1971 in Movies

Movie reviews written for movies that were released theatrically in 1971.

1. The French Connection, directed by William Friedkin (10/10)

Just turn it off when it the screen goes black at the end. And that point it is the greatest cop movie of all-time. If you keep watching, well I warned you.

A few reasons why:

  • Hackman can’t control himself unlike the vast majority of cops in American movies prior to this film (excepting film noir)
  • The stakeouts really are boring; it’s not all action
  • One of the greatest car chases of all time
  • Some other stuff I can’t tell you without spoiling it.

2. A Clockwork Orange, directed by Stanley Kubrick (10/10)

I have read the book now and I side with Kubrick: the movie’s ending is better. Still as good a warning about the dangers of social-control policy as I’ve seen.

2. The Last Picture Show, directed by Peter Bogdanovich (10/10)

I feel like I should be able to write something eloquent about the greatness of this film. Alas, I cannot.

4. Straw Dogs, directed by Sam Peckinpah (9/10*)

I saw this a long time ago in the earliest days of my Peckinpah phase.

5. Punishment Park, directed by Peter Watkins (9/10)

This is yet another excellent fake documentary from Watkins.

As someone who has observed police-protestor confrontations (albeit ones far less violent than this film) I can tell you that the hysterics are exactly accurate, that is what it sounds like.

The concept is a little far-fetched (but I think the idea is that it is only a little far-fetched) but on the whole I think it is pretty effective.

My only quibbles are that the “criminals” are a bit too literate and that there is no way any administration would allow a film crew to film this… unless of course it were South Vietnamese…

6. Acadia Acadia?!?, directed by Michel Brault, Pierre Perrault (9/10)

The best film made about Canadian language issues.

7. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, directed by Mel Stuart (8/10*)

My self-proclaimed “Greatest Kids Movie Ever Made.” I haven’t seen it in years.

8. Land of Silence and Darkness, directed by Werner Herzog (8/10)

Herzog’s always forcing me to think about things. As much as I was aware of the existence of blind-deafs, I really couldn’t comprehend the problem. Now I can. As usual, Werner takes an unconventional approach to things. Though what little structure there is soon disappears (this may be deliberate), the film still manages to convey the difficulties of this life without looking down on these people. It’s really interesting. The final quote is particularly affecting.

9. Harold and Maude, directed by Hal Ashby (8/10)

This movie is mostly great. It is funny and mostly believable. It’s dated a little bit, as I don’t really see “Maude” as very plausible now, but I guess I shouldn’t worry about a film being of its time. It’s certainly one of the better romantic comedies of its day.

10. Dirty Harry, directed by Don Siegel (8/10)

Sort of Bullit 2.0 albeit with very different plot and characters. More iconic than anything else.

11. 10 Rollington Place, directed by Richard Flesicher (8/10)

Very effective.

12. Duel, directed by Steven Spielberg (8/10)

Given what this is, it’s pretty fantastic. The opening is some amazing stuff (minus the lack of continuity between the radio and the visuals) though it gets weaker from there. Weaver doesn’t do a great job, though he is better as he gets more desperate. I can’t help but be dissatisfied with the way the film proceeds, however I recognize that there’s only so much anyone could do on TV at the time. As it stands, this is one of Spielberg’s better movies.

13. The Andromeda Strain, directed by Robert Wise (8/10*)

Saw as a teen.

14. Klute, directed by Alan J. Pakula (7/10)

I feel like the score is the best part.

15. Death in Venice, directed by Luchino Visconti (7/10)

I think I actually like this more than the novella. “For Shame, Riley!”

16. Bananas, directed by Woody Allen (7/10*)

I used to rate this movie higher. Guilt lowered the rating. Haven’t seen it in years though.

17. Shaft, directed by Gordon Parks (7/10)


18. Get Carter, directed by Mike Hodges (7/10)

I knew a guy in university who claimed this was the greatest movie of all time. Actually no, I think he claimed the remake of this was the greatest movie of all-time. Either way, he was crazy. This is good for what it is.

19. The Tragedy of Macbeth, directed by Roman Polanski (7/10*)

I saw this in high school English.

20. McCabe and Mrs. Miller, directed by Robert Altman (7/10*)

I was tired when I watched this. I feel I should give it another go. I will.

21. The Beguiled, directed by Don Siegel (7/10)

The Beguiled is a very, very strange ’70s film, and possibly worth your time if you a) are an Eastwood fan (who isn’t?), b) like movies where everyone is bad, or c) like atmospheric creepiness over shocks. It’s very strange. It’s not awesome. But it’s very dirty (not purely in a sexual way, just in a grimy, you can’t get yourself clean kind of way) and just unlike anything else.

22. Play Misty for Me, directed by Clint Eastwood (7/10)

This is an important film because of what it wrought; this plot has now been done to death. So it’s significant, anyway.

23. THX 1138, directed by George Lucas (7/10*)

Watched THX 1138. It has some great ideas in it but it probably would have been much better had somebody other than George Lucas directed it. Most dystopian sci-fi films from the ’70s seem to fit this mold. Not sure I ever saw one that was just amazing. I’m thinking about Logan’s Run and The Omega Man and films like this.

24. Vanishing Point, directed by Richard C. Sarafian (7/10)

This has a reputation as being the greatest car-chase movie of all time and it probably is. (This statement excepts movies like Bullit or the French Connection where a truly great car chase is merely part of the film.)

That statement doesn’t say much however, as most car chase movies aren’t much of anything else. It’s about as artsy and, conversely, as bare bones, as something like this could be, and that’s to its credit.

But in the end it is just a car chase movie that certainly will resonate far more with anyone who was a white male teen or 20-something in the US in the late ’60s / early ’70s than with anyone else.

25. Bednobs and Broomsticks, directed by Robert Stevenson (6/10*)

I loved this movie as a child. Haven’t seen it since.

26. Carnal Knowledge, directed by Mike Nichols (6/10*)

The first time I saw this movie I was too young to understand it. The second time I was too much of a prude. I should watch it again.

27. Fiddler on the Roof, directed by Norman Jewison (5/10*)

Seen before I knew what I was getting myself into.

28. Fata Morgana, directed by Werner Herzog (5/10)

This is one of Herzog’s most directionless films.

29. Duck You Sucker aka a Fistful of Dynamite, directed by Sergio Leone (5/10)

Leone’s weakest western, by a long, long way.

30. Diamonds Are Forever, directed by Guy Hamilton (5/10)

Connery comes back because the last movie bombed. Okay…

31. Godzilla vs. Hedora, directed by Yoshimitsu Banno (5/10*)

Who knows what I was thinking.

32. Big Jake, directed by George Sherman (4/10*)

My memory of this movie – which I liked during my John Wayne phase – is that it is extraordinarily manipulative.

33. Escape from the Planet of the Apes, directed by Don Taylor (4/10*)

I saw this years ago…as part of a marathon.

34. Vampyros Lesbos, directed by Jesus Franko (2/10)

An excuse for women faking sex with each other.

35. Billy Jack, directed by T.C. Frank (2/10)

Incompetent in every way.

36. Blood Shack, directed by Ray Dennis Steckler (1/10)

I really wish I had written down my thoughts at the time. This is an all-timer. It features the greatest monster in screen history (the Chooper, a guy in a unitard and balaclava), his hilarious growl and what feels like ten minutes of stock footage. A must-see.

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