• A Hard Day’s Night
    The beloved film critic Roger Ebert maintained that what we now remember as the “the 1960s” may actually have started in 1964, as the magnificent sound of George Harrison’s new 12-string guitar opened A Hard Day’s Night. At the time, it had every promise of being a forgettable flick: low budget, quickly made, unknown […]
  • Fiddler on the Roof
    Gifted filmmakers are able to delve into the particularity of one group’s life to illustrate universal human experiences, thereby appealing simultaneously to those inside and outside the group. That’s part of the transcendent power of 1971’s Fiddler on the Roof. At one level, the film is steeped in the particularity of Jewish villagers under […]
  • How to Succeed in Business (Without Really Trying)
    An incisive take on the life of corporate suits and their sexy secretaries in 1960s Manhattan, with Robert Morse as the star. No, it’s not Mad Men, but 1967’s toe-tapping, uplifting and funny “How to Succeed in Business (Without Really Trying)”. Based on the smash Broadway hit, the heart of the film is of […]
  • Peter Gunn
    I haven’t owned a television for a quarter century, and almost never recommend television shows because I don’t know enough to judge them. But I am happy to make an exception for a trendsetting, utterly fresh, and cool as all get out TV series that ran from 1958-1961: Peter Gunn. Blake Edwards, prior to […]
  • Stormy Weather
    Should we watch old movies that have racist elements? I thought about that question before recommending Stormy Weather. I answer in the affirmative in this case because this 1943 movie is one of biggest explosions of African-American talent on screen in the first half of the 20th century. The plot: Well, there isn’t much […]
  • The Music Man
    The Music Man is a joyous, funny and romantic musical that has been lifting hearts for decades. Iowa native Meredith Willson laboured for years to fashion the tale of a fast-talking huckster who comes to fleece the small town rubes of River City and finds more than he bargained for, including romance with the […]
  • The Ruling Class
    I stand outside myself, watching myself watching myself. I smile, I smile, I smile. It takes courage to make a movie that defies all conventions and challenges the audience. Sometimes, indeed most of the time, the filmmakers fall on their faces. But every once in awhile a group of wildly innovative iconoclasts create something […]
  • The Rutles: All You Need is Cash
    Before A Mighty Wind before Fear of a Black Hat and yes, even before This is Spinal Tap was the first mock rock documentary (or, to paraphrase Marty DiBergi, the first, “if you will, mockumentary”). I am speaking of 1978’s The Rutles: All You Need is Cash. Monty Python alumnus Eric Idle is in […]