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UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Hugh M. Hefner Classic American Film Program present

Cinema ’62: War Hunt / Ride the High Country

Two military men in a trench.
January 27, 2023 - 7:30 pm
book signing and Q&A with Stephen Farber, Michael McClellan, authors, Cinema ’62: The Greatest Year at the Movies.

Admission is free. No advance reservations. Free tickets must be obtained on a first come, first served basis at the box office, where seating will be assigned.

What makes a good year at the movies? Is it all about the numbers? The annual box office or simply the quantity of notable films? Or is it something more intangible? Something generated in the air, week-to-week with each crop of new releases, that signifies something larger about the cinema, the culture and where we all might be headed? For film critic Stephen Farber and veteran exhibitor Michael McClellan it’s that latter confluence of quality and import where one should start looking for the movies’ best years, and in their new critical history they make the case that on those terms one year stands way out among all others. In Cinema ’62: The Greatest Year at the Movies, Farber and McClellan make a deeply researched, well-argued and wonderfully written case that the 12 months that saw the American screen debuts of Lolita, The Manchurian Candidate, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, Gypsy, Yojimbo, Shoot the Piano Player and Lawrence of Arabia, among many others, represent a watershed moment in the history of cinema that bears deeper exploration. More than just an unusually high accumulation of outstanding films, 1962 saw “an explosion of provocative cinema” from both masters and newcomers that transformed the art forever. Join us for an equally provocative evening of cinema and conversation with Farber and McClellan in person at the Billy Wilder Theater as part of a special 1962 double bill. Come early for a book signing in the Wilder lobby before the show!

War Hunt

U.S., 1962

Brothers and UCLA film school graduates, director Denis Sanders and producer Terry Sanders made their second feature as part of a new United Artists initiative to back low budget “idea films.” In War Hunt, they explore the moral conflict between two soldiers, a new recruit (Robert Redford, in his big screen debut) and a grizzled veteran (John Saxon), as they navigate the closing days of the Korean War. A precursor of the anti-war, anti-establishment sentiments that would soon rock American culture, the New York Times declared it, “one of the most original and haunting war movies in years.”

35mm, b&w, 83 min. Director: Denis Sanders. Screenwriter: Stanford Whitmore. With: John Saxon, Robert Redford, Sydney Pollack.

Ride the High Country

U.S., 1962

In a year of filmmakers (Stanley Kubrick, Lolita; John Frankenheimer, The Manchurian Candidate) who embraced “unmistakably tragic stories presented without compromise,” director Sam Peckinpah’s dark, modern take on the Western stands out. In Ride the High Country, an already fraught job grows more complicated when a farmer’s daughter (Mariette Hartley) joins a pair of aging ex-lawmen (Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea) tasked with protecting a gold delivery. A volatile mix of frank themes, the film baffled MGM executives who buried its release, leaving it to critics to champion the emergence of a new voice that would go on to transform the genre entirely.

35mm, color, 94 min. Director: Sam Peckinpah. Screenwriter: N.B. Stone Jr. With: Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, Mariette Hartley.

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