Guess Who’s Coming Home to the Snake Pit? OJ.

 

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)

Joanna Drayton comes home unexpectedly to announce to her parents, publisher Matt (Spencer Tracy) and art gallery owner Christina (Katharine Hepburn) she’s getting married to John (Syndey Poitier). Joanna’s progressive parents have taught her race shouldn’t be a determinate in how you treat other people, but their theoretical posturing is put to the test when they realize their little girl is going to marry a black man.

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The 14th year of the reign of second Queen Elizabeth, a look back at the films of 1966

In 1966,

Ken Kesey hosted the first Acid Test;

The Georgia House of Representatives refused to seat Julian Bond;

Vernon Dahmer was murdered in Mississippi;

Robert C. Weaver became the first Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and the first African-American member of the Cabinet of the United States;

Indira Gandhi was elected Prime Minister of India;

Mr. Ed aired its final episode;

NASA astronauts Charles Bassett and Elliot See were killed in an aircraft accident;

John Lennon told a reporter for the London Evening Standard the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus;”

Ronnie Kray murdered George Cornell;

Bobby Hull scored 51 goals for the Chicago Blackhawks;

With five African-American starters, the Texas Western Miners basketball team defeated the University of Kentucky Wildcats to win the NCAA Championship;

The Jules Rimet Trophy was stolen in England;

The Soviet space probe Luna 10 became the first manmade object to orbit the moon;

Leonid Brezhnev became General Secretary of the Soviet Union;

Time asked “Is God Dead?

The Sound of Music was named the best film of 1965;

Haile Selassie visited Jamaica for the first time;

Bobbi Gibb became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon;

The Church of Satan was formed;

The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Detroit Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup;

The Rolling Stones released their song “Paint it Black;”

The Busch Memorial Stadium opened in St. Louis;

The Cultural Revolution began in China;

The Beach Boys released Pet Sounds;

Bob Dylan released Blonde on Blonde;

Gertrude Baniszewski was convicted of the murder of Sylvia Likens;

Guyana was granted independence from Great Britain;

It’s a Small World opened in Disneyland;

The final episode of The Dick van Dyke Show aired;

In Miranda v. Arizona, the US Supreme Court ruled suspects must be informed of their rights before they can be questioned;

Pope Paul VI abolished the Index Librorum Prohibitorum;

Dark Shadows premiered on ABC;

The  National Organization for Women was founded;

US President Lyndon Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act;

England won the FIFA World Cup;

Richard Speck murdered eight nurses in Chicago;

The Australian children’s program Play School premiered;

Bob Dylan was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident in New York;

Charles Whitman murdered fourteen people from a tower at the University of Texas;

Caesars Palace opened in Las Vegas;

The Beatles released Revolver;

A  performance in Candlestick Park is the last scheduled performance for the Beatles;

Star Trek debuted;

The Monkees premiered on NBC;

The The Metropolitan Opera House opened;

Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton founded the Black Panther Party;

The Toyota Corolla was introduced;

The Montreal Metro opened;

The AFL and NFL announce plans to merge into one league;

John Lennon met Yoko Ono;

The second Doctor debuted;

Edward Brooke became the first African-American elected to the US Senate since Reconstruction;

In a long awaited second trial, Sam Sheppard was acquitted for the murder of his wife;

Truman Capote hosted the Black and White Ball in honor of Katharine Graham;

Barbados became an independent nation;

Patrick Dempsey, Rainn Wilson, Neal McDonough, Cindy Crawford, Rachel Dratch, Billy Zane, Téa Leoni, Zack Snyder, Michael Irvin, Rodney Peete, Tom Glavine, Robin Wright, Michael Imperioli, Greg Maddux, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, John Daly, Stephen Baldwin, Darius Rucker, Janet Jackson, Thurman Thomas, Mindy Cohn, Lisa Edelstein, H. Jon Benjamin, Helena Bonham Carter, Julianna Margulies, Dikembe Mutombo, J.J. Abrams, John Cusack, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mike Tyson, Matthew Fox, Tim Brown, Dean Cain, Tim Wakefield, Jimmy Wales, Halle Berry, Rik Smits, Tim Hardaway, Salma Hayek, Toby Jones, Adam Sandler, Soledad O’Brien, Sherman Alexie, David Cameron, Luke Perry, Jon Favreau, Matt Drudge, Andy Richter, Adam Horowitz, David Schwimmer, Gordon Ramsay, Curt Shilling, Daisy Fuentes, Sophie Marceau, Troy Aikman, Vincent Cassel, Larry Walker, Fred Armisen, C. Thomas Howell, Sinéad O’Connor, Kirsten Gillibrand, Anthony Mason, and Kiefer Sutherland were born;

While  Hedda Hopper, Buster Keaton, Sophie Tucker, Chester Nimitz, William Frawley, Alice Pearce, Flann O’Brien, Evelyn Waugh, Bob Elliott, Montgomery Clift, Lenny Bruce, Francis X. Bushman, Margaret Sanger, Clifton Webb, and Walt Disney died.

These are my ten favorite film released in 1966:

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The Player Always Dials for Help in Phenix City

The Phenix City Story (1955)

The Phenix City Story (1955)

After his election as Attorney General of Alabama in 1954, Albert Patterson was assassinated by forces resisting his efforts to clean up organized crime in Phenix City. Fortunately, his death compelled state action in the corrupt town.

The beginning of this film, featuring reporter Clete Roberts interviewing residents of the city, straddles the line between historical fiction and documentary, ten years before Truman Capote popularized the non-fiction novel as a serious dramatic form.

Despite growing up in Alabama, I was unfamiliar with the cautionary tale of “the wickedest city in the United States.” While the public typically thinks of the mafia and organized crime as the exclusive problems of big cities like New York, Chicago, and, to a lesser extent, Los Angeles, this film reminds us crime and profiteering are not limited to large urban centers.

Dial 1119 (1950)

Dial 1119 (1950)

Escaped mental patient Gunther Wycoff barricades himself in a bar across the street from the home of police psychiatrist, Dr. Faron, who he blames for his imprisonment.

Despite objections from the police, Dr. Faron is murdered when he tries to reason with his deluded former patient, forcing the police to storm the bar and kill Wycoff.

This straightforward B picture about a deranged killer is only interesting for the insight it provides regarding attitudes about mental illness in 1950. The clearly mentally ill Wycoff is portrayed as a cold-blooded killer, but if it were made today, the film would portray him as a sympathetic victim of his illness, unfairly punished by the system designed to protect him.

The Player (1992)

The Player (1992)

When Hollywood executive Griffin Mill (Tim Robbin) receives threatening postcards, he confronts David Kahane (Vincent D’Onofrio), the rejected writer he suspects is responsible.

After a brief fight in the alley outside a movie theater, Mill kills Kahane only to discover another writer was behind the threats. After a series of Machiavellian moves, Mill, now callously dating Kahane’s ex-girlfriend, rises to head of the studio, but must make a lucrative deal with his tormentor to prevent information regarding Kahane’s murder from being released to the public.

After the huge success of MASH (1970) and Nashville (1975), Altman’s films in the later 70s were critically lauded, but failed to make as much money many as his earlier efforts. Focused on the bottom line, studios were increasingly reluctant to finance his projects and he spent much of the 1980s struggling to find funding.

This film exposes the artistically hostile environment created by studios worried more about their profit margin than the artistic merit of their product.

In his DVD commentary, Altman said it was “mild satire which offended no one.” Sadly, Altman’s insistence on being inoffensive means the film loses its punch. It’s too mild to be an effective satire, but too satirical to be an effective drama. Robbins is well cast as the sad sack Mill who slowly transforms into a cold-hearted executive, it’s fun seeing Lyle Lovett play against type as a police detective partnered with Whoopi Goldberg, it’s always a delight to see Dean Stockwell, and spotting the myriad stars who cameoed as themselves is an amusing parlour game which gives the film an authenticity lacking in other Hollywood satires, but I wish the film had been braver. Ironically, this film about the unjustified compromises art must make to economic necessities, feels like a half-truth, almost like its bitterness was reigned in by a studio worried about how it would play in Peoria.