1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol. 3)

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
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matrixschmatrix
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol

#901 Post by matrixschmatrix » Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:57 pm

So, regarding Days of Heaven- the plot is a riff on Abraham and Sarah in Egypt, right? The posing as brother-and-sister thing is pretty distinct, and a plague does come upon the Farmer's house as a result.

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swo17
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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol

#902 Post by swo17 » Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:58 pm

You aren't the first person to have thought that.
lubitsch wrote:Small correction for your list, Walter Steiner was a Swiss athlete not a Swedish one. And it's really one of those bombastic Herzog "documentaries" which is very hard to take seriously if you know a bit about ski jumping. Even though ski flying is a demanding sport, there were extremely few casualties in the last decades in ski jumping and as for the superhuman jumps to the limit of man's abilities ... well today jumpers regularily fly 40m more than Steiner did and the record is almost 70m more than Steiner ever jumped.
Thanks for the correction, lubitsch. As for the danger involved in ski flying, I thought that the point was that the runs weren't designed for people to go as far as he did. (Doesn't he frequently say that he's holding himself back even to go as far as he does out of fear for his safety?) It wouldn't surprise me to learn that skiers are going further now if it's been made more safe to do so.

Also, maybe this is just me, but even "extremely few casualties" in a sport for show qualifies as sufficiently dangerous for me to identify with the panicky human element of the film. But in any case, my love for the film is more predicated on how Herzog made it than what it's about.

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Yojimbo
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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol

#903 Post by Yojimbo » Wed Jan 29, 2014 5:05 pm

colinr0380 wrote:
Yojimbo wrote:One of these days I'll finally break open the seal on my THX-1138 DVD: it must be all of five years old.
The sad thing about THX-1138 is that is only available in its CGI-enhanced "George Lucas Director's Cut" version with extra wide shots of sci-fi cityscapes and the over the top cartoonish traffic dodging sequence leading into the original, celebrated, overheat-power down-speed up race against the budgetary clock ending (and the least said about the terribly fake animated worker that has been added, diving from the scaffolding during the crash scene, the better! Especially when you consider that that fake shot is immediately followed by one of the stunt motorcycle riders actually injuring themselves in a shot that Lucas kept in the film on their insistence!). The CGI is, as in the Star Wars enhancements, distracting and annoying whenever it appears and, as in that lead into the 'antithesis of a car chase' climax, actively seems to be working against the original intentions Lucas may have had decades before.

Yet the film itself outside of those moments is fantastic. I just wish there was a fanbase as large as the Star Wars one to campaign for a non-CG enhanced version of the film to also be made available one day. However that seems extremely unlikely to ever happen!
Just checked my DVD: it has the original student film - which presumably has the basic story - and commentary by Lucas and Walter Murch among the extras

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jindianajonz
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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol

#904 Post by jindianajonz » Wed Jan 29, 2014 5:10 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:So, regarding Days of Heaven- the plot is a riff on Abraham and Sarah in Egypt, right? The posing as brother-and-sister thing is pretty distinct, and a plague does come upon the Farmer's house as a result.
Curiously, this isn't the only time a man and wife posed as brother and sister in the bible. I can't remember the exact instances since I haven't studied the Bible religiously (I'll be here all week) but I believe it occurs three different times in Genesis. Apparently in biblical times it was better to claim to be brother and sister in a strange town because if you announced you were man and wife, the townsfolk would kill you before raping your wife instead of just raping her.

Also, there's the whole thing about the Bible being an oral history and the details of many stories getting mixed up and intertwined. Which is why God created man twice in Genesis, and in two different ways!

EDIT: Here they are

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colinr0380
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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol

#905 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Jan 29, 2014 5:17 pm

Yojimbo wrote:Just checked my DVD: it has the original student film - which presumably has the basic story - and commentary by Lucas and Walter Murch among the extras
That's the one. It should also have the first part of the American Zoetrope documentary, the second half of which turned up on the One From The Heart DVD.

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol

#906 Post by matrixschmatrix » Wed Jan 29, 2014 5:17 pm

My understanding is that there are also conscious reflections of earlier parts of the storytelling throughout, and into the New Testament, which is interesting in terms of the Bible as literature, but I think in terms of iconic things to which one might allude, Abraham and Sarah are pretty clearly the big stars. Though googling Days of Heaven and Abraham and Sarah makes it clear that I am indeed far from the first to have that clever little idea.

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Yojimbo
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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol

#907 Post by Yojimbo » Wed Jan 29, 2014 5:29 pm

colinr0380 wrote:
Yojimbo wrote:Just checked my DVD: it has the original student film - which presumably has the basic story - and commentary by Lucas and Walter Murch among the extras
That's the one. It should also have the first part of the American Zoetrope documentary, the second half of which turned up on the One From The Heart DVD.
Yep; it has those, and a couple of Walter Murch docs.; which might be more interesting.

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Forrest Taft
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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol

#908 Post by Forrest Taft » Wed Jan 29, 2014 5:36 pm

...

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Gregory
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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol

#909 Post by Gregory » Wed Jan 29, 2014 5:57 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:So, regarding Days of Heaven- the plot is a riff on Abraham and Sarah in Egypt, right? The posing as brother-and-sister thing is pretty distinct, and a plague does come upon the Farmer's house as a result.
There are biblical undertones here, but I thought they were posing as brother and sister because they weren't married (traveling lovers back then commonly either had to pretend to be married with a prop ring or pretend to be brother and sister) and also were traveling under false identities because Bill had committed a murder. I'm not sure the moral causality of the locust storm or the fire were clear to me. Maybe that's what Mallick was thinking (his basic world view is surely different than mine), but the film doesn't feel to me like one in which an Old Testament god presides over the action.

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol

#910 Post by matrixschmatrix » Wed Jan 29, 2014 6:43 pm

Well, even the Old Testament causality doesn't make a lot of sense- the plague comes upon Egypt because Sarah is married and therefore God is upset at other people making time with her, whereas Abby was never married to Bill, and islegitimately married to the Farmer. I think there's nonetheless a distinct God's eye view of the whole proceedings, a sense that what actually happens is infinitely removed and simply one event happening after the other in chronological order, rather than things inevitably following in any kind of sequence.

It would be difficult to reconcile the God of Tree of Life with the God who would send plagues to punish moral failings in any case, but I think the general framework of the movie (and the title, really) is informed by a sense of religious mythology/storytelling, and the resonances with Abraham and Sarah add to that.

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zedz
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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol

#911 Post by zedz » Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:04 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:the God of Tree of Life
I call him "Mister Twinkly."

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knives
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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol

#912 Post by knives » Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:13 am

You nearly killed me Zedz. I'm now imaging Tree of Life as Eraserhead with the man in the planet being a depressed unicorn who talks like Christopher Walken.

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lubitsch
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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol

#913 Post by lubitsch » Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:52 am

swo17 wrote:
lubitsch wrote:Small correction for your list, Walter Steiner was a Swiss athlete not a Swedish one. And it's really one of those bombastic Herzog "documentaries" which is very hard to take seriously if you know a bit about ski jumping. Even though ski flying is a demanding sport, there were extremely few casualties in the last decades in ski jumping and as for the superhuman jumps to the limit of man's abilities ... well today jumpers regularily fly 40m more than Steiner did and the record is almost 70m more than Steiner ever jumped.
Thanks for the correction, lubitsch. As for the danger involved in ski flying, I thought that the point was that the runs weren't designed for people to go as far as he did. (Doesn't he frequently say that he's holding himself back even to go as far as he does out of fear for his safety?) It wouldn't surprise me to learn that skiers are going further now if it's been made more safe to do so.

Also, maybe this is just me, but even "extremely few casualties" in a sport for show qualifies as sufficiently dangerous for me to identify with the panicky human element of the film. But in any case, my love for the film is more predicated on how Herzog made it than what it's about.
Yes, the basic conflict was about the problematic profile of the ski flying facilities in the 70s which forced the jumpers to drop on rather even ground which was stressfull for the body while with modern hills and ramps the jumper glides along the hill before landing on sloping ground. Since Steiner was a heavier jumper and jumped very far, the situation was for him especially problematic.
This itself would be sufficient material for an interesting documentary with the beauty of the sport, the conflict between human and technical equipment and the psychological stress. Herzog however as usual insist on adding hyperbole to the proceedings. You get the impression that Steiner is some sacrificial lamb who is driven into the danger of being smashed on the ground while making the longest jump a human can make. In reality it's just about the adjusting of some technical facilities which don't fulfill the requirements of the sport anymore.
Herzog's films were quite early seen critically in Germany because of their shrill sensationalism which stylizes everything and anything sometimes with little regard or respect for its subject matter. Since his films fit however a international conception of demonic Germans he was always regarded more positively outside of his native country.

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thirtyframesasecond
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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol

#914 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Thu Jan 30, 2014 11:40 am

Also rans
9. The Ear (Kachnya)
10. The Mouth Agape (Pialat)
11. The Dupes (Saleh)
13. The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (Schepisi)
14. New Book (Rybczynski)
18. Martha (Fassbinder)
19. Love and Death (Allen)
20. Xala (Sembene)
21. The Beguiled (Siegel)
22. We Won't Grow Old Together (Pialat)
23. Blanche (Borowczyk)
24. The Promised Land (Wajda)
28. Still Life (Saless)
31. In A Year With Thirteen Moons (Fassbinder)
33. Tale of Tales (Norstein)
38. The Travelling Players (Angelopoulos)
42. All That Jazz (Fosse)
43. Winstanley (Brownlow)
45. Mr Klein (Losey)
48. The Mattei Affair (Rosi)
49. Alice in the Cities (Wenders)

Orphans
16. Baba (Guney) - 'Yol' was one of the my favourite films of the 80s, this early Guney film reminds of a much rougher version of Ceylan's 'Three Monkeys'
17. The Truce (Renan) - I mentioned this recently, an Argentine middle class drama with plenty of insight and no judgement
25. The Wasps Are Here (Pathiraja) - economic and romantic tensions in a Sri Lankan fishing village
27. Overlord (Cooper) - released by Criterion, this 'war' film shows everything a young soldier goes through until war
35. Hospital (Kieslowski) - short film that shows how Polish bureaucracy rejects the needs of the people
44. Pastoral (Iosseliani) - charming culture-clash comedy, musicians from the city stay in a Georgian village

Mike_S
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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol

#915 Post by Mike_S » Fri Feb 14, 2014 8:25 pm

Illness prevented me from voting in this one but I was delighted to see that the film that would have been #1 in my list - Night Moves - has deservedly entered the top 100.

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TMDaines
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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol

#916 Post by TMDaines » Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:25 am

Here's my ballot with orphans in bold red and also-rans in italic blue:
#1) Il conformista (Bernardo Bertolucci - 1970 - Italy)
#2) The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola - 1972 - United States)
#3) The Godfather: Part II (Francis Ford Coppola - 1974 - United States)
#4) Una giornata particolare (Ettore Scola - 1977 - Italy)
#5) A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick - 1971 - United Kingdom)
#6) Die Blechtrommel (Volker Schlöndorff - 1979 - Germany)
#7) Un borghese piccolo piccolo (Mario Monicelli - 1977 - Italy)
#8) Kramer vs. Kramer (Robert Benton - 1979 - United States)
#9) Ucho (Karel Kachyna - 1970 - Czechoslovakia)
#10) Ironiya sudby, ili S legkim parom! (Eldar Ryazanov - 1975 - Soviet Union (Russia))
#11) Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto (Elio Petri - 1970 - Italy)
#12) Sleuth (Joseph L. Mankiewicz - 1972 - United Kingdom)
#13) L'amour l'après-midi (Eric Rohmer - 1972 - France)
#14) The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich - 1971 - United States)
#15) Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle (Werner Herzog - 1974 - Germany)
#16) Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet - 1975 - United States)
#17) The French Connection (William Friedkin - 1971 - United States)
#18) Il deserto dei tartari (Valerio Zurlini - 1976 - Italy)
#19) The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola - 1974 - United States)
#20) Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (Werner Herzog - 1972 - Germany)
#21) Die Ehe der Maria Braun (Rainer Werner Fassbinder - 1979 - Germany)
#22) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Milos Forman - 1975 - United States)
#23) Mimì metallurgico ferito nell'onore (Lina Wertmüller - 1972 - Italy)
#24) Stroszek (Werner Herzog - 1977 - Germany)
#25) Der amerikanische Freund (Wim Wenders - 1977 - Germany)
#26) Valerie a týden divu (Jaromil Jires - 1970 - Czechoslovakia)
#27) C'eravamo tanto amati (Ettore Scola - 1974 - Italy)
#28) Mannen på taket (Bo Widerberg - 1976 - Sweden)
#29) Angst essen Seele auf (Rainer Werner Fassbinder - 1974 - Germany)
#30) Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick - 1978 - United States)
#31) Adelheid (Frantisek Vlácil - 1970 - Czechoslovakia)
#32) La prima notte di quiete (Valerio Zurlini - 1972 - Italy)
#33) Network (Sidney Lumet - 1976 - United States)
#34) Mutter Küsters' Fahrt zum Himmel (Rainer Werner Fassbinder - 1975 - Germany)
#35) Black Christmas (Bob Clark - 1974 - United States)
#36) Wildwechsel (Rainer Werner Fassbinder - 1973 - Germany)
#37) Frenzy (Alfred Hitchcock - 1972 - United Kingdom)
#38) Land des Schweigens und der Dunkelheit (Werner Herzog - 1971 - Germany)
#39) Novecento (Bernardo Bertolucci - 1976 - Italy)
#40) Don't Look Now (Nicolas Roeg - 1973 - United Kingdom)
#41) Annie Hall (Woody Allen - 1977 - United States)
#42) Morgiana (Juraj Herz - 1972 - Czechoslovakia)
#43) Profumo di donna (Dino Risi - 1974 - Italy)
#44) Paper Moon (Peter Bogdanovich - 1973 - United States)
#45) Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant (Rainer Werner Fassbinder - 1972 - Germany)
#46) Alien (Ridley Scott - 1979 - United States)
#47) Ajándék ez a nap (Péter Gothár - 1979 - Hungary)
#48) Martha (Rainer Werner Fassbinder - 1974 - Germany)
#49) Engel, die ihre Flügel verbrennen (Zbynek Brynych - 1970 - Germany)
#50) Le cercle rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville - 1970 - France)
Fun Facts: 25 Finalists, 11 Also-Rans, 14 Orphans

By Country: United States - 14; Germany - 13; Italy - 10; United States - 6; United Kingdom, Czechoslovakia - 4; France - 2; Hungary, Soviet Union (Russia), Sweden - 1.
Top Years: 1972 - 9; 1974 - 8; 1970 - 7... 1978 only had the one!
Hotspots: Czechoslovakia 1970 had three films each, as did Germany and the United States in 1974.
Top Directors: Fassbinder has six entries and Herzog has four, which is part testament to their genius and part to their ferocious work-rate during this decade. Coppola features three times, while Bertolucci, Bogdanovich, Lumet, Scola, Zurlini all appear twice. Coppola ends up being the director with the most points, however.
Top Actors: John Cazale: Four films, three of which are major roles; Al Pacino: three films, all as the lead protagonist. Many of Fassbinder's troop show up four times in roles of varying degrees too.
Films in the Criterion Collection: 8
Films not yet released on DVD: 2 (Fassbinder's WIldwechsel and Brynych's Engel, die ihre Flügel verbrennen)
Films to just miss out:
#51) Welt am Draht (Rainer Werner Fassbinder - 1973 - Germany)
#52) Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola - 1979 - United States)
#53) Don Giovanni (Joesph Losey - 1979 - France)
#54) Général Idi Amin Dada: Autoportrait (Barbet Schroeder - 1974 - France)
#55) American Graffiti (George Lucas - 1973 - United States)
#56) Il caso Mattei (Francesco Rosi - 1972 - Italy)
#57) Szerelem (Károly Makk - 1971 - Hungary)
#58) Cadaveri eccellenti (Francesco Rosi - 1976 - Italy)
#59) Tony Arzenta (Duccio Tessari - 1973 - Italy)
#60) Star Wars (George Lucas - 1977 - United States)
Defending My Darlings:

#4) Una giornata particolare (Ettore Scola - 1977 - Italy): In French film circles, partly due to his numerous Franco-Italian productions, Scola is probably considered to be right up there in the pantheon of Italian auteurs. For some reason, he's much more of a relative unknown in English-speaking circles, whether due to lack of English-friendly releases or otherwise. This is one of his best and the best work that Loren and Mastroianni partnered in. Wonderful camerawork complements a bittersweet tale of two lonely hearts against the backdrop of Hitler's visit to Rome.

#7) Un borghese piccolo piccolo (Mario Monicelli - 1977 - Italy): When completing my ballot, the similarities between Monicelli's masterpiece and Campanella's El secreto de sus ojos, which recently won the Oscar for the best foreign language picture, struck me for the first time. Despite both works being adaptations, it was no surprise to see Campanella quote Monicelli as an influence in a number of interviews. Obviously the two films are very different in tone, as Monicelli's starts as a fairly conventional commedia all'italiana before taking a dramatic swing towards becoming a bleak tragedy, but certain parallels are there.

#8) Kramer vs. Kramer (Robert Benton - 1979 - United States): Surprised that no-one else liked this enough to vote for it. It's a little stagey at times but the acting is superb. Best Picture backlash?

#9) Ucho (Karel Kachyna - 1970 - Czechoslovakia): Two of us had this at number nine and nobody else gave it anything! This is surely a case where the culprit is the fact that not enough people have seen it, despite Second Run's decent DVD. A wonderfully paranoid thriller that weaves the troubles of a marriage and the listening ear of the state together, misdirecting its audience with great success on a number of occasions. It's surprising that this film got made when it did and no surprise at all that it was immediately suppressed.

#10) Ironiya sudby, ili S legkim parom! (Eldar Ryazanov - 1975 - Soviet Union (Russia)): It's probably little exaggeration to say that this is the most watched film in the Russian-speaking world. It plays the role that It's a Wonderful Life does in the English-speaking world and then some. Stations repeatedly broadcast it throughout New Year's Eve and it has become a tradition to watch it on this annual basis. I didn't know what to expect when my partner shared this with me, but it certainly has a magical quality. The setup is a drunk man ends up in the bed of a flat that he believes to be his own: correct apartment, building and street, but the wrong city. Political satire, especially in the opening credits and scenes, leads to a wonderful tale of unrequited love.

#18) Il deserto dei tartari (Valerio Zurlini - 1976 - Italy): Zurlini, like Scola, is one of those Italian auteurs who is less acclaimed than he should be. None of his work is currently available on English-friendly DVDs, but he has more than a couple of masterpieces. Adapted from Dino Buzzati's best-known work, the film depicts the tale of Drogo, a soldier who sits in wait in a distant outpost for the long rumoured siege by a distant enemy. Brooding and atmospheric, the wait for the assumedly inevitable war comes to define his existence.

#22) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Milos Forman - 1975 - United States): Not much to say here. A seemingly much liked mainstream film that barely missed out on making the final top 100. I find it hugely entertaining and Nicholson at the centre is at his charismatic best.

#23) Mimì metallurgico ferito nell'onore (Lina Wertmüller - 1972 - Italy): One of the best Italian comedies of the 1970s, directed by a figure who is not universally admired. Admittedly, I have seen little of Wertmüller's oeuvre but I'd like to explore more after seeing this one. Giancarlo Giannini leads as the working class Sicilian who flees the south after it is revealed he voted for the communist's representative instead of the mafia's in the local elections. Abandoning his wife and children, he soon falls in love with a leftist radical in Milan and despite his lack of understanding, he falls into their struggle. The mafia, communism, North-South relations, masculinity and honour all fall under the auteur's satirical gaze.

#24) Stroszek (Werner Herzog - 1977 - Germany): A film that unfortunately just failed to make the cut of the top 100, as it is certainly one of Herzog's best. Bruno S. is spellbinding in both of the features he made with Herzog, with both featuring highly on my end list. It is unsurprising to learn that certain elements of the film were based on events in Bruno S.'s own life., as the film was created specifically to appease Bruno after Kinski was cast instead of him in Woyzeck. In a film such as this, it is always difficult to interpret how much of the film is acted and how much of Bruno S.'s performance is him simply being himself.

#25) Der amerikanische Freund (Wim Wenders - 1977 - Germany): Excellent Euro-thriller that bucks the trend of much of the tedious and slow-paced nature of Wenders' earlier work during the decade. Tedium is now replaced with tension in a number of set pieces that see Ganz's character attempt to become an amateur hitman to secure his family's future before his unspecified terminal illness shall take him away. Ganz and Hopper are both excellent and, although the climax is perhaps not as rewarding as one could hope for, the film still delivers over its entirety. This is a real cineaste's film that sees other actual directors play the role of all the supporting gangsters in the film.

#27) C'eravamo tanto amati (Ettore Scola - 1974 - Italy): The second Scola film that made my list and the epitome of the bittersweet nature of the commedia all'italiana genre. Gassman was one of the finest of his generation and gave many a virtuoso performance over his long career. Here he is one of three friends whose shifting relationship is depicted over a period of thirty years of Italian history. Two of the group fall for the same woman, but when Gassman's character marries for wealth and a comfortable existence, she is left to marry his friend. Central to the film is the effects of the boom economico and the selling of one's aspirations, values and, potentially, happiness for financial gain.

#28) Mannen på taket (Bo Widerberg - 1976 - Sweden): One of the biggest surprises of my watching for the project after Criticker recommended it to me. After a brutal police lieutenant is murdered, the film starts out as a fairly orthodox, plodding police procedural, but two-thirds of the way through it suddenly shifts gears and becomes a tense thriller. Intelligent and having some of the best set-pieces of the period, it definitely deserves a wider audience.

#31) Adelheid (Frantisek Vlácil - 1970 - Czechoslovakia): Marketa Lazarová was last year's Criterion "it" film, but there is more to Vlácil's ouevre than just that. The complex nature of an area such as the Sudetenland, which has undergone a period of occupation and thus has an confused racial and ethnic history, is beautifully portrayed in Adelheid, where one sees its effects on two individuals: the Czech officer, who is has been delegated the management of a large, German estate, and his maid, who is the daughter of the estate's former owner, who has now been taken away for his actions during the war. In a film where a language barrier divides the two protagonists, it is the atmospheric silence that speaks loudest.

#32) La prima notte di quiete (Valerio Zurlini - 1972 - Italy): Another much overlooked gem from Valerio Zurlini. Alain Delon arrives in Rimini as a supply literature teacher with a history of gambling and drinking problems. His relationship at home is breaking down and so, when not with the students in his classroom, he spends most of his time with his new acquaintances in town. During one class, a particular student catches his eye. A relationship begins and ends in the unglamorous surroundings of the rundown coastal town.

#34) Mutter Küsters' Fahrt zum Himmel (Rainer Werner Fassbinder - 1975 - Germany): A difficult film to write a short snippet about, because Fassbinder's work is many things all at once, without ever quite being anything precise, perhaps best evidenced by its two very different endings for two different markets. Part dark comedy, part drama, part political satire, Brigitte Mira is at the centre of a portrait of a widowed housewife, who is exploited by various political groups, the media and even her own family. It starts with the husband's death; it ends with Mutter Küsters going to heaven.

#35) Black Christmas (Bob Clark - 1974 - United States): I caught this on my Mubi around Christmas time with few expectations, other than for it to be an antidote to the light-hearted nature of most Christmas fare. This is surely a much underrated slasher and is genuinely scary and unsettling, unlike the majority of its successors. This film need not be a gore fest, when it has the Hitchcockian atmosphere and tension that this one does. It appears the film was buried by critics on its initial release but is now undoubtedly finding a new, more receptive audience.

#36) Wildwechsel (Rainer Werner Fassbinder - 1973 - Germany): This one of the few remaining directorial works of Rainer Werner Fassbinder for television that have yet to be released anywhere. Often cited as his most controversial work, which is saying something given his reputation as l'enfant terrible, the film stars Eva Mattes as the "jailbait" 14-years-old minor who starts a relationship with a 19-year-old. Even the threat of the law cannot stop their relationship and her desire to rebel against her conservative parents results in a grim ending.

#38) Land des Schweigens und der Dunkelheit (Werner Herzog - 1971 - Germany): The most effective documentaries have the ability to effortlessly educate their viewer, whilst never losing their interest through merely lecturing them. The progression through Herzog's work, whereby we first meet a deafblind person who received the condition in later life, followed by those who were born deafblind but have received special education, before culminating with the case study of deafblind boy who never received much special care, is incredibly effective in conveying the bleak nature of the condition and in expressing that our sight and hearing are fundamental to our understanding of and status in the world. One cannot even begin to imagine deafblindess from birth, as the very concepts, with which we would seek to make sense of it, require a means of expressing of them through language, whether that be oral or signed.

#39) Novecento (Bernardo Bertolucci - 1976 - Italy): Bertolucci’s fourth film of the decade was his first epic and it may well be one of the archetypal of its mode. As is common with most epics, the work is most definitely bloated and excessively long, as neither the prologue or the epilogue add much to the film, but its sheer scale and sense of ambition shine through. At the centre is a wonderful epic love story with a couple of excellent performances, most notably from De Niro, which is beautifully captured by Storaro, whose contribution to Bertolucci’s strongest works cannot be understated.

#42) Morgiana (Juraj Herz - 1972 - Czechoslovakia): Often referred to as the last film of the Czech New Wave, Morgiana is a gothic work of visual richness of magnificent proportions. The costume and the set design are both exquisitely done, yet it is Iva Janžurová, in the dual role of playing two sisters whose father has recently passed on, who carries the film throughout. One one hand, she portrays the goody-goody Klara, who was bequeathed much of her father's fortune and has the affections of the man with whom both sisters are smitten; on the other, she is Viktoria: bitter, twisted and vengeful.

#43) Profumo di donna (Dino Risi - 1974 - Italy): The virtuoso Gassman was at his best again here as the crass, blind Italian general in the role that was made more famous by Al Pacino in the American remake several years later. I have yet to see the American version, so I cannot draw any comparisons, but if Pacino plays the role with the same brash charisma that Gassman did, then I'll be in for a treat. Risi directed a number of comedies that deserve far greater attention from the English-speaking world. Now that Il sorpasso - a masterpiece - is getting a release, hopefully this will not be too far behind.

#45) Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant (Rainer Werner Fassbinder - 1972 - Germany): Without having seen Die bitteren Tränen, it would be hard to imagine a film never leaving an apartment for two hours, yet have its crowning achievement be cinematography of such skill and craft to be the defining memory. Ballhaus gets every last drop out of the meticulously designed sets and costumes that house the six-strong female cast, each of whom perform their roles masterfully. Margit Carstensen leads expertly as the neurotic fashion designer whose craving for the one she cannot have leads to her downfall, while Irm Hermann dominates throughout without ever uttering a single word.

#47) Ajándék ez a nap (Péter Gothár - 1979 - Hungary): Péter Gothár's debut is a wonderfully shot, Kafkaesque tale that follows the tribulations of young woman who is having an affair with the husband of one of her colleagues. Due to the housing shortage in Hungary and her unmarried status, she is unable to get a flat of her own, which she is desperate to acquire in order to begin to create her own existence, and perhaps in the naive belief that this will bring her closer to her shared partner. In desperation, she partakes in a sham marriage with a third party, who is one of the many grotesque characters that inhabit these small inner-city abodes. MaNDA have released an excellent and cheap DVD with English subtitles in Hungary.

#48) Martha (Rainer Werner Fassbinder - 1974 - Germany): Fassbinder at times produced works that could never be described as an easy watch, but many of these are ultimately some of his most rewarding. Martha is certainly one of those. The sadomasochistic nature of the central marriage is beautifully portrayed by Margit Carstensen and Karlheinz Böhm, who both provide spellbinding performances and who leave the audience in no doubt as to the tortuous presence that Helmut has over Martha. The film's tone of part black humour and part horror is beautifully surmised by its hideous and unsettling climax.

#49) Engel, die ihre Flügel verbrennen (Zbynek Brynych - 1970 - Germany): Zbynek Brynych is best known for his work in his native Czechoslovakia on the occupation and the Holocaust, none of which I have seen, but this psychedelic work couldn't be more different. Set in a West German apartment block, a teenager follows his mother to the home of her lover. After confronting them in the complex's swimming pool, things take a turn for the worse. While the detectives and reporters comb the building, Robert seeks refuge in the flat of a young girl of a similar age who has taken a shine to him. The film is a fast-paced colourful romp with fantastic soundtrack.

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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol

#917 Post by mizo » Tue Nov 03, 2015 11:45 pm

I wasn't sure where to put this as there doesn't seem to be a Duras thread or a dedicated thread for the film – and I'm loath to start new threads as a general rule – but this seems as good a place as any to unload my ravings on how brilliant India Song truly is. I saw the film recently (in positively horrendous picture quality that, miraculously, didn't seem to have any effect in obscuring its brilliance) and, a day later, I'm still on a bit of a high from how beguiling, emotional, and intellectually rigorous it is.

On paper, the story seems very much of a piece with European colonial-era romance fiction (high society woman – Delphine Seyrig, playing an ambassador's wife, no less – has her relatively carefree existence, complete with a whole stable of lovers, shattered by the entrance of an obsessive admirer) but such a description doesn't begin to convey what wonders Duras works on that skeletal framework. If anything, the film is comprised of an accumulation of the tropes of a tragic romance nested within a kind of free-floating cloud of postmodern and post-colonial ideas.

Focusing first on the interior, the film’s approach to plot is unusual from the beginning, the visuals and sounds being almost completely separated. “Hypnotic” is a pretty apt descriptor for the sort of running commentary that accompanies a large portion of the feature; the oddly clipped and cryptic nature of the disembodied dialogue provides an endlessly fascinating enigma often largely independent of what’s occurring onscreen. In fact, regarding the soundtrack as a unique entity separate from the film’s visual content, the way the two interact is highly unorthodox and a real show of cinematic inventiveness. One of the simplest examples is the recurring disjunction between a piano being played on the soundtrack and a derelict piano (someone even comments that the humidity detunes it) onscreen. The more baroque variations played on this system of interaction (I’m thinking here of instances when the soundtrack works itself up to a polyphony of contrasting voices and sounds while the visuals take the form of semiotically complex tableaux) encourage one to read the relationship between image and sound – in particular, the relationship of imbuing with meaning – as more symbiotic than concretely directional; just as often as the voices add an otherwise unknowable piece of information to an opaque image, the images provide illustration to the elusive narratives being weaved by the invisible speakers, clarifying (often through mise-en-scene) details of character relationships and, in particular, the underlying emotions that escape the narration (which, though very aware of the characters’ pasts and futures – something that lends a kind of tragic circularity to the plot, but that’s another matter – does tend to be very distant to the actual feelings experienced by the personages). The cumulative effect of this sort of formalist game is to sufficiently distance the viewer’s perceptions of image and sound to the point where the film becomes almost a structuralist exercise, we are so encouraged to scrutinize the assembly. This lends some degree of suspicion to our normally subconscious association of pictures with noises, something we can no longer really take for granted. In this way, (and because plot details are, as I mentioned above, dispensed almost exclusively through audio) the very mechanism of information conveyance is called into question, so that the central drama of the film (including the plot and character details) could be described as an imposition of narrative onto relatively non-narrative imagery. What constitutes the story is, therefore, a much less stable structure than normally found in narrative cinema, so on one level, Duras’ interpretation of the plot is deeply subversive (although I’m hesitant to use that word, since the odd magic she’s working more accurately runs along with the story – highlighting and even enhancing the potency of the central themes – than against it).

Duras imbues India Song with an overarching sense of artifice and illusion. Tommaso, in his write-up from some time ago, mentioned the importance of mirrors (which figure prominently in many shots); often, they don’t reveal themselves to be mirrors until a character’s double actually appears. What we, as viewers, consequently experience is a kind of small-scale dismantling of our orientation, of our understanding of what is and is not reality within the image. Symbolically, there’s a clear connection between this and the emotional arc of Delphine Seyrig’s character, whose world is essentially being upended. But the element of unreality is even more pervasive than that. Besides the use of mirrors, the staging of the whole film has an incredibly artificial quality. The intense amount of attention obviously paid to the mise-en-scene – a degree of scrutiny recognizable to the viewer thanks to the film’s very measured pacing, wherein one can hardly help but perceive each movement, no matter how tiny, as extremely deliberate – develops a kind of ghostly theatricality (sort of reminiscent of a Feuillade film in slow motion) that has a twofold effect. First, the actors are so completely controlled, they themselves become aesthetic-symbolic objects (much like the décor), which adds an even greater degree of power to the sense of inescapable tragic determinism that informs the film’s emotional arc. Second, the unreality of the whole enterprise becomes impossible to ignore. The heavily exaggerated sedateness of the whole affair (although I don’t mean to suggest it lacks energy, which is certainly untrue) combined with the strong sense that each staging was pre-planned makes both ubiquitous and all-encompassing the utter falsehood of the lives of these characters.

Delphine Seyrig’s wonderful performance (in which she often acts as if guided by a hypnotist) exudes what is, for me, an incredibly moving portrait of failing self-deception, wherein her strict adherence to the doctrine of leisureliness and shallowness just fails to mask a profoundly tragic self-awareness, made all the more desperate and beautiful by the artificiality of the film’s world. Michael Lonsdale, too, occasionally allows us a glimpse into the depths of all-consuming obsession, most devastatingly (and I can’t recall being so astounded by a film in many months) when his pleas to Seyrig’s character dissolve into deeply disconcerting shrieks of agony, only for the other characters to retreat deeper and deeper into their little invented universe, while he continues to suffer off-screen.

All this barely touches on the film’s incredibly sophisticated and complex symbolic matrix. Virtually all of what we come to understand about India from the film, for example, is derived from little more than an accumulation of elusive, even somewhat totemic signifiers, among them the mad woman (Seyrig’s inescapable past? A “Shakespeare’s sister” view of the hopeless plight of a woman in the man’s world the film obliquely establishes?), the Ganges (Engagement with the real world? An umbilical cord attaching Seyrig to the place she, in many ways, never really left? Its depths the fulfillment – elusive or downright unreachable for the Europeans – to which only the natives have access?) and leprosy (The “disease” of Indians, ironically juxtaposed with the much more real disease of the xenophobic Europeans? The so-called intellectual and spiritual rot native to India which threatens to infect the colonialists?). Consequently, our view of India is one shrouded in fear and enigma, even as we can see clearly the folly of the characters who go to great lengths to distance themselves from the country, and in this way, Duras manages to balance a sincere investment in the story (the tropes of which one tends to view as relics of a bygone era) and a very postmodern critique of many of its implications.

Had I felt well-versed enough in 70’s cinema at the time to participate in this project, India Song would undoubtedly have been a lock for my top ten. Absolutely genius filmmaking, and I urge everyone to seek it out.

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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol

#918 Post by bottled spider » Fri Jul 22, 2016 6:13 pm

Langrishe, Go Down (David Hugh Jones, 1978). Wasn't sure where else to put this. Anybody else seen it? (Or read the book by Aidan Higgins?). I came across it by chance, and was surprised I hadn't heard of it before, the screenplay being written by Pinter, who also plays a minor but much more than cameo role, with Judi Dench and Jeremy Irons in the leads. I wasn't wowed by it, but a subsequent read of a review on IMDb has me wondering if I missed what was really going on.

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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol. 3)

#919 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:59 am

Image

Recent viewings:

Buffet froid (Bertrand Blier 1979)

Writer-director Blier toys with conventional narrative causality in this very Bunuelian satire in which Gerard Depardieu’s possible killer befriends his wife’s murderer and a laconic police inspector. The joke here is that characters react more or less in opposition to what they’d normally do in a given situation. So if a rapist and murderer breaks into your house and molests you, only to discover he’s made a mistake upon realizing you are a man, you invite him to have a drink with you and calmly give him directions on how to find a woman living alone nearby. And so on. This movie is a quite funny and dark goof on day-to-day mores and how they are represented in popular fiction, and I don’t think what Blier is doing here holds up to any kind of real scrutiny as social commentary. When one of the characters gives a speech defending his actions and blaming the “inhumanity” of modern society, I immediately thought of how Chabrol would include a shot of a given novel in his films if he wanted critics to make a connection to it in their write-ups. Looking at contemporary reviews, it’s amazing how many critics took the bait and didn’t think for like five seconds about it to realize that the character’s argument is a crock of shit that the film goes out of its way to undermine in the last twenty minutes. I think that level of playfulness is what elevates this beyond mere experiment into a success. Here’s a film that constantly surprised and delighted me, where I could not possibly guess what would happen next over and over, and which wisely didn’t overstay its welcome. Highly recommended.

Conversation Piece (Luchino Visconti 1974)
Burt Lancaster’s bachelor art lover rents out his upstairs to the bougie family from Hell in this… not terrible (!) late film from Visconti. While it never seems to get anywhere and its last act is a complete mess, I kind of enjoyed seeing Lancaster get cowed by Silvana Mangano and Helmut Berger et al. However, like so many Visconti films, but never more obvious than here, I could not figure out what the point of it all was. The whole movie is one big “…and?”

Cousin cousine (Jean-Charles Tacchella 1975)
Inexplicably popular romantic comedy (Marie-Christine Barrault somehow even ended up getting nommed for Best Actress at the Oscars, presumably for the skill it took in taking off her top?) about two cousins who cheat together on their spouses in response to their spouses cheating together on them. I hated every last character in this movie from the central couple on down, but the majority of the blame has to go on the smug, unbelievably shitty main pair, who end the film by locking themselves in a bedroom for hours at Christmas while their entire family, including spouses and young children, wait for them to finish fucking each other. Many contemporary reviews praised the film for being so nice to all its characters, but I found them all cruel and selfish, and by the end I was glad to see them gone.

I... comme Icare (Henri Verneuil 1979)
In an unnamed but French-looking country, a president is assassinated and Yves Montand’s attorney general refuses to sign off on the commission’s lone gunman report. He sets up his own commission and through some grim deductions uncovers a wider conspiracy. I was delighted that the decade that gave us so many great paranoid conspiracy thrillers had one more hidden treat to deliver with this film. Drawing heavily on existing JFK lore, this one has some novel beats that I quite enjoyed. For instance, how many conspiracy films grind to a halt to play out the famous Milgram experiment from Psych 101 for literally 20 minutes? One, this one. The ending is predictably bleak, but in these kind of films, that’s par for the course. The director gets a lot of mileage out of making the audience paranoid enough to recognize the danger in a certain architectural design long before the payoff arrives, though! Highly recommended.

L’argent des autres (Christian de Chalonge 1978)
Jean-Louis Trintignant is fired from his prestigious bank job by his crooked bosses and treks out to set the record straight in this weird and inexplicably awful movie. Scored by a choral dirge of shrieking and moaning (no, really), the film alternates scenes of quite bad wannabe Kubrick-isms with unlikely and unlikable character beats. This movie has no dramatic elements and the plot is resolved by Trintignant locking himself in the bank’s file room, finding the magical file he needs, and leaving without incident. Thrilling! I have not yet seen enough Cesar Award winners for Best Film to get a handle on what they gravitate towards, but I literally cannot understand why anyone for any reason would like this movie, much less vote for it as the best film of the year.

L’innocente (Luchino Visconti 1976)
Giancarlo Giannini discovers too late that if you cheat on your wife, there’s nothing stopping her from doing the same right back. Like most Visconti films, this movie is just way, way too long, with everything stretched out in indulgent long taffy pulls of empty ostentatious set dressings and costumes. The central dilemma of an unexpected pregnancy has some dramatic potential, but much of it is left unexplored by the film, and the last twenty minutes of this movie are a bit ridiculous, and not in an over the top operatic way that would suit the material. I kept asking myself while watching this: who is this movie for? Not me, and probably not you either.

Providence (Alain Resnais 1977)
Between talking about shitting himself, shoving suppositories up his ass, and straining on the toilet, John Gielguld reimagines his immediate family (Dirk Bogarde, Ellen Burstyn, David Warner) as recast players in a bizarre infidelity fantasy in which lycanthropy and concentration camps are de rigueur. This movie seems to exist solely to refute my longstanding claim that no film directed by Resnais could possibly be as bad as La vie est un roman. Whoops. A manic, messy thing like this is hard to pull off, especially from someone not very good at it. No wonder Resnais would later stick to docile theatrical adaptations of plays you’d never want to sit through in any medium. This film is bad in every way a film can be bad, but beyond that, I really have to question why the director of Nuit et brouillard found it A-OK to flippantly invoke Holocaust imagery here. Highly recommended to all of my enemies.

Themroc (Claude Faraldo 1973)
Michel Piccoli, sick of the rat race, demolishes his apartment and begins an orgiastic revolution against society, all while uttering not a single coherent word, opting instead for guttural grunts and coughs. Everyone in the film speaks gibberish, and devolves into animalistic frenzy once Piccoli’s allure spreads. This film gets minor points for the audacity of its no coherent language premise. But the film doesn’t really do anything with this idea and ties it to one of the tritest ideas around— society is changing and work is hard and demoralizing, oh no!!! So what? This is filmed like bad cinema verite, and while I admired Piccoli’s vigor for doing actual on-screen demolition, I spent more time worrying about his safety than he seemingly did. Glad he didn’t die for this!

Zabriskie Point (Michelangelo Antonioni 1970)
As a countercultural artifact, it’s a bit clueless, but kind of sweet in its ineffectualness. The opening scenes of student chaos are interesting and some of Antonioni’s stylistic choices are intriguing, such as the infamous sandy sex scene, but this just didn’t add up to much and seemed designed for audiences to meet it halfway while already completely fucked up on the drug of their choice. I saw it sober, and that was, I believe, a mistake.


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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol. 3)

#921 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sat Aug 11, 2018 7:47 pm

Isn't Landis involved with that place?

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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol. 3)

#922 Post by domino harvey » Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:22 am

He's filmed some segments for the site. I don't think anyone was claiming to be impartial, but it's not like the Vice writer went into preparing that article in good faith either

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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol. 3)

#923 Post by bottled spider » Mon Aug 13, 2018 11:10 am

Excellent piece. I enjoyed the prose, but started to feel he was cracking a peanut with a sledgehammer. While the Vice piece deserved a royal drubbing, is Animal House itself worthy of such a spirited defense? (I haven't really seen it -- it's one of those movies I've never been motivated to watch properly because I've seen too much of it already in bits and pieces).

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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol. 3)

#924 Post by domino harvey » Mon Aug 13, 2018 11:40 am

I would say yes. Like any comedy, if you don't find it funny nothing will convince you otherwise, but I think it's great and holds up well. Plus, watching it on Blu a few years back after only seeing it on TBS was revelatory-- this movie truly is filthy! But even though it's not my usual sense of humor, it just works so well here, in great part due to the ensemble cast and the lack of meanspiritedness. My dad was in a frat in the sixties and he always tells me the movie is far more mild than the shit they did! And based on the stories he's let slip out now that I'm older, I would agree...

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Re: 1970s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol. 3)

#925 Post by Lemmy Caution » Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:49 pm

Some of the memorable Animal House scenes/lines which come readily to mind:

"Mine's bigger" -- the grocery store seduction, involving cucumbers

Flounder's photo going up on screen during pledge selection and everybody screaming in horror. Then they accept him anyway. "Guys, we need the dues."

Belushi turning towards the audience and arching his eyebrow, during his peeping tom spree.

Bluto helping park the car. "Back ... back .. back ..." <crash> ... "perfect"
(and where does that come from? I know I've seen an earlier film -- b&w? -- where somebody helps a stranger park/crash their car. I seem to recall them taking casual glee in it. Jerry Lewis, perhaps?)

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