1967: 50 Great/Good Movies Celebrating its 50th Anniversary
It was 1967. In American cinema, the era of Hays Code was fading and counterculture gradually reared its head into the cinematic style. Two films that depicted romance & rebellion in different light engaged young audience, living in the age of Cold War and nuclear threat. One was Mike Nichols’ The Graduate and the other was Bonnie and Clyde. One ends with ambiguous shot, conveying the emotions between aftertaste of liberation and onset of uncertainty, whereas the other film ended up with exhilarating and romanticized gun fight. Fifty year after its release, both Bonnie and Clyde & The Graduate continues to be the prism whose seemingly simple plot-line emanates social critique on suburban living, feminism, disillusionment, existential despair, etc.
It was also the year, a 25 year old NYC guy got enamored by the potential of making low-budget films outside the system. It was not a great film, one that didn’t strongly hint at his magnificent directorial talent. The film was called ‘Who’s Knocking at My Door’ and the director was Martin Charles Scorsese. What’s interesting about this legendary director’s debut feature is the way he effortlessly establishes the sense of place, immersing us in the environment (the film opens with the shot of woman baking a pie for group of children who is played by Scorsese’s mother Catherine). American Actor Mel Brooks made his directorial debut in the same year with the riotous comedy The Producers. 1967 also gave way to the production of a timeless gem, featuring the coolest on-screen convict – Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke. Deep-seated, normalized racism in the deepest parts of America was broodingly examined in Norman Jewison’s In the Heat of the Night (it won Best Picture Oscar). Although the dominant problems of racism is neatly-packaged with a tentative liberal message in ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’ (dir: Stanley Kramer), the film was hailed in its time for examining the theme of interracial romance.
While Katherine Hepburn re-united with Spencer Tracy (her ninth film with him) in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, the other spirited Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn played the role of a recently blinded woman in highly entertaining cat-and-mouse thriller Wait Until Dark. The tense conflict between visually impaired woman and trio of home-invading thugs may have been suspenseful, yet not as disturbing as the home-invasion true-crime story of In Cold Blood (directed by Richard Brooks based on the famous Truman Capote’s non-fiction book). This chilling account of real-life crime and punishment expanded the literary and cinematic thirst for true-crime documentations (it was one the expert book-to-movie adaptation).
Even though these aforementioned American movies are still hugely popular with cinephiles around the world, the year 1967 also bestowed us much superior works from non-English speaking countries. It was the year Japanese New Wave started flourishing with the likes of Shohei Imamura, Seijun Suzuki & Nagisa Oshima adding strength to their idiosyncratic film-making vision. The Prague Spring was just one year away and the Czech New Wave film-makers were persistently producing their best political satires (Franticek Vlacil made his definitive black-and-white masterpiece Marketa Lazarova in 1967 which wasn’t part of Czech New Wave films). In Hungary, radical film-maker Miklos Jancso made his mesmerizing and uniquely artistic parable on war and oppression The Red and the White. Jean-Luc Godard, the pioneer of French New Wave, made three less seen yet highly thought-provoking films in 1967. The other luminary Frenchman Eric Rohmer released his third classic entry (La Collectionneuse aka The Collector) in the Six Moral Tales Series. Luis Bunuel’s masterful take on corruption and innocence Belle de Jour is another unforgettable gem of the year.
Humanist film-maker Ken Loach made his first feature film (Poor Cow) in 1967. Pier Paolo Pasolini splendidly adapted the distressing Greek Tragedy in Oedipus Rex. Influential Brazilian film-maker Glauber Rocha – leading figure in Cinema Novo – made the greatest political movie (Entranced Earth), inspiring film-makers like Costa Garvas (Z). Great Italian director Luchino Visconti made his least successful yet very interesting adaptation of Albert Camus’ The Stranger.
Below the following listing of 50 best films of 1967 (the films aren’t placed in no definite order), I have listed the acclaimed movies I wasn’t been able to see. And if I have missed out any other important movie from the year, please mention in the comments section.
Bonnie and Clyde || Director: Arthur Penn
Branded to Kill || Director: Seijun Suzuki
The Graduate || Director: Mike Nichols
Cool Hand Luke || Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Le Samourai || Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
Samurai Rebellion || Director : Masaki Kobayashi
In the Heat of Night || Director: Norman Jewison
Sing a Song of Sex || Director: Nagisa Oshima
The Firemen’s Ball || Director: Milos Forman
Belle de Jour || Director: Luis Bunuel
Playtime || Director: Jacques Tati
In Cold Blood || Director: Richard Brooks
The Producers || Director: Mel Brooks
Weekend || Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Accident || Director: Joseph Losey
Land in Anguish aka Entranced Earth || Director: Glauber Rocha
La Collectioneuse aka The Collector || Director: Eric Rohmer
The Red and the White || Director: Miklos Jancso
Mouchette || Director: Robert Bresson
Marketa Lazarova || Director: Franticek Vlacil
La Chinoise || Director: Jean-Luc Godard
The Dirty Dozen || Director: Robert Aldrich
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner || Director: Stanley Kramer
To Sir with Love || Director: James Clavell
Martyrs of Love || Director: Jan Nemec
A Man Vanishes || Director: Shohei Imamura
The Zoo aka Chiriyakhana || Director: Satyajit Ray
Poor Cow || Director: Ken Loach
Who’s That Knocking at my Door || Director: Martin Scorsese
Elvira Madigan || Director: Bo Widerberg
I Even Met Happy Gypsies || Director: Aleksandar Petrovic
Two for the Road || Director: Stanley Donen
Wait Until Dark || Director: Terence Young
Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator || Director: Dusan Makavejev
Oedipus Rex || Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini
Reflections in a Golden Eye || Director: John Huston
A Colt is My Passport || Director: Takashi Nomura
Dacii || Director: Sergiu Nicolaescu
Point Blank || Director: John Boorman
Marat/Sade || Director: Peter Brook
The Stranger || Director: Luchino Visconti
Hombre || Director: Martin Ritt
The Stolen Airship || Director: Karel Zamen
The Whisperers || Director: Bryan Forbes
Our Mother’s House || Director: Jack Clayton
El Dorado || Director: Howard Hawks
Barefoot in the Park || Director: Gene Saks
Ulysses || Director: Joseph Strick
We Still Kill the Old Way || Director: Elio Petri
Happy End || Director: Oldrich Lipsky
Must-see 1967 documentaries: Titicut Follies, Far From Vietnam, Don’t Look Back: Bob Dylan, and Warrendale.
Critically acclaimed films of 1967 i am unable to see: Hagbard and Signe (director: Gabriel Axel), Hotel for Strangers (dir.Anotonin Masa), Misunderstood (dir. Luigi Comencini), Pedro Paramo (dir. Carlos Velo), Ten Thousand Days (dir. Ferenc Kosa), Mr. and Mrs. Kabal’s Theatre (dir. Walerian Borowczyk), and Sami Swoi aka All Friends Here (dir. Sylwester Checinski).