Saturday, October 27, 2012

Top 10 Best Movies of the 1970s

An Important Pre-Blog

The 1970s had 10 (or so) of the absolute best movies of all time, so it'd be easy to just whip-up a list and call it an afternoon!  Sure, we've all heard of Star Wars and Jaws.  Who hasn't seen these?  It'd be boring to just list them, because you expect it.  Welcome to the...


The following movies are not to be included because everyone's seen these and they're obvious:

The obvious, easy Top 10 Movies of the 1970s

1. Star Wars (1977) - Sci-Fi saga/WWII-clone
2. Jaws (1975) - Shark-based horror
3. The Godfather (parts I and II) (1972-74) - Italian Mafia
4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) - Psycho/comedy/horror
5. Apocalypse Now (1979) - Vietnam-based psycho/horror
6. Halloween (1978) - Suspense/horror
7. Taxi Driver (1976) - Psycho/suspense
8. Rocky (1976) - Boxing rags-to-riches
9. Alien (1979) - Sci-Fi/horror
10. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974)  - Satire epic

Star Wars (1977) changed the way people looked at sci-fi forever

  If there's something above you haven't seen, you've got issues and you need to check to see if your fly's open.  All of planet Earth has deemed these movies as pure epic, Truth transcending Culture.

  These movies were so popular that mobs of people for months were trying to get into the theaters to watch them.  Star Wars in particular was often sold-out for every showing in some cities for a whole year and people were trampled in unorderly lines of sheer insanity to get in for the first 4 months!  Some people died trying to mob their way in, being trampled. 

  Just about all of these movies were in the theaters for a year or more, Star Wars being there in some places until 1984.  That's 7 years, it was that popular!  The above ten represent the 1970s film-scene with the toys spawned, books, puzzles, soundtracks, disco-versions (yep), cultural realignments, and paradigm shifting.

   I rate them as all perfect-10-movies for their own genre.   These movies listed are the pinnacle of film and worth repeated watches.  Each have received awards after awards and are must-watch filmography out of any of my decade lists.

 Now... if you haven't watched some of these, you're in for a (trick.. or) TREAT!  Try to watch these in the theater if you can, sometimes movie houses will play them with limited-engagement.  If you watch them via Netflix or rent them, try to get the least-edited, updated, altered versions.  Case-in-point, Star Wars original release is far superior to the "Special Edition" versions that exist (Han shot first).  These are all a great watch.  Even those who only recently have watched them grudgingly admit they're awesome, even 40 years after they were made!!!

  So, firstly and foremost, watch all those ten.  Now let's delve deep into the 1970s!


  Welcome to the 1970s!

Paul Lynde on the prime-time TV show, Bewitched.
  This was a dark time for the US.  During this time, I was just a little kid, pretty innocent and wide-eyed.  The '60s disintegrated during this time.  I remember all of these events first-hand.

Charles Nelson Reilly on Match Game.  Despite regulation, he was allowed to smoke his pipe due to his extreme popularity on-set of the game-show in the 1970s.  "I'm Charles Nelson Reilly, Bizatch!"

  Saturday morning cartoons were prevalent in the 1970s with The Superfriends, Grape Ape, various offerings from Sid Marty & Krofft. Hanna-Barbara was in it's hay-day recycling 1960s cartoons and continuing on with shows like, Hong Kong Phooey, and Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space.

H.R. Puff n' Stuff staring Mike-TV from the 1971 film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space

Hanna Barbera's Hong Kong Phooey with his sidekick striped cat, "Spot".

 Darker cartoons were also coming out, such as Return to Planet of the Apes, Space Battleship Yamato (aka Starblazers), and The New Adventures of Flash Gordon

The New Adventures of Flash Gordon Hawkmen attack Mongo City
  Being a kid in the 1970s are early 1980s, it was a cartoon weekend free-for-all, running well into 11am or further.  Just in time for lunch and then your parents forced you outside to play (for some reason, but I think that's how my younger brother came about in some fashion.)

A primitive "Pakuni" is having its leg mended by the stranded Marshall family in Land of the Lost.  The show had state-of-the-art special effects at the time and writers included Heinlein and Walter Koeing made for great (and expensive) as well as edgy sci-fi (almost not for kids).  The Pakuni language was pre-developed at Berkley.

  Toys were dangerous, such as the Snoopy Sno Cone Machine "Thanks for the Snow Cone, Snoopy!!!" and the one I had, IceBird.  What they didn't tell you was that there were giant razor blades all over the place.  Underneath IceBird was a 3" steel razor.  It was hard as hell to scrape-off the ice off the block you'd freeze, and as a toy it could be used as a murder weapon easily.  When you're 5, that's pretty dangerous stuff.  Flavor packets tasted like industrial waste but not as nice.  We also had Weebles.  Remember those?  "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down!"  What they didn't tell you but you soon learned that inside was a 1 pound ball-bearing on the bottom of it.  Throwing it could also murder somebody easily. 

Weebles toys would wobble due to their bottom-heavy egg-shape and lead ball interior and could be used for defence against dinosaurs or Viet-Cong.

  I can remember many kids having 3" welts on their heads from their younger brothers chucking them.  Tonka made steel bulldozers that were about 18 inches long, painted with lead yellow paint and could bust a major artery and weighed about 5 pounds or so with very very sharp, industrial edges.  It's amazing we survived!

 Blonde in this commercial later sliced her abdomen off

  In 1970, The Beatles broke-up (partially due to Yoko-Ono, probably the worst singer and anti-bard than Grunthos the Flatulent).    Led Zeppelin, Yes, Queen, Kiss, The Who, Fleetwood Mac, Deep Purple, Chicago, Boston, Heart, Judas Priest, Styx, The Doobie Brothers all dominated the rock charts as grandfathers of heavy-metal.  Still embracing trippy '60s vibe with more distorted, louder guitars and more swirly effects.  Lyrics were a huge focus in those days, especially compared to the weak offerings over the last 30 years.  Deep concepts.  Folk music was rising like a force unbridled as well, such as the works of Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkle.  TONS of it.  Moody and dreary tones.  Swirly and depressing.  Mixes were muddy-sounding and cheap. 

  Let's not forget adult-contemporary often featured on TV as variety shows like Captain & Tenneil, Sonny and Cher, and Olivia-Newton John.  All popular stuff on the FM airwaves.  Mellow gold.
  Funk got a foothold with bands like Parliament and James Brown.  Disco reared its ugly head towards the end with The Beegees and ABBA.  Progressive rock-jazz bands like Genesis, Jethro Tull, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and Pink Floyd ventured with "concept albums" where stories were told at album-length.  My favorite band, Rush is equally guilty to dabble in this genre at this time.  A lot of folks got high to those albums in quadraphonic.

Fashion and style was tacky BROWN. You like brown? That's your color! You get shades of that too, such as yellow, orange, or more brown! Have some.. BROWN! The colorful hippie revolution dried-out in 1969 and the 1970s was a long, long hangover "sober-afterwards" in the highest-definition.. of BROWN! Everything was brown, from cars, (to include the Corvette), clothes, kitchens, souls, eyes, hair, skin, album covers, TV vernier, sofas, all furniture, rugs, food, life. Infra-brown!

  VCRs are introduced to the public, which allows people to free themselves from the tether of television (aside from 8mm home-projection).  These were an analog, top-loading variety, often with faux wood-grain veneer.  Sony introduced a better-quality format known as BetaMax but it doesn't catch-on.

A top-loading Video Cassette Recorder with analog dials and pull-lever options for PLAY, REWIND, and RECORD.
  Jimmy Carter made life living hell for all of us and poverty was rampant.  Gas lines due to the OPEC gasoline embargo made oil per-barrel go from $3.65 to over $100.  Gas goes to $2.89 per gallon, or about $60 to fill-up a 20 gallon tank.  Average salary was $200/week (before taxes).  The stock market crashes in 1973.  Jimmy Carter mandates a 55 mph speed limit across the country to save gas. Adding to this depression, huge, power-sucking catalytic converters are now mandated which drain power from engines ironically causing even worse gas mileage.  Normal cars get about 4 to 8 mpg.  Maximum purchase of gas is generally 10 gallons per day, though cars typically required 20 gallons.  The Misery Index is pegged.  The cool muscle-car era dissolves utterly by 1974.

Gas lines of 1973 at $2.89/gal., about 30% of your paycheck went to gasoline

  As a result of the crunch, people went from the Plymouth HemiCuda to smaller fare, such as the Honda CVCC and Toyota Corona which turned about to be okay cars.  America panicked and tried to follow suit with the Chevy Vega and Ford Pinto which turned out to be laughable and treacherous eggshell cars underpowered and underwhelming and highly unreliable.  US car companies bowed their heads in shame and hid.  AMC was a fourth contender and came out with some okay ones, however, such as the AMC AMX, Gremlin X, and a 4WD Eagle.  Chrysler later absorbed the company and then killed it off in defense.

A few car companies kept their cool.  AMC made the AMX which was a pretty badass V8.  Yeah, it came in brown too as a popular option.

The Ford Pinto would often explode on impact (seriously).  Carter mandated huge bumpers on all cars foreign and domestic.
   Historically, the popular TV show M*A*S*H is prime-time depressingly about medics in the Korean War, it's theme song was "Suicide is Painless".  Star Trek was cancelled.  Television back then reflected the times.  It was very dark television: All in the Family, The Jeffersons (a spinoff), Good Times, Sanford & Son, Alice, and Welcome Back, Kotter were some of the darkest shows ever created, typically about poverty-stricken folks getting-by and eventually failing at it, often resulting in death or worse.  A few shows spared us, such as Happy Days, and The Muppet Show.  We still typically only had 3 or 4 channels on VHF (that upper dial from 2 thru 13, channel 1 being not available because of an argument between the Big 3 channels, ABC, NBC, and CBS).  A fourth was often PBS, an independent, charity-based channel the government later seized in the '80s.  Sometimes, if you were lucky, you'd get one single UHF channel (the lower dial with channels from 14 to 83) that would be fuzzy and you'd have to adjust your rabbit-ears or UHF antenna loop behind the set and you might be able to watch a late-late show or Godzilla monster movie or local sports.  Football starts to become popular and franchised and people tune-in to watch the first Superbowls.

No car escaped the option.. of BROWN! (as in this Buick GS)

Girl on the right says, "I love how your rose is.. brown!"
Girl on far left, "Is this chocolate?  It's so wonderfully.. BROWN!"

By 1979, the oil shortage sparked smaller cars such as this AMC Concord, thankfully in trustful BROWN!

Enjoy the everlasting delights.. of BROWN!
 Abortion is federally legalized and we leave the Vietnam War right after the Watergate Scandal (Nixon's men broke into the DNC to see if they could find a trick to beat the Democrats in the next election but got busted; Nixon lies about the occurrence and gets impeached).  Elvis dies and a huge nuclear accident at Three Mile Island (apparently caused by Deadpool).

  Movies around this time were quicker to bite than the '50s or '60s.  Many films were done in New York City as it was cheaper to do so, but before Earth Day the entire US was littered as in the commercial known as "The Crying Indian" towards the end of the decade, a huge anti-litter campaign.  I remember distinctly highways where the trenched median was to-the-top with trash.  It was not uncommon to dump your snacks and Coke cans out the window while driving.  The films were often done in late fall so there'd be no leaves on trees in scenes, giving a stark grayness to everything.  The list I present doesn't have much of that, but there were hundreds.  Cold and dying scenes of trash and dead trees with concrete skyscrapers billowing trash.

  Sideburns are IN.  Don't bother taking a bath.  Deodorant is gonna start being used regularly by folks in about 5 more years.  Greasy long hair and polyester clothes, baby!  Grab your cigarettes, you can still smoke in the theaters!  It's...

The Top 10 Best Movies of the 1970s (aside from the above top 10)

1. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

  The TV show, In Search Of with Leonard Nimoy (Spock of Star Trek fame) was the X-Files of the 1970s.  It ran for 6 years and did rather well for a documentary, each episode focusing on unexplained and factual paranormal activity.  UFO phenomenon was rampant in the US and Steven Spielberg (you may have heard of him) was enjoying popularity of Duel and Jaws and decided to do a sci-fi.

  Story is about people having personal UFO sightings and being somehow summoned to Devil's Tower in Wyoming.  The special effects rivaled Star Wars and the story was a tad more gripping.  The soundtrack was cool and epic and, well, if you've seen one Spielberg movie you know how they kinda go.  He keeps-up the interest, even in the boring parts like as in ET and Transformers and Indiana Jones

  Richard Dreyfuss does a good job as a nut-ball UFO-fan and was obviously selected for his role in Jaws (directors often do that).  A little horror is added to pepper-it-up and civilians get a rather decent insight into government conspiracies without being bored-to-death whatsoever.  Action is good and the story is taken from actual events in some parts as well as real-life testimonials.  He did his homework on sightings and encounters and it's good and legit without being too corny.

  Anyone who's seen this film is familiar with the 5-note calling-card of the mothership.  When I was 8 years old, I watched it in the theater (I saw Star Wars a month prior) and immediately powered up my tiny air-powered mini-organ and keyed-out the tune.

  Disco was getting wild popularity by this time and a disco version of this tune (as well as disco Star Wars) came out on LP vinyl.  It's rather disco-ploitation-a-riffic.

Richard Dreyfuss demands escape from the disco theme you are force-feeding him when you played the above video.

2. The Exorcist (1973)

  There was no other movie that scared me as much as this one before or since (except for an independent short-film cartoon around 1974 that had black butterflies killing people, yeah the '70s were whacked). 

In this scene, a possessed Regan has been masturbating with a cross until her privates are bleeding..
Stare at this picture for 5 minutes and you'll go insane due to hidden subliminal imagery.
  Story is about a possessed girl (by the demon Pazuzu) and her exorcism by two.  This is based on the novel of the same name.  There's tons of symbolism in it, and it's not at all cheesy like any of the other exorcism-based films afterwards.  This one is horrifying to the maximum degree.  Acting is legit and straight as if it's purely natural.  An exorcism is a religious performance, sometimes lasting days, to remove a demon from someone who's taken over that person.  It is a very VERY dangerous procedure, especially depending on which demon has possessed the person.  Jesus (Ioshua Himself) has performed this in the Bible successfully.  Few others succeed, often resulting in death(s).  I suspect Jesus could excise Pazuzu, and perhaps The Pope maybe but that's about it.  Thing is, demonic possession is rare but occurs once in a great while.  It can potentially happen and actual possessions occur on the Earth every 50 years or so.

Regan is injected with tranquilizers so they can hold her down for more brain-destroying shock-therapy and controversial Ritalin.  The doctors enjoy her torture.
  I encourage you to watch the Director's Cut at about 12:45 am by yourself.   You'll be freaked-out for days.  I'd say this is probably the scariest movie ever made in the history of Mankind.

The head-priest is about to give-up hope, the rosary shaking in uncertainty.
  The demon is merciless and Max von Sydow (no pun there.. merciless) is the head-priest.  Linda Blair's acting as a child is remarkable.  The profanity would make a pirate flush in embarrassment and the scenes are sometimes so vulgar you may not be able to watch it all the way through if you're faint-of-heart.

Pazuzu shows himself in the form of a stone worship-idol finally outside of Regan's body for a short time.
  The theme is well-known as Tubular Bells and is freakin' scary.  Probably the scariest theme ever made as well.  It's a good versus evil story, and good can't cope or even come close.

  The movie also has subliminal messages embedded in it in the Director's Cut which were removed on previous home-releases as it was illegal to do so because of the psychological damage it caused.  Most of America was baffled why it was not Rated-X due to some of the edgy themes introduced, such as forced-Ritalin and shock-therapy in-detail as well as pornographic self-rape.  Theaters offered airplane vomit-bags upon its release as people were vomiting as a nervous reaction.  Several people fainted during its release.  Linda Blair was given death-threats for 6 months thinking she was actually a demon in real-life.

  The actual events are based on real-life events.  This is a real story. 

People's reaction to The Exorcist.

  Someone had the foresight to film audience opinion at the time of filming.  It was so disturbing that people were NOT alright afterwards.  People seemed pretty eager to go watch it, but afterwards... not so much.  People laughed a bit when asked, but you can see how scared and nervous they were as a nervous reaction, but then trembled and cried in desperation and fear.  Some fell to their knees and cried for several minutes.   Ask older folks in their 50's what they thought.

Regan's in agony from demonic torture.
  The movie succeeded in what it was sent-out to do, and that was to be a horror movie.  No other horror movie has succeeded on Earth to be so gripping.

3. Grease (1978)
  Grease was one of America's last musicals.  Inspired by 1950's culture, it is a love story, and a rite-of-passage for teenagers into adulthood.  Focused on typical themes of Americana teenhood it captures all of the trappings teens endured from the 1950s and is a great snapshot of that time.
Summer romance in Australia
    Things like how a man champions a lady with a car in vehicular duels of racing, looking and acting cool around friends even at the expense of being cruel, and how teens value reward more than consequence tenfold are in sharp focus.
America's Australian sweetheart Olivia Newton-John as Sandy
John Travolta as Danny making the moves on Sandy played by Olivia Newton-John
Pink Lady gang members laugh-up Miss Goody-Two-Shoes' innocence.
  Americana is wonderfully displayed in catchy tunes by the likes of Sha-Na-Na and others, and this movie gave Australian contemporary singer Olivia Newton-John a leg-up in the US charts and John Travolta launched his career full-force after this film.  The soundtrack went multi-platinum and still sells today, 40 years later.  Now that's a good musical!  It's a good "gateway" musical, one that doesn't get too stupid on you.  The main theme, "You're the One That I Want" went platinum 28 TIMES and the soundtrack is the 6th best selling of all time on planet Earth.  Most guys will tolerate this film as it isn't too sappy.
John Travolta singing of a hot blonde Australian chick "Sandy" in a summer-romance
Grease Lightning versus the enemy car ready to race in the LA aquaduct
    It's a colorful watch, and you can see the drama unfold as two teens who meet abroad suddenly are reunited in the last year of high-school and what happens next.  Can counter-culture succeed?
America's Australian sweetheart Olivia Newton-John sings of a summer romance
    Wildly popular at the time, high schools played it out for drama class endlessly.  The movie is fun.  Good to watch with candy and popcorn and a few friends.
Pink Lady gang member Frenchy in the Beauty-School Dropout dream sequence
  Still unconvinced?  The movie cost $6 million to make but racked-in $400 million.  That's a good return of 50X!!!  Most of the Earth has seen this movie at $2 a ticket back in 1978.   
  I think it's important to note that this movie, along with Star Wars and Smokey and the Bandit saved America from a deep, long depression.  These movies made it okay to have the good guy win.  The movies were fun and I say.. enjoy!

4. Patton (1970)

    This was a big movie.  Large in scope of just one man, General George S. Patton focusing on his biography during World War II.  It's rather an interesting watch, and the acting is top-notch.  What's more interesting is it doesn't heroize him; indeed if anything, it shows an accurate and rather dark approach of his necessary cruelty of his troops at the time.  The film praises and curses him both at the same time, a rather intriguing feat.  Won 8 Academy Awards and did rather well at the box-office.
  George Scott as the character, Patton, both personify each other.  The opening flag-sequence is historically noteworthy on a film-fanatics' list of must-watches during his speech.  Honestly, probably the best biographical war movie of all time.  Never relenting, the movie constructs and deconstructs the general constantly, leaving you heroically ambivalent as such, "This guy was a necessary evil against a formidable evil."
  You get to see the politicians foil his plotting which confounds the Nazis who's generals had more free-reign over tactical decisions, but this works in Patton's favor often enough because it disrupts Nazi strategy.  The concept of political annoyances didn't do so well in the case of Vietnam or the current Afgan War as we all know too well, though wonderfully during Desert Storm.  Interesting how the Democratic presidents screw us military over time and time again.  Such loss of lives..

  Definitely worth a watch.  Sort of the Saving Private Ryan of the 1970s.  Well directed, great soundtrack, great acting, and hey, bang-bang against Nazis again and in accurate, non-Hollywood fashion, meaning they didn't change stuff so it'd sell.  It's legit.  You can't go wrong with this film.

5. Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

  One might ask, "What's with Mike and musicals?"  Well, some of them are actually good.  I know I sound like a parent trying to get kids to eat broccoli but you have to consider the amount of talent that goes into them that Hollywood lacks these days.  Indeed, Fiddler on the Roof has the great actor, Topol of Flash Gordon fame in it, and hey, that's pretty darn good!

Topol as Dr. Hanz Zarkov from the 1981 film Flash Gordon
 About everybody knows the song, "If I Were a Rich Man!" lamenting of poverty.  It's kind of fun to see Hans Zarkov singing Yiddish-style.

  Story's about Reb Tevye, a Jewish dairy farmer in 1905 and his three daughters who want to wed each a man of their choosing.  Normally, however, Jewish women were betrothed or hand-selected by a town "Matchmaker" and did not get to choose.  Girls typically, at best, be married to a rabbi or some other provider such as a tailor or butcher several decades older when they were 12 or 13.  Rather gross, I know, but traditional; hence the movie's main theme, "tradition" vs. "progression".

  The music honestly is quite good, and gives a good look at culture of the 1900's for Jews during the time of the Czar in Russia right at the start of the Russian Revolution as well as Jewish musical scales and technique.

   Now you have to remember that the Jewish culture abhors change; as example, Ioshua (Jesus) was killed partially because of his tradition-breaking progressiveness.  It's no joke with them.  You know stonings by the Muslims in the Middle East?  Yeah, the Jews of this time aren't far from that, though I'd have to say with quite a bit more "heart" about Jewish Law than the Muslims, but that's my take anyway.

  The movie is broken into two "Acts" as it was based on a play some 10 years earlier.  There's a nice "Intermission" in-between and an "Exit" theme as well, paying homage to grand movies of the past.  I personally find the music "fun" despite the dark theme, and Topol puts on a hell of a show.

  If you don't know about the intricate complexities of Jewish culture still performed by orthodox Jewish to this day, it's definitely worth a look.  The Jewish culture is rich with traditions and it's informative and colorful and you get a taste of their history as well.  The backdrop like any massive drama is that Russia is changing as well as the Jewish culture and in more detail, one family.  You get a nice three-level depth there, and it's clever.

  Now who's the "Fiddler" supposed to be and what's up with that?  There's a lot of debate and theory.  Some say it is the Devil himself taunting the Jewish culture, or it could be Life as it continues it's song.  One angle is that the fiddler is in a precarious situation, trying not to fall off while playing as it's very tricky as a metaphor for Tevye's soul, trying to find balance without falling off into hell itself, being pulled this way and that for choice of things, often asking God what to do.  Rather intriguing. 
Mother disciplining her daughters on traditional Jewish views.
  A great watch and a lot of fun and thinking.  Fiddler on the Roof is a fine example of a movie larger than itself on many levels and poses the philosophical question of, "If we've been doing this for 1000 years, why change?  Progression must be evil, isn't it?  By now, we've got it right."  Indeed.  This movie is historically significant on several levels and is a can't-miss.

6. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

  It would be a chocolaty sin not to include this colorful film about this rags to riches musical overindulgence.  Yep, that's right, it's another musical.  A lot of folks don't realize that, but it is.  Never has a kid's movie affected so much, though several have tried.

   Based on the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl 7 years earlier the story is essentially in two acts, one outside and one inside the chocolate factory owned by Willy Wonka.  The film centers on Charlie, an impoverished British bastard-child (seriously, he has no father) who wins an international candy-bar lottery to tour the mysterious chocolate factory of Wonka along with four other winners from various countries.  In the story, Wonka candy is very popular and no one has ever seen the interior.  Adults would assume it's standard machinery but, of course, it's a kid's musical so of course it's gonna be filled with astounding sights and near-magic craziness.

Mike TV being seduced to espionage
   Now if you've read the book, you'll be disappointed in its accuracy.  Indeed, Varuca Salt's misadventure with squirrels is instead replaced with geese, and there's several other small bits that are different.  A more recent film in 2005 was more accurate but far less compelling, mostly because of the natural manicness of actor Gene Wilder in the 1971 version is so off-center and borderline serial-killer-insane that Gene pulls-off so well.  Gene takes you to the limits of a mass-murderer almost then, suddenly snaps you back to a nice man and all is forgiven and forgot and you're back in happy land.  Gene teases us with the cleverness only he knows.  When you look in the actor's eyes you see something.. darker.. not directed.. unscripted, but POW! he pulls us back to safety each time.  Wow.  Honestly, Gene Wilder is an underrated actor.  You'll just have to watch it to see what I mean.  Look in his eyes and see the compassion teetering on insanity and chaos, then softness.. and you're released like a rabbit in a trap and we scamper away to the safety of the glen.

Gene Wilder succeeds at scaring the snot outa you

    Several terms have been born from the film, such as "scrumpdiddilyumptious" taken to heart by the ice-cream establishment Dairy Queen.  The "Everlasting Gobbstopper" can be purchased in some candy stores as well as the original "Wonka Bar" though the former isn't quite as everlasting as you'd hope, but if I might quote Blade Runner's Harry Bryant, "..then again, what is?" 

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in a more compassionate look of anticipation of guests' surprise
     Very curious are some of the insightful and colorful designs within the factory, such as candied everything and, of course the midget-workers known as "Oompa Loompas" who oddly sing during more dangerous parts.  That's right, there's dangerous parts despite the paradise!  The Oompa Loompa songs are actually quite recognizable these days, even 41 years after its release!

  Personally, my take is that Willy represents God, the Chocolate Factory represents Utopia (based on the concept of a book from 1516).  Each child from each country represents each nation trying to be worthy of Utopia but each has their own failings.  To me, the nations are those of around either World War I or II (I can't decide which).  Maybe I'm thinking too much into it, or maybe not enough, I'm not sure, but hey, at least I think.

Unreleased promo-shot
    The movie is scary and fun and got lots of TV airplay in the late '70s and '80s surging its popularity.  The author didn't care for the adaptation (ah, authors) but over time it's done rather well for itself.  It focuses the imagination of children and their dreams of what might be.

You're turning violet, Violet!
   There's an interesting little factoid that if you play Rush's album "2112" during Wonka's trip scene around the 00:45:20 mark everything lines-up to the action.  This is similar to the Pink Floyd's, "Dark Side of the Moon" during Wizard of Oz coincidence as well, where if you play the album during a certain part it all lines-up.  On the web it's been taken-down just about everywhere but you can find a low-quality version of it here: The 2112 Chocolate Factory.  I don't know how long it'll be up.  Seems Warner Brothers doesn't care for this rather apt musical Ayn Rand connection of futuristic anti-communism.  Hmph.

7. Duel (1971)

  I adore this flick.  Spielberg's first film about a guy who passes a truck on a road due to road-rage, then the truck passes him and then again in-turn resulting in all-out war.  You never get to see the truck driver, which is clever.  Some have said it was Satan himself driving the truck, or some madman.  Things get out of hand (of course) and the tension builds.

Love that '70s FONT!

  Thirty years before cell-phones became ubiquitous, long stretches west of Colorado had little civilization.  You can watch how a psyche disintegrates into desperation in a nod towards Alfred Hitchcock's earliest works, particularly the female victim in Alfred's TV series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents in the very first episode of the first season.

Great cinematography adds tension to scenes.  Great job, Spielberg!

  Spielberg spent a lot of time choosing which two vehicles to represent the showdown movie, a red 1970 Valiant with a V8 was chosen versus the ancient 1951 Peterbilt 281.  Each vehicle has its strengths and weaknesses in certain conditions as the terrain changes over time as the upper-hand varies like two samurai in battle, chock full of strategy and vengeance.

Not sure if the truck driver's dead yet

  Very cool flick and very '70s.  Interestingly, there's almost no in-depth dialogue for the 90 minutes of the film and other humans are rare, focusing on the man vs. the Devil concept in Hell.  This movie was copied a bit in the 1977 film, The Car but not to the same level of awesome by far.

Peterbilt 281 bearing down on Mann

8. Papillon (1973)

  This prison movie is a heavy watch but it's very good.  Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman star and obviously the acting is superior.  Steve's character is wrongly condemned in court to go to prison on the notorious French penal colony, Devil's Island for killing a pimp in the 1930s.

  Throughout the film, they conspire to escape but the island drains them over the years.  For work, they're required to catch butterflies for dyes the French use in clothes (hence the term, "Papillon" meaning "butterfly" in French).

  The movie is dark as frack and depressing as all heck.  The French are not very nice prison wardens and injustices abound.  Steve's character is sentenced to solitary confinement for a time which several people die due to the even worse conditions of standard prisonment.

  This is the best feel-bad movie of the decade!  I'll let you not watch it if you watch the 1975 film, A Boy and His Dog instead, as they have similar flavors of doom.  It's a despair sandwich!  Enjoy!  I think this might be Robert Smith of The Cure's favorite film.  He probably eats baker's bitter chocolates with it, his favourite sweet.

9. The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

  Ah, The Poseidon Adventure.  Quite a film with a crazy all-star cast.  All-star casts usually mean that the movie producers are rich or desperate or both, but not always.  In this case, it works, and the actors are great.  You can see above that the actors are top-notch '70s gold for the most part.

   Film's about a ship that overturns so everything gets upside-down.  Only escape route is at the propeller section where there's a service-hatch (and air, as the ship is sinking).  One of the first American "disaster films" to include Airport 1975, The Towering Inferno, Earthquake, etc. etc. it intrigues anyone who's been on a cruise ship.  Other disaster movies grip the hearts of those who fear or know about such possibilities and connects to a larger audience in the same way Bill Cosby, Calvin and Hobbes, or The Peanuts connects to all humans because everyone was or has kids.

   A sequel was made as a critical failure, and a revisioning was done in 2005 and got a few light nods of approval.  I don't recommend either.  THIS one is the real-deal.

Survivors consider their options of survival.
   Several factors about the movie are just great, such as the physical or mental limitations of some of the characters.  Everyone doesn't look "Hollywood" pretty, case-in-point Shelly Winters' weight or Gene Hackman's character as a priest with doubting faith and it makes for a social drama of complex design.  One could play on the "Seven Deadly Sins" concept of each character, but it might be exhausting, more so than my determination of the same "Sins" of Gilligan's Island for each character, or also more recently Waiting.

Gene Hackman loses his faith

  The movie works and it's gripping and tense.  The acting is generally good from everyone in it, and it gained 20x it's budget in the box-office and, of course, people still see it from time to time.  Worth a watch for sure!  Not for the faint of heart against drowning.  Yeah, there's a lot of that going on.  If you've got a phobia you might be cured by the end of it from desensitization, or.. you might go mad.  Shrug.  Either way.  Your call.

Earnest Borgnine and Gene Hackman consider using Shelly Winters as a raft.

10. Superman (1978)

  Another end to a list of 10.  I can't believe I'm done already!  There's sooooo many great films in the 1970s.  I think the best movies of all time come from this decade.  Here's a list of some others I missed that you should watch:

Honorable mentions:

The Three Musketeers (1973) - adventure
The Muppet Movie (1979) - puppet musical
Black Christmas (1974) - horror
Enter the Dragon (1973) - martial arts
The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977) - spoof comedy
Death Wish (1974) - action
The Omen (1976) - horror
Marathon Man (1976) - spy/horror
Saturday Night Fever (1977) - dance/drama
Silent Running (1972) - sci-fi
The Dawn of the Dead (1978) - zombies
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) - slasher
M*A*S*H (1970) - war / irony
Dirty Harry (1971) - cop/action
Chinatown (1974) - film noir
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974) - drama
Logan's Run (1976) - sci-fi
A Boy and His Dog (1975) - sci-fi
Smokey and the Bandit (1977) - cop/robbers comedy

  Well, so I end the list with an all-time favorite, Superman.  Christopher Reeve became the quintessential Superman from the ever-so-popular comics.  He honestly nailed it as a character.  The franchise did so well from the initial film that 3 more sequels were produced as well as several TV shows and a few reboot films.  Superman is to American culture as is hot-dogs, baseball, and apple pie.  There's not a person on Earth who hasn't heard of such a character, and if you had a picture of Christopher Reeve with tell-tale cowlick hair as early as 1979 just about every human on Earth would indicate that he was Superman.

  Media-wise, in the early 1950s had TV actor George Reeves as the "Man of Steel".  From that point on, kids everywhere wanted to be Superman.  After 1978, a Superman renaissance occurred, and kids were donning capes and jumping off rooftops to be able to fly, or trying to bend steel or try to use heat-vision, etc.  Some kids broke legs because of wearing a red towel and jumping off their houses. 

  Superman is a telling of a comic-book hero battling a villain.  Standard stuff from DC Comics as it's been since World War II.  Superman has been DC's cash-cow up until recently with the Batman franchise thanks to the brilliant work of deceased Heath Ledger as Batman's nemesis "The Joker" in 2008's The Dark Knight.

  The film tells of Superman's origin with some great work by Marlon Brando as Jor-El and Gene Hackman lampooning the character Lex Luthor.  The story of an alien paladin suddenly representing America for goodness and "truth, justice, and the American way" makes us all feel we have a hero that will defend us like a guardian angel and it appeals to all of us in some way (there are a few evil democrats that would disagree such as Michael Moore).  The film appeals to our better sense.  It actually inspires goodness after watching it as a kid in the '70s.  You WANT to be the good guy after watching Superman.  Good became cool again.

  Still, Superman as an alien has his own motives and ultimately ends-up killing several people in a flooding town to save his girlfriend (but Warner Bros. glosses-over that fact) by turning back time and changing the course of events.

  It's a fun movie with a bit of a love-story built-in a bit gooshy to appeal to the ladies Twilight Saga style that guys could care less about, Margot Kidder being the 1970s equivalent of the ugly and unworthy-of-superpowers affection, Kristen Stewart.  Aside from that, Superpowers are cool, and the sequel is even better (a rarity).  The movie plays on modern special effects well and doesn't seem dated even today.  I recommend watching this one and the sequel back-to-back.  Interestingly, there's a director's cut edition called, "The Donner Cut" which comprises 30% more film and a completely different movie.  Both Superman and Superman II were filmed sequentially, so it might be best to watch the director's cut version.  Some people didn't like the Richard Donner Cut, but I thought it was more edgy with less mushy love-stuff.  Booo.  ;)

  So that's it!  Superman flies us into the future!  We warp into the gaudy, colorful 1980's, full of aqua and pink and primary colored shapes and upbeat music, upbeat movies, upbeat .. well everything.  America gets over its hangover and everything is happy-happy joy-joy.  Let's DANCE!

Okay, you caught me.  One more for the road, kiddies.

11. The Andromeda Strain (1971)

  I couldn't resist one more sci-fi.  Andromeda Strain based off the book 2 years earlier is about a worldwide human contamination from a virus found on a meteor where everyone's blood turns to dust. 
Cold, clinical rooms show the vastness of the complex and its surgical certainty

  The special effects are absolutely AMAZING for it's time, almost impossible special effects that have computer-generated screens.  It's a bit edgy to think such computer modelling could even exist in 1971.  It'd be like a cell phone handed to American forces in World War I, it's that insane.
Impossible special-effects CGI for 1971 is downright ASTOUNDING showing the complex's levels (animated)

   Like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory there are split-screen scenes that show two events at the same time similar to a comic book.  This was tried again in 2003 in the film, Hulk to lesser effect.  In this film it works and keeps the pace fresh and interesting instead of switching from scene to scene quickly.

Split-screen shows a contamination-suited scientist looking into a kitchen where a dead woman lies.

Monitoring station in Andromeda Strain

  The film plays on our own terror of a viral contagion that wipes-out mankind.  It takes place in an underground complex with a few scientists trying to figure out how to solve the biological process to save any remaining humans on Earth, but, of course, things go wrong.  The complex's defenses start killing off the scientists one-by-one in the classic technology-gone-awry scenario later played out in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Dying victim insists I only put 10 movies in a top-10 list

  Contagion films are aplenty these days such as the eponymous film recently but this one is one of the first.  The Andromeda Strain was attempted to be redone in 2008 to less applause.  The story is one of Michael Chriton's best; you know, the guy who made Jurassic Park, The 13th Warrior, and Twister?  Yeah, good flicks.  Eventually, the movie also became a mini-series in 2008 as well, but this one's the real-dealio.

I miss cars of the 1960s.

  A bit of a sci-fi horror film, it still ranks up there with the best must-watch sci-fis of all-time, as well as the rather depressing, Logan's Run (which gets honorable mention).  Most sci-fis of the 1970s were pretty grim but still very interesting.  Give it a try and tell me what you think.  I found it compelling and clever.

Scientist briefs in split-screen, "This complex is impenetrable, so now that the virus is here, well, we're pretty much f*cked."


Imagine watching at a drive-in Star Wars followed by Smokey and the Bandit for the first time?!  You'd not have time for hanky-panky during those movies, but I'm sure some couples managed, and the kids produced are probably superheroes now, or gods!  Freakin' AWESOME!  Okay bye.


  1. Too fah... too fah!

    Too many AMAZING films from this decade.

    What do you think about Brian DePalma's adaptation of Stephen King's "Carrie," or The Rocky Horror Picture Show? I realize that these could both be considered genre/niche films, but I think that Carrie is phenomenal, and the cultural impact of TRHPS is STILL something that is being regularly felt in 2012 with monthly screenings in theatres. (It's nuts!)

    I really liked that you included Dirty Harry and Chinatown in your Honorable Mentions section as well. Along with Death Wish, Dirty Harry, and Taxi Driver, I believe (and I could be wrong here, but I don't think I'm entirely wrong) that the anti-hero lead in action films of the 1970s paved the way for the overly-juiced macho man (NOT Randy Savage, OOOOO YEAH!) of the 1980s. Again, I could be wrong, but I think that there's a connection there. And along with those three films and their respective protagonists, you could probably lump Martin Sheen's Willard in there with them, as he did what had to be done to complete his mission.

    I don't know. It was an incredibly dark time for film back then, but in a way it was also QUITE amazing, I think.

    Anyway. I'm interested to see where some of the blockbusters of the day fall into this next list, as I find myself loathing the likes of E.T., but then I completely love Back to the Future (which I feel will probably get the shaft) and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    Shaft, Superfly, and Phantasm also ALL came out in the 1970s as well, fyi. I know youre list was alread too long, but these movies did all right as well. Blaxploitation was also something that didn't really get brought up here, unless I missed it. A few of these films I still have to go back and read our review on yet. It's nearly five in the morning right now though, so I will save that for another time.

    There's lots and lots of Carpenter goodness in the decade of your next list. Don't forget about our buddy JC.

    1. Can I click "Like" on your reply? Great points! "Carrie" was pretty phenomenal, and yeah, I missed it, but after thinking about it, can it beat "The Exorcist"? Arguably, perhaps, but aside from the amazing first 10 minutes there's some dead spots, and folks didn't pass-out like in the 1930s with "Dracula" where "The Exorcist" achieved.
      RHPS was a bit too.. goofy and though it's popular, can't really budge the movies listed. Personally, I thought it was cheesy and not really "epic", and if it had bumped "The Poseidon Adventure" no one would have forgiven me. Blacksploitation films are great fun and do indeed represent the 1970s but I found they're a bit "niche". Same goes with the great martial arts movies produced at the time. Honestly, the acting was below sub-par most of the time in these genre and the low-budgetness of them can't oust, say, "Paton". Still, these genres do indeed define the 1970s on a different level, and I encourage the reader to try the "McDonald's" of movies you mentioned: Still VERY good for what it IS, but not the fillet mignon listed here. I agree they should have got honorable mention.
      I considered "Phantasm" in the list as a personal favorite, but the "giant fly" scene and stale acting kind of killed it. Only us biased fans would put "The Tall Man" over George C. Scott or Topol. Honestly, I felt I was a bit biased already.
      The 1970s is probably the BEST genre of filmography in its muddy innocence where concepts were being tried-out. Your EXCELLENT comments will stay on the blog for others to consider, because it's relevant and true.

  2. Also, the playing up of the brown was hilarious.

    And The Poseidon Adventure is COM-PLETE-LY underrated as a film. Just fantastic, in all kinds of ways. With any luck, someone will see this and give it a look.

    Just too neat.

    Also, wasn't The French Connection a great big 1970s film as well. I thought it was just okay, but it seems to make lots of lists when the 1970s comes up. It's from The Exorcist director William Friedkin as well.

    All right. Goodnight. For real this time.

    1. I agree on all points here. "The French Connection" was indeed over-rated in my opinion as well, though it makes Gene Hackman -almost- forgiven for his goofy role in "Superman" which if had he played it more like Kevin Spacey would have been far superior. I'd recommend giving it a watch too, though I didn't like it much. French is a dead language anyway.. [je' smirk]