News And Commentary – The Greatest Films of All Time

What is your favorite movie?  We are often asked that question here at Mid Century Cinema, and our stock response is to reject the question with a dismissive, even haughty wave of the hand.  “Favorite”?  “Best”?  “The Greatest”?  Just what are those words supposed to mean when talking about the movies?  And to compare one to another?  Impossible.  Philistine!  How can you even ask?

50 Years Ago This Week – Otto Preminger’s Bunny Lake is Missing

Bunny Lake is Missing, the last eminently masterful film from producer-director Otto Preminger (though six more would follow over the next fifteen years) was released on October 3, 1965.  It is very nearly a great movie: the gripping tale, with a smart, witty screenplay was gloriously shot on location in London in striking black and white (including some very fine night-for-night scenes); Preminger’s compositions and camera movements show him at the top of his impressive game. 

50 Years Ago This Week – Arthur Penn’s Mickey One

Mickey One, produced and directed by Arthur Penn, opened on September 27, 1965. A harbinger of the New Hollywood, it had the misfortune of arriving ahead of its time; had it been released two or three years later, it surely would have met with greater success and acclaim. But in 1965, a moody, expressionistic film that was more allegory than narrative was still hard-pressed to find a sizeable audience. 

50 Years Ago This Week – Get Smart

Get Smart made its television debut on September 18, 1965, with the episode “Mr. Big,” written by the show’s co-creators, Mel Brooks and Buck Henry.  The series, which can be watched with enormous pleasure today, arrived at a transitional moment in American politics and culture.  An odd hybrid of rat-pack sensibilities and New Hollywood anti-establishment irreverence, Get Smart was most obviously a hilarious sendup of James Bond, but it was also an unambiguous parody of the Cold War mind-set, at a time when such things were taken very seriously. (In March 1965 the U.S.

News And Commentary – Truffaut’s Day for Night

Worth seeking out is Francois Truffaut’s 1973 masterpiece Day for Night (La Nuit Americaine), just released in yet another characteristically marvelous special edition from the Criterion Collection.  Day for Night is a movie that is in love with the movies—Roger Ebert called it “not only the best movie ever made about movies,” but also “a great entertainment.”

50 Years Ago This Week – John Schlesinger’s Darling

On August 3, 1965 Darling hit the big screen.  It was a huge commercial success and took home Academy Awards for actress and screenplay—but it is one of those “you had to be there” movies; no need to track it down if you haven’t seen it.  (Borderline scandalous at the time, both MGM and Columbia passed on the American distribution rights.)  A morality tale of the swinging European jet set, it is of interest to us at Mid Century Cinema as a stepping stone towards the New Hollywood.

News and Commentary – Robert Altman’s HealtH

A visit to the Harvard Film Archive afforded an opportunity to see Robert Altman’s HealtH.  The film, shot in 1979, was screened in 1980 but shelved by a hostile studio-in-transition, and not properly released until 1982.  One of Altman’s most obscure films, it remains largely unavailable and so despite its modest reputation the chance to catch it in the theater was irresistible.