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Member Lists

22 Reasons Why 1974 Was Cinema's Best Year
List creator: ZenBones
Created on: July 6, 2004 - 3:10 PM PDT
Description: A time when movies were original, challenging, and gave a voice to those of us non-conformists.

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The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1975)
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Not Rated
  It's "Being There" meets "The Elephant Man", as Werner Herzog stuns us with a cinema verite journey into the newly formed mind of a young man in the 1820s. Is he a freak or are we the freaks? A Masterpiece!
The Conversation (1974)
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  Gene Hackman's best and most understated performance, as a mousy surveillance expert who gradually gets pulled away from the technical clarity of his job as he sinks deeper and deeper into the emotional levity of it. Simple, haunting score by David Shire.
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Criterion Collection) (1974)
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  I suppose it's no coincidence that my top 4 films are about outcasts (me in a nutshell!). This is an unrequited love story between a homely, German woman in her 60s and a very hot, Moroccan man in his 30s. Bitter loneliness at its most honest!
The Godfather II (Disc 1 of 2) (1974)
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  Arguably this is the best of the trilogy (I like 'em all!). It's a flawless examination of America in the first 50 years of the 20th century, with its love/hate relationship with outlaws and its need to build and grow at any price (not much has changed!).
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)
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  The great Warren Oates plays a crusty, tequila-toking loser on a mission to decapitate a dead guy in this magnificently weird and eccentric, Western-like gangster pic.
Chinatown (1974)
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  John Alonzo's dry and misty cinematography, Richard Sylbert's polished and realistic production design, John Huston as one of the lowest toads in movie villainy, Faye the ice queen, Jack's nose, and Roman Polanski in a pinstripe suit. "Hey, kitty cat!"
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)
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  Tired of seeing women marginalized in movies? This is an intelligent 'slice of life' film that has a tough, humorous edge and an engaging cast with an authenticity one rarely sees in movies. Burstyn is amazing!
Lenny (1974)
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  Most will remember Lenny as the man who enabled performers to curse ten times in every sentence, but it really was the content of his message (the hypocrisy of our society, the corruption of our government, etc.) that made him great. Excellent detail.
Flesh for Frankenstein (Criterion Collection) (1973)
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  This was considered the goriest and most sexually shocking film of its era, but everything is hilariously over-the-top thanks to Udo Kier's hammy performance as the sadistic baron, and Joe Dallesandro as the hunky stable boy with the New Jersey accent.
Blazing Saddles (1974)
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  The early 70s was a wonderful time for revisionist Westerns but this one really breaks the mold! Black Bart and Lili Von Shtupp are cinema icons, and there are tons of great one-liners, including the infamous, "Badchez? We don' need no stinkeeng badchez!"
And Now My Love (1974)
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  This is an incredibly ambitious film that crams 75 years of the 20th century and a multigenerational love story into a span of 2 hours. Most of it works because of Lelouch's sincere joy of cinema, but be warned, the DVD has an inane alternative ending!
Hearts and Minds (Criterion Collection) (1974)
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  This landmark documentary breaks convention by using no narration or chronological order. It's just the images and voices of those who were engaged in the Vietnam war; from the veterens, the civilians, and those who gave the orders. See with 'Fog of War'.
Cockfighter (1974)
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  Part of why the 70s was the best era for cinema was the way some films showed the areas of this country that hadn't yet become generic. I don't like cockfighting, but this film gives a genuine and nonjudgmental look at the people and places of that world.
Antony & Cleopatra (1974)
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  Shakespeare finally adapted well for TV! With minimalist set design and passionate acting (none of that singsongy way that actors often bleat out iambic pentameter), one becomes immersed in the era as well as the tragic tug-of-war between love and power.
Blood for Dracula (Criterion Collection) (1973)
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  In this version, Dracula must leave the safety and comfort of his castle to go to Italy to find a virgin (or 'wirgin'). Udo Kier is brilliant as the pale, frustrated count. Also on hand is hunky, dopey Joe Dallesandro, AND cameos by Polanski & DeSica!
Swept Away (1974)
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  The clash between the sexes and the classes heat up on a desert island between an Italian yuppie her servant. The film isn't just a microcosm of modern relationships vs class struggle. Layers gradually get peeled away and stereotypes become real people.
Macon County Line (1974)
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  This was a huge drive-in hit but it is actually a pretty quiet, mature film about misunderstandings gone awry in the south of the 1950s. It's not a great film, but it's more subtle and honest than anything you might see today.
Going Places (1974)
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Not Rated
  This is a brilliant exercise in the humbling of two extremely misogynist men. Depardieu and Deware rob and screw their way across France, confronting and occasionally denying their lack of understanding of the female sex. Watch for Jeanne Moreau!
The Sugarland Express (1974)
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  I can't say I'm a Steven Spielberg fan, but back in the good ol' days on the early 70s, when outcasts were outlaws by their very nature, he nailed the 'young outlaw' genre very well. Ben Johnson is fabulous as the police captain.
Born Innocent (1974)
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Not Rated
  A trashy TV movie? Yeah, but it's a good one and hell, it kept me from running away from home during my teen years! It's a 70s version of "Caged", with poor teen runaway Linda Blair being dumped in a reform school full of nasty girls wielding mop handles.
The Groove Tube (1972)
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  Not a great film, but it was the prototype for Saturday Night Live. There are numerable sketches, only a few of which are really funny, but it's a great time capsule, and hey, how many times to you get to see a giant penis talking about VD?

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