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A 20th Century Fox Retrospective Scrapbook: 1974

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Maybe the number of films seems a bit thin in 1974, and admittedly some of these films have all but been forgotten, but there are quite a few gems in the mix this year.....

Zardoz opened the year. Meant as a serious sci-fi film, the movie, starring Sean Connery and Charlotte Rampling, has become a cult film for other reasons.

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Jon Voight then played a thinly disguised version of Pat Conroy in Conrack, the saga of the writer's years teaching in an impoverished island community in the Carolinas. Sweet film, and quietly touching.

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The Three Musketeers was a merry combination of a swashbuckler and a lively comedy, and enacted by a fine cast and with great technical qualities, it was a most enjoyable time.

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Diahann Carroll was Oscar-nominated for her brilliant work in the comedy-drama Claudine, but James Earl Jones was just as good in the urban slice-of-life with a warm, beating heart and soul.

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Peter Fonda and Susan George were on the run from the law in Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry

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Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould were together again in the spoof S*P*Y*S. Unlike their other acronymed title, it faded away

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Slapstick went Hacidic in The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob

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Together Brothers was a low budget race against time thriller

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Harry and Tonto won the Oscar for Art Carney. In my opinion, the film is glorious. Its one of my favorites of the 70s as everyone is just cast so perfectly, and the script is a wonderful combination of wisdom, wit, sympathy, warmth, sadness, and humanity. A one of a kind film.

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99 and 44/100% Dead saw Richard Harris as a hitman, with Edmund o'Brien in the supporting cast

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Yes, you are looking at a poster with a roach on it. 11 Harrowhouse was a heist film that was very surface level, but worth a look for the nutty narration by Charles Grodin (added at the last minute by script doctor Elaine May), James Mason's fine final scene, and a truly gonzo car chase through the English countryside. (Oh, and Candice Bergen never was more beautiful)

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The House on Skull Mountain was an old dark house horror film (with a creepy poster)

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Timothy Bottoms and Barbara Hershey were in an anti-war dropout story, The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder, financed in part by Hugh Hefner and Playboy.

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Buneul was back with The Phantom of Liberty

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Brian De Palma made his first major studio film with the cult film Phantom of the Paradise.

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The Towering Inferno was one of the largest of the disaster films, but left rather a bitter aftertaste. Jennifer Jones and Fred Astaire ran off with acting honors. Note that this was the first film in Hollywood history to be co-financed by two of the majors: Fox and WB.

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And finally, there was Young Frankenstein, Mel Brooks' finest hour and an absolute laugh riot.

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  1. Young Frankenstein
  2. Harry and Tonto
  3. Claudine
  4. Phantom of the Paradise
  5. The Three Musketeers
  6. Conrack
  7. Zardoz

I've also seen S*P*Y*S (terrible), Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (okay drive-in fare), and 99 and 44/100% Dead (blah).

And The Towering Inferno, which I thought was just as unimpressive as The Poseidon Adventure and Earthquake.

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Interesting batch. 

My top 5:

1. CLAUDINE
2. YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN
3. CONRACK
4. HARRY AND TONTO
5. THE TOWERING INFERNO

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Maybe I'm being a bit too harsh with Inferno, but it almost seemed sadistic at times. With the earlier Poseidon Adventure, most of the deaths were quick and not lingered over (save for the heart attack), but in inferno, the camera just seemed to linger on the agony. That one scene where two characters are killed by the flames as the camera lingers for two or three minutes on them writhing in flames in slow motion was really cruel. So was the bit of the death from the elevator, showing the body bumping hard against the building. That's not entertainment.

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I've said this before, but Harry and Tonto winning best actor is one of the most egregiously bad Oscar choices.  Three of the leading actors of their generation give their best performances in, respectively, The Godfather Part II, Chinatown and The Conversation.  And they lose to this trifle.  "But Carney shows such energy."  Of course he does, he was only 54 when they made the movie.  And don't get me started about Albert Finney, Peter Falk and Erland Josephson.

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THE TOWERING INFERNO had an impact on television soap operas. A few days ago Retro-TV aired some March 1978 episodes of the old soap The Doctors. There was a sequence with a bunch of characters stuck inside a burning supper club...and two people died. Search for Tomorrow also did a towering inferno type storyline in 1980 when they had half the cast trapped in a burning skyscraper.

It was a quick way to get ratings, to win awards for special effects, and also an easy way to get rid of unwanted cast members.

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7 minutes ago, skimpole said:

I've said this before, but Harry and Tonto winning best actor is one of the most egregiously bad Oscar choices.  Three of the leading actors of their generation give their best performances in, respectively, The Godfather Part II, Chinatown and The Conversation.  And they lose to this trifle.  "But Carney shows such energy."  Of course he does, he was only 54 when they made the movie.  And don't get me started about Albert Finney, Peter Falk and Erland Josephson.

It seems like the sentimental choice, and the choice of the "Old Hollywood" Academy voters. 

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"Towering Inferno" does have the distinction of one of the most ironic line readings Steve McQueen ever delivered:

Doug Roberts ("The Architect" played by Paul Newman):  "How are they gonna get the explosives up here?"      

Chief O'Hallorhan ("The Fire Chief" played by Steve McQueen): "Oh, they'll find some dumb son of a **** to bring it up."

Cracks me up every time.

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9 minutes ago, skimpole said:

I've said this before, but Harry and Tonto winning best actor is one of the most egregiously bad Oscar choices.  Three of the leading actors of their generation give their best performances in, respectively, The Godfather Part II, Chinatown and The Conversation.  And they lose to this trifle.  

Yes, it's right up there in the "Worst Oscar Mistakes" pantheon.

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8 minutes ago, skimpole said:

I've said this before, but Harry and Tonto winning best actor is one of the most egregiously bad Oscar choices.  Three of the leading actors of their generation give their best performances in, respectively, The Godfather Part II, Chinatown and The Conversation.  And they lose to this trifle.  "But Carney shows such energy."  Of course he does, he was only 54 when they made the movie.  And don't get me started about Albert Finney, Peter Falk and Erland Josephson.

I think it happened because Hoffman, Pacino, and Nicholson (especially the last two) were going after the same demographic of voters and split it up. Carney and finney were the only two there that would have appealed more toward older voters, and although I am one of the few who loved Carney's win, I think its pretty clear that even with most of the same voting body, it could not have happened probably not even five years later since  some of the older voters that might have voted for it had died.

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1 hour ago, CinemaInternational said:

I think it happened because Hoffman, Pacino, and Nicholson (especially the last two) were going after the same demographic of voters and split it up. Carney and finney were the only two there that would have appealed more toward older voters, and although I am one of the few who loved Carney's win, I think its pretty clear that even with most of the same voting body, it could not have happened probably not even five years later since  some of the older voters that might have voted for it had died.

Regardless of whether Carney should or shouldn't have won the top honor that year, I don't think we should lose sight of what a fine actor he turned out to be. He was also really solid in The Late Show with Lily Tomlin. I would love to have seen more of him than we did. Keenan Wynn was also doing some appealing "old duff" roles around that time, particularly in Nashville.

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Just now, DougieB said:

Regardless of whether Carney should or shouldn't have won the top honor that year, I don't think we should lose sight of what a fine actor he turned out to be. He was also really solid in The Late Show with Lily Tomlin. I would love to have seen more of him than we did. Keenan Wynn was also doing some appealing "old duff" roles around that time, particularly in Nashville.

Yes, The Late Show was a fine performance showcase for both him and Lily Tomlin, and its rather overlooked too. There was an air of poignancy that made that film something special, and it was also ingenious at time especially in finding a new place for a dead body to hide. (Whoever thought that looking for a bottle of Coca-Cola would lead to such a shocking moment?)

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Young Frankenstein is the best movie Mel Brooks ever made...it is the only Mel Brooks movie that I like.

Rabbi Jacob is a very funny movie, but I haven't seen it in ages, and I would like to see it again.

I didn't like Phantom of the Paradise the first time I saw it, but it has grown on me over the years.

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On 6/12/2019 at 8:48 PM, Arsan404 said:

Young Frankenstein is the best movie Mel Brooks ever made...it is the only Mel Brooks movie that I like.

Totally agree.  Can't stand 99% of Mel Brooks stuff and I figure the only reason "Young Frankenstein" is so great is because of Gene Wilder's genius   --  He not only starred in it, he co-wrote it.  Methinks Mel Brooks' contribution to that film was a lot less than he took credit for.

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2 hours ago, lydecker said:

Totally agree.  Can't stand 99% of Mel Brooks stuff and I figure the only reason "Young Frankenstein" is so great is because of Gene Wilder's genius   --  He not only starred in it, he co-wrote it.  Methinks Mel Brooks' contribution to that film was a lot less than he took credit for.

Almost all of Mel Brooks' career is built on stealing and re-appropriating the works of other people.

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On 6/12/2019 at 2:47 PM, CinemaInternational said:

Jon Voight then played a thinly disguised version of Pat Conroy in Conrack, the saga of the writer's years teaching in an impoverished island community in the Carolinas. Sweet film, and quietly touching.

Conrack1974.jpg

Jon Voight had already made two of my favorite films by this time, "Midnight Cowboy" and "Deliverance". Once again the native New Yorker does an excellent Southern accent in this one. A funny, touching and realistic look at the challenges of being a teacher, I love this one. The Halloween sequence is one of the best parts. Hume Cronyn has some very funny moments as Voight's crotchety boss.  

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