At the outset of every year, I will make a list of films I’ve never seen before that were released fifty years previous and try to watch as many as I can throughout the year. This has been a rewarding process and I am in my fourth year of employing it. Every year as I seek out these films, I run into some absolutely fascinating titles. I will discover films that were made late in a star’s career, interesting European releases and a few blockbusters I have never gotten around to watching. This also never fails to give me a real sense of what types of films were being released 50 years ago. The thing I like about my list is that I will scan only the titles and the stars of these movies and, if something interests me, I will write it down. Usually I will not look into the film or discover anything about it before watching. This allows me to go into a movie knowing only what it’s called and who’s in it. Sometimes I really enjoy starting a movie with no idea what it is about at all.
It is now 2023 and so this year I’m excited about Cinema 73. This year will see the 50th anniversary of some pretty impressive titles. The highest-grossing movie of 1973 was William Friedkin’s film of William Peter Blatty’s novel The Exorcist. The film – which ran theatrically for only the last 5 days of the calendar year – is said to have reignited the horror genre and it remains one of the most notable and controversial films of all-time. The second-highest grosser was the period film The Sting that re-teamed Butch and Sundance, Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The movie revived interest in the ragtime music of Scott Joplin and it also was a starting point of sorts for my man over at BAMF Style, a member in good standing of the Friends of SoulRide. What was the third-highest grossing film of 1973? My beloved American Graffiti, the only film I have ever spent four articles reviewing here at Vintage Leisure. Begin the journey here. I have also discussed this film with my partner George Fairbrother on his excellent DEC4 Podcast, accessible wherever you listen to podcasts or you can listen here. Other top-grossers include The Way We Were, Magnum Force and…The Devil in Miss Jones. From outside North America you can add the stunning Papillon and Live and Let Die.
Golden Globes were awarded to The Exorcist and American Graffiti, Al Pacino for Serpico and Neil Diamond for the score for Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Oscars went to The Sting for Best Picture, Jack Lemmon for Save the Tiger and for ten-year-old Tatum O’Neal for Paper Moon; she remains the youngest-ever recipient of an Academy Award.
The Hong Kong movie Five Fingers of Death was released in the US, sparking the kung fu film craze, Zeppo Marx divorced Barbara Blakeley who would soon become the last Mrs. Sinatra, Bruce Lee died on July 20th – six days before the classic Enter the Dragon was released and Westworld was the first movie to use digital image processing. I can’t wait to attack this list. If you follow me on the socials, watch for #Cinema73 for reports on how it’s going.
My Cinema 73 list is a long one; 38 films in all. Here are some of the ones I am most looking forward to watching for the first time:
- And Now the Screaming Starts! – Stephanie Beacham
- Badlands – Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek
- Breezy – William Holden and Kay Lenz
- Class of ’44 – sequel to Summer of ’42
- Lady Ice – Jennifer O’Neill
- The Last of Sheila – written by Anthony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim
- Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid – Kris Kristofferson and Bob Dylan
- The Pyx – Canadian film directed by Harvey Hart
- Shamus – Burt Reynolds
- Soul Hustler – Fabian
- Sweet Kill – Tab Hunter
- That’ll Be the Day – Ringo Starr
- The Wicker Man – Christopher Lee
- Willie Dynamite – a blaxploitation I’ve missed
A fascinating year in cinema. Your reference to Serpico got me thinking about another brilliant Al Pacino performance from around this time, And Justice for All. But then I looked it up and was surprised to see it was actually 1979. Thanks for the honourable mention…
I’ve never seen And Justice for All. Or FIST with Stallone. Aren’t they both about the unions? Would like to see both.
Not sure about FIST, I actually had to look that one up. Justice, also directed by CANADIAN 🙂 Norman Jewison, is about a crusading criminal lawyer (Pacino) dealing with a corrupt system, human tragedies and fatal injustice. It’s hilarious and heartrending at the same time. Jack Warden plays a suicidal judge who takes Pacino on a joy flight in his private helicopter, then confides that he always goes just that little bit past the point of safe return and gambles that he has enough fuel to get back…Pacino’s reaction is just a great screen moment between two very fine actors. But there is lots more to the film than that.
Huh! Interesting. Good ol’ Al. Norman Jewison is still going at 90-odd. Sneaky Jack Warden has been in some good films. I like him.