1977 in Movies

A list of movie reviews for movies released theatrically in 1977.

1. The Last Wave, directed by Peter Weir (9/10)

Though the whole mystical thing doesn’t fly with me, it is handled very well here. The movie is oblique but not too oblique, and when things are explained, they aren’t explained to the point of incredulity. We know little enough about these beliefs so that we don’t get too skeptical.

The ending is also pretty damn great – and was no doubt necessary for the time – because it could have been far more definitive, and therefore disappointing in some way or other.

2. Cross of Iron, directed by Sam Peckinpah (9/10)

What to say about this movie? I don’t know…”Wow.” Read the full review Cross of Iron.

3. Eraserhead, directed by David Lynch (8*/10)

I think I was drunk. Essential anyway.

4. Annie Hall, directed by Woody Allen (8*/10)

Seen as a teen.

5. Pumping Iron, directed by George Butler, Robert Fiore (8/10)

This is a fascinating documentary about body building in general and Arnold Schwarzenegger in particular. I don’t have any particular interest in either but the filmmakers make you care about the competition and Arnold is actually a surprisingly charismatic – albeit kind of disturbing – interview. It’s easier for me to see his appeal as a politician now, having seen this – it didn’t make sense to me as a distant observer but I can see it a little better now – but he is still a weird guy.

The major failing of this movie – which is otherwise essential viewing – is the focus on the random bodybuilder not in the competition, Mike Katz. He seems determined to beat somebody – maybe Arnold – but he then doesn’t even make it to Mr. Olympia. Whether he could have made it to that competition had he won an earlier competition is never made clear and so his connection to the rest of the film is left as a bit of a mystery. But that shouldn’t stop you from watching this otherwise excellent documentary.

6. Slapshot, directed by George Roy Hill (8*/10)

I want to say this is the greatest hockey movie ever made but I haven’t seen it in so long I couldn’t swear to that.

7. The American Friend, directed by Wim Wenders (7/10)

Just watched The American Friend. I didn’t realize this, but Ripley’s Game that movie with John Malkovich that didn’t do so well, and the former movie, are based on the same book.

It’s quite interesting. Wenders doesn’t explain a lot of the backstory and there’s a real sense of randomness, which I think is something not always emphasized in film noirs. (It’s often quite the opposite.) Dennis Hopper is Ripley and he’s quite different than the one version of Tom Ripley I had in my mind before (Matt Damon). The star is actually German, Bruno Ganz. I’ve seen him in other things I just can’t think of what. There are cameos by two eccentric Hollywood directors who made fairly unique films in the studio system before the american renaiscance.

The film’s fascinating. You really don’t have much idea of what is going on except that things are bad and getting worse. You remain at Ganz’s level of understanding, rather than having the whole plot spelled out for you. It’s great. If you like film noir and you haven’t seen it, you should check it out.

8. The Last Remake of Beau Geste, directed by Marty Feldman (7/10)

Pretty hysterical. Underrated.

9. Equus, directed by Sidney Lumet (7/10*)

Seen during a politics class in university.

10. Rabid, directed by David Cronenberg (7/10)

This almost feels like Shivers 2 in a way, but it’s different enough to be worth watching too.

11. Black Sunday, directed by John Frankenheimer (7*/10)

Seen as a teen.

12. Close Encounters of the Third Kind, directed by Steven Spielberg (7*/10)

Seen as a teen.

13. Kentucky Fried Movie, directed by John Landis (7*/10)

Seen once as a tween…with my mother. So that went well.

Seen again as a teen, when I had a high tolerance for this kind of stuff.

14. “Yukon Passage,” directed by James Lipscomb (7/10)

Not technically a “movie” since it’s an hour long TV special but it’s standalone so here it is.

I would have absolutely eaten this up if I’d encountered it when I was young.

The most interesting thing about watching it 44 years after it was made is in how unbelievably different it is from the way this kind of TV is made now: in 2021 this would be a 10-episode series (or more) and would be focusing so much on the mental struggle of doing something like this.

Instead, it’s matter-of-fact, the cast rarely appear to disagree and have all the tools at hand. We’re really not sure why they’re doing what they’re doing (beyond some “personal freedom” cliches) or why they are able to do it. It’s a fascinating time capsule.

Also, what they do is totally insane and super hard, so good on them. And it’s pretty to look at even if the film quality has dated.

15. Star Wars, directed by George Lucas (6*/10)

I have seen this movie many times, as you have. In retrospect though, I think there are lots of things for adults to dislike about it. I don’t think I can re-watch it in any objective frame of mind. This rating is probably just to piss off fans of the franchise.

16. Citizen’s Band aka Handle with Care, directed by Jonathan Demme (6/10)

I know I wrote a review of this. I remember writing it. It must have gotten deleted when zip.ca was taken down.

17. A Bridge too Far, directed by Richard Attenborough (6/10)

Another attempt at remaking The Longest Day. I have seen it far too many times to be objective about it, but it is flawed something fierce.

18. The Spy Who Loved Me, directed by Lewis Gilbert (6/10)

Some believe this is the best Moore Bond film. I don’t agree. I prefer Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun. But I have seen both of those many times. I can’t say that I’ve seen this more than twice, maybe.

19. Capricorn One, directed by Peter Hyams (6/10)

I reject the premise of this conspiracy thriller but it’s competent. Read the review of Capricorn One.

20. High Anxiety, directed by Mel Brooks (6/10)

Enjoyable, if slight.

21. Jabberwocky, directed by Terry Gilliam (6*/10)

Seen as a child.

22. MacArthur, directed by Joseph Sargent (5/10)

They thought this was Patton II.

23. Smokey and the Bandit, directed by Hal Needham (4*/10)

Seen as a teen.

24. Exorcist II: the Heretic, directed by John Boorman (4*/10)

Seen in the middle of the night. There never should have been a sequel.

25. Island of Death, directed by Nico Mastorakis (1/10)

This movie contains a golden shower and goat sex, and no I did not make that up. The theme song was so amazing I recorded it. I have no words for this film.