Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Alphabet Meme

An interesting idea.. and an experiment that tests ones recollection for movie titles at the drop of a hat, but fun nonetheless. Started by the terrific Rupert Pupkin Speaks blog, this meme asks that each participant list their favorite (or random) movie titles alphabetically. There are all types of diversions, so be sure to click on the participants and discover some great movies. So, without further adieu, here's my very 70's edition:

A is for All the President's Men because no other film justifies the idea of truth being in the details... and I hold my breath to this day everytime Pakula films someone simply dialing a phone.

B is for Badlands because the sweet innocence between Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen still impresses today. And you know, its Malick.

C is for Cemetery Without Crosses, one of the best non Sergio Leone revenge westerns of the late 60's and early 70's..

D is for Day of the Jackal, another riveting 70's police procedural that boasts an international cast and flawless storytelling.

E is for The Exorcist because one its a great film, meticulously framed and edited and two, its damn hard to come up with any other "e" titles of the 70's.

F is for Un Flic, aka "Dirty Money", and the great Jean Pierre Melville's final film about a bank robbery that tailors his penchant for doomed criminals and fatalistic hues. And I'm sorry, but no one films guys in trench coats walking around quite like Melville.

G is for Get Carter because the British are just ballsy about their lone-man-on-a-revenge-spree movies. And Michale Caine is Carter!

H is for Husbands because you know at least one Cassavetes film has to make its way onto this list and for that 30 minute diner scene that runs uncomfortably long like only Cassavetes can orchestrate. In his films, dinners are often like slasher films.

I is for Idaho Transfer. Once available on DVD but now sadly OOP, Peter Fonda's hugely under appreciated time travel movie is definitely a relic of the early 70's, with hippie students playing with time and creating some drastic consequences. Look for it.

J is for Junior Bonner because not only is Steve McQueen a majestic bad ass, but this is probably my favorite Peckinpah film.

K is for The Kremlin Letter. This fun, convoluted spy thriller saw venerable director John Huston move into the 70's (for my money, his most creative period) with a bang. Hard to find, but it does air on cable sometimes and well worth the DVR set.

L is for The Last Picture Show. So many great L titles I could have chosen here, but I have to go with my fav in "The Last Picture Show" because, 40 years on, this film still inhabits the Texas landscape like no other and so closely nails the feelings, moods and whims of the state I call home.

M is for The Master Touch, a well plotted, brilliant heist film that tackles that age old theme of the 'old criminal and his one last job'. Kirk Douglas, doing what many aging film actors did in the 70's, stars in this Italian production of that great genre known as Euro-crime and succeeds with dazzling results. Available on a bare-bones DVD so Netflix it now.

N is for The Nickel Ride, another seemingly forgotten, modest mid 70's character study about a wheeling and dealing neighborhood crime boss trying to hold onto his sanity as modern progress and personal upheavel threaten to override his lifestyle. Jason Miller is terrific and the film darts in several directions that are shocking.

O is for The Odessa File, Jon Voight's best film, directed by the workmanlike (and recently deceased) Ronald Neame that dares to place Nazi hunting into the mainstream.

P is for The Passenger, a thriller like no other, helmed by auteur Michealangelo Antonioni and infused with that sublime paranoia rampant in 70's cinema, made all the more quizzical through Antonioni's methodical avant garde gaze.

Q is for Quintet. Robert Altman's most misunderstood effort? Probably, and not near as bad as everyone claims. In fact, the re-emergence of cold, clinical sci-fi films like "Code 46", "Gattaca" and "The Island" probably owe this film a huge debt.

R is for Return From Witch Mountain, which not only remains one of my very favorite films as a kid, but the one that got me hopelessly attracted to Kim Richards and made me pay to go see movies like "Tuff Turf".

S is for Smile because a re-watch lately makes me think Michael Ritchie's panaromic view of mid 70's California against the backdrop of a beauty contest just might be better than "Nashville". Discuss.

T is for Three Days of the Condor. More trend setting paranoia from the 70's.... can't possibly leave this one off the list.

U is for Up In Smoke. On a Saturday night at 2am, watch this and see if you don't laugh until it hurts.

V is for Vanishing Point. Like the title, somewhere along the half way point, this film becomes something else besides a chase movie. Only in the 70's could artists take something as mundane as muscle cars and transform them into a mythical quest across the cosmos.

W is for Wedding In Blood, Claude Chabrol's deeply moving tale of infidelity dwarfs anything else he made in the 70's. Enigmatic at times, the title alone should tell one this is an alienating study, but well worth the effort to track down and see.

Y is for The Yakuza because Mitchum, like Kirk Douglas earlier, travels to Japan and kicks ass in some great Euro-crime. Sydney Pollack behind the camera doesn't hurt either.

Z is for Zombie, one of those illogically edited and filmed Lucio Fulci splatter fests that always brings a smile to my face when I watch it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

some good choices in your 70s list, well done, up in smoke surprised me a bit, you know it's in my list but was surprised you liked it. - Brad