From psychedelia to disco mania, the ’60’s and the ’70s were two of the most turbulent decades ever. So turbulent, in fact, that these sociopolitical shockwaves created some seriously time-twisted cinema. What follows is a sextet sampling of these movie funhouse mirrors that offer a glimpse into cinematic cultures that might have been, but never were.
LISZTOMANIA (1975) Ken Russell’s infamous and seldom seen rock & roll paean to Franz Liszt, the first pop star of the Western world, finally makes its long awaited DVD debut. Starring The Who’s Roger Daltrey, Lisztomania took advantage of the success of Russell’s film version of Tommy to push the envelope of this biopic far beyond anyone’s expectation. More of a psyche-graphical approach than a biographical one, Lisztomania presents the facts of Franz Liszt’s extraordinary life as something akin to a musical phantasia in five movements. Shot by Russell at the height of his powers, Lisztomania is sure to shock, confuse, and confound the viewer, but also compels. Guest starring Ringo Starr as the Pope and Yes keyboard king, Rick Wakeman plays Thor as well as providing the score. 16x9 Widescreen - Newly Remastered
Check out the film’s trailer featuring commentary by Allison Anders on Trailers from Hell!
Los Angeles! Catch Lisztomania in 35mm on 8/18 at Cinefamily. Part of the Don’t Knock the Rock 2012 festival!
THE CHAPMAN REPORT (1962) Irving Wallace took on the Kinsey Reports on American sexuality, which both scandalized and fascinated the American sexual public and transformed it into a sinsationally salacious best seller, The Chapman Report. Under the guidance of the legendary Zanucks (patre et fils), The Chapman Report was turned over to the equally legendary George Cukor. Unsurprisingly, Cukor took this tale and delivered a true ‘women’s picture’, but run through a modern Technicolor lens. Starring a quartet of Hollywood’s distaff heavy-hitters (Shelley Winters, Jane Fonda, Claire Bloom, Glynis Johns) the film weaves together four separate (and color-coordinated) threads of frigidity, adultery, promiscuity and rough fantasies through the efforts of one dedicated researcher (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.). Although the subject matter may be more staid than shocking today, the four actresses deliver the goods in spades, and Bloom, in particular, astonishes. 16x9 Widescreen
PORTNOY’S COMPLAINT (1972) Before Woody Allen forever supplanted the persona, no one played the neurotic nebbish better than Richard Benjamin. Hot off a string of smash hits, including the Philip Roth derived Goodbye, Columbus, Benjamin attempted one of the most challenging roles of his (or anyone’s) career — the compulsively gratifying Alexander Portnoy. And whereas the novel’s singular charms may have eluded the cinema talents of director Ernest Lehman, the film nonetheless boasts a terrific performance from a young and beguiling Karen Black as Monkey, Portnoy’s pliable ‘shiksa’. Shot on location in NYC at the dawn of the decade, Portnoy’s Complaint also makes a potent quaff of a time capsule. 16x9 Widescreen — Newly Remastered
HAVING A WILD WEEKEND (1965) Forever locked to the decade they performed in, The Dave Clark 5 gave their now timeless musical countrymen, The Beatles, a run for the money and for the charts at the height of both their careers. And so they would be a logical choice for film makers in the wake of the runaway success of Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night. What might not appear to be as logical are the choices made by leading man Dave Clark, writer Peter Nichols (Georgy Girl) and director John Boorman (making his debut) that take the film into some unexpected, melancholic and media-age savvy directions. Dave and the boys play stuntmen, not musicians (reportedly, Dave Clark had worked as a stunt man), and the chase plot that underlies the film leads to some unexpected outcomes. Especially when the film’s antagonist is the British Meat Council. Yes, the Meat Council.
A COVENANT WITH DEATH (1967) Between gigs as the voice of Marshall Matt Dillon for the radio version of Gunsmoke and playing the man called Cannon on TV, William Conrad worked as a producer under the aegis of Warner Bros. From 1965 to 1968, Conrad oversaw a remarkable run of films, like Two on a Guillotine and Assignment to Kill, that are quite unlike any other production unit’s output. Actor-turned-director Lamont Johnson took the reins for Conrad, directing George Maharis in this rumination on guilt and prejudice in the Southwest of the 1920s. Maharis plays a Mexican-American judge who must decide the fate of a condemned man whose innocence is discovered — after he kills his hangman. Also feature a young Gene Hackman in one of his first film roles. 16x9 Widescreen — Newly Remastered
THE COOL ONES (1967) The great Roddy McDowall stars in what must be called a Rock & Roll movie from an alternate earth. This is a tale of rebellious kids go-go-going in a real gone way and get manipulated by a real cool cat to go straight to the top of the charts. The faux Betty and Archie romance that puts the skids to the scheme when love turns true could have only happened if the previous decade didn’t. Directed by Gene Nelson, with cameo by novelty chart-topper Mrs. Miller. 16x9 Widescreen — Newly Remastered
Spy spoof. Storied saga. Smashing swashbuckler. Just some the roles that Rod Taylor could don with ease over a career that’s as expansive as cinema itself.
THE LIQUIDATOR (1982) (1965) Jack Cardiff and Rod Taylor team up to bring this Bond-Age spoof from the pen of John Gardner. Taylor plays simple skirt-chasing publican Boysie Oakes who is mistaken for a cool-eyed killer by the number two man in The Circus (Trevor Howard). Easily seduced by the cars, clothes, and a bachelor pad, Boysie is unaware that he has traded his rural life for a license to kill. And when his task masters call in the bill, Boysie must become something of a Midlands ‘Man in Havana’. Jill St. John is simply stunning in the mock Moneypenny role. Scribe John Gardner would later continue the literary adventures of James Bond, thanks in part to work like The Liquidator. 16x9 Widescreen — Newly Remastered
YOUNG CASSIDY (1965) Jack Cardiff took over production for an ailing John Ford in this Sean O’Casey biopic that was near and dear to Ford’s heart. Covering O’Casey’s life, and the bloody time of ‘the troubles’, Young Cassidy presents a portrait of the playwright as a young rebel. But, thanks to some very special women, the young rebel learns that he is fated for the pen — and not the sword. Julie Christie and Maggie Smith are both magnificent as the lasses, and Rod Taylor may never have been better (although he didn’t really have a bad…) 16x9 Widescreen — Newly Remastered
SEVEN SEAS TO CALAIS (1962) Rod Taylor plays buccaneering daredevil Francis Drake in this “Sails and Swords” American/European co-production. After gaining access to a purloined map of Spanish gold mines in the New World, Drake heads off on a mission for Queen Victoria (Irene Worth) that offers the crown maximum deniability. While Drake dares to cross swords with Conquistadores, Aztecs and Indians, Victoria must navigate her way through Spanish treachery. And the lowly potato turns out to have an interesting (albeit untrue) origin! 116x9 Widescreen — Newly Remastered
THE LAST OF SHEILA (1973) Real-life game-masters Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins bring their penchant for puzzles to this movie-making murder mystery. A group of Hollywood types are seemingly summoned by a director for a sea-side frolic, only to discover they have been dupes into a deadly game of “I have a secret.” With James Mason, Dyan Cannon, James Coburn, Raquel Welch, Richard Benjamin and Ian McShane. 16x9 Widescreen
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN (1972) Paul Newman takes the title role in this sprawling Western road show from director John Huston and writer John Milius. Re-telling the tale of the infamous outlaw turned Lily Langtry loving lawman, Huston reinterprets both history and genre for a modern take on the Old West. Keep your eyes peeled for the likes of Victoria Principal, Anthony Perkins, Tab Hunter, Roddy McDowall and more. Also featuring Ava Gardner as Lily Langtry. 16x9 Widescreen