This is one of those films that’s often imitated but never duplicated (even with the ill-conceived 1990 sequel). It was directed by Roman Polanksi, who at the time was one of Hollywood’s hottest up and coming directors; was written by Robert Towne, who at the time was mostly known for some uncredited work on Bonnie & Clyde and The Godfather; and stared two of the most acclaimed young actors of their generation: Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, but only Robert Towne walked away a winner for his screenplay. It lost Best Picture to The Godfather Part II which is, perhaps, the most acclaimed sequel of all time.
I know there is at least one book on this subject and I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but thanks to TCM showing several movies from that year, I have to agree completely. What I mean by Cinema, is Hollywood and American Cinema, because a lot of how it changed was based on things French New Wave directors had already been doing for almost ten years.
One way to see this change is by looking at the five films that were nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars that year. Four of the films are harbingers of the new Hollywood. One is old guard and because of that in addition I want to talk about another film that, although nominated for four Oscars, was not up for Best Picture.
The five films up for Best Picture were Bonnie & Clyde, Doctor Dolittle, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and In The Heat of the Night. The film sixth film I’m going to discuss is In Cold Blood.