The Solid Gold Cadillac – Judy Holliday is sublime as Laura Partridge, a (very) minority stockholder in a major corporation who keeps questioning the company’s crooked board members during its public meetings. To keep her from badgering them, the board members hire Miss Partridge as their Director of Shareholder Relations—a “do nothing” job until she decides to make something of it. This delightful comedy teams Holliday with Paul Douglas, whose warmth is a perfect complement to her bubbly persona. Fans of Born Yesterday may disagree, but I think the underrated Solid Gold Cadillac is easily Holliday’s finest film.
59. O Lucky Man! – A lengthy tale of a young ambitious man seeking meaning in life, this Lindsay Anderson film is an acquired taste. I think it’s an underappreciated one-of-a-kind gem mixing sharp satire, impeccable performances, and an awesome score by Alan Price (who was a founding member of The Animals). Price’s songs, which serve as a Greek chorus, are so catchy that I scoured used record stores (I was a college student!) the day after I saw the film in search of its soundtrack (I found it). Malcolm McDowell reprises his role as Mick Travis from Anderson’s earlier If; the later Britannia Hospital is related, but not really a sequel. Helen Mirren and Ralph Richardson headline a great supporting cast, in which several performers play multiple roles.
|Bond battles Oddjob.|
|Lee contemplates his next move.|
56. The Fearless Vampire Killers (aka Dance of the Vampires) – I consider this cult classic a stylish parody of Hammer Films’ fangs-and-damsels formula. One’s affection for it will depend, in part, upon familiarity with the Hammer approach. All the expected ingredients are present: attractive women in low-cut attire, a Transylvanian setting, a Gothic castle, garlic hanging from the ceiling of a beer haus, a hint of eroticism, and a well-prepared vampire hunter. To this mix, Polanski adds a dash of the unexpected: a bumbling love struck assistant, a Jewish vampire, a gay vampire, and a darkly humorous ending. It’s also one of my favorite “snow movies.”
|The other hand spells "hate."|
|Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue.|
|McDowell as H.G. Wells.|
52. Where Eagles Dare – Set in the white-capped mountains of Austria, Where Eagles Dare sends seven special forces soldiers to rescue a U.S. general being held captive by the Nazis. But this is no routine mission: the soldiers must break into an impregnable mountaintop castle, there appears to be a traitor among them, and their squad leader seems to trust no one—except the blonde agent hiding in the barn. Most of the plot takes place in the first ninety minutes, including some unexpected twists that reveal the true nature of the mission. The last hour consists of a series of explosive action sequences, the highlight being a fight atop a cable car leading from the mountain castle to the village below. Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood are the stars of this perfect popcorn movie—one of my favorite flicks to watch on snowy day.
Next month, I'll count another ten, including films featuring Vincent Price, Elizabeth Taylor, two Hayley Mills, Toshiro Mifune, and millions of nasty ants!