Love Among the Ruins: 1975 in Review

[Originally published in Movietone News 47, January 1976]

“We might pass this way again”—the line from the song recurs throughout Stations, Roger Hagan’s exquisite documentary that stood out at this year’s Motion Picture Seminar of the Northwest and later graced a Seattle Film Society showing of Antonioni’s Cronaca di un amore. I seem to be passing this way again whenever a yearly assessment of the Seattle film experience falls due in January. 1975, like other recent years we’ve lived and watched through, didn’t feel in the present the way a lot of years look in the past, like a (to compound as many metaphors as possible in this silly season) cornucopia of good movies clamoring to light our way to eternity. Which is not to say that getting up a Ten Best List has been especially difficult for me, or that 1975 has failed to generate many more movies than ten that I want to pay my addresses to.

The little films, for instance, those small-scale endeavors that make no pretensions for themselves and seem ready in advance to kid any pretensions we might make for them; not award-winners or even likely nominees, not Ten Best types as long as “Best” implies more than a conviction that one will fondly remember them. But film years, and film consciousness, don’t get fleshed out without the likes of Rafferty and the Gold-Dust Twins (Dick Richards, Alan Arkin, Sally Kellerman, Mackenzie Phillips), Rancho Deluxe (Tom McGuane, Frank Perry, William A. Fraker, Jeff Bridges, Sam Waterston, Slim Pickens, Elizabeth Ashley, Clifton James, Harry Dean Stanton, Richard Bright), W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings (Burt Reynolds, Art Carney, Thomas Rickman, John G. Avildsen), and A Boy and His Dog (L.Q. Jones, Harlan Ellison, Don Johnson, Tim McIntire, Blood). In some private last analysis I prize such movies above the more generally noticeable and certainly commendable likes of Jaws, The Return of the Pink Panther, and Farewell My Lovely because it requires no last analysis to make me uneasy about, respectively, empty manipulation, however proficient, or betting a sure thing, however accomplished that sure thing may be, or gilding a generic lily even when the gilding is as affectionate and surprisingly unpretentious as Richards’ (director of Farewell as well as Rafferty).

When we consider that such pre-1975 entries as La Grande Bouffe and The Phantom of Liberté still haven’t been here (though in these cases it isn’t for want of trying on the part of the Seattle Film Society), it seems all but pointless to try listing the many films that, ’75 pictures in other climes where Ten Best Lists are toted up, haven’t been made available to Queen City viewers. In this connection it is worth observing that the performance of our local, ostensible art-film exhibitors has veered perilously near the miserable during the past twelvemonth. Although a fair number of foreign films placed among my top 25 or so titles as notable 1975 premieres, only one of these—Alain Tanner’s The Middle of the World—made its debut via a commercial operation (and it’s not insignificant that the staff of the theater in question considered the film “a bummer”). Foreign films came to Seattle in 1975, including critically well-received items like Louis Malle’s Lacombe, Lucien, Alain Resnais’s Stavisky…, and Lina Wertmuller’s The Seduction of Mimi and Love and Anarchy. My jury of one is still out on the Malle and the Resnais, and will be until I can revisit them; I tried briefly to suggest my reservations about Wertmuller in last issue’s San Francisco Film Festival report, but I certainly intend to keep seeing her films. (It should be noted that The Seduction of Mimi was a cut version of Wertmuller’s original.) What concerns me about the theatrical experience of foreign films last year is less my failure to be blown away by the aforementioned fave raves than the decided trend locally to emphasize schlock—moreover, to imply strongly that it is a virtue to prefer schlock (makes you real folks like us). Mind you, I think we should see foreign schlock just as we are exposed to domestic schlock; it’s good for perspective. But it’s hard not to resent the fawning oversell of films like And Now My Love, Les Violons du bal, Le Secret and the cluttered The French Way (Love at the Top) when a rundown of recent years’ festival offerings or a glance into Sight and Sound—or any New York newspaper—apprises us of the vastness of the field of neglect.

As it chances, I had the opportunity to see a number of films that have placed on many Lists but haven’t appeared—and in most cases simply haven’t had time to appear yet—locally. My own List is restricted to films that had first public showings in Seattle during 1975. Otherwise it might well be crowded by François Truffaut’s The Story of Adèle H., Joseph Losey’s The Romantic Englishwoman, Orson Welles’ F Is for Fake, and Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. It would not, I think, be much affected by Lina Wertmuller’s Swept Away, Louis Malle’s Black Moon, or Costa-Gavras’ Special Section. Among local openings I unmaliciously but stupidly missed, I am most likely compromised by Akira Kurosawa’s Dodes’kaden, Vittorio DeSica’s A Brief Vacation, and Walter Hill’s Hard Times.

Such quibbles and confessions aside, here they are:

1. NASHVILLE (Robert Altman; U.S.A., 1975).
Surprise surprise. It should be superfluous to mention it at this point, but Nashville is fairly far down the list of whatever Nashville is about. I wish I’d hogged one more page of MTN 43 to expand on the mortal complicity of Barbara Jean, Kenny Fraiser and the offscreen Mrs. Green. When both The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books have been entombed under an inch of library dust, Altman’s big surging glorious movie will still have almost more to tell us about the exquisite pain of living and dying than mere humans can bear. I said it then and I’ll say it again: watching Nashville makes you wish you could thank somebody. But surely having made Nashville is its own reward. (First shown at SRO’s Music Box Theatre)

2. LANCELOT DU LAC (Robert Bresson; France, 1974).
Only at a glance does the austerity of Bresson’s film seem the polar opposite of Nashville‘s frame-bursting abundance. But while dozens of tangents offer initial handhold on Altman’s movie, Lancelot du Lac is accessible only to two classes of viewers: those for whom form, lucidity, and the elements of cinema are sacred facts of life, and those whose innocence permits them merely to observe and respond to what the director has put on the screen and what he has almost palpably left off. The tension between the on and the off is terrible in the richest sense of that word. (Seattle Film Society)

3. THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING (John Huston; Great Britain, 1975).
John Huston has wanted to make this movie for more than two decades; seeing it, we realize he’s been making it all along. Beating the devil at his own game, Sean Connery and Michael Caine find the treasure of the Kafiristani and become two blokes in Fat City. The prize, as always with Huston, is an exploding cigar; the trick is to know how to look good with powder burns all over your face. The Man Who Would Be King generates little in the way of frisson as it unreels, but afterwards it comes back to haunt us—and also to warm us—with its seamless rightness. The Director does not impinge on our experience here—there is only The Storyteller, telling a tale whose every moment is privileged because seasoned with wry good humor born of his personality and confirmed by both his life and his career. It’s a story Old Howard would appreciate, and Guillermo, and Alonzo Emmerich and Billy Dannreuther and Stubb, even if it does turn out to be just another story of a man in a gold hat…. (King Theatre)

4. HUSTLE (Robert Aldrich; U.S.A., 1975).
If The Man Who Would Be King satisfies for the complete mutuality of story and direction, Hustle affords a vivid paradigm of the auteur theory at its most radical and perverse. I shudder to think what would have resulted if, say, John G. Avildsen had directed Steve Shagan’s script; but Robert Aldrich directed it, and oh the difference! It’s gladdening to see that Huston, after so much bad press and bad faith, could make his dream project into such an eloquent summation of his oeuvre. But it’s nothing less than inspiring to find Robert Aldrich “staying at the table,” in his and Alain Silver’s phrase, turning potential dross into gold. The director’s energy remains as ferocious as it was in the days of Kiss Me Deadly and Attack!, his anarchistic sense of morality as rigorous and unpredictable and disturbing. And in a year when Nicholson and Pacino are the touchstones of screen acting, let’s hear it for Eddie Albert, Paul Winfield, Eileen Brennan, Ben Johnson and—yes—Burt Reynolds striving honorably in the face of miscasting and our own ignoblest expectations. (SRO’s Town Theatre)

5. LOVE AMONG THE RUINS (George Cukor; Great Britain, 1975).
Love among the Ruins should help relieve any lingering regrets that Katharine Hepburn did not, after all, play the lead in Travels with My Aunt. The present tale serves equally well as companion piece to the 1935 Sylvia Scarlett, and the three form such an eloquent and explicit triptych on fantasy and memory as forces capable of both liberation and entrapment that it should become more delightfully difficult for Cukor to deny he’s more than a humble conductor of others’ artistic conceptions. As the barrister benignly befuddled by four-decades’ closet commitment to a grand passion, Laurence Olivier enjoys perhaps his finest screen hour. (ABC-TV)

6. LE PETIT-THÉÂTRE DE JEAN RENOIR (Jean Renoir; France, 1969).
After a first look at Jean Renoir’s three (three-and-a-half?)-part farewell to the cinema, I tended to agree with that Village Voice third-stringer who listed “Le Roi d’Yvetot”—the final piece—solo on his Ten Best List of 1974. A second viewing convinced me that the segments, radically dissimilar in style and emotional thrust, provide a cumulative impact unattainable by any piecemeal sampling of the film. “Do you hear me, Jean!” Ingrid Bergman called out at the last Oscar telecast when accepting an honorary Academy Award in his name. I wish he could have heard the applause that unfailingly greeted—indeed, anticipated—the conclusion of “Le Roi d’Yvetot” as each audience perceived the gradual drift of the dramatis personae and the village onlookers toward the camera itself, and a final communal bow, and the closing of the red and gold curtain on the Little Theatre. (Seattle Film Society)

7. THE THREE MUSKETEERS (Richard Lester; Great Britain, 1974-5). The Four Musketeers: The Revenge of Milady alone doesn’t make it. But then, The Four Musketeers was never supposed to make it alone, really, and neither was The Three Musketeers: The Queen’s Diamonds, released the previous year. The sunny sappiness of Part One and the increasingly morose situation of a world and a style coming unstuck in Part Two complement each other pointedly and powerfully. This citation includes the complete film. (UA 150 Theatre, in both cases)

8. LA RUPTURE (Claude Chabrol; France, 1970).
The Film Society gave three Chabrols their Northwest Premieres in 1975: La Décade prodigieuse, La Rupture, Nada. Of the three, La Rupture most decisively certifies the effectiveness of the director’s classicism in the commercial cinema—and served up perhaps the most psychically harrowing experience of the film year. The film’s greatest triumph lies in the fact that the trap Jean-Pierre Cassel seeks to close on Stéphane Audran is no less terrifying for our recognition that Cassel is dooming himself to failure every step of the way. (Seattle Film Society)

9. THE PASSENGER (Michelangelo Antonioni; U.S.A.–Great Britain–Italy).
Antonioni continues to devise new ways of perceiving a man’s slippery relationship with, and possible irrelevance to, the world he moves through. As with the Bresson, those who make the journey find it thrilling and those who insist on remaining in the station wonder what all the fuss is about. (SRO’s Music Box; notably revived at United’s Varsity Theatre)

10. PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (Brian de Palma; U.S.A., 1974).
De Palma’s film-buff eclecticism stunningly succeeds for the first time, most especially because here he licks the complicated point-of-view problem which scuttled Sisters in the final reel. Paul Williams rates more than a mention for his encyclopedically campy, irresistibly energizing music score; ditto Paul Hirsch for the zappy editing, especially of the final performance; ditto the parents of Jessica Harper, for Jessica Harper. (Neptune Theatre)

If I were less committed to directorial vision, the precision and astounding mutuality of the performances in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest would have boosted the film onto my List—not that director Milos Forman, a miracle worker with sophisticated performers like Nicholson and Louise Fletcher, semipros like Sidney Lassick, and complete nonprofessionals like Dr. Dean Brooks (what a marvelous debut!), had nothing to do with this. Numbers 12 through 15 on an ongoing List would be filled by Arthur Penn’s Night Moves, Tanner’s The Middle of the World, Jean Eustache’s The Mother and the Whore (for which thanks to the ASUW Major Films Series), and John Milius’ The Wind and the Lion. Other premieres I thought long and hard about include Ossessione, Black Peter, La Collectionneuse (all SFS presentations), Young Frankenstein (but not Love and Death or The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother), French Connection II, Antonia: A Portrait f the Woman, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, and Tommy (but not Lisztomania).

Authentic lead Maltese crosses cast by Von Kemidov will be sent to the following:

Best Director: It goes without saying that the director of the number-one film on anybody’s Ten Best List must have been, as they say in the song, doin’ somethin’ right, so I’d rather reserve this bow for the filmmaker whose job of work thrilled me most for its own sake. Make that Robert Aldrich for Hustle.

Best Actor: I have no quarrel with the awards Jack Nicholson has collected for One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and I hope he gets the Oscar he should have had last year (for Chinatown) or the year before (for The Last Detail). My personal pick would be Gene Hackman for Night Moves and, sequelitis notwithstanding, French Connection II. Laurence Olivier rates a close second for Love among the Ruins, and let’s also savor memories of Robert Mitchum, Farewell My Lovely; Peter Falk, the forgotten—or rather, much-maligned—man of A Woman under the Influence; Sean Connery, The Wind and the Lion and The Man Who Would Be King; and Michael Caine, The Man Who Would Be King.

Best Actress: The first of several stumpers. I remain suspicious of the sociopolitically convenient star turns of Ellen Burstyn and Gena Rowlands in, respectively, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and A Woman under the Influence, I applaud Louise Fletcher’s—and Milos Forman’s—transcendence of easy caricature in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I gloried in the sheer professionalism of Ann-Margret in Tommy, respected the quiet virtues of Olimpia Carlisi’s presence in The Middle of the World, and felt glow-y over the autobiographical splendor of Katharine Hepburn’s participation in Love among the Ruins. But none of these seemed on the same level as Jane Fonda in Klute (1971) or Faye Dunaway in Chinatown (1974). The only female performance that did was scarcely of stellar size in terms of onscreen time—but only in those terms. So call it Ronee Blakley for Nashville, and if you don’t buy that, listen to some of her early records and then tell me Barbara Jean isn’t a stunning job of acting all the way.

Best Supporting Actor: I’m tempted to say the entire supporting cast of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest for the reason noted above, but I’ll stick with what has seemed the clear choice since midsummer: Henry Gibson, Nashville. This is always a rich vein, so let’s mine it for more mentions: Eddie Albert, Paul Winfield, and Ben Johnson in Hustle; Keith Carradine, Nashville; George Burns and Richard Benjamin, The Sunshine Boys; Oliver Reed, Tommy and The Three Musketeers; Charles Durning and Chris Sarandon, Dog Day Afternoon; Peter Boyle, Young Frankenstein; Charlton Heston, The Three Musketeers; Saeed Jaffrey and Christopher Plummer, The Man Who Would Be King; Bernard Bresson, French Connection II; Roy Scheider, Jaws; Jack Warden, Shampoo; Gerrit Graham, Phantom of the Paradise; Brad Dourif, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Best Supporting Actress: Lily Tomlin, Nashville, against more competition than usual: Jennifer Warren and Susan Clark, Night Moves (which, by the way, almost compels the creation of an award for best bed scenes); Lee Grant, Shampoo; Blythe Danner, Hearts of the West; Madeline Kahn, Young Frankenstein; Faye Dunaway, The Three Musketeers; Jessica Harper, Phantom of the Paradise; Eileen Brennan, Hustle; Sylvia Miles, Farewell My Lovely.

Best Screenplay: … Nope, just can’t do it. Nothing stood out like Robert Towne’s Chinatown this year. I took most pleasure in the minor pleasantries of minor films like Rancho Deluxe (Thomas McGuane) and most glee in the personal conceits of genre-warping peculiarities like Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder); Phantom of the Paradise (Brian De Palma) and The Wind and the Lion (John Milius), while feeling my critical faculties most challenged by films that clearly had script problems, such as Night Moves (Alan Sharp) and Hustle (Steve Shagan). If there must be a winner, let it be Alain Tanner and John Berger for The Middle of the World.

Best Cinematography: A lot of talent went into some cinematography that just wouldn’t quit this year; I feel little admiration for the work of Conrad Hall on The Day of the Locust, John Alonzo on Farewell My Lovely (I preferred The Fortune, actually), or Geoffrey Unsworth on Lucky Lady (whose first half-hour was almost literally unwatchable). Paul Lohmann maintained extraordinary visual fluidity in Nashville but I miss the special layer Vilmos Zsigmond contributed to Altman’s films. Leave it at this: Laszlo Kovacs for the subtle sense of place and even of temperature that did so much to validate Shampoo, Oswald Morris for the gorgeously (and aptly) golden-toned look of The Man Who Would Be King (Morris collaborated on Huston’s earlier color experiments Moulin Rouge and Moby Dick), and Joseph Biroc for the slamming force of Hustle‘s imagery—a perfect transmogrification into color of his and Aldrich’s potent Fifties textures in black and white. (Further complicating factor: The three subtlest jobs of cinematography I witnessed in 1975 were in the service of films that haven’t opened locally yet: Gerry Fisher’s on The Romantic Englishwoman, Nestor Almendros’ on The Story of Adèle H., and John Alcott’s—and surely Stanley Kubrick’s—on Barry Lyndon.)

As always, the year was rich in personal encounters that weren’t (I assume) Seattle premieres. If I had to limit the list to the ten most special events, they’d be (in order of original release): The Old Dark House (James Whale), Today We Live (Howard Hawks), Doctor Bull (John Ford), The Man Who Knew Too Much (Alfred Hitchcock), Mary Burns—Fugitive (William K. Howard), Secret Agent (Hitchcock), History Is Made at Night (Frank Borzage), Shoeshine (Vittorio DeSica), Robinson Crusoe (Luis Buñuel), Rebel without a Cause (Nicholas Ray). I’m also glad to have seen The End of St. Petersburg, The Front Page (Milestone), Street Scene, Blonde Crazy, One Hour with You, The Lawless, Fixed Bayonets, Lovers and Thieves, and Duel, and perhaps gladder to have reencountered Tiger Shark, On Dangerous Ground, The Breaking Point, Written on the Wind (in real color on a real screen at last), Forty Guns (in Scope), and Band of Outsiders (which profoundly evoked a whole era for me, filmically and personally-if there’s a difference). Two 1974 films that looked a lot more impressive in 1975 were Richard Lester’s Juggernaut and Billy Wilder’s The Front Page.

Enough is too much. Herewith the cullings and comments of some MOVIETONE NEWS Contributing Writers. Titles followed by * have not yet been shown in Seattle. (SFS members are invited to send their Lists, too.)

ROBERT C. CUMBOW
A Best of the Year List doesn’t tell you much unless you know which films the listmaker missed and which ones he’s deliberately omitted from his tally. I fear that my “Best” List may read like everybody else’s second-best, for the simple reason that I haven’t seen a number of the obvious top contenders and late arrivals which premiered Seattle during 1975. Usually because of provincial Olympia programming, occasionally because of my own poor timing, I managed to miss—so far—The Passenger, Hearts of the West; Lacombe, Lucien; Hearts and Minds, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, A Brief Vacation, Stavisky…, Hustle, The Man Who Would Be King, The Killer Elite, One Flew over the Cuckoo‘s Nest, and a few others, to which I nod in hopes I’ll be able to consider them for next year’s list.

With these unfortunate omissions in mind, the Best Times I Had at the Movies during 1975 were provided by: Nashville (Robert Altman), The Four Musketeers (Richard Lester), A Boy and His Dog (L.Q. Jones), The Wind and the Lion (John Milius), The Seduction of Mimi (Lina Wertmuller; Italy, 1973), Jaws (Steven Spielberg), Night Moves (Arthur Penn).

I had a little better luck in picking up on some older films I’d never seen before. Best Personal Premieres, 1975: Sanjuro (Akira Kurosawa, 1962), The Night Visitor (Laslo Benedek, 1971), The Thief of Bagdad (Raoul Walsh, 1924), The Hurricane (John Ford and Stuart Heisler, 1937), Underworld U.S.A. (Sam Fuller, 1961), Run of the Arrow (Sam Fuller, 1957), Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955), Secret Agent (Alfred Hitchcock, 1936), Junior Bonner (Sam Peckinpah, 1972), Curse of the Cat People (Gunther V. Fritsch and Robert Wise, 1944). Seen again for the first time (thanks to KSTW-TV, Channel 11, for prints which made it like seeing them for the first time, small screen notwithstanding): Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, 1951), Hell Is for Heroes (Donald Siegel, 1962).

Revival of the Year (for which much thanks to MOVIETONE NEWS and U-Dub Lectures & Concerts): Once upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone; U.S.-Italy, 1968).

Lovely to look at, but the Disappointment of the Year: Shampoo (Hal Ashby).

Worst Film of the Year: Bug (Jeannot Szwarc).

KEN EISLER
These are the movies I was most stirred by in 1975:
Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese), Alice in the Cities* (Wim Wenders), Scenes from a Marriage (Ingmar Bergman), How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman* (Nelson Pereira dos Santos), Detained Pending Trial/Why—?* (Nanni Loy), The Fate of Lee Khan* (King Hu), Les Ordres* (Michel Brault), Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell* (Terence Fisher), La Vie revée* (Mireille Dansereau), I, Claudius (Josef von Sternberg—actually, fragments thereof as displayed in the BBC documentary The Epic That Never Was).

RICK HERMANN
Some of the finest films I saw in 1975 date from a couple to a few years back, but are new to me. Clearly the best of the reruns is Robert Altman’s McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Images would also find space on my list, as would Claude Chabrol’s Le Boucher, Luis Buñuel’s Tristana, Peckinpah’s Junior Bonner, Don Siegel’s Dirty Harry, Jean Eustache’s The Mother and the Whore. Some newly encountered, less contemporary films that are especially memorable movie experiences include: John Huston’s The Misfits, Nicholas Ray’s On Dangerous Ground, Anthony Mann’s Bend of the River, Robert Aldrich’s Attack!, Samuel Fuller’s Forty Guns and Run of the Arrow, Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly’s It’s Always Fair Weather (extrapolated from a black-and-white television screen), Agnès Varda’s Cleo 5 to 7, Jean-Luc Godard’s Masculin-Féminin, and Leontine Sagan’s Mädchen in Uniform.

Among the new releases this year, the following are my favorites (no ordering is implied or dreamed of): Michel Brault’s Les Ordres*, Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger, Robert Bresson’s Lancelot du Lac, Robert Altman’s Nashville, Robert Aldrich’s Hustle, Alain Tanner’s The Middle of the World. Arthur Penn’s Night Moves and Sam Peckinpah’s The Killer Elite are both troublesome movies by troublesome directors, and although neither manages to show that the man behind it is up to the mark of his best films (I guess what I’m trying to suggest is that they aren’t “officially” on my list), 1975 wouldn’t have been 1975 for me, moviewise, if they hadn’t appeared. Finally, among the Christmas releases around town I haven’t yet seen, both John Huston’s The Man Who Would Be King and Stanley Donen’s Lucky Lady seem to call for consideration.

PETER HOGUE
Best of ’75-new ones, in the order seen:
I. no choice.
2. Shampoo (Hal Ashby), Stavisky… (Alain Resnais), The Passenger (Michelangelo Antonioni), Phantom of Liberté* (Luis Buñuel), Nashville (Robert Altman).
3. Love among the Ruins (George Cukor), Phantom of the Paradise (Brian De Palma), Mahler* (Ken Russell), Middle of the World (Alain Tanner), The Romantic Englishwoman* (Joseph Losey), Black Moon* (Louis Malle), Conversation Piece* (Luchino Visconti), Hearts of the West (Howard Zieff).

Best of ’75—old ones, in the order seen:
Cronaca di un amore (Antonioni), Scarlet Street (Fritz Lang), Two Rode Together (John Ford), Daisy Kenyon (Otto Preminger), The Assassination of Trotsky (Losey), Robinson Crusoe (Buñuel), Ossessione (Visconti), The Marrying Kind (Cukor), Paisà (Roberto Rossellini), The Eternal Return (Delannoy-Cocteau), Run for Cover (Nicholas Ray), The Young One (Buñuel).

KATHLEEN MURPHY
Nashville, Lancelot du Lac, The Man Who Would Be King, Hustle, Love among the Ruins

JON PURDY
I’m not entirely sure what my problem was this year. I’ve always sat in the same general area of a given theater no matter what film I’m watching; but from where I sat in 1975 I just didn’t see “ten best” new films. I managed to pull only six out of my hatful of ticket stubs. On the other hand, writer’s cramp is about the only thing that stopped me from listing all the films of any year that I first viewed in 1975: it seems that a little historical perspective allows a film, any film, the chance to stand on its own merits, whatever they may be, and not be forced to compete for a spot on the top ten. Whatever the case from this corner, as Dashiell Hammett might say, that’s the crop.

New or almost-new films:
Phantom of the Paradise (Brian De Palma), Lancelot du Lac (Robert Bresson), Nashville (Robert Altman), Hustle (Robert Aldrich), The Man Who Would Be King (John Huston), The Mother and the Whore (Jean Eustache).

First viewings of in some cases great films, but in all cases films I was very pleased someone had taken the effort to make: There Was a Father, Early Spring (Yasujiro Ozu); Strangers on a Train, Foreign Correspondent, Suspicion (Hitchcock); Forty Guns, Fixed Bayonets (Sam Fuller); Red River, El Dorado (Hawks); Les Biches, Le Boucher (Chabrol); Kiss Me Deadly, Attack! (Robert Aldrich); Orphans of the Storm (Griffith), Pandora’s Box (G.W. Pabst), La notte (Antonioni), The Misfits (Huston), Written on the Wind (Douglas Sirk), La Collectionneuse (Rohmer), The Cobweb (Minnelli), On Dangerous Ground (N. Ray), It’s Always Fair Weather (Donen, with Gene Kelly), The Naked Spur (A. Mann), McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Altman), Dodes’kaden (Kurosawa), Ace in the Hole (Wilder), King Kong (Cooper and Schoedsack).

Copyright © 1976 Richard T. Jameson

A pdf of the original issue can be found here


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