The B+ Movie Guide: Part XXXIV

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:

The Outlaw Josey Wales - 25

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

Mike:

This movie is the end of the western. It’s also a masterpiece. Clint Eastwood, Chief Dan George (who is great here) — this is not just a great western, it’s a great film. And if you get into what it is as a western… I could talk about this movie for hours. (3)

Colin:

This is kind of a masterpiece, though I only say that with the qualifier — that it’s a masterpiece of the post-Western Western. There was a Western made by a major studio every year through 1973, but that’s where the chain broke, almost in lock-step with Vietnam falling apart. This is one of the examples of Hollywood trying to resurrect one of the great American forms for the bicentennial. Only this was Clint Eastwood, so he pretty much did it the way he liked and turned out something unlike most of the stuff you’ll have seen before. Even though it’s a movie about a rebel veteran, I can get behind it because of the plot and the performances. Also, this is Chief Dan George’s big role after Little Big Man, which is something worth watching. In our Fun With Franchises feature, Mike has often referenced Chief Dan George’s character Lone Watie. “All I have is a piece of hard rock candy. But it’s not for eating. It’s only for looking through.” What a fantastic character in a fantastic movie, as uncharacteristic as it is in the genre.

Rocky (1976)

Mike:

(2)

Colin:

What a ride it’s been. So many movies. I’ll always remember the gullible, slow girl giving away the ending to Rocky Balboa in my AP Economics class during my senior year of high school. She said, “I can’t believe he __________ !” and immediately clutched her mouth as the teacher shot her the most disappointed look you can imagine. It’s an institution, this franchise, and it all begins here. I’m actually interested that Mike chose this GIF and not like 20 more obvious ones. 

Taxi Driver (1976)

Mike:

(2)

Colin:

I don’t remember when I watched this. Maybe in college. I think I ordered this on Netflix, back when they were pretty much DVD only. Something else, this movie. I’m not going to say anything, other than that it’s a milestone in American film and that it needs to be seen by film people at some point. Like, seriously. This movie is 70s as hell and also American as hell. Watch it.

annie-hall-16

Annie Hall (1977)

Mike:

I am very open about my dislike of the majority of Woody Allen’s movies. But there’s no disputing that this is his greatest feat. This movie is incredible. (2)

Colin:

People like Manhattan. Why? I guess because it looks great. But this is so much better! Why would you watch other stuff when there’s this? I also dislike a lot of the Woody Allen movies I’ve seen, though I love his standup and have enjoyed his live jazz performances. This is a joy to behold. You need to watch it because it’s going to be referenced until the end of time.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Mike:

I always forget how good this movie is. It’s never the first Spielberg movie I go to, and yet, every time I watch it, I’m reminded how perfect it is. Richard Dreyfuss was the king of the late 70s. (2)

Colin:

It’s amazing — I was just rewatching the first episode of Columbo (after the pilot episode, which is even better, and more amazing) called “Murder by the Book,” which was directed by a very young Steven Spielberg. One of the first really recognizable things that he ever directed, for that matter. It’s good, but the director’s style isn’t immediately apparent. In Close Encounters, it really is. I hadn’t seen this movie until watching everything on the list, and never knew why my mother used to make fun of me for playing with my mashed potatoes. Now I know.

It’s also nice to know the tones that the aliens communicate with. People whistle them sometimes.

And yes, Richard Dreyfuss. It’s amazing to me how quickly he went from high school graduate to Jaws, to this, and finally to W., in which he was the most terrifyingly convincing Dick Cheney you’ll ever see.

The Goodbye Girl (1977)

Mike:

Neil Simon. Those are the only two words you need to say. That man can write. Richard Dreyfuss won an Oscar for this. It’s terrific. Typical romantic comedy premise, but it’s Neil Simon’s writing that takes this to another level. (3)

Colin:

Pretty good! That’s how I characterize this. It’s another movie in which people are forced to live together and come to love each other, like The More the Merrier. That’s not a bad thing at all. It’s Dreyfuss’ performance that makes this worthwhile, honestly. And the kid. You’ll love the kid. Not as essential as the rest of the stuff here, but it’s still well worth a watch for the year. 

 

Saturday Night Fever (1977)

Mike:

(3)

Colin:

This movie has a very distinct impression in most people’s minds until they see it and get to the rape scene. That was my experience of watching this movie. “Aw man, lots of Bee Gees! Great dancing! Now they’re going to– wait, there was a rape scene in this movie? What?”

The rest of it is exactly how you remember it, even if you haven’t seen the movie. It’s also what I think of now when Steve Lawrence has that line in The Blues Brothers. “Discos! They’re all discos now!”

Star Wars - 266

Star Wars (1977)

Mike:

I know it’s not as good as those new ones, but we all need to get through it. (1)

Colin:

Wait, I’m still unclear on this. Do Luke and Princess Leia ever sleep together? I have to watch the others, because it seems like this is gonna heat up.

Suspiria (1977)

Mike:

I can’t get enough of this movie. If you’ve never seen this, put this on one night, with the lights off, and the sound up. And you’ll see how a dude can make a movie scary with atmosphere and music. This movie is fucking amazing. And I don’t know why. But when you watch it, you just kind of get it. I don’t know how to explain it. This is a movie I want to get a bunch of people I know into a theater for and just watch it with the sound turned all the way up. In the right situation, this shit is like The Exorcist. This shit will freak you the fuck out if you’re alone in your apartment at night. (3)

Colin:

Once again, I have to recommend, as I did with The Tingler, that you watch this with earbuds in. This one night in October of 2012, I was home all evening and had decided to make chili in my rice cooker. It was taking a lot longer than I expected, so after dark, I put in my earbuds and watched this movie. Holy crap, was it freaky as hell. I was alone, in my apartment, at my desk, with my face to the screen and my earbuds in for the total sound experience… I got seriously scared watching it. Most older horror movies aren’t genuinely frightening the way newer movies are — you might get a chill or a shock here or there, but for the most part, you’re just enjoying the art of it and how it’s all composed. This movie had me petrified as I sat there waiting for my chili to cook. 

Animal House (1978)

Mike:

(2)

Colin:

There’s the best movie that National Lampoon ever put out. Easily. It’s hilarious, it features copious drinking — mostly by John Belushi — and the preppy guys get what’s coming to them. What a fun, funny movie this is. It also includes a lovely Lincoln Continental, which I described as “the only car to feature in both the Kennedy assassination and Animal House.”

– – – – – – – – – –

Final Thoughts:

Mike:

The only two you can make cases against are The Goodbye Girl and Suspiria. And I refuse to let Suspiria come off. The Goodbye Girl — ehh, I guess you can if you wanted to put something else on. Maybe not the most essential movie ever. But it’s really good. So there’s that.

Colin:

Those are the two you shouldn’t be absolutely required to see. But that only means you should probably be semi-required to see them. In the order of Suspiria and then The Goodbye Girl. That one is less essential than anything here, though I do think it’s kind of a nice addition as a romantic comedy during the years in which romantic comedies weren’t exactly killing at the box office. And it’s Richard Dreyfuss, who kind of owns this particular stretch of time, doesn’t he? Everything else… come on.

– – – – – – – – – –

More movies tomorrow.

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