Category Archives: 1972 Movie reviews

Deathdream-1972

Deathdream-1972

Director-Bob Clark

Starring-Richard Backus, John Marley, Lynn Carlin

Scott’s Review #1,175

Reviewed September 3, 2021

Grade: B+

Deathdream (also known in some circles as Dead of Night) is a 1972 horror offering directed by Bob Clark and written by Alan Ormsby that plays out like a very good science-fiction meets gruesome horror type of The Twilight Zone episode.

This is not to say it’s amateurish though in certain ways it is and mostly just it’s that the dialogue is spotty. Rather, it has the feel of an episodic adventure more than an actual film. This makes perfect sense since it was inspired by the W. W. Jacobs short story “The Monkey’s Paw”.

The film was shot in a town named Brooksville, Florida which is unusual in itself and provides a genuine southern quality like when the family sits down for a hearty meal.

Usually, horror films stick to Hollywood studio locales or cheaper areas like Canada to film.

Deathdream stars Richard Backus, John Marley, and Lynn Carlin.

The premise immediately intrigues me. A middle-aged married couple, Charles and Christine,  (Marley and Carlin) receives the devastating news that their son Andy (Backus) has died in the line of duty during the Vietnam War. They’re overcome with grief, to say the least. Before the news, Christine seems overly chatty and a bit peculiar while Charles is much older than his wife.

Soon after, Andy, very much alive, hitches a ride with a truck driver whom he then murders. He arrives home and is clearly not the same, seeming to be zombie-like and in a trance, not the same boy who left for Vietnam a year earlier.

As a classic film lover, I was immediately tickled pink by actor John Marley’s appearance onscreen. Associated with Love Story (1970) and The Godfather (1972) with the latter forever etched in my memory as the film director who is made “an offer he can’t refuse” by way of his gorgeous horse Khartoum, it was a treat to see him in a horror film.

I noticed facets of Deathdream that reminded me of one of my favorite horror films, Black Christmas (1974) not realizing that they were both directed by Bob Clark himself. Deathdream serves as the perfect opening act to that most influential horror film.

An organ/synthesizer effect immediately caught my ear with more than a tad of fright. I instantly recognized it as the spooky noise emitting from the Black Christmas musical score. And both use a rocking chair prop with fantastic results. The creaking sound brought chills up and down my spine.

Can you believe this guy also made Porky’s (1981) and A Christmas Story (1983)? Talk about versatility.

It’s clear the film was made on a shoestring budget but proves in a mighty form that, similar to British Hammer horror pictures, creativity can ooze out of a small budget. Terrific is what the crew does with the special effects. Instead of cheesy or campy they are thrilling.

The story could be construed as silly or ridiculous. Andy is some kind of vampire or zombie who needs the blood of others to reinvigorate his decaying body which on paper makes little sense. The only reason he comes back from the dead (we see him killed in combat on-screen) is because he promised his mother he’d return home.

Beyond that, under the surface is a message about the war that I found powerful and that usurped the horror genre where the film lies. It’s not just another horror film- it has deeper subtext.

Though Clark is never overt about it, Andy obviously suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, something not yet realized in the early 1970s and certainly not talked about. Clark’s message is clear.  Andy is a young man whose life has been ruined unnecessarily.

Despite being a film aficionado I had not heard of Deathdream (1972) until quite recently. It’s an overlooked gem like so many others in the horror genre, but this one can be appreciated by horror fans, fans of message films, and those looking for a good scare.

It deserves some love.

What’s Up, Doc? -1972

What’s Up, Doc? -1972

Director-Peter Bogdanovich

Starring-Barbra Streisand, Ryan O’Neal 

Scott’s Review #1,162

Reviewed July 20, 2021

Grade: B+

Careful trepidation must be advised for filmmakers chartering into humorous or slapstick comedy waters especially if known more for dramatic films. Since we’re talking 1970s cinema here, there is only one Mel Brooks and plenty of films with physical humor and gags fail miserably.

What’s Up, Doc? (1972) is not one of them and is a refreshing success.

Brooks’s influence can easily be seen throughout the film and this is no surprise. Before doing any post-film research I immediately was reminded of the popular television sitcom Get Smart which ran from 1965-1970.  Buck Henry, a frequent Brooks collaborator, co-created Get Smart and wrote the screenplay for What’s Up Doc?

The antics and comedic moments scream Brooks. If one is unfamiliar it really is like watching a Mel Brooks film.

Director, Peter Bogdanovich, most notably known for the 1971 masterpiece, The Last Picture Show, changes course and instead goes for comedy with lots of screwball situations and physical comedy activities that are completely different from his previous works.

Speaking of Brooks, Madeline Khan, a mainstay of his films, makes an appearance as a particularly neurotic character named Eunice Burns. It is her first film role.

I must say I was thoroughly impressed by What’s Up, Doc? that oddly pairs two Hollywood superstars of the time, Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal. One might be surprised to think of the duo as romantic partners, and the chemistry comes and goes throughout the film but the antics and quick dialogue is joyous and timed perfectly between the actors.

What’s Up, Doc? intends to pay homage to comedy films of the 1930s and 1940s, especially popular Warner Bros. Bugs Bunny cartoons, hence the title, but the reference doesn’t appear until the final scene. This caused me to ponder why the specific title was used.

The premise goes something like this. Doctor Howard Bannister (O’Neal) arrives in San Francisco to compete for a research grant in music. He is accompanied by his overbearing wife, Eunice (Khan).

Already nervous and on edge because of Eunice, he meets a strange yet charming woman named Judy Maxwell played by Streisand in the drug store. They are drawn to each other yet are not sure why. She both annoys and fascinates him.

In a subplot, a woman has her jewels stolen and a government whistleblower arrives with his stolen top-secret papers. Ironically, all the players have an identical red plaid bag and stay in neighboring hotel rooms, adding to the confusion and the hilarity.

My favorite moments are the screwball scenes. Especially memorable are the hilarious sequences that take place in and around the hotel guest rooms as a constant in and out of parallel rooms transpires. Each character has a particular motivation as he or she sneaks around the hallways and rooms. It is delightful fun.

When I realized that Streisand and O’Neal were the romantic leads I was skeptical at first but their chemistry is not bad. They are not the sort of couple that he and Ali MacGraw were in Love Story (1970) and certainly have no heavy drama to play but they play comedy off of each other well. In fact, the film makes a joke about the film Love Story.

Unfamiliar to me, I am glad I took the chance and watched What’s Up Doc? (1972). The film provides laughs, entertainment, and good chemistry among the cast who know how to deliver rapturous humor with perfect timing.

Rated G, the film can be enjoyed by the entire family as there is not a double entendre or otherwise offensive moment to be found. Just good, old-fashioned humor. I would argue that the film influenced the 1970s as much as paid homage to comedy films made decades earlier.

I would see it again.

Bone-1972

Bone-1972

Director-Larry Cohen

Starring-Yaphet Kotto, Andrew Duggan, Joyce Van Patten

Scott’s Review #1,121

Reviewed March 12, 2021

Grade: B+

It’s tough to review a film like Bone (1972) because it’s a tough film to be categorized. Is it a satire or does it dissect racism and classism? The truth is it does all of the above and offers a bizarre and jagged cinematic experience that will leave the viewer perplexed, scratching his or her head, and ruminating about the experience long after the credits roll.

I was originally expecting Bone to be a 1970s exploitation film but it’s not that at all.

One lazy sunny day, in Los Angeles’s illustrious Beverly Hills, local salesman Bill (Andrew Duggan) and his wife Bernadette (Joyce Van Patten) bicker beside their luscious pool. They are horrified when they realize a filthy rat has become stuck in the filter. This provides some symbolism as the film chugs along. When they rush to call the exterminator a threatening black man named Bone (Yaphet Kotto) suddenly appears.

Frightened, they firstly assume he is with the exterminator company but when he terrorizes them with the now-dead rat they offer him money to leave. While they search for banking materials, Bone realizes that Bernadette and Bill are not as wealthy as appearances would dictate. Bone sends Bill to the bank to withdraw cash or else he will rape and beat Bernadette. At the same time, Bernadette becomes suspicious of Bill’s financial intentions.

There are moments in the film that left me feeling like I was watching something bizarre or of little sense. I’m still not sure what the opening scene of Bill filming a television commercial featuring cars involved in wrecks with dead bodies inside. The images are bloody and horrific- artistic but unclear is the message.

The conclusion also is unclear. When one character appears to murder another, a third character vanishes. Naming the characters would ruin the story but suffice it to say one may wonder if the entire film was a dream.

The realization that Bill and Bernadette make individually is that they don’t care for one another and would happily leave the other to die. We know little about their life from before but assume, while rich, they live a life of boredom, each yearning for some spice. How many nights does Bernadette sit alone by the pool drowning her sorrows in Chardonnay?

Yaphet Kotto is wonderfully cast. Soon to be well-known as a James Bond villain in Live and Let Die (1973), his character in Bone starts as menacing and slowly becomes sympathetic almost rootable. When he reveals to Bernadette that he cannot maintain an erection unless he is raping someone, the thought is sickening, but he also appears vulnerable and feeble.

He gradually became my favorite character of the three whereas in a conventional film he would be the one not to root for.

Bill’s experiences are a mind-fuck. Tasked with withdrawing money from his bank to save his wife, he thinks why should he? He meets a gregarious woman at a bar played by Brett Somers and a chatty young woman online at the bank, who beds him and makes him a salted steak. They frolic away the afternoon as, for all he knows, his wife could be dead!

The issues of classism and racism are the meat and potatoes of Bone and where the film really succeeds. We feel the pain of Bone when he as a black man must stand out like a sore thumb in swanky Beverly Hills. He has had to struggle for every crumb he has gotten while he sees spoiled brats like Bill and Bernadette getting everything and working half as hard. It’s not fair and the audience is meant to empathize with him.

Larry Cohen, well-known for the low-budget campy circuit, creates a perplexing project with added black comedy. The rat, the chatty girl, the X-Ray lady, everyone in the film is wacko!

Bone is a weird film that I don’t know what to make of.  I took it as a glimpse into social issues and I loved the food references, the steak, and eggs mostly. The plot and conclusion will leave you wondering but I guess that’s better than forgetting the film five minutes later. I’m still trying to make heads or tails of it.

The Nightcomers-1972

The Nightcomers-1972

Director-Michael Winner

Starring-Marlon Brando, Stephanie Beacham

Scott’s Review #1,080

Reviewed November 11, 2020

Grade: B-

The Nightcomers (1972) is a disappointing prequel to Henry James’ 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw, which had already been adapted into the 1961 film The Innocents. The dreadful title is neither catchy nor means anything specific to the film. The lackluster and unmemorable result is jarring given the masterpiece that is The Innocents. Unclear is whether the intention was to build on the film or directly base it on the novella forgetting The Innocents. Not worth the effort is to ruminate over the answer.

The most interesting comparison is that the film was released the same year as The Godfather (1972), in which the iconic role of Vito Corleone, the mafia head of household, and arguably the best role of Marlon Brando’s career, was created. Mirrored against his role as a bizarre gardener named Peter Quint, with a broken Irish accent, one can guess why one role is memorable and why the other isn’t.

Flora (Verna Harvey) and Miles (Christopher Ellis) are recently orphaned children living in a vast English estate. Their absent guardian pays for the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose (Thora Hird), and governess, Miss Jessel (Stephanie Beacham) to keep things running smoothly. Jessel and Peter embark on a torrid and sometimes abusive relationship that the children witness and emulate through play-acting. Flora and Miles suffer from isolation and must use their imaginations to make the best of their idle days.

Watching in sequence with The Innocents is not encouraged. The Nightcomers is best served as a stand-alone product. The events and continuity are muddy and will confuse the most astute viewer. Flora is much older than she is in The Innocents even though the action takes place before those events. The characters being played by different actors doesn’t help. Finally, The Nightcomers contains none of the ghostly mystique and spookiness that The Innocents do. So, it is advisable is to watch putting The Innocents out of mind.

Admittedly, events do come together in the final act and the best part of the film. When two simultaneous deaths occur, they are quite shocking and powerfully filmed. I felt more emotionally invested during the final ten-minute sequence than I had for the rest of the film.

Brando has one emotional scene worthy of his talents. Given the actor’s powerful chops, he can make any scene believable, but this is cream of the crop material. Stephanie Beacham is an okay casting choice, but I never felt the chemistry or connection between Jessel and Quint. Their relationship didn’t work for me. Suspension of disbelief is required to power through a scene where a character drowns in what looks like two feet of water, making the scene lose some power.

Harvey and Ellis as the children are okay but nothing spectacular. I am jaded to compare again to The Innocents, but those actors are just better and more haunting, especially the character of Miles. The subject of mental illness and the questioning of reality versus imagination is not as explored in The Nightcomers.

The production is not a total dud, containing enough exterior elements of the plush and English landscape to please and make viewers feel they are on the country manor themselves. The interior scenes are just as good. The children gallop through the enormous house to their heart’s delight making the viewer feel like a kid along with them.

The sadomasochistic scenes between Peter and Miss Jessel are quite titillating and border on the X-rated. During the bedroom scenes, I nearly blushed from embarrassment. But, as erotic as they are they also don’t do much to further the plot or add to the story. They have a kinky sex life- so what? There is also a weird suggestion of incest since Flora and Miles imitate what Quint and Jessel do, how far would they take it? The plot has the good possibilities, but the film and the direction are not executed well, and things don’t come together.

If you’ve never heard of The Innocents (1961) then The Nightcomers (1972) is recommended. If viewing a cinematic masterpiece is desired, however, stick with the former and never look back.

Cabaret-1972

Cabaret-1972

Director-Bob Fosse

Starring-Liza Minnelli, Michael York

Scott’s Review #975

Reviewed December 31, 2019

Grade: A

If not for the mighty and powerful The Godfather (1972) blocking its path (but who’s complaining?), Cabaret (1972), with eight academy award nominations, surely would have won Best Picture in its year of release. The film thus has the dubious honor of receiving the most nominations of all time without whisking away the ultimate trophy, but no matter, the Oscars are not everything. The production, acting, and story are inventive and envelope-pushing, both serious and fun, and proof that 1972 was one of the greatest years in cinema.

The story envelopes a circle of friends enjoying the decadence and jovial nature of the decade, although they have their struggles. Energetic Kit Kat Klub performer, Sally Bowles (Minnelli) takes a shine to British scribe, Brian (Michael York) when he moves into her boarding house. Despite having night and day personalities, they become deeply bonded and best friends. Rich playboy baron, Maximilian (Helmut Griem) woos the pair with money and travel and beds each of them separately, eventually dumping them both.

In a supporting yet important subplot, Fritz Wendel (Fritz Wepper) is a German Jew passing himself off as a Protestant. He falls madly in love with Natalia (Marisa Berenson), a gorgeous and authentic German Jewish heiress. Their love story is comic relief, but a dangerous aspect of the film given the foreboding political events. The safety of the cabaret serves as a haven while the outlandish Master of Ceremonies (Joel Grey) appears throughout the film performing risque numbers.

Adapted from the popular Broadway stage show, the musical drama is set in 1930’s Berlin, and the story begins in 1931. Historians will realize that the decade of the 1930’s Germany was frightening, giving rise to the deadly and hated Nazi Party. While the film never goes full-fledged dark, there are snippets of beatings and ridicule at the hands of the Nazis, powerful stuff and tough to take, especially given the Jewish religion of some of the principals.

Liza Minnelli has never had a better role as she simply becomes Sally. The character is vivacious, zesty, and emotional and Minnelli dives in head first and wins viewer’s hearts. Beneath her bubbly exterior Sally is wounded, yearning for love and peace of mind. She pretends that she is close with her wealthy father, but this is far from the truth. The most powerful scene is when a pregnant Sally comes to terms with the heart-wrenching decision to abort the baby.

For both the time-period setting, the 1930s, and the year the film was made, 1972, the sexuality dynamic is powerful and worth a nod. Brian, openly bi-sexual, and at a different time certainly gay is a great character. He beds Sally more out of friendship than anything else, while delving into an admiration (or a lusting) for suave and dashing Maximilian. The fact that his sexuality is embraced and explored is to be celebrated and respected. It’s also a damned interesting part of the film.

Of course, Cabaret being a musical, the performance numbers are superlative. With gorgeous choreography by the director, Bob Fosse, (and who would expect anything less from the seasoned artist), the sets and costumes are stylish. The conclusion, featuring “Cabaret”, is done grandly as Sally performs on stage with precision and bombast. “Willkommen” and “Maybe This Time” are also dynamic favorites.

Cabaret (1972) is a spirited, intelligent experience, never glossing over the historical period, nor assuming viewers are too dumb to have a handle on those events. The film plays best to smart audiences able to appreciate artistic merit and enjoy the robust musical numbers. Carefully, the film is designed to never shy away from the crucial Nazi power that was creeping up and leading to a generation of despair and repercussions.

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director-Bob Fosse (won), Best Actress-Liza Minnelli (won), Best Supporting Actor-Joel Grey (won), Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Scoring: Adaptation and Original Song Score (won), Best Sound (won), Best Art Direction (won), Best Cinematography (won), Best Film Editing (won)

Fellini’s Roma-1972

Fellini’s Roma-1972

Director-Federico Fellini

Starring-Britta Barnes, Peter Gonzales

Scott’s Review #649

Reviewed June 5, 2017

Grade: A-

Fellini’s Roma is a trippy experience through Rome during two different time periods. As with all Fellini films, the film is meant to be experienced rather than analyzed. One must nestle into the life that Fellini offers on-screen- in this instance the fabulous city of Rome, Italy in both positives and negatives. The experience was very good for me, as both a world of odd characters and of ancient Rome oozed from the screen appealingly and absurdly.

From a plot narrative- there is really not one. In fact, arguably the only character portrayed is, in fact, Rome herself. The film takes place in both the 1930s as well as the 1970s and is said to be an autobiographical tale of director Fellini’s experiences growing up in Rome.  We see little Fellini as a youngster, experiencing the vast city for the first time and as a teenager now living in the city. Interestingly, the film traverses from both sets of time periods back and forth with really no rhyme nor reason.

Throughout the film, we see both the beauty and the ugliness of Rome- the majestic Colosseum and the dirty entrails of the gloomy city. Scenes of seedy brothels, mainly in the 1930s, and a myriad of strange and scantily clad females prance before the cameras looking for a lucky score amid the droves of men lusting after them. Another depicts a fashion show, of sorts, taking place at the Vatican, involving nuns and priests in bizarre costumes.

The 1930’s setting is my personal favorite. Gritty, cold, and harsh, the bleakness of Rome is depicted. Unsurprisingly, this has much to do with the historical time period. Since Mussolini was in power, and on the eve of World War II, the darkness is apparent. In a frightening scene, bomb sirens wail like a woman shrieks in panic. The brothel scenes are downright creepy and the subsequent theatre scenes involving drunken, rowdy, young men leering and cursing at the entertainment, is a particular slice of a life sequence.

In contrast, the 1970’s sequences are layered with more beautiful depictions of the city. Brighter colors are depicted, and there appear to be either scientists or explorers digging into ancient ruins and finding gorgeous art that is subsequently ruined by the blowing air. We also see hippy types basking in the sunlight. Again, much of this film is largely open to interpretation.

I adore Fellini’s Roma in terms of an expression of the city of Rome as an art form, but the film is highly unconventional- another plus for me. Sure, I may have desired to learn more about the bevy of creepy and potentially interesting characters, but I finished the film with an appreciation of Rome, unlike none I have ever known.

A startling final scene, in which legendary Italian film star, Anna Magnani, appears scantily clad, implied to be a prostitute, was filmed shortly before her untimely death at the age of sixty-five.

As a film, Fellini’s Roma is a wonderful history lesson, but also a lesson in interpretation and film appreciation. Most filmgoers are accustomed to a beginning, middle, and an end, as well as some semblance of a plot. Roma contains none of that, but rather, is mind-opening and still fresh many years after its release, which is a true testament.

Heat-1972

Heat-1972

Director-Paul Morrissey

Starring-Joe Dallesandro, Sylvia Miles

Scott’s Review #479

579887

Reviewed September 11, 2016

Grade: A-

Heat is a Paul Morrissey/Andy Warhol collaboration in 1970s sexploitation films. The film is somewhat of a spoof of the classic film from 1950, Sunset Boulevard, and stars 1970s cult star, Joe Dallesandro.

He plays a hunky struggling actor, and former child star, who begins a relationship with a has-been actress (Sylvia Miles) and her lesbian daughter as they co-habitat in a seedy Los Angeles hotel run by plump landlady (Pat Ast).  He pays the landlady a reduced rent in exchange for sex.

Heat stars two of my favorite cult film actresses (Miles and Ast). It is a fun, over-the-top, independent style sex romp. A pleasing experience for those in the mood for something left of center.

The Getaway-1972

The Getaway-1972

Director-Sam Peckinpah

Starring-Steve McQueen, Ali MacGraw

Scott’s Review #439

539604

Reviewed July 3, 2016

Grade: A-

The Getaway is a classic action film from director Sam Peckinpah- known for works such as Straw Dogs and The Wild Bunch. His films are known as “guy films” and a rather violent-The Getaway is no exception, though it is not immensely brutal either. Still, there are more than one macabre scene and one dastardly villain. For fans of Peckinpah, The Getaway is a must-see.

The film features Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw perfectly cast as lovers Doc and Carol McCoy. Inescapable is their chemistry, and art mirrored life as the two were embroiled in a torrid love affair during shooting and later were married.

We meet Doc in a Texas prison, where his parole has just been denied. Doc and Carol decide to make a deal with a corrupt businessman, Jack Benyon, to ensure Doc is released. One stipulation is for Doc to participate in a bank heist with two of Jack’s men (Rudy and Frank).

The heist goes off, but things go awry and Doc and Carol head for El Paso with a large sum of money, being pursued by Rudy, and a double-cross attempt by Jack. Rudy kidnaps veterinarian Harold and his young wife Fran (Sally Struthers) to aid him with his injuries, taking them along as he pursues Doc and Carol. Mixed in with the already complicated plot is a con-man, who attempts to steal Doc and Carol’s money.

Doc and Carol are clearly the heroes of the film and are meant to be rooted for and the characters work very well together. Yes, they are criminals themselves, but they portrayed as nice and not hurting anyone who does not deserve it. Doc does spare Rudy’s life at one point, and I think this only reinforces his appealing anti-hero character. The love story is also a great aspect of the film making Doc and Carol likable. A few sweet, tender scenes of their romance are mixed in, adding a nice balance to the otherwise testosterone-fueled events.

The Getaway contains spectacular editing as, particularly at the beginning of the film, we watch Doc in prison, going through his day-to-day rituals, mixed in brilliantly with other stories in the film. The musical score matches perfectly with the editing as it adds a provocative element of intrigue. These components add the necessary elements to a film like this- edge of your seat!

I love the Texas setting. Characters are constantly traveling to get somewhere- either by train, by car, or on foot- so we see much of the Texas countryside, almost giving The Getaway a western flavor. It is certainly a hot and humid environment, though McQueen always has a sophisticated suit on and MacGraw looks stylish and put together. And from a prop perspective, I never tire of seeing those early 1970’s sedans driving at high speeds.

Unfortunately, as with most Peckinpah films, women are not portrayed in a positive light, though Carol is one of the strongest of his female film characters. Yet, in one tough scene, she is smacked around by Doc after he realizes she slept with Jack to ensure his release from prison.

The most confusing and weak character is Fran. In a strange bit of writing, she inexplicably falls madly in love with her kidnapper, Rudy, even as he abuses and humiliates her- while her husband is around. This is odd and tough to watch and not the best part of The Getaway. Her character is not developed well and it is head-shaking why she feels any passion for Rudy.

The heart of the film belongs to Doc and Carol as they are on the lam for much of the time and this is a successful part of The Getaway- hence the title. Will they get caught, will they escape? The characters remind me of Bonnie and Clyde, so we wonder if Doc and Carol will meet the same fate, but of course, we like them so we do not want that.

The Getaway is a fast-paced, down-home, red-blooded sort of action film. It is stylized, gritty, and sometimes violent. The chicken wing scene between Rudy, Fran, and Harold starts light and turns ugly, adding to the unpredictable nature of the film. A supreme offering by Peckinpah.

Pink Flamingos-1972

Pink Flamingos-1972

Director-John Waters

Starring-Divine, Edith Massey

Top 100 Films-#96

Scott’s Review #359

70032618

Reviewed January 9, 2016

Grade: A

One of the true, and best, late-night gross-out films of all time, Pink Flamingos breaks down barriers I never thought possible to do in film and contains one of the most vomit-inducing scenes to ever grace the movies. The film is certainly one of a kind and will only be appreciated by a certain type of film-goer. Pink Flamingos is raw, entertaining, and must be seen to be believed. Outrageous in every way and shot documentary style, the film has weird close-ups and amateurish camera angles, only adding to the fun. Personally, I love the film.

In what director John Waters famously dubbed the “Trash Trilogy”, along with similar films Desperate Living and Female Trouble, Pink Flamingos has the dubious honor of being the best of the three.

Waters stalwart, Divine, plays Babs Johnson, an underground criminal who lives a meager existence in a trailer along with her mentally challenged son Crackers, and her bizarre, egg-obsessed mother, Edie (Massey). They are joined by Babs’s companion, Cotton. In an attempt to win the “Filthiest Person Alive” contest and usurp Babs from achieving this distinction. the Marbles (Mink Stole and David Lochary) set out to destroy her career.

Pink Flamingos is complete and utter over-the-top fare, but I have fallen in love with the film over the years. Let’s just say it is a type of film that is an acquired taste, and one will eventually revel in the madness or be disgusted with its bad taste. Waters, a truly creative,  breaks new ground in filthy behavior. On a budget of no more than $10,000, it is more than impressive how he pulled this off successfully.

The antics that Babs and the Marbles engage in are downright crude, but the extreme nature of the fun is exactly what is to love about the film. Hysterical is the character of Babs’s mother Edie. Confined to a crib and constantly inquiring about the Egg Man, she is obsessed with eggs and wants to eat nothing else. She eventually marries the Egg Man. The character is entertaining beyond belief.

The Marbles run a clinic in which they sell stolen babies to lesbian couples for cash.  When they send Babs a box of human excrement and a card that says “fatso”, the war between the two sides is on. The highlight of the film is the main sequence in which Babs holds a birthday party. A male contortionist flexes his anus in rhythm to the song “Surfin’ Bird”, which may be the only film featuring an anus. How Waters got away with some of this stuff is mind-blowing.

The most disturbing scene occurs at the very end when Babs watches a dog do “its business” on the street and proceeds to pick up the excrement and eat it, revealing to the audience a toothy (and brown) smile. Reportedly Divine actually did this act. As the film ends, Babs truly is “The Filthiest Person Alive”.

Thanks to the genius of John Waters and Divine and the superlative supporting cast, Pink Flamingos is a reminder that creativity and unique humor does not have to conform to a specific style or follow a road map. Waters takes any film criteria and throws it right out the window, instead of creating a masterpiece in warped fun and disgust.

Deliverance-1972

Deliverance-1972

Director-John Boorman

Starring-Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty

Top 100 Films-#74    

Scott’s Review #324

433193

Reviewed January 5, 2016

Grade: A

Deliverance is a disturbing, gritty, yet quite wonderful 1972 thriller, directed by John Boorman, starring a cast of all-male principal actors. The film is an adventure, albeit a dark one, with a subject matter difficult to watch, the film takes dark twists along the way, which is also the beauty of it. The viewer will get a harsh look at the backwoods of Georgia, not to mention gorgeous outdoor scenery.

A group of middle-aged, metropolitan businessmen, (played by Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty, and Ronny Cox), from Atlanta, decide to go rafting for a weekend getaway along a remote river in a desolate area of Georgia. It is a guy’s weekend.  Lewis and Ed (Reynolds and Voight) are experienced at canoeing and are therefore the leaders of the group.

The guys are jovial but soon come upon a strange group of very poor townspeople. The men ask for a ride to the river and one of the men, Drew (Cox) engages a strange young boy in a friendly duel of banjo versus guitar, but Drew is then snubbed by the boy.  Later, events take a dark turn when a hunter versus hunted game emerges between the city-dwelling men and the country rednecks.

The film is interesting as it begins as a light-hearted adventure- nearly a buddy movie. The men laugh and joke as they relish in anticipation the exciting weekend lying ahead of them. The film then becomes slightly eerie during the banjo scene. We know that something strange or sinister has occurred, but we cannot put our finger on it. Does the redneck boy hate the city men or is he simply mentally challenged? Why the strange looks by the poor people of the tiny town?

From this point Deliverance clearly takes a dark turn as a brutal event occurs involving two deaths- one under mysterious circumstances, and a male rape scene that is disturbing in its intensity and humiliation. The rawness of these aspects of the film is unprecedented, especially interspersed with the contrast of the beautiful nature that is also at the forefront.

The acting is spot-on. In my opinion, Jon Voight makes this film and gives a layered, character-driven performance, so much so, that the audience becomes invested in his life. Ed is a good guy- arguably the kindest of the bunch- and is forced to become a different person as the film progresses, far from his true self.

He struggles in one scene- one beautifully peaceful scene- to shoot and kill a deer calmly grazing in the woods. He cannot do it. I love this scene as it shows Ed’s true nature. He does not dare tell the other men of his perceived shortcomings. Ironically, he is then forced to make another painful decision involving human life.

On the surface a straightforward mainstream film, but as the film moves along, it becomes a layered masterpiece. Happy, tragic, strange, depressing, peaceful, and brutal capture Deliverance. The film is a disturbing, memorable gem and needs to be viewed to appreciate the golden age of 1970’s cinema.

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director-John Boorman, Best Film Editing

Frenzy-1972

Frenzy-1972

Director-Alfred Hitchcock

Starring-Jon Finch, Barry Foster

Top 100 Films-#24     Top 20 Horror Films-#8    

Scott’s Review #244

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Reviewed May 17, 2015

Grade: A

Frenzy is a latter-day Alfred Hitchcock film that returns the masterful director to his roots of London, England, Hitchcock’s country of origin, and where his early films were made. As with numerous other Hitchcock stories, the protagonist is falsely accused of murder and struggles mightily to prove his innocence before time runs out and he meets his doom.

The film is quite British, with an entirely British cast, and mixes in a humorous side story of the primary investigator’s wife, a horrid cook, who prepares exotic, yet tasteless meals for her husband. This comic relief perfectly balances the heavy drama encompassing the main murder story as Frenzy is one of Hitchcock’s most violent and graphic. Made in 1972- post-movie sanctions, he was able to get away with much more explicit content.

A neck-tie murderer, who also rapes his female victims, is on the loose in London. In the opening sequence, we see a dead woman floating in the Thames river during broad daylight, nude, except for a neck-tie that she has been strangled with. A crowd of spectators races to see what all the fuss is. We then meet the central character of the film- down on his luck bartender Richard Blaney, who is fired from his job as a bartender by his hateful boss.

Blaney has a loyal girlfriend in Babs, a barmaid at the same local watering hole. Babs is sexy, yet plain. He also has a successful ex-wife, Brenda, who runs a dating company. Blaney regularly sponges money and dinners from Brenda. Also in the picture is successful fruit-market trader, Bob Rusk, who is a friend of Blaney’s. All four of these central characters have much to do with the main plot.

As events begin to unfold, the film is not a whodunit as traditionally it could have been. Instead, the audience knows very quickly who the murderer is and his motivations, which is an interesting twist in itself. Regardless of this knowledge, the film is quite compelling as a classic Hitchcock horror thriller.

It is interesting for Hitchcock fans to compare this film with many of his earlier works. Released in 1972, at a point in film history where aforementioned sensors were much laxer, it is the first Hitchcock film to feature nudity. It is also the film of Hitchcock’s that features the most brutal rape/murder scene of all, surpassing the shower scene from Psycho, in my opinion.

The victim’s ordeal is prolonged, as she begins praying, thinking she will only be raped, at first unaware that her attacker is also the neck-tie murderer and her life is running short. This leads to a sad, gruesome outcome for her.

One of the most interesting murder scenes actually takes place off-camera and is an ingenious idea by Hitchcock. The neck-tie murderer lures a victim to his apartment complex under the guise of being a friend of hers. They walk upstairs to his unit and go inside, all the while the camera remains poised outside of the apartment so the viewer only imagines the horrors occurring inside.

The camera then slowly goes back down the stairs and out onto the street and looks up at the murderer’s window. The fact that the victim is one of the principal characters makes one’s imagination run wild as to what is transpiring inside the apartment and the viewer is filled with grief. This is a brilliant choice by Hitchcock and so terribly effective to the story.

Another great scene is the potato truck sequence. As the neck-tie murderer has dumped his victim, like garbage, into a potato sack, he is panicked to realize that she has taken his pin from his jacket and presumably clenched it in her fist as a clue, despite her demise. What will he do now? The long scene features the murderer inside the potato truck attempting to unclench his pin from her hand and escape the moving truck without being caught. It is my favorite scene in Frenzy.

Frenzy is a return to triumph for Hitchcock, after the complex Topaz and Torn Curtain, underappreciated political thrillers made a few years before this film. He returns to the horror genre like gangbusters throwing some good, sophisticated British humor into his recipe for good measure. What a treat this film is.

The Poseidon Adventure-1972

The Poseidon Adventure-1972

Director-Ronald Neame

Starring-Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters

Top 100 Films-#12

Scott’s Review #214

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Reviewed January 17, 2015

Grade: A

The disaster genre, mainly encompassing the 1970’s in film, includes some of my personal favorite films of all time and The Poseidon Adventure is easily at the top of the pile. Set on a lavish ocean liner, the SS Poseidon, on New Year’s Eve, the doomed ship falls victim to a powerful tsunami while sailing from New York to Athens on its final voyage, causing it to topple over and leaving a handful of survivors to meander through the bowels of the ship in an attempt to find a way out and be rescued. They are led by a stubborn preacher, played by Gene Hackman.

The appeal of The Poseidon Adventure is, of course, watching the cast of characters in peril and guessing which ones will meet their fates and how- think a slasher film without the horror component. Featuring an ensemble cast of Hollywood celebs of the day, the characters are introduced to the audience before the tidal wave erupts, so therefore we care for them immensely.

There is the former hooker with the heart of gold married to a gruff cop (Stella Stevens and Ernest Borgnine as Mike and Linda Rogo). Then there is the sweet-natured older couple on the cruise to see their grandchild (Shelley Winters and Jack Albertson as Manny and Belle Rosen). Pamela Sue Martin plays the teen girl, Susan, who falls madly in love with the preacher- Reverend Scott. Along with her younger brother, Robin, they are traveling to see their parents, who await their arrival.

Roddy McDowall plays a waiter named Acres. Lastly, Red Buttons plays James Martin, a health-conscious bachelor and Carol Lynley plays shy singer Nonnie. Reverend Scott is the moral focal point of the film and questions god several times throughout.

The sets are extraordinary- the colorful Christmas tree in the grand dining room is fantastic. In fact, the entire New Year’s Eve party scene is my favorite- it is festive, extravagant, and mixed in with a scene where the ominous tsunami is rapidly approaching.

The festive celebration quickly turns into confusion as the sirens begin to sound, and finally panic as furniture begins to fly. Visually this scene is the most intricate- the ship turns upside down after the crash, thus giving the illusion that the bottom of the ship is the top. Tricky. From this point on all of the sets to follow are actually intended to be upside down- a crafty and effective style, but none more than the dining room scene. A victim toppling and crashing into a giant clock is a memorable scene.

As the group of survivors haggardly make their way throughout the ship they encounter underwater explosions, dead bodies, rushing water, and disputes, mainly between Reverend Scott and Rogo, as to how to proceed to safety. One by one a handful of the group meets their fates in gruesome fashion- falling into a fire, a heart attack, and falling to one’s death.

Shelley Winters is the comic relief of the film with her humorous quips about her weight, and her death scene brings me to tears each time I experience it. A heavyset older woman who at one time was a dynamite high school swimmer, she attempts to help the group by holding her breath and swimming underneath the engine room, which is blocked- she does inevitably save the Reverend Scott’s life but succumbs to a heart attack shortly thereafter. It is a powerful, heartbreaking scene.

The film is a great adventure. What makes The Poseidon Adventure so timeless and continues to bring so much pleasure? Certainly not high-brow nor high art, but it does not need to be. It is simply meant to be enjoyed for what it is- a thrilling, fun, entertaining ride.

Oscar Nominations: Best Supporting Actress-Shelley Winters, Best Song Original for the Picture-“The Morning After” (won), Best Original Dramatic Score, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing

Last Tango in Paris-1972

Last Tango in Paris-1972

Director-Bernardo Bertolucci

Starring-Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider

Top 10 Disturbing Films-#8

Scott’s Review #202

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Reviewed December 5, 2014

Grade: A-

Last Tango in Paris is a very dark 1972 erotica art film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci (The Conformist), starring Marlon Brando as a disturbed, angry American man named Paul, whose wife has committed suicide. He is left to survive on his own in Paris lost and without her where he runs a decrepit apartment complex. Lonely and bitter, he meets a much younger Parisian woman (Maria Schneider), equally disturbed for different reasons, and they forge a relationship that is sometimes brutal, degrading, but also containing mutual affection and need. They are addicted to each other.

This film may very well be my favorite performance by Marlon Brando. He plays a hateful, unpleasant character, yet something is appealing about him and the viewer sympathizes with his grief. That is to Brando’s credit, of course. A lesser actor would not be as effective. He is damaged, treats everyone like shit, but there is also a vulnerability to him that is mesmerizing to watch. Brando was such a great, method actor that he simply morphs into the characters he plays. Paul is certainly his most raw and emotional performance of his career.

Actress Maria Schneider is also tremendous in the film. Equally disturbed, her character Jeanne experienced a vastly different upbringing- that of wealth and pampering. She has a fiancé who loves her dearly, yet she is drawn to the power and abuse of Paul- the fact that he is an older man is sexy to her.

I kept thinking, “What is wrong with this woman?” She seemingly has everything, yet she yearns for excitement. Is Paul a fling for her? Does she care about him or is she using him? Is he using her? Could they be using each other? The film raises many psychological questions. Jeanne is clearly in emotional turmoil. In fact, both Jeanne and Paul are.

Last Tango in Paris is a difficult film to watch- several scenes are unpleasant, even brutal, but it is a character study of two damaged individuals. When Paul anally penetrates Jeanne on the floor of his apartment, forcing her to recite gibberish, it is almost too much to bear. Paul wants to know nothing about Jeanne. He does not want to know her name, her past, nothing- complete anonymity. He lives for the present and their sex is animalistic, filled with lust and need.

But these examples are a testament to the power of Last Tango in Paris. It is not boring. The finale leaves you wondering what will happen to Jeanne. Will she commit suicide? Will she return to her fiancé and life of luxury, her affair with Paul over? Was the affair only a fling for her or does she really love Paul?

The film is a dark, tragic, romantic story. It is brutal, raw, and honest. It is not to be missed.

Oscar Nominations: Best Director-Bernardo Bertolucci, Best Actor-Marlon Brando

The Godfather-1972

The Godfather-1972

Director-Frances Ford Coppola

Starring-Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan

Top 100 Films-#10

Scott’s Review #196

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Reviewed November 24, 2014

Grade: A

The Godfather is one of the most identifiable and brilliant film masterpieces of all time. It is so ingrained in pop-culture and film history and was such a blueprint of 1970’s cinema that its legend deservedly lives on. The film has not aged poorly nor been soured by over-exposure. It is as much a marvel today as it must have been when originally released in theaters in 1972.

The film revolves around the Corleone family- a mob family living in New York. They are high-powered, wealthy, and influential with politicians and law enforcement alike. They are the cream of the crop of organized crime families. The patriarch of the family is known as “The Godfather”, the real name Don Corleone, played by Marlon Brando.

The eldest son is hot-headed Sonny, played by James Caan. Middle son Fredo, played by John Cazale, is dim-witted and immature and clearly the weak link of the family. Finally, the youngest son is the central character in the film. Michael, played by a very youthful Al Pacino, has just returned home from World War II, a decorated and Ivy League-educated hero.

Throughout the film, Michael wrestles with either steering the Corleone family business towards the straight and narrow or continuing the death, blood, and corruption that currently encompasses the family. Rounding out the Corleone family is Tom Hagen, an Irish surrogate son of sorts, who serves as the family attorney. Connie- the temperamental and emotional sister, and Mama Corleone, the passive wife of Don’s complete the main family.

The various supporting characters are immense, from family friends, relatives, corrupt mob figures, and characters introduced when Michael lives in Italy.

The brilliance of The Godfather is clearly the richness of the enormous amount of characters on the canvas and the structure and pacing of the film. Even small characters are vital to the film and every scene is important and effortlessly paced so that they neither seem rushed nor drag, and the film is immeasurably character-driven.

My favorite character is Michael Corleone as he is the most troubled and complex. Pacino plays him to the hilt as, initially, a nice guy trying to do the right thing, going against the grain, and non-traditional- he proposes to a waspy woman who has no Italian heritage. When events develop in a particular way, Michael suddenly becomes the leader of the family, despite being the youngest son, and the complexities of the character deepen from this point.

Specifically, the revenge killing sequence is brilliant as the viewer is kept on the edge of their seat through a car ride, a meal in a restaurant, a men’s room scene, until finally, all hell breaks loose, all the while Michael is conflicted, unsure, and intense. Has he veered too far from being a nice guy? Can he salvage the family business without being ruthless? Michael faces a battle of good vs. evil.

The scenes are brilliantly structured- the grand opening scene alone is beautiful as the audience is introduced to the entire family- cheerfully dancing and frolicking during a bright and sunny outdoor wedding (Connie’s) at the Corleone estate, while inside a dark interior study, a man begs Don Corleone to help avenge his raped and beaten daughter by having her attackers killed.

Several scenes in The Godfather are my personal favorites- the aforementioned restaurant scene, where Michael is faced with a dilemma involving a corrupt policeman and a high-powered figure, one can feel the tension in this extended scene. The scene in a Hollywood mansion where poor, innocent, horse Khartoum meets his fate in the most gruesome way imaginable.

Later, Michael’s beautiful Italian wife, Apollonia, has an explosive send-off. Towards the end of the film, the improvised tomato garden scene with an elderly Don Corleone playing with his young grandson. Finally, the brutal scene involving Corleone’s son Sonny at the toll booth is mesmerizing, brutal, and flawlessly executed.

The lack of any strong female characters and how women are treated (either beaten or passively following their husbands) is bothersome, but unfortunately, circa 1940’s mafia, this is the way things were. One could make the argument that Kay Adams, played by Diane Keaton, is the strongest female character as she questions the Corleone family’s motives and attempts to keep Michael honest and trustworthy. She has little in common with the other female characters. Lines such as “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse” and “Don’t forget the cannolis” are unforgettable and quote-worthy.

The finale of the film is breathtaking- a combination of bloody kills mixed in with a peaceful scene of Michael accepting the honor of becoming his nephew’s godfather. As he pledges his devotion to God and denounces Satan, the murders he orchestrated are simultaneously being executed. The character, while complex, suddenly becomes a hypocrite.

Some view Michael as strictly a hero whose choices should not be questioned or analyzed- others view Michael as not a hero, but rather a complex, tortured, a bad guy. One simply must watch The Godfather and The Godfather Part II as companion pieces, as Part I is slightly more straightforward and easier to follow than the more complex and layered sequel.

The Godfather is storytelling and filmmaking at its absolute best and continues to influence films to this day.

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture (won), Best Director-Francis Ford Coppola, Best Actor-Marlon Brando (won), Best Supporting Actor-James Caan, Robert Duvall, Al Pacino, Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (won), Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Film Editing

Slaughterhouse Five-1972

Slaughterhouse Five-1972

Director-George Roy Hill

Starring-Michael Sacks, Ron Leibman

Scott’s Review #84

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Reviewed July 1, 2014

Grade: A-

Slaughterhouse-Five, adapted from the novel of the same name and made in 1972, is a dream-like visual experience through cinematic time.

In the story, the main character (Billie Pilgrim) is a World War II soldier who survives a horrific explosion during the war in one period of his life, and he, along with the viewer floats through time to relive, but not change, three other times in his life. It is a first-person narrative. As a senior, the most engaging time period, he is transported to a lavish outer space planet where he falls in love with a Goddess.

There is a certain anti-war sentiment to the film and is certainly cerebral, unique and mesmerizing, and tough to explain, but it is dreamy and clever and, after 30 plus years, is surprisingly fresh, therefore it should be experienced. It is a science-fiction type of film. My favorite scene is the humorous, yet tragic runaway Cadillac scene.

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie-1972

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie-1972

Director-Luis Bunuel

Starring-Fernando Rey, Paul Frankeur

Scott’s Review #13

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Reviewed June 17, 2014

Grade: A-

This film is a wonderful satire by Director Luis Bunuel. The movie is very strange- 3 well-to-do couples meander from dinner party to dinner party and, due to circumstances beyond their control (an incorrect date, a mysterious corpse, a military raid) never end up sitting down and enjoying a meal together.

How the individuals are wealthy is a bit vague; though there is mention of drug smuggling. It’s unclear who is matched up with whom since frolicking amongst them is commonplace. Several of them experience odd fantasy/dream sequences throughout and oftentimes are seen walking aimlessly down the road.

The entire film is tongue in cheek and pokes fun at the wealthy class. It’s offbeat but highly enjoyable.

Oscar Nominations: Best Screenplay Based on Factual Material or Material Not Previously Produced or Published, Best Foreign Language Film (won)

The Gore, Gore Girls-1972

The Gore, Gore Girls-1972

Director-H.G. Lewis

Starring-Frank Kress, Amy Farrell

Scott’s Review #12

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Reviewed May 14, 2014

Grade: B+

The Gore Gore Girls is a fun, late-night, campy horror film by the “Godfather of Gore”, H.G. Lewis.

An unknown assailant is hacking strippers to bits using very unusual methods. An investigator is hired to find out whodunit. It’s an entertaining experience and I love the use of the whodunit mixed in with horror. I enjoyed the outcome when the killer is revealed.

Another influence to John Waters (even the music seems identical!) and it’s a hearty viewing of wildness, merriment, and debauchery. Comedian Henny Youngman appears, though he later denied being in the film.

The strippers are over the top and unique and the investigator (sort of a Sherlock Holmes type) wonderful to watch. Quite a low budget as the audio is tough to hear at times and the video fuzzy, but this only enhances the fun. Continuity errors for miles, but it hardly matters.