Stage, Screen & Sound: My History of Silents, Subtitles & Senses

It’s impossible to ignore the influence cinema and music have had on my ability to play in the world of words and images. Since I was very, very young, I’ve watched a multitude of foreign, silent, classic, and frankly, not-so-classic films (a.k.a., wastes of celluloid). Hours in darkened theatres, reading much-beloved subtitles, following the words and images of silent films and sound films sharpened my eyes, ears, and mind.

Here are just some of my my key cultural moments,

The Kate Bush Story

Kate’s music demanded that I throw away everything I knew as music and bend my eyes and ears to understand and love her music. Incredible is the ONLY word for her music.

I love her voice, her music, and … she’s not afraid of books!

For all the riots surrounding the 2012 Olympic in London, her appearance was THE highlight.

Please listen to Elton John’s confession at about 42:00.

Nobody else comes close. – Neil Gaiman

The willingness to be quiet until there’s something to say. I love that. – Neil Gaiman

And now, something completely different!
The influence of my Monty Python years of getting every word correct.

The Ultimate Music of my Era

The 2012 London Olympics

Withnail & I (1987)
Dir./Writer: Bruce Robinson
Cast: Richard E. Grant, teetotaler, but played boozer “Withnail”, Paul McGann, as “I”, Richard Griffiths as Withnail’s lecherous gay uncle Monty, later a Harry Potter’s nasty jailer in the Harry Potter series, then finally, the romantic dog-owner in Hugo.
London, 1969 – two ‘resting’ (unemployed and unemployable) actors, Withnail and Marwood, fed up with damp, cold, piles of washing-up, mad drug dealers and psychotic Irishmen, decide to leave their squalid Camden flat for an idyllic holiday in the countryside, courtesy of Withnail’s uncle Monty’s country cottage. But when they get there, it rains non-stop, there’s no food, and their basic survival skills turn out to be somewhat limited. Matters are not helped by the arrival of Uncle Monty, who shows an uncomfortably keen interest in Marwood… (Michael Brooke) London: The Sixties. Two down-on-their-luck actors (Withnail and Marwood) find solace in drink and other substances. Seeking respite from their uneventful lives they escape up north to Penrith to Withnail’s uncle’s stone cottage. Faced with no modern conveniences, a bunch of oddball locals, and a surprise visit from an amorous “Uncle Monty”, their wits are tested, along with their friendship. (Kathleen Mortenson)

The Peculiar Memories of Bruce Robinson (Aug 16, 2014) Channel Four documentary.

Documentary on the writer Bruce Robinson

Sam Waterson, Dr. Haing S. Nor, in The Killing Fields, 1984. Writer: Bruce Robinson
Sam Waterson, Dr. Haing S. Nor, in The Killing Fields, 1984. Writer: Bruce Robinson

The Killing Fields (1984)
Dir.: Roland Joffé
Screenplay: Bruce Robinson
Based on The Death and Life of Dith Pran, Sydney Schanberg
Cast: Sam Waterson, Dr. Haing S. Nor, John Malkovich, Craig T. Nelson, Athol Fugard
The Killing Fields is a 1984 British drama film set in Democratic Kampuchea, which is based on the experiences of two journalists: Cambodian Dith Pran and American Sydney Schanberg. The film, which won eight BAFTA Awards and three Academy Awards

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann) (2009) Jonas Jonasson, Published in English, 2012

Hundraåringen_som_klev_ut_genom_fönstret_och_försvannAllan Karlsson is about to celebrate his hundredth birthday, and a birthday party is planned at his retirement home. Allan is alert despite his age, but not so interested in the party. Instead he steps out the window and disappears. He gets hold of a suitcase of drug money and becomes chased by both drug dealers and the police.

Filled with lots of adventures, Allan’s life story is told in parallel to this. He eats dinner with the future President Harry S. Truman, hitchhikes with Winston Churchill, travels on a riverboat with the wife of Mao Zedong and walks across the Himalyas on foot.

The tears of laughter kept rolling down my face from beginning to end. My roommates kept chuckling and shaking their heads. This was a rare instance when film was better than book.


Nosferatu (1922)
Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror)
Dir.: F.W. Murnau
Cast: Max Schreck, Greta Shröder, Gustav von Wangenheim, Wolfgang Heinz.


Battleship Potemkin (Броненосец «Потёмкин», Bronenosets Potyomkin); Battleship Potyomkin (1925)
Dir.: Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein

M (Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder) (Trans. “M – A city looks for a murderer”) (1931)
Dir.: Fritz Lang
Writers: Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou.
Cast: Peter Lorre as Hans Beckert.The Seventh Seal, Ingmar Bergman,

The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet) (1957)
Dir.: Ingmar Bergman
Cast: Max von Sydow, Bengt Ekerot
Set in Sweden during the Black Death, it tells of the journey of a medieval knight and a game of chess he plays with the personification of Death, who has come to take his life. Bergman developed the film from his own play Wood Painting.Metropolis Theatre Poster, 1927

Metropolis (1927)
Dir.: Fritz Lang
Writers: Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou
Cast: Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröchlich.
Made in Germany during the Weimar Period, Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and follows the attempts of Freder, the wealthy son of the city’s ruler, and Maria, a poor worker, to overcome the vast gulf separating the classes of their city. The film met with a mixed response upon its initial release, with many critics praising its technical achievements and social metaphors while others derided its “simplistic and naïve” presentation. Because of its long running-time and the inclusion of footage which censors found questionable, Metropolis was cut substantially after its German premiere: large portions of the film went missing over the subsequent decades.

The_Road_bleak_sceneryThe Road (2009)
Dir.: John Hillcoat
Cast: Viggo Mortenson (Man), Charlize Theron (Woman), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Boy)
Adapted from a 2006 novel by Cormac McCarthy. A post-apocalyptic tale of a journey of a father and his young son over a period of several months, across a landscape blasted by an unspecified cataclysm that has destroyed most of civilization and, in the intervening years, almost all life on Earth.

Wild2014PosterWild (2014)

Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern
Dir. Jean-Marc Vallee
Writer: Nick Hornby
Based on Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail.
The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on August 29, 2014 and was released theatrically on December 3, 2014 in North America. Wild opened to positive critical reviews, with much praise going toward the performances of Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern. Both actresses received Academy Award nominations for their performances, in the categories of Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively.

220px-Betty_blue_ver2Betty Blue (37° 2 le matin) (1986)
Dir.: Jean-Jacques Beineix
Cast. Beatrice Dalle, Jean-Hugues Anglade.
Based on the novel by Philipe Djian, 1985. The film received both a BAFTA and Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in 1986, as well as winning a César Award for Best Poster. In 1992 it was awarded the Golden Space Needle of the Seattle International Film Festival.

Never_Give_a_Sucker_an_Even_BreakNever Give Sucker an Even Break (1941)
Dir.: Edward F. Cline
Writer: Otis Criblecoblis (a.k.a..Fields).
Cast: W.C. Fields (The Great Man, W. C. Fields/Uncle Bill), Gloria Jean (Niece), Leon Errol (Leon), Billy Lenhart as Heckler (Butch), Kenneth Brown as Heckler (Buddy), Susan Miller (Ouliotta Delight Hemogloben), Franklin Pangborn (The Producer), Carlotta Monti (Fields’ real-life girlfriend/companion) (Receptionist)
Fields plays himself, searching for a chance to promote a surreal screenplay he’s written, whose several framed sequences form the film’s center. The title is derived from lines from two earlier films which I love as well, Poppy (1936), he tells his daughter, “If we should ever separate, my little plum, I want to give you just one bit of fatherly advice: Never give a sucker an even break!” In You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man (1939), he tells a customer that his grandfather’s last words, “just before they sprung the trap” were, “You can’t cheat an honest man; never give a sucker an even break, or smarten up a chump.” This was Fields’s last starring film. By then he was 61 years old, and alcohol and illness had taken their toll: he was much heavier than he had been six/seven years earlier when he had made eight films in the space of two years and was reasonably physically fit.

poster2The Bank Dick (1940)
Dir.: Edward F. Cline
Cast: W.C. Fields ( Egbert Sousé), Grady Sutton (Og Oggilby), Franklin Pangborn (J. Pinkerton Snoopington), Shemp Howard (Joe Guelpe), Cora Witherspoon (Agatha Sousé), Una Merkel (Myrtle Sousé)
Set in Lompoc, California, W.C. Fields plays a character named Egbert Sousé who trips a bank robber and ends up a security guard as a result. The character is a drunk who must repeatedly remind people in exasperation that his name is pronounced “Sousé – accent grave [sic] over the ‘e’!”, because people keep calling him “Souse” (slang for drunkard). In addition to bank and family scenes, it features Fields pretending to be a film director and ends in a chaotic car chase. The Bank Dick is considered a classic of his work, incorporating his usual persona as a drunken henpecked husband with a shrewish wife, disapproving mother-in-law, and savage children. The film was written by Fields, using the alias Mahatma Kane Jeeves (derived from the Broadway drawing-room comedy cliche, “My hat, my cane, Jeeves!”), and directed by Shemp Howard, one of The Three Stooges, plays a bartender. In 1992, The Bank Dick was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Charley Grapewin, Jane Darwell, and Henry Fonda, in The Grapes of Wrath, John Ford, 1940

The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Dir.: John Ford
Cast: Henry Fonda (Tom Joad), John Carradine (Jim Casy), Jane Darwell (Ma Joad),  Charley Grapewin (Grandpa), Dorris Bowdon (Rosasharn), and Frank Darrien (Uncle John). It was based on John Steinbeck’s  1939 Pulitzer-Prize winning nove of the same name. The screenplay was written by Nunnally Johnson. The film tells the story of the Joads, an Oklahoma family, who, after losing their farm during the Great Depression in the 1930s, become migrant workers and end up in California. The motion picture details their arduous journey across the United States as they travel to California in search of work and opportunities for the family members.

In 1989, this film was one of the first 25 films to be selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”The Grey, 2011

The Grey (2011)
Dir.: Joe Carnaha
Cast: Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney. It is based on the short story “Ghost Walker” by Ian MacKenzie Jeffers, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Carnahan. The story follows a number of oil-men stranded in Alaska after a plane crash, who are forced to survive using little more than their wits, as a pack of gray wolves stalk them amidst mercilessly cold weather. Amazing performance by Neeson, particularly riveting is his portrayal of the effects of loss of his wife (sadly coming on the heels of the loss of his real life wife, Natasha Richardson) and one of his father’s lessons that became the final motivating force.

Jack Taylor
Dir.: Stuart Orme
Based on the books of Ken Bruen
Cast: Iain Glen (Jack Taylor); Nora-Jane Noonan (Garda Kate Noonan); Killian Scott (Cody Farraher); Frank O’Sullivan (Superintendent Clancy)

Iain Glen, as Jack Taylor
Iain Glen, as Jack Taylor

The Bible: Set in Galway, Jack Taylor, an old-school detective, and a maverick who often drinks much more than is good for him. After he is sacked from the Garda Síochána for assaulting a politician he had stopped for a traffic violation, Jack begins to work as a “finder”,  reluctantly taking on cases the police will not investigate. Incidentally, there are no private eyes in Ireland — “It’s too close to being an informant – a dodgy concept”. This is according to the Jack Taylor voice-over, but in reality there are many private investigators in Ireland. However, Jack soon realizes his experience suits him in his new role. He is aided in his investigations by his contacts, including some of his former Gardaí colleagues, notably Officer Kate Noonan.

The Guards
Episode 1, 2010
Taylor is fired from the Gardaí after assaulting a politician he catches speeding. He is subsequently contacted by Anne Henderson, who hires him as a private eye on the premise of finding her missing teenage daughter. Henderson suggests the girl may have become the latest in a series of suspicious ‘suicides’ in Galway. Assisted by his artist friend, Sutton, Jack traces several of the dead girls to a sleazy factory manager named Ford, and discovers a collection of illegal sex videos. These revelations turn out to be only the beginning of his investigation.

The Pikemen
Episode 2, 2011
Upon returning to Galway a year on from the events in The Guards, Jack is hired to investigate the murder of a man who fell from the scaffolding of a construction site. Assisted by Cody, a naive young man who idolizes him, Jack becomes drawn into the world of a vigilante group. Upon re-establishing contact with Anne Henderson, Jack finds her in an abusive relationship with a local businessman, who later turns up murdered. Jack is arrested and questioned for the murder, but escapes from custody, and he is forced to rely on Cody to help clear his name.

Magdelen Martyrs
Episode 3, 2011
Jack Taylor is hired by Maggie McCarthy, the daughter of a recently deceased former inmate at St Monica’s, an infamous Magdelan laundry in Galway, who wishes to identify the sadistic nun mentioned in her mother’s diary, known only as Lucifer. The investigation is quickly hampered when Cody discovers that incriminating church records have vanished; while Jack is warned to drop the case by local criminal, Bill Cassell. As the diary reveals the depth of Lucifer’s brutality, Jack discovers a 50-year-old family secret that leads him to the nun’s identity, and an unexpected connection to the recent deaths of two brothers.

The Dramatist
Episode 4, 2013
Seven months after his mother’s stroke, and continuing on his path of sobriety and healthier living, Jack is called on to investigate the death of a female university student, who falls from a roof while dressed in theatre costume. A ring of paper around her wrist contains an apparent suicide note written in her blood, and Gardaí assume the death to be drug related.

Episode 5, 2013
Jack investigates the death of a priest who has been beheaded, and discovers the cleric abused two boys several years earlier. As more secrets from the church are revealed, Jack drifts back into his old habits, and discovers more of his own demons, along with the horrendous consequences the victims of the priest’s earlier abuse are still enduring.


The Birth of a Nation (1915)
Intolerance (1916)
Dir.: D.W. Griffith.
Griffith began making short films in 1908. The Birth of a Nation made pioneering use of advanced camera and narrative techniques, and its immense popularity set the stage for the dominance of the feature-length film in the United States. Since its release, the film has been highly controversial for its negative depiction of African Americans and glorification of the Ku Klux Klan. Today it is both lionized for its radical technique and condemned for its racist philosophy. Filmed at a cost of $110,000, it returned millions of dollars in profits, making it, perhaps, the most profitable film of all time, although a full accounting has never been made. The film was subject to boycotts by the NAACP and, after screenings of the film had caused riots at several theaters, the film was censored in many cities, including New York City. Intolerance, his next important film, was, in part, an answer to his critics.

Giancarlo Esposito, in Do the Right Thing, 1989
Giancarlo Esposito, Do the Right Thing, 1989

Do the Right Thing (1989)
Dir./Writer: Spike Lee
Cast: Spike Lee, Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Giancarlo Esposito, John Turturro, Rosie Perez, and Samuel L. Jackson. The movie tells the story of a neighborhood’s simmering racial tension, which comes to a head and culminates in tragedy on the hottest day of summer.

The film was a critical and commercial success and received numerous accolades and awards, including an Academy Award nomination for Lee for Best Original Screenplay and one for Best Supporting Actor for Aiello’s portrayal of Sal the pizzeria owner. It is often listed among the greatest films of all time. In 1999, it was deemed to be “culturally significant” by the U.S. Library of Congress, and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry, one of just six films to have this honor in their first year of eligibility.

And another Spike Lee joint,

Summer of Sam (1999) American crime thriller that recounts the Son of Sam (David Berkowitz) serial murders.

Dir./Prod.: Spike Lee
Cast: John Leguizamo, Adrien Brody, Mira Sorvino, Jennifer Esposito


A Raisin in the Sun (1961)
Dir.: Daniel Petrie
Adapted from the play of the same name by Lorraine Hansberry. Cast: Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil, Diana Sands, Roy Glenn, Louis Gossett. It follows a black family that wants a better life away from the city. Of all of Poitier’s films — Blackboard Jungle, To Sir With Love, In the Heat of the Night, this is my favourite. In 2005, A Raisin in the Sun was selected for preservation in the United States of America National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

In the Heat of the Night, Norman Jewison, 1967
Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, In the Heat of the Night, Norman Jewison, 1967

In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Dir.: Norman Jewison
Screenplay: Stirling Silliphant
Cast: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates.
John Ball’s 1965 novel of the same name which tells the story of Virgil Tibbs, a black police detective from Philadelphia, who becomes involved in a murder investigation in a racist small town in Mississippi.

The film won five Academy Awards, including the 1967 award for Best Picture. Although the film was set in the fictional Mississippi town of Sparta (with supposedly no connection to the real Sparta, Mississippi, part of the movie was filmed in Sparta, Illinois, where many of the film’s landmarks can still be seen. The quote “They call me Mister Tibbs!” was listed as number 16 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years .. 100 Movie Quotes, a list of top film quotes.

The Lost Weekend, Charles Jackson

The Lost Weekend (1945)
Dir./Writer: Billy Wilder
Cast: Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, and maybe most importantly, bartender Frank Faylen, as ‘Bim’ Nolan. Based on Charles R. Jackson’s 1944 novel of the same name about an alcoholic writer. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay). In 2011, The Lost Weekend was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Mad Max
Mel Gibson, in The Road Warrior, George Miller, 1981

The Road Warrior (1981)
Dir.: George Miller
Cast: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Max Rockatansky
The film’s tale of a community of settlers moved to defend themselves against a roving band of marauders follows an archetypical Western frontier movie motif, as does Max’s role as a hardened man who rediscovers his humanity when he decides to help the settlers. Filming took part in locations around Broken Hill, in the outback of New South Wales. Mad Max 2 was released on 24 December 1981, and received ample critical acclaim. The film’s comic-book post-apocalyptic/punk style popularized the genre in film and fiction writing. It was also a box office success, winning the Best International Film from six nominations at the Saturn Award ceremony, including: Best Director, for Miller; Best Actor for Gibson; Best Supporting Actor for Brue Spence; Best writing for Miller, Hayes and Hannant. Mad Max 2 became a cult film, with fan clubs and “road warrior”-themed activities continuing into the 21st century, and is now widely considered to be one of the greatest action movies ever made, as well as one of the greatest sequels ever made. The film was preceded by :Mad Max” in 1979.

1118full-stop-making-sense-screenshotStop Making Sense (1984)
Dir.: Jonathon Demme
First seen at London’s New Yorker Cinema. A concert movie featuring Talking Heads live on stage. It was shot over the course of three nights at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater in December 1983, as the group was touring to promote their new album Speaking in Tongues. The movie is notable for being the first made entirely using digital audio techniques. The band raised the budget of $1.2 million themselves. The title comes from the lyrics of the song “Girlfriend is Better”: “As we get older and stop making sense…”. The film has been hailed by Leonard Maltin as “one of the greatest rock movies ever made”and Pauline Kael of The New Yorker described it as “…close to perfection.”

Diva (1981)
Dir.: Jean-Jacques Beineix
Screenplay: Jean-Jacques Beineix, Jean Van Hamme. Based on the book, Diva by Daniel Odier (pseudonym Delacorta. Cast: Frédéric André (Jules), Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez (Cynthia Hawkins), Thuy An Luu (Alba).  It is one of the first French films to let go of the realist mood of 1970s French cinema and return to a colourful, melodic style, later described as cinéma du look. The film became a cult classic and was internationally acclaimed.

Rocky, Sylvester Stallone, 1976.
Rocky, Sylvester Stallone, 1976.

Rocky (1976)
Dir.: John G. Avildsen
Writer: Sylvester Stallone
Cast: Sylvester Stallone (Rocky), Talia Shire (Adrian), Burt Young (Paulie), Burgess Meredith, (The Penguin), Rocky’s trainer, Mickey Goldmill, and Carl Weathers as the champion, Apollo Creed.
It tells the rags to riches American Dream story of Rocky Balboa, an uneducated but kind-hearted working class Italian-American boxer working as a debt collector for a loan shark in the slums of Philadelphia. Rocky starts out as a small-time club fighter who later gets a shot at the world heavyweight championship. The film, made on a budget of just over $1 million and shot in 28 days, was a sleeper hit; it earned $225 million in global box office receipts becoming the highest grossing film of 1976 and went on to win three Oscars, including Best Picture. The film received many positive reviews and turned Stallone into a major star. It spawned five sequels, all written by and starring Stallone, who also directed all sequels except for Rocky V (which was directed again by Avildsen).

Jodie Foster, as Iris
Jodie Foster, as Iris “Easy” Steensma
Robert De Niro, as Travis Bickle
Robert De Niro, as Travis Bickle

Taxi Driver (1976) Dir.: Martin Scorsese. Writer: Paul Schrader
Cast: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd (“Betsy”), Harvey Keitel (Matthew “Sport” Higgins), Peter Boyle (“Wizard”).
Set in New York City soon after the end of the Vietnam War, the film is regularly cited by critics, film directors, and audiences alike as one of the greatest films of all time. The film was considered “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant by the US Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1994.

Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, 1966
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, 1966

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
1962 play: Edward Albee (adoptee)
1966 film: Dir.: Mike Nichols. Writer: Ernest Lehman
Cast: Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, George Segal, Sandy Dennis.
The dialogue in the first act of the play has been hailed by some critics as some of the greatest in all of the American theatre. It examines the breakdown of the marriage of a middle-aged couple, Martha and George. Late one evening, after a university faculty party, they receive an unwitting younger couple, Nick and Honey, as guests, and draw them into their bitter and frustrated relationship. The play is in three acts, normally taking a little less than three hours to perform, with two 10-minute intermissions.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? won both the 1963 Tony Award for Best Play and the 1962–63 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play. It is frequently revived on the modern stage.

La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928). English Poster.
La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (1928). English Poster.

The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc) (1928) (silent)
Dir.: Carl Theordor Dreyer (adoptee)
Cast: Renée Jeanne Falconetti (Jeanne d’Arc) Antonin Artaud (Jean Massieu)
French film based on the actual record of the trial of Joan of Arc, it is widely regarded as a landmark of cinema, especially for its production, Dreyer’s direction and Falconetti’s performance, which has been described as being among the finest in cinema history. The film summarizes the time that Joan of Arc was a captive of England. It depicts her trial and execution. Danish film director Dreyer was invited to make a film in France by the Société Générale des Films and chose to make a film about Joan of Arc due to her renewed popularity in France. Dreyer spent over a year researching Joan of Arc and the transcripts of her trial before writing the script. Dreyer cast stage actress Falconetti as Joan in her only major film role. Falconetti’s performance and devotion to the role during filming have become legendary among film scholars. The film was shot on one huge concrete set modeled on medieval architecture in order to realistically portray the Rouen prison. The film is known for its cinematography and use of close-ups. Dreyer also didn’t allow the actors to wear make-up and used lighting designs that made the actors look more grotesque. The film was controversial before its release due to conservative French nationalists being skeptical of the Danish Dreyer making a film about a French historical icon. Dreyer’s final version of the film was cut down due to pressure from the Archbishop of Paris and from government censors. For several decades it was released and viewed in several re-edited versions that attempted to restore Dreyer’s final cut. In 1981 a film print of Dreyer’s final cut of the film was [fittingly] discovered in a mental institution in Oslo, Norway, and re-released. Despite the objections and cutting of the film by clerical and government authorities, it was a critical success when first released and has consistently been considered one of the greatest films ever made since 1928. It has been praised and referenced to by many film directors and musicians.

Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Dir.: Stuart Rosenberg.
Cast: Paul Newman, George Kennedy
Newman stars in the title role as Luke, a prisoner in a Florida prison camp who refuses to submit to the system.

imagesThe Graduate (1967)
Dir.: Mike Nichols, based on the 1963 novel by Charles Webb, who wrote it shortly after graduating.
Writers: Calder Willingham, Buck Henry
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross.
The film tells the story of 21-year-old Benjamin Braddock, a recent college graduate with no well-defined aim in life, who is seduced by an older woman, Mrs. Robinson, and then proceeds to fall in love with her daughter Elaine. In 1996, The Graduate was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

The Exorcist (1973)
Dir.: William Friedkin
Writer: Adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel of the same name.
Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Jason Miller, and Linda Blair.
The book, inspired by the 1949 exorcism of Roland Doe, deals with the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl and her mother’s attempts to win back her child through an exorcism conducted by two priests. The film experienced a troubled production; even in the beginning, several prestigious film directors including Stanley Kubrick and Arthur Penn turned it down. The complex special effects used and nature of the film locations also presented severe challenges, such the on-site film-making in Iraq, leading to chronic illnesses among the crew as they dealt with 130-degree weather. Though booked at first in only twenty-six theaters across the U.S., it soon became a major commercial success. It became one of the highest-grossing films of all time, grossing over $441 million worldwide in the aftermath of various re-releases. It is also the first horror film to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.


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