Top movies of the year, 1965: spy versus spy edition

Again I return to play the “best films of the year, some decades back” game with Jesse Walker and LAGuy.  This time the year is… 1965, and we can see the Cold War confronting WWII in many movies.  Jesse’s post is online.  I’ll link to LAGuy’s when it goes live (and it is).

I wasn’t alive in 1965.  Not for two more years would I be born.  Given the lack of movie accessibility outside of theaters, most of these movies didn’t cross my eyeballs until much later.

  1. The Battle of Algiers A perfect political thriller, an anatomy of revolution, and a counter-anatomy of counter-revolution. Although the movie supports the rebels, it takes a brave and rare turn when it gives the scary French paratrooper plenty of time to make his case, and then his campaign. There isn’t a wasted second in the whole thing.  Watch it.
  2. Alphaville Godard’s bizarre science fiction zero-budget classic, some shot by simply walking into neat-looking Paris offices and filming until they got booted out.  Again with the dystopias.  And two unforgettable voices, both unaltered, one playing a machine.
  3. Repulsion One of the harshest, more effective horror films ever made.
  4. Faster, Pusscat, Kill, Kill! Delirious fun.  The antithesis of what films were supposed to be and a B triumph.
  5. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold The ultimate dark, “burnt-out case” spy film.
  6. The War Game We begin to realize just how terrible nuclear war would be.  Composed as a combination tv news show and documentary.
  7. It Happened Here  The Nazis conquer Britain, and how the Brits make do. A chilling alternate history, made on very low resources.
  8. For a Few Dollars More A fine spaghetti western, taking its time to loaf around the plot and let the bravura style breathe.
  9. The Bedford Incident A very well-done naval warfare film, steeped in tension, and with a surprising Cold War punch.
  10. The Sound of Music One of the most formidable musicals.  And the source of many fine memes, like this one:

Honorable mentions:

  • Saragossa Manuscript Too long, but the most ambitious story within a story within a story story film.
  • Thunderball Not one of the best Bonds, but still Bond.
  • Ipcress File One of the major anti-Bond espionage movies.
  • Doctor Zhivago An impressive and popular epic, I found it disturbingly simplistic.
  • Planet of the Vampires A Bava film, and one which scared the hell out of me as a lad, watching it on a tiny tv between nearly closed, trembling fingers.
  • Help The early days of music movies, and self-satire about pop stardom.
  • The Great Race A live-action cartoon, paying cheerful homage to Snidely Whiplash-like   melodramas.
  • Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, having fun in an anthology horror vehicle.
  • Man is Not a Bird Another weird and powerful work from a great Yugoslav director.
  • Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors The Soviets loved (some) folk traditions, and here made a ravishing ethnography.

Very bad movies: Monster a-Go Go.  Frankenstein Conquers the World.

Haven’t seen, or can’t remember well enough to say, but would like to watch: Cat Ballou, The Collector, Pierrot le Fou, Chimes at Midnight, Juliet of the Spirits, Fantomas Unleashed, Frankenstein meets the Spacemonster.

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