DR. STRANGELOVE, OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (Stanley Kubrick)
Stanley Kubrick and his partner-in-crime Terry Southern look at global anxiety in the nuclear age and find it….well, hilarious. Peter Sellers is all over the place, and Sterling Hayden shows again how scary good he is. George C. Scott is in the middle of his career here showing us how he could do anything. A cynical, prophetic, incisive comic masterpiece.
RED DESERT (Michelangelo Antonioni)
Antonioni looks at anxiety in the post-industrial age and doesn’t find it funny at all. In his first color film, he craftily illustrates the strange beauty of industrial waste, all the better to illustrate our even stranger, inadequate relation to it and everything else in the world around us. Again his chosen heroine (so well embodied by Monica Vitti), wanders through it all, troubled and trapped. She is clearly not well. Even if you are not particularly sympathetic to her plight, it’s hard to ignore being in the presence of a director actively, incisively searching.
THE PINK PANTHER (Blake Edwards)
Looking back today at its original conception, THE PINK PANTHER looks like another example of miraculous cinematic alchemy. Almost none of the cast were originally intended, including Peter Sellers as the iconic Inspector Clouseau. As it is, all of the cast from David Niven to Capucine to Robert Wagner to Claudia Cardinale mesh perfectly together. To call THE PINK PANTHER just a lucky accident though, would be to diminish the sheer brilliance of Blake Edwards’ ability to seamlessly blend romance, intrigue and comedy into a satisfying whole. To be a master of slapstick as well, does seem miraculous. Of course he had Sellers to help, but Edwards had done this before and he would do it again (most notably with 10), creating a trademark style, largely unappreciated. THE PINK PANTHER holds up very well indeed, its breezy style making it look like it all must have come easy.