What I’ll Remember About the Films of 1969: A Love Letter

Previous What I’ll Remember posts:
1925, 1930, 1943, 1958, 1965, 1978, 1982, 1992, 2012, 2013, 2014

It’s that time again! The What I’ll Remember posts are a Top Ten By Year trademark; a fun, engaging, and personalized way of collecting movie memories that represent my time with the years chosen for this project. It’s something I work on gradually while making my way through the watchlist, whether it’s writing down observations, grabbing screencaps, or making notes of what to include. When I look back on these long afterwards, I find countless things I would have otherwise forgotten (despite the name of this feature!) and am always so grateful for having made them. What we take from movies should be more than the, understandably, ‘big picture’ way we tend to evaluate, enjoy, or talk about them. Hopefully this does a little to parse out all the different ways that film, whether taken individually or as a group, can be memorable!

I started 1969 way back in February of 2017, easily the longest time I’ve spent with any year! The write-up for 1969 and Top Ten will go up as two separate posts next month. After that, I’ll have limited copies of a 1969 zine I’m making available for anyone interested!

Don’t forget to check out the bottom of this post where I collected 25 images from the films of 1969. Needless to say there are so many images to choose from but for one reason or another, or many, these are the ones I went with. And now, without further ado!

(Note: I am posting this without having actually seen Camille 2000. It is the last one on my watchlist and I will update this post with anything I need to afterwards)

boy 2.pngThe gorgeous Cinemascope compositions in Boy, anthropologically framing the family as criminal aliens on the outskirts of Japanese society

 In which a striking balance of subjective realism and objective realism is no longer an anomaly, but a legitimate facet of American cinema. Comfortably present in other national cinemas by this time, but a new formal trend in the States. Results in late 60s pacing patterns being equal parts provocatively exploratory and a weary slog

Deaths: Judy Garland, Sharon Tate, Boris Karloff, Josef von Sternberg, Leo McCarey, Thelma Ritter, Karl Freund, Natalie Talmadge

Watching Funeral Parade of Roses and thinking that maybe, just maybe, movies peaked with this movie

The ‘Continental Op’ film (trademark by Tim Lucas):
Films of the late 1960s to early 1970s overtaken by abstract or highly stylized retro-futuristic production & costume design, encapsulating the era’s various modes of pop art, mod, camp, and psychedelia. Rarely present in
American filmmaking (Mr. Freedom, Femina ridens, Check to the Queen, Camille 2000, The Girl from Rio, Erottisimo, Temptress of a Thousand Faces, Funeral Parade of Roses (present at times but not nearly defined by re: Funeral)

The homoerotic fire-lit naturalism of Women in Love’s infamous nude wrestling scene. The best sex-scene-that-technically-isn’t-a-sex-scene ever filmed. Thrilling and invigorating in its openness

Male Love and/or Male Bonding in iconic 1969 films: a foreshadowing of the New Hollywood MO (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Midnight Cowboy, Women in Love, Easy Rider)

The state of Hollywood in 5 films:
Paint Your Wagon, Easy Rider, The Arrangement, True Grit, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice

Poly-ish Movies:
(Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Paint Your Wagon)


The Very Brief Life of the LSD Film wanes down
Easy Rider, The Big Cube, The Stewardesses, Angel, Angel, Down We Go, The Cycle Savages)

The multitude of extended group dancing sequences
Cactus Flower, The Babysitter, Paranoia, Psychout for Murder, The Big Cube, The Sterile Cuckoo, Sweet Charity, Pit Stop, Funeral Parade of Roses, Midnight Cowboy, One on Top of the Other, Medium Cool, Eye of the Cat, Mississippi Mermaid)

The importance and primitiveness of bodies entangled with each other, wheat, water, mud, grass, and snow in Women in Love

 Italian Bossa, psychedelic-laced jazz, & ethereal vocalizations of the Italian Cine & realizing this is my new favorite genre & era of music
(various composers including Piero Piccioni, Piero Umiliani, Riz Ortolani, etc.):
(Femina ridens, Psychout for Murder, Camille 2000, Check to the Queen (aka The Slave), Paranoia, One on Top of the Other, 99 Women, The Girl from Rio, Mother’s Heart, countless more)

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the Bond for people who can take or leave Bond (hey, that’s me!): bleak, carefree, thrilling all at once. Even the sluggish sections invoke an odd sense of comfort


The menacing stillness of Rudolf Hrusinky’s often distorted egghead, his persistent monotonous preaching filling the film wall-to-wall (The Cremator)

Men Are the Worst: 1969 Edition
Billy (Billy Edwards, A Married Couple), Kenneth (Scott Hylands, Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting), The Boy (Michael Burns, That Cold Day in the Park), Peter Donovan (Lou Castel, Paranoia), Luis (John Moulder-Brown, The House that Screamed), Gordon (Robert Duvall, The Rain People), Peter (Richard Thomas, Last Summer), Dan (Bruce Davison, Last Summer) Father (Fumio Watanabe, Boy), Fred Miller (Tony Randall, Hello Down There), Dr. Sayer (Philippe Leroy, Femina ridens), Wylie (Michael Sarrazin, Eye of the Cat), Jud (Freddie Fletcher, Kes), Bob (Robert Culp, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice), Martin (Helmut Berger, The Damned) and also everyone in The Damned, Michio (Eiji Funakoshi, Blind Beast), Jimmy Logan (James Darren, Venus in Furs)

Psychedelic-tinged sex and eroticism conveyed with (often hallucinogenic) color filters, slow-motion, and/or jazz in 99 Women, Psychout for Murder, Paranoia, The Babysitter, Black Rose Mansion, Check to the Queen (aka The Slave), The Girl from Rio, Midnight Cowboy, Funeral Parade of Roses, One on Top of the Other, Femina ridens, Camille 2000, Venus in Furs, etc.

Disorienting and destabilizing viewers via hard cuts, oppressive sounds, fluid explorations of time, and up-close-and-personal lensing/framing

psych 16

In a just world Adrienne La Russa as Licia in Psychout for Murder would be some sort of cult fashion & character icon

The MPAA created the ratings system in 1968, marking the debut of the notorious ‘X’. Major releases initially given the X rating: Midnight Cowboy, The Wild Bunch, Last Summer, Medium Cool, Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?, The Damned, Laughter in the Dark

Forgotten Actors of the Era (I use “forgotten” loosely so don’t come at me):
Pamela Franklin, Carol White, Alexandra Hay, Michael Burns, Adrienne La Russa, Rosemary Forsyth, Maria Rohm, Catherine Burns, Haydee Politoff, Angela Scoular, Wendell Burton, Marisa Mell, Dagmar Lassander, Gayle Hunnicutt, Barbara McNair, Danielle Gaubert

 Biggest Disappointments:
Venus in Furs, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (a film I concede is great in its skewering of American sexuality & rich clueless hippies but my level of enjoyment with it is another matter), Me Natalie, Mississippi Mermaid, Le femme infidelie

Goyokin, the first Japanese film shot in Panavision


The commercials in Putney Swope

It is universally acknowledged that Tony Randall is the worst, right? Right?
(Hello Down There)

Rewatching Midnight Cowboy and thinking Dustin Hoffman’s performance aged terribly during the first half and then feeling the opposite during the second half

The intimate impact of letting us observe characters philosophize via long takes in My Night at Maud’s


Dagmar Lassander’s slinky web-weaving dance in Femina ridens

 The way Glenda Jackson, and also everyone, says “Ursula” in Women in Love

 Hotties of 1969:
Oliver Reed (always and forever), Robert Redford, George Chakiris, Kurt Russell, Tom Holland, Adrienne La Russa, Mary Maude, Haydee Politoff, Robert Forster, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Jean Sorel, Helmut Berger, Jack Nicholson (always), Ingrid Thulin (specifically in The Damned), Dagmar Lassander

Future director Tom Holland (Fright Night, Child’s Play) being a total dreamboat and showing up in Model Shop for one scene as Gerry, the guy who just wants to see a Czech film

Domination dynamics in Femina ridens, The Rain People, The House that Screamed, 99 Women, That Cold Day in the Park, Paranoia, Black Rose Mansion, Last Summer, Check to the Queen (aka The Slave), Mississippi Mermaid, Camille 2000, Blind Beast, etc


So many fabulously garish things to look at in The Girl from Rio, but a special shout-out to this phallic penis phone

I found it: the scariest possible audio/visual combination. Don Knotts in a flailing squawking frenzy in The Love God?

Bob Fosse’s debut feature, the aggressively showy and meandering Sweet Charity, a film I sort of love because of, and in spite of, its unforgettable quirks and failings

The oppressive sideshow hopelessness of They Shoot Horses, Don’t They

Impromptu nude go-go dance party in The Babysitter!


Missing long takes that allow us to absorb major performance moments without obvious calculated intent (see: intentional “this will get you your Oscar” moments) or showboating (The Sterile Cuckoo, The Rain People, Last Summer)

The period schoolgirl elegance of buttoned-up sexual repression, where the sadist turns protagonist turns victim in The House that Screamed

Raw anger administered via satire. Satire as text.
(Mr. Freedom, Putney Swope)

Favorite Performances of 1969:
Oliver Reed (Women in Love), Peter (Funeral Parade of Roses), Robert Redford (Downhill Racer), Maggie Smith (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) Pamela Franklin (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie), Mary Maude (The House that Screamed), Haydee Politoff (Check to the Queen aka The Slave) Geraldine Page (What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice?), Jane Fonda (They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?), Ingrid Bergman (Cactus Flower), Goldie Hawn (Cactus Flower), Sandy Dennis (That Cold Day in the Park), Liza Minnelli (The Sterile Cuckoo), Sid Haig (Pit Stop), Tetsuo Abe (Boy), Jon Voight & Dustin Hoffman (Midnight Cowboy), Lee Marvin, (Paint Your Wagon), Dagmar Lassander (Femina ridens), Jean-Louis Trintignant (My Night at Maud’s), Helmut Berger (The Damned)

Favorite Characters of 1969:
Licia (Adrienne La Russa in Psychout for Murder), Antoinette Edwards (Antoinette Edwards in A Married Couple), Alice (Ruth Gordon in What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice?), Gloria (Jane Fonda in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?) Mark Focus (Eric Krupnis in Putney Swope), Sandy (Pamela Franklin in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie), Stephanie Dickinson (Ingrid Bergman in Cactus Flower), Zoie (Rosalba Neri in 99 Women), Horace Tabor (William O’Connell in Paint Your Wagon), Maria (Dagmar Lassander in Femina ridens), Martin von Essenbeck (Helmut Berger in The Damned)


The rainbow crystal Fraggle Rock-esque sets/matte drawings, chicken décor, and therianthropy of Barbara the Fair with the Silken Hair 

The decadent rot and corrupt abstraction of The Damned, culminating in a nightmare fuel image that I can’t get out of my head. Wedding as funeral. Ugly and relentless. Pair with They Shoot Horses, Don’t They for the bleakest possible (1969 or otherwise) double feature.

The faces in Army of Shadows conveying fatalism and cold unyielding perseverance. Two brothers with nothing in common, so isolated by their secret callings that they will never know the other is a Resistance fighter

The avant-garde new wave transgressions and subcultural immersion of Funeral Parade of Roses. Reinvents itself every minute even as it circles back over images, scenes, shots, and ideas


The perfect possible shot in cinema! Sex as seen through the eye of a cat!
(Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting)

Ingrid Bergman in Cactus Flower: my favorite performance I’ve seen from her? Portrays longing, yet is allowed to be sexy, deadpan, and full of conviction through surface stuffiness

Is holding a camera passive? Who has a voice? Whose story are you telling?
(Medium Cool)

Recurring needle drops
(Psychout for Murder, Paranoia, The Sterile Cuckoo, 99 Women, Check to the Queen aka The Slave, Midnight Cowboy, Hello Down There, One on Top of the Other, Venus in Furs, etc.)

The jolting and mobile action in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, constructed with relentless edits that carry an almost shocking level of momentum and immediacy (thank you editor-turned-director Peter Hunt!)


Pierre and Jacques dancing adorably in the cafe in Le Grand Amour

The whimsy and wit of floating beds in Le Grand Amour

Having an amazing boyfriend to watch so many of these with! (@Reelbrew)

Suddenly bursting into tears at the ends of Model Shop and The Sterile Cuckoo

What better way to introduce Shelley Winters than seeing her get massaged by a young stud? (The Mad Room)


One on Top of the Other, featuring the worst photoshoot ever (where a poor woman has a pipe cleaner spider on her back and a dragonfly on her butt in the name of fashion) and the best strip routine ever (huge gold motorbike ftw!)

Jimmy and his stupid horn in Venus in Furs, a film that would be 30 minutes if you cut out all the scenes of Jimmy playing on his stupid horn

Femina ridens fast becoming a DNA film of mine; seemingly made for me and my tastes, a thing I will obsess over and build personal meaning with for years to come

By the end of the 1960s, images of female adolescence are sparse and can be summed up as either needy, sociopaths, or needy sociopaths (Last Summer, Me, Natalie, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The House that Screamed, The Sterile Cuckoo)

mad room 3

Stella Stevens’s hideous Pollyanna hair in The Mad Room

The grueling race scenes in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

The car race footage in Pit Stop, second only to its nomadic soul & surprisingly complex characters, most notably Sig Haig as Hawk

Watching Paint Your Wagon with my best friend and creating many new memories (“Horace Tabor! From Worcester, Massachusetts”)

Existentialism at The Movies:
Model Shop, Easy Rider, Pit Stop, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, The Rain People, Check to the Queen (aka The Slave), Army of Shadows, My Night at Maud’s


Faye Dunaway’s purple sunglasses in The Arrangement

Me, Natalie getting trapped in the abrasive ugly duckling angst of its title character

Clashing with black militants in Medium Cool

Color filters and/or film stock shifts being a Japanese art-film go-to
(Go Go Second Time Virgin, Black Rose Mansion, Boy)

 The boy wailing on the alien snow mountain, the gradual and imperceptible transition into slow-motion feeling poetic and profound (Boy)

The visual before & after of Portrait of Hell (picture)

The satisfying Hitchcock-goes-nudie potboiler that is One on Top of the Other

Wishing Charity had been played by someone other than Shirley MacLaine. She is impeccable at playing Charity but it never feels like she is her. It’s all the wrong kind of ‘too much’ (Sweet Charity) 

Prissy the Cat in Daddy’s Gone A-Huntin & Major the Dog in The Mad Room. Both crucial players with scenes from their perspectives. Both rad. Both murdered by cruel genre tropes.

The concrete high-rise agony of Go, Go Second Time Virgin, populated with gang rape, suicide, murder, and brooding teens


Suzanne Charny, a bionic force-of-nature leading the way in “Rich Man’s Frug”, Sweet Charity’s loving burlesque of deadpan chic. Side note: putting together that this is what Eliza Dushku is watching at one point in Bring It On was akin to a major epiphany

 The venom in Jane Fonda’s line delivery of
“Why drop another sucker into this mess?” (They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?)

Naming a bruise on my knee Sailor after Red Buttons in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (don’t ask)

My emotional journey with the songs from the wretched Hello Down There:
First: “Oh my god, baby Richard Dreyfuss lip-syncing to a completely different man’s voice is hysterical”
Then:”Will these terrible songs ever end? This is the 3rd time we’ve heard “Glub”!”
Now: :voluntarily puts on ‘Glub’ for the umpteenth time:

Ruth Gordon going up against Geraldine Page is the match-up of the year
(What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice?)


The confusion of Helmut Berger as an extremely hot pedophilic monster in The Damned

The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes reminding me that the most irredeemable kind of film is a tedious one. You know you’ve watched a dud when the culmination of a film is Kurt Russell looking constipated on a quiz show

 George Chakiris, somehow still hot in The Big Cube even as he crawls, shirtless, sweaty, and high in a squalid apartment, reprimanding an ant for being on a sugar cube laced with LSD

Delphine Seyrig’s plentiful red perm in Mr. Freedom

Billy and Antoinette’s indulgent yet revealing interpretive dance to “A Day in the Life” in A Married Couple


Michio’s surrealist studio cave/prison in Blind Beast

Paint Your Wagon: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers meets McCabe and Mrs. Miller

The rare Western female protagonist in Cemetery without Crosses. She learns the hard lesson of revenge as an agent of further suffering

The Italian Job is so boring and pointless that I cannot wrap my mind around people liking it

Ingrid Bergman and Goldie Hawn dancing “The Dentist”; one of the all-time great dance scenes, and that rare occasion when a film can make you forget everything but its own gaiety (Cactus Flower) 


Geraldine Chaplin getting a bucket of cockroaches dumped on her in La Madriguera

The scenes between Martin and Lisa in The Damned, shocking and repulsive in their frankness of intent even today

Stelvio Cipriani’s score for Femina ridens, a new favorite I listen to routinely at work

 A rare tic-less Sandy Dennis: shot in clouded solitude, talkative through loneliness, yet still and quietly harrowing in That Cold Day in the Park


Billy Edwards and those ever-present red briefs that will haunt me forever
(A Married Couple)

 Reading the source materials of Last Summer, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, That Cold Day in the Park, Women in Love

Jess Franco extensively using his Rio de Janeiro carnival footage in two films
(Venus in Furs, The Girl from Rio)!

 Retro-futurist sets & BDSM = my dream movies/favorite subgenre?
(Check to the Queen, Femina ridens, Camille 2000)

temptress 5

Temptress of a Thousand Faces, where lady thieves and spies reign supreme in a world full of lairs, dastardly doings, face swapping, and more! Such a blast, and with a legitimately great climactic shootout to boot!

Proto-Manic Pixie Dream Girls
(Liza plays a girl named Pookie Adams for God’s sake)
(Goldie Hawn in Cactus Flower, Liza Minnelli in The Sterile Cuckoo)

The five minute (at least) recap of Paranoia at the end of Paranoia, followed by Carroll Baker being unceremoniously and cruelly thrown off a balcony

Loving Last Summer so much while simultaneously acknowledging that I will likely never be up to revisiting it. Same goes for the devastating Kes


The most moving scene from any 1969 film I watched or rewatched: Billy opening up to his classmates and teacher about all of his knowledge and accomplishments capturing and training his kestrel (Kes)

Piero Tosi’s costumes in Medea, a theatrical amalgamation of different cultures and textures. Weighty in bulk, jewelry, and tradition

Being able to track A Clockwork Orange through the pop aesthetics and formal cheekiness of both Funeral Parade of Roses and Femina ridens

 Expecting mindlessly fun pop erotica fare with Check to the Queen and getting an unexpectedly introspective, psychological, and political film. Post-Blow-Up in its outrageous fashion, love of photoshoots, & interior décor, and Post-Belle de Jour in its blank slate protagonist and escapes from bourgeois boredom into sexual fantasy


Virtually every shot of The Color of Pomegranates and forever wanting to see color the way this film does

Antoinette’s black bra/white pearls/red wine/fuck you Billy aesthetic in A Married Couple

 Mr. Freedom hilariously chucking a guy off the balcony while Delphine Seyrig gives an exposition dump indoors

Dick Van Dyke playing a dual role as a comic and his gay son, complete with putty nose, in The Comic. The son’s homosexuality is portrayed as the final nail in the coffin of the titular comic’s failures…..


If this photo doesn’t convince you to watch One on Top of the Other, I don’t know what will

Nude frolicking fun montage with Kirk Douglas & Faye Dunaway in The Arrangement

Tatsuya Nakadai defiant amongst the glowing embers of his charred daughter in Portrait of Hell


“I don’t mind being scared with you. I mean, when you’ve got somebody you can depend on, that you know will be there all the time to take care of you, then you can afford to be scared. I’ve never had a somebody like that before”
(Sweet Charity)

“And here I thought I’d fallen into something all fruitcake and fetishes”
(Eye of the Cat)

Psychiatrist: “I had never heard ‘tee-tee’ before”
Alice: “What expression do you use with your children?”
Psychiatrist: “Vagina”
(Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice)

“I’m looking for my stirring stick”
(Paint Your Wagon)

“If I gotta be afraid in order for your argument to work, then you got no argument”
(Medium Cool)

Mr. Chappelet: “Well, I just hope you don’t end up askin’ yourself the question some folks ask me. ‘What’s he do it for?'”
David Chappelet: “Well, I’ll be famous. I’ll be a champion.”
Mr. Chappelet: “…World’s full of’em.”
(Downhill Racer)

“I have taught you how to love chickens”
(On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)

“What a pair of Draculas”
(Model Shop)

Hermione: “How can you not think me sensual?”
Rupert: “All you want is pornography! Looking at yourself in mirrors. Watching your naked animal actions in mirrors.”
(Women in Love)

“First we’ll have an orgy. Then we’ll go see Tony Bennett”
(Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice)

“What’s more beautiful than life?”
“Maybe the reflection of life”
(Model Shop) 

Lisa: “Get out of my house! All of you! Get out!”
Lalo: “Man, I bet she even wears pajamas to bed!”
(The Big Cube)

“I’m a cosmic messenger of justice”

Gudrun: “In a Norse myth, Gudrun was a sinner who murdered her husband.”
Gerald: “And will you live up to that?”
Gudrun: “Which would you prefer me to live up to, Mr. Crich? The sinner or the murderer?”
(Women in Love)

“Deny a young boy the right to buy a gun, and you’ll suppress his destructive urges, and he’ll turn out to be a homosexual!”
“I’d rather have my son be a fag than a killer.”
“Your son is a fag!!”
“You took him on that picnic!”
(Putney Swope)

“She’s a social worker, and her favorite hobby is emasculation”
(Putney Swope)

“I used to wake up in the morning and it was my day, and now it….it belongs to you”
(Shirley Clarke in The Rain People)

Gerald: “Do you know what it is to suffer when you’re with a woman? It tears you like a silk. And each bit and stroke burns hot. Of course, l wouldn’t not have had it. It was a complete experience. She’s a wonderful woman, but l hate her somewhere. lt’s curious.”
(Women in Love)

“Tough titty!”
(A Married Couple)

“I’m going through a period where I’m destroying my feet”
(A Married Couple)

“Do you want some advice to save your soul?”

“I want the finality of love”
(Women in Love)

“But what I really felt…was that I was really sorry that I said this morning that I loved you. I thought, you gotta be the biggest schmuck in this world”
(A Married Couple)

“I’m not Hassan. I’m his cow”
(The Cow)

“She thinks to intimidate me by the use of quarter hours.”
(The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie)

“I’m not sure about God, but I am now quite sure about witches.”
(The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie)

“For girls who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like.”
(The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie)

Dr. Winston: Where were you all night?
Stephanie: It’s all a blur, a beautiful blurry blur.
(Cactus Flower)

25 IMAGES FROM 1969 
(Whether I can’t get them out of my head, or for their context/meaning within the story, for pure aesthetics or for the actors faces, these are a handful of images that have, and will, stick with me among the countless memorable compositions)

The Color of Pomegranates
Une femme douce
The Color of Pomegranates
portrait of hell
Portrait of Hell
medea 7
Cemetery without Crosses
Women in Love
Funeral Parade of Roses
A Married Couple
Funeral Parade of Roses
Women in Love
go go 6
Go Go Second Time Virgin
The Damned
The Color of Pomegranates
Femina ridens
Check to the Queen
Invocation of my Demon Brother
That Cold Day in the Park
liza 2
The Sterile Cuckoo
alice 4
What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice?
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? 
a married couple
A Married Couple
Putney Swope
psych 9
Psychout for Murder
prie 3
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie