american cinema in the 70s

michael mentioned 70s cinema in connection with “the osterman weekend”. a couple of years ago sunhee and i had quite the 70s festival via netflix: we watched “the parallax view”, “the conversation”, “dog day afternoon”, “network” etc. in quick succession. was this truly the last great decade of american film or are we remembering only the good stuff and glossing over all the dreck? after all, this is also the decade of the “airport” films. but it does seem like films were being made in the 70s within the studio system that were more thoughtful and which sidestepped the high/low art schema.

speaking of “dog day afternoon”: whatever happened to that al pacino?

So Bad, etc.

I saw a bit of The Osterman Weekend on TV the other day. It got me thinking–Are there other movies that are really quite bad as conventional movies but that are nevertheless great. The Osterman Weekend, taken as a conventional thriller is really ridiculous–it makes next to no sense and it includes an extended slow motion sequence involving crossbows. However, as a document of decline , corruption and paranoia it’s unbelievably right on. everyone in the movie seems to be a victim of coke addiction and gin sweats. I feel edgy and upset watching it. John Hurt and Dennis Hopper in particular look like they might die onscreen. If I were to teach a course on movies of the 1970s I would use this film to catch its “mood” rather than something “well-made” but hardly as compelling like “All the President’s Men.” Something about Peckinpah that allows him to take a piece of Robert Ludlum nonsense, hardly direct it at all and yet still make a very personal movie?