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Essential but Accessible 60's & 70's flix

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I've notice the films I show now move nicely through the dawn of modern cinema... Welles, Hitchcock, A 50's comedy. But then there's a big jump to the 80's with The Elephant Man and On Golden Pond. So I want to fill in that 60's-70's gap.

Some candidates.

A Man for All Seasons

In the Heat of the Night

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

The Sting

Birdman of Alcatraz

One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest

or others...

ideas?

Some profanity and violence is okay. But LOTS of profanity or nudity is not okay for this setting.

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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Hard Day's Night

Summer of 42

And dare I say....

Barbarella

?

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The first that come to mind . . .

Dr. Strangelove

Harold and Maude

The Conversation

Chinatown

Annie Hall

Cool Hand Luke

The Wild Bunch

Bonnie and Clyde

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Of course! Chinatown!! A must-see. We do an Allen unit with Zelig and Purple Rose, so I'll skip Annie Hall.

Harold and Maude has too great a gross out factor for high schoolers. I love it but...

The Conversation is a FANTASTIC film but I think its profanity is pretty pervasive and harsh as well.

Barbarella? Are you kidding?

to some extent I like the fact that after they take this course, they're a bit more culturally literate. In other words, I love when my kids come up to me and say, "Hey, Mr. Buck! I saw a reference to Citizen Kane on the Simpson's last night and I got it!!"

I saw Cool Hand Luke a long time ago, but it might be nice to compare the Christ figure there to the Christ figure they get in The Truman Show at the end of the year.

Never seen: The Wild Bunch, Bonnie and Clyde (although I've never been a Beaty fan), Butch Cassidy, or Summer of '42. I guess I'll have to add them to my list.

As for Hard Day's Night. If you've read scientific studies on that freak who just can't get excited about the Beatles or U2.. well, that's me.

Dr. Strangelove is a bit demanding for HS'ers, IMO.

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Barbarella? Are you kidding?

Only about 80%. Perhaps a quintessential example of camp - even when it came out. Very much tied to the sexual revolution and the zeitgeist. And let's face it, Jane Fonda was a babe.

Be glad I didn't suggest Rollerball. ( I know nobody listen to me about that one.)

Edited by Darrel Manson

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I second Bonnie and Clyde, I saw it in a high school film class and have never forgotten it. I would also add a Hitchcock, either Rear Window or Psycho, keeping in mind, this is for the kids. (In my mind Vertigo doesn't work for high schoolers, but James Stewart, whom they all know from Christmas TV, and the idea of Norman's mom up in that creepy house on the hill will chill most high schoolers a bit.)

-s.

Edited by stef

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Of course!  Chinatown!!  A must-see. 

...

Bonnie and Clyde (although I've never been a Beaty fan)

Definitely go with Chinatown.

As for Bonnie and Clyde, I'm also no Beatty fan, but I did enjoy this one (no Altman fan either, but I did enjoy McCabe & Mrs. Miller too. Weird.). I'm sure this course is geared to more mature advanced students who can handle the end of Bonnie and Clyde where

the two main characters are riddled with bullets

.

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To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

The Graduate (1967)--if you think they can handle Bonnie & Clyde, they can deal with this one, I guess. Shouldn't everyone get why "Plastics!" is a classic quote? wink.gif

Camelot (1967) --I watched this not too long ago and it seemed incredibly cheesy, but back in the day, it struck me as the epitome of romance. Which is more or less the way my students view First Knight, I guess, until I ruthlessly destroy their illusions. At least Camelot has historical/cultural significance with its connection to the Kennedy era.

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I notice you have Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, which reminded me of Sidney Poitier. Some of his other films might be worth considering?

Lilies of the Field (1963), for which he won the Oscar

To Sir, with Love (1967) --kinda cheesy, but works anyway. And very swinging '60s, without going all "Austin Powers" with it

In the Heat of the Night (1967)--another Academy Award winner (Best Film, Best Actor for Rod Steiger), and much grittier treatment of race relations than "Guess Who..."

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Dan, can you refresh my memory about the course you're leading? It's for high-schoolers, right? Is it part of church, or is it at a school (I'm thinking it's at a school, but is it a religious school?)

IIRC, you need to show films that don't have objectionable content. That puts you in a bind when it comes to movies from the 1960s and 1970s, because the films considered most important from that era are those that pushed traditional boundaries.

Looking over the list of recommendations thus far, I'm not sure any of the films would hold the attention of today's high-schoolers, with the exception of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, because of the humor.

Indeed, comedies may be your best bet from this era. I fell in love with Dr. Strangelove the first time I saw it, but that was my sophomore year of college, FWIW. My sense, though, is that high-schoolers would catch on quickly. I was a "late bloomer."

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Shouldn't everyone get why "Plastics!" is a classic quote

ARGH! When I finished a-levels (pre-university) my dad asked ALL of my friends REPEATEDLY if they were going into plastics. None of them had a clue what he was on about.

But yeah, I second The Graduate, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, & Bonnie and Clyde. They've all already seen Jaws and Star Wars, right? Kinda 70's essentials. Easy Rider too much sex, I assume? Jeez... this list is begining to read like it was compiled by Peter Biskind...

Oh and can I just say - I seriously don't get whatsit and Maude.

As for holding their attention - I'd disagree. People underestimate kids, and they also underestimate the strength of well made movies. I remember sulking like crazy when my mum first brought home the sound of music from the video shop, I wanted to see Dirty Dancing cos everyone in school was talking about it. I then made her borrow it loads more times cos I loved it so much, and my brother and I used to sing it in the car everywhere we went.

Edited by gigi

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The class is described in detail here.

As for attention span. That's not a huge issue. I work my magic with this group so that they're pretty open to films others might see as boring. They like Citizen Kane and even The Straight Story. There's a limit, however. I couldn't show them Dead Man, for example.

the more I teach the class, the more I want them walking out with films that are both excellent and considered "essential." Especially when it comes to the films that are older than 1980.

Rear Window's already on the list. But as a Hitch film it feels like it belongs to the previous era. I'm looking for the gritty feel of Raging Bull, but within a slightly less objectionable film.

I don't know why I didn't consider Jaws. That's quite brilliant. I would bet MANY haven't seen it.

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With those criteria in mind (great, essential, gritty), I think Chinatown might be your best bet, though it you're worried about Harold and Maude being too "gross," then the Faye Dunaway moment could be interesting. Do you show any film noir earlier in the semester? If not, and if you do decide to teach Chinatown, it would be worth your time to spend a class period before the screening giving them an overview of noir -- showing clips, talking about the archetypes and cinematographic hallmarks. Chinatown is an essential film of the 70s, in part, because it alludes to the classical Hollywood cinema while also amplifying the nihilism of noir for a 70s context.

And I want to second Gigi's comments. Don't undersell the attention spans and curiosity of teenagers. They might not be ready for Tarkovsky's pacing, but who is?

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Chinatown's gross moment is less jarring than H&M's. I.E. You don't see them in bed together. Good thinking on covering Noir and its importance.

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Haven't seen Chinatown since college, when I watched a cropped VHS print and thought, "What's the big deal?" I suspect the film will be a revelation when I sit down to watch it again, in its proper aspect ratio.

For Polanski, you might also consider Repulsion, which is freaky, or maybe Rosemary's Baby, which I've never seen. Baby might be too disturbing, though.

Edited by Christian

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How about one of Sergio Leoni's spaghetti westerns?

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Oh, I love the Rosemary's Baby suggestion. Though, at that point, you could even go as far as Night of the Living Dead. Strangelove is probably the best bet, though.

For the 1970s, it seems like a John Cazale performance is necessary. What about Dog Day Afternoon? Not sure about profanity, but the violence is somewhat mild until the last shot. Sidney Lumet's "Making Movies" has lengthy sections devoted to how he was able to keep Pacino's character from teeting over the edge of unsympathetic. And the whole film really seems plugged into the vibe of '70s urbanity, while wallowing in it far less than Taxi Driver. Of course, if we're talking about the larger cultural/political zeitgeist, there's only Nashville, with not a lot of profanity (though there is one brief nude scene which has been mathematically calculated to be the one of the least titillating nude scenes in cinematic history).

Edited by Russ

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60's

Jules and Jim (Truffaut)

Last year at Marienbad (Resnais)

Hud (Ritt)

L'Ecclise (Antonioni)

The Manchurian Candidate (Frankenheimer)

The Leopard (Visconti)

Nothing But a Man (Roemer & Young)

Au Hasard, Balthazar (Bresson)

Andrei Rublev (Tarkovsky)

Salesman (Maysles)

Failsafe (Lumet)

The Birds (Hitchcock)

To Kill a Mockingbird (Mulligan)

Lawrence of Arabia (Lean)

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (Leone)

2001 (Kubrick)

70's

The Clockmaker (Tavernier)

Gimme Shelter (Maysles)

The Hired Hand (Fonda)

M*A*S*H (Altman) **brief nudity + profanity

Badlands (Malick)

Sounder (Ritt)

The French Connection (Friedkin) ** profanity

Rollerball (Jewison)

Barry Lyndon (Kubrick) + brief nudity

The American Friend (Wenders)

The Last Waltz (Scorcese)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Kaufmann)

The Deer Hunter (Cimino)

Tess (Polanski)

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Although not on anybody's lists thus far, you cannot do better than "A Shot in the Dark". You must have a Peter Sellers in there, and I agree that Dr. Strangelove is off-putting for that age-group.

How about films with teens at the center? American Graffitti.

I would put light comedies that touch upon deeper subjects on your list. Woody Allen (either Annie Hall or Love and Death) and another Buck Henry-ish film Heaven Can Wait.

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60's

Jules and Jim (Truffaut)

Last year at Marienbad (Resnais)

Hud (Ritt)

L'Ecclise (Antonioni)

The Manchurian Candidate (Frankenheimer)

The Leopard (Visconti)

Nothing But a Man (Roemer & Young)

Au Hasard, Balthazar (Bresson)

Andrei Rublev (Tarkovsky)

Salesman (Maysles)

Failsafe (Lumet)

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (Leone)

2001 (Kubrick)

70's

The Clockmaker (Tavernier)

Gimme Shelter (Maysles)

The Hired Hand (Fonda)

M*A*S*H (Altman) **brief nudity + profanity

Badlands (Malick)

Sounder (Ritt)

Barry Lyndon (Kubrick) + brief nudity

The American Friend (Wenders)

The Last Waltz (Scorcese)

Tess (Polanski)

You, my friend have never met a high school student. Rublev? Au Hasard?! Are you kidding? smile.gif

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Dan, you have quite a list here to pull from. Now you need to do the fun part, which is the instructional design. There are 20 or 30 films here that meet your basic criteria, so now you get to decide on your main learning objectives. What specific skills and understanding do you want your students to attain during the viewing and discussion of the film? And how will you judge how successfully they've attain those skills and that understanding? A written assignment? A test? A project? Further research?

I get jazzed when I talk about films of the 60s and 70s because it was such a rare moment of artistic freedom and political energy in the Hollywood studios. I'm not sure what the basic goals of your course are, but if film history is a major component, then almost any of these films would give you an excuse to teach them about the Hollywood Film Renaissance. (In fact, one of these grittier films followed by Jaws would be a great way to talk about the transition and the birth of the blockbuster.)

Some films provide richer material than others for discussions of teen angst or the political turmoil of the 60s and 70s (Vietnam, Watergate, the sexual revolution, etc.). Or you could use almost any of these great films to further discussions of cinematographic style, music, production design, acting styles, etc.

I don't mean at all to be patronizing. I know you've taught this class a couple years now. But this is the same advice I give to all of the GTA's here at UT when I give my "teaching films" workshop: Always begin with your learning objectives in mind, then choose the best film for the job.

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I pobably need to go and retool the philosophical underpinnings. Because the course has evolved as my understanding and appreciation of film has evolved. Primarily, I'm trying to stir up a hunger for varied and excellent films. and I've had some success here. Secondarily, I'd like them to be "ruined" to the crap they encounter in theatres and video stores today. I want to corrupt the audience of tomorrow to demand more from their filmmakers. (Now, that's just my little personal agenda)

And I want to start equipping them to look for tools and methods used by directors. You'd be amazed how few people understand that camera shots, lighting, lines, editing is intentional on the part of the filmmakers. I want them to recognize these cues and hints and symbols so they're better equiped to appreciate art.

I had a good "Aha!" moment today. We're watching The STright Story right now and we've been discussing how Alvin's journey is like the journey through life. It starts with a young girl, then the older bikers, then the middle aged Reardons, and finally the Reardon's father who is Alvin's age. Then Alvin crosses the river. I told students about the symbolic significance of crossing the river. then, I noticed for the first time, as Alan was crossing over the river, from the other direction a pick-up truck carrying children passes by Alvin, they wave to each other and keep going their separate directions. I paused the movie and I asked the kids, "Who's in the truck?" They said, "Kids." and then from the back "OH my gosh!! It's like their passing each other as one goes into the world as the other goes out. "

I smiled and we kept watching the movie. That never gets old.

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You, my friend have never met a high school student.  Rublev?  Au Hasard?!  Are you kidding?  smile.gif

Machiavelli sez it's better to be feared than loved -- what better way than springing Rublev on them!!

But I'd say "Au Hasard" is particularly accesible to teenagers -- along with "Le Diable, Probablement" -- it's the ultimate teen angst picture!!

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Methinks Failsafe and Dr. Strangelove would make a wicked good double feature...

Nobody's mentioned Network. Has that brief sex scene, and although it was chillingly prophetic, it actually fell short in its imagination of what TV would become. Nothing in it would really shock a high school kid. Nonetheless, one of the great films of the 1970s.

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I pobably need to go and retool the philosophical underpinnings.  Because the course has evolved as my understanding and appreciation of film has evolved.  Primarily, I'm trying to stir up a hunger for varied and excellent films.  and I've had some success here.  Secondarily, I'd like them to be "ruined" to the crap they encounter in theatres and video stores today.  I want to corrupt the audience of tomorrow to demand more from their filmmakers.  (Now, that's just my little personal agenda)

Here's an idea on that. Show them both versions of Rollerball. Then they can learn that blood and gore aren't a valuable substitute for plot. They can also see how a remake can utterly change and trash what was a good film.

(Someday, I'm going to convince someone here to revisit this film.) jester.gif

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