1970’s HISTORIC MOVIE ERA
Movies have chronicled the public zeitgeist since the art’s inception.
For those who grew up during Hollywood’s Golden Era, the “art for art’s sake” film industry of the ’40’s, ’50’s and ’60’s, saw the 1970s as the last era before quality, story, characters, and plot lost out to big box office tallies. It is historic fact that the movie Jaws created more than one monster in 1975 as the “Blockbuster” was born – and the movie business as an artform became the business where the greed of “boffo” profit ruled.
While the ’70s will always remain as the last outpost of classic film-making, one look at the decade’s movies also reveals the psyche of the times. While balanced with comedies and musicals, the decade had an ominous Vibe.
To start off, smack in the heat of the Vietnam War are the presentations that war is a ridiculous Hell with M*A*S*H, Catch-22, Patton, and Kelly’s Heroes – but that Love was alive with Woodstock and Love Story.
Frustration with the war, injustice, and the general unrest caused many to buck the system;
Dirty Harry, Dog Day Afternoon, and The French Connection ignited the anti-hero genre which fueled satire with A Clockwork Orange, Harold and Maude, and then existentialism with Vanishing Point.
The ‘70s took matters into their own hands with The Godfather, Deliverance, Superfly, Death Wish, The Getaway, The Sting, and Dirty Harry’s Magnum Force.
By the mid ‘70s things were not what they seemed with Chinatown, The Parallax View, Don’t Look Now, Performance, and Three Days of the Condor.
Then all Hell broke loose with The Exorcist, Earthquake, The Towering Inferno, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Last Tango in Paris, and Jaws.
Mid-‘70s also saw the last of the great films with All the President’s Men, Rocky, and “I’m mad as Hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” Network.
In the late ‘70s no single movie genre dominated, it was either Comedies with Blazing Saddles, Annie Hall, Smokey and the Bandit, and Up In Smoke – Fantasies with Superman, The Muppet Movie, Grease, and Saturday Night Fever – Gritty Noir with Taxi Driver, Eraserhead, and Apocalypse Now – or Outer Space with Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and Alien.
And then there was Horror. Desensitized and accustomed to the horrendous death toll of Vietnam’s “causalties” the rise in violent horror escalated to genre-defining levels. With Alien the Horror of the 1970s ended, however the following ’70s movies greased the bloody wheels of the on-coming ’80’s Freddy and Jason Slasher Splatter-Fests: Toby Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Richard Donner’s The Omen, Stuart Risenberg’s The Amityville Horror, Robert Fuest’s The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Brian De Palma’s Carrie, John Carpenter’s Halloween, Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm, Dario Argento’s Suspiria, David Cronenberg’s Rabid, William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left, and The Hills Have Eyes, and George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.
As is apparent, the overall strain of the incredibly compact novelty of the historic ‘60s was expressed in film in the ‘70s as one of justified paranoia, exposed reality, dark visions, and imagination realized – sprinkled with a little laughter and song and dance. Sigh. The Good Ol’ Days.
Movies in bold are 00individual’s favorites that were seen on opening day or week of release in a first-run theater near him.
As a matter of fact, he saw ALIEN a week before nationwide release at a righteous theater/screening room on the M.G.M. studio lot in Culver City. Gotta hand it to Ridley Scott, this claustrophobic horror, like Friedkin’s The Exorcist, make the viewer one of the characters in the movie, whether they like it or not.
Like many Rock ‘n’ Film Fans of the ’70s, 00individual saw everything worth seeing to the point of viewing foreign films or rare screenings on college campi or community centers. These were days of voracious hedonism and indulging in fine cinema was just one of the joys of the ’70s.
And then there were the Drive Ins. Sigh. The Good Ol’ Days.
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