"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Favorite Long-Titled Movies of the 1960's

I'm procrastinating about writing about running.

There have been a lot of films lately that have very long titles. Most of them are sequels or parts of series, the longest being "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Blck Pearl." Documentaries always seem to have a short pithy title, followed by a colon and then a long title that explains exactly what the film is about; this led to the "mockumentary" "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan." Then there are films that neither live up nor down to their titles, like "I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meathook and Now Have a Three Picture Deal at Disney."

The heyday of long titles, though was the 1960's. Here's my faves:

1) The Persecution and Assassination of Jean Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum at Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade

Usually called Marat/Sade for obvious reasons, this is essentially a filmed play. The playwright actually has a play with an even longer title! I loved this movie, finding it unusually emotionally evocative, but I wonder if it wasn't just a reflection of my mood at the time. I'm in no hurry to see it again to find out.

2) Dr. Strangelove, Or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Stanley Kubrick's only comedy, this is an often wickedly dark satire. Peter Sellers plays three roles and gets most of the best lines ("You can't fight in here! This is the War Room!") though it's Slim Pickens' demise that everyone remembers.

3) Can Hieronymous Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?

This bit of froth stars Anthony Newley. It's a time capsule of the Swinging Sixties in its mood and surprisingly entertaining.

4) A Film in Which There Appear Sprocket Holes, Edge Lettering, Dirt Particles, Etc.

An experimental film from the structuralist school. Whereas commercial films try to quickly involve viewers in the plot so they forget they're watching a film, this tries the opposite.

5) The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me But Your Teeth Are in My Neck

Roman Polanski directed this sometimes successful parody of vampire films. It's most noted as the final film Sharon Tate appeared in before she was murdered by the Manson family.

6) Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad

A generation before "Weekend at Bernie's," there was this film where a woman goes on vacation with her son and husband. Her husband happens to be dead. It's better than it sounds.

7) The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies

The first horror musical, this movie has become legendary for its awfulness, though I loved it the first time I saw it. The sumptuous cinematography was by Vilmos Zsigmond, who later worked on much better films. The second time I saw this, I was bored and I wondered why I had enjoyed it so much the first time, especially given how little I care for Ray Dennis Steckler's other films. I still think it's funny that they way you can tell Steckler's become a zombie is that he's put up the hood on his sweatshirt - that's the only difference!

8) Santo and the Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolf Man

It's not a real film list until you include a Mexican wrestling movie. Santo (sometimes Samson) was a masked hero in over 40 films in a career that spanned decades. His most popular films now are the ones with supernatural villains. This one just happens to have the longest title in English.

1 comment:

JojaJogger said...

"Now you listen to me, Col Bat Guano, if that is your real name.". This has to be one of my favoritest movies of all time, now I've got to watch it tonight. (Yes I do own the DVD)