1973 in Movies

Movie reviews for movies released theatrically in 1973.

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

The greatest horror movie of all-time. If you disagree we should talk about it.

2. The Long Goodbye, directed by Robert Altman (10/10)

I haven’t seen this in years, but it was the first Altman movie – other than M*A*S*H* perhaps – that made me sit up and take notice of him. I should probably re-watch it.

2. The Sting, directed by George Roy Hill (10/10)

A near-perfect film. Pretty out of touch with the other films of the Renaissance (Hill was never that kind of guy despite his rep) and so wrongly included as part of it – I think – but still totally totally entertaining on every level.

4. The Last of Sheila, directed by Herbert Ross (9/10)

Well, it’s highly entertaining. We can forgive the overly complicated plot because the movie is aware of the overly complicated plot. It’s funny, Scream was a big deal, even though it did this for the horror movie twenty years after this movie was made for the whodunnit.

The casting is excellent, except for Welch, who can’t act, as usual. But she fits the type, anyway. Everyone else is note perfect.

I was guessing about whodunnit until the very end. Normally, it’s not my thing, but this is about as well-executed as you get.

5. Badlands, directed by Terrence Mallick (9*/10)

Seen as a teen. Or when I had just turned 20. One or the other. Right after I saw The Thin Red Line. You can pretty much guarantee that.

6. Mean Streets, directed by Martin Scorsese (9/10)

I watched this with someone who hates unconventional narratives and films without narratives. So I had negative comments ringing in my ears when I tried to evaluate it. Perhaps I should re-watch.

7. The Friends of Eddie Coyle, directed by Peter Yates (9/10)

This is a great one.

The acting is a little odd…in some places I really couldn’t figure out what they were getting at (though I believe it’s totally intentional with Boyle, and necessary for the plot). I wasn’t blown away by Mitchum (I normally am), or anybody else.

But the story is pretty great and the ending is awesome. The soundtrack is a little too of-its-time. I don’t think I’ll mention anything else because it’s best not knowing much going in, I figure.

8. O Lucky Man!, directed by Lindsay Anderson (8/10)

I have lost my review for this.

9. Charley Varrick, directed by Don Siegel (8/10)

I swear I wrote a review – I remember writing it – for this very enjoyable film. I just can’t find it for the life of me.

10. Day for Night, directed by Francois Truffaut (8/10)

This is certainly the most fun I have ever had watching Truffaut. For once he’s not hiding behind Antoine and he uses his obvious intelligence to poke fun at what he does (rather than what his surrogate does).

Not his best movie but his most entertaining.

11. The Crazies, directed by George Romero (8/10)

This is surprisingly decent given the budget constraints. I have lost my review.

12. The Day of the Jackal, directed by Fred Zinnermann (8/10)

One of these films that doesn’t really have a main character, unless you count the titular assassin (who is in, maybe, 60% of the shots at the very most). But despite that, it super processy and manages to build suspense despite its ridiculous length. Pseudo verite enough to make you forget how everyone speaks the same language.

13. Enter the Dragon, directed by Robert Clouse (8*/10)

Seen multiple times as a teen.

14. Serpico, directed by Sidney Lumet (8/10)

This lacks the nuance you would expect from Lumet and a Renaissance film. It’s based on a true story, so we have to forgive it for Serpico’s rightness.

15. The Iceman Cometh, directed by John Frankenheimer (8/10)

I think I like the earlier TV version better but this is still a fine version of the play. Marvin is fantastic but I feel like the rest of the cast in the earlier version was stronger.

16. Save the Tiger, directed by John G. Alvidsen (8/10)

I have lost my review of this, I’m sorry to say. Lemmon’s second best performance?

17. Sleeper, directed by Woody Allen (8/10)

At one point, I thought this was the funniest movie ever made. I have changed my mind.

18. American Graffiti, directed by George Lucas (8*/10)

Watched as a teen.

19. Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, directed by Sam Peckinpah (7*/10)

Seen at the height of my Peckinpah phase.

20. Papillon, directed by Franklin J. Schaffner (7*/10)

Seen as a teen.

21. Soylent Green, directed by Richard Fleischer (7/10)

Like everyone else who didn’t see in it theatres, the ending was spoiled for me.

22. Don’t Look Now, directed by Nicolas Roeg (7*/10)

I hated the ending of this. My hatred of the ending – and my class’s hatred of that ending – probably made me underrate the rest of the film.

23. The Last Detail, directed by Hal Ashby (7/10)

I have lost my review of this film.

24. Coffy, directed by Jack Hill (7/10)

Iconic with some truly hilarious lines. Definitely borders between good and “so bad it’s good.”

25. Live and Let Die, directed by Guy Hamilton (7*/10)

For years this was inexplicably my favourite Bond movie. I have re-watched it (a long time ago) and found it to be less compelling.

26. Hitler: the Last Ten Days, directed by Ennio De Concini (6/10)

Well acted. Don’t remember what else I thought about it.

27. Thriller – en grym film aka Thriller: a Cruel Picture, directed by Alex Fridolinski (6/10)

So the first thing is that this is a revenge film which is hardly a “thriller.” But that aside, it has its strengths and its weaknesses.

First, it is very boundary-pushing: explicit sex, one of the grossest moments I have ever seen on film (though not the first eyeball slashed) and, most importantly, tons of POV camera work.

On the other hand, there is no moral ambiguity to speak of, and there’s all sorts of unnecessary slow motion. And it’s too long, to boot.

28. Amarcord, directed by Frederico Fellini (6/10)

Boring. I don’t like you, Fellini.

29. Magnum Force, directed by Ted Post (5*/10)

Seen at the beginning of my Eastwood phase.

30. Westworld, directed by Michael Creighton (4/10)

This is pretty much a textbook case of why authors shouldn’t direct. I bet in other hands it might be awesome. The Simpsons episode referencing this is way, way better.

[Many years after I wrote that, it was turned into a TV show, as you know.]

31. Shaft in Africa, directed by John Guillermin (2/10)

What it says it is.

32. Cannibal Girls, directed by Ivan Reitman (2*/10)

I haven’t seen this in forever, but I remember being shocked at how spectacularly unfunny it was.

33. Caged Terror aka Golden Apples of the Sun aka Ever After All, directed by Barrie McLean, Kristin Weingartner (1/10)

Firstly, Caged Terror (aka Golden Apples of the Sun…I’m serious) is Canadian. That’s its first problem. To call it a “horror” film would be a disservice to the word horror, and thriller to thriller.

The movie begins with a supposedly artsy montage that suggests that this film is like many ’70s b-movies, movies that have far more to say than they rightfully should. You know what I mean, there are lots out there. Movies that have horrible production values but remain awesome. Well, any such belief re this movie is utterly misplaced. Over the montage is some reporter discussing what sounds like the concept of “social pollution” in the urban environment. All this is apparently very meaningful. The first “scene” instantly tells you what this is going to be like. Some dude asks some chick if she wants to go to some place in the country. She tentatively agrees. We don’t know who they are or how long they’ve known each other or anything, except for the fact that they are pretending to work together and they are both bad actors. He calls her, as if she hadn’t agreed, and she agrees again. And I think there was another montage in there somewhere. While they are walking (walking!) to this cottage (which, though recommended by Jerome, is not owned by Jerome or anywhere near civilization) we are introduced to the only other two actors in the film, by the fact that they appear for the first time (and for the only time in the first half of the film) walking above their names in the credits. They are Jarvis and “The Troubador.”

The couple, who evidently know each other better than we thought, walk and walk and walk and walk and don’t talk much. They get to a bridge, the bridge ain’t that sturdy, so they don’t cross it and walk back the other way. Suddenly they are across the river. Suddenly Richard is fishing and she keeps going, and then she realizes he’s stopped and comes back (one of the many times where one thinks the movie is almost entirely improvised). She doesn’t like him killing fish. He likes telling her she’s naive and wrong about everything. This relationship will last. When he stops fishing, they go the opposite way than they were going. It’s clearly autumn (hence the golden apples) yet they go swimming. Later they talk about how it could snow (and Richard is shown in a snowbank at one point).

They show up at this ‘cottage’ (an abandoned farm, presumably picked because they filmmakers had to pay no one for the use of it) which happens to have a giant bird cage (uh-oh, that’s where the terror must come in!). All this time the guy pretty much acts like an asshole, by the way. The girl gets all scared. She finds an apple, which has just been bitten into. Later this disappears for no apparent reason. They eat dinner (they actually make the dinner on film, and it might have been their meal for the night). Then Jarvis (who is ex-army and black, by the way) and Troub (which is his nickname) show up and act somewhat threateningly. They sing a song. This song seems creepy in that it describes somewhat what Richard and the chick were doing on their way to the shack. That is to say, the Stalkers sing about their stalking to the stalkees. That has the potential for awesomeness, and hopefully one day someone will use that in a better film. In this case though they have just used the lines from a Yeats poem (at least that’s what the credits tell me) and so the filmmakers made their actions correspond to the lyrics, generally removing what little creepiness that might have actually appeared. Richard, who evidently likes to be in charge, doesn’t like these guys.

When they come back and stand outside talking and laughing, Richard shoots at them. This causes the “terror.” While Richard is running around in the dark with a rifle, Jarvis locks Janet in a cupboard. This causes her to lose consciousness for quite a while (I guess that’s what happens when you get locked in a cupboard). By the way, the lighting in the night scenes is non-existent, so half the time you can’t see anything. When they find Richard, they talk about putting him in the cage, and say the word “cage” over and over. They drag him out there slowly, and proceed to spend ages tying him to the cage, rather than just shutting the door. It is evident from the use of “cage” that they didn’t have much of a script. Their tying job suggests they hadn’t rehearsed the scene beforehand. Eventually Jarvis gets Janet from her cupboard and as she is now unconscious, kisses her repeatedly and feels her up in front of the “caged” Richard. I guess this is the “terror”. Eventually, Janet, who though scared of Jarvis and Troub seemed to think them decent people, regains consciousness and makes out with Jarvis. The sun starts to rise, and we see Janet saying goodbye to Jarvis and Troub and walking back to Richard, who remains tied to the cage. The End.

Throughout the movie:

  • tons of artsy shots
  • very little talking for very long stretches (did the sound guy leave for some scenes?)
  • music rather than dialogue in many scenes
  • over-dubbed lines that they must not have remembered to shoot scenes for
  • nature footage

Apparently, something meaningful is happening the whole time. This is best embodied by the fact that the ostensible protagonist is actually the bad guy, if there is one. I don’t know what it’s supposed to mean, but clearly they meant something.

Wow, it hurts just thinking about it.

By the way, you may think the description sounds awesome, but it isn’t anywhere near “so bad it’s good.” It’s just boring.