Happy National Classic Movie Day to all! Today, Rick at the Classic Film and TV Cafe is hosting a blogathon encouraging participants to write about their six favorites from the 60’s in celebration of this momentous occasion! This sounded like too much fun to pass up and I’m excited to share my favorites with you. Let the party begin!
1. THE MUSIC MAN (1962)
Robert Preston shines in his defining role as Prof. Harold Hill, the ultimate smooth-as-silk con man. It’s not until his travels as a salesman take him to a town in Iowa where his whole world begins to unravel from under his feet, forcing Harold to make some important life decisions.
The Music Man is a great time all around, boasting an excellent cast and story, accompanied by a lively score from Meredith Wilson, and beautifully choreographed numbers. But what makes this film even more special to me is knowing it’s been loved throughout the years by my family – three generations to be exact.
Highlights include Hermoine Gingold’s hilarious turn as Mrs. Shinn, Dorothy Jeakins costumes, the “Marian the Librarian” scene, and Susan Luckey, dancer extraordinaire, as the precocious Zaneeta.
2. My fair lady (1964)
A Cinderella story of a Cockney flower girl trained to become fit for royalty. What she didn’t expect was falling for her inhumane teacher along the way, and he in turn, for her.
My Fair Lady is perhaps the wittiest of musicals with not a lagging scene throughout its nearly three hour run-time. George Cukor’s marvelous direction paired with Lerner & Loewe’s brilliant score creates a dreamy confection of sights and sounds. Audrey is wonderfully charming and perfectly convincing in her transformation from a simple flower girl into a regal lady, but it’s Rex Harrison who has the greatest lines and spectacular delivery of them. I love that while he’s busy transforming Audrey externally, his own transformation, unbeknownst to him, is happening internally.
I remember watching My Fair Lady many times as a child and marveling at the scope and beauty of it all. Consequently, this movie was my introduction to Audrey Hepburn – a constant inspiration to me.
Highlights include Audrey Hepburn’s Cockney accent, Wilfrid Hyde-White as the wonderful Col. Pickering, Cecil Beaton’s costumes, Gene Allen’s sets, and a plethora of lovable character actors.
3. west side story (1961)
Leonard Bernstein meets William Shakespeare. Enough said. The combination of the two absolutely sparkles on the screen. A retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in 1950’s New York City with innovative and exciting choreography by Jerome Robbins, directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. This film is an artistic tour de force with excellent performances, glorious music, and a timeless message.
The primary reason one comes to West Side Story is for the phenomenal dancing and music. And led by Rita Moreno, George Chakiris, and Russ Tamblyn, you know you are in good hands. Bernstein’s iconic score possesses a lush, rapturous intensity and wistfulness effectively conveying the emotional range of the story from the thrill of first love, to the hatred of the opposing gangs, to ultimately, sorrow and tragedy. In other words, it all fits like a glove.
Highlights include Natalie Wood’s performance as Maria, Rita Moreno’s passionate Anita, marvelous usage of color by Art Director Boris Leven & Set Decorator Victor Gangelin, affecting screenplay by Ernest Lehman, and snazzy Saul Bass credits.
4. yours, mine, and ours (1968)
In this delightful comedy, two middle aged folks try to resist the attraction they feel towards one another because they are both widowed parents with no less than eight children each! When they get married, they undergo a formidable task – attempting to blend the two families into one.
Yours, Mine, and Ours is a cozy, feel good movie with lots of funny scenarios in tow and literally not a dull moment. With Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda at the helm how can you go wrong? Their chemistry is so sweet and real and makes the film work. Van Johnson also co-stars adding to the fun.
This movie is a reminder that love can bloom anytime, anywhere and that home and belonging is not about blood relations, but rather a coming together of hearts.
Highlights include Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll’s “I Love Lucy” style contributions to the story, the excellent screenplay by Mort Lachman and Melville Shavelson, and the screen stealing capabilites of Eric Shea.
5. the sword in the stone (1963)
Disney’s telling of the legend of the boy who is educated by Merlin the wizard and becomes King Arthur of England brims with charm, humor, and fun. It has a very short run time and is overlooked in the Disney canon nowadays, but I can’t help loving it. As a child I often chose this over many princess movies (which if you know me, is a big deal).
What I love most about The Sword and the Stone are the characters themselves. The short-tempered but good natured Merlin and his crusty sidekick, Archimedes the owl, bicker and fuss like an old married couple. The two of them tickle my funny bone to no end. As they argue over what’s best for the young protege, Wart’s educational journey leads to many misadventures and ultimately, the meeting of Merlin’s nemesis, the mad Madam Mim. Wart learns many life lessons along the way, most importantly, the using of one’s brain over brawn.
Highlights include the squirrel scene, the wizard’s duel, the vocal talents of Karl Swenson as Merlin, Junius Matthews as Archimedes, and Martha Wentworth as Madam Mim.
6. the man who shot liberty valance (1962)
My introduction to this film was on The Essentials one night on TCM. It left such an impression on me that I had the desire to revisit it years later, and it did not disappoint. James Stewart gives a tortured performance of a lawyer seeking to bring law and order to the old West despite opposition from a farmer (John Wayne) and the fearsome outlaw, Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin).
John Ford leads a cast of colorful characters through this poignant drama/western. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a character-driven, thought provoking piece which lingers in the mind long after the film’s end. Wayne and Stewart have surprising chemistry on the screen – their contrasting acting styles and personas aiding the differences between the men. Vera Miles is the girl who captures both of their hearts and for whom sacrifices are made. This film has so much going on underneath the surface of an already great story. The themes – love, honor, hate, and violence – are subtly handled, making this film one that rewards numerous viewings.
Highlights include Lee Marvin’s performance as the villainous Liberty Valance, John Wayne’s Tom Doniphon, and the symbolism scattered throughout the script and imagery.
Honorable Mention: Born free (1966)
And that’s it! I hope this inspires you to come up with your own list of favorites.
Thanks to Rick at Classic Film and TV Cafe for hosting this blogathon and for letting me participate! Click HERE to read the rest of the entries.
Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!