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).
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.
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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- The Graduate
- Cool Hand Luke
- Point Blank
- Bonnie and Clyde
- Le Samourai
- Belle De Jour
- Samurai Rebellion
- The Young Girls of Rochefort
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|
|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|
|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|
|Le Samourai- Melville||MS|
|Oedipus Rex – Pasolini||R/HR|
|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|
|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
On Wikipedia it says the New Hollywood era started In 65 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Hollywood
Can a case that it did start that early? I’ve seen people making a argument for this a few times and I wanna know what’s your take?
I forgot to put be made up there
1967 was a mind-blowingly great year for film. Damn, reading this simply reminds me of the degree to which Bancroft was robbed at the Oscars. Mrs Robinson is probably one of the most intriguing characters in cinematic history. Though I have to say as far as male actors are concerned, I think I preferred Paul Newman.
I don’t know how long it takes you to get to 1967, have you seen Playtime again? i really still think it’s the best movie of 1967, i’ve seen all of the top 10 (except Mouchette) and none of these films seem superior to me.
One of the best production designs.
Even if you haven’t seen it again, have you considered giving it another chance?
From Godard what will you see? will you also see everything he did in the 1970s-present?
This guy gets it.
Are you certain Le Samourai is not a MP?
Well I’m just saying, next to Le Samouraï it should say “MP” not “MS.”
@Zane- haha fair… your objection has been noted
Can you think of a few films that use the telephoto lens as incredibly as The Graduate? I think The Exorcist uses it from time to time and Requiem For A Dream as well, but neither Friedkin or Aronofsky used it the same way Nichols does in The Graduate.
@Zane- Good question– Lawrence of Arabia, The Wild Bunch come to mind right away… http://thecinemaarchives.com/2020/07/26/lawrence-of-arabia-1962-lean/ and here http://thecinemaarchives.com/2019/06/20/the-wild-bunch-1969-peckinpah/ …. my search capability is actually decent- I just plugged in “telephoto” and this came up!
@Drake You have a page for Bedazzled but there isn’t any hyperlink that takes there.
You’ve just made me realize that each movie name at the bottom is hyperlinked. I feel silly for not realizing it before. Thanks.
@Anderson- thank you- should be hyperlinked now. appreciate your help
It seems pretty weird to me that Harvey Keitel didn’t starred in a second film until Mean Streets six years later. Usually young actors do a lot of films. Even Daniel Day-Lewis did quite a few films before his breakthrough in My Left Foot. 5 years without a film for a young actor that’s nearly unheard of.
@Anderson- agreed- looks like some television work https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000172/
Am I wrong for thinking Le Samurai is a Masterpiece – it’s fascinating on so many levels:
– Starts off with brilliant fake quote “There is no solitude greater than a samurai’s…Unless perhaps it is that of a tiger in the jungle”
– A work of existentialism, Alain Delon’s Jef Costello lives such as an isolated life, all he has in apartment is his trench coat, Fedora, cigarettes, and a random bird in birdcage, and a comically huge set of keys, no attachments like De Niro’s character in Heat
– Refuses to dedicate itself to a standard crime plot, in fact, refuses to dedicate to much of any plot as this is all about mood and style
– All about processes and routines, everything about this film is so patient and methodical
– Melville use of color: use of blue tint, shades of gray, blue, and green
– Style in spades
– Fascinating character study of a man who dedicates himself to his craft with the discipline of a modern-day Samurai
– Sparse dialogue, the police investigator is the only character who enjoys the sound of his own voice
Interesting thought, John Woo lists this as one of his 3 favorite movies along with Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and Lean’s Laurence of Arabia.
I agree with everything you wrote here, this is a fantastic film and takes a lot of risks that absolutely pay off in focusing 100% on style, form, and atmosphere over content, and unlike Purple Noon–which was a MP until about the last 30 to 60 seconds–Le Samourai has an ending that is quite strong. On the last thing you mentioned, I’m not surprised this film is a major influence on Woo. You can watch just one film of his and know.
@Zane – yeah I’m watching it again right now ha.
– absolutely an exercise in style, not surprising that Tarantino loves him
– loved Purple Noon as well and yeah ending was very disappointing
– I’m a big fan of Woo particularly The Killer (1989) and the A Better Tomorrow films
I came up with what I think is a better ending for Purple Noon on the 1960 page if you’re interested in reading it.
Godard actually put out 3 films this year, the 2 you have as well as La Chinoise (1967) which was an interesting political film with Jean-Pierre Léaud, although not one of my favorites from him.
@James Trapp- he did, yes, and I’ve seen it- but don’t have it in the archives so I sort of ignore it. I’ll get to it again shortly in my Godard study
Caught a viewing of The Graduate for the first time in several years, did not think all that highly of it the 1st time around due to the far fetched plot twists and ending and I just found Dustin Hoffman’s character to be painfully annoying. Roger Ebert’s review of this film is hilarious here is a quote:
“Occasionally I will meet an almost-adult son of friends, and notice that he behaves like a mute savage in company, responding to conversation with grunts and inarticulate syllables. This behavior is usually accompanied by uncoordinated lurches, as if he is behind the wheel of a body too big for him to drive. A few years pass, and this creature regains the use of his brain and speech, and I see that he was passing through a phase. Does he look back on his earlier years in embarrassment? Today, looking at “The Graduate,” I see Benjamin not as an admirable rebel, but as a self-centered creep whose put-downs of adults are tiresome”
After watching again my opinion of the characters and plot have not changed much but I have to admit it was visually stunning and has one of the best uses of music in a film
– the opening in LAX was great
– all the pool and underwater shots were spectacular
– loved the fish tank, which I took as a metaphor for how Benjamin feels trapped
– the montages and soundtrack combinations are awesome
– Mrs. Robinson is one of my favorite songs
I laughed out loud at how you deliberately specified “Stanley Kramer” in the trends and notables section.
It’s barely a worthy nitpick, but I notice that you refer to Le Samourai as La Samourai in the Archives, Directors, and Grades section.
@Graham- Appreciate the help- I want to get it right.
To Sir, with Love ? Poitier?
@Mike- Thanks for the comment. I have seen it, I have it just missing the archives.
Elizabeth Taylor in Virginia Woolf vs. Anne Bancroft in The Graduate. Take your pick.
For me it’s Mrs. Robinson
Hm The Graduate is the better film and I love Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson but Taylor owns more of the film and imo, really takes the character to an elevated place. I read Nichols initially wanted Jeanne Moreau for Mrs. Robinson and I could certainly picture that (Moreau’s case would be even stronger as one of the GOAT) but I don’t think I’d want another to play Martha. Liz transforms but doesn’t lose her innate sex appeal and uses it to her advantage, which for me really adds layers to the character. I read that Bette Davis and some others were considered but with all due respect I think Bette would have gone much more one-note and played it a la Baby Jane. Liz’s take was very unpredictable and compelling.
I agree with every single point you made. I was just talking about personal favorite.
I think Bancroft’s achievement is beyond excellent. It’s truly sublime. The prime reason being that Mrs. Robinson could’ve been anyone from a tragic victim to a comic relief and yet she remains one of the greatest and most recognisable characters in cinema history is the testament of her talent. I don’t think anyone else could’ve done that role. She makes that character a femme-fatale with incredible sense of humor. She’s the ultimate seductress and an unfulfilled wife on equal parts. I think Bancroft has a sense of humor not many actresses have a sense of humor and wit ( McDormand, Swinton come to my mind as exceptions). And i don’t think the character works without that sense of humor
Mrs. Robinson is unpredictable.
The script doesn’t develop her that much she’s not given a backstory or an arc and without all that Bancroft carves a character and a performance for a lifetime.
equally great points there. Mrs. Robinson is indeed a fantastic character and performance, I particularly love the moment where Elaine finds her out. Bancroft had a great face and talent for communicating dread (also true of her performance in The Pumpkin Eater).
Bondarchuk’s War and Peace? I think I checked 66&67 pages for this film. Is its absence an oversight? Do you consider it a “series” and not a film? I can’t imagine it simply didn’t qualify
@Andrei79- Simply have not caught up with this one yet- been trying to get to it for years.
I am proposing 1967 as one of the candidates for the best year in cinema history. By my count there is 11 masterpieces, what is unheard of in any other year (for now).
Branded to Kill
War and Peace Part III: The Year 1812
Cool Hand Luke
Bonnie and Clyde
War and Peace Part IV: Pierre Bezukhov
Belle de Jour