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Fran Kubelik: When you're in love with a married man, you shouldn't wear mascara.

         The Apartment(1960)
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October Issue

Classic Film

David Stratton

In October our special guest in David Stratton. All film lovers know David and have greatly valued his sage advice about what's on at the cinemas, and what is worth going to see. Not only does David have a good eye and a sharp mind which he has turned to his film reviewing work, he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of film and the film industry. David has watched well over 30,000 films and has a self proclaimed preference for classics over recent releases. Which makes him the perfect guest for our October screenings. Make sure you make the time to come along, hear from David, and watch some great films.

In this edition of the magazine we'll be taking a look at British cinema from the 1960's, at some of the work of legendary director Billy Wilder, at some of the lesser known facts surrounding the stars of our second Musical (The Beatles), and some interesting facts about David Stratton.
British Cinema of the 1960's
Michael Caine - British film icon of the 1960's
As Britain moved into the 1960s, British cinema entered a transition. The former giants of British filmmaking: Michael Powell and Carol Reed had a mostly unremarkable decade. The exception was David Lean, who was highly successful with films like Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Dr Zhivago (1965), the latter turning 50 this year.

The British studios that had be dominant in previous decades had declined and American studios who were investing in British films were on the rise. Government backing was needed to keep domestic filmmaking afloat as it was also competing with television.

The socially conscious films that had begun to emerge at the end of the 50’s became much higher profil'. Films such as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, A Kind of Loving, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Billy Liar and This Sporting Life created an impact on their release and have continued to be incredibly influential. These films also introduced audiences to a new breed of dynamic young actors - Albert Finney, Alan Bates, Tom Courtenay and Richard Harris.

By the middle of the decade the world and British cinema had become quite entranced by 'Swinging London'. What followed were films such as Georgy Girl, The Knack..., Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush and Darling, whose star, Julie Christie, was another of the decade's genuine discoveries.
And of course The Beatles, who had taken the music world by storm, made their way into film in A Hard Day's Night, Help! and, Yellow Submarine.

The buzz in Britain drew the interest of several foreign directors and led to Blow-Up, by Italian Michelangelo Antonioni, and Repulsion and Cul-de-Sac by Polish Director Roman Polanski , François Truffaut made Fahrenheit 451 and Jean-Luc Godard delivered One Plus One/Sympathy for the Devil. Stanley Kubrick arrived in 1961 and decided to stay following the completion of Lolita at Elstree in 1961.
But British film wasn’t all high quality, and cutting edge. The Carry On series, which had begun at the tail-end of the '50s with Carry On Sergeant became an institution during the '60s. Over the course of the decade 16 films appeared, most of them completely forgettable though it did make stars (of a sort) of Sid James, Kenneth Williams and Hattie Jacques.
                 Nicholas Roeg - Cameraman, Cinematographer, Director
The other big franchise of the 1960’s were the Bond films. Following the success of Dr No, audiences soon warmed to other titles which included Goldfinger and Thunderball

Actor Michael Caine emerged as something of a star in the 60’s with popular appearances in Zulu, The Ipcress File, Alfie, and The Italian Job. Caine has gone on to make a swag of truly awful films (in between some very good ones), none of which seem to have hurt his career badly.


Less popular with critics but just as successful with audiences, Hammer Studios extended its Dracula and Frankenstein franchises, but also released a number of imaginative one-offs, among them The Nanny (1965) and Plague of the Zombies (1966), upping the sex quotient as the decade wore on and censorship relaxed. A number of smaller studios, like Amicus and Tigon, followed in Hammer's wake, attracting still more critical derision at the time, but in the longer term winning cult status for the likes of Dr Terror's House of Horror (1965) and Witchfinder General (1968).

As the decade was drawing to a close, it was again a time of change in Britain. The Beatles were on the verge of breaking up, the Vietnam war was ramping up. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy had both been shot and killed, but student protests in Paris had seemed to spark real change… or perhaps just the hope of change. Hopes for the beginning of genuine revolution were captured in If.... (1969) while, the mood of paranoia, madness and despair was portrayed in Performance which was completed in 1968 but held back until 1970 by an anxious Warner Bros, as it showed a very unswinging London, in which the psychedelic dream had turned nightmare.

An incredible decade of film, and one we are visiting in October
Classic Musical Stars
The Fab Four
By 1964, the Beatles were a world wide phenomenon. At the same time British filmmakers were making some of the most interesting and innovative films on the planet. And arguably the BBC were making some of the world's best TV shows, and certainly some of the funniest comedies of the time. Steptoe and Son had only just begun but had already made quite a splash both for its popularity and for its unique approach to making fun of characters most people would not find particularly amusing

Our Friday night Musical taps into a number of these parallel seismic changes in the British entertainment industry
, and does so in a rather cheeky way.

A Hard Day's Night showcases the playfulness of the Fab Four. At every step along the way you can see how much fun they are having with their wicked senses of humour on show. The film itself takes on the same tone, which was likely one of the attractions for the boys who must have been hellishly busy at the time.

In an apparent reference to Steptoe and Son, the films also stars Wilfred Brambell who plays Paul McCartney's Grandad. There are regular comments on how clean he is, which is clearly a reference to his concurrent role as Albert Steptoe, the decidedly dirty older Steptoe in the TV comedy.


The Beatles made two more forays into feature film with Help! and Yellow Submarine. You can check out the trailer for Yellow Submarine below, a film which was recently re-released.
The Beatles Yellow Submarine
                                                Yellow Submarine (1968)
John Lennon has an on-going relationship with film as people continue to use archival footage of him in their films and continue to use his music in their soundtracks. But prior to his death Lennon was quite active in film in the capacity of actor, producer, director and writer, being involved in numerous films from 1964 to 1977.

Paul McCartney remains active in short film, video clips and television in many different roles but most recently has been busiest as an actor in numerous TV episodes.

George Harrison's music continues to be used in film and TV, but George was never particularly active in film other than in the films made by or starring The Beatles, and for a period in the 80's where he was Executive producer on a number of projects.

And Ringo Starr has been very active over the years, mostly as an actor in addition to all the work he has contributed to documentaries and film soundtracks. He is perhaps best known to contemporary audiences as the voice of the Narrator for Thomas the Tank Engine.

But to see where it all started in film for the Fab Four... you'll need to come along to our screening of A Hard Day's night.
Billy Wilder
Our Sunday film, The Apartment, is yet another great film from a man who made so many great films. We have already screened three great Billy Wilder films, and Sunday's film is one of his best, as well as being an Academy award winner for Best Film in 1961.. an award that has rarely been taken out by a comedy.

Billy Wilder was a great storyteller... as a writer, as a director and in his personal life. Wilder lived a rich life. After dropping out of university Billy picked up work as a journalist. He then moved to Berlin where he submitted Crime and Sports stories to local newspapers while supplementing his income as a paid dance partner, a job known as a Taxi Dancer.He was soon given a regular job as a journalist while he began screenwriting and breaking into German film.

The arrival of Adolph Hitler and the Nazis also marked Wilder's departure from Europe. There were many expatriot Germans in Hollywood (also fleeing the Nazis) and old friends like Peter Lorre helped Wilder get a foothold in the US.

He contiued writing for film for close to a decade before he got his first big chance as a director, and the rest... as they say... is cinema history.

It has been reported that Billy Wilder was driven to directing because he was sick and tired of other directors making a mess of his scripts. The fact is Wilder continued writing scripts for the rest of his professional life and his films are as appealing for the way they are photographed as they are for the stories they tell.

The short video below touches on how he chose the stories he wanted to tell on the big screen.
Rare 1961 Billy Wilder Interview On Choosing Story
                                     Billy Wilder - Storyteller
Billy Wilder told a great many fantastic and compelling stories, sometimes at the most unexpected of times. In the early 60's Wilder travelled with his film 'The Apartment' to Moscow for a premiere in front of a large audience of loyal communists.

The film tells the story of an eager young executive who is looking to climb the corporate ladder. By doing favours for his bosses (loaning them his apartment so they have a place to take their mistresses), he gets his first leg up.

To a Soviet audience in the early 60's this was surely a story that underlined the pitfalls of American Capitalist Decadence.
Wilder got up in front of the audience and said:

"This is a story that could never happen in Russia...".

There was loud, thunderous and extended applause. When the happy Russians finally resumed their seats, and Wilder could again be heard... he finished his sentence.

".... that's because no one in Russia owns their own apartment"

Deafening silence.

Come along on Sunday and see The Apartment for yourself. A compelling story really well-told
David Stratton
David Stratton has one of the best known names and faces in Australian cinema. From his time leading the Sydney Film Festival, to his apearances on SBS and ABC TV with co-presenter Maragaret Pomerantz, to his work as a writer about film in books, in newspapers and in magazines, to small parts (playing himself) in short films, and to his time on numerous juries at international and domestic film festivals, it seems like David has always been a part of the industry in one capacity or another. And even in his semi-retirement, he remains a part of film - from running mini-festivals on cruise ships, to appearances at cinema groups around the country.

There are things we all know (and love) about David. But there are also things  that are less well known about him
The only thing that seemed to change as the years went by was Margaret's hair

Some of those lesser known facts include:
 

  • David’s love of cinema was first sparked by his Grandmother who was also a cinema lover. She took him to the see films from the age of four and from then on he was hooked
  • As a child David began writing movie reviews for his own pleasure, and ever since he has kept track of all the movies he has ever seen. To date he has watched about 30,000 films, and he has watched the good ones more than once
  • David’s family was in the fine food distribution business, specialising in coffee, cheese, and smallgoods. As a young man he was sent to Birmingham to learn the business and while there he discovered a local film society. He was so taken with the concept that he soon started his own society and called it the Melksham and District Film Society.
  • David emigrated to Australia in 1963 and travelled by boat. On board most people were reading a book called ‘They’re a Weird Mob’, which was later made into a very successful Australian film. While the story was a tongue in cheek comedy, many new Australians (David included) found the book to be very helpful in understanding their new countrymen and women.
  • In 1964 David joined the board of the Sydney film festival. The festival had been formed at Sydney University in 1954 but by the time David joined it had seen better days and was being run largely on an amateur basis. By 1966 David was heading the festival and driving changes that made it much more professional, and which led to it being Australia’s premiere film festival in the 70’s and early 80’s.
  • In 1967 the first Australian colour film (Journey out of Darkness) that was shot, developed and post produced entirely in Australia was completed. It premiered in Canberra in December 1967. In attendance were PM Harold Holt, the Governor General Lord Casey, and among other dignitaries…. David Stratton.
  • At the time Harold Holt disappeared, David had sat himself down to watch a film he had missed at the cinema (Distant Drums). Just as the film was about to start news broke of the Prime Minister’s disappearance. As the search continued the TV station continued to follow the story and never got back to the film David was looking forward to.
  • This year marked the 50th anniversary of David’s first visit to the Venice Film Festival. He’s been attending every year since (except for two or three years in the early 70s when the festival was cancelled for political reasons).
Make sure you come along on Friday or Saturday to meet David and see one or both of the great films he'll be presenting.

Screening

Friday, 9th of October

7.00pm start

A Hard Day's Night (1964)

A 'typical' day in the life of the Beatles, including many of their famous songs.


Comedy/ Musical    Rated: G    87 min


 
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Screening

Sunday, 11th of October

7.00pm start

The Apartment (1960)

A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue.

Comedy/ Drama/ Romance     Rated: PG     125 mins

 
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Screening

Saturday, 10th of October

7.00pm start

David Stratton's Mystery Movie


David will be presenting a film of his choice (he's keeping it a closely guarded secret). The film will be followed by a Q&A session hosted by Michael Clarke from ABC radio


 
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