New Line just announced that they will be remaking of the most neglected 70’s films, “The Last Of Sheila!”
I love what is, for me, the golden era of cinema – movies from the 70’s. This is the decade of The Exorcist, The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Network, Deliverance, Annie Hall, Carrie, and so many more….classic movies that are as timely and relevant today as when they were first produced.
Here is a list of 10 movies that are part of that classic era, but you probably have never heard of them. They are all worth checking out!
10 – Electra Glide In Blue. The music Producer James William Guercio was most well known for his work with Chicago in the early 70’s, but this little-seen gem of a movie is his masterwork. “Do you know that Alan Ladd and I are the same height?”
That’s Arizona highway patrol motorcycle cop John Wintergreen’s come on line to every girl he meets, and Robert Blake’s cocky swagger in the lead role is on full display here – like when he yells at the Coroner, who is simply trying to bag up the dead body on display:
John Wintergreen: You listen to me, hatchet artist! You’re tampering with evidence and if you put your finger on one more thing in this room, I’m going to bust your ass! That’s right… the officer in charge is talking to you and he’s saying that you’re going to be arrested as an accessory, after the fact, in a murder case!
Coroner: Now you listen to me. I have had had a lot of patience with you. You want to be a policeman. You want to stay on the force. Well you just get the hell out of here and get on that motorcycle and start tagging automobiles… ’cause if I hear one more peep out of that goddamn yap of yours, I’m going to see that you get sent to Sibieria!
Don’t hold that real-life Blake stuff against this movie, which is a terrific whodunnit in a time of social upheaval in America. If you think “Easy Rider” is the high water mark of the hippie era, think again, this is the one. Beautifully made mystery with a much larger purpose…
9 – Zardoz. 1974. Ready to have your mind blown? I mean, BLOWN BLOWN BLOWN?
Here is the IMDB description: In the distant future Earth is divided into two camps, the barely civilized group and the overly civilized one with mental powers. A plague is attacking the second group, after which its members cease to have any interest in life and become nearly catatonic. When Zed, one of the barbarians, crosses over, the tenuous balance in their world is threatened.
And here are the opening lines of the movie….a a huge huge huge stone head floats over the English countryside…
“I am Arthur Frayn, and I am Zardoz. I have lived three hundred years, and I long to die. But death is no longer possible. I am immortal. I present now my story, full of mystery and intrigue – rich in irony, and most satirical. It is set deep in a possible future, so none of these events have yet occurred, but they *may.* Be warned, lest you end as I. In this tale, I am a fake god by occupation – and a magician, by inclination. Merlin is *my* hero! I am the puppet master. I manipulate many of the characters and events you will see. But *I* am invented, too, for your entertainment – and amusement. And you, poor creatures, who conjured *you* out of the clay? Is God in show business too?”
Soon after, the Stone Head delivers these gems:
[the gigantic Stone Head hovers before the worshipful horde of Exterminators]
Zardoz: Zardoz speaks to you, His chosen ones.
Exterminators: We are the chosen ones!
Zardoz: You have been raised up from Brutality, to kill the Brutals who multiply, and are legion. To this end, Zardoz your God gave you the gift of the Gun. The Gun is good!
Exterminators: The Gun is good!
Zardoz: The Penis is evil! The Penis shoots Seeds, and makes new Life to poison the Earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the Gun shoots Death and purifies the Earth of the filth of Brutals. Go forth, and kill! Zardoz has spoken.
And look at this! Yes, Sean Connery fights back against the “evil penis!” Look, this is one warped classic, so check it out!
Here’s an obscure movie worth finding! A recently institutionalized woman has bizarre experiences after moving into a supposedly haunted country farmhouse and fears she may be losing her sanity once again.
Is Jessica going crazy again? Is something in the lake? And is it coming after her?
What do you think? This is a very effective little horror movie – that is more than anything a look into the madness that envelopes a woman and just won’t let go…unless everything happening to her is real…this is a very little-known film, but worth finding!
7 – The Late Show. 1977. “The nicest, warmest, funniest, and most touching movie you’ll ever see about blackmail, mystery, and murder.”
Director Robert Benton would go on to win an Oscar for “Kramer Vs. Kramer”, but this late 70’s film noir look at LA is a neglected gem. Art Carney stars as a broken down gumshoe, Ira Wells, struggling to make rent. He gets a new client, Lily Tomlin, who needs help finding her cat. What happens next is one of the best tales of Hollywood film noir ever, with terrific acting and a ton of recognizable faces in small roles.
Ira Wells: “Back in the Forties, this town was crawlin’ with dollies like you. Good-lookin’ coquettes tryin’ their damnedest to act tough as hell. I got news for you: they did it better back then. This town doesn’t change – they just push the names around. Same dames… screwin’ up their lives just the same way.”
If you only know Art Carney from The Honeymooners, his performance here is amazing, and Lily Tomlin is also outstanding. Poignant, touching, full of action and twists, and oozing with the smell of Hollywood glitter and grime.
6 – Cold Turkey. 1971. Want to see what Norman Lear did for social satire BEFORE he made the iconic TV series “All In The Family?” Well, here you go!
Hoping for positive publicity, a tobacco company offers $25 million to any American town that quits smoking for 30 days. Amidst a media frenzy, Eagle Rock, Iowa accepts the challenge while the company’s PR man tries to sabotage the effort.
Bob Newhart is the cynical PR guy who dreams up the stunt, and Dick Van Dyke is the preacher in small-town Eagle Rock, who sees this as a way to revitalize the town…
The opening shot is of a dog walking into the deserted small town, as Randy Newmnan’s song “He Gives Us All His Love” plays over credits…the dog keeps looking back at the camera…it sets the stage for a very funny social satire…getting an entire town to stop smoking is tough, especially when you have to convince the town drunk, who has a very strong POV on the matter:
Town Drunk: “The booze bone is connected to the smoke bone and the smoke bone is connected to the head bone and that’s the word of the Lord!” He is afraid that, if he stops smoking, HIS HEAD WILL FALL OFF! Find this movie, it is a lot of fun!
5 – The Friends of Eddie Coyle. Robert Mitchum was cinema’s TOUGH GUY – he didn’t take anything from anyone – ever.
Eddie Coyle is a down-on-his-luck mobster looking to make a few bucks to tide his wife over while he goes upriver. But nothing is easy with friends like Eddie has. Lots of great action, terrific supporting acting from Peter Boyle, and a gritty, anything goes performance by Mitchum as a guy looking for one last score…
This is a tough, gritty movie with terrific acting and some tense action scenes…
4 – The Mack. 1973. How can I forget the golden era of blaxploitation, when everyone from “Superfly” to “Shaft” and “Cleopatra Jones” were breaking box office records for movies with a black protagonist and an urban sensibility? This 1973 blaxploitation classic stars Max Julien as Goldie, just out of prison and eager to return to the top of the pimping game!
Richard Pryor is hilarious as his buddy Slim…you can see the superstar waiting to get out as Pryor owns every moment he is onscreen!
the golden age of blaxploitation was full of flashy wardrobe, big hats and bigger afros!
3 – Fuzz. 1972. Police in Boston search for a mad bomber trying to extort money from the city. The cops in charge of finding this “mad bomber” are Burt Reynold, Racquel Welch and Tom Skerritt.
According to IMDB, Raquel Welch did not like Burt Reynolds because of unsavory comments he made while they were filming “100 Rifles” together. So, in this movie Welch insisted that she not have any direct scenes with Reynolds. The closest they get is during the interrogation. Even when in the same room they never have direct eye contact.
Burt was on the cusp of becoming a superstar here…and this funny, action-packed comedy helped keep his career trajectory going up for years to come.
2 – The Last of Sheila. Yes, thenremake is coming!
No word on casting, but they will have a hard time topping this original!
One of my favorite films of all time. A classic “whodunnit” written by Anthony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim. Yes, THAT Anthony Perkins and THAT Stephen Sondheim. In real life they were great friends and both loved puzzles. So they wrote one, directed by Herbert Ross. Movie Producer James Coburn invites a Director, Writer, Starlet, Agent, and a hanger on or two to spend a week on his yacht off the French Riviera.
The reason? To play a game…but there is something far more serious at play…Dyan Cannon, James Mason, Racquel Welch and Richard Benjamin co-star in one of the best mysteries ever, with plenty of twists and lots of tongue in cheek pokes at Hollywood.
Christine: [while suntanning] I have to do 25 minutes on my stomach.
Alice: To make up for the 25 minutes you spent on your back, last night?
If you’ve ever heard of the legendary Super Agent Sue Mengers, wait until you see Dyan Cannon’s take on her…to quote the movie, “Cut. Print. Perfect!”
1 – “O Lucky Man!” 1973. imagine a modern day retelling of Candide, starring Malcolm McDowell as a young coffee salesman looking to conquer a world gone mad. Seriously, IMAGINE IT. McDowell did this film after “A Clockwork Orange”, and he conceived the story as well. It’s directed by Lindsay Anderson, who gave Malcolm his first role ever in “If…”, the incendiary look at teenage rebellion in Britain’s schools. “If…” won the Palme d’or at Cannes during the French student riots of 1969, and is worth checking out as well. Back to “O Lucky Man!”, which is one of my favorite films of all-time.
It is a sweeping epic of youthful ambition that runs headfirst into the moral complexities of the real world. McDowell and Director Anderson take us on a three hour trip into the surreal world of capitalism and greed.
The movie includes Alan Price’s outstanding soundtrack. What I love about the film is that you see Price perform some of the music live in the film. And the opening credits are over footage of Price singing the title track in a studio, while the film’s Director Anderson films him singing. One of many unique directing touches on display here. Also, look for Helen Mirren in a very youthful role as well.
This movie is brilliant, pure and simple – and yes, challenging, but really entertaining as well and worth the effort!
Professor Millar: What do *you* think is the most successful animal that’s ever lived on this earth?
Travis: The ant?
Professor Millar: The dinosaur. Uh do you realize that the dinosaurs dominated this globe for a hundred and forty million years before they became extinct? Man has been on this planet for only a fraction over forty thousand years and yet already he faces extinction. In fact, the species will be lucky to survive beyond the year two thousand and ten. Mankind has only one hope: science. Technology is a survival kit of the human race. Even the politicians realize this. What they don’t, or won’t realize is, that the technical solutions are already entirely within our power. The entire population of India could be rehoused on the moon within ten years. It’s only a matter of learning to live in a new way.
“Learning to live in a new way.” Travis finds out what that means, in a shocking hospital scene – and, I have no proof of this, but there is a scene in Seinfeld that, to me, makes very specific reference to a scene in “O Lucky Man!”
A true masterpiece. Check out this story about the “Seinfeld” connection!
Let me know what you think!
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