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1975 films

Related: film - 1970s - 1970s films

Films: The Image (1975) - The Beast / La Bête (1975) - Inserts (1975) - Jaws (1975) - The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) - The Story of O (1975)

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  1. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) - Peter Weir [Amazon US]
    Situated somewhere between supernatural horror and lush Victorian melodrama, director Peter Weir's lyrical, enigmatic masterpiece is an imaginative tease. The setting is a proper turn-of-the century Australian boarding school for girls, a suffocating institution built on strict moral codes, repressed sexuality, and a subtle but enforced class structure. As the film opens, girls draped in immaculate white dress prepare for a picnic at the nearby volcanic formation, Hanging Rock, and Weir hangs an air of dark foreboding over the proceeding. "You'll have to love someone else, because I won't be here very long," says one virginal girl, Miranda, to her friend. Her words are prophetic: during the picnic, Miranda, along with two other girls and an uptight schoolmistress, vanish into the rocks. While a search party repeatedly returns to the rock to look for either the girls or the reasons for their disappearance, Weir leaves the mystery unsolved. Like Antonioni's L'Avventura, the vanishing is open to numerous interpretations--both rational and illusory--but Weir drops enough allegorical clues that it feels like a parable. He transforms the landscape and weather into menacing and eerie images; outlines of faces can be seen in the rocks, while the oppressive heat beating down on the picnic doubles as an atmospheric metaphor for the girls' unbearable social and sexual confinement. These images and other plot twists toward the end hint that this mysterious vanishing, on some level, was actually a form of spiritual escape--the only out, other than death, from the film's bleak, tightly structured community. Regardless of how you see it, though, this hypnotic puzzle remains the highlight of the '70s Australian New Wave. The DVD version presents the film in letterbox form. --Dave McCoy for amazon.com

  2. The First Nudie Musical (1975) - Mark Haggard, Bruce Kimmel[1 DVD, Amazon US]
    Comedy, nudity, and the just plain bizarre collide in The First Nudie Musical. In hopes of making enough money to save his troubled movie studio, Harry Schecter (Stephen Nathan) and his plucky secretary, Rosie (Cindy Williams, pre-Laverne & Shirley), cook up the world's first pornographic musical. What follows is a loosely plotted collection of comedy bits and musical numbers (written by Rene Hall and codirector Bruce Kimmel) that, while not always successful, have a raw energy and charm that's hard to resist. The movie as a whole looks like it's been done by a new sketch comedy troupe with plenty of spirit and almost enough rehearsal. Yes, there is full-frontal nudity, and once you're done feeling bad for the first group of naked chorines performing in a roomful of fully clothed men, it all goes fine. Though many of the bits misfire, there is plenty of genuinely funny stuff, and even when there isn't, the movie is so weird that it's hard to stop watching. --Ali Davis for Amazon.com

  3. Shivers (1975) - David Cronenberg [1 DVD, Amazon US]
    His first feature, Shivers, is a highly effective little movie about a strain of parasitical beasties that look like diseased penises and, after infesting inside someone, give them maniacal and uncontrollable sexual appetites, spreading their disease exponentially (also note the STD-like terrors of Rabid and The Fly). The AIDS parallel is obvious, but Shivers was made in 1975, long before AIDS was the cause célèbre in Hollywood. -- Daniel Kraus

  4. A Boy And His Dog (1975) - L.Q. Jones [Amazon US]
    Closely adapted from the acclaimed novella by Harlan Ellison, this postapocalyptic black comedy has emerged as a cult favorite since its release in 1975, when Don Johnson was a relative unknown and still years away from TV stardom on Miami Vice. Here Johnson plays a young, libidinous loner named Vic who roams the postnuclear wasteland with his loyal dog, Blood, a remarkable hound with keen intelligence and the ability to telepathically communicate with his less-intelligent master. It's survival of the fittest, so food and sex are Vic's highest priorities, and he gets plenty of both when recruited into a mysterious underground society in desperate need of young fertile males. While Blood must fend for himself on the unfriendly surface, Vic realizes that he's an exploited prisoner and must escape to return to the canine friend he left behind. Thanks in large part to the sly wit of Blood (whose sarcastic voice is splendidly provided by Tim McIntire), this clever and disturbing film readily earns its lasting reputation as a low-budget classic, and features a funny yet chilling supporting role for Jason Robards Jr. The DVD includes a full-length commentary by director L.Q. Jones, cinematographer John Morrill, and film critic Charles Champlin. --Jeff Shannon for amazon.com

  5. One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) - Milos Forman [Amazon US]
    One of the key movies of the 1970s, when exciting, groundbreaking, personal films were still being made in Hollywood, Milos Forman's One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest emphasized the humanistic story at the heart of Ken Kesey's more hallucinogenic novel. Jack Nicholson was born to play the part of Randle Patrick McMurphy, the rebellious inmate of a psychiatric hospital who fights back against the authorities' cold attitudes of institutional superiority, as personified by Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). It's the classic antiestablishment tale of one man asserting his individuality in the face of a repressive, conformist system--and it works on every level. Forman populates his film with memorably eccentric faces, and gets such freshly detailed and spontaneous work from his ensemble that the picture sometimes feels like a documentary. Unlike a lot of films pitched at the "youth culture" of the 1970s, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest really hasn't dated a bit, because the qualities of human nature that Forman captures--playfulness, courage, inspiration, pride, stubbornness--are universal and timeless. The film swept the Academy Awards for 1976, winning in all the major categories (picture, director, actor, actress, screenplay) for the first time since Frank Capra's It Happened One Night in 1931 --Jim EmersonAmazon.com

  6. Tommy (1975) - Ken Russell [Amazon US]
    If you've ever wanted to hear Jack Nicholson sing (or try to) or marvel at the sight of Ann-Margret drunkenly cavorting in a cascade of baked beans, Tommy is the movie you've been waiting for. As it turns out, the Who's brilliant rock opera is sublimely matched to director Ken Russell's penchant for cinematic excess, and this 1975 production finds Russell at the peak of his filmmaking audacity. It's a fever-dream of musical bombast, custom-fit to the thematic ambition of Pete Townshend's epic rock drama, revolving around the titular "deaf, dumb, and blind kid" (played by Who vocalist Roger Daltrey) who survives the childhood trauma that stole his senses to become a Pinball Wizard messiah in Townshend's grandiose attack on the hypocrisy of organized religion. The story is remarkably coherent considering the hypnotic dream-state induced by Russell's visuals. Tommy's odyssey is rendered through wall-to-wall music, each song representing a pivotal chapter in Tommy's chronology, from the bloodstream shock of "The Acid Queen" (performed to the hilt by Tina Turner) to Nicholson's turn as a well-intentioned physician, Elton John's towering rendition of "Pinball Wizard," and Daltrey's epiphanous rendition of "I'm Free." Other performers include Eric Clapton and (most outrageously) the Who's drummer Keith Moon, and through it all Russell is almost religiously faithful to Townshend's artistic vision. Although it divided critics when first released, Tommy now looks likes a minor classic of gonzo cinema, worthy of the musical genius that fueled its creation. --Jeff Shannon for Amazon.com

  7. Fawlty Towers (1975-1979) - The Complete Collection [Amazon US]
    Basil Fawlty, as created and performed by John Cleese, is the rudest, most boorish, most hilariously obnoxious man on the face of the planet. What a natural for a TV sitcom! His screen wife, Sybil (Prunella Scales), put it best in the episode "The Psychiatrist": "You're either crawling all over them, licking their boots, or spitting poison at them like some Benzedrine puff adder." He mockingly replies, "Just trying to enjoy myself, dear." With his gangly frame and contortionist abilities, Cleese brilliantly punctuates Basil's outrageous faux pas with absurd gymnastics and turns Three Stooges-style pokes and kicks into a slapstick ballet. Scales's Sybil is the genial but obliviously chatty voice of reason and Andrew Sachs mangles the English language as the Spanish bellhop Manuel, whose struggles with simple directions results in comic lunacy reminiscent of Robert Benigni. After a six-episode run in 1975, Cleese and cowriter and costar Connie Booth (who plays Polly, the maid all too often pulled into Basil's ridiculous plans) reunited the cast in 1979 for another six episodes without missing a punch line. The four-volume collection contains all 12 shows, interspersed with interview segments featuring Cleese discussing the genesis of the series and anecdotes about the individual episodes. Remember to watch the opening credits of each show to spot the creative misspellings on the hotel sign (my favorite: "Fatty Owls"). --Sean Axmaker for Amazon.com

  8. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) - Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam [1 DVD, Amazon US]
    Could this be the funniest movie ever made? By any rational measure of comedy, this medieval romp from the Monty Python troupe certainly belongs on the short list of candidates. According to Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide, it's "recommended for fans only," but we say hogwash to that--you could be a complete newcomer to the Python phenomenon and still find this send-up of the Arthurian legend to be wet-your-pants hilarious. It's basically a series of sketches woven together as King Arthur's quest for the Holy Grail, with Graham Chapman as the King, Terry Gilliam as his simpleton sidekick Patsy, and the rest of the Python gang filling out a variety of outrageous roles. The comedy highlights are too numerous to mention, but once you've seen Arthur's outrageously bloody encounter with the ominous Black Knight (John Cleese), you'll know that nothing's sacred in the Python school of comedy. From holy hand grenades to killer bunnies to the absurdity of the three-headed knights who say "Ni--!," this is the kind of movie that will strike you as fantastically funny or just plain silly, but why stop there? It's all over the map, and the pace lags a bit here and there, but for every throwaway gag the Pythons have invented, there's a bit of subtle business or grand-scale insanity that's utterly inspired. The sum of this madness is a movie that's beloved by anyone with a pulse and an irreverent sense of humor. If this movie doesn't make you laugh, you're almost certainly dead. --Jeff Shannon for Amazon.com

  9. The Story of Adele H (1975) - François Truffaut [1 DVD, Amazon US]
    François Truffaut's dramatization of the true story of Adele Hugo, the daughter of French author-in-exile Victor Hugo, and her romantic obsession with a young French officer is a cinematically beautiful and emotionally wrenching portrait of a headstrong but unstable young woman. Adele (Isabelle Adjani, whose pale face gives her the quality of a cameo portrait) travels under a false name and spins a half-dozen false stories about herself and her relationship to Lieutenant Pinson (Bruce Robinson), the Hussar she follows to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Pinson no longer loves her, but she refuses to accept his rejection. Sinking farther and farther into her own internal world, she passes herself off as his wife and pours out her stormy emotions into a personal journal filled with delusional descriptions of her fantasy life. Beautifully shot by Nestor Almendros in vivid color, Truffaut's re-creation of the 1860s is accomplished not merely in impressive sets and locations but in the very style of the film: narration and voiceovers, written journal entries and letters, journeys and locations established with map reproductions, and a judicious use of stills mix old-fashioned cinematic technique with poetic flourishes. The result is one of Truffaut's most haunting portraits, all the more powerful because it's true. --Sean Axmaker for Amazon.com [...]

  10. Death Race 2000 (1975) - Paul Bartel [1 DVD, Amazon US]
    Oh great American multitude and sports fans everywhere have I got a movie for you: Paul Bartel's 1975 cheap-o satire Death Race 2000. The national and celebrated sport in the year 2000 is the transcontinental death race where racers compete not only for speed, but for points too. For every pedestrian hit, points are earned, depending on age of course. And of course it's nothing like the year 2000 but it makes for a great flick. Frankenstein, Machine Gun Joe Viterbo, Calamity Jane, Matilda the Hun, and Nero the Hero are the five racers vying for points and place. Stallone is a standout as the villain. Hilarious stuff takes place throughout the race, from euthanasia day at the geriatric hospital to the "French" air attacks. The best lines have got to be: "Is that a grenade?" "No, a hand grenade." This Roger Corman production has become a cult favorite, rightfully so, and one of the best films of the seventies. Backlash007 for imdb.com [...]

  11. Smile (1975) - Michael Ritchie [Amazon US]
    One of the underrated films from the golden age of American filmmaking, this wonderful story holds up very well some 30 years later. It's far more than just a satiric look at teen beauty pageants & the culture that surrounds them (although it skewers them sharply & perceptively) -- it's also a fiercely revealing look at the illusions of the American Dream. The writing is pointed & intelligent, and the cast is superb!

    Let me call special attention to Bruce Dern's portrayal of Big Bob Freelander. It would have been all too easy to make Big Bob nothing more than a walking joke & an object of condescending mockery. But the man has more depth than that, even though he himself refuses to see it. Big Bob genuinely believes in the cliches & positive aphorisms he spouts, and does his best to live by them. Yet despite his own desire to believe that the life he has chosen does have value & meaning, the empty truth of it is beginning to force itself upon him. His best friend is already drinking too much & cracking up because he can't stomach their world any longer; Big Bob sees it all falling apart & does his best to hold it together, even as it slips through his fingers.

    Note, for example, Joan Prather's interview by the judges. As one of the more honest contestants, she's thrown by some of the questions, which obviously demand pre-packaged & "wholesome" answers. She doesn't quite know how to "play the game." Big Bob jumps right in to help her out, both out of genuine compassion for her & out of his desire to preserve the illusions of his own life. As Big Bob's crumbling friend Andy notes, Big Bob is the ultimate Young American Miss himself ... and Big Bob doesn't deny it. He desperately wants his world to be just that clearly defined & ideal & perfect.

    Towards the end, there's a poignant & telling scene. Three Marines serve as flag-bearers for the pageant, and Big Bob goes over to make small talk with them, having served in their same division years ago. He makes mention of seeing combat in Korea, only to be ignored as they compare notes on the breasts of the various contestants. One look at Big Bob's sad & haunted face tells you everything about what he's lost & still searching to find.

    Yes, it's a very funny film. The "talent" segments are howlingly bad & pathetic, all the more so with their undercurrent of melancholy. The plastic patriotism & hollow boosterism is laughingly tacky. But there's much more going on in this film, which is still quite relevent. Highly recommended! --William, amazon.com

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