I’ve mentioned before how much I dislike blog memes. I find most of them really dull and pointless, but occasionally I get asked to participate in one that sparks my interest. The following 12 Films I Must See meme was forwarded my way by Dennis at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule and it’s a doozy. The point of the meme is to list 12 movies that you’ve never seen before and are difficult to find on video or DVD.
In other words, if you can get it at Netflix or your local Blockbuster, don’t bother mentioning it. But Dennis made up his own rules and included some films that are easy to find but he had just never got around to viewing them so the meme is obviously open to interpretation. I decided to follow the original rules only because there are lots of films I’d like to see made more accessible to American audiences and doing this meme gave me the opportunity to mention a few of them. This list could have been much longer but I decided to just list the first 12 that came into my head in no particular order. And the 12 films are . . .
Shinjuku dorobo nikki (1968) and L’ Insoumis (1964)
1. Shinjuku dorobo nikki (Nagisa Oshima; 1968) aka Diary of a Shinjuku Thief
I’ve only seen a few of Nagisa Oshima’s films (Cruel Story of Youth, In the Realm of the Senses, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence and Gohatto) but they all left a big impression on me and I really want to see more of his work. Diary of a Shinjuku Thief is the one Nagisa Oshima film I’d like to see above all others. I believe bootleg copies of the film are floating around online and the movie is occasionally revived and shown at theaters but so far it has managed to evade me.
2. L’ Insoumis (Alain Cavalier; 1964) aka Have I the Right to Kill?
TCM recently dusted off what seems to be the only print of this hard-to-find thriller and showed it once back in April. Unfortunately I missed it and I don’t know when I’ll have the opportunity to see it again. The movie stars the magnificent Alain Delon who wields a gun and falls for the pretty Italian actress Lea Massari in the film. L’ Insoumis is often referred to as one of Delon’s “best movies” so I can’t understand why it’s so hard to see. Hopefully someone will release it on DVD soon or TCM will do us all a favor and show it again.
Top: Terence Stamp in Una Stagione all’inferno (1970)
Bottom: Angela Pleasence in Symptoms (1974)
3. Una Stagione all’inferno (Nelo Risi; 1970) aka A Season in Hell
Terence Stamp stars as Rimbaud in this film about the poet’s life and Jean-Claude Brialy plays Paul Verlaine. Does anything else need to be said? How about this – the movie also stars the wonderful actress Florinda Bolkan and features a score by Maurice Jarre that’s easier to find than the actual movie. I’ve been trying to track down a copy of this film for years but I haven’t had any luck and it seems as if there’s virtually no information about the movie available anywhere.
4. Symptoms (José Ramón Larraz; 1974)
I’ve enjoyed all of the José Ramón Larraz‘s films that I’ve seen but so far but his 1974 feature Symptoms has escaped me. The film stars Angela Pleasence (daughter of Donald Pleasence) who always seems extremely uncomfortable in her own skin and it’s often referred to as the directors best film. Unfortunately it’s not available on DVD but I hope some company will release the film in the future since I’m sure it would find an audience. In the meantime I’ll have to make due with a poor quality bootleg copy of the film if I want to see it.
Benjamin (1968) and Chelsea Girls (1966)
5. Benjamin (Michel Deville; 1968)
Catherine Deneuve and Pierre Clementi are two of the most beautiful creatures to appear in French films during the ’60s and I love watching them together in Luis Buñuel’s wonderful Belle de jour (1967) so I know I’d enjoy watching them together in this film. Benjamin claims to be a “French Tom Jones” and so I expect it will probably be a light-hearted French sex comedy. I haven’t come across much info about the movie but Roger Ebert awarded Benjamin with “the 1968 strawberry parfait award” and added that it would float off your fork ” before you can get your mouth open.” He also said that it would appeal to “empty-headed would-be sophisticates who want to attend a pretty French movie that doesn’t make them think, or depress them, or anything.” Sometimes I don’t want to think. Sometimes all I want to do is laugh and watch beautiful people like Catherine Deneuve and Pierre Clementi frolic on screen nude or dressed in lovely period costumes, so I suspect that I’d find something worthwhile about Benjamin if I ever get the chance to see it.
6. Chelsea Girls (Andy Warhol & Paul Morrissey; 1966)
I’ve seen bits and pieces of Chelsea Girls but never the entire thing which is approximately 3 1/2 hours long. The film has become a curiosity piece over the years and it has never been officially released on DVD in the US as far as I know. There is an Italian DVD of the film available but I believe it’s currently out of print. Due to the film’s split-screen format I’d prefer to see it in a theater but in all honesty it’s lengthy running time has kept me away from screenings over the years. Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity – and the patience – to see the film in its entirety sometime.
Le Moine (1972) and Balsamus l’uomo di Satana (1970)
7. Le Moine (Adonis Kyrou; 1972) aka The Monk
Le Moine is based on the the classic Matthew Lewis novel “The Monk” and stars the handsome and charismatic actor Franco Nero along with the beautiful Natalie Delon. The film also features a script by Luis Buñuel, cinematography by Sacha Vierny and a score by Ennio Morricone & Piero Piccioni. How could this film be anything but great? Le Moine is available on Region-2 DVD but I haven’t had a chance to see it yet. Hopefully that will change soon.
8. Balsamus l’uomo di Satana (Pupi Avati’; 1970) aka Blood Relations
I’ve mentioned before that I’d love to see more of Pupi Avati’s early horror films and Balsamus l’uomo di Satana is at the top of my “must see” list. The tagline for the film is a “Grotesque ‘Bordello’ of Nightmares!” and that’s got me more than a little intrigued. Unfortunately as far as I know Balsamus l’uomo di Satana has never been released on DVD or video and it seems impossible to find. Avati’s latest films continually get rave reviews from critics and win plenty of awards so why aren’t more of his older films available on DVD? I can only hope that the director’s early work will become more accessible in the future.
Top: Made in USA (1966)
Bottom: The Psycopath (1968)
9. Made in USA (Jean-Luc Godard; 1966)
Out of all the Godard films I haven’t had the opportunity to view yet Made in USA is at the top of the list. The complicated plot intrigues me. The cast (which includes Anna Karina, Jean-Pierre Léaud, László Szabó and Marianne Faithfull) is tops and the clips and still shots that I’ve seen look absolutely breathtaking. The film is currently available on DVD in the UK as part of the Region-2 Jean-Luc Godard Collection Vol.1 but I haven’t had any interest in buying the entire set just to see that film since I already own copies of all the other Godard films in the collection.
10. The Psychopath (Freddie Francis; 1968)
The Psycopath is one of the few Freddie Francis‘ films that I haven’t had the chance to see yet because it’s so hard to find. I love all the British thrillers and horror films that Francis made and I’m fond of Amicus films in general. I just know that I’m going to enjoy this movie once I get the chance to see it. Any horror film that involves creepy dolls is high on my “must see” list but when you add Freddie Francis’ name to the mix along with Amicus, well I don’t think I need to say much more.
Tantei jimusho 23: Kutabare akuto-domo (1963) and Das Indische Tuch (1963)
11. Tantei jimusho 23: Kutabare akuto-domo (Seijun Suzuki; 1963) aka Detective Bureau 23: Go to Hell Bastards
This is the first crime film that director Seijun Suzuki made with Joe Shishido and the only film they made together that I haven’t had the pleasure to see. From all the accounts I’ve read it appears to be a predecessor to one of my favorite Suzuki films, the amazing Youth of the Beast. It was written by Haruhiko Oyabu who also wrote Youth of the Beast and Shishido plays the role of Joji ‘Jo’ Mizuno again. Many of the actors who appeared in Youth of the Beast also have roles in Tantei jimusho 23: Kutabare akuto-domo. As far as I know, the film is not available on DVD anywhere but I really hope Criterion will consider releasing it in the future since I think the film would obviously appeal to anyone who has enjoyed Criterion’s previous Suzuki/Shishido DVD releases.
12. Das Indische Tuch (Alfred Vohrer; 1963) aka The Indian Scarf
There are plenty of German Krimi films featuring the incredible Klaus Kinski that I could have included on this list but I just decided on this one because I love the poster art so much. Many of my regular readers know that Kinski is one of my favorite actors and I’ve seen a lot of his films, which is saying something since the man appeared in hundreds of movies (what it’s saying I’m not exactly sure, except maybe that I spend too much time watching movies?) . The real black spot in my Kinski viewing is all the krimi films he made in the ’60s since I’ve only had the oportunity to see 3 or 4 so far and there must be at least 20 more that I’d like to see. I absolutely love the krimi films I have managed to see and I’m fascinated with the work of Edgar Wallace. Many of these films are available on DVD in Germany but I haven’t had the extra funds to purchase them yet. I keep hoping that many if them will be released in a DVD boxset in the US but that looks more and more unlikely as the years roll by. Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to see all the Kinski krimi films sooner or later.