Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 1966

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: Carry On Screaming (UK)

9: Born Free (UK)

8: Alfie (UK)

7: The Professionals (US)

6: Blowup (UK/US/Italy)

5: One Million BC (UK)

4: Dracula, Prince Of Darkness (UK)

3: The Battle of Algiers (Italy/Algeria)

2: Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (USA)

1: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly (Italy/Germany/Spain/US)

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

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: Two

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Chart Music – 1966

Yes! Back thanks to an almost universal lack of demand, I stretch back the scalp of time and feast upon the mushy innards of the past – in this instance I return to the UK music charts. If you’re interested, you can read my original post here – https://carlosnightman.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/the-uk-top-40/

1966 Glancers, 1966. The year which meany consider to be the pinnacle of music. A pivotal year by all accounts, for culture worldwide, for music, cinema, politics, civil rights and so on and so forth. Where were you? Where was I? Where am I? So many questions, and so few readers. As you may be aware, I was not yet part of this world, at least not as you understand it, but many people were and they bore witness to things such as England winning the World Cup, thousands more US troops landing in Vietnam, Time magazine asked if God Was Dead, The Church Of Satan was formed, Castro declared Martial Law, Star Trek debuted on TV, John met Yoko, and a maniac went on a shooting spree in Texas.

In the realm of music, David Bowie emerged, The Beatles became the first band to play the Nippon Budokan Hall, Van Morrison and The Doors appeared on stage together, and Bob Dylan turned Judas. A bunch of extraordinarily popular albums were released and many songs still played regularly today were recorded. Looking at the list of songs below, there are only three I know from the name but I’m sure once I listen I will know a few more. The list at a first glance doesn’t seem to be representative of the many great songs and albums which first appeared this year.

  1.  Jim Reeves. Distant Drums.

Smooth vocals. Slow. Far away. Basic beat, simple piano. Strings arrive. Shifts to a more Western style pace. All very pleasant but out of time. Nothing wrong with it, a little too nice for my liking.

2. Dave Dee: Bend It!

Descending riff. Slower pace. Quickening like a Greek tune. Faster. Collapse. Funny. Even Greek guitars so I assume a deliberate choice. I always liked this sort of music from my travels. What exactly is he bending? Pretty good, though probably a novelty song.

3. The Who: I’m A Boy.

Back when they sounded like a nice little garage band, though they still manage to make plenty of noise in the chorus and bridge with those chugging guitars and bin lid drums. Great lyrics, good music.

4. New Vaudeville Band: Winchester Cathedral.

Ha ha, South Park. There’s something in my pocket for you. Waterloo melody. More novelty stuff but still good. Not a bad song yet, yay.

5. The Rolling Stones: Have You Seen Your Mother Baby Standing In The Shadow.

Fuzz and throbbing and sudden trumpets. All a bit chaotic with the trumpets out of tune with the vocals and guitar. The little break in the middle is nice. I was never a huge fan of early Stones but this is pretty good. The bass is probably the best part. It all collapses into a surprise bonus riff at the end. You wouldn’t get that in the charts these days.

6. The Supremes: You Can’t Hurry Love.

You know it, of course you do. Or the Phil Collins version. Sweet, melodic, beautiful. Can’t say much more about it, just enjoy!

7. Sandpipers: Guatanamera.

A song forever adopted by football crowds with ‘Guatanamera’ changed to… something else. I have no idea what it’s about but all very nice – dreamy verses and of course an incredibly catchy chorus. Oh, a spoken explanation. I didn’t really need that, but thanks.

8. Sonny And Cher: Little Man.

Greek fingering (madam) and bangs (sir). Yes, I know this. Horn beeps. Lots of pauses. It is a very odd song, then again it was 1966. Good though.

9. The Troggs: I Can’t Control Myself.

To be fair, most morning I wake up and scream ‘OH NO!’ This is a song with a marching beat and a simple structure, catchy chorus, verses okay, probably shouldn’t be stretched to three minutes.

10. Dusty Springfield: All I See Is You

Your standard Springfield ballad – big vocals, a little mournful, you know the score.  The chorus/rest of song is much better – even bigger vocals and more emotion, and it keeps getting bigger in every sense as it goes along.

As mentioned earlier, 1966 had a wealth of quality releases – Sounds Of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel, Boots by Nancy Sinatra, Blonde On Blonde, Pet Sounds, Revolver, Freak Out, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, A Quick One, and many others. Out of the top selling singles of the year in the US, three were by The Beatles, one by The Beach Boys, and one by Frank Sinatra – four out of five ain’t bad. For an alternative list of 10 great songs from 1966 (though most are incredibly famous) have a click on the links below:

  1. The Beatles: We Can Work It Out

2. James Brown: I Got You (I Feel Good)

3. The Mamas And The Papas: California Dreamin

4. The Rolling Stones: Paint It Black

5. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Hey Joe

6. The Velvet Underground & Nico: I’ll Be Your Mirror

7. Janis Ian: Society’s Child

8. Jefferson Airplane: Let Me In

9. The Kinks: Sunny Afternoon

10. The Who: Boris The Spider

What is your favourite song from 1966? 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 Stunt Work – 1966

My Nominations: Grand Prix. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. Is Paris Burning? The Sword Of Doom. The Wild Angels.

A selection of films from around the globe this year, with a Western, War movie, a Samurai epic, and two films focusing on man and machine making my list. Grand Prix takes my win for making car racing look much more exciting than it actually is, with Max Balchowsky, Tom Bamford, Carey Loftin, and Ronnie Rondell Jr performing the majority of the driving.

My Winner: Grand Prix

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Which film of 1966 do you think had the best Stunt Work? Let us know in the comments!

Best Animated Film – 1966

My Nominations: The Man Called Flintstone

There were plenty of animated shorts this year as you would expect, and a few films blending animation and live action which I tend to not count here. The only true animated film from this year that I’ve seen is my default winner, and luckily it’s not too bad. I’ve never been a huge Flintstones fan, although I watched the show when I was younger even then it felt a little before my time. The film is a bit of a mish mash of ideas from the show while lampooning other movies and featuring the usual light-hearted satire on American values. There are a few decent songs and the animation is exactly a  you remember it with that unique Hanna Barbera style.

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My Winner: The Man Called Flintstone

Have you seen this one? Did you watch The Flintstones when you were younger? Let us know in the comments!

Best Make-Up – 1966

As we know, this category was still over a decade away from becoming a reality, but thanks to The Spac Hole we can right that wrong.

My Nominations: Dracula – Prince Of Darkness. Plague Of The Zombies. The Good The Bad And The Ugly. Fantastic Voyage. The Bible. A Man For All Seasons.

My Winner: Plague Of The Zombies

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What is your pick for Best Make-Up of 1966? Let us know in the comments!

Best Costume Design – 1966

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Official Nominations: BW: Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? The Gospel According To Matthew. Mr Buddwing. Mandragola. Morgan! Colour: A Man For All Seasons. Gambit. Hawaii. Juliet Of The Spirits. The Oscar.

My Winner: BW: The Gospel According To Matthew. Colour: A Man For All Seasons.

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My Nominations: The Gospel According To Matthew. A Man For All Seasons. Hawaii. The Bible. Blowup. Prince Of Darkness. Farenheit 451. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. The Wild Angels.

My Winner: A Man For All Seasons.

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Which film do you think had the Best Costume Design of 1966? Let us know in the comments!

Best Music (Scoring): 1966

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Official Nominations: Original: Born Free. The Bible. Hawaii. The Sand Pebbles. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf. Treatment: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. The Gospel According To St. Matthew. Return Of The Seven. The Singing Nun. Stop The World I Want To Get Off.

Two obvious winners for me this year with both my picks having memorable lead themes and plenty of finely tuned incidental pieces. Return Of The Seven does of course borrow heavily from The Magnificent Seven, but it’s still so much stronger than anything else on the list that it gets the win.

My Winner: Born Free. Return Of The Seven.

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My Nominations: Born Free. Return Of The Seven. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. Blow-Up. The Sand Pebbles. Dracula: Prince Of Darkness.  Fahrenheit 451.

I borrow three from the official nominations, and add the steamy and restrained soundtrack by James Bernard which gives a gravitas and emotional content to your typical Hammer fare. Also added is Herbie Hancock’s immortal soundtrack to Blow-Up with an infusion of guitar psychedelia and jazz freak outs, and Bernard Hermann’s mysterious and ominous ode to the future for Farenheit 451. My win of course has to be The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. It’s unfortunately rare that movie soundtracks enter the public consciousness and have a lasting cultural significance, but that is exactly what Ennio Morricone gives us (and not for the first or last time). The soundtrack is easily one of the finest ever written, with the title track, with The Ecstasy Of Gold, The Story Of A Soldier, all being classic themes.

My Winner: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

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What is your choice for the Best Score of 1966? Let us know in the comments (of course it’s going to be Morricone though…)

Best Original Song – 1966

Official Nominations: Born Free. Alfie. Georgy Girl. My Wishing Doll – Hawaii. A Time For Love – An American Dream.

There is one obvious winner here, a song which everyone knows, regardless of whether or not you have seen the movie. John Barry and Don Black’s Born Free, sung with gusty by crooner Matt Munro is both timeless, and a symbol of many 60s ideals. It is synonymous with images of sprawling vistas, African grasslands, mothers and cubs, and of course, freedom. Bacharach’s Alfie has performed by every sing of all time, so take your pick between the Cher and Cilla versions. I much prefer the Susannah Hoffs version – What’s It All About, Austin? – Hoffs really transforms it into a monster, but the basis of a great song was built here in the 60s. Tom Springfield and Jim Dale’s Georgy Girl evokes similar images of the decade and is light, cheery nonsense. It’s instantly catchy and perfromed with pinache by the Seekers. However, it’s impossible to hear it now without changing the lyrics to ‘Hey there, blimpy boy’. So this is a rarity – three great songs so far, WTF is going on Oscars? Berstein and David’s Wishing Doll has an odd mixture of Western tones with the Hawaiian feel needed for the movie, another song with strong melodies, but a much more mournful song when compared to the rapture of the previous three. The final entry is Johnny Mandel’s A Time For Love – a misplaced song in an unfairly maligned film. It’s a soppy enough song which tries to fit the dreary, lurid atmosphere of the movie, but comes off as a fairly standard ballad. It’s ok as a standalone, but it doesn’t work for the movie.

My Winner: Born Free.

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My Nominations: Born Free. Alfie. Georgy Girl. Follow Me Boys.

The only addition to my list is the title song from the Disney Scout movie, a jolly little ditty which was almost adopted by the USA Scouts as their signature tune. It does feel like a song which should be sung while marching and although it’s very simple it has a pleasant innocence.

My Winner: Born Free

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Which movie song of 1966 do you think deserves the Best Song crown? Let us know in the comments!