TV & Movie Appreciation Forum
1970's Cinema
1970's Cinema
by Mike Cohen on Dec 4, 2013 at 3:32:43 pm

Although I did not catch any classic 70's films IN the 70's, I have come to love the style and artistry of this genre. Here are some of my faves (same goes for music):

Friends of Eddie Coyle

I had not heard about this movie until Anthony Bourdain's "The Layover" Boston episode. The film takes its time, uses long takes and is mostly dialogue with a few actiony sequences. Filmed in and around early 70's Boston, including a few locations I frequented as a kid. Modern viewers will note some similarities to The Town - presumably Affleck was paying homage.

Dirty Harry

Having seen this in various VHS-era forms, a year or so ago I caught this in full HD Cinemascope on AMC and rediscovered this movie. I have since purchased the complete Dirty Harry collection on DVD and this is my redeye flight entertainment. The opening sequence in downtown San Francisco is movie gold.

The French Connection

This has to be on this list. Great acting and direction and one of the all time great car chases.

The Spy Who Loved Me

There were several 70's Bond movies. I like this one the best.
Spectacular set pieces. JAWS. Submarine Car. Need I say more?


Mike Cohen

Re: 1970's Cinema
by Tim Wilson on Dec 4, 2013 at 6:36:08 pm

First up, you MUST READ Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood. The author points to 67's Bonnie & Clyde and 69's Easy Riders as the foundations, but it's otherwise a breathtaking account of the golden age of 70s indie-spirited moviemaking.

(Note that he includes both Jaws and Star Wars in the book - not cut from the same cloth as your list, Mike, but very much built on an indie ethos -- very young directors, auteur visions, short track records, genres not expected to do much, etc.)

Frankly, anyone who enjoys watching movies OR reading good books should consider this book a must-have. Certainly the best book about movie MAKING I've ever read...and yes, focusing on this amazing stretch of time. You can get it from Amazon for $4 SHIPPED (hardcover copies for a penny, plus $3.99 shipping!!!)

Read it, read it, read it.

Okay, a speedy list of 70s movies, plus of course Bonnie & Clyde:

I'm also going to add Reds from 1981, because it strikes me as pretty much the end of this era of filmmaking.

Each of those is worthy of discussion, but let's throw in The Hustler (Paul Newman, 1961) and The Breakfast Club (1985), and you've got a handful of career highlights of editor Dede Allen.

In particular, her 70s movies in the (appropriately) bulleted list. She was THE go-to editor for gritty New York drama for directors like Sidney Lumet and of course Arthur Penn.

One of the coolest things I ever got to do in my gig as a product marketing weasel at Avid was give the speech for a lifetime achievement award that Dede Allen got. In the middle of my speech, I introduced Arthur Penn, who shared some stories from Bonnie & Clyde. I got to hang and chat with both of them, and they were both amazing, delightful people.

When a lot of people talk about the editing of Bonnie & Clyde, they talk about the gunfight in the last reel -- which is the one part of the movie she didn't edit! HER ASSISTANT EDITED IT.

So, for any of you offered assistant editor positions, remember that your work may go down as some of the greatest ever done. The job might also lead somewhere else, as it did for the assistant editor on Woodstock, Martin Scorsese.

Which brings me to my actual list.

Taxi Driver.

I've mentioned many times that this is on my desert island list, and that Travis Bickle is the character in movies that I most relate to. ASTOUNDING score by Bernard Herrmann - not just the best he did, but among the handful of best EVER. But also a compelling, harrowing view of some of the darkest days in what was, at the time, a city synonymous with dark days.

In fact, in general, a lot of the best movies in this era were set in New York, Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon among them.

Those are both from Sidney Lumet. Add his Network to the list, and I think you've got a superlative starting point.

Another nice list: John Cazale was the other lead in Dog Day Afternoon alongside Dustin Hoffman, the first two Godfathers, The Deerhunter and The Conversation! He died from cancer at age 42, but every movie he was in can be considered essential viewing.

If you haven't seen The Conversation, you're in for a treat. Not that hardly ANY of these movies is actually enjoyable LOL, but this one is a master class in the power of editing as THE storytelling tool. Audio post alone took a year, and was worth every second.

The greatest one-two punch of the era came from Peter Bogdanovich, whose Last Picture Show (hey Scott, THIS is a black and white movie) and What's Up Doc?, released right on top of each other, as different from each other as it's possible to be. (Back in the days when there weren't many features in release, and they were released slowly, Peter was the first director to have two movies playing in Times Square at the same time.)

The latter in particular features my favorite car chase of all time (set in San Francisco, includes a chinese dragon), and some of the funniest lines ever committed to celluloid. The film debut of Madeline Kahn!!!

It's also the first movie I saw more than once in a theater -- five times -- and the sheer joy I got from it is one of the reasons I got into this business. I couldn't believe my good fortune in having him as a guest on a TV show that I produced and shot (?!?), and got to tell him how much it meant to me. It meant a whole lot.

Madeline was also in Blazing Saddles, which sadly often gets dismissed as "just" a wacky comedy, but it's also a stomach-churning look at the realities of racism in practice.

M*A*S*H is another movie that gets overlooked these days, but at the time, was a really big deal, a stomach-churning look at the blackest humor coming out of war. The TV series is nothing like it (although Gary Burghoff was in both), and is very much worth watching as a mindwarp, but also the first GREAT movie (imo) from Robert Altman.

Not at all humorous, 1971's Johnny Got His Gun. The tagline on the poster was "The most shattering experience you'll ever live," and it's hard to argue. Joe is a WW I soldier who winds up losing all four limbs, and his ability to see or speak, and his sense of smell. He eventually communicates by banging his head on his pillow in morse code, and as bad as all that sounds, it ends even worse. Directed by Dalton Trumbo from his 1938 novel. You want anti-war? You got it, and so much more.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is another harrowing essential. I can't overstate how powerful this. Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay -- the first time anybody had run the table. I almost never hear this one brought up anymore, and it's a shame. Absolutely unforgettable. Still gives me nightmares.

To end on a lighter note, if you haven't seen Gene Wilder's 1971 Willy Wonka, you ain't seen nothin'. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory is crazy as all get-out, and while it earned back its money ($4 million, on a budget of $2.9 million -- both as paltry as they sound even now), Paramount didn't see any way to make money with it, so they just let their rights LAPSE! It's anything but dark, gritty or adult, but wow, a highlight of the era, any way you slice it. And hey, if you were a cult movie in the 70s, you were a cult movie by the highest of standards.

Great idea here, Mike.

Re: 1970's Cinema
by Mike Cohen on Dec 4, 2013 at 7:09:37 pm

I intentionally omitted Spielberg and Lucas films from my list because I can get a bit pigeon-holed with those guys.

But it's true, American Zoetrope was formed as a indie non-Hollywood filmmaking collective, very post-hippie Whole Earth Catalog-esque approach to making art outside of the "system".

American Graffiti, then, should be on this list because it was shot on a shoestring, made its money back in spades, and helped start this generation of films. Copolla, indeed, is on this list. Lucas shot SW using some of his documentary aesthetics - note the lack of elaborate dolly or crane shots which are considered staples of "cinema". There is a B+W documentary style cut of SW in the Lucasfilm vaults.

In the same breath we could mention Superman the Movie - basically it was a 70's drama starring Brando and Hackman that happened to feature a superhero, but Donner really nailed the cinema aspect that was not really repeated with the Reeve movies, though parts of the Snyder reboot certainly have some cinematic qualities.

So I am using the word "cinema" to denote a certain aesthetic that these films all share - it creates a more visceral feeling than the boilerplate studio movie. We've debated this before.

I should have been born in the 70's! Oh wait, I was.

Re: 1970's Cinema
by Mike Cohen on Dec 4, 2013 at 7:10:49 pm

let us not forget the best 70's movie of all:

Re: 1970's Cinema
by Kylee Peña on Dec 4, 2013 at 8:07:46 pm

[Tim Wilson] "So, for any of you offered assistant editor positions, remember that your work may go down as some of the greatest ever done."

That's a wise observation.

Mike, this is an interesting thread. I've always loved the aesthetic of 70s cinema, but I can't really place why. I've seen a lot of these movies and they're still among some of the best, and not just in a Citizen Kane-y kind of way where you respect it regardless of if you actually like it. These are actually bomb-ass films. I can't think of anything that compares to how One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest or Dirty Harry feels. It's like the films are more honest or raw and I don't necessarily mean story-wise.

So I will be paying close attention to this thread.

twitter: @kyl33t

Re: 1970's Cinema
by Tim Wilson on Dec 5, 2013 at 7:41:33 am

[Kylee Wall] " not just in a Citizen Kane-y kind of way where you respect it regardless of if you actually like it. These are actually bomb-ass films. "

Perfectly said.

And Mike, ha! Great movie. Great user name too!

Yeah, I hesitated to bring up Lucas, Spielberg and Coppola...but the fact is that a lot of their work SHOULD be recognized as indie, but isn't, and somebody who only knows their biggest commercial hits may have missed some great stuff.

For Lucas, the winner is his 1971 debut, THX 1138, which he co-wrote with Walter Murch, starring Robert Duvall and the great, underrated Donald Pleasance, score by Lalo Schifirin. (Look him, listen to his stuff. Greatest hit: TV theme for Mission: Impossible.)

We've talked about Spielberg's 1971 TV movie Duel, so compelling that it was released theatrically later. It's pretty crazy, and you can see why it launched his career.

His THEATRICAL debut is Sugarland Express, in which Goldie Hawn convinces her husband to escape from prison so that they can "kidnap" their baby, currently in foster care. The dad is played with sensitivity, and complete sympathy, by William Atherton, who later played some memorable a-holes, as the newscaster in Die Hard, and the bureaucratic lackey who tries to shut down the Ghostbusters. He combined these two sides of his range in the TV show Life, but I still feel warmly toward him every time I see him. A terrific, terrific movie with a great tagline: "Every cop in the state was after her. Everybody else was behind her."

This was also one of Goldie's first roles not playing a variation of ditzy, and writing about this now, I'm reminded how wonderful she really was, and her run as Hollywood's top female draw. I really, really miss her. Anyway, still one of my Spielberg faves.

It's hard to call The Conversation overlooked, but it's right behind Apocalypse Now as my favorite Coppola piece.

--- Hey, did you know Francis wrote Patton and The Great Gatsby? Check out his writing credits at IMDb. You'll be shocked.

If you know it at all, you know The Conversation as a fantastic Gene Hackman, sort of an amoral guy who sees an opportunity to do the right thing...but it isn't exactly the right thing after all. Harrison Ford as an utter creep, and Cindy Williams in her first feature since she worked with Ford in American Graffiti. This really is a masterpiece, definitely on a required viewing list for the 70s.

Gene had a phenomenal decade -- 3 major pictures EACH in 74 and 75 alone. Mike mentioned The French Connection, from 1971. I'll add The Hunting Party (great western: Kris Kristofferson, Karen Black, Harry Dean Stanton), Night Moves, A Bridge Too's a long freaking list.

Oh yeah, and The Poseidon Adventure (still the best disaster epic, imo, as a hip priest!) and Young Frankenstein! (Also with Madeline Kahn of course.)

A famous-er movie that you need to watch again is Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid...okay, 1969, but still, a VERY 70s picture. Absolutely flawless screenplay by William Goldman, regarded by his peers as maybe the only perfect screenplay of the era. Endlessly charismatic leads, playing entirely against type (then) -- they were originally slated to play the opposite roles, a revelation that really opens up the enjoyment of it...but seriously, watch and listen to Goldman's script.

He's another guy you can hardly go wrong with. Notably, screenplay for Marathon Man AND THE PRINCESS BRIDE...and get this, BOTH FROM HIS NOVELS....and All The President's Men...which if you haven't seen, AMAZING. One of the decade's absolute, tippity-toppity best, and imo, one of the best ever.

I just noticed that we've mentioned a ton of 1971 movies - Dirty Harry, French Connection, THX 1138, Duel, Willy Wonka, Last Picture Show. Here are some others.

Clockwork Orange was the #8 grosser that year!!! The top ten also included Fiddler On The Roof (still enthralling) and French Connection at 1 and 2, Dirty Harry at 4, Last Picture Show at 6, and at #10: Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. TRULY badass -- hardcore indie from Melvin Van Peebles, raising a bunch of questions about race and gender that still don't have satisfactory answers...even in the context of this one movie. Was it exposing stereotypes, or indulging them?

So, part of the craziness of this year (and this era) is that these fringe-y movies were dead center in the mainstream.

Just to give you an idea of how crazy 1971 was, at #9, right between Clockwork Orange and Sweet Sweetback: Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks!!!

Other 1971 faves that should wind up on your list:

The Barefoot Executive, starring my favorite movie star of the time, Kurt Russell! In which Kurt accidentally finds himself as a network programming chief...because his pet chimp is choosing the programs!

Classic Disney ensemble: Joe Flynn, Wally Cox, Harry Morgan, and the debut of John Ritter. I LOVE THIS MOVIE...even though it was kind of sucky even at the time. LOL Still worth finding if you're in that kind of mood.

Bananas, Woody Allen. I'm resisting the temptation to say "When he was still funny."

Play Misty For Me - Eastwood's other 1971 hit, his directoral debut. Fantastic score by Errol Garner and Dee Barton, a big deal since Clint is playing a disk jockey. One of the all-time great openings.

The Andromeda Strain - the first of the virus thrillers, notable for not being thrilling, in a good way. Plays at a verrry slow pace, which makes it kinda more dreadful as a result. Definitely a must.

McCabe & Mrs. Miller -- WAY underrated: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Robert Altman.

Willard - what? You don't know Willard? Bruce Davison as a loner who befriends a massive army of rats to kill his antagonists, notably Ernest Borgnine. Creepy as all get-out.

Shaft (nothing like its comical title track would lead you to believe) and Billy Jack (huge musical hit with "One Tin Soldier") are two singular accomplishments.

Shaft was a classic of what became known as blaxploitation (Sweet Sweetback is in there too), with a fantastic, iconic performance by Richard Roundtree, stellar direction from Gordon Parks, and Oscar-winning work from Isaac Hayes. (The soundtrack was in fact the first time that a black man released a double album full of his own compositions. It's also gorgeous, highly recommended.)

Billy Jack tied the image of an anti-war vet and native American rights in ways that were just coming together "in real life" at the time.

In a lot of ways, Billy Jack (as a character) is the antecedent for John Rambo (as a character) in First Blood (but not so much for Rambo). Even though it was started in 1967, 1971 was THE year for Vietnam Veterans Against The War (notably, throwing their medals on the steps of the Capital, and surrendering themselves to be tried as war criminals), and started to shift the image of returning vets from "babykillers" to boys who were the only actual domestic victims of the war.

It was also increasingly understood that the draft disproportionally affected minority youths, leading to groups like the Black Panthers to protest using language like "Free The Soldiers."

(I say "boys" and "youths" because the average age of a soldier killed in Vietnam was 19. NINETEEN.)

Dee Brown's Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee had also just come out in 1971, and Billy Jack's description as a "half-breed" Navajo resonated in ways that it wouldn't have before that.

Anyway, Billy Jack was a quiet picture. It was the sequel to the 1967 picture The Born Losers, this one directed and written by its star Tom Laughlin. When he couldn't get a distribution deal, he booked it into theaters himself! One screen at a time. Now THAT's fkking INDIE.

Yet another profoundly difficult movie to watch - racism, violence, repression -- but suffused with a nobility that's quite moving.

Klute - Jane Fonda took home an Oscar for this, plus Donald Sutherland and Roy Scheider. Not the equal of most on this list, but a signature piece of the time.

Walkabout. AND, if you're not familiar with the Australian New Wave, as powerful and distinctive a movement as ever was, this is a great place to start. Add The Last Wave, Picnic At Hanging Rock, and My Brilliant Career, and you've got a 70s taste treat. I'm crazy about all of those.

To wrap this VERY short list from 1971, just for grins, throw in Escape From The Planet of the Apes, because I was insane for these movies. One of the first things I did when I learned French in high school was read the original PotA novel in French. Don't bother. LOL

Last but not least, maybe my favorite from 1971, HAROLD & MAUDE. Holy cow, if you don't know this movie backwards and forwards, SEE IT.

One of the first movies to go all-in on a pop-music soundtrack in a movie not featuring the performers (FANTASTIC stuff from Cat Stevens), and an entirely unexpected twist on anti-war sentiment...WAIT! OR WAS IT? For a hilarious black comedy, quite nuanced, with career-defining performances for Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon, and a peak for Hal Asby.

Hal started as an editor, Oscar-nominated for The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (Alan Arkin - I loved this movie) and winning for In The Heat Of The Night. ("They call me MISTER TIBBS!" Day-yum.)

Harold & Maude was only his second picture as a director, but other of his 70s classics include The Last Detail (another great Nicholson picture), Coming Home (8 Oscar noms, 3 wins), Shampoo (wow, classic look at glamour, gossip and sleaze - VERY entertaining, with a cast that included Beatty, Julie Christie, Goldie, Lee Grant -- best supp. actress Oscar -- and a very young Carrie Fisher), and, to end the decade, 1979's Being There.

At the time, people were going nuts about that one. I find that it's a love it or leave it kinda deal. I didn't care for it, but you'll find it on many, many best-of lists.

[Kylee Wall] " not just in a Citizen Kane-y kind of way where you respect it regardless of if you actually like it. These are actually bomb-ass films. "

WOrth repeating, because it's so perfectly said, and because it's been a dog year since I included it in this post!

Hey, and not to sound like 1971 was the only, or even best year for movies in the 70s, check out 1975's top five:

Rocky Horror Picture Show (when including re-releases)
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Dog Day Afternoon

Yowza! Bomb-ass is right.

Re: 1970's Cinema
by Mike Cohen on Dec 5, 2013 at 11:03:46 am

$5 to Tim W for using the word "antecedent" in an internet post! So many internet boards are full of bad spelling, incorrect words and written laziness. A burgeoning epidemic in this age of tweets and IM. Talk amongst yourselves.

Re: 1970's Cinema
by Herb Sevush on Dec 6, 2013 at 4:50:12 pm

There is a strong case to make that the '70s was the greatest decade ever for American movies.

A couple of mentions, by director, of films that haven't been mentioned -

first of all we've skipped over Sam Peckinpah, and while Ride the High Country and The Wild Bunch were both made in the sixties we still have The Ballad of Cable Hogue - a surrealist western comedy ?? feturing Jason Robards and his battles with the all mighty - one of the most delightful movies never seen. Straw Dogs, with Dustin Hoffman and the most amazing final 20 minutes of action you will ever see. Pat Garret and Billy the Kid,"knockin on heavens door" and James Coburn + every great character actor of the era, The Getaway, Steve McQueen demonstrating why he is Steve McQueen and Peckinpah giving a lesson in the techniques of parallel cutting. Also, for those so inclined "Junnior Bonner", Steve McQueen in a gentle story about rodeo riders with the best scene stolen by Robert Preston as his father and Ida Lupino as his mother. And then there's "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia" which is a self-loathing love story about a decapitation that was obviously made by a director so deep in his cups that you can almost smell the alcohol oozing off the screen - incoherent, self referential, bizarre and my best friend loves it.

You mentioned one of Robert Altman's films but there are 3 more very good ones in this decade before he went off the deep end for a decade or so "The Long Good-Bye" a modernist ironical take on the Chandler classic, "California Split" about small time gamblers in LA with both Elliot Gould and George Segal actually giving good performances and "Nashville" the film Paulene Kael championed so heavily.

Martin Scorses's "Mean Streets" was a seminal film of the time, the first movie with a great rock and roll soundtrack, with De Niro's first great performance (if you don't count his stint as Shirlly Winters son in Bloody Moma) and introducing Harvey Keitel. "Alice doesn't live Here Any More", one of the first feminist movies, was Scorsese as a Hollywood director for hire and is where he first met Jodie Foster, the fruit of which was Taxi Driver. I cannot fail to mention "The Last Waltz" - simply the greatest rock performance film ever made. When I saw it I thought it would change this whole genre forever - how wrong I was, it was not the beginning of something new and great it was simply the high water mark from which you could see things recede - much like the sixties that it celebrated.

I have about another 20 films to go, featuring directors like Wilder, Allen, Schaffner, Aldrich ... but it's time to go back to work. I will continue this later.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf

Re: 1970's Cinema
by Herb Sevush on Dec 6, 2013 at 7:33:31 pm

Part II

The 70's were also the swan song of the great Billy Wilder. "Avanti" a farce set in Italy with Jack Lemon, is one of Wilder's best films, which makes it one of the greatest films ever - watch how the 3 minute opening is actually a perfect little silent film. Later that decade he made "Fedora" which is a strange and very bitter movie-about-the-movies. It is to "Sunset Boulevard" what "Two Rode Together" was to "The Searchers." It's not a very good movie but it is a very interesting one.

Woody Allen's funniest decade he made "Bananas" "Sleeper" "Love and Death" and then the movies that made him respectable, if not nearly as funny. Also the inconsistent but at times brilliant series of shorts "Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex".

Robert Aldrich, one of the best and least honored American filmmakers final decade starts with his western allegory about Vietnam "Ulzana's Raid" with Burt Lancaster who also starred in his overtly political thriller, also about Vietnam, "Twilight's last Gleaming" in which his fascination with split screen is given it's ultimate showcase. Speaking of split screen there's the original "The Longest Yard" which made Burt Reynolds a star. Much overlooked is "Emperor of the North" a great allegorical battle between the king of the hobos, Lee Marvin, and a brutal train engineer, Ernest Borgnine. And finally there is "The Frisco Kid" a western about a Rabbi (I kid you not)who meets a bank robber in the old west, with the very young Harrison Ford and the very wonderful Gene Wilder - I leave it to you to figure out who played which.

Richard Lester had his greatest artistic, if not financial decade in the 70's. His "The Three Musketeers" and "The Four Musketeers" shot together but released a year apart are not only the best versions of this story but may well be the best films of the decade. Farce, left wing political analysis, incredible fight scenes, and the only good performance by Raquel Welch make these must sees. "Robin and Marrion" with Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn as the most romantic middle aged lovers in history make this the most beautiful and tragic of all the Robin Hood stories. "Juggernaut" with Richard Harris is about terrorism on the high seas.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf

Re: 1970's Cinema
by Herb Sevush on Dec 6, 2013 at 8:59:15 pm

Part III

Took a break to make sure I wasn't repeating any films mentioned elsewhere. I think I'm good, and it's Friday so here's the rest ...

I don't think of John Huston when I think of the 70's but he made "Fat City" a great and utterly depressing movie about boxing set in Stockton, California, "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean" with Paul Newman, an inconsistent but at times wonderful revisionist western, and "The Man Who Would Be King" from Rudyard Kipling's short story, with Sean Connery and Michael Cain that seems to be the favorite film of everyone involved in making it and of many who have seen it.

Franklin Schaffner was a very glossy big budget hollywood director who's 70's films include not only Patton, but "Papillon" a true story of escaping from Devil's Island with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman and also "The Boys From Brazil" an excellent post war nazi-hunting movie with Gregory Peck giving a great performance as a villain opposite Laurance Olivier as the hunter.

The 70's was a bad decade for Blake Edwards, redeemed by the re-birth of his Pink Panther series in the late seventies, the best of which was "The Pink Panther Strikes Again" but there were 3 of them and they all had Peter Sellers so they all had their moments. He ended the decade with "10" a brilliant comedy about middle age blues that made a star, for a moment, out of Dudley Moore, which tells you how good this movie was. No orchestra in America would play Ravel's Bolero for the next 5 years for fear of the audience's reaction after this movie came out.

Other recommended movies from the 70's in no particular order -

"Being There" - amazing film with Peter Sellers, idiot savant rises to power, beautiful film by Hal Ashby.

"Scarecrow" - 2 drifters on the road, but played by Gene Hackman and Al Pacino.

"Freebie and the Bean" - a very weird buddy cop movie made by Richard Rush who in the next decade made "The Stuntman." It featured Alan Arkin as one of the cops and Arkin went on to direct and act in "Little Murders" based on Jules Feiffer's Village Voice comic strip, it is as good a look at NYC in the early seventies as any movie you will see. Wicked funny.

"The Eagle Has Landed" the first american WWII movie that has German's as the protagonists. Great cast with Michael Cain, Donald Sutherland and Robert Duvall. Duvall later starred in "The Great Santini" a family drama for which he was oscar nominated.

"Where's Poppa" an early Carl Reiner black comedy about a man's desperate efforts to murder his senile mother, with George Segal and Ruth Gordon.

And of course "Animal House."

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf

Re: 1970's Cinema
by Herb Sevush on Dec 6, 2013 at 10:55:42 pm

Part IV

What was I thinking? I left out the whole Don Siegel / Clint Eastwood segment.

Other than the Dirty Harry movies (Siegel directed the first one, Eastwood the last two) Siegel directed Eastwood in "2 Mules for Sister Sarah" a whore with a heart of gold story set in Mexico as well as "Escape from Alcatraz" which was about ... well yes, but it was well done. "The Shootist" is John Wayne's epitaph to himself, an end-of-the-west western, it holds up pretty well with Lauren Bacall and Jimmy Stewart. In addition Siegel made "Charley Varrick" a very gritty little caper movie with Walter Mathau as a bank robber, "the last of the independents." Mathau was also in the original "Taking of Pelham One Two Three" made in 1974 and well worth seeing.

Eastwood directed himself in the first western ghost story "High Plains Drifter" then followed that with a great epic post civil war western "The Outlaw Josey Wales" - "are you going to pull those pistols or just whistle dixie?"

This list is pretty much off the top of my head and I'm sure to be embarrassed by tomorrow, and it's only films made by american directors and not mentioned elsewhere in this thread.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf

Re: 1970's Cinema
by Martin Curtis on Dec 5, 2013 at 9:57:44 pm

To me, 70s films feel faster paced than those that preceded that decade. The stories are also grittier in that there is not so much of a "good guy V bad guy" theme, but a recognition that good guys aren't always that good. Harry Callahan is the prime example but even in small personal dramas nothing is ever perfect and the character who is triumphant at the conclusion may be celebrating a Pyrrhic victory.

This helped audiences, I think, identify with the characters as they could see their own flaws replicated on the silver screen.

Re: 1970's Cinema
by Tom Sefton on Dec 5, 2013 at 8:13:54 am

That book is in my all time top 10. Classic.

Just to add...Rocky, the exorcist, alien, Star Wars, the Texas chainsaw massacre, Harold and Maude, McCabe and mrs miller and get carter.

Iconic films. The end of get carter is just perfect.

Re: 1970's Cinema
by Tom Sefton on Dec 5, 2013 at 8:32:01 am

In fact, would 70's cinema win in a battle royal against other decades? If you look at the sheer volume of top class scripts and films coming out, coupled with the start of blockbuster culture, it has to run most decades close...

Tim would most likely have some input if the question was posed about music....(I reckon you would have to tie it with the 60's as let it bleed, abbey road, led zep 1 and 2 and tommy all arrived in 69)

Re: 1970's Cinema
by Sam Lanes on Dec 5, 2013 at 11:25:37 am

One of the things I love about a lot of top 1970s films is the immediacy of the storytelling. It is not unusual for a story to begin immediately (without several scenes carefully spelling out the settings, characters, scenarios as a platform on which to progress the story), as well as an ending which can often finish with a suddenness that can be baffling to modern eyes (as a child of the 80s I include myself in this catefory) used to a sanctimonious, bittersweet Hollywood ending.

In my view, films such as The Conversation and All The President's Men force the audience to actually think about what is being portrayed, make their own meaning from what they have seen, and ultimately form their own opinions from what they have seen. Too many modern films are too conclusive, in my view, leaving little room for audience interpretation, and thought-provoking movies often stand out a mile just because they have made the audience think for themselves.

I would suggest that a similar trend is prevalent in literature too; where sometimes I can read a novel written in the 1950s/60s, and the deeper meaning of a story might not be so obvious at first glance (although I would accept that occasionally, some understanding of the socio-political make up of the country of origin at the time in which it was written can often be helpful to understanding something fully).

I personally agree with Kylie, that the grittiness seems to be intact and there is a much more real-world feeling to the settings and locale of any given movie.

Re: 1970's Cinema
by Scott Roberts on Dec 5, 2013 at 11:42:59 pm

This thread has been a great read, to start things off. And I will be the third person here to recommend Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. It's awesome. I read it about 7 years ago and plan on one day reading it again. I think they made a documentary based off of it too, but I haven't watched it. Just read the book.

Hmmm... I don't know how much more I can add that hasn't already been said (especially as nicely has Tim's posts). Maybe for all you Walking Dead fans, you should remember your roots, and check out George Romero's classic zombie sequel, Dawn of the Dead (1978). Very 70s, and full of slow walkin' zombies. Zach Snyder's remake wasn't that bad either.

Oh I know what no one has mentioned yet! Animation! I actually took a class in film school called American Cinema 1967-1980, and for my final paper I wrote about a personal oddball hero of mine, Ralph Bakshi. He spit out a nice handful of very crude, very weird animated films in the 70s. He did some great things mixing hand-drawn animation with live action footage, and was known for doing many sequences with heavy rotoscoping, which I imagined took even longer back then than it does today. None of these films stand that well to the test of time, unless you're looking at them in a very abstract way, or if you're super drunk or something...

The first film he made was Fritz the Cat (1972). It was based off the Robert Crumb comics. Crumb apparently *hated* the film adaptation of his work, as I learned from the documentary about him (Crumb). Fritz, the movie, was super weird; yet touched on a lot of the racial and political issues of the time. He's just a jive talkin' cat, man! (ok, I'll never say that again). I do believe it's also the first animated film to get an X rating, so I wouldn't watch it with your family if I were you (I couldn't even find a trailer on youtube that was remotely PG enough to put in this post). It has ended up (over time) grossing $190 million worldwide off of an original $850,000 budget. It was the 10th highest grossing film of '72 at the domestic box office. Not too shabby if you ask me.

His next film, Heavy Traffic (1973), is my favorite Bakshi film. It's about a young cartoonist/unemployed person named Michael Corleone (subtle Godfather reference, am I right?), who simply wanders New York and has a bunch of trippy experiences. I love gritty New York 70s movies so much, and this is probably the only animated film ever to capture the same gritty NYC as the live action ones. Actually, Heavy Traffic is probably *the* scummiest representation of 1970s New York. It's almost impossible to describe this movie, and just how many *different* bizarre things happen in it, but if you want to see some funky cartoons, check it out. It also liberally uses the the song "Scarborough Fair" throughout it, which is nice. I find it funny/awesome that Heavy Traffic was actually a semi box office success. I don't see anything this weird being released to success in theaters nowadays.

His next movie, Coonskin (1975)[No, I did not feel comfortable writing that title, but hey, it's the title...] was a blaxsploitation cartoon version/parody of Song of the South. It's not something I would recommend to most people, but it has a cult following and offers up a lot of the same crazy Bakshi racial issues relayed through a talking cartoon bunny named Brother Rabbit. There are live action sequences intercut throughout it starring Scatman Crothers as the Uncle Remus type guy. Considering this is a satirical work, I'd probably say it has less blatant racism than Song of the South? Regardless, it was a highly controversial film, and was run out of theaters due to its controversial themes.

(this trailer for the remastered version has one second of animated nudity, so if you're very opposed to seeing that, don't watch)

Next up, Wizards (1977), was a fantasy film about an evil Wizard who discovers old footage of Nazi propaganda and uses the imagery and technology to attempt to destroy a new generation of people. It's also a weird movie. All of these are weird. I was surprised to see a special edition blu-ray edition of Wizards right in the new release section of Best Buy the other week, right next to Man of Steel. Almost picked it up, but I figured I'll get by with just the DVD version for now.

Lastly (for the 70s) he made The Lord of the Rings animated film (1978). It was great watching this *after* seeing the Peter Jackson version. It's a possible must view for any Lord of the Rings fan, even if you just watch it as a laugh. It has a lot of interesting ideas and imagery, some of which were homaged in the live action version we've all seen. It's only half the story though, it ends at Helm's Deep. Bakshi never made the sequel because he felt like adapting other people's work wasn't doing much for him, and some other studio made a barely-seen animated version of Return of the King. And like almost all of Bakshi's early work, it was profitable, as it made $30 million off a $4 million budget. Which is, ya know, like a fraction of Peter Jackson's numbers.

After the 70s, Bakshi had a few more decent films, like American Pop in 1981; an episodic chronicle of musicians throughout the 20th century (and it ends in a crazy synthesized music video!). Also maybe you remember Cool World (1992) starring a not-quite-famous-yet Brad Pitt? That was also Bakshi. This year, he successfully Kickstarted his newest project in February, The Last Days of Coney Island, which looks like it will go back to his early, more urban roots; and I hope it actually gets completed one day so I can enjoy it!

Re: 1970's Cinema
by Alex Hawkins on Dec 5, 2013 at 11:50:04 pm

[Tim Wilson] "First up, you MUST READ Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation S.... The author points to 67's Bonnie & Clyde and 69's Easy Riders as the foundations, but it's otherwise a breathtaking account of the golden age of 70s indie-spirited moviemaking.

Absolutely. Great book, and Tim have you also read "Scenes From A Revolution" by Mark Harris? Another great book which discusses that breakthrough year of 1967 when the Production (Hays) Code was being dismantled and it looks in depth at the 5 nominated pictures that year: Doctor Dolittle, In The Heat of the Night, Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

BTW There's a doco made of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls that's essential viewing.

The 70's was the decade of filmmaking in my opinion. Just check out 3 of the all time great performances on celluloid:

1. Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon
2. Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver
3. Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

All absolutely brilliant. If you can think of any better then, truly, I would love to hear your opinion. . .

Alex Hawkins
Canberra, Australia

Re: 1970's Cinema
by Tom Sefton on Dec 6, 2013 at 12:43:44 pm

I totally forgot about the wealth of blaxploitation films that came out, along with some brilliant soundtracks.

Tim already listed Shaft and Sweet Sweetbacks Badass Song; I would like to add Accross 110th St, Black Caesar (with a brilliant funk soundtrack from James Brown including Down and Out in NYC and The Boss), Cleopatra Jones, Foxy Brown, Slaughter (another James Brown classic soundtrack) Superfly (brilliant track from Curtis Mayfield - Pusherman) and Truck Turner (Isaac Hayes with another cracking theme tune).

Away from blaxploitation, Lalo Schiffrin did some brilliant work with Don Siegel in Dirty Harry and Magnum Force: - what a bassline that comes in for Scorpios Theme - brilliant buildup music and a great song to drive fast to....

Also, Alex - 3 great performances there. I would like to counter with

1. Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman in Kramer vs Kramer
2. Christopher Walken in The Deer Hunter
3. John Cazale in Godfather 2

Re: 1970's Cinema
by Jeff Breuer on Dec 6, 2013 at 5:00:43 pm

First of all, I second Scott's comments, great read!

I did some of those 48 Hour Film Festivals some years ago (need to do that again sometime, so much fun) and we were drawn to do a Film Noir. Now, everybody who get's drawn for that category always, always does a remake of Maltese Falcon (except for one group that did an awesome Frank Miller inspired story). I made the argument that a lot of these dark, gritty early 70's films were a great evolution of the genre so that's what we did. Some of the films we considered as inspiration--

French Connection (71)
Dirty Harry (71)
Taxi Driver (76)
Death Wish (74)
The Conversation (74)
Chinatown (74)
Mean Streets (73)
The Verdict (82)

We ended up winning best use of genre. Obviously in those projects there is always stuff you wish you would have done better, but the visually style in that flick was awesome! A lot of fun to work on.