Posted in: by Peter Hogue, by Pierre Greenfield, by Richard T. Jameson, by Rick Hermann, by Robert C. Cumbow, Contributors, Links

Days of Purgatory (1978)

[Originally published in Movietone News 60-61, February 1979]

You know and I know, and each knows that the other knows, that 1978 was the worst year for movies since sound came in, so let’s not belabor the subject. Living through it was labor enough.

Apart from the superfluousness of such a gesture, one reason I don’t choose to mount a blistering that-was-the-year-that-wasn’t retrospective is that I was less than diligent about keeping up with the films passing through the Jet City and environs. I missed a few here-and-gone pictures I particularly wanted to see, such as Robert Mulligan’s Bloodbrothers (which lasted less than a week and reportedly has been pulled from distribution), James Bridges’ 9/30/55 (shown as a first-run second feature in very farflung nabes), Ted Post’s Go Tell the Spartans (a short-term top feature in the same farflung nabes), Paul Schrader’s Blue Collar, Sidney J. Furie’s The Boys in Company C, and Jack Gold’s The Medusa Touch. Nothing but sloth, an aversion to hype, a low sense of priority, and a careless susceptibility to predisposition—in various combinations—can account for missing longer-run items like Interiors, House Calls, Paradise Alley, FIST, Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?, Grease, The Wiz and Midnight Express,not to mention Lord of the Rings and Watership Down (I have never been able to get excited about feature-length animation). I intend to catch up with all of them eventually, but if anyone chooses to see my Besting and Worsting of 1978 compromised by any of these oversights, I can hardly protest. The one film I feel seriously delinquent in having missed was Kenji Mizoguchi’s A Geisha; it was shown one time only in Dana Benelli’s ASUW Major Films Series, and I was on my way to see it until a Seattle Film Society emergency obliged the then-President to change his plans.

‘Seventy-eight was the year a large number of local film buffs developed a pronounced resistance to frothy French comedies. Blue Country, Cat and Mouse, Dear Inspector, The Toy and We Will All Meet in Paradise may not have been such bad things in isolation, but seen in close order (and cross-plugged among the operative theatres) they had the power to clog sinks. It seemed as if we’d never get to see any other kind of foreign film hereabouts—an effect reinforced by Ettore Scola’s A Special Day,in which a director who had heretofore drawn a lot of his strength and interest from the unpredictable intersections of gritty-grubby realismo and flamboyant stylization (The Pizza Triangle, We All Loved Each Other So Much) inclined dangerously toward high gloss. Against such competition, Franco Brusati’s Bread and Chocolate got credit for being a richer film than it was; but I was still glad to have it around.

Still, it would be unfair to heap all the blame on unadventurous exhibitors. Those French comedies did a lot more business than Bread and Chocolate, and the SFS was all but driven out of the Northwest Premiere business by the dismal turn-outs for Ichikawa’s An Actor’s Revenge, Oshima’s The Ceremony, and Alain Tanner’s Retour d’Afrique. The Moore Egyptian Theatre performed heroically and made their Third Seattle International Film Festival the biggest yet; that it wasn’t the best says as much about the enervation of the international film scene as it does about the festival programming, but even at that, the Moore served up more of the year’s most satisfying and/or provocative films than anyone else. During the festival alone there were: Gunnel Lindblom’s Summer Paradise/Paradise Place(later given a theatrical run at the revamped Ridgemont), Wenders’s The American Friend, Fassbinder’s Effi Briest, Herzog’s Heart of Glass and La Soufrière, Ray’s The Chess Players, David Lynch’s Eraserhead, Martin Brest’s Hot Tomorrows, the Mariposa Film Group’s Word Is Out, and two sort-of-premieres, the uncut Saga of Anatahan by Josef von Sternberg (which, disconcertingly, featured real gunshots and not metaphorical drumbeats on the soundtrack) and Kaneto Shindo’s Onibaba. The Finley-renovated Crest 70 deserves credit for two authentic high points of any film year, the belated opportunities to see Dersu Uzala and Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 70mm.

It was the sort of year in which I was most grateful for unexpected pleasures like Steve Rash’s The Buddy Holly Story, Floyd Mutrux’s American Hot Wax, Burt Reynolds’ The End, Hal Needham’s Hooper, Jack Nicholson’s Goin’ South, and Blake Edwards’ Revenge of the Pink Pantherthe last-named among the unexpected simply because the Clouseau formula and Edwards’ elegant eye had seemed terminally tired the previous time out (The Pink Panther Strikes Again, 1976). Most of the other American directors I rely on stumbled, in keeping with the season. I thought Robert Altman took a worse drubbing from critics and fans than he deserved for A Wedding. His cardinal sin seemed to be that he had merely made a movie according to a method devised and proven by him on previous occasions; he didn’t expand the frontiers of cinema this round. Nevertheless, he created a film full of the sorts of recognition-shocks and unsentimental grace notes that are possible only within his brand of artful clutter. In ConvoySam Peckinpah seemed to be laboring with an only half-good idea in intolerable circumstances. At the time it came out, Brian De Palma’s TheFurystruck me as a serious misstep, with the director so caught up engineering his (often splendid) tours-de-force that he never got the logic of his own syntax straight, let alone that of the scenario; it seemed then as if everyone else was ready to climb on the De Palma bandwagon I was temporarily deserting, but TheFurywas curiously absent from most year-end accountings. I remain passionately pro on the career of John Milius, but BigWednesdayconsists almost entirely of unimpeachably Personal gestures without a convincing context. Walter Hill’s The Driverwas similarly suspended in the auteurist ozone where breathers of normal air simply cannot, and shouldn’t be expected to, follow. Among the pleasantly-promising minor figures, Lamont Johnson was left hopelessly stranded by the vacuousness of Furble Feeble-Dreedle and the stifling predictability of Reginald Rose’s script for SomebodyKilledHerHusband.

As a last gesture toward record-clearing, the following films had not been publicly exhibited in Seattle as of the end of ’78: Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Despair, Michel Deville’s Dossier 51, Bertrand Blier’s Get Out Your Handkerchiefs, John Carpenter’s Halloween, Peter Weir’s The Last Wave, Stanley Donen’s Movie Movie, Eric Rohmer’s Perceval le Gallois, Robert Mulligan’s Same Time, Next Year, Claude Chabrol’s Violette Nozière, and Wim Wenders’ Wrong Move.

My somewhat reluctant Ten Best List for 1978:

1. THE AMERICAN FRIEND (Wim Wenders: West Germany, 1977). In naming Wenders’ Kings of the Roadnumber one on my List for 1977, I acknowledged that I was also tipping my hat to The American Friend,seen at a trade screening late in the year. That makes it seem a bit hand-me-down as this year’s top film, but I can’t talk myself out of beginning my list with it. It had more pizzazz than anything else that seems like a Best Film of the season, it managed to be explicitly about movies without violating its trajectories as a first-rate genre film (thriller), it was rife with the best, least slavish sort of hommages, and it tapped into the moods and mannerisms of other cinéastes like Nick Ray, Hitchcock, and Hopper without for a moment ceasing to be Ein Film von Wim Wenders. (First shown by the Moore Egyptian Theatre)

2. THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE (Luis Buñuel: France, 1977). That a (then) 77-year-old moviemaker who has had at least four separate careers can go on generating such young, high-spirited, cleanly-conceived and -realized cinema would be cause for wonder in the best of circumstances. With most of his colleagues apparently cocooned off from life, it’s nothing less than miraculous. That Obscure Object of Desireis a tonic, and a rebuke. (Moore-Egyptian)

3. THE DUELLISTS (Ridley Scott: Great Britain, 1977). The year’s most dazzling debut. That Ridley Scott learned his trade directing TV commercials has disqualified him from serious consideration in some circles; well, it took them a long time to get serious about Richard Lester, too. The extraordinary beauty and energy of Scott’s film (he not only directed but also served as camera operator) is never gratuitous, but rather keeps stylistic faith with the enigmatic Joseph Conrad novella on which it is based. Scott also got fascinating results playing the ultra-contemporary presences of Keith Carradine, Harvey Keitel, and Cristina Raines off against such classical actor’s-actors as Robert Stephens, Albert Finney, Tom Conti, and Alan Webb. (Harvard Exit)

4. AN UNMARRIED WOMAN (Paul Mazursky: U.S.A., 1978). If I say that Jill Clayburgh is 80 percent of the reason An Unmarried Womanplaces so high among the year’s film experiences, that does no disservice to Paul Mazursky, who is surely responsible for eliciting the performance we’ve been expecting from Clayburgh for several years now. Mazursky also keeps getting more cinematically fluid, as opposed to sociologically hung up, as he goes along. A responsibly joyous film of self-discovery that has more compassion for its flawed males—especially Michael Murphy’s beautifully acted wayward husband—than a lot of other movies I can imagine sporting the title “An Unmarried Woman.” (UA70)

5. THE MAN WHO .LOVED WOMEN (François Truffaut: France, 1977). Pierre Greenfield is right on the mark when he suggests that “The Man Who Liked Women”might be a more pointed translation of this film’s title. Truffaut doesn’t push any of the trendy buttons in his chronicle of a connoisseur des femmes: Charles Denner approaches each stage of each conquest as though it were a matter of life and death, and by the time the title of the movie, and Denner’s memoir-in-progress, has been fulfilled, we see that those are the stakes precisely. (Varsity Theatre)

6. EFFI BRIEST (Rainer Werner Fassbinder: West Germany, 1976). One of the best-attended and least-liked entries in the Third Seattle International Film Festival, Fassbinder’s treatment of the Fontane classic is a major achievement, its apparent coldness and emotional reticence containing a passionate spirituality. Hanna Schygulla’s Effi joins the ranks of the cinematic saints. (Moore-Egyptian)

7. DAYS OF HEAVEN (Terrence Malick: U.S.A., 1978). I’ve yet to be convinced that Malick’s “screenplay” needed to be as rigorously nonverbal as it is, or his characters as elusive. (How many boosters of the film’s modernity realize it’s consciously based on not only the silent-film poems of Murnau and Griffith but also the narrative codes of turn-of-the-century American literature?) Still, the grandeur of the imagery, the movements, and the tragic tone cannot be denied. Why does space look bigger on a 70mm screen than it would if you were standing on the actual location? (SRO’s Music Box Theatre)

8. COCKFIGHTER (Monte Hellman: U.S.A., 1974) and STROSZEK: A BALLAD (Werner Herzog: West Germany/U.S.A., 1977). As I watched a big-hatted Warren Oates cross a Southern field cradling a fighting-cock, my mind’s-eye overlapped Bruno S. and his frozen turkey on their fatal trajectory from the Great Lakes country to the Carolinas. These two unglamorous peeks into our native :folkways—some bizarre, some banal—are mysterious and disturbing, their seedy, documentary-like casualness heightening a sense of unanswerable terror. (Cockfightershown by The Seattle Film Society; Stroszek,Moore-Egyptian)

10. COMES A HORSEMAN (Alan J. Pakula: U.S.A., 1978). I was tempted to repeat last year’s tactic of leaving the tenth spot in limbo, but decided to endorse a failed but sympathetic film too perfunctorily shrugged off in most critical quarters. Pakula’s name belongs on my earlier list of redoubtable directors who stumbled in ’78: a sense of urgency is missing from this enterprise, and the movement into solemn mythologizing is too academic, too uncomplicated by the sorts of existential miscellany the Hellman and Herzog films are chockfull of. (In both respects much of the fault lies with Dennis Lynton Clark’s undernourished script which, I suspect, Pakula’s fondness for archetype led him to accept prematurely.) But James Caan is good in a new and unexpectedly tender way, Jane Fonda and Richard Farnsworth are magnificent, and Pakula (invaluably assisted by cinematographer Gordon Willis) remains one of the few contemporary filmmakers who know that it matters how films look. (General Cinema nabes)

Rivals for the last spot, in no special order: The Buddy Holly Story, Summer Paradise, Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz, The Chess Players, Word Is Out, Jonathan Demme’s Citizens Band, and maybe even Richard Donner’s Superman. I took more pleasure than usual in two films made for or at least showcased on TV, John Carpenter’s Somebody Is Watching Me(formerly High Rise)and Joseph McGrath’s The End of Civilisation As We Know It.

The following will each receive a gold plated plug of Richard Farnsworth’s tobacco wrapped in a paper enscribed “I think I gotcha figgered.”

Best Direction: An equitable nod toward both the passionate imperturbability of Luis Buñuel, That Obscure Object of Desire,and the vaulting enthusiasm of Ridley Scott, The Duellists.

Best Screenplays: Original—Paul Mazursky, An Unmarried Woman. Adaptation—W.D. Richter, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Both for their shrewd and sensitive distillations of contemporary lifestyle.

Best Cinematography: Nestor Almendros (and Haskell Wexler), Days of Heaven,and Frank Tidy (and Ridley Scott), The Duellists. Closest runners-up: Robby Müller, The American Friend, and Gordon Willis, Comes a Horseman. Heroic also-rans: Nestor Almendros also represented by the very dissimilar Goin’ South,The Man Who Loved Womenand 1974’s Cockfighter; Michael Chapman, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers; Michael Chapman et distinguished al., The Last Waltz; Philip Lathrop, The Driver; Sven Nykvist, The Serpent’s Egg, Pretty Baby and Autumn Sonata; the late Geoffrey Unsworth, Superman.

Best Music Score: Jürgen Knieper for The American Friend, closely followed by Ennio Morricone, Days of Heaven, and Denny Zeitlin, a first-timer at film scoring, on The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Gary Busey, The Buddy Holly Story. Also deserving of particular notice: Bruno Ganz and Dennis Hopper, The American Friend;Dustin Hoffman, Straight Time; Nino Manfredi, Bread and Chocolate; Tim McIntire, American Hot Wax;Nick Nolte, Who’ll Stop the Rain?;Fernando Rey, That Obscure Object of Desire; Craig Russell, Outrageous; Bruno S., Stroszek; Sam Shepard, Days of Heaven; Jon Voight, Coming Home.

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Jill Clayburgh, An Unmarried Woman;pressed closest by Jane Fonda in (in order of distinction) Comes a Horseman,Coming Home and California Suite. Also, a huskily appreciative acknowledgment of the first convincing manifestations of star quality in Lauren Hutton, in the telemovie Somebody Is Watching Me (yes they are!).

Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Richard Farnsworth, Comes a Horseman. Also very worthy: Michael Caine, California Suite;Howard Duff, A Wedding; Jeff Goldblum, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers; Richard Masur, Who’ll Stop the Rain?; Michael Murphy, An Unmarried Woman; Alan Webb, The Duellists.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: An ensemble award to Nathalie Baye, Nelly Bourgeaud and Geneviève Fontanel, The Man Who Loved Women. Also memorable: Kelly Bishop, An Unmarried Woman;Veronica Cartwright, Invasion of the BodySnatchers; Agneta Ekmanner, Summer Paradise; Margot Kidder, Superman; Lisa Lucas, An Unmarried Woman; Diana Quick, The Duellists; Maggie Smith, California Suite.

Most Exciting New Presence: Robby Robertson, The Last Waltz.

Most Ingratiating New Presence: Christopher Reeve, Superman.

Best Short Subject: Steve De Jarnatt’s superb film noir takeoff Tarzana had more moxie than most of the new features I saw last year, and was informed enough about the subject of its parody to be fascinating in the same ways the classic straight jobs are.

In some ways the most exciting encounter of the year for me was a long-deferred look at George Cukor’s 1954 A Star Is Born: I waited to see it in CinemaScope and Dana Benelli’s ASUW series gave me the chance—in 35mm, yet. Others I’m especially glad to have caught up with: three early Frank Capra movies featuring dynamite performances by Barbara Stanwyck, Ladies of Leisure, The Miracle Womanand Forbidden;G.W. Pabst’s Kameradschaft; Hitchcock’s Rich and Strange and Number Seventeen; Rouben Mamoulian’s Love Me Tonight; Carol Reed’s The Way Ahead; Andre De Toth’s Dark Waters; Roberto Rossellini’s The Miracle; David Lean’s Hobson’s Choice; Michael Reeves’s The Sorcerers; Gordon Hessler’s Scream and Scream Again; Roy Ward Baker’s (and Brian Clemens’s) Doctor Jekyll and Sister Hyde. Most notable vintage short films: Ivor Montagu’s Day Dreams, Orson Welles’s (and William Vance’s) Hearts of Age.

Seen-before films that looked markedly better and/or more important in ’78 included Anthony Mann’s Men in War, Edward L. Cahn’s Law and Order,Robert Aldrich’s The Grissom Gang, George Sidney’s Scaramouche (with thanks for a nudge from Douglas McVay, MTN 56), and William A. Wellman’s Nothing Sacred. It was a revelation to see Nicholas Ray’s Bitter Victory and Budd Boetticher’s Ride Lonesome in Scope for the first time; for the availability of these and other Columbia titles in their proper formats, we owe a profound debt to the enterprising Kit Parker Films of Carmel Valley, Calif.

Other MTN Contributing Writers have their own accounts of film year ’78.


Good Things about 1978

Seattle Premieres: Pretty Baby (Louis Malle), Who’ll Stop the Rain? (Karel Reisz), Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick), Eraserhead (David Lynch), Interiors (Woody Allen), The Buddy Holly Story (Steve Rash), A Wedding (Robert Altman), Salò (Pier Paolo Pasolini), An Unmarried Woman (Paul Mazursky).

Personal Premieres: The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974); Dersu Uzala (Akira Kurosawa, 1975); Aguirre the Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, 1972); Madigan (Donald Siegel, 1968); The Harder They Come (Perry Henzell, 1972); The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (Billy Wilder, 1970); Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947); Walkabout (Nicolas Roeg, 1970).

Seen Again for the First Time: The Searchers (John Ford, 1956); Written on the Wind (Douglas Sirk,1957).

Actors: Anthony Hopkins, Magic; Jon Voight, Coming Home; Gary Busey, The Buddy Holly Story; Sam Shepard, Days of Heaven. Actresses: Geraldine Page, Interiors; Jane Fonda, Coming Home; Annie Girardot, Dear Inspector. Supporting Actors: Michael Murphy, An Unmarried Woman; Burgess Meredith, Magic; Bruce Dern, Coming Home; Gary Busey, Straight Time; M. Emmet Walsh, Straight Time. Supporting Actresses: Frances Faye, Pretty Baby; Maureen Stapleton, Interiors; Dyan Cannon, Heaven Can Wait; Margot Kidder, Superman.

Cinematography: Nestor Almendros, Days of Heaven; Sven Nykvist, Pretty Baby; Charles Rosher, A Wedding; Geoffrey Unsworth, Superman; Victor J. Kemper, Magic; Michael Chapman, Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Editing: John Bloom, Who’ll Stop the Rain?; Billy Weber, Days of Heaven; Stuart H. Pappe, An Unmarried Woman.

Sound: Superman, Capricorn One, Days of Heaven.

Music (Original): Ennio Morricone, Days of Heaven; Jerry Goldsmith, Magic. Music (Adaptation): Jerome Wexler, Pretty Baby.

Special Effects: David Lynch, Eraserhead; Ben Burtt et al., Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Screenplay: Louis Malle and Polly Platt, Pretty Baby; Terrence Malick, Days of Heaven; Paul Mazursky, An Unmarried Woman; Woody Allen, Interiors.

Directors: Louis Malle, Pretty Baby; David Lynch, Eraserhead; Terrence Malick, Days of Heaven; Karel Reisz, Who’ll Stop the Rain?; Woody Allen, Interiors.

Best Preview Trailer: Superman (Warners).

Pleasant Surprises: Capricorn One (Peter Hyams), American Hot Wax (Floyd Mutrux), Hooper (Hal Needham); Death on the Nile (John Guillermin). Disappointments: High Anxiety (Mel Brooks), Heaven Can Wait (Buck Henry and Warren Beatty), Lord of the Rings (Ralph Bakshi).

Most Unnecessary Sequel: Jaws 2 (Jeannot Szwarc; Universal). Most Obnoxious Remake: The Big Sleep (Michael Winner; Sir Lew Grade). Least Deserved Box-Office Success: Animal House (John Landis/National Lampoon). Most Overrated Film: Coming Home (Hal Ashby). Worst Film: The Boys from Brazil (Franklin Schaffner; Sir Lew Grade and 20th Century–Fox).


Life can be very weird for any British film buff who doesn’t live in or near Londori. It’s getting weirder by the minute for those who do. As the very notion of a British film industry sinks slowly in the West, it’s also getting. harder and harder to see films made anywhere else. Thus, my list of the Ten Best of ’78, or whatever, is going to read oddly to anybody in North America, for it includes several films that should more properly be dated 1977, or even 1976. But they didn’t make it to Britain till this year, or they didn’t make it till the tail end of ’77 and I didn’t see them till 1978. OK? OK.

I’ve deliberately left out all the numerous oldies-but-goodies I saw for the first time in 1978. The very best film I saw for time number one in ’78 was the 40-year-old La RègIe du jeu. Other not-new films I finally caught up with included Truffaut’s Les Deux Anglaises et le Continent and L ‘Histoire d’Adèle H., Scorsese’s Mean Streets and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,Chaplin’s A King in New York,Carné’s Le Jour se lève, Lester’s How I Won the Warand Reed’s Follow Me(aka The Public Eye),the last of which no one in the world seems to like very much except me.

Anyhow, here’s the ten-best of new, or not-quite-new films. The order is entirely alphabetical, and not in any way order-of-descending-merit:

• Wim Wenders’s Der amerikanische Freundnotthe masterpiece some have claimed, but a first-rate thriller nonetheless, full of superb moments and boasting a dazzling performance by Bruno Ganz.

• Woody Allen’s Annie HallI found the film enormously funny and touching, but it worries the hell out of me: I suspect Allen doesn’t dislike Alvy Singer, the character he plays (is?), as much as I do. I also suspect he shares Alvy’s snobbism about New York and—horror of horrors!—there were even times when I thought he might be trying to make a film to please Pauline Kael. But Diane Keaton is marvellous, and the scene in the movie queue made me wish life was like that, too.

• Federico Fellini’s Casanova—accordingto MTN’s distinguished Editor, an “art-house atrocity”; according to François Truffaut, a “visual masterpiece.” Sorry, Dick, I’m with François. It’s a bit of a mess, and I fancy more than 20 ininutes got cut out of it, but, all in all, I was duly dazzled. Sutherland’s performance was the most estimable in a Fellini film for a very long time. Unlike most other people, I found Casanova quite sympathetic.

• François Truffaut’s La Chambre vertethe blackest of Truffaut’s films, but a very distinguished one, stunningly well acted by the director himself and by Nathalie Baye, moving into big roles after excellent supporting work in La Nuit américaineand L’Homme qui aimait les femmes.

• Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind—marvellous stuff, for reasons outlined by me in MTN 58-59. Makes Star Wars look like, well, Star Trek. Another nice performance from F. Truffaut.

• Sam Peckinpah’s ConvoyThough the recutting shows, this is still an absolutely seminal Peckinpah movie, and I loved every minute of it. Kris Kristofferson makes an elegant onscreen substitute for the director who, in turn, turns up behind an onscreen camera at one point.

Heaven Can Waitsimply the year’s nicest comedy, full of sweetness about life and the need for loving attitudes. If Bonnie and Clyde“put the sting back into death,” as Auntie Pauline once, or more than once, put it, then Heaven Can Waitjust as surely takes it right back out again.

• François Truffaut’s L’Homme qui aimait les femmes—It’s that man again. Most people seem to think the title means The Man Who Loved Women,but I think it means The Man Who Liked Women. Not many men do like women, in my experience, but Truffaut certainly does, and this film offers more intelligent females than any other of the past year.

• Bernardo Bertolucci’s Novocento (1900)—This one squeaked in. In some ways I was disappointed, because it wasn’t by any means a masterpiece as the two preceding Bertolucci films certainly were. In other ways, I was exhilarated, because bits and pieces of it—the long, long wedding sequence, for instance—were splendid. Vittorio Storaro’s mobile camera was astonishing, and Donald Sutherland, Dominique Sanda, Laura Betti and Sterling Hayden more than made up for the wet leads, De Niro and Depardieu, both hamstrung by having to play political caricatures.

• Joseph Losey’s Les Routes du Suda moving account of a weary vieux gauchiste being gradually forced out of the protective cocoon of the past. Excessively arch in a few places, but superbly acted by Yves Montand and, for a couple of brief scenes, the hauntingly enigmatic France Lambiotte.

I might add that, while I recently missed both Providence and That Obscure Object of Desire,I have had no chance at all at, for instance, Julia or The Duellists or An Unmarried Woman or The Serpent’s Egg or Despair or even something like House Calls or The Turning Point. Life gets goddamn hard in the tight little island.


Ten Best of 1978
In approximate, not strict, order: Wenders’s The American Friend, Scorsese’s The Last Waltz, Pakula’s Comes a Horseman, Malick’s Days of Heaven, Buñuel’s That Obscure Object of Desire, Truffaut’s The Man Who Loved Women,Altman’s A Wedding, Herzog’s Heart of Glass, Kurosawa’s Dersu Uzala repeating in 70mm, Richard Donner’s Superman.


[Pete Hogue is based in Chico, California, where he beguiles local film buffs as the distinguished columnist Juan-Carlos Selznick. Cited films marked * had not been shown publicly in the greater Seattle area by the end of 1978.]

New Films
1. Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s Padre Padrone; 2. Jacques Rivette’s Céline and Julie Go Boating*; 3. Joseph Losey’s Mr. Klein; 4. Georgi Shengeleya’s Pirosmani*; 5. Wim Wenders’s Wrong Move*; 6. Paul Mazursky’s An Unmarried Woman; 7. Robert Altman’s A Wedding; 8. Claude Goretta’s The Lacemaker; 9. Franco Brusati’s Bread and Chocolate; 10. Claude Lelouch’s Cat and Mouse

1. Jacques Rivette’s L’Amour fou*; 2. Kaneto Shindo’s Onibaba; 3. Joseph Losey’s The Criminal (The Concrete Jungle); 4. Claude Chabrol’s Just Before Nightfall; 5. Max Ophuls’s Le Plaisir; 6. Jean Cocteau’s Les Parents Terribles; 7. Brian DePalma’s Sisters; 8. Roberto Rossellini’s L’Amore; 9. Marcel Hanoun’s Une Simple Histoire*; 10. R.W. Fassbinder’s Effi Briest; 11. Jean Cocteau’s Testament of Orpheus; 12. Rossellini, Godard, Pasolini, and Gregoretti’s RoGoPaG*

Copyright © 1979 Richard T. Jameson

A pdf of the original issue can be found here