Richard Nixon became the 37th President, the Stonewall riots marked the beginnings of the modern gay rights movement, Senator Kennedy left the scene of the crime at Chappaquiddick, a little music festival was held near Woodstock, NY, and we put a man on the moon. Other than that, not much happened in 1969.
The highest-grossing film of the year was the buddy comedy-that-ends-badly Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, while the gritty Midnight Cowboy was the first movie with an X-rating to win a Best Picture Oscar.
The world was changing, fast – and these changes were being reflected in the films that were being created. Butch Cassidy was essentially a cops-and-robbers movie, except that this time, the robbers were the good guys and the cops barely made an appearance. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (featuring Maggie Smith in an Oscar-winning performance) proved that you couldn’t even trust your schoolteachers anymore.
Our block of episodes about the movies of 1969 officially begins on September 6, but if you subscribe today (wherever you listen to podcasts), you’ll be sure not to miss an episode. If you’d like to view the films before listening to the shows, here they are. Happy viewing!
Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid made a star out of Robert Redford and cemented Paul Newman’s place in film history, but the film really had three big stars: 1) Newman, 2) Redford, and 3) the chemistry between Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The story begins in Wyoming, takes a brief detour through New York City and ends in Bolivia. It looks like a traditional period Western, but it’s rejection of anything resembling law and order makes it a perfect film for 1969. Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid is available to rent on Amazon Prime.
Cactus Flower is the sex farce that earned Goldie Hawn a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her film debut. Goldie plays a young woman who’s having an affair with a married man (Walter Matthau), or so she thinks. It turns out that her lover is a bachelor, but told her he was married to keep things casual – but when he decides he’s in love and wants to propose, she refuses unless she can meet his wife to make sure that she really wants a divorce. So, he does what any man in his situation would do – he asks his secretary (Ingrid Bergman) to pose as his wife. Naturally, hilarity ensues, or at least it was all funny before #MeToo. Cactus Flower is available to stream on Amazon Prime.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is either the sixth or seventh James Bond film in the franchise (Stacey and Eric agree that it’s the sixth, but you’ll have to listen to the show if you want to know why), and the only one to feature Australian actor George Lazenby as Agent 007. It’s not the best Bond performance in the canon, but Diana Rigg as an atypical Bond Girl and Telly Savalas as a physical, dare-we-say-sexy Blofeld almost make up for it. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is available for purchase only on iTunes, YouTube, and Amazon Prime.
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice is the story of two couples in “swinging” Los Angeles. Bob & Carol (Robert Culp and Natalie Wood) are hip and newly enlightened after a trip to a couples therapy retreat. Ted & Alice (Elliott Gould and Dyan Cannon) are hopelessly square, but they’re going to have to loosen up if they’re to keep up with their “with it” best friends. And as Carol would say, “that’s beautiful.” Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice is available to rent on Amazon Prime.
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is the disturbing tale of a teacher who is in her prime (and says so, repeatedly) and whose girls at the Marcia Blaine Academy are the “crème de la crème.” What begins as a fairly predictable tale of a teacher who inspires her students quickly becomes a warning to everyone, schoolgirls included, to choose your heroes wisely The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is available to stream on YouTube, until someone finds out about it and takes it down.
Finally, Midnight Cowboy is the story of an unlikely friendship between Joe Buck (Jon Voight), a naïve Texan who shows up in New York City with dreams of being a hustler (hint: dream bigger), and Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman), a petty thief with a physical disability and a bad attitude. When Joe finds himself more hustled than hustler, he depends on his strange comrade more and more, until they’re plotting to run away to Florida together. Hey – we’re walkin’ here. Midnight Cowboy is available to rent on Amazon Prime.
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