Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler...Former teacher... Scientist... Published author... Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published December 11th 2018
1970 was a really good year
Ah, December. The time when I get old(er). My birthday falls on the 25th of the month, and so, with that in mind, I thought I'd look back at the year of my birth. But, for something different (and which could well lead to some more down the track), let's have a look at the films released in 1970 that I have actually enjoyed. Now, of course, I have seen all of these subsequently on video or television, and have not seen even close to every film released that year, but bear with me.
1970 was an odd year in popular culture. The 1960s were still hanging in there, but there was a definite change in the mood of the world. I don't think the start of a decade has seen such a stark cutting of the previous one into the new one. The Beatles broke up, after Altamont the whole concept of free love and music saving the world faded until Live Aid, and films became a little more explicit in their depictions of violence and sex. It was like a switch had been flicked and peace, love and harmony were replaced by a completely different worldview.
But, because it was a time of flux, a lot of great stuff came out of pop culture at the time. And some of the movies have deservedly become classics. However, some (like Patton) I don't particularly like and others have not dated well.
However, here are five films from 1970 that could well be worth tracking down and enjoying… especially for those of a "certain vintage". To start with, however, some that just missed the cut: Catch-22, but compared to the book it does not hold a candle; Wuthering Heights with Timothy Dalton, but, again, does not compare to the book; Chisum with John Wayne; Performance with Mick Jagger; There's A Girl In My Soup with Peter Sellers and Goldie Hawn, but this was a close call, just being tipped by Jerry Lewis (see below); Colossus: The Forbin Project which is great sci-fi, but the premise does not hold up quite as well today; They Call Me Trinity with Terence Hill and Bud Spencer, a comedy spaghetti Western introduced to me by my father.
Taste The Blood Of Dracula Starring Christopher Lee; Directed by Peter Sasdy.
I have a love of Hammer Horror films and other horror films from the UK from the end of the 60s through to the middle of the 70s. They were a little cheesy, but they relied on smart story-telling and good acting to make them stand out. There might have been a lot of blood, but they were not gore-fests (on the whole) like horror films have become. And this is where this film is. The story is a Dracula story, but it is unique, in that the Count gets revenge on three men by utilising their children. The shocks are good and Christopher Lee is, as usual, superb. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065073/
Carry On Up The Jungle (1970) Starring Sid James and Frankie Howerd; Directed by Gerald Thomas.
I also have a weakness for Carry On… films. Their silly double entendres and over-acting appealed to me as a kid and I still don't mind watching especially the earlier ones when they're repeated on TV. This one, though, is one of the first I remember. The whole concept of the Oozalum Bird made me laugh, and then you had the tribe of only women and when they get back to England and it's all been for nothing. Silly, but enjoyable. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065525/
Starring Clint Eastwood; Directed by Brian G. Hutton.
A war actioner. Now, I am not a huge fan of war films, and the only reason I watched this was because it is a Clint Eastwood film. Damn, if I didn't enjoy it! I was surprised by the serious turn of Don Rickles when I first saw it (having later seen him in Casino, I realise that he was a fine actor) and really got lost in the story. These were good guys, but they were doing bad guy things. I guess they were the first anti-heroes I saw, and I was caught. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065938/
Which Way to the Front? Starring Jerry Lewis; Directed by Jerry Lewis.
I am not a fan of Jerry Lewis films. His humour is too broad for my tastes and I find he tends to carry jokes on too long. His stupid characters make me wince and his caricatures I tend to find unfunny. But then there is this film. The concept of a rich man who wants to serve his country in WW2 but can't, so sets up his own platoon of misfits is cool; the training sequences (the rubber boat in the indoor pool) are funny without overstaying their welcome, and the scenes when they carry out their mission are well done. Some over-long gags, some overbroad caricatures, but I still enjoy this movie. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066564/
And to finish, the best film of 1970.
Starring Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould; Directed by Robert Altman.
Forget the TV series, this is the way MASH should be remembered. The humour is often subtle (and often not), the gore of the surgery scenes is surprisingly realistic, and the whole ridiculing of things deemed sacred just struck a chord. And every time I watch it, I see something else I missed. For example, it wasn't until my third viewing or so that I got the Last Supper reference. And the football match at the end is just bizarre. This is a great movie, and one everyone should watch at least once. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066026/
So, there you have it. My top 5 films from the year of my birth. Comments, as always, gratefully accepted!