Wednesday, December 21, 2016

KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE (1977), STROSZEK (1977)

1977

The Fistful of Yen section from the 1977 classic,
Kentucky Fried Movie
The most important movie release of 1977 was unquestionably Kentucky Fried Movie (Sorry, Star Wars fans). KFM is a slicker version of other 70's vignette movies such as The Groove Tube or If You Don't Stop It, You'll Go Blind. KFM included several scenes that are probably ingrained in your subconscious if you saw this as a teenager when it was released. Included in this is: "The popcorn you are eating has been pissed in," Catholic High School Girls in Trouble, Big Jim Slade, A courtroom scene which was a clear forerunner of Airplane! with the taking of everything that went on literally, cooking the cat in Wesson Oil, Cleopatra Schwartz, Danger Seekers and more. Best of all is a half hour satire of the Bruce Lee movie Enter the Dragon called A Fistful of Yen!

I saw Kentucky Fried Movie at Emory Cinema in Atlanta the year it came out. The little theater near the university of the same name still has an admittedly romanticized feeling for me, because I saw my first film there in 1973 (the Exorcist era) and my last film there in 1978 (the Animal House era). The cinema burned down in 1978, never to be rebuilt. But those few years were very formative years in my movie viewing.
Here are some of the movies I remember seeing at Emory Cinema during that time frame:

The Exorcist (Even though I was pretty young at the time, I convinced my dad to take me to see it. It scared the hell out of me as he told me it would, but is still one of my favorite movies all these years later.)

Blazing Saddles (Another movie I saw with my dad. He loved to quote the line about Hedley Lamar and the thought of that brings a smile to my face).

Harold and Maude (Emory had midnight movies and Harold and Maude is probably the very definition of what a midnight/cult movie should be.)

Animal Crackers (The 1974 re-release was very fun and made me a Marxist for life.)

Love and Death (Made a twelve-year-old a Woody Allen fan.)

Earthquake (The disaster movie that had the added addition of Sensurround which was a 
process that was supposed to shake the seats you sat in and make you feel you were part of the quake...but in reality was less than impressive.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (First of many viewings...it was also pretty much a private viewing for me from what I remember.)

Saturday Night Fever (No matter that I was a bit antagonistic toward disco at the time, I did feel the need to see this movie when it came out. I still thinks it is a good film and certainly a copy of the film should be put in any time capsule of 1977.)

An Unmarried Woman (I've got to be honest...I went to this movie because I knew there were nude scenes. But I do like the movie...Though the plot of a woman adjusting to a divorce isn't typical fare for most fifteen-year-old males I'm guessing.)

Julia (Went to see this political movie simply because it was nominated for some Academy Awards. I wasn't really into it that much, but I might need to give this one another chance after all these years.)

Animal House (Probably the last movie I saw at Emory Cinema and I've seen it at least a dozen times since. I'll hit 1978 for the next post and I plan to watch Animal House again for that.

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I went through the 1001 movie list and looked for another 1977 movie to watch for today's blog. I chose Stroszek. This German film directed by Werner Herzog reminds me of some of the character studies that began to be made in the U. S. during the early 70's (The Pacino/Hackman film Scarecrow, especially). The plot features Mr. Stroszek, who is a poor schlub from Germany who gets out of a mental institution and finds himself unable to get his life together. He moves to American with an unbalanced elderly acquaintance and Stroszek's hooker girlfriend. It seems things start working out for him in the states at first...though it begins to slip away from him just as quickly. Quirky, interesting characters, funny moments, heart-breaking moments and an ending filmed in Cherokee, North Carolina featuring a musical chicken I won't soon forget.

The musical chicken rehearses for the finale
of Stoszek
Here are twenty other non-1001 movie entries from 1977 that I have seen sometime during the past.


Airport ‘77 Yet another star studded airplane disaster movie from the series that  began with Airport and came to an end at the end of the decade with Airport '79.  I mostly remember this one ended up with the plane underwater and featured Jack Lemmon, Jimmy Stewart and (of course) George Kennedy as Joe Patroni!

George Kennedy is Joe Patroni in one of the Airport movies

2 Andy Warhol’s Bad-If you had to put an Andy Warhol film in the 1001 book, I'd pick this low budget sex and drug film over Vinyl. But then again I'd probably pick anything over Vinyl.

The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training-Original movie should have had a no sequel/no remake rule.

4 The Exorcist II-Technically, I never saw this sequel, I admit. But I remember my father and brother went to see it and elaborately described in detail how truly awful it was as soon as they got home. I've always thought of this discussion as a viewing deterrent to this film even all these years later.

5 The Deep- Despite being an elaborate production based on a Peter Benchley story, the most people seem to remember from this is Jacqueline Bisset in a wet T-shirt...I'm sorry, what were we talking about again?

Jacqueline Bisset's T-shirt in The Deep
6 Fun With Dick and Jane-Fun (as the title suggests) comedy with Jane Fonda and George Segal and I also liked the catchy theme song. And Ed McMahon's rare supporting role allowed Johnny Carson to make jokes about it for years.

7 The Goodbye Girl-David Gates supplied the theme for this Neil Simon film that was played often on the radio in 1977. The film itself won Richard Dreyfuss won the Oscar, but shouldn't he have gotten this for Close Encounters of the Third Kind if you were going to give him one for that year?


8 The Island of Dr. Moreau-Another version of the H. G. Wells novel. This one has Burt Lancaster as the doctor. That's about all I got for this one...Oh, yeah. Barbara Carrera!


Barbara Carerra and the "Beast Folk" in
Island of Dr. Moreau
9 Oh, God-A very likable comedy about an everyman who becomes the chosen one that is spoken to by God who tells him to spread the word in modern day California. John Denver and George Burns (as God) make an engaging team. Paul Sorvino is also memorable as a corrupt televangelist. 

10 High Anxiety-Another favorite Mel Brooks movie with countless and mostly funny Alfred Hitchcock references.
Mel Brooks Vertigoesque spinning always made me laugh.
11 Pumping Iron-Documentary on the Mr. Universe pageant that introduced many of us to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno, Spoiler: Arnold wins! 

12 The Rescuers-Didn't see this cute little Disney mouse flick until years later when I watched this on video with my children...about fifty times.

13 Semi-Tough-Probably the best 70's football movie not titled North Dallas Forty.

14 The Serpent’s Egg-Bergman's somewhat infamous English language film during his exile from Sweden is actually pretty good.


15 Slap Shot-Probably the best 70's hockey movie period! Who could forget the Hansen Brothers?

The Hansens take no prisoners in Slap Shot
16 Looking for Mr. Goodbar-I actually remember this movie based on a novel of he same name about a teacher who during the night exhibits high risk sexual behavior as being one of Diane Keaton's best roles.

17 The Spy Who Loved Me-Might be the best of the Roger Moore Bond movies. Introduced us to Jaws, the best Bond villain stooge not named Oddjob.

18 Smokey and the Bandit-The most popular (if not necessarily the best) Burt Reynolds vehicle of he decade.


19 Viva Knievel!-This marked the first starring role for stunt daredevil Evel Knievel. This also marked the last starring role for stunt daredevil Evel Knievel.

Red Buttons tries to dissuade Gene Kelly from leaving
the set of Viva Knievel!
20 Cross of Iron-I just watched this Sam Peckinpah World War II film for the first time. I'm glad I did. It's really a fine war film and deserves its place in the Peckinpah canon along with The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. Interesting that the film (based on a novel) is from the German point of view and gives a lot of war movie cliches such as the moral ambiguities of war a fresh coat of paint...At least from a point of view I haven't seen before or at least very often. A similar German point of view was used a few years later in Das Boot.

James Coburn as a German (work with me here!) platoon
leader in Cross of Iron

Don't stop believing in tomorrow, 1978 will soon be here.



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