Monday, 29 October 2012

Best film of 1960? Part One - Adventure.

Remember the Alamo?  Not the real one, of course. The 1960 release starring John Wayne, Richard Widmark and, in a wild bit of casting, Laurence Harvey. (oh, and let's not forget Frankie Avalon).

A group of plucky Texans led by Congressman (and former King of the Wild Frontier) Davy Crockett (Wayne), mount a futile but heroic last stand against the forces of the Mexican General, Santa Anna.  Amongst this doughty number is another all-American hero, Jim Bowie (he of the knife), played by Richard Widmark. Representing the "stuffed shirt" approach to martyrdom, is cavalry officer, William B. Travis (Harvey).

For those of you who haven't yet seen it, a warning. This might be one of those films in which even John Wayne gets killed...

Of course, what the heroes of the Alamo really needed was a gang of mercenaries with hearts of gold...

(psssst!  say nothing to Akiro Kurasawa about this!)

The seven guys who turn out to be magnificent, start out as a bunch of rogues (for the most part). 1960 was a good year for adventures featuring loveable or at least admirable rogues - sometimes out for themselves. Long before George Clooney put together his team, Frank Sinatra was Danny Ocean:

Meanwhile, in not yet swinging Britain, disgruntled ex-army officer, Jack Hawkins was signing up a crack team of his own:

The British film industry was still making capital from the events of the second world war and, if Jack Hawkins was busy playing a soldier gone to the bad, there was always Kenneth More to turn to:

Adventure stories aren't just for grown-ups though and 1960 saw Disney get in the act with this classic children's live action film, starring John Mills (who of course, also won the war on several occasions) :

Science fiction had passed its first heyday (Klaatu had long since barada'ed his nikto). Nevertheless, before George Lucas reinvented the genre with Star Wars, 1960 saw the release of one of the classic sci-fi films. Long before there was Kylie, and even a little bit before there was Rolf, there was Rod Taylor - Australia's finest?

But if you wanted adventure, if you wanted heroism, if you wanted excitement, romance and high Olivier camp, in 1960, you probably wanted this:

Classic film moment...mind you, my Dad always wondered why they didn't just point out some corpse and say "that's Spartacus, over there. That dead 'un!"

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