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Let's change the subject from today to 1962. Looking at a list of films released here that year, it's striking how much the international art film was penetrating American popular culture, taking its place alongside Hollywood's more familiar output. Were you aware of this trend at that time?
I didn't realize it [then], I was a child. I realize it in retrospect. In point of fact, I came to this realization, I discovered 1962, just through my regular passion as a film buff, a term I don't like to use. But I started out as a film buff, as many do. And like a lot of film buffs, in idle time I make lists just to construct and to jog my memory. And in making lists of certain years, I realized the list of 1962 was growing. And growing and growing and growing.
And also I had a book that collated all the awards from the National Society of Film Critics, the National Board of Review, the Academy Awards, the New York Times ten best, the Time magazine ten best. And I perused the list and I discovered in those list that there were a lot of fascinating films in 1962. These lists didn't necessarily overlap, either. I thought that the films that were released just in America in 1962 were an amazing assortment of great films. So I discovered it almost by accident, but not by accident. I discovered it through a form of film criticism scholarship. I would call it that, rather than buff.
Since you were only a child at the time, are there any films from that year that were particularly memorable for you, and are any of those films in the series?
In my memory, a movie like Lawrence of Arabia loomed large. And although I didn't see Lawrence of Arabia until years later, it was still a fascinating thing to me. There was this idea of it that existed in the culture. Back in those days, you would rarely see a film clip on television, and the clips from Lawrence were always amazing. I remember my sister went to see it and she brought back the souvenir program, and that was a fascinating object for me.
Yes, Dr. No was the biggest grossing film of 1962. It is not, however, included in the series? Are you not a Bond fan?
Oh, great Bond fan. But as you know from the list of 1962 films, there are so many great films we couldn't possibly show even half of them. And given the realities of budgets and the practicalities of what prints are available, we had to select from that list of great films. [BAM curator] Jake Perlin did a great job of hunting down prints and finding what movies were available. I thank him. But not every movie we wanted was available. But Jake and I also wanted to have a selection of films that would be varied, but also more importantly that were great films, whether they were art films or pop films.