The year in films: spies, squalor and seamen

CLYDE GILMOUR January 5 1963

The year in films: spies, squalor and seamen

CLYDE GILMOUR January 5 1963

The year in films: spies, squalor and seamen



THE QUANTITY and quality of Hollywood's output for the moving picture screen dwindled in 1962. Except in matters of sheer size and opulence, the best British films excelled the best made by Americans. At year's end, however, many a pessimistic critic was forced to lump together his favorites from both sides of the Atlantic to reach the ritualistic aggregate of ten.

Here are my own nominations for the best English-language feature-length movies publicly shown in Canada in 1962 — a list that had to be closed off before 1 could see such late-blooming contenders as The Longest Day, Lawrence of Arabia, and The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner'.

1. A TASTE OF HONEY: Squalor, anger, pity, poetry and humor are marvelously compounded in this British screen edition of young Shelagh Delany’s international stage hit. Obviously it is not to everybody’s taste, but in my opinion it is the most satisfying yet in Britain's new series of realistic films which gaze honestly at some of the emotional cancers afflicting today’s family relationships. The well-chosen cast under Tony Richardson’s creative direction includes Rita Tushingham as a gallant Ugly Duckling, Dora Bryan as her slatternly mother, Paul Danquah as a polite Negro sailor who leaves her with child, and Murray Melvin as a compassionate young homosexual who defends her against life’s indignities.

2. BILLY BUDD: Also from Britain is writerdirector Peter Ustinov’s production based on the Herman Melville novel about a duel-to-the-

death between Good and Evil on board a Royal Navy squarerigger in 1797. In the title role is the year's most promising newcomer: 23-yearold Terence Stamp, as a benevolent lad whose innocence and simplicity contain the seeds of his own destruction.

3. THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE: Wildly implausible though some of its razzle-dazzle incidents may seem in retrospect, this Hollywood mystery melodrama is almost continuously exciting or amusing or both. It stems from Richard Condon’s engrossing novel about a complicated Communist plot to dominate the White House with the help of a brainwashed hero (Laurence Harvey) who has become a remorseless assassin.

4. LOVER COME BACK: Doris Day's statutory virginity is never seriously threatened in this merry sex farce written hy Stanley Shapiro, but both she and Rock Hudson show unaccustomed liveliness as ad-agency rivals who use their glands as audio-visual aids, client-wise.

5. THE MIRACLE WORKF.R: The hest-actress Oscar should go to Anne Bancroft for her remarkable portrayal of the half-blind Irish girl who opened the doors of human communion to a dreadfully handicapped child named Helen Keller. Patty Duke, as Helen, is almost equally convincing.

6. A KIND OF LOVING: A bit sluggish in its prevailing tempo, this British story of a clumsy courtship and a troubled early marriage comes from the same wellsprings that produced A Taste of Honey and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. Alan Bates and June Ritchie are almost painfully true-to-life as the newlyweds, with Thora Hird as the bride’s resentful mama.

7. REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT: Anthony Quinn gets my vote as the actor of the year for his touching but unsentimentalized performance as a broken-down old boxer in Rod Serling’s sombre drama. With Julie Harris, Jackie Gleason, Mickey Rooney.


compelling science-fiction opus from Britain — less hypnotic, perhaps, than last year’s Village of the Damned but superior to most of fts competitors.

9. THE INNOCENTS: Deborah Kerr wrestles grimly with satanic forces in this haunted-* house chiller, adapted from the Henry James classic, The Turn of the Screw.

10. BIRD MAN OF ALCATRAZ: A memorable Hollywood biography of Robert Stroud, the murderer who became a renowned bird scientist through self-teaching in his cell during 53 years of prison. Burt Lancaster plays the role with a newfound subtlety and restraint.

¡ß^3 MY NOMINATION as the worst movie of 1962 is Last of the Vikings, an “historical” spectacle in which Britain’s Edmund Purdom, the year’s worst actor, depicted an eighth-century usurper king of Norway as though he were one of the Three Stooges seriously portraying Shakespeare’s Richard III.