Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fave films of the 70s

Bit of a gap since the last installment, but here's a fave list from my first real decade of movie-watching, which would have been at The Granada in Chichester, forays with my older siblings to cinemas in London, and finally graduating to the Duke of Yorks in Brighton and the holy grail of independent cinema, The Scala in London. But if I'm honest, many of these would have been after the event, on VHS or DVD.  
Let's get the big Hollywoods over with first: Jaws, Star Wars, Superman, Saturday Night Fever, The Deer Hunter, Grease, Alien, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather I & II, Towering Inferno, and I suppose I'd have to include the overrated Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
The 70s also introduced some of the greatest cop/crime/mafia movies: Mean Streets, Serpico, Shaft, Chinatown, The French Connection, Dirty Harry, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three... And some great comedies: all of Mel Brooks' 70s output: Blazing Saddles, Silent Movie, Young Frankenstein, High Anxiety...; Woody Allen's 'early funny films': Bananas, Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask), Sleeper, Play it Again Sam, Love and Death, Annie Hall and Manhattan; Steve Martin's debut The Jerk; National Lampon's Animal House...
And there was plenty more besides: M*A*S*H, Woodstock, Spielberg's debut Duel, Dustin Hoffman in Little Big Man, Papillon, Marathon Man and Kramer vs Kramer; Klute, Network, The Last Picture Show (which felt like a 50s film), Cabaret, The Sting, Being There, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and - getting edgier - Play Misty for Me, Taxi Driver, The Exorcist, Straw Dogs...
On the cuddlier side, Disney limped through the 70s with The Aristocats, Robin Hood and The Rescuers. And on the weirder side there were animated versions of The Lord of the Rings and Watership Down.

It was a reasonable decade for Brit films, aesthetically if not commercially. The grim Get Carter and grimmer A Clockwork Orange (which of course I didn't see at the time - you couldn't); Nic Roeg's Performance, Don't Look Now, Walkabout and The Man Who Fell to Earth; The Wicker Man, That'll be the Day, Ryan's Daughter, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Monty Python & the Holy Grail & The Life of Brian, Midnight Express... And then there was Bond, James Bond, which saw Sean Connery (Diamonds are Forever) give way to Roger Moore (Live & Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy who Loved Me and Moonraker), all of which are guilty pleasures.

But it was German films - alongside Krautrock and the Bundesliga - that took my interest. It was probably Herzog's Aguirre, Wrath of God (soundtracked of course by Popol Vuh) that started it, quickly followed by Nosferatu, Stroszek  and Woyzeck before backtracking to The Enigma of Kasper Hauser and the very early, very weird Even Dwarves Started Small. Oddly, even though it's one of my fave Popol Vuh soundtracks, I didn't see Heart of Glass until much later, and it was only very recently that I watched Fata Morgana for the first time (which I didn't like). And then there was Fassbinder's Fear Eats the Soul (which made a big impression on me), Effi Briest, Chinese Roulette and The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (all of which I would have seen on late night TV), and The Marriage of Maria Braun and Berlin Alexanderplatz which I think I saw at the cinema. And then I think there were three Wim Wenders' films in the 70s: The Goalkeeper's Fear of the Penalty, Alice in the Cities and Kings of the Road. Oh, and Schlondorff's The Tin Drum.
French cinema in the 70s rather passed me by, but I remember seeing Truffaut's The Story of Adele H (Isabelle Adjani's debut), L'Enfant Sauvage, The Man Who Loved Women and Day for Night; also I particularly liked Tacchella's Cousin Cousine (probably because of Marie-France Pisier) and Marcel Ophul's 4.5hr marathon, The Sorrow and the Pity.
Other European, Australian and Etceteras would have to include Bunuel's last decade of film-making: Tristana, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Phantom of Liberty and That Obscure Object of Desire; Victor Erice's The Spirit of the Beehive, Fellini's Roma and Amarcord, Alejandro Jodorowsky's El Topo, Tarkovsky's Solaris and Stalker, Dario Argento's Suspiria; The Tree of Wooden Clogs, Polanski's The Tenant & Tess, Bergman's Autumn Sonata, Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dynamite. Further afield, I'd have to include Ozzy films Picnic at Hanging Rock and Mad Max; Kurosawa's Derzu Uzala (set in Siberia), Oshima's Ai No Corrida (which I remember watching at The Everyman in Hampstead), the silly but influential Enter the Dragon...
And last but not least, major mentions must be made of the weird & wonderful: Lynch's Eraserhead (a major influence); lo-budget slashers: Texas Chainsaw Massacre (which I watched for the first and only time with members of Throbbing Gristle!) and George Romero's Dawn of the Dead; the first X-rated animation: Fritz the Cat; sleazy sexploitation: Russ Meyer's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls; just plain trashy: Divine in Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble; soft-core: Emmanuelle, The Story of O and other European fare masquerading as art-house; and of course I never watched Deep Throat
It's really difficult to list a Top 15. I could go for the ones that influenced me at the time, or that I rediscovered a lot later, or withstand repeated viewings, but anyway, then here goes:

- Blazing Saddles
- Young Frankenstein

- Fear Eats the Soul
- Eraserhead
- Nosferatu
- The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
- The Life of Brian
- Stalker
- The Man with the Golden Gun
- Annie Hall
- Alien
- Day for Night
- The Whicker Man
- The Godfather
- The French Connection

1 comment:

  1. It's not that well documented, but "Even Dwarves Started Small" was a major influence on David Lynch, coming as it does 6 or 7 years before "Eraserhead".
    More recently Lynch produced Herzog's "My Son, My Son, What have They Done"
    I like "Fata Morgana"! Found it very hypnotic.