1964: The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy)
Every line of dialogue in Demys colourful musical is sung (not in the rain), with the tunes firmly in the minor key. The melancholic meditation on loss sees Catherine Deneuve as a young umbrella seller, left pregnant by Nino Castelnuovo when hes drafted for the Algerian War. Although the actors singing voices were dubbed, its still considered up there with Deneuves best performances. Demys acceptance speech was presumably not dubbed. Or sung. (The years between 1964 and 1975 saw the Palme dOr temporarily reverting back to its pre-1955 name of Grand Prix International du Festival.)
1965: The Knack ...And How To Get It (Richard Lester)
Representing Brits abroad, Lester scooped the main prize with this might sound a bit strange a sex comedy led by Michael Crawford as someone not too far away from Frank Spencer. The resultant love triangle satirises the rise of mods and rockers in London: Crawford is a repressed school teacher, jealous of his male roommates promiscuity and quietly in love with their female roommate. Its certainly of its time not just in setting, but with a controversial plot point that would cause a Twitter storm if released today.
1966: A Man And A Woman (Claude Lelouch), The Birds, The Bees And The Italians (Pietro Germi)
Despite the similarly structured titles, the years two winners arent connected. Lelouchs French entry is an experimental love story, switching its camera techniques to evoke the emotions between its central couple Anouk Aime and Jean-Louis Trintignant as widowers who meet at their respective childrens boarding school. In contrast, Germi delivered an Italian sex comedy split into three parts, one of which concerned a husband who marries his mistress, much to the envy of the locals.
1967: Blowup (Michelangelo Antonioni)
With a move to English-language features, Antonioni didnt drop the existential weight of LAvventura and La Notte. All that changed was the setting: a Swinging London thats not quite so swinging. David Hemmings almost breaks his back as a fashion photographer, before accidentally stumbling across a murder mystery although hes more preoccupied with the citys music (and mime) scene and questioning the meaning of life, than playing detective.
1969: If... (Lindsay Anderson)
Cannes top trophy skipped 1968, due to the May Riots, but made a comeback with brutal pizzazz for Andersons British public school horror scary enough that Malcolm McDowells isnt the scariest character. Laced with evocative fantasies of student rebellion, sometimes switching to black-and-white, If... sees bitter pupils in an escalating war with teachers who can no longer hide behind threats of detention.
1970: M*A*S*H (Robert Altman)
Inspiring the long-running sitcom of the same name, M*A*S*H is a notable example of Altmans gift for combining comedy, tension and overlapping dialogue. Set in the Korean War, Donald Sutherland (who was Hawkeye long before Jeremy Renner) and Elliott Gould are wisecracking surgeons dealing with dying patients and troublesome colleagues; its only with laughter that their days are manageable.
1971: The Go-Between (Joseph Losey)
Another British winner this one adapted by Harold Pinter from an LP Hartley novel featured a forbidden love story and the young boy caught in a web of handwritten memories. Dominic Guard is the youngster, staying at his friends country house, whos asked by Julie Christie (his friends upper class, engaged sister) to pass on secret romantic messages to Alan Bates (a farmer whos not her fianc). Its a case of: please dont shoot (or emotionally torment) the go-between.
1972: The Working Class Goes To Heaven (Elio Petri), The Mattei Affair (Francesco Rosi)
Italian cinema scored a double winner, making it easier for Petri and Rosi to divide up custody over the trophy. Or perhaps the award was just kept by Gian Maria Volont, who starred in both films as men figuring out their place in the working world. For Rosi, hes Enrico, an oil man fighting for his business after World War 2. For Petri, hes Lul, a factory drone left with nine fingers after an accident; once removed from his post, he battles with trade unionists to be reinstated.
1973: The Hireling (Alan Bridges), Scarecrow (Jerry Schatzberg)
Another double winner, another connection: theyre both driven by cars. In one lane, The Hireling is a class-led drama (its British) featuring Robert Shaw as a chauffeur falling in love with his wealthy boss, played by Sarah Miles. Its more of a bromance in Scarecrow, detailing the escapades of Al Pacino and Gene Hackman as getaway convicts with their own separate journeys in life they just so happen to be sharing a vehicle along the way.
1974: The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola)
Coppola had quite the year with both The Godfather Part II and The Conversation competing for awards. It was the latter, however, that wowed Cannes with Gene Hackman as the saxophone-wielding surveillance expert with a poor work/life balance namely, how hes stripped his home of everyday objects like phones to maintain his privacy. His paranoia takes over when his job leads him to suspect a murder is about to take place. Should he intervene or just stay at home playing his sax?