4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!
Today, retired director Richard Lester is 88. Richard Lester made films about everyone from The Beatles and the Three Musketeers to Robin Hood and Superman and, along the way, he changed the face of pop culture forever.
Despite being forever associated with the swinging London of the 60s, Richard Lester was born in Philadelphia and started his career directing episodes of a western television series called Action in the Afternoon. After moving to London in the 50s, Lester went to work for the BBC and directed episodes of The Goon Show. In 1959, he directed the Oscar-nominated short film, The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film. One huge fan of that short film was John Lennon and, when the Beatles were looking for someone to direct their first movie, it was Lennon who suggested Richard Lester for the job.
And the rest is history.
4 Shots From 4 Films
A Hard Day’s Night (1964, directed by Richard Lester)
Petulia (1968, directed by Richard Lester)
Robin and Marian (1976, directed by Richard Lester)
Sonny and Cher walk down the 1968 Oscars Red Carpet
Continuing our look at good films that were not nominated for best picture, here are 6 films from the 1960s.
Psycho (1960, dir by Alfred Hitchcock)
The director was nominated. Janet Leigh was nominated. Amazingly enough, Anthony Perkins was not nominated for playing the role that would come to define him. And, in the end, the film itself was not nominated for best picture. Perhaps it was too sordid for the Academy. Perhaps they resented no longer feeling safe in the shower. Regardless, Psycho has gone on to influence every horror thriller made since 1960. And let’s not even talk about how much we all cried while watching the finale of Bates Motel.
From Russia With Love (1963, dir by Terence Young)
The first great James Bond film should have also been the first Bond film to be nominated for best picture. Actually, looking over the films that actually were nominated in 1963, From Russia With Love should have been the first Bond film to win best picture.
Blow-Up (1966, dir by Michelangelo Antonioni)
Mimes playing tennis and David Hemmings briefly breaking out of his shell of ennui to investigate a murder that has no solution! How could the Academy resist? Somehow, they did. Michelangelo Antonioni received a nomination but the film was, at the time, considered to be too controversial to nominate.
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (1967, dir by Sergio Leone)
Though initial reviews were mixed, Sergio Leone’s Civil War epic has come to be recognized as one of the greatest and most important Westerns of all time. Perhaps it’s understandable that the Academy of 1967 would be skeptical of an Italian western starring Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, and Lee Van Cleef. Still, it would have been one of the coolest best picture nominees of all time. (Shockingly, not even Ennio Morricone’s iconic score was nominated.)
Petulia (1968, dir by Richard Lester)
Though Richard Lester will probably always be best known as the man who directed the first two Beatles films, he also directed one of the definitive 60s films, Petulia. Sadly, in a year when many lackluster films were nominated, the challenging and rather melancholy Petulia was not.
Night of the Living Dead (1968, dir by George Romero)
Again, we really can’t be shocked that the Academy held off an recognizing a low-budget, independent film about zombies But come on! A Night of the Living Dead vs. Petulia Oscar race would have bene one for the ages.
So, guess what I did earlier today? That’s right — I put on a blindfold, a stumbled over to my ever-growing DVD, Blu-ray. and even VHS collection and I randomly selected 12 films!
Why did I do this?
I did it so you, the beloved readers of Through the Shattered Lens, could once again have a chance to tell me what to do. At the end of this post, you’ll find a poll. Hopefully, between now and next Sunday (that’s August 21st), a few of you will take the time to vote for which of these 12 films I should watch and review. I will then watch the winner on Sunday and post my review on Monday night. In short, I’m putting the power to dominate in your hands. Just remember: with great power comes great … well, you know how it goes.
Here are the 12 films that I randomly selected this afternoon:
Abduction — From 1975, this soft-core grindhouse film is based on the real-life abduction of Patty Hearst and was made while Hearst was still missing. Supposedly, the FBI ended up investigating director Joseph Zito to make sure he wasn’t involved in the actual kidnapping.
Aguirre, The Wrath of God — From director Werner Herzog and star Klaus Kinski comes this story about a Spanish conquistador who fights a losing battle against the Amazon.
Black Caesar — In one of the most succesful of the 70s blaxploitation films, Fred Williamson takes over the Harlem drug trade and battles the mafia.
Don’t Look Now — Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are a married couple who attempt to deal with the death of their daughter by going to Venice, Italy. Christie quickly falls in with two blind psychics while Sutherland pursues a ghostly figure in a red raincoat through Venice. Directed by Nicolas Roeg.
The Lion In Winter — From 1968, this best picture nominee stars Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn as King Henry II and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Taking place on Christmas Eve, Henry and Eleanor debate which one of their useless sons will take over a king of England. This film is also the feature debut of both Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton.
Logan’s Run— From 1976, this sci-fi film features Michael York and Jenny Agutter as two future hedonists seeking Sanctuary and instead finding Peter Ustinov and a bunch of cats. Filmed in my hometown of Dallas.
Lost Highway — From director David Lynch comes this 1997 film about … well, who knows for sure what it’s about? Bill Pullman may or may not have killed Patricia Arquette and he may or may not end up changing into Balthazar Getty.
Mystic River— From director Clint Eastwood comes this film about murder, guilt, redemption, and suspicion in working-class Boston. Starring Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, and Tim Robbins.
Naked Massacre — From 1976, this stark film is something a grindhouse art film. It takes the true life story of Chicago mass murderer Richard Speck and transfers the action to Belfast. Also known as Born for Hell.
Night of the Creeps— From 1986, this film features alien slugs that turn an entire college campus into a breeding ground for frat boy zombies. Tom Atkins gets to deliver the classic line: “Well don’t go out there…”
Petulia — Considered by many to be one of the best American films ever made and one of the definitive films of the 60s, Petulia tells the story of a divorced doctor (George C. Scott) who enters into an odd relationship with Julie Christie. Directed by Richard Lester, this film also stars Joseph Cotten, Richard Chamberlain, and the Grateful Dead.
What Have You Done To Solange? — From 1975, What Have You Done To Solange is a classic giallo that features dream-like murders, disturbing subtext, and one of the best musical scores of all time.
So, there’s your 12 films. Vote once, vote often, have fun, and I await your decision.