Not the best Elvis Presley movie (which would probably be Jailhouse Rock) but very likely the best movie with Elvis Presley. He doesn’t sing much and he doesn’t act much, though he is an effectively muddled personality as a half-breed torn between loyalty to his mother’s tribe and his father’s band of white settlers. Don Siegel directed this 1960 western, with force and clarity if not a great deal of personal involvement. With Barbara Eden, Steve Forrest, Delores Del Rio, and John McIntire.
Jules Dassin‘s loving 1960 tribute to the boundless, suffocating life force of his wife, Melina Mercouri. Dassin himself plays the mousy American intellectual who tries to stuff some cultchuh into Mercouri’s happy Greek hooker; when he gets to be a bore, she cries, “Let’s go to the beach!,” thus demonstrating the superiority of the emotive life over the intellectual—a message art-house audiences never tire of hearing. With Georges Foundas and Titos Vandis. In Greek with subtitles. 91 min.
Michael Powell‘s suppressed masterpiece, made in 1960 but sparsely shown in the U.S. with its ferocity and compassion intact. The German actor Carl Boehm plays a shy, sensitive British boy (Powell doesn’t try to cover his accent, which is typical of the film’s deliberate sacrifice of realism for effect) who loves movies with all his heart and soul because he knows what they’re really about—sex and death. This seductive, brightly colored thriller isn’t about the “problem” of voyeurism as much as the sub-rosa fascinations of the cinema. It’s an understanding and at times even celebratory film—attitudes that scandalized critics years ago and are still pretty potent today. The uniformly excellent cast includes Anna Massey, Moira Shearer (the ballerina of Powell’s The Red Shoes), and Maxine Audley.
The French call movies like this films maudits, “damned films,” born under a black cloud with no more chance to be seen and appreciated than a Thalidomide baby. The irrepressible Edgar G. Ulmer made this 1960 feature back-to-back with Beyond the Time Barrier in the space of three weeks, using standing “sets” provided by the Texas State Fairground. Neither represents Ulmer at his best (Beyond has more of the Ulmer flavor), but both are moving testimonies to the indomitability of the creative spirit, even when faced with the most absurd limitations of budget and time. Ulmer, surely, was some sort of saint—no director ever humbled himself more thoroughly in pursuit of his art.