#300 The Producers

Watched: July 6 2021

Director: Mel Brooks

Starring: Gene Wilder, Zero Mostel, Dick Shawn, Kenneth Mars, Estelle Winwood, Christopher Hewett, Andréas Voutsinas, Lee Meredith, Renée Taylor

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 28min

Max Bialystock (Mostel), The King of Broadway, has fallen on hard times. He is now dependent on doling out sexual favours to rich, elderly widows to finance his plays, most of which don’t do particularly well.

Seriously though, we love seeing older women being unabashedly sexual. You go, girl!

Leo Bloom (Wilder) is an insecure, young accountant tasked with auditing his accounts. However, he is pulled into the fraudulent world of Bialystock and comes up with a way to make more money from a theatrical flop than a hit.

“I have never been more aroused in my entire life”

Teaming up, the two men go searching for the most offensive play they can find – something that could never ever be a hit. And they score big with Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden – a love letter to Hitler written by an actual Nazi, Franz Liebkind (Mars).

🎵”Don’t be stupid be a smarty – come and join the Nazi party!”
“More like a lynching party once this shit opens…”

While the play itself should ensure their (un)success, they seal the deal by engaging a horrible director and casting an off-beat hippie who just happened to wander into the audition to play the lead. Everything is coming up Bialystock!

He even got a lovely new secretary in the shape of no-so-Swedish go-go-dancer Ulla

We love EVERYTHING about this movie, and we go around humming “Springtime for Hitler” a LOT more than any human being should. From the cabinet filled with framed pictures of Bialystock’s old, rich women to “We’re Prisoners of Love,” The Producers is a hilarious romp fueled by fantastic performances and Mel Brooks’ particular sense of humour. The plot, the music, the characters, the dialogue – it all works, and we can watch it again and again. And so should you.

Just look at this! It’s such a bananas idea that it has to work.

What we learned: Friendship is magic.

Next time: Bonus: Favourites #251-300

#299 The President’s Analyst

Watched: May 24 2021

Director: Theodore J. Flicker

Starring: James Coburn, Godfrey Cambridge, Severn Darden, Joan Delaney, Pat Harrington Jr.

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 43min

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Dr Sidney Schaefer (Coburn) is recruited to be, as the title suggests, the President’s psychoanalyst. And boy does the President need it! Schaefer is conveniently moved to a new home with a secret tunnel connecting it to the White House, meaning that his new patient can call on him at all hours of the day and night. And he does.

Who wouldn’t want this to be the face they see morning, noon and night?

Cushy or not, the job is top secret and totes private, so Schaefer cannot vent to anyone about the stress and pressure of his new position, and this soon starts to tear on his own psyche. He begins to see conspiracies everywhere – even suspecting his new girlfriend of spying on him.

“Leave your girlfirend, your friends and your family. Come with us. We’re safe. We’re good. We’re not going to stare at you while you sleep and try to steal your soul.”

Turns out he’s right all along! There are a whole bunch of agencies out to get him, such as the CEA, the FBR, the KGB and, worst of all, the TPC! How is a poor psychiatrist supposed to get out of this mess?

The way we all get out of scrapes: with the help of a gun-toting, trigger happy, all-American family with excellent fashion sense, of course!

This movie is hilarious. Ok, it’s very, very silly, but if you’re in the right mood it’s great. The sixties are truly swinging in this comedy/thriller/sci-fi, and Coburn is swinging along. Despite his strife, he seems very jolly and happy all the time – he handles everything thrown at him with ease. He appears to be especially delighted during his stint as a gong player in a hippie band while on the run.

“I cannot believe I wasted my life with a good education and the pursuit of a career! Stick it to the MAN!”

The quintessential American Family™ the Quandrills are also among our favourites, but what we enjoyed the most about this movie were all the different agencies and their relationships with each other. The agents and spies from the FBR, KGB, TPC, CSS, CEA, etc. tend to bump into each other so often that they’re all old friends – especially Masters (Cambridge) and Kropotkin (Darden), CEA and KGB, respectively. Their scenes together are easily the best parts of the movie. We also enjoyed the piles of dead assassins and spies. Mass murder is hilarious (in the right context)!

Also, phone companies are evil. But we already knew that.

What we learned: Are you paranoid if they’re actually out to get you?

Next time: The Producers (1967)

#298 The Graduate

Watched: January 31 2021

Director: Mike Nichols

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross, William Daniels, Murray Hamilton, Elizabeth Wilson

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 46min

Surprise motherfuckers! We’re not dead. We just got to summer and realised we were completely exhausted by work and pandemics and generally being alive, so we needed a proper break. No work, no writing, no responsibilities! Sorry ’bout it. But we are now rested and rejuvenated and ready to dive back in with a fun, lighthearted romp through depression, existential crises, borderline abuse, doomed relationships and rape allegations… Oh. Oh damn.

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Well, the plot of The Graduate is pretty well known. Ben (Hoffman) comes home from college, all disillusioned and emo. His parents’ generation is totes old fashioned and lame, and all Ben knows is he certainly doesn’t want to become like them (spoiler alert: he probably will). Then the ultimate cougar seduces him.

The ancient crone Anne Bancroft, 36 years old at the time of filming. Fuck, we’re old.

Ben’s domestic claustrophobia and feeling of alienation on his return home are probably familiar to most people – we know we’ve been there. Being a young adult is hard, man! Luckily, he deals with his emotions in a mature manner – by floating around in the pool and fucking his parents’ friend.

“They just don’t understand, AquariumMan!”

Things get more complicated once Ben falls in love with Mrs Robinson’s daughter Elaine (Ross). Whether out of jealousy or because she thinks her daughter could do better than her boy toy, Mrs Robinson does everything she can to break the two up – including falsely accusing Ben of rape.

“I get that you’re mad at me, but the trope of women falsely crying rape in popular culture is very detrimental to feminism in general and to actual victims specifically. Because while statistically false accusations are rare and unreported assaults are much more common, a lot of people will use the few examples that exist in order to undermine the victims who do come forward. See – I did learn some things in college!”

As is tradition, let’s go through what we liked and didn’t like about The Graduate. We loved the stress, depression and claustrophobia experienced by Ben, the clown painting, the portrayal of ennui and alienation, Simon and Garfunkel, and the last shot when the two crazy kids realize they may have just made a huge mistake.

Well fuck

What we didn’t like… Well… Let’s face it: Elaine is a non-person. The only semi-intelligent thing she does is leave him on that first, disasterous date. Then after that, she sort of just exists to be an object of obsession for her new stalker who’s secretly banging her mom. And also to show him if you just stalk and bother her enough, she’ll eventually fall in love with you. #lifehack

There’s nothing more charming than a man who follows you to a date with another guy. Harrassment means he cares!

That being said, Ben’s malaise is relatable for people of several generations. The ’60s was not the last decade where the youth had trouble relating to their parents, and while we came around a long time later (we’re still young dammit!), we’ve been in the same boat. Luckily, we avoided being seduced by the neighbourhood cougar. Phew!

What we learned: A relationship is the solution to all your problems! Also, stalking is super romantic.

Next time: The President’s Analyst (1967)

#297 The Firemen’s Ball/Horí, má panenko

Watched: June 1 2021

Director: Miloš Forman

Starring: Jan Vostrcil, Josef Sebánek, Josef Valnoha, Frantisek Debelka, Josef Rehorek, Jan Stöckl, Frantisek Reinstein, Frantisek Paska, Josef Kolb, Frantisek Svet, Josef Kutálek, and a bunch of other guys probably called Jan, Josef and/or Frantisek.

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 13min

Our small city of Trondheim has been relatively unaffected by Covid for the past few months – we’ve had few infections and most of our businesses have run more or less like normal. In fact, it’s been a source of pride for many local politicians and citizens how well we’ve handled all of this. But those of us who watch a lot of movies know all too well the price of hubris… It was only a matter of time before a new wave hit, which happened recently. This time with fun, new mutations! The result of all this is that while the rest of the world is slowly opening up again, we’re going in the opposite direction: many places are shut down, we’re in and out of quarantines, and things are far from normal. But at least we’ve got movies, right?

Kidnapping rates are thankfully also low, due to the whole don’t-leave-your-home-thing. So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.

After a wait list period (who else checked out this movie in 2021???) we just managed to get our hands on The Firemen’s Ball before the libraries closed down. And was it worth it? Well, probably.

It has certainly become more complicated to use library services since the right wing government came into power…

OK, we’ll be honest – The Firemen’s Ball needs context to work, at least it did for us. With no context, it’s a farce about a bunch of bumbling, incompetent firemen trying to throw a ball, while being both stupid and a little bit sexist about it. And we’re not really big fans of farces – we tend to find them annoying (and sometimes sad) rather than funny.

It’s probably our critical and analytical stares, here perfectly captured by Forman.

However, context is important. This movie was made in Czechoslovakia in 1967, and the Communist Party was not amused by the depiction of bureaucratic idiocy and inadequate leaders. In fact, they were so unimpressed that Miloš Forman ended up in (self-imposed) exile in the wake of it. Which makes the whole thing pretty badass, even if the movie itself isn’t really our cup of tea.

“To reflect our high status and importance in society, we’ve moved away from the traditional fireman helmet into a design more befitting our station. No pun intended.”

So basically, watch this if you’re interested in history and/or like farces. But if you don’t like either, maybe skip it…

Some things work best with context. While other things, like this picture, are just as good or better without.

What we learned: “Uzenka” means “sausage”. We’ll never again starve or go horny for long in the Czech Republic.

Next time: The Graduate (1967)

#296 The Dirty Dozen

Watched: December 21 2020

Director: Robert Aldrich

Starring: Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, George Kennedy, Richard Jaeckel, Trini López, Ralph Meeker, Robert Ryan, Clint Walker, Robert Webber, Tom Busby

Year: 1967

Runtime: 2h 30min

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We continue our criminal-men-do-fun-but-risky-stuff-together-while-paying-an-inordinate-amount-of-attention-to-their-attire with The Dirty Dozen – a suspenseful war drama featuring a host of well-known tough guys.

“We have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass . . . and bubblegum is heavily rationed so our options are limited.”

During WWII, Major Reisman (Marvin) is tasked with blowing up a French château housing a bunch of important Germans. To help with this suicide mission he enlists not the best of the best, but rather the worst of the worst: conviced rapists, murderers and other assorted criminals who are promised freedom should they happen to survive. What could possibly go wrong with this scenario?

It’s all fun and games until…oh… Eh, yes. Carry on.

A lot, it turns out. For some reason, these condemned sociopaths have trouble working together and listening to authority. Luckily, the Major understands them and knows how to get them all on the same page (hint: liquor and prostitutes will go a long way..). So gradually, they learn to cooperate, have each other’s backs, and the greatest bonding exercise known to man: burning Germans alive. Yay!

“How do I reach these kiiiiids?”

The Dirty Dozen was our family’s big Christmas movie this year and while it didn’t necessarily give us a lot of Christmas spirit, it was very good entertainment. While it all leads up to the mission itself, most of the film shows the teambuilding and training the soldiers/convicts are put through, and how their comradery grows as they get ready.

Nothing strengthens friendships like blowing shit up together. Takes us right back to our university days. Such carnage… Such bliss…

We loved the base building, the military band gag, Pinkley’s impersonation of a General (can’t go wrong with a Sutherland!), the opposition of Franko, the practise maneuvers, and of course George Kennedy. The movie is funny, exciting, tense, brutal, dramatic, ultimately heartbreaking, and we really enjoyed it.

“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. Kamikaze soldier of the Allied Forces and proud owner of a pack of dental floss.”

What we learned: Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty. Also, don’t entrust religious fanatics with sensitive missions… Or misogynists with anything, really.

Next time: The Firemen’s Ball (1967)

#295 Robbery

Watched: March 30 2021

Director: Peter Yates

Starring: Stanley Baker, Joanna Pettet, James Booth, Frank Finlay, Barry Foster, William Marlowe, Clinton Greyn, George Sewell

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 50min

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A bomb is planted in a car. We follow it through the streets of London. When the countdown reaches zero, instead of an explosion, gas is released and knocks out the driver and his passenger. Enter our heroes/gangsters in their fake ambulance. And that, our friends, is how you kidnap someone in broad daylight!

“Heigh ho, heigh ho, it’s off to rob we go! We’ll get some cash to build our stash, heigh ho, heigh ho!” “Come on guys! Join in! Remember we have that recital on Monday.”

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But even a well-planned and perfectly executed heist is not foolproof. The police are onto them, leading to an adrenaline-filled and insane car chase. After they get away (spoiler! Sorry!) and have cooled down a bit, it is time to plot, plan and rehearse the actual heist – one very much inspired by the Great Train Robbery of 1963.

“Actually, this is all just an excuse to show off our new range of dapper outerwear: The Heist Line™ – available now in a variety of styles and colours, such as Blend-in Beige™, Camouflage Camel™, and Blot-out Black™. Not to mention the highly sophisticated Covert Cream™.”

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Robbery is very much in the tradition of Topkapi, Rififi, and even Gambit. There’s an elaborate scheme which has been planned to the last detail, there’s a motley yet lovable crew of misfits – each hand picked for their job, and there’s a lot that could go wrong. There’s also a kinda, sorta love story here, but honestly it seemed a bit forced. It certainly wasn’t necessary for the plot.

Now, we all want more women in film, and more good roles for women, but this subplot felt a bit unnecessary. Not because of the lovely Joanna Pettet though – she’s fantastic. Here pictured in Veiled Viridian™.

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Our favourite scenes were the opening heist and the subsequent car chase, as well as the prison break. We also loved the meticulous planning and the main heist, of course. Robbery touches on most clichés within the heist movie genre, but it does it well and it’s thrilling from start to end, so we have no complaints.

“I see you went for the Obscure Oxblood™ with the Inconspicuous Ivory trim™. Brave choice!”

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What we learned: Our money’s on the pill. Also, use the discount code HEIST10 for 10% off of all items in Mysterious Mauve™

Next time: The Dirty Dozen (1967)

#294 Quatermass and the Pit

Watched: March 19 2021

Director: Roy Ward Baker

Starring: Andrew Keir, James Donald, Barbara Shelley, Julian Glover

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 37min

Hobbs End: a lone bobby is walking along the wet London street, making this the most British opening scene ever. Then: Ape men! Buried in the underground! This is gonna be goooood.

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Along with the five million year old ape man remains, there’s some sort of a device found buried in the mud. And, since this is the cold war, the military jumps right on that in case it’s some sort of a bomb or missile. Or even better – something they can use to put Britain on the nuclear superpower-map along with the USA and Soviet. But doctor Roney (Donald), Barbara Judd (Shelley) and professor Quatermass (Keir) have other ideas.

“Sure, it could be the skull of an unfortunate German pilot left here to rot since the war. But what if, and bear with me here, it’s the only earthly remains of a humanoid ape race who secretly ruled the world five million years ago and who were controlled by extraterrestrial insects..? I believe that theory has just as much merit. “

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Quatermass is right. Naturally. The device is a martian space ship, piloted by large bugs who kidnapped apes from earth, did some selctive breeding, then returned them to earth to repopulate our planet with these martian-earthling-combo-creatures who are probably our ancestors. Yup. That would have been our first guess too.

Oh. Well, I’ll be damned… They were right all along.

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Further research shows that the fictional Hobbs End has been plagued by evil spirits and scary supernatural phenomena for centuries, specifically deformed ghosts walking through walls and strange aural disturbances. Can the extraterrestrial find and the spooky apparitions be related somehow?

Aliens and demons and devils, oh my!

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We love us some Hammer horror! Sure, Quatermass is from the same tradition as the original Doctor Who – the era when the educated, privileged, white, middle aged man was the only possible voice of reason… But despite that, we really enjoy the Quatermass movies, even though this one also tends to perpetuate the stereotype of women feeling and men thinking.

“Thank Jesus we had this emotional lady hanging around. Our logical man brains were way too rational to pick up the hive memory of our collective past and solve the mystery.”

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Does Quatermass and the Pit make sense? Not quite. But it is a great ride. There are clearly fake insect monsters, very cool poltergeist activity, panic on the streets of London, and extreme Britishness. It had humanity pegged too. We quote: “‘If we found out the world was doomed, say by climatic changes, what would we do?’ ‘Nothing. We’d just go on squabbling about it as usual.'” Yeah… Things haven’t changed much since 1967.

“You’re all doomed”

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What we learned: Satan’s just an oversized bug.

Next time: Robbery (1967)

#293 Privilege

Watched: March 18 2021

Director: Peter Watkins

Starring: Paul Jones, Jean Shrimpton, Mark London, William Job, Max Bacon, Jeremy Child, James Cossins

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 43min

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In the near future (counting from 1967, that is. So the distant past, we guess), Steven Shorter (Jones) is a pop sensation with a complete grip on the youth population of Britain. His stage shows are theatrical productions designed to manipulate the audience – mostly consisting of women. Thank God no one wants to take advantage of his position and influence to create a fascist regime!

“Hahaha! We wouldn’t dream of it…”

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Just kidding! That is exactly the plan, of course. You see, the youth of Britain refuse to conform and bow to traditional authorities such as the police, the government and the church. Rude! And naturally, we cannot have that. So why not take this pop star and make him the poster boy for former criminals who have seen the light and are now repenting Christians? It’s a sure fire plan to bring the youth of Britain back into the fold.

“For the stage show, we should go subtle with the symbolism, I think.” “Um… Yeah, sure. We’ll totally do that.”

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The only person on Steven’s side trying to steer him right is Vanessa (Shrimpton), an artist comissioned to paint his portrait. But how can the two of them stand up against the powerful machine of the establishment?

I know! That scourge of fascist regimes everywhere: sexual liberation!

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Well, this movie was oddly prescient… Made in 1967, but it might as well have been made today. We’ve now truly experienced how pop culture and social media fame can influence politics and how dangerous this can be.

“Take the shackles off my hands so I can…manipulate you all to blindly follow my crazy cult of complete conformity and conservative Christianity. And also dance.”

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Are Paul Jones and Jean Shrimpton amazing actors? Well, no. But their apathetic approach sort of works anyway. Privilege is a very compelling pseudo-documentary and one which is very much relevant to this day and we loved it. For an interesting (and depressing) double feature, try pairing it with Framing Britney Spears. Or the Cheeto’s political career… Whatever bites your apple.

“Biting will cost you extra…”

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What we learned: Do not worship celebrities… Or probably anything, really.

Next time: Quatermass and the Pit (1967)

#292 Poor Cow

Watched: February 15 2021

Director: Ken Loach

Starring: Carol White, John Bindon, Terence Stamp

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 41min

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Joy (White) gets pregnant at a young age and marries her baby-daddy Tom (Bindon), despite him being an abusive dick. As a young, working class girl we can’t imagine she felt she had much choice in the matter. Luckily for her, her hubby is caught during a robbery and is sent off to jail. Yay!

“Hmm..? What was that..? Jail? Ok, dear, have fun. Pick up some milk on the way home.”

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Once Tom’s out of the picture, life gets better. She starts a relationship with Dave (Stamp) – another criminal, but one who treats her well and takes good care of both her and her son Johnny. However, soon he too is arrested and sentenced to 12 years for a brutal robbery. Not yay. Well, sort of yay, seeing he really is a violent criminal (with a penchant for collecting ladies, which isn’t very nice). So, all in all a semi-yay. A muted celebration. Prosecco in lieu of champagne. That sort of shindig.

“I swear to God if you play Wonderwall again…”

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Joy stays in touch with Dave in prison and continues their relationship as best she can, but a girl’s gotta make a living. She gets a job as a barmaid, and then as a model for a bunch of perverts who get their rocks off taking pictures of scantily clad women. But as her friend points out, she enjoys sex and flirting too much to make a career out of prostitution – she’s very happy to do it for free! Fair enough. Soon however, Tom is released from prison, and Joy is faced with some tough choices… And she makes the very worst one! The idiot…

Nope. This is not it. This does not even make Joy’s List of Top Ten Bad Choices.

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We must admit a pattern in ourselves, where we’re sometimes a little bit unenthusiastic about putting on kitchen sink dramas (sometimes you just want stupid entertainment from a movie, not life lessons or heart breaking drama!)… But more often than not we end up really enjoying them, and that is exactly what happened with this movie.

Honestly, we really did enjoy it more than a cold, windy day on a rocky beach. Scout’s honour.

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Despite our misgivings about Joy’s choices, Poor Cow is quite engaging. It woke us right up with the childbirth in the opening scene and we liked the efficient storytelling – by skipping from scene to scene we get the whole story with minimal effort on all our parts. And we love us some minimal effort. We also loved the faces in the crowd – Loach knew how to pick them! – the fact that the women actually liked sex and, as per usual, the clothes and the hair. Was it our favourite social realism kitchen sink drama British new wave type of film? No. But was it worth watching? Yes, definitely.

For the romantically inclined, there’s even a sweet lovey-dovey waterfall scene

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However, we’re not entirely sure what to think of Joy. We don’t really get any insight into her internal workings, which kind of works – she remains a bit of a mystery. But man, make good choices, girl! And if your reaction to realising that your son is the most important thing in your life is to stay with his abusive dad who clearly gives no shits about him or you, then you need to sort out your priorities.

“Just relax”

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What we learned: Everybody’s bent.

Next time: Privilege (1967)

#291 Point Blank

Watched: January 23 2021

Director: John Boorman

Starring: Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Keenan Wynn, Carroll O’Connor, John Vernon, Sharon Acker

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 32min

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Walker (Marvin) is double-crossed (by his wife and best friend, no less!), shot and left for dead during a heist at the abandoned Alcatraz prison. He somehow survives and escapes, and is now determined to get his $93 000 back from “the Organization.”

“I AM Judge Judy and executioner!”

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He kills his way through a bunch of crooks and crime bosses, outsmarting them at every turn, all the while repeating his mantra of “I want my money.” Which, spoiler alert, he never gets. But he manages to fuck enough shit up that the people who stole from him won’t be able to enjoy it either. Which is a sort of a win itself, we guess. Although not a very satisfactory one.

About as satisfactory as emtying your chamber in the unoccupied bed of your treacherous ex-wife. We assume. We’ve never experienced the former as all our revenge plots have gone off without a hitch.

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As is tradition, in between kicking ass and taking names, he manages to entangle himself with a Dame, in this case his wife’s sister Chris (Dickinson). Keep it in the family. Smart man.

“I cannot believe my own brother-in-law is all the milkshake brought to the yard. Step up your game, milkshake!”

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We loved the sort-of-non-linear storytelling, Lee Marvin’s strong silent man routine, Angie Dickinson’s… Angie Dickinsonness, Lynne’s monologue when confronted by her “late” husband, and of course we’re suckers for a good revenge story.

“If you think about it, I’m the real victim here. I mean, I had to watch you die. Do you have any idea how hard it was for me to backstab you like that?”

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Our pet theory: Walker is a terminator. His escape from certain death, glitches in memory/patchy, non-linear thinking, and single minded determination to achieve his agenda are all testimony to that. Or, he is possibly just a very goal-oriented man. Either way Point Blank makes for a very entertaining watch, with its noir and French crime film influences and bad ass protagonist.

“I’ll be back. To watch the T-Birds beat the Scorpions in a drag race…”

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What we learned: If you’re going to double-cross and kill someone, make sure they’re actually dead. Also, just pay the man his money!

Next time: Poor Cow (1967)