Best Cast – 1970

First, apologies for my absence last week – I was gallivanting around the countryside and couldn’t be arsed doing any internet things. Now, this:

My Nominations: Airport. Catch-22. Cromwell. Five Easy Pieces. Kelly’s Heroes. The Kremlin Letter. MASH. Ryan’s Daughter.

Another of my favourite categories, in that it has been unsullied by Academy rules and politics, this one you are free to choose between ensemble performance, a smaller group of strong performances within a larger cast, or simply having a stellar cast performing together. Pick what you like, basically. With the 70s, many of my most favourite performers, and some of the most respected of all time, began coming to the fore meaning we have films with these up and comers reaching their peak in films alongside past masters and veterans. The historical epic was given way to smaller director led films, though there was still plenty of room for films with ensembles thanks to the disaster movie.

Airport surely kicks things off having both a large cast of stars and a couple of acting awards and nominations. The cast includes Burt Lancaster, Helen Hayes, Dean Martin, Van Heflin, Maureen Stapleton, George Kennedy, and Jacqueline Bisset, and doesn’t only feature them in minor roles. Likewise, Catch-22 goes for big names with Alan Arkin, Orson Welles, Anthony Perkins, Martin Sheen, Bob Newhart, Jon Voight, Art Garfunkel, Martin Balsam, Bob Balaban, and others as military misfits. MASH gives its key players bigger roles – from Donald Sutherland to Elliot Gould, Tom Skerritt to Sally Kellerman, Robert Duvall to Carl Gottlieb. On the smaller side of things, Five Easy Pieces features strong outings from Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, Susan Anspatch and The Kremlin Letter has Bibi Andersson, Orson Welles, Max Von Sydow, Richard Boone, Nigel Green and more.

My final three choices are more of the same – Kelly’s Heroes brings together old pals Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland, Telly Savalas once again, Cromwell sees Timothy Dalton joining Richard Harris, Alec Guiness, Patrick Wymark, Charles Gray and others while Ryan’s Daughter has Sarah Miles, Robert Mitchum, Trevor Howard, and John Mills hamming things up.

My Winner: MASH

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It’s a toss-up between the ensembles, so in the end it may come down to who you prefer or which film you like more. Let us know in the comments which film of 1970 you would give the Best Cast Award to!

Best Cast – 1969

My Nominations: The Wild Bunch. Midnight Cowboy. Anne Of The Thousand Days. Battle Of Britain. Butch Cassidy And The Cassidy Kid. The Italian Job. Marlowe. Marooned. Oh What A Lovely War. They Shoot Horses Don’t They. True Grit.

As always with this category, we have a bonanza of possibilities, and as always your personal preference may come down to the cast who give the most consistently strong performances regardless of size, or the cast which includes the most big hitters popping up in worthwhile roles.

This year we have a mixture of epics with large and varied casts, to smaller productions with a few main players. The Wild Bunch falls into the first category, a Western which sees the likes of William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Warren Oates, and Strother Martin all giving performances which cover fury, violence, futility, despair, and camaraderie. On the flip side we have Midnight Cowboy with Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight giving defining performances with Sylvia Miles, Bob Balaban, and Ruth White backing them. BCATSK takes this a little further with Katherine Ross holding her own alongside Robert Redford and Paul Newman – with support from Strother Martin, Cloris Leachman and others.

Anne Of The Thousand Days is another historical costume drama, so as expected you have an ensemble of classically trained actors hamming it up – Richard Burton, Genevieve Bujold, Anthony Quayle, and Irene Papas included. Battle Of Britain went all out in crafting a recognizable ensemble – Laurence Olivier, Ian McShane, Trevor Howard, Michael Caine, Robert Shaw, Susannah York, Christopher Plummer, Curt Jurgens are just a few of the familiar faces popping up in roles of varying degrees. Keeping the end up for the Brits again is Michael Caine in The Italian Job, and joining him are Noel Coward, Benny Hill, John Le Mesurier and many more.

Marlowe is a hard boiled American affair led by James Garner, but Rita Morena, Jackie Coogan, and of course Bruce Lee all appear in memorable roles. Marooned sees Richard Crenna, Gene Hackman, and James Franciscus trapped in space while Gregory Peck tries to bring them back to earth safely, while True Grit features John Wayne as a pirate cowboy. Strother Martin is there again of course, along with Kim Darby, Dennis Hopper, Robert Duvall, and Glen Campbell. They Shoot Horses Don’t They features Susannah York again, with Jane Fonda, Bruce Dern, Gig Young, Bonnie Bedalia and other dancing around and getting sweaty and stressed, while Oh What A Lovely War throws as many stars at us as possible – Miss Yorke once more (though Strother Martin is notably absent), a bunch of Redgraves, Ralph Richardson, Olivier, Maggie Smith, John Gielgud, Ian Holm etc etc. Take your pick. My winner is for the ensemble with the most meaningful performances.

My Winner: The Wild Bunch

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Let us know in the comments which film of 1969 you would choose as the winner of Best Cast, along with your reasons!

 

Best Cast – 1968

My Nominations: Candy. Bullitt. The Detective. Faces. Hell In The Pacific. The Lion In Winter. Once Upon A Time In The West. The Producers. Rosemary’s Baby. The Shoes Of The Fisherman.

It’s the last award of 1968, and one of the categories I always look forward to most – do we go with the film with the most impressive list of performers appearing on screen together, or do we go for a smaller, tighter cast who give undoubtedly brilliant performances? Candy is a forgotten romp and a definite product of its time – it does however bring together the obvious talents of Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, James Coburn, Walter Matthau, and a bunch of cameos. It is what it is, but it’s interesting to see all these folks together. Bullit gives us Steve McQueen, Jacqueline Bisset, and Robert Vaugn as the A-Listers along with veterans such as Simon Oakland and Don Gordon, with Hell In The Pacific is only two actors at the top of their game – Toshiro Mifune and Lee Marvin. Faces is the critical darling of the bunch with two of its central cast being nominated for Oscars, while John Marley and Gina Rowlands are equally strong. The Lion In Winter is another epic costume drama, and although these movies were losing their star power, you can’t argue with Peter O’Toole, Anthony Hopkins, Katherine Hepburn, and Timothy Dalton. The Producers has a tonne of comic talent, but is led by Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder, while Rosemary’s Baby brings together veterans and young blood in the clashing of Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes with Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer. The Shoes Of The Fisherman is a film with some giants – John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, Anthony Quinn, Vittorio De Sica, Oskar Werner, and an always good Burt Kwok. No-one remembers The Detective either, even though it features Bisset, Lee Remick, Jack Clugman, Ralph Meeker, Robert Duvall, and possibly Frank Sinatra’s best performance. My final pick is one which has featured in most of my nominations this year – Once Upon A Time In The West sharing Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, and Jason Robards, along with a host of cameos. It’s a difficult choice and any of these would be a worthy winner.

My Winner: The Producers

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Which movie of 1968 is your pick for the winner of Best Cast? Let us know in the comments!

Best Cast – 1967

My Nominations: Bonnie And Clyde. The Dirty Dozen. Casino Royale. The Graduate. Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. In The Heat Of The Night.

Only one large/traditional ensemble this time around, with The Dirty Dozen featuring a cast of established heavy hitters, stars of the day, and up and comers. We have the top brass led by the likes of Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, and Lee Marvin who recruit such luminaries as John Cassavetes, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, Telly Savalas and more. Many of the names above give performances which have become cult favourites and it is interesting to see the various stars interact. Casino Royale also features a large cast, with many cameos, but the majority of parts are minor though still add to the overall charm – Peter Sellers, David Niven, Ursula Andress, Orson Welles, and Woody Allen lead the way. The remaining films have a more condensed cast where each actor has a bigger role to chew on – Bonnie And Clyde sees Gene Hackman, Gene Wilder, and others alongside the central pairing of Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway while The Graduate features Dustin Hoffman struggling through love, life and boredom with Anne Bancroft, Katherine Ross, and Murray Hamilton. Sidney Poitier stars in the final two films, alongside Katerine Hepburn, Spencer Tracey, and Katherine Houghton in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and Rod Steiger and Warren Oats in In The Heat Of The Night. This is a very difficult one to call as each of the nominated films have stellar casts, by and large given terrific performances  -each is as deserving of a win as the next.

My Winner: Bonnie And Clyde

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Which of the above movies do you think has the Best Cast – or which movie of 1967 that I missed has a better cast? Let us know in the comments!

Best Cast – 1966

My Nominations: 7 Women. The Bible: In The Beginning. The Chase. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. How To Steal A Million. A Man For All Seasons. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?

Time for the all important Best Cast category of 1966, with a variety of epics, classics, and forgotten gems making up my list. Anne Bancfroft leads a nearly all-women cast in 7 Women, with Sue Lyon, Flora Dobson and other backing her up. On the epic front, The Bible goes old school, packing as many A listers and cameos in as possible but doesn’t quite match up to the movies it tries to emulate – Michael Parks, Ava Gardener, George C Scott, Peter O’Toole all popping up as your favourite Sunday School characters. A Man For All Seasons would likely have been the official winner if this category existed, with a handful of Redgraves starring alongside Orson Welles, John Hurt, Robert Shaw, and Paul Schofield, but it would have had a close fight on its hands thanks to the more powerful work by Taylor, Burton, Segal, and Dennis in Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? My remaining picks didn’t do as well at the Official ceremony, but are each packed with great performances, perhaps none more so than The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly – Eastwood, Wallach, and Van Cleer on top form. How To Steal A Million, saw Wallach again make an impact along with Audrey Hepburn, Peter O’Toole, and Hugh Griffith. My win though goes to the least known of the bunch, with Brando, Fonda, Angie Dickinson, and Robert Redford leading a cast including Robert Duvall and Clifton James.

My Winner: The Chase.

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Which film of 1966 do you think had the Best Cast giving the best performances? Let us know in the comments!

Best Cast: 1965

My Nominations: Battle Of The Bulge. Flight Of The Phoenix. The Greatest Story Ever Told. Dr Zhivago.

Battle Of The Bulge collects a decent ensemble of players, though doesn’t quite match some of the more famous war epics in terms of star quality. Here Henry Fonda, Robert Shaw, Telly Savalas, and Charles Bronson lead a list of underrated actors. Flight Of The Phoenix operates in a similar way, with a large cast of smaller stars headed by a few big hitters – Jimmy Stewart, Richard Attenborough, and Ernest Borgnine. Going for the full epic scope, The Greatest Story Ever Told is led by Charlton Heston, Claude Rains, Dorothy Maguire, Telly Savalas, David McCallum, Martin Landau, Donald Pleasance, Roddy McDowell, as well as  the likes of Pat Boone, Van Heflin, Angela Lansbury, Robert Loggia, John Wayne, and Shelly Winters popping up. Dr. Zhivago again is an epic, but keeps a tighter knit group than many of its ilk, with Omar Shariff, Julie Christie, Rod Steiger, and Alec Guiness leading the way.

My Winner: The Greatest Story Ever Told.

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Which film of 1965 do you think has the Best Cast? Let us know in the comments!

Best Cast: 1964

My Nominations: The Fall Of The Roman Empire. The Outrage. Fail-Safe. Zulu.

So far this category seems to find epics picking up the most nominations – this is hardly surprising given the natural size of the cast required and the fact that epics of the 60s always had more than their fair share of A-list performers. Two of my four nominees this year are epics, will the remaining half showcasing that rare moment when a relatively small cast pull together to make a perfect whole. The Fall Of The Roman Empire features the likes of Alec Guiness, Omar Sharif, James Mason, Christopher Plummer, Ballyclare’s own Stephen Boyd, and of course, Sophia Loren while Britain’s attempt Zulu sees Michael Caine, Jack Hawkins, Stanley Baker, James Booth, and Richard Burton pulling together. Fail-Safe is a much smaller affair and features the quintet of Henry Fonda, Dan O’Herlihy, Walter Matthau, Frank Overton, and Larry Hagman, while Rashomon remake The Outrage  collects the likes of Paul Newman, Eddie G Robinson, Lawrence Harvey, Claire Bloom, and William Shatner.

My Winner:  The Fall Of The Roman Empire.

Which film of 1964 do you think featured the Best Cast? Let us know in the comments below!