Thursday, 3 August 2017

1970 - At the movies


In 1970, there were only 3 television channels in the UK, and consumer video players/recorders had yet to put in an appearance so to watch movies, apart from the occasional film on television going to the cinema was the only real option for movie lovers. 1970 may be an arbitrary place to start this retro journey, but I don't think it is a bad one - while some films will have dated and special effects have come on leaps and bounds, many films in the 1970's could just as easily have been filmed in the 1990's or after - hairstyles and fashions not withstanding of course!

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Box Office Smashes

Here's the top 10 grossing films at the US box office in 1970, according to the Internet Movie Database.
  1. Love Story - starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal. This is a romantic film about a boy and a girl who fall in love at college, but then tragedy strikes.
  2. Airport - starring Burt Lancaster and Dean Martin. This is an action thriller come disaster move, with Burt Lancaster playing an airport manager having to contend with lots of problems including someone trying to blow up a plane.
  3. M.A.S.H. - starring Donald Sutherland. A war comedy based in a field hospital in the Korean war.
  4.  Joe - starring Peter Boyle, Dennis Patrick and Susan Sarandon. It is a thriller about a man who accidentally kills his junkie daughter's drug dealing boyfriend.
  5. Anybody's - "An erotic drama about a youthful bride-to-be who takes a holiday to Yugoslavia with a cynical and evil lesbian film critic (and murderess) that leads to debauchery, degradation with a dwarf, a dinner with naked entertainers and other highlights..." (taken straight from IMDB, I couldn't beat that description.
  6. Tora! Tora! Tora! - A historical film about the days leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Habour.
  7. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls - A satirical musical drama about three girls who go to Hollywood to find fame and fortune, but instead find sex, sleaze and drugs. A satirical take on Valley of the Dolls.
  8. Chisum - Western starring John Wayne and Forrest Tucker, and featuring legendary figures Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett.
  9. Darling Lili - a comedy musical drama starring Julie Andrews, which is a cute spin on the legend of Mata Hari.
  10. Myra Breckinridge - a comedy starring Mae West and John Huston about a man who has a sex change operation. 
Other notables

An interesting mix of films there. Other notable films include The Only Game in Town (a romantic comedy starring Elizabeth Taylor and Warren Beaty), Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Five Easy Pieces (see below), The Aristocats, Patton (a biopic of American WW2 general George Patten), Kelly's Heroes (a war comedy adventure starring Clint Eastwood) and Little Big Man, a comedy adventure film starring Dustin Hoffman and Faye Dunaway about a man who looks back on his early life being raised by Native Americans and then fighting General Custer.

Most of these films are American, but one notable British film is The Railway Children, a lovely family drama that came out on Boxing Day 1970, about a family who move to a small Yorkshire town after their father's enforced absence. I've seen this many times, and would recommend it, particularly if watching with children.

What I'm Watching

There's a lot of good films here, I'm spoiled for choice but wanted to start off by watching at least one film from 1970. I started off with Five Easy Pieces. It focuses on an upper class American drop out who leaves his family and takes up a succession of dead end working class jobs on oil rigs. It wasn't a major box office success, but is notable for being Jack Nicholson's first major film and he does a good job in it. This film is a real slice of Americana, and has a good soundtrack, featuring songs country music legend by Tammy Wynette. A good film 4/5.

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I also watched the top film at the box office in 1970, Love Story. This is a film that would probably come across as cliched today, but it no doubt was a lot fresher a story in 1970. It was a very moving film, with a beautiful soundtrack and was impressive for really featuring ups and downs in the relationship of the two main characters, not portraying everything as perfect (as a lot of films today would). It also features Tommy Lee Jones in his first (brief) big screen appearance - he plays a student housemate of main character Oliver. This film was based on a book of the same name by Erich Segal, and there's also recently been a musical.  5/5.

Also on my list to watch is Kelly's Heroes and Little Big Man.