For better or worse, the 1960s was a time when commercial and experimental cinema occasionally collided, producing innovative, financially successful films such as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up (1966), but more often high profile failures such as Tony Richardson’s The Sailor from Gibraltar (1967), Otto Preminger’s Skidoo (1968) and the unfortunate 1969 screen adaptation of Lawrence Durrell’s Justine. In Search of Gregory (1969), which was designed as a star vehicle for Julie Christie by producer Joseph Janni and followed her critically acclaimed performance in Petulia (1968), falls into the latter category.Continue reading
Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi are generally acknowledged as the “Godfathers of Mondo” and took a sensationalist approach to documentaries that revelled in bizarre and shocking cultural practices around the world. Mondo Cane (A Dog’s Life, 1962) was their wildly popular debut film and it spawned a new genre that included their later work Women of the World (1963), Mondo Cane 2 (1963), Africa Addio aka Africa: Blood and Guts (1966) and Goodbye Uncle Tom (1971), a critically reviled and polarizing account of the origins of the American slave trade that was filmed as a you-are-there dramatization. What is usually left out of the Jacopetti-Prosperi backstory are the contributions of Paolo Cavara, who co-directed and co-wrote Mondo Cane and Women of the World with Jacopetti. He broke off his association with the other two filmmakers after their second collaboration and went solo with two more Mondo films (Malamondo , Witchdoctor in Tails ) before turning his camera on a fictionalized version of himself in The Wild Eye (L’occhio Selvaggio, 1967), an unforgiving portrait of a ruthless Mondo filmmaker that should be better known today.Continue reading
Italian director Elio Petri is probably best known for Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970), which won the Oscar for Best Screenplay (by Petri and Ugo Pirro) in 1972. Yet, most of his other work, with the possible exception of the cult sci-fi satire The 10th Victim (1965), remains overlooked or forgotten when film historians write about the great Italian directors of the sixties and seventies. And 1968’s A Quiet Place in the Country (Un Tranquillo Posto di Campagna) is easily one of his most intriguing and visually compelling films.