Category Archives: 1967

Bonnie and Clyde (1967, Arthur Penn)

Bonnie and Clyde opens with two immediate introductions. First, in the opening titles, photographs from the 1930s set the scene. Second, in the first scene, with Faye Dunaway (as Bonnie) and Warren Beatty (as Clyde) meet one another and flirt their way into armed robbery. Okay, maybe in the latter, director Penn does start with Dunaway.

It’s only fair because Dunaway’s the one who gets the big personal arc. The bigger arc–Dunaway and Beatty robbing banks, making a gang, on the run–is a Homeric odyssey through the characters’ lives and the world they live in. The film is very much a rumination on the thirties and the Depression, but never an overpowering one.

The script moves quickly, whether it’s bringing characters together or developing their relationships. At the center of it, right off, Dunaway and Beatty have to click. And they do; that opening scene shows off how well they click (as they click). There’s a certain boastfulness to Bonnie and Clyde; Penn is confident and takes bold strokes.

Dede Allen’s editing is also an essential for the film’s success. The cutting in the first act is maybe the most dynamic, but it also sets up the viewer for what’s going to come. It’s startling but reassuring. Great photography from Burnett Guffey. The film’s visuals are extremely important. Penn is always keeping things moving.

Excellent support from Michael J. Pollard, Estelle Parsons, Gene Hackman.

Bonnie and Clyde is breathtaking work. Big kudos to Penn, Dunaway and Beatty.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Arthur Penn; written by David Newman and Robert Benton; director of photography, Burnett Guffey; edited by Dede Allen; music by Charles Strouse; produced by Warren Beatty; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Warren Beatty (Clyde Barrow), Faye Dunaway (Bonnie Parker), Michael J. Pollard (C.W. Moss), Gene Hackman (Buck Barrow), Estelle Parsons (Blanche), Denver Pyle (Frank Hamer), Dub Taylor (Ivan Moss), Evans Evans (Velma Davis) and Gene Wilder (Eugene Grizzard).


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Weekend (1967, Jean-Luc Godard)

The best part of Weekend is Jean-Pierre Léaud singing his dialogue while in a phone booth. He then gets into a fight with leads Jean Yanne and Mireille Darc as they try to get a ride from him. Weekend is about the unreality of bourgeois life when it gets into the wild–in this case, the French countryside, which is inhabited by communal cannibals and people out of novels. Yanne and Darc, an unhappily married couple plotting each other’s murder after they kill Darc’s father for his money, are in a film, not a novel.

They soon learn the difference.

Director Godard goes for various shocks–whether through violent misogyny, quiet misogyny, violent animal cruelty, sight gags involving car accidents–and none of them ever really come across. He puts the viewer on guard immediately; when he does surprise, it’s usually because a scene is so well executed.

Maybe the best sequence in the film is when Yanne and Darc are stuck in a traffic jam on a tranquil French country road. It goes from pastoral to horrific, the constant blaring of car horns reminding the viewer not to get comfortable.

And when Yanne and Darc are on the road, Weekend might never connect (it doesn’t try), but at least it moves well. The performances are good, Godard’s almost all long shot composition is good (lovely photography from Raoul Coutard). It also isn’t forced. At least, not compared to the third act.

That third act is excruciatingly boring stuff.

1/4

CREDITS

Written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard; director of photography, Raoul Coutard; edited by Agnès Guillemot; music by Antoine Duhamel; released by Athos Films.

Starring Mireille Darc (Corinne), Jean Yanne (Roland), Paul Gégauff (Pianist), Jean-Pierre Léaud (Saint-Just), Blandine Jeanson (Emily Bronte), Yves Afonso (Tom Thumb) and Juliet Berto (The Radical).


Evening Classes (1967, Nicolas Ribowski)

Evening Classes is a bit of a surprise; without Jacques Tati’s involvement, the short would almost work more as an examination of his films. With his involvement, Classes certainly has some outstanding moments, but director Ribowski and Tati (who also wrote the short) don’t really have a point.

The film opens with Tati as M. Hulot seemingly bumbling into a classroom, but no–he’s actually the instructor and a good one. He’s teaching an improv or mime class, except in the context of Tati’s films, it’s more like a look inside his process on those other films.

Without a familiarity with Tati’s work (Classes, shot on the same sets as Playtime, ends with a big reference to that film), the short goes on a little too long. Tati’s examples of smoking, tennis and fishing are all phenomenal. The horseback riding and postal worker stuff? Too much.

It’s successful, if problematic.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Nicolas Ribowski; written by Jacques Tati; director of photography, Jean Badal; edited by Nicole Gauduchon; music by Léo Petit.

Starring Jacques Tati (M. Hulot).


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The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967, Roger Corman)

Director Corman and–probably more so–writer Howard Browne construct The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre as a docudrama. Paul Frees narrates the entire film, introducing characters, providing their backstories–Corman sometimes mutes the film’s dialogue (during boring parts) so Frees can explain a little about the person. Massacre might be mostly authentic in its portrayal of the titular event, but it doesn’t matter. Frees, Browne and Corman could sell anything.

The film’s layered. It opens after the massacre and quietly backs up to explain it. It uses flashbacks a couple more times, specifically to explain the hatred between gangsters Al Capone (Jason Robards) and Bugs Moran (Ralph Meeker). Corman doesn’t open with either of them. Instead he opens with George Segal as a sociopathic gangster working for Meeker. It’s good Segal and Robards never have a scene together because they would have–and gloriously so–ripped the sets apart with their teeth.

Robards’s performance has a couple weak spots, but he still transfixes. As written, the character ranges from sorrow to anger immediately and Robards plays it beautifully. Segal has almost no quite moments; watching him is waiting for him to erupt. But he always remains somehow likable, probably because no one in Massacre is particularly likable. Segal just has the charisma to weather it.

Other excellent performances include Clint Ritchie and Frank Silvera (though the film loses track of Silvera).

Corman’s got some great shots; Milton R. Krasner’s an able photographer. Perfect score from Lionel Newman.

Massacre is fantastic.

3.5/4★★★½

CREDITS

Produced and directed by Roger Corman; written by Howard Browne; director of photography, Milton R. Krasner; edited by William B. Murphy; music by Lionel Newman; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Jason Robards (Al Capone), George Segal (Peter Gusenberg), Ralph Meeker (Bugs Moran), Jean Hale (Myrtle), Clint Ritchie (Jack McGurn), Frank Silvera (Nick Sorello), Joseph Campanella (Albert Wienshank), Richard Bakalyan (John Scalise), David Canary (Frank Gusenberg), Bruce Dern (Johnny May), Harold J. Stone (Frank Nitti), Kurt Kreuger (James Clark), Paul Richards (Charles Fischetti), Joe Turkel (Jake Guzik), Milton Frome (Adam Heyer), Mickey Deems (Reinhold Schwimmer), John Agar (Dion O’Bannion), Celia Lovsky (Josephine Schwimmer), Tom Reese (Ted Newberry), Jan Merlin (Willie Marks), Alexander D’Arcy (Joe Aiello), Reed Hadley (Hymie Weiss), Gus Trikonis (Rio), Charles Dierkop (Salvanti), Tom Signorelli (Bobo Borotto), Rico Cattani (Albert Anselmi), Alex Rocco (Diamond), Leo Gordon (Heitler), Jonathan Haze (Boris Chapman), Dick Miller (Adolph Muller) and Jack Nicholson (Gino); narrated by Paul Frees.


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