1964 in movies

Movie reviews I’ve written for movies released theatrically in 1964.

1. Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, directed by Stanley Kubrick (10/10)

This used to be my favourite movie. I know it lags in the bomber scenes, I understand that. But this is still the ballsiest dark comedy ever made. The world almost ended in October 1962. This movie, a comedy about that near-death experience, was released theatrically in January of ’64, just barely a year later. It’s hilarious. And it features probably the second greatest multi-role performance in history (second only, perhaps, to Guinness in Kind Hearts and Coronets).

2. Woman in the Dunes [aka Woman of the Dunes aka 砂の女 aka Suna no onna] (1964)

An existentialist horror film unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Has sand ever been scarier? Read the review of Woman in the Dunes.

3. The Pawnbroker, directed by Sidney Lumet (10/10)

The Hollywood film about the Holocaust.

4. Bande a Part, directed by Jean Luc Godard (10/10)

This is sort of like Breathless taken to a new extreme, in a sense. Unfortunately I didn’t write down my thoughts at the time.

5. Culloden, direted by Peter Watkins (9/10)

The premise is that the Battle of Culloden was filmed by the BBC. That should be enough for you to watch what is one of the great mockumentaries, made before the term existed. 9/10 feels low to me right now.

6. A Shot in the Dark, directed by Blake Edwards (9*/10)

I have seen this movie way too many times to be objective.

7. Seven Days in May, directed by John Frankenheimer (9/10)

Seven Days in May is not a perfect movie. There are things that I might prefer to have happened differently. Also, I had difficulty with the lack of knowledge about how exactly things worked in the US government, but they couldn’t help that. Overall, it was a very good movie. Just more proof that, for a few brief years in the early to mid 1960s, Frankenheimer was the man. Then he spent 30 years making crap and the occasional piece of mediocrity.

8. A Fistful of Dollars, directed by Sergio Leone (8*/10)

This is certainly one of the first spaghetti westerns, if not the first, which also sort of makes it one of the first revisionist westerns. Yes, it’s poorly dubbed, but what Italian movie from this time wasn’t?

9. Masque of the Red Death, directed by Roger Corman (8/10)

This may be the greatest Corman Poe movie or it may not be. I’m not sure. I do know that it’s totally bizarre and out there, especially for it’s time. The set design is something to behold. I had a hard time watching the actors because I was so busy watching the set. For me, the most interesting part about it beyond that was the clearly huge influence this had on The Prisoner. This is a much watch for Prisoner fans. The movie is entertaining too…

10. Fail-Safe, directed by Sidney Lumet (8/10)

The straight-man to Strangelove, this is clearly the lesser film, though it is very well made (Lumet, after all).

11. Goldfinger, directed by Guy Hamilton (8/10)

Is this the greatest bond movie ever?

12. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, directed by Larry Roemer (8/10*)

Too much a part of my childhood to be objective.

13. The Killers, directed by Don Siegel (7/10)

For a remake, it’s pretty decent.

14. A Hard Days Night, directed by Richard Lester (7*/10)

Seen during my “The Beatles are God” phase.

15. “Seven Up!” directed by Paul Almond (6/10)

This TV program, which actually started the Up documentaries, is a dated and kind of simple attempt to capture the socioeconomic differences among British children and how those differences may affect their lives down the road. The film oversimplifies the social psychological / sociological research of the day but it is compelling to see how class differences already exist at age 7.

It’s too bad the production has dated so much.

Read the review of The Up documentaries.

16. Becket, directed by Peter Glenville (6/10)

This is a costume drama with two very famous actors that is reputed to be – should be? – very famous. The first problem is the play itself. It is extremely modern. More than a few times one of the leads is heard expressing modern concepts (collaborating with the enemy, total war, etc). Then there are the historical inaccuracies of the play (and the film only adds to them I guess because the a studio thought nobody would care about quibbling over a constitution). If this was intentional on the author’s part, the question then is, why attempt to make the film seems historically accurate by filming next to castles and the like? I can’t really guess why. Anyway, O’Toole is over the top. I don’t know enough about Henry II but what I do know makes it hard to picture him flailing around in front of people shouting “Thomas!”

17. Marnie, directed by Alfred Hitchcock (6/10)

Lesser Hitchcock.

18. Mary Poppins, directed by Robert Stevenson (6/10*)

Seen as a child, many times.

19. The Gospel According to St. Matthew, directed by Pier Paolo Passolini (5/10*)

I feel like I should re-watch this. At the time, I felt like I had never been so bored in my life.

20. My Fair Lady, directed by George Cukor (4/10*)

I saw this as a teen. But I still hate George Bernard Shaw so I doubt I would feel much sympathy for this now.

21. Children of the Damned, directed by Anton Leader (4/10)

Basically a remake, rather than a sequel. Read the review of Children of the Damned.

22. The Time Travelers, directed by Ib Melchior (3/10)

Watched this through MST300, FYI. If you read the reviews on IMDB, you will see all these comments from old people telling you that this is a relatively decent science fiction effort for 1964. I doubt that but I guess they convinced me enough that this very boring, very dumb film was not world class awful. It is remarkably dull and, as you would expect, is grounded in nonsense as opposed to even guesses about scientific plausibility.

21. I Eat Your Skin aka Zombies aka Zombie Bloodbath, directed by Del Tenny (1/10)

This movie possesses one of the greatest titles in movie history, but is a giant letdown. A Zombie movie that’s not actually about zombies – the people never really die in the first place – it suffers from a terrible script and story, a ridiculously low budget, and some hilariously bad acting and casting. But that would all be great if it was funny, which it isn’t really. Most of the time. There were some moments…anyway, it’s not really about zombies and nobody ever eats any skin.


1. “Genevieve”, directed by Michel Brault (8/10)

2. “Le temps perdu” aka “The End of Summer”, directed by Michel Brault (7/10)

Because I am an idiot, I did not review either of these shorts when I saw them. I will likely never watch either again.

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