Wednesday, December 7, 2016



The Travelling Players
Theodoros Angelopoulos's 1988 film, Landscape in the Mist, is a very distinctive film that I thought was excellent. Landscape moves at a deliberate pace, makes limited but effective use of music and features slow, methodical camera movements.

Going back to Angelopoulos's 1975 film The Travelling Players, a lot of these same techniques in Mist are employed for the older film and there is a lot of good here. I can even see why some call the film a masterpiece! However, at almost four hours, The Travelling Players gets to be a little bit tiresome and I found it at times paced too slowly to hold my interest many times. Also, the timelines of the scenes where the players reside in seem to bounce back and forth between 1939 and 1952 a great deal and gets to be a bit confusing. One critic said that The Travelling Players is an easier film to admire than to love. I would have to agree.

The Stepford Wives
A Stepford Wife, meaning a perfected domesticated suburban housewife, has become a standard reference in our culture even if you've never read Ira Levin's book of the same name or viewed the original 1975 film adaptation. But since I was feeling pretty 1975ie today, I decided to view the original movie since I've never seen it. After watching it, I really thought it was better than I expected. The plot that has the wives of this suburban Utopia slowly becoming model homemakers had overtones of other movies I've seen (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Westworld and Levin's own Rosemary's Baby) and didn't offer too many surprises, but the Levin/William Goldman screenplay was very smart and the movie doesn't pull its punches too soon. It's also nice to see Katherine Ross in a starring role this time out...And it's definitely better than the remake.

During 1975, I kept a movie scrapbook of newspaper ads because I thought that was what every twelve-year old did...Well, not really. But anyway, I still have it and within its pages (now turning brown) I have listed some non-1001 essential movies which I have seen anyway accompanied here by pictures of the actual ads from my old notebook.

The Apple Dumpling Gang

For chicanery, skullduggery, tom foolery and habitual bungling! was a Disney tagline if there ever was one. I did see this Tim Conway/Don Knotts vehicle when it came out and I did like it all those years ago…but I confess to have no desire to revisit it.

The Strongest Man in the World

I certainly saw all of the Disney/Kurt Russell/Joe Flynn/ Medfield High comedies back in the day. I’m pretty sure this was the last in the series. The ad says, “A secret formula explodes…POOF!…Instant Muscle…Instant Fun!” Same plot as The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes only with brawn instead of brains..


Tough, serious and mean looking Charles Bronson seemed born to be an action star. He did some memorable supporting work during the 60’s in The Dirty Dozen, The Great Escape and had a great staring role in Once Upon a Time in the West. The only problem with his starring roles from the 70’s is that most of them weren’t very good. But you can’t fault him for lack of volume as he seemed to crank out an action movie every other week during the mid-seventies! For Breakout, I still remember the TV ad for this proclaiming, BRONSON! BREAKOUT! BEAUTIFUL! The print ad before me has a large red nosed Bronson surrounded by drawings of explosions, helicopters, airplanes and people climbing ropes. The pictures of the cast at the bottom of the ad include little blurbs.

CHARLES BRONSON: The hit man of “Death Wish”
ROBERT DUVALL: the brains behind “The Godfather”
JILL IRELAND: Has a proposition for escape
RANDY QUAID: the law breaking sailor from “The Last Detail”
JOHN HUSTON: the big boss of “Chinatown”
SHERREE NORTH: has a sure way to distract prison guards!

My favorite of these blurbs is obviously Ms. North and her ability to distract the prison guards. I guess she lures them away with her homemade chocolate brownie recipe! 


Bug is a film by the self-proclaimed master of horror, William Castle. I enthusiastically went to see this movie the week it came out. From what I remember, Bradford Dillman was a science teacher who unearthed some deadly firebugs who create havoc and eventually achieve the ability to spell, which if I remember correctly, was a much scarier scene than you might think by that description. The ad has a screaming woman holding a telephone that has a recently ignited bug resting on it and boasts the tagline, “The Picture to See With Your Eyes Closed!”

The clever ad also advises you to check your car, neck, hair and bed after leaving the theater. (I didn’t do all that after I left the theater, but I always was a rebel.)

French Connection II

The French Connection II does have some admirers, as evidenced by the busy ad of positive reviews pictured above. The French Connection is also one of the first movies I recall to have a sequel with just the original title followed by simply the number 2 (or pretentious Roman numeral II) that I can remember. I honestly don't remember much about FC2 and it certainly lives in the shadow of the original classic.

The Happy Hooker 

Another infamous sex movie of the 70’s, The Happy Hooker is based on the memoirs of a prostitute Xaveria Hollander, who became a bit of a celebrity during the 70's through her books and these films. I did read her original book, but I assure you it was all in the name of research. The ad, which features just a picture of a shapely leg with a hundred dollar bill in a G-string screams Lynn Redgrave is a Delight!...Risqué Fun. There were sequels of sorts which I probably watched on late night cable, including one starring my personal heartthrob Joey Heatherton in The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington

Love and Death

First Woody Allen movie I ever saw at the theater (Emory Cinema, a movie house that tragically died in a fire in 1978) and is still one of my favorites in the Allen canon. This nice, big ad includes the memorable picture of Woody in the countryside with Death.


The ad above is not for the Joe Don vehicle Mitchell, but from the Joe Don Baker vehicle Framed...But these mid-70's Joe Don Baker flicks were mostly the same, weren't they? I actually watched Mitchell as part of a memorable episode of Mystery Science Theater. Word has it that Joe Don wasn't overly pleased about being spoofed.

Night Moves

This quirky little mystery adventure film seems to have achieved a bit of a cult status over the years. I only saw it in recent years and it features a nice role for Gene Hackman and a very, very young Melanie Griffith. There is also a scene when Night Moves takes a verbal shot at art films when the Gene Hackman character compares watching an Eric Rohmer film (My Night at Mauds?) to watching paint dry. I still haven't got around to seeing My Night at Mauds yet, so I don't have an opinion on whether or not this assessment is correct.

The Other Side of the Mountain

Basically a mid-70’s version of something that would have been written by Nicholas Sparks if he had been around then. 

The ad claims that… 

It takes a rare and special movie to each week attract larger audiences than in each preceding week!

The above description really isn’t exciting enough for me. Just say instead that-Mountain gets bigger and bigger every week and there aint’ no stoppin’ this behemoth! ...or something to that effect.

The Return of the Pink Panther

Nice ad featuring a giant shadowed Inspector Clouseau looking through a magnifying glass at the actual cartoon Pink Panther. I remember being excited when this movie came out and still think it’s the best of all the Peter Sellers/Blake Edwards Panther films.

The Prisoner of Second Avenue 

Prisoner of Second Avenue was a pretty funny Neil Simon play which I saw on TV a couple of years after 1975 and on stage a couple of years after that with Sid Caesar in the title role. The above ad is actually the monthly installment of Cablevision news, which was basically the 1975 version of Netflix. The difference between Dekalb Cablevision and your modern day Netflix (as you see below) is that we only had five new movies to choose from plus two encore movies. This was preceded by Key Cinema, which had about four movies per month. Plus, we also had to watch them only on the specific times they were shown. Oh, what a hard life we had in the 70's!


The ad from Shampoo was a simple picture of hairdresser Warren Beatty holding a comb against the head of Gloria Hawn as Hawn and Julie Christie stare blankly into the camera. Understated and effective as ads go. I'm a little surprised this one was left out of the 1001 movie book. Details on the making of this film and others from this period are detailed in Peter Biskind's excellent book, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-drugs-and Rock 'n' Roll Generation Changed Hollywood.


The Ken Russell film based on The Who’s rock opera would definitely be on my 1001 list, though it isn’t on any of the 1001 actual lists. The cast pictures wrapped around this ad features Ann-Margaret as the Mother, Roger Daltrey as Tommy, Eric Clapton as the Preacher, Keith Moon as Uncle Ernie, Oliver Reed as The Lover, Elton John as the Pinball Wizard, John Entwistle as Himself and Tina Turner as the Acid Queen. Interestingly, there is no side picture of Who frontman Pete Townsend. Go figure.

The Man with the Golden Gun

The first James Bond movie I ever saw was indeed the above listed feature of The Man With the Golden Gun and Live and Let Die. Some Bond fans don't care for Roger Moore's whimsical take on 007, but since he's the Bond I grew up going to see in the theater the next ten years, I'm good with him in the role. Of course, there's still only one Sean Connery.

Once is Not Enough

This theatrical soap opera based on the Jacqueline Susann novel spawned perhaps the silliest of all the movie ads that feature the pictures of the cast/characters at the bottom of the ad with a little blurb at the bottom. They are worth repeating in full.

Kirk Douglas as “The husband for sale-bought for $3 million!”

Brenda Vaccaro as “The high-fashion editor with low desires!”

David Janssen as “The novelist who couldn’t live the fantasies he wrote about”

Deborah Raffin as January “The daughter-a virgin eager to make up for lost time”

George Hamilton as “The playboy-the swinging set’s most wanted ‘escort’”

Melina Meccouri as the lady with “Untold wealth, untold marriages-her real love”

Gary Conway as “The Astronaut, but we know by the description that he is “a hero-but to his wife-something else.”


I can’t say I miss this type of theatrical soap opera on the big screen, but I do miss the ads for them.

Race With the Devil

This is one of those movies that I remember seeing when it came out (In 1975, of course) and haven't seen since. However, I do seem to still have strong memories about what it was about. Two couples (Peter Fonda & Lara Parker and Warren Oates & Loretta Swit) go vacationing in a Winnebago when they witness a group of Satanists performing a virgin sacrifice. The Satanists spot the couples witnessing the crime and spend most of the movie chasing them down. The two couples try to tell the authorities, but everyone seems to be against them and they have no idea who they can trust. At one point, they are at a roadblock where there is a school bus accident and Peter Fonda yells out, "A school bus on a Sunday! I don't think so!" After this proclamation, Fonda wheels the Winnebago around at breakneck speed! The Satanists kill Lara Parker's little dog and put a snake in the Winnebago at different times. Loretta Swit also steals a library reference book in the film's most controversial scene (At least to a librarian). The Satanists do catch up to them at the end. In retrospect, the film seems like sort of a combination of The Exorcist and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Lara Parker is also know for playing a wicked witch in the 60's gothic soap opera, Dark Shadows. I met her at DragonCon in Atlanta a couple of years ago and she signed this picture of Race With the Devil 
for me below.

The Reincarnation of Peter Proud

“1975 will be the year of The Reincarnation of Peter Proud,” said Tower Ticker of the Chicago Tribune. Well, not quite. It was the year of Jaws, actually. It did mark the first movie in which I ever saw a woman topless in a movie (Gotta love Margot Kidder and Cornelia Sharpe!) so it does mark a personal historical cinematic landmark,

Other films I remember seeing in the past that came out in 1975, include

Crazy Mama
, (the one with Cloris Leachman. Not to be confused with Bloody Mama with Shelley Winters or Big Bad Mama with Angie Dickinson),

W. W. and the Dixie Dance Kings (I couldn't go through a 1975 film list without mentioning at least one Burt Reynolds movie), 

Scenes From a Marriage 
(Ingmar Bergman's long Swedish mini-series got a theatrical release in a shorter form during 1975), 

The Passenger
, (Michelangelo Antonioni's Italian drama which has one of the greatest final scenes in film history in my opinion), 

(a film that got an X rating, but thought it was a pretty tame movie to get an X when I actually saw it), 

The Yakuza (American/Japanese crime drama that was pretty good for action fans and fans of Robert Mitchum), 

Smile (An underrated cult film about the behind the scenes goings on at a beauty pageant), 

A Boy and His Dog
 (apocalyptic sci-fi film based on a Harlan Ellison story), 

The Sunshine Boys (The more prominent Neil Simon release of 1975 featuring the team of George Burns and Walter Matthau), 

The Sensuous Nurse (One simply doesn't get much sexier than Ursula Andress as The Sensuous Nurse!)

Ursula Andress tries on scrubs
in The Sensuous Nurse...
I'm missing 1975 already...

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