History of the World According to the Movies: Part 83 – 1960s Europe

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The 1964 Hard Day’s Night is a fun film that helps illustrate what it was like being one of the Beatles with such moments like screaming fan girls as well as the scene with Ringo’s fan mail and people mistaking George for an imposter being played up for laughs. There are also plenty of good music scenes as well as Paul’s grandfather being a conniving old man (though that was made up). Still, unlike what is seen in the film, it hides some of uglier things such as their relationships with their women, John’s family, Ringo’s alcoholism, the treatment of Paul’s mother as if she was still alive, as well as the stress from having to play in front of crowds of screaming girls which led to them quitting touring altogether, especially for George Harrison (who’d rarely tour as a solo artist). Not to mention, George would meet his wife Pattie Boyd in this film that would lead to one of the most famous love triangles in rock history which would end with her leaving him for Eric Clapton. Then there’s the smoking and the jokes about murdering John Lennon, which are kind of disturbing as fans would know what happened to John and George.

Europe was also undergoing an upheaval in the 1960s. With the Cold War raging in the east, Western Europe had its own set of demonstrations as well as innovations in the foreign film market and fashion. In Britain, you had the British Invasion with the Beatles and other artists like The Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, the Spencer Davis Group, and others. There was also a scandal that erupted in Britain over a bunch of men lusting after a showgirl with Cold War implications. Still, the miniskirt would be invented there. In the Vatican you had Vatican II which helped modernize the Catholic Church and had Mass said in the vernacular for the first time (though people like Mel Gibson may sort of object). Nevertheless, decolonization sort of progresses over this decade as other European entities lose their colonial empires and France would nearly have a revolution in 1968 but not without West Germany having major protests as well. Yet, this would be the decade when the Berlin wall would be erected. Social unrest would also embark in Italy and would continue into the 1970s and Czechoslovakia would be thwarted from staging a Velvet Revolution in 1968. Perhaps there’s a reason why the 1960s is seen as a more American decade except in James Bond films. Nevertheless, what movies are made pertaining to Europe at this time do contain their share of inaccuracies which I shall list.

Monaco:

Alfred Hitchcock tried to persuade Princess Grace to do Marnie in 1961. (I don’t think this happened contrary to Grace of Monaco. Still, the movie was inaccurate enough for Monaco’s Prince Albert to denounce it.)

Prince Rainier and Princess Grace had a happy marriage. (Contrary to Grace of Monaco would want you to believe, the marriage wasn’t a success though they’d have three kids together. Rainier and Grace spent a great deal of time part and she’d eventually move into an apartment in Paris alone. Later in her life, she no longer dreamed of becoming a princess but would fantasized about being a bag lady instead.)

Princess Antoinette tried to take the throne from her brother Rainier in 1962. (She tried to do this in 1950 unlike what Grace of Monaco shows.)

President Charles De Gaulle and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara appeared at one of Princess Grace’s Red Cross Ball in mid-October of 1962. (Contrary to Grace of Monaco, De Gaulle didn’t attend. As with Robert McNamara, well, he was quite busy in Washington at the moment trying to avert a possible global apocalypse threatened by the Global Missile Crisis. There’s no way in hell Kennedy and McNamara or anyone else in the White House would’ve been concerned with a mere charity ball in Monaco since they were trying to prevent a nuclear holocaust or WWIII.)

Great Britain:

Rock music was banned in Britain during the 1960s. (Sorry, Pirate Radio {or The Boat That Rocked}, but the 1960s was the decade of the British Invasion when British rock music reigned. Yet, many pirate radio stations did play rock music. However, it had more to do with the fact that the BBC had a monopoly on the airwaves and just didn’t play much of it {and if it did it was at a dead hour}. By 1967, the BBC set up Radio 1 which did the same things that the pirate radio stations did except legal and better as well as attracted some of the most popular pirate radio DJs. A few weeks before then, Parliament passed the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act which pretty much killed pirate radio {in which arrested those supplying pirate radio stations as well as arrested the crews once onshore}. Yet, don’t worry about the fate of Radio Caroline, it still broadcasts to this day as a legally based station and sometimes they climb back in the old boats for special events.)

Radio Caroline presenters were in their thirties and forties. (Maybe nowadays but in the 1960s, they were their mid to late twenties. I’m sure the main character in Pirate Radio wouldn’t be able to find his dad on that boat, unless his mother was knocked up by a teenager.)

Prime Minister Harold Macmillan attended JFK’s funeral. (He had been replaced by this point and didn’t attend.)

The British Invasion:

Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual” was a popular song in 1964. (It was released in 1965.)

David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” was a hit in 1968. (It was released in 1969.)

Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son” was a hit in 1967. (It was released in 1970. Yet, Cat Stevens’ early success was partly due to pirate radio as well as recording with Jimi Hendrix and Englebert Humperdinck.)

David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” was a hit in 1967. (It was released in 1983.)

Edgar Elgar:

Edgar Elgar’s Third Symphony was performed in 1961. (It was unfinished when Elgar died an wasn’t played by anyone until 1998.)
Edgar Elgar was anti-Semitic. (Contrary to An Education, Elgar was anything but and was actually dismayed by Hitler’s anti-Semitic policies in Germany during the 1930s.)

The Christine Keeler Scandal:

British secretary of state for war John Profumo had a weird hairdo. (Contrary to his Ian McKellen portrayal in the 1988 Scandal, Profumo had a wispy receding hairline. Though it’s said that McKellen did a fine performance, his follicles were too strong that he ended up with a pale stubbly front and a topknot like a Japanese warrior.)

John Profumo made his address about Christine Keeler in 1962. (He actually made it a year later. But yes, he lied.)

The Christine Keeler scandal wasn’t a big political deal. (Contrary to Scandal, Christine Keeler was sleeping with a prominent member of Parliament, as well as two alleged spies {one who may have been working for the Soviets}. She was making the hanky-panky rounds during the time of the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Berlin Crisis, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, about the height of the Cold War. Dr. Ward’s patients allegedly included people like American Ambassador Averell Harriman, Soviet spy Anthony Blunt, and MI5 director Roger Hollis. Keeler would say, “Can you imagine how unnerving it was for me, listening to all the talk about Moscow and Washington and nuclear bombs? Being at the center of it? … The network operated, often literally, through Stephen’s hands.”)

British osteopath Stephen Ward was a loveable pervert in his relationship with showgirl Christine Keeler. (Contrary to Scandal, the real Christine Keeler wrote, “I loved him, but we were never lovers.” She goes on, “He would have killed me as easily as light my cigarette. He stitched me up, stitch after very neat stitch. He was bad and ruthless.” Not to mention, Ward’s role in their affair remains controversial, especially in the precise degree of his involvement in MI5 or to the extent that their affair was a fit-up.)

The Beatles:

Paul McCartney’s mother was still alive in 1964. (Contrary to A Hard Day’s Night, she died of cancer when he was 13. Then again, he could’ve meant his stepmom but I doubt it.)

John Lennon’s mother was still alive in 1964. (She died when John was seventeen in a car accident. Then again, the managers may have meant Aunt Mimi in A Hard Day’s Night who was more of a mother to John than anyone.)

Peter Sellers:

Peter Sellers’ mother kept his father’s impending death a secret, but Peter found out just in time to see his old man before he expires. (Contrary to The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, Sellers was quite aware of his dad’s terminal illness but he wasn’t with his old man when he croaked. Rather, he was at Judy Garland concert and regretted going when he found out what happened.)

Peter Sellers got out of playing a fourth role in Dr. Strangelove by arriving on the set with a leg in a cast and crutches at the suggestion of his son. (He actually got out of the role by playing up his ankle injury he sustained on the set when he fell out of a prop cockpit.)

Peter Sellers wasn’t as great a performer as many people said he was yet he somehow managed to get audiences to react with glee on his films. (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers does a horrible job when it pertains to why he was loved so much {and still is} and when he does anything on the set in his movies, he’s not seen doing anything funny in them. It gives the impression that the filmmakers thought most viewers would be familiar with Sellers’ work beforehand and would fill in the blanks. The reason why Peter Sellers was known as a great comic actor was his unique three-dimensional performances that continue to remain the envy of many. He was an excellent impersonator capable of a wide variety of accents and gifted in taking on multiple roles, giving each character a distinct personality. Sometimes he would even lose himself in these characters. Not to mention, there is nobody who could play Inspector Clouseau better than him which is why every Pink Panther movie without him sucks and will always suck {even those remakes with Steve Martin}. Hell, this guy was a three time Academy Award nominee.)

Peter Sellers took Britt Ekland to see Dr. Strangelove when they first started dating. (It was The Pink Panther. Still, they married ten days after meeting each other in 1964 {in which he proposed to her over the phone and not like he did in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers} and would suffer eight heart attacks over the course of three hours a few months later, which left him clinically dead for 2 ½ minutes {yes, he survived that but was never the same}.)

Peter Sellers was an unlikeable person. (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers only shows you what he was like in his private life, which pretty much sums up that he was an asshole and hell to work with, especially if you were Sophia Loren who Sellers was infatuated with {and claimed to have slept with, which she adamantly denied [and certainly wasn’t lying since she was in a happy and monogamous marriage with Carlo De Ponti for decades]}. Still, at least he ended up wrecking his marriage over it and not hers. Nevertheless, he could come off as quite charming and quite fun on a good day. Hell, he was married four times and managed to get hitched to one of his wives in ten days.)

Miscellaneous:

Quartz watches were worn in 1968. (The first commercial quartz wristwatch was available in 1969.)

All weather radial tires existed in the 1960s. (They weren’t available until the 1990s.)

Liquid paper was widely available in 1963. (By this time it was just being sold out of Mrs. Nesmith’s house {that’s Mike Nesmith’s mother from the Monkees if you know what I mean}. Before then, people used typewriter erasers and brushes to get rid of ink mistakes.)

Jacuzzis were around in 1960. (They weren’t invented until 1968.)

The correct height of Mount Everest was known by 1962. (Not before GPS technology it wasn’t, which didn’t exist in the 1960s.)

Reruns were played late at night during the 1960s. (Actually reruns don’t exist yet.)

737 jets flew in 1964. (They weren’t used in service until 1968.)

Pope Pius XII died in 1963. (He died in 1958. John XXIII died in 1963 though but Sister Aloysius didn’t seem to notice the guy’s existence and this pope has recently been made a saint.)

French President Charles De Gaulle tried to blockade Monaco to force it to pay taxes in 1962. (This did happen but unlike what Grace of Monaco implies, this wasn’t a proud Monegasque struggle for freedom and democracy. Instead it was more among the right of the super-rich to sequester their obscene wealth in a ridiculous Ruritanian principality. For God’s sake, they don’t even pay taxes there. It’s like a little European Ayn Rand paradise there.)

French President Charles De Gaulle tried to conquer Monaco since Princess Grace wanted to be in a Hitchcock film. Yet Grace helped end the war by throwing a party. (Contrary to what Grace of Monaco implies, none of these things happened at all.)

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