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?

4 thoughts on “american cinema in the 70s”

  1. 1. “The Osterman Weekend” was released in 1983, though I think Michael is right in thinking of it in the context of 70s cinema. Believe it or not, this thing was recently released on DVD–a 2-disc “commemorative edition,” no less. I’m going to put in my queue, though I suspect my response will be much like Michael’s. I’m more interested in the documentary on Disc 2. Which is the bigger coke-induced nightmare? The film, or the making of the film?
    Can we think of other great “coke films” of the late 70s, early 80s? My favorite is Spielberg’s “1941.”
    Anyway, “Cross of Iron” is probably Peckinpah’s last, brilliant (and coherent) film, and it really comes at the tail end of the period Arnab is talking about. The story goes that Peckinpah was editing this film just down the hall from where Marcia Lucas was editing “Star Wars.” Peckinpah and crew thought it was just a kiddie space opera and that “Cross of Iron” was going to be the big hit. We all know that Lucas’s film changed everything, so I think of the “Cross of Iron”/”Star Wars” encounter as the beginning of a quick end to the 70s Hollywood renaissance.
    Most film scholars, Tom Schatz in particular, point out that the Hollywood blockbusters “worked” because they were plot-driven (rather than character-driven), apolitical, and heavily genre-coded. It’s more or less prescriptive to regard films like “Jaws” and “Star Wars” as masterworks of narrative technique and film technology, but nothing more. But I think both are amazing films.

  2. From the ’70s renaissance:
    Death Wish. Benji. The Way We Were. Lipstick. The Gumball Rally. A Star is Born (again). Cruising. Oh, God. The Big Sleep (again). Big Jake. The Gauntlet. Burnt Offerings. Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday. The Champ (again). Coma. Moonraker.

    I’ve seen all of these. I’m even fond of some. Some admittedly great movies with what we might now see as more mainstream production circumstances, but…. I’m always so leery of idealizing the period.

    The ’80s, a usually maligned decade:
    Say Anything. After Hours. Melvin and Howard, Something Wild, Married to the Mob. Baby It’s You. The Thing (again). Crimes and Misdemeanors. E.T. Choose Me. Birdy. Blue Velvet. Raising Arizona. Rumble Fish. King of New York (right at the tail-end). Do the Right Thing.

    Maybe ambitious in different ways, but some interesting stuff going on. And–aside from Sayles–I think these are all studio films.

  3. Coppola’s 80s stuff is pretty darn good–with the exception of “One from the Heart,” a naked Teri Garr not withstanding. Anyone out there enjoy “The Cotton Club”? I think it’s one of his better films. Why did he drop Ford from his name during this decade?

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