with the famous long take in the airport (even Tarantino pays homage in his opening of Jackie Brown)

one of those justifiably famous and inventive shots

Nichols is making big stylistic choices for almost the entirety of the 106-minute running time- one of the most famous telephoto lens shots here with Hoffman just endlessly running in place

 

most underrated:   Cool Hand Luke and In Cold Blood are both underrated. I was surprised to find out Richard Brooks’ film isn’t on the TSPDT top 1000 at all and I’ve always thought Cool Hand Luke deserves more credit (#805 on the consensus list). Sure, director Stuart Rosenberg isn’t Kubrick, but I find nearly every other element of the film to be superb and find the film, in general, closer to the greatest works of non-auteur cinema than just some above average film with excellent performances by Paul Newman and George Kennedy (who won the Oscar for supporting). The music is by Lalo Schifrin (Mission Impossible, Bullitt, Dirty Harry) and it’s shot by Conrad Hall (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Fat City, American Beauty, Road to Perdition)- both are absolute masters.

the tears on the window shot from In Cold Blood– a shot just about every cinephile knows or will come to know. I rarely single out cinematographers (I should probably do more) but 1967 is an amazing year for DP Conrad Hall. He’d be one of the best for the next 30+ years but here, in one year, you have breakthrough work in both In Cold Blood (his achievement here is often given more artistic credit than director Richard brooks) and Cool Hand Luke

most overrated:  Mouchette from Bresson is on the TSPDT list at #178 and it didn’t make my top 500.  This makes for consecutive years for Bresson “winning” this overrated category-  Au Hasard Balthazar took honors in 1966. I hope with my next Bresson study I’m looking back and laughing at my ignorance—but for now- I just don’t see how you put it at #178.

gem I want to spotlight:   Point Blank from John Boorman

  • Point Blank is magnificent– pulpy, revenge subject matter meets high art direction like Breathless, Shoot the Piano Player, Bob le Flambeur– clearly influenced by the French New Wave and Melville (kind of,sort of, New Wave) here (in terms of high art meets crime genre)—which was of course influenced by American film noir—the spectacular use of architecture though actually is closer to Resnais and Antonioni

Los Angeles very much a character in the film—Boorman insisted on location scouting himself

  • David Thomson writes about Lee Marvin’s character being a ghost—I don’t see it—but there are a few scenes that support that—there’s the constant reference it to being a dream Lee Marvin is having. He is shot, then gets up and he honestly doesn’t seem to be injured. His wife doesn’t talk directly to him – she’s almost like talking to herself with him there in the scene like Sixth Sense or something—even later Angie Dickinson’s character says “you died at Alcatraz alright”
  • Nick Schager Slant Magazine- “What makes Point Blank so extraordinary is Boorman’s virtuoso use of such unconventional avant-garde stylistics to saturate the proceedings with a classical noir mood of existential torpor and romanticized fatalism.”– well said
  • Background architecture as character— silent storytelling, non-linear narrative construction, the use of open space
  • The entire heist is done in the opening cross-cut flashback—it’s a bit disorienting until you get on its wavelength

Walking the hallways of LAX—the use of color and lighting- -gob-smackingly beautiful. It influences Jackie Brown and Tarantino shot there as well (1967 a big year for Tarantino apparently with Jackie Brown homages here and in The Graduate). The scene is great not just because of the visuals but the audio— Boorman users the sound of Marvin walking and overlaps it non-diegetically onto the intercut scene and the following scene

Influences everything today from Refn, to Skyfall to Atomic Blonde – here Marvin beats the hell out of a guy in front of a neon light with the lights moving on Marvin’s face

  • The high-rise exteriors and interiors—fabulous – using structure to block the frame
  • Angie Dickinson is in yellows—her sofa, cabinets, robes—drenched in it
  • Yellow and red pillars in the parking structure
  • the L.A. Rain basin set piece viaduct sequence-  used later in Grease, Terminator 2, Drive
  • canted angles, very expressionist and flashback heavy—I see an influence here on You Were Never Really Here and Lynne Ramsay in general
  • avant-garde in its use of structures and angles

 

trends and notables:

  • 1967 is most notable for the beginning of The New Hollywood- a changing of the guard in American film. For roughly a decade leading up to 1967, the epic, the musical, the children’s film, the all-star ensemble, Stanley Kramer, the older generation of actors/directors have dominated. That changes here in 1967. The American “New Wave” if you will, or New Hollywood would run from roughly 1967 to 1979 (usually ending with Coppola’s Apocalypse Now in 1979, or Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate in 1980).  It is probably the apex for American cinema. In a lot of ways, it was just the US catching up to what the French and Italians were doing for nearly a decade—avant-garde, youth movement, chic, Rock and Roll, political, controversial material (nudity/violence/language/themes) . The filmmakers making the best films in 1967 here- Arthur Penn, Stuart Rosenberg, and Mike Nichols- wouldn’t necessarily be the auteurs to lead this movement- but still- it’s impossible to deny that The Graduate and Bonnie and Clyde weren’t important as far as a cultural movement and box office (The Graduate was #1, Bonnie and Clyde #5) …. let alone as stand-alone important artistic works.

Bonnie and Clyde‘s genius slow-motion finale — preceding The Wild Bunch

the ending to The Graduate is crucial… if they go off happily-ever-after so much of the subversion is lost.

  • 1967 and Godard’s Weekend really marks the end of the French New Wave. French cinema is going strong (it really always has—1967 alone we have Tati, Melville, Bresson with big films)—but his famous tracking shot (such a fitting end) is the last time either he or Truffaut really shake the ground. Truffaut would go on to make good films in the 1970’s, but 1967 marks the last time Godard (or Demy) would have a top 10 of the year quality film.

you hate to see Godard’s run, or the French New Wave, come to an end… but if it had to end– I’m thrilled we have one of the great tracking shots in cinema history to mark the occasion

It isn’t just the end of Godard as one of the best directors on the planet– this is the last time Demy would be of real relevance as well (neither auteur would ever have a top 10 film again)- this shot from The Young Girls of Rochefort

  • It must have felt like Mike Nichols was taking over the world in 1967 after The Graduate and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? the year before (he’s 36 in 1967).
  • Altman and Scorsese have their first archiveable films. Altman is already 42, a television veteran and his 1967 film Countdown doesn’t even really do much more than hint at what would come later in MASH in 1970 and beyond. For Scorsese, he’s just 25 and Who’s That Knocking At My Door? is a rough (pretty rough) draft for 1973’s Mean Streets
  • Altman and Scorsese aren’t alone for first archiveable films for auteurs- La collectionneuse here for Eric Rohmer and Ken Russell’s first time in the archives with the end of the Harry Palmer/Michael Caine trilogy Billion Dollar Brain
  • Beatty had been around for few years but 1967 would bring us the first archiveable films for Dustin Hoffman and Faye Dunaway amongst others- these two would be instant stars- I mean no waiting in line. The next year or two he’s in the best picture winner and she’s starring opposite Steve McQueen. Donald Sutherland is maybe two steps below them in terms of notoriety for The Dirty Dozen and it would take a few more years until 1969’s Best Picture winner for Jon Voight to be a household name but he does get his first archiveable film here in 1967 for Hour of the Gun. Martin Sheen is horrifying as the terrorist on the subway in The Incident and young Harvey Keitel starts his career alongside Scorsese of course in Who’s That Knocking At My Door?

best performance male   I hate this. Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate and Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke are both transcendent performances. Each would stand alone as the single best performance in many years. If forced to choose, I’d give the slight nod to Hoffman I guess here though it kills me even typing that out. These are two great actors (both in my top 20 all-time for male actors) and this is their respective best work. Newman is a massive star already and in 1967 he adds Hombre (very underrated film) in the the mix as well. You pair these two 1967 films with Hud, Harper, and The Hustler (something in marketing with the H’s—I don’t know the story there) and you have a pretty amazing actor-as-auteur, anti-hero study.  Lee Marvin had a big 1967 – he leads The Dirty Dozen but he’s really here as a mention in this category for his work as Walker in Point Blank. Alain Delon is perfect as the ice-cold killer in Le Samouraï. Behind them, I’d put Warren Beatty in Bonnie and Clyde – a complex role, impotence, violence. After Beatty I’d go with Sidney Poitier for his work in In the Heat of the Night. Poor Poitier is a great actor but just wasn’t in many strong movies- and even this is a stretch here- I do not like going this far out of the top 10 films of the year. Still, Poitier’s work here is superior to the work of co-star Rod Steiger who actually won the Oscar in 1967 over all of these other performances.  The last mention is for Mifune in Samurai Rebellion. Like Marcello Mastroianni in La Notte or Le notti bianche without Fellini, this is a big role to show Mifune could do it without Kurosawa.

if you want to talk Paul Newman- Cool Hand Luke is probably where you need to start

Dustin Hoffman as Ben Braddock- he’d go on to win multiple Academy Awards– but would never top his first archiveable film

Alain Delon is perfect as the steely hitman Jef Costello

a look at Melville’s meticulously designed interiors– from the slate walls to the sheets on the bed

Samurai Rebellion from Kobayashi- it is a gorgeous final showdown —the camera is active throughout the battle and we have some great angled shots. It also has a repeated shot (film form) from the very opening when the two characters (then they were friends or co-workers at least) were testing weapons (Mifune is a weapons dealer basically)—there is such reverence and respect between these two reluctant warriors. It’s an ambitious final 20 minutes- very sad—well choreographed

 

best performance female: Anne Bancroft doesn’t have the screen time Hoffman does in The Graduate (I’m not even sure she has as much as Katharine Ross) but she makes the most of those scenes and to me is the pretty easy choice here. Faye Dunaway is every bit Beatty’s equal- probably better- in Bonnie and Clyde. Catherine Deneuve continues to do superb work—1964, 1965, and 1967– mentions in this category as one of the year’s best. She’s very worthy here in 1967 with both Belle de Jour and The Young Girls of Rochefort. It isn’t on the level of Bancroft but I do think co-star Katharine Ross slides into the fourth and final slot here for 1967.

it is the Catherine Deneuve-era– here in Bunuel’s Belle de Jour. Deneuve is often stoic, and finds roles and auteurs that help accentuate her strengths

here again in another pairing with Demy

 

top 10

  1. The Graduate
  2. Cool Hand Luke
  3. Point Blank
  4. Bonnie and Clyde
  5. Weekend
  6. Le Samourai
  7. Playtime
  8. Belle De Jour
  9. Samurai Rebellion
  10. The Young Girls of Rochefort

 

the memorable opening of Belle de Jour

Jacques Tati’s visual design and comic genius on display Playtime…

…both a big canvas (shot on 65mm) and extremely detailed

Schlesinger’s Far from the Madding Crowd is a film that falls outside of the top 10 of the year that deserves attention and study

Julie Christie is excellent, you can’t take your eyes of Terence Stamp, and they’re supported by Peter Finch and Alan Bates as well — both doing really good work

 

Archives, Directors, and Grades

2 or 3 Things I Know About Her- Godard R
Accident – Losey R
Barefoot in the Park- Saks R
Bedazzled – Donen R
Belle De Jour- Bunuel MS
Billion Dollar Brain – K. Russell R
Bonnie and Clyde- Penn MP
Camelot- Logan R
Cool Hand Luke- Rosenberg MP
Countdown – Altman R
Death Rides a Horse – Petroni R
Far From the Madding Crowd- Schlesinger HR
Guess Who Is Coming To Dinner- Kramer R
Hombre-Ritt HR
Hour of the Gun- J. Sturges R
In Cold Blood- R. Brooks HR
In the Heat of the Night- Jewison HR
La Collectionneuse – Rohmer R
La Samourai- Melville MS
Mouchette- Bresson HR
Oedipus Rex – Pasolini R/HR
Playtime- Tati MS
Point Blank – Boorman MP
Samurai Rebellion – Kobayashi MS
Spider Baby or, the Maddest Story Ever Told – Jack Hill R
The Dirty Dozen- Aldrich R
The Fireman’s Ball- Forman R
The Graduate- M. Nichols MP
The Hellbenders – Corbucci R
The Honey Pot – Mankiewicz R
The Incident – Peerce R
The Jungle Book- Reitherman R
The Producers- M. Brooks HR
The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre- Corman HR
The Taming of the Shrew- Zeffirelli R
The Two of Us- Berri R
The Young Girls of Rochefort- Demy HR
Two For the Road- Donen
Wait Until Dark- Young R
Weekend- Godard MS
Who’s That Knocking At My Door – Scorsese R
Will Penny- Gries R
You Only Life Twice – Gilbert R

 

 

*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film

MS is Must-See- top 5-6 quality of the year film

HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film

R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives