1963 in Movies

Movie reviews for movies I’ve seen that were theatrically released in 1963.

1. Winter Light, directed by Ingmar Bergman (10/10)

I must say that I have a rather hard time relating to many of the characters in many early Bergman movies because I have never really been torn. I mean, maybe I was a little as a teenager. But I have been a dyed-in-the-wool atheist for a decade and I have experienced no regrets. So I have a really hard time understanding the spiritual dilemma as I don’t feel it. I am also fortunate to not suffer from depression, which again makes it hard for me to relate to many of his characters.

What I can relate to is the stories we tell ourselves to make what we do more acceptable to our own consciences.

Tomas has already told himself lies for a few years. When he finally breaks down and tells people the truth, he hurts feelings and far worse. So he goes back to doing what he has always done, lying to himself and everyone else.

The above is a rather simplistic interpretation, but hey, I watched it once…and I was tired. That last image is classic.

2. I tre volti della paura aka Black Sabbath, directed by Mario Bava (9/10)

This is one of the few successful horror-film anthologies where shorter films are combined into a feature. It shouldn’t work but it does, marvelously.

3. The Pink Panther, directed by Blake Edwards (9/10*)

Seen multiple times, but most recently during my “Peter Sellers is God” phase.

4. Pour la suite du monde aka For Those Who Will Follow directed by Michel Brault, Marcel Carriere, Pierre Perrault (9/10)

One of the great Canadian documentaries. Essential viewing for anyone interested in the history of Quebec.

5. The Great Escape, directed by John Sturges (8/10)

I have seen this movie way too many times to be objective about it. As a war movie, it is near-terrible. Perhaps even terrible. As an adventure film, it is one of the classics.

6. Hud, directed by Martin Ritt (8/10)

I failed to write down my thoughts for this one. Sorry.

7. The Leopard, directed by Luchino Visconti (8/10)

This is a mostly great film to watch. I haven’t read the novel in over five years so I can’t really remember all the changes. I do remember coming away from the novel with a vastly different feel than the movie, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I don’t really understand the casting of Lancaster, despite being a major fan of his work, but then these Italian movies are all dubbed anyway. It is generally pretty impressive. It’s unnecessarily long (for what is left in from the book) and I don’t really understand the length of the ballroom scene.

8. America, America, directed by Elia Kazan (8/10)

This film – which is about the journey of Kazan’s uncle from Anatolia to the US – is the kind of film which is quite common now but which was quite rare back then, even in the early ‘60s, pre-Renaissance. I honestly don’t know how many other (American) films like this existed at the time. And for that, it should be celebrated.

Read the full review.

9. From Russia with Love, directed by Terrence Young (8/10)

Probably a better film than Dr. No. Very iconic.

10. Tom Jones, directed by Tony Ricahrdson (8/10)

I have lost my review, but I was really surprised how much I enjoyed this.

11. The Ugly American, directed by George Englund (7/10*)

I was rather young when I saw this.

12. 8 ½, directed by Frederico Fellini (7/10*)

I will re-watch this one day when I’m not tired and angry at Fellini. (When am I not angry at Fellini?) Until then, 7 it is.

13. Charade, directed by Stanley Donen (7/10)

I liked it more the first time, but still a very entertaining comedy-mystery.

14. The Birds, directed by Alfred Hitchcock (7/10)

When I was young, I thought this was the scariest movie I had ever seen. Then I re-watched it and saw that it was pretty silly. It has dated very poorly. I still think it is (relatively) effective given the subject matter.

15. Shock Corridor, directed by Samuel Fuller (6/10)

What we have here is one of the most technically interesting Hollywood films of the early ’60s. There are all sorts of little tricks: some sweeping camera movements, voice-overs, film layered over itself, and colour! However the film has little basis in reality, as Mr. Fuller clearly knows very little of the mentally ill. Additionally, this is an extraordinarily preachy film, where Mr. Fuller voices his objections to certain American ideas through mental patients. Occasionally this works really well but for the most part it is more than a little obvious and hard to take. The acting, as is the case with many of the b movies of the era, is more than a little over the top. But if you like seeing innovative film techniques, then this is a must see.

16. It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World, directed by Stanley Kramer (6/10*)

Seen multiple times as a child / tween.

17. The Sadist, directed by James Landis (6/10)

This has one of the funniest beginnings in movie history (it is worth watching just for the beginning, seriously, it’s just a pair of eyes with a voice over, and then the eyes stay for the credits…hysterical!). The story is pretty ridiculous. It’s an attempt to show how terrible it would be if you were in the middle of nowhere and held captive by a lunatic but a) the lunatic is a terrible actor and b) the captives clearly don’t want to get away until the script demands they try (they have many, many many opportunities to do something and don’t…I didn’t buy that they were too scared, because no one’s afraid of a bad actor…). Despite the low budget, bad acting, bad dialogue and bad story, the director clearly tried to raise the movie above its origins. There are some great shots in the film, and great use of the radio in the car. Unlike the other bad films, it is at least an attempt to do something interesting and different, even if it isn’t very successful. The director definitely makes the most of his budget. By the way, the “twist” ending is ridiculous. It ruined what could have been a completely redeeming feature of the film.

18. 55 Days at Peking, directed by Nicholas Ray (6/10*)

Watched while I was a teen in the middle of the night.

19. The List of Adrian Messenger, directed by John Huston (5/10)

This film would be a disaster if it weren’t so bizarrely fascinating: bad accents, unnecessary stunt-casting, evil Canadians, plot twists that only George C. Scott can figure out. With a cast like this, and a great director, one is expecting a lot. But most of the cast is barely used, and anyone could have played their roles (though “spot the star” is sort of fun for a while…I failed miserably, only recognizing Mitchum and mistaking Sinatra for Curtis). Why was that casting thought necessary? I have no idea. Scott’s accent waivers all over the place. The kid’s accent is similar. Everyone is far too willing to believe this bizarre plot that Scott and his bizarre methods have discovered. The whole thing is pretty inconceivable. But it’s fun in a “I can’t believe this movie ever got made” kind of way.

20. McLintock, directed by Andrew V. McLagen (5/10*)

Seen during my John Wayne phase.

21. Cleopatra, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (4/10)

This film has a rep for being one of the biggest big-budget disasters ever, but just because it helped kill the “golden age” of Hollywood and the system that allowed it to exist doesn’t mean it was a bad movie. It’s overdone, but it’s competent.

22. Donovan’s Reef, directed by John Ford (4/10*)

Watched during my John Wayne phase.