It’s time for yet another edifying plunge into the depths of Netflix Watch Instantly, and this time out, the Netflix Streaming Safari is taking another view of the Sixties. Yes, yes – hippies, flower power, ban the bomb, Mad Men, etc. But there’s more to it than that, and so we’re digging deep and devoting this installment of Netflix Streaming Safari to…The Sixties!
Patterns (1956) – it’s not an official part of the 60′s, but if you want to see what the kids were rebelling against, you’ve got to see this movie. To Rod Serling, its writer, this was just another script, one of dozens he’d had broadcast live. He even slept through the first broadcast. But this live televised play blew up big and made Serling a star of early TV. It was rebroadcast in a second live performance and then, in 1956, turned into a movie. All coiled rage, whiskey sweats, intercoms, secretary pools, and men making Important Speeches, this is like Mad Men except no one is enamored of slick suits, they’re simply wearing them. Without the success of Patterns there would be no Twilight Zone, but it’s got more than just historical value. It’s a nice, greasy slice of the grimy, messy, melodramatic, black-hearted corporate culture of mid-century America. (watch it!)
Ladybug, Ladybug (1963) – from the man who would go on to direct Mommie Dearest comes this understated, subtle, devastating Cold War nuclear nightmare movie. Way out at a rural elementary school, the civil defense buzzer won’t stop buzzing. The code it’s giving? Nuclear launch. The principle can’t reach anyone because the phone lines are down, and so he and his teachers have to figure that the alert is real, total thermonuclear war has started, and they are all about to die. First order of business: walking the kids home. There are two insanely preachy moments, but those are the only two missteps in this film, and they’re brief. The kids are shockingly gifted, natural actors who put it all on the line, and there’s a matter-of-fact style to the filmmaking that can be chilling (including a simple shot of a refrigerator door that is devastating). If you grew up, like I did, thinking that at any minute we could all die in a nuclear war, you won’t find a better movie to reawaken those childhood fears. (watch it!)
The Happy Ending (1969) – enough seriousness. Are you ready for some trash! This is like Valley of the Dolls only about not-so-famous people. Full of housewives popping Miltowns and hiding vodka in their perfume atomizers, emotionally distant husbands, and an ending that equates getting sober, getting your life together, and rejecting your husband and children as all being essential parts of your happiness, it also features some truly amazing monologues, like this one from Shirley Jones of The Partridge Family. Full of more fabulous faux-feelings than you can shake a Bloody Mary at, this is a movie about women who don’t need a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey because their lives are already extreme S&M scenes. (watch it!)