July 18, 2020

Years & Movies: 1964

According to FilmGourmand, the film adaptation of Bernard Shaw's play, George Cukor's musical film "My Fair Lady" was recognized as the best film of the world cinema of 1964. Premiere of "My Fair Lady" was held on October 21, 1964 in New York, USA.

Film company "Warner Bros." acquired the copyright for the film in February 1962 for a record $ 5.5 million for the time. This record held until 1978. Another 17 million dollars amounted to the actual budget of the picture. But all these costs turned out to be absolutely justified: the box office of the picture in the first year exceeded 72 million dollars.

The picture had not only financial success: it received 12 Oscar nominations, of which it won eight.

I dare to suggest that few of those who saw this masterpiece musical by George Cukor will doubt that to a large extent the success of the film was ensured by the participation of the incomparable Audrey Hepburn in it. Meanwhile, the relationship between this great Actress and this picture can not be called devoid of negativity.

The movie was based on the Broadway musical, staged on a play Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw. In this theatrical musical, which has been on stage since 1956 and enjoyed wildly popular, Julie Andrews shone. It was she who was originally supposed to play the role of Eliza. But the producers had some doubts about her film-genics. Therefore, Audrey Hepburn was proposed as a fallback. Both were asked to undergo screen tests. But Andrews refused, because at the same time participated in the filming of the film "Mary Poppins."

The choice in favor of Audrey Hepburn, thus, was decided automatically. But the producers considered Elizabeth Taylor as another fallback. Audrey, knowing this and knowing about her imperfect vocals, made every effort to eliminate this shortcoming. She successfully completed the vocal skills courses and was going to perform the vocal parts in the film herself. Actually, the same was assumed by the producers of the picture.

However, shortly after the start of filming, the producers decided to "reinforce" Hepburn's acting with the vocal data of singer Marnie Nixon. Audrey did not immediately find out about it. But by the time she knew this, it was too late to change anything. Subsequently, Audrey was very sorry that she agreed to this role.

These regrets were largely dictated by the fact that Audrey, as it does not seem strange to us today, did not get into the list of Oscar nominees. 12 nominations - and not one for Audrey Hepburn! And the Oscar for playing the female role then went to the same Julie Andrews for the role of "Mary Poppins." That is, Audrey was not allowed to sing in the film, nor was nominated for an Oscar. However, the Italian filmmakers corrected this mistake of American film academics by awarding the Audrey the David di Donatello Prize for Best Actress.

Roger Ebert, who rated the film 4 stars out of 4 and included it in his list of "Great Movies", spoke of this work of Cucor: ""My Fair Lady" is the best and most unlikely of musicals, during which I cannot decide if I am happier when the characters are talking or when they are singing. The songs are literate and beloved; some romantic, some comic, some nonsense, some surprisingly philosophical, every single one wonderful."

A relatively recent assessment of this film by American film critic James Berardinelli is curious: "Consider this possibility: a romantic comedy with no nudity, no sex, and no kissing. In fact, there aren't even any declarations of love. The closest the female character comes to admitting her feelings is saying that she could have danced all night with the man; the closest he gets is remarking that he's grown accustomed to her face. Could such a project lift off the pad in today's climate? Almost certainly not - no studio would greenlight the film without assurances that elements would be added to spice things up. So it's fortunate that circumstances and expectations were different in 1964, when My Fair Lady reached the screen. More than three decades later, the movie, which won the Best Picture Oscar, remains a musical favorite."

According to FilmGourmand's version, My Fair Lady has a rating of 9,287 and is 108th in the Golden Thousand.

In addition to the aforementioned films "My Fair Lady" and "Hamlet", the following films were included in the "ten" best films of world cinema in 1964 according to FilmGourmand:

- Гамлет (Hamlet). Director Grigory Kozintsev, USSR. Movie's Rating - 9,276; 111th Rank in the Golden Thousand.

- Matrimonio all'italiana (Marriage Italian Style). Director Vittorio De Sica, Italy. Movie's Rating - 8,884; 193rd Rank in the Golden Thousand.

- Charulata চারুলতা. Director Satyajit Ray, India. Movie's Rating - 8,838; 206th Rank in the Golden Thousand.
- Kaidan 怪談 (Kwaidan (Ghost Stories)). Director Masaki Kobayashi, Japan. Movie's Rating - 8,748; 228th Rank in the Golden Thousand.

- Застава Ильича (Мне двадцать лет) (I Am Twenty). Director Marlen Khutsiev, USSR. Movie's Rating - 8,594; 281st Rank in the Golden Thousand.

- Alexis Zorbas Αλέξης Ζορμπάς (Zorba the Greek). Director Mihalis Kakogiannis, Greece. Movie's Rating - 8,407; 360th Rank in the Golden Thousand.

- Председатель (The Chairman). Director Aleksei Saltykov, USSR. Movie's Rating - 8,303; 404th Rank in the Golden Thousand.
- Отец солдата Jariskatsis mama ჯარისკაცის მამა (Father of a Soldier). Director Резо Чхеидзе, USSR. Movie's Rating - 8,266; 428th Rank in the Golden Thousand.

- Добро пожаловать, или Посторонним вход воспрещен (No Holiday for Inochkin (Welcome, or No Trespassing)). Director Elem Klimov. Movie's Rating - 8,263; 433rd Rank in the Golden Thousand.

10 most "cinegenic"*, in our opinion, events of 1964:

- The end of the "thaw". In the USSR, N. Khrushchev was dismissed from all occupied positions. The era of Leonid Brezhnev began.
- The verdict on Jimmy Hoffa. Union leader and crime boss Jimmy Hoffa has been sentenced to a total of 13 years in prison for bribery, fraud and jury bribery.
- The verdict on Jack Ruby. Jack Ruby, who shot Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of President Kennedy, has been sentenced to death.
- Moscow protest of Moroccan students. 50 Moroccan students stormed the Moroccan Embassy to the Soviet Union in Moscow and staged a sit-in to protest the death sentences handed down by a Moroccan court in Rabat four days earlier. The death sentences concerned 11 people who allegedly tried to kill King Hassan II of Morocco.
- The Great Alaskan earthquake. In the northern part of the Gulf of Alaska, 120 kilometers from Anchorage, an earthquake of magnitude 8.4 on the Richter scale occurred. The earthquake was the strongest earthquake in the history of the United States. As a result of the earthquake and the resulting tsunami, 131 people were killed. The relatively small number of victims is due only to the small population of the disaster area.
- Military coup in Brazil. In Brazil, as a result of a military coup, President Juan Goulart was dismissed, who was sympathized with the broad masses of the people. A dictatorial regime was established in the country for a long time.
- Exchange of spies. In Berlin (Germany), the agent of the British special services Greville Wynn was exchanged for the Soviet intelligence officer, Konon Molodyi, known in the West as Gordon Lonsdale.
- The verdict on Nelson Mandela. The leader of the South African movement for human rights and the fight against apartheid, Nelson Mandela, along with seven associates, was sentenced to life in prison.
- Project 596. China carried out the first tests of nuclear weapons. The power of the bomb exploded in the area of Lake Lob-Nor was 22 kilotons. China has become the fifth nuclear power.
- Incident in the Gulf of Tonkin. Within 3 days in the Gulf of Tonkin, there were two clashes between the ships of the US Navy and the armed forces of the Viet Cong. The incidents were used by the United States as a pretext for building up its military presence in Indochina and launching full-scale hostilities against North Vietnam and Laos.
In addition Juliette Binoche, Olga Mashnaya were born.

* -With "cinematic" in the present context, we mean events that either have already found their reflection in world cinema, or deserve to become the basis of the plot of a future film.