1969 in Movies

Movie reviews I’ve written for movies released in theatrically in 1969.

1. Le chagrin et la pitie [The Sorrow and the Pity], directed by Marcel Ophuls (10/10)

Certainly a challenger for greatest documentary ever made up until this point. Read the review of The Sorrow and the Pity.

2. The Wild Bunch, directed by Sam Peckinpah (10/10)

I have seen this film way too many times to be objective about it. An extremely violent eulogy for the myth of the “old west.”

2. Z, directed by Costa-Gavras (10/10)

Z is one of the great political films of all time. I can’t believe I didn’t see it until now. It’s fantastic.

It begins with the disclaimer: “Any relation to real persons or events is deliberate.” Not that’s how you make a statement.

It’s made by a Greek, it’s about Greece, but it’s in French (probably financed by the French or something…).

Not only does it manage to create a political thriller with no leads (the focus shifts to different characters a number of times), but it also does wonders for pointing out the absurdities of authoritarianism and why it doesn’t make any sense.

There are a number of absurd sequences, especially the one where every high up police official behaves in the same way. Incidentally the regime depicted in the film is the one that was overthrown in the coup. We find out how absurd they are when we learn that they banned the letter “Z”. Apparently.

Anyway, the film is captivating; it is shot in an interesting way; it is daring in the way that it unfolds; and it’s also daring for taking on real events. More films should be made like this one.

Just brilliant.

4. Army of Shadows, directed by Jean-Pierre Melville (9/10)

A fascinating approach to the story. The direction is never uninteresting and regularly quite fascinating. There are some very tense moments, also. The plot seemed a little contrived but it appears to have been based on a true story, so what do I know? As good a movie as I’ve yet seen about the resistance, I think.

5. Double Suicide aka Shinju: Ten no amijima, directed by Masahiro Shinoda (9/10)

Unfortunately, I did not write down my thoughts at the time. Extraordinarily depressing.

6. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, directed by George Roy Hill (9/10)

Not quite as revisionist as some would claim, it is still extraordinarily entertaining.

7. Que la bete meure aka This Man Must Die, directed by Claude Chabrol (9/10)

I have lost my review for this. It is nearly totally awesome. There was something keeping me from giving it full marks but I cannot remember right now.

8. Easy Rider, directed by Dennis Hopper (9*/10)

Seen during my “I am watching every movie on AFI’s list” summer of 1999.

9. Midnight Cowboy, directed by John Schlesinger (8*/10)

Seen during my “I am watching every movie on AFI’s list” summer of 1999.

10. Alice’s Restaurant, directed by Arthur Penn (7/10)

I have lost my review for this, I’m sorry to say.

11. Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, directed by Paul Mazursky (7/10)

I gotta give it points, because it made me uncomfortable in places. And that’s good. And the structure was neat. It seemed to spiral out a bit. Like at the beginning it was about Bob and Carol, and then it started to expand into the rest of the world. But not quite in the way I was imagining it would. And it was a little cyclical. Like the end scene references the first scene. And a middle scene with a shrink references the first scene. I like that stuff. And the opening music was neat in how it started out as a hymn, and slowly you realized their was also drum and bass, playing a rock beat (though whoever Quincy Jones or whoever didn’t take it far enough).

But then there’s the whole “rich hippy” thing which I find silly. And parts of it felt unnecessary, or a little contrived. And the wind machine or fan at the beginning of the climax. And the movie seemed to heading towards a great ending, and then of course it wussed out.

It was made well enough, I guess, so I can’t really fault it there. But it lacked balls. Anyway, it could have been a lot better, but it could have been so much worse.

12. The Magic Christian, directed by Joseph McGrath (7*/10)

Haven’t seen this since I was a teen. Way different from the novel.

13. Take the Money and Run, directed by Woody Allen (7*/10)

Seen at the very beginning of my Allen phase.

15. The Italian Job, directed by Peter Collison (6/10)

The original Italian Job is a surprisingly terrible movie. I had heard quite the contrary. I also figured that since it was a 1960s Michael Caine movie it was probably at least watchable (he’s got a bunch of good ones from way back then). Well, as a crime movie it had far more than the usual number of plot holes (some really glaring gaps). The director was trying to be all “I’m influenced by the French New Wave” like so many directors back then, but there was very little that was remarkable and most of it came off as imitation. As a car racing movie I cannot comment as I really haven’t seen enough…As a comedy (which it must be, because otherwise it is even worse than I thought), it isn’t particularly funny. It was more confusing than funny (in terms of “why is this happening? am I supposed to be laughing at this??). But then: the ending. The ending pretty much kicked my ass. It was really cool. So I guess I understand why people like the film. Many probably think it funny, many enjoy the racing, and coupled with the classic ending, people probably find it irresistible. But for me, the ending wasn’t enough to let me forgive the rest of the film. Still, I’d say watch it if only for the ending. And try and forget I told you that so it’s not ruined for you (I wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary after 90 minutes of rubbish, so I was maybe a little more taken aback than you might be).

15. True Grit, directed by Henry Hathaway (6*/10)

Everyone is pretty much agreed, watch the Coen’s version.

16. The Bridge at Remagen, directed by John Guillermin (6/10)

I have seen this film way too many times to be objective. It’s probably not as good as a 6/10.

17. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, directed by Ronald Neame (6/10)

Lost my review.

18. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, directed by Peter Hunt (5*/10)

Seen at a time when I thought Roger Moore was “the best Bond.” I think that says it all.

19. Topaz, directed by Alfred Hitchcock (4*/10)

Seen during my Hitchcock phase. Still willing to be it’s lesser Hitch.

19. Candy, directed by Christian Marquand (4/10)

For reasons only the filmmakers (and perhaps the censors) can understand, every Terry Southern novel adaption is completely altered for the screen…usually by Terry Southern himself. I don’t really know why. The book is better not just because it’s funnier but because this movie is basically a reinvention of the book, not even an adaption, much like The Magic Christian.

20. Satyricon, directed by Frederico Fellini (2/10)

I do not know the play. The film was atrocious. I do not like Fellini.


1. “Eloge du chiac”,directed by Michel Brault (8/10)

Because I am an idiot, I did not review this short when I saw it. I will likely never watch it again.

2. “Precautions Against Fanatics”, directed by Werner Herzog (5/10)

A bizarre and not very funny gag about men pretending they work at a race track. Not worth your time.