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Mini Movie Reviews: Six from the Sixties

Today's theme is the 1960s and features six very different films from that decade by directors Roger Vadim, Stanley Donen, Anthony Mann, Stanley Kramer, Masaki Kobayashi, and John Frankenheimer.

Barbarella (1968)
Based on the comic by Jean-Claude Forest, Barbarella stars Jane Fonda as an intergalactic peacekeeper sent on a mission by the President of Earth to find a missing scientist named Durand Durand. While certainly an iconic bit of 60s sci-fi cinema, Barbarella isn't nearly as fun or satirical (or as erotic) as it likes to think it is. It's a film that seems to exist simply to say “Look at Jane Fonda, isn't she sexy?” Still, I do miss when sci-fi films weren't afraid of being this aggressively camp.

Rating: ⭐⭐
Charade (1963)
Charade is a film of duplicity. It makes you think it is one thing, but then turns out to be something else entirely, but like its leading man, is so effortlessly charming that you don't mind the deception at all. It starts off as a Hitchcockian thriller about Audrey Hepburn being harassed by a trio of ruthless criminals after the money her dead husband stole from them, but that is just to lure us in to what is really a breezy romantic comedy as Hepburn and Cary Grant casually stroll around picturesque Paris exchanging witty banter that is as sharp as their wardrobe.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Judgement at Nuremberg (1961)
Stanley Kramer's fictionalised retelling of the 1947 Judges Trials in Nuremberg featuring an all-star cast including Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Montgomery Clift, William Shatner, and an Oscar winning Maximilian Schell. Uncomfortable viewing at times (as it should be), but felt more like a history lecture in dramatized form and too often let its very talented cast get rather carried away with themselves in the courtroom scenes, especially the Oscar winning Maximilian Schell.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
The Train (1964)
Burt Lancaster again, this time playing a French resistance fighter (without the slightest hint of an accent despite being surrounded by French actors) who gets pulled into a plot to prevent a Nazi colonel from stealing a horde of priceless art before the allies liberate Paris. Arthur Penn, the original director, wanted to make a more introspective film, but Lancaster was desperate for a hit and fired Penn. He replaced by John Frankenheimer with orders to make The Train more of an action film. This ultimately results in a film with a few good set pieces and some fine acting, but is just a straightforward and predictable WWII men on a mission movie.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Kwaidan (1964)
Directed by Masaki Kobayashi, this anthology film brings together four different ghost stories from the collection of Japanese folk tales by Lafcadio Hearn. It's visually stunning, but the quality of the individual stories is very mixed. I enjoyed the first two, but the third just went on way too long and the final, deliberately incomplete tale just feels like it was thrown in because they had some money left over.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964)
Have you seen Ridley Scott's Gladiator? Then you've seen The Fall of the Roman Empire. The two films are so similar in plot I'm honestly surprised no one sued. Both are centred around a fictional Roman general, who is picked by Emperor Marcus Aurelius to succeed him in place of his lout of a son, Commodus. But Aurelius is murdered before he can announce his plans, Commodus becomes Emperor and the fictional Roman general (who is also in love with Commodus' sister) eventually has to lead a rebellion against him. Neither film makes any real effort to be historically accurate, but Gladiator at least tries to be more exciting, faster paced, more focused, and better acted. All this film really has is a lot of impressive sets, which the producers paid for dearly when the film spectacularly flopped.

Rating: ⭐⭐

Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011 More Mark Greig


  1. I must have seen Charade ten times on TV when I was growing up. Such a charming movie.

  2. I'm amazed that I can only recall Barbarella from this list. Campy as heck, but I also remember enjoying it for that camp.

  3. Is fun seeing what movies people have and haven't seen.


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