For the next several weeks, I’m going to emerge from the dimly lit lobby of the Mall Twin Movie Theater and lay down six movies, each from a different genre, that everyone should check out before they kick the proverbial film canister. Of course, I include myself in that class since I’ll be listing some I’ve only seen bits and pieces of. I believe my cinematic education is ongoing and I hope you’ll join me in this not-so-little endeavor. I’m going to start in the year of our Lord Vader, 1977. My reasoning? Who ever said I was reasonable? It just seems like the perfect year to start this series and unlike Uncle George I won’t change things around as the series progresses, crapping all over the beloved mythology that influenced untold millions, nor will I… okay, enough of the rant (my meds are wearing off). So, before I get any more off track, here they are, six flicks from 1977 that everyone MUST see or die before they die:
Rolling Thunder: For drama I chose this classic revenge tale staring the always riveting William Devane. It also stars the great Tommy Lee Jones and was written by Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Cat People) This is one of Tarantino’s favorite flicks. In fact, it was when Tarantino named his short-lived, cult-film distribution company after this movie that I first heard of it. However, I didn’t actually see it until recently when it played on the ThisTV channel. By the way, if you have this channel, check it out. While the movies are edited for TV and have commercials, I’m always shocked by how many obscure, forgotten flicks they show… like this one. Rolling Thunder is the only movie on this list not currently available on DVD. But the Cinema Gods are smiling upon us all ’cause you can watch it on Hulu for free!
Capricorn One: Our sci-fi entry isn’t strictly science fiction. No, it’s equally a paranoid, conspiracy thriller. From director Peter Hyams (Outland, Timecop), it tells the story of the first manned mission to Mars that’s stopped at the last moment due to technical malfunctions. The astronauts become involved in a conspiracy to fake the mission, but a nosy reporter (is there any other kind?) begins investigating and the danger mounts. Also notable for featuring O.J. Simpson in a role where he wasn’t getting brutalized by Lt. Frank Drebin or brutalizing others… oh, wait… that wasn’t a movie… UPDATE: Additional research reveals a release date conflict with Capricorn One. Despite both IMDB and Wikipedia’s 1977 in Film page listing it as 1977, the Wikipedia page for Capricorn One itself claims the release date to be 1978. I always want to be open and honest with you about my mistakes. I guess this is what I get for looking at the first two sources, but not checking the third. If anyone knows for sure what year Capricorn One was released, please leave a comment below. Thanks for your help!
Sorcerer: This is for you adrenaline-lovin’, action junkies. Sorcerer was directed by one of my personal favorites, William Friedkin. Prior to this film, Friedkin directed a couple of smaller studio pictures you may have heard of: The Exorcist and The French Connection. Unlike those two classics, this movie tanked at the box office. Apparently, Friedkin wanted Steve McQueen for the lead role, but according to Peter Biskind’s excellent exposé on 70s Hollywood Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, McQueen dropped out when Friedkin wouldn’t allow actress Ali McGraw (McQueen’s wife at the time) to be a producer on the film. While I love me some Roy Scheider, one has to wonder how this casting choice might have made the difference in the success of an otherwise well-done movie.
The Hills Have Eyes: Before Ghostface. Before Horace Pinker. Before Freddy. There was Pluto. From the dark, dank middle row of the horror section at your local Armchair Theater Video Store comes Craven’s follow-up to the deeply disturbing Last House on the Left. Hills is equally brutal in many ways, although it never feels as exploitative, or downright dirty, as Last House. The story about a family of civilized folk up against cannibalistic inbreeds living in the desert mountains, is loaded with social commentary, leaving the viewer with as many ideas as it does goosebumps.
Kentucky Fried Movie: I remember watching this in my teens. It was hilarious then, and it’s hilarious now. From the Zucker bros. (Airplane), Jim Abrahams (Hot Shots), and director John Landis (this was the film he made before Animal House). Other than the “Fistful of Yen” sketch that plays waaaaaaaaaaay too long, the movie is filled with great bits, gags, and sketch comedy. Definitely worth checking out.
Wizards: Okay, I know. Weird choice for a “family” film. But this animated fantasy featuring wizards and elves and Nazis (oh my!) is definitely a must see for the following three reasons:
1. It’s directed by Ralph Bakshi, who made this film right before his classic Lord of the Rings.
2. It’s unique blend of animation and live action footage (Bakshi rotoscoped footage of Nazis from Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will).
3. It’s the first film featuring Mark Hamill made as a voice over artist. That does it for this Friday’s Forgotten Flix Recommends. I’ll be back on Monday with another Mall Twin Musings post that will answer the question “Why do I owe Frank Darabont an apology?”
On Wednesday, I’m going to post a brief update about the progress of the Forgotten Flix Podcast along with an opportunity for all you film fans out there. Then, next Friday will feature 6 more forgotten flicks you must see before you die from 1978.
I’m going to keep this up until we reach 1993, the year that Spielberg made his last “classically” Spielbergian movie, Jurassic Park. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS feed so you can get updates whenever there’s a new post. And please leave a comment or email me at email@example.com with any feedback. So, until next time, remember, a flick is only forgotten if you’re not talking about it!