The second episode (to call it something, I might do the video) I will mention films from the 1970’s. To me that is the Golden Era, the decade where young great directors that became legends started and the times when great actors like De Niro, Pacino and others made their name. It was a decade of all kind of great films that I am yet to really see all of them but here are those that I did see that I loved.
I will start with a film that paired once again the two great actors Robert Redford and Paul Newman. Released in 1973, The Sting is one of the best con-artist theme movies I have ever seen, you never actually know what is going on until the end. Robert Redford is great in it as this young con-artist that is told to meet Shaw who is one of the best I the game. And they plot a scam on Lonnegan who got Kelly’s (Redford’s character) friend killed. It is a fun movie to see and the score is so perfect for the film.
You can’t speak of 70’s films without mentioning The Godfather. This is without a doubt one of the best films ever made. What I love about the story and I think it was intentional, is the fact that we fall in love with this family and root for them even though they are gangsters and killers. Because of how they are as a family as an audience we forgive them for the murders and all the things they do, because we see them as “good guys”, or at least that how it felt to me. Marlon Brando gives one of his best performances as Don Corleone. With every little detail he just nailed the character. Al Pacino in his first big role is amazing in showing the transformation of Michael from not being part of the family business to becoming even more powerful and evil than his father. The whole cast is great, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall and James Caan. Then came Godfather II and it is more epic and longer than the first film. Robert De Niro as a young Vito Corleone was a brilliant performance and Pacino now more the center of the story is great at showing the continuous change in Michael and how lost he really got in the power and he did it all thinking he was doing it for the family. The whole trilogy is great, but those two films are just masterpieces directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
When you think of this decade the best directors in my opinion were all friends and even shared casting sessions and helped each other. Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Brian De Palma. Brian De Palma did one of the scariest films I have ever seen. The first time I saw it I had nightmares and that image of Christ they had in the film was so disturbing. The film I am talking about is Carrie, released in 1976 and based on a Stephen King novel, is the story of a shy girl who without others knowing has the power of telekinesis. She lives with a fanatic religious mother and gets picked on at school. At prom, Sue wanted to do something nice for Carrie so she got her boyfriend to take her, but she did not know that Chris (another girl from the school) plotted to humiliate her at prom. This unleashes one of the most shocking scenes when she locks the doors and kills everyone there. De Palma shot this brilliantly, splitting the screens so the audience sees Carrie in the middle and on the sides the chaos she was unleashing. Sissy Spacek was amazing in this role. The way she transforms herself in that prom scene is just amazing. I have other De Palma films but they are from the 80’s.
George Lucas impact as a director is less than his impact in the industry itself with special effects and storytelling. In 1977 Star Wars was released and so began a fascination with this simple story of good vs evil told through imagination and great characters. The three actors chosen for the main roles were perfect. Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia was great because here is a princess that is not afraid, not really looking to be rescued and yet she has a sweetness in her. Harrison Ford as Han Solo is one of the best characters in film, he is arrogant and yet we like him. Mark Hamill as Luke provided the innocence in the story as he was new to it all and had the innocent feeling of hope. Great film, to this day I still enjoy them.
The movie Jaws released in 1975 was a game changer, known as the first blockbuster. What can be said about this film. It is a horror film with and adventure feeling in it. The way it was made and some of the score makes you forget that there is a huge shark killing people. Of course, the score also provides a lot of help in the scaring of the audience because it would let you fear that the shark was coming. It might have been by accident, but the fact that we don’t see the shark at first made the film even scarier and when the shark does appear we are so scared of it already that we believe that is a real shark.
The great Martin Scorsese in 1976 released one of the most amazing films based on a character I have ever seen. Taxi Driver is such a great film. The story of how Travis Bickle a loner who after a series of events gets disgusted with society and derives a plan to become a savior somehow. He takes a young prostitute to save her from that life. I have not seen it a while, but I do remember the shock of the film and the performance by Robert De Niro. He was just great in the film. Martin did one other film that I want to see and that is Alice does not live here anymore and I want to see it because I Ellen Burstyn as an actress.
I went through directors now I want to go through three actors that were big in this decade and are my favorite actors. I will start with my favorite Al Pacino. He made some of the best films of the decade and I think his performances were simply amazing and deserving of an Oscar. I mentioned The Godfather but that to me it’s not his best performance. Serpico released in 1973 is one of my favorite films of all time and Pacino carries that film with his performance. Playing real life cop Serpico, a cop who refused to participate in corruption and stay quiet while putting his life on the line. The movie is just so good and has so many great moments where we can see the intensity of Al Pacino’s talent as an actor. There is a scene where he meets in the park with someone who knows about what was going on and the way Pacino reacts felt so real and honest as if he was actually going through it. Another great Pacino film though less known maybe is the film Scarecrow with Gene Hackman. The movie is a friendship story divided in two half, the first half Pacino is a lively character trying to make his friend smile and feel better and the second half Hackman becomes what Pacino’s character was to help his friend who after being raped in jail he was never the same again. Dog day afternoon is another classic, and Pacino was brave playing a gay character on film when it was not common and what a character. Pacino plays a bank robber that has to handle and weak partner, the hostages his wife and his boyfriend who wanted a sex-change operation. Pacino once again just provides a performance that maybe in another year it definitively should have won best Actor.
The actor that won the Oscar beating Al for dog day afternoon was no other than Jack Nicholson, another one of my favorite actors of all time and truly a giant. In 1975, One flew over the cuckoo’s nest was released. This film is just amazing. Jack Nicholson’s performance is flawless and Louis Fletcher was so good as nurse Ratched that I can’t see her without getting reminded of that horrible character. The film about how Randall (Nicholson’s character) revives this mental institution and inmates who were there voluntarily. The ending is one of those endings where you cry and sheer at the same time as the Indian breaks the window and breaks free. Jack Nicholson made great films in this decade, Chinatown is a great film with a shocking revelation at the end. Five easy pieces is another film where his performance is great.
I want to mention one more film, The Deer Hunter is an amazing film. I saw it once because it is a long drama movie but the story is so heartbreaking and beautifully told. When three friends go to war and are captured their lives change. Nick, Mike and Steven worked together and went deer hunting before going to war. They are captured and forced to play Russian roulette before finally escaping, but in the process, Nick gets separated from the others. Years later they finally find where Nick was and in one of the most intense scenes I have seen Mike played by De Niro confronts his friend who is so traumatized that he does not listen and they play Russian roulette while Mike tries to convince him to come home when Nick shoots himself while playing the game. De Niro is so flawless in that scene as well as Christopher Walken. The somber and sad ending of the film felt like a reflection of the true loss of war.