Femme Douce, Une (1969)

Femme Douce, Une (1969)

“She made me see woman as an instrument of pleasure.”

A pawnshop owner (Guy Frangin) reflects back on his troubled marriage with a beautiful young woman (Dominique Sanda) who has just killed herself by jumping out a window.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Flashback Films
  • French Films
  • Marital Problems
  • Robert Bresson Films
  • Suicide

Robert Bresson’s ninth of 13 feature-length films was this adaptation of an 1876 short story by Fyodor Dostoevsky called “A Gentle Creature”, which has inspired numerous cinematic renderings (though I’m not sure why). To put it mildly, I’m not a fan of Bresson (I only have one more of his titles left to review — not that I’m counting), so I wouldn’t have liked this movie anyway; but I don’t quite see the appeal of the story itself: a pawnbroker lusts after a beautiful young woman without much money, who he believes he can rescue:

… and then is surprised when she’s not too pleased with his overbearing, objectifying approach to her. Maybe this is a common challenge for some men (“Why isn’t my wife happy? I give her everything she wants and needs…”) but it’s crystal clear that these individuals don’t actually relate to one another in any way except sexually. He’s penny-pinching, she’s inclined to generosity; he likes jazz, she likes classical music; she looks perpetually miserable, he looks perpetually suspicious and sour.

What could go wrong? Well, as we know from the opening scene, pretty much everything, in the worst possible way.

Of course it doesn’t help that Bresson has instructed his actors, as usual, to NOT act, rendering them essentially robotic from the get-go. Skip this one unless you’re a Bresson fan and somehow understand what he’s going for.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Ghislain Cloquet’s cinematography

Must See?
No. Listed as a film with Historical Importance and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.


Phantom India: Reflections on a Journey (1969)

Phantom India: Reflections on a Journey (1969)

“I’m afraid they’re dreaming India, like I am.”

Louis Malle films various aspects of Indian life in the late 1960s, including religion, art, daily subsistence, and politics.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Class Relations
  • Documentaries
  • French Films
  • India
  • Louis Malle Films

Louis Malle’s seven-part docu-series chronicling his five months of travel and exploration across India was a personal favorite among his works, and remains a fascinating document of a certain time and place — as seen through a particular lens (that of a White male French filmmaker). Each 51-minute segment is accompanied by Malle’s commentary, though at times he simply allows his curated images to speak for themselves. The episodes — which I’ll discuss in turn — are as follows.

1. “The Impossible Camera”
2. “Things Seen in Madras”
3. “The Indians and the Sacred”
4. “Dreams and Reality”
5. “A Look at the Castes”
6. “On the Fringes of Indian Society”
7. “Bombay: The Future India”

(As a fair heads up, this review will be much longer than my usual posts, given how much there is to cover as well as my personal interest in this topic, which I’ll discuss at the end; feel free to skim or skip to my vote if you don’t want all the deets!)

In Episode 1, we’re introduced to Malle’s intentions with the film. His very first line is:

“Only 2% of Indians speak English, the official language after colonization. This 2% talks a lot, in the name of all the rest. Politicians, businessmen, intellectuals, bureaucrats — all explained their ideas to me at length, and I immediately sensed that the real questions weren’t being addressed. In learning English, they also learned to think as our civilization does. Their words about their country were ordered by Western symbols and logic. I’d heard them all before. I recognized them as my own.”

With that established, Malle and his team move out to the countryside, exploring one of the most enduring themes of the film: the widespread persistence of manual labor. He laments the fact that his camera brazenly “steals” from women who “have absolutely nothing” (sic) and who (he believes) perceive his team as “Martians” entering “their universe without permission” — their camera a “weapon.”

We hear more of Malle’s take on what he’s seeing: he’s simultaneously patronizing (“They seem from another age”) and refreshing in his candor; at least he acknowledges what a stranger he is here. With that positionality firmly in mind, we can watch the rest of his film knowing that it’s simply — as all documentaries are — one person’s take on a place and time. We can choose — and probably do — to take him at his word most of the time, as when he tells us (for instance), “This traditional dance is called the Tiger Dance. It’s also a job. The man and child earn their living dancing.”

He then shares with us the following:

“Everywhere we go, the first thing I see are [people’s] eyes, their stares. In a moment we’re surrounded by Indians. We came to see them, but they’re the ones looking at us. So we preferred to film them that way, their sea of enormous eyes turned on us, on the camera’s single eye. We decided to film all these looks, to make them the leitmotiv of our journey.”

The entire series is, indeed, filled with faces, which I “collected,” too, as I was watching.

Next, Malle briefly lands on a village wedding:

… before returning to peasants at work:

… noting that the camera “keeps returning to this young woman, because we’re drawn to her beauty, her graceful modesty, her laugh. Because she dazzles us. Because that’s what it was like that morning.”

Malle is similarly poetic throughout his entire commentary — acknowledging both the destitution and the beauty he sees; it’s mostly a fair balance. He insists, “We follow the camera; it guides us. We’re not filming to defend an idea, or demonstrate one… Each step we take is part of the film, Westerners with a camera — Westerners twice over.” He makes special note of “a transvestite with too much makeup,” referring to the performance “like something out of a Fellini film.”

Other elements in Episode 1 include a festival; an introduction to the caste system; the familiarity of seeing Catholicism in Kerala; a Communist demonstration; and an infamous sequence of cattle — revered across most of India — being devoured by a dog and vultures.

Malle’s commentary here is refreshing, once again, in its candor:

“I realize we reacted in terms of our culture. Around us, the landscape reminded us of Greece, bathed in some austere grandeur that lent an air of mysterious sacrifice. To us it was a tragedy, a drama in several acts. For our Indian companion, it was an everyday scene: a glimpse of life and death and their calm alteration. It was nothing worth filming, nothing extraordinary.”

Malle goes on to film statues of gods; a party:

… and villagers creating “drawings with ritual meanings,” with “the women who create them allow[ing] only tiny variations on specific symbolic themes.”

He adds, “Where we take aesthetic pleasure in the abstract floral drawings, these women experience and recapture a link with the divine. They draw to bring their god to them.” (We must assume, once again, that this is what he’s been told by an inside informant, and then interpreted through his own lens.) He comments openly that “Indian women are very beautiful” and continues touching upon themes and landscapes he’ll come back to in future episodes.

Evidence of his western perspective shines through, especially during comments like, “We spent five months in India without ever seeing love” (!!!), adding with delight that his footage of “a boy and girl flirting” became “our most precious footage, absolutely unique.”

(As a reminder, Malle’s breakthrough film was 1958’s The Lovers, all about an affair.)

In the rest of Episode 1, Malle touches openly on colorism and racism (“In Northern India especially, a dark-skinned child’s birth into a high-ranking family is seen as a catastrophe.”) before filming an erotic temple; hippies from the West traveling through the country (one ends up going home from illness):

… and a completely inefficient tire factory, leading Malle to remark, “They possess infinite patience; time doesn’t seem to exist.” before reflecting back on his own youth filming in the Seychelles. The episode ends with images of caste-bound fishermen who are relegated to working from the shore.

* * * *

Episode 2 begins with lengthy footage of a festival in which an “immense chariot is taken from the temple and solemnly paraded around the temple walls,” taking “five hours to cover the half-mile circuit.”

Malle’s time spent on this event makes sense given how colorful and revealing it is, showing collective traditions of great and time-consuming importance to locals. Back in the city, he comments on watching a comedic play about bureaucracy, which he posits is “truly the scourge of this country, a legacy of the English, a state within a state.”

He includes quite a bit more political commentary throughout this and future episodes, helpfully clueing in outsiders to the complexity of governing such a massive post-colonial nation. A particular facet shown in this episode is the government’s “colossal effort at population control,” including Malle’s visit to a “family planning” exhibit at a fair, with condoms handed out like candy and men offered a free radio if they’re willing to be sterilized.

Malle moves straight from this to somewhat dismissively discussing India’s thriving movie industry, noting that the many studios there will make “anything that draws an audience.” He concedes that as “terrible as these films may be, they’re the means of expression and sole entertainment for the people in a country in which TV is practically nonexistent,” and he also admits he “liked some of these films, with their incoherence, dramatic plot twists, one-dimensional characters, and constant intervention of magical forces.”

Perhaps to balance out what he’s just been through artistically (!), Malle spends the rest of his episode on graceful young girls practicing traditional Indian dance; he’s fixated on them to an extent unsurprising for the man who brought us Pretty Baby (1978) (more on this in a later episode).

I agree with Malle, however, that these dedicated young dancers are utterly enchanting to watch.

* * * *

Episode 3, “Indians and the Sacred,” opens with Malle commenting, “India can sometimes be dizzying.” and then proceeding to show us a “man moving through the crowd with faltering steps under a burning sun, in the midst of an exuberant religious ceremony,” bearing “a complicated framework of hundreds of metal rods, each pressing into his skin, and “a long needle pierc[ing] his tongue.”

Malle informs us “he’s obviously a yogi practicing some form of asceticism, one of the countless cruel methods to mortify the flesh, to control and dominate it.” Moreover, he adds, “There are thousands like him in India, fanatics of the Absolute.” This entire episode is devoted to the central role played by religion in India — though Malle starts by sharing his observation that, “Even when awake, southern Indians seem to me drowsy, lifeless, absent.”

At temples, we see priests performing rituals to the gods:

… and we hear from a temple water-bearer that he’s “not asking for a lot,” but rather wants “five more rupees,” “for [his] daughter’s schooling.”

Malle comments, “We’re fleeced like this at every temple; the priests’ greed knows no bounds.” Upon visiting another temple, he remarks, “In reality, contrary to what I first believed, priesthood holds no prestige for Brahmans,” and is “even seen as degrading.” He asserts, “India is complicated indeed,” but is more than willing to concede that many believers find deep solace in their religion.

He describes a bit of Hindu religion, appropriately noting that it’s much more complex than he can possibly hope to convey, and introducing us to an ashram where a disciple explains:

“Each of us must understand the Self, the truth inside us. We must separate the self from the flesh in order to reach the Self. The great teaching of the guru, and the principal aim of all the disciples, is the ultimate knowledge of the Self. “

At another temple, Malle finds a “woman sitting between the double walls,” “practically immobile,” who “softly murmurs some unknown litany” and is “in the exact same spot, in the same position” when they leave that evening.

Next we learn about the crucial role played by water in Indian society: “Rivers are sacred, and daily ablutions punctuate believers’ lives,” Malle tells us.

He and his crew spend hours filming individuals engaging in sacred rituals, noting: “These gestures can seem funny, and we could have easily exaggerated their comic aspect and made a sarcastic portrayal of fetishism and excessive piety. But we didn’t want to.” (Nice of him and his team.) “We show them to you as we filmed them. You decide whether they’re ludicrous or admirable.” (I would like to quickly point out that many Christian — not to mention all other religious — rituals would seem equally nonsensical to outsiders.)

Malle goes on to add his guess that engaging in religious rituals may offer believers “an outlet, a chance to finally be alone through worship” — thus making “these southern Indians, normally so drowsy and full,” “unrecognizable” — after all, they are promised “transmigration” and reincarnation “in other bodies indefinitely.”

We learn that so-called “hermits” wandering the roads indefinitely are often men who “are social misfits, unstable and abnormal people, as if society got rid of them by sending them out on the road” — and yet, “the existence of these millions of renunciants is an essential aspect of Hinduism — the antithesis of the caste system, a sort of safety valve for such a restrictive world.”

We also learn a little more about why so many people are seen begging in India.

Malle points out: “Begging is a sacred act, and the faithful are obliged to give alms.” Indeed, beggars “symbolize the renunciation of the material world and physical reality” — but he adds the interesting caveat that while the beggars themselves had no problem being filmed by Malle and his crew, wealthier Indians tried to intervene, to prevent this aspect of their society from being documented.

On a broader note, this might be a good time to share that upon this miniseries’ release, “Many British Indians and the Indian Government felt that Malle had shown a one-sided portrait of India, focusing on the impoverished, rather than the developing, parts of the country. A diplomatic incident occurred when the Indian government asked the BBC to stop broadcasting the programme. The BBC refused and were briefly asked to leave their New Delhi bureau.”

* * * *

Episode 4 — entitled “Dream and Reality” — opens with Malle reflecting on how by this point in their project, he and his team had only the “goal to lose ourselves in the infinity of Indian villages,” living “almost as they did,” spending “entire days without filming, as if it was no longer what mattered.” Eventually, he notes, they came to “feel as if we’ve rediscovered something we’d lost… It’s not about explaining or dominating the world, but being a part of it, fitting into it.” He adds with wonderment:

“If happiness is defined as a sense of balance and bliss, being in harmony with one’s surroundings, interior peace, then these Indian peasants are happier than us, who’ve destroyed nature and do battle with time in the absurd pursuit of material well-being, in the end sharing only our loneliness.”

(There is more-than-a-little romanticization of poverty and manual labor in Malle’s words — though his point is well-taken, and certainly reflective of the times.)

Shortly after this, Malle notes (in a wondrous yet droll tone reminiscent of Werner Herzog):

One afternoon, we came upon the unreal vision of this man pushing a sewing machine down a deserted road. In France, this would be quite surreal. Here, we watch without comment.

Of course, in reality, there is nothing odd about a villager with a sewing machine rolling it to another village to conduct his trade — it’s less surreal than practical; context matters.

We learn about a colony of bats left unharmed; the legacy of railroads (brought by colonialist England) across the nation:

… and how women continue working on tea plantations.

We see how elephants are treated like slaves and used for labor:

… given that they are “intelligent, obedient, and very powerful,” and “cost less than a bulldozer or tractor.” Malle points out that wild tigers are nowhere in sight; the only one the film crew came across was “a well-behaved tiger at the Mysore Zoo.”

We see women weaving coconut husks in a Keralan village where “just like about everywhere, production is controlled by the landowners and merchants, who own the coconut palms and to whom the peasants are indebted.” Malle comments: “This tropical paradise is also a hell on earth.”

He notes that Kerala is where “the largest Communist parties in India are found” — though he asserts that “the orthodox Communists don’t really [seem to] want a peasant revolution.”

* * * *

In Episode 5 — “A Look at Castes” — Malle hones in on a topic he’s been addressing off and on throughout his series: social castes. The episode opens with a White male American Peace Corps volunteer — a “specialist in agriculture” — noting how challenging it is to convince villagers “to adopt several new techniques at once.”

We see more footage of women at (manual) work, making chapati bread to serve with dal:

.. making patties from cow dung to use for fuel:

… and carrying jugs of water from the same well as other women from their caste.

To that end, Malle notes that the caste system in India “is incomprehensible, and even invisible,” yet simultaneously “manifest in every gesture of daily life.” He includes a potent metaphor of a blind camel walking around and around, “dragging a millstone behind him to mix the cement”:

… which he offers up “as a heavy-handed symbol of Indian society,” noting that while “the caste system was officially abolished by the Indian constitution,” “laws can’t erase a tradition dating back millennia.” We learn about so-called “untouchables” (a term coined by Europeans), and see how ideas of purity and impurity are integral to caste.

Malle then makes the decidedly Euro-centric observation that “In India, individual people don’t matter; it’s their relationship that matters. One isn’t pure or impure; one is more or less pure than someone else.” Thankfully, he shifts immediately to showing us children in an open-air school learning to count; it seems education is the primary hope for change in the future.

We also learn in this episode that the untouchables are responsible for taking care of India’s laundry:

… vigorously beating the dirt out of the clothes they’re tasked with cleaning each day; as Malle describes it, “The village clothes-washers attack the washing with an energy that makes up for the lack of soap.” This work is shared by men, women, and children, and is “remarkably organized” as a “plain and simple form of economic oppression.”

We see a funeral next, with a “flower-covered corpse… carried to the place where it will be burned” as “Marlborough” (a.k.a. “The Bear Went Over the Mountain”) plays in the background (!).

Malle comments that he sees “no suffering or tears, nor even sadness. To us, for whom death is so tragic, this aspect of Hinduism is stunning.” (However, as with Malle’s earlier commentary on a lack of public displays of affection and love in India, he’s only seeing the outward, socially allowable manifestation of emotions here.) He adds:

“Death is not an end, nor even a separation. One lives and dies and is then reborn, over and over in an unbroken chain. Each life is judged, and the next life constitutes the verdict. If you’re born an Untouchable, it’s your fault, because in a previous life you proved yourself unworthy. You can imagine the social efficiency of the system.”

Touché — and yet, yes. The final sequence in this episode consists of villagers who “don’t want [the crew] to leave without filming their traditional sport, a mixture of Red Rover and Greco-Roman wrestling.”

* * * *

Episode 6 — “On the Fringes of Indian Society” — brings us near the end of Malle’s magnum opus, but also to some of his most controversial comments. He first goes to visit the remote Bonda tribe, which he asserts is “like traveling back in time.” He writes that as “one of the many aboriginal people who’ve survived until today, conserving their way of life and ancestral religion,” they have been “gradually forced… into the most inaccessible mountains with the poorest soil in central India.” Men hunt with bows and arrows for increasingly rare game, while “the women make brooms to sell at a local market,” using most of their money to purchase jewelry.

Malle shares about the Bondas’ sexual and marital practices, noting that in dormitories “set apart from the rest, boys and girls mix with total sexual freedom before marriage,” with the dormitories functioning “as a matchmaking service, a kind of club where they get to know each other before choosing a spouse.” (Other than the sexual freedom part, this sounds remarkably like some Christian fundamentalist sects I’ve heard of in America.) In terms of marriage:

Generally, a 20-year-old girl will marry a 14-year-old. Marriage follows strict exogamous rules; it’s forbidden to take a husband from your own village. Divorce isn’t a rare occurrence. If a husband leaves his wife, he sends his in-laws a goat. If the wife leaves, her new husband gives her ex three goats.

Also of interest is that the Bonda don’t have writing or last names, and are simply called by the day of the week they were born on.

Next, Malle turns to other groups on the fringes of Indian society — including a small sect of Jews who tell him that India is the only country where they have never been persecuted.

Malle, ever blunt, comments on the “degenerate and sickly” results of “pure bloodline jealously guarded in this tiny community.” We see another ashram, this one run by an aging French woman referred to as “Mother” who doesn’t want to be filmed, though we hear her voice and see some followers:

… including an Italian man explaining he was spiritually searching across the globe for years.

“I’d read verses of the Bhagavad Gita that really impressed me, and I’d also noticed the transformation on people’s faces when they returned from India: their faces were calm, not stressed like typical Europeans. I’d intended to travel through India up to the Himalayas — but after a few days of travel, I arrived here and found what I was looking for.”

A Swedish woman similarly explains her reasons for being at the ashram, noting:

“I had practically no religious background. God was not a living presence. That didn’t exist there [in Sweden]. I didn’t know I had a soul. Essentially, it was questions: Who am I? Why am I like this? Why is the world the way it is? … Why am I here? Is there a reason for life?”

Members of the ashram — which still exists and can be visited — “believe in evolution,” that “a day will come when the human body will undergo a transformation. Transcending the limits of reason, the new man will achieve, through inner enlightenment, a state of super-consciousness that will set him free, and all of humanity, too.”

Finally, on the topic of the fringes, Malle informs us:

“In the Nigiri mountains, at an altitude of 8,000 feet, we found the ideal society: the Toda tribe… No Toda girl is a virgin past the age of 13. Before puberty, they’re entrusted to an experienced male to learn [love-making]. These lessons are part of their education, just like singing and cooking. Sex is a natural need, and throughout their lives, the Toda practice free love. The Toda language has no word for sex. They use the words ‘fruit’ or ‘food.’ Children don’t go to school. Their education comes from their contact with nature … Marriages are arranged from birth, but since there are fewer women than men, it’s customary for a girl to marry several brothers of the same family. Since absolute sexual freedom prevails throughout the tribe, paternity is impossible to establish. The oldest brother is the legal father.”

While listening to and watching this section, I was paying careful attention to the faces of all the young females, wondering what it’s like for them to grow up in such a culture; if something like this is normalized for all girls, does that lessen the pain of such toxic patriarchy? Malle choosing to refer to this as “the ideal society” reminds me once again of how and why he put forth something like Pretty Baby without blinking an eye. He may believe that “these 800 Toda are the last remnants of a free society that never knew war, hunger, prudishness, or injustice” — but is that how these girls feel?

* * * *

The final episode — “Bombay: The Future India” — is the most overtly political and forward-looking, while also reflecting back and closing out the series. Malle points out the monotony and sameness of much of the city:

… which is “crammed with people from all over the country.” He states, “You never get used to the poverty in India, even after four months — especially in the cities, where it shows its most terrible face.” Of course, he adds, poverty in villages is just as extreme, thus leading many to come to the city in search of jobs — and so the cycle goes. He notes that “it takes endless ingenuity just to survive”:

… points out the presence of many Muslims (despite the creation of Pakistan):

… and shows us an “ultramodern petrochemical factory.”

We’re also taken to Bombay’s red-light district, which for some reason is shocking to Malle.

We hear about stock trading (informed by astrological input) and free enterprise in India, and learn about the Parsis, a group of Zoroastrians who “came here from Persia to escape Muslim persecution” and became wealthy primarily through steelworks.

We’re reminded once again in this final episode of the renaissance of yoga across the country:

… and we see a young police officer being trained in the remnants of British traffic operations:

… before hearing from various intellectuals, politicians, and economists about what’s next — or should be next — for India.

It’s especially eerie seeing footage with Bal Thackeray, founder of Shiv Sena — “an extreme right-wing movement serving purely local interests, expressing native Bombay residents’ desire to defend themselves against the invasion of immigrants from southern India, who are both despised and feared.”

Thackeray argues that if Muslims aren’t happy, they should go to their own country; and he asserts that “Ruling with a firm hand doesn’t mean dictatorship. I’m not talking about dictatorship, just keeping people in line. We need order in this country.” Shiv Sena remains in global news to this very day.

Episode 7 ends with the following depressing quote:

“In India, we discovered with wonder another way of being, another way of living and seeing the world that made us all feel nostalgic, like a secret forever lost. But we felt all along it was a world living on borrowed time. Here, where the population is greater than Africa and South America combined, modern life increasingly takes the form of man exploiting his fellow man.”

* * * *

Well — after many hours of writing, I’ve now reached the end of my own lengthy overview of Malle’s ambitious project, which has lingered in my mind for days since watching it. As a bit of personal background, I spent a month in India in the summer of 2004, hanging out and exploring while my husband (boyfriend at the time) was working with a tech company. Many things have changed, of course, since Malle’s visit, but much still rings true to my own observations. I recall the vibrant colors, flowers, and fabrics; the endless crowds; temples everywhere; cows left alone on streets; dogs roaming freely; relentless begging — and so much manual labor and poverty, with class separations as stark as ever. (There are now a lot more cars crowding the streets — that’s a significant difference.)

An added interest for me with this documentary is the particular time it was filmed, when so many Europeans — including my own young parents — were looking to the East for spiritual enlightenment. My Norwegian parents happened to find and follow a guru from Indonesia (not India), but enough is similar to what I saw and heard in this documentary to give me a sense that I was watching a parallel journey of sorts. Indeed, I recognized my parents and their peers in the clothing, glasses, and viewpoints expressed here, as cultures were inter-mixing and the world was — evolving? Well, it was changing at least, and continues to shift with the relentless forces of globalization. In 2024, India is once again at its own political cross-roads, as are we — it was ever thus and likely always will be. Pockets of peace and happiness may exist everywhere, but never without troubles of their own.

I’ll end my review by circling back to something Malle said in Episode 1:

“Once the film has been finished, edited and projected, it can be seen as folklore, but it’s you and I who make it so.”

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Numerous memorable sequences and images

Must See?
Yes, as a valuable and fascinating historical document. Listed as a movie with Historical Importance and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.


  • Historically Relevant
  • Important Director


This Man Must Die (1969)

This Man Must Die (1969)

“Chance is wonderful — and it exists. It’s the only thing that exists.”

When a grieving father (Michel Duchaussoy) vows to hunt down and kill the man who murdered his son (Stéphane Di Napoli) in a hit-and-run accident, he finds himself connecting with an actress (Caroline Cellier) whose brutal brother-in-law (Jean Yanne) is a prime suspect.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Amateur Sleuths
  • Claude Chabrol
  • French Films
  • Mistaken or Hidden Identities
  • Revenge

Based on a 1938 novel by Cecil Day-Lewis (writing as Nicholas Blake) entitled The Beast Must Die, this Claude Chabrol psychological thriller gives off definite Hitchcock vibes — which makes sense given that Chabrol, alongside Eric Rohmer, interviewed Hitchcock and co-authored a book about him in 1957. (With that said, Chabrol stated that three other directors — F.W. Murnau, Ernst Lubitsch, and Fritz Lang — influenced him even more.) At any rate, having long ago finished reviewing all of Hitchcock’s actual titles in GFTFF, I decided it was time to revisit what one means, exactly, when using the term “Hitchcockian.”

1. First, and most importantly, “Hitchcock uses film as a place for audiences to project their anxieties.” Does Chabrol do that in this film? Absolutely. The film opens with a devastating attack on the core of one’s existence (losing a child):

… and absolutely everything that comes afterwards is laser-focused on attempting to rectify this loss, in some way.

2. “Hitchcock’s films were a way for him to deal with his own worst fears.” This I can’t speak to, since I don’t know enough about Chabrol’s motives in deciding to make this particular film…

3. “Hitchcock knows you’re watching.”

… As does Chabrol. Voyeurism plays a clear role in this film, given that Duchaussoy fakes his identity and “falsely” pursues Cellier:

… in order to enact an elaborate, double-twisty plot of worming his way into her family (and all while we’re well aware that he may not even have the “right” culprit).

4. “Hitchcock mastered every tool at his disposal.” Chabrol did as well, to the extent that one simply becomes absorbed in his best films (and his longtime collaborations with composer Pierre Jansen and editor Jacques Gaillard resonate here, too).

As in Hitchcock’s best films, good use is made of diverse locations, ranging from the opening sequence at a seaside town, to Duchaussoy’s search for a garage where someone may have thrown away a damaged car part, to the bar where he picks up Cellier, to Yanne’s showy mansion:

… to a literal cliffhanger:

… and a tense scene out on a boat.

This one remains worth a look.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Jean Rabier’s cinematography

Must See?
Yes, as a fine thriller by Chabrol. Listed as a film with Historical Relevance and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.


  • Good Show
  • Important Director


Milky Way, The (1969)

Milky Way, The (1969)

“My hatred of science and my loathing of technology will one day lead me to this absurd belief in God.”

As French pilgrims Pierre (Paul Frankeur) and Jean (Laurent Terzieff) travel across historical eras from Paris to the holy site of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, they encounter a variety of individuals debating and/or living out Christian theology.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Christianity
  • Delphine Seyrig Films
  • Historical Drama
  • Luis Bunuel Films
  • Road Trip
  • Satires and Spoofs

Following the success of Belle du Jour (1967), Luis Bunuel made this more personal film — the beginning of what he referred to as his “trilogy of truth,” followed by The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) and The Phantom of Liberty (1974). As Carlos Fuentes writes in his essay for Criterion, the movie represents a “filmic space-time continuum” in which the lead characters seamlessly move between different eras during their journey, beginning with modern times as they encounter a mysterious prophet in a black cape (Alain Cuny):

… and hopping back and forth between biblical and medieval eras (thus prompting some to note the film’s clear influence on Monty Python).

In a different article for Criterion, Mark Polizzotti provides a nice overview of the film’s Christian themes, noting:

… it is devoted to the six primary mysteries of the faith and to the objections (or heresies, depending on your view) they have inspired. These are: the dual nature of Christ (man or divinity?), the three-in-one nature of the Holy Trinity, the Immaculate Conception, transubstantiation (is the host literally Christ’s body or only a metaphor?), the concept of free will, and the existence of evil (if God is omnipotent, how could he allow sin and temptation?).

Given this focus, the hitch-hikers first land at an inn where a policeman (Claude Cerval) and a priest (François Maistre) are debating — naturally; why not? — transubstantiation, before the priest is hauled away by men in white to a mental institution.

From there, Jean and Pierre encounter a host of historically diverse characters, including the Virgin Mary (Edith Scob):

… Jesus Chris (Bernard Verley) and his followers:

… nuns following Jansenism (a French Catholic movement “which arose as an attempt to reconcile the theological concepts of free will and divine grace”):

… a rock star-ish angel of death (Pierre Clémenti):

… the Whore of Babylon (Delphine Seyrig):

… and the Marquis de Sade (Michel Piccoli), who seems to appear in the film simply to state the following: “There is no God. All religions are based on a false premise, Therese — the necessity of God the creator. But this creator does not exist. All religions bear the emblem of imposture and stupidity. But if one especially deserves our contempt and hatred, it is the barbarous laws of Christianity” (all said as we see faithful ‘Therese’ [Christine Simon] literally shackled).

We also witness a gathering of a Priscillianist sect preaching the belief in dualism (i.e., humans strive towards the Kingdom of Light but we are trapped by our earthly bodies):

… a performance by girls at a boarding school who explain and describe the various heresies as “anathema”:

… a duel between a Jansenist (Jean Piat) and a Jesuit (Georges Marchal) over “predestination and irresistible grace for sinners” (meant to satirically show that the truly faithful will literally put their lives on the line for what they believe):

… and a Spanish priest (Julien Guiomar) breaking the fourth wall — and a literal wall — as he first tells stories about the Virgin Mary, then counsels Jean and Pierre while they’re in their hotel rooms with uninvited guests.

There’s more — but the meandering “storyline” merits viewing rather than reading about if it sounds at all of interest to you. While I applaud Bunuel for deeply exploring interesting and contentious tenets of his faith, this film won’t be for all tastes.

Note: In case you were curious, according to Wikipedia:

The title of the film is taken from a popular name used for the Way of St. James, a route often traveled by religious pilgrims that stretched from northern Europe to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. This is where the remains of St. James were reputed to be buried.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Fine historical sets and costumes

Must See?
No; this one is only for Bunuel fans.


Passion of Anna, The (1969)

Passion of Anna, The (1969)

“Why not do something you believe in, which feels true to you?”

On a remote Swedish island, a solitary man (Max von Sydow) helps out a grieving widow (Liv Ullmann) and soon meets the couple she’s living with — architect Elis (Erland Josephson) and his wife Eva (Bibi Andersson) Vergerus; meanwhile, as mysterious animal cruelty occurs across the island, a local man (Erik Hell) is falsely accused of being the perpetrator.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Infidelity
  • Ingmar Bergman Films
  • Liv Ullmann Films
  • Marital Problems
  • Max von Sydow Films
  • Widows and Widowers

The informal third film in Ingmar Bergman’s “island trilogy” — following Hour of the Wolf (1968) and Shame (1968) — was this enigmatic exploration of themes from many other Bergman films (guilt, shame, isolation), but perhaps especially — as argued by Bergman scholar Jerry Vermilye — the “thread of violence intruding on ordinary lives.” The film opens on the pastoral scene of pipe-smoking von Sydow looking out at the sun as he fixes his roof and we hear sheep bells tinkling in the backdrop.

Soon he’s on the road offering to help an odd man (Hell) pulling a cart, and we understand he’s essentially a kind individual:

… as additionally supported by his willingness to let distressed Ullmann use his phone (albeit with a bit of deceit and nosiness — he surreptitiously listens in):

… and the fact that he rescues a dog:

… checks on Andersson’s well-being when he happens upon her napping in her car:

… etc. Next, in an improvised scene, we see von Sydow and Ullmann enjoying dinner and conversation with Josephson and Andersson:

… and interpersonal webs grow ever more entangled, with first one affair occurring, then another, alongside continuous hints that none of these people are truly who they seem (then again, who is?).

The disturbing mystery of who keeps brutally harming animals; the tragic bullying of Hell; eruptions of violence and/or suspicion amongst the four key players; random flashbacks and dreams; and the mystery of what actually happened to Anna — interspersed by fourth-wall-breaking interview clips with the lead actors:

— all keep us engaged throughout, even if the ending is frustratingly inconclusive.

Note: As a Norwegian-American, I know that “slut” means “end” in Norwegian and Swedish — but it’s impossible not to read into Bergman’s choice of this term to close his film, knowing how much overt rancor he had for Ullmann as their relationship was disintegrating during the making of this movie.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Max von Sydow as Andreas
  • Liv Ullmann as Anna
  • Sven Nykvist’s cinematography
  • Numerous memorable moments or sequences

Must See?
No, though naturally it’s a must-see for Bergman completists — and worth a one-time look by those who appreciate his work. Listed as a film with Historical relevance and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.


Burn! / Queimada! (1969)

Burn! / Queimada! (1969)

“There are no miracles in history — only precise timing and cadence.”

On the Portuguese colony of Queimada, a British agent (Marlon Brando) is sent to teach a native-born slave named José Dolores (Evaristo Marquez) to rise up in rebellion, so that the British can come in and establish a sugar trade there and help elect their own president (Renato Salvatori). Ten years later, Brando returns to once again quell rebellion by Dolores and his men — but he finds that Dolores is no longer tolerant of his “support”.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Cat and Mouse
  • Historical Drama
  • Marlon Brando Films
  • Race Relations and Racism
  • Revolutionaries
  • Slavery

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary writes, this “exceptional political narrative by radical Italian filmmaker Gillo Pontecorvo” is “a painful yet fascinating look at colonialism and revolution in both theory and practice.” He asserts it’s “the equal of Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers,” though he points out that “poor distribution by United Artists decreased its chance of duplicating that film’s commercial success or notoriety.” I’ll cite directly from Peary’s initial description of the film, since it provides valuable contextual detail: he notes it’s “based on historical events,” “set in 1845 on a Caribbean island where in 1500s imperialistic Portuguese (in truth it was Spanish) burned the entire landscape and exterminated the entire native population to quell an uprising” (hence the island name of Queimado, or “burnt”) — and “for the next three centuries black slaves who were imported from Africa to replace the Indians worked on the sugar plantations of the colonialists.”

Enter into this scenario Brando “in perhaps his most interesting role” as “the intellectual, mannerly British agent Joseph Walker, who teaches the blacks the art of revolution and finds the charismatic man (Dolores)… who can lead them” — then “sees to it that Dolores hands his leadership over” to a mulatto “who will allow the British to control the island as the Portuguese had.” As Peary puts it, “Walker turns out to be not a hero but a bastard, and his friend Dolores is at once disillusioned and politically enlightened” — thus leading to the film’s powerful final section.

Peary points out that “with a great rousing score by Ennio Morricone, this is an extremely colorful combination of an old Errol Flynn swashbuckler that had revolutionary spirit and a ‘film of ideas'” with “many historical applications throughout the world.” To that end, “it is, most significantly, the story of revolt against colonialism in Third World [sic] countries,” a “major point of the film” being “that white men cannot comprehend the singular nature of the black [man] and his willingness to fight endlessly for freedom.” Dolores — who “comes across with great dignity” — is “a symbol of the continuing revolution.”

Peary goes into further detail about this film in his Cult Movies book, where he posits this film in contrast with “so-called political [American] films which criticize once-sacred cows — the President, people in government, the FBI, the CIA, the police, the military, the courts” — but “typically wait until such criticism becomes fashionable,” thus making such films not “really controversial” but rather “reflect[ing] the popular sentiments of the time” — and, crucially, emphasizing “that their villains are individuals whose actions in the name of America go against everything the American system stands for: they are rotten apples in an otherwise perfect barrel.”

Ultimately, “though antiestablishment on the surface, these pictures reinforce our faith in the American way of life, in the American political process,” suggesting “that it is not a sociopolitical system rooted in corrupt, anti-humanistic activities that is the real villain, but the opportunistic, fascistic men who take advantage of such a system.” It is therefore:

“… instructive for American moviegoers to see alternative pictures [like this one] which attempt to give us a better understanding of history (which does indeed repeat itself and which has indeed shaped the present), where the stories told reveal important political truths about countless occurrences in the past all over the globe, and where such terms as imperialism, colonialism, racist policies, counterrevolution, systematic oppression, systematic torture, nationalism, liberation movements, political consciousness-raising, popular uprisings, terrorism, guerrilla warfare, and revolution are defined and placed in historical context.”

In his Cult Movies essay, Peary also describes Brando’s character in a bit more detail, writing:

“History is full of brilliant political men, military strategists, and philosophers like Walker who, for reasons of their own, fought on the wrong side. We see that Walker really does like Jose and wants him to live… to exonerate himself from the guilt he feels and to prove to Jose and to himself that his theories on these black slaves are correct.”

He “cannot accept that in this godforsaken world people with virtues (people like Jose) exist — if he had known, he might have remained virtuous, too.” That’s debatable — but Brando imbues this complex character with enough subtlety and humanity that we can’t help staying invested in his plight even when he’s at his most vindictive.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Marlon Brando as Sir William Walker
  • Evaristo Marquez as José Dolores
  • Beautiful cinematography and production design

  • Creative opening credits
  • Ennio Morricone’s score (According to TCM:Burn! was only one of 29 scores the now venerable Italian composer and conductor – with something like 500 to his credit – wrote in 1969 alone.” Ummm… Can you say brilliant and prolific?!)

Must See?
Yes, as a powerful and unique cult classic.


  • Cult Movie
  • Foreign Gem


Wild Bunch, The (1969)

Wild Bunch, The (1969)

“I’d like to make one good score and back off.”

An aging outlaw (William Holden) on the border of Mexico and the United States in 1913 leads his motley crew of men — including loyal Dutch (Ernest Borgnine), brothers Lyle (Warren Oates) and Tector (Ben Johnson), and young Angel (Jaime Sanchez) — in a bank robbery attempt foiled by a group of bounty hunters headed by a former colleague (Robert Ryan) who has been hired by a corrupt railroad baron (Albert Dekker). After collaborating with vicious General Mapache (Emilio Fernandez), Holden’s “wild bunch” of outlaws decide to engage in a final railroad heist before retiring — but will Angel’s loyalty to his people get in their way?

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Ben Johnson Films
  • Bounty Hunters
  • Edmond O’Brien Films
  • Ernest Borgnine Films
  • Heists
  • Mexico
  • Outlaws
  • Robert Ryan Films
  • Sam Peckinpah Films
  • Warren Oates Films
  • Westerns
  • William Holden Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that “Sam Peckinpah’s violent, controversial western” borrows from the “caper” genre in its tale of a group of men “needing to pull off one more job before they can retire,” and is typical of “Peckinpah westerns” in that “over-the-hill losers, whom time and glory have passed by, are given a chance for redemption.” He points out that “visually, the picture contains much that is stunning, even mesmerizing; however, the battle scenes, containing great slaughter, are what gives the film its rhythm, power, spectacle, and excitement.”

Indeed, “It is known for its bloody, slow-motion death scenes” — though Peary writes that he finds “them self-consciously presented” rather than “realistic, as Peckinpah intended.” He argues that “much more impressive are the quieter scenes: when the Wild Bunch rides majestically through Sanchez’s village, proud that the people look on with respect:”

… “and that wonderful moment before the [final] battle with Fernandez when Holden looks back and forth between his last bottle of whiskey and his last woman.” Peary notes that while “Peckinpah was a tough guy,” his “best screen moments were those when he allowed his romantic tendencies to slip through, when he gave his characters the dignity that means so much to them.”

On the flip side, he argues that “the worst aspect of the film is that Peckinpah never establishes any camaraderie among members of the gang” (I wasn’t bothered by this, given that there truly is no honor among thieves), and complains that Peckinpah “went through so much trouble creating an authentic western milieu, only to fill it with stereotypes speaking in cliches.”

Peary points out that this film is “a semi-remake of Peckinpah’s Major Dundee,” and “he also borrows freely from John Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” Bunuel, Kurosawa, and Aldrich’s The Dirty Dozen.”

In terms of the film’s controversial release, Peary notes that Peckinpah “managed to sneak [it] by anti-war protesters under the guise of being a western” — but “actually, it’s a war film (check out the weapons used).” The “controversy surrounding the film was centered on its violence,” with “few at the time notic[ing] the strong parallels between Peckinpah’s Mexico and North Vietnam.”

In Cult Movies, Peary goes into more detail with his review, pointing out some of the particularly spectacular scenes and sequences — including “the dusty, yellowish Mexican landscape; the numerous parades that pass through Peckinpah’s frame”:

… “the train robbery sequence”:

… and “the bridge that collapses with horses and Thornton’s posse on top of it.”

Overall, Peary doesn’t seem to be a big fan of this film, which is my personal stance as well; while I sincerely admire Peckinpah’s talent, watching violence cinematically glorified — despite Peckinpah’s insistence he was NOT doing this — isn’t my preference. However, this movie is far too iconic to miss, and should definitely be viewed at least once by film fanatics. To that end, a few bits of trivia are worth sharing; as noted on IMDb:

– There are about 2,721 editorial cuts throughout the 138-minute film (with an average shot length of 3 seconds).
– Peckinpah purportedly wanted to deglamorize violence in the west and show a more realistic, brutal, and crude view of how outlaws operated. (John Wayne was vocal in his disapproval of this approach.)
– Due to excessive violence, the film was threatened with an X rating (though it ended up with an R).
– To its credit, “Of the 40 performers credited at the end of the film, 24 are Latinos. Except for Puerto Rico-born Jaime Sánchez, all were actual Mexicans or of Mexican ancestry.”

Note: The film’s most unrecognizable actor is O’Brien (wearing a TON of make-up) as grizzled Sykes, a side-kick member of the Bunch.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Fine performances by the ensemble cast

  • Numerous memorable (if often disturbing) sequences

  • Lucien Ballard’s cinematography
  • Excellent use of location shooting in Mexico
  • Clever opening credits
  • Groundbreaking editing by Peckinpah and Louis Lombardo

Must See?
Yes, as a cult favorite and for its historical status.


  • Cult Movie
  • Controversial Film
  • Historically Relevant
  • Important Director

(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)


Pigpen (1969)

Pigpen (1969)

“I killed my father, I ate human flesh and I quiver with joy.”

In primitive times, a cannibal (Pierre Clementi) on the slopes of Etna wanders around killing animals and people; meanwhile, the son (Jean-Pierre Leaud) of a post-WWII German industrialist (Alberto Lionello) neglects his politically radicalized girlfriend (Anne Wiazemsky) to go lie with the pigs.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Cannibalism
  • Italian Films
  • Jean-Pierre Leaud Films
  • Pier Paolo Pasolini Films

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s follow-up to Teorema (1968) was this inscrutable mash-up of two different “stories” which only vaguely (possibly) relate to one another. As the movie opens, we see a man (Clementi) in a barren landscape killing a snake to eat:

… and then the scene suddenly shifts to a modern, urban, upper-class setting, as a quibbling young couple deliberates in front of the man’s parents (Alberto Lionello and Margarita Lozano).

The fact that Lionello has a Hitler-esque mustache seems fully intentional; indeed, as he engages in later conversations with the other main player in the film, Mr. Herdhitze (Ugo Tognazzi) (his “mysterious rival”):

… we learn a little more about his political views. The story continues to toggle back and forth between the two settings and sets of characters, with no explicit rhyme or reason — and the opaque dialogue doesn’t help matters whatsoever. Take this interaction between Leaud (Julian) and Wiazemsky (Ida), for instance:

Julian: Even if you were to betray not just those of your generation, but yourself and the truth, you’ll never find out what I’m going to do.
Ida: What right do you have not to tell me?
Julian: It’s just my right, that’s all.
Ida: What good will it do you?
Julian: If anything, to make you cry and suffer. Tra-la-la.
Ida: And without fail I’ll cry and suffer. Tra-la-la.
Julian: Just little things: a wandering leaf, a creaky door, a grunt.
Ida: What do you mean, Julian?

Etc. Oh boy. It really never gets better or clearer. With that said, Time Out’s reviewer refers to this film as “not only an exquisitely revolting satire,” but “also Pasolini’s most fascinating piece of cinema.” — so, to each their own.

In terms of what it’s actually about –well, Wikipedia claims: “The story is about the human capacity of destruction and a rebellion against the social prerequisites implied against it.” OK. Meanwhile, in an essay written for Criterion about Pasolini more broadly, James Quandt notes that enduring themes of his work include “the sacred purity of the dispossessed and the inevitability of their destruction.” My personal take-away is that this film is simply about the awful ways people treat one another, ranging from not-so-subtle critiques to outright cannibalism — be forewarned that it’s ugly stuff.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Tonino Delli Colli’s cinematography

Must See?


Journey to the Far Side of the Sun / Doppelganger (1969)

Journey to the Far Side of the Sun / Doppelganger (1969)

“It’s an inside joke against me and myself.”

In 2069, the director (Patrick Wymark) of the European Space Exploration Council sends two astronauts (Roy Thinnes and Ian Hendry) to explore a mysterious “mirror planet” which is orbiting the sun opposite of the Earth; what will the pair find when — or if — they land?

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Astronauts
  • Science Fiction
  • Space Exploration

Husband-wife team Gerry and Sylvia Anderson — best known for their marionette-based television shows such as Thunderbirds (1965-66) — were the creative forces behind this odd flop of a science fiction film, released just after Stanley Kubrick’s groundbreaking 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The story’s premise of a mirror-image planet is intriguing but barely explored; the main gist we get is that people-in-charge are hiding things, and we can’t really trust anything we’re seeing.

I’ll quote at length from DVD Savant’s review, given that he effectively nails this film’s many frustrations.

“[The film] has unfortunately [been] designed almost identically to one of [the Andersons’] marionette shows. People stand and talk a lot… The Anderson’s script is at least 60% hardware-talk and exposition, some of it handled well, but little of it advancing the story. The characters are never really established… The film’s ‘character’ dead ends are matched by a tendency to stop dead in its tracks for frequent hardware scenes — the bread and butter of the Anderson TV shows. We see a long sequence of the landing of a jet, and then sit back for the thuddingly generic, drama-challenged main rocket launch. … The designs on view are neither attractive nor convincing… The lighting overall is garish and high key… ”

Etc. Indeed, I was curious enough the Andersons’ work (which I hadn’t heard of) that I checked out The Thunderbirds and noted that this film does indeed seem to be simply a life-action analog to that.

Oh well.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Earnest performances by Thille and Wymark

Must See?


Medium Cool (1969)

Medium Cool (1969)

“The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching!”

After being fired by his station, a television news cameraman (Robert Forster) works freelance for the Democratic National Convention and falls for an Appalachian widow (Verna Bloom) with a young son (Harold Blankenship).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Journalists
  • Television
  • Verna Bloom Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary notes that this “Godard-influenced political film” — “directed, produced, written, and photographed by noted leftist cinematographer Haskell Wexler” — is today “a curio, a time piece, but when it came out it caused tremendous excitement among young viewers involved in anti-establishment causes and interested in political films, as well as those who may simply have appreciated unique ways to tell stories on film.”

In describing the movie, Peary writes that Forster’s “cocky Chicago television reporter… tries to remain detached from his stories despite their increasing political and social significance,” but “we see his social consciousness rise after he is told off by some ghetto blacks [sic] for being part of establishment media that distorts news”:

… and “after covering the Democratic Convention and the ensuing riots during which Mayor Daley’s gestapo police beat up countless protestors.”

Then, “when he learns that his network has been handing over his tapes to the FBI, he finally understands the function of the media/press and how uninvolved newsmen” — like himself — “are doing a disservice to the people.” Forster’s process of humanization is made especially apparent as he moves away from dating “a sexy bubblehead” (Marianna Hill) and falls for a “poor, kindly widow” from West Virginia,” and “befriends her son.”

As described by Peary — and documented at length in Look Out, Haskell, It’s Real: The Making of Medium Cool (2001) — “Wexler interweaves professional actors with amateurs, his fictional story with real footage of the Chicago convention”:

… “and violent police-protestor confrontations” to the extent that “at times the actors are on the scene during the rioting and Wexler takes his camera right into the fray,” to “remarkable” impact.

At the time of this writing, the film is now 55 years old and even more relevant than ever, as protests and violent clashes with police continue, and the role of the media in covering such events remains hotly debated. To that end, the historical footage Wexler managed to capture and weave together from this specific point in time is truly impressive. Unfortunately, the impressionistic storyline meanders to the point of not quite cohering, and the abrupt ending — including a fun self-referential turn — is jarring.

However, this film is far too creative, eclectic, and historically relevant for film fanatics not to check out at least once.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Robert Forster as John Cassellis
  • Verna Bloom as Eileen
  • Harold Blankenship as Harold
  • Wexler’s cinematography

  • Remarkable cinema verite footage throughout

Must See?
Yes, for its historical relevance. Selected in 2003 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.


  • Historically Relevant