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Looking back on 1974 in film


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I really like the idea of going back 20, 30, or 40 years (or maybe even 50/60/etc), to review, enjoy, and become better acquainted with a previous year in film.  Since it is still early in 2014, I'd love to invite anyone who is interested to join me in doing that.  If you are interested, share which movie year you would like to choose.  Possible choices would be 1994, 1984, 1974, etc.  2004 is too recent and wouldn't be as interesting of a project.  Because I myself have the unique circumstance of living in Central Asia and not always having access to those movies I want to watch, it may be more difficult for me to choose remote years before '74.  However, I see how those years could be some of the most interesting of all.  I just may not be able to follow as closely. 

 

This would be fairly wide open in form, but it would be fun to compile top 10 lists for the selected year at the end of 2014.  If at all possible, those films that we have already seen but think would place highly should be watched again. 

 

Let me know what you think!


Addendum: I suppose this topic would be more at home in the Film Lists category, but myself don't know how to switch it over to that group. 

Edited by Brian D
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Brian, given those sentiments, you might be interested in my "10 Years Later" column, where I (or occasional guest writers) revisit a film on the tenth anniversary of its release. 

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1974 seems to have been a very good year in film. The top 25 grossing films alone included Blazing Saddles, The Godfather Part II, Chinatown, Murder on the Orient ExpressThat's Entertainment!, and Young Frankenstein. The A&F list films from that year are The Double Life of Veronique Don't Look Now, A Woman Under the Influence, and Ali: Fear Eats the Soul. I'd love to get on board with this, if others are interested.

Edited by Rushmore
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The A&F list films from that year are The Double Life of Veronique

Double Life is 1991.

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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The A&F list films from that year are The Double Life of Veronique

Double Life is 1991.

blushing.gif I meant to say Don't Look Now.

Sure you did.

 

(Actually, I imagine they are right next to each other on the master list you typed up, so that was probably an easy mixup.)

 

Interesting coincidence: I just placed a hold on Don't Look Now from my library this morning.

 

1944, 1954, and 1964 all seem like pretty good years as well.

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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(Actually, I imagine they are right next to each other on the master list you typed up, so that was probably an easy mixup.)

Actually, I had it right first, and then my eyes slipped down one row and I "corrected" it.

Edited by Rushmore
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Any major objections to choosing 1974?  It looks like both Rushmore and Evan have some interest, and I think '74 is a great choice.  Should we choose the iMDB movie year as the criteria for what is counted as a '74 film?  If not, how do we decide?  I ask partly because iMDB lists Don't Look Now as '73.

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1974 is an extraordinary year.  My list of favorites overflows:

 

1. The Conversation (Coppola)

1. The Godfather Part II (Coppola)

3. The Mirror (Tarkovsky)

4. Chinatown (Polanski)

5. Lacombe, Lucien (Malle)

6. Stardust (Apted)

7. Vincent, Francois, Paul et les autres (Sautet)

8. The Nickel Ride (Mulligan)

9. Mahler (Russell)

10. Butley (Pinter)

10. The Parallax View (Pakula)

California Split (Altman)

Thieves Like Us (Altman)

The Yakuza (Pollack)

Murder on the Orient Express (Lumet)

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (Sargent)

also good: Phantom of the Paradise, Lenny, The Towering Inferno, Zardoz, The Odessa File, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, Effi Briest, The Great Gatsby, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, McQ, Lost in the Stars, The Island at the Top of the World, The Tamarind Seed, Juggernaut, The Man With the Golden Gun, Kazablan, The Front Page, Conversation Piece,  QB VII (TV miniseries)

still need to see: Lancelot du Lac, Freebie and the Bean, Martha, Stavisky, A Woman Under the Influence, The Gambler, The Girl from Petrovka, The White Dawn , Daisy Miller, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Man on a Swing, 11 Harrowhouse, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Celine and Julie Go Boating, Going Places, The Clockmaker, Les Violons du bal, Allonsanfan, We All Loved Each Other So Much, The Voyage, The Cars That Ate Paris.

 

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So let's do 1974, then!

 

I really appreciate Mark RY's lists, as I was hoping to have a few "master" lists like that from those who've seen a lot of movies from that year.  It's the sort of list whose breadth some of us could aim for even though many of us (like me in a distant land) will not approach seeing that many films. 

 

I was glad to see The Conversation featured so prominently on Mark's list, as I was about to say that The Conversation should be on the short list of films to be watched by all who want to see the best from that year.  Though I saw it over 15 years ago, I recall it being quite an accomplishment.  Outside of Hitchcock, I don't know if I have ever seen an ending with such throttling dread and suspense.

 

In this space, feel free to comment as we go along about movies you want to encourage others to see from 1974.  At the end, I hope we come up with some good top 10 lists that will then summon others to catch up on the treasures from this year.

 

I am sad to say that Mirror is actually 1975 on iMDB, so we won't include it in 1974.  I was looking forward to watching it again as part of this project, but I guess I can still watch it anyway. :)

 

By the way, how do we change the name of this thread to something 1974-specific?  On top of that, how do we change this over to the "Film Lists" category where it probably should be?

Edited by Brian D
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By the way, how do we change the name of this thread to something 1974-specific?  On top of that, how do we change this over to the "Film Lists" category where it probably should be?

On your first post, click "Edit" then click "Use Full Editor," which will allow you to change the title of the thread.  I believe only moderators and administrators can move threads.

 

 

Films I've seen from 1974, in order of preference:

  1. The Godfather Part II
  2. Murder on the Orient Express
  3. A Woman Under the Influence
  4. Young Frankenstein
  5. The Conversation
  6. Blazing Saddles
  7. Chinatown
  8. Where the Red Fern Grows
  9. The Man with the Golden Gun

There's a HUGE drop in quality between 7 and 8, and another huge drop between 8 and 9.  But IMO, that's a pretty amazing top 7.

Edited by Evan C

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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It appears I've seen shockingly few films from 1974... Here's my paltry list, with markings out of ten (some based on distant memory):

 

Alice In The Cities  8/10

Chinatown              9/10

The Conversation   9/10

The Godfather II     9/10

The Enigma Of Kaspar Hauser  8/10

Celine And Julie Go Boating       7/10

Black Christmas                          2/10

Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia  7/10

The Man With The Golden Gun            5/10

The Four Musketeers                            7/10

The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three  7/10

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At this writing, I've seen only four films from 1974: more or less in order of preference, The Godfather Part II, Murder on the Orient Express, Young Frankenstein, and That's Entertainment! (It seems no one else has seen that last one? It's basically a documentary celebration of the history of MGM musicals, hosted by stars like Gene Kelly, Bing Crosby, and Liza Minnelli. It's worth seeing if you like musicals.)

 

My priorities for viewing will include:

 

A Woman Under the Influence

Chinatown

Blazing Saddles

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

The Great Gatsby

The Conversation

Huckleberry Finn

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

Lacombe, Lucien

Stardust

The Odessa File

The Phantom of Liberty

Arabian Nights

Cartesius

ETA:

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

The Little Prince

 

Hmm...looks like the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre was released in '74 too.

Edited by Rushmore
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Thanks for those lists.  Those will help me very much as a make a plan for this.  Interesting that several of these movies would benefit from pre-screening of other movies:

 

-Frankenstein and Bride of F before Young Frankenstein

-Godfather before Godfather II

-Stardust looks to be a sequel as well

 

To make Blazing Saddles even richer, I would guess I should watch some of the key Westerns it is spoofing.  Any ideas for which ones would be good? 

 

Any other movies I should see to prep for some of these other key titles?  Other Cassavetes films, for example, before A Woman Under the Influence?

 

Thanks for coming along for this...it will be a lot of fun!

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  • 1 month later...

Rushmore wrote:
: Here's the previous thread on the best films of 1974.

 

But this thread isn't limited to the *best* films of 1974. We could also talk about the *worst* films of 1974, as well. >:)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • The Godfather Part II
  • Murder on the Orient Express
  • A Woman Under the Influence
  • Young Frankenstein
  • The Conversation
  • Blazing Saddles
  • Chinatown
  • Where the Red Fern Grows
  • The Man with the Golden Gun

Updated list (I'll just continue updating this post as I see more films from 1974.)

 

  1. The Godfather Part II (10/10)
  2. Murder on the Orient Express (10/10)
  3. A Woman Under the Influence (9/10)
  4. Young Frankenstein (9/10)
  5. The Conversation (9/10)
  6. Blazing Saddles (9/10)
  7. Chinatown (8/10)
  8. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (8/10) - first 30 minutes or so has a few too many stereotypes, but after that it really takes off
  9. The Towering Inferno (7/10) - A thrilling disaster story about a colossal skyscraper that everyone thought could not ever catch fire.  It never drags, even at 160 minutes; however, I did feel a few characters were a little stereotypical and too thinly sketched.
  10. Lacombe, Lucien (7/10) - the protagonist is a little too unlikeable, but Malle's film is still really well done
  11. The Phantom of Liberty (6/10) - *sigh* one of these days I'll unreservedly like a Bunuel film instead of only loving parts of it
  12. Where the Red Fern Grows (6/10)
  13. The Man with the Golden Gun (4/10)
Edited by Evan C

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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Searching for 1974 films on IMDb and sorting by user rating yields The Godfather Part II at #1 and Chinatown at #25. In between there are some extremely obscure but apparently well-respected titles:

 

Us-Paar (This is sort of available on DVD in what one seller claims is an all-region disc)

Shri Srinivasa Kalyana (Seems to be on YouTube)

Kannavari Kalalu (Googling reveals a few more confirmations of this films's existence, but very little else)

 

And so on...

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I'll keep updating this post with films as I see them.
 
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul - I quite liked this. Very brief thoughts here.
The Conversation - Absolutely superb. I'll be surprised if this doesn't end up as my film of the year.
Chinatown - Loved this, but need to see again to really get a handle on it.
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore - Charming and very funny
Cartesius - Rewarding but you need a lot of patience. It seems Rossellini became even more so in his late career. More detailed thoughts here.
Blazing Saddles - I laughed loud and long at the disco suit sheriff costume.
The Little Prince - Lackluster. Some thoughts here.

A Woman Under the Influence - Holy shit. I'm sure not watching that again in a hurry.

Edited by Rushmore
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  • 1 month later...

Thank you so much to all who are tracking with us on this intriguing little project!  I hope even more will will give us the pleasure of their company as we go forward. 

 

Here are a few thumbnails for some of the 1974 movies I’ve seen this year :

 

-Lacombe, Lucien :  I’m sure this Louis Malle film will place near the top in several departments on my 1974 list.

-Best 1974 film character study:   I agree with Pauline Kael’s description of Lacombe, Lucien in her marathon New Yorker review : “The movie is the boy’s face. The magic is in the intense curiosity and intelligence behind the film—in Malle’s perception that the answers to our questions about how people with no interest in politics become active participants in brutal torture are to be found in Lucien’s plump-cheeked, narrow-eyed face, and that showing us what this boy doesn’t react to can be the most telling of all.”

-Most confounding and baffling 1974 film : This has a lot to do with what Evan C. referred to when he mentioned the unlikeability of the main character.  This is a film in which we keep hoping that the protagonist will follow some sort of character arc that we’re comfortable with, that he will eventually learn to find a way out of the attitudes and choices that keep us from embracing him as a hero.   We’re shocked when we find out that this will never happen, and that he in some ways becomes even worse as the movie goes on.  All the same, he is somehow allowed to exist as a character and not be emphatically pushed out of the sympathy zone of the viewer into the realm of nefarious villain.  (In this way, he is brother to Breaking Bad’s Walter White and many of the antiheroes of PT Anderson’s films.)  Does the film’s willingness to let us look straight at Lucien without flinching lend us the privilege of seeing this sort of person not as a “movie character” but as what he may actually be in real life?  Quite possibly yes, which leads to…

-1974 film I’m most intrigued to watch again to see what it looks like from a repeat angle.

 

-Murder on the Orient Express : I had a blast here.  So many famous actors doing what they love to do : talk.  And the final twist takes it all surprisingly deep, ever so close to transcending the genre.  Evan C., I am eager to hear more about what is special to you about this movie.  It didn’t escape my notice that you placed this in the rarefied air of The Godfather Part II, which some would say is so high you can barely breathe for lack of oxygen. J

 

-The Great Gatsby:  The Redford one.  I appreciated some of the performances in this movie, namely those of Bruce Dern, Karen Black, Sam Waterston, and Howard Da Silva.  It is a problem that I did not include Robert Redford and Mia Farrow in that list.  There is an empty hole where Gatsby and Daisy should be, and the whole movie gets vacuumed into that hole.  I haven’t seen the Baz Luhrmann version from last year, but I would guess it’s a whole different breed. 

 

Can’t wait to see the Cassavetes, Scorsese, and those ‘70’s action extravaganzas.  J  Of course I’m also looking forward to revisiting the 2 Coppola films.  Glad you loved The Conversation, Rushmore!  Among the strongest past impressions from 1974, that one is at the top.  I better be careful to check my bias, though, since this thread is more about revisiting 1974 in film than remembering it.  So much can change when the movie is right there in front of us.  That’s what I love about what we’re doing here in this thread.

Edited by Brian D
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-Murder on the Orient Express : I had a blast here.  So many famous actors doing what they love to do : talk.  And the final twist takes it all surprisingly deep, ever so close to transcending the genre.  Evan C., I am eager to hear more about what is special to you about this movie.  It didn’t escape my notice that you placed this in the rarefied air of The Godfather Part II, which some would say is so high you can barely breathe for lack of oxygen.

In short: there are two things that I absolutely love and will never tire of watching: a clever well-paced mystery or puzzle, which is more exciting on repeat viewings when you can notice subtle clues regarding the outcome; and a large cast of talented actors at the top of their game, delivering sharp, witty dialogue, all clearly enjoying themselves.  Murder on the Orient Express delivers in spades in both regards.  And Lumet meticulously directs the film with his blocking, camerawork, and working with the actors.

 

 

Updated list:

 

  1. The Godfather Part II (10/10) - I rewatched it recently. Not only is it my #1 of '74. It's my #1 of the decade.
  2. Murder on the Orient Express (10/10)
  3. A Woman Under the Influence (9/10)
  4. Young Frankenstein (9/10)
  5. The Conversation (9/10)
  6. Blazing Saddles (9/10)
  7. The Parallax View (8/10) - terrific thriller with great camera use, controlling what the viewer can and cannot see, as well as a brilliantly unnerving ending
  8. Chinatown (8/10)
  9. The Sugarland Express (8/10) - a perfect balance of funny and humanizing as a wife breaks her husband out of jail to drive cross country to rescue their infant son from foster care.  The "express" is...you need to see it.
  10. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (8/10) - first 30 minutes or so has a few too many stereotypes, but after that it really takes off
  11. Juggernaut (7/10) - a few loose plot points, but Richard Harris, Anthony Hopkins, Ian Holm, and Omar Sharif make a terrific cast after an anonymous caller threatens to blow up a cruise ship unless he's paid half a million pounds in 24 hours
  12. The Towering Inferno (7/10) - A thrilling disaster story about a colossal skyscraper that everyone thought could not ever catch fire.  It never drags, even at 160 minutes; however, I did feel a few characters were a little stereotypical and too thinly sketched.
  13. Lacombe, Lucien (7/10) - the protagonist is a little too unlikeable, but Malle's film is still really well done
  14. The Front Page (7/10) - tons of fun, even if it was a little lazy for Wilder
  15. The Phantom of Liberty (6/10) - *sigh* one of these days I'll unreservedly like a Bunuel film instead of only loving parts of it
  16. Mame (6/10) - great performances, good score, really lousy camera work and editing
  17. Lenny (6/10)
  18. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (6/10) - too much of the plot felt contrived; however, it was beautifully shot
  19. Where the Red Fern Grows (6/10)
  20. Phantom of the Paradise (5/10) - too many good ideas; it starts out as a clever modernized version of The Phantom of the Opera and Faust, but it just keeps escalating, and goes completely off the rails by the end.
  21. Harry and Tonto (5/10) - starts off sweet, then the film meanders and meanders and...Also, the scene that's supposed to be sad has no emotional weight, because we have not spent anywhere near enough time with that character.
  22. The Man with the Golden Gun (4/10)
  23. The Cars That Ate Paris (4/10) - some interesting ideas, but kind of all over the place
  24. Zardoz (3/10) - a few scenes are so terrible they're funny, but who in their right mind thought this would be a good film?
  25. The Great Gatsby (3/10) - absolutely interminable, the guy who plays Nick is terrible, Farrow plays Daisy too much as a victim, and Redford can't do unsure of himself at all.  Seriously, it makes Luhrmann's film look like Citizen Kane.
Edited by Evan C

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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