Tuesday, January 19, 2010

40 Years Ago: My Favorite Movies of 1970

I was told recently that I need to work on my grammar here. Its true. I don't really edit either. I'll try and work on it.

1970 seems like a pretty strange year. Frankly, at first sight a weak year. In that I either haven't seen a lot of movies from that year yet, that I probably should like Le Cercle Rouge or The Conformist. Or there are ones that I either don't like such as Love Story or admire but don't really click with me, such as Five Easy Pieces. Even two of the ones on this list might be more sentimental than anything else. And, again, like 1960, there aren't ten of them. Strange years, but even finding six for this year, whatever the reason might be, is difficult. This is how it stands right at this moment:

6) Beneath The Planet Of The Apes

When thinking about it, of course, the entire Planet of the Apes series is crazy. This might be the craziest entry. Usually with sequels, when they try to do the same basic storyline, ANOTHER astronaut finds his way to the Planet Of The Apes on a rescue mission...somehow. So you'd think that it would just be a carbon copy of the original. But oh no, this one somehow finds Brent going underground, literally, and dealing not just with the Apes, of course, but also mutated humans living under the ground who worship an atom bomb. Yeah, this not only is a sentimental favorite, definitely, but also earns its spots by being nuts, and also for having an ending that...well, its actually pretty wild in its audacity.

5) Two Mules For Sister Sara

Another sentimental favorite, but I like the way this is handled as a slightly more comedic addition to the Man With No Name mythos. Its nice if somewhat awkwardly paced. It even has a score by Ennio Morricone. It shot and set in Mexico, it often looks amazing, mainly due to Mexican cinematographer Gabriƫl Figueroa, whose camera seems in love with the arid terrain.

4) Patton

This is obviously, George C. Scott's film because without him in the lead, I doubt it would have worked half as well. He totally makes it. Its a compelling portrait of an insane military genius, after his campaigns in North Africa, and into Germany and the fall of the Third Reich. His faults and insubordinate nature eventually catch up to him leading him to be relieved as occupation commander of Germany. Amazing stuff.

3) M*A*S*H

I guess like any famous director, people are really divided on Robert Altman. Some people feel he's a genius. Other people feel he is less than genius. I have to admit that I fall somewhere in the middle, I think. But I do find this pretty funny. Although its odd, I probably watched the TV show for years before seeing the movie and I have to admit I had to get used to all these different people playing roles like Hawkeye and what not. At least Radar was still the same. Anyway, it is episodic, almost to the point that each little part is actually more of a vignette than an actual scene that is stitched into a whole. Even that was different. This was Altman's commentary on Vietnam through the war in Korea, juxtaposing the doctors hijinks with gory surgical room scenes. It works better than I think it has the right to.

2) Gimme Shelter

The Maysles brothers were the documentary kings in the seventies. This is their document of the Altamont concert, where The Rolling Stones basically wanted to put together their own Woodstock, just a few months after Woodstock,at Altamont Speedway. About 300,000 people came, and the organizers had the brilliant idea to put the Hell's Angels in charge of security around the stage. Armed with pool cues and knives, Angels spent the concert beating up spectators, killing at least one. Its compelling, not only for what happened, but also as the Maysles have the Rolling Stones look at the footage and comment about whats happening. Crazy and compelling.

1) Kelly's Heroes

This may or may not say something about 1970, but this is definitely my favorite movie of the year and I don't see that changing. One of the best entries in the "Men On A Mission" military movie tradition. A nicely comedic take on it too, as Clint Eastwood and Telly Savalas round up a band of misfits to go after some Nazi gold. Its so great, and its mostly because of the interplay of the people involved with the heist. It has a huge cast of, mostly, character actors, I mean they aren't Charles Bronson, but the likes of Gavin MacLeod, Don Rickles, Carroll O' Connor, Harry Dean Stanton, and even the guy that played Uncle Leo on Seinfeld. Its just so offbeat and awesome.

By the way, looking for pictures for the above, I found some cool Kelly's Heroes posters I thought would share:

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