Category Archives: 1970s

Network

Directed by Sidney Lumet
Produced by Howard Gottfried & Fred C. Caruso
Written by Paddy Chayefsky
Narrated by Lee Richardson
Starring Faye Dunaway
William Holden
Peter Finch
Robert Duvall
Ned Beatty
Beatrice Straight
Music by Elliot Lawrence
Cinematography Owen Roizman
Editing by Alan Heim
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer & United Artists
Release date November 27, 1976
Running time 121 minutes
Country United States
Language English

I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Network is a great satirical film that is quite prophetic in that it tells about what could really go on behind the scenes on news TV if certain media moguls *cough Rupert Murdoch cough* get their way. It’s amazing that this film was made in 1976, a couple of decades before the rise of News Crop., Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Jerry Springer and reality TV rubbish like Big Brother.

Peter Finch won a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of newsreader Howard Beale who suffers an on-air breakdown after being fired but is then manipulated by his media bosses into becoming a ‘mad prophet of doom’. His performance is brilliant and almost steals the film.

“We’ll tell you anything you want to hear, we lie like hell.”

The rest of the cast is great too with great performances by Robert Duvalle, Faye Dunaway (Oscar winner for Best Actress), William Holden and Ned Beatty. Sidney Lumet won an Oscar for Best Director whilst Paddy Chayefsky won an Oscar for Best Screenplay. Beatrice Straight also won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress despite the fact that she was on-screen for less than ten minutes.

“Right now, there is a whole, an entire generation that never knew anything that didn’t come out of this tube. This tube is the gospel, the ultimate revelation; this tube can make or break presidents, popes, prime ministers; this tube is the most awesome goddamn propaganda force in the whole godless world, and woe is us if it ever falls into the hands of the wrong people, and that’s why woe is us that Edward George Ruddy died. Because this company is now in the hands of CCA, the Communications Corporation of America; there’s a new chairman of the board, a man called Frank Hackett, sitting in Mr. Ruddy’s office on the twentieth floor. And when the 12th largest company in the world controls the most awesome goddamn propaganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what shit will be peddled for truth on this network?”

This is a great film that is perhaps more true today than it was back in 1976.

Useless Trivia

* Only two actors have posthumously won an Oscar, Peter Finch and Heath Ledger. Both won for Best Supporting Actor and both are Australians.

Link to quotes from Network at IMBD


High Anxiety

Directed by Mel Brooks
Produced by Mel Brooks
Written by Mel Brooks
Ron Clark
Rudy De Luca
Barry Levinson
Starring Mel Brooks
Madeline Kahn
Cloris Leachman
Harvey Korman
Ron Carey
Howard Morris
Dick Van Patten
Music by John Morris
Cinematography Paul Lohmann
Editing by John C. Howard
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date December 25, 1977
Running time 94 minutes
Country United States
Language English
High Anxiety isn’t one of Mel Brooks’ funniest films but it is watchable and in quite amusing at times. The film is a spoof of Alfred Hitchcock’s thrillers and is meant to be a tribute to Hitch, but it is one that I feel is not really necessary. For one thing Hitchcock’s movies are filled with enough humour themselves, as they never take anything too seriously. They have an underlying dark humour unlike Mel’s obvious pie in the face style.

High Anxiety isn’t as good as Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein or The Producers and is probably the point at which Mel Brooks’ films started to become less and less funny. I think that after the monumental success of Blazing Saddles Mel started to half-ass things as his movies after 1974 are merely amusing and not laugh out loud funny.


Young Frankenstein

Directed by Mel Brooks
Produced by Michael Gruskoff
Written by Mel Brooks & Gene Wilder
Starring Gene Wilder
Marty Feldman
Peter Boyle
Teri Garr
Madeline Kahn
Cloris Leachman
Kenneth Mars
and Gene Hackman
Music by John Morris
Cinematography Gerald Hirschfeld
Editing by John C. Howard
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date December 15, 1974
Running time 106 min.
Country United States
Language English
German

Young Frankenstein is Mel Brooks at his best and is perhaps his 2nd funniest film after The Producers. I feel that it is slightly better than Blazing Saddles, although those three films are the undoubted high points in Mel’s long career in Hollywood.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, Young Frankenstein is a parody film of the 1930s and 40s Boris Karloff Frankenstein films as well as other movies in the 1930s/40s monster genre. Unlike parody films that a made today such as the horrendous Epic Movie, you can tell that the makers of Young Frankenstein actually love the films they are parodying and the movie can be seen as a tribute to those films.

The performances of the cast is great, especially that of Gene Wilder as young Dr. Frankenstein and Marty Feldman as Igor. I do find Feldman constantly breaking the fourth wall to be one of the highlights of the film. There are a lot of great jokes and sketches, especially the scene where the monster goes into the house of the blind man, which is a parody of a scene from Bride of Frankenstein. This is one of the funniest scenes in the movie and Gene Hackman is very funny as the blind man, as are the reactions of Peter Boyle’s monster.

This is a great and very funny film that is one of my all-time favourites and I give it the highest of recommendations.


The Smurfs And The Magic Flute

Directed byOriginal version:
Peyo
Jose Dutillieu
Eddie Lateste
English version:
John Rust
Produced by Original version:
Jose Dutilieu
English version:
Roger Guertin Written by Original version:
Peyo (based on his original Smurfs characters)
Yvan Delporte
English version:
John Rust

Cast

English version

  • Cam Clarke as Peewit
  • Durga McBroom
  • Patty Foley
  • Grant Gottschall
  • Mike Reynolds
  • Ted Lehman
  • Bill Capizzi
  • Ron Gans
  • X. Phifer
  • Dudly Knight
  • John Rust
  • Richard Miller
  • David Page
  • Robert Axelrod
  • Michael Sorich
  • Richard Ashley
  • Ed Devereaux
  • Harry Dickman
  • Paul Felber
  • Michael Fields
  • Kalman Glass
  • Stuart Lock
  • Anna Mackeown
  • Vernon Morris
  • Bill Owen
  • Richard Pescud
  • Yael O’Dwyer
Peyo signature

Image via Wikipedia

Music by Michel Legrand

Editing by Nebiha Ben Milad & Michèle Neny

Distributed by Atlantic Releasing (U.S. theatrical),
Vestron Video (VHS)
Release dates 1976 (Belgium)
November 25, 1983 (U.S.)
Running time 74 min.

Country Belgium
Language French

When I was 9 I loved the smurfs, I think that the love affair started because of BP, as they used to have the little figurines that you would get free when buying fuel. I must have had a hundred of those little guys. Little did I know then that the smurfs had been around since the 1950s in Belgian comic books or that the German company Schleich had been making those figurines for almost just as long. The smurfs may have been just a short-lived fad in the English-speaking world but they are huge in Europe. I must say that the smurf comic books that I have read seen to be pretty good and that it is a shame that so few have been translated into English.

My Dad must have loved us kids a lot, as when I was 9 he took us to Clayton drive in to watch The Smurfs And The Magic Flute. Unfortunately for us then, we got mixed up with the times and it wasn’t actually playing at the time that we arrived and we had to go home without seeing it, but the fact that my Dad was willing to take us to see such a horrible film is testament to his love for his children. I wouldn’t have done it. I think that today’s parents are blessed that they can take their kids to see animated movies and are also guaranteed to be entertained themselves, but in the 80s all animated films were strictly just for kids.

I guess that if I had of seen this movie when I was 9 I would have enjoyed it, as 9 year olds are happy just to see images moving up and down on a screen and enjoy anything. Then again this film is not the same as the smurfs TV show and actually predates it by a number of years. This film was made in Belgium in 1976 and was directed by the creator of the smurfs, Peyo, whilst the American smurfs TV show didn’t start until the mid-80s. This film wasn’t released into the English-speaking world until 1983. The voice cast is horrible, the actors are different from the ones who did the voices in the American series. It seems almost as if when translating it into the English language they decided to give the characters the most annoying voices possible. The animation is Ok by 1970s standards but the songs featured in the film is horrible.

I see that this has just been released onto DVD here in Australia but I suggest that parents avoid this like the plague. Even if they are at all nostalgic for the smurfs avoid this at all costs and instead look for the DVD box sets of the TV series which can also be found.

By the way I have seen the trailer for the smurfs movie that is coming out next year. It looks like soon The Smurfs And The Magic Flute won’t be the worst smurfs movie ever made.

I do recommend that you buy the Smurfs graphic novels which can be pre-purchased from Amazon.


The Wrestler?

Ooops… Wrong movie. I wanted to make a post about the Mickey Rourke film but instead find myself with a picture of the 1973 movie starring Ed Asner and Verne Gagne. I haven’t seen this movie but am interested in seeing if only because it has early appearances of the Iron Shiek and Ric Flair.


Barry McKenzie Holds His Own

Directed by Bruce Beresford
Written by Bruce Beresford & Barry Humphries
Starring Barry Crocker,
Barry Humphries,
Donald Pleasance,
Dick Bentley
Music by Peter Best
Release date 1974
Running time 93 minutes
Country Australia
Language English

Compared to the original this is a pretty awful film. It doesn’t have the charm of the original and seems to think that it’s funny just saying the words abo, slant eyes and poofter as often as you can if an hour and a half. There is a huge cringe factor involved in this film and its celebration of ockerism. It could have worked if it satirised instead of celebrated the boof headed stereotype or made it like the first movie where we had an unsophisticated fish out of water story, but instead Humphries and Beresford tried to make it some stoopidly lame comedy. It is a shame as the are both very talented and can do much better than this shit. As a gross out comedy it doesn’t work as there is just one clever double entendre in the entire film. Thank Christ we’ve progressed ever so slightly in the 35 years since this was released, although I know that there are some rednecks who mourn the fact that it is now frowned upon to go out of your way to be as offensive as possible for no reason whatsoever.

I suppose the only redeeming feature of the film is Crocker’s sincere performance. The rest of the film is just a whole lot of stereotypes and crudity for the sake of crudity.

As you can see, very classy indeed. Also I have to ask… where we so insecure at that time? It’s almost as if we had to reassure ourselves that Australia had a place in the world and that we could in fact do worthy things. Unfortunately the only thing this film is worthy of is being thrown in the garbage.

If you really want this piece of crap it is available from EZYDVD for $15, but I have seen it for $10 from other places (Dirt Cheap in Collins Street).


The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie

Directed by Bruce Beresford
Produced by Phillip Adams
Written by Bruce Beresford & Barry Humphries
Starring Barry Crocker,
Barry Humphries,
Spike Milligan,
Peter Cook
Music by Peter Best
Cinematography Donald McAlpine
Editing by John Scott, William Anderson
Distributed by Columbia Pictures Video Ltd.
Release date 1972
Running time 114 minutes
Country Australia
Language English/Strine

This was on Fox Classics last night and I must admit that I did enjoy it quite a bit. It is a million times better than its sequel because it sticks to the unsophisticated fish out of water story, and satirises the pretentious artsy fartsy types, of whom Humphries would have been (I’ve read his book and all the boring tedious stuff on Dadaism) and the poms, who I guess considered themselves culturally and intellectually superior to us.

Unlike the sequel there isn’t an overload of offensiveness used just for the sake of offending people. I think the only really offensive thing would be the overloaded use of the word abo, which as Mal Brown has recently taught us, wasn’t really considered to be offensive in the 1970s. How things have changed for the better.

There is some nudity and bouncing breasts are featured a bit. This was before we became such a prudish nation and boobs were considered bad.

It’s not all that funny and a bit cringe-worthy, but the film is watchable, although I must say that both Spike Milligan and Peter Cook are wasted in their roles.