Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Operation Screenshot (Films of the Sixties) Arthur Penn's Mickey One (1965)

Earlier this year Columbia Classics finally released Arthur Penn’s legendary 1965 surrealist noir Mickey One on DVD courtesy of their new Screen Classics on Demand label. The disc, manufactured on a DVD-R, features a sparkling and sharp looking print of Penn’s Black and White masterwork and I highly recommend it, even though it is unfortunate that it contains no extras outside of the original trailer.
Penn shot the wonderfully inventive New-Wave inspired Mickey One with star Warren Beatty just two years before their Bonnie and Clyde kick-started a major revolution in Hollywood. Sadly Mickey One did not have the same success as Bonnie and Clyde and it was greeted with harsh criticism from critics and filmgoers. The film is a major classic though and a reminder that Penn was one of the bravest and most creative American directors in all of modern cinema. The film also features one of the greatest performances by Beatty, who gives a moving and expressive performance as the doomed comic on the run from the mob and his own paranoia.
Beatty and Penn aren’t Mickey One’s only selling points as its tremendous Eddie Sauter score (featuring some glorious Stan Getz improvisations) is one of the best of the sixties, and Penn's film also features some of the most striking photography of the period thanks to Ghislain Cloquet, a cinematographer who would shoot Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar just a year later! Penn’s film also features the exquisite Donna Michelle, a former Playmate, who shows herself here as one of the most charismatic and lovely actresses of the sixties as “the girl” who haunts Beatty. It’s a shame more people didn’t see Mickey One at the time as the late Michelle should have been given more opportunities than she got in the years following its release.
I highly recommend Mickey One to anyone who doesn’t have it in their collection. It’s a thrilling film in love with cinema and the Columbia Classics disc serves it well.


Tony Dayoub said...

Two things:

1) Columbia Classics just sent me a review copy of this so I'm very excited to see it after reading your review. They have quite a few releases under their MOD label which I think could have sold well as a regular release. One of those which I doubt might be that successful but should be of interest to cinephiles is Nicholas Ray's HOT BLOOD.

2) MICKEY ONE is one of the only films the glorious crank Harlan Ellison unabashedly praises in his book collecting his film criticism, Watching.

Jeremy Richey said...

I hope you enjoy it Tony. It's one of those films that seems to divide folks but I love it.

Ned Merrill said...

Nice that Columbia finally got this one out, albeit as an MOD disc. I've had the good fortune of seeing projected on 35mm and will get to this DVD eventually.

Interestingly, this was released on laserdisc by Columbia / TriStar in the '90s, but not on videocassette. The same thing happened with THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK, which was released by Fox on laserdisc in the '90s, but not videocassette. The only VHS of the latter came via Magnetic Video at the very beginning of the format.

b walters said...

Bizarre but very interesting film that everyone should check out. Some great shots of Chicago, great soundtrack and Jan Marsh also plays the part of a dancer in this flick. If you like "Mickey One", I think you may also like an unknown b&w film called "Mister Buddwing", which looks like a B film but stars James Garner.