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Herb Sevush
Re: 1970's Cinema
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


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