Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 1962

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

10: Carnival Of Souls (USA)

9: Lawrence Of Arabia (USA/UK)

8: To Kill A Mockingird (USA)

7: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (USA)

6: The Longest Day (USA)

5: What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (USA)

4: Sanjuro (Japan)

3: Lolita (UK/USA)

2: Cape Fear (USA)

1: Dr No (UK)

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Four

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: Four (Including The Winner)

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1962 Academy Awards: Prize Summary

Well, there we have it. 1962 has been, has gone, has come back, been fixed, and been sent on its way again. Here are my, likely error-filled-but-can’t-be-arsed-going-back-to fix- winners from this year. Quite a few changes from the Oscars that you know and hate – Lawrence Of Arabia picks up nine nominations from me, but only wins one, while Dr No tops both lists with an astonishing 13 nominations and 5 wins.  Go watch it again – it’s great! As an added incentive for reading, here is a nice unrelated picture of –

My Winners From Actual Nominations:

The Longest Day: 3

The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm: 2

Lawrence Of Arabia: 2

Mutiny On The Bounty: 1

Tender Is The Night: 1

Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? 1

To Kill A Mockingbird: 1

The Music Man: 1

Divorce, Italian Style: 1

Gregory Peck: 1

Angela Lansbury: 1

Lee Remick: 1

Telly Savalas: 1

David Lean: 1

My Own Nominations:

Dr No: 13

Lawrence Of Arabia: 9

The Mutiny On The Bounty: 9

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: 7

Cape Fear: 6

The Longest Day: 6

The Brothers Grimm: 5

Sanjuro: 5

The 300 Spartans: 5

Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? 3

Lolita: 3

To Kill A Mockingbird: 3

The Day Of The Triffids: 3

The Birdman Of Alcatraz: 2

The Exterminating Angel: 2

King Kong vs Godzilla: 1

The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner: 1

The Music Man: 1

Jules Et Jim: 1

The Manchurian Candidate: 1

Wild Swans: 1

The Amphibian Man: 1

Freud: 1

The Trial: 1

Tender Is The Night: 1

Phantom Of The Opera: 1

My Live To Live: 1

Gregory Peck: 1

Burt Lancaster: 1

Jack Lemmon: 1

James Mason: 1

Marlon Brando: 1

Thelma Ritter: 1

Angela Lansbury: 1

Sue Lyon: 1

Joan Crawford: 1

Bette Davis: 1

Lee Remick: 1

Anne Bancroft: 1

Robert Mitchum: 1

Telly Savalas: 1

Peter Sellers: 1

Anthony Perkins: 1

Terence Young: 1

John Ford: 1

John Frankenheimer: 1

J. Lee Thompson: 1

David Lean: 1

Stanley Kubrick: 1

Orson Welles: 1

Robert Aldrich: 1

My Own Winners:

Dr No: 5

Cape Fear: 2

Sanjuro: 1

Lolita: 1

Lawrence Of Arabia: 1

The 300 Spartans: 1

The Longest Day: 1

Grimm: 1

King Kong vs Godzilla: 1

Gregory Peck: 1

Thelma Ritter: 1

Lee Remick: 1

Robert Mitchum: 1

John Frankenheimer: 1

Wild Swans: 1

Freud: 1

The Exterminating Angel: 1

 My Recommedned Viewing:

Cape Fear. Dr. No. Lolita. The Mutiny On The Bounty. Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? The Manchurian Candidate. The Longest Day. Lawrence Of Arabia. Freud. The Exterminating Angel. The 300 Spartans. Lolita. Yojimbo. The Day Of The Triffids. To Kill A Mockingbird. The Birdman Of Alcatraz. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. The Brothers Grimm.

There we have it! What do you think of my picks – have I missed one of your favourites, or am I completely misguided? Throw your thoughts into the comments.

Best Cast: 1962

My Nominations: Cape Fear. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. The Birdman Of Alcatraz. Lawrence Of Arabia. The Mutiny On The Bounty. How The West Was Won. The Longest Day.

Mostly epics with ensemble casts this year, with Cape Fear and The Birdman Of Alcatraz being my only nominations with a smaller, more contained cast. The central foursome of Peck, Mitchum, Bergen, and Balsam in Cape Fear couldn’t be better, backed up by the likes of Telly Savalas and Lori Martin. The Birdman Of Alcatraz has wonderful performances from an underrated cast – Thelma Ritter, Karl Malden, Burt Lancaster, and Telly Savalas shine. The Longest Day’s main advertising hook was it’s ’42 International Stars!’ indicating a massively multi-cultural, multi-talented cast – many of the biggest starts feature very briefly, but the list is impressive – Mel Ferrer, Henry Fonda, Sal Mineo, Robert Mitchum, John Wayne, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Christian Marquand, Gert Frobe, Curt Jurgens etc etc. On a similar scale (and again with its large cast highlighed heavily in advertising) we have  How The West Was Won, with Spencer Tracy, Gregory Peck, George Peppard, James Stewart, Eli Wallach, Henry Fonda all making the spectacle. Keeping up the scope is Lawrence Of Arabia with Peter O’Toole, Alec Guiness, Omar Shariff, Anthony Quinn, Anthony Quayle etc making deserts look exciting, while John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Vera Miles, Lee Van Cleef, Lee Marvin et al test their gun hands on The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. On a slightly smaller scale we have The Mutiny On The Bounty, with Brando, Howard, and Harris leading the way.

My Winner: Cape Fear

As always, let me know your thoughts on my thoughts, and put in the comments which movie of 1962 had the best performing cast.

Best Stunt Work: 1962

My Nominations: This year arguably saw the first of what could be classed as ‘the modern action movie’ with Agent 007 embarking on his premier mission. With this new approach to genre-filmaking, focus on action set-pieces and stunt work became heavier as directors became more ambitious and pushed for bigger, badder, better hooks for their movies. As it was the first, Hollywood still relied on the tried and tested ways of the past, with epic battles, haymakers, and horse heroics, but Dr.No clearly symbolized a change to both a tighter, more taut and yet more bombastic, extravagant approach.

The 300 Spartans: Unfortunately I have no idea who was involved in the stunt work in the film, so my credit goes to director Rudolph Mate, and military advisor Major Cleanthis Damianos for helping to shape some original, sweeping battle scenes.

Cape Fear: Although most of the violence in the film is unseen and suggested, there are still some potent scenes and impressive work, much of which was performed by the acting roster.

Dr No: From the now requisite pre-title sequence, to the car chases, from the many fist fights to the dragon attack and final Island battle/escape, Dr No is packed with action and premium stunt work. As expected, we have many (shockingly uncredited) stunt performers who were well on their way to become legends in the field – Peter Brace (Batman, Willow, Prince of Thieves, Raiders Of The Lost Ark), Gerry Crampton (Daylight, The Dirty Dozen), and of course Bob Simmons (future Bond films) to name a few.

The Longest Day: A film of this magnitude and with this subject matter will always rely on dedicated stunt professionals, and here they pull off some stunning work. The likes of Joe and Nosher Powell (future Bond movies), Ken Buckle (First Knight, Cleopatra) and Ian Yule (Ben-Hur, The Wild Geese) should be commended here.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: A film not renowned for its stunt work, this nevertheless has many great moments thanks to the likes of married stunt performers Louise and Montie Montana, Chuck Hayward who double for Wayne and most of the biggest Western stars of the era , and Hal Needham, arguably the most famous stuntman of them all.

Sanjuro: Not to be outdone by the West, Japanese master Kurosawa creates yet another rip-roaring Samurai piece, complete with expected, and unexpected swordplay moments. Whilst not as visually memorable as Yojimbo or Seven Samurai, the sword fighting is second to none, thanks to Ryu Kuze.

My Winner: Dr. No

As always, please leave your thoughts in the comments and have a go at the poll!

Best Original Song -1962

Actual Nominations:

Days Of Wine And Roses – This starts off promisingly but quickly descends into the dreary sort of violin strewn noise that made you run from the TV when you were younger. For such a striking and important film, the song sounds like it is a couple of decades out of date, yet the slow, winding tone does fit with the boozed up nature of the story.

Mutiny On The Bounty Follow Me: This on the other hand does not sound dated at all, possibly given the use of the Tahitian choir. It is, however, very repetitive and could really have been 40 seconds long.

Two For The SeesawSecond Chance: A bar hopping number belted out by a weary, smoke ridden mistress to the lonely midnight patrons of the cities most dank dive. Unfortunately the song doesn’t really go anywhere and the melodies aren’t remembered a few minutes later.

Tender Is The Night –  An eerie into set to piano gives away to pleasant lyrics and decent melodies. If it wasn’t sung by Tony Bennett it might be worth recalling more often (I’m not a fan of any of those old school male swing singers).

Walk On The Wild Side – A good song for stripping too, if the mood takes you, but it sounds even more like it should be used for a game show with SUPER PRIZES! A nice big sound but once again, there is nothing special here.

My Winner: Tender Is The Night

My Nominations: Dr. No: Underneath The Mango Tree. Tender Is The Night.

My Winner: Dr No

Any excuse to show this pic really

 

Best Writing (Original)- 1962

Actual Nominations: Divorce, Italian Style. Freud. Last Year At Marienbad. That Touch Of Mink. Through A Glass Darkly.

Quite an average year for original screenplays. Divorce, Italian Style picked up the win this year, interesting as it is basically based on an existing work. Much of the humour in the film does come from the imaginative script, particularly in the murderous dreams. Bergman’s Through A Glass Darkly is a typically dense story dealing with a lot of themes, mostly linked to the separation and angst we feel when dealing with others, even those who should be closest to us. Freud is John Huston’s biography on, surprisingly, Freud, mainly focusing on a particular period of his life when he was beginning his theories on sexuality. The film is striking in the way that Huston prefers the visuals to do the talking rather than an overly complex script. Last Year At Marienbad is one of Resnais’s greatest films, thanks in a large part to Alain Robbe-Grillet’s groundbreaking script – interpret it as you may. That Touch Of Mink is a fairly traditional romantic comedy, with a decent screenplay by Shapiro and Monaster, but it isn’t overly memorable.

My Winner: Last Year At Marienbad

My Nominations: Last Year At Marienbad. The Exterminating Angel. My Life To Live. Sanjuro.

Only Marienbad makes it over to my list – joining it is the equally groundbreaking, but greatly controversial The Exterminating Angel. Bunuel’s story is filled with rage, cynicism, and mockery, and contains many shocking moments which translate brilliantly to screen. The repetition, the ending, the metaphor are all to be treasured. Godard’s My Life To Live traverses a thin between selfish, irritating, obnoxious, and self-indulgent, but somehow it all works, thanks to the sincerity of the script. Naturally it is filled with novel approaches which don’t always work, particularly over 50 years later. Finally, Sanjuro, cheating a little as it is loosely based on a short story, but changed enough from that source to become something unique. There are smarts, double-crosses, and frank discussions on violence. But mostly it’s about swords.

My Winner: The Exterminating Angel

Best Writing (Adapted) – 1962

Actual Nominations: To Kill A Mockingbird. David And Lisa. Lawrence Of Arabia. Lolita. The Miracle Worker.

Two titans of literature go up against a couple of curiosities and a pseudo-biography. The bane of high-school English students everywhere, To Kill A Mockingbird is Harper Lee’s only novel to date, and Horton Foote’s earnest adaptation condenses all of issues concerning prejudice and injustice without losing any of the power or sincerity. Dealing directly with controversial topics, both the film and the book are overwhelming successes. Lolita, on the other hand is a much more sordid affair, dealing with taboo and whilst still a success should be considered on a different level. Although Nabokov is credited with the screenplay, Kubrick and Harris had a greater hand in the adaptation. Unlike Mockingbird, Lolita the films is greatly changed from the book – mainly to avoid the wrath of the censors with most of the explicit stuff made subtext rather than clear and present. If anything this gives a more sinister undertone to the action. William Gibson worked closely with Arthur Penn on the adaptation of The Miracle Worker which is based on Helen Keller’s autobiography, but it is the performances rather than the words which give the film its power. Dealing with similar issues, Eleanor Perry’s adaptation of Rubin’s David And Lisa is fine if a little sugary. Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson’s take on the life of T.E.Lawrence pays the necessary liberties to bring a coherent, dramatic tale to the screen.

My Winner: To Kill A Mockingbird

 foote

My Nominations: Lawrence Of Arabia. Lolita. To Kill A Mockingbird. The 300 Spartans. The Day Of The Triffids. The Trial. The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm. Dr No.

Quite a few additions to the various official nominations which made it over to my list – with a mixture of history, science fiction and more literary giants making the grade. The 300 Spartans isn’t simply a nonsensical action film – the various writers merging chaos to create something stirring and topical (Cold War undertones), while David P Harmon, William Roberts, and Charles Beaumont’s screenplay does well with the gigantic task of bringing together the many Grimm’s fairytales to make a fine standalone story. Bernard Gordon changes many elements of Wyndam’s The Day Of The Triffid’s to again create something unique from the novel and while it is a much more simple tale, it creates enough drama to still be watchable today, while Maibum, Harwood, and Mather’s script for Dr No is much more faithful to the source material and set the standard for every Bond film to come, not to mention a host of imitators. My final choice has probably the most interesting adaptation – with Orson Welles giving his own twist on Kafka’s The Trial, bringing it up to date and playing around with certain details and plot points.

My Winner: Lolita

Best Sound – 1962

Actual Nominations:

Lawrence Of Arabia. Bon Voyage! The Music Man. That Touch Of Mink. Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?

My Winner: The Music Man (George R Groves)

My Nominations:

Lawrence Of Arabia. The Music Man. Dr. No. The Longest Day. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Mutiny On The Bounty.

My Winner: The Longest Day (Jo De Bretagne, Jacques Maumont)

Best Music (Scoring) – 1962

Actual Nominations:

Lawrence Of Arabia: Maurice Jarre’s theme is instantly recognisable and indeed set up several musical clichés which still exist today- it’s difficult to watch any desert scene in a movie without that oriental swirling string style used in the 1962 hit. The soundtrack is filled with these foreign moments whilst also sounding distinctly French, but most importantly it immediately evokes images of endless sand landscapes, mirages, and wanderers in white with their faces covered before impending dust hurricanes. It is a deserving winner and gets my official vote.

Freud: Jerry Goldsmith got his first Oscar nomination for this Biopic of Freud, a film which was not a success and has been long since forgotten. The soundtrack however has managed to stand he test of time and is full of plinky plonky plucked strings and dissonant sounds- it almost sounds like the archetypal mystery movie soundtrack. There aren’t a lot of obvious melodic moments but rather many merged smaller pieces which create a great amount of tension and inertia. It was also famously re-used for Alien in 1979.

Mutiny On The Bounty: Bronislau Kaper’s theme is an old school epic theme, typical for Milestone’s movies and one which is full of stirring strings and choirs and definitely creates thoughts of high sea adventure in one’s head.

Taras Bulba: Franz Waxman’s score for Taras Bulba is an unusual one- it has all the cheesy hallmarks of pre-1960 Hollywood with dreary, lost vocals and gentle melodies but it is punctuated by bizarre harpsichord sounds and Eastern scales.

To Kill A Mockingbird:Bernstein is a God amongst composers, but I have to say the theme for the 1962 flick didn’t leave an impression on me. On re-visiting it reminds me of Edward Scissorhands and although it lacks a standout moment, the overall feel of soft playing and melodies gives a sense of innocence and eventually tragedy and justice when you are familiar with the plot. It is a strong score which stands well on its own and may have been down played during the movie.

The Music Man: This was the winner for this year’s awards and it’s an obvious one- the film is packed full of jolly hits which appeal to musical fan’s taste, and naturally there are a few of the songs which are so damn catchy that even the most hardened anti-musical man would struggle not to smile at a few of them. However, as a whole it is simply too cheesy and happy for my tastes and will not be getting my pick as winner.

Billy Rose’s Jumbo: George Stoll’s adaptation of the Rodgers and Hart score is equally old school Hollywood and although there are a few decent songs and though it does adequately evoke images of Circuses and clowns, it is so generic and unimaginative that it goes in one ear and out the other for me.

Gigot: Again we are in ye olde territory here, not surprising with Gene Kelly at the helm, although thankfully it doesn’t go overboard with the wailing choral voices or soundless strings. There is nothing outstanding here but it suits the tear-jerking, soppy nature of the film.

Gypsy: And once again it’s another horrific old style score to fit another horrific film admirably. Even for musical fans I don’t think there is anything outstanding here.

The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm: This movie was all about the visuals and the stories and the adventure and it is unfortunate that the film got a fairly generic, unimpressive score- weird fairy tale ditties aside.

My Winner: Freud

My Nominations: Lawrence Of Arabia. Freud. Mutiny On The Bounty. To Kill A Mockingbird. Dr. No. The Phantom Of The Opera.

Only Dr No and The Phantom OfThe Opera are newly added to my choices. Monty Norman and John Barry’s famous James Bond Theme is one of the most recognisable pieces of music ever written and stands the test of time – the rest of the score is punctuated by Calypso sounds and Caribbean styles. Edwin Astley’s score for The Phantom Of The Opera features strong original and burrowed music, but has since been overshadowed by later versions.

My Winner: Freud