1953-1968 (From Elementary School to Senior Year in High School)
I remember the first movies I had seen as a child was when I was around 6 or 7 years old. We were living in Ankara, my father was a Major in the Turkish Navy. There was a School of Police and Gendarmerie (Polis ve Jandarma okulu) close to our home, which brought new American movies to show in their movie theater. These movies were not shown in regular theaters yet, but we had the privilege of watching them because of my father’s position in the Navy. I still remember the life size wax sculptures in the hall of the cinema representing policemen and security forces, all the way from the Ottoman era to the modern Turkish Republic. Some of these movies are still in my memory today : The life of the great tenor Mario Lanza, Trapeze, starring Burt Lancester, Tony Curtis and Gina Lollobrigida, The Great Houdini, whose story I tell my grandchildren today, the adventures of Captain Nemo played by James Mason and the Master Harpooner Ned Land played by Kirk Douglas in the Disney Classic of 1954 : 20000 Leagues Under The Sea. Some 20 years later, after I had seen the movie based on Jules Verne’s classic, I was able to board the replica of the submarine Nautilus in Disney World in Orlando Florida as a young man..
Picnic and Awara
Picnic was a popular movie of life in a small town America starring young Kim Kovak and her older companion William Holden, and Awara an Indian movie starring Raj Kapoor with the popular song Awaramu.
James Dean and his only 3 Movies: Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden and Giant
James Dean was the idol of the young generation during 1950ies and decades to come. His red sports jacket with the white undershirt and the cigarette on the left side of his lips in the Rebel was often imitated by young men, while his handsome looks was stealing the hearts of young girls. When I got to know him in his movies, he had already died in a car crash in Indiana while working on his third movie, The Giant, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson. But undoubtedly the fame came to him with his first movie Rebel Without a Cause, where he had co- starred with Natalie Wood.
Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis in The Vikings and Spartacus
Two movies which had a great impact on me as a young boy were The Vikings and Spartacus. ln The Vikings Kirk Douglas was starting with Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. I still remember the last sword fight scene between them and the funeral at the end in the burning Viking ship. In Spartacus again Kirk Douglas was the main character, but this time Tony Curtis was sharing the co-star position with Jean Simmons, British theater heavyweights like Laurence Olivier, Peter Laughton and Peter Ustinov.
Brigitte Bardot in "And God Created Woman", Michelle Mercier in "Angelique" episodes
2 FRENCH MOVIES : AND GOD CREATED WOMAN AND ANGELIQUE
These 2 films were in today's standards R rated movies, but tasteful and leaving a lot to imagination, unlike the movies of today. Brigitte Bardot was, and still is the undisputed sex symbol of all times,which she prooved in And God Created Woman, while Michelle Mercier, the most beautiful woman according to many, starred in a series of Angelique films displaying her sexappeal.
Two horror films of Alfred Hitchcock from early 1960ies: Psycho and the Birds
Lot of people who watched theses films in their youth are still scared of going into the shower tub and when they see black crows flying in groups.
The Best Comedy Pair in Movies of All Times: Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin
Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were the kings of comedy in Hollywood and had teamed up for over a dozen of films. Since at that time there were no children’s movies per se, except cartoons, these were children as well as adults favorites. I don't remember the names of the films since they were dubbed and shown with different names in Turkey, but I still remember laughing hard and looking forward to their upcoming features.
Cowboys and Indians and the Greatest Cowboys of all times: Gary Cooper and John Wayne
COWBOYS AND INDIANS AND THE GREATEST COWBOYS OF ALL TIMES GARY COOPER AND JOHN WAYNE
Undoubtedly the films we liked most as kids were the Cowboy movies. In those days cowboys represented the good and always won against the Indians. We imitated cowboys in our games with pistols made from wood and painted feathers on top of our heads, usually from the chicken coop in the backyard. Gary Cooper was the hero of my mothers youth, but for me the biggest cowboy was the Duke: John Wayne.
Two Istanbul Films 1963-64: From Russia with Love and Topkapi
“From Russia with Love” was the second of Ian Flemmings famous thrillerJames Bond Series, played by Sean Connery, considered by this writer the best James Bond of all 007 episodes. Just like” From Russia with Love'' , “Topkapi” was taking place in historical sites of Istanbul, namely in the famous Topkapi Palace of the Ottoman Sultans. The movie starred three heavyweights of the cinema Melina Mercouri, Peter Ustinov and Maximillian Schell.
Two Musicals from 1964/1965: Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Sound of Music
Umbrellas of Cherbourg was a French romantic drama which had a great impact on me. The film's dialogue was entirely sung as recitative including casual conversation, and was sung like some operas and stage musicals. Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuavo were starring as two young lovers in the French city of Cherbourg , separated by circumstance. Music and lyrics were composed by Michel Legrand.
Sound of Music was also a musical drama, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer The film is about a young Austrian postulant in Salzburg, Austria in 1938, who is sent to the villa of a retired naval officer and widower to be governess to his seven children. The beautiful music was composed by Richard Rodgers and songs sung by Julie Andrews. The Emek Cinema in the Beyoglu District of Istanbul was the first theater to bring the new invention of the stereo system to its facility and this along with “West Side Story” were the first movies I had enjoyed listening to in the amazing stereo sound.
Three Classics of the Turkish Cinema 1962-1964: Ağaçlar Ayakta Ölür(Trees Die Standing),Susuz Yaz (Dry Summer) and Yılanların Öcü(Revenge of the Snakes)
The 1964 film :Ağaçlar Ayakta Ölür(Trees Die Standing) is one of the Turkish Movie Classics adapted from Spanish writer Alejandro Casano’s 1949 theater play Los árboles mueren de pie. The leading roles are played by Yıldız Kenter( Grandmother), Hulusi Kentmen (Grandfather) and Izzet Günay(Grandson) and Semra San (Grandson’s lover). What made a lasting impact on me from the movie was not only the performance of Yildiz Kenter and Izzet Gunay, who both had won the best leading and supporting actor and actress awards at the 1964 Antalya Golden Orange Festival, but also the theme music which I have not forgotten to this day. The music was arranged by Fecri Ebcioglu, composer, singer and lyrics writer. Years later I have researched and found out that the music I never forgot was adapted from Georges Bizet’s Opera of 1859 Don Procopio, performed by Frank Chackfields Orchestra. The film is also interesting for viewers who love to see nostalgic Istanbul scenes, mainly from Uskudar like Salacak and the Maiden Tower from the past.
Susuz Yaz (Dry Summer) is a black an white 1964 Turkısh film directed by Metin Erksan based on a novel by Necati Cumali. Taking place in a village, a scheming tobacco farmer (Erol Taş) sets out to ruin his neighboring farmers by diverting the local water to a dam on his own property. He also tries to violate his sister-in-law (Hülya Koçyğit) while her husband (Ulvi Doğan) is away. The film introduced Turkısh Cinema to the global markets and won the Golden Bear award at the 14th Berlin International Film Festival and the Biennale Award at the 25th Venice Film Festival. I was in High School when I first saw the film. When our literature teacher assigned us homework with a free subject to be written in German, I had written the story of Susuz Yaz. I still remember to this day how I had told the story and especially how I had described the Ağa (landlord), something to the extend like “ A guy who has legally no authority over the people, but who by fear and force suppresses people” had gotten lot of praise from Herr Hanser, who had read the story to our class. And that was before the Berlin Film Festival
Yılanların Öcü (Revenge of the Snakes) is a 1962 Turkish film also directed by Metin Erksan and also based on a novel by Fakir Baykurt. It is almost an early version of Susuz Yaz since the writer and director were dealing with similar subjects in similar settings. The film covered issues of an unwanted pregnancy in a small farming village and addressed numerous moral and social issues. Fikret Hakan and Nurhan Nur were starring in the film while Aliye Rona, Erol Taş and Kadir Savun were the co-stars.