Another year in the 70s, and more hard choices to make. I'd like to point out one that won't be on this list and that's Soylent Green. Its a terrific little film, but its overall effect on me and its ultimate twist were severely spoiled by a sketch on Saturday Night Live in the 90s. Its a great sketch, but man did it ruin one of science fiction's greatest twists for me. The impact that ending had never was to be for me. Also here, I had to cut Day For Night, Truffaut's film about making a film achievement. But, when it comes to this list and making cuts, I've only seen it once whereas the others on this list I've seen a multiple of times. So, if you're wondering why some really good films or the like are missing, that can be a factor.
Bzzzt its the Oscars
WINNER - The Sting
Cries And Whispers
A Touch Of Class
Now, I'll poke around
Some may consider this George Lucas' greatest achievement in his career, but honestly they gotta be trolling or are just trying to be a Star Wars hater. American Graffiti is no schlub, its a fantastic achievement, but I mean...the film didn't spawn the empire that Star Wars is or change the industry like said space opera. Anywho. This is one of those great "last night out" or "big night out" teen movies that I'm not sure started that type of storytelling or not. We get a night out from some wonderful, deep characters. One things I'll always remember about this film is how much fun it was to spend a night with these people, only to have George Lucas pull the rug out from under me and then stomp on my crotch with such a downer of a post script. But, that I felt that bummed about the fates of some of our characters is a detriment to how well rounded and performed they were.
Wam, bam thank you, Pam. Coffy is and still one badass film. Its got some good street-level detective work mixed with wonderful grindhouse action. One thing I think rocked that Grier's character in this and Foxy Brown brought to the table was her ability to do all this independently. Without the help of some agency or dudes. The film also never has to sit and point out after every triumph that it was awesome "for a girl" or that a female accomplished this. Coffy was allowed to just be Coffy as Shaft was allowed to just be John Shaft. This is something that was significant, done here, worked, but yet still has trouble getting done in today's film climate. Coffy was also a big hit, proving there was just as much room and audience for female action stars as early as the 70s. Pam's success also spawned the likes of a rival in Cleopatra Jones. While I dig Blaxploitation films plenty, most of the reason I enjoy them is their no fear kind of approach and great practical action and stuntwork they're doing with super low budgets. Coffy is an all-timer in the action world for me, I dig it plenty.
There's a reason this film is so highly touted and has been a staple of horror and film for 40+ years now. Not only is this a great horror film, its just a good film period. It has great drama, ideals, personal arcs and conflicts that go beyond the possession and fights. And for a film of a period, or of the past it never feels dated or constrained by "dating" or other things some might poke at it. However, when I saw the film on the big screen, my experience was a little tainted because immature punks were sitting and laughing at the swearing and rude things Reagan would say when she was possessed. I often think sometimes those laughs can come to disguise their fear, but it was laughs nonetheless. So, like most vintage horrors, sadly I recommend you watch this by your lonesome in a dark room and no distraction late at night. I've written some more on this movie which you can find HERE.
One of the best sequels around. The film takes the original film's protagonist's agenda and then throws it in the face of him. Harry has to deal with a renegade division of cops using his actions and his ideals to levels that dishearten him and make him question his own morality. I used to be quite big on Dead Pool as the best Callahan sequel, but in recent years I've come to find a great respect and appreciate for this film to where I really think its very close to being just as good as the original. It also features some great action set pieces and a nice big finish. The film also seemed like one of those jumping off points for a bunch of young actors like Robert Urich, Tim Matheson and David Soul. Dirty Harry was the second retrospective I ever did (and I think least popular of all time, sob sob...that's what happens in the "one for me" essays), and you can find it by clicking the image on the right.
The Long Goodbye
This amazing little film came back to the conversation a little bit this year with Kino, being the awesome film distributor they are, putting it out on Blu-ray. This is a great great GREAT movie. Its a fun ass neo-noir with a great goofy character at the center of it all. Elliot Gould is outstanding as Phillip Marlowe and I really wish we could have got a few more films with him in this role. Like, even if they were underwhelming, I think he would have been enjoyable enough to elevate them. You just can take your eyes off this movie. There's plenty of good one-liners and comic bits to go with the twists and turns. Its a self aware movie, poking fun at a lot of the tropes that come with the noir and gangster movies. If you're a fan of The Big Lebowski and you haven't seen this movie, you're going to love yourself for watching this. You'll now have two movies to watch religiously, and maybe will start a Long Goodbye-fest.
One aspect that I love about Sleeper that might be odd or not what most people "go to" with this film, is its style. I really dig this look and the ideas and tech of the film. Something about the late 60s and early to mid 70s sci fi really works for me. The Hunger Games franchise has sort of seemed to dig back into that bag of influence for their films. Oh yeah, Sleeper is a pretty damn funny film and one of my Top 5 from Woody Allen I think. This also has a pre-Annie Hall pairing of Allen and Diane Keaton and their chemistry just works like always. For a while the image of Allen in the getup pictured above was sort of iconic in cinema, but I think its wave has passed. To me, if you're doing a Woody Allen essentials checklist, you gotta have Sleeper on there.