The B+ Movie Guide: Part XXXI

In May of 2012, Colin said I should make a list of movies that need to be seen, because he felt there were huge gaps in what he’d seen, and wanted something to do. The idea was that I’d make up a list, as “homework” for him, and he’d use that as things to watch.

So we came up with a giant list of 500 movies that worked, and Colin went about finishing it. And now that it’s finished, we’re gonna write it up. Because you don’t watch a giant list of movies without documenting that you did it.

We’re going through the entire list, little by little, for posterity’s sake. And here’s the next set:

Mean Streets - 49

Mean Streets (1973)

Mike:

Did you guys know Martin Scorsese likes the Rolling Stones? (3)

Colin:

Didn’t know this was a movie til the list happened, which… that’s a pretty major gap. But I watched it, and now I can be less ashamed. This is Scorsese’s first film — at least, his first film that we care about — and the guy hit the ground running. Didn’t know what to expect going into this and ended up with Keitel and De Niro. Not a bad pair, as surprises go.

Paper Moon - 31

Paper Moon (1973)

Mike:

My favorite Peter Bogdanovich movie. Stars Ryan O’Neal and Tatum O’Neal. Father and daughter acting opposite one another. She won an Oscar for this part. He’s a con artist who shows up at the funeral of a chick he used to sleep with, only to find Tatum O’Neal, who may or may not be his daughter. He agrees to take her to her aunt’s house, where she’s gonna live, but along the way, uses her to extort some money out of a local business owner. She becomes wise to this, and demands to be taken with him as part of his schemes. It’s really well done. A lot of snappy banter between the two of them. So much fun. And a lot of heart, too. (3)

Colin:

This is one of those movies with a wise-cracking kid who’s way too smart for her age but also still very much a child. Precocious, I guess you would say. But it’s actually his daughter and she’s really good. And he’s a scumbag, which is great. I didn’t know what I was getting into here and totally enjoyed watching this child scam poor people. I also really like that they went with black and white in 1973, cause it worked for Last Picture Show too.

Papillon (1973)

Mike:

Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman. Prison break movie. Fucking great. (3)

Colin:

This is one that I’d seen before and didn’t watch for the list, but wish that I had now because it’s been so long. Basically… I’m going to call it a combination of Midnight Cowboy and Midnight Express. Am I right?

Serpico (1973)

Mike:

Iconic movie. Pacino. Sidney Lumet. This is one of those movies that just feels like the 70s. (2)

Colin:

This was 70s as shit, and also one of the movies I hadn’t seen that I saw referenced places. You know the name of the movie but not necessarily what it’s about. Kind of a must-see in terms of 70s and Pacino and 70s Pacino, along with Dog Day Afternoon.

Also, “My phone has less backup than Serpico.” 

The Sting (1973)

Mike:

(2)

Colin:

One of my favorite movies of all time. Watching this as a teeny kid completely messed up my understanding of ragtime music. Turns out it’s not actually from the Depression era, but whatever, I guess, because the soundtrack to this movie is incredible. As a kid, it took me a long time to understand exactly what was going on with the plot and some of the dialogue. I remember being confused about why Redford kept saying “Jake” instead of “okay,” and not knowing what a blue plate special was. Actually, now it sounds like it could also be something filthy. But there was a lot to this movie that I was unfamiliar with, anyway, and the Depression never looked so cool.

The cast of this movie is stunning. Redford, Newman, Robert Shaw in what’s probably my favorite role of his ever (“Ya folla?”), Charles Durning, Robert Earl Jones, Eileen Brennan, Charles Dierkop. I’m probably missing someone, but there were a lot of character actors in it too. It’s a sting operation! A big con! This movie made me want to be a criminal. If you haven’t seen it, I can’t help you.

Blazing Saddles (1974)

Mike:

(2)

Colin:

My second favorite Mel Brooks film, after The Producers. It’s hard to beat this, for all the Western conventions they mess with. One of the most side-splittingly funny movies you’ll ever see, to this day.

“I’m parked behind the commissary.”

Chinatown (1974)

Mike:

(2)

Colin:

I love a good neo-noir. Did you guys see Inherent Vice? Loved that too. This was a lot like that, except with less weed and more nose stitches. Pretty much the high point of the genre, when you consider Polanski’s direction, Nicholson’s performance, Dunaway’s performance, Huston’s performance, and the general plot. Films noir should take place in California, and preferably in LA. I don’t think there’s a whole lot that I need to say about this because you need to have seen it. 

The Conversation - 26

The Conversation (1974)

Mike:

This is that Coppola movie you learn pretty early on when you get into movies, but is the one that always flies under the radar. It’s a perfect movie. Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Robert Duvall, Harrison Ford — it’s a movie about sound design. And it’s just perfectly constructed. And the soundtrack — incredible. (2)

Colin:

Remember before, when I said Blow Up : photos :: Blow Out : audio? That’s true, but this is really the audio movie that fits better. I just like that one because the titles are so similar. 1974 — Coppola was ON that year, considering that this got nominated for Best Picture and lost to some other movie he did called The Godfather Part II, which is supposed to be halfway decent. For that reason, I can see why it might be consigned to the forgotten pile. But come on, people. You know you’re getting quality with a Coppola psychological thriller staring Gene Hackman. What part of any of that doesn’t sound like it’s worth two hours of your life? 

the-godfather-part-ii-9

The Godfather Part II (1974)

Mike:

Wait, they made a second one? Wow. Completely missed this one. (1)

Colin:

I’m working my way through a short list of sequels that I need to see. Since sequels pretty much always suck. Up next is Weekend at Bernie’s II and then this. Hope it doesn’t suck. At least with Weekend at Bernie’s II, you know you’ve got that actress who went on to write the script for B*A*P*S, so there’s going to be a certain level of quality guaranteed.

Lenny (1974)

Mike:

Bob Fosse. Dustin Hoffman playing Lenny Bruce. It’s incredible. (3)

Colin:

I watched this and then listened to an episode of the podcast “Here’s the Thing” in which Alec Baldwin talks to Dustin Hoffman at length about preparing for and shooting this movie. That podcast, by the way, is the single most Alec Baldwin-y thing you can possibly listen to. I tune in just to hear him say “fingerling potatoes” while plugging Blue Apron. But anyway, Hoffman talked about just how much went into it and how they obsessed about getting things right by talking to Lenny Bruce’s friends and family. Hoffman also went into how much didn’t get used and what he was upset about. It’s interesting, because Lenny Bruce is a standup god to most who know the business, and you hear wildly varying opinions on Hoffman’s performance. Some who knew Lenny say that Hoffman captured him more perfectly than anyone else could have hoped to do. Others say that Hoffman didn’t have a funny bone in his body, didn’t understand Bruce and was just aping the recordings that were leftover. I obviously never knew Lenny Bruce, but I’m inclined to think that Hoffman probably did get closer to this guy than most actors could have, particularly because I didn’t come away necessarily liking the guy completely. It’s easy to be saccharine about these things in a biopic made so soon after someone dies, but they weren’t. It’s something to be seen for that performance alone.

– – – – – – – – – –

Final Thoughts:

Mike:

They’re all essential, and some of them feel like hidden gems, in a way. Or maybe not hidden gems, but movies that are pretty well known, but are ones that people probably just wouldn’t have seen. I love those. Those are the best to show people.

Colin:

Maybe Paper Moon and Papillon? I don’t know, something about the 70s makes me think that almost everything is essential because people talk about this decade so much. Nobody’s getting too in-depth with the 30s, but I could see someone giving you the eye because you hadn’t seen Serpico. I don’t particularly like that, because I would rather that people were snobbish about older movies. But there’s nothing on here that you shouldn’t spend your time on, naturally.

And if there’s any side benefit to people being more snobbish about newer movies, it’s that I can get away with saying less for the rest of our feature.

– – – – – – – – – –

More movies tomorrow.

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