Sunday, January 21, 2018

GET CARTER (1971), WANDA (1971)


Michael Caine studies the film-noir rule book in Get Carter

Get Carter is a smart crime thriller which features Michael Caine as a criminal who investigates his brother's death and gets caught up in a complicated web of lies. It's a highly thought provoking and intriguing film and I can see why the reputation of it has grown. I've never had the heart to see the Sylvester Stallone remake.

Barbara Loden is Wanda

Low budget film written by star Barbara Loden (with maybe some help from her husband Eliza Kazan). The success of the plot of a divorced woman trying to find nothing but bad ways is contingent on whether or not the audience cares about Wanda. I think she establishes this connection and I kept wanting to tell Wanda not to do this or that, but she just wouldn't listen! This is the kind of low budget personal film that was starting to come around more in the seventies (though rarely about women, I concede) and continues in some Independent movies today.

Here are thirty movies from 1971 that I have seen previously that didn't have the stuff to quite make the 1001 movies list, I've tried to list next to each movie where it was I first saw it as a personal memory test.

1. 200 motels-Where did I first see it? Midnight Movie in the late 70's
A strange, trippy movie from what I remember, that had Ringo Starr imitating Frank Zappa and Flo and Eddie trying to get laid and a featured a few obligatory nude scenes and some rather off-beat music from Frank Zappa. I think I'd  revisit the soundtrack before I revisited the movie at this point.

"Ringo" Zappa in 200 Motels

2. Abominable Dr. Phibes-Where did I first see it? Late night television during the late 70's
Vincent Price would basically be in any movie regardless of quality (See The Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine franchise) but occasionally he would turn up in a pretty good film including this horror/revenge flick.

3.Bananas-Where did I first see it? Midnight Movie during the late 70's
Certainly one of Woody' early funny ones and his first in a series of some of the best comedies of the decade....I may have even seen this one at the midnight movies more that once...

Woody in disguise in Bananas

4.Barefoot Executive-Where did I first see it? Might have been at the theater the year of release
as I saw most of these Disney comedies at the cinema during the early 70's. I'm sure I thought the plot featuring a chimpanzee as a network TV programmer was funny know, that's still kind of funny!

5.Billy Jack--Where did I first see it? Emory Cinema, 1974

Who was cooler in the early 70's than Billy Jack?

6. Bednobs and Broomsticks-Where did I first see it? Georgia Cinerama about the time of release.
I fondly remember this Disney film that really tried to recapture the magic of Mary Poppins and received a mixed critical reception. I did love the cartoon sequences at the time. Probably shouldn't revisit and spoil my good memories.

7. Summer of '42-Where did I first see it? Network movie premiere mid 70's
Movie that my mom accidentally went to see at the theater and was really offended by #1.
Three teenage boys spending their summer on an island and experience your typical adolescent growing pains. One of the boys becomes obsessed with the beautiful but much older Jennifer O'Neill. Some funny and touching moments in this film and features the famous Michael Legrand theme.

In Everyone's life there is a Summer of '42... 
Well, that may be a bit of an overstatement, 
but it works as a promo.

8. The Boy Friend-Where did I first see it? VHS rental, late 80's
I went through a period when I first got my VCR of seeing many of Ken Russell's films. This musical with Twiggy and Tommy Tune I can't say was one of my favorites, but may warrant another look.

9.Fright-Where did I first see it? Seemed to be on Friday night at 11:30 all the time during the early 70's
Oh, the lovely Susan a terrorized baby sitter. I thought it was kind of creepily scary at the time.
And my case that Susan was one of the first movie scream queens is laid out below...

Susan George screaming in Fright

As a point of reference-
Susan George screaming in Straw Dogs

As another point of reference-
Susan George screaming in Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry

10. Million Dollar Duck-Where did I first see it? Probably at the theater shortly after release...
These early 70's Disney/Dean Jones/Kurt Rusell/Joe Flynn movies are starting to run together in my memory...

11.Vanishing Point-Where did I first see it? Got the DVD about 10 years ago.
A lot of Road to Nowhere movies seemed to come out during the early 70's including Two Lane Blacktop and Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, but Barry Newman driving away from the law and from life for no reason is the nowhereiest of them all.

On the road to oblivion, Barry Newman in Vanishing Point

12 A New  Leaf-Where did I first see it? local TV during the 80's
Walter Matthau and Elaine May. Gotta be funny, right? I think it was, anyway.

13. THX 1138- Where did I first see it? The Superstation...I think during the early 80's

A lot of people love George Lucas's Star Wars films a lot. A small number of people love George Lucas's cerebral science fiction film THX 1138 a lot. It's just math as to which of these became a franchise.

Robert Duvall as THX 1138

14. A Gunfight-Where did I first see it? At my Aunt's House during the late 70's
I remember this Western had Kirk Douglas challenging the best gunslinger in the West (Johnny Cash) to a duel. I don't remember much about the movie, I do remember Cash lamenting about the fact that he was the best gunslinger there was and how it didn't make him better than anyone else, it was just reality.

15.  Pretty Maids All in a Row-Where did I first see it? Late night HBO during the late 70's
Movie that my mom accidentally went to see at the theater and was really offended by #2
Rock Hudson plays a football coach that seduces and kills co-eds...Wait, was that the plot? I thought this was a comedy?

Angie Dickinson is too old for Rock Hudson
in Pretty Maids All in a Row

16.The Hospital -Where did I first see it? -Found a VHS of it at the library ten or so years ago.
I remember hearing about this movie years ago which was about a big city hospital starring George C. Scott and won an Oscar for Paddy Chayefsky. It seems to not be on anyone's radar anymore, but is a solid and well written film.

17. Escape From the Planet of the ApesWhere did I first see it? Network TV premiere I'm guessing 1973 or 74.
Probably the best of The Planet rhe the Apes sequels. Zira and Cornelius wind up in the early 70's with zookeeper Ricardo Montalban to change history...or at least keep the ape line going.

Zira and Cornelius discuss time travel issues with Ricardo Montalban
in Escape from the Planet of the Apes
18. The Beguiled-Where did I first see it? Late night TV during the 80's
Dark Clint Eastwood/Don Siegel story of an injured Civil War soldier that gets trapped in a young ladies boarding school. This could be good for Clint good and bad and indeed is both. I haven't seen the recent remake.

19. Diamonds Are Forever- Where did I first see it? I believe during the early 80's on TV.
Sean Connery tries to fill the shoes left by George Lazenby and does so effortlessly in battling Blofeld one last time...Well at least until he battles him again in about a decade or so. Jill St. John makes for a fine Bond girl.

Diamonds Are Forever but not so Bonds

20. Macbeth-Where did I first see it? I used our Interlibrary loan department to get every version of Macbeth I could get a hold of. I think this was 2006.
This is a good adaptation of the bard and has some interesting twists, especially for the final shot.

21. A Fistful of Dynamite-Where did I first see it? Another Interlibrary loan as I was trying to catch up on some missing Sergio Leone movies.

This "Western" set during the Mexican Revolution isn't held in as high regard as Leone’s Dollars Trilogy, but I think it's almost as good. I could definitely picture Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach in the James Coburn and Rod Steiger roles here. I also prefer the alternate title of Duck, You Sucker!, a phrase Coburn comically utters during a crucial moment in the film.

James Coburn tries to reason with Rod Steiger
in A Fistful of Dyn...I mean Duck, You Sucker!

22. Night of Dark Shadows-Where did I first see it? Late night TV I think during my Dark Shadow phase.
Not the best moment of the Dark Shadows franchise. I may have largely tuned out this one.

Where did I first see it? Network TV mid 70's

Revenge story of a crazy young man and the mayhem he causes with his pet rats.

"Say hello to my little friends."
Bruce Davidson terrorizes his boss Ernest Borgnie 
with his pet rats in Willard

24. Evel Knievel-Where did I first see it? Another network TV viewing.
If I had a choice between seeing George Hamilton as Evel Knievel or seeing Evel play himself in the admittedly laughable Viva Knievel!, I'm pretty sure I'd opt for Viva Knievel!.

25. King Lear-
Where did I first see it? Our library had this DVD. I watched it sometime before I started this blog.

Seeing King Lear done in Russian with the "smaller in size than you would picture the lead" Juri Jarvet in the title role works much, much better than I thought it would. Directed by Grigori Kozintsev.

Howl!!! Juri Jarvet in Grigori Kozintsev's King Lear

26. The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant-Where did I first see it? Those wonderful afternoon movies in the 70's on Atlanta's ABC affiliate.

There are some that actually prefer the similarly themed The Thing with Two Heads over The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant! No way! ITHT is way better!

The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant or...

The Thing with Two Heads...You decide

27.The Andromeda Strain- Where did I first see it? Just watched from Netflix DVD service
Michael Crichton's first book to be adapted onto screen is a pretty good cerebral science thriller about a mutated germ outbreak from outer space. You do have to deal with the fact that there aren't any fuzzy monsters or dinosaurs and the biggest star in the picture is Arthur Hill.

28.Panic in Needle Park- Where did I first see it? Just watched from Netflix DVD service
Jerry Schatzberg's tough, urban drama about heroin addicts is probably best remembered today as an early starring role for Al Pacino. It also is a good representation of the 70's bringing forth a new type of film for American cinema. Leading lady Kitty Winn went on to do The Exorcist. Al Pacino went on to become Al Pacino.

"Wincino" in Panic in Needle Park

29. The Omega Man- Where did I first see it? Just watched from Netflix DVD service
The Omega Man is one of three theatrical  versions of Richard Matheson's book, I Am Legend. I'm a little partial to The Omega Man over the other versions, even though the special effects may seem a little cheesy by modern standards. I do like the way the film keeps up with the zombie apocalypse storyline that was probably way ahead of its time thematically. It was also a favorite of Heston's personal favorites. If you want to learn more about Heston, you might want to check out Marc Elliot's Charlton Heston: The Last Icon. And of course, read anything by Richard Matheson if you get the chance.

30.Fiddler on the Roof- Where did I first see it? Our library had the DVD, so I decided to finally watch it last year.
This is a favorite of mine on the stage, having seen a couple of live versions over the years I liked very much. I think an aversion to my not watching the movie sooner because it starred Topol and not Zero Mostel. But I gave it a change, liked it very much and thought Topol was a good Teyve. Director Norman Jewison adds a lot of cinematic flourishes to emphasize the fact that this is a movie and not just the filmed stage play! And Sunrise, Sunset got me all Verklempt. 

L'chaim! Fiddler on the Roof

That's it for 1972...Hoping Saucy feminists
that even men like make a comeback really soon!

Sunday, January 14, 2018



Love means never having to say you're sorry
Ryan O'Neal and Ali MacGraw in Love Story

There really wasn't a movie out there in year of 1970 bigger than Love Story. Based on the best-selling Erich Segal book and with its somber musical theme, romantic New England setting, and likable leads of Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal and the catchphrase "Love means never having to say your'e sorry," and did I mention that the leading lady gets a terminal disease?... this was the movie to see...though I was too young at the time to really be interested in it. I finally watched it all these years later and though it does look a little dated, it still had a certain appeal to it...though that appeal may be slightly nostalgic to a time and a movie galaxy far, far away… 

You have just entered the strange world of El Topo

Alejandro Jodorowshy's El Topo may be the most famous cult film of the 70's that I had never seen before and it is quite a head trip.In fact, it's pretty much like Sergio Leone and Federico Fellini went to Mexico and had a love child and named it El Topo. It is one of the most bizarre Westerns (if you want to label it as such) that you will ever see. Personally, I thought it well worthy of the cult status it has, though I probably would have liked it even more if I had seen back in the day...

Here are a list of other films released in 1970 that I have seen but are NOT listed in the 1001 Movies Book.

1. Airport-The first of the disaster films of the 70's and formula setter of having an all-star cast, an airline in peril (or building, boat or entire city as the case may be), placing a high priority on special effects and for some reason, George Kennedy in a supporting role.

Dean Martin tries to charm his way out of trouble in Airport

2. The Baby Maker-Hippie chick agrees to give birth to a baby for a square couple. Would probably be interesting to go back and watch a young Barbara Hershey in the title role.

3. Beneath the Planet of the Apes-My least favorite film in the Ape series did have some cool mutants and end with a bang (the destruction of the earth). Obviously since there are three more films in the series, the earth did return in Escape from the Planet of the Apes.

The mutant choir in Beneath the Planet of the Apes

4. Bloody Mama-One more time so I can keep it straight. Cloris Leachman was Crazy Mama, Angie Dickinson was Big, Bad Mama and Shelley Winters was Bloody Mama. During this period, Cass Elliot released an album called Don't Call Me Mama Anymore...though that may be beside the point...What was the point again?

5. Getting Straight/The Strawberry Statement/ R. P. M.-The three films listed here are what I refer to as the Student Protest Film Trilogy. I admit to having an affection for these movies that may or may not be warranted. From what I remember, Getting Straight was the most commercial of the three, The Strawberry Statement was the most radical of the three and R. P. M., the story of the cool teacher who eventually sells out to the establishment, was probably my favorite of the three...though no one else I know seems to like R. P. M. very much.

Elliot Gould sees the light in Getting Straight

 The students accelerate their protest in The Strawberry Statement

Anthony Quinn inspires the students until he sells out in R. P. M.

6.Flap-During the 70's and before movies on cable were in the picture, it use to be a big deal when the network would present the television premiere of a film that had been in the theater a couple of years (or sometimes longer) before. I remember the ABC movie of the week was always presented as a big deal along with a mini-trailer and dramatic music. It certainly worked on me. By the time the network got around to showing Flap (a so-so movie featuring Anthony Quinn as hard drinking Native American who eventually comes around to being an anti-establishment protester) the build-up did make me want to watch...but I remember the buildup as being better than the film. I wouldn't mind seeing Flap again, though.

Tonight on the ABC Monday Night Movie of the Week
we present Anthony Quinn as FLAP! Dramatic music ensues
over flashing credits...Those were the days...

7.House of Dark Shadows-As someone who was under the hypnotic spell of the creepy, campy soap opera reruns of Dark Shadows during the late 70's, I found it interesting that the movie House of Dark Shadows managed to encapsulate the entire run of the hundreds and hundreds of episodic shows into a two-hour movie that was actually pretty good. 

Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins in House of Dark Shadows

And an autographed picture to me from
House of Dark Shadows star Katherine Leigh-Scott

8. C. C. and Company-That brief period when the powers that be decided to try to make Joe Namath a movie star. This one did have Ann-Margaret and a cool chopper. Does anyone else remember Namath's series The Waverly Wonders? Where he was a basketball coach? Just a random thought.

9. Let it Be-The Beatles documentary swan song that did feature some good songs, a lot of the lads griping at each other and that memorable rooftop concert. Not the Beatles finest hour, but still worth seeing.

Free concert! The Beatles in Let it Be

10. The Adventurers-The reputation of this epic South American set soap opera is not particularly a good one. I remember watching it many (many!) years ago. I can't remember why I even watched it, maybe it was a Candice Bergen thing? Or even a Leigh Taylor-Young thing?

11. Brewster McCloud-Robert Altman cult classic about...well, its about a young guy that wants to fly...and he's in the Astrodome...and...a plot description doesn't do it justice but it should really be in the top ten of any list of cult/midnight movies (I'd now include El Topo in that top ten list as well). I'm also glad we finally get to see Margaret Hamilton finally get the ruby slippers here!

I believe it's time for me to fly...Bud Cort as Brewster McCloud

12. Tora Tora Tora-Movie that gives us both sides of Pearl Harbor. I just remember it was a cool movie to say that you had seen when you were in elementary school.

13. The Aristocats/The Boatniks-I mentioned that this was a time period that I might have watched The Aristocats and The Boatniks....Hmmm. Did I really see both of these? Maybe I'll look at the movie posters to jog my memory...Looked at the posters...still not sure.

14. The Owl and the Pussycat-Barbara Striesand is a hooker and George Segal is a writer. I remember it being kind of funny...

15. Where’s Poppa...Though of the George Segal 1970 comedies, I much prefer Where's Poppa where the constantly flustered Mr. Segal tries to deal with his hopelessly nutty mother (Ruth Gordon). I saw this as a double feature at The Silver Screen theater during the 80's with A Thousand Clowns, another favorite of mine.

George Segal tries to reason with mama Ruth Gordon
in Where's Papa

16.Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County-I remember watching this Western comedy with Mickey Rooney and Dan Blocker and Nanette Fabray but remember next to nothing about it.

17. Catch 22- Underrated

 Bob Balaban, Arthur Garfunkel, Alan Arkin and Martin Sheen
in Catch-22

18. The Boys in the Band-Interesting film based on the play featuring the lives of a group of gay men in New York. Lots of strong, dramatic moments from what I remember. Directed by a pre-Exorcist and French Connection William Friedkin.

19. Myra Breckinridge-Often noted as one of the worst movies of all-time. This Mae West sex-change comedy based on the Gore Vidal book features a most unusual cast combination that included" Raquel Welch, John Huston, Farrah Fawcett, John Carradine and film critic Rex Reed! I saw this in a double feature with West's later Sextette, with the later film looking like Citizen Kane compared to Myra Breckinridge.

American woman...Mae West in Myra Breckinridge

20. There's a Girl in My Soup-According to Frank Sinatra's biography by James Kaplan, this Peter Sellers/Goldie Hawn comedy was at one time supposed to be a Sinatra/Goldie Hawn comedy. I bring this up only because I can't think of anything else to say about it.

21. The Twelve Chairs
-This Mel Brooks comedy made in-between The Producers and Blazing Saddles is definitely one I need to revisit.

22. Jenny-I remember this partly as being a sort of an attempt at a hip comedy with Marlo Thomas and Alan Alda. The other thing I remember about this is that I watched this at my Aunt's house and she was absolutely outraged that they showed a breast feeding scene (gasp!) at the end of the movie!

An introspective Alan Alda in Jenny

23. The Moonshine Wars-The thing I remember the most about this film is that it included a pre-MASH Alan Alda as a redneck moonshiner. It seems I may have also been partaking something akin to moonshine as I was watching it if memory serves, but that's neither here nor there.

A redneck Alan Alda in The Moonshine Wars

24. Husbands-John Cassavetes's deeply introspective film about three guys approaching middle age and trying to deal with the death of their friend and other life and family issues. After seeing a few of theme now, I've come to really like Cassavetes's films. They aren't exactly easy to get into, the plots are never laid out easily for you to follow and scenes at times seem to go on and on, but they often take you to emotional places that a lot of more mainstream movies can't reach.

A long, uncomfortable (but effective) scene from Husbands

25. Chariots of the Gods?-Did alien cultures come to earth and influence our culture in ancient times? Erich Von Daniken's book was the most famous of this series of seemingly endless paperback books with similar themes that came out during the 70's. I remember fondly that my father read many of them.

As far as the documentary film goes, Chariots of the Gods? looks today like pretty cheesy stuff- promoting the pretty far-fetched premise of ancient aliens building the pyramids and such. I was surprised after looking it up that the film was one of the top ten box office hits of the year (and with a minuscule budget) and was nominated for Best Documentary at the Oscars that year! It led to many low budget conspiracy documentaries that decade (many of which I saw, I admit) from In Search of Noah's Ark, In Search of Historic Jesus, Beyond and Back and The Mysterious Monsters, which convinced me at the time that Bigfoot was out there.

Goodbye 60's and Hello 70's