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January 10, 1970 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 1970-01-10

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THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Saturday, January 10, 1970

TH IHGNDIL audy anay1,17

cinema

I

4

glance at

By NEAL GABLER
Recently a friend asked me if
ever panned a film. "You
eem to like them all." Mad-
roman of Chaillot to the con-
rary, e. is almost right; I love
he mediun of film so much
hat I do occasionally confuse
tim content with the medium
f film itself. So before I launch
nto a discussion of cinema-
969; I think I owe the reader
n explanation of just how I
,pproach -a film.
First of all 1 fully realize that
ot all films are masterpieces.
3ut unlike many reviewers I al-
o realize that few films aspire
o be ,Citizen Kane-1969. When
n awful movie has such pre-
ensions Ifeelobliged to shoot
t down; there is nothing worse
han an insignificant little film
rying to pass itself off as im-
ortant
Yet, there are very few de-
,ded chaps who lay down their
2.00 and expect to see The
3reat American Film every time
whey enter a movie house. Most
people still go to the theater to
scape from society's pressures
nd live in. the fantasy world up
here Qn the big screen or mere-
y to be entertained or even, to
eck. I& a film's intention is to
ntertain, and it succeeds, who
ares if it educates us or stirs
ur emotions? Thus, when I
ive both Buth Cassidy and Easy
alder good reviews I do not
:nean to say they are equally
rood, Butch Cassidy is fun and
rnd of the best of its kind, but
as y Rider is a significant film,
classic that provides much
nore than placebo entertain-
Al this leads to my list of the
en best pictures of 1969. It is
i reviewer's prerogative to rate
he year's films, and this is an
ndulgence that, quite frankly,
trelish. However, all is not
gory there is -also travail. I
cad to decide which films to in-
Ph de. Since imany films released
ls year play only in New York,
mother classification besides re-
ease date had to be found.
On the other hand, I couldn't
rate only those pictures released
x. Ann Arbor during the year,
Pecause some films, like 2001
re close to two years old, and
miyone with - any love for the
stnema would have seen them
efore this year. So I arbitrarily
ejtled on including all the films
.had seen for the first time
lurIng 1969 that were made no
arlier than 1968. Every film
Sat played in Ann Arbor during
1969 that fits the stipulation
abve is included.
Also, a~word on how I chose
te films. My chief criterion
utside of artistic merit was so-
ial significance - Is this a
film which intelligently tells us
someting about the human
>redicament? Obviously, films
.ke Goodbye, Columbus and
ake. the Money and Run are
5hert on social relevance. But
Ufelt these two films were par-
icularly outstanding for their
'espective types of film, and I-
rould feel remiss if I excluded
hem in favor of shoddy films
witb erzatz social significance.
COW, with no further adieu, let
he superlatives roll:
1. Shame-Bergman ventures
utsicle the cell of the mind and
n an important film of our
imes raises questions about
irt'g role amidst social upheaval
nd individual responsibility for
he actions of one's society. Os-
ensibly an anti-war film, it is
nuch more. It presents a world
4 fespai' where we are "living
I* somne.else's dream." It is
hocklngly effective; se 1 d o m
Wave' I seen an entire audience

screenplay, Zeferelli enhances
Shakespeare's verbal imagery
with the camera's visual ima-
gery. The result is one of the
finest and most immediate
adaptations of Shakespeare to
the screen that I have ever seen.
6. Easy Rider - A look at
America the money culture
where men are judged by how
long they wear their hair. and
where freedom is thought to be
a commodity available to any-
one who has the bread to buy
it. It may lack the depth of the
above films, but it has probably
reached more people than any
other picture this year.
7. Goodbye, Columbus - This
peek at the Jewish subculture
is in pretty heady company, but
I liked it very much. Besides
being one of the truly K funny
sophisticated'comedies, it star-
red one of the best looking
chicks ever. (and I don't mean
Nan Martin.)
8. Take the Money and Run
-One of the best comedies I've
ever seen. It ranks with the
finest of Chaplin, Fields and
the Marx Brothers. When just
about everyone in the theater
is delirious with laughter can
you ask for more?
9. If .... - Lindsay Ander-
son's film could have been near
the top of the list if he hadn't
botched it. Maybe it's true that
if you cut the fantasy all that's
left is an upper class Loneliness
of the Long Distance Runner,
but I can't.help but feel that
while there are many flashes of
genius throughout, the f 1 m
never quite reaches the heights
its early moments, promise.
10. Stolen Kisses- Granted
this is a frivolous film, but
Truffaut is still infinitely bet-
ter in his lighter moments than
most film-makers are at their
most creative.
Looking over the year, I have
a feeling that 1969 may very
well turn out to be a pathbreak-
ing period in cinema, especially
American cinema. It was a- year
in which major motion picture
companies realized that there
is a sensitive, intelligent young
audience who reject the feigned
social concern of Guess Who's
Held Over 3rd Week

C
the b
Coming to Dinner? or In the
Heat of the Night, an audience
who increasingly demand films
dealing with real problems in
a realistic way instead of films
which simply provide a few
hours of innocuous pap.
The promise of a return to
naturalism which 1967 held out
and 1968 frittered away was
closer to fulfillment by the end
of 1969. This is most obvious
in films like Alice's Restaurant,
Easy Rider and Medium Cool
where the use of non-profes-
sionals underscores the sense of
real occurrence. But even a
highly commercial film like
Goodbye, Columbus gives us
glimpses of a seedy side of
American life. Our society is in
convulsions, and for the first
time in a long while films aren't
trying to let us get away from
it all; they are pushing our
noses into the decay beneath the
affluent crust.
Kazan's On the Waterfront,
Ray's Rebel Without a Cause,
Brook's Blackboard Jungle all
tried to break through the
quiescent Eisenhower years, but
somehow they all came out like
cooked vegetables with all the
vitamins boiled away. During
the Kennedy years with their
feeling of purpose and hopeful-
ness, angry, introspective films
just couldn't flourish. For bet-
ter or worse Johnson and Nixon
have aroused sufficient ire to
put the fire back into some old
film-makers and, what's more,
to spawn a new breed of pas-
sionate film-makers. Society
has exploded, and the screen
is searing.
It was an important year in
movies not only because the
young adopted film as their art
form and the entrepreneurs
have finally recognized it or

Pest fil
even because of our falling-
apart-at-the-seams s o c i e t y.
Rather, it was something as
mundane as tight money which
might have had the greatest ef-
fect on making American films
what they are today. Studios
uable to afford the gigantic
Charlton Heston-as-God road-
show spectacles were forced to
welcome people like Peter Fonda
and Frank Perry who could
bring home a film for under a
half a million dollars and gross
at least ten times that. (Easy
Rider when all is said and done
is expected to gross over $50
million.)
It is tight money that has
really provided the impetus for
the naturalistic film on a com-
mercial scale, and it is the
"cheap" movie that may have
a lasting impact ton the Amer-
ican film industry. No longer
can a producer live in a Busby
Berkeley world - "I need/ one
hundred girls, all beautiful and
fifty sets." The facility of even
such excellent films as The
Graduate and Bonnie and Clyde
is being ripped away to expose
the musculature underneath the

Vms of
American sun-tanned skin. Now
the film-maker has to grapple
with a real world, often sordid,
a world where happy endings
cannot be manufactured even
with Julie Andrews in your pic-
ture. How many happy endings
have you had lately? (If you
feel perfectly happy with Nix-
on's finger on the button let me
know what you're on to.)
1969 was only slightly above
average as far as the number of
quality films goes. A filmic
Mailer or Wolfe has yet to come
along to capture our times. The
important thing is that film is
moving away from The Sound
of Music and toward Alice's
Restaurant. At present we're on-
ly in the infancy of a Golden

1969
Era in American cinema. The
outlook is exciting.
My other best are:
Actor-Jon Voight (Midnight
Cowboy)
Actress - Vanessa Redgrave
(Loves of Isadora)
Suporting actor-Jack Nich-
olson (Easy Rider)
Supporting actress - Cathy
Burns (Last Summer)
Director-Costa-Gavras (Z)
Cinematographers - Raoul
Coutard (Z) and Haskell Wex-
ler (Medium Cool)
Screenplay - Francois Truf-
faut, Claude de Givray and
Bernard Revon (Stolen Kisses).

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2. Alice's Restaurant - This
by no means a perfect film,
t it deals with an important
d difficult problem - the
arch for security rooted in a
nse of community and the ob-
aeles to such community. Bet-
r than any film this year I
Ink it captures the American
ood in 1969 of dreams de-
oyed and hope lost.
3. Medium Pool - A look at
nerica the dispassionate so-
ty and the part the media
4y in de-sensitizing us as we.
ter our emotions through a
aghetti of wires.
4. Z-A gem of a film. A polit-
I thriller examining power
d justice, it may be the most
11-made offering of the year.
have more to say in my re-
5. Romeo and Juliet - Al-
ough I hate to use theword,
is is a "beautiful" movie.
orking from a pretty good

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the Atlantic. -L.A. TIMES, Nov. 25, 1969
-PRIL I iGSTONF Nov 1969

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